What if the South had won the American “Civil War”? The answer might really surprise you.
Each time I come across an article asking and answering various “what if” questions related to the American Civil War I make a note to myself that “this” time I will publish an article on what seems to me to be the biggest “what if” of all. Today I came across an article entitled 6 Civil War Myths Everyone Believes (That Are Total B.S.) which was published back in 2011 on Cracked.com and as I had the time and the inclination I thought I might present my thoughts for my reader’s consideration.
As with any “what if” scenario the first thing to do is set the stage. Essentially what I ask the reader to assume is not that the Southern States won the war, but that there was no war in the first place. This is because a relatively peaceful act of secession would have left the economic and social systems of the former southern states of the United States largely intact. This is important because the fact of the matter is that regardless of their political status as members of either the United States or of the Confederate States of America history has proved that the political and economic trends were against them. The fact that by the 1860’s Great Britain which represented the largest Empire of the period “…had not only outlawed the slave trade but also abolished slavery throughout her colonial possessions.” is no small matter.
An interesting side note is that here was a people who seemingly had no qualms in not only abolishing slavery in those areas under its control, but also in claiming the right to enforce a “no slave trading policy” outside its jurisdiction I quote again from the source linked above in which the authors make clear that, “Among its targets were legalised slavery in British India and Ceylon, suppression of the Brazilian and Cuban slave trades, and, increasingly after 1850, the abolition of slavery in the United States.” In any event, the point to be made is that by the time the American Civil War occurred the institution of slavery was rapidly becoming seen as immoral and insupportable by the citizens of most English speaking nations. (For those who are interested, a very well done time line regarding issues related to slavery can be found here.)
What one should understand is that, in light of history, it was never a question of whether slavery would be abolished in the “Southern States” of the Union, but rather the exact time when such an event would occur. The real question is thus what the effect of abolishing slavery, whenever it occurred, would have been on the well-being of the several states making up the newly formed Confederate States of America. At this point I will have to acknowledge the fact that in the course of doing research for this article I found that there is at least one other person on the planet who independently came to the same conclusion which I am about to divulge here and now. Essentially, and I now quote this same person who asked the same question and arrived at the same answer in another venue, which is to say, “Aside from siding with the Union for other reasons, I think the Union saved the South from itself. Was the south going to become another Haiti?
I believe that there is no question that “Unionist” hit the nail squarely on its head. Without the Civil War, and the subsequent victory of the North over the South, the Southern States, ie. the Confederate States of America, would now be the individual states of a primarily Black nation. This suggestion is supported not just by looking at Haiti, but by also taking into account virtually every other nation of similar origins and demographics. In other words, the present day irony is that there would seem to be no question that should the Confederate States have successfully seceded what we now know as the United States would have effectively evolved into two separate nations, one primarily white and one primarily black.
To a certain extent it is true that the experience of Haiti might well provide the best example of the direction the several states of the Confederate States of America could have been expected to take as the two would have shared the same unfortunate problem of having no larger political entity with the moral and financial wherewithal to provide the necessary assistance during a time of extreme social and economic turmoil and dislocation.
One has to wonder if the abbreviated United States would still be attempting to address the very same immigration issues albeit at a different geographical location.
The relevance of the last question to our present situation is undeniable to any reasonable person and thus this “what if” scenario is not simply academic. In any event, as another poster pointed out, a very interesting graphic presentation can be found here if one wishes to further examine the demographic numbers which would have affected the final results.
Thank you for your interest and, as always, I solicit any and all comments.