dalecoz (dalecoz) wrote,

Alternate History Challenge: Keep the Upper South From Seceding

In the leadup to the American Civil War, there were actually two waves of states seceding from the Union. The first wave was the deep South, with South Carolina taking the lead. The some of the upper South, including Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, arguably never seceded, though in some cases Confederate sympathizers at times held substantial parts of some of those states. The other part of the upper South, including Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, didn't secede until after Fort Sumter, and did so very reluctantly.

In Virginia, the initial vote on secession by a special body elected to consider the question was around 2 to 1 against seceding. The upper South tended to regard the FireEaters in the deep south as a bunch of hotheads who just needed to cool off. With a few exceptions, the Upper South voted for pro-Union candidates in the 1860 election--not Lincoln and his Republicans, but for pro-Union third parties rather than the pro-secession southern Democrats.

So: there was ample pro-Union sentiment in the Upper South. The states in that region that eventually joined the Confederates essentially doubled the population of the Confederacy. They also added a great deal of industry to it, especially in Virginia. If those states had stayed in the Union, the balance of power in the war would have been far more lopsidedly in favor of the Union, probably enough so that the war would not have lasted anywhere near as long as it did historically.

The challenge: You're in Lincoln's very difficult chair, newly elected president in 1861. Take actions that eventually bring the deep south back in the Union and at the same time keeps at least two and hopefully three of these states in the Union: Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The main obstacle to doing that: while a solid majority in at least some of those states wanted to remain in the Union, they did not want to fight against white southerners, nor did they want their states to be used as military bases for war against the deep south. Lincoln felt that he couldn't let the deep south go without a fight. If it came to war, the upper south was where that war had to be fought from.

With the benefit of hindsight, could you do a better job than Lincoln did? Could you keep the upper South in the Union and reduce the size and casualties of the Civil War?.
Tags: alternate history, us civil war

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