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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


States' Rights (July 4, 1776 - April 9, 1865)

Let us pause for a moment of silence.

"Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand."

- Robert E. Lee to Governor Fletcher S. Stockdale (September 1870)



Blogger ikantspel said...

This was probably one of the most significant dates in the history of this continent. I sometimes wish I could go back in time and pick up a musket right beside my ancestors...

4/10/08, 2:27 AM  
Blogger Lee Shelton IV said...

If you could go back in time, you could take with you something a little more powerful than a musket. ;)

4/10/08, 6:32 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

But it doesn't matter in the end, because thanks to concerted guerilla warfare against the governments installed by the Yankee troops, the South won. In 1876, in the Hayes-Tilden Compromise, control of the South was given back to the former Confederates as long as they pretended to be part of the United States and pretended that they no longer had slavery.

In reality, of course, the sharecropper system combined with the KKK, lynchings, and state-enforced segregation kept most blacks in the nearest thing akin to slavery in the South until the mechanization of cotton plantations happened after WWII and freed the slaves. So the reality is that the only issue that the Civil War settled was that the United States was a single nation rather than a confederation of nations voluntarily joining together for limited purposes. Which may be a tragedy from your point of view, but if you look at other nations that have spun apart due to regional sectarianism, generally they are far worse off than they were as a unified country. The United States would not be a superpower today if it were 50 independent nations loosely banded together into a common-defense or economic alliance similar to NATO and the European Union.

Hmm, now that I think about it, would that be such a bad thing? (Penguin mutters to self, waddles off...)

-- Badtux the Thinking Penguin

4/11/08, 12:14 AM  
Blogger Lee Shelton IV said...

Superpowers are responsible for two world wars, a global arms race, and countless other conflicts. And that's just in the last century. A "weaker" America may not have been such a bad thing.

4/11/08, 8:29 AM  
Blogger BadTux said...

The problem is that for most of the era of the U.S. as a superpower (1865-current), the U.S. was not the only superpower out there, or indeed until the era 1944-current not even the most powerful superpower out there. If there had not been a U.S. superpower in the Americas, it is likely that the European superpowers would have re-colonized the Americas in the late 1800's. I mean, c'mon. The French were in Mexico in 1865, and left only because the world's largest and most experienced and technically advanced Army and the world's most powerful littoral Navy was suddenly freed up from fighting a civil war and ready to come kick their butt if they didn't get out.

Given a precedent for secession if sectional concerns were not addressed, it is likely that a successful Confederate secession would have resulted in the U.S. spinning apart into a half-dozen sectional and regional sub-nations. We'd have fifty individual nations, not a single United States, loosely confederated into a half-dozen various defensive alliances. History is not kind to such arrangements. The largest and most powerful of such arrangements in the past, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ended up divvied up amongst the other European empires as it fell into internal squabbling and became unable to unite enough to hold off the other European superpowers. And in 1861, the European superpowers had just finished fighting the Crimean War over rights to divvy up the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, so any thoughtful politician of 1861 had to consider the fact that if the United States failed as a unified nation, likely it would face the same fate.

In short, we'd most likely be speaking German if the Confederate secession had been successful. (German because the Germans were the ones left out of the Great African Colonization Race due to their late date of national unification after the Kingdom of Prussia united the other German states into a single German nation, so naturally they would have turned to the Americas instead). And to state that the world would have been different is a massive understatement. Better? Arguable. Would a successful German empire in 1918, victorious over the British and French because of the advantages granted to it by its massive American colonial empire, have been such a boon to the world?

Note that I haven't mentioned slavery here because slavery was not an issue for the Unionists during the Civil War, indeed was a pesky issue they wished would just magically vanish and go away so they wouldn't have to think about it. Their primary motivation was to avoid the fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (which went from controlling all of central Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea to being divvied up amongst the other European empires in less than 100 years), or the impending fate of the Ottoman Empire (whose divvying up was being delayed only by squabbling amongst the European powers as to who would get which piece, and which indeed was divvied up when the squabbling was resolved via war in 1914-1918 -- except for Turkey itself, which was saved via tactical brilliance from Attaturk, who set up in Ankara in the interior and ran a brilliant campaign against the British and French occupying forces who came to divvy up the Turkish heartland between them). It is unclear that a divided United States would have had the power to resist re-colonization by the European superpowers. Given a choice between the Constitution and re-colonization, Abraham Lincoln basically said "screw the Constitution, the Constitution is not a death pact" and for better or worse did what he felt necessary to avoid the fate of the Polish and Ottomans. Whether the world is better off for that or not... well, that is always the question, eh?

- Badtux the History Penguin

4/11/08, 1:26 PM  
Blogger Lee Shelton IV said...

'Tis a question that will be debated until the end of time.

4/16/08, 10:15 PM  

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