February 6th, 2006, 03:37 PM
The second (http://www.althist.com/alternate_american_civil_wars.htm) ATL brings up the idea of a more abolitionist, radical regime under Fremont coming to power after Lincoln's assassination by Confederates during the ACW. One of the things they do, which I find to be a very original idea never used elsewhere in AH, is to create the "John Brown Academy" in the Sea Islands to train the best and brightest of freed slaves for partisan warfare in the South. Of course, this ends up creating a completely clusterfuck of a postwar, but at least the CSA lost so it's all good, eh?
Anyhow, under what circumstances could abolitionists/radical Black Republicans have taken charge of the war effort, and what would they have done differently? Besides training blacks for extreme guerilla warfare, what else could they have done?
February 7th, 2006, 01:54 AM
Lincoln shot in 1861 and hamlin takes power...
David S Poepoe
February 7th, 2006, 04:05 AM
Sorry to say that Fremont made a mess of things for himself in Missouri. I don't see him in any line of succession for Lincoln.
June 2nd, 2008, 11:44 PM
Forget the Fremont presidency. In fact, forget the ACW as well- no one short of a full-on firebrand abolitionist (which Lincoln surely was not) would have supported the creation of such an organization that would turn slaves upon their masters in mass revolt.
But what about in a situation in a TL-191 type world where the Confederacy survives? Could the Union have created such an institution?
Archive of page. (http://web.archive.org/web/20051126131439/http://www.althist.com/alternate_american_civil_wars.htm)
Point of divergence: in January 1861 President-Elect Lincoln tells some friends at his home in Sprinfield, Illinois an anecdote about having visited New Orleans in his youth and having been deeply shocked to witness a slave auction, and mentions how he had at the time told his companions "By God, boys, let's get away from this. If ever I get a chance to hit this this thing, slavery, I'll hit it hard". Lincoln certainly does not intend the story for publication, but a reporter for an Illinois paper hears it from an incautious participant in the conversation with Lincoln and within days it becomes headline news all over the United States. (In OTL, it was published in 1888 by Herndon, Lincoln's long-time law partner.) Despite Lincoln's frantic denials, it is generally taken as a statement of the President-Elect's intentions, greatly increasing the passion of secessionist agitation in all Slave States. In Maryland, secessionists are emboldened to form a militia and seize Federal arsenals, with the almost-open collusion of officials in the outgoing Buchanan Administration.
Despite many warnings, Lincoln is determined to go to Washington for his inauguration, but yields to his advisers to the extent of travelling by ship from Philadelphia, rather than crossing the turbulent state. He tries to strike a very conciliatory note in his Inaguartion Speech, but this is taken badly in the South,as "lies trying to cover up the truth which he had blurted out to his friends". Within weeks, Maryland secedes - followed by Delaware and Kentucky. Finding their position in Washington intenable, Lincoln and his cabinet flee the city, establishing a temporary capital in New York. Jefferson Davis is installed in the White House, welcomed by much of the city's Southern-leaning High Society.
During 1861 and 1862 the war goes badly for the North - with Lee's Army of North Maryland repeatedly striking into Pennsylvania and New Jersey, several times threatening Philadelphia and New York and beaten back with great difficulty and loss.
Public opinion turns increasingly against the war, and President Lincoln's defiant speeches on Saving the Union are met with growing scepticism and a widespread feeling that the Union is already irretrievably lost - since, far from recapturing the Southern territory, the Union Army seems unable to put an end to the continuing threat to the heartland of the North. This is reflected in a defeatist position taken by the fickle Horace Greeley, originally a key Lincoln supporter. Lincoln has to choose between two sharp alternatives: giving up the war and recognizing the Southern Confederacy, or relying on the only faction determined to fight on - the Abolitionists. In any case, from the start of the war Lincoln - with no Slave States except Missouri left in the Union to be appeased - was closer to the Abolitionists than in OTL. Lincoln takes his decision by approving Fremont's initiative of freeing the slaves at Fremont's command in the West, followed by a surprise appointment of Fremont as Secretary of War. Lincoln's turn towards the Abolitionists precipitates a series of riots and Cpperhead revolts at various locations in the North , culminating with the assassination of Lincoln and most of his cabinet members in a well-organized conspiracy as they meet at NewYork in February 1863.
The assassination backfires, making Lincoln a martyr and turning public opinion against the assassins and their political millieu. Fremont, who had been on a visit to the front during the assassination and who wields effective power on behalf of the severely-wounded President Hamlin, moves swiftly to crush the centres of resistance: declaring martial law in large parts of the North, severely restricting the activities of the Democratic Party in these areas and arresting the leaders of the party's pro-Southern faction, and playing the final card by calling upon the slaves in the South to revolt.
While the North remains polarized, Fremont does manage to raise some new, highly- motivated armies, marching to battle under the new song "Old Abe's Body...". Also, thousands of enthusiatic European revolutionaries of all kinds are taking ship to to the United staters to particiapte in what they regard as a War of Liberation, among them Garibladi at the head a of a large contingent of his Red Shirts fresh from the fight for the Unification of Italy.
Intially, Fremont's call for a slave revolt is answered only by the blacks in the areas near Union-held territory, and fails to significantly change the strategic situation. However, at the John Brown Academy in the Union-held Sea Islands, off the South Carolina coast, the most talented of the escaped slaves from all over the South come together with veteran Abolitionists from the North, to train and make meticulous plans for a more widespread insurrection.
After routes for smuggling arms into the South are prepared, simultaneous slave revolts break out at more than twenty locations in February 1864, on the anniversary of Lincon's Assasination - forcing the Confederacy to abruptly recall Lee from his continuing attacks into the North and place him in charge of putting down the revolts. In May 1864, Lee is killed in a chance ambush at the back country of North Carolina, by a band of blacks who had no idea at whom they were shooting. Despite savage retaliations taken by the furious Southerners, Lee's death is a big morale blow to them and a correspondingly big boost to the North.
With the Union Armies going on the offensive, the Confederate Command attempts to shift the bulk of its armies back to the Northern Front - but with the Southern papers emphasizing and greatly exagerating the "Slave Atrocities," many Confederate soldiers desert to join the militias fighting the rebellious slaves in their home states. Fremont now feels confident enough of public support to lift martial law in the North and remove the restrictions over the Democratic Party, which prepares forlornly to elections which it is bound to lose. In January 1865 the Union Army recaptures Washington nearly bloodlessly, in time for President Fremont to have his inauguration there. In any case, in the last months of its Washington soujourn Jefferson Davis' government had been in only very partial control of the Southern territory.
Though it was the Union which istigated the slave revolts and supplied the weapons for them, it also has little control over their development - particularly since many of the original cadres trained at the Sea Islands were killed in the initial stages. The revolts take many divergent courses according to local conditions. Some plantations are seized with the land divided among the former slaves and used for subsistance agriculture; in some places where idealistic and literate black leaders are in control, attempts are made to set up farmers' copperatives, keep plantations a single unit and keep cotton production going with the black workers hoping to share in the profit; but in other places, this idea is perverted by ruthless blacks leaders seizing mansions and proceeding to exploit their brethren... In some of the areas left under white control, blacks are massacred or altogether driven out; in others, planters free their slvaes and offer them tempting conditions in return for for staying on; in some places, these diverging policies cause fighting among different white factions, bringing out the latent hostility between the planter aristocracy and the poor whites.
By the end of 1865, there are practically no regular Confederate armies in the field, but it takes the Union two more bloody years to take any semblence of control over the territory, broken up into a patchwork of white and black militias with scores of local civil wars raging all over. The general policy is for Union forces, upon their arrival, to accept the status quo which they find and restrict themselves to preventing new outbreaks - but there are many exceptions and personal intepretations by individual Union commanders. Some of these tend to side with planters who try to regain their seized property, while others seek to put down the whilte militias, many of which still sport Confederate flags and insignias. Even after the official end of the war in July 1867, the Federal Government is obliged to keep the South heavily garrisoned until well into the Twentieth Century. It is a highly unpleasant duty, with violent outbreaks occuring frequently and both whites and blacks accusing the U.S. Army of bias and of favoring the other side. Already in 1868 it is so unpopular as to make it impossible for Fremont to seriously consider running for a second term. And in the following decades, the South becomes the graveyard of many political and military careers - sometimes litrearlly. (In
1877 George Armstong Custer, Military Governor of Arkansas, gets killed being trapped in a cross-fire between two feuding militias in the hills). Under this continuing burden, there is an increased support for the NorthternIsolationists - advocating "bringing the boys home and letting the crazy blacksand whites kill each other." However, by the 1890's there is a gradualeconomic recovery in the South, partially due to the emergence of anindustrious black middle class whose access to economic power is guaranteed by the ability to appeal at need to the help of a local black militia. Civic institutions are gradually rebuilt, with some of the militias disarming and becoming politcal organizations; others are transformed into organised crime gangs, whose operations spreadinto the north. Much as many whites would have liked to, they find it impossible to introduce discriminatory laws or practices, for fear of provoking a general black revolt.
In 1911, The Reconciliation Conference is held in Memphis,Tennessee, at the joint initiative of prominent white and black clergymen, who together petition the Federal Government to remove its troops from the South. This is sucessfully carried out by 1913. Despite many dire predictions, most white and black Southerners do manage to get along reasonably well - even if this due mainly to exhaustion after decdes of conflict. And the the United States, still recovering from the long ordeal, is in no state to enter the First World War - which ends in 1919 with a German victory.
Martin Luther King, Jr., grows up in a coutry in which blacks are not conspiciously discriminated against, and becomes a rather conservative mainstream poilitician...
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