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Nytram01
November 18th, 2007, 05:16 AM
I think that, generally, Jefferson Davis, when looking back, is considered a rather poor President of the Confederacy for one reason or another so I thought it would be interesting to see who might have been a better choice for that position than Davis.

So, who would have been a better President of the Confederate States of America than Jefferson Davis?

Fiver
November 25th, 2007, 03:55 AM
The short answer is almost anyone. Davis tried to fill his cabinet with yes-men and used them as scapegoats for failed policies. He micromanaged the war, yet never came up with a plan to win it. He appointed generals based on seniority and/or personal friendship. He sent diplomats to seek foreign recognition, yet gave them nothing to negotiate with. He often turned allies into enemies. And without Davis the damage done to the Confederate cause by Braxton Bragg, Leonidas Polk, Lucius Northrop, John Hood, and perhaps William Pendleton is reduced.

Canis Lupus
November 25th, 2007, 04:00 AM
Breckinridge,Stephens,Benjamin; thay are the ones that come to mind first.

Johnrankins
November 25th, 2007, 04:09 PM
The short answer is almost anyone. Davis tried to fill his cabinet with yes-men and used them as scapegoats for failed policies. He micromanaged the war, yet never came up with a plan to win it. He appointed generals based on seniority and/or personal friendship. He sent diplomats to seek foreign recognition, yet gave them nothing to negotiate with. He often turned allies into enemies. And without Davis the damage done to the Confederate cause by Braxton Bragg, Leonidas Polk, Lucius Northrop, John Hood, and perhaps William Pendleton is reduced.

Pretty much. His only plan in winning the war is to keep holding on even after it was hopeless. He wanted to keep fighting after Appomattox even though Johnston, Beauregard, Lee and even Bragg said it was hopeless. To be fair I don't see what Davis could have given his diplomats to negotiate with. I agree the problems he had sticking with such losers as Bragg and even worse Hood (The worst general of the war North or South IMO) was immense.

Readman
November 25th, 2007, 04:23 PM
Judah Benjamin is a good choice, however if I'm not mistaken he was Jewish and I'm unsure how that would play out (was there anti-semitics in the south that much would it matter?) but yes Jeff Davis was not a very good choice i think we can agree with that

Canis Lupus
November 25th, 2007, 05:46 PM
Actually, there was very little anit-semitisim in the South at the time, IIRC.

SouthCarolinian
November 26th, 2007, 12:30 AM
I read a timeline once where Howell Cobb ended up as President. Forget what it was called, but it was written as a primary school primer in the victorious CSA in the 1920's. Really well done IIRC.

Johnrankins
November 26th, 2007, 01:33 AM
Actually, there was very little anit-semitisim in the South at the time, IIRC.

It was probably somewhat better then West European and somewhat worse then the Northern states.

numberone
November 26th, 2007, 01:37 AM
How come if Breckingridge won the South in the 1860 US elections, he didn't win the presidency in the CS Congressional appointment for President?

Then again how close was he to winning the 1860 elections?

DMA
November 26th, 2007, 01:38 AM
Actually I'm not prepared to condemn Davis. Considering the job he was asked to do, especially the confederate nature of politics involved, he probably had an impossible task ahead of him & did what he could accordingly. Sure he made some mistakes, but then again so did Lincoln - especially when viewed in hindsight.

About the only one I can think of, who may have been better in the job, could have been Breckinridge. But he wasn't overly fond of slavery, from what I can tell, so he'd probably have a tougher time as President than Davis.

jkay
November 26th, 2007, 03:13 AM
Likely ways in which the South could've won long seemed more like fantasy to me, because the North had the numbers and talent on its side. But, in fact, the Civil War happened at the start of an era where the defensive ruled. It would, in fact, have been quite feasible for the South to have ended the war still in existence.

POD: Jfferson Davis' 'man' at the rebel choosing convention falls from his horse a week before the big meet and Davis is veep instead of prexy. Alexander Stephens is President. There was nothing inevitable about either Davis' or Lincoln's selections, so there must be tons of ways that the Confederate choice could be as good as the Union choice. Some reading has convinced me that Stephens had the kind of strategic vision that Lincoln had. If nothing else, his speeches weren't half as awful as Davis' were....

Civil War military facts on the ground favored defense over aggression. The WWI-style trench was first used in Lee's army, invented in "Stonewall" Jackson's part of it. Having even sketchy entrenchments laid out gave a huge boost to defenders. Even in OTL, voters were impatient with progress.

During the war, both sides started off with poor to mediocre top generalship. But Lincoln fired alot more top generals than Davis did, made better choices to replace them, and gave political cover to generals who were winning. Lincoln had the bad habit of adding politicians to the pool of generals, who unsurprisingly, were mediocre, but fortunately, he favored generals who were winning even over his buddies.

Though Davis didn't appoint politicians as generals, he kept lots of mediocre generals he was buddies with, a much worse habit, as it turned out. The winningest Confederate general, N.B. Forrest, never was given more than 2500 men or so to command until it was way too late. There were other generals that IMHO could've made differences if given top commands, like Jackson and Longstreet (though Jackson died early). Nor do I believe that the South's genius was limited to that that made it to the history books. But it never occurred to Davis to upset the order of seniority. Thanks, Davis!

I dunno if Stephens would've upset hierarchy as much as Lincoln did - mebbe Forrest wouldn't've made it big. But he would've made better choices than Davis did - at keast Bragg and Polk would've done much less damage, Longstreet would've seen high command, and Lee wouldn't've been allowed his last Northern invasion, to a place named Gettysburg.

Fiver
November 26th, 2007, 04:31 AM
Actually, there was very little anit-semitisim in the South at the time, IIRC.

OTOH, Judah Benjamin was personally unpopular with a lot of people in the CSA.

Fiver
November 26th, 2007, 04:35 AM
How come if Breckingridge won the South in the 1860 US elections, he didn't win the presidency in the CS Congressional appointment for President?

Then again how close was he to winning the 1860 elections?

Breckinridge was not considered because his home state, Kentucky, was not part of the Confederacy.

He wasn't especially close to winning in 1860, the splintering of the Democratic party made sure of that.

Fiver
November 26th, 2007, 04:39 AM
Actually I'm not prepared to condemn Davis. Considering the job he was asked to do, especially the confederate nature of politics involved, he probably had an impossible task ahead of him & did what he could accordingly. Sure he made some mistakes, but then again so did Lincoln - especially when viewed in hindsight.

The difference is Lincoln attempted to learn from his mistakes while Davis did not. Several gross incompetants (like the several I listed) were kept on solely because they were Davis' friends.

Paul V McNutt
November 26th, 2007, 05:06 AM
A professor of mine said RMT Hunter would have been president if Virginia had left the union in time.

David S Poepoe
November 26th, 2007, 06:29 AM
OTOH, Judah Benjamin was personally unpopular with a lot of people in the CSA.

I think in many cases anybody that was close to Davis, like Benjamin, became natural targets of the Anti-Davis faction.

David S Poepoe
November 26th, 2007, 06:33 AM
I've always seriously wondered about Robert Toombs as CS President. It appears that he lost out any consideration of nomination to the presidency because of his drinking - or more importantly his heavy drinking right when they were thinking about possible candidates in Montgomery.

It appears that the had the opinion that Lincoln was baiting the South with Fort Sumter and he warned against firing the first shot.

The most unfortunate thing about the coming war is that the most capable men - probably those younger and more likely to compromise (ie. not exactly fire-eaters) on questions of governing and working with Davis - eagerly went off to the front because of the 'glory of war' and got killed. Many of them resigned their positions in the Confederate Government and lead their state regiments to the front.

DMA
November 26th, 2007, 06:54 AM
The difference is Lincoln attempted to learn from his mistakes while Davis did not. Several gross incompetants (like the several I listed) were kept on solely because they were Davis' friends.


This maybe indeed true, but that still doesn't mean to say there were many, who could have dealt with the difficulty of being CSA President, better than Davis.

Derek Jackson
November 26th, 2007, 07:22 AM
Out of curiousity in OTL

By what process was Davis chosen? Were alternatives considered?

Douglas
November 26th, 2007, 07:42 AM
The most unfortunate thing about the coming war is that the most capable men - probably those younger and more likely to compromise (ie. not exactly fire-eaters) on questions of governing and working with Davis - eagerly went off to the front because of the 'glory of war' and got killed. Many of them resigned their positions in the Confederate Government and lead their state regiments to the front.

Er...I thought it was the older men who were more willing to compromise, and when the generation born in the 1780s-1790s died out, boom, Civil War happened.

DMA
November 26th, 2007, 07:49 AM
Out of curiousity in OTL

By what process was Davis chosen? Were alternatives considered?


Technically speaking he was chosen by an Electoral College akin to the US one, although he started off as "temporary" President.

In reality he was pretty much appointed at the beginning. I don't know whether there was any official alternate candidates, but many names have been mentioned, in this thread already, who probably thought they could have done a better job.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
November 26th, 2007, 08:45 AM
Er...I thought it was the older men who were more willing to compromise, and when the generation born in the 1780s-1790s died out, boom, Civil War happened.
Mostly True ...

But, The Generation that Came After them was Pretty Moderate, too; it's The Usual Case of The Pendulum of Social Policies Swinging, First Back, then Forth ...

While it is Hard to Gauge them, from their Actions Post-Civil War; The Oldest Members of The Gilded Generation were Already MUCH More Accommodating, Pre-War!

:D

Fiver
December 1st, 2007, 04:23 AM
Technically speaking he was chosen by an Electoral College akin to the US one, although he started off as "temporary" President.

In reality he was pretty much appointed at the beginning. I don't know whether there was any official alternate candidates, but many names have been mentioned, in this thread already, who probably thought they could have done a better job.

By the end of the war most everyone in the Confederacy thought they could have done a better job. People that appear to have been considered at the time were Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, and Alexander Stephens all of whom would have been less likely to loyally support gross incompetants (Bragg, Polk, Northrop, etc.) than Jefferson Davis did. Robert Barnwell Rhett probably wanted the job, and is one of the few choices I think would be worse than Davis.

Davis was not a sure thing. Toombs probably could have had the position if not for a bit of overimbibing and Stephens nearly got it, but Davis' supporters did a better job of politicking. Less likely possibilities, but not needing ASB's would be William Yancey, Christopher Memminger, and Louis Wigfall.

Best choices, IMO, but with no chance of the nomination are John Breckinridge and John Reagan.

DMA
December 1st, 2007, 04:33 AM
By the end of the war most everyone in the Confederacy thought they could have done a better job. People that appear to have been considered at the time were Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, and Alexander Stephens all of whom would have been less likely to loyally support gross incompetants (Bragg, Polk, Northrop, etc.) than Jefferson Davis did. Robert Barnwell Rhett probably wanted the job, and is one of the few choices I think would be worse than Davis.

Davis was not a sure thing. Toombs probably could have had the position if not for a bit of overimbibing and Stephens nearly got it, but Davis' supporters did a better job of politicking. Less likely possibilities, but not needing ASB's would be William Yancey, Christopher Memminger, and Louis Wigfall.

Best choices, IMO, but with no chance of the nomination are John Breckinridge and John Reagan.


We should do a movie on the topic...

Monty Python & the Quest for the Reb Prez...

;) :D

Johnrankins
March 12th, 2008, 04:53 PM
By the end of the war most everyone in the Confederacy thought they could have done a better job. People that appear to have been considered at the time were Howell Cobb, Robert Toombs, and Alexander Stephens all of whom would have been less likely to loyally support gross incompetants (Bragg, Polk, Northrop, etc.) than Jefferson Davis did. Robert Barnwell Rhett probably wanted the job, and is one of the few choices I think would be worse than Davis.

Davis was not a sure thing. Toombs probably could have had the position if not for a bit of overimbibing and Stephens nearly got it, but Davis' supporters did a better job of politicking. Less likely possibilities, but not needing ASB's would be William Yancey, Christopher Memminger, and Louis Wigfall.

Best choices, IMO, but with no chance of the nomination are John Breckinridge and John Reagan.

Beckenridge would certainly be better.

Snake Featherston
March 12th, 2008, 07:53 PM
Pretty much. His only plan in winning the war is to keep holding on even after it was hopeless. He wanted to keep fighting after Appomattox even though Johnston, Beauregard, Lee and even Bragg said it was hopeless. To be fair I don't see what Davis could have given his diplomats to negotiate with. I agree the problems he had sticking with such losers as Bragg and even worse Hood (The worst general of the war North or South IMO) was immense.

Davis had the Israel option with King Cotton and procuring arms necessary to beat the Union.....

Strategos' Risk
March 13th, 2008, 12:57 AM
The short answer is almost anyone. Davis tried to fill his cabinet with yes-men and used them as scapegoats for failed policies. He micromanaged the war, yet never came up with a plan to win it. He appointed generals based on seniority and/or personal friendship. He sent diplomats to seek foreign recognition, yet gave them nothing to negotiate with. He often turned allies into enemies.

So he's kinda like Hitler?

Nicksplace27
March 13th, 2008, 02:37 AM
So he's kinda like Hitler?

Without the whole holocaust thing, yeah I guess...

Johnrankins
March 13th, 2008, 02:47 AM
Even with my complete lack of sympathy for the South I realize the Confederacy was a long ways from Nazi Germany. Even if the Confederacy survived the slaves would still have lived and they were treated as valuable property which is a step up from vermin that deserves to be killed.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
March 13th, 2008, 03:07 AM
Even with my complete lack of sympathy for the South I realize the Confederacy was a long ways from Nazi Germany. Even if the Confederacy survived the slaves would still have lived and they were treated as valuable property which is a step up from vermin that deserves to be killed.
Small Step ...

There are Some Things, Worse than MERE Death ....

Slavery is One of The Worst!

:eek:

Strategos' Risk
March 13th, 2008, 03:39 AM
No, that's not it at all. I was asking if Jefferson Davis was inept in many of the ways Hitler was, as far as a military leader went.

Nytram01
March 13th, 2008, 09:43 AM
No, that's not it at all. I was asking if Jefferson Davis was inept in many of the ways Hitler was, as far as a military leader went.

Davis main weakness as a military commander was his favoritism. Several time Davis made dicisions based on who he liked not who was best for the job, most notably in the cases of Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood, this resulted on several good generals being underused or simply sent to a quite corner of the war to be out of Davis' way (See PGT Beauregard for further referance).

Also Davis believed that the only way to defeat the Union and gain the CSA's independance was to be offensive while allowing the Union to be to invading force...for the most art. As such even when the CSA were totally outnumbered and struggling for its life he refused to change his idea on how to war wa fought and continued to demand his commanders be offensive. To ensure this he removed Joe Johnston from command in Georgia, where he was giving Sherman the hardest challenge he had had to face the whole war, and replaced him with Hood, who subsequently lost the Atlanta Campaign with heavy casualties and destroyed his own army in Tennessee.

Davis as well was a totally deluded man. Even after Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered, Even after the only eastern State effectively left in the CSA's hands was North Carolina, even after Beauregard had gone to him and told him they could no longer fight he still believed that he could turn the tide of the War by heading out west and raising another army. Only when Joe Johnston came to him one day after Beauregard did and told him the War was lost did Davis agree to surrender.

Hitler on the other hand tended to undermine his commanders rather than just pick the wrong ones for the job. No situation show this more than Stalingrad when Hitler was prepared to condemn most of the German army there to death when he told its commander that retreating or surrendering was not an option.

He did however seem be to a kindred spirit to Davis in terms of how he believed a war should be run and he was always demanding his armies to be offensive. The main difference between the two in this regards is that Hitler would allow a defensive campaign to be fought but if it was the Army and its commanders engaged in that campaign must fight to the death and never let the enemy advance a single inch into German territory.

Hitler too was a deluded man and believed that he could still turn the tide of his war even as the Allies were crossing the German borders and heading to Berlin. He continued to belive this until Berlin itself began to crumble arround him.

Another similarity between Hitler and Davis is that neither would admit that they had done anything wrong and blamed every problem their countries faced on traitorous subordinated and incompetitant generals. They never once believe that they had been one of the main causes of the defeat of the CSA or Nazi Germany.

Big Tex
March 13th, 2008, 10:25 AM
I wonder if Davis was on drugs to?:p

Johnrankins
March 13th, 2008, 12:08 PM
Small Step ...

There are Some Things, Worse than MERE Death ....

Slavery is One of The Worst!

:eek:
History seems to suggest the opposite as reletively few slaves killed themselves which would be the case if they thought they were better off dead. Even if you assume slavery is a fate worse then death the Nazis were still worse as the Confederates didn't starve their slaves to death, they were worth far too much money to do that.

Fiver
March 19th, 2008, 12:47 AM
Without the whole holocaust thing, yeah I guess...

Yes, though Davis does have an equivalent of the Commando Order.

http://www.civilwarhome.com/davisbutlerproclamation.htm

It called for the execution of any officers serving under Benjamin Butler, execution of any officers commanding black troops, and the enslavement of balck troops.

Johnrankins
March 24th, 2008, 09:06 PM
I wonder if Davis was on drugs to?:p

Quite likely IMO, that would explain a lot! :D

Euroman26
March 24th, 2008, 09:47 PM
Quite likely IMO, that would explain a lot! :D

Since the South had the Slaves. What did all the white-trash they do?

Secondly wasn't the South a Dictatorship?

Ghost 88
March 24th, 2008, 11:30 PM
Since the South had the Slaves. What did all the white-trash they do?

Secondly wasn't the South a Dictatorship?


To your second question the South was no more a dictatorship than the North.

To your first it is as offensive to a Southerner to call him White Trash as it is to call a Black man a certian word that starts with N.

Hapsburg
March 24th, 2008, 11:46 PM
It was probably somewhat better then West European and somewhat worse then the Northern states.
Arguably, anti-Semitism was stronger in the North. IIRC, Grant made a special order to arrest or at least evict any Jew within his army's sight. Whereas neither the Confederacy nor its Army made provisions or orders against Jews. OTOH, on could argue that they couldn't afford to do so in a war for independence.

Secondly wasn't the South a Dictatorship?
No. If anything, it was less a dictatorship than the North due to its confederated and decentralised central government. It had no more ability to be a dictatorship than the US under the Articles of Confederation.

Fiver
April 5th, 2008, 01:13 AM
No. If anything, it was less a dictatorship than the North due to its confederated and decentralised central government. It had no more ability to be a dictatorship than the US under the Articles of Confederation.

Decentralized?

The Davis adminstration drafted state militia members who should have been exempt from the national draft. They instituted internal passports. They dictated rates to the railroads and required blockage runners to devote a certain percent (1/3 IIRC) of cargo space to government cargos free of charge. They instituted income taxes and the draft (which covered men aged 17 to 50). It authorized the execution and enslavement of certain Union POWs. Richmond was under martial law from March 1, 1862 andcivilian firearms were confiscated by the government. Price controls were imposed. It impressed cotton, horses, food, and slaves and when it paid, paid far below market rates. It avoided labor unrest by drafting the workers. It dictated allowed rates of proft for business. By 1863 'the Richmond government employed more civil servants than its counterpart in Washington'.

Johnrankins
April 5th, 2008, 01:49 AM
Decentralized?

The Davis adminstration drafted state militia members who should have been exempt from the national draft. They instituted internal passports. They dictated rates to the railroads and required blockage runners to devote a certain percent (1/3 IIRC) of cargo space to government cargos free of charge. They instituted income taxes and the draft (which covered men aged 17 to 50). It authorized the execution and enslavement of certain Union POWs. Richmond was under martial law from March 1, 1862 andcivilian firearms were confiscated by the government. Price controls were imposed. It impressed cotton, horses, food, and slaves and when it paid, paid far below market rates. It avoided labor unrest by drafting the workers. It dictated allowed rates of proft for business. By 1863 'the Richmond government employed more civil servants than its counterpart in Washington'.

Exactly, and with just a fractions of the Union's labor pool!

Hapsburg
April 5th, 2008, 02:10 AM
Decentralized?

The Davis adminstration drafted state militia members who should have been exempt from the national draft. They instituted internal passports. They dictated rates to the railroads and required blockage runners to devote a certain percent (1/3 IIRC) of cargo space to government cargos free of charge. They instituted income taxes and the draft (which covered men aged 17 to 50). It authorized the execution and enslavement of certain Union POWs. Richmond was under martial law from March 1, 1862 andcivilian firearms were confiscated by the government. Price controls were imposed. It impressed cotton, horses, food, and slaves and when it paid, paid far below market rates. It avoided labor unrest by drafting the workers. It dictated allowed rates of proft for business. By 1863 'the Richmond government employed more civil servants than its counterpart in Washington'.
All done under extreme circumstances, in the middle of an emergency situation- a war for their national survival and independence. Even the most disparate and waffled states in the loosest of confederations will join in unity if their national sovereignty is endangered, and at times give its central body a higher degree of emergency powrs; even the hundreds of states in the HRE fought together as one, on occasion.

Johnrankins
April 5th, 2008, 02:24 AM
All done under extreme circumstances, in the middle of an emergency situation- a war for their national survival and independence. Even the most disparate and waffled states in the loosest of confederations will join in unity if their national sovereignty is endangered, and at times give its central body a higher degree of emergency powrs; even the hundreds of states in the HRE fought together as one, on occasion.

All of Lincoln's measures were done in an emergency situation as well. You can't say it is wrong when one does it but not the other.

Johnrankins
April 5th, 2008, 02:26 AM
Arguably, anti-Semitism was stronger in the North. IIRC, Grant made a special order to arrest or at least evict any Jew within his army's sight. Whereas neither the Confederacy nor its Army made provisions or orders against Jews. OTOH, on could argue that they couldn't afford to do so in a war for independence.






It was only Grant and Lincoln overruled him.

panzerjay
April 5th, 2008, 03:46 AM
i think the south could done better with a leader who could...

a. present a reasonable image to European nations
b. rally the rebel states to cooperate
c. didnt play favorites

that said, the nature of the CSA made it hard to achieve A and B. so, changing captains on a sinking ship is redundant

Johnrankins
September 2nd, 2008, 05:12 PM
I think you need a president who didn't have Davis's near insatiable lust for power.