A better President of the Confederacy

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Nytram01, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. Nytram01 Well-Known Member

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    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?
     
  2. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    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.
     
  3. Canis Lupus Well-Known Member

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    Breckinridge,Stephens,Benjamin; thay are the ones that come to mind first.
     
  4. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  5. Readman I Accidentally POTUS'd

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    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
     
  6. Canis Lupus Well-Known Member

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    Actually, there was very little anit-semitisim in the South at the time, IIRC.
     
  7. SouthCarolinian Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    It was probably somewhat better then West European and somewhat worse then the Northern states.
     
  9. numberone Well-Known Member

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    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?
     
  10. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    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.
     
  11. jkay MY world, my world

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    Stephens Coulda Won The War

    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.
     
  12. Fiver Curmudgeon

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

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    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.
     
  14. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    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.
     
  15. Paul V McNutt Paul V McNutt Banned

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    A professor of mine said RMT Hunter would have been president if Virginia had left the union in time.
     
  16. David S Poepoe Banned

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

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    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.
     
  18. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    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.
     
  19. Derek Jackson Member

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    Out of curiousity in OTL

    By what process was Davis chosen? Were alternatives considered?
     
  20. Douglas Restored

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    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.