how would American history go if the south didnt secede, im curious what you all think

We probably view the civil war too deterministically. I think because it is so important to American cultural myths, the idea is the civil war must happen. Yet almost any other civil war/succession crisis regularly get butterflied away on this site, many of which had just as many factors leading to them.
There is a tendency to want to refight existing wars on this forum.
I cannot recall many major wars that got nixed in a tl.
 
Last edited:
There is a tendency to want to refight existing wars on this forum.
I cannot recall many major was that got nixed in a tl.
One rarity, which I'd like to see more of, is a situation where a WW1, or an alternate WW1, does not lead to a subsequent WW2.
 
I think if you did not have the civil war, you could have ended up with a much larger, more aggressive United States that might have taken on Britain and Canada because of the borders involved. There is British Honduras to the south and Canada to the north. Often wars are about externalizing aggression to suppress internal dissent.

Not necessarily. British Honduras would probably involve some land based fighting, also creating a land bridge to Alaska would probably involve a decent amount of land based fighting. In some cases, it would be in the United States interest to attack on land where they would have the advantage. The British would have better sea power. Both would occur.

The raw aggressiveness of the United States might have created a different earlier World War 1 around 1910 when Canada gets attacked. They might call on France and other places to stem US aggression. The allies might be different as well.
 
Last edited:
I think if you did not have the civil war, you could have ended up with a much larger, more aggressive United States that might have taken on Britain and Canada because of the borders involved. There is British Honduras to the south and Canada to the north. Often wars are about externalizing aggression to suppress internal dissent.

Not necessarily. British Honduras would probably involve some land based fighting, also creating a land bridge to Alaska would probably involve a decent amount of land based fighting. In some cases, it would be in the United States interest to attack on land where they would have the advantage. The British would have better sea power. Both would occur.

The raw aggressiveness of the United States might have created a different earlier World War 1 around 1910 when Canada gets attacked. They might call on France and other places to stem US aggression. The allies might be different as well.
I wonder would the Germans or the Russians take an interest in that fight.
 
I wonder would the Germans or the Russians take an interest in that fight.
The Russians would take an interest because the United States would have a land bridge to Alaska through Canada and may act aggressively if they have expanded Alaska to the Russian borders. Canada is close to Russia's border. We usually think about Russia attacking Europe, this would be the opposite side.
 
The Russians would take an interest because the United States would have a land bridge to Alaska through Canada and may act aggressively if they have expanded Alaska to the Russian borders. Canada is close to Russia's border. We usually think about Russia attacking Europe, this would be the opposite side.
That is a very long supply line for the Russians.
 
It would also be a long supply line for the Russians. It might be a slow form of aggression where the United States tries to push the borders claiming land for timber and mining through a large mining company. It would be like United Fruit except for with timber, mining, and oil.
 
There is a tendency to want to refight existing wars on this forum.
I cannot recall many major wars that got nixed in a tl.
It's true, it seems.... Most OTL wars will have an ATL counterpart. Might not be called by the same name, and some of the major participants may be rearranged, but.... There HAS to be a war around this time!! :)
I'd imagine that TL's where nothing very interesting happened in the 1910's or 1940's are relatively rare :)
 
Err.... no Civil War means Lincoln is never elected, sure.

The US remains the dysfunctional mess it was in the 50s, with neither side able to enact much legislation. Transcontinental rail waits for 5 years or more, and when it does happen, there are two lines, northern and southern, to balance regional factions. Lincoln loses a bundle on his Council Bluffs properties, as he won't be able to push OTL's central line through.

A northern route will be WAY too close to the 49th parallel for the comfort of politicians in *Ottawa and London.
(Yes, Bytown is unlikely to be the capital.)

No president Grant to clean corruption in the civil service.
The price of cotton could have a big drop as there was a lot of speculation about cotton and stockpiling of it in the UK in the expectation of a war that does not happen.
This could lead to a drop in the price of slaves too.
The USA does not have the level of damage and death it had otl.
There still could be a war over Mexico and the French involvement there.
The argument for the British to compensate the US for building ships for the CSA will not happen.

That would mean fugitive slave laws go unenforced. South position in Congress would continue to weaken. Federal Government likely become weaker, and small scale bloodletting continue. Fugitive slave catcher would clash with local sheriffs. Then entire border states could become "bloody Kansas" with raid and counter raid.
I agree with all of these-- rather than assuming some kind of hyper aggressive single minded USA, it's probable that one that avoids the Civil War is still a house divided in which states feel free to disrespect each other's laws and "compromise" becomes a national cult, officiated by high priests who form blatantly undemocratic compacts to keep out competitors who might disrupt the working arrangements. If slavery is abolished peacefully, the owners will demand compensation, which will come out of the taxes of poor whites; the legislatures dominated by planter dynasties will approve the measure.

And I think it will be a more... revolutionary US. Democracy is subordinated to unity at the national level; this US will probably be much mlre skittish about amending the Constitution, so senators might still be appointed by state legislatures instead of directly elected (this only changed with the 17th Amendment). At the state level the planter oligarchies of the antebellum south plus the anti-labor political machines of the north dominate politics. The Army is probably better seen as a confederation of state militias, no significant reforms since the Mexican War and mostly used by politicians to give themselves another office, another source of distinction and power. If there's a big corruption scandal or financial crisis, the automatic response can't be "chase these people out of office!" since there's so many informal requirements for who's allowed to succeed in national politics, and "national" campaigns are really a series of regional campaigns in regions with very different political scenes and conventions... what if there's no one to replace the corrupt and they coast right back into office under different names? Worse still, just like the Roman consuls there are no term limits, only informal conventions-- what if a Marius were to assume the consulate seven times in a row? What if no one can produce any way to stop him while still obeying the tangled net of conventions that have ensnared Washington? What if, with the executive sufficiently defanged by its transformation into the idol of "compromise", the legislature would even prefer that a single pliant man keep all others out of the Oval Office for twenty, thirty years?

I think the low public would be a little bit more willing to make and accept anarchist or socialist critiques of itself; the day may come when people look wistfully at Bismarck's social welfare laws and wish for salvation-- from the right, if not from the left. And I think the high public, their minds filled with Classical analogies from history class, would be more willing to hint at what form of government historically succeeded the crisis-ridden, hopelessly divided Roman Republic. Foreign adventures may be the sort of thing to create a Caesar; or, they make Bolsheviks of his men. And if you think the US is too economically dynamic to be feeling this way for long, it's true that Louis-Napoleon's France, Wilhelmine Germany, and Tsarist Russia were both stable for as long as they were peaceful and economically on the incline-- but a sharp reversal is all the more painful after years of good times.
 
Last edited:
I mean the question in these kind of things, is what happens instead? What prevents it? And then how does this play out?

The tensions won't just go away, so do you still have the attempt to balance slave and free states in the Union?

Mexico won't go away so do you have some president decide to go adventuring there again? Support for "breakaway" states, Sonoma, Chihuahua, or Yucatan?

Spain won't go away, so Cuba continues to have crises. Will they intervene?

Best regards
Jon
what prevents it, im not sure. Perhaps the leaders of the south are smarter and not so hotheaded to secede and resort to war. and maybe they accept Lincolns proposal for an amendment to preserve slavery
but youre right, the tensions wont go away.
 
Err.... no Civil War means Lincoln is never elected, sure.

The US remains the dysfunctional mess it was in the 50s, with neither side able to enact much legislation. Transcontinental rail waits for 5 years or more, and when it does happen, there are two lines, northern and southern, to balance regional factions. Lincoln loses a bundle on his Council Bluffs properties, as he won't be able to push OTL's central line through.

A northern route will be WAY too close to the 49th parallel for the comfort of politicians in *Ottawa and London.
(Yes, Bytown is unlikely to be the capital.)
no. Lincoln is still elected. the states seceded and went to war after Lincoln was elected as a result. but in this, im curious how things would have gone if the south was smarter and resolved to use their power to block everything he tried. sort of like Mcconnel in our time. or maybe the south even accepts Lincolns proposal for the corwin amendment to preserve slavery.
I imagine we would have a very divided nation then and its a very dark and violent future from then on.
 

marktaha

Banned
I agree -Corwin passed. Possible New England secession if Lincoln tries enforcing Fugitive slave act?
 
I mean the question in these kind of things, is what happens instead? What prevents it? And then how does this play out?

The tensions won't just go away, so do you still have the attempt to balance slave and free states in the Union?

Mexico won't go away so do you have some president decide to go adventuring there again? Support for "breakaway" states, Sonoma, Chihuahua, or Yucatan?

Spain won't go away, so Cuba continues to have crises. Will they intervene?

Best regards
Jon
And if there are more states in the south, maintaining the balance between free and slave states could mean a push for more northern states, which sets up a possible conflict with Canada/Britain.
No they won’t. The North will oppose such a conquest, and no insignificant parts of the South would oppose it as well, as they didn’t want to bring a Mexicans into the country:

“To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.”
-John C. Calhoun

There might be a path for the South to force a conquest of Cuba, but even under Buchanan and Pierce such plans were not well supported.
Anyhoo, to the question: slavery lasts at minimum another 20 years. How long depends on how long the South can bluster and threaten to keep things paralyzed. Eventually some kind of gradual emancipation plan is agreed to simply because the political power of the North has grown too large to resist, and secession is far too late.
That depends. The all-Mexico movement failed because for a lot of American public, Mexicans fell into a gray area. They were racist enough to not want Mexicans in the country, but not racist enough to treat them like the Native Americans. I don't think it was inevitable that things would be that way.
 
to avoid the war, you have to deal with a long term problem.... the south was losing out in DC little by little. immigration by far favored the north, which will capture the House rather easily. You can keep the Senate evenly divided for a while, but sooner or later, there will be a territory that doesn't want to be either a free or slave state as dictated by outsiders. The Presidency is going to fall to the north out of sheer numbers of people who live there. As for attacking Canada, as some on here suggested, well, the south won't go for that... it would add a bunch of free states to the Union... not to mention, the NE part of the country, which has strong trade ties to the UK, will object as well. For similar reasons, the north isn't going to like attacking Mexico for the sole purpose of adding a bunch of slave states to the Union.
The ACW didn't just happen out of the blue, there was a long process behind it mainly involving whether the north or south had power in DC.... that's something you have to solve before you can do away with the war...
 
to avoid the war, you have to deal with a long term problem.... the south was losing out in DC little by little. immigration by far favored the north, which will capture the House rather easily. You can keep the Senate evenly divided for a while, but sooner or later, there will be a territory that doesn't want to be either a free or slave state as dictated by outsiders. The Presidency is going to fall to the north out of sheer numbers of people who live there. As for attacking Canada, as some on here suggested, well, the south won't go for that... it would add a bunch of free states to the Union... not to mention, the NE part of the country, which has strong trade ties to the UK, will object as well. For similar reasons, the north isn't going to like attacking Mexico for the sole purpose of adding a bunch of slave states to the Union.
The ACW didn't just happen out of the blue, there was a long process behind it mainly involving whether the north or south had power in DC.... that's something you have to solve before you can do away with the war...

Correct. Jefferson could see it coming all the way in the 1820s and referred to it as settling the ascendancy between them. I think no war happens as long as it’s a gradual decline. Stupid moves post Mexico war to 1860 meant the South was suddenly looking at a rapid decline in power on the eve of the war.

My sense is that on its own wasn’t going to be enough to pull the northern South out of the Union, but it was just enough along with the built up antagonism for the Cotton states.
 
Top