Independent Appalachia?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Modern Imperialism, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    Could the Appalachian cultural region become its own country at any point? How could this happen? What would it be and look like? What impact does it have? When could it happen? I would think America would have to be extremely Balkanized for this to take place
     
  2. TastySpam Well-Known Member

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    CSA victory --> Appalachia peaces out if things go to hell in a handbasket? Appalachian unionism was a major phenomenon too. And maybe for whatever reason, admission into the union stalls.
     
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  3. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    There was a stillborn effort to establish the territory or state of Vandalia in the latter 18th Century. The are loosely covered from SW Pennslyvania, parts of western Virginia, bits ofof eastern Kentucky & I'll defined points further south. Perhaps had that got off the ground it would lead towards the OP.
     
  4. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Appalachian Unionism is really overblown due to the Post-War boom in the region that saw boosters really play it up in an effort to get Northern capital. In truth, only East Tennessee had any significant Unionist population and a third of the population still voted for secession there. In Western North Carolina not a single county voted against Secession and it was about the same in SWVA. Outside of the Northwestern portions bordering the Ohio, what became West Virginia voted 9,000 to 4,000 in favor of Secession while in the aforementioned area around a fourth did likewise. I have no hard data on Kentucky's Appalachian areas, but there too it was a very mixed bag.
     
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  5. overoceans Well-Known Member

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    re: "Appalachian cultural region"

    Question: Do people in the Appalachian Mountains tend to feel any sense of identity based on their residency in the mountains, as opposed to their residency in a particular state or region?
     
  6. overoceans Well-Known Member

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    And I think I've posted this before, in another context, but it seems suitable for this thread as well. From Nabokov's Lolita...

    I remember as a child in Europe gloating over a map of North America that had “Appalachian Mountains” boldly running from Alabama up to New Brunswick, so that the whole region they spanned--Tennessee, the Virginias, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, appeared to my imagination as a gigantic Switzerland or even Tibet, all mountain, glorious diamond peak upon peak, giant conifers, le montagnard émigré in his bear skin glory, and Felix tigris goldsmithi8, and Red Indians under the catalpas. That it all boiled down to a measly suburban lawn and a smoking garbage incinerator, was appalling.

    link(but good luck finding the quote there, it's kind of a mess)
     
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  7. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Appalachian here (though willing to admit there are better specimens). Everyone in Appalachia makes fun of everyone in every other part of Appalachia...but then I get the feeling the same could be said in, say, New England. And that frequently gets floated as an AH country.

    As for culture, hell yeah there’s a unique and definable Appalachian culture. No problem on that front.

    But a poor interior country...it would have to be very engineered.

    Probably the best PODs belong in pre-1900 and involve homelands for the Civilized Tribes.
     
  8. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    Okay I am going to some things that are very un-PC and please correct me if I get anything wrong but to your point of a poor interior country - how is this nation really independent given that its entire well being will be dependent on the larger and wealthier United States that surrounds it. This is one of those areas of America where people love to preach about their rugged independence but the sad fact is they are very dependent on Uncle Sugar's largess (all the while railing against the predations of Big Government). It seems to me that independence only make things worse.
     
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  9. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    Yes to extent and especially in the past. Appalachia geographic range goes from Georgia to Canada but the regions people define with a unique sub culture is the Appalachian regions below the Mason Dixon Line
     
  10. overoceans Well-Known Member

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    So, for example, someone in the Appalachian regions of western Maryland would say "We Appalachian people think that blah blah blah", and he would be including Appalachian people living in Georgia in that description?
     
  11. Alex1guy First Of His Name

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    Nah. Need a pre 1900 pod.
     
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  12. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Nothing un-PC in there that I can see! You uh, pretty much called it!

    But think about it this way: if there were really strong cultural and linguistic differences (much bigger than OTL) plenty of people around the world would assume independence as the right of that region’s inhabitants, just as they would for, say, Afghanistan or Bhutan. Maybe creating stable, economically-diverse polities should be more of a requirement for nationhood, but the “modern” nation-state was built around the idea of self-determination more than viability.

    We have many modern examples of nations that are basically propped up by larger, more prosperous nations.

    To your claim that independence would make things worse, I’m certainly not going to disagree.

    If I was going to correct any5ing in your statement, I might find a little issue with the characterization of Appalachians as rugged individualists. In the US that tends to conjur a pretty specific image. For me, at least, I think of ranchers in feuds with the Dept of the Interior, or people in Montana living off the grid.

    Appalachians are certainly closer to that than some richer areas, but there’s a really strong communitarian strain as well. Lots of love, frozen in amber, for the New Deal and the TVA. And just a lot of bitterness (like enough that it dominates most political actions) about the times when things were better. A lot of this is the same myth of the rosy past sold to and by most conservatives, but in the case of Appalachia it really was demonstrably more prosperous in the past.
     
  13. Expat Monthly Donor

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    In my experience you might get people in Western Maryland getting even more defensive about claiming their Appalachian status because it’s such a border area. I once got pushed out of a bar in Garrett County because I had the complete goddamn nerve to say, “huh, I didn’t know there were any coal mines left around here.”

    It’s also worth pointing out that exurban growth can go a long way to undermine the regional identity. There are thousands and thousands of refugees from DC housing prices who live in Western Maryland- and even some counties in West Virginia- who wouldn’t ever consider themselves Appalachians. So in that sense you’re right, it’s weakening in places.
     
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  14. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    True but I thought it would start in the 1800s but extend into the 1900s.
     
  15. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    Yea, but places like West Virginia, Western Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, and Western North Carolina being the main regions for this
     
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  16. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    That’s why I mentioned America probably having to be Balkanized or divided somewhat for it to happen. A United States would just retake it otherwise. The United States is kind of like the Soviet Union. If they let one region or state go more will likely follow. America has strong regional identities that would classify as there own ethnic groups if America was more like the old world in politics. Before the civil war more people identify more with states and regions then being generally American. A confederate victory could see Appalachia getting short handed by the lowlands and coastal south who are dominated by a small aristocratic slave holding elite which they already dislike. Appalachia would probably need to separate and stay independent by a show of force because it’s such a central location and would divide a country in half especially a confederate one but the terrain is perfect for partisan warfare so it could be doable
     
  17. Expat Monthly Donor

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    Yeah, definitely a possibility in maybe like a negotiated end to the Civil War TL. Angry US decides it never wanted the stupid ol' Confederacy anyway, but is still clearly bitter enough to help anyone seeking to undermine them.
     
  18. DougM Well-Known Member

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    The US gets on the “wrong Side of WW1. Meanwhile a stronger Mexico sides with England and we see a lot more fighting at the boarder then just a few raids by rebels or bandits.
    During this the coal miners having had it with a federal government that sends troops in to crush them (assuming that the union movement is a decade sooner) starts actively resisting during the war. The radically cut back quantity of coal is not going to help the US.
    While over in Europe the war breaks in England’s favor very very fast (for whatever reason). During the war England and the US get into a huge navel slug vest in which the US Navy is badly beaten but does noticeable damage to the Royal Navy. On land the US invades Canada.
    But without England and France helping to build weapons and with the radically reduced amount of coal cutting into factories and transport and heat and power the US is force to surrender to England and France after the Fall of Germany,

    England not wanting a repeat of the naval battle or the invasion of Canada insists on dividing up the zuS and uses the open Rebellion of the coal reaction (predominantly Appalachia) as an excuse to force regions to “vote” on being part of the US. The South being the south they go thier way (the South will rise again kind of thing). The coal region (called Appalachia) goes its getting part of VA around New Port zNews area as a port. Several large areas out west are divided out and give to the “First Nations”. And Alaska is give to Canada.

    The problem with the above is that while it sounds great for a book or movie it is the next best thing to ASB and is definitely an England wank of the first water in which everything that can go right for England and wrong for a Germany and the US does. And even then it is probably not possible.
    Thus we get the standard problem. Things that sound great for alternative history fiction are not very realistic when you actually look at it.
    This is why (imho) you need to use a different standard for fiction then for alternative timelines on this forum.

    One final point. With reasonable levels of backing by England and with the large supply of coal (that they can use and or sell) Apilachia may not be as bad off as it is in OTL. The problem with that region as it is today is that back in the day the wealthy mine owners and railroad owners and lumber barons sold off a LOT of resources from that area and paid subsistence wages to the locals and invested NOTHING in the area. They built the factories (run on coal, and that often used workers that moved from Appalachia) in the north and deliver raw materials and coal on railroads that often ran on Appalachia coal. Then they sold a lot of what the factories produced over seas shipping it on coal fired ships that were often powered with Appalachia coal.
    So yes the area is very poor today because the wealthy squeezed everything they could out of putting nothing back and leaving the mess behind. And the did it with the support of a federal government that sent in Bombers to attack strikers that were fighting back against some of the most outrageous working conditions ever in the US that were enforced by personnel armies hired as “security “. These thugs have been known to shoot up camps of stiikeing minors (and thier families) that were located on private property that the mine owners did not own. This was (short of slavery) the most disgusting example of our government doing the bidding of the wealthy to ever happen (considering it was its own citizens it was doing it to).
    So yes I could see the people in that region wanting to leave the US if they could have
     
  19. Modern Imperialism Well-Known Member

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    I see a United States that loses the Civil War still being a industrial power but much more unstable and corrupt. They might help a bit but they won’t be a definite factor. I see the Confederate becoming a giant version of a banana republic or like a Latin American country. I see the confederates and Union breaking up even more so after the war in most cases which makes Appalachia independence possible especially given internal issues the confederacy will face. Appalachia under the confederates or independent is going to be a very poor place(much more then now). Probably the poorest American nation besides maybe Haiti. It will be a raw resource base economy. It’s resources value probably owned completely by local barons or foreign business. It could become socialist later on by revolution but I think that it would be a Christian Socialist takeover instead of traditional socialism if it did which would be interesting to see. Or you would see populism or a Venezuela form of left wing politics(mostly relating to economics). Political views would be economically left wing among many but traditional conservativism would be more dominant regarding social life. The biggest problem I see Appalachia major problems besides poverty and environmental damage being constant war and internal unrest/violence. I see it being like Afghanistan in many regards. Labor strikes and riots would also be common. Additionally if independent many blacks might flee to the region which might cause issues with the confederates especially if slavery still around(probably no later then 1900) and also it would upset many local whites(many might dislike slave owners or slavery but they still don’t care about blacks for the most part)
     
  20. Expat Monthly Donor

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    You could probably manage it with a range of circumstances. My thought was just a pissed off US- I see no reason why corruption should increase, necessarily. Starts doing the unavoidable psychological work of moving forward as a loser, convincing itself it's well-rid of the Confederacy (in so many ways it is). When internal rebellions start, why not support them? When the dust settles, that psychological shift means the people really don't want to play the annexation game, so you set up something between a puppet (if they helped a lot) and a friendly buffer.

    US continues to thrive, Confederacy continues to circle the toilet, Appalachia actually somewhere in the middle for a while, though economically handcuffed to the US and its needs. Probably doesn't ever get as bad as Afghanistan or even Haiti, but certainly something like Bolivia is well within reach.

    Definitely not a good final destination for African Americans. It might look like a good place to run to on the way to the US or Canada, but I don't see anything (beyond pressure from the US) stopping Appalachians from cooperating with Confederates on a Fugitive Slave Act style retrieval system. Probably be quite in favor of it if there was a bounty system still in place.