Until Every Drop of Blood Is Paid: A More Radical American Civil War

Hey it's very nice to have you back :D hopefully you don't somehow silence the thread again lol. This is actually the penultimate chapter. Do you have any thoughts for the last one?

Frankly it's weird to see Americans venerate the Constitution so much, especially when many of its framers never thought of it as a perfect unchangeable document. Especially when I come from a country with, like, 30 constitutions lol.

It is disturbing to see political repression legitimized and cults of personality entrenched. We may cheer because it's all on the side of the Union against slaveholders and their advocates, but if this becomes enduring it could spell trouble when "the enemies of the nation" are striking workers or syndical leaders.

IOTL Lovejoy died earlier and he never saw the end of the war or the amendment ;(


Thanks!
kinda sad the next will be the last, I'd love to see how reconstruction goes
 
kinda sad the next will be the last, I'd love to see how reconstruction goes
I thought he meant what was replied to was the next to last one that he had posted but it is easy for me to get confused.

I think the Constitution is also a rallying symbol because of the Bill of rights. Without that they're probably would have been more of a focus on changing the method of government and other things. But, adding the Bill of Rights allowed something that the Anti-Federalists could really Embrace also, so that everyone could get behind it. I know that Latin American country is often adopted our system of government at first, but I'm not sure how many also adopted the Bill of Rights with it.
 
It's probably because America had to create a national Identity and you have to revere something and that reverence probably helped protect the nation's democracy on a national level.
And yet Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on have managed to also create national identities starting from essentially a blank slate, without worshipping their respective constitutions.
 
And yet Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on have managed to also create national identities starting from essentially a blank slate, without worshipping their respective constitutions.
Ah, but Canada, Australia, and New Zealand didn't start from a blank slate; they started from English colonies (and French, in the case of Canada). It's not entirely coincidental that all three of them still have the British monarch as their head of state, even if all the actual governing is done in-house by locally elected officials.
 
And yet Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on have managed to also create national identities starting from essentially a blank slate, without worshipping their respective constitutions.
The difference is that the birth of those states doesn't play a huge role in their national identity, in contrast the American Revolution has a prominent place in American mythology. The Founding Fathers have been deified and the constitution is their holy work.
 
The difference is that the birth of those states doesn't play a huge role in their national identity, in contrast the American Revolution has a prominent place in American mythology. The Founding Fathers have been deified and the constitution is their holy work.
As is the Declaration of Independence. In some ways, I think those who are so extra insistent upon deifying the Constitution confuse it with the Declaration of Independence. I'm not saying that they are so uninformed that they think that it is a government document - I mean, yeah when I was 5 or 6 I thought that if someone stole the Declaration of Independence and destroyed it we would go back to being British, but kids that age have a lot of unusual ideas :). But in some ways they do act like they think it is. And that life liberty and the pursuit of happiness means being able to do whatever they want independent of the federal government - or even the local government in some cases.
 
Last edited:
Ah, but Canada, Australia, and New Zealand didn't start from a blank slate; they started from English colonies (and French, in the case of Canada). It's not entirely coincidental that all three of them still have the British monarch as their head of state, even if all the actual governing is done in-house by locally elected officials.
yeah but they didn't have to deal with after effects of violent revolution and birth, those three counties had the benefit of leaving peacefully.
 
I think it’s not so surprising given the background of the country. There aren’t a lot of other obvious points to build a national identity around—ethnicity is out, religion doesn’t work, geography is…well, theoretically possible, but that would require avoiding a Manifest Destiny attitude that predates the Revolution. Something about Freedom(TM) is pretty much the only thing that I can think of, and that tends to lead back to the constitution as a rallying point and symbol of Freedom(TM).
I understand, but this has resulted in an unfortunate focus on the Constitution as something perfect in and of itself instead of focusing on the principles. Free speech, for example, has to be defended because it's on the first amendment rather than because it's something good and necessary for a democracy. This, in turn, means that things that are not in the constitution are not given the necessary importance and consideration. At the end of the day, I understand but do not accept that the work of 18th century slaveholders and elites is perfectly suited for the needs of a 21st century people.

kinda sad the next will be the last, I'd love to see how reconstruction goes
And you will! I only meant it was the penultimate chapter I've posted. For this part there are still like 7 chapters more. Then there will be a second part focused on Reconstruction.

I thought he meant what was replied to was the next to last one that he had posted but it is easy for me to get confused.

I think the Constitution is also a rallying symbol because of the Bill of rights. Without that they're probably would have been more of a focus on changing the method of government and other things. But, adding the Bill of Rights allowed something that the Anti-Federalists could really Embrace also, so that everyone could get behind it. I know that Latin American country is often adopted our system of government at first, but I'm not sure how many also adopted the Bill of Rights with it.
Usually there is a section that enumerates rights that are similar to what's in the Bill of Rights. For example, article 66 of Ecuador's current constitution includes freedom of speech and religion.

Ah, but Canada, Australia, and New Zealand didn't start from a blank slate; they started from English colonies (and French, in the case of Canada). It's not entirely coincidental that all three of them still have the British monarch as their head of state, even if all the actual governing is done in-house by locally elected officials.
The difference is that the birth of those states doesn't play a huge role in their national identity, in contrast the American Revolution has a prominent place in American mythology. The Founding Fathers have been deified and the constitution is their holy work.
I've heard some argue that not being the US is an essential part of Canadian identity at least.

I mean, yeah when I was 5 or 6 I thought that if someone stole the Declaration of Independence and destroyed it we would go back to being British, but kids that age have a lot of unusual ideas :).
If Nicholas Cage had succeeded you'd be having tea and biscuits mate.
 
I understand, but this has resulted in an unfortunate focus on the Constitution as something perfect in and of itself instead of focusing on the principles. Free speech, for example, has to be defended because it's on the first amendment rather than because it's something good and necessary for a democracy. This, in turn, means that things that are not in the constitution are not given the necessary importance and consideration. At the end of the day, I understand but do not accept that the work of 18th century slaveholders and elites is perfectly suited for the needs of a 21st century people.

PERSONAL OPINION: I think that a lot of Americans, both in the past and those living today, have internalised a belief that even supposing the Constitution isn't perfect, it is at least better than anything that could be made today. That the Founders are now so dead and remote is part of their virtue; Can we be so certain that the people picked today to make the US a new constitution would be so educated, so intellectually curious, so ready to argue and fight and eventually compromise as the OG were?

There's a slightly Hobbesian streak in American public thought that while the Constitution enables people to live up to republican virtues of civility, reason, and compromise, being without the Constitution would let out all the worst demons of humanity's nature. Most Americans, particularly older ones, see the beginnings of their national history in the Puritan Pilgrims, and I think it says something that the generally recollected memory of the Puritans is that they landed from the Mayflower, had Thanksgiving with the Indians, and then sometime later had a bout of mass hysteria about witches that got loads of people killed. In the national imagination, "Killing people for being witches" is the second or third ever thing that Americans did in their history. Superstition, terror, murderous hatred, these are bubbling in the souls of all human beings, and there has to be something that everybody can treat as a legal absolute if we're to make certain they won't boil over.

At least, that's what lots of people in America might think. Certainly in the 1860s, the attitude exists on both sides in this civil war, where both think the other has abandoned sacrosanct republican principles for more base instincts.
 
PERSONAL OPINION: I think that a lot of Americans, both in the past and those living today, have internalised a belief that even supposing the Constitution isn't perfect, it is at least better than anything that could be made today. That the Founders are now so dead and remote is part of their virtue; Can we be so certain that the people picked today to make the US a new constitution would be so educated, so intellectually curious, so ready to argue and fight and eventually compromise as the OG were?

There's a slightly Hobbesian streak in American public thought that while the Constitution enables people to live up to republican virtues of civility, reason, and compromise, being without the Constitution would let out all the worst demons of humanity's nature. Most Americans, particularly older ones, see the beginnings of their national history in the Puritan Pilgrims, and I think it says something that the generally recollected memory of the Puritans is that they landed from the Mayflower, had Thanksgiving with the Indians, and then sometime later had a bout of mass hysteria about witches that got loads of people killed. In the national imagination, "Killing people for being witches" is the second or third ever thing that Americans did in their history. Superstition, terror, murderous hatred, these are bubbling in the souls of all human beings, and there has to be something that everybody can treat as a legal absolute if we're to make certain they won't boil over.

At least, that's what lots of people in America might think. Certainly in the 1860s, the attitude exists on both sides in this civil war, where both think the other has abandoned sacrosanct republican principles for more base instincts.
if we were going to get a new constution is would have probably been in the 1920's or 30's
 
PERSONAL OPINION: I think that a lot of Americans, both in the past and those living today, have internalised a belief that even supposing the Constitution isn't perfect, it is at least better than anything that could be made today.
No, it's that we know that actually getting the country to agree on starting over with a new constitution at this point is impossible.
 
I understand, but this has resulted in an unfortunate focus on the Constitution as something perfect in and of itself instead of focusing on the principles. Free speech, for example, has to be defended because it's on the first amendment rather than because it's something good and necessary for a democracy. This, in turn, means that things that are not in the constitution are not given the necessary importance and consideration. At the end of the day, I understand but do not accept that the work of 18th century slaveholders and elites is perfectly suited for the needs of a 21st century people.
I think another factor is the fact that the United States has never had a wholesale revision of the constitutional order, the way that France did for example. If your first republican government fails so catastrophically as France's, then naturally you're driven, to the extent that you still value the ideals it used to justify itself, to emphasize the ideals, and not any given constitution (particularly if later constitutions continue to fail, again like France experienced). But if the constitution more or less functions in defense of those ideals from the start, then there's no real need to draw a line between the ideals and the constitution.

I thin the most likely time for a wholesale revision of the constitution, given more or less OTL history, was probably the 1860s and Reconstruction. The Civil War is a major crisis point in the constitutional history of the United States because it showed that the constitutional order of the past wasn't functioning, but IOTL that was resolved with comparatively minor revisions largely turning on changed interpretations of the original document (another factor, I suppose...the brevity of the constitution means that interpretation is very important for actually applying it, and so you can change the constitutional order without changing the constitution itself). I suspect that a different (more Radical) President than Lincoln who survived into the post-war era might very well attempt to and perhaps even succeed in replacing the constitution with an entirely new document, particularly if the South was more successful and the war even more drawn out and bloody than it already was IOTL. Other possibilities might be an earlier civil war, particularly if the South won (as it might in a war fought in 1850 or 1820).
 
I think another factor is the fact that the United States has never had a wholesale revision of the constitutional order, the way that France did for example. If your first republican government fails so catastrophically as France's, then naturally you're driven, to the extent that you still value the ideals it used to justify itself, to emphasize the ideals, and not any given constitution (particularly if later constitutions continue to fail, again like France experienced). But if the constitution more or less functions in defense of those ideals from the start, then there's no real need to draw a line between the ideals and the constitution.

I thin the most likely time for a wholesale revision of the constitution, given more or less OTL history, was probably the 1860s and Reconstruction. The Civil War is a major crisis point in the constitutional history of the United States because it showed that the constitutional order of the past wasn't functioning, but IOTL that was resolved with comparatively minor revisions largely turning on changed interpretations of the original document (another factor, I suppose...the brevity of the constitution means that interpretation is very important for actually applying it, and so you can change the constitutional order without changing the constitution itself). I suspect that a different (more Radical) President than Lincoln who survived into the post-war era might very well attempt to and perhaps even succeed in replacing the constitution with an entirely new document, particularly if the South was more successful and the war even more drawn out and bloody than it already was IOTL. Other possibilities might be an earlier civil war, particularly if the South won (as it might in a war fought in 1850 or 1820).
I think I agree with this. It kind of feels like the US constitution has ossified, when everyone else revisits their constitution for an update every so often.

It's always been interesting to me to look at the drafted Confederate constitution, not so much for the changes that it made, but for the updated language and clarification of existing items to match the understanding of the time. I think a post-Civil War constitutional redraft would probably want to minimise changes outside what is necessary, but even just update the language to something more contemporary could result in a significantly different document. I wonder if it would also open up Supreme Court cases to revisit settled law, based on changes of language.
 
I thin the most likely time for a wholesale revision of the constitution, given more or less OTL history, was probably the 1860s and Reconstruction. The Civil War is a major crisis point in the constitutional history of the United States because it showed that the constitutional order of the past wasn't functioning, but IOTL that was resolved with comparatively minor revisions largely turning on changed interpretations of the original document (another factor, I suppose...the brevity of the constitution means that interpretation is very important for actually applying it, and so you can change the constitutional order without changing the constitution itself).
In a lot of ways it's probably because we have weirdly powerful courts. Judicial Review in the United States is far reaching and expansive and I believe goes further than most other democracies, even those with lively legal traditions. You can construct arguments for why gun control is bad or about executive overreach, or you can support legal doctrines which say they're unconstitutional. You can fight for legislation supporting access to abortion or gay marriage, and yet the quickest path to success remains crafting judicial arguments that they should be enshrined as constitutional rights. I suppose on that front another factor may be our particular form of federalism has often made it so the courts are the only branch of government capable of instituting national standards. The recent gay marriage bill the Senate passed for instance was very aware of Congresses' limited authority; they can force states to recognize gay marriages issued in other states, but they can't force clerks in any state to issue gay marriage licenses.

If the courts, with the acceptance of the body politic, are going to be the arbiter of everything from minimum wage laws to civil rights to healthcare to whether or not the EPA can regulate carbon emissions, then of course everything will just be condensed down to whether something is constitutional or not. Because constitutionality actually just is the most important thing.
 
Last edited:
In a lot of ways it's probably because we have weirdly powerful courts. Judicial Review in the United States is far reaching and expansive and I believe goes further than most other democracies, even those with lively legal traditions. You can construct arguments for why gun control is bad or about executive overreach, or you can support legal doctrines which say they're unconstitutional. You can fight for legislation supporting access to abortion or gay marriage, and yet the quickest path to success remains crafting judicial arguments that they should be enshrined as constitutional rights. I suppose on that front another factor may be our particular form of federalism has often made it so the courts are the only branch of government capable of instituting national standards. The recent gay marriage bill the Senate passed for instance was very aware of Congresses' limited authority; they can force states to recognize gay marriages issued in other states, but they can't force clerks in any state to issue gay marriage licenses.

If the courts, with the acceptance of the body politic, are going to be the arbiter of everything from minimum wage laws to civil rights to healthcare to whether or not the EPA can regulate carbon emissions, then of course everything will just be condensed down to whether something is constitutional or not. Because constitutionality actually just is the most important thing.
There's also how the Supreme Court doesn't adhere to the same ethics code: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-don-t-supreme-court-justices-have-ethics-code-n745236

Don't know how relevant it is, but it is still pretty nuts.
 
There's also how the Supreme Court doesn't adhere to the same ethics code: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-don-t-supreme-court-justices-have-ethics-code-n745236

Don't know how relevant it is, but it is still pretty nuts.
Not especially relevant given the issue ultimately is that the courts have been allowed to carve for themselves a huge amount of power, rather than how ethically they use said power.

For this timeline I'm genuinely unsure how much we're bound to fall into the same trap. This period from what I understand featured quite a lot of condemnation of "judicial despotism" and Lincoln himself wrote often about the court's overreach and ability to do wrong, especially as it related to Dred Scott which here was even more nakedly partisan. Yet it isn't as if there was much appetite to totally rewrite the constitution or overturn Marbury v Madison, even efforts like the supercharged 13th amendment are mostly about updating the document. Some of the changes, especially the 13th amendment including a passage about 'individual persons,' hopefully preclude the later constitutional rollback which defanged the ability of Congress to enforce civil rights for a century, and yet our history is littered with examples of the courts basically just ignoring plain reading and going "because we said so." The Privileges and Immunities Clause is still dormant to this day by judicial fiat.

It likely comes down to how much this and subsequent Congresses are willing to just go "actually we do have this authority" and, if need be, further amendments reinforcing their power.
 
Top