US Capital following a Confederate Victory

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jackson Lennock, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

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    The Confederacy has won the civil war via a negotiated peace, comprised of the states of Virginia (including eastern West Virginia), North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and "Sequoia" (Indian Territory south of the Oklahoma and Canadian Rivers).

    Washington DC is now a border city and the government must relocate. Where does it go?


    I've seen Philadelphia proposed before, and it'd have some decent historical prestige.

    Perhaps a territory already under federal jurisdiction? The military academies in Annapolis and West Point could perhaps be modified to serve as Federal Districts.

    Alternatively, there's the confluence region of the Cumberland, Wabash, and Ohio Rivers. There was a bit of a push for this OTL: Metropolis, Illinois was proposed in 1850 and Paducah, Kentucky (or the area around it) was called Capytol City for a bit IIRC with this purpose being in mind.

    St Louis was supposedly proposed OTL, though I cannot find a source. It's certainly in a pretty central location, not too far from the northeast by ship, could be a railroad hub, has mountainous terrain to the south via the Ozarks, etc.

    York, Pennsylvania was capital for a little bit OTL. It's still eastern but it's on the way to the west. It's defended by mountains but not too out of the way.

    Cincinnati was the first city west of the Appalachians and is on the canal, meaning it wouldn't be too far from the northeast by boat.

    Wheeling, West Virginia (Kanawha TTL?) is on the National Road, Ohio River, and B&O railroad as well as in territory seized from a Confederate State. Perhaps there?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  2. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Chicago would be a cool option, as it's hooked into both the Great Lakes and Mississippi commercial and transport network, is at a rail rub, a more centeral location in terms of population dispersal, and in a VERY secure geographic position. Bonus: it just got it's historical 5 foot boost and so won't be the flooded, mosquito-infested mess Washington was and had perfect timing to be built up into a proper great city, like Paris had just done, with a forward-looking vision and room for laying down expansive facilities and monuments without having an old town or inefficent street network to work around.
     
  3. BELFAST Irish Confederate

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    I think the US had spent too much on Washington DC to move the Capital. i think they would just improve the defences.

    [​IMG]
    The U.S. Capitol under construction, 1860 (National Archives Identifier 530494)
     
  4. Drizzt Well-Known Member

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    After the Civil War it won't be long until Washington DC is within range of CSA artillery stationed on their own side of the border. And taking it isn't required to render it useless as administrative centre.
    Until the invention of Star Trek level force fields you can't defend against that.
     
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  5. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

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    -- DC is too close to the border, but so is Philadelphia. If defensive viability is a cobcern, Philadelphia isn't winning this contest.

    -- A territory already under federal jurisdiction would be impractical. Places like West Point are fairly small and already in (important) use. You'd have to buy additional land, and if that's going to be the case, you might just as well designate a more practical location and buy that.

    -- York, Pennsylvania and Wheeling, West Virginia aren't going to be considered seriously. Not central enough to be picked for that reason, not prestigious enough otherwise.

    -- Metropolis, Paducah and St. Louis are up for consideration for being "central", but they also lack the sufficient prestige, so if that argument ("it must be central") wins out, there's another candidate that's going to take the cake, namely...

    -- ...Chicago. It was the hub for all movement from the North-East into the West.

    -- The other big contender is pretty obvious, namely NYC. In fact, I think this whole debate would end up being a tug of war between those favouring NYC and those favouring Chicago.

    -- Cincinnati is a realistic compromise solution between the two big alternatives.
     
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  6. Maniakes Well-Known Member

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    That's a tall order unless the Union bites at least Arlington and Alexandria off from Virginia: the White House and the Capital building are very close to the Potomac, about two miles from the Virginia coast of the river. That's well within the range of heavy siege mortars of the Civil War era, and even within the range of at least one model of 3" rifled field gun (the Union's Ordinance Rifle). The river itself makes direct assault difficult-to-impossible without naval supremacy, but artillery bombardment would be plenty to force the government to re-seat elsewhere if a second war were to break out.

    OTL, the Union occupied Arlington and Alexandria within a day of Virginia's secession and AFAIK kept them for the entire war. The ring of forts built during the war to protect DC extended 1-2 miles into Virginia's territory.
     
  7. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

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    In regards to the NYC, they'll say they were once the capital before DC. How are you going fit all the executive government buildings into NYC? That is going to be tight.
     
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  8. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

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    In seriousness, didn't borough consolidation only occur in 1898? Even the first annexation of NYC beyond Manhattan Island was in 1874. I could see a ring of land being bought out for all the federal buildings within a neo-Federal District enveloping the City of New York and various annexations, if not a de-facto federal district taking in all OTL five boroughs.
     
  9. GameBawesome Well-Known Member

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    I agree with that, Washington DC has so many symbols like The White House, and the Capital Building. I would imagine them building a series of defensive forts around the city.
     
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  10. BELFAST Irish Confederate

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    Demilitarised zone on the Border? or Near the Capital?
     
  11. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

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    This could work. Maybe both sides agree that all the lands between Richmond and DC are demilitarized in a peace treaty?
     
  12. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait Gone Fishin'

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    What about the capital being provisionally to New York for a couple of decades, before the South is reconquered and the capital can return to Washington DC? Something similar happened with Bonn and Berlin during the Cold War.
     
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  13. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

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    NYC's configuration will look odd and intriguing with all the executive buildings just outside of Manhatten.
     
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  14. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

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    Did Manhattan really fill up that fast? I'm surprised.
     
  15. Eckener Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised that no one has brought it up, but I always found the solution that occurs in Turtledove's TL-191 series pretty plausible. The capital remains in DC after the war, but then after the first rematch in the 1880s, when DC is shelled badly, the government evacuates to Philadelphia, and that city becomes the de-facto capital, while on paper DC remains the de-jure capital. The monuments are repaired and maintained as museums and used for special ceremonies and what not (I specifically recall at least some inaugurations happening there. And AFTER the series, with an A-bomb having been dropped on Philadelphia, I could see DC being restored.

    As for other alternatives, I could see a battle between New York and Chicago, with Philadelphia being a tertiary contender.

    I think you could still add the necessary buildings into the New York of 1860s, or even the 1880s (though that would be a harder fit). Alternatively, we could see the new federal buildings being built as sky-scrapers, instead of large sprawling buildings. (I'm reminded of an ISOT story set in the 1950s where a Confederacy that had Maryland shows up, forcing the US government to relocate, and the President's office ends up in the Empire State Building).

    Chicago would also be cool, centrally located, an up-and-coming city still malleable to the needs of the federal government relocating there.

    Also, I found the proposal for Cincinnati interesting. In my Washington Burns TL, that location is chosen as the site of the new capital after DC is laid waste in 1814, although at that point Cincinnati wasn't much of a going concern yet, so the city gets a new name (Franklin) and has no real similarities to the OTL city.
     
  16. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    DMZ is the only acceptable solution. In any case, the second war will end with Richmond in ruins.
    There is a fantasy meme that that North will walk away from a defeat. Or that the South, vastly outnumbered in everything that matters, will keep its independence for decades or forever.
     
  17. Grand Archduke of Austria Well-Known Member

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    This is New York City and the surrounding area in 1860. (See link. Click on the highlighted button at the bottom to get an enlarged map.)

    https://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/new-york-city-1860/ - Notice the handwritten tick in the top left-hand corner.:hushedface:
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  18. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    Metropolis and Paducah are in the middle of an earthquake zone. St. Louis is even iffy for that reason.
     
  19. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    A DMZ in such a strategically vital location as the East Coast is likely to fail as a concept LONG before things turn into a restarting of a war in the region. As soon as tensions start ramping up, both sides are gong to realize they haven't got any static defences/structures that can block an offensive between some of their biggest political and industrial targets and the border, which is a nightmare scenario for either side. Both would be obliged to keeep large standing forces in southern Virginia and the Midatlantic to make sure they can mobalize and respond quickly to any outbreak of violence, which is expensive, goes against the military culture, and is a self-feeding cycle of buildups based on the need for security that is bound to lead to one side renegading at some point and starting to build at least earthworks and mass artillery with dug in garrisons. Likely Dixie, since she has a smaller pop to draw from and will run into more political problems moving in forces form the Deep South to bolster local numbers and so will have to economize first.
     
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  20. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    I think the eastern states would have a conniption if the government tried to move west to Chicago. That might be a play for the 20th century when the west is settled and the east has declined in power somewhat.