WI: President John C. Breckinridge during the Secessionist Winter

No mention of the Breckinridge? He joined the CSA despite the fact that his home state, Kentucky, stayed with the Union! You know it's bad when you can't even use the "Well, he was just loyal to his state" excuse for him. Imagine if Buchanan had died in November of 1860, and we got Breckinridge in the secession winter! :eek:

Now this is an interesting question.

Let's assume that President Buchanan dies in November of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln has been elected. For simplicity's sake, lets assume he dies of illness or a heart attack. Accordingly, Vice President Beckinridge becomes President in the interim period between Buchanan's death and Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861.

I presume the Secessionist Winter and the formation of the Confederacy would still occur (as Lincoln will still become President in 1861). That leaves me with a few questions:

  1. Would any additional state secede during the Secessionist Winter?
  2. Would Breckenridge attempt some sort of national reconciliation? What could this look like and would it have any chance of being successful?
  3. Assuming there is no attempt at national reconciliation or such attempts fail - would President Breckenridge recognize the C.S.A. as Independent and order federal assets to leave the Confederacy?
  4. Assuming Breckenridge extends diplomatic recognition to the C.S.A (this is within the powers of the President - correct?) - what does Lincoln do once he becomes President?
  5. What happens in the Upper South while all of this is going on?
  6. What does Breckenridge do in the aftermath of his Presidency?

I will be conducting some research into these questions myself, but I look forward to the input of the board. There might be a timeline arising from this.
 
In that case we might get an actual civil war with two claimants to the legitimate US government instead of a war of secession. :eek:
 
In that case we might get an actual civil war with two claimants to the legitimate US government instead of a war of secession. :eek:

Would Breckenridge actually try to stay on as President?

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Another question:

What might happen with Arizona Territory? They tried to secede before Fort Sumter - so is there any chance they get included within the Confederacy? (assuming they decide to secede two or three weeks earlier, before Lincoln becomes President)
 
I do believe this would have interesting consequences for Maryland, as, if I recall correctly, they were very divided over the issue of secession. At least, it may be that the state rips instead in two a la Virginia.
 
I do believe this would have interesting consequences for Maryland, as, if I recall correctly, they were very divided over the issue of secession. At least, it may be that the state rips instead in two a la Virginia.

If Maryland goes then the Union goes.
 
If Maryland goes then the Union goes.

No, the capital merely would have been moved. DC isn't Paris or London where it is the biggest city as well as the capital. It would probably be a good thing in the long run as far too many troops were wasted guarding DC.
 
No, the capital merely would have been moved. DC isn't Paris or London where it is the biggest city as well as the capital. It would probably be a good thing in the long run as far too many troops were wasted guarding DC.

Umm, if Maryland seceded then DC would be surrounded on all sides by the Confederacy (presuming Virginia ditches too), that would be bad
 
Umm, if Maryland seceded then DC would be surrounded on all sides by the Confederacy (presuming Virginia ditches too), that would be bad

Yes, it would be. So the capital would be moved. Capitals have been moved before , capitals have been moved before and the power moving it still winning the war. Outside of being the city that hosts the US government DC is of no real importance. DC isn't London or Paris or Rome where it is the most important city in the country.
 
Now this is an interesting question.

Let's assume that President Buchanan dies in November of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln has been elected. For simplicity's sake, lets assume he dies of illness or a heart attack. Accordingly, Vice President Beckinridge becomes President in the interim period between Buchanan's death and Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861.

I presume the Secessionist Winter and the formation of the Confederacy would still occur (as Lincoln will still become President in 1861). That leaves me with a few questions:

  1. Would any additional state secede during the Secessionist Winter? (1)
  2. Would Breckenridge attempt some sort of national reconciliation? What could this look like and would it have any chance of being successful? (2)
  3. Assuming there is no attempt at national reconciliation or such attempts fail - would President Breckenridge recognize the C.S.A. as Independent (3) and order federal assets to leave the Confederacy? (4)
  4. Assuming Breckenridge extends diplomatic recognition to the C.S.A (this is within the powers of the President - correct?) - what does Lincoln do once he becomes President? (5)
  5. What happens in the Upper South while all of this is going on? (6)
  6. What does Breckenridge do in the aftermath of his Presidency? (7)

I will be conducting some research into these questions myself, but I look forward to the input of the board. There might be a timeline arising from this.

1) Only if Breckinridge actively encourages it. The problem for him is that pre-Fort Sumter a lot of future CSA states remained in the Union.

2) Impossible. With Lincoln's election as far as the Fire Eaters were concerned the dye was cast. Besides, Breckinridge's heart would be even less in it than Buchanan's.

3) YES.

4) More likely he'd order all Federal assets handed over to his newly recognized Confederacy. He could well order all Federal forces in the CSA to surrender to the nearest Confederate authorities as well.

5) VERY good question. Probably arranges for a congressional denunciation of Breckinridge as a traitor. If he does all as you describe he certainly constitutionally qualifies. Lincoln breaks off diplomatic relations with the CSA. After that, Breckinridge is seen in the North as Benedict Arnold on steroids, human growth hormone, and amphetamines.:rolleyes: See below on #7.

6) Probably OTL, as the Border States, Virginia, and Tennessee will be re-assured by Breckinridge's ascension and his subsequent actions ITTL.

7) Go South of course.:rolleyes: He'll have to if he wants to avoid a Federal treason trial that leads to the thirteen steps. I'm not joking. After all, if Breckinridge does as described above, then ALL Republicans and the soon-to-be) War Democrats will be howling for his blood. Post Lincoln's inauguration his very life could be in danger, even in Kentucky.:mad: BRECKINRIDGE HAS NO FUTURE IN THE UNION AFTER ALL OF THE ABOVE, AND WILL PROBABLY BE ON THE SAME BOAT AS CONFEDERATE SECRETARY OF STATE JUDAH BENJAMIN FLEEING THE CSA FOR LONDON.

Assuming Confederate survival, Breckinridge would have an excellent political future in the Confederacy.
 
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Breckenridge was a good man who had always worked for what he believed to be the United States best interest - and he firmly believed the US was the greatest country with the finest democracy in the world - but he did believe that the individual states had the right to seceed, so he would not have opposed secession outright but he did want to keep the Union together and believed this could be done through negotiations and political discourse.

Realistically he had no chance of success. He was a moderate in a country that was increasingly becoming radicalised and where firebrands in both north and south would not countenance anything other than a hardline stance. He would have sought to settle the dispute bloodlessly but he would have failed.

The Deep South would seceed regardless and he would favour letting them good in peace and goodwill, but he would have lost the confidence of the remaining members of the senate and likely been voted out of office early.

All this, of course, assuming Lincoln is still set to take officer in 1861.
 
Floyd might be encouraged to act even more extensively towards the war preparations for the south, e.g., sending more equipment to southern outpost to "prepare troops for increased order keeping".
 
congressional denunciation of Breckinridge as a traitor. If he does all as you describe he certainly constitutionally qualifies.
How would he constitutionally qualify, if the CSA leaves peacefully they aren't an enemy.
 

Anaxagoras

Banned
It's critical to remember that Breckinridge was not a secessionist and did not like the Fire-Eaters. He was pushed into running for President in 1860 and told everyone who would listen that he did not want to be a candidate. Nor was he really pro-slavery. He did not own slaves himself and there is evidence that he was a closet abolitionist (he subscribed to Frederick Douglass's newspaper, for example).
 
It's critical to remember that Breckinridge was not a secessionist and did not like the Fire-Eaters. He was pushed into running for President in 1860 and told everyone who would listen that he did not want to be a candidate. Nor was he really pro-slavery. He did not own slaves himself and there is evidence that he was a closet abolitionist (he subscribed to Frederick Douglass's newspaper, for example).

He was still a traitor who betrayed his home state and the United States to flee South and serve in the Confederate Army and government.
 

Anaxagoras

Banned
So, what do you think he would have done?

In the scenario described, I think he would have done his best to persuade the Southern political leadership not to secede, working directly with Lincoln (who was a personal friend of his) to reassure the South that the incoming administration would not act against slavery. It would not surprise me if Lincoln offered Breckinridge a place in the Cabinet. Breckinridge would probably have not defended the federal forts and arsenals in the South, because he would have been very concerned to avoid bloodshed. Sadly, I don't think it would have done any good. The Fire-Eaters were determined to pull the South out of the Union and Breckinridge wouldn't have been able to stop them.

Although Breckinridge believed that secession was constitutional (if foolish), I don't think he would have recognized the Confederacy, seeing it as a decision to be made by the incoming administration.
 
Lots of possibilities and POD. I feel at best that he might be a wishy washy as Buchanan, and worse would have aided, overtly or covertly, the South.

If he tried to go too far, were there enough votes to impeach him before Lincoln's inauguration? If so, as I do not have it handy, would become the interim President? Or might Lincoln be sworn in early?
 
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