WI seed: Birmingham, Alabama developed in 1850s

Alabama, circa 1850. Plans are afoot by a syndicate of wealthy planters and industrialists, who want to set up some iron furnaces and associated works in a new location. It is a fortunate area which has some key natural resources in abundance: iron ore, coal, and limestone. Everything which is needed to make some of the best iron & steel in the world. It is also at the site of the planned crossing of a couple of railroads (the Alabama & Chattanooga and South & North Alabama railroads), not too far from water transport, and in short has everything needed to make it a major source of iron production.

Problem: the small farmers in Alabama don't want any part of this. Industrialisation, railroads, canal building, and internal improvements are something they cordially detest most of the time, and doubly so if there's any hint of their hard-earned tax dollars being spent to pay for it. (Never mind that most of them don't pay tax, damnit, it's the principle of the thing). The project is blocked in the Alabama legislature, and its backers reluctantly shelve the idea.

Fast forward ten years, circa 1860, and many of the same people involved in the original plan are preparing for another political bid. They do get a bit of interest, but the build-up to the ACW more or less kills the idea. Once the ACW breaks out, Alabama has other priorities. In the end, the site won't be developed (as Birmingham, Alabama) until the 1870s.

So, WI the original attempt is successful? Iron furnaces are permitted on the Birmingham site - assume it has the same name, for convenience's sake - and industry starts up. Railroad construction goes ahead, linking Birmingham north, south, east and west, including a connexion to the nearby river port on the Black Warrior River, which allows barge traffic down to Mobile.

Birmingham thrives; once it's started, it has a momentum of its own. Labour isn't always the cheapest, but it's available: some slaves, some free blacks, a few (mostly unreliable) poor whites, perhaps a few immigrants. (The South didn't attract many immigrants, but Birmingham will be a minor additional pull, and most immigrants who did come South ended up in the cities). Iron production booms - call it 75,000 tonnes per year by 1860, and rising every year.

Significant side-note: in OTL, the 1850s were a time of major consolidation of iron production within the US of A. In the 1840s and earlier, there had been a lot of small-scale charcoal iron production all over the place - New England, the Upper South, and the Lower South.

During the 1850s, this changed dramatically. Iron production was shifting to more efficient processes which used coal in blast furnaces. This led to a concentration of iron production to a few centres, mostly in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Basic iron prouction in the rest of the US of A dropped dramatically - most of the smaller local furnaces were out-competed and closed. Iron production in most of the South actually declined between 1850 and 1860. Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia produced less iron in 1860 than a decade before - in an era where other sectors of industry were growing rapidly, particularly in Virginia. About the only part of the South were iron production expanded was Kentucky, which thanks to its coal reserves was the leading iron producer in the South.

Now, when the American Civil War rolled around in OTL, this concentration of iron production would really bite for the South. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky weren't exactly supplying lots of iron any more. The South was really starved of the raw iron production which it needed for manufacturing purposes.

The Tredegar Iron Works, for instance - the largest in the seceded portions of the South - had a truly massive expansion of its manufacturing capacity during the ACW. At its top performance, it was capable of processing about 60,000 tonnes of basic iron (if memory serves) and turning it into all sorts of steel products, be it rifles, railroad tracks or rolling stock. The problem was that it never got that much iron - never more than half of that amount even in its best year. Other Southern industrial centres built up during the ACW (eg Selma) suffered from similar shortages.

ATL, now Birmingham is a thriving centre of iron production, and that rail crossing has the added benefit of linking rail nets east of the Mississippi. I doubt that the development of Birmingham will do much to disrupt the chain of events which led to the ACW - perhaps slightly more Unionism in upcountry Alabama, but that's about it.

When the ACW breaks out, though, the CSA has all the iron production they're likely to need (until the North's forces reach Birmingham, at least) and have a slightly better internal transportation network. Production of war materiel will be much easier, as will repair of rail nets. Along with much else.

Where do things go from here?

P.S. This post was inspired in part by my current re-reading of Starobin's "Industrial Slavery in the Old South" - sadly out of print nowadays, but packed full of examples of why anyone who argues that "slavery isn't compatible with industry" is really missing the point.
 

Thande

Donor
Very interesting idea. It certainly gives the Confederates more of a fighting chance, although it may only prolong the war rather than change the result. Would an ironworks in Alabama, particularly using new techniques like this, outcompete those in the North and lead to a decline in northern iron production as well as a boost in southern iron production? Or is the US a big enough place for that kind of market force not to apply?
 
While possible; this is not really all that plausible.

Tredagar Iron Works was on the verge of going out of business in the years prior to the Civil War. This was for many reasons. Free Labor for industrial manufacturing was more expensive in the South due to a lack of recent immigrants. The use of slave labor, though effective, caused many other problems; free whites didn't like competing against slaves and threatened to strike on numerous occasions. Free blacks would also be a liability especially as slave states moved towards tighter control of their free black populations.

Local infrastructure may improve a bit but supporting a growing industrial site by way of trans-state roads or railways would be greatly opposed by the planter aristocracy. This why such ventures failed in OTL. Mobile, AL may benefit as the iron industry grew the port and its infrastructure. Of course, in order to survive the region benefiting from the iron mills will have to chose a political view more again to that seen in the North. Support for internal improvements, tariffs and stronger banks will make Birmingham an anomaly in the Deep South.

When secession does finally role around the region will vote strongly against it. Birmingham will join the rest of northeastern Alabama in strongly opposing secession and bring about more regional tension.

As for competing with the PA steel mills...it won't make a dent. PA has far more iron, coal and much better infrastructure with a more mature banking and commodities market. The rail ties to the Old Northwest alone give PA industry a link to a large and growing domestic market. It is interesting to note that the American domestic market produced over three time the wealth of foreign trade as early as 1847/48. This is something that those who argue that the South was more wealthy than the North in 1860 always overlook. In order for the Birmingham industries to compete it needs a vast infrastructure devoted to growing and serving the domestic markets, and this is something the cotton growing planter class would never support.

Sorry to sound so sour about your idea, but you'd need a POD probably before Nat Turner's Rebellion in order to get the local aristocracy to accept the rise of local industry, even if concentrated in a single region.

Benjamin
 
One problem, Pittsburgh, they took a lot of our business away in the Post-Bellum and I think they'd be doing it in the Antebellum. A railroad to Mobile would help and folks were already plying their wares up and down the Black Warrior by then anyhow.

Now, how do you get them to build a railroad from Birmingham to Mobile anyhow?
If Mobile was gonna have a railroad they were gonna put it next to another port city like they did in OTL when the A&F got put up in 1861.

Abner McGehee is who you want to look at, if anything the first railroad is gonna run north and link up with the preexisting Tuscumbia Railroad, which will connect central Alabama to Tennessee more than anything.

Now if you've got the Magic City Connection to Tuscumbia AND Montgomery then you're good to go. Ain't no need for Mobile yet, you'd have to pass through the Black Belt and ain't no planter gonna get in on this scheme.
 
Very interesting idea. It certainly gives the Confederates more of a fighting chance, although it may only prolong the war rather than change the result.

That's certainly one possibility. Prolonging the war may get interesting if the war is still undecided by the 1864 election. The voters ending the war wasn't really an option in OTL (and to be honest, I doubt that even a lack of Atlanta falling would have done it), but in an ATL where the war still clearly has a long way to go, who knows?

Would an ironworks in Alabama, particularly using new techniques like this, outcompete those in the North and lead to a decline in northern iron production as well as a boost in southern iron production?

Good question. It's using the same techniques which are used in Pittsburgh, so it's nothing new per se. What it would definitely do is get rid of a lot of the lingering small iron production within the South. I don't think that would be enough to Tredegar out of business, but some of the other small producers may well go. A lot of their slave labour may end up at Birmingham in such cases (slave labour being mobile enough to do that), but not all.

As to out-competing the North - it's possible, but I'm not sure of it. Transportation costs would have helped here. Birmingham iron would be cheaper to transport to most of the (limited) Southern manufacturing than Pennsylvania.

It was in OTL, which was why the northern steel barons invented Pittsburgh plus pricing, a wonderful invention which meant that the price for steel was charged based on distance from Pittsburgh. If you were a steel user next to the Birmingham mill, you had to pay the price as if it had been transported from Pittsburgh. Hence, no advantage to buying local.

In the context of the 1850s, I doubt Pittsburgh plus pricing could be implemented. If northern steel barons tried, I expect that the response in Alabama would involve telling them something involving long walks and short piers.

From what I remember (although I haven't read anything recently), the higher qualities of raw materials in Birmingham also meant that Birmingham steel was slightly cheaper than the Pittsburgh product anyway, but that may only apply to steel production rather than raw iron.

What it wouldn't do is outcompete Pittsburgh as a source of iron for Northern manufacturing. As benjamin points out below, Pittsburgh was closer and linked to a much better internal transport net.

Or is the US a big enough place for that kind of market force not to apply?

A case of big enough that both could exist, I think.

While possible; this is not really all that plausible.

Tredagar Iron Works was on the verge of going out of business in the years prior to the Civil War. This was for many reasons. Free Labor for industrial manufacturing was more expensive in the South due to a lack of recent immigrants. The use of slave labor, though effective, caused many other problems; free whites didn't like competing against slaves and threatened to strike on numerous occasions. Free blacks would also be a liability especially as slave states moved towards tighter control of their free black populations.

I don't think that Tredegar was that likely to fail. It had problems, yes, but not insurmountable ones. Manufacturing was growing across Virginia in this period, again with the interesting exception of iron production. Having cheaper iron available from Birmingham may help.

Mind you, if Tredegar does fail, that makes for an interesting new development within the WI: southern manufacturing capacity during the war would be greatly expanded around Birmingham instead. How would having their source of iron further south help or hinder their war effort? On the one hand, it's further away, while on the other, it's also harder to threaten Birmingham than Richmond.

If you're arguing that any iron works in Alabama would also have labour problems, here I'm not at all convinced that such problems would be insurmountable. The use of slaves in manufacturing, including iron production, was perfectly possible (as per Starobin). Sure, the whites might go on strike, in which case they get replaced with slaves, as happened in several times and places.

Local infrastructure may improve a bit but supporting a growing industrial site by way of trans-state roads or railways would be greatly opposed by the planter aristocracy. This why such ventures failed in OTL.

Given that the planters (or a significant number) were in favour of building Birmingham in OTL, I'm not so convinced. As I mentioned, it was small farmer opposition which killed it, not planter opposition. It also wasn't that large an extension of railroads - just a crossing of two planned ones which were already built in part. (I'd have to dig around to look up the exact mileage that would need to be built, but it wasn't that long.)

Mobile, AL may benefit as the iron industry grew the port and its infrastructure. Of course, in order to survive the region benefiting from the iron mills will have to chose a political view more again to that seen in the North. Support for internal improvements, tariffs and stronger banks will make Birmingham an anomaly in the Deep South.

It will, to a degree, although tariffs won't be that big a deal from Birmingham's POV - yet. Transportation costs (even with some local infrastructure improvements) will be a big factor in making their iron cheaper than imported British iron. That may change over time, although probably not by 1860.

When secession does finally role around the region will vote strongly against it. Birmingham will join the rest of northeastern Alabama in strongly opposing secession and bring about more regional tension.

It certainly will, and this will have a variety of interesting effects during the war. I doubt that it would be enough to stop iron production, though, or to stop it being transported to the rest of the South.

As for competing with the PA steel mills...it won't make a dent. PA has far more iron, coal and much better infrastructure with a more mature banking and commodities market. The rail ties to the Old Northwest alone give PA industry a link to a large and growing domestic market.

It certainly won't compete with PA steel in the North. Better transport etc, as you mention. Whether Birmingham can be competitive in the South, though, I'm not so sure. The iron, coal and limestone in Birmingham was of very good quality, and easy to access. The Southern banking system, while certainly not as strong as that of the North, did exist, and Birmingham could attract some investment. There's also the water transportation network in the South, which favoured Birmingham. (Although stuff shipped out of Mobile by water will be vulnerable if it comes to a naval blockade during the ACW).

Whether the South can be a big enough domestic market, well... maybe. See below.

It is interesting to note that the American domestic market produced over three time the wealth of foreign trade as early as 1847/48. This is something that those who argue that the South was more wealthy than the North in 1860 always overlook. In order for the Birmingham industries to compete it needs a vast infrastructure devoted to growing and serving the domestic markets, and this is something the cotton growing planter class would never support.

How big an infrastructure? Serious question, that. What it needed was a link of a couple of railroads - which was already planned anyway, in a decade where Mobile was driving railroad construction as it was. The rest of the railroads already existed (or would exist by 1860). Plus the water connexion, which linked to what was also an important part of Southern transportation anyway.

The Southern transportation networks were behind those of the North, sure, but they were still pretty decent in global terms. I think that - given the PoD of those two railroads being built - that there was reasonable enough infrastructure for Birmingham to support a sizeable amount of iron production, if only by accelerating the demise of local charcoal iron furnaces throughout the South. (Although I'd have to sit down with the figures to work out whether my original guess of 75,000 tonnes was too high.)

Sorry to sound so sour about your idea, but you'd need a POD probably before Nat Turner's Rebellion in order to get the local aristocracy to accept the rise of local industry, even if concentrated in a single region.

Do you mean the local Alabama aristocracy? They were in favour in OTL (or at least some were driving it and the rest weren't opposing it).

Or do you mean the broader Southern aristocracy? To be honest, I doubt that they would do much to help or hinder. What Alabama is getting up to is Alabama's business. They may not want to spend much in the way of local infrastructure in their own states to make Birmingham's job easier, but railroads were expanding massively in the South during the 1850s anyway, due to other factors (mostly expanding cotton production). Birmingham would benefit from that growing transportation network.

One problem, Pittsburgh, they took a lot of our business away in the Post-Bellum and I think they'd be doing it in the Antebellum.

I doubt that they would have as much success in the antebellum, actually, since it would be seen as Northern interference, in an era where that made some things easier to stop. In particular, as per above, I don't see Pittsburgh plus pricing being imposed in the antebellum South.

A railroad to Mobile would help and folks were already plying their wares up and down the Black Warrior by then anyhow.

Given that rail and water transport often fed off each in the South anyway, I'm not sure if a railroad to Mobile is necessary. (Although it certainly wouldn't hurt). An expansion of barge traffic along the Black Warrior may be used instead.

Now, how do you get them to build a railroad from Birmingham to Mobile anyhow?
If Mobile was gonna have a railroad they were gonna put it next to another port city like they did in OTL when the A&F got put up in 1861.

Perhaps, unless Birmingham is really booming, but then if there's river traffic coming into Mobile, then Mobile may be quicker to build railroads elsewhere. (They were pretty keen in OTL during the 1850s.)

Abner McGehee is who you want to look at, if anything the first railroad is gonna run north and link up with the preexisting Tuscumbia Railroad, which will connect central Alabama to Tennessee more than anything.

Now if you've got the Magic City Connection to Tuscumbia AND Montgomery then you're good to go.

Interesting! That would leave Birmingham with a river link south and good transport links north and east.

Ain't no need for Mobile yet, you'd have to pass through the Black Belt and ain't no planter gonna get in on this scheme.

Planters wouldn't be opposed in principle to a railroad through the black belt which would make their own cotton transportation cheaper - as I mentioned, there were a lot of local planters behind the drive to establish Birmingham around 1850. The North and South Alabama Railroad was chartered in 1854 in OTL, and planters didn't try to stop the railroad itself. What they did object to was being taxed to pay for it. But as I mentioned, the biggest objections came from small farmers in the Alabama legislature, not planters. That was why it took until 1871 for the North & South Alabama Railroad to get completed (although the ACW had a big part in that, too.)
 

Zack

Banned
While possible; this is not really all that plausible. When secession does finally role around the region will vote strongly against it. Birmingham will join the rest of northeastern Alabama in strongly opposing secession and bring about more regional tension.

Im sorry but i dont want to sound mean but what do you base this off of?How do you 'know' that birmingham will vote against it? Have you visited a alternate dimension? It just sounds like a Truism to me.This is why i can never get into a honest ACW discussion.Which by the way was NOT a civil war at all,it was a war for independence by the south which failed. Calling it a civil war is propaganda and is nothing but a lie and proves that the north rewrote the history books.After all how can future generations be taught that the southern cause was nothing but about slave owning,black hating, bigotry,and why secession was/is bad.The students might ask questions like "How come the confederate cause is looked at with so much disdain teacher? I mean the colonists revolted over a tea tax...slavery and its economic importance to the south makes that look trivial!" Or "How come we condemn the confederates because they wanted their own independence yet laud the founding fathers(who were also slave owners)and our country for wanting theirs?"

Or

"How come 300,000 poor white southerners died fighting for a institution they did not partake in?" or "If the war was soley about slavery and ending it teacher then how come the states loyal to the union were exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation??" Or "Teacher could it be the south actually seceded on account of economic reasons(which slavery was a part of)?For example teacher did you know that the The principal source of tax revenue for the federal government before the Civil War was a tariff on imports. There was no income tax, except for one declared unconstitutional after its enactment during the Civil War. Tariffs imposed by the federal government not only accounted for most of the federal budget, they also raised the price of imported goods to a level where the less-efficient manufacturers of the northeast could be competitive. Teacher did you know that charles dickens said ' [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.' Or that the london times said 'The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty'.
[/FONT]

Thats the only issue i have with this wonderful site. To many truisms and outright lies on this site.Here is a list of truisms i have encountered when it comes to the ACW and a southern victory.

Example #1-"If the south won it would never industrialize!"-(Never mind that most people on this site ignore the human element. I mean whats stopping someone who thinks "hey lets industrialize!"and everyone important agrees. Or maybe someone might realize.."we cant rely just on cotton!")

Example #2-"If the south won slavery would never end!"-(Never mind that attitudes might change or that it might not become economically feasable in the long term)

Example #3-"If the south won it would be a utter failure and shithole!"-(Never mind that the nobody would know this for sure)

Example #4-"If the south won it would rejoin the union because of how poor they will be!"(Never mind that at the time it had the fourth largest economy)

Example #5-"If the south won it would be only a minor power and the USA lapdog!"(Never mind that its economy was the fourth largest in the world. Never kind that it accounted for about 70% of the Unions exports and paid the majoirty of the Unions tarrifs.)

Example #6-"If the south won it could not expand into the carribean or mexico!It mean mexico would surely beat them in a war!"

Many much more then this. Im not picking on you.This is my beef with the community itself and the armchair historians who must have a multi-dimensional portal and can look through it to see what would happen and WHY some of these things are impossible or not.Not to mention those that are just biased against the CSA.
 
Last edited:
Its so obviously biased against the confederates and the south its ridicoulous.


If you think this site is biased against the CSA you really need to read more time lines and, seeing as you've been here for all of seven posts, you simply haven't read enough.
 

Zack

Banned
If you think this site is biased against the CSA you really need to read more time lines and, seeing as you've been here for all of seven posts, you simply haven't read enough.

Reread my post( i have edited it). Im talking about the truisms. Not the timelines.The timelines are fine,im talking about the people who talk crap about the CSA(without even knowing the facts)and spout truims about the CSA and its future if it had actually won.

Im very touchy on this subject.I have read dozens of WI threads and most seem to be heavely against the CSA as in "insert one of the above truisms" and thats what gets me ticked off. There may or may not be a bias against the CSA on this site as a whole. But many people on here do have a bias. You know who you are. I may have seven posts but i have been a lurker on this site for over a year. I have read CSA threads over and over again and i have come across those truisms above many times.

Having family in the south and vistiting there many times i have seen the geographic bigotry the 'union states' have for the southern states. Nothing but stereotypes is what my family has to deal with when visiting up here in the 'non-inbred' states as some yuppie up here called the southern states.

You can tell by some posts what im talking about....its subtle but its there anyways. It translates over from the civil war. This bias and bigotry still exists today up north no matter how much we like to pretend it does not.Im just sick of the hypocrisy when it comes to this subject by posters on this board. Im sorry but this is not to anyone but the entire board itself. I have no problem with anyone in particular but the attitudes itself when it comes to alternate history specifically the ACW(war for southern independence).
 
Last edited:
Im sorry but i dont want to sound mean but what do you base this off of?How do you 'know' that birmingham will vote against it? Have you visited a alternate dimension? It just sounds like a Truism to me.This is why i can never get into a honest ACW discussion.Which by the way was NOT a civil war at all,it was a war for independence by the south which failed. Calling it a civil war is propaganda and is nothing but a lie and proves that the north rewrote the history books.After all how can future generations be taught that the southern cause was nothing but about slave owning,black hating, bigotry,and why secession was/is bad.The students might ask questions like "How come the confederate cause is looked at with so much disdain teacher? I mean the colonists revolted over a tea tax...slavery and its economic importance to the south makes that look trivial!" Or "How come we condemn the confederates because they wanted their own independence yet laud the founding fathers(who were also slave owners)and our country for wanting theirs?"

Don't worry you don't sound mean, uninformed possibly, but not really mean. As for what I base this off of well there is this map that illustrates that northeastern Alabama generally wasn't too supportive of secession even in our TL.
secession-vote-map-by-county2.jpg


Also there was a direct relationship between industrialization in a region and immigration. Immigrants were by a rather large majority against secession and slavery as evidenced by the Germans in St. Louis and the industrialists in northern Delaware...two areas in slave states that were strongly opposed to secession.

As for whether to call the war a Civil War or not, Wikipedia defines a Civil War thusly:1.) A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state, or, less commonly, 2.) between two countries created from a formerly-united nation-state. [citations omitted]

This most certainly describes the war whether you dislike the bad connotations of such a definition or not. Definition 1. is more correct since the Union government remained the only internationally recognized and legitimate government during the war period.

To answer your two hypothetical questions...The American Revolution was more legitimate because it was a revolution against an unjust regime in which the colonists had no representative participation in the government that directly controlled their affairs. The Slave South had dominated the American government since the Jeffersonian era and only lost power due to a legitimate election results, thus their uprising was illegal and unjust.

We laud the Founding Fathers because the created the first modern successful representative government dedicated to protecting the natural rights of the people and though this was not alway done (Alien and Sedition Act, Slavery and Trail of Tears). On the other hand the Confederacy came about with the sole purpose of continuing and protecting chattel slavery. That is an national ideology not to be lauded.

Or

"How come 300,000 poor white southerners died fighting for a institution they did not partake in?" or "If the war was soley about slavery and ending it teacher then how come the states loyal to the union were exempt from the Emancipation Proclamation??" Or "Teacher could it be the south actually seceded on account of economic reasons(which slavery was a part of)?For example teacher did you know that the The principal source of tax revenue for the federal government before the Civil War was a tariff on imports. There was no income tax, except for one declared unconstitutional after its enactment during the Civil War. Tariffs imposed by the federal government not only accounted for most of the federal budget, they also raised the price of imported goods to a level where the less-efficient manufacturers of the northeast could be competitive. Teacher did you know that charles dickens said ' [FONT=Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif]Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.' Or that the london times said 'The war between the North and the South is a tariff war. The war is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for sovereignty'.
[/FONT]

The reason 300,000 non slave holding whites fought for the South was because they felt they some how indirectly benefitted from slavery. As many of them were poor farmers they liked have slaves on the bottom rung of the social latter below them. Many of them owed money or favors to the plantation aristocracy, especially since the South had such a backwards banking system. And many of them aspired to be large slave holders themselves.

It was only a fiscal dispute only in that an extremely large portion of the planter class's wealth was tied up in slaves or needed slaves to produce a cash crop such as indigo or cotton. In the few industrial regions of the South there was support for higher tariffs and government funded internal improvements.

Thats the only issue i have with this wonderful site. To many truisms and outright lies on this site.Here is a list of truisms i have encountered when it comes to the ACW and a southern victory.

Example #1-"If the south won it would never industrialize!"-(Never mind that most people on this site ignore the human element. I mean whats stopping someone who thinks "hey lets industrialize!"and everyone important agrees. Or maybe someone might realize.."we cant rely just on cotton!")

The Southern Constitution had several provisions within it that made industrialization difficult. For example it prevented protective tariffs to help domestic industry and it made funding internal improvements with government monies extremely difficult.

Also with the amount of money invested in slaves and land it was difficult to raise money for industrial investment. Industrial imports made much more cheaply in Britain would further ensure that the South's domestic industry remained small.

Example #2-"If the south won slavery would never end!"-(Never mind that attitudes might change or that it might not become economically feasable in the long term)

It would possibly end after the Confederacy lost a major war to the US but barring this its doubtful that they would voluntarily amend their constitution to end slavery. Given that the South made a very strong effort to suppress abolitionist speech while they were part of the Union, I can only imagine what they would be willing to do once the slave holders were the only ones writing the rules.

Example #3-"If the south won it would be a utter failure and shithole!"-(Never mind that the nobody would know this for sure)

For blacks and poor whites yes. I'm sure the plantation aristocracy would think the place was great. As for national prosperity, its hard to keep a nation together that is based on secession whenever a legitimate vote doesn't go their way. During our own Civil War the governor of Georgia was already talking about seceding from the Confederacy.

Example #4-"If the south won it would rejoin the union because of how poor they will be!"(Never mind that at the time it had the fourth largest economy)

Parts most likely would. Like the Germans immigrants, some of which were massacred in west Texas, and the people of east Tennessee and west North Carolina who were constantly persecuted by pro-secessionists. Oh and then there's that county in Alabama (Jones County) that declared its own independence from Alabama. It really doesn't look too good for the Confederacy long term.

Example #5-"If the south won it would be only a minor power and the USA lapdog!"(Never mind that its economy was the fourth largest in the world. Never kind that it accounted for about 70% of the Unions exports and paid the majoirty of the Unions tarrifs.)

It would certainly play a distant second fiddle to the entire orchestra that is the Union. The Union's domestic economy alone produced over 3 times the wealth of the inport-export trade of the entire nation by 1850. A minimal federal sales or income tax would more than make up for the loss in tariff revenue. As would the increase in import tariffs on manufactured goods.

With very little immigration and no West to expand into the South and its cash crop economy would stagnate. Eventually the poor whites would tire of being ruled by the plantation minority and launch their own revolution.

Example #6-"If the south won it could not expand into the carribean or mexico!It mean mexico would surely beat them in a war!"

I wouldn't put my money on Mexico in any war, but I do think Spain could handle the South. Even worse an angry North will be more than willing to put a beat down on the Confederacy.

Many much more then this. Im not picking on you.This is my beef with the community itself and the armchair historians who must have a multi-dimensional portal and can look through it to see what would happen and WHY some of these things are impossible or not.Not to mention those that are just biased against the CSA.

Perhaps you need to read a bit more before casting stones. I mean what are your credentials that makes you able to judge these so-called "armchair generals?"

If you want any reading suggestions let me know...and welcome to the forums.

Benjamin
 
Calling it a civil war is propaganda and is nothing but a lie and proves that the north rewrote the history books.

Actually, the southern view dominated the history books for the first hundred years. And plenty of people on both sides called it a civil war during the war.

"How come 300,000 poor white southerners died fighting for a institution they did not partake in?"

A lot of them didn't want to. The Confederacy instituted the draft first and soon extended it to men between the ages of 17 and 50. President Davis believed the Confederate desertion rate was higher than the Union desertion rate. 10% of all draft age white men from Confederate states served in the Union army. Pro-Union men made whole counties unsafe for Confederate tax collectors or military recruiters.

And a lot of those Confederate casualties had a stake in the preservation of slavery. A third of all Confederate families owned slaves. Others rented out slaves for their farms and factories. Many who could not afford a slave aspired to, since it was a sign of status and wealth. Every southern man could have a sense of pride that however poor he was he stood above the slave. Poor whites were at least as afraid of slave revolts and miscegenation as the rich ones.

Tariffs imposed by the federal government not only accounted for most of the federal budget, they also raised the price of imported goods to a level where the less-efficient manufacturers of the northeast could be competitive.

The closest the south ever came to seceding because of tariffs was the Nullification Crisis, which led to South Carolina backing down and no other state supporting South Carolina. As Alexander Stephens pointed out when Georgia debated secession, the tariff issue had already been resolved.

They called themselves the slaveholding states, not the anti-tariff states. The Mexican-American War, the Ostend Manifesto, the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, and the Lecompton Constitution were about attempting to add pro-slavery states, not anti-tariff states. Preston Brooks assaulted Sumner on the Senate floor because he was anti-slavery, not because Sumner was pro-tariff. The Fugitive Slave Law had nothing to do with tariffs. Bleeding Kansas had nothing to do with tariffs. Neither did the Dred Scott Decision. People didn't risk assault or death for advocating tariffs in the American south. Abolitionist literature was barred there; pro-tariff speech was not. The Gag Rule was not instituted to keep the House of Representatives from discussing tariffs.

The 1860 platform for the southern Democratic Party differed from the northern Democratic Party platform on one key point, and it wasn't tariffs. The Democrats split when the northern branch of the party refused to guarantee slavery in the territories. When southern political leaders explained why they were seceding, they sometimes mentioned tariffs, but every Declaration of Causes of Secession spends most of its time discussing slavery. Alexander Stephens' Cornerstone Speech said slavery was the cornerstone upon which the Confederacy was founded.

Example #1-"If the south won it would never industrialize!"-(Never mind that most people on this site ignore the human element. I mean whats stopping someone who thinks "hey lets industrialize!"and everyone important agrees. Or maybe someone might realize.."we cant rely just on cotton!")

Plenty of southerners realized they needed to rely on more than just cotton. Southern agriculture also produced rice, tobacco, flax, and indigo.

You don't just say "hey lets industrialize!" - you need capital to invest in the industry. The majority of southern capital was invested in slaves and land, selling either was usually done only if the owner got into financial difficulty. The south had very little hard currency and that quickly left the country during the war. Without protective tariffs, southern industry would have a harder time turning a profit than they did in actual history, which is another obstacle to foreign investment.

Example #2-"If the south won slavery would never end!"-(Never mind that attitudes might change or that it might not become economically feasable in the long term)

Slavery was strongly embedded in the Confederate Constitution. Individual Confederate states could not truly end slavery since the CSA Constitution guaranteed that people could move there and keep their slaves as slaves forever. To end slavery, the CSA will have to start by amending their Constitution, which would probably result in the more reactionary southern states leaving the Confederacy.

Example #3-"If the south won it would be a utter failure and shithole!"-(Never mind that the nobody would know this for sure)

Ten percent of their white work force was wearing Union blue while others were actively or passively resisting the CSA government. 67th Tigers says about 1/7th of all slaves fled the Confederacy during the war. Other slaves engaged in work slowdowns or stoppages. If the Confederacy wins, most of these people aren't coming back and the rest will have to be forcibly suppressed.

Confederate unbacked paper currency was nearly worthless. The CSA government impressed slaves, goods, and equipment, then reimbursed owners long afterwards at under-market values the government dictated in near-worthless currency. This hamstrung even war critical industries like salt works. The Confederate rail system was unable to handle both the civilian and military needs - there were bread riots across the south. Rails and rolling stock were wearing out and the CSA dictated rates to the railroads that were too low for them to afford proper repair or replacement.

An independent CSA is going to have to pay its war debts or repudiate them, ruining their international credit. With no Confederate tariffs, CSA industry will be overwhelmed by foreign manufactures. Many of the staple southern crops led to soil exhaustion. The Confederacy had established the precedent that any state could leave at any time for any reason. That means any political or economic decision risks the CSA losing states or even fragmenting..

That's not a recipe for political or economic success.

Example #5-"If the south won it would be only a minor power and the USA lapdog!"(Never mind that its economy was the fourth largest in the world. Never kind that it accounted for about 70% of the Unions exports and paid the majoirty of the Unions tarrifs.)

The tariffs were on imports - the south did not pay the majority of the tariffs. 70% of US exports was not 70% of the US economy.

The Confederate economy would not have been the 4th largest in the world, it would have been about the 8th largest. In 1860, New York or Pennsylvania or Massachusetts produced more manufactured goods than the whole of the Confederacy. In 1860, the states that formed the Confederacy produced about 8% of the manufactured goods. By 1870 it had fallen to 5%. It would have done worse without northern investment that wouldn't happen to an independent CSA.

Example #6-"If the south won it could not expand into the carribean or mexico!It mean mexico would surely beat them in a war!"

As the war shows, existing military technology strongly favored the defender. Union commanders won less than half of their offensive battles and they did better than the Confederates. Lee's counteroffensive against McClellan in the Seven Days Battles was the only real southern offensive success, and it was costly. The CSA also did not have the logistics to take and hold territory - every attempt ended in failure.

There were no navy offensives, the Confederacy's brown water navy was solely for defense. Expansion into the Caribbean would require the CSA building a blue water navy. Considering they couldn't manage to provide shoes for all their troops, I'm wondering how they'll manage it. They'd also be putting their navy up against one or more of the British, French, Spanish, or Union navies. And they'd be at the end of a longer logistical train than they'd ever been, let alone been successfully. Even if they manage that, yellow fever and malaria will make Confederate Caribbean possessions costly.

Mexico had a higher free population than the Confederacy. The lowlands would be deadly to an invading army during the fever season. If the French still hold Mexico, the Confederacy would be attacking one of the few friends they have. If the Jauristas have returned to power they've done so with Union support which means attacking Mexico risks the Confederacy having to fight the Union as well.

Not to mention those that are just biased against the CSA.

Most people's view of the Confederacy is based on a bright and shining lie. The Confederacy of this manufactured myth is romantic and it's loss tragic. The real Confederacy was a brutal, oppressive, elitist, and hypocritical.
 
I'm a bit confused. If there was no change in the net production of iron (because local, inefficient furnaces were put out of production by centralized plans), then what would really change by 1860?
 
Reread my post( i have edited it). Im talking about the truisms. Not the timelines.The timelines are fine,im talking about the people who talk crap about the CSA(without even knowing the facts)and spout truims about the CSA and its future if it had actually won.

Im very touchy on this subject.I have read dozens of WI threads and most seem to be heavely against the CSA as in "insert one of the above truisms" and thats what gets me ticked off. There may or may not be a bias against the CSA on this site as a whole. But many people on here do have a bias. You know who you are. I may have seven posts but i have been a lurker on this site for over a year. I have read CSA threads over and over again and i have come across those truisms above many times.

Having family in the south and vistiting there many times i have seen the geographic bigotry the 'union states' have for the southern states. Nothing but stereotypes is what my family has to deal with when visiting up here in the 'non-inbred' states as some yuppie up here called the southern states.

You can tell by some posts what im talking about....its subtle but its there anyways. It translates over from the civil war. This bias and bigotry still exists today up north no matter how much we like to pretend it does not.Im just sick of the hypocrisy when it comes to this subject by posters on this board. Im sorry but this is not to anyone but the entire board itself. I have no problem with anyone in particular but the attitudes itself when it comes to alternate history specifically the ACW(war for southern independence).

Hey, you've been kicked once and warned once for this whole revisionist trolling routine. Are you here to discuss alternate history or grind your ideological ax?

Take a week off and think about it.
 

Ian the Admin

Administrator
Donor
Reread my post( i have edited it). Im talking about the truisms. Not the timelines.The timelines are fine,im talking about the people who talk crap about the CSA(without even knowing the facts)and spout truims about the CSA and its future if it had actually won.

Im very touchy on this subject.I have read dozens of WI threads and most seem to be heavely against the CSA as in "insert one of the above truisms" and thats what gets me ticked off. There may or may not be a bias against the CSA on this site as a whole. But many people on here do have a bias. You know who you are. I may have seven posts but i have been a lurker on this site for over a year. I have read CSA threads over and over again and i have come across those truisms above many times.

Having family in the south and vistiting there many times i have seen the geographic bigotry the 'union states' have for the southern states. Nothing but stereotypes is what my family has to deal with when visiting up here in the 'non-inbred' states as some yuppie up here called the southern states.

You can tell by some posts what im talking about....its subtle but its there anyways. It translates over from the civil war. This bias and bigotry still exists today up north no matter how much we like to pretend it does not.Im just sick of the hypocrisy when it comes to this subject by posters on this board. Im sorry but this is not to anyone but the entire board itself. I have no problem with anyone in particular but the attitudes itself when it comes to alternate history specifically the ACW(war for southern independence).

Right then, looks like you're a lost cause with multiple kicks so soon after signing up. Banned.
 
I'm a bit confused. If there was no change in the net production of iron (because local, inefficient furnaces were put out of production by centralized plans), then what would really change by 1860?

A few things could change even with no net growth in iron production.

For instance, somewhat better rail links in Alabama (and probably Tennessee), and probably a bigger shipping base to export the iron southward via Mobile. This would have some economic benefits, although probably minor ones.

For another thing, having the bulk of iron production located further south would have its own spin-offs in the ACW or an analogue. Richmond may be less valuable as a city, for instance. The South's iron production would be less vulnerable to invasion, too. In OTL, the Cumberland Iron Works in Tennessee (the second largest in the CSA) fell to the North relatively early. Here, I suspect that much of Cumberland's production would have been relocated further south.

For a third, there's also the point that having iron production centralised in Birmingham would make it easier to ramp up both mining, iron production, and related industrial production during an *ACW. In OTL, the South make some considerable efforts to expand industry (eg in Selma), but was starting from a lower base. Here, expansion would be easier.

On reflection, though, I don't think that the net change in iron production would be zero. Or, at least, that the net change in iron production in the South would be zero. It might be zero net change in the whole of the USA, but that might involve some growth in Birmingham at the expense of Pittsburgh etc.

This is because I think that having cheaper, higher-quality iron will have some economic benefits in the South, too - in construction, railroads, etc. Maybe not a lot, but still some.

I also think that because Birmingham steel had the potential to be at least as cheap as the Pittsburgh product, that some of the growth which Pittsburgh experienced in OTL (and which drove down Southern iron production) would be growth in Birmingham ITTL instead. This wouldn't be a huge percentage loss for Pittsburgh - after all, most of its markets were in the North - but would still be a proportionate reduction.
 
Let's review:

Post 1 -
Jared explains how in our TL the Alabama planters helped organize the effort to develop the Birmingham area by building infrastructure.

Post 3 -
First post saying "nice-idea-but-the-planters-would-oppose-it-and-hated-infrastructure."

Post 6 -
Confederate trolling begins.

You're a stronger man than I, Jared.

ps - Thank you for this.

The level of detail on an otherwise obscur subject is of great use, doubly so as I'm trying to do research from Obscur-Chinese-City-17.

If I may ask, were there any technological barriers to the creation of Birmingham? That is, in a timeline involving earlier settlement of the Deep South, would population growth and infrastructure accelerate on a roughly straight line compared with OTL? Were the fundamentals in place to start the city in the 1820s, '30s, or '40s, had the people and transport been in place?
 
Last edited:
steel production

I don't know that much about the distribution of steel production centres in the North, but, could it have been possible (logistically & geographically) for the south to attack those centres and disrupt them?
 
I don't know that much about the distribution of steel production centres in the North, but, could it have been possible (logistically & geographically) for the south to attack those centres and disrupt them?

Only to a very limited extent, even with very long range cavalry raids that will probably end up like Morgan's in 1863.
 
Let's review:

Post 1 -
Jared explains how in our TL the Alabama planters helped organize the effort to develop the Birmingham area by building infrastructure.

Post 3 -
First post saying "nice-idea-but-the-planters-would-oppose-it-and-hated-infrastructure."

Heard that one often enough that I just ignore it, or more or less type from memory some of the examples which refute it. The attempts to build up Birmingham in OTL were just one instance of that.

Some day I should actually put together some sort of essay or FAQ dealing with the misconceptions which keep cropping in almost every CSA thread, particularly those about slavery and industrialisation. I did put together a compilation of my own posts on the subject (and a few by others), but it came to rather a large document, so I never got around to simplifying it.

Post 6 -
Confederate trolling begins.

You're a stronger man than I, Jared.

It's only four clicks to add a troll to your ignore list. Problem solved.

That said, I only started replying to this thread again once non-troll posters revived it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have bothered.

If I may ask, were there any technological barriers to the creation of Birmingham? That is, in a timeline involving earlier settlement of the Deep South, would population growth and infrastructure accelerate on a roughly straight line compared with OTL? Were the fundamentals in place to start the city in the 1820s, '30s, or '40s, had the people and transport been in place?

From a technological point of view, the Birmingham iron ore etc was extractable and convertable to useful iron using technology available during the industrial revolution. It's no particular challenge to do that.

The barriers which do exist are economic and logistical. Extracting the iron in Birmingham is one thing, but what's your target market? You need enough demand for iron in the South to support it. Within this WI seed, I'm assuming that the whole of the South is a big enough market, and I think that this is a reasonable assumption. But a lot of that demand was in Virginia and Tennessee, both of which were industrialising more than the Deep South. Whether you'd have enough demand earlier, I'm not so sure.

Logistically, you would probably need at least a few railroads around the place to get the iron to market. Birmingham is close to water transport, so a railroad there may be enough, with barges etc carrying it the rest of the way. Or a couple more railroads may be needed.

The other point is that while there's no technological barrier to developing Birmingham either, there may also be no technological advantage, either. In OTL, Pennsyvlania really started to take off as a mass centre of iron production in the 1840s, after the development of using anthracite coal in blast furnaces, which were considerably more efficient than previous methods. This made Pittsburgh iron cheaper than rival products, and what was led to increased iron production and its concentration in a few centres like Pittsburgh, as local furnaces were gradually out-competed.

In this WI, the same process would be used at Birmingham. However, until the technology exists to use anthracite coal, then there's no particular advantage to Birmingham. And thus, there's no real need to centralise iron production in Birmingham, either; it doesn't have that much of an advantage over local furnaces.
 
Top