WI: The War of Northern Secession

So, I've been slowly creating a TL I hope to unveil one day. I recently had another thread talking about the potential capital of a secessionist north. The question I want to ask now is quite a bit more broad. Basically I'd like to start a discussion talking about when and how a northern secession could occur. At the moment, I'm thinking the war would occur sometime around 1840-1860. It's a wide time range, but I'm working on it. I'd also like to ask, what states do you guys think would join a secessionist North? I'm thinking the area of New England, the states of NJ, NY, and PA. Would any of the states of the old Northwest secede?

The way I'm thinking of having this secession occur is potentially starting the TL at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. Jackson still wins, but dies in the process. Over time the US purchases most of the Mexican Cession because Mexico will be in chaos and the Mexican government needs the money. Of course, the sale would cause another wave of civil war in Mexico. Anyway, after the sale, eventually the USA would become embroiled in a war for the Oregon Country and lose handily. The north would be upset over the gain of more slave territory, while losing potentially more free territory.

A Fugitive Slave Law will eventually be created and the Civil War will be caused by a heavy handed president who attempts to forcefully enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, ultimately causing the abolitionist leaning states to start a war calling for a "Second American Revolution". This will be an actual civil war with the secessionists attempting to overthrow the government. Failing that, they'll attempt to defend their right to exist.

This is already extremely long, but for those willing to help, I'd very much appreciate your input. This would be my first TL and I think it's an interesting idea. It's very late at night for me so I'll answer any questions when I wake up in the morning. Thanks a lot fellas.
 
I don't think Ohio would secede, and New York could be a stretch too. But, I could see Michigan joining the rebelling States for the perceived "southern domination" that provoked the succession.
Maybe a Raid on Lexington (US soldiers raiding a station on the underground railroad) leads to outrage on both sides, helping to spark conflict.

John Brown as a commander in the rebel army?
 
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I don't think Ohio would secede, and New York could be a stretch two. But, I could see Michigan joining the rebelling States for the perceived "southern domination" that provoked the succession.
Maybe a Raid on Lexington (US soldiers raiding a station on the underground railroad) leads to outrage on both sides, helping to spark conflict.

John Brown as a commander in the rebel army?
I don't think NY is a stretch. I could see the Union hold on to NYC though. And potentially some abolitionists could split apart Ohio and some other midwestern states.
 
Ohio probably fights it's own mini civil war, Pennsylvania sticks with the Union but has strong secessionist leanings but I'm genuinely curious to see what would happen in New York.
 
I would be intreasting to know what the capital you are planning for this nation would be, seeing as Bosten, Philly, and New York all have pretty good claims to being the perfect ( or at least the best )location. Philly for rather obvious reasons, bosten for being far away from the front lines, and new york for being the largest ( and if it is just New England, NJ, NY, and, PA then its centeral location). If you want a interesting souloution to this problem then you could go the route of south africa and make them all capitals or make a new capital in a netrual location. On a diffrent note this TL idea is real intriguing.
 
I would be intreasting to know what the capital you are planning for this nation would be, seeing as Bosten, Philly, and New York all have pretty good claims to being the perfect ( or at least the best )location. Philly for rather obvious reasons, bosten for being far away from the front lines, and new york for being the largest ( and if it is just New England, NJ, NY, and, PA then its centeral location). If you want a interesting souloution to this problem then you could go the route of south africa and make them all capitals or make a new capital in a netrual location. On a diffrent note this TL idea is real intriguing.
Well thank you, the lack of response has been a bit discouraging. Anyway, I don't have an answer to your question right now. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
 
I would be intreasting to know what the capital you are planning for this nation would be, seeing as Bosten, Philly, and New York all have pretty good claims to being the perfect ( or at least the best )location. Philly for rather obvious reasons, bosten for being far away from the front lines, and new york for being the largest ( and if it is just New England, NJ, NY, and, PA then its centeral location). If you want a interesting souloution to this problem then you could go the route of south africa and make them all capitals or make a new capital in a netrual location. On a diffrent note this TL idea is real intriguing.
I don't think the capital would be in Philadelphia, it was always kind of a heavily southern leaning city due to its ties on the Delaware. And it must be stated that in a northern secession, the secessionists are anti-Union and run the risk of being in the minority or narrow majority in many of the seceding states (especially if the secession is earlier rather than later). Given that New York's loyalty might be iffy I'm not sure you'd want it outside of New England.
 
So, I've been slowly creating a TL I hope to unveil one day. I recently had another thread talking about the potential capital of a secessionist north. The question I want to ask now is quite a bit more broad. Basically I'd like to start a discussion talking about when and how a northern secession could occur. At the moment, I'm thinking the war would occur sometime around 1840-1860. It's a wide time range, but I'm working on it. I'd also like to ask, what states do you guys think would join a secessionist North? I'm thinking the area of New England, the states of NJ, NY, and PA. Would any of the states of the old Northwest secede?

The way I'm thinking of having this secession occur is potentially starting the TL at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. Jackson still wins, but dies in the process. Over time the US purchases most of the Mexican Cession because Mexico will be in chaos and the Mexican government needs the money. Of course, the sale would cause another wave of civil war in Mexico. Anyway, after the sale, eventually the USA would become embroiled in a war for the Oregon Country and lose handily. The north would be upset over the gain of more slave territory, while losing potentially more free territory.

A Fugitive Slave Law will eventually be created and the Civil War will be caused by a heavy handed president who attempts to forcefully enforce the Fugitive Slave Law, ultimately causing the abolitionist leaning states to start a war calling for a "Second American Revolution". This will be an actual civil war with the secessionists attempting to overthrow the government. Failing that, they'll attempt to defend their right to exist.

This is already extremely long, but for those willing to help, I'd very much appreciate your input. This would be my first TL and I think it's an interesting idea. It's very late at night for me so I'll answer any questions when I wake up in the morning. Thanks a lot fellas.
You could have it were the US annexes the modern northern Mexican states and purchases Cuba, and thus creating an even greater imbalance between slave and free states. Also, placing the Missouri Comprise line at Missouri’s northern border instead of it’s southern border would greatly increase tensions and fighting inside Kansas and massively anger the Northern States. Perhaps Kansas being admitted as a slave state could be one of the final straws for the North.

If Pennsylvania doesn’t secede, then it’s probably gonna just be a New England thing and will get defeated. If Pennsylvania leaves the US, then the Midwest will probably be seceding as well. The Midwest was quite anti-slavery, and was more opposed to it than New York or New Jersey. I don’t know about Ohio but if you want a much more substantial rebellion they’ll have to rebel as well. Otherwise, California will probably stay loyal with the South and the slave states that stayed in the Union in OTL will most definitely not secede. Those being Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri. West Virginia also isn’t going to leave Virginia. Also, the Free States of America is an amazing name, just sayin.
 
I do not think that that northern disunionism should be totally written off. It was not merely a Garrisonian eccentricity; a considerable number of antislavery northerners did at least toy with it from time to time. (Louis Filler wrote decades ago in The Crusade Against Slavery 1830-1860 that "The fact that disunion sentiments were not a Garrisonian vagary but a popular northern view has been obscured for decades..." https://books.google.com/books?id=mywrDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA303) Senator John P. Hale of New Hampshire once said: "If this Union, with all its advantages, has no other cement than the blood of human slavery, let it perish." (Quoted in David Potter, The Impending Crisis 1848-1861, p. 45. https://books.google.com/books?id=S7Qk9nIwk14C&pg=PA45) Senator Wade of Ohio stated in 1854 that "I go for the death of slavery whether the Union survives it or not." (Quoted in Brian Holden Reid, The Origins of the American Civil War [London and New York: Longman 1996], p. 147. https://books.google.com/books?id=gTegBAAAQBAJ&pg=PT164) Also, at various times in the 1860-61 crisis, Charles Sumner, Joshua Giddings, Gerrit Smith and other abolitionists advocated the peaceful dissolution of "this blood-stained Union." (Quoted in Kenneth Stampp, And the War Came (Phoenix books edition, pp. 247-8.)

Still, all this was mostly rhetorical--it was people saying "I would rather have disunion than another cowardly compromise with the Slave Power." Most of the people who said this (a) were much more radical on slavery than most northerners (including a majority of Republicans), and (b) except for the Garrisonians, didn't really believe it was necessary to choose between Union and antislavery. It is true that after Buchanan's election in 1856, some northern antislavery radicals concluded that the struggle against slavery was hopeless within the Union, and tried to make common cause with the Garrisonians in a "disunion convention" in Worcester, MA in 1857. They sent out invitations to several prominent Republicans--who all turned them down. Even a Radical like Henry Wilson advised the Convention to "leave all the impotent and puerile threats against the Union to the Southern slave propagandists." https://books.google.com/books?id=Wl38uYb85DgC&pg=PA141 (OTOH, Congressman Edward Wade, Benjamin Wade's brother, was not totally unsympathetic, nor was Amasa Walker https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amasa_Walker: "Edward Wade agreed with the invitation that slavery and freedom were irreconcilable, and even that, up to 1856, the Union had been a failure. He counseled waiting a while longer to see whether action against slavery could still be taken within the Union, but concluded: 'rather than to give the strength, moral and political, of the people of the Free States, to the extension and perpetuity of slavery, let the Union perish.' Amasa Walker agreed with Wade, though in less fiery language, that the Union was 'a means and not an end,' and that the question of Union or disunion should always be considered in light of tactics in the overriding contest against slavery." https://books.google.com/books?id=LWpNDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA141)

The questions are: (a) what would get antislavery northerners to believe that the cause of antislavery within the Union was doomed, and (b) make them a majority in the North--or at least in enough northern states to make a serious movement for secession possible?

The only thing I can think of is a Breckinridge victory in 1860--having the "slave power" win yet another victory will by itself be tremendously embittering--followed by a war in Latin America which northerners would see as a war for slavery, and also by the "second Dred Scott" decision Lincoln had warned about. Yet a "second Dred Scott" decision immediately establishing slavery in the North was unlikely. What was more likely and more insidious was the possibility that the court would establish slavery in the North gradually by first recognizing slaveholders' rights briefly to pass through northern states with their human "property" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemmon_v._New_York and then step by step expanding that right to one of staying there with the slaves indefinitely--and perhaps even buying and selling them. (The issue was often spoken of as the slaveholder's right of "transit or sojourn." "Transit" might seem to imply a short presence in the free states on the way to a slave state; but "sojourn" could mean virtually indefinite presence of slaveholders and their slaves in northern states, just as long as the slaveholders do not declare an intention to become permanent residents--remember that John Emerson with his slave Dred Scott had "sojourned" in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for years...) What worried Lincoln was that the gradualness of the process--combined with Douglas' public moral indifference to slavery and view that a Supreme Court decision was a "Thus saith the Lord" that cannot be questioned--would mute northern outrage.

More likely, even in the event that Breckinridge won in the House in 1860 (or there was a deadlock in the House so that Breckinridge's "doughface" running mate Lane would be chosen as acting president by the Senate) most Republicans would still hope for a victory in 1864, and favor remaining in the Union. Or at least enough of them would do so, that combined with Democrats, they could block northern secession.

In short, a fair number of antislavery northerners did toy, at least rhetorically, with disunionism--but "toyed" and "rhetorically" are the key words here. (And even in the unlikely event it occurs, would a secession limited to, say, the "fanatical" New England states necessarily lead to a civil war? I could see a lot of Southerners and doughfaces who would be happy with the weakening of the Republican Party's national prospects this would entail, and "let the erring sisters depart" in peace...)
 

raharris1973

Gone Fishin'
(And even in the unlikely event it occurs, would a secession limited to, say, the "fanatical" New England states necessarily lead to a civil war? I could see a lot of Southerners and doughfaces who would be happy with the weakening of the Republican Party's national prospects this would entail, and "let the erring sisters depart" in peace...)
Who would be the northern equivalent of the the original 7 Confederates in such an ATL, the 6 states of New England? The Fremont states, perhaps minus Ohio?

How do the rest of the free states feel afterward? Do the slave states favor "letting them go"? Do the other free states feel the same way?

If Democratic Party ties and inertial support for the status quo prevent a spread of secessionism from New England to the mid-Atlantic, midwest, and west coast in the short-term, what about in the long-run, when national policy policy is tilting ever more towards slave power and southern sectional interests?
 
The only thing I can think of is a Breckinridge victory in 1860--having the "slave power" win yet another victory will by itself be tremendously embittering--followed by a war in Latin America which northerners would see as a war for slavery, and also by the "second Dred Scott" decision Lincoln had warned about.

And even then there would be some factors the other way.

Iirc, there were enough votes in Congress to admit Kansas aa a Free State even had the Lower South not seceded, which leaves New Mexico as the only foreseeable (and by no means certain) new slave state. So there is less cause to fear for the Territories.

Also, in 1860 the HoR had overridden Buchanan's veto of the Homestead bill, and iirc the Senate came within three votes of doing so. Even if they lose the Presidential election, the Republicans are likely to pick up some Senate seats in the North, so that a similar veto by Breckenridge will most likely fail. Those victories may go some way to reassure the North that all is not lost.
 
This reminds me of a short story summary on Wikipedia (fictional presidencies of historical figures).
  • In the short story "How the South Preserved the Union" by Ralph Roberts in the anthology Alternate Presidents by Mike Resnick, David Rice Atchison, the President pro tempore of the United States Senateand a prominent pro-slavery activist, took office as the 13th President when both his predecessor Zachary Taylor and Vice President Millard Fillmore were killed in a carriage accident shortly into their terms in 1849. Several months after President Atchison's accession, the American Civil War broke out on April 17, 1849 with the secession of Massachusetts from the Union and the Second Battle of Lexington and Concord, from which the rebelling abolitionists, who styled themselves as the New Minutemen, emerged victorious. New Hampshire and Vermont seceded shortly thereafter and were soon followed by the three remaining New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The seceding Northeastern states banded together to form the New England Confederacy with Daniel Webster as its first and only President and the revolutionary abolitionist John Brown as the commander of its army. The war came to an end in 1855, two years after President Atchison had issued a proclamation promising that any slave who fought in the United States Army would be granted his freedom following the end of the war and that any factory slave who worked satisfactorily would be granted his or her freedom after the war and would be paid for that work from then onwards. He was succeeded by Stephen A. Douglas, who became the 14th President and introduced the Civil Rights Act 1861 which abolishes slavery in the United States in its entirety.
 
New England? Maybe. New York? Maybe, as long as it's based around Upstate and solving the Fishers Island ownership dispute in CT's favor. Anywhere else? There's a reason why the Central Confederacy proposal was a thing. In this case, encompassing the Midwest as well as PA, Downstate NY, NJ, and the OTL border/middle states.
 
Who would be the northern equivalent of the the original 7 Confederates in such an ATL, the 6 states of New England?
One idea I had would be New England plus Upstate New York--notoriously "pro-southern" New York City under Mayor Wood splits with the rest of the state. Sounds unlikely, but so did the separation of West Virginia... (The Upper Midwest--WI, MI, and MN might also join except that geographically they are connected more with the Lower Midwest states than with New England/New York, even though they are part of "Greater New England" politically.)
 
@Marse Lee , did you have any thoughts on who would be the president of the seceding northern states?
Depending on when the secession starts and which states seceded, I could see Dan Webster, William Seward, Charles Sumner, or Nathaniel Banks as president. I could also see Henry Wilson, John P. Hale, Hannibal Hamlin, Lafayette Foster, William Fessenden, Solomon Foot, or Ira Harris filling in the vice-presidency and other senior government positions.
 
Well thank you, the lack of response has been a bit discouraging. Anyway, I don't have an answer to your question right now. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
For a similar question a while ago, I suggested Warwick, RI, as a possibility. In the pre-Cape Cod Canal era, it was centrally located between Boston and New York, and has access to a good but defensible harbor at Providence without upstaging the state government. Furthermore, it has some historical significance as the site of the Gaspee affair, the first armed action by colonists against British rule.
 
I'm all for the entirity of the free states and territories seceding.

Remember:

1) it did take some time and convincing of the OTL Confederate states to join up unto their eventual amount, so it's fine for the northern states to be the same,
2) an attack on a northern area may convince the others to throw their lot in,
3) BIG ONE: many of the northwestern states were settled by Anglo New Englanders and Anglo Mid-Atlantic men and anti-slavery Irish and German immigrants, and still receiving immigrants from the east and/or in living, direct cultural memory of being settled by them. If southern states all had common cultural interests, so did the northern ones! We just don't think of it because the north ended up the US metropole by being the Unionists and eventually most prosperous states.

Many of the northern states had common ethnocultural and economic links, to say nothing of similar political beliefs like being pro-tariff, pro-homestead for common families (vs southern plantations hogging all the western lands), and of course, anti-slavery. New England, the Mid-Atlantic (including Delaware - majority of its people Anglo-Quakers like eastern PA's and slavery concentrated in the southwestern corner of the state, even the one slave state the CSA DIDN'T claim formally), the Great Lakes, and the Great Plains above *Oklahoma. Heck, maybe throw in northern Missouri due to being in the western line of settlement of Mid-Atlantic men/German immigrants and more riverine borders via the Missouri River.That said, you can easily have a *West Virginia situation with the southern thirds of Illinois (Little Egypt) and Indiana counter-secede since they were primarily settled by upland southerners a la Kentucky and West Virginia.

Incidentally, I enjoy New York as a capital, unless you manage to drag Maryland into this northern confederacy, in which case Philadelphia works with Washington and Baltimore as buffers in addition to Wilmington, York, Lancaster, etc.

EDIT: PS, please name this northern nation the Federate(-d?) States of America, so we can call it the Federation. :D And since 'Southland' and 'Southron' were coming to prominence as non-'American' names, the name Fredon(-ia) and Fred(-es/-ish, or onians) can be revived as a parallel since that name was invented by a New Yorker in 1803 or so!
 
(The issue was often spoken of as the slaveholder's right of "transit or sojourn." "Transit" might seem to imply a short presence in the free states on the way to a slave state; but "sojourn" could mean virtually indefinite presence of slaveholders and their slaves in northern states, just as long as the slaveholders do not declare an intention to become permanent residents
A while back I remember someone who I think got banned on this forum practically frothing at the mouth insisting that sojourn mean a brief stay.
 
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