Would the CSA been doomed to economic disaster?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Johnrankins, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Suppose it won, I am going to assume 1865 as Lincoln wouldn't have given up. So Little Mac wins and is assassinated and George Pendleton takes over. Being little more than a traitor he hands back everything to the CSA outside of WV. This is close to a best case scenario for the South. Let's say Sherman is at Milledgeville, Georgia when the war ends. I think that the CSA would be in such a mess it would take until at least 1900 before it is back where it was before the war.
     
  2. Oldbill Well-Known Member

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    Interesting idea. I think that the South will need extensive economic assistance, a huge amount. With no possibility of any loans from the North, that leaves Europe. England will demand, at some point, (probably sooner than later) that slavery end. Who does the labor then? Can the South diversify and industrialize? Even if it does, they are effectively owned by that other nation. France would happily give loans, and may not require such a quick end to slavery, but at some point, it still will happen. I think those are the only two sources of income that could provide the necessary capital. What happens then to the Slaves? A conundrum.
     
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  3. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the South would accept it under any conditions. If they have to accept a basket case economy to preserve slavery than that is what they will do. Large numbers of Southern men just fought and died to preserve slavery and they are going to make their deaths meaningless over a loan? If they were willing to do that they could have taken Lincoln up on his offer and let themselves be bought off by selling the slaves to the Federal Government and spared themselves all the death and destruction.
     
  4. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    I doubt it's ability to stay united. It's a country not only built around slavery but also the idea that individual states can secceed if they feel their rights are being violated, in times of economic hardship government oftens gets more involved than usual and this could probably be percieved by some states as just that, violation of their rights.
     
  5. Kaiser Kolovos Well-Known Member

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    Such a loose confederation can work if all the states had a common interest, state's rights and maintaining slavery, but they'll eventually need something else or the CSA will implode.

    If tensions between the USA and the CSA stay high, then the South will remain united to "defend themselves against federal tyranny" and could lead to a precursor to the Great War on American Soil (trenches, gas, and all).

    If the North says good riddance, then they'll have their own Manifest Destiny going southward, conquering, colonizing, and annexing Central America. They would have to stay out of the Caribbean (or be strategic about it) or they'll piss off the European empires and be they won't have a market for exports anymore.

    During the scramble for Africa, if they last that long, they'll try to get a piece of that pie but it's doubtful they can maintain colonies and defend them against the Europeans. Confederate presence could also push the Union to demand a slice to counteract them.

    All in all, I don't see the CSA surviving long term unless they industrialize their economy, modernize their army and navy, and create ties with European powers. The hiccups along the way and calls to end slavery could make certain states try to secede and next thing they know they'll have their own Civil War to deal with.
     
  6. Oldbill Well-Known Member

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    Im not convinced of the argument it was entirely over slavery. And IOTL, they did take those loans, at much worse rates than they would have gotten from Europeans, from the US Govt. By the end of the war the common folk had had just about all they could stand from the Planter class and the ruin they caused, they would take the loans from another nation, slave holders be damned.
     
  7. liqmadiqkhan Active Member

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    It's an interesting question to consider. The devastation would've taken decades to get back to pre-war conditions assuming most of the war is fought on Southern ground as in OTL. If the Confederacy continues to base their economy around slavery and agriculture they'll become a total backwater moving into the 20th Century - an interesting idea is if these slave-owners transition to light/heavy industry, using their slaves in factories, thereby also screwing over white workers in the South. Racism will be in the South for centuries to come ITTL in a much stronger way, but it gets you wondering if pissed off workers in the South get slave-owners to change slave status (maybe not outright to free) in order to improve their own prospects.
     
  8. wcv215 Well-Known Member

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    And yet it was.
    Not a chance that works out well.
     
  9. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    If it wasn't entirely over slavery it was damn close. The loans the states took out AFTER the war? When the US government entirely controlled said states? They sure as hell weren't getting loans from the US government during the war. Individuals , yes, if they would take out loans from Europe if could get them.

    The government? Hell, no. Not if they have to outlaw slavery. Like it or not Southern boys died to preserve slavery and they are not going to let their fathers, sons and comrades in arms to die in vain for loans from Europe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
  10. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    They did so OTL before the war. After the war they used Black serfs (for want of a better word) in factories. White workers didn't do a damn thing.
     
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  11. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    *Sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"*

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the North;
    They are trampling out the horrors where the grapes of wrath are worth;
    Sherman's loosed the fateful lightning of his powerful swift sword;
    The truth is marching on!

    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
    The truth is marching on!
     
  12. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

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    When it's in their constitution and their VP says the government exists to defend slavery, what alternative is there? It was either slavery or that they didnt know how to play politics and left when they didn't get what they wanted. Ones evil and the other is hilariously sad
     
  13. wcv215 Well-Known Member

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    Nah, those aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s pretty clearly both that are true.
     
  14. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

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    True, though we can't quite blame them for not knowing how to play politics since the senate was basically just their puppet for twenty years
     
  15. Emperor Norton I Calbear's Love Child

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    Given the South's lack of industry and resources, despite them making it out of the war with a victory, any expansionist wars are going to be a run for their money. And I think the US, governmentally or even in private business, will have a lot of people all too eager to support Latin American armies fighting against Confederate encroachment. Plus, you have the same problem as in 1812 when the US tried to invade Canada; soldiers were willing to fight for what they considered home, but would not be nearly as willing to fight to take a foreign piece of soil.
     
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  16. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

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    How long term are we talking?

    The war, debt, and slavery will wreck havoc for a long time. I can see the CSA falling apart. If they make it to the early 1900s though they will probably have diverged further from the North and have a stronger identity.

    If it proves too unstable or fails to develop an identity then who knows? It could collapse into civil wars, rejoin the US, or fall under a totalitarian regime.

    So if we assume they stay together, their white majority is fairly literate by global standards, has access to schools and nothing that really separates them from the rest of the international communities ideas. They have Capitalism and a history of transition of power. The slaves can do more than pick cotton and have been able to work in manufacturing at times. Slavery probably lasts into the 1900s and dies under international pressure in the early-mid 1900s.

    I don’t think it ends up as rich as OTL, but don’t see it being poor if it survives. They have most of what’s needed for fast growth at some point in the future so even if they stagnate for a century, all it really takes is a few decades between 1950 and 2019 of good governance and GDP per head could go from $10,000 to $25,000 very quickly. And I don’t think that the CSA is removed enough from the rest of the world to go the entire 20th-21st century with dysfunctional economic policies. Looking at places in Southern Europe and East Asia that are below the confederacy in almost everything in 1860 but still developed eventually, I think the odds are in their favor that if they don’t implode they’ll eventually figure much of this stuff out.

    I would expect them to have a white population that is still easily high income but unequal and led by a some kind of aristocracy that’s blended with new capitalists that have come along over a century and a half. The black population does much worse than the OTL for the next century after independence, but given that the last ~40 years of the OTL hasn’t seen much convergence between white and black Americans they might have time to catch up to their OTL counterparts by 2019, but are probably poorer than the OTL.

    My scenario assumes the CSA is still alive, which is hardly inevitable even with a victory, so this means many of its worst case scenarios in its first few generations were avoided. So I overall think it is slightly to moderately poorer than the OTL today, probably somewhere between OTL Portugal or Greece and the OTL current Southern states economically, probably with all of the OTL Southern social dysfunction. But I don’t see them deviating that far from the rest of the Western and Anglo Worlds.
     
  17. cra0422 Member

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    One thing that's always stuck in my mind about the CSA's economy was how heavily invested it was in the plantation-style agriculture of cash crops (cotton, sugar cane and tobacco). A major problem was how hard these crops were on the soil because they really depleted the nutrients needed. Now they could do crop rotation but that means that every growing season that a field wasn't growing said cash crops meant money out the landowners' pockets.

    Basically the only way they could keep that economy going was to put more land under the till, i.e. expand.

    That raises another problem because the CSA couldn't expand west because once you get past the Hill Country in central Texas, the land essentially becomes deserts and mountains until you hit the Pacific, and California was firmly in the Union.

    While we have this fantasy image of the CSA taking over Mexico and going into Central and South America (maybe), along with the Caribbean; those countries aren't exactly ideal for plantation agriculture. I know Haiti and Cuba were used for growing sugar but how profitable were they by this time?

    Expansion then leads to the problem of actually being able to invade and take over those countries. Defending your borders is one thing, but invasion of a foreign country that's probably even worse off that your own economically is another thing entirely (in terms of logistically supporting your troops). Plus you have the added problem of the USA possibly intervening to prevent the expansion of the CSA.

    The best choice would be for the CSA to remove itself from an almost entirely agrarian economy and industrializing, but how well do you think the major players in it's government (the wealthy plantation owners) are going to react to them losing their key source of wealth?
     
  18. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Oh, they will probably slowly industrialize. I figure if they survive as long as now they might be as wealthy as about Mexico at this time.
     
  19. KingOnTheEdge Vive La Revolucion

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    Eh... the CSA would want more mexico, and the US would want them to Not. I'd expect that Mexico just became the US's best bud
     
  20. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    I didn't say they would take Mexico , I said they would be as wealthy as Mexico.