Zachary Taylor and the Civil War

Gaius Julius Magnus

Gone Fishin'
Let's say Taylor didn't die during the comprimise of 1850 and vetoes the comprimise. This leads to several southern states declaring succession. How does this earlier civil war play out?
 
Taylor as US President give command to Winfield Scott - who would not be too old and fat to take the field - and Scott crushes the South before anyone can gain enough experiance to stand up to him.
 
Agreed, unlike Buchanan he won't dither for months allowing the South to train an army but start the army marching at once.
 

Grimbald

Monthly Donor
Much closer war...

From the founding of the republic until the actual time of the war OTL northern strength relative to southern grew. This was because of faster population growth, faster industrailization and greater immigration.

Moving the ACW back in time ten years only increases the chances of southern independence.
 
From the founding of the republic until the actual time of the war OTL northern strength relative to southern grew. This was because of faster population growth, faster industrailization and greater immigration.

Moving the ACW back in time ten years only increases the chances of southern independence.

Except Tayler won't dither. The ACW would have been very short if Bucanhan didn't dither and quickly used the army to crush the rebelion. It takes time to raise and train an army. It takes time to create a chain of command. Buchanan gave Davis that time, Taylor WON'T!
 
Except Tayler won't dither. The ACW would have been very short if Bucanhan didn't dither and quickly used the army to crush the rebelion. It takes time to raise and train an army. It takes time to create a chain of command. Buchanan gave Davis that time, Taylor WON'T!

Not to defend Buchanan (I agree that his lack of activity held the North back in the early stages of the war), but I'm not sure the regular army was large enough to subjugate the South in 1850. It only had 15,000 troops a decade later, and I don't think it was much (if any) larger in 1850 (since the regiments from the Mexican War were disbanded)
 
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Not to defend Buchanan (I agree that his lack of activity held the North back in the early stages of the war), but I'm not sure the regular army was large enough to subjugate the South in 1850. It only had 15,000 troops a decade later, and I don't think it was much (if any) larger in 1850 (since the regiments from the Mexican War were disbanded)

It has enough to take Richmond (assuming that the rebelion would have the same exact states in 1850 as in 1860) as the South has no troops except militia. Taylor could and would use militia from the North to bolster his troops . He doesn't have enough to occupy the entire South but he DOES have enough to prevent the South from ever raising regulars while he raises more troops for occupation duties.
 
Not to defend Buchanan (I agree that his lack of activity held the North back in the early stages of the war), but I'm not sure the regular army was large enough to subjugate the South in 1850. It only had 15,000 troops a decade later, and I don't think it was much (if any) larger in 1850 (since the regiments from the Mexican War were disbanded)
And how any of those troops are southern?
and which states constitute the South at this time, which would secede?

You would think that being a Virginian would give some leeway, but then again Virginia did not vote for Taylor.
 
Railways are much less developed, northern industry is still emerging, and the Mexican-American War means there are plenty of veterans on both sides. The border states will be even more contentious, rifle-muskets will make the war look much more Napoleonic, and hospitals will be even less developed. Confederate forces will likely try to claim the whole of the Mexican Cessation and the southern half of the Unorganized Territory along with the slave states, and this time Kentucky (more difficult to call but under governor Helm possibly, there is a gap and change of governors about this time) and Missouri (I think very likely to secede under governor A. A. King) are likely to go Southern.

Overall it's going to be a bloody war and without completion of the Suez Canal the Cotton Diplomacy tactics would have a better chance of success, but given the leadership alive at this point who knows what individual will be elected president of the CSA, possibly John Tyler or John Calhoun. I think there will be a stronger third party of compromise candidates that emerges with Henry Clay as the leader preaching reconciliation but they will not make a difference.

Does the CSA get its independence? Perhaps, and perhaps the lessons if this war affect the outcome of the Crimean War in the years to come.
 
The CSA analogue will likely include less states, as Taylor was a Southerner and the Whig Party, unlike the later Republican Party, was not a regional party. Virginia won't rebel, and I have my doubts about North Carolina and Tennessee. Texas reasserts itself as an independent Republic instead of joining the rest.

I'd bet the rebellion would include Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida for certain. Im unsure about Louisiana and Arkansas, considering Taylor had land in Louisiana, and that without Tennessee or Louisiana, Arkansas would barely be attached to the other states.

Slavery is not made illegal afterwards, however. Too many slave-states would have stuck with the Union.

The fate of Texas is unknown to me. I'd guess that there were already enough American troops set up there and in the newly acquired lands from Mexico that Texas might be put back in line, but I think there is where the fighting will be dragged out the longest.
 
The upper south is unlikely to secede, as others pointed out, Taylor was a slaveholder, he actually own over a hundred slaves. Not only do more southerners respect Taylor than they did Lincoln, but they would fear him more too.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling there wouldn't be a war at all. Instead Taylor would have had his ideas considered more during the Compromise of 1850.


Taylor wanted the west admitted as only a hand full of states. This would mitigate the eventual imbalance between slaves states and free. He was opposed to letting slavery expand further west, chiefly because he thought it was ludicrous to think slavery would thrive there. He was also opposed to further land gain, he thought the amount of land we got in the Mexican cession was too much. So no Gadsen purchase.

So maybe the compromise would be something where Texas keeps its border along the Rio Grande and has its debts taken care of. California and Oregon(all of it) are admitted as states. The rest is organized as *Colorado* territory. The plains might be reduced to two states. There would be a constitutional admendment leaving the question of slavery strictly to the individual states. Probably a fugitive slave law.

Taylor did not want to run for another term. He wasnt best of buds with Winfield Scott, but I think he might give him some support. In these circumstances I could seem him possibly winning in 1852.

The Whig party continues staggering on, at least for a little while.
 
From the founding of the republic until the actual time of the war OTL northern strength relative to southern grew. This was because of faster population growth, faster industrailization and greater immigration.

Moving the ACW back in time ten years only increases the chances of southern independence.

The South had explosive growth of Southern nationalism during the 1850s. So your relatively stronger South is much more divided. Fewer states go out, and some of them probably have significant internal fighting before the federals even show up. Remember, no one believes that Zach Taylor is a Black Republican abolitionist.
 
Taylor as US President give command to Winfield Scott - who would not be too old and fat to take the field - and Scott crushes the South before anyone can gain enough experiance to stand up to him.

Only problem with that scenario is that Taylor absolutely hated Winfield Scott because of their rivalry during the Mexican American war, however if the situation is so dire that the South secedes I could envision Taylor accepting Scott as overall commander as the lesser of 2 evils, not to mention being the obvious man for the job. Furthermore, Scotts reputation at the time is such that he could draw away talented men, like Lee, who might have otherwise fought for the Confederacy but instead would now fight for the Union.
 
False premises

Let's say Taylor didn't die during the comprimise of 1850 and vetoes the comprimise.

Except he wouldn't. Taylor was a Whig, and one of the fundamental Whig doctrines was that the President should never veto a bill unless it is unconstitutional.

None of the Compromise bills were unconstitutional.

Furthermore, there is no real evidence that Taylor was opposed to any part of the Compromise. He offended Southerners by his blunt demand that the new free-state government of California be admitted to state immediately, without any territorial period.

Taylor had been a frontier commander, and remembered bitterly the problems that arose when there was no proper legal authority in the area. Thus he wanted California organized ASAP, and never mind that it threw off the free/slave balance in the Senate.

Beyond that, however, he had no strong opinions. There was a newspaper which was considered the administration's voice, which supported the Compromise measures. Some historians assert that Taylor was following the lead of Sen. William Seward (Whig-NY), who was prominently anti-slavery and dined regularly at the White House. But Taylor also had good relations with Sen. Jefferson Davis (D-MS).

This leads to several southern states declaring succession.

Probably not. It took considerable panic to trigger secession, even in the Deep South. That was with a Northern President-elect, who had been openly anti-slavery for many years.

Taylor was himself a slave-owning Southerner. He could hardly be portrayed as a subversive, out to incite slave rebellions, or as the accomplice of abolition fiends like John Brown.

South Carolina might act. But even South Carolina would be very unlikely to act on its own. Even in 1860, there was considerable debate between immediate secessionists, and "Cooperationists", who wanted to hold an all-South convention, where all the slave states would meet and agree on secession in unison.

How does this earlier civil war play out?

It's extremely hard to see which states other than SC would declare secession. None of the Upper South or Border states would go, nor Taylor's home state of Louisiana. Texas? Houston would be opposed, and their dependence on Federal arms was too clear. OTOH they had previously seceded from Mexico... MS and FL, perhaps, but they would be separated bits. AL and GA were much less hot.

Suppose that despite all odds, SC, GA, FL, AL, and MS declared secession.

Taylor would immediately denounce secession as illegal. He would call for troops to re-establish Federal authority. In 1860-1861, the secessionists had six to seven months to establish their rebel government and form an army before US troops marched against them.

In 1850, it would be no more than two months. The alt-CSA would fall almost at once.
 
People are way to flippant about phrases like "the South secedes" as if it is some monolithic bloc that immediately does things, and always in unison.

In reality, the secession crisis of 1860-1861 played out in several different phases. South Carolina had been hot to secede, but would not have done so without strong assurance that the rest of the Deep South would do it. And even then, the Upper South didn't secede until much later.

Convincing people to secede - just as in any other political act - takes time. Most people just don't agree to such a radical move without time to think it over. Much of the work for secession in 1860 was actually done throughout the 1850s as Southerners debated the Great Compromise, Kansas/Nebraska, John Brown, and the rise of the Republican Party. That created a solidarity among some southern politicians who knew they could count on each other to promote secession.

There is none of that in 1850, and secessionists were extremely disappointed at the high level of pro-union sentiment expressed during that time.

So while collectively "the South" is in much stronger position relative to "the North", there is no reason to believe that a mass of states will simply secede all of a sudden forcing President Taylor to take on the whole south.

Much more likely is that South Carolinia threatens to secede, and is immediately criticized by most of the rest of the South. Taylor threatens to invade and hang the traitors in the tradition of Andrew Jackson. At that point, either South Carolina will fold, or will risk actual secession. If so, Taylor does invade and puts the rest of the army on guard. Federal arsenals and forts aren't seized by secessionists. Taylor likely never needs to call upon state militia, since it's only South Carolinia, and SC isn't very well prepared. Within a couple of months, Federal troops are all over South Carolina, and the ringleaders arrested.

There's likely a crisis throughout the slave owning states, but we have little reason to believe 1850 will be like 1860. In 1860, Lincoln was a hated "black Republican" who did not get a single electoral vote (and almost no popular votes!) in the South. In 1850, Taylor is a popular war hero, a southern slaveholder himself who won several Southern states and has the allegiance of many Southern whigs. In 1860, Buchanan is a weak lame duck who does nothing and by the time Lincoln takes office half the south is already gone. In 1850, Taylor is already President and knows how to wield power.

The most likely thing that happens is that after South Carolnia secedes, Taylor's supporters and unionist Democrats take a strong stand against secession in the rest of the south. They are the majority in some areas, but a minority of others. Only a small segment is rabidly pro-seccessionist though. The others are undecideds or weak secessionists who see South Carolinia being quickly crushed, and they either complain ineffectually, keep silent, or join the anti-secession bandwagon.

At best, a few other Deep South states - maybe Alabama and Mississippi - attempt to discuss or vote on secession, and that ends abysmally as pro-Taylor mobs combined Federal troops prevent the votes from occurring or at least delays things enough so that the crisis in South Carolina is settled before the states can do anything other than debate the issue and call for a state convention or special plebiscite.

It won't be a pretty period of American history, but a proper rebellion will likely never happen. If it does, most of the South will stay loyal to the Union. Secessionism will be delegitimized by its swift crushing.
 
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