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Thread: Why secession won't work.

  1. #1
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Why secession won't work.

    Too many people talk about seccession as a panacea. Had the South won during the civil war, they wouldn't have been able to make a go of it. Yes, they had a lot of land, yes there was a lot of sympathy and lastly, the citizenry was dedicated.

    What would have happened a few years down the road? First off, slavery was on it's way out because of mechanism. The cotton gin did more to abolish the basis of slavery than anything else. Less slaves could do more work but the slaves had to be educated enough to work and maintain the machines. However, it was often illegal to educate slaves lest they figure out how to escape. Secondly, while there was plenty of land, making it profitable would be difficult. The south would have continued using slaves as a work force but now there would be a highly industrialized neighbor to the north and any reciprocal agreements to return run away slaves would be voided. There would be a very positive force to inspire slaves to run away or possibly revolt. Third, that same industrial neighbor would out compete the south at every turn.

    A research paper written in Alabama circa 1980 did a historical study of what would have happened if the south won. As soon as 6 and no later than 20 years would have passed before former union states began trying to secceed and return to the U.S.A. Economic pressure as well as mounting debt would make the bad old days seem pretty good in retrospect.

    Consider, Quebec is in Canada, an English country, but is mostly French in history. Quebecois have been wanting to separate from the rest of Canada since before the American revolution. Why haven't they? Money. Let's say they get a separation bill through parliament. They will now be their own country. Fine. Except, they will have to assume their portion of the Canadian debt. They would have to form their own currency and economic system. They would no longer have free travel through Canada and no longer have the same laws they enjoy that gives them economic protections and language protection. Dual language laws would probably be repealed in both the old and new country. Quebec would go all French. Thus isolating themselves from their Canadian and American neighbors. They would then have to trade with French speaking countries. France of course but France has an attitude and may not be receptive to French Canadians since the language has drifted a bit. Then there is the economic power house of Haiti. French Guyana and a few other places that are former french colonies that may not want much to do with them.

    The south would have been in a similar state and most of the C.S.A. would rejoin the U.S.A. in a few years. Mainly due to economic factors. The U.S. economy is strong due in part to the fact that the U.S. has never defaulted on it's debts. The south was bankrupt, which was the main reason Lee had to surrender. He could no longer fight a war without resources. Yes Sherman was a brutal field commander, his march to the sea did more damage than most of the previous fighting combined. He targeted the southern economy. Just like the American submarines did in WW2. While Japanese subs attacked Allied warships, the bigger the better, Allied submarines attacked Japanese shipping. Japan had a lot of fuel oil when the war ended. It couldn't get it where it was needed because all the ships were on the bottom of the ocean. The same went for food, raw materials, soldiers and all the othe requirments of war.

    When you look at the south today, it is the result of economic growth with the northern states. The carpet baggers after the Civil war would not have happened if Lincoln hadn't been murdered. He was pushing the pendulum for an honorable peace but with his death, vindictiveness was the rule.

    Seccession would hurt the south a lot more than it would the north. Would the gulf coast have been able to rebuild as well as it has without northern help? How about the oil leak from an exploded drilling platform? Simply maintaining the Mississippi river through the south would be more than the south could afford. Mark Twain wrote once that only Uncle Sam could evfen afford the river, much less improve it.
    Last edited by grouch; 05-04-2010 at 10:07 PM. Reason: I kant spel wurth a durn.
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  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Well, the CSA was larger than many big countries and certainly had the resources/building blocks to make a go of it as a nation. Switzerland is smaller than Virginia and has endured for longer than the US.

    But I think the chief benefit of a Southern victory would have been a tilt back toward the form of republican (small "r") government created by the founders; that is, a restoration of federalism and affirmation of state sovereignty. Probably the CSA and USA would have re-merged, but with the right of secession preserved as an essential check on the potential abuses of a centralized federal government that brooked no limits on its power (as created by Lincoln).

    The slavery thing is a modern confection. The war was not about freeing blacks, much less giving them political and social equality (see "Honest Abe's" own statements in re blacks). The war was about state's rights and taxes (tariffs, specifically).

    Lincoln was determined to force the states (and every American) to accept federal supremacy in all things - and to enshrine the corporatist state we suffer under today.

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    We can't change history. All we can do is do the best we can with what the hands of destiny dealt us.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFANG67 View Post
    We can't change history. All we can do is do the best we can with what the hands of destiny dealt us.
    Absolutely. And the first step is to educate people and teach them true history, not the manufactured and sanitized history people are often taught. In the case of the (so-called) Civil War (so-called because it was nothing of the sort; the North and South were not fighting for control of the country; the South was merely trying to go its own way and the North refused to allow this - which is exactly the same as the British attempted to do to the American colonies) it is important to dispel the idea that it was fought by the North as a moral crusade to free blacks and give them civil rights. Perhaps there were radical Abolitionists who had that in mind, but neither Lincoln nor the war Republicans had that in mind and the average Northerner was as or even more hostile to the idea of black political-legal-social equality as the average Southerner.

    The thing that matters as regards the war was the attempt to re-establish local control and limits on the power of the central government. The Constitution of the Confederacy was virtually identical to the U.S. Constitution except that it explicitly enshrined state sovereignty and imposed more explicit limits on the power of the central government.

    The same issues that led to war in 1861 are percolating again today. It will be interesting to see whether America can recover her founding principles....

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    It absolutely would work but first we'd need sound money and actual borders. Hell, if we had that secession wouldn't even be necessary.

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    I see now you're talking about the CSA, not the current America. If secession wouldn't have worked, the North would have let the South do it. Secession absolutely would have worked, the CSA had sound money and all they wanted was freedom. Only 5 percent of Southerners owned slaves. The Civil War wasn't about slavery. The only reason Lincoln freed the slaves was so that he could draft them into the Union army.

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