And The South Rose: 4 Hypothetical Scenarios if the Confederacy Won the Civil War

The American Yawp (Richmond & Petersburg Railroad Depot c. 1865)
The American Yawp (Richmond & Petersburg Railroad Depot c. 1865)

1 – The Confederacy Would Crumble Anyway

The Confederated States of America consisted of 11 states. They were connected by a desire to retain slavery and secede from the Union, but by little else, it appears. In December 1860, a group of South Carolina politicians called a convention of ‘the people’ and voted to leave the Union. Six more states in the Deep South joined them within a matter of weeks and pushed the United States to the brink of war. We all know what happened next.

The big issue with the CSA was the fact it wasn’t exactly a bastion of democracy. Around 35% of its 10 million population were either slaves or disenfranchised. Another 30% were white women who didn’t have democratic rights. In fact, only 12% of the population was white adult males with the ability to vote.

The war was unpopular with many in the South, to begin with; things only got worse when, by 1862, over 75% of its white military age male population had been enlisted. Things didn’t get any better when the Southern government created rules to allow slaveholders to avoid conscription. Several riots were perpetrated by the women of Southern soldiers in the spring of 1863 as discontent was rife. The action of these women forced the government to revise its tax and conscription policies.

The war probably held the shaky CSA together in the first place. Once the ‘threat’ of the Union had vanished, it would have been tough for the Confederacy to stick together. The 11 members were interested in individual state’s rights. With the war won, it’s possible that internal differences would have caused friction between the states. Add in the general discontent of the people, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The CSA would have kept ‘the peculiar institution’ of slavery intact, but some countries would be less than keen to maintain trade relations with such a ‘backward’ country. Plantation owners would have quickly found it difficult to sell their produce, and a major blow to the CSA’s economy would be inevitable. Add in the less than ideal geographic location of the South with its boiling summers and long distances between major locations, and an economic depression was likely.

Ultimately, the CSA would have been forced to consider abolishing slavery and request to rejoin the Union. Whether they were accepted would depend on the North’s economic status. Another issue is the rather large slave population which could lead to the following scenario.

Advertisement