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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Quote of the Day: "The Blueprint for Modern America"

In some of my more cynical moments, I think that, when the south seceded from the Union, President Lincoln should have just said, "The hell with them.  Let 'em go.  Who needs them, anyway?"

This would have been (and I am deadly serious) very good for the rest of us, but really, really bad for the south.  (If you think I need to elaborate, you need to give this some serious thought.  Hints: beneficiaries of federal programs (like TVA and rural electrification), net gains from federal taxation, locations of military bases, whatever social progress Selma, Alabama has reluctantly been dragged into.)

Even before the civil war, the south was a huge impediment to progress.  The 37th congress - the first to convene without southern representation, due to the secession - "did more than any other in history to change the course of national life. As one scholar has aptly written, this Congress drafted “ 'the blueprint for modern America.'

More than just a H/T:  Steve elaborates.


Suzan said...

And nothing's changed.

Although, now that I think of it again . . . it may have gotten worse.

Love ya!


Even before the civil war, the south was a huge impediment to progress.

BadTux said...

The problem with simply letting the South go was the precedent it would have set -- that whenever a region of the country had differences with another region of the country, that secession was a possible solution. The end result would have been every state being independent, since every state had differences with other states, and then the European superpowers would have swooped in and conquered the independent states one by one. Remember, the sum total of all armies fielded by the Confederacy and Union combined at any one time never matched the size of the single army Napoleon led at the start of his invasion of Russia in 1812. The United States as a whole could fend off any invasion because it had defensive depth, much the same way that the Russians could fend off Napoleon, but any single state had no such luxury.

In short, if there were to be an independent United States, there could not be an independent Confederate States of America. An independent CSA would inevitably lead to the United States eventually splintering the way that the Holy Roman Empire did, with the result being the 30 Year's War where Germany was the stomping ground for surrounding states looking to carve out their own spheres of influence and the little statelets were all beholden to one superpower or another for their existence. The former United States would have existed as a collection of vassal states under the control of one European superpower or another, not as independent nations.

And that is why Lincoln fought -- because the alternative was the end of the United States of America as an independent nation.

- Badtux the History Penguin

Jazzbumpa said...

Tux -

Yeah, that was "everything else being equal."

Still, it doesn't necessarily follow that the southern secession would have led to the dissolution of the remaining Union. Looks like the 37th congress worked together very well. Also, I have to believe that the individual states would have realized their vulnerability as separate entities. Plus, the country was expanding. With the West as a safety valve, whatever disuniting forces existed had a ready outlet for dissipation.

War with the south might have happened eventually anyway. The 2 countries would not have been happy, cordial neighbors.

Interesting thought experiment, though.


Scott said...

This is an excellent analysis. The Southern system of planter aristocracy would have fallen behind industrialization of the rest of the world.