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Tags abraham lincoln , alternate history , Civil War history , stephen douglas

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Old 21st June 2011, 10:20 AM   #1
RobRoy
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Alt-History American Civil War Time Line?

I’m working on a an alt-history story around the American Civil War era, and just for kicks I thought it might be fun to change up the presidency. So I wondered what would have happened to the American Civil War time line if Stephen Douglas had won the 1860 campaign? This isn’t a question of “could he” but rather what would the outcome have been if he flat out did win it by whatever means (and said means could be included in the changes of the time line). Also, I’d rather have answers that assume he avoids death via Typhoid fever in 1861 and serves the entire term, otherwise, there’s really very little point.

I’m really just looking for a time line post-Douglas victory to play around with.

Thanks!
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Old 21st June 2011, 10:59 AM   #2
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I suspect that Douglas would be more willing than Lincoln to use force to suppress secession, if no other choice was available; that the war would be initiated by Federal forces rather than waiting for secessionist southern troops to fire first. This assumes he couldn't broker another compromise.......
However you'd need Douglas to recover support within the Democrats; 'Bloody Kansas' didn't help him.

FYI Douglas won the US Presidency in 1860 in Stirling's 'Draka' timeline and also in Fawcett's 'Lincoln's Charge'

Last edited by catsmate; 21st June 2011 at 11:13 AM. Reason: Corrected typo's mentioned in next post. Damn cat.
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Old 21st June 2011, 11:03 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
I suspect that Douglas would be more willing than Lincoln to use force to suppress secession, if no other choice was available; that the war would be initiated by Federal forces rather than waiting for secessionist southern troops to fire first. This assumes he couldn't broker another compromise.......
Ahh, nice. From what little I know of those specifics that does sound right. So what would the timeline then look like?

Quote:
However you'd need Douglas to recover support within the Democrats; 'Bloody Kansas' didn't help him.
Among other things, but the “how” of it isn’t what I’m concerned with.

Quote:
FYI Douglas won the UN Presidency in 1960 in Stirling's 'Draka' timeline and also in Fawcett's 'Lincoln's Charge'
Do you mean “US Presidency” in “1860”? I tried to run a couple of searches for those, but came up empty. My Google-fu is weak today.
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Old 21st June 2011, 11:20 AM   #4
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Well for one thing there would have been no succession crisis after the election. Since despite much hatred for Douglas by many Southerners he was not viewed as a sort of antichrist the way many in the South viewed Lincoln. for your senario to work you have to have Douglas lead a united Democratic ticket. Faced between a choice of Douglas or Lincoln I suspect most southerners would have voted for Douglas. The result would have been another Northern politician elected with Southern votes. I suspect Douglas would have been to a certain extent another "doughface" although given his anti-Lempcom credentials and his need for a significant amount of northern support a good deal less of a "doughface" than either B. or Pierce.

I suspect the crisis over slavery would simply have continued. I suspect Southerners would have continued to agitate over a Federal slave code. I suspect there would be litigation over Kanas territory abolishing slavery. I suspect the Lemmon would have got to the Supreme Court. I suspect that the Supreme Court would like with the Dred Scott decision shoot itself in the foot.

I suspect that the Supreme Court would rule that the Obiter Dicta in Dred Scott saying that a territorial legistature could not obolish slavery was in fact law and that a a Federal Slave Code was mandated for all the territories. Further the Supreme Court would rule that Northern laws forbiding the transit of slaves through their territory were unconstitutional and that slave owners had a constitutional right to bring their slaves into any state of the Union regardless of local law.

What I suspect is that the continued sectional struggle combined with the above half assed Supreme Court decisions would ensure a republican won in 1864. Succission of the lower South would follow, but given that Northern predominance would have grown in the meantime and that Southern "ultras" would have alienated much opinion in the middle and upper South the war would have been a lot shorter. Gradual abolition of slavery would have followed.

Last edited by Pacal; 21st June 2011 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 21st June 2011, 11:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Ahh, nice. From what little I know of those specifics that does sound right. So what would the timeline then look like?
Specifics? I'm not sure. I'd need to review the US/Federal military capability at the beginning of the war. I can see him ordering a bombardment of Savannah, as Stirling has him doing if the US Navy could carry it out.



Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Do you mean “US Presidency” in “1860”? I tried to run a couple of searches for those, but came up empty. My Google-fu is weak today.
I've corrected my feline induced typos.

If you're interested in Alternate History I'm surprised you've never come across S. M. Stirling's Draka books; the reference to Douglas is in the timeline appendix in Marching Through Georgia:
Quote:
1860-1866: American Civil War begins as President Douglas bombards Savannah. Dominion of Draka provides massive clandestine aid— repeating rifles, gatling guns, steam warships, steam-powered warcars—to Confederacy. Union casualties exceed 700,000, including large numbers of Mexican conscripts. Mexican territories achieve statehood. Douglas assassinated in 1865 by Confederate fanatic; Vice-President Lincoln inaugurated.
'Lincoln's Charge' by Bill Fawcett appears in the Tor collection Alternate Presidents edited by Mike Resnick. It's a short story with Lincoln as a US Civil War general, I can only vaguely remember it.
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Old 21st June 2011, 12:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Specifics? I'm not sure. I'd need to review the US/Federal military capability at the beginning of the war. I can see him ordering a bombardment of Savannah, as Stirling has him doing if the US Navy could carry it out.
If you don’t mind terribly, I’d really appreciate it. My understanding is limited to my time as an AP student in high school, watching a couple of documentaries, and some time spent following up on specific areas of interest.

Quote:
I've corrected my feline induced typos.
No worries, just wanted to make certain I was reading that correctly.

Quote:
If you're interested in Alternate History I'm surprised you've never come across S. M. Stirling's Draka books; the reference to Douglas is in the timeline appendix in Marching Through Georgia:
'Lincoln's Charge' by Bill Fawcett appears in the Tor collection Alternate Presidents edited by Mike Resnick. It's a short story with Lincoln as a US Civil War general, I can only vaguely remember it.
Well, the truth is that I’m only mildly interested in it, and that only recently, and only for my own personal use as I work on writing some stories that interest me. That interest is actually how I came to find JREF in the first place, when I had an alt-history question that I wanted some assistance with. I’m currently working on another story, albeit predominantly steampunk, but I thought it would be fun to include a US President Douglas time line, which still has an American Civil war as the setting.

However, I did read up on the Draka series from your link and that actually sounds quite interesting. I’d still like to work from my own time line, but I wouldn’t mind picking up that series based on your recommendation.
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Old 21st June 2011, 03:13 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
If you don’t mind terribly, I’d really appreciate it. My understanding is limited to my time as an AP student in high school, watching a couple of documentaries, and some time spent following up on specific areas of interest.
I'll start some reading. However no promises on this, I submitted my doctoral thesis two weeks ago and I'm somewhat off history (or at least intense historical research) for the moment.


Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
I
No worries, just wanted to make certain I was reading that correctly.
Trying to eat, type and defend my dinner from feline incursions wasn't easy.


Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Well, the truth is that I’m only mildly interested in it, and that only recently, and only for my own personal use as I work on writing some stories that interest me. That interest is actually how I came to find JREF in the first place, when I had an alt-history question that I wanted some assistance with. I’m currently working on another story, albeit predominantly steampunk, but I thought it would be fun to include a US President Douglas time line, which still has an American Civil war as the setting.
I've been a rather obsessive AH fan for a couple of decades now, accumulating over a thousand books.
If you're interested Uchronia is a good place to start, for existing works, and AH.com for discussion. In fact that might be a good place to look for assistance.


Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
However, I did read up on the Draka series from your link and that actually sounds quite interesting. I’d still like to work from my own time line, but I wouldn’t mind picking up that series based on your recommendation.
The Draka universe is rather controversial; not only do the bad guys win, pretty overwhelmingly, but it's extremely implausible, bordering level IV.
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Old 21st June 2011, 03:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
I'll start some reading. However no promises on this, I submitted my doctoral thesis two weeks ago and I'm somewhat off history (or at least intense historical research) for the moment.
No worries. My writing can continue with some blanks for now. I appreciate the assistance though. Even if it's just a random guess time line, I'll take it!

Quote:
Trying to eat, type and defend my dinner from feline incursions wasn't easy.
I hear ya, although my typing is usually interrupted by a small child. He's cute, so he'll survive . . . barely.

Quote:
I've been a rather obsessive AH fan for a couple of decades now, accumulating over a thousand books.
If you're interested Uchronia is a good place to start, for existing works, and AH.com for discussion. In fact that might be a good place to look for assistance.
Thank you!

Quote:
The Draka universe is rather controversial; not only do the bad guys win, pretty overwhelmingly, but it's extremely implausible, bordering level IV.
I saw there was some controversy over it. Did you find that to be forced, or was it just an organic growth of the story?
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Old 21st June 2011, 08:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Well for one thing there would have been no succession crisis after the election. Since despite much hatred for Douglas by many Southerners he was not viewed as a sort of antichrist the way many in the South viewed Lincoln.

This does tend to make the "What if Douglas had won?" question considerably less interesting.

Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
for your senario to work you have to have Douglas lead a united Democratic ticket.

Even more is required. One of the myths of the American Civil War is that Lincoln won the Election of 1860 only because the Democrats were divided. In fact, Lincoln won with outright majorities in every free state except California, Oregon, and New Jersey. Even if all of the anti-Lincoln vote had gone to a single candidate, he still would have obtained an electoral majority. Even without the other two candidates, Douglas would still have needed to have flipped either both Illinois and Indiana, which Lincoln won with 51% of the vote, or Ohio, which he won with 52% of the vote.

Bear in mind, however, that Breckinridge and Bell received a combined 5-6% of the vote in Indiana and Ohio; a large number of those voters might well have stayed home rather than vote for Douglas.

Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
Faced between a choice of Douglas or Lincoln I suspect most southerners would have voted for Douglas. The result would have been another Northern politician elected with Southern votes.

You suspect correctly. Lincoln wasn't even on the ballot in 10 Southern states. Again, however, Douglas still would have had to have carried one or two large western states in order to have won the election.

Originally Posted by Pacal View Post
I suspect Douglas would have been to a certain extent another "doughface" although given his anti-Lempcom credentials and his need for a significant amount of northern support a good deal less of a "doughface" than either B. or Pierce.

Douglas opposed the Lecompton ConstitutionWP primarily because it violated his doctrine of Popular SovereigntyWP; rather than out of opposition to the extension of slavery.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:38 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
I saw there was some controversy over it. Did you find that to be forced, or was it just an organic growth of the story?
I, along with most readers I think, find the sustained pace to growth (technological and geographical) to be forced and implausible, especially in its limited scope; the Draka were fielding sixties weaponry early in WW2 while the Germans showed no advancement over their historical equipment.
The idea of steam power developing a generation earlier isn't necessarily unlikely, given a requirement and thus a source of capital; however the rapid advancements in so many fields would require so many supporting discoveries made earlier that it descends into ASB territory in my opinion.

Secondly there's the issue of the British Empire; given the political factors Britain simply wouldn't have tolerated a slave holding territory within the empire and would have intervened. It's explicitly noted in Marching Through Georgia that British abolition of slavery throughout the Empire occurred (on schedule) in 1833.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Even more is required. One of the myths of the American Civil War is that Lincoln won the Election of 1860 only because the Democrats were divided. In fact, Lincoln won with outright majorities in every free state except California, Oregon, and New Jersey. Even if all of the anti-Lincoln vote had gone to a single candidate, he still would have obtained an electoral majority. Even without the other two candidates, Douglas would still have needed to have flipped either both Illinois and Indiana, which Lincoln won with 51% of the vote, or Ohio, which he won with 52% of the vote.

Bear in mind, however, that Breckinridge and Bell received a combined 5-6% of the vote in Indiana and Ohio; a large number of those voters might well have stayed home rather than vote for Douglas.
Perhaps Seward won the Republican nomination rather than Lincoln? He was perceived as more of a Radical Republican than Lincoln and certainly more fervent about abolitionism.
Actually, without wanting to derail this thread, Seward as president has some interesting potentials. Lincoln as Secretary of State? Attorney General?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 08:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Actually, without wanting to derail this thread, Seward as president has some interesting potentials. Lincoln as Secretary of State? Attorney General?
Oh, that is interesting! What would those be?
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by RobRoy View Post
Oh, that is interesting! What would those be?
Well it's a little off topic but four points:

I see Seward being even less popular in the South than Lincoln; the latter could tolerate slavery as the price for maintaining the union while Seward would not. Therefore secession would happen at least as quickly as historically, if not more so. This was the man who coined the phrase "irrepressible conflict".

Seward would react more decisively and strike at the nascent Confederacy rather than waiting as Lincoln did. (This is something I see happening with both Seward and Douglas). Quite possibly this might effect opinion in the border states, either way.

I also see that Seward would be less likely to create the cabinet that Lincoln did, or to effectively delegate as much authority to it. I'm not sure what effects his choices for his cabinet, and the military leadership would have. Scott versus McClellan? And what of the Anaconda plan?
Certainly I don't see Lincoln as SoS in such a cabinet; Attorney General would be possible but unlikely, perhaps as part of a deal over the Republican nomination?

Finally there's that favourite of 'what-if', the Trent Affair. Seward did advocate war with Britain while his handling of the diplomatic niceties of the seizure averted such a war.......
His personal knowledge of significant British figures may have helped; during his trip to Europe in 1859 (as effective 'President-elect') he met Queen Victoria, Lord Palmerston, Lord John Russell, Gladstone, Lord Macaulay and others.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 01:51 PM   #14
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I could see Lincoln taking charge of an Illinois unit in a Douglas-election Civil War. With a winning record and a lack of being assassinated, he might be in a good position for a Presidential run after the war. That puts Lincoln in Grant's presidency. He'd be a better reconstruction president and might (possibly) help stave off some of the Jim Crow laws.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I could see Lincoln taking charge of an Illinois unit in a Douglas-election Civil War. With a winning record and a lack of being assassinated, he might be in a good position for a Presidential run after the war. That puts Lincoln in Grant's presidency. He'd be a better reconstruction president and might (possibly) help stave off some of the Jim Crow laws.
The first part is the main plot of Fawcett's 'Lincoln's Charge; as for the rest, I like it.
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Old 22nd June 2011, 02:26 PM   #16
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Oh this is quite lovely! My story needs for there to be a Civil War, but a more aggressive president works very nicely in my plot. Seward would be an excellent choice for this, given the observations above. I'm inclined to check out "Lincoln's Charge", but since I'm operating under similar conditions, it might be better to wait until after I'm done with the writing (if that ever happens), and avoid the concerns of plagiarism whether real or imagined.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 08:40 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Perhaps Seward won the Republican nomination rather than Lincoln?

This would almost certainly have flipped Illinois to Douglas, for obvious reasons (but see below). Whether it would have also flipped Indiana or Ohio is the real question, and a proper answer would probably require the equivalent of a scholarly journal article. Suffice to say that it's at least a possibility.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
He was perceived as more of a Radical Republican than Lincoln . . .

Specifically, Seward's "Irrepressible Conflict" was seen as considerably more inflammatory than Lincoln's "House Divided."

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
. . . and certainly more fervent about abolitionism.

Lincoln wasn't even an abolitionist at all.

Quote:
. . . I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

(First Lincoln-Douglas Debate)

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Actually, without wanting to derail this thread, Seward as president has some interesting potentials.

See my response to your later post.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Lincoln as Secretary of State? Attorney General?

I can't imagine that Seward would have chosen Lincoln to be SecState, with no foreign-policy experience at all. Charles SumnerWP would have been the obvious choice, though he wouldn't have fit well with Seward's initial plan to attempt to conciliate the South.

Lincoln as Attorney General would have been a possibility, again for obvious reasons. He might also conceivably have served as Postmaster General, which was considered a Cabinet position at the time.

However, I think that by far the most likely role for Lincoln in a Seward administration would have been as Vice President. Lincoln was the runner-up for the Republican VP nomination in 1856; that he was a Westerner, from the same state as Douglas, and an outstanding orator would have made him a near-ideal running mate in 1860.

Now, consider all the known or suspected kidnapping/assassination plots against Lincoln. All those dice have to be rerolled for Seward due to the Butterfly Effect, possibly with even more and greater chances of success because of Seward's reputation as a Radical. Suppose, for instance, that Seward is assassinated in late 1861, after he's managed to start a war with Britain. As bleak as things were for Lincoln IRL, think how much worse that would have been, especially without Seward to help him, and with his being viewed as an "accidental" President.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 09:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
I see Seward being even less popular in the South than Lincoln

This is somewhat like saying that Osama bin Laden was less popular than Saddam Hussein in the US in 2003.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
the latter could tolerate slavery as the price for maintaining the union while Seward would not. Therefore secession would happen at least as quickly as historically, if not more so. This was the man who coined the phrase "irrepressible conflict".

Seward would react more decisively and strike at the nascent Confederacy rather than waiting as Lincoln did. (This is something I see happening with both Seward and Douglas). Quite possibly this might effect opinion in the border states, either way.

Actually, Seward was initially in favor of conciliating the South, and persuaded Lincoln to tone down some of the rehetoric in his First Inaugural Address. Seward also favored abandoning Fort Sumter. He initially felt that appeasement, plus starting a foreign war, would bring the seceded states back into the fold. See McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, here.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
I also see that Seward would be less likely to create the cabinet that Lincoln did, or to effectively delegate as much authority to it.

Agreed, but that's likely true of every other potential Republican nominee in 1860.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
I'm not sure what effects his choices for his cabinet, and the military leadership would have. Scott versus McClellan? And what of the Anaconda plan?

McClellan's rapid rise was partly due to the support of Salmon P. ChaseWP. Had Chase not been Secretary of the Treasury, McClellan might well have remained relatively obscure.

As for the blockade, Seward supported it.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Certainly I don't see Lincoln as SoS in such a cabinet; Attorney General would be possible but unlikely, perhaps as part of a deal over the Republican nomination?

See my previous post.

Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Finally there's that favourite of 'what-if', the Trent Affair. Seward did advocate war with Britain while his handling of the diplomatic niceties of the seizure averted such a war.......
His personal knowledge of significant British figures may have helped; during his trip to Europe in 1859 (as effective 'President-elect') he met Queen Victoria, Lord Palmerston, Lord John Russell, Gladstone, Lord Macaulay and others.

By the end of 1861, Seward had come to his senses and no longer favored war with a foreign power. Had he been President, however, his earlier words and actions might well have poisoned relations with Great Britain to the point where there could have been no compromise and no backing down on either side. He might also have had a less competent Secretary of State who might have proven unable to successfully defuse the crisis.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 10:26 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I could see Lincoln taking charge of an Illinois unit in a Douglas-election Civil War.

I don't believe Lincoln would have done this. From a speech he made on the floor of the House, parodying Democratic Presidential nominee Lewis Cass's "war hero" status:

Quote:
By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? Yes sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war, I fought, bled, and came away. Speaking of Gen: Cass’ career, reminds me of my own. I was not at Stillman’s defeat, but I was about as near it, as Cass was to Hulls surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is, he broke it in de[s]peration; I bent the musket by accident. If Gen: Cass went in advance of me in picking huckleberries [whortleberries], I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live, fighting indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many bloody struggles with the musquetoes; and, although I never fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our democratic friends may suppose there is of black cockade federalism about me, and thereupon, they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun of me, as they have of Gen: Cass, by attempting to write me into a military hero.

Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
With a winning record and a lack of being assassinated, he might be in a good position for a Presidential run after the war. That puts Lincoln in Grant's presidency. He'd be a better reconstruction president and might (possibly) help stave off some of the Jim Crow laws.

Grant handled Reconstruction about as well as could be expected in the circumstances. To say that Lincoln would have done a significantly better job is pure speculation.

Quote:
While the Grant administration erred in intervening too little to uphold Reconstruction legislation, Grant did not ignore violence, intimidation, and disorder in the South. He used enforcement legislation for the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and he asked Congress for the legislation ultimately known as the Ku Klux Act (20 April 1871), which enabled him to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and impose martial law in areas in which local officials did not protect the rights of all citizens. Armed with the law, Grant enforced it in parts of South Carolina, sending in troops and initiating prosecutions. Here and elsewhere he recognized opponents of Reconstruction as the same men he had faced in battle, men determined to use force to reverse the results of the war. In upholding Reconstruction, Grant increasingly acted on his own; in fact, the administration proceeded past the point at which it had adequate popular or congressional support. Enforcement declined as the years progressed, as northerners recognized that frustrating any attempt by southern whites to control state governments and to subjugate the black population accomplished no more than buying time and led to efforts to accomplish the same purpose by other means. Any condemnation of the Grant administration for abandoning Reconstruction requires a general condemnation of the nation. As the war years receded, the whites regained control of the South.

(source)

Additionally, Jim Crow laws weren't enacted until after 1876, when Reconstruction ended and "home rule" was restored to the South.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 10:48 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
This would almost certainly have flipped Illinois to Douglas, for obvious reasons (but see below). Whether it would have also flipped Indiana or Ohio is the real question, and a proper answer would probably require the equivalent of a scholarly journal article. Suffice to say that it's at least a possibility.
Well there's a suitable mechanism to possibly deliver a Douglas presidency. However one history thesis is enough for me.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Specifically, Seward's "Irrepressible Conflict" was seen as considerably more inflammatory than Lincoln's "House Divided."
Very true.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Lincoln wasn't even an abolitionist at all.
Well he, personally at least, wanted an end to slavery; he didn't think damaging the USA to the extent necessary was a worthwhile price.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
I can't imagine that Seward would have chosen Lincoln to be SecState, with no foreign-policy experience at all. Charles SumnerWP would have been the obvious choice, though he wouldn't have fit well with Seward's initial plan to attempt to conciliate the South.
True. That was just wild speculation on my part, and an attempt at reversing their historical roles.
I am curious how Lincoln would do a SoS.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Lincoln as Attorney General would have been a possibility, again for obvious reasons. He might also conceivably have served as Postmaster General, which was considered a Cabinet position at the time.
I hadn't considered PG; AG was based purely on Lincoln's legal background.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
However, I think that by far the most likely role for Lincoln in a Seward administration would have been as Vice President. Lincoln was the runner-up for the Republican VP nomination in 1856; that he was a Westerner, from the same state as Douglas, and an outstanding orator would have made him a near-ideal running mate in 1860.
Bugger. I hadn't thought of that. Blame it on the general non-entity status of most US VPs.
On consideration this would be very likely. And could lead to a Lincoln presidency if Seward were assassinated.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Now, consider all the known or suspected kidnapping/assassination plots against Lincoln. All those dice have to be rerolled for Seward due to the Butterfly Effect, possibly with even more and greater chances of success because of Seward's reputation as a Radical. Suppose, for instance, that Seward is assassinated in late 1861, after he's managed to start a war with Britain. As bleak as things were for Lincoln IRL, think how much worse that would have been, especially without Seward to help him, and with his being viewed as an "accidental" President.
Now that's nasty.
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Old 23rd June 2011, 10:56 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
This is somewhat like saying that Osama bin Laden was less popular than Saddam Hussein in the US in 2003.
A good analogy.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
Actually, Seward was initially in favor of conciliating the South, and persuaded Lincoln to tone down some of the rehetoric in his First Inaugural Address. Seward also favored abandoning Fort Sumter. He initially felt that appeasement, plus starting a foreign war, would bring the seceded states back into the fold. See McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, here.
I was just skimming that. The US Civil War wasn't my primary era of interest, at least regarding politics. The tactics and technology interested me more.

Urgh, "short victorious war" syndrome. That rarely ends well.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
As for the blockade, Seward supported it.
Would Seward have been better able to enforce this plan, rather than Lincoln? As the primary strategy in quelling the secession.
A more patient strategy might have ended the Confederacy without fighting quite so many, and so bloody, land battles. Or at least led to Northern troops being more on the defensive, forcing Southern troops to assault prepared positions. Something of an over-simplification I know.

Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
By the end of 1861, Seward had come to his senses and no longer favored war with a foreign power. Had he been President, however, his earlier words and actions might well have poisoned relations with Great Britain to the point where there could have been no compromise and no backing down on either side. He might also have had a less competent Secretary of State who might have proven unable to successfully defuse the crisis.
Yes that's one interesting aspect. Even a passively hostile Britain could do a lot of damage; more commerce raiders, more blockade running, more arms and supplies. No need for the concealment measures if officials are told to look the other way.
Even without full involvement RN warships escorting British ships through the Union blockade or troop movements around Canada1 could seriously impact Union strategy.


1 Assuming they don't get stuck in NY.
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