Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Had We allowed the South to Secede?

Eric Black Ink (graphic from MinnPost)

150 years ago, Lincoln felt strongly that the Union had to be preserved – whatever the cost!
by Charlie Leck

My dedication in the last year to a heavy amount of reading about Abraham Lincoln, the economy of 17th, 18th and 19th century American South, and the political management of the Civil War was one of the most enjoyable academic efforts I've ever undertaken. The endeavor included a fascinating on-line course offered at no cost by Yale University and led by Professor David Blight (PhD). I wrote about that here several months ago.

Now on Wednesday morning this week one of my favorite journalist/commentators reminds me that it is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, when “Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter…” The South was, of course, asserting its constitutional right to secede from the Union and to stake claim to any federal properties within those southern states that had joined the Confederacy.

It seems to me that the horrors of that war were many, many more years back in our history than that. What I’m trying to say is that the Civil War seems like it belongs in ancient history rather than only 150 years ago. I guess when you get older 150 years doesn’t seem as far back as it might to a 15 year old.

In his fine column, Eric Black is contemporizing the question: “What if Lincoln had allowed the South to secede?”[click here to read it] Black speculates.

“It’s a wild counterfactual. Of course, hundreds of thousands who died over the next five years would have lived to die some other, presumably less violent, way. How long would slavery have lasted in the CSA? Would the South ever have reconsidered and tried to get back together with the North? Might the two countries have fought over ownership of the southwestern territories? Or might the two have become friends and allies?”

Black’s is a short piece and very well-worth reading. I recommend it to you.


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