Sunday, May 31, 2015


  This question has been pondered by historians for years. Personally I am not a Southern apologist or a Neo Confederate.. I have no romantic view of the old South and I like the new South better. I am a realist however. As far as racism and the plight of blacks in this country the North was no paradise. To paraphrase Malcolm X he once said that people should quit picking on the South. Once you cross the Canadian border you are in the South. He could say this with authority since he was born in East Lansing Michigan and had lived for most of his life in Boston and New York City. He only visited the South once and that was not long before his death. Malcolm experienced blatant racism for most of his life. Which made his mind a fertile ground for the radical views of the Black Muslim movement. Several members of his family, including his father, had been lynched in the North by the KKK. Before the Civil War the plight of free blacks in the North was in some ways worse than that of the slave. The slave was somewhat being provided for. They had food and shelter. Much of the seed money to start Northern industry had come from the sale of their own slaves. In the North free blacks were pretty much on their own in a society that did not want them. They scratched out a meager existence in low paying menial jobs if they could find a job at all. Some states like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, and Oregon passed anti-immigration laws which prohibited free blacks from moving into their states. Other Northern states had bonding laws that did not outlaw black immigration but the cost of being bonded was prohibitive. We sometimes forget that all thirteen colonies were slave states from the beginning of our country. New Jersey was the last Northern state of the original thirteen to ban slavery in 1804. Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri would have slavery until it was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

   Okay let us return to the question. What if the South had won the Civil War? From a military standpoint the South was greatly disadvantaged. The population of the North was twenty-two million people as opposed to the Souths nine million. Out of nine million only five million were white. The South was able to field an army that eventually numbered around one million. The North fielded an army of two million. The North of course was vastly more industrialized and it had many more miles of railroad track and stock. The South had pockets of industrialization. The Tredagar Iron Works in Richmond, which supplied a great deal of Southern armaments throughout the war. Nashville was producing weapons of war until it was captured early on. There were other pockets of industrialization like Selma Alabama and other such cities in the South.  Although we think of the South as being agricultural and the North as industrial before the war the North was even more agricultural than the South. The Souths agriculture was centered around cotton and tobacco. However the wealth tied up in slaves, property and cash crops was worth more than all Northern assets combined. In spite of disadvantages the South could have won the Civil War. I believe that all wars can be won if the right strategy is employed and the enemy accommodates you by employing the wrong strategy. Making mistakes is always helpful too. For example who would have believed that a ragged, undisciplined mob of patriots, led by George Washington, could defeat a country like England which possessed the strongest army, navy and economy in the world.

  Washington, after rough handling and near defeat by the British in New York, finally employed the right strategy, He realized that the American army would never be able to defeat the British army in a head to head fight. After New York his strategy was not to lose. He would never again allow his army to be trapped and diminished in battles of attrition. The goal was to engage the British but retreat to fight another day if the battle began to go badly for the Americans. This strategy was very difficult for Washington because he had a very aggressive nature and constantly wanted to attack the British. The British on the other hand had many opportunities to win but because of mistakes made by their commanders, and a flawed British strategy, Washington was able to hold on until he received French help and British war weariness after his victory at Yorktown. Another example would be our war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese employed the right strategy and we had the wrong strategy. Never let anyone tell you that the war in Vietnam was not winnable for the Americans. We just didn't have the will to win it.

  The South was facing odds similar to the American colonists in 1775. The only difference was the South's enemy was on it's doorstep. Although the North faced a huge logistics problem in supplying it's armies in the South. In total the South was larger in area than western Europe. England had to supply it's armies from thousands of miles away across an ocean. 

1. The South might have won it's independence without firing a shot.

Just think of the dilemma that Lincoln would have faced if the South had refused to fire on Ft. Sumter. The South had much political clout and many friends in the North prior to the war. This was evident in the many compromises worked out before the war to alleviate sectional tensions over slavery. Many in the North adopted a policy of appeasement in order to keep the South from seceding. If the South had not fired on Sumter Lincoln would have faced the same dilemma that Roosevelt faced just before Pearl Harbor. Most Americans did not want war and Roosevelt even felt compelled to make a promise to the American people that he knew that he was bound to break eventually. He did this on many occasions in the presidential campaign of 1940. His most famous promise was given in Boston. "I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." He knew however when he said this that Hitler had to be stopped but first he had to be reelected.

  Unfortunately there was much sympathy for Hitler in this country.Many people including the likes of Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and Joseph Kennedy were admirers of Hitler. Some people like to think that Pearl Harbor gave Roosevelt the green light to declare war on Germany but it didn't. Roosevelt's dilemma was solved by Hitler himself when he made the mistake of declaring war on America four days after Pearl Harbor. Americans did not have a beef with Germany. It was Japan that they were furious with. By declaring war on us Hitler made one of his greatest blunders of the war. The South like Japan attacking Pearl Harbor, made it's greatest blunder by firing on Ft. Sumter. Firing on the flag had the same impact on the North that Pearl Harbor had on America in 1941. It united the north and diminished the number of people who sympathized with the South. Northern men flocked to the recruiting stations. If the South had somehow contained it's enthusiasm for war, which would have been very difficult politically, and not fired on Sumter, the ball would have been in Lincoln's court. Any military action on Lincoln's part would have made him look like the aggressor. Who knows, the South might have won it's independence without firing a shot.

2. The South could have won the war by winning a decisive victory on Northern soil in the Fall of 1862, This might have gained a military alliance with Britain or France.

  The South had a very narrow window of opportunity on this one. Many, if not most, historians, consider Gettysburg to be the turning point of the war. It was a turning point but not the turning point as far as gaining foreign recognition. The South lost that opportunity with the twin defeats of Lee at Antietam and Bragg's defeat in his Kentucky campaign during the Fall of 1862. At this time the aristocratic governments of both  Britain and France were pulling for the South because of English textile mills suffering from a cotton shortage. During the summer of 1862 Lincoln had decided to issue an Emancipation Proclamation. Secretary of State Seward suggested that Lincoln wait until the North could win a victory on the battlefield. If he issued the proclamation before a victory it would look like an act of desperation on the part of Lincoln. The North was at a low point during the Spring and Summer of 1862. They had suffered humiliating defeats during the Seven Days battles and at Second Bull Run. In the west they had been more successful but now in the Fall Bragg was threatening Louisville and Cincinnati. When Lee and Bragg were defeated Lincoln was able to issue his Emancipation Proclamation. This document was a brilliant move on the part of Lincoln. It did not grant freedom to slaves in those slave states still in the Union and in Tennessee. It would affect only those states still under the control of the Confederacy. The order would not alienate loyal slave owners by freeing their slaves.
Dead Rebels at the edge of Farmer Millers cornfield

Same angle as above picture when I was at Antietam in 2003 

  Secondly the Emancipation Proclamation effectively robbed the South of much of it's work force. As Union armies occupied more and more Southern territory slaves flocked to their protection. Slaves were being used to dig fortifications and earthworks by the South. They were also freeing up white farmers to fight in the Confederate Army. After the proclamation many of these slaves left the work force. This in turn increased the amount of desertion in the Confederate Army because men were concerned about the welfare of their families since there was no one to work their farms. The third consequence of the Emancipation Proclamation, and probably the most important, was that it expanded the scope of the war from not just a fight to preserve the Union but overnight it became a fight for human freedom. This consequence of the order virtually ended any thought of foreign intervention. Before the Proclamation the cotton shortage in English and French textile mills combined with sympathy among the European aristocracy for the Southern cause produced a push to intervene on the side of the South.The working classes of Europe, many who worked in English and french textile mills expressed their support for the Union cause which suppressed the aristocratic support for the South in the British and French governments. This is why the battle of Antietam and the Kentucky campaign taken together were so important. If Lee had won a decisive victory on Northern soil, coupled with a victory by Bragg's army in Kentucky a treaty of alliance with either Britain, France or both might have insured a Confederate victory in the Civil War. By the time of the battle of Gettysburg, even if the South had won a decisive victory there, the chances of European involvement were slim to none because of the Emancipation Proclamation. These three factors make the Emancipation Proclamation a stroke of genius on the part of Lincoln.

3. The South could have won the war by adopting Washington's strategy of fighting not to lose, combined with a bold strategy proposed by Stonewall Jackson.

This in my humble opinion was the South's best chance for victory. Many people called Ulysses S. Grant a butcher because of the massive casualties that his army took fighting against Lee during the Overland campaign of May and June 1864. However it was Lee who was the butcher. Lee was using a strategy called the offensive defensive. The following is historian James McPherson's definition of this strategy. “The Confederates eventually synthesized these various strands of strategic theory and political reality into what Davis called an “offensive-defensive” strategy. This consisted of defending the Confederate homeland by using interior lines of communication… to concentrate dispersed forces against an invading army and, if opportunity offered, to go over to the offensive, even to the extent of invading the North….it emerged from a series of major campaigns in the Virginia-Maryland and Tennessee-Kentucky theaters during 1862, and culminated at Gettysburg in 1863.” -James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, p. 338, Oxford University Press, NY, 1988. Lee like Washington was a very aggressive commander but Washington's strategy of fighting not to lose was more realistic than the offensive-defensive strategy. The South did not have the men and resources to employ this strategy. For example Lee had 37% casualties at Gettysburg and Bragg had 27% at Chickamauga. The South could not afford these casualty numbers. The term casualty includes killed, wounded, and missing. Missing could be anything from being captured to being blown apart by an artillery shell.

  As in the case of Washington and the Continental Army, as long as the Confederate Army existed, the Confederacy existed. Lee and other Confederate commanders also believed in the Napoleonic concept of the Decisive Battle. In other words if you could win one battle so lopsided or decisive in your favor, it would force an end to the war. This is why Lee raided the North in 1862 and in 1863. He felt that winning a decisive battle on Northern soil would draw foreign intervention to the side of the South or force the Union government to sue for peace terms. This is how wars were won in the past. The Civil War was the first modern war in which it would require wearing down your enemy by attrition and the economic devastation of the population, along with psychological warfare. Grant and Sherman realized this after Shiloh. This was such a vicious battle that they realized that the war would be a fight to the bitter end. No one battle would end it.
The Hornets Nest at Shiloh

  Nevertheless Jefferson Davis and his generals could have won an armistice. This was their best chance for victory. They could have achieved a military stalemate.that would have allowed the South to gain it's independence as a separate and sovereign nation. This could have been achieved by several changes in strategy that would have required strong political skill and leadership. In my opinion Davis was the wrong man for the job. First of all Davis tried to defend every square inch of the South. This included the South's east coast and gulf coast. The Eastern seaboard states between the Appalachians and the Atlantic. The entire middle South between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, which was a vast area, and the trans Mississippi area which encompassed Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. In addition the South in the Eastern theater wasted thousands of man hours of physical labor and thousands of lives defending the Confederate capital in Richmond at all costs. This is why there were more casualties in the Eastern theater than in the West because the Union and Confederate armies were fighting over a 100 mile area of northern Virginia between Washington D.C. and Richmond. Lincoln was trying to protect Washington just as hard as Davis was trying to protect Richmond. The armies were in closer proximity to each other in the east., Having  an aggressive commander such as Lee meant that they would frequently clash. The original capital of the Confederacy was Montgomery Alabama. After Virginia seceded, for political reasons, since Virginia was the most powerful and populous state in the South, the capital was moved to Richmond. This was a strategic mistake because Montgomery would have been easier to defend because of it's deep South location. Richmond was much more vulnerable to attack.

  In order to win Southern commanders should have engaged Union forces whenever possible however like Washington their strategic goal should have been not to lose. The South should have avoided battles of attrition. Also Davis should have been willing to give up territory whenever it served the long term goal of winning an armistice. For example the Capital of the thirteen colonies was in Philadelphia. In 1777 the British Army occupied Philadelphia after defeating Washington at the battle of Brandywine Creek. The Second Continental Congress simply packed up and moved to a different location while the British occupied the city and the government continued to function. During the War of 1812 the British occupied Washington D.C. and burned government buildings including the White House, yet our government survived. In the end the South's focus should have been on preserving the Confederate army from destruction. As long as the army existed the Confederacy existed. In addition the South should have employed guerrilla warfare on a large scale to further the frustration and war weariness of the North.

  Another strategy that Stonewall Jackson advocated, but was not allowed to carry out, was to take an army of about 40,000 men into the North. Jackson's men were called foot cavalry because of their rapid marching throughout the Shenandoah Valley during the Valley campaign of 1862. Jackson seemed to function better when he operated independently. He thoroughly confused three Union Armies who were trying to corner him in the Valley. Jackson wanted to take his foot cavalry into Northern territory as an independent army. This would be a psychological blow to Northern morale. He felt that he would be able to draw the Union armies, sent to destroy him, into battles of his own choosing. Jackson advocated defense in depth. He said that he had attacked positions that he couldn't take but he had never seen a position that he couldn't defend. Jackson was given his nickname of Stonewall at First Bull Run because of his stand on Henry House Hill and he held a strong position on the right at Fredricksburg. At Second Bull Run he had successfully defended against numerous attacks by John Popes army, giving Lee time to position a devastating flank attack that would ultimately win the battle. It was Jackson's bold strategy that enabled Lee to win his greatest victory at Chancellorsville while being outnumbered two to one. One could only imagine what would have happened if Jackson had been allowed to implement his plan.

  Even with the flawed strategy that was employed by the South Lincoln came very near to losing the election of 1864. The war after three years seemed to be in a stalemate. During May and June of 1864 Grants army suffered over 50,000 casualties and Sherman seemed to be nowhere near capturing Atlanta. Then Davis made the huge mistake of placing John Bell Hood in command of the Army of Tennessee. Hood proceeded to destroy his army in four ill-advised attacks designed to defeat Sherman and drive him away from Atlanta. Instead Hood was forced to concede defeat and he evacuated Atlanta in September two months before the presidential election in November. The Northern people were finally able to see light at the end of the tunnel. This swung the election to Lincoln. Former Union commander George B. McClellan was running for president on the Democratic Party platform that was seeking a negotiated settlement to end the war. If the Democratic Party had won the election there is a very good possibility that the South would have negotiated an armistice and gained their independence.
Sherman at Atlanta

I have listed several ways that the South could have won the Civil War. So what kind of country

would the South have evolved into. That is anybodies guess. There is no way that we can accurately predict since it didn't happen. Would the remaining Northern States become anywhere near the powerful nation that the United States became during the Twentieth Century? Probably not, but I believe that because of the industrial potential of the North it would still have been a world power to be reckoned with. On an economic level the South probably would have been isolated As an agricultural society propped up by slavery the South would have continued to be a society of primarily consumers while the North would have continued to be an industrial society of producers. The North was very dependent on Southern cotton before the war. Their textile mills operated on it. In the immediate years after the Civil War, because of built-up animosity the North might have bought East Indian and Egyptian cotton instead however. Europe had been doing this anyway since 1862. Before the war the vast majority of cotton sold on European markets from Britain to Russia was Southern cotton. Cotton was King. At the beginning of the war, before the Northern blockade took effect, the South decided to voluntarily embargo it's cotton in an attempt to compel Europe into intervening on the side of the Confederacy. This was called (Cotton Diplomacy). Soon British and French textile factory owners were begging their governments to intervene. However by 1862 Europe was using East Indian and Egyptian cotton out of necessity instead of Southern cotton. For this reason the embargo backfired on the South. 

The South needed revenue to buy English and European arms. By the time the South realized it's mistake and began selling cotton the Northern blockade was beginning to be effective. The noose was growing ever tighter as the war progressed. Cotton was not getting out in great abundance. A lot would have depended on whether or not that the south could have negotiated trade treaties with the North and world markets after the war. A victorious South would compete for western territories in order to expand slavery. This was essentially what the war had been about in the first place.. The expansion of slavery The North for the most part, was okay with slavery. At least where it already existed. However it did not want slavery to advance into the territories. Free whites in the territories did not want to compete with slave labor Also the South would have tried to expand into central and South America. Southern filibusterers like Nashville native William Walker had attempted to take over Central American countries before the war. Walker became president of Nicaragua before he was eventually executed by a firing squad.

  I have believed for a long time now, aside from the diminished power of the country due to the loss of the South, that maybe blacks would have fared better with a Southern victory. On the surface that sounds strange but I think that a strong case can be made. A few years ago there was a seminar in Murfreesboro sponsored by Stones River National Park about life in Murfreesboro under Union occupation. There were several guests speakers who were authors and noted professors whose expertise was on the Civil War and Reconstruction. I forgot their names for the most part with the exception of Barbara Fields who was the black female professor, along with author Shelby Foote, who starred in the Ken Burns PBS documentary (The Civil War). After everyone spoke there was time for questions. I stated that I believed that slavery would have eventually died a natural death if there had been no Civil War. I asked professor Fields if she agreed with my assessment. She responded that there was no reason to believe that the South would ever have ended slavery. The others on the panel agreed with her. I disagree with her however. At the time of our Civil War only three countries had legal slavery. The United States, Cuba, and Brazil. In Cuba slavery was abolished in 1886 and Brazil in 1888. Brazil had more slaves than any other country. Four million slaves were shipped from Africa to Brazil over the years of the slave trade. By comparison only 600,000 were shipped to the United States. Forty percent of the total number of slaves transported to the America's went to Brazil. Slavery died a natural death in Cuba and Brazil without war. There is no reason to believe that the same thing wouldn't have happened in the United States had there been no Civil War.
Professor Fields on the PBS documentary (The Civil War)

Barbara Fields today

  What would have happened to slavery in the South if the Confederacy had won the war?  Before the war the South and the North interacted in several ways. Through trade, the military, and political interaction. The South had the most influence on a political level in both Congress and the presidency. There were powerful congressmen such as John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay. Seven presidents came from Virginia alone. Several were some of the most influential and powerful, like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, Jacksonian Democracy gave the common man a greater role in society. Jackson and James K. Polk added more territory to the United States than any other presidents. Washington D.C. was considered a Southern city. West Point, although it was in New York, had more of a Southern atmosphere to it because the army was dominated by the Southern military culture. Our greatest generals before the Civil War were for the most part Southerners, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, and Winfield Scott. However if the South had won the Civil War this interaction, at least for a while would have ended or fallen to a trickle. The South would have been isolated. At least until animosity from the war had a chance to subside. Because of slavery there is a good chance that the South would have been isolated from the world. This isolation could have ruined their economy along with putting pressure on the South to end slavery.

  Another dilemma that the South would have faced over time would have been a labor shortage. If the the South had won it's independence any slaves that managed to escape into the Northern States or into the Western territories would have been free. The North would have passed the 13th Amendment by then and there would have been no fugitive slave law. The South could do nothing legally to retrieve their escaped slaves. Sure, slave owners would have caught some of them but the Souths borders were too extensive to effectively guard. After World War II the Communists took control of East Germany and East Berlin. For a number of years Germans left East Germany in droves. Finally the Communists built a wall manned by soldiers in order to stop the flow of people trying to get out. East Germany was a drab and miserable society compared to the growing and vibrant West Germany. The South could be compared to East Germany and the North to West Germany. A wall and guards to keep blacks in the South would have been out of the question.  There was a great migration starting in the early twentieth century of blacks and whites to the North. Blacks left the South looking for more freedom and jobs. Whites left to escape the grinding poverty of the South and to look for higher paying jobs. Much has been said about the plight of slaves before the war and the Freedman's plight under the black codes and segregation. Not enough has been said however about the plight of poor whites in the South. Prior to the war only 7% of white people owned slaves and the vast majority of these owned five slaves or less. Ninety-three percent owned no slaves at all. Much of this remaining majority were impoverished and illiterate. The individual states were controlled by a handful of wealthy and powerful professional men such as lawyers, physicians, and businessmen. Then there was the wealthy large slave owners and land owners. The common man had little influence and power in antebellum society. They were exploited by the Bourbon class that governed them. Poor whites could not compete against slave labor. Most were subsistence farmers and jobs were scarce. Why would you pay a white man when a slave could do the same work for free. The ruling class constantly stirred the pot of bigotry and fear against the black man. After the Haiti slave revolt that lasted from 1791 until 1804 and a number of slave insurrections in the United States, the most famous being the bloody Nat Turner rebellion in 1831, there was much paranoia among white people. Many poor whites however were supportive of the institution of slavery. They aspired to be land owners and slave owners themselves one day. Much like many common people in modern times aspire to be business owners, capitalists and entrepreneurs. Ultimately the continued dwindling of the slave work force would be another pressure for the South to bring about social change and an end to slavery.

  If the South won the Civil War there would have been no Reconstruction. Without Reconstruction there would have been no Ku Klux Klan or other white supremacist terror groups. Much of the bad things happening to blacks after the civil War was the result of whites trying to preserve the old order and white supremacy. Reconstruction was an attempt by the North to weed out the old slave ruling class, who were predominately Democratic with the Republican Party. The Klan was the storm troopers of the Democratic Party that worked to scare the Freedman away from the polls. The Freedman would vote Republican because it was the party of Lincoln. After the Fifteenth Amendment was passed in 1870 blacks had the right to vote. For a while blacks had a measure of freedom. Some were elected to the Senate and Congress. After the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 and the subsequent Compromise of 1877 the old order regained power and was dominated by ex Confederates and the old slave power. The Bourbon class. By the late 1800's the Redneck and Overseer class gained control of state governments and this was when the harsh segregation laws were imposed on black people that lasted until the 1960's. If the South had won the war they would not have been so reactionary and there would have been no need for the KKK. The European governments had ended the slave trade and slavery in their own countries and I believe that they would have put pressure on the South economically and otherwise to end slavery. This is another way that the South would have been isolated. I believe that the chances were greater for blacks to achieve their freedom and full civil rights in a South that was victorious after the Civil War rather than a defeated South. In summary a victorious South might have maintained slavery at the most for another thirty to fifty years max. I see no reason why it would have lasted much longer than it did in Cuba and Brazil. These countries were pressured by both internal and external forces to the extent that in the 1880's they ended slavery on their own.

  We have always been taught that the South lost the war. But did they? I have heard it argued that by losing the South actually won. A strong argument can be made for this position. In a speech called the Cornerstone Speech Confederate Vice President, Alexander Stephens contrasted the major difference between the new Confederate constitution and the U.S. Constitution just weeks before the firing on Ft. Sumter. Stephens said the following: "Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition". If there is any doubt that the Civil War was about slavery, then these words should dispel those doubts. Yes, high tariffs and the perception of states rights were contributing factors but if there had been no slavery there would have been no war. If you still have doubts then look at a county by county breakdown of the vote for secession in each of the states. For example in Tennessee, which was the last Southern state to withdraw, those counties that had the fewest slaves voted to remain in the Union. The counties with large slave populations voted to secede. East Tennessee was mountainous with small farms and that region voted not to secede. Fifty percent of Rutherford county's population was slave along with fifty-one percent of Maury County. Davidson county was about thirty-five percent slave. Middle and West Tennessee voted for secession. The mountainous areas of northern Georgia and Alabama also voted against secession.

  As I have touched on already the North and South formed a coalition before the war. Slavery was a source of constant friction between North and South. Compromises were agreed to that insured the survival of our Republic from the very beginning. Since the Southern colonies had fewer whites than the Northern colonies the first compromise was that each slave would count as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of congressional representation. However the Missouri Compromise, in 1820, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 and the proposal of a Thirteenth Amendment that would have guaranteed perpetual slavery in the South were attempts by this coalition to avoid the inevitable consequence of war. When these attempts at avoiding war finally failed the coalition between North and South would temporarily end with Civil War and Reconstruction. A period that lasted from 1865 until 1877. After 1877 the coalition was reestablished. Although slavery had been abolished by the 13th Amendment Black Codes were implemented and segregation by law. Segregation lasted until the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A brutal system called Convict Lease was established in the South during Reconstruction, which was akin to slavery. With slavery ended white farms and plantations needed laborers. Laws were passed to restrict the movement of blacks. They were arrested for minor offenses and refusing to work for their former owners and other white farmers. After arrest the state would contract them out for a fee to work on farms and private industries, private businesses and mines. The business owner was responsible for housing and feeding the prisoner. The system begin to unwind with the Coal Creek War in 1891. This was when white miners in East Tennessee, tired of competing with the cheap labor of the convict lease system, released these convict workers working in a nearby mine and ran them off. This action and the resulting public outcry on behalf of the white miners would not only end the system in Tennessee but bring down the governor. Over time the convict lease system would be replaced by the Chain Gang. Almost 100% of convict lease prisoners were black. Prisons were reserved for the vilest of white criminals such as murderers and rapists. The Chain Gang consisted of about 75% black and 25% white. The major difference between the Convict Lease system and the Chain Gang was that the convicts worked on state projects like building roads and other public projects. The private sector was not involved.  Segregation limited blacks to menial jobs such as housekeepers, nanny's, gardeners, and other low paying jobs. The South regained much of the political power that it had possessed before the war. Northern politicians and presidents were reluctant to do anything of a progressive nature in regard to race so as not to offend the South. There was always a consideration of uniting the Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic Party. As late as 1960 Kennedy would choose a Southerner, Lyndon Johnson, as a Vice Presidential candidate in order to balance the ticket. 

Since the 1964 and 65 Civil Rights Acts this Northern and Southern coalition has gradually died with the power of the black vote and changing racial attitudes. Since the South pretty much maintained a white power structure and oppressed it's black population until the mid 1960's one could argue that they won the Civil War. Military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz said "War is merely the continuation of politics by other means" If the South achieved it's political goal in spite of what happened on the battlefield does that mean that they actually won? It is a question worth pondering.
Carl Von Clausewitz







No comments:

Post a Comment