One of the more interesting counterfactual exercises open to people interested in the era of the American Civil War is what would have happened had the Confederacy prevailed. It is worth thinking about. Part of such a counterfactual exercise would be to define the moment at which the Confederacy prevailed in securing its independence, because what follows depends on when that moment occurs. For example, the story’s far different if the United States decided to accept Confederate independence in March 1861 than if Confederate independence is secured as the result of war-weariness and a negotiated peace four years later. The story would differ if you chose the Confederate counteroffensive of 1862 or the summer and fall of 1863. So, if you are going to ask, “What if the Confederacy had won?”, first you must determine when you would have that event happen.
That said, I wonder whether in the long term the Confederacy would have welcomed the consequences of independence. Continue reading