Over in a discussion newsgroup a retired professor of history has offered the following observations:
What did northerners have to gain from secession and the creation of the CSA?
I can’t see anything.
What did he [sic] have to lose?
1. The remant US would have to have a big army to keep the CSA intimidated. Higher taxes.
2. The CSA might try to use the lower Mississippi as a choke point in negotiations with the US over sharing the western territories. Greater insecurity.
3. The CSA could forge closer trade links with Britain, cutting out ties with northerners. Bad for business.
4. Many believed the slave-power was inherently expansionist…. If the slave power had its own army
and foreign policy, then this might complicate relations in the western hemisphere.
5. An independent CSA could be expected to be used as a makeweight against the US in the international power struggle over supremacy in the western hemisphere.
6. With a little effort you can easily think of other problems. (Among these problems the poster later agreed to the addition of the statement “The end to the dream of Manifest Destiny.”)
The average man didn’t necessarily understand this. But the educated men, the opinion leaders, could see it with very little explanation.
That’s why the only question among the northerners was over whether the confederates might give up independence if the US gave them good re-enter-the-union terms. Lincoln was completely against this, as far as I know from the get-go.
Since the secessionists had pulled out, that left the govt in the han[d]s of people who seriously wanted the CSA to disappear. All these concerns were wrapped up in the slogan “save the Union.”
Practically all the northerners agreed that the US should have supremacy over the territory claimed by the CS.
I see many problems with this analysis, which seems to me somewhat ill-informed by actual scholarship. For example, the historian in question tends to underestimate the economic relationship between the North and Great Britain; for another, letting the lower South goes means no Fort Sumter crisis and thus complicates what happens in the Upper South. A Confederacy with the original seven states alone would have found life much more difficult than one with eleven states and secessionist sentiment in a few more.
However, it is a suggestive commentary. What do you make of it?