Made a Nation: America and the World after an alt-Trent Affair

Introduction pt. 1
Made a Nation: America and the World after an alt-Trent Affair

“We may have our own opinions about slavery; we may be for or against the South, but there is no doubt that Jefferson Davis and the other leaders of the South have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and they have made what is more difficult than either, they have made a nation.
William Ewart Gladstone​

The outbreak of civil war in America was far from unnoticed in the capitals of the world’s great powers. In France, Emperor Napoleon III was intrigued at the at the possibilities for his country, and particularly for his ambition of a renewed French presence in the western hemisphere. In Prussia, the military and political leadership were not slow to appreciate the importance history’s first industrial war, and to seek to understand the implications for the future development of warfare.

It was, however, the perception of the outbreak of war in Great Britain that was the most consequential to the way history would unfold. The British leadership had two main overlapping and conflicting impulses towards the United States. On the one hand, there was the legacy of the two previous Anglo-American conflicts of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. This was embodied by a mix of disdain towards American culture and society, along with suspicion of the United States as a possible future threat to Britain’s global pre-eminence. This disdain and suspicion had been exemplified by the reaction to the contribution of the United States to the Great Exhibition a decade earlier, which was simultaneously a dismissiveness of its lack of grandeur with a more sober reflection upon America’s growing industriousness.

On the other hand, there was a sincere and widespread revulsion towards the institution of slavery present in all segments of British society. Whereas Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold 300,000 copies in the United States, it sold over a million in Britain and every respectable household was said to have a copy. Frederick Douglass was well received throughout Britain and Ireland during his 1845-47 speaking tour to promote the abolitionist cause.

Viscount Palmerston - Wikipedia

Prime Minister Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston.​

The Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, was among the opponents of slavery. Nevertheless, he was perhaps more a representative of the first impulse of disdain towards the United States. Palmerston had a suspicion of revolutionary politics and the exercise of power by society's lower echelons. Furthermore, Palmerston could be considered as a sort of nationalist. His unrelenting and aggressive defence of Britain’s interests certainly made him fairly unpopular in Europe, to the point where the Prussians had a contemporary saying that “if the Devil has a son, surely he must be Palmerston.”

Palmerston’s outlook would be instrumental in the ultimate outbreak of war, but it must be noted that in the years before the war some of his anti-American feeling could actually be attributed to the control of the American federal government by southern slaveowners. In 1841, he remarked upon his efforts to secure a treaty which would allow the Royal Navy to search merchant ships of the other great powers potentially engaged in slave trading that “If we succeed, we shall have enlisted in this league every state in Christendom which has a flag that sails upon the ocean, with the single exception of the United States.”

It is perhaps partly because Palmerston seemed to embody both of these main strains of thought towards the outbreak of war that for almost the first 2 years of the conflict that Britain maintained its neutrality, despite tensions with the Lincoln administration over the granting of belligerency status to the Confederacy. This was contrary to the expectations of practically all southerners, whose overestimation of Britain’s dependence upon their cotton is best represented by a speech given by Texas Senator Louis Wigfall wherein he stated that “Cotton is King” and that even Queen Victoria would have to “bend the knee in fealty and acknowledge the allegiance to that monarch.”

Fortunately for the South, Britain’s neutrality was fragile, and a combination of misunderstanding and recklessness would derail it towards the end of 1861. Frustrated with the ongoing blockade of their coasts by the US Navy, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Senators James Mason and John Slidell as commissioners to petition the British government for recognition and help. The US Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, sought to capture the two commissioners and to this end dispatched 3 warships to search for them. One of these was the USS James Adger, captained by Henry Sanford. It was Sanford’s actions that would ultimately precipitate the crisis which brought Britain into what had previously been a civil war.

USN Ships--USS James Adger (1861-1866)

USS James Adger, the ship which precipitated Britain's entry into what had until then been a civil war​

The James Adger was forced to limp into Southampton after a particular harsh storm off the cost of Ireland. The vessel’s unexpected arrival coincided with the planned departure from London dockyards of the Gladiator, a Confederate blockade runner. It was at this point that Sanford concocted a scheme to seize the cargo and crew of Gladiator and depart before the British authorities could react. Sanford considered consulting the US Minister Charles Adams about his plan, but ultimately decided to proceed on his own initiative. [POD] On the 5th November the USS James Adger ran the Gladiator aground on a Thames mudbank, seizing its cargo and crew before absconding out to sea.

It did not take long for the British authorities to react. Vice Admiral Robert Small, commander of the Royal Navy’s Channel Squadron was ordered to give chase to the James Adger, and he duly caught up to and captured the vessel off the coast of Devon. Captain Sanford was treated amicably, but he and his crew were nevertheless detained. Sandford’s actions universally outraged public opinion in Britain, and it was regarded by all as an egregious insult to Britain’s sovereignty and dignity to commit an act of naval warfare in the estuary of the Thames itself. Sanford’s action inaugurated what became known to history as the Adger Affair.

The Cabinet unanimously agreed that a stern response was necessary. While the Chancellor Gladstone argued that any letter to President Lincoln ought not to be so strong as to leave him no option but war, the Foreign Secretary John Russell nevertheless drafted a very strongly worded response. It was at this point that a gravely ill Prince Albert intervened, attempting in a final act of service to his adopted country to moderate the language of the missive in an attempt to avert war. Unfortunately for those wishing to avoid an Anglo-American conflagration, it was at this very point that London received word of yet another incident.

Not long after Henry Sanford had been committing his folly, the two Confederate commissioners had boarded the British mail packet the RMS Trent in Havana in order to travel to Britain. The USS San Jacinto, commanded by Charles Wilkes, boarded the Trent and detained the commissioners. The boarding was regarded by the British as a violation of their flag and the timing of word of the incident reaching Britain was perfectly timed to derail Prince Albert’s peace-making efforts. The Cabinet came down firmly on the side of a harsh ultimatum demanding an apology and restitution for both incidents, and the Prince acquiesced. Palmerston at this point seems to have regarded war as inevitable.

In the North, the reaction to these events was quite different. The incident involving the James Adger was not yet known, and Lincoln and the general public for some weeks knew only of the seizure of the envoys by Captain Wilkes. The press and the public viewed Wilkes as a national hero, his actions being regarded as a much needed moral victory. The New York Times reported that “We do not believe the American heart ever thrilled with more genuine delight than it did yesterday at the intelligence of the capture of Messrs. Slidell and Mason.” The simultaneous news of the incident with the James Adger and the British demand for restitution dramatically escalated tensions. The press inclined toward viewing Sanford as equally a hero as Wilkes, and many Americans rejoiced in the supposed humiliation of their old enemy. Lincoln and his Cabinet, however, were very much focused on Russell’s ultimatum upon delivery by the British Minister to the United States Lord Lyons.

Besides Secretary of State William Seward, who despite previous bluster fully understood the dire implication of war while the South remained in rebellion, no other member of the Cabinet supported accepting the demand for an apology and restitution for both incidents. The accusatory tone of the missive was also regarded with outrage by many, and there was great reluctance to be conciliatory in light of the sharp anti-British turn of public opinion. Lincoln was forced to reject the demands, and just a few days before the turn of the year Lord Lyons and the rest of the British legation departed Washington for Halifax, Nova Scotia. At this point, war was indeed inevitable.

The consequences for the Union would be disastrous. The supremacy of the Royal Navy effectively reversed the situation at sea. Far from being able to blockade the South, now the North was itself under blockade. The implication of this was a sudden cut-off of the international trade upon which the smooth running of the war effort depended, a particularly important example being the critical military supply of saltpetre. The British government had wisely ordered a large shipment of this suspended at the beginning of the crisis. The outbreak of war was also a tremendous morale boost throughout a South that had begun to seriously struggle under the weight of war and blockade, with every soldier and citizen understanding the importance of these developments.

Despite some success in the western theatre and in the invasion of Upper Canada, a series of key defeats as Britain brought the full force of its global power to bear in North America slowly eroded public support for the war effort and for Lincoln’s administration over the course of 1862-63. By early 1864, the Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston had overrun Washington D.C. and forced the relocation of the government to Philadelphia. Much of northern Maine was under British control, an uprising in Baltimore was put down only with severe brutality and the force of the Royal Navy had been felt severely on the still sparsely populated west coast.

That the war continued until the 1864 presidential election is largely due to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by pro-Confederate Marylander John Wilkes Booth in March of that year. The result of this was the accession of Radical Republican Hannibal Hamlin to the presidency, with the outrage of the assassination allowing him to rally his supporters enough to continue the war for the time being.

Hamlin’s desire to continue the war was, however, subject to the results of the presidential election in November that year. While he was able to secure the nomination of the Republican Party with Major General Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts as his running mate, his chances of victory were slim. The Republican Party was widely perceived as having led the country disastrously, and a desire for peace was widespread.

The Democratic presidential nominee was Clement Vallandigham, a resolute believer in white supremacy, an opponent of the war effort and a longstanding critic of abolitionism. Vallandigham had been convicted in an Army court martial for opposing the war, and subsequently been removed from office and imprisoned. Despite this, he won election as Governor of Ohio in 1863, which was regarded nationally as a sign of growing disillusionment with the war. Governor Vallandigham, with railway industrialist George W. Cass of Pennsylvania as his running mate, would win the 1864 presidential election fairly decisively on a platform supporting “peace with honour.”

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Clement L. Vallandigham (D-OH)/George W. Cass (D-PA) – 2,387,389 – 159 electoral votes
Hannibal Hamlin (R-ME)/Benjamin F. Butler (R-MA) – 1,669,376 – 60 electoral votes
 
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This TL looks very well researched! Also, there is something you don't see very often in TL (at least not anymore), a President Clement L. Vallandigham. I look forward to more updates, and will be watching.
 
That's a new take on the Trent Affair, always a welcome sight! The Agder is a great PoD I don't think I've seen yet.

Without the specifics of the war we'll have to see how thorny the peace ends up being, I generally think that West Virginia and Kentucky are far more contentious issues than most posters would admit.
 
Clever twist on the usual POD. I also deeply appreciate a Civil War timeline that skips the battles to be honest, I’ve read more than enough real and alternate history about the details of troop movements
 

Rivercat893

Banned
I'm watching this timeline. Anyway, I think the Confederates would take all of Kentucky and some of Missouri given that TTL's Trent Affair is a lot worse.
 
Introduction pt. 2
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Clement L. Vallandigham, 18th President of the United States​

The inauguration of Clement Vallandigham of Ohio as President of the United States initiated a new era of American history. He was inaugurated in Philadelphia rather than Washington D.C. due to the continued occupation of that unfortunate city. The vision of a united and prosperous republic able to stand aloof from the conflicts and alliances of Europe had been irrevocably destroyed. Instead, his Presidency would see the acceptance of the South’s secession and increasingly bitter divisions in what remained of the United States.

The new President’s immediate priority upon taking office was securing an end to the war. Vallandigham was sympathetic to the Southern point of view, pinning blame for the war on the abolitionists and radicals he despised. He was not as sympathetic, however, towards Britain. His initial efforts at peace-making focused on securing a separate peace with the South which would allow him to direct the North’s full attention at Britain in attempt to secure more favourable peace terms. This course of action proved to be unfeasible, as President Davis rejected the idea of a separate peace without the involvement of the British.

Vallandigham and his Cabinet ultimately conceded that the war ought to be ended regardless, and so in April of 1865 the fighting which had been waged across North America for over 4 years came to a halt. The final terms of peace would be specified by the Treaty of Brussels after many months of negotiations hosted by King Leopold I of the Belgians.

The most vital aspect of the negotiations was what frontier between the now two republics would be. Both sides occupied territory claimed by the other, the Confederacy occupying the capital as well as most of Kentucky and a portion of Missouri. The Union occupied parts of Confederate-claimed Indian Territory and the north-western corner of Arkansas. Both sides controlled portions of the former New Mexico Territory, and the western counties of Virginia where slavery was less present had been admitted to the Union as the state of West Virginia.

The Confederate negotiators rejected the legitimacy of West Virginia, and regarded its return as one of their top priorities. The Union negotiators placed greater emphasis on the return of their capital, as well as the occupied portions of the border states. The respective priorities of each side led to an understanding that the border settlement would be based where possible on the pre-war state boundaries. In return for acceptance that West Virginia’s counter-secession was illegitimate and the cession of Kentucky, the Confederate States agreed to restore the entirety of Missouri and Maryland to control of the United States and foreswear any future claim on them. In exchange for recognition of Confederate sovereignty over Indian Territory and the north-south divide of the New Mexico, Washington D.C. was also returned to Union control.

The Confederate States also agreed to allow unrestricted peacetime access to the Mississippi for Northern trade, an important concession for the economy of the Union states adjacent to that great river. The most important provision relating to Britain was the now very much belated concession of the Union of fault and financial compensation for the Adger Affair which had precipitated Britain’s entry into the war. The north-western portion of Maine, which was previously ceded to the United States by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty in 1842, was ceded to New Brunswick in a small and largely symbolic territorial concession.


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The Inter-American border established by the 1865 Treaty of Brussels​

The Treaty of Brussels restored peace to North America, and its acceptance of Southern independence was greeted with widespread jubilation throughout the South. It could not, however, satisfy everyone. That the treaty largely followed pre-war state and territorial boundaries meant that it did not exactly reflect the sentiments of the population with regards to each of the two Americas. Many Unionists, such as in the western portions of the now reunified Virginia and in the eastern region of Tennessee, were abandoned to Confederate authorities. Likewise, there were significant areas of the Union border states with widespread pro-Confederate sentiment. Many who could not stomach living under the authorities established by the Treaty of Brussels would migrate in both directions across the newly established border.

The greatest abandonment of the treaty, however, was of the black population of the South. The enslaved population of the south had a far deeper understanding of these events than many realised. There was great dissatisfaction, and many had anticipated an end to their enslavement. Massachusetts chaplain George H. Hepworth had previously observed that “the slaves of the South are not a happy people. No one can travel from plantation to plantation, from county to county, as I have done, without being strangely impressed with the universal gloom of the negro character. You may talk of the light-hearted, merry slave as much as you will: it is all rhetoric, and has no foundation whatever in fact.”

For the largely free black population in the North, the Treaty of Brussels represented an even greater calamity. They had largely welcomed the advent of war, with Frederick Douglass having said upon the outbreak of war that he was “for the dissolution of the Union – decidedly for a dissolution of the Union!” They hoped that the South’s secession would break or at least greatly weaken the institution of slavery. There was great enthusiasm to fight the rebellion, as typified by one petition sent to President Lincoln;

“We are strong in numbers, in courage, and in patriotism, and in behalf of our fellow countrymen of the colored race, we offer to you and to the nation a power and will sufficient to conquer rebellion, and establish peace on a permanent basis.”

Despite this, there had been immense reluctance on the part of the political leadership to employ blacks as soldiers. Many thought the war ought to be a “white man’s war” and worried that black soldiers would alienate the South so thoroughly as to preclude any possible reunification, and many also doubted the ability of blacks to serve effectively as soldiers. So entrenched were the prejudices that in the early stages of the war enslaved blacks who escaped to Union lines were sometimes returned to their owners by Northern officers.

Congress did not forbid such actions and begin to organise these “contrabands” in service of the war effort until early 1862, after the outbreak of war with Britain. As the war situation became increasingly desperate, contraband slaves from the South and free black people from the North were enlisted in great numbers as soldiers and labourers. Those that doubted their ability to serve as soldiers were proven decisively wrong, with one of the first and most decorated units of black soldiers being the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. The increasingly radical turn of the administration resulted in the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which declared all those enslaved in the states in rebellion to be free. The nature of the proclamation meant it had little immediate effect, but it was nevertheless greeted with jubilation by the black population, with one letter describing it as “one of the most memorable epochs in the history of the world. The seeds of freedom which are ever rejuvenescent in themselves, have now been scattered where despotism and tyranny ranked and ruled.”

This reaction would ultimately prove premature. The inability of the North to secure a military victory meant that the proclamation was nullified by the Treaty of Brussels and Southern independence. This was only the beginning of the abandonment, however. Clement Vallandigham was a believer in white supremacy, with deep prejudices against black people. While an Ohio state legislature, he had opposed repeal of the state’s so called “Black Laws”, restrictions on the civil rights of black people in the state.

While the end of the war meant that even a more invested President could do little for the enslaved population of the South, Vallandigham and his administration’s lack of regard would lead to a disaster in the border states. As the Confederate Army withdrew to the newly agreed frontiers, they made an effort to take with them as many slaves as they could. They were not at all discriminant in ensuring those they took were not in fact already free. Many thousands of free blacks were therefore forced across the border into slavery, no protection having been provided for them by the Treaty of Brussels.

The Republican Party had been reduced to disarray by the assassination of President Lincoln, Hannibal Hamlin’s turbulent presidency and the end of the war into which they had invested so much. Many Democrats crowed that the election of 1864 represented the final defeat of “black republicanism”, which they imagined to be so discredited by the war that it would fade away. This impression would prove to be mistaken, and congressional Republicans of both moderate and radical persuasions would continue to be a thorn in the side of the Vallandigham administration. Nevertheless, even given dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Brussels in some corners and lingering unease about the President’s “treasonous” war conduct among many ex-soldiers, almost no one envisioned that the Republicans could possibly take back power in the near future. The 1868 election would surely be a shoe-in for Vallandigham, and it may have been if not for his own misjudgement.

Over 500,000 contrabands had fled the South throughout the course of war, and after the war ended those that still escaped Confederate control and re-enslavement became a political issue. As earlier 1865, specific cases had arisen of slaveowners from the border states and even from the South seeking the return of their slaves from the North even with the acceptance of secession. Vallandigham viewed these contraband as little better than a social problem to be resolved, seeing no place for them in his vision of Northern society. He was therefore content to accede to the demands of the border state slaveowners and of newly inaugurated Confederate President Alexander H. Stephens. The result of this was Fugitive Slave Act of 1867, passed by the large Democratic majorities in Congress.

The act not only mandated the return of fugitive slaves to owners in the border states where slavery was still legal, but also allowed slaveowners from the South to obtain the return of fugitive slaves dating from as early as 1860. This new law, much like the previous fugitive slave law, caused tremendous outrage. It practically single-handedly revived the fortunes of the demoralised Republican Party, which was reinvigorated by the movement to oppose the new law. Even many not well disposed towards black civil rights opposed it, noting that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 had been a part of the Compromise of 1850 to preserve the Union. The South had destroyed that compromise by seceding, and so the law represented an unjustifiable concession and national humiliation.

The last year and a half of Vallandigham’s term was nearly entirely embroiled by this controversy, and the unrest it caused. Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York saw particularly terrible rioting in 1868 between anti-black supporters of the deportations on the one hand and black people and abolitionists on the other hand who sought to resist the law.

The man who would receive the Republican presidential nomination in these circumstances was Anson Burlingame of Massachusetts. Burlingame had first reached national prominence in 1856 to his scathing denunciation of the caning of Senator Charles Sumner by South Carolinian congressman Preston Brooks, calling Brooks the “vilest sort of coward.” Despite fading from prominence during the war and its aftermath, he re-emerged due to strident opposition to the law and the administration. He emerged from the 1868 Republican Convention as nominee over the more radical Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy of Kansas. Well-regarded former Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania was nominated as his running mate.

The Burlingame/Curtin ticket, in a near-miraculous revival of Republican fortunes after the lows of the previous years, defeated President Vallandigham and his Tammany Hall running mate John T. Hoffman.

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United States presidential election, 1868
Anson Burlingame (R-MA)/Andrew G. Curtin (R-PA) - 2,419,848 - 133 electoral votes
Clement L. Vallandigham (D-OH)/John T. Hoffman (D-NY) - 2,174,611 - 77 electoral votes
 
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This TL looks very well researched! Also, there is something you don't see very often in TL (at least not anymore), a President Clement L. Vallandigham. I look forward to more updates, and will be watching.
I'm going to try and avoid some of the cliché presidential elections in these scenarios, although that will likely be harder for the Confederate Presidents.
That's a new take on the Trent Affair, always a welcome sight! The Agder is a great PoD I don't think I've seen yet.

Without the specifics of the war we'll have to see how thorny the peace ends up being, I generally think that West Virginia and Kentucky are far more contentious issues than most posters would admit.
Honestly, I was originally going to just steal @EnglishCanuck 's POD (forgive me, I'm a fan of your wonderful TL!) but my research presented me the USS James Adger on a plate and I thought it too good not to use.
Clever twist on the usual POD. I also deeply appreciate a Civil War timeline that skips the battles to be honest, I’ve read more than enough real and alternate history about the details of troop movements
Yeah, I don't think really have the skills to make a detailed battle-focused TL of the war. I think I'll do a better job with a less focused global history derived from the POD.

I'm watching this timeline. Anyway, I think the Confederates would take all of Kentucky and some of Missouri given that TTL's Trent Affair is a lot worse.
Not an unreasonable assumption. There's probably a reasonable case to made that I've overestimated the Union a bit here.
Palmerston- one of my.political heroes. Why.Johnston and not Lee?
Palmerston is a very interesting figure. Peoplealways seems to forget him, sandwiched as he is between the likes of Wellington and Peel and the Disraeli-Gladstone feud. Johnston rather than Lee because his wounding at the Battle of the Seven Pines is butterflied.
 

Rivercat893

Banned
I'm going to try and avoid some of the cliché presidential elections in these scenarios, although that will likely be harder for the Confederate Presidents.

Honestly, I was originally going to just steal @EnglishCanuck 's POD (forgive me, I'm a fan of your wonderful TL!) but my research presented me the USS James Adger on a plate and I thought it too good not to use.

Yeah, I don't think really have the skills to make a detailed battle-focused TL of the war. I think I'll do a better job with a less focused global history derived from the POD.


Not an unreasonable assumption. There's probably a reasonable case to made that I've overestimated the Union a bit here.

Palmerston is a very interesting figure. Peoplealways seems to forget him, sandwiched as he is between the likes of Wellington and Peel and the Disraeli-Gladstone feud. Johnston rather than Lee because his wounding at the Battle of the Seven Pines is butterflied.
Like I said, a different Trent Affair means the Confederates would have likely all of Kentucky and to a lesser extent Missouri (at least the other half of it). So I think it would be wise to make this change like you've acknowledged. As for Johnston, I think he could have been a great general in the Western Theatre.
 
With a different Trent Affair, the Confederates would have at least taken all of Kentucky and to a lesser extent Missouri (at least the other half of it). So I think it would be wise to make this change like you've acknowledged.
With regards to Missouri, I doubt anyone wants to break up a state. and since most of the shareholders are right in the middle of the state hugging the Missouri River nobody is going to wind up happy at an outcome where it's split. May as well just leave it alone.

I do think that the Union would end up losing Kentucky though, an extra northern front coupled with coastal defences and more (and better equipped) Southern soldiers means they're going to be on the back foot for much of the war.
 

Rivercat893

Banned
With regards to Missouri, I doubt anyone wants to break up a state. and since most of the shareholders are right in the middle of the state hugging the Missouri River nobody is going to wind up happy at an outcome where it's split. May as well just leave it alone.

I do think that the Union would end up losing Kentucky though, an extra northern front coupled with coastal defences and more (and better equipped) Southern soldiers means they're going to be on the back foot for much of the war.
Fair enough.
 
Like I said, a different Trent Affair means the Confederates would have likely all of Kentucky and to a lesser extent Missouri (at least the other half of it). So I think it would be wise to make this change like you've acknowledged. As for Johnston, I think he could have been a great general in the Western Theatre.
With regards to Missouri, I doubt anyone wants to break up a state. and since most of the shareholders are right in the middle of the state hugging the Missouri River nobody is going to wind up happy at an outcome where it's split. May as well just leave it alone.

I do think that the Union would end up losing Kentucky though, an extra northern front coupled with coastal defences and more (and better equipped) Southern soldiers means they're going to be on the back foot for much of the war.
I think @The Gunslinger described exactly my thoughts regarding Missouri. Regarding Kentucky, I was tempted to put on the Confederate side but my reasoning for not doing so is this:
  • I envisioned the Union still controlling most of West Virginia at the time of the armistice, and that the Confederacy really wants to reunify Virginia. Virginia is the most powerful and influential state and the capital is at Richmond, so I personally think they'd be more invested in a united Virginia than most people realise.
  • This reluctance to split a state along political lines somewhat handicaps their case for Kentucky, The most southern-ish region is the Bluegrass, which as with Missouri is not adjacent to the other slave states.
  • I also envision the military situation at the point armistice as short of a complete Union collapse. I envision them still controlling a portion of Kentucky (likely including the Bluegrass), and I mention briefly they've had some success on the Mississippi. Pressure to get the Union to vacate these gains could lead them to be more willing to abandon Kentucky.
  • By 1865, the British will have been at war for far longer they'd have originally envisioned and I reckon will be unlikely to back a maximum sized Confederacy. Likely also the Union is occupying some portions of western Canada which they'll care far more about.
Having said that, I'm still deliberating whether to go back and shift Kentucky onto the other side of the border. I'm interested to hear both your thoughts as to my reasoning.

Looks interesting. I really hope this timeline avoids tropes like Confederate Wank or the United States somehow becoming even more racist.

To be honest, I think there are going to be points at which I may be accused of wankery although I think my general idea of where to take the TL doesn't represent that. I think I have a proper appreciation of the weaknesses of the Confederacy and what an absolute drag on any kind of progress slavery is. One trope I promise to avoid is the dreaded Confederate Cuba! I'm not saying there won't be meddling in Latin America, but at the very least I won't have the Confederacy directly annex Cuba under any circumstances because it's so overdone in these TLs.

As for the United States becoming even more racist, I also intend to (mostly, sort-of) avoid that. I've just booted Vallandigham from office, so I think that represents some balance. What I will say though is this, what the US is going to be even more is unstable and possibly sectarian.
 

Rivercat893

Banned
I think @The Gunslinger described exactly my thoughts regarding Missouri. Regarding Kentucky, I was tempted to put on the Confederate side but my reasoning for not doing so is this:
  • I envisioned the Union still controlling most of West Virginia at the time of the armistice, and that the Confederacy really wanting to reunify Virginia. Virginia is the most powerful and influential state and the capital is at Richmond, so I personally think they'd be more invested in a united Virginia than most people realise.
  • This reluctance to split a state along political lines somewhat handicaps their case for Kentucky, The most southern-ish region is the Bluegrass, which as with Missouri is not adjacent to the other slave states.
  • I also envision the military situation at the point armistice as short of a complete collapse. I envision them still controlling a portion of Kentucky (likely including the Bluegrass), and I mention briefly they've had some success on the Mississippi. Pressure to get the Union to vacate these gains could lead them to be more willing to abandon Kentucky.
  • By 1865, the British will have been at war for far longer they'd have originally envisioned and I reckon will be unlikely to back a maximum sized Confederacy. Likely also the Union is occupying some portions of western Canada which they'll care far more about.
Having said that, I'm still deliberating whether to go back and shift Kentucky onto the other side of the border. I'm interested to hear both your thoughts as to my reasoning.



To be honest, I think there are going to be points at which I may be accused of wankery although I think my general idea of where to take the TL doesn't represent that. I think I have a proper appreciation of the weaknesses of the Confederacy and what an absolute drag on any kind of progress slavery is. One trope I promise to avoid is the dreaded Confederate Cuba! I'm not saying there won't be meddling in Latin America, but at the very least I won't have the Confederacy directly annex Cuba under any circumstances because it's so overdone in these TLs.

As for the United States becoming even more racist, I also intend to (mostly, sort-of) avoid that. I've just booted Vallandigham from office, so I think that represents some balance. What I will say though is this, what the US is going to be even more is unstable and possibly sectarian.
Kentucky is a natural fit for the Confederacy since they briefly controlled it in OTL for the fall of 1862 before Perryville. It's much easier to integrate the Bluegrass State into the CSA given the cultural commonalities they both share. Plus, Kentucky is near the border of the United States and Louisville is a major riverport city.
 
It's not my timeline for me to say, but I think that the Union is going to have had a much harder time militarily than OTL, especially given the powder shortage in the early part of intervention. Between the northern front, and coastal defences they're going to be on the defensive for at least a year after Britain intervenes, and this gives the Confederacy some much needed breathing room and lets them tool up and push back with the forces they take off of waterfront garrison detail. On top of that, with New Orleans still in Confederate hands they've got a great deal more resources for any Mississippi/western campaign denied to them OTL. I'd be very surprised if the Confederacy didn't have the lion's share of Kentucky at war's end. My bet is they drop the claim on Missouri and Maryland in exchange for West Virginia and claim Kentucky by having a "legal" Confederate government in place at the treaty.

As for the northern border, Britain doubtless wants something for 3+ years of blood and treasure spent and I doubt they'd go for anything less than a retrocession of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty land. They may even push for the Red River Watershed territory in the west and the territory north of the Columbia River along the Pacific depending on if there's any fighting there. And if they're truly feeling strong they'll ask for the southern shore of the St. Lawrence. All sparsely populated and all add significant strategic depth to British Canada.
 
Could we see a Mexico and a Canada population that have more african americans in their society since they are the nearest country for african americans free or slave to escape to that have laws against slavery
 
@Rivercat893 @The Gunslinger - I've went back and modified the peace settlement somewhat. Kentucky has been shifted over into the Confederacy and the Webster-Ashburton cession has been reversed as small and relatively symbolic territorial concession to Britain.

Jajasim, I notice Johnston in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. May I ask what became of Lee ITTL?
The truth is I'm not fully sure. I kept Johnston in command because I realised his wounding would be butterflied, plus I figured the circumstances he'd be in with a British intervention would be pretty conducive to military success regardless of any of his weaknesses. Maybe Lee could have got shuffled out west?

Could we see a Mexico and a Canada population that have more african americans in their society since they are the nearest country for african americans free or slave to escape to that have laws against slavery
During the period between the Fugitive Slave Act and the Burlingame's election, I imagine there definitely would have been a kind of mini-underground railroad to Canada. There's going to be far less impetus for black people to leave the US from now onwards though, as their conditions will gradually improve. As for Mexico? Yes, I imagine that there will be escapes across the border. Mexico will be discussed briefly in the next update.
 
@Rivercat893 @The Gunslinger ...The truth is I'm not fully sure. I kept Johnston in command because I realised his wounding would be butterflied, plus I figured the circumstances he'd be in with a British intervention would be pretty conducive to military success regardless of any of his weaknesses. Maybe Lee could have got shuffled out west?

For one thing, Joseph E. Johnston was a notorious bullet magnet - Winfield Scott said of him that he was "a great soldier, but he has an unfortunate knack of getting himself shot in nearly every engagement" - so it would be easy to remove him from command in any timeline by just having him get shot at some other battle.

As for Lee, the events of this timeline wouldn't really effect his failed campaign in West Virginia or his defeat at Cheat Mountain - that happened in September 1861 and the diverging point of this timeline occurs in November - and following that he was sent to the Carolina's where he was in charge of overseeing construction of coastal defence until he was returned to Richmond in 1862 to oversee the strategic deployment of troops in Virginia.

With the British at war with the Union and taking the pressure off of the Confederacy, you could perhaps have Lee restored to favour in 1862 with a second, and more successful, campaign in West Virginia, driving the Federals out, disrupting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, threatening to cut the Federal states in two with (at least) the threat of an invasion of Ohio, and diverting Federal troops away from Kentucky and Washington DC, which would allow Joe Johnston's army to overrun the Federal capital and Sidney Johnston/Beauregard/Bragg's army to occupy most of Kentucky.

It would also give the Confederacy more authority in outright refusing to recognize the legitimacy of West Virginia if they occupied it at the War's conclusion.

Also, as a side note, the Confederacy agreeing to give up its claim to Missouri is going to cause unrest because Sterling Price is not going to accept that lying down.

Price initially opposed the Confederacy and secession but when the Federals seized the State Militia at Camp Jackson he took this to be an act of war by the United States against Missouri and took up arms in support of the South, fighting for the liberation of his state.

The Confederacy signing away it's claim to Missouri is likely to be seen by Price as a betrayal of his home state, and I wouldn't be surprised to see hostilities continue there after the war between the North and South had concluded, and Price was charismatic and popular enough a figure to make it a not insignificant, but ultimately futile, act of armed resistance to Federal rule.
 
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Introduction pt. 3
The independence of the slaveholding Confederate States not only created a large new nation in North America, but also represented one of those moments where the perceived direction of history fundamentally shifts. Over the preceding decades, both the wide-ranging opponents of slavery and the increasingly concerned owners of slaves had observed from a global point of view a decline in the institution of slavery.

Across the western hemisphere, events had played out with great similarity. Initially in jurisdictions like Chile and Vermont slavery had been outright abolished, and then in other like Pennsylvania and Peru gradual or compensated emancipation had been employed to remove what had come to be regarded as a great social ill. In 1833, abolitionists had achieved their greatest triumph to date when their long efforts to win over opinion in Britain led to the abolition of slavery by parliamentary diktat in the British West Indies.

While Britain had collaborated extensively with the South during the war, British observers and military officers did not always come away impressed. British war correspondent William Howard Russell observed of the South that while “at first glance its ruling class was just like the English aristocracy” behind this façade was not an enlightened society but “a modern Sparta – an aristocracy resting on helotry, and with nothing else to rest upon… Their whole system rests upon slavery, and thus they defend it.”

Therefore, the independence of the Confederate States acknowledged by the Treaty of Brussels was a great departure from this path of gradual global decline. This new republic not only permitted slavery but was established in dedication to its preservation in perpetuity. Slavery was not a necessary evil, a “wolf by the ears” as described by Thomas Jefferson, but a positive blessing or even according to some ardent Southerners the only proper way to organise a society. The Confederate Constitution mentioned the word “slave” 10 times, including to affirm the “right of property in negro slaves” and to declare that in all new territories “the institution of negro slavery shall be recognized and protected by Congress.”

Regardless of any of this, the majority of the Southern population (excluding the enslaved) was jubilant at the independence of their new nation. President Jefferson Davies, frequently maligned in the hard year of war before the British intervention and sometimes resented by parochial state leaders for his centralisation of power in pursuit of the war effort, was universally hailed as the architect of this great revolution. Had he been able to run for re-election, none could have successfully opposed him. He was constitutionally bard from doing so, however, with the presidency limited to only a single six year term. It would therefore be his Vice President, Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, who would contest the first popular election for the Confederate presidency as the candidate of continuity from President Davis.

While the young republic had not yet developed a system of political parties, Senator Louis T. Wigfall of Texas emerged as Stephens’ opponent. Wigfall represented the vaguely constituted anti-administration faction in Congress. He also had “fire-eater” Southern nationalist credentials, as opposed to Stephens who was a conditional Unionist that had only supported secession with great reluctance. Despite this, the Southern electorate was generally satisfied with the administration’s leadership during the war and Wigfall struggled to find a meaningful basis for his campaign. Stephens won the election easily, taking every state except Wigfall’s home state of Texas and South Carolina, which did not select its electors by popular vote.

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Confederate States presidential election, 1867
Alexander H. Stephens (GA)/Judah P. Benjamin (LA) – 71 electoral votes
Louis T. Wigfall (TX)/Stephen D. Ramseur (NC) – 12 electoral votes

The inaugural address of President Stephens made many of the same points he had made in a speech he had previously given in Savannah in 1861. He observed that while the founders of the United States had believed slavery to “wrong in principle”, the newly established Confederate States “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 moral condition.” Stephens predicted a renaissance of slavery in the western hemisphere, asking his audience if “May we not, therefore, look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgment of the truths upon which our system rests?”

One of the most important decisions Stephens took during his presidency was very shortly after taking office, due to events transpiring south of the Rio Grande. While the South had been fighting for its independence, Mexico had been embroiled in its own conflict. French troops had enthroned Austrian archduke Maximilian as Emperor of Mexico, and along with conservative Mexican supporters were fighting a republican opposition led by Benito Juarez which was largely in the north of the country. When Maximilian appealed to Stephens for military support, he saw an opportunity for territorial expansion. The idea of Southern expansion into Latin America was hardly new. Even during the war, the Mexican governor of Coahuila and Nuevo León had proposed joining his two provinces with the Confederacy. President Davis had declined the offer out of wartime expediency.

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From left to right: Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, Benito Juarez and President Alexander H. Stephens​

Stephens initially proposed that in return for the deployment of a Confederate expeditionary force to help suppress the Mexican republicans, Mexico should cede the states of Baja, Sonora and Chihuahua. Maximilian was unwilling to give up so much territory, rightly worrying that it would outrage his Mexican supporters and discredit his regime. Ultimately, Stephens obtained only a much smaller concession of Baja and a small part of Sonora north of the Concepción River. In return, an expeditionary force of 20,000 largely veteran Confederate volunteers crossed the Rio Grande to fight alongside the imperial Mexican forces. They would play an instrumental part in the defeat of Benito Juarez’s republicans, with Juarez himself being executed by the imperial forces.

Stephens' Mexican adventure was important in that it provided the new republic with a small, albeit still meaningful, outlet to the Pacific Ocean. In the North, President Vallandigham’s indifference to the expansion contributed to his decline in public esteem and the revival of the Republican Party. Another consequence of the decision to intervene in Mexico would be to distract from the upsurge in raiding by the Comanche. While the Comanche had at one time been one of the most expansive and effective Native American polities north of the Rio Grande, capable not only of resisting European expansion but of themselves expanding into new territory, by 1860 their fortunes had reached a nadir. The chaos of the war, however, relieved pressure on their lands and allowed something of a revival. By the late 1860s, their raiding was once again a mortal threat to western Texas.

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The Comanche in the late 1860s​

At one point in 1868, the situation for the settlers in western Texas became so dire that one official noted that “murders that have been Committed on our frontier are so frequent that they are only noticed by their friends and acquainted as they would notice ones dying a natural death.” Only in 1869, as local forces were reinforced by the returning volunteers from Mexico and regular troops arrived in sufficient numbers from the east did the authorities regain control of the situation. The remains of the Comanche nation were ultimately relocated to Indian Territory.

Besides these two military conflicts, the most important factor in the early days of Confederate independence was the question of how much power should be vested in the federal government in Richmond as opposed to of the various state governments. Southern attitudes towards states’ rights and federal power while still a part of the United States had long been contradictory. Southerners were adamantly opposed to federal power where it threatened slavery or their perceived interests, and small government and constitutionalist arguments would often be brandished to oppose tariffs, western homesteads and limitations to slavery.

Despite this, many Southerners had foreseen a need for a more powerful federal government to be activist in opposing the increased power of international abolitionism. They could often be found advanced foreign and military policy at the federal level to this end. It was observed by one Congressman that Southern slaveholders “have had the Secretaryship of State for two third of the time” and that also “four fifths of the time have the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy been from the South.”

The archetypical Southern regionalist John C. Calhoun had been an advocate of naval expansion in the 1840s, and Jefferson Davis had been one of those mentioned Southern Secretaries of War. In light of the election of Abraham Lincoln, many worried that all these efforts to enhance American power had been wasted or even misspent. This is the context in which the Confederate Constitution was drafted to contain a number of states’ rights provisions. The preamble acknowledged each state “acting in its sovereign an independent character”, while removing the equivalent clause in the US Constitution regarding “the general welfare.” The federal government was also prohibited from sponsoring internal improvements.

President Stephens therefore sought to assuage concerns about a federal government which would threaten slavery, in order to reconcile the states to a federal power sufficient enough to defend the South’s slaveholding society in a hostile world. With a weak federal government, South Carolina would “be a Tuscany” with Georgia “a Piedmont, with one little province… under the protection of England, and another tied to France.” Stephens would successfully argue for the retention of military forces of reasonable size to defend the Confederacy’s borders, and the establishment of auxiliary forces largely made up of war veterans to uphold the institution of slavery at a federal level by capturing fugitive slaves and preventing them fleeing across the Confederacy's newly established borders. Stephens also sought to promote settlement in the western territories in order to firmly establish slavery there.
 
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