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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Historical What Ifs.. Civil War Edition

A few years back, there was a Marvel comics superheroes movie called Captain America: Civil War where some comic book creations fought others who under normal circumstances would be allies

Your truly doesn't remember much if anything on the plot points and never saw the ending but I remember at the time thinking if one is going to do a film and call it 'Civil War' then shouldn't it be set in the 1860s 

Why not have let's say Captain America fighting for the Union and Iron Man defending the Confederacy.

Of course based on how I felt later on by Wonder Woman injected into WWI, I'm sure I'd have been just as irritated if my idea became cinema reality
Nonetheless, it made me think overall how different life might be if certain actions or outcomes were different 

Or in some cases, the outcomes ultimately not altered much at all.

So that's what today's post is about - We will ask some basic scenario questions and then briefly give our views and hopefully this will stimulate thought in you as to whether we're correct or way off

That is after all the ultimate goal of A&G - motivate and inspire others to think for themselves even if it means believing we're wrong
Scenario Q #1:  Lincoln does not win the election of 1860 meaning South Carolina and rest of south does not secede ( they had threatened this at the time had Abe won) --  Would this mean future war would have been averted?

The obvious answer is no because the sectional hates by then were too deep and even if slavery was magically eradicated, the north's financiers controlled the south's economy, keeping the region under their thumbs and the south was sick of it

In a way it was better it all happened as it did vs a Civil War even 10 years later..  
The more technology develops, so does the methods of killing and the thought of the two sides fighting each other with machine guns, tanks, mustard gas and all the other weaponry of 50 years later as used in WWI is an awful thought

So we believe there would have been sectional war at some point even if Lincoln never was President and no slavery

Eighty years of tension will do that
Scenario Q #2:   It is often believed that the Confederacy really lost the war the day General Lee's right hand man, Stonewall Jackson died in May, 1863 and two months later at Gettysburg was the first visible result --  Would the Civil War had ended different had Jackson lived?

No because Lee lost Gettysburg - Jackson would not have made the difference

It was Lee who decided to fight there instead of continuing to move his army north and east to attack Washington or Baltimore
It was Lee who decided to continue fighting into that third disastrous day

It was Lee who ordered Pickett's Charge, losing thousands of men the south could not easily replenish

Now maybe Jackson would have helped Lee with other battles later on but to romanticize Jackson and Lee fighting together equaling victory is just inaccurate..  Both fought at Antietam in Maryland in Sept 1862 and lost

Plus even if the Confederacy won in Pennsylvania, they still surrendered Vicksburg, Mississippi to General Grant on July 4th, 1863 effectively cutting the nation in two
Scnario #3:  --  It's the end of the war.  Lee surrenders and Lincoln is not assassinated.  He serves out the entirety of his second term - Historians like to express that reconstruction would not have been so harsh for the south had he lived..  True?

We believe the north, especially the Radical Republicans in Congress would have sought to make the lives of the south the same living hell for 11 years had Lincoln lived because remember the primary motivation was to punish for seceding

Lincoln alive then wouldn't have altered things

Congress can be a powerful political body when they have a super majority which was the case back then and they would have easily overridden any vetoes of Lincoln as they did Andrew Johnson
We doubt Lincoln would have pardoned Confederate Generals and politicians as quickly as Andrew Johnson did and who knows, maybe there would have been some hangings for treason.

Only one person in the Confederacy was ever tried, convicted of war crimes and killed - a man named Henry Wirz who ran the Andersonville prison camp in Georgia

Overall it is probably more realistic a scenario that Lincoln's image and overall likability would have deteriorated by 1868 and/or he might have ended up being a bad peace-time President

We do believe nothing about Reconstruction would have been altered had Lincoln lived and most assuredly Grant would have still won the Presidency in 1868
It's often fun to think how different life might be.. how better things could be if X happened or Y did not live, etc

No Hitler?  There's still a power hungry Nazi movement in 1920s Germany who look at certain other groups of people as disease

No George Washington?  Ultimately we would have broken away from Britain and formed an independent nation even if not exactly like what is at present.
Truth is that the world is too vast and too many things in constant motion for one individual to make all that much a difference on a grand scale

Individuals matter and we value them more than anything

But governments are about collectivism and no one person is ever allowed to alter fate