The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been


"Provocative and compelling?[a] wild ride through Civil War history."?Library Journal
What if Lee had avoided defeat at Gettysburg? What if a military stalemate had developed, coupled with growing antiwar sentiment? What if Lincoln had been defeated in the 1864 election and Great Britain had recognized the Confederacy? What would have been the careers of an independent Confederate States of America and a defeated United States?
"No historian has thought through such 'what if' ...

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"Provocative and compelling…[a] wild ride through Civil War history."—Library Journal
What if Lee had avoided defeat at Gettysburg? What if a military stalemate had developed, coupled with growing antiwar sentiment? What if Lincoln had been defeated in the 1864 election and Great Britain had recognized the Confederacy? What would have been the careers of an independent Confederate States of America and a defeated United States?
"No historian has thought through such 'what if' questions as seriously as Roger Ransom," says the Washington Post Book World. A master of historical analysis, Roger L. Ransom follows the consequences of the "what if" scenario over an extended period of time, exploring such issues as the fate of slavery in a CSA, how the economies of the USA and the CSA would have developed, and how their foreign policies would have differed. The result is a fascinating historical vision that is a source of insight into the critical events of the Civil War period as they actually happened.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this counterfactual analysis, Ransom (history & economics, Univ. of California, Riverside; One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation) argues that while there was no negotiable option to the American Civil War, the outcome was not written in the stars. Ransom reveals core questions, e.g., what if Albert Sidney Johnston and Stonewall Jackson, two of the Confederacy's finest commanders, had survived their wounds? Ransom postulates that had the western rebel commanders succeeded in delaying Federal advances down the Mississippi, Confederate control of Chattanooga and eastern Tennessee might have been assured until after the presidential election of 1864, thereby forcing a war-weary North to demand an armistice. In a final leap of imagination, the author envisions a triumphant South winning nationhood, reviving its peculiar institution, signing a mutual defense pact with Britain, emancipating its own bondsmen in 1880 as a result of economic depression, and ultimately being drawn into another conflict with the North through World War I treaty obligations with England. This wild ride through Civil War history keeps more or less within a factual framework, and while Ransom's counterfactual watersheds may be old news to many subject specialists, they are nevertheless provocative and compelling. Recommended for Civil War collections and large libraries.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing exercise in counterfactual history, operating under the assumption that the Confederate States of America did not, in fact, win the last election. Imagine, Ransom (History and Economics/Univ. of California, Riverside) asks, that Robert E. Lee had not thrown George Pickett's division into the line of battle at Gettysburg but had instead left the field. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia would not have been broken, and-Stonewall Jackson not having died either-it would have been on hand to contain Union intrusions into the South, and even to lob shells into Washington, D.C. The resultant military stalemate would have led to a profound change in government: "On November 8, 1864, Americans went to the polls and elected Horatio Seymour to be the seventeenth president of the United States." All but unknown to actual history, the New York governor would have gone on to negotiate peace with the CSA, which in turn would have forged a powerful alliance with Great Britain. The two partners would then have carved up most of the Spanish empire in the Americas, including Cuba, while the imperial ambitions of the US would have been confined to the Pacific. Had the Confederacy endured, Ransom suggests, so would have slavery, at least for another decade or so, when persistently declining cotton prices would have forced a retooling of plantation economy. But civil rights are another matter; the North would not have welcomed freed slaves, "even if the Confederate landlords had been willing to part with their servile labor force," and blacks might well have existed as serfs without the rights of citizens. And had there been two nations occupying the space of the former U.S., then there would havebeen a different tenor to the coming conflicts in Europe, the South allied with England, the North with Germany. As Ransom acknowledges, counterfactual history is made up of "2 parts historical plausibility, 1 part common sense, 1 part imagination." A pleasing application of the recipe.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393329117
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/2/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger L. Ransom is professor of history and economics at the University of California, Riverside. He is coauthor of the groundbreaking work One Kind of Freedom: The Economic Consequences of Emancipation.

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Table of Contents

Prologue : what if? : the historian's favorite secret question 1
Ch. 1 Conflicting visions : was the Civil War inevitable? 19
Ch. 2 The southern gamble : could the South have won? 73
Ch. 3 Against all odds : the anatomy of a southern victory 121
Ch. 4 The king is dead, long live the king : the future of the slave South 161
Ch. 5 What might have been : the Civil War and the "whole family of man" 211
Epilogue : the end of the beginning 243
App. 1 Measuring casualties in the Civil War 247
App. 2 The costs of emancipation in 1880 259
App. 3 The Constitution of the Confederate States of America 265
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