What if number two: What if Lincoln had died before the Civil War?

SpitfireV

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Now I admit I don't know very much about American history around this time so I'll put the question out and people more knowledgable than I can discuss it. I'll pop in with questions from time to time, doubtless.

Abraham Lincoln was a bit of a badarse in a sense. in 1842 Lincoln was challenged to a duel. Now my thoughts on duelling are well known (bring it back) but back then it was a bit illegal even though it was tolerated. Lincoln was challenged to a duel after possibly writing some bitchy letters about James Shields under a fake name. Lincoln chose to go with swords, which thanks to his gangly frame meant to had an advantage over Shields and after a bit Shields declared his honour satisfied and the two became friends.

Question: What if Shields had killed Lincoln? What would have been the repurcussions for both the US and the Civil War?

Background:
http://www.lib.niu.edu/1995/ihy950248.html
 

pardus

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I think we would probably have two countries within the confines of the present US of A.
I doubt we'd have slavery anywhere. Id say the CSA and UK would have a closer relationship than the USA/UK.
The north would probably have most of the black population.
The CSA/USA would be alot closer in structure to the original plan of strong states and a much much weaker/nominal federal govt.
The southern border would be sealed.
Obama would be selling t-shirts and stolen CD's on a street corner in chicago.
Germany under the Nazi party would still have control of Europe. Communism might exist in China and small pockets in Siberia.
Germany would be a (maybe the first) nuclear power. The UK and Germany would have a negotiated peace.


The world would be a very different place today!
 

Brill

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I think we would probably have two countries within the confines of the present US of A.
I doubt we'd have slavery anywhere. Id say the CSA and UK would have a closer relationship than the USA/UK.
The north would probably have most of the black population.
The CSA/USA would be alot closer in structure to the original plan of strong states and a much much weaker/nominal federal govt.
The southern border would be sealed.
Obama would be selling t-shirts and stolen CD's on a street corner in chicago.
Germany under the Nazi party would still have control of Europe. Communism might exist in China and small pockets in Siberia.
Germany would be a (maybe the first) nuclear power. The UK and Germany would have a negotiated peace.


The world would be a very different place today!

I think you just described "Rhodesia"!
 

SpitfireV

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Alright so not a popular topic, fuck you all, love you heaps, get fucked :D

I'm all for duelling. Shit got done back then.
 

fox1371

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I don't want you to get upset so I'll put a more thoughtful response on here... :D

I think that if Lincoln had been killed in 1842, there may or may not have been a transcontinental railroad. I know that discussion of building the railroad started around 1830, however it was due to the Civil War that Lincoln passed the Bill that provided federal backing for the railroad to be built. Without that railroad, the War, as well as the progression of American Industrialism would have had far different outcomes.

I think that what makes this topic difficult to debate, is that the duel took place nearly 20 years prior to his presidency. If it had happened RIGHT before, or during his presidency, this would be a much simpler debate. Without knowing who would have been President, had Lincoln been killed during that duel, it makes it much more difficult to debate any of the possible outcomes.
 

AWP

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I think that what makes this topic difficult to debate, is that the duel took place nearly 20 years prior to his presidency. If it had happened RIGHT before, or during his presidency, this would be a much simpler debate. Without knowing who would have been President, had Lincoln been killed during that duel, it makes it much more difficult to debate any of the possible outcomes.

That was my first thought as well.

Let's see...Lincoln beat out guys like Seward and Salmon Chase to win the Republican nomination for the 1860 presidential election. Chase was anti-slavery like Lincoln and served as Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. During that period he ushered in paper currency and a national banking system. Seward was more anti-slavery than Lincoln and very outspoken in general. As Lincoln's Secretary of State he strongly supported American expansion while oddly being a non-interventionalist. (As a side note one of my ancestors was Lewis Powell)

Based on that brief reading I don't think much would change in regard to the war. I think it was inevitable, but the conduct of it would be really hard to say. I'm no fan of Lincoln's, but the south would have fared better had he lived. Of the two above Chase was more moderate in temperament, so with him as President I don't think much would change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1860_Republican_National_Convention

Lincoln was popular to begin with and Seward's popularity didn't waiver. I think it would be safe to presume Seward is elected without Lincoln's participation and he would carry the national election just as Lincoln did. The Democratic party was fractured in 1860 and it is doubtful they would have won regardless of who was the Republican nominee. A Republican win kicks off the Civil War so not much changes there with a dead Lincoln.
 

Ex3

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This reminds me of a "what if" book I read many years ago, where the fundamental premise was that some time-traveling miscreants (white South Africans?) time-traveled back to the Civil War and armed the Confederacy with AK-47s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guns_of_the_South
I find it really interesting to ponder these type of questions. A friend of mine wrote another what-if book called "Then Everything Changed" that I'd recommend if you enjoy thinking about more recent alternative histories.
These things are true: In December 1960, a suicide bomber paused fatefully when he saw the young president-elect's wife and daughter come to the door to wave goodbye...In June 1968, RFK declared victory in California, and then instead of talking to people in another ballroom, as intended, was hustled off through the kitchen...In October 1976, President Gerald Ford made a critical gaffe in a debate against Jimmy Carter, turning the tide in an election that had been rapidly narrowing.

But what if it had gone the other way? The scenarios that Greenfield depicts are startlingly realistic, rich in detail, shocking in their projections, but always deeply, remarkably plausible. You will never think about recent American history in the same way again.
 

Red Flag 1

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Alright so not a popular topic, fuck you all, love you heaps, get fucked :D

I'm all for duelling. Shit got done back then.
No, it really is an interesting topic.

Lincoln chose well in opting for swords. As to the Civil War, I'll have to agree with Free, the war would have still happened. It was primarily a war for the sovereignty of individual states to decide things for themselves; slavery included. There is little doubt that Lincoln's election pretty much clinched the deal for armed conflict. Where it gets interesting is the conduct of the war. Lincoln was very much a hands on Commander in Chief. He relied on the telegraph to keep him up to speed on events in the field. He was also known for visiting close to the front line. The question then is, how would have Andrew Johnson prosecuted the war?

Johnson, as Lincoln's successor, was very much a moderate in dealing with reconstruction. I'm am wondering what his moderate leanings would have meant for the war's prosecution? Good topic for discussion.

RF 1
 

0699

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This reminds me of a "what if" book I read many years ago, where the fundamental premise was that some time-traveling miscreants (white South Africans?) time-traveled back to the Civil War and armed the Confederacy with AK-47s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guns_of_the_South

Turtledove wrote a bunch of good books; often took them to the field as they made the time on radio watch pass quickly and you could almost always pass them off to someone.

Lamenting the disappearance of used book stores where I could buy paperbacks for a buck... :(
 

AWP

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The question then is, how would have Andrew Johnson prosecuted the war?

Johnson, as Lincoln's successor, was very much a moderate in dealing with reconstruction. I'm am wondering what his moderate leanings would have meant for the war's prosecution? Good topic for discussion.

RF 1

I would have to disagree with Johnson running the war. I think wihout Lincoln being alive in 1860, Seward would win the presidency. Maybe Johnson would be the VP, I don't know, but with Seward in the White House I would expect him to be more aggressive to the point of recklessness. I think his presidency would really hinge on his treatment of domestic issues like Maryland in 1861 and the draft riots in 1863...and that's assuming he doesn't pursue a draft policy in '61 that alienates those at home. By '62/ '63 some units, including the storied 20th Maine, were quitting the battlefield when their enlistments were up.

BUT...would Seward's aggressiveness end the war sooner? Would he have pushed on the South in '61/ '62 enough to turn the tide or would he be so aggressive that even more life would be lost by the US? I don't know his relationship with Grant, so maybe Grant is never made a general officer? That changes things too.

Johnson's handlinig of Reconstruction was a tragedy. Once the war was over, and we can say this with hindsight, Lincoln shouldn't have been touched. Besides, he probably had Marfan's and would be dead in less than a decade anyway.
 
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