by Terry Plotkin
I am going to speculate on what might have been if Lincoln had chosen a different course when the South seceded from the Union. What would have happened if the South were let go? No war, no animosity, just a peaceful divorce. Split the possessions; there weren’t even any children to raise. We go our way; you go yours. Blow a kiss and say good-bye.
If a judge had been at a hearing where the issues of the separation of the nation was discussed, he would have heard about economic reasons. (Fights over money are the leading cause of divorce.) The South and North were at odds about tariffs and trade. The South was agricultural and the North was industrial so they had different interests. Certainly these differences were not worth the conflict. Had the South gone its own way, each region would have created the culture and society that befit them. We didn’t need each other. Consequently, there would have been no empire built, no world policeman to become, no giant military to create, and no need to grind the South down with all the resentments that still plague the country to this day. Likely, we all would have been better off for it. Think of the divide in this country now, and how it plays out politically. Had each land been allowed to develop independently, the North would be more like Canada in its social contract with health care for all and socially liberal views. The West would have found its own way and made allies as it saw fit. My guess is that the South would be much less conservative than it is now if it hadn’t been fighting against the North as it imposed its will upon them. I believe their natural religious values would have surfaced in a healthier and more tolerant way than they have now. I believe the working class people in the South would not vote against their own interests if they were not lectured to by Northern elitist intellectuals that look down upon them and whom they understandably despise. The south, without the financial burden of maintaining a giant military would be prosperous, more tolerant, and proud of its accomplishments.
The Civil War cost more death and destruction in this country then all our other wars combined. The scars of that war still exist 150 years later, and show no signs of abating. There is still one issue that needs to be discussed. The one that still haunts us, the one that we have never come to terms with: Racism.
Let’s speculate what would have happened to the slaves from Africa if the war had not been fought and slavery continued, even as the tide of history was moving against the abhorrent practice. There has not been institutional slavery in the world in a very long time, and is one of the great accomplishments of civilization that it has come to its end. Had the Civil War not been fought the South would still have let go of it. It likely would not have come easy. The African slaves would have had to struggle. (They had to anyway.) Economic pressure on the South might have to have been employed until the South realized that slavery was not in its economic interest and give it up. I believe that slaves, the working class, and white people of conscience in the South would have led the struggle. If the North were not seen as forcing emancipation upon them, they would have come to it on their own. Freed slaves in the North would have proven the lie of the inferiority of their race. Many slaves would have escaped to the North and helped their brethren trapped in the South. It took a hundred years after the Civil War for African Americans to win their civil rights. My guess it would have happened faster and better if the South had to face up to its wrongful ways on its own instead of spending their energy hating the North for forcing change upon them.