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What Would Lincoln Have Done?
07-28-2019, 06:48 PM (This post was last modified: 07-29-2019 10:41 AM by L Verge.)
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What Would Lincoln Have Done?
Here's another Quora question with one person's opinion (not mine). How would you have responded?


"The South would have succeeded in secession. America would have been split.

"The other eight answers argue in various ways that the South had to fire the first shot - at Fort Sumter in Charleston, or some other port with a federal fort. They say that Charleston could not tolerate a federal fort able to intercept commercial ships coming into Charleston.

"All of that should have been tolerated - had the Southern leaders been actual competent strategists.

"I have seen elsewhere argument that the Southern states could have legally revoked the land-titles to the federal forts, and reclaimed them as state property - a legally invalid argument, but even had it been valid, a South led by real strategists would have foregone the argument.

"As I have argued in other documents and places, the gigantic key Southern mistake was to present a threat to Washington D.C., the capital of the Union.

"Recall that the original square District included land on the Virginia side of the Potomac, which provided a protective territorial buffer to the Capital City. This was 'retroceded' back to Virginia before 1860.

"When Virginia purported to secede, Virginia ought to have declared that 'this does not apply to the former portion of the District, which we concede is federal territory.' Virginia ought further, in its ordinances of secession, have expressly declared that 'we present no claim or threat to the Capital of the Union.'

"The reason for this declaration was strategic - and this Quora question asks 'what would Lincoln have done?' which gets us right into the strategic issue facing Lincoln.

"Prior to the Virginia secession and express Southern boasts of taking Washington and making it the Capital of the Confederacy - and boasts of persuading Maryland, Tennessee, and other slave border states to secede - Lincoln faced an impossible military dilemma, which was:

"How do I persuade the Northern States to raise and send troops? What do I tell them that these troops will do? Where will those troops assemble, and on what plan will they attack? How can I persuade the North that I have a sound, workable military plan to subdue all these huge states?

"Lincoln would have had no good answers to any of these questions.

"It was the Confederate threat to Washington that solved all of Lincoln’s problems.

"'We must raise troops to save our capital from capture' was an argument that convincingly resonated all over the North.

"Troops must be raised and sent to Washington - to defend it from Confederate attack.

"The North responded. The North raised troops, the North sent troops.

"Now, Lincoln had the army he needed. Now it was just a matter of saying that more and more troops were needed. Now it was just a matter of the leaders in Washington saying 'here is the strategy we have developed, to use the troops that you have raised and sent to us.'

"Without the Confederate threat to Washington, Lincoln would not have had any focal-point at which to concentrate troops and would not have had any plan to present to the people of the North as to how to use them.

"Of course, the Southerners solved Lincoln’s second problem, by placing their own capital at Richmond Virginia - the only Southern city close enough to the Union as to be a credible target about which Lincoln could say 'if we capture this, we win the war and end the Confederacy.'

"By making Richmond the capital, the Confederates handed Lincoln a salable argument, as to what to do with the massed federal troops, once they had dispelled the threat to Washington.

"If the Confederates had made Atlanta the capital, Lincoln would not have been able to argue that capturing Richmond would be a game-changer in the war. The people of the North would have been facing the daunting prospect of having to fight all the way south to Atlanta in order to win the war.

"Likely, in the face of that, the Northern people would have said 'orget it, the cost of keeping the Union together is just too high a cost to be worth it.'

"Attacking the federal forts put the blame for war on the South - making the North the injured party.

"Threatening Washington gave the North a focal-point and a reason to assemble an army at a defined place: the Capital, to protect the capital.

"Protecting a nation’s capital is one of the best emotional motivators to rouse a nation to war. The South gave this to the North, just as the Japanese, by attacking Pearl Harbor, gave a very motional motivation to America to marshall an army to fight them.

"Establishing their own capital within striking-distance of Washington then gave the North a reasonable and persuasive secondary goal, of what to use an ever-larger army for: to win the war by capturing the other side’s capital.

"These three decisions by the truly incompetent strategists of the Confederacy doomed them in a cause that, absent these decisions, they would have won."

Note: I did not find the first eight answers that this gentleman referred to. Also, there are quite a few folks who think that Lincoln started the war deliberately when he sent that supply ship to Fort Sumter. Your thoughts?

P.S. I don't think this article gives enough credit to Maryland and the possibility of its secessiont. Virginia surrounded the nation's capital on one side -- Maryland on three sides with a heavy Maryland planter contingency just outside the gates in Southern Maryland.
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What Would Lincoln Have Done? - L Verge - 07-28-2019 06:48 PM

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