If the confederates had not fired on Fort Sumter?

By 1860 the writing was on the wall and it was clear that the days of slavery in the United States were numbered. Southern states would have found their position untenable in the coming decades as the support for abolition continued to grow. The tensions that led to the Civil War didn’t just happen when Lincoln was elected and they wouldn’t have gone away if northern states made it clear they weren’t going to push for abolition just right now. The southern states knew they’d push again in a few years.

I don’t see how that would have been possible as long as Lincoln was alive. His motives on slavery are disputed, but his one undisputed position was that secession would not stand. It is possible that military misfortunes may have introduced costly delays, but it’s equally possible that chance could have shortened the war as well.

Important to note here that although the prime goal of the CSA was the preservation of slavery, the issue that precipitated the crisis was the expansion of slavery. The slavers had cooked up a scheme to spread slavery around the Caribbean rim and South America. It seems inevitable to me that the CSA and USA would have eventually come to blows over competing territorial claims. Had they continued to dominate agriculture in the Western hemisphere, it could have become the first true world war.

The US was actually one of the last countries in the Americas to abolish slavery. Most Latin American countries abolished slavery after freeing themselves from Spain, sometimes immediately, and sometimes gradually. There were various systems to terminate slavery gradually. One was to end birthright slavery, by declaring the children of slaves free. Another was to free slaves over a certain age.

Puerto Rico abolished slavery in 1873, but the slaves were not immediately emancipated; they could buy their freedom or work three years for no pay. Slavery was abolished by Spanish royal decree in 1886. In 1871 Brazil decreed that the children of slave mothers would be free; in 1885 slaves over 60 were freed, and in 1888 all remaining slaves were freed without compensation to owners.

Practically, the Confederacy would not have been able to maintain slavery past the end of the 19th Century if they wanted to be accepted as a civilized nation. There was too much sentiment against it throughout the world at that time. They would have had to have figured out a way to switch to another economic system. As it was, the sharecropper system that developed in the South after the Civil War in which Blacks were still economically dependent on white landowners although technically free.

Slavery survived for some time later in Africa and Asia but was not regarded as being acceptable for a Western country.

In the 1850s Southerners launched a number of “filibustering” invasions of Central American countries to take them over and re-establish slavery, with some initial success as in the case of William Walker https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walker_(filibuster)(though they eventually failed). It might have been quite likely for Cuba, as an existing slave economy, to have become a target of a Spanish-Confederacy war.

But as I said, in the long run the tide was running against slavery world wide. It would have been unlikely for the Confederacy to maintain an overseas slave empire in Latin America for very long.

Would Douglas have included blacks in his definition of « people » and « popular sovereignty » in deciding that issue?

No. From here

But even Lincoln didn’t believe Blacks should have the right to vote.

As Colibri notes, Douglas did not believe that black people were entitled to vote. Which is not surprising; most people thought this way before 1860. (And some still though this way in 1960.)

This was not a time when universal suffrage was seen as a given. It was sixty years before women had the right to vote.

And there’s a further ugly reality. One reason why some people didn’t want slavery in the territories was because they didn’t want black people in the territories. So there wouldn’t have been very many black people to vote, even if they had been allowed to.

And many still think that way. Hence the rush to make it hard for blacks to vote. I am sure this is one of the things behind the “stolen election” meme.

I don’t feel that the people who control the Republican party feel this way. They’d be perfectly happy with black people voting if they voted for Republican candidates. But they vote for Democratic candidates so their votes get suppressed. (Which is one of the reasons why they vote for Democrats.)

The people in charge feel about racism the same way they feel about abortions; it’s not an issue they personally care about but it’s a useful button to push to get a group of people to vote for them. And they promote racism because it serves their interests for racism to exist. They want people to be scared and angry and confused because these make it easier to manipulate them.

The two things about Lincoln’s election that most immediately push the South to secede were, as said before, the limits on expansion of slavery but also the loss of control of the federal executive and therefore eventually the judiciary.
The power structure in the South believed slavery could not survive with federal passive acceptance. It needed federal support and enforcement throughout the country. The Fugitive Slave Act and Dredd Scott were necessary. Converting the rest of the hemisphere was necessary. Lincoln’s election put all those at risk.

If the southern states hadn’t seceded, the Democrats would have maintained control of the Senate. They would have been able to use that to curtail any Republican initiatives they didn’t like.

Maybe for the moment. After the election, and before the Southern senators resigned, there were 30 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and 1 Know-Nothing. So if the Know-Nothing voted with the Republicans then they would be in control with the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote. The Know-Nothing was John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, who favored compromise on slavery, so he probably wouldn’t have voted against it. On the other hand, there were at least three Democrats from free states that might have been anti-slavery. In any case, the margin was so slight that it could be lost in the next election, especially if new free states were admitted.

I think your numbers are off. There were thirty-four states and sixty-eight Senators in 1861. I believe the party count was thirty-eight Democrats, twenty-nine Republicans, and one Unionist.

Checking a little further, I think your numbers might be for the 36th Congress, which was the result of the 1858 election. It served until March 4, 1861, The 37th Congress was elected in the 1860 election and took office starting on March 4, 1861.

My numbers were from here (It gets very complicated with all the resignations and special elections.)

However, I see there were a couple of things I didn’t account for. Thirty-three states participated in the election. Kansas was admitted in January 1861, electing two Republican senators in April 1861, so it wasn’t included in the totals on that page.

I overlooked the fact that six Democratic incumbents from Southern states resigned after the election, so their seats were lost but not replaced. So they would have been in the 37th Congress had Lincoln not been elected. Per the Wiki page, 30 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and 1 Unionist were elected or remained in office in 1860. Including the Kansas seats, the composition of the Senate had the Southern senators not withdrawn would be 36 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and one Unionist.

But there were six Democrats from free states (I said 3 above, but there were more), two from California, and one each from Oregon, Indiana, New Jersey, and Minnesota. These were probably from the anti-slavery wing of the party.

Therefore there would probably be 37 or 38 anti-slavery votes (depending on how the Unionist voted), a majority, even if the Democrats were the largest party.

Even if these figures are off a bit, the slave states couldn’t depend on Congress to protect their interests in the long run.

To elaborate a little, there were 15 slave states and 19 free states in 1861. So slave states were outnumbered 38 to 30 in the Senate. So it was inevitable that they would lose ground on the issue.

In another thread I’ve mentioned how horrible historians rate Buchanan as a president and how his corruption and incompetence helped bring about secession.

But what could have a better president done differently? What are likely alt histories if there had been a more qualified person at the helm? Would Fremont had been able to do things much differently?

If Fremont had been elected, the Civil War probably would have started in 1856.

I don’t feel any President elected in 1856 could have avoided a war entirely. There were too many people who would rather fight than compromise by that point. But a more capable man that Buchanan could have managed things better.

Buchanan orchestrated the Dred Scott decision which enraged millions. A wiser president would have pressured Taney in the opposite direction and tried to get the court to issue a narrow and relatively non-controversial decision.

A more competent president would have handled the crisis in Kansas better. Once the violence started, Buchanan should have sent troops to restore order.

Buchanan should have stopped southerners in his administration from sending American military supplies down to depots in the south. A lack of those supplies might have discouraged secessionists or at least discouraged the Confederates from attacking. And if the worst case scenario had occurred, those military supplies wouldn’t have been used by the United States instead of against us.

Recent thread on topic:

Did not see, thank you!