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Representing the People

An idea that has been discussed many times is the averting entirely of the American civil war.  The war, which was not as clearly about slavery as we believe, was caused by political stalemate, which was in turn a direct result of compromises made at the constitutional congress after the end of the Revolution. 

Scott wrote in ‘The Ostend Manifesto Realized’ that Buchanan, president of the US during the prelude to the USCW, played a direct role in making the American civil war inevitable.  I disagree; I believe that by that point that the north/south conflict was inevitable, as neither side could find a solution that would not cause pain for either.  The failure to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, which would have hurt the north, was a symptom that the north would not accept being ‘hurt’ in order for a peace to become parmerment.  Slavery was reviled in some quarters of the north, but my cynical nature suggests that the Act was hated because it allowed the south some control over the north.  

My main idea on how to avert the war is to adjust the voting system of the US.  Instead of having seats in congress based upon population, we’ll have a slight adjustment, so that seats are allocated based upon voting population.  Effectively, the south will be denied the unfair advantage of having the slave serve as their ‘population’ and therefore balancing them with the free states.  The southern delegates will be unhappy about that and will probably demand another compromise, so we’ll have controls on how much federal interference is permitted in individual states.  That effectively safeguards slavery.  (If that’s not tough enough, we can have an amendment formally stating that slavery is a matter for the individual slaves.)  The net result is that the south has much less power in American politics. 

This won’t alter the war of 1812.  Probably.  The likely net result of that war is still failure unless there are unpredictable knock-on effects.  However, the US is still likely to buy Louisiana from France and expand into the unoccupied lands. 

There is the major difference.  If the south has less power in congress, they cannot push for expanding the slavery base with federal assistance.  Instead, the south will only be able to export limited numbers of slaves, which will be vastly outnumbered by free-soilers and they will control the territorial governments.  The likely outcome is that slavery does not take root in the new territories, which reduces the number of states that might take part in a CSA.  Further, the north would be able to use the federal government to block southern attempts to export slavery against the wishes of the inhabitants, which would also destroy any chance of even writing an equivalent to the fugitive slave act. 

This abolishes the USCW.  The original slave states will be alone and far more outnumbered that OTL.   Further, much of the moral justification for secession would not be present as there would be no deliberate interference in southern affairs.  On the other hand, fugitive slaves will have shorter trips to more black-friendly lands and there would be no pressure to return them.  I suspect that slavery would slowly die out anyway under such circumstances, particularly as the south’s population declines.  Some westerners might also enfranchise blacks far earlier as it would provide a manner of increasing their vote in congress. 

This has major knock-on effects.  There would probably be no Spanish-American war.  On the other hand, the Americans would be concerned about French interference in Mexico and might invade without a civil war to distract them. 

Long Term, the US would be more united, but weaker in absolute terms as there would be no development of a huge war industry. 

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