How would history have gone differently if the Confederacy had been held accountable for the war??

Nov 2019
Memphis TN
The civil war might have been the only rebellion in world history where no one was executed and no one was really held accountable for the war at all..

Sure they executed the head of Andersonville, but that was for war crimes after the fact, not the war itself.

So I wonder if that had a negative or positive long term effect???

It had to have made reconciliation easier, but it also helped make the confederates think they were justified.

I think you can blame our present politics on the civil war, but can’t promise you it wouldn’t be worse..

I think a better option might have been to confiscate the planer land and gove it to the greed slaves and the poor whites... more to the poor whites because 1800s politics, but that way the people who started the war are no longer the central power of the region.

Would the poor whites be willing to support the planters when their personal farms are a direct result of the war and US government????

I doubt it.. and there were not enough planters to make an army..

So your instigators are powerless and their soldiers like you more now..

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Forum Staff
Aug 2016
Interesting idea - destroy the planter aristocracy and create a new land owning class beholden to the federal government. There are a couple of problems:

1. What are you going to do with the freedmen who historically worked the former plantations as sharecroppers?
2. Depending on how you do it there might be Constitutional obstacles. I'm thinking bills of attainder and corruption of blood - if you want to wipe out an aristocratic class, you are in effect punishing children for the sins of their fathers.
3. The planter aristocracy were the only people in the South with the best educations and the necessary leadership and management experience to run things so even without land the planter aristocracy would probably find their way back into political power.
4. The South had some dirty names like carpetbagger and scalawag for people who profited off of the South's defeat. They'd probably invent another dirty word for your new land owning class.
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Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
Republika Srpska
The Northern acceptance of the Lost Cause propaganda certainly helped to ease the reconciliation, though the blacks got the short end of the stick.
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Jun 2017
Creating a group of martyrs is no way to achieve lasting reconciliation. In fact, one might be in danger of beginning a "Hatfield and McCoy" situation. I have chosen to live in Maine but I was born in Georgia, raised (partly) in Alabama and educated (partly) in Virginia; I know that these are good people and the number of hot-head bigots among them is probably no greater than the number of hot-head bigots up here. Had the north dragged out the nooses--yes, the results would have been different: they'd have been worse.
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Nov 2019
United States
Most Americans don't really understand what happened during reconstruction. You might actually be surprised what efforts were made. Johnson being President initially made policy being determined and effected was a problem, Grant largely attempted to remedy that issue, and to the degree it was possible he did.

As for a ruthless trial system, that was deemed a bad idea for a nation that needed to heal a huge and dangerous divide.

Attached is the official U.S. Army's History of Reconstruction.]


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
I always thought that once the war had dragged on for a couple of years, and a policy of freeing the slaves in the rebellious regions was adopted, the federal government should have adopted a new policy toward the planter class and toward the members of the Rebel army.

I think that they should have used the power of eminent domain to confiscate the property of the planter class, except for those who could prove that they had opposed succession and never served in the Rebel government or army, and for all members of the Rebel army. And of course eminent domain involves giving fair payment for property seized, and the 1860 census had estimates for the value of all personal property and all real estate a person owned.

Thus a person could have their real estate confiscated and be paid the 1860 value of it, which would probably be a bit more than its fair market value once the war had reached the region, and then be exiled from the USA. Possibly the payment would not be a lump sum, but be made periodically to their address in wherever they settled, so that the Federal government could keep track of where they were to be certain they didn't try to sneak back into the USA. And possibly there might be a death penalty, or life imprisonment, for sneaking back into the USA.

Of course most of the Rebel soldiers were young men in their twenties. And young American farming men had to work for years for other farmers as farm hands to earn and save enough money to rent farmland and eventually buy their own farms. And that should have taken longer in the South, where free and paid farm labor had to compete with slave labor, than in the free states. So many of the Rebel soldiers would have been landless and owned little other property. So possibly they might have to have been paid as much as farm owning Rebel soldiers to stay out of the USA.

So during the war, as the Union army advanced, Federal government could have printed many copies of the property data in the 1860 census. Federal officials could be supplied with the census data about newly captured regions, and no doubt some persons could be found who informed them who was serving in the Rebel army which would be common knowledge in the neighborhood. So the property of the absent Rebels could be confiscated, and their dependents, if any, would be sen t to detention camps until such times as the Rebel soldiers were captured, or resigned or deserted to surrender to the Union army. When that happened the Rebels would be reunited with their families and shipped at government expense to their place of exile and the periodic payments to them would begin. Or maybe the dependents of the soldiers would be shipped to the place of exile and they would be paid, while waiting for the Rebel soldier to eventually rejoin them.

And there could be details such as bonus payments for Rebel soldiers who deserted the Rebel army and surrendered to the Union army, with higher bonuses for those who had been conscripted into the Rebel army than those who had volunteered. And there could be provisions such as the amount paid for confiscated plantation lands would vary depending on how soon the Union regained control of their regions. So once the plantation owners began to despair of winning the war, they might have an incentive to urge that the Confederacy surrender as soon as possible.

So if such a plan, or one similar, had been adopted by the federal government about January 1863 along with the Emancipation Proclamation a large proportion of the planter class and the Rebel soldiers, the two southern groups most hostile to the goals of Reconstruction, would have already been exiled before the final Rebel surrenders in 1865, and the other part of them could have been exiled in 1865. And this might have greatly reduced southern hostility to Reconstruction and it might have been more successful.
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Nov 2019
United States
MAGolding you need to read the article I linked. Your ideas are literally purely fantasy, understand first of all that most of the Southern economy was decimated by the war.

Secondly understand that readmission of the states, and the cuncumbient establishment of the Freedman's legal rights were guaranteed. Your policies would violate those laws, the exact opposite of what we were preaching to the South; that they must obey and follow the 14th and 15th Amendments, adhere to the Civil Rights act of 1866, 68, and 1875, and assist in enforcing the anti - KKK Acts of 1872 (which even utilized enforcement of ignoring Habeaus Corpus in prosecuting KKK members).
Nov 2019
United States
FYI the Civil Rights Act of 1975 was essentially the same act as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, however the Democratic Party was able to comission enough new members of the Supreme Court to invalidate the 1875 act.


Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
FYI the Civil Rights Act of 1975 was essentially the same act as the 1964 Civil Rights Act, however the Democratic Party was able to comission enough new members of the Supreme Court to invalidate the 1875 act.
The Civil Right Act of 1875 was declared unconstitutional in 1883. At that time, there were only Republican Presidents since 1861 and some Democratic Justices resigned in 1861.