View single post by Texas Defender
 Posted: Tue Nov 13th, 2007 10:02 pm
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Texas Defender
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J,

  I have to disagree with some of your conclusions about Jefferson Davis in your last posting. One is that it was somehow the fault of Davis that England and France did not recognize and come to the aid of the Confederacy.

  What makes you think that better performance from Davis would have made any difference? The Confederate Government sent several diplomats to Europe to try to achieve recognition. I do not believe that they or any others could have achieved that purpose based on the events taking place during the war at that time.

 It is true that the loss of cotton from America greatly damaged the people in certain areas of Britain at that time. It is also true that there was a great degree of sympaty for the southern cause among the British aristocracy. However, the average Brit did not favor any form of intervention on the behalf of the Confederacy, because of slavery and other issues.

  When the war began, the British had stockpiled a good supply of cotton. They were also able to get a supply from Egypt during the war. This reduced the impact of the loss of American cotton as the war progressed. It can be maintained that the south relied too much on the so called British dependence on cotton, which gave them a false sense of security.

  The British soon decided on a passive neutrality, and refused to meet with the Confederate ministers. The French weren't going to do anything unless the Brits did. It was never in their interest to become entangled in the conflict. Both profited through a policy of neutrality. In fact, it was early blunders on the Union side (TRENT affair and diplomatic bellicosity) that gave the southerners hope early on. But this led to nothing. Charles Francis Adams and William Seward were soon able to put out those fires.

  I am at a loss to see what actions by Jefferson Davis would have turned the tables. Perhaps if Lee had won at Antietam, it might have been seen as the inevitability of the success of southern independence. But that didn't happen.

  My conclusion was that southern diplomacy tried and failed to win over the British and the French. It isn't easy to get people to take actions that aren't in their own self interest. Pointing a finger at Davis for this doesn't seem reasonable to me.

  I don't think that Davis saw himself as the second coming of George Washington. In fact, he never wanted to be president of the Confederacy. What he wanted was a military command. Being a major general commanding a division probably would have satisfied him completely.

  The South might have had a strong will to fight, but they were hardly united. The eleven Confederate states acted as eleven little oligarchies, each jealous of their own rights. There was no standardization of weapons, equipment, or even railroad gauges. Some governors openly defied the central government at times, and much of the Confederate Congress was hostile to Davis, as was much of the press.

  So- was Davis' job easier than Lincoln's? I don't know how you can measure that. It was certainly different. Davis had to try to make do with much fewer resources in almost every area. In the end, certainly after Lincoln's re-election, the task was an impossible one. While Davis had many faults as a national leader, I'm not sure that anyone else could have been successful in his position.Clearly, the south lost the war for a lot more reasons than just the decisions made by Jefferson Finis Davis.

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