Categories
Uncategorized

“Similar criticisms apply to another interpretation that overlaps the internal conflict thesis. This one might be termed the ‘internal alienation’ argument. … The nonslaveholders constituted two-thirds of the Confederacy’s white population. Many of them, especially in moutainous and upcountry regions of small farms and few slaves, opposed secession in 1861. They formed significant enclaves of unionism in western Virginia where they created a new Union state, in east Tennessee, where they carried out guerrilla operations against the Confederacy and contributed many soldiers to the Union army, and elsewhere in the upland South. Other yeoman farmers who supported the Confederacy at the outset, and fought for it, became alienated over time because of disastrous inflation, shortages of food and salt, high taxes, and a growing conviction that they were risking their lives and property in a war to defend slavery. … The alienation of many southern whites was matched by the alienation of a large portion of that two-fifths of the southern population that was black and slave. … Tens of thousands voted with their feet for the Union by escaping to Yankee lines, where the North converted their labor power and eventually their military manpower into a Union asset. … The alienation of these two large blocs of the southern people seems therefore a plausible explanation for Confederate defeat. … But perhaps the most important weakness of the internal alienation thesis is that same fallacy of reversibility mentioned earlier. Large blocs of northern people were bitterly, aggressively alienated from the Lincoln administration’s war policies.”
— Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992