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u/owlparliamentarian · 10 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

The capital of the Confederacy would have been substantially more defensible by land, but it is worth remembering that ultimately the fall of Richmond was more a symptom of the Confederacy's loss of the war than its cause, which came as a result of the Union's systematic encirclement, isolation, and division of the economy, followed by pinning its main army down by the use of superior numbers. As a result, I'd argue that keeping the capital in Montgomery doesn't prolong the war.

It's an interesting counterfactual, though, because there's not a lot of reasons to stick with Montgomery besides defensiveness. Richmond was chosen as the capital of the Confederacy for a number of reasons, both political and economic. You correctly point out that Alabama possesses industrial capacity today, but the iron and manufacturing center of Birmingham didn't develop until after the war. In fact, in 1861, the South possessed precious little industry at all. Richmond was one of these, and one of the mightiest, thanks to one key advantage: the falls of the James. Since the city was built directly on the Fall Line, unlike most of its neighbors to the north and south which were typically built just below the Fall Line for easy access to navigable water (for example, Fredericksburg, Alexandria, and Petersburg), it had easy access to water power simply by exploiting the natural ~100' drop in elevation. This provided a fertile environment for businesses such as Tredegar Ironworks (the third-largest in America and the largest in the South, which produced half of the artillery used by the Confederacy by itself) and the Gallego Flour Mills (the largest of its kind in the world). In fact, according to an estimate by James McPherson, Virginia's industrial capacity was "nearly as great as that of the seven original Confederate states combined," and was focused in areas the South sorely needed: ordnance, cannon, and manufactured comestibles. Richmond was also one of the largest rail hubs in the South, with Atlanta close behind and developing into a more important one following the war.

Without all of that protected by the Confederacy with all of the energy and money that desperate self-preservation can provide, you run the risk that Virginia falls more swiftly, and with it the South. The Confederates knew this, and it factored into their decision-making. Better to risk attack from the North than to lose the only ironworks large enough to supply the army they knew they would need. Ultimately, I think their decision was correct. It just wasn't enough.

u/amaxen · -3 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

There was basically socialism of many sorts during this time period, although it was always based on religion. For instance the pilgrims that settled America were openly and extremely socialist until the typical socialist famines came along and then they switched to capitalism.

But there were many socialist movements economically that led with religion. All that Marx did was basically promulgate a socialism that didn't require the Christian god ( although Marx still did require a Planet Sized Ghost with Godlike powers to make socialism possible).

If you want a fascinating window into the liberal and socialist factions in England during the English Civil War, check out The Tyrannicide Brief which takes place in the 1640s. Fascinating, already centuries-old movements that ultimately led to things like the US constitution and a lot of socialist communes. It covers the actions of guys like John Lilburne aka 'Freeborn John'

u/emkay99 · 6 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

You need to read Napoleon in America, in which the ex-emperor escapes from St. Helena early in 1821 with the collusion of some loyal officers & servants and turns up in New Orleans. The author does a pretty credible job of suggesting what his reception by the U.S. government might be like, and so on

u/greenflea3000 · 2 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

Totally agree. If anyone is interested in learning more, I recommend the book Rebecca's Children by Alan Segal. It is academic and nuanced without being too jargon or footnote heavy.

u/NinjaSupplyCompany · 0 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

Check out Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card if you have not already. Doesn’t cover you question but it’s a great read.

u/MagicCuboid · 3 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

"A History of the Arab Peoples" by Albert Hourani is also very accessible and informative. Your analysis is excellent by the way

u/RandomFlotsam · 15 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

A short story already exists, not sure if you've read it.

>Aaron Burr is elected the third president in 1800 against Thomas Jefferson, establishes an alliance with Napoleon Bonaparte, and creates a family dictatorship. Aaron Burr serves as president for nine terms until his death on September 14, 1836. His grandson and final vice president Aaron Burr Alston becomes the fourth President of the United States.

and also possibly available at your local library, or through library loan.

u/fdeckert · 3 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

The whole reason why the Saudis and Israelis are opposed to Iran is because they fear that should the US get along with Iran then they become irrelevant.

In the 1970s when the US decided to recognize Communist China as "China" officially, Taiwan was kicked to the curb and is today barely considered to be a country. Israel and the Saudis don't want to become another Taiwan should the US decide to "go to Iran" as some have urged the US to do

u/gallenator85 · 30 pointsr/HistoricalWhatIf

Part 1/2

I think this massively depends on why the Famine never happens. There were a lot of factors that came together in a perfect storm to make the Famine as devastating as it was, so depending on which of these are considered the point of divergence from OTL changes a lot of things for the outcome. That said, some things happen the same regardless.

Let's briefly run through how the Great Famine (An Gorta Mór) happened in OTL:

Massive Disclaimer: _Many parts of this are simplified for the purposes of a more coherent answer and easier reading. If you want to go a bit more in-depth, try reading This Great Calamity by Christine Kinealy, Famine: A Short History by Cormac Ó Gráda, or if you want something visual (that's not to abysmal), you could watch Extra Credits' series on the Irish Potato Famine._

Now, on with the context.

Irish lands were owned by British landlords - many of whom were absentee and represented by middlemen - and divided out among tenant farmers. These farmers (around two-thirds or so) lived on plots of land ranging from about 0.4 hectares to 6 hectares. The land was so small because the middlemen were given the entire estate to manage and just told to collect rent for it. As such, dividing it up meant more farmers and, therefore, more rent. The small plots of land, combined with the fact that tenancy was "at will" (tenants' rights really only existed in Ulster, and - not coincidentally - this is where the Famine had the lightest impact) meant that farmers had to use very little land to grow enough food to both pay their extortionate rents and feed their (usually quite large) families. Since the potato is a very efficient crop, that can grow in almost any soil type and produces a lot from very little, this meant that tenant farmers were pretty much growing only potatoes. So there was no real grain plots and definitely no animal rearing.

Once the blight caught on, the potato harvests were absolutely destroyed. And since most of the impoverished farmers were almost totally dependent on the potato, the result was widespread collapse of both the Irish economy (such as it was at the time) and the Irish populace. The British government could've stepped in and eased the suffering, but the situation was severely mismanaged - either through incompetence in their efforts, misunderstanding of the situation or (in some cases) a belief that the poor needed to be culled anyway - so this was just nature's way of balancing itself. It also wasn't helped that those in power in Westminster who could've mobilised support tried using the situation to advance their own political agenda. Sir Charles Trevelyan - secretary of the treasury - made efforts to delay and suppress famine relief aid from abroad (American maize, for example) so as to not impact free market ideology and undermine British international trade. This meant that aid wasn't getting to those who needed it. Many were forced into workhouses, made to emigrate, or straight up left to die. The political instability also caused many people to take up arms to fight against British rule in attempts to feed themselves and their families.

Thus, the stage is set; the actors are in place; the curtain rises; and disaster is inevitable. A combination of over-reliance on a single crop due to a massively corrupt and unregulated system of land ownership, a disconnection from the reality of life in rural Ireland, a general feeling of contempt for the poor (especially the Irish poor), and the willingness to sacrifice human life and wellbeing for political gain, all created a massive powder keg on the Emerald Isle; ready to blow at the first sign of trouble. Indeed, the blight itself was merely the spark that ignited the whole thing.