The Second Shot Heard ‘Round the World

The Confederacy WAS a Viable State.

By Thomas E. Stratton-Crooke
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The subject of the annual Dick Crews Debate at the January 2008 Roundtable meeting was: “The Southern Victory of 1865: Was the Confederacy a Viable State?” Five members made presentations on the topic; the article below was one of those five presentations.

The “genesis” of the Civil War may be found at the time of the American Revolution which began in 1776. Therefore it might be construed by some to say that the Civil War started in 1776.

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled.
Here once the embattled farmer stood
And fired the shot heard ’round the world.”

The question that now begs the answer is when was the second shot heard ’round the world fired? And the answer of course is as night follows the day: April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter.

The concept of viability is caught up in the concept of unity, that is, the viability of all the people in all the states, since the power of the nation is derived from the power of the people, which is the underpinning premise of the Constitution of the United States of America. Remember, please, we are speaking unity, not disunity. We are speaking peace, not war. We are speaking of conciliation and reconciling acts of kindness. We are speaking of winning the peace as a greater factor than winning the war. Wars are not won per se. Might is right. In 1813 the British outlawed slavery because the British were doing everything in their power to gain back their colonies in recognition of the greatest blunder in history in losing the United States of America. E Pluribus Unum.

The facts are:

  1. President Abraham Lincoln never fully accepted the concept of secession particularly from 1860 to 1865.

  2. He was unswerving in his strict adherence to preserving the Union at all costs maintaining the United States of America as a viable union of peoples within the states as documented in the Constitution and the ratification of the Civil War amendments (13th Amendment).

  3. President Lincoln believed that the “whole” of the nation states and its people were greater than the sum of the parts and that the needs of the many far outweighed the needs of the few.

  4. In 1865 as the United States was a gathering of the people, so the United States governmental system was predicated on the gathering of states with the potential for westward and other expansion. And in that sense all the people were learning to govern themselves, and it was this unification of the objectives and goals of these people that made the South viable.

  5. The South never did succeed in seceding from the Union.

  6. The South and the North were bloodied and battered but still a viable union of states of the people, by the people and for the people.

  7. The South was still conceived as part of the Union by Congress. Please refer again to the Civil war amendments and the Constitution and therefore, in the Euclidian geometric context, things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. The Southern states were viable and capable of being reconstructed.


In conclusion, please permit me to say that I think we can all agree that nobody really wins a war. War is hell. But everyone can win the peace. Winning the peace is the viable part of war and binding up the wounds of the nation so well articulated by Mr. Lincoln, who knew this fact intimately.

To deny the fact and argue the viability of the Confederate States of America on the grounds of their incapacity, etc. is to deny the basic tenets upon which this great nation of, for and by the people was founded, which includes the fifty-six signatories who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They shall not have died in vain.

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