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heartland-america

Alexander Stephens’ America.  That’s one way of looking at Red State America.

It’s remarkable how Stephens, a Georgia Whig U.S. congressman who would later serve as vice president of the Confederate States, really wasn’t a Confederate sympathizer to any significant degree.  He came to Montgomery very reluctantly as a delegate from Georgia to the Confederate Constitutional Convention, entrusted with helping draft both the Provisional and Permanent Constitutions of the the embryonic Southern confederation.

He was not only a Whig but also an FOL (friend of Abraham Lincoln, actually a very close friend of Lincoln). And to add an extra layer of irony to his legacy, Stephens at heart was also a deep-dyed unionist who had opposed secession.  Like Robert E. Lee, he cast his lot with the Southern cause only because he considered his first allegiance to lie with his beloved Georgia, which, much to Stephens’ regret, had withdrawn from the American Union and chosen to confederate with the other Southern Gulf states.

How did he intend to re-engineer this American reunification? By insisting that the Confederate Constitution include a provision to allow the admission of free states. Because of the Mississippi River, which still provided the most efficacious means for transporting agricultural and manufactured goods, Stephens was confident that hard economic realities ultimately would force the Old Northwest (the present-day Midwest)  to leave the American Union and confederate with the Southern Gulf States.

In essence, Stephen hoped that most of the Union, sans the Northwest, eventually would coalesce around the new Confederate Constitution.  This new charter would function not as the charter for a Southern Confederacy but as the basis for a reconstituted American Union.

It is amazing how this map, currently circulating on Twitter, reflected Stephens’ vision of a reconstituted American Union.

In a sense, he anticipated Red State America a full 150 years in advance.