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WI: McClellan became dictator

Venocara

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Most of you will be familiar with George McClellan and his role during the ACW. However, a lesser-known fact is that McClellan fancied himself as a possible Dictator of the United States, writing letters stating his belief that he could seize control if he wanted to. So the question is: what if McClellan tried to install himself as dictator? When would he attempt a coup, how likely is he to succeed and how would a coup (successful or not) affect the war effort and the US as a whole?
 

Japhy

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There was talk amongst officers in the Army of the Potomac of "Great Feeling" for a coup after the Second Battle of Bull Run but I tend to belive that Catton is right in saying the ranks themselves were no longer willing to imagine Little Mac as a true savior in that sense.

Honestly what makes the most sense to me? Is in the aftermath of him beating Lincoln in 1864 having some sort of Self-Coup when confronted by the fact that he can't actually maintain the war having run as a War Democrat on an Anti-War platform and that the South is not in fact interested in negotiation as most of his copperhead allies of convenience believed. There is a dark timeline to be had where such a thing takes place considering McClellan's determination to end the Emancipation and his absolute acceptance of the institution of slavery.
 

Aznavour

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Was this done in private letters? Could them going public create a big scandal and get McClellan fired in a Big Controversy, or were they just idle talk, easily brushed off?
 

Venocara

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Is in the aftermath of him beating Lincoln in 1864
I presume that this would need an earlier divergence that allows for increased Confederate success by 1864?

There is a dark timeline to be had where such a thing takes place considering McClellan's determination to end the Emancipation and his absolute acceptance of the institution of slavery.
So are you describing a scenario in which the Confederates are still going strong by March 1865, wherein McClellan launches a self-coup and simply withdraws from the conflict unconditionally? In this scenario, would McClellan be able to retain his power for long, and what would such a dictatorship look like?

Was this done in private letters? Could them going public create a big scandal and get McClellan fired in a Big Controversy, or were they just idle talk, easily brushed off?
He discussed the possibility in letters to his wife I believe...
 

Japhy

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Was this done in private letters? Could them going public create a big scandal and get McClellan fired in a Big Controversy, or were they just idle talk, easily brushed off?

It was by and large idle talk. Something that should disqualify him from being trusted with high office but not something that was out and developing as a political point.
 

Japhy

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I presume that this would need an earlier divergence that allows for increased Confederate success by 1864?
Doesn't take too much, mostly the Army of the Cumberland having to abandon Chattanooga but yes.

So are you describing a scenario in which the Confederates are still going strong by March 1865, wherein McClellan launches a self-coup and simply withdraws from the conflict unconditionally? In this scenario, would McClellan be able to retain his power for long, and what would such a dictatorship look like?
No Im saying McClellan would probably launch a self coup to continue the war with his soft war aims and to be a dictator. If he os to retain his power or be successful is entirely up to the author of such a work IMO.
 

Venocara

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No Im saying McClellan would probably launch a self coup to continue the war with his soft war aims and to be a dictator.
OK. What kind of dictator would he be, and do you think that there is any chance of the dictatorship lasting until or even past his death?

Also, when you refer to "soft war aims", are you saying that he would strive to win the war but then come to some sort of resolution with the Southern political class?
 

Japhy

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OK. What kind of dictator would he be, and do you think that there is any chance of the dictatorship lasting until or even past his death?
Again that's up to the author really. Too many variables to say otherwise really.

Also, when you refer to "soft war aims", are you saying that he would strive to win the war but then come to some sort of resolution with the Southern political class?
Yup.
 

rosa

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McClellan also wanted to raise a milita to ensure the Democrats won the 1876 election, although it was quipped that with his rate of speed it would take until the 1880 election for him to get to Washington.
Interesting. So we could see some of that as McClellan popularity wanes.

We would probably see him more likely to run for terms over and over again than to cancel elections, so I'd imagine he tries to get as much control as he can over the process to force himself through each time
 

Japhy

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Personally, I don’t think any timeline where McClellan’s coup ends by any means other than him psyching himself out of it is plausible.
Not to be one of his weirdo defenders but the pop history image of him and who he was aren't the same.
 

ChrisNuttall

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I think it would be very difficult for the Army of the Potomac to be marched on Washington without someone saying no, as the US - even of that era - was not a banana republic. It would be difficult for anyone to launch a coup and then gain/retain legitimacy long enough to secure control of the entire country (if just the North). McClellan wasn’t a complete fool - his detractors aside - and he might well realise that his plan was doomed right from the start. Sudden decisive blows were never part of his psychology. His limitations as a CO would probably keep him from launching a coup or taking advantage of one, if someone else launched it for him.

It might be more interesting to consider what might happen if he tried and failed.

Chris
 

Octosteel

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If he wins in 64, I can imagine him governing like a Latino strongman and running for like three or four terms and abusing state powers but not to the point of becoming a dictator.
 
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