Listen on Your Favorite App

Failed Futures: The Confederacy Had Colossal Plans After the Civil War to Spread Slavery Across the Globe And Become Fabulously Wealthy

December 13, 2022
00:00 58:57
Listen on Your Favorite App

Confederate leaders were nothing if not dreamers. They did not merely want to maintain slavery in a quiet corner of the world and hold onto antiquated traditions. They saw themselves as true progressives that would lead a neo-feudal order, becoming massively wealthy with trade, and dominate the Western Hemisphere.
In the antebellum era, leading Southern politicians, diplomats, clerics, planters, farmers, manufacturers, and merchants preached a transformative, world-historical role for the Confederacy, persuading many of their compatriots to fight not merely to retain what they had but to gain their future empire. Impervious to reality, their vision of future world leadership provided a vitally important, underappreciated motivation to form an independent Confederate republic.

Today’s guest is Adrian Brettle, author of Colossal Ambitions: Confederate Planning for a Post-Civil War World. We explore how leading Confederate thinkers envisioned their postwar nation—its relationship with the United States, its place in the Americas, and its role in the global order.

While some Confederate commentators saw wartime industrialization as pointing toward a different economic future, most Confederates saw their society as revolving once more around coercive labor, staple crop production, and exports in the war’s wake.

We can’t know what would have happened if the Confederacy had a chance to implement their plans. But when we put ourselves in their shoes, seeing how they drew up plans for a future that was extremely plausible, we understand better the mindset of the leaders of the Confederacy at one of the most important moments in American history.

This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at

More Episodes
See all episodes
Meet Your Host
Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
Podcasts About Us Contact Us Newsletters