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Old 06-24-2014, 05:20 AM   #1
Mason Malmuth
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Most Important Event in US History

Hi Everyone:

We can use this thread to give our most important events and to debate each of them.

So to start, I have an opinion which I know will be poorly accepted by many of you, but here it is anyway. I believe the most important event in US history is the death of Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson. That's because if he lives it's my opinion that Lincoln losses The Election of 1864 and a Southern Nation comes into being.

As to some possibilities as why this might be the case:

1. If Jackson lives, the Southern victory at Chancellorsville might have been even more over whelming which could have allowed Lee to threaten Washington.

2. If Jackson goes north with Lee to Gettysburg, the Confederate army probably would have preformed much better.

3. Jackson possibly could have been sent to the West to command The Army of Tennessee and he definitely would have been a much better commander than Braxton Bragg.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:11 PM   #2
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
1. If Jackson lives, the Southern victory at Chancellorsville might have been even more over whelming which could have allowed Lee to threaten Washington.
And if Lee threatens Washington, what does this get him? Washington was heavily fortified and it would have been easy for the government to uproot and move further North. If anything, this might have made things easier on Lincoln if a few Copperheads could have found their way into Confederate hands during the evacuation. The Union doesn't surrender even if Lee takes Washington. There are cases to be made for Lincoln's prospects getting weaker, but also cases to be made for Northern resolve increasing if the press (which was quite active) played up Southern perfidy sufficiently.

Quote:
2. If Jackson goes north with Lee to Gettysburg, the Confederate army probably would have preformed much better.
The question is "to what extent?" If Jackson is there, do the Confederates seize the high ground on the first day? If the Confederates seize the high ground, does the Union army engage at all, or do they simply move around and look for a new spot? If everything else remains the same, but Jackson has command of Longstreet's units, do the Confederates magically do better at Devil's Den or on Little Round Top? It's hard to see how. Once Lee makes the disastrously bad decision to fight at Gettysburg, the Union victory isn't entirely a foregone conclusion, but they're heavy favorites. And if we're playing the "what if" game, if Grant had been in command instead of Meade, it's entirely likely that Lee's whole army is destroyed or captured trying to cross back over the Potomac. Lee had enormously good fortune to go up against commanders as passive as McClellan and Meade when he made his biggest strategic blunders.

Quote:
3. Jackson possibly could have been sent to the West to command The Army of Tennessee and he definitely would have been a much better commander than Braxton Bragg.
This is a more interesting case to be made, as the western theater was arguably more important to the overall war effort than the scrum on the Virginia-Maryland border.
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Old 06-25-2014, 03:52 PM   #3
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

I will not give any detailed reasons for the three choices below, but each helped to shaped the US into a nation. In other words, we would be a different nation (or not one at all for the first mentioned) because of these events.

Washington's victory at Trenton, December 1776.

Jefferson's acquiring the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, and the subsequent Lewis & Clark expedition.

The election and presidency of James Polk.

Discuss as you see fit.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:05 AM   #4
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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The election and presidency of James Polk.

Discuss as you see fit.
That's an interesting choice. I bet if you were to ask the average person on the street this question, no one would say Polk. In fact, i doubt if many people would even know who he was.

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Mason
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:11 AM   #5
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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Quote:
3. Jackson possibly could have been sent to the West to command The Army of Tennessee and he definitely would have been a much better commander than Braxton Bragg.
This is a more interesting case to be made, as the western theater was arguably more important to the overall war effort than the scrum on the Virginia-Maryland border.
Hi Turn Prophet:

Assuming Jackson wins a similar victory as Bragg got at Chickamauga, the war could have been over in the West as Jackson would not have hesitated to move north and then East into the heart of the North. Of course, Grant (and Sherman) would have been brought in to oppose him, but would they have been too little too late?

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Mason
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:25 AM   #6
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Bretton Woods Conference 1944, laid the institutional foundations for a US-led global financial empire.
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:04 PM   #7
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

I am going with Battle of New Orleans.

Led to the election of Andrew Jackson, who expanded executive power, ushered in an era of machine politics, forever taught (a lesson we should remember) US the importance of a strong central bank, crushed theory of state nullification (he pushed for authorization to use military against South Carolina, and got it), expanded US frontier, and displaced pretty much every major Native American tribe in Louisiana territory.

The victory itself was significant in boosting American Morale and kicking Manifest Destiny into overdrive.

Without Andrew Jackson, American government could look very different today.

PS: Polk is a great dark horse pick. I didn't even consider him but he can take credit for like a third of US current territory and big part of how Treasury is structured today.

Last edited by grizy; 06-27-2014 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 06-28-2014, 05:58 PM   #8
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Everyone:

We can use this thread to give our most important events and to debate each of them.

So to start, I have an opinion which I know will be poorly accepted by many of you, but here it is anyway. I believe the most important event in US history is the death of Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson. That's because if he lives it's my opinion that Lincoln losses The Election of 1864 and a Southern Nation comes into being.

As to some possibilities as why this might be the case:

1. If Jackson lives, the Southern victory at Chancellorsville might have been even more over whelming which could have allowed Lee to threaten Washington.

2. If Jackson goes north with Lee to Gettysburg, the Confederate army probably would have preformed much better.

3. Jackson possibly could have been sent to the West to command The Army of Tennessee and he definitely would have been a much better commander than Braxton Bragg.

Best wishes,
Mason
Good OP. Jackson has interested me for some time.

Many historians and military experts consider Stonewall Jackson to be one of the greatest military commanders in the history of the USA. .


Its interesting to note though, how religion played a key role in Jacksons life. Jackson was claimed to have said My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed.. It seems that a major part of what made Jackson a great military leader was his religious beliefs. Jackson along with Robert E Lee were said to play a role in what was known as the The Confederate States Army revival in which a notable # of Confederate troops were converted to Christianity. Historians seem to debate the role that Jackson and Lee actually had on the spread of Christianity during 63'.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confede...s_Army_revival

Last edited by thekid345; 06-28-2014 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:13 PM   #9
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Everyone:

We can use this thread to give our most important events and to debate each of them.

So to start, I have an opinion which I know will be poorly accepted by many of you, but here it is anyway. I believe the most important event in US history is the death of Thomas J "Stonewall" Jackson. That's because if he lives it's my opinion that Lincoln losses The Election of 1864 and a Southern Nation comes into being.

As to some possibilities as why this might be the case:

1. If Jackson lives, the Southern victory at Chancellorsville might have been even more over whelming which could have allowed Lee to threaten Washington.

2. If Jackson goes north with Lee to Gettysburg, the Confederate army probably would have preformed much better.


3. Jackson possibly could have been sent to the West to command The Army of Tennessee and he definitely would have been a much better commander than Braxton Bragg.

Best wishes,
Mason
I have always felt that the death of Stonewall Jackson was a major turning point for the Civil War. I would look at the end of the first day at Gettysburg (the next major battle after Chancellorsville) though as the key element. With Jackson's death, Ewell had command of the Rebel forces on the field at the end of the first day. The Union positions north of the town had collapsed and retreated in disarray onto the ridges south of the town. Ewell decided not to attack any further that day. Overnight the Union forces were reinforced and recovered so that an attack the next day was not possible.

No historian of note doubts that had Jackson been present he would have aggressively attacked the Union positions that first day before they could reform. They would likely have blown the demoralized Union forces off of those ridges taking an enfilading position on the Cemetery Ridge line. The Union army would not have been able to concentrate in good order and would probably have had to undergo a risky retreat.

This would have converted the South's invasion of the North into a success. The key desire for the South was to gain recognition by Great Britain. England wanted Southern cotton but needed to believe that the South could actually stand up to the North before getting more involved. If the British navy started to play a role that could have changed the southern position economically as well as providing a source of arms.

Pretty big deal I think. Can't say that the South would have won, but if the butcher's bill kept rising without military successes the North may have lost the will to keep fighting.
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Old 06-30-2014, 12:17 AM   #10
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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This would have converted the South's invasion of the North into a success. The key desire for the South was to gain recognition by Great Britain. England wanted Southern cotton but needed to believe that the South could actually stand up to the North before getting more involved. If the British navy started to play a role that could have changed the southern position economically as well as providing a source of arms.
This was never going to happen after the Emancipation Proclamation. Britain is never going to bat for a Southern nation that had both slavery and expansion on its agenda (since such a nation might pose a direct threat to Britain's Caribbean holdings). Once the North turned the war into a war against slavery, the door pretty much shut on British intervention. Public opinion in Britain would never have allowed it, and it would have scandalized their foreign policy to an unacceptable degree.

Inasmuch as abolitionism was a significant but minority opinion in the North, it was a much larger force in British politics by the 1860s--Britain had abolished slavery in the 1830s after all, and remember that Uncle Tom's Cabin sold better in Britain than it did in the United States.

The South gambled and lost on thinking Britain would be unable to function without their cotton. In reality, Britain merely shifted its import focus to India and Egypt.
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:57 AM   #11
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Hi Everyone:

Just to throw two more events into this thread, how about The Louisiana Purchase and the failure of the German Nuclear program in World War II, especially since Germany during the 1930s was ahead in this technology.

Best wishes,
Mason
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:57 AM   #12
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi Everyone:

Just to throw two more events into this thread, how about The Louisiana Purchase and the failure of the German Nuclear program in World War II, especially since Germany during the 1930s was ahead in this technology.

Best wishes,
Mason
I previously mentioned the Louisiana Purchase (and the subsequent Lewis & Clark expedition) in post # 3 of this thread. But thanks for reiterating this fundamental event in the shaping of America.


The failure (miscalculation) of the German Nuclear program through WWII was, I think, discussed somewhat in another thread but I can't recall which one (the one on WWII?). The whole of WWII altered so much of the US and its place in the world, parsing out single events within this context as of overall importance thus becomes fuzzy and difficult. Not without merit but should be done with a critical and skeptical eye. The entire war and aftermath did not pivot on a single event as I see it.
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:33 AM   #13
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Peal Harbor was big. It was still very much up in the air as to whether Japan was going to attempt to conquer the world. The United States rounded up those of Japanese descent and put them in camps, that's how serious the problem was. One camp was at Santa Anita.

Dropping the A bombs on Japan sent a huge message to Japan, and also the rest of the world. Everything fell into place after that. That whole period could have had Germany, Japan, or the United States emerge as the dominant world power.

So, World War 2 was huge. This wasn't so long after World War 1, so the stakes were really high. Without the atomic bomb, there is no telling how history is different. That put fear out there in a big way.

I am not a history buff. Of course, there must be hundreds of potential turning points at earlier times, without which, we get anywhere near the specific variables for Pearl Harbor, the atomic bomb, and the results of World War 2.

I'll say this had to be one of the biggest in the last 100 years. Pearl Harbor triggered it, but the atomic bomb was pretty much the end-game, and the rest.....is history.
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Old 07-04-2014, 11:24 AM   #14
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

1763 - The British victory in the Seven Years War (aka French and Indian war).

At the peace conference, the French give up Canada and North America east of the Mississippi in exchange for Guadeloupe & Martinique (access to sugar was seen as more profitable than North America).
Spain hands over Florida in exchange for Cuba, New Orleans and Louisiana.
As an aside, France also effectively hands India over to Britain laying the foundation for the British Empire.

Post-war several events interact that drive the 13 colonies to revolution.
1. Increased taxation by Britain to recoup the war costs.
2. The Proclamation of 1763 which forbade white settlement beyond the crest of the Appalachians - intended to preserve the rights and loyalty of the Indian nations.
3. The Quebec Act of 1774 which expanded the province of Quebec into the land areas placed off-limits by the Proclamation.
Additionally this gave rights to Roman Catholics which incensed the Puritan elements in the 13 colonies.

Post-war the 13 colonies expected the fruits of victory but instead saw these measures as rewarding their enemies and punishing them.


The alternate history :
Britain loses to France and Spain.
Florida remains Spanish.
The English speaking colonists are confined to the eastern seaboard and, with a strong French military presence west of the Appalachians, the 1776 revolution never happens.
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:39 AM   #15
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

I'm not getting why Jackson surviving means the Confederacy is victorious in the war, at all. How about if the war ends much earlier if McClellan successfully counter attacks and destroys the Arny of Northern Virginia before any emancipation? Do the rebels surrender or fight to the bitter end in any case? I suppose the latter, if not when does slavery get abolished?
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:26 AM   #16
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Hart–Celler Act insuring the US will get the best and brights from the entire world not just western Europe.
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:58 AM   #17
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

If I had to choose one large event, definitely WWII, as it truly catapulted the U.S. into position as the world's greatest superpower. But obviously the events leading up to the Revolutionary War---not necessarily the war itself---rank up there as well.
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Old 08-18-2014, 03:56 AM   #18
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Hitler attacking Russia during WW ll. A terrible blunder that lead to the two front war if he does not attack Russia he only has to deal with England, which would eventually fall.
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:15 AM   #19
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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Hitler attacking Russia during WW ll. A terrible blunder that lead to the two front war if he does not attack Russia he only has to deal with England, which would eventually fall.
What makes you think Britan would eventually fall given that Germany couldn't manage air or sea superiority and both would be needed for an invasion?
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:14 PM   #20
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Benedict Arnold's victory in Saratoga led to Franklin convincing France to join which in turn led to Yorktown. Yorktown win = USA
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:32 AM   #21
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

For me it has to be Hellmuth winning the main event.
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Old 09-27-2014, 12:47 PM   #22
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

Many things are inevitable in some sense despite the specifics of history.

Case one - the north won the civil war because of resources and the will to fight. Jackson may have extended the war by a year if things happened differently, but the north still wins. Now if Lincoln managed to lose the election of 1864, maybe the will to fight would be in question...

Case two - Territorial expansion on the continent was likely independent of Jefferson and polk's actions during their presidencies. Maybe we would have merged with a New Orleans centered independent country at some point as we did with the independent nation of Texas, but as long as Americans are flooding west, it is likely that eventually we acquire much of what we have now whether the La. purchase, the Mexican War, the Oregon crisis etc. occur as they historically did or not.

That is my humble opinion.
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Old 09-27-2014, 12:57 PM   #23
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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Benedict Arnold's victory in Saratoga led to Franklin convincing France to join which in turn led to Yorktown. Yorktown win = USA
Saratoga and Yorktown are important battles but in the end this war came down to the will to win as well. the British did not have the will to provide the endless resources necessary to win a war across the pond, Americans did have the will to struggle on indefinitely. Washington lost most of his battles except for the occasional sneak attacks, but that didn't matter, the will to persevere mattered.

Vietnam was a similar situation, it was just a matter of perseverance for the Vietnamese, their will to win independence. Of course the US also got what it wanted out of that war - freezing for the most part Communist expansion around the world, which was much more important to us than the outcome in Vietnam itself.
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Old 11-23-2014, 04:06 AM   #24
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

The Cuban Missile Crisis... most specifically, the cool head of Russian submariner Vasili Arkhipov.

Safe to say the world would be a very different place today if the hawks got their wish.
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Old 11-24-2014, 01:32 AM   #25
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Re: Most Important Event in US History

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The Cuban Missile Crisis... most specifically, the cool head of Russian submariner Vasili Arkhipov.

Safe to say the world would be a very different place today if the hawks got their wish.
Hi Jiggs:

This is certainly an interesting event, and one in which very few people are even aware of. But I wonder since nothing happened as opposed to something significant happening if it's quite the same.

But I do agree that things could have been quite different if the Russian commander had fired his nuclear tipped torpedoes.

Best wishes,
Mason
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