What if the US Civil War had ended differently, with the speedy readmission of Confederate states leading to a secession by New England?
President Lincoln does not issue the Emancipation Proclamation on the 1st of January, 1863, as he did in OTL; instead, he follows a more conciliatory path with the Confederacy, eager to win them back to the Union. A peace delegation is sent to "bring the South back into the fold" in early 1863. After much negotiation, Confederate President Jefferson Davis rejects Lincoln's proposal. Growing progressivism in the Northeastern states leads to unrest over the lack of change on the issue of slavery, causing a divide within the Union between the border states (which were largely indifferent to slavery) and the states north of Pennsylvania (who opposed the continuation of slavery).
Continued overtures by the Lincoln Administration for a full readmission of the Confederacy to the Union lead to the anger among radical Northerners, who desire harsher penalties for the "Southern treason". Lincoln's refusal to consider backing an amendment barring slavery causes the splitting of the Republican Party, with abolitionists leaving to form the Free Republic Party. This party is immediately polarizing; despite gaining great traction among Northern liberals, it is shunned by moderates as "breaking ranks" and is considered betrayal by many. The FRP denies any intent to put forward a presidential candidate in the 1864 election, with party leader Thaddeus Stevens maintaining that the party's indenpendence is only a temporary measure.
- January: President Abraham Lincoln promises to veto any amendments barring slavery in a last-ditch deal to readmit the Confederacy. This is agreed at the Treaty of Richmond, under which the Southern states are readmitted to the Union but are unable to vote or put forward candidates in the 1864 presidential elections.
- February: The Free Republic Party responds with anger to