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The Golden Path was born during the American Civil War, after this conflict was altered when foreign powers interfered in it and Henry David Thoreau wrote his essay entitled The Golden Path. It is in his essay that he passionately called on Americans to reunify under the Constitution against their common foes and to follow through with their most sacred principles including the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny.
Pre-Golden PathBefore the United States of America had The Golden Path it had chaos, at least compared to the America that it has become. It had spread across the continent with little to guide them other than some smart slogans to give them some direction. The idea of a Manifest Destiny which is the belief that the United States has a destiny to rule the continent from east coast to west coast, played an important part and should have worked well with the Monroe Doctrine, which called on the United States to view interference or attempts by Europeans to further colonize the Americas as an act of war. But the nation had failed to maintain direction in its conquest of the continent which it had won almost by pure luck, and it had little power to enforce the Monroe Doctrine which it also maintained with more luck than force.
Yet, these beliefs had always been secondary to the values enshrined in the Constitution that established the rules and principles that each American would live by and each state would be governed by. A "government of the people, by the people, for the people had failed the people," as President Abraham Lincoln had famously said in his farewell address in March of 1865. But Lincoln had inherited a nation that had been a failed state from early in her history, with little more then those mottoes, policies and misunderstood laws that the founders had given them.
On the eve of Lincoln election, he could not have known the full extent of the damage the last several presidents and congresses had done to America. The secession of the southern states added yet more to the failure of the union to capture the full loyalties of the individual or the state that they belonged to. Add to it the failure to keep Mexico after it had been conquered just 14 years earlier allowed it to plan revenge or have the proper or well-trained armed forces needed to match and defeat the British when they decided to change the course of American history to its needs. America was ripe for either full collapse or a new direction, a new way of thinking about itself and the world around it, it was ripe for The Golden Path.
The New Northern Front
With the American Civil War raging since 1861, General-in-Chief Winfield Scott's Great Snake Plan had been established. The plan was designed as a naval blockade, with emphasized on the southern ports and to advanced down the Mississippi River strangling the south's ability to trade with the rest of the world. The plan worked well, and many private gun-runners from the south, Britain and other nations "ran the blockade" with arms and traded them for cotton, the ships involved tended to be small and could only transport a small quantity of cotton. However, in 1863 the British naval vessel HMS Hydra entered into restricted waters off the Virginia shores. The USS Aeolus sank this ship believing it to be the Confederate blockade runner SS Banshee. This event lead to a Trade Embargo of corn against Britain after the British intentionally started to run the blockage.By July both American and the British navies had several close calls but direct conflict had been avoided until now. With trade down to a almost nothing and despite a growing concern about other events in Europe, the British made the decision to directly intervene in the conflict between the states and re-open trade with the north, as Union corn was a major import representing 25%-30% of its grain imports; and with poor crops in France in 1861 and 1862 the risk was even higher that Britain faced a major famine without these imports.
Documents from that time clearly show that no party in Her Majesty's government wanted an armed conflict with the Americans, it had avoided conflict in 1861 over the Trent Affair. In fact just the opposite seemed true as they didn't want to recognize the south. With the movement of 40,000 troops to Canada and the raising of an additional 50,000 Canadians the borders between the two countries became armed for the first time since the end of the War of 1812. The Union had little option but to divert troops from the south where many had already seen war first hand, to the northern border in preparation for war with the British Empire.
After four months of failing negotiations and a growing shortage of gains at home Britain gave a final ultimatum which fell on deaf ears, as Lincoln refused any compromise. The British invasion of America started with an attack across the borders into New England and Michigan. It established a naval blockade of Boston and landed 15,000 troops in the city.
It was during this time that Henry David Thoreau evacuated Concord which is just outside of Boston. Despite Thoreau being sick with Tuberculosis, he made the journey to Albany, NY and as he stated in his essay, The Golden Path, he saw all the horrors of war for the first time and came to understand the errors of his earlier writings; especially those that call on any anti-government civil disobedience or refusal to pay taxes
The New Southern Front
With the sudden entry of Great Britain into the the American Civil War, Maximilian, the special ambassador for Napoleon III, and president Benito Juárez of Mexico started to develop plans for the reconquest of territory lost during the Mexican-American War 14 years earlier. The Franco-Mexican Alliance which had been born just a year earlier did not stipulate any formal plan to start a war, so Maximilian used the lure of the wealth of California to get Napoleon to support the plan.
Benito Juárez was somewhat concerned about the cost and the level of training his army had but with France agreeing to send 30,000 troops and to help with the cost of raising a Mexico Army, the plan was finalized. With support coming from the Catholic Church, the monarchist and conservatives also threw their support behind reconquest.
There was little doubt in either the French or the Mexican forces that a quick strike into Texas and California could work. The force they had built had surpassed 100,000 with over 50,000 held in reserve. The Franco-Mexican forces quickly advanced northward forcing American units, both Confederate and Union, to retreat.
By the end of 1863, the French and Mexicans sent in agents to start slave uprisings throughout the south, promising freedom under the Franco-Mexican Alliance. Though most evidence would suggest they had no plans to capture any more territory than that lost by Mexico during the Mexican-American War.
In addition to the minor slave upraising, the French army reached the Indian Territories after advancing through the Oklahoma territory. While the Indians had largely sided with the Confederacy, the French and Mexicans saw an opportunity to create a buffer zone by calling on the different tribes in the Indian Territory to become independent as a Franco-Mexican protectorate state. This proposal seemed to cause more problems among the different tribes than to get any cooperation.
Wide spread anti-war sentiments quickly disappeared after Britain in the north and the Franco-Mexican Alliance in the south invaded the two halves of America. Both the United States and the Confederacy suddenly had multiple fronts, internal uprisings and a sudden dread that their entire existences was about to cease as a people, a nation or a community.
The fear that America would soon be overrun spread throughout both the Union and the Confederacy. Both sides engaged in diplomacy with much of the rest of the world, but to no avail, no one had the power or the desire to interfere. Much of Europe soon began looking for ways to strengthen there own agenda.
The Confederacy by late November 1863 also found their economy near total collapse. With what little trade that was getting through drying-up even more, they had little capital to fund the wars. The loss of Texas was a major blow to them in economics, materials and personnel. Most Texans wanted to return to Texas to fight for their homes. The whole of the south started to dread the war and many started to feel the war would be lost and they would be split between the north and the Franco-Mexican Alliance. These fears quickly caused many in the Confederacy to doubt their leaders.
The Military of the Blue and the Grey
The desertion rate of soldiers was already higher than the rates from either the War of 1812 or the Mexican-American War which added to the problem. The entry of the British, French and Mexicans into the conflict did nothing to alleviate the problems, in fact, the problem worsened as many soldiers felt they needed to be closer to home to fight the foreign enemy down the street rather than their brother half a country away.
The size of the military had grown on both sides during the Civil War and either side may have been able to defeat their enemy with little difficulty, however the vast majority of their units faced each other. This fact, as much as any, allowed the foreign forces to establish a strong foothold, where ever they were, and they quickly became well entrenched.
Birth of The Golden Path
It was just outside of Concord, Massachusetts is when Henry David Thoreau first saw the carnage of war first hand. Hundreds of area refugees were fleeing westward or southward in hopes of escaping the British army. Seeing Canadian forcing along with the Brits trample over these civilians deeply affected him and all others who witness this.
Thoreau Essay (The Golden Path) passionately called on American from both the north and the south to reunify before it is to late. To put the needs of the people and the state ahead of the individual. That only by being one nation under God could America stand against the world. And the proof that disunity would lead to their nation's total destruction was all around them.
The Essay Spreads
Most news print during the American Civil War period really found its way to the population center of their enemy's territory. However, with the British in the north and the French and Mexican in the south, editors and readers alike both saw a need to know what was happening throughout the complete territories of the United States of America.
The Golden Path essay was one such piece of work. It circulated through-out the north but soon found its way into the deep south. It was in the south that many saw it as an insult to their decision to secede from the union, but most started calling on their representatives to re-unite as the only way to save them from being defeated by the Franco-Mexican Alliance.
The effects of the Essay in the north were just as profound to the people as it was on southerners. Northers started calling on their leaders to find a way to pull the union back together. Some even called on the creation of a constitutional amendment to allow the south to keep their slaves if it meant saving the nation.
The SouthThe South quickly realized that it could not maintain a two front war and late in 1863 the Confederacy dispatched an ambassador to the North in hopes of some form of reconciliation. The Union under the direction of President Lincoln meet with the delegation from the south. Both
Birth of the Golden Path
The End of Slavery
United We Stand Divided We Fall
Winning the Hearts and Souls
One Nation Under God
The Golden Path
All Men are Created Equal