On August the 15th, 1914 the CSS Ancon sailed out of the Miraflores Locks and completed the first official transition of the Panama Canal. Up on top of Ancon Hill which stands over the Pacific Entrance to the canal the Confederate States of America (CSA) Flag flew proudly over its territory of Panama that included not only the Panama Canal but Panama as a whole. From Panama City, Panama, up through Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico City, Mexico the Confederate States of America flag flew proudly across her territories.
The USS Ancon Miraflores Locks Panama
Prior to the secession of southern states and the formation of the Confederate States of America southerners had their eye on expansion into the tropics. Perhaps with the over whelming victory in Mexico during the Mexican – American War the idea did not seemed farfetched. Governments in Mexico and Central America (Mexico is actually in North America geographically) being predominantly corrupt and with a culture that was built around an unfair Caste system perhaps the conditions were ripe for the CSA to expand south.
Even before the American Civil War Southern Imperialist wanted to conquer the tropics as armed groups called filibusters made attempts to conquer these countries. The filibusters ventured into Mexico, Cuba, and throughout Central America. One filibuster William Walker born in Nashville, Tennessee actually conquered and became president of Nicaragua in 1856 until in 1857 when Costa Rica and a coalition of other Central America countries over through him.
All though once the CSA was formed her primary concern was winning the War Against Northern Aggression but the CSA still looked south for expansion. Jefferson Davis a firm believer in Southern expansion went so far as to have expansion written into the CSA Constitution. Article IV 3(3) states; The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of **** slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.
President Jefferson Davis went so far as to make up his cabinet with people who supported Southern expansion into the tropics.
CSA President Jefferson Davis
This begs the following questions:
If the south had won the war or if there had been no war at all would the South had proceeded with their vision?
In this case I have to give a resounding yes they would have attempted to expand south. In fact during the Civil War the south sent agents into Mexico in an attempt to destabilize Mexico. In Mexico City Confederate Agent John T. Pickett was able to secretly form rebel groups in several of Mexico’s Providences. He eventually gave up in defeat in 1861. Yet had the south been at peace or won the Civil War the door into Mexico would have been held wide open for the south in 1863 with Napoleon seizing Mexico.
Would the South eventually succeeded in expanding south?
My true belief is no, as shown by the defeat of William Walker in Honduras the countries of Central America could combine forces for their common good. Supplies lines would have been stretched incredible thin with the transportation technologies of the day. Jungle sickness and diseases would decimate the Confederates as they moved south. Even with the assimilation of the Mexican Army they would have been hard pressed to fully conquer and control these regions.
Would the United States of America intervene?
I think so as even during the America Civil War the United States had a vested interest in Panama. The Panama railroad was transporting gold and passengers across the isthmus from California to New York and vise versa. In fact if the Northern and Southern Armies had not fought in the American Civil War they very well could meet in battle under the Mayan Ruins in Guatemala.
Mayan Ruins in Guatemala