The Anaconda Plan was put in place to stop the import of war material and cotton into the Confederacy. The hope of the Union was to surround the Confederate states and slowly restrict the Confederacy of imported goods, like an anaconda snake to its prey, and make them surrender the war. This, in fact, did work and as the war continued, the plan became more effective and more land came under Union control. This plan needed control and patience to get the outcome the North wanted.
This plan was originally thought of when the war started but the North thought the war could be quickly won with little bloodshed. The plan was thought of as a slow and leisurely way to win the war. May thoughts about the plan were proposed. Some people thought it was a strategic plan worth the wait but others thought the northern navy did not have enough ships or trained captains for the plan to work. President Lincoln thought to pass the plan but realized the North was not strong enough just yet. However, after the Battle at Fort Sumter, General Winfield Scott (left) repurposed the plan to President Lincoln now that the North was stronger.
For the plan to be passed, Lincoln needed to make sure the plan would work and it was not a waste of time or resources. When General Scott approached Lincoln with the plan, Lincoln had to think of the consequences if the plan failed. Lincoln wanted a plan that would reunite the North and South without antagonizing more war. Lincoln never saw the South as a separate nation, just rebelling states, however this plan considered the South as its own country. This was difficult for Lincoln because in order for him to reunite the two, he would have to think of them as two.
In order to completely surround the South, the North would need to cover more than 3,500 miles, from Virginia around Florida around the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River. This blockade prevented the South from getting war necessities, but also separated it from trading with the rest of the world. While the North saw the South as a seceding nation, many parts of Europe saw the South as a belligerent country. As more of Europe saw what was happening, more countries declared belligerent status. Great Britain declared it on May 13, 1861, followed by Spain, and Brazil. And although other countries did not grant belligerence, they did grant neutrality in the war.
Although one thought of before the war started but was never enforced, some historians say that this plan could have “…ended the Civil War before it had begun…” But by the end of the war, Lincoln had 600 ships as part of the blockade and won the Civil War with little bloodshed. After all, the plan was originally a failure, but with the support the plan was a success.