It truly is ironic. One of the issues surrounding the basis for Southern secession was the belief that the federal government was to quote Shelby Foote “becoming radicalized.” Meaning that with the election of Lincoln in 1860 the balance of power was shifiting away from the states and to Washington, D.C.
Perhaps if the South had remained in the Union they could have tempered this power shift- real or perceived. (Keep in mind, Abraham Lincoln only represented the Executive branch, Southern political leadership and the Democratic Party in 1860 still dominated the Supreme Court and possessed many key Congressional committee chairmanships).
Instead, by leaving the South helped to fulfill the very thing they were trying to prevent. Secession guaranteed that if the South was to return, it would return to a federal government far more powerful in 1865 than it was in 1861. War years & national crisises tend to achieve this end. The Reconstruction Era which ended in 1877 made this fact even more evident.
Three quick examples showcasing this increased role of the federal government that came about during the war:
–Individual income tax (went away for a time, then came back for good with the 16th amendment)
–Two states entering the Union (West Virginia & Nevada)
— The creation of the Department of Agriculture which helped settle the West (Homestead Act of 1862)