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Tags alternate history , David McCullough , Revolutionary War history

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Old 5th February 2007, 04:29 PM   #1
Kaylee
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What if the Americans Had Lost the American Revolutionary War?

Bigred has inspired me to start another thread.

What would have been the effect on American, English and World history if the Americans had lost the American Revolution?

A while back I had skimmed the book 1776 by David McCullough. In that book he makes the case that the British came very close to winning that war.


I'm not as familiar with American history in the 1700s as I am around the late 1800s. This reflects my 8th grade teacher's bias; he was indifferent to most of the subject matter that he taught except for American history around the late 1800s. He was very passionate about this time period and it spilled over into his teaching.

Even so, I'll try to take a stab at how this might have affected history. If the British would have treated the leaders responsible for the rebellion harshly (hanged them or jailed them for an extremely long time) I think this would have prevented another revolt for many years. My guess is that the next attempt may not have occurred until the early 1830s when the British outlawed slavery in their country and colonies. My guess is that would have been enough of an incentive to inspire the Southern plantation owners to attempt a second revolution at that time.

I also think that there may have been attempts to create at least one new country west of the Appalachians. IIRC, the English had promised the American Indians that had allied with them against the French that they would not expand beyond the Appalachians mountains in return for the help in the French and Indian War. The British may have attempted to keep their promise if only to try to keep their holdings in the Americas smaller and more manageable. But many people wanted their own land and I don't think they would have honored the British treaty with the Indians -- therefore I think there would have been at least one start-up country west of the Appalachians.

In this alternative timeline, a smaller weaker USA might never have fought in the Mexican-American or Spanish-American War. There probably would have been no Louisiana or Alaska Purchases, or Hawaiian annexation. The American Southwest might still not have ended up as part of Mexico or the Midwest affiliated with France but instead of being part of the USA they may have been part of other governments or ended up being another independently governed country or countries. Puerto Rico would not be an American commonwealth.

Napoleon III might have succeeded in establishing a puppet government in Mexico in the 1860s.

What would the effect on Canada be? I'm still not clear yet on how Canada transitioned from a British colony to a UK Commonwealth or even exactly what it means to be a UK Commonwealth. * But regardless of what it means -- would it have taken Canada longer to transition from a colony to a commonwealth if the USA had lost the war? I think so.

And one more thing -- the war would have been named something else, of course.

Anyone else care to take a stab at this?



* Canadians accept the Queen of England as their own, but typically commonwealth status is suppose to mean that while the country decides its own domestic affairs it does not control its foreign affairs. However, I know that simply is not the case in for Canada and Australia. They both have their own seats in the United Nations. I also know that Australia successfully decided to direct her own armies in WWII against British orders -- but I digress, clearing up what it means to be a UK commonwealth deserves a thread of its own. If anyone decides to start a thread on that topic (history and what it really means), I'll be glad to read it.
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Old 5th February 2007, 04:53 PM   #2
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Oo. Oo. A chance to respond to one of these "What would have happened if" threads early. I have been waiting for one to post the following:

Time is self-healing. For small divergent events it corrects quickly. For large events, it takes a bit longer, but by now the world would be exactly the same as if the War had never happened. Does away with the infinities of the "Many Worlds" theory.
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Old 5th February 2007, 05:20 PM   #3
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Extra rescources are plugged ino the british empire makeing things like dealing with Napoleon less of a problem. Latter the rise of Prussia is delt with, Russia crushed in the great game and south america aquired from spain. Britian ends up ruleing most of the planet with the exception of Europe Russia and Portugese empire untill about 1960 when it falls apart fairly cleanly.

On the plus side no one builds a nuclear bomb untill say late 50s probably 60s.
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Old 5th February 2007, 07:32 PM   #4
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Interesting! But why does it all full apart in 1960? Also the old saying power corrupts... so in your timeline are the people that run the British Empire evil monsters?
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Old 5th February 2007, 07:34 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Oo. Oo. A chance to respond to one of these "What would have happened if" threads early. I have been waiting for one to post the following:

Time is self-healing. For small divergent events it corrects quickly. For large events, it takes a bit longer, but by now the world would be exactly the same as if the War had never happened. Does away with the infinities of the "Many Worlds" theory.
Gord, not sure I agree with you. But there is no way to prove it one way or the other, is there?
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Old 5th February 2007, 08:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Gord, not sure I agree with you. But there is no way to prove it one way or the other, is there?
I should have added more smilies?

But I don't know of any science fiction story based on this idea. Does anyone?

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Old 5th February 2007, 09:22 PM   #7
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LoL. No it's me, time for me to turn off my pc. G'nite!
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Old 5th February 2007, 10:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
But I don't know of any science fiction story based on this idea. Does anyone?
Gord, you got me curious, d*rn you.

Harry Turtledove co-wrote "The Two Georges" where a 20th Century America is part of the UK. Apparently King George the III and George Washington were able to come to an agreement and the USA, not Canada, became the UK's first dominion state.

One of the Amazon readers summarizes the book as portraying an America where the Indians got a better deal, and there is less freedom and less technology. I find the link between less freedom and less technology interesting and I do wonder whether Turtledove portrays the link as causal.

Here's a web site that IMHO is very interesting and it's not fiction -- it's a listing of 10 defeated nations actual plans if they had won their wars:
http://www.trivia-library.com/alternate-history-what-10-defeated-nations-planned-to-do-if-they-won/index.htm

And the first one is: What if England Won the Revolutionary War?
http://www.trivia-library.com/c/alternate-history-what-if-england-won-the-revolutionary-war.htm


Quote:
If Great Britain had defeated the American rebels, it would have restored its authority by assigning a British governor to each of the 13 American colonies and disbanding all revolutionary governments, including the Continental Congress. British Prime Minister Lord Frederick North intended to be lenient with the rebels, granting pardons to all except the most prominent military and congressional leaders. On the issue of taxation, North expected to effect conciliation by offering the colonial legislatures the right to raise their own taxes rather than be taxed directly by Parliament. However, the rebels would have been forced to compensate American Loyalists fully for their losses during the war. If the British had won, they also planned to limit American territorial expansion by giving the Ohio River and Great Lakes region to Canada.
Here's a map of the Ohio River and the Great Lakes http://encarta.msn.com/media_461561207_761554961_-1_1/Ohio_River.html

So, in an alternative timeline Canada could have had included the territory that became these 5 American Midwestern states in our current timeline: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois. That's assuming of course that the British would have eventually broken their promise to their Indian allies and expanded beyond the Appalachian Mountains.


Here's an alternative timelines web site with reader submitted fiction for many time periods:
http://www.alternatehistory.com/ahdirectory.html

Including a few stories where the Americans don't win the war for Independence. (I haven't read any yet.)
http://www.alternatehistory.com/ahdirectory.html#18TH

Lastly this is a slightly off-topic web site: Wikipedia has an interesting article on the history of alternative histories…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history_(fiction)

Livy at around the turn of the Common Era (!) gets credited with the first alternative history, but the genre really got started in the late 1800s.


ETA: After writing this all up it I realize that what Gord meant is theire a science fiction book based on his other idea that timelines can't vary significantly from each other. What can I say? Sometimes I just get on a tear and don't let go.

FWIW, I'm not familiar with any stories that have that theme -- but I do think it would be fun to write. <derail> If you would like a story that experiments with that theme, than you would probably like this story: Replay by Ken Grimwood -- one of the most interesting books I have ever read. IIRC the author's POV is different -- timelines can vary, however most of his book is concerned with individuals and not nations. </end derail>.

Last edited by Kaylee; 5th February 2007 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 6th February 2007, 06:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Interesting! But why does it all full apart in 1960? Also the old saying power corrupts... so in your timeline are the people that run the British Empire evil monsters?
No rather the oposite. They like to think of themselves as good men. By the 1960s comunication technolgy has reached the point where it is no longer posible to mentain this fiction with the result that there is little choice but to let the empire drift apart. It does so.

As potential outcomes go this one isn't to bad. 100 years of pax britianica followed by a transition to democracy. No world wars no cold war.
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Old 6th February 2007, 07:08 AM   #10
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Well, you'd all be speaking English, for a start.

If Brittan had managed to keep the colonies in 1783, I suspect that the deal would have fallen apart by the 1807, when the salved trade was banned in the British empire, or by 1838 when all slavery in the British Empire was outlawed.
The outcome would be a US civil war twenty years "early".
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Old 6th February 2007, 04:30 PM   #11
Sandy M
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"The Two Georges," Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Georges-No...e=UTF8&s=books
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Old 7th February 2007, 06:32 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post

* Canadians accept the Queen of England as their own, but typically commonwealth status is suppose to mean that while the country decides its own domestic affairs it does not control its foreign affairs. However, I know that simply is not the case in for Canada and Australia. They both have their own seats in the United Nations. I also know that Australia successfully decided to direct her own armies in WWII against British orders -- but I digress, clearing up what it means to be a UK commonwealth deserves a thread of its own. If anyone decides to start a thread on that topic (history and what it really means), I'll be glad to read it.
I dont know enough about the history of the Commonwealth to start a new thread, but as to the members autonomy:

Very briefly, as some British Colonies grew and developed their own internal legislatures they were awarded Dominion status from the early 20th century. Essentially, this meant they were self ruling independent states within the British Empire although their foriegn policy and armed forces were controlled from London. After the 1926 Imperial Conference, the UK Parliament passed the Statute Of Westminster in 1931 which granted the Dominions equality with each other and with Britain and gave them full control of their foriegn policy and military. Each Dominion became a de facto independent country while still acknowledging the Monarch as the head of state. The Statute of Westminster had to be ratified by the Parliament of each Dominion, but this was largely a formality. (New Zealand did not ratify the Statute until 1947 but the New Zealand government retained direct control of their military in WWII, and the NZ raised British Army officer commanding their land forces reported to Wellington, not London.)

The Statute Of Westminster was largely superceded by constitutional acts passed by Canada, New Zealand and Australia in the 1980s. The Queen is the head of state in those countries not by being Queen of the United Kingdom, but by being specifically Queen of Canada, New Zealand and Australia respectively.

One interesting provision of the Statute of Westminster is that all Commonwealth parliaments must agree before the rules of succession to the British Crown can be changed. Some of the commonwealth countries are now republics which do not have the Queen as their head of state, but still technically retain their influence on the monarchy.
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Old 7th February 2007, 09:33 AM   #13
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Thanks Carnivore. That was a great summary and a good link.

What the link didn't go into though was why the UK Parliament voluntarily gave up so much political power peacefully? Would you happen to know why?
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Old 7th February 2007, 09:41 AM   #14
Kaylee
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Originally Posted by brodski View Post
Well, you'd all be speaking English, for a start.
Or you'd be speaking American!

Quote:
If Brittan had managed to keep the colonies in 1783, I suspect that the deal would have fallen apart by the 1807, when the salved trade was banned in the British empire, or by 1838 when all slavery in the British Empire was outlawed.
The outcome would be a US civil war twenty years "early".
I agree. I suspect that only the Southern states would have rebelled for this reason and that they would not have had enough resources to defeat the British.

I think the defeated plantation owners would have implemented sharecropping and if that it hadn't eventually been outlawed in this alternative history -- this political change might not have had radical results. For example, extending the voting franchise to the freed blacks might not have neccesarily followed. In fact, I suspect it wouldn't have.

Last edited by Kaylee; 7th February 2007 at 10:04 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 7th February 2007, 09:43 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
"The Two Georges," Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Georges-No...e=UTF8&s=books
Yes, mentioned in another previous post also.

So did you read the book, did you like it or think that the story was plausible?
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Old 7th February 2007, 11:58 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Thanks Carnivore. That was a great summary and a good link.

What the link didn't go into though was why the UK Parliament voluntarily gave up so much political power peacefully? Would you happen to know why?

The Balfour Declaration, the report at the conclusion of the 1926 Imperial Conference recognized the reality of the emerging national identities of the Dominions in the 20th Century. The conclusion was ratified by the 1930 conference.

The countries that held Dominion status (with the exception of South Africa) had majority European populations (mostly British or British descended.) They were not seeking to leave the British Empire, in fact most of the population considered themselves proudly British. The military establishments of Australia New Zealand and Canada are linear decendants of the British military, sharing history and traditions. In the First World War these countries hadnt waited for Britain to start conscripting their young men, tens of thousands volunteered at once. Until the Second World War older NZers referred to Britain as "Home". During the war while South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand directed their own forces, many of their citizens joined the British forces. (For example, the RAF had New Zealand Squadrons separate from the RNZAF which belonged to the NZ government. In fact early in the expansion of the RNZAF one of it's government directed roles was to serve as a source of recruits for the RAF.)

In my opinion, the UK parliament wasnt so much giving up power over it's posessions as recognizing the evolution of the loyal and thriving children of the Mother Country. The cultural, political and economic ties between Britain and her former Dominions remained very strong and were expected to continue. The Statute of Westminster was intended to improve the governance of the British Empire, which would benefit both Britain, and the former colonies she had the closest links with.

Self determination had been a big issue for the League of Nations after the First World War, and even before then Britain had come close to granting Ireland Home Rule. You could look at the Imperial Conferences as part of the trend towards liberalization and democracy displayed by Britain in the first half of the 20th Century.

On the other hand, the situation was very different in territories that Britain held with a minority British population among a potentially (or actually) hostile indigenous population.
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Old 7th February 2007, 04:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Yes, mentioned in another previous post also.

So did you read the book, did you like it or think that the story was plausible?
I read it a while ago, and remember enjoying. Amused by starting with the "murder of Richard Nixon" in the parking lot.....

Found the "slower progress" somewhat problematical, but believeable. Hard to think of the "fastest" transport in 1988 (or was it '98?) still being trails and dirigibles. Royal American Mounted Police, indeed!
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Old 8th February 2007, 09:57 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
I read it a while ago, and remember enjoying. Amused by starting with the "murder of Richard Nixon" in the parking lot.....

Found the "slower progress" somewhat problematical, but believeable. Hard to think of the "fastest" transport in 1988 (or was it '98?) still being trails and dirigibles. Royal American Mounted Police, indeed!

I meant TRAINS and dirigibles. Can't seem to edit. Ah well.
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Old 8th February 2007, 03:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
Found the "slower progress" somewhat problematical, but believeable. Hard to think of the "fastest" transport in 1988 (or was it '98?) still being trails and dirigibles. Royal American Mounted Police, indeed!
Once you have a decent ICE flight isn't too much of a problem and if you are trying to run a decent sized empire you need to be able to get around. Jets would probably have been delayed so expect big slow seaplanes to be the standard.
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Old 8th February 2007, 10:46 PM   #20
Kaylee
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Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
.....

In my opinion, the UK parliament wasnt so much giving up power over it's posessions as recognizing the evolution of the loyal and thriving children of the Mother Country. The cultural, political and economic ties between Britain and her former Dominions remained very strong and were expected to continue. The Statute of Westminster was intended to improve the governance of the British Empire, which would benefit both Britain, and the former colonies she had the closest links with.

Self determination had been a big issue for the League of Nations after the First World War, and even before then Britain had come close to granting Ireland Home Rule. ...
Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and thorough response. IANAHP (I am not a history professor! ), but it seems that there are relatively few times in history when a strong group peacefully relinquishes some of its power. You mentioned that self-determination was a big issue at the time. Wouldn't it have been interesting if making new political pacts had been the main issue at that time instead? If additionally technology, especially communication technology, had been much better at the time then the UK and her dominions might have decided to form an organization that would have predated the European Union instead.

Quote:
On the other hand, the situation was very different in territories that Britain held with a minority British population among a potentially (or actually) hostile indigenous population.
Are you speaking of former colonies?
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Old 9th February 2007, 09:27 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and thorough response. IANAHP (I am not a history professor! ), but it seems that there are relatively few times in history when a strong group peacefully relinquishes some of its power.
True, but you have to understand the British Imperial mentality, we weren’t concurring the world, we where civilising it, The Empire was not for the benefit of the British, Brittan was working for the benefit of her colonies!
Now, as much as that sounds like the usual self serving justifications for empire, and as often as the reality on the ground didn't match the hype, those in Westminster who ultimately controlled the empire, really did seem to believe it. And as long as that was true, once it became obvious that "home rule" was a practical possibility, it would not be possible to refuse it without those in power radically altering their view of the Empire.

Quote:
You mentioned that self-determination was a big issue at the time. Wouldn't it have been interesting if making new political pacts had been the main issue at that time instead? If additionally technology, especially communication technology, had been much better at the time then the UK and her dominions might have decided to form an organization that would have predated the European Union instead.
Quite possibly, however better communications technology would also enable politicians and the general public to see what the reality of colonial life was, especially in those colonies which where less "white" than Canada or Australia. This would likely have lead to the breakdown of the Empire faster.

Quote:
Are you speaking of former colonies?
Yes, it is perhaps best to think of two types of British colonies, in one case the British displaced the native population, and established their own culture in a new land. In the other the British where a tiny minority who ruled over the native population, at most modifying the native culture. The Americas and Australia and New Zealand are examples fo the former, India and our African colonies are an example of the latter, the colonial experience was vastly different in these two types of colonies.
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Old 9th February 2007, 10:38 AM   #22
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Britain sided with the slave-holding Confederacy in the US Civil War because Britain's economy depended on maintaining a cheap supply of cotton. Britain would likely not have outlawed slavery when it did had Southern cotton plantations been British possessions at the time.

However, assuming they did, at some point, decide to outlaw slavery anyway, the reaction of the Southern colonies would have been much less likely to be violent rebellion. In the American Civil War, the Southern States had legal basis for claiming sovereignty, and the right to self-determination, including the right to maintain slavery. Had the Southern colonies still been colonies, the dictates of the mother country, while perhaps unpalatable, would still have undeniably been the law of the land. I don't see how the plantation owners could have appealed to the masses to take up arms and fight the King, as they did in reality by appealing to nationalism and freedom from outside oppression.
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Old 9th February 2007, 11:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
Britain sided with the slave-holding Confederacy in the US Civil War because Britain's economy depended on maintaining a cheap supply of cotton.
Brittan did not actively support the Confederacy, a supply of cheep cotton was not maintained, and the public support for abolitionism would make long term support impossible.

Quote:
Britain would likely not have outlawed slavery when it did had Southern cotton plantations been British possessions at the time.
I doubt that very much, British Abolitionism grew from grassroots political movements, the cotton industry was never powerfully enough to stop it, particularly with the politicization of the British cotton mill workers, who supported abolitionism in Ethe US, even though it w as to their economic disadvantage.

Quote:
However, assuming they did, at some point, decide to outlaw slavery anyway, the reaction of the Southern colonies would have been much less likely to be violent rebellion. In the American Civil War, the Southern States had legal basis for claiming sovereignty, and the right to self-determination, including the right to maintain slavery. Had the Southern colonies still been colonies, the dictates of the mother country, while perhaps unpalatable, would still have undeniably been the law of the land. I don't see how the plantation owners could have appealed to the masses to take up arms and fight the King, as they did in reality by appealing to nationalism and freedom from outside oppression.
It is very easy to conceive of a second American Revolution, based around the issues of slavery and "freedom" and "inailianable rights", the American revolution was based on these ideals, but still managed to keep slavery going, I'm not sure what would be so different 60 years later.
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Old 9th February 2007, 11:50 AM   #24
Michael Redman
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Originally Posted by brodski View Post
Brittan did not actively support the Confederacy...
Britain sold arms and materiel to the rebels and financed the war by purchasing cotton and tobacco from them. That's not active support? Sure, they didn't actually fire shots . . .

I don't doubt Britain would have abolished slavery, but had they owned the cotton plantations, the impact would have been much greater to the economy, and that would likely have given even many abolitionists pause (as it did in America). I would think a couple of decades of delay, probably.

Who knows how the enlightenment ideas would have gone over in American colonies in, say, 1850? The empire likely would have been more liberalized, the same anti-monarchy arguments wouldn't have had as much resonance. Perhaps most people would have felt that liberty was best served by remaining British. Maybe the government would have done something to lessen the impact of abolition on the planter. It's still possible, I suppose, that the southerners would have considered revolution, but facing the northern colonies as well as the homeland would likely have disuaded all but the most insane.
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Old 9th February 2007, 07:53 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Thanks for writing such a thoughtful and thorough response. IANAHP (I am not a history professor! ), but it seems that there are relatively few times in history when a strong group peacefully relinquishes some of its power. You mentioned that self-determination was a big issue at the time. Wouldn't it have been interesting if making new political pacts had been the main issue at that time instead? If additionally technology, especially communication technology, had been much better at the time then the UK and her dominions might have decided to form an organization that would have predated the European Union instead.



Are you speaking of former colonies?
What Brodski said
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Old 10th February 2007, 08:59 AM   #26
Dave1001
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Originally Posted by brodski View Post
Well, you'd all be speaking English, for a start.

If Brittan had managed to keep the colonies in 1783, I suspect that the deal would have fallen apart by the 1807, when the salved trade was banned in the British empire, or by 1838 when all slavery in the British Empire was outlawed.
The outcome would be a US civil war twenty years "early".
But the slave trade might not have been banned in England if the South remained part of it. Sort of like how the South successfully corrupted the North's efforts to reduce slavery, etc. for about 100 years.
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Old 11th February 2007, 11:39 PM   #27
Scott Haley
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Zeppelins

Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
I read it a while ago, and remember enjoying. Amused by starting with the "murder of Richard Nixon" in the parking lot.....

Found the "slower progress" somewhat problematical, but believeable. Hard to think of the "fastest" transport in 1988 (or was it '98?) still being trails and dirigibles. Royal American Mounted Police, indeed!
Kenneth Hite pointed out that alternate histories almost always have zeppelins. If you think you might have fallen into an alternate history, just look up. After he wrote that, the BBC made an episode of the new Dr. Who series in which the good Doctor found himself in an alternate history. How did he know? The sky was full of zeppelins!

--Scott
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Old 14th February 2007, 08:14 AM   #28
Jeremy
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Our languages would be much more similar, especially in spelling. America would be far more dependent on Britain for cultural influence, and we would likely all be watching BBC programs rebroadcast on ABC.

I imagine modern Canada and the Colonies East of the Appalachians would be considered a single commonwealth. We likewise would have developed a similar welfare system as GB.

And we would most definitely have zeppelins.
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Old 14th February 2007, 03:21 PM   #29
Madalch
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
Britain sold arms and materiel to the rebels and financed the war by purchasing cotton and tobacco from them. That's not active support? Sure, they didn't actually fire shots . . .
No- that's making money. The south was eager for weapons, and were willing to sell cotton and tobacco cheaply to get them. Why pass up an opportunity for a bargain? Besides, if the USA split into parts, it would keep the Americans from casting a greedy eye upon the British colonies in North America- Canada, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, etc.

Quote:
I don't doubt Britain would have abolished slavery, but had they owned the cotton plantations, the impact would have been much greater to the economy, and that would likely have given even many abolitionists pause (as it did in America).
Britian did own a lot of sugar and other plantations in the Caribbean where slave labour was employed, but they abolished it anyway.

Someone in another post mentioned "Royal American Mounted Police", as if a British-run USA would have turned out exactly the like Canada did. Don't believe it. Much of Canada's development was due to Canadians trying to compete with the USA. The RCMP (NWMP to start) was formed for basically two reasons- to deal with American whiskey traders who were setting up shop in the west (which was actually comparable to the amount of settlement the British had done in that area, so it was seen as a direct challenge to the British claim to the area) and to deal with the rebellious Metis in Manitoba (who were rebelling because of the rapid colonization of their lands by the British, who were sending settlers there specifically so that the Americans didn't sneak settlers in). If you take away the fear that Canada/Britian could lose vast swaths of land if they didn't fill them up ASAP, then you don't get the sudden influx of settlers or the need for the Mounties. And Alberta would have a smaller population than Montana....
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Old 15th February 2007, 12:10 PM   #30
Michael Redman
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Originally Posted by Madalch View Post
No- that's making money. The south was eager for weapons, and were willing to sell cotton and tobacco cheaply to get them. Why pass up an opportunity for a bargain? Besides, if the USA split into parts, it would keep the Americans from casting a greedy eye upon the British colonies in North America- Canada, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, etc.
So, you say they weren't supporting the rebels . . . and then justifying their support?

The US and Britain were peaceful sovereign nations. You don't sell weapons to rebels fighting the government of a fellow nation simply to make a buck.

Also, the British would have known better than to think the US seriously had designs on Canada. That's a uniquely Canadian conceit.
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Old 15th February 2007, 03:15 PM   #31
Kaylee
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
So, you say they weren't supporting the rebels . . . and then justifying their support?

The US and Britain were peaceful sovereign nations. You don't sell weapons to rebels fighting the government of a fellow nation simply to make a buck.
Based on the discussion in the thread: "What If: The South had won the Civil War" It seems to me that the British govt was officially neutral but must have winked while some British businessmen aided the Confederants by selling them some warships.

There was an international tribunal after the war, and their verdict was that the British Govt. owed the USA about $15,000,000 in damages.
Link: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/cw/17610.htm

ETA:
Originally Posted by above link
The United States demanded compensation from Britain for the damage wrought by the British-built, Southern-operated commerce raiders, based upon the argument that the British Government, by aiding the creation of a Confederate Navy, had inadequately followed its neutrality laws.
Emphais mine

Originally Posted by Michael Redman
Also, the British would have known better than to think the US seriously had designs on Canada. That's a uniquely Canadian conceit.
Hmm, no it's not. It's pretty much undisputed that the American leaders had hopes that Quebec would join them in the rebellion. However, I don't remember what the old schoolbooks said about the American hopes for the other parts of Canada joining in. My WAG is that they wanted the whole enchilada, but when the French colonists wouldn't join them against their former enemy, the British, they didn't even try to persuade the other Canadian colonies. (? - I'm not sure how Canada was organized at that time -- as one large colony or several colonies. ) But the Americans wanted Quebec to join the rebellion as another new state; the American leaders didn't intend to replace England as their colonizer.

Link:
http://www.historyofwar.org/articles...ependence.html

Last edited by Kaylee; 15th February 2007 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 15th February 2007, 03:57 PM   #32
Michael Redman
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
Based on the discussion in the thread: "What If: The South had won the Civil War" It seems to me that the British govt was officially neutral but must have winked while some British businessmen aided the Confederants by selling them some warships.
Were private British citizens in possession of warships?

Further, according to this site anyway, it was more than ships: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A912386

Could these supplies have been made available without the consent of the government?

Quote:
It's pretty much undisputed that the American leaders had hopes that Quebec would join them in the rebellion.
We were talking about the British attitude toward the Civil War. Madalch said that Britain though a divided US would be less a threat to its North American possessions. I was just making fun of the Canadian national obsession.

Anyway, sorry for turning a Revolution thread into a Civil War thread.
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Old 15th February 2007, 04:36 PM   #33
Kaylee
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman
Were private British citizens in possession of warships?
At least technically, yes. Per your BBC link:

Originally Posted by BBC
One aspect that the Union did object to was the building of Confederate ships in British dockyards. These were purely commercial transactions with civilian shipbuilders to build unarmed vessels.
emphasis mine.


Originally Posted by Michael Redman
Further, according to this site anyway, it was more than ships:
Originally Posted by Michael Redman
Well yes, but:
Originally Posted by BBC
The British never entered the war as a nation, but many individuals served in both armies,
albeit
Originally Posted by BBC
most of them in the Confederate Army.
Originally Posted by Michael Redman
Could these supplies have been made available without the consent of the government?
Probably not. Which is why the English govt ended up owing the USA so much money after the war as mentioned in my post above and in the BBC link:
Originally Posted by BBC
At the end of the war, Britain retained the diplomatic position it held during the war (My edit: neutral party). Some complicity in the Confederate cause was identified and at the Tribunal of Arbitration held in Geneva in 1872, Charles F Adams served as an arbitrator to settle any financial claims of damage against Britain. Damages of $15.5 million were awarded to the USA in respect of the damage caused by the commerce raiders to the US merchant fleet and their cargoes. Thus ended the involvement of Britain in the American Civil War.
emphasis mine.

However if England had been officially involved and not just complicitly, her involvement would have been much stronger. IMHO, the war would have been more difficult for the North to win.

Quote:
We were talking about the British attitude toward the Civil War. Madalch said that Britain though a divided US would be less a threat to its North American possessions. I was just making fun of the Canadian national obsession.

Anyway, sorry for turning a Revolution thread into a Civil War thread.
NP, I got distracted by RL ™ and in writing my reply lost track of the joke. Mea culpa.
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Old 15th February 2007, 05:00 PM   #34
Michael Redman
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Originally Posted by Shera View Post
However if England had been officially involved and not just complicitly, her involvement would have been much stronger. IMHO, the war would have been more difficult for the North to win.
Oh, absolutely. Prompting Lincoln's "One War at a Time" decision ending the Trent Affair: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_Affair

There's a "what if" for another day. . .
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Old 16th February 2007, 02:37 PM   #35
bigred
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Good thread and some interesting stuff. I'm still catching up....
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Old 17th February 2007, 12:24 AM   #36
billyb1012
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This has probably already been stated many times above, but I'm too lazy to read the whole thing right now. We didn't, so , so what?
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Old 17th February 2007, 06:37 AM   #37
bigred
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Originally Posted by billyb1012 View Post
This has probably already been stated many times above, but I'm too lazy to read the whole thing right now. We didn't, so , so what?
If "so what" is your attitude, why did you bother to click on and reply to this thread? Presumably it means you're interested in the topic. If so, read on and feel free to add to the discussion. If not, shame you have to go.

Offhand I think how things played out keys very very much on the treatment of the leaders at the time. If Britian is more lenient, we regroup and this all happens anyway, just later on. Sadly, if it's more than a bit later (ie 19th centrury) this means Washington may not have been a part of it, which is huge.....hm....
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Old 18th February 2007, 08:53 PM   #38
Sir Robin Goodfellow
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My guess, just a guess, mind you, is that the US would have eventually gained independence the same way we did up here. Having colonies (and having to defend them, with all the costs that entails) eventually became less profitable, to the point where the United Kingdom would have found it easier to just let the North American colonies sort themselves out.


Hard to say how the North American map might look today. Perhaps a larger Mexico, and Alaska still Russian?
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Old 19th February 2007, 06:48 AM   #39
The Don
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
Were private British citizens in possession of warships?
Privateers, yes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privateer
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Old 20th February 2007, 11:11 AM   #40
Kaylee
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Originally Posted by bigred View Post
Offhand I think how things played out keys very very much on the treatment of the leaders at the time. If Britian is more lenient, we regroup and this all happens anyway, just later on. Sadly, if it's more than a bit later (ie 19th centrury) this means Washington may not have been a part of it, which is huge.....hm....
Oh yes, Washington set a great example for all the presidents that followed him. He not only lived up to the letter of the Constitution but also the spirit in how he carried out the function of the executive branch.

If anyone else had been president first, it might very well have ended up being a much more imperial office in nature.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington
Quote:
Following the end of the war in 1783, Washington emulated the Roman general Cincinnatus, and retired to his plantation on Mount Vernon, an exemplar of the republican ideal of citizen leadership who rejected power. Alarmed in the late 1780s at the many weaknesses of the new nation under the Articles of Confederation, he presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the much stronger United States Constitution in 1787.
Quote:

In 1789, Washington became President of the United States and promptly established many of the customs and usages of the new government's executive department.
….
By refusing to pursue a third term, he made it the enduring norm that no U.S. President should seek more than two.
Also, suppose the first attempt at rebellion had failed and the next attempt occurred in the late 1830s after England banned slavery in all the colonies as several posters (including myself ) have already suggested.

Obviously we would have had an entirely new set of players. They may not have decided to include Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence in their new country's founding papers. A constitution, even if written, may have ended up espousing different principals and different rights, if any were listed at all. They may not have been as influenced by the ancient Greeks and Romans and not as willing to try a radically new form of government where all the members (except for the Supreme Court Judges) were elected, and elected only for a fixed term. They may have well decided to go ahead and use the strong Monarch ruling with the assistance, but not the consent, of Parliament model of govt.

And what a huge difference that would have been.
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