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March 24, 2008

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urthshu

I disagree about the French Declaration not being written. The writings of the Founding Fathers, as well as Thomas Paine's works and Lafayette's enthusiasm's, would still have an effect on the French national conscious. What these would eventually evolve towards is another question.

But it becomes entirely possible that, in opposition to a very strong British Atlantic Empire, the French adopt Revolutionary democratic principles and become the leading light for Enlightened Liberalism throughout the world.

Its also possible that the US has much more of an Australian character as the British stock the Colonies with banished criminals whilst Australia itself is a French, or other European, possession [Dutch?].

Tonyj

Interesting idea. I think that Washington was closer to dying at Princeton. Legend has it that a British shrpshooter had Washington in his sights but was stopped by his officer.

A couple of thoughts.
1. If the American revolution failed, the high sounding words of the Declaration of Independnece would have been treated as so much bracadiccio. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man would most likely not have been written and there would have been no French revolution as we know it. Along these lines;
2. Few people remeber that the Spanish and their rather decrepit monarchy actually owned what we know as the "Louisiana Purchase." The French and Napoleon installed a puppet regime who deeded the territory to France. If there was no French Revolution, Spain would have retained all of this territory, which includes the land the U.S. "acquired" from Mexico. "New England" would have stopped at the Mississippi River. Other than an interest in locating gold and supporting the search for gold, my readings of history indicate that Spain had no real interest in developing her colonies or populating them. That would have left the "American West" pretty barren. Again, along these lines
3. The european nations really weren't into colonization for colonization's sake. Using africa or india as models, it appears to me that the europeans prefered to set up trading centers, which grew into cities, set up territorial capitals to enforce national law among the natives (so as to keep the trade following and keep the peace) and to set up military garrisons at strategic points to protect the traders and trade routes as well as keep the other european nations out. As I see it, europe wasn't interested in large population migrations to the new colonies with an eye to "taming" the land for widespread use for farming or settlement. Maybe this would have changed as medical advances increased population pressures internally. One must ask though, if the U.S., had not existed, and North America remained undeveloped, would England, France, or Spain allowed the wide spread immigrations of Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews, Swedes and Norwegians, Russians, and even Hispanics, that so shaped the U.S.? What would have happened to those people? Would they have looked at Africa? Austrailia? India was are ready populated.
4. Don't underestimate the coming of the railroads as a key to the expansion of the U.S. It opened the "Great Grass Sea", as the Great Plains were called. The railroads allowed for the exploitation and settlement of land away from water-borne transport which was necessary to move goods and people. Finally(I know, this took off on me)
5. Don't overlook the European approach to native populations. They tended to allow tribes to remain on the land unless the tribe opposed the crown. The British set up trading centers and let the indians alone as long as they acknowledged British authority, traded goods, and didn't cooperate with foreign powers. In India, the British set up the Raj, but did not displace the local populace so much as co-opt them. (And replace the scattered principalities with a united rule) It is doubtful, that without large scale migration, that the British Army would have been as active against the native people as the U.S.Army. It was only during periods of revolt and nativist attempts to re-assert their control, e.g. in India or the Zulu wars that the foreign armies saw major actions. Otherwise, the RCMP could show the flag or keep the peace.
6. Finally (and this time I mean it), I think its important to recognize the "Safety Valve" affect that the U.S., has had on europe. In the 1800's and 1900's, when people got antsy, disaffected, unhappy or felt impoverished, they would board the boat for "America" What would these people do without this hope for a better life? Maybe Marx and his ilk would have been right.

Georg Felis

I would start by researching other British colonies of the era, particularly ones that had failed "mutinies" of their own. I’ve always been impressed with B. Arnold, would he have turned his coat twice, and be thought a traitor to each side? Would the British have stripped the rebels of property, branded them and chased them off into the Western Wilderness to starve and die?

As for manufacturing, the British as I recall were not keen at all of the colonies developing any kind of industry, keeping them shackled to the Empire with finished goods. What I can see is smart Yankees copying/improving/forging British equipment and claiming it was imported. (complete with forged paperwork)

Would Federalism be strengthened or weakened in an eventual successful revolution that took several decades? Or would it be discredited totally if unsuccessful?

Also remember that if not for the French, we would have most likely lost even with Washington. As a conservative, it hurt to say that, but it is true.

One warning: Novels take bloody well forever, devour time, and have an insanely high failure rate around lottery ticket percentages. Alternate History novels are even worse, because you actually have to reflect authentic history. (spoken as a budding fantasy novelist, with a trilogy in process for nearly 20 years now and no end in sight. And fantasy is easier, because you can just make stuff up :) Good luck, and I’ll buy a copy to go with my Turtledove collection.

Jasia

Wow! Talk about ambition... good luck with this project. I know from writing two novellas myself how daunting a task writing a novel is. My own were historical fiction that took some liberties with actual events but certainly didn't deviate on the scale you're tackling. I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing more about your novel as your work progresses.

Terry Thornton

What an interesting task you've outlined. Yes, it will require a multi-volume set to cover such a possibility. Certainly the geo-political lines would be vastly different under such a scenario --- and with an earlier abolishment of slavery, what about Texas? The Republic of Texas might have expanded to gobble up most of the Old South and as a new nation would have given the British a run for their money. Just an idea.

Obviously there is enough here to keep you out of Fotomarts forever!
TERRY

GreenmanTim

And this, of course, is the fun of changing one key event in history; the ripples get ever wider and the surface more distorted with time. It is by no means a given after the American Insurrection that the course of empire would proceed on a recognizable trajectory. The whole question of markets and capital becomes a crucial one, for instance. Would the industrial Revolution have played out in colonial British North American at the turn of the 19th century as dramatically as it did when we were a young nation that required its own manufacturing base? Would the northern American colonies confined to a territory East of the Allegenies have witherred, while Canada with the upper Mississippi and the Old Northwest become a greater presense? Would the center of western expansion have focussed on the "safety valve" of the frontier in southern colonies and conflicts with Spain, the Cherokee and perhaps other European powers? At what point would we have become a self-ruling nation under the British Commonwealth and would we have been content, like Canada, to remain so?

Ideas most welcome. It is an importnat backstory to explore even if I don't pick it up until book 2...

TigerHawk

Here's another question: If the British had retained North America intact, would the center of gravity of the Empire been entirely different? One can imagine that the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Northern America would have such a vast internal market that capital, ships, and capital ships would have travelled west rather than south and east to Africa and India. Here's another one: With so many North American constituents, would William Wilberforce and Charles Fox have carried the day and passed the Slave Trade Act through Parliament? Without the decision of the British to abolish the slave trade and enforce the abolition with the Royal Navy, what would have happened?

Great idea -- one could go on and on.

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