Alternate Independent Western Canada and Alaska - Question on controlling gold supply

:confused:

OK, all. I don't have a lot of information on this subject so I'm throwing this out to you.

Mainly, I'm considering a subplot for an upcoming TL where, roughly in 1840's, a flow of Americans into the "Oregon Territory" and assorted western territories (Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, etc) led to the local American settlers effectively taking over. Say, 100,000 American and 20,000 British in roughly 1846 (Mexican War Era) declare themselves independent when Britain doesn't allow a local Parliament. As this was hardly a vital corner of the Empire, British response is mild and more interested in whether or not America would claim the territory.

Busy and not wishing to antagonize GB while they had bigger things on their plate, the United States repudiates the settlers "secession" from Great Britain's claims and concentrates on Mexico, thinking they could deal with Oregon later on their terms, akin to letting things sit with Texas for a while, then quietly annexing them at a later date when things die down.

Assume that GB can't exactly do much about the matter as they have no troops in the area and, even in the early age of steam, it would taken months to get any significant amount of ships and troops the 10,000 mile journey from Britain, around South America, up the Pacific coast, etc.

Without going into HOW this happened, my question revolves around this new state and how it would be run for the first few decades as an independent power.

My first thought is that they would need money to counter even a low level of British harassment. The only way I see this ATL country/state could do so is by taxing gold.

How would this be done? How was it done OTL with the California, Alaska and other gold rushes? Did the government ever takes its' share?

I'm thinking there was no defacto taxation on this in OTL. The prospectors probably walked their gold into the mint and bank and walked back out with cash.

How could a country in need of money regulate and tax this?

Could the nation ban the export of any gold that wasn't stamped into currency? That way they could control it and take the 10%, 20%, whatever off the top for running the government.

Obviously prospectors would be unhappy to pay anything to the government. But would the potential of seeing all their gold confiscated, or stolen by others, be enough for them to bite the bullet and pay the tax for security's sake?

Maybe the Western Canadian government could even agree to "protect" any further exports via their own armed ships, maybe transporting fortunate miners to San Francisco where they could disembark quite legally?

Is this in any way feasible?

List of Canadian Gold Rushes in this general era.
Charlottes Gold Rush, 1850


 
100,000 Americans that appear from where exactly? The California Gold Rush would suck up any migrant inclined, like it did OTL. The British would be aware of the parallels of California and when deposits are found in Frazier Valley as well, again, like OTL.

Not to be rude, but I recommend that you research a bit on the Hudson's Bay Company. I say this because any colonists would solely dependent upon the company. There was no real alternative to purchasing farming and mining equipment, household goods, and just about anything else as until roughly the early 1850s it was the only major commercial venture in the PNW. The British could easily project some power, essentially a handful of survey ships and warships, in the region, because they did so historically. They had a base in Chile and later Victoria, B.C. in part for such a scenario as you detailed.

This OP additionally ignores the plethora of Native cultures in the vast expanse you've sketched, all of whom have essentially good standing relations with the H.B.C. War plans in case of war over the PNW with Americans included arming several thousand Indigenous. While such numbers may be bluster, unarmed and comparatively starved Americans vs. armed Natives doesn't seem like a fair fight.

...

How do you get a separatist Euro-American state on the PNW north of California that composes at minimum Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Oregon? There has to be a situation where there are multiple major companies that are already competing for furs in the region. Say, the Northwest Company doesn't get absorbed, and you sprinkle in a few Mexican based companies (Russians are a joke in the New World). These companies all would have to have outposts in the region for trade and all have to be financially solvent.

Additionally, somehow, you have to avoid the Expansionist phases of the United States and British North America, leaving the PNW somehow de facto Terra Nullius among European nations. The Imperial rivalry didn't determine colonisation patterns, but the agreements between the two nations pretty much drew the border decades before any major Euro-American colonist presence.

So you have multiple companies all vying for commercial hegemony, without basically any backing from the mother countries due to their disinterest (this was essentially OTL attitudes). Sprinkle in some White colonists who manage not to engage in whole sale genocide and manage to use the commercial relations already in play to bolster ties. Bake for three to four decades. Remove any Euro-American nations bent on taking that "unclaimed land". Take out your Whitish Pacific Republic and enjoy.
 
Ok, so aside from the plausibility of this particular scenario, what's the answer to the OP question of what happens to the gold/precious metals?

there's plenty of what ifs that end up with an independent California/Balkanized western US. How would they control the gold? how did the US OTL do it, or the Portuguese in Brazil, or the Spanish in their colonies? how does the gov't get it's share?
 
100,000 Americans that appear from where exactly? The California Gold Rush would suck up any migrant inclined, like it did OTL. The British would be aware of the parallels of California and when deposits are found in Frazier Valley as well, again, like OTL.

Not to be rude, but I recommend that you research a bit on the Hudson's Bay Company. I say this because any colonists would solely dependent upon the company. There was no real alternative to purchasing farming and mining equipment, household goods, and just about anything else as until roughly the early 1850s it was the only major commercial venture in the PNW. The British could easily project some power, essentially a handful of survey ships and warships, in the region, because they did so historically. They had a base in Chile and later Victoria, B.C. in part for such a scenario as you detailed.

This OP additionally ignores the plethora of Native cultures in the vast expanse you've sketched, all of whom have essentially good standing relations with the H.B.C. War plans in case of war over the PNW with Americans included arming several thousand Indigenous. While such numbers may be bluster, unarmed and comparatively starved Americans vs. armed Natives doesn't seem like a fair fight.

...

How do you get a separatist Euro-American state on the PNW north of California that composes at minimum Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Oregon? There has to be a situation where there are multiple major companies that are already competing for furs in the region. Say, the Northwest Company doesn't get absorbed, and you sprinkle in a few Mexican based companies (Russians are a joke in the New World). These companies all would have to have outposts in the region for trade and all have to be financially solvent.

Additionally, somehow, you have to avoid the Expansionist phases of the United States and British North America, leaving the PNW somehow de facto Terra Nullius among European nations. The Imperial rivalry didn't determine colonisation patterns, but the agreements between the two nations pretty much drew the border decades before any major Euro-American colonist presence.

So you have multiple companies all vying for commercial hegemony, without basically any backing from the mother countries due to their disinterest (this was essentially OTL attitudes). Sprinkle in some White colonists who manage not to engage in whole sale genocide and manage to use the commercial relations already in play to bolster ties. Bake for three to four decades. Remove any Euro-American nations bent on taking that "unclaimed land". Take out your Whitish Pacific Republic and enjoy.




Thanks for the response though I don't agree with your assertion that the HBC would have much to say about it.

Per Populstat, in 1862, fifteen years after the Oregon treaty and after the start of the British Columbia Gold Rushes, there were about 10,000 people in British Columbia (less than 15% of what was in Washington and Oregon), which may or may not include Natives, probably included a not-insignificant portion of Americans. In 1845, when my TL diverts, I suspect that this number of European descended colonists would be closer to 2000, mainly trappers, again many being Americans. Also note that my TL maintains an American company presence by John Jacob Astor, whom in OTL 1837 sold his competing company to the British. If that doesn't happen, then even the minor defense by the HBC wouldn't be blunted further.

The "Wars" between these various trading companies at the time were probably reduced to a few dozen paid trappers shooting at one another. They'd lose a war to a single American wagon traiin. This isn't exactly an insurmountable army akin to the East India Company, with 500,000 soldiers. probably about 50 American militia wandering into the Fraser River mouth would be enough to take control.

From 1848 to 1855, really about the 5 years in the middle, over 300,000 people migrated to California alone for the gold rush there. I see no reason why 100,000 over a decade or so to Oregon (Oregon/Washington/BC/Yukon/Idaho/maybe the great plains) Territory would be out of reason. Also, since most of these people are at first going to the coasts, the quantity of clashes with the inland Indian Tribes would be limited (it certainly did not limit the mass migration to California).

I also don't believe that the HBC had any sort of navy either that was insurmountable. Any real capacity to halt the flow of supplies by anyone who wanted to drop anchor in the Oregon Territory could only be stopped by the Royal Navy and I question of the British would want to pick a fight with America by halting dozens or hundreds of American ships at sea, especially in an area where America had never recognized British supremacy.

I think once Americans start pouring into the west, especially with the Frasier River and Yukon Gold Rushes referenced above, there would be no insurmountable issue. Only direct involvement by the government of Great Britain would matter.

As for Native American affairs, yes, they would probably side with the company. But if Americans took over the heads of the rivers, how would they organize, get supplies and trade? Bring it in overland for 1500 miles from the Hudson Bay?

Besides, the fur industry was in decline by the 1840's, both due to reduction in supply by overhunting and changing tastes to silk. This would not be an overpowering reason for Britain to piss off the United States whom were in full-on war mode and generally wanted to control western Canada anyway.
 


Thanks for the response though I don't agree with your assertion that the HBC would have much to say about it.

I'm happy to try and convince you otherwise. ;)

Also note that my TL maintains an American company presence by John Jacob Astor, whom in OTL 1837 sold his competing company to the British.

Expect the only commercial venture run by Astor, the Pacific Fur Company, was liquidated during the War of 1812.

The "Wars" between these various trading companies at the time were probably reduced to a few dozen paid trappers shooting at one another. They'd lose a war to a single American wagon traiin.

This is simply not true. John McLoughlin and James Douglas earned their goodwill with American colonists for decades simply because they offered material support (food, plows, ammo) on credit. This was a major reason why McLoughlin was later removed as the prime HBC official in the region. American wagon trains relied upon the HBC heavily past your POD.

probably about 50 American militia wandering into the Fraser River mouth would be enough to take control.

Expect the HBC had an employee pool in the hundreds, most of whom lived in the region for decades or their entire lives.

Also, since most of these people are at first going to the coasts, the quantity of clashes with the inland Indian Tribes would be limited (it certainly did not limit the mass migration to California).

Er, you do know that the majority of the American settlers went for the inland areas, mostly the Willamette Valley? I'm being a stickler over details, but it is worth noting. The majority of the Oregon and Washington Coasts

I also don't believe that the HBC had any sort of navy either that was insurmountable. Any real capacity to halt the flow of supplies by anyone who wanted to drop anchor in the Oregon Territory could only be stopped by the Royal Navy and I question of the British would want to pick a fight with America by halting dozens or hundreds of American ships at sea, especially in an area where America had never recognized British supremacy.

This is laughably inaccurate. I can point you the commercial fleet maintained by the HBC and the Royal British presence as I helped create some wikipages on them. The main thing you aren't understanding is that there was no "dozens or hundreds" of American ships in the region at this time. Nor would there be until well past the California Gold Rush.

I think once Americans start pouring into the west, especially with the Frasier River and Yukon Gold Rushes referenced above, there would be no insurmountable issue. Only direct involvement by the government of Great Britain would matter.

Your POD is in 1845, decades past when the British and Americans have agreed upon extending the 49th parallel until the Cascade mountains. The remainder was squabbling over the Puget Sound really.

As for Native American affairs, yes, they would probably side with the company. But if Americans took over the heads of the rivers, how would they organize, get supplies and trade? Bring it in overland for 1500 miles from the Hudson Bay?

Three words: York Factory Express. There is plenty of published material on it I can recommend. More importantly, how will "50" Americans in a region they are fully ignorant of feed themselves, maintain a stockpile of arms and fight off any of the allied Salishan or Sahaptin bands?

Besides, the fur industry was in decline by the 1840's, both due to reduction in supply by overhunting and changing tastes to silk. This would not be an overpowering reason for Britain to piss off the United States whom were in full-on war mode and generally wanted to control western Canada anyway.

...Except the region was already concede by Americans as de facto British in all negotiations to settle the border.

I can point you to a number of Wikipedia articles I helped grow, or if your up to it, the source materials I've read to form my opinions. I know that this has shifted the discussion heavily from what you had wanted and I apologise for that. But I truly feel the base POD is simply unworkable and requires several decades of backtracking to make it remotely tenable.
 
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