An Early Spanish-American War

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Chris Triangle, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Chris Triangle something cryptic

    Jul 29, 2011
    I'm curious about what might occur if the Spanish empire and the young US were to go to war. In the early 19th century, Spain's empire and the United States were not all that friendly. Firstly, the Americans had long suspected the Spaniards in Florida of giving support and shelter to raiding Indians. Secondly, the Spanish, if I recall, had attempted to intercept the Lewis and Clark's expedition with force, a very unfriendly gesture. And most importantly, Spanish land, sparsely settled and rich in valuable land would justify US attacks on the basis of expansion.

    Though the Spanish empire was notoriously corrupt and ineptly ruled be and was much weaker after the napoleonic wars, the nation was still pretty relevant before it lost its vast territories. While I don't think that the Spaniards would have ever tried to conquer the USA, I do not find it hard to imagine them going to war between about 1805 and 1830 with defensive aims. Some in the USA bold (and stupid) enough to attack British territory in 1812 so it is not a big stretch to imagine that someone might want to provoke a war of conquest against a dying empire like Spain.

    For those of you who know a lot about the late Spanish empire: 1. how well, if at all, do you think they would fight an American attack? 2. What areas would the Spanish be willing to give up to protect others? 3. What would be the effects of a defeat on the country?

    And as for the Americans, what would be their ultimate objectives? How far would this war go?
  2. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

    Aug 1, 2006
    There were actions against Spain during the 1812 War (by virtue of Spain and Britain being technically allies). One expedition into Texas from Louisiana that was beaten by local forces and another that run amok over northern Florida since the pre-1763 Spanish population never came back and the people there were mostly Indians and former British loyalists. The long-delayed result was the Adams-OnĂ­s Treaty.
  3. Chris Triangle something cryptic

    Jul 29, 2011
    As you said, Florida's original Spanish population had apparently left by the time they re-conquered it from the British. Naturally, were the population in Florida a little bit more significant, I doubt Spain would be so quick to toss the territory away in a treaty. If the British Siege of Havana had fared more like their siege of Cartagena in New Granada, they would not have ended up in possession of Florida. (yes Albemarle's fleet was very impressive but that is not a guarantee of victory) Such an event is not particularly decisive to the outcome of the revolutionary war, but it has ramifications later on when the Spanish residents of Florida put up a fight against Andrew Jackson's incursions.

    Nevertheless, I don't think that this is only way for such a conflict to happen. the treaty verifying borders wasn't signed until 1820. There is still almost a decade of tension in which a Spanish-American conflict could have conceivably broken out. All it really takes is one big incident like the seizing of a ship or the killing of settlers to start some real escalation. People took matters into their own hands back then and some of them almost went to war with British Canada over an incident with a pig.