British Cuba

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Mirza Khan, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. Mirza Khan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Location:
    Falwell-land
    Inspired by the "French Cuba" thread a few days ago...what if, after capturing Havana in the Seven Years War, the British didn't return it in the peace treaty?
     
  2. Thande SHHHKeow-uMMMMMMMMMMH-ccrrrkkkkkhhhhhh! Donor

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Doncaster/Sheffield
    Most probably the Spanish just get it back in the American War of Independence. Some butterflies from that, I daresay, but not a whole lot.

    I do remember that Cuba was even worse than the usual "Fever Islands" postings for killing off soldiers, and it's even been argued that part of the reason Britain didn't do so well in the ARW was because she'd sent lots of her Seven Years' War veterans to Cuba at the end of it and most of them had died of yellow fever.
     
  3. Admiral Matt Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    Well the British had enforced none of the Spanish restrictions on trade, business, land, et cetera during the occupation. Apparently this caused a tremendous economic boom on the island, which collapsed when the Spanish returned and reenstated the regulations.

    With another 10-12 years of British rule, Cuba will likely be quite a different place and the changes wrought too entrenched to be eliminated when the island is returned to Spain. The end result may be reforms in the rest of the empire, but at the least Cuba will become even more the center of the Spanish Empire.
     
  4. Socrates Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Under the British, Cuba would have had a big expansion of slavery, with huge imports of slaves from the American South and other Caribbean islands. I don't necessarily buy that the Spanish would get it back - they didn't with Jamaica, despite the ARW.

    What an economically successful Cuba based on slave plantations would do to enhance the West Indian lobby in parliament would be very interesting. They might push back the slave trade ban a long way. In addition, the American South might feel the peculiar institution was more protected within the Empire, and not join the ARW.
     
  5. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    I agree with Socrates and Admiral Matt that the changes would be dramatic. The island of Cuba would have boomed and sugar production would have skyrocketed.

    This would have required more New england timber and foodstuffs from the Middle Colonies, leading to increased prosperity in the 13 colonies (who would be even more tied into the British economy, and paying taxes without the nasty recession that hit the colonies after the 7 Years War might be more viable).

    So, knock on effects everywhere.
     
  6. Simon Thread Killer Extraordinaire

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Yeah, IIRC this made the British fairly popular with the merchants and other middle class types.


    They might even actively lobby for the British to return it rather than keeping it after the war. Why bring and extra source of sugar onto the internal British market and possibly lower the price of it when you're already making a literal fortune from your own plantations?


    From doing some thinking on this myself I figure if the British kept the island they'd probably try and impose their style of government and values on it which would probably annoy the locals to a certain extent. After the better part of a decade when parliament passes the Quebec Act in 1774 the locals start pushing for similar rights, and with the Thirteen Colonies getting a bit restless the government gives it to them to shore up support, with Cuba evolving as a mix of Spanish and British cultures. Since none of this would in any likelihood affect the outcome of the American Revolution a lot of the Loyalists, the black soldiers especially, that went to Canada and the Bahamas might go to Cuba instead helping balance out the British and Spanish populations somewhat. It then chugs along eventually becoming something akin to a much larger Jamaica.

    Interesting knock-ons include no Maine Incident and resulting Spanish-American War, hell the US public probably wouldn't be all that interested if things weren't happening a couple of hundred miles off their shore but seven thousand miles away on the other side of the Pacific, and no Cuban Missile Crisis either.
     
  7. Mirza Khan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
    Location:
    Falwell-land
    Mostly agree with that, except that I think Cuba would stay majority Hispanophone (unlike Jamaica, which, IIRC, doesn't have native Hispanophones anymore).
     
  8. Admiral Matt Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2004
    Dunno. Actually I suspect this will affect the Revolution quite a bit, much less its outcome. Forget the late 19th century - even assuming 1800 comes with little change, a highly-developed sugar-producing British Cuba would have tremendous knock-on effects in the first decade. The French policy on St Domingue / Haiti will be completely different. Assuming a Haitian Revolution, the British or even the Cubans themselves are much more likely to intervene in force.
     
  9. Dan1988 Thinks he's going off his nut

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Location:
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Not necessarily - the British could work with the system of audiencias and cabildos to create a hybrid system that still retains a good portion of the old Spanish Colonial system, so that there would be a whole lot of continuity - heck, the British could even set up a Cuba-wide Real Audiencia General (literally "Royal General Court", cf. Massachusetts General Court for similar naming of a Court as a legislative assembly) as a sort-of Parliament. As Cuba was not much of a threat as, say, New France was, I'm sure that gives the British a lot more breathing room and leeway to work with the locals. Hence, an Anglo-Spanish cultural mix is a give-in, though depending on immigration patterns (such as, for example, immigration from Cape Verde) could not only change Cuban culture greatly to the point where it may be unrecognizable from OTL, but also might change Cuban Spanish completely, from the introduction of new vocabulary to internal pronunciation and grammar differences (for example, the usage of second-person and third-person pronouns might become compulsory though optional in the first person because the system of formality/politeness might become more complex). Heck, maybe a British Cuba could also lead to a British Puerto Rico and a more "complete" British Virgin Islands? :D And thus, if Cuba[+Puerto Rico+Virgin Islands] becomes independent, it becomes the largest country in the Caribbean? Oh, the possibilities . . . .

    Unfortunately, that means no son, rumba, salsa, José Martí, Luís Muñoz Marín, etc.
     
  10. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    This was one of the reason that some of the Caribbean planters opposed the annexation of Cuba in OTL, actually.
     
  11. Joseph Solis in Australia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2008
    Location:
    Kingdom of Australia
    Had the British stayed in Cuba for more 10 to 20 years, I could see Cuba as a different place. Cuba may become British Haiti economically not culturally as the sugar plantation income skyrockets however Cuba will remain largely Spanish-speaking as that culture had taken roots to the Cuban people. It may be the easiest option for the American southerners to exploit profit and lobby the US to annex Cuba and make it as a slave state.
     
  12. Japhy Second Best Poster on the Site

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Albany, New York
    I'm not sure that I have much of anything to add to the discussion of the fate of and effects on Cuba but as an interesting side note: Most likely if the British are keeping Cuba it will involve the changes to various treaties at the end of the Seven Years War, including that if the British Keep Cuba the French are unlikely to hand Louisiana over to Spain. IOTL it was part of a series of trades to 'fix' the occupation of Cuba. And that would change a wholelot about Western Settlement in BNA and any Revolution coming down the pipe.
     
  13. Socrates Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    I believe the lobby was split IOTL between those who had invested a great deal of money in the place after it was conquered, and those who hadn't and saw the place as a threat as you say.

    My point was that if the British had stayed on, investors in Cuba would join forces with the West Indian lobby as they essentially have the same interests at heart. Over time, the size of the island could actually make it the main source of funds for the lobby - potentially more than doubling its power in parliament.

    I suspect over time it would anglocise more easily than, say, a British Argentina. The new elite would be British, the planter class and urban high society would want to ingratiate themselves with that elite, most blacks would be newly imported and speaking English, and lower class whites would probably leave to find better opportunities elsewhere due to competition from slave labour.
     
  14. Dan1988 Thinks he's going off his nut

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Location:
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Actually, I would think it would be much harder for Cuba to "Anglicise". Even if the new élite were British, most people in Cuba already speak Spanish - particularly a variety of Caribbean Spanish - and that's most likely going to be the same way for a long time to come. Any immigrants from Romance-speaking countries or areas where a Romance language or a creole derived from a Romance language would also quickly take to Spanish or a Spanish creole, though they'd add their own "accent" to it that would probably make Cuban Spanish hard to understand outside of Cuba. (Plus, the slaves might take to Spanish easier than English - after all, there are already slaves in Cuba who speak Spanish, if not in creole form. Slaves from Cape Verde, for example, could probably relexify their Portuguese-derived creole due to Spanish influence.)
     
  15. Whanztastic BohemianAmerican Defenestrater

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Location:
    Ft. Dearborn

    I could see linguists by our time ITTL debating whether or not the Cuban language is just a dialect of Spanish/English or mutated enough by the English/Spanish language to be considered its own language. :D
     
  16. archaeogeek Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal
    Cuba and Jamaica are two entirely different things; Jamaica was lost at a time when the only spanish presence on the island was a few dozen people in a trading outpost and was now solidly english. Jamaica had over half a million inhabitants at that point IIRC.

    Cuba was considered one of the crown jewels of the empire, and was largely more important than Rio de la Plata to the economy of Spain. Havana was the virtual capital of the empire in America, and one of the most formidable fortifications in the western hemisphere, well beyond Louisbourg.
     
  17. Dan1988 Thinks he's going off his nut

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    Location:
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Hey, now, Cuban Spanish could just simply be in the same situation as Québec French. :D
     
  18. Fearless Leader Donor

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2004
    Location:
    Central Control, Pottsylvania
    I dunno guys....IIRC Britain didn't actually hold the entire island during the 7YW, only Havana and a bit of Western Cuba. I'm not sure that Britain could get all of Cuba either militarily (they'd have to allocate WAY more resources, especially given the Redcoat's preponderance to drop dead at the first sign of any tropical illness.) or diplomatically (they'd have to give up a lot at the treaty of Paris to get Spain's premier possession in the Caribbean).
     
  19. archaeogeek Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal
    They're linguists, not idiots.

    I could see an overjoyed Choiseul trying to sell off Cuba in exchange for everything the british don't have nailed down :p
     
  20. jach79 Cronista Imperial

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Location:
    Quito
    Not true at all, Cuba did very well under Spanish supervision and in fact it was the main source of income for Spain in the late 19th Century and indeed Cuba was the centre of the Empire until its independence.