Questions about an "Aristocratic" USA

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Višeslav, Apr 14, 2019.


How is US expansion affected by this situation (see the main post) (pick the 2 most likely)

  1. No expansion past the innitial post-revolutionary borders

    2 vote(s)
  2. Takes all of Florida, but nothing else

    2 vote(s)
  3. Takes northern Florida during a seperate Floridian revolution

    6 vote(s)
  4. Buys Louisiana, but doesn't take Texas

    12 vote(s)
  5. Expands like OTL, its problems will only cathc up to the US later

    9 vote(s)
  6. Expands more than OTl (why do you think this is likely, explain in comments)

    3 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Višeslav Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2018
    Ok, so lets say that the US was not allowed to be settled by heretics, and that the king gave out land to aristocrats. Basically, an all Anglican society with English landholders, black slaves, and white tenant craftspeople and servants, where colonial governors are directly appointed by the British crown (at least until the revolution, in which the aristocrats rile up the masses to take power for themselves).

    Get the Idea?
    Now, a few questions:

    • How does the US expand? Does it Buy Louisiana? Take Florida (or maybe just part of it, to complete Georgia's promised territory)?
    • Do Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia stay huge (since they're super influential, TTL, they would control the government, and thus not let themselves be carved up, right?) Does New York keep Vermont?
    • Industrialization and abolition almost certainly happen later than OTL, when would this happen roughly? Would it be as late as Brazil, or a little earlier, around when most South American countries abolished Slavery?
    • A weird question: Virginia controlled Bermuda for a while OTL, would it keep it TTL (post-revolution)?
    • Would the US ever rebuild relations with Britain like it did OTL? or would it hate it like south America hates Spain (Britain TTL would be a worse colonial "parent" than OTL, but still not as bad as Spain)

    Thanks for the help
  2. SeaCambrian Alien Space Bat

    May 28, 2018
    Would it have a much lower population than the OTL Thirteen Colonies and early USA? If so they won't expand nearly as much in the west.
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  3. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    More Aristocratic British North America, that end up receiving second sons and spare heirs of British Aristocracy for their upper crust, would be rather unlikely to form a Republic even if they seceed.

    With America becoming spare heir dumping ground, I could see a British Prince somehow get there sooner or later, and when London tries to get Taxation without representation, the seccessionists would be monarchists who prop up said British Prince to go against his brother / father.


    Assuming successful secession as Kingdom of America, the new Kingdom would end up being basically a standard European Kingdom of 18th century, just located in America.

    This will alter their expansionist pattern though. The alt-American Kings would be more focused on following European affairs instead of avoiding foreign entanglements. They will end up likely to help French Royalty surviving the revolution but in exchange of Louisiana and or maybe Haiti. Florida and Cuba would be bought from the Spanish, and instead of expanding West, the direction of Expansion would be South.

    They would be likely to admit and uplift local aristocracy too, and might even extend the "Aristocracy" definition to Christianized Native American chiefs.

    Somewhere down the line, there will be succession crisis in Britain and the American King, now Emperor, end up staking his claim to the British Throne and there will be American Invasion of British Islands somehow... Likely to dethrone alt-Victoria.
  4. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

    Feb 5, 2014
    It's not exactly the most likely path, but let's take the premise as given. I think we may safely assume that if geopolitical developments (meaning: the removal of the French threat) go 'on schedule', so will the American uprising against British rule. So there's that, making things a bit easier to compare to OTL.

    That said, @Dolan is right. Don't expect any kind of Republic. These aristocrats are going to be looking for a king. They may put the most esteemed of their own number on the throne, they may get a sympathetic member of Royal Family to become their monarch, or they may invite a foreign candidate. Granted, considering the spirit of the times (if this is anything like OTL), it's possible that they implement an elected monarchy, with the most prominent aristocrats of North America serving as Electors.

    The thing is, if this model of different colonialism is chosen, it's not somehow going to be applied to just the thirteen colonies. It's going to be applied in the rest of British North America as well. Since this kind of social hierarchy and governmental structure would be less conductive to the ascent of a middle class, you're going to see the landed gentry as the main factor of importance across the board. If colonial governance is objectionable to that class (as it must be, to get a revolution/secession going) then it's going to be objectionable to them all over the place.

    Therefore, you'll probably see all of British North America split off. That changes the way further expansion is handled. I suspect that 'clearing out' and settling the Ohio Country would be the first priority. Further wars and/or purchases depend largely on international relations. However, I strongly feel that any country taking the place of the USA will inherently share the USA's OTl desire to possess New Orleans. As long as that's in foreign hands, whoever holds it can strange off a lot of American trade. So that'll surely become an issue they'll have to deal with.

    One may assume that popular soveignty is less important. Big states will remain big, and can just be internally divided into lesser fiefs. (For instance: the County of Vermont, which is part of the Duchy of New York.)

    I agree that Virginia is likely to be the heart of this America, which may cause issues if -- as I suspect -- it extends far to the North. Certain Northern regions are of least interest to the landed gentry, and are most inclined towards a half-way prominent bourgeoisie. A centre of republican unrest? Possible! And Quebec may well chafe under American rule, especially if this America is intolerantly Anglican. (They won't be naturally inclined to respect Catholic rights.)

    Keep in mind that an aristocratically led nation must retain the respect and confidence of its European counterparts. Becoming a pariah is unacceptable. Abolition may ultimately end up being something they can't avoid. It'll be the aristocrats who own the slaves, and they'll be the ones suffering when they become seen as brutish foreigners in Europe. When it's a choice between taking an economic hit and forever saying goodbye to respectable European marriage prospects... you clench your teeth and take the economic hit.

    I suspect that this means that abolition will happen around the time it did in Brazil. There will be no Civil War, I think. If such a conflict arises, it'll be about a secessionist republican movement in the North (meaning New England and Canada, not the North in the OTL Civil War).

    Industrialisation will be slower to start, but keep in mind that in many European countries, it was funded by aristocrats looking to make a nice profit. I expect the same here. Aristocratic families will have branches all over the country. They'll own Southern plantations that produce raw materials, and Northern factories that process those materials.

    Holding on to insular possessions will be much easier for Britain than holding on to a revolting North America. Maybe Virginia gets to keep it in the peace agreement after the revolution? Otherwise, Britain just keeps it.

    There is little reason to keep hating once independence is achieved. Trade interests led to reconciliation in OTL. It would've happened sooner without Jeffersonian anti-aristocratic (and pro-French, anti-British) fervour in the USA. In this ATL, the familial connections of the American aristocrats to their British relatives is another factor that encourages reconciliation. I'd wager that by 1800, America and Britain are on normal terms again.
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  5. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    Elective monarchy would be the choice if there is real lack of sympathetic or ambitious Prince (or Child Prince living in America) willing to thrown their lot (or still a child that could be dragged into the Aristocrat plot) with the Colonists, which would be unlikely because with Aristocracy end up rooted in America, there will be probings for potential marriage matches, at least.

    And getting a Prince end up settling there, since there's already a lot of aristocrats present, wouldn't be hard. An active military Prince who regularly butt their heads with their father and the Parliement would soon found themselves relegated to what is basically glorified exile as Royal Governor of British North America. I could see that post end up with Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, someone who is rather unpopular in the Parliement due to being "Butcher of Cumberland", but is still very popular with the people. If there's a lot of Aristocrats in North America, he might end up settle there, especially because he was indeed impress by French and Indian light infantry he fought in Seven Years War.

    Let's assume he married an Aristocrat there, and beget a child who also settle in America, when London starts taxing Americans too much, even if the Old Prince already died as IOTL, his hypothetical offspring would be the best choice for American monarch, especially if he/she is still a minor and thus pretty much malleable to the American Aristocrats' whim.
  6. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

    Mar 30, 2012
    The more important question might be - what does this to the mother country.

    Second and third + sons often followed careers in the army, navy or church - if those go to Far Far Away Wonderland - who does take those offices

    For example - the beloved Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington ws "only" a third son

    Imagine what a drain on "manpower" to the British empire (Sarcasm detected)

    It would be easier for "non aristocrats" to rise in the Empire and Britain itself might become unrecognizeable.

    I assume only the "more" adventourous sons go abroad - so the more lazy offspring remains to take up office in the motherland ;) - That means Britain might becomes decadent ... ;)
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  7. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

    Feb 5, 2014
    It would be interesting to see how that develops. America as a more "virile" nation of (self-proclaimed) warrior aristocrats, who view Britain as weakened and pampered? The American nobility could portrey themselves as being akin to knights of Europe in the Middle Ages, as crusaders who are 'taming' a wild frontier and carving out their fiefs as they, ah, "bring civilisation".

    This can alo tie into the OP's question about expansionism, as that kind of thinking can lead to a different sort of "Manifest Destiny" idea. Expeditions into the West financed and led by aristocrats, with the settlers given supplies and weapons and land grants, but in return they have to enter into a serf-like contract with said aristocrats? And the aristocrats could receive the charters to start exploiting those lands from the American Crown-- in exchange for an annual payment of a percentage of the proceeds they gain from the exploitation of those lands.

    Feudalism! American feudalism!
  8. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

    Apr 3, 2013
    Perfidious Albion
    Assuming world events go much as IOTL, the Victorian period will be peak Rule Britannia, so this would require a significant portion of the Royal Navy supporting the American claimant. Which would be difficult to engineer, although not impossible.

    I don't see why Quebec would leave; they'd have no natural sympathy with their Anglophone counterparts down south, and since the Quebec Acts (assuming those still get passed) already guaranteed their freedom of religion and traditional legal system, it's unlikely that they'd get a better deal from an independent Kingdom of America than what they had already.

    More likely you have more novi homines rising up the ranks. I don't think the country would become unrecognisable, though -- I'd expect the rising non-aristocrats to simply be ennobled and co-opted into the existing class hierarchy.
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  9. Višeslav Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2018

    I'm getting a lot of answers talking about a monarchy, but is this really that likely?

    The Spanish colonies in the Americas were governed similarly, and they kept their aristocracy in a sense, but became republics. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I see the US developing more into an Oligarchical republic with a very small percent of the white male population (anywhere from 5%-30%) being allowed to vote.

    However, in the case of a monarchy, who would be the most likely candidate for the King of America?
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  10. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Dude, you're pushing US military and economical hegemony backwards in time. The OTL US was an economical powerhouse from the 1880s but completely lacked the political will to build a military establishment capable of invading another industrialised nation before 1940 - this aristocratic US will have far less immigration and far less hunger for land and will thus be smaller and less populated. OTL US did not catch up with Britain until the 1880s, the aristocratic US will probably never do so. It will never have the capacity to challenge the Royal Navy.

    Edit: In 1870, Britain's economy (without the Empire) was still larger than the US. And that is OTL economical powerhouse US.
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  11. Višeslav Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2018
    You say it would get less immigration and be less "hungry for land". Why would this USA be less expansionist/less able to expand? (I'm not trying to roast you, I actually had the feeling it would have less of a capacity to expand, hence the poll)

    How far do you think the TTL US would expand?

    Also, another question for everyone:

    What`s all this about Canada splitting off too? I didn`t consider this. Is it really that likely?

    I mean, OTL, Canada's large French population (the majority of Canada's population at the time) strongly opposed integration into the US during the revolution. This is largely due to the fact that the Quebec Act, which protects French Canadian rights was deemed one of the "Intolerable Acts" by the revolutionaries. The British protected their culture, while the Americans attacked it, so the French stayed loyal.

    While in this timeline, there would be less or no puritans in the US (they were the most extreme protestants, and the most opposed to the Quebec act), the population would be overwhelmingly Anglican, and would likely be just as hostile towards these French Catholics, the only other religious group in British North America.

    So, yeah...
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  12. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    Quebec is unlikely to follow the Americans regardless of their political leanings, and Nova Scotia likely has the same issue as OTL (a patriot population that knows its too small to try rebelling). So the prospects of America containing all of BNA is as unlikely as OTL.
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  13. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

    Feb 5, 2014
    A monarchy seems the obvious choice in this context. It was even vaguely considered in OTL. If you have an America where the aristocracy is in charge, it's almost a given that they'd seek a monarch. The only other alternative is some sort of council of the high nobility, but that would almost certainly mean that America always remains a mere confederation of aristocratic fiefs. The United Duchies of America, if you will. A kingdom just makes more sense, if you want any kind of unity.

    I agree that Quebec will not want to split off. It may simply not get a choice. Upper Canada, the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador, on the other hand, are a different story. SealTheRealDeal refers to OTL obstacles in Nova Scotia, but in this ATL, the will of the aristocrats would be the deciding factor. And as I pointed out before: if you even want an ARW in this context, you must presuppose British governance that has the American aristocrats enraged. And this can't be something that just enrages the Southern plantation aristocrats, because they you just get a South-only revolution. You need something that pisses the whole American aristocracy off. And that will then automatically include the aristocracy of the aforementioned colonies.

    For this reason, I think the scenerio by definition means that all British North America will revolt. Quebec will not, but America will likely claim it (if only for economic and strategic reasons), and Britain will not be inclined to hold on to a Francophone colony that it totally surrounded by an (at that time) hostile power. So... it sucks for Quebec, but they get to be an American colony, and their rights are probably going to be stripped away. (This will cause endless unrest, of course, and may result in Quebec eventually getting independence.)
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  14. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    Would there be many aristocrats in the recently cleared out colony? (assuming the expulsion still happens)

    Would there be enough of them to overpower the British regular forces at Halifax? (because the ratio of Red Coats to colonists in the colony was way unlike anywhere in the 13 Colonies [not to mention that the population was very dispersed], if they rebelled they'd be swiftly quashed)

    Do the Aristocrats of the 13 colonies have a navy capable of ferrying them to Nova Scotia? (because there simply wasn't the logistics/infrastructure to move substantial forces through the rough terrain of Maine/New Brunswick)

    The answer to all three is likely "no".
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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  15. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

    Feb 5, 2014
    Why is that likely? We are assuming dramatically diffferent colonisation, on different principles than OTL. This is needed to even get the premise to exist. Yet you assume all things will be as in OTL. I think the general shape of Anglo-French rivalry in North America may be assumed to stay the same, and that a similar time-frame and outcome may be assumed without being unrealistic... but that's about it. I feel you're way too set on applying OTL specifics to an ATL situation.
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  16. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2017
    If you assume a broadly similar anglo-french rivalry, then Acadia/Nova Scotia being passed back and forth between the two is a given, as I noted, the expulsion of the Acadians isn't a given (and if they aren't then much like Quebec, revolution isn't going to fly). The British wanted a naval base/fort in Halifax because its an ideal position, the social structure of the 13 colonies isn't going to change geography or strategic interests.

    If anything, assuming the British will govern all their colonies the exact same way is the biggest assumption in this thread. Acadia/Nova Scotia was a much later acquisition than the rest of the Eastern Seaboard, unless England has fallen into a philosophical dark age governing philosophy will have evolved somewhat since the early 1600s.
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  17. Višeslav Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2018
    Ok, so, it seems to me that the general consensus is that this will be a monarchy. I guess I went too far in relying on my analogue (Spanish colonies in latin America), something I try to avoid.

    Can you tell me what it is that makes the US more likely to choose a monarchy while the OTL aristocratic Spanish colonies chose republicanism? These differences could be pretty important for me to take into account. Was it just that the US would be the first Colony to break away, it was well suited for a republic OTL, and other colonies just copied it?

    As for the Canadian question, I think I'll just say that the US doesn't take Canada, since the maritimes are hard to take without a strong navy, Ontario is a hard to pass through, underdeveloped backwater, and Quebec doesn't want to be part of the US.

    Also, it seems, so far, that most people agree that the US will buy Louisiana, but may or may not win/start the Mexican-American war. Also, and interesting amount of people think northern Florida is likely, but the former is still the majority opinion by a lot.
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  18. Dolan Lookin fer Gooby

    Apr 4, 2018
    Actually yes, American Revolution, for most parts, proves that a true Republic is viable for long term, and many revolutionaries afterwards did draw inspiration from the original US System, for better or worse.

    Without that precedence, Alternate American Revolution here would be seen as either one of:
    A) Some Ambitious Prince rebelling from his Father/Brother/Nephew/Uncle, if the New American monarch is an adult British Prince that actively siding with the American Faction.
    B) Another Baron's Rebellion, just taking places in the Colonies. If the new American Monarch is chosen from the rebelling Aristocrats (elective monarchy included), or a minor Princeling that happened to be easy choice to be manipulated from behind.
    C) And maybe most interesting possibility, being seen as mere *British Civil War* if the American Monarch in question is British Crown Prince or even King, who end up having vicious spat against Parliement at London.

    Option C would be even more interesting if Parliements trying to try the King/Crown Prince and make him another Charles, only for said Royalty to fled to Loyalist America while it is the Parliament at London who declare a (Cromwellian) Republic.
  19. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    One of the chief driving factors in emigration to America was free land for peasants - sure, it was hard work, but it was also rewarding. Crofters and tenants could advance socially and leave something substantial to their children. One should also remember that even free-held land in Europe was taxed - land was not taxed in the Thirteen Colonies.

    If land is metered out to aristocrats who then either run it as estates with slaves, indentured servants or corvee labour for a small plot of land style crofters or divide it up and rent it out to tenants, regular people will not get free land and they will above all not get un-taxed free land as they will have to pay either with corvee labour or land rents to the aristocrat that owns the land.

    You remove one of the chief economical incentives to move to the colonies, and that should result in far less immigration to the colonies, and thus reduce the pressure to acquire new land.

    OTL, one of the reasons the revolution happened was because land was becoming scarce and the British forced the colonists to remain behind the Appalachians, which a lot of people resented. They wanted to do what their fathers or previous colonists had done - start their own farm on untaxed land they owned themselves.

    Another reason for the OTL US expansion was the belief that the US government and republic was the pinnacle of human development when it came to governance and with it an idea of superiority and one could say entitlement. When it came to expanding against the Native Americans, Mexico and acquiring loosely held far-flung territory (Louisiana and Alaska) this worked, but against Britain it did not.

    Remember that the US started the War of 1812 with the idea that they would win easily and quickly - “The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching; & will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, & the final expulsion of England from the American continent.” said Jefferson 1812.

    An aristocratic US will not have the same ideas of superiority and not the same land hunger due to lesser immigration. It will also not have a class of politicians using war and land acquisition as a lever to advance their own political position due to the popularity of such issues - with only landed aristocrats voting (to a House of Lords), politics will be far more insular.
  20. Richter von Manthofen Gnome Fighter Ace

    Mar 30, 2012
    I believe that the possibility of a "US rebellion" is greatly reduced in an "aristocratic" colonial America.

    The Influence of the aristocrats (that will consider themselves as true Englishmen instead of religious refugees) will be higher.

    In addition there will be instances where "American" aristocrats will inherit English titles.

    Assume the "Earl of Dorincourt" has two sons - the Elder is due to inherit the title the younger goes to America and creates his own fiefdom.

    The next generation then sees the Earl (son) having only daugters while his US brother has a son - in due time this son will inherit the "Earldom", but as American born he prefers the colonies (but does from time to time take his seat)

    Also even if the English line remains alive they might have good relations with their relatives of the junior branch - so will protect their rights in parliament.

    Also if there is an aristocracy in the Ameriacs - some will get theri own (new) titles incuding to sit in the House

    LESS incentivve to split becuast the aristocratic "colonies" will actually HAVE representaion.

    Anothe rpoint regarding immigration - most immigration into the US happened relative late, population leels up to the early 1800s might remain as OTL, but many went to the US because they wanted to flee from English opression (Iris) , the Euroopean reaction (Especially the German 1848ers) , many would NOT want to exchnge one aristocratic "Oppressor" for another - much less immigration equals much less pressure to expand.

    Even if the ultimate goal is to get as land as possibel delays of even a few years mean that the target regions (E.G Texas , California, whatever) are probably more densly populated (moreso if you assume that some lost US immigration goes to those regiosn). So the "alt Coloonies" might NOT be able to defeat Alt Mexico so easily (and if alt Mexico is still part of Alt Spain , Alt Britain might even NOT going to war against ALT - spain as ALT France is still the enemy)

    That change has so many "ripples" that the butterflies would breed like rabbits ;)

    So if you change the 1600s you might NEVER have an Europe (World) that resembles OTL - no Napoleonic wars, no french Rev (which could be the result of the AR), no aristocratic restauration post 1815 (eg. OTL Emperor Franz was not a conservative from the start - the Napoleonic wars made him one)

    But it would be a great ATL - someone should write it...
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