The British capture the ultimate prize in the Bladensburg Races

That is, not only do they seize Washington in August 1814, but capture James Madison, fourth president of the United States. Now what?

Clearly, he is incapable of discharging the duties of his office. Vice President Elbridge Gerry reluctantly assumes the duties of the presidency; with the guidance of Secretary of State James Monroe, a temporary armistice is requested. Fighting halts in late August 1814 while commissioners are dispatched to negotiate terms of peace, but British warships still ride at anchor in the Chesapeake Bay.

While the commissioners labor over peace terms, the New England states seize the day and break off from the United States. Under the protection of Great Britain, the Commonwealth of New England is formed, with its capital at Boston. This new nation combines the five former states and the maritime regions of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, and the crown colony of Newfoundland. At the time of confederation, the district of Maine is split off from Massachusetts, and New Brunswick is split off from Nova Scota. The new nation has a form of government not unlike that of the United States; the chief executive is known as the Governor-General, and nominally is responsible to the British crown.

But not all New Englanders see this as a boon: there is a sizable exodus of New Englanders loyal to the United States ("The Migration", as this is called), which includes a disproportionate number of the intelligentsia and those in positions in power. John Adams and John Quincy Adams leave Braintree, Massachusetts, for a new estate near Princeton, New Jersey, for example. Interestingly, the biggest winners in the migration are the states of Maryland and Delaware, especially the latter: the banks of the Brandywine remind a lot of New Englanders of the smaller rivers along the fall lines, and Delaware suddenly becomes one of the most industrialized states in what's left of the union. Among the emigres is a young congressman from Massachusetts--Daniel Webster--who eventually becomes governor of Delaware and president of the United States.

A sidebar to the emigration: the states of Maryland and Delaware now have a preponderance of nonslaveholding voters, taking those states out of the slave state ranks by the mid-1820s.

What can others add to this?
 
The New Englanders wouldn't want to be under the British crown, and the British wouldn't give up their colonies to them.
 
Imajin said:
The New Englanders wouldn't want to be under the British crown, and the British wouldn't give up their colonies to them.
I disagree. Don't have a source but there's a well-known political cartoon of the era satirizing New England's dithering over whether or not to secede with British sponsorship. It shows King George III addressing them along the lines of, "Why, 'tis my Yankee boys..."
 
1940LaSalle said:
I disagree. Don't have a source but there's a well-known political cartoon of the era satirizing New England's dithering over whether or not to secede with British sponsorship. It shows King George III addressing them along the lines of, "Why, 'tis my Yankee boys..."
Ah, but that was a political cartoon of NE's enemies... and wanting British support and wanting to be back under the control of the King of England are two massively different things...

And it still doesn't explain why the British would give up freely two colonies (they were two by then) that had been loyal.
 
Imajin said:
The New Englanders wouldn't want to be under the British crown, and the British wouldn't give up their colonies to them.
I agree with you there. I think its highly unlikely that the New Englanders will accept the British Crown again. Even more unlikely - nay impossible - would be the Maritimes being joined together with New England to form a new nation.
 
David S Poepoe said:
I agree with you there. I think its highly unlikely that the New Englanders will accept the British Crown again. Even more unlikely - nay impossible - would be the Maritimes being joined together with New England to form a new nation.
Agreed. If New England had managed to break away from the US (and that's a big IF) then she would have become a satellite ally of the British, in a similar fashion to Portugal during this period.

It is interesting to speculate how important Madison actually was to the US war effort. Would his capture have effectively decapitated the US government and led to overwhelming public demands for peace, or would it steel American resolve to carry on fighting?

I get the feeling that quite a few contemporary northerners would have been highly pleased at Madisons capture, seeing more than a little irony in the fact that the man they blamed for the war with Britain; had been taken prisoner by the British.
 
I maintain that joining the Maritimes--never the most prosperous region of the world--to the former New England states would have paid off since the government would be more local, and therefore more focused--and quite possibly would have gotten those regions on more of a paying basis sooner. Furthermore, that would have anchored the northeastern reaches of North America with a single solid British ally/client state that could act as a significant counterweight to the United States.

Furthermore, that transfer would have meant that the Maritimes would no longer be London's day-to-day problem; rather, they would have been Boston's day-to-day problem, which would have freed up resources of the Empire for endeavors elsewhere.
 
1940LaSalle said:
I maintain that joining the Maritimes--never the most prosperous region of the world--to the former New England states would have paid off since the government would be more local, and therefore more focused--and quite possibly would have gotten those regions on more of a paying basis sooner. Furthermore, that would have anchored the northeastern reaches of North America with a single solid British ally/client state that could act as a significant counterweight to the United States.

Furthermore, that transfer would have meant that the Maritimes would no longer be London's day-to-day problem; rather, they would have been Boston's day-to-day problem, which would have freed up resources of the Empire for endeavors elsewhere.
Interesting point - but not one taken by the British Empire - or any other empire I can think of. On one level I would consider possession of the Maritimes important to maintaining Canada. Halifax is an important harbor. Giving the Maritimes to New England does not guarantee that they will remain British allies.
 
David S Poepoe said:
On one level I would consider possession of the Maritimes important to maintaining Canada. Halifax is an important harbor. Giving the Maritimes to New England does not guarantee that they will remain British allies.
The Maritimes were seen as central to the defence of Canada, as well as being vitally important to protecting the Newfoundland fisheries and tran-Atlantic shipping. Economically the Maritimes provided an important supply of spar timber, for shipping and dried codfish, for the West Indies.
Halifax was Britain's main naval base in the north Atlantic and between 1783 and 1815 the British had spent considerable amounts of money on expanding and modernising the facilities and defences there. I doubt they would have handed over such an important base to the administration of New England.
The suggestion that maintaining the Maritimes was the "day-to-day" problem of London, overstates (considerably) the centralisation of imperial rule in the C18th. London would have had very little to do with the domestic affairs of the Maritimes.
On the other hand, the British were keen to secure a passable land route from the Maritimes to upper Canada, so this could be one reason for handing over land to an allied or dependent New England.
 

Keenir

Banned
DoleScum said:
On the other hand, the British were keen to secure a passable land route from the Maritimes to upper Canada, so this could be one reason for handing over land to an allied or dependent New England.
...and making sure New England stayed dependant (but not bothersome).


just two cents from me.
 
Keenir said:
...and making sure New England stayed dependant (but not bothersome).


just two cents from me.
Good point, in OTL the British had planned to send military engineers into the maritimes and drive a road through to Upper Canada. Had they also been able to drive roads from Halifax to New England this would certainly had helped maintain British dominance over an independent NE. Noithing like the prospect of a few roadcoats marching on you via the back door, to keep you in line.
 
Wendell said:
Maybe after this, the U.S. (tries to) add(s) a constitutional amendment banning secession?
This potential constitutional point of law has been brought up before in other ATL, but it really hold no water. If a state is set on leaving it will leave. If other states will try to forbid that thru military action is another. The fact that a state is seceding is already an indication that its not going to follow any laws that bound it as a state.
 
I would agree....

David S Poepoe said:
This potential constitutional point of law has been brought up before in other ATL, but it really hold no water. If a state is set on leaving it will leave. If other states will try to forbid that thru military action is another. The fact that a state is seceding is already an indication that its not going to follow any laws that bound it as a state.
However, such states had in our timeline, cited a right to secede as the basis for their action. If secession is formally prohibited in a very direct fashion, then the basis "justifying" their secession is voided.
 
Wendell said:
However, such states had in our timeline, cited a right to secede as the basis for their action. If secession is formally prohibited in a very direct fashion, then the basis "justifying" their secession is voided.
True. The states of/in OTL have a right to secede. It will boil down in the end to, besides the victors righting history to their own wims, the concept of where the will of the People reside. Nothing prohibited can not be considered justifiable depending on the circumstances.
 
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