USA without California

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jackson Lennock, Dec 5, 2018 at 9:38 PM.

  1. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

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    Let's say that Polk wins in 1844 by getting a few thousand more votes in New York. Despite wanting to avoid it, Polk opts to annex Texas on condition that a treaty is negotiated with Mexico first. A western boundary is set at the 102nd Meridian West from the Arkansas to the Pecos.

    Later on, California becomes an independent Republic separate from the US more or less comprised of today's Nevada and California (with Mexico perhaps keeping San Diego).

    How does the US develop without California? I imagine Seattle and Portland are developed more. The US may negotiate a base in California somewhere, but I think the effect will be more focus on the northwest.
     
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  2. ArchimedesCircle Maker of Empires, Breaker of Nations

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    Less interest in the Pacific might mean that Hawaii stays independent or becomes a British protectorate.
     
  3. Ivan Lupo Member

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    You would see San Francisco remain the largest and most important city in this alternate California, and it wouldn't be confined to just the peninsula either. Considering it would at the very least be the California Republic's main international trading hub and deep water port, you would see far more focus and development here as California and San Francisco strive to really turn it into the New York City of the west.

    Gold and silver mining, agriculture, logging, shipping, and eventually oil and tourism would be the pillars of the economy, and I also don't see this combined California/Nevada state expanding too far past the Valley of Las Vegas and Reno, also while Reno probably remains more important than Las Vegas.

    I agree about Hawaii remaining either independent or a British dependency, with the latter being more likely. Eventually, Hawaii would gain independence, but would certainly be part of the British Commonwealth and more importantly be a very important trading partner of for California.

    Water would be critical here and California would do everything it could to guarantee itself as much access to water supplies as it can, and I could imagine border conflict with both the US and Mexico over the Colorado River, possibly with California seizing the Colorado River Delta from Mexico and perhaps eventually just taking all of Baja California. This would critically damage Mexican commercial fishing here, so access here is absolutely vital for Mexico.
     
  4. TheByzantineOttoman Donor

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    What would stop the US from annexing a country made up of many American transplants who probably want annexation?
     
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  5. BellaGerant Well-Known Member

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    More tension in the slave debate, presumably. It's part of what kept Texas out of the US for as long as it did. Especially if the annexation leads to conflicts with the neighbors (Mexico presumably not having been thrashed in 1846 would keep quite a few people in power on edge regarding absorbing still legally and nominally Mexican lands, just like with Texas OTL in the 1830s).
     
  6. TheByzantineOttoman Donor

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    I quite like that idea, actually. California would probably be free, so now the shoe would be on the other foot.

    One way or another, though, the question of slavery will be resolved. What stops annexation then? Assuming most of the people who live there are Americans who moved because of the gold rush.
     
  7. vuun Well-Known Member

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    I think a likely explanation for California never becoming part of the US is different migration/immigration into California than OTL. While large numbers of American settlers in California are probably inevitable, if California stays Mexican longer, or perhaps the Gold Rush is delayed/different, California could also get more settlers from (the rest of) Mexico, more 19th century Chinese/Asian immigration than OTL, other European settlers, making California too ethnically/culturally different from the US for annexation to gain much traction.
     
  8. Mekul Active Member

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    It is true the Colorado River is crucial, but only for Southern California. Northern California is supplied entirely with the snowmelt of the Sierra Nevadas.
     
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  9. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    There aren't enough Mexicans to make this work without hollowing out the population base in the south, nor is there enough political stability to facilitate or attract large scale immigration or migration. The Chinese could work though; the local cattle-barons and mission owners might turn to the Middle Kingdom for labor once mining and agriculture takes off,who White America wouldn't want to touch with a 39.5 foot pole.
     
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  10. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Both the British and the Prussians(!) were attempting to grab it in the 1840s and either of those getting it is far more likely than an independent republic given the limited population to start with and the expected influx of Americans incoming. British rule of Western Canada showed they could establish institutions to survive such an influx (admittedly barely), but without them any independent republic will definitely join the United States. As for how the U.S. responds to this, I'd rather expect them to take more of Mexico as a result and grab ports like Guaymas and Puerto Vallarta; Seattle and other Northwestern Ports just won't cut it.
     
  11. Jackson Lennock Well-Known Member

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    Why don't the Pacific Northwest Ports work? The US OTL has sizable naval bases in the area and prominent cities that could reasonably end up much larger TTL.

    I can easily see California ending up as an associated state of the US that's still separate due to the issues of slavery and demography. Just because California is independent doesn't mean the US can't have basing rights - there was a US naval base in Peru in the late 19th century for example.
     
  12. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Ports in Oregon are largely isolated even to this day due to their terrain. Seattle is also recognized as an inferior port, largely only getting developed because Vancouver exists. None of the available options offer the same quality and capacity abilities as the various port cities of California offer.

    There's really no reason California won't get annexed; Slavery isn't a real issue because the South can and did accept it as a free state and the North will realize where the headwinds are once the inevitable explosion of American miners are. Once said explosion happens, it's doubtless going to happen because you end up with a population that is 90% American. For a near contemporary example, in Western Canada the British authorities on scene were terrified of the smaller numbers of American miners and ranchers seeking annexation to the United States and you even had communities holding votes to do exactly that in British Columbia even despite the sizable Anglo-Canadian presence. Simply put, you need a strong authority with institutions to hold California as of the 1840s, which really only leaves the British as I don't think even the Prussians have the logistics for it.