WI: Louisiana taken by the British after War of 1812

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Historyman 14, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    (Thoughts between me and @Joshua Ben Ari..)

    For whatever reason, say America does worst in the War of 1812, leading to the British (Who never saw the Louisiana Purchase as legal.) to take Louisiana. Leading to either...

    1: Louisiana is given back to Spain with New Orleans as an Anglo-Spanish condominium.

    2: Everything of Louisiana from 42°N and above is attaching to British Canada while spinning the rest off as a pro-British state or a separate British colony run from New Orleans.

    Could this happen? And the result from any of this?
     
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  2. Kristian Skeans Member

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    well I definitely don't see them giving it to Spain
     
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  3. Ivan Lupo Well-Known Member

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    I think it would be a separate colony run through New Orleans, granting Britain control of the entire continent and squashing any immediate hopes of American expansion. Any ideas about Manifest Destiny are really just that, ideas. If they give any part of it back to Spain, it would probably be some fringe territories. European powers would continue to hold dominance in the Americas, while British Canada would begin to really flourish now that there is a link between them and the Caribbean sugar colonies that the British still own.

    At any rate, Great Britain is an overwhelmingly powerful position over the rest of the European powers.
     
  4. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much. Giving it back to Spain was Joshua's idea, but given the sorry state of Spain and everything else (Spanish American wars of independence and the madness of Post-Napoleonic Spain.) they won't be in any shape to take it back, let alone hold it. Anything they would give back to Spain, they might just sell back. (America, or the UK.)

    America is now trapped beyond the Mississippi.
     
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  5. Joshua Ben Ari Well-Known Member

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    Though I did say that if the British take it for themselves, they'd try to make it easier to manage and for cost-saving measures. They'd carve off everything north of 42°N and give that to British Canada. Everything south of that is either a pro-British state or a separate British colony run from New Orleans.
     
  6. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    This is the one I agree with and the most likely one.
     
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  7. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    I agree here. Eventually, the capital might move to St. Louis, for the sake of climate and elevation. The interesting consequence is that it stops slavery from moving west of the Mississippi River. It stops the eventual forced migration of native Americans from the Old South to Oklahoma and other points west. The British, though, would probably be welcoming new settlers in the Louisiana Territory. You would have a "second Canada" eventually. Britain would have the Oregon Territory, too. Texas and California? Too soon to say.
     
  8. Joshua Ben Ari Well-Known Member

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    I could see the British welcoming new settlers, and they'd have to welcome Americans who would cross over the Mississippi anyways. I could see Germans, Scandinavians, Irish, Scottish, and American settlers as the main bulk. Maybe other European groups as well (French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian) come over as well.
     
  9. Mark E. Well-Known Member

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    You effectively create the demographics of the states that border the Mississippi River on the west, just with different boundaries. Of course, you have the industrial revolution of Britain and the Northern U.S. in full swing. The cotton gin has not re-shaped the Old South yet. Will tensions with the native Americans there be a different problem? Alabama and Mississippi are not yet states. The slave states would be outnumbered from the get-go.
     
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  10. Ivan Lupo Well-Known Member

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    With the US unable to expand, it also affects US immigration policy for the rest of the 19th Century. It won't be too long before most of the US up to the Mississippi River is settled and if the population continues growing, the US government might not be as welcoming of as many immigrant groups in the coming decades.

    Does something like this butterfly away a biological/natural disaster in the future like the Irish Potato Famine? And with all this new territory, does Great Britain still try to develop Australia as they did in OTL, or does she allow Australia to fall into the orbit of another colonial power?
     
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  11. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    Hm, would Britain be able to take control of all of Louisiana or just the coast?

    How would this affect their involvment in the Napoleonic wars if they have to commit more to America?
     
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  12. Joshua Ben Ari Well-Known Member

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    They'd probably control the cities (New Orleans, St. Louis) and the surrounding areas as well as the Mississippi River itself, but effective control of the interior might be an ongoing struggle.

    Depending when it happens, it might have ripple effects. I had initially suggested to Historyman within the context of a Presidents and PM list featuring an earlier American Civil War during the War of 1812 that drags into 1817.

    You might get more Native American cooperation if the British control the area, especially if Tecumseh survives.

    By the time it happens the British have already started using Australia as a penal colony, so I think they'd keep developing it.
     
  13. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    The British colonized Australia almost for the sole purpose of keeping it away from the Freach, and later as an penal colony. (And then gold). Australia and Louisiana would develop very differently from the other.
     
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  14. Escape Zeppelin Well-Known Member

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    It's going to be outrageously expensive for the British to control this and keep the Americans from taking defacto possession by the shear number of settlers pouring in. Trying to keep the Americans from moving westward is part of what lead the the ARW in the first place so repeating that move is not going to be a popular one on either side of the Atlantic.

    I think that within a few years they're likely to simply acknowledge the US' claim and hand it over in exchange for concessions elsewhere like the northern border.
     
  15. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    You would see America focus much more cultural assimilation on Native Americans without anyone to really send them.
     
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  16. George_Apley Member

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    Man, the British would really need to curbstomp the US for this to happen. Battle of New Orleans (or analog) would have to be convincingly won by Brits and lead to British wins at other towns in the lower Mississippi region. American outposts such as Detroit, Fort Dearborn, and Fort Wayne would need to fall and be held by the British/natives. The Great Lakes would need to be in the firm control of the Royal Navy (i.e. Perry's victory at Put-in-Bay doesn't happen). Forts on the Niagara River need to be defended effectively. The Chesapeake Bay, Lake Champlain corridor, and coastal Maine need to be captured, key towns/cities occupied, pulling US troops out of the west. New England discontent needs to be taken more seriously ITTL. Britain has to be clearly willing at Ghent to devote increasing troops to North America as Napoleonic Wars wind down. &ct. &ct. Phew!

    Still, fun POD.

    I don't see the British dividing the Mississippi watershed north of 42°N. I'd expect that either a) the whole of British Louisiana territory would be governed from New Orleans, or b) it would shortly be divided into two territories, "Lower Louisiana" governed from N.O. and "Upper Louisiana"/"Missouri" from St. Louis. The colonies would be linked to Upper Canada via trade across Lake Superior, but governed and developed as separate entities. Question is whether the British also wrest a corridor to Lake Superior out of the US from Wisconsin Territory (i.e. modern northern Minnesota). Technically the territory does not touch the Great Lakes without additional land cession, so without a connection to the lakes the new acquisition would not be as unifying as it might seem.

    Lower Louisiana would come with a fair amount of development, population, and infrastructure, certainly compared with Upper Canada. Sault Ste. Marie would likely become an important trading post connecting British North America from Canada to Louisiana across Lake Superior. Depending on any additional land cessions from the US, a British Grand Portage or Duluth analog would bookend trade in the region with a portage connection to the Mississippi - a canal would probably be built eventually in the 1820s depending on Anglo-Ojibwe relations.

    Westward exploration/expansion: The British would go about it *very* differently from the United States. The native fur trade/"mountain man" era would dominate. Trade outposts would develop along the Missouri River and tributaries to the Rocky Mountains, but the details would be dependent on the dominant regional native nations. The British would not be focused on opening up land for settlement for many decades.

    Gulf Coast Foreign Relations: One question is whether the terms of the Treaty of Ghent gives joint navigation rights to the US on the Mississippi River. Navigation rights would make near-future Anglo-American conflict much less likely. Likewise questions of the ownership of West Florida would set the scene for relations going forward. West Florida was claimed by an "Independent Republic", Spain, and the United States (via their LA Purchase claims). If Britain accepts US claims to West Florida in the Treaty of Ghent, a source of future conflict could be avoided.

    New Orleans is wedged between West Florida and New Spain/Mexico. US designs on East Florida will only increase after such a drubbing by the British and the lost of westward opportunities. That said, the US may not be in the position to claim territory from anyone in the near term, and the potential for conflict between the British and Americans on the Gulf Coast could lead the Florida can to be kicked further down the road. British goals in the Gulf could be advanced by strategic diplomacy with Spain during the Mexican War of Independence. Some sort of arrangement could be worked out over Florida if the British stay out of the Mexico conflict.

    US Butterflies: Federalists back in vogue? Republican model of land expansion discredited w/o Louisiana. Focus on repairing trade ties with Great Britain, led by New England. Internal improvements back on the docket? Does Jackson survive the war? Questions about natives who fought w/ British in 1812. Does the treaty provide for their protection w/i the United States, or do the British offer them haven? Lack of land for removals sets stage for dramatically different possibilities for natives in Great Lakes region & the South. Lack of land for expansion changes the slavery calculus. Slave prices don't stay high without room for slavery to expand. Too much up in the air to say more than that. Probably will be more conflict with Britain at some point IITL's future. Regardless, US history and development becomes much more intertwined with/dependent upon Great Britain.

    British Butterflies: The Acquisition of Louisiana completely changes the calculus of British empire-building. Britain is suddenly put into close contact with Spain again as an imperial power. British policies with an independent Mexico/Latin America may greatly change development in those regions. Diversion of imperial resources changes development of British territories in India and SE Asia, which changes the British calculus in Africa later. Imperial emancipation of slaves may be affected, but it's likely that it continues apace with interesting consequences for the agriculture sector in the western Mississippi Basin.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019 at 4:55 PM
  17. Ivan Lupo Well-Known Member

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    Would as many people still settle in Australia if it's easier and cheaper to instead settle in British Louisiana? I kind of figure that Australian settlement would be much slower in this scenario, at least until gold is eventually discovered. The first Australian gold Rush started in 1851, but it seems there were previously discoveries that were suppressed by the local colonial governments because they believed it would drain the existing work force. If there's just a general manpower shortage because people aren't actually going to Australia, if gold is discovered by someone, does the government announce it to induce people to settle?

    I also have a hard time imagining Britain not getting involved in what's happening in Mexico. I tend to believe that Britain comes to the aid of their former ally Spain in suppressing the continuing independence movement. They might not be able to save the Spanish colonies in South America, but nearby British colonial troops could snuff out Mexican independence before too long.
     
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  18. Joshua Ben Ari Well-Known Member

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    Well the initial thought was from a list I had posted in the Presidents and PMs thread where Madison dies in 1814 during the Bladensburg races, which lead to tensions rising between the (Acting) President John Gaillard and Secretary of State James Monroe over who is actually leading the country which boils over to an earlier civil war while New England - along with New York and New Jersey - bail in hopes of making a separate peace with the British.
     
  19. Historyman 14 Well-Known Member

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    OTL, the British greatly supported the revolutionaries. You may instead find British Legions helping Mexico towards Independence.
     
  20. George_Apley Member

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    British acquisition of LA changes this calculus, but I think I agree with Historyman. The question becomes a more delicate diplomatic one hinging on how willing Britain is to confront their former coalition allies over Mexican independence. OTL Britain supported Mexican independence as a weakening influence on Spain and a potential opening of trade with Mexico. That calculus doesn't change ITTL. What do the British really have to lose here? The Spanish are in no shape to fight a war against Britain over New Spain. That said, the delicacy issue emerges with *how* Britain intervenes. OTL they are far removed from the fighting in New Spain, ITTL British territory shares a border New Spain. Does Britain burn the bridge with Spain by being heavy-handed, or do they try to finesse the situation?