The American Nightmare
One of the little ironies about
the first and last Anglo-American conflict (not counting the revolution) was
that neither side was determined to fight to the finish; in fact, the war was
quite half-hearted on both sides. The
Americans were unprepared for war and the British were concerned about Napoleon.
It was a war of spectacular actions, such as the burning of Washington,
but there was no real outcome or a change it the status quo.
The war of 1812, however, was
the last real chance the British had of reconquering their former American
colony. Not all the Americans would
have been unhappy either, the state of New England, for example, seriously
considered seceding. After the
government had started the war, they failed to provide any effective protection
for the state in the front line.
I’m going to alter the British
decision to keep the war on the back burner.
The British had the most competent commander in the north east of their
continent; Major-General Brock was able, energetic and had the confidence of the
Quebecois people. He also had a
good understanding of the region and the American state nearby.
Instead of a demonstration raid aimed at Washington, lets have the
British launch an invasion of New England in 1814. With British naval supremacy, an indifferent population and
weak American army, it’s a walkover.
The British move swiftly to
consolidate their position. They
offer the Americans in the area full British citizenship and a resumption of
trade under the British flag. The
economy of that area improves rapidly, giving the Americans some incentive to
stay British. The remains of the state government announce the succession
from the US – the British now have the northern states in their grasp.
The defeats and the British
build-up in the conquered area force the US president into making peace.
The loss of most of the northern states is recognised and they are all
absorbed into the new Dominion of New England, composed of the states of New
York, Maine, the smaller states in between and chunks of the states surrounding
the Great Lakes. The British also
take over the US naval forces on those lakes.
British settlers flood in to the new territories.
The balance of power in the
American government – what remains of it – has been badly shifted towards
the south and the slave states. Assuming
the British do not try to reverse the Louisiana Purchase (not a sure bet by any
means), the slave states will hold a majority in congress, promoting the
continued existence of slavery across the US.
A civil war might break out earlier, or the remaining non-slave states
join the new British state instead.
An interesting fact about the US was that most of the immigrants went to the North or West, not to the south. The south tended to discourage immigrants who did not fit their preference for whites. What that suggests is that British North America is likely to grow much faster than the rump US and probably expand through the west before the US can do so. Texas may join the British instead of the remains of the US, although, if I recall correctly, Texas had a strong pro-slavery bent and the British were getting moralistic about such things.
The USCW, as we know it, is
unlikely to happen. The remaining
northern states won’t be able to challenge the south in anyway, which would
probably mean their secession (under British protection?) or them being overrun
by slave owners. One possibility is
a general collapse of the south and British intervention, or a version of the
Underground railway that lets slaves escape to British territory and the south
declares war to recover them.
The loss of some of its most
important territories probably means that the US will not become a great power. The British territories would be far stronger and
economically more efficient. The UK
would start WW1 with thousands of extra men and fewer naval and food problems.
Without the American pressure, the UK’s alliance with Japan would
probably stand, which would mean that the death knell of the Empire might never
happen up to our time. The remains of the US would probably be unable to fight the
Spanish-American war, which suggests that Spain keeps its remaining empire for
The downside is that slavery
might continue longer and Japan probably annexes the Philippines and most of