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The First 911 Security Disaster - at Lake Champlain 

by Steve Payne



Author says: what if the British had triumphed at Lake Champlain in 1814? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

11th September 1814: on this day the American troops of Brigadier General Alexander Macomb (pictured) abandoned Lake Champlain. It was a decisive victory for the newly arrived British Army of Lieutenant General Sir George Prévost who split the New England states from the rest of the Union.

Two years before, the US Congress had been falsely informed that America was fighting the War of 1812 to secure her boundaries, namely "freedom of the seas" and relief from the incitement of native americans on its western frontier. Of course both war aims were objectives that could only be achieved by a forceful expression of military authority.

In reality, James Madison had launched America's first war of expansion with the unrealistic expectation of annexing Canada. Such a decisive move would likely end the triangular security struggles in the north-east by forcing the British to finally accept the United States as a sovereign nation. Ironically, Benedict Arnold had come within a whisker of conquering Canada in 1775 when he had almost defeated a bigger British fleet to a standstill at the same location, on Lake Champlain. But the war had taken longer than expected and Madison's window of opportunity had been firmly closed now that America's long-term allies the French had been utterly crushed at Waterloo. Not only were the British surging with victory, they were able to release fresh forces to secure British North America. In Washington, it was even rumoured that none other than the victor of Waterloo, Duke of Wellington himself would be appointed Supreme Commander.

Had the outcome of the Battle of Lake Champlain been reversed, it was very possible that Great Britain might have finally accepted the United States as a sovereign nation. The trouble for Madison was that the British negotiators at Ghent could leverage Macomb's defeat to demand territorial claims against the United States on the basis of Uti possidetis by retaining territory they held at the end of hostilities. The second War of Independence had left America isolated, and at the mercy of a resurgent British Empire.

Author says, considerable amounts of source material have been repurposed from the source articles Ian Bickerton and Kenneth J. Hagan, "The US and the Unintended Consequences of War" published in History Today Magazine, January 2008 Edition and also Wikipedia.

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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