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Thread: What if?

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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default What if?

    Let's play a little game. Speculation.

    What do you guys think would have happened had the 13 colonies lost the war for independence? Would there have been more rebellions until the colonists won? Perhaps they could have acheived nationhood later on like Canada and the Antipodes.

    Would or could 'Manifest Destiny' have occured, given that the King had every intention of upholding his treaties with the indiginous population? If it hadn't have happened, would Spain have closed in to fill the vacuum?

    What would the repercussions have been a centuary or so later, vis-a-vis WW I, or WW II?

    Would the two world wars have happened at all?

    Thanks.
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    Default Re: What if?

    Defeat in the Revolution:

    Leaders hung as traitors, soldiers captured more than likely executed. Stricter laws enforced, possibly a new rebellion.

    I can't quite say how it would affect the future, as "What if?" 's are all speculation. For all we know, France could have stopped Revolution, grow to be the biggest superpower, than invade the moon. All guess work, really.
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    Default Re: What if?

    Interesting.

    I think a lot of it would depend on what kind of peace the British laid down after their victory.

    The natural choice would have been to increase taxes and other dues to pay for the war, seize lands and properties of the rebels, strengthen their martial grip on the colonies, and otherwise punish the traitors. This, of course, would quickly lead to another war or string of wars; and each year that the population of the colonies grew (much of said growth consisting of peoples having never had loyalty to the Crown or even Britain), it would be increasingly costly and difficult for the British to hold them.

    The smart choice would have been to make the standards for repatriation low and easily achievable, grant the colonies slightly more autonomy on a local level, and maybe even lower taxes a bit - as if to say "We're in charge, but we hear you and want to do our best to satisfy all British citizens". If such a gentle path were taken, the chance of the US going the way of Canada and Australia would be much greater - although there were those on the extreme in the US that would never be satisfied under British rule. Many fail to realize that the Revolution was just as much a civil war as it was a popular rebellion, and there was still much loyalty to crown and country in the colonies. I've read some estimations that put the number of loyalists far greater than that of the rebels, though they were, of course, far more passive. More cabable British leadership could have taken better advantage of the situation I would think.

    Manifest Destiny would have most likely occurred whether the king allowed it or not - possibly leading to independent states such as Texas and California were for a time. Regardless of the technicalities, natural law dictates that the strong will overcome the weak. Thus, the natives' days were numbered.

    Also, I think the US - in whatever capacity ranging from being a fully independent nation to a member of the Commonwealth - would have naturally come in line with the Franco-British alliance during the World Wars of the 20th Century.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 04-09-2009 at 20:05.

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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Thanks PJ for that. I think what you say is insightful and has a lot of sense.

    Richard Holmes did a very illuminating series on the BBC a few years ago, worth a watch if can get it.

    He says that the British learned a painful lesson from losing the colonies (thier own citizens??) and applied that to the British Empire as we know it. In other words a more enlightened empire* was formed because of this experience.

    *as empires go.
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    Default Re: What if?

    I think the key point here is demographics. Europe's population was growing too fast and Europe could not support the excess population. They had to go somewhere. The Native population was being reduced by European diseases, so there was somewhere for the extra Europeans to go. Of course not all the Natives died, so Europeans used force, and someone had to find an excuse so they could go on feeling good about themselves. Some form of Manifest Destiny would have happened, with or without independence. Perhaps the Natives would have gained some time, but that is all.

    By the same logic, the population and economy of America would expand to the point where the colonies would be more important than Britan, and there would be more and more non-British Americans. Either the British government would lose control, or they would have to reach an accomodation with the Americans giving them most of what they wanted, which would amount to almost the same thing as independence.

    Beyond that, it is all speculation. I can see two basic paths.

    1: The colonies gain independence by force at a later date. They are strong enough to keep European powers from interfering in America. (Spain was a spent force anyway.) Things go much the way they did in real life - perhaps.

    2: Britan manages to keep some sort of nominal rule. The colonies do not have a common (British) threat to face, and so the colonies remain politically independent of each other (no United States). Because the colonies are divided, Britan remains very significant as the glue that keeps them together (and hopefully from each others' throats). Also, the crown provides the colonial governments with their basis for legitimacy, which enhances governmental loyalty to Britan.
    Economic ties and resulting prosperity also increase loyalty.

    Its really too hard to guess about the World Wars. Maybe they never would have happened, because Austria and Germany would be too scared to take on Russia, France, Italy, Britan and America at the same time. Then again, a case can be made that World War I was not started intentionally, and the same mistakes that caused it would have occurred. I think we can assume that it would have gone differently if the “American colonies” had entered the war from the start, unlike the real United States, which entered later. The Austro-German alliance would have been overwhelmed by sheer man power and industrial capacity. Demographics again. If the allies had triumphed earlier in WWI with fewer losses, they might have been less furious, and made a more lenient peace treaty. Perhaps the Germans would then have been less angry too, and the Nazis would never have got very far, and WWII would not have occurred. Who knows?
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    Guest Maximus The Bruce's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Dang American subjects we had!


    I think they would have rose up again during the World Wars. Sooner or later they would have broke off from us.

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    Default Re: What if?

    Vermont would never be defeated and thus would exist as a thorn in the UK's side, until the UK were finally weakened and demoralized enough that Vermonters conquered the rest of the continental US and maybe a bit of Canadaland. The US would be a more woodsy and progressive place today.
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    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Wink Re: What if?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maximus The Bruce View Post
    Dang American subjects we had!


    I think they would have rose up again during the World Wars. Sooner or later they would have broke off from us.
    Well, Great Britain managed to hold on to their patriotic French subjects in Quebec. If they can do that, then why not a few Yankees, as well?

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    Bopa Member Incongruous's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    I expect that once scoundrels like Washington, Adams and Franklin had been executed, the rebellion would have lost its bluster, since that's what it was, at the start anyway, a group of well spoken men with a grudge against British attempts to curtail certain activities.
    I doubt it would have occured again, you don't get men with Franlin's abilities every century, and the taxes imposed by the Crown were pithy and not worth the trouble of a bloody nose.

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    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    well, whatever would have happened to the colonies on defeat is something we can't be 100% sure of, aside perhaps from the mass hangings of the "ringleaders", but no they wouldn't really have hung the average troops-don't be silly. IIRC, the king and parliment thought that there were "ringleaders" that inspired the "mob" to action. In other words, as far as the King an parliment thought, the masses were unimportant. Simply cut off the "head", and the rest fall quiet. but to their cost, the colonials did not really have any real leaders, nor were they goaded to rebellion by anything resembling a ringleader group, instead being decentralized in nature-something many forget about the revolution. Just look at the revolutionary campaigns: New York, Saratoga, Philedelphia, and the south. all aimed to "excise" the powers to be, and all failed.

    but you have to admit, the painful lessons learned influenced Britain arguably for the better; a changed army, a new way of dealing with the clonies it still had.

    EDIT: a good read is paul revere's ride, by David hackett Fischer. granted, it only concerns the events leading up to, and including, the famous rides, and their aftermath. But his book carefully explores the motivation of the revolutionaries in detail, at least until late 1776.
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 04-16-2009 at 08:32.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    More than likely my great x8 grandfather would've been hung and there would be no me.

    And no one wants that.
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    Default Re: What if?

    I'm not sure if you're boasting about you x8 grandads endowment, or if you meant hanged.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Quote Originally Posted by InsaneApache View Post
    I'm not sure if you're boasting about you x8 grandads endowment, or if you meant hanged.
    This is another side effect of independence. My sentence is grammatically correct.
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Default Re: What if?

    If the colonies are defeated, the King would still be impressed by the Franklin's ability, and adopt him instead of hanging him, and let him spare his comrades. Then, to stop the bloody colonials for revolting again, His Majesty decide to cede the 13 colony for Franklin's own kingdom. Franklin would be forced to accept the American crown, and there was no US, the nation is "Kingdom of Benjamin Franklin"


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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    As said before, all would have been depending of the terms of the Defeat of the Insurgents. And would have been the terms for peace with France?

    The King George was able to sign with the new USA a separate Peace Treaty, but if the US side would have been defeated, the UK would still have to deal with France.
    To carry on the war would have be a menace for India, when the French were doing good progress. The Louisiana was still French, and Louis the XVI, unlike his grand-Father Louis the XV had interest in over sea territories.

    We can imagine the leaders of the Insurgents, shipped to France or to a French territory, creating a Provisional Government, and starting a guerrilla war on the British, sending spies and agents in Quebec, recently occupied by the English with French courreurs des bois along side American rangers sneaking through the forests and cutting Red Coats necks…
    Last edited by Brenus; 04-17-2009 at 20:20.
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    Bopa Member Incongruous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    As said before, all would have been depending of the terms of the Defeat of the Insurgents. And would have been the terms for peace with France?

    The King George was able to sign with the new USA a separate Peace Treaty, but if the US side would have been defeated, the UK would still have to deal with France.
    To carry on the war would have be a menace for India, when the French were doing good progress. The Louisiana was still French, and Louis the XVI, unlike his grand-Father Louis the XV had interest in over sea territories.

    We can imagine the leaders of the Insurgents, shipped to France or to a French territory, creating a Provisional Government, and starting a guerrilla war on the British, sending spies and agents in Quebec, recently occupied by the English with French courreurs des bois along side American rangers sneaking through the forests and cutting Red Coats necks…
    Problem, if Washington and Franklin were dead, the game was up, it was only the ability of Washington to lead (perhaps not that well sometimes) and Franklin's ability to tell very well worded lies that allowed the rebels to mount an armed conflict.

    Problem two, France had no money, the crown may have been interested in overseas territory but nothing could turn back the tide for French colonial efforts after the disaster of the Seven Years War, the game was very much "up". Any attempt by the French to ship the rebel leaders anywhere would most certainly have been met by an offer of battle from the Royal Navy.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    "if Washington and Franklin were dead": Well, it depends on when this happened. For what I remember Franklin came back to America quite late...
    It is often a temptation to believe in the th "imperialist" camp that to kill the leader kill the revolt. What you have to do it to kill the reasons of the revolt...

    "Any attempt by the French to ship the rebel leaders anywhere would most certainly have been met by an offer of battle from the Royal Navy." And? It woudn't be the first time that the French Navy would defeat the Royal Navy, especially at this period...
    The problem is when we speak about navies, people think the Royal Navy invincible. It was far to be true at these times...

    "Problem two, France had no money, the crown may have been interested in overseas territory but nothing could turn back the tide for French colonial efforts after the disaster of the Seven Years War, the game was very much "up""
    Agree about the money. However, the English Example proved that you can ruin your country if you end as the victor and get the Colonial Empire. It could have been the conclusion of the French Ministers...
    The game wasn't over. Georges III did recognised the US independance because he was loosing India. He was in the process to loose India is more accurate.
    The succession of 5 major naval battles were, according English sources, a draw but a strategic victory for the French who landed troops and took some town(s).
    George was not ready to gamble India for US so decide to sign a peace treaty.
    Because it was a separate one (against previous agreement between France and futur US) Louis the XVI wasn't able to gain any thing about the peace so was left only with a HUGE debts and a nobility ready to challenge any taxation...
    Last edited by Brenus; 04-24-2009 at 21:21.
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    Zoodling Millipede Member Ariovistus Maximus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Definitely would have depended on how the British treated the Americans after the war. But there would still be an element of discontent, and eventually it would have boiled over again, and again if necessary. Pretty inevitable.

    That's really why no totalitarian regime (not to say that Britain was that bad; just an example) can last for long with a discontent populace. For instance, suppose that the Germans had blasted the Brits @ Dunkirk, the Russians @ Moscow, etc., then backstabbed the Japanese and taken over the WHOOOOLE world. Even if that were possible, how long would it have lasted? Certainly no more than a generation or two. Its simply impossible to control that many people unless they like it.

    Caligula said, "Let them hate us, so long as they fear us." Well, that's true. But you better watch out because as soon when they stop fearing you (and they will; it's just a matter of time) your days are numbered. In single digits. Or perhaps their hate will overcome their fear. Then your days will still be numbered, but you will have a few more of them.

    History is often a great big cycle. Take great empires for instance.

    Start small > start growing > discover they have considerable ability > start eating up more territory > become major power > but then they start to have to much stuff to manage it all effectively > from this time on, they are largely riding off the momentum of earlier successes > begin to decay > corruption sets in > maybe a revival or two > but ultimately they start to crack > eventually they topple > which opens up for a new empire that will repeat the process.

    Or take society. Most social reform is a big flip-flop in basically a big class struggle.

    There are rich people and poor people. The rich people became rich because they worked hard. Well, eventually the rich people die, and their kids become rich. Now their kids; they didn't have to work to get rich, so they become rather extravagant and abusive because they got the fruits of labor without the experience that comes with it. So the poor people become discontent. And in the process of time it comes to pass that the poor people are fed up and in some dramatic upheaval they get rid of the rich people. Now the poor people are rich and the rich people are poor. Now start at the beginning of this paragraph to find out what happens next.

    Look at any great empire and you will see a similar pattern; its pretty basic. Of course I'm probably off on a few points but it seems pretty accurate overall.
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    Member Centurion1's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    I agree with Arivistonius there would probably have been an upheaval eventually. and if there wasn't which is possible we would have gone the way of Canada and Australia and become commonwealths. look there are no more colonies (even if i think Iraq should be an American colony) so the fact that there would be an America is not in doubt. The boundaries would certainly be different and we most likely wouldn't be very important we would probably be separated into a bunch of little states (much like directly after the war) and we would probably become the new Africa and be poor and squabbling.

    It was mentioned earlier that WW1 would be different. Well, America would have supplied men but i can guarantee you that its industrial framework would be nothing like it was at that period. Britain's colonies were successful because they used a system of economic administration known as mercantilism. This system takes RAW MATERIALS from the daughter states and ships them back to the mother country for processing. So America would most likely be a backwards colony of the Brits, possibly her crown jewel but a colony nonetheless.
    Last edited by Centurion1; 05-19-2009 at 02:13. Reason: hehehe i called the british system of economics economics my bad i meant mercantilism

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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Well, the thing is that future USA was only the 13 colonies... Most of the territory was the French Louisiana, the one that Napoleon sold...
    So if these 13 colonies stayed English, nothing can tell that all the rest of the continent will become English.
    Do you think that waves of immigrants would have happened in a English or French territories?
    Last edited by Brenus; 05-19-2009 at 06:54.
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire.

    "I've been in few famous last stands, lad, and they're butcher shops. That's what Blouse's leading you into, mark my words. What'll you lot do then? We've had a few scuffles, but that's not war. Think you'll be man enough to stand, when the metal meets the meat?"
    "You did, sarge", said Polly." You said you were in few last stands."
    "Yeah, lad. But I was holding the metal"
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    Default Re: What if?

    Actually there WOULD have been immigration in the colonies. Unlike other major powers the British were very happy to send there troublemakers over to the colonies (for example the puritans), well this may have been a mistake they gave them a very impressive population boom in early colonies. Also because of the proclamation of 1763 the further influence of the English in America was severely limited. The proclamation did not allow for colonization past the Appalachians, while this may seem stupid in theory it was actually because the white settlers would most likely have been massacred by the Indians after the French and Indian war (7 years war for you Europeans) but this was never intended as a permanent measure so who really knows.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Brenus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Yes, it would have some immigration but not in the same space, under the same owners.
    California became US long time after and would be Spanish, and Texas too. The French Louisiana wasn’t the actual Louisiana but a far bigger piece of land.
    So in case of English Victory against the Unlawful combatants, the map that will design the future USA would have been different. No going west would be possible under one state rules…
    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire.

    "I've been in few famous last stands, lad, and they're butcher shops. That's what Blouse's leading you into, mark my words. What'll you lot do then? We've had a few scuffles, but that's not war. Think you'll be man enough to stand, when the metal meets the meat?"
    "You did, sarge", said Polly." You said you were in few last stands."
    "Yeah, lad. But I was holding the metal"
    Sergeant Major Jackrum 10th Light Foot Infantery Regiment "Inns-and-Out"

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    Default Re: What if?

    I think that the topic is very hard to really comprehend. We can speculate but we can never really know what would have happened. Of course the British could have gained Spanish Louisiana as a result of winning the war in America (Americas revolution was a WORLD WAR at the end with almost every nation in Europe choosing sides, THIS is why America won not through their superior fighting prowess). Plus California was Spanish but then was passed over to Mexicans when the Spanish withdrew from their colonies. It was not added to the US until the Mexican war in 1848. The same goes for Texas. So i believe that it still would have happened because we white people HAVE to trounce on primitive natives, (we can't help it its a natural instinct) in that line of reasoning we of course could not have allowed the plains Indians autonomy. So yes, it may have taken longer but i believe that eventually would have happened. The geographical necessity of the act is required.
    Last edited by Centurion1; 05-21-2009 at 21:20. Reason: King henry the fith indirectly pointed to a mistake

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    Bringing down the vulgaroisie Member King Henry V's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brenus View Post
    Well, the thing is that future USA was only the 13 colonies... Most of the territory was the French Louisiana, the one that Napoleon sold...
    So if these 13 colonies stayed English, nothing can tell that all the rest of the continent will become English.
    Do you think that waves of immigrants would have happened in a English or French territories?
    Actually, no, it wasn't. French Louisiana was from 1763 until 1800 actually Spanish Louisiana, until the Spaniards agreed to return it control of it to Bonaparte, who then sold it to America for a fair bit of cash. If France didn't win back Louisiana by victory in the American war, then I don't see how it would have go it through defeat.

    I remember reading a while back an alternative history novel called the Two Georges, where the rebels are defeated but nevertheless treated with mercy, and a compromise gives a limited amount of autonomy to the Colonies. The North American Union, as it known, expands westwards, the Red Indian tribes becoming semi-autonomous princely states like the Maharajahs of India, and conquering the rest of real life American territory from the Franco-Spanish Holy Alliance (the French Revolution never having occurred, the two countries form some sort of permanent Bourbon compact).
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  25. #25
    Member Centurion1's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    By taking what you had in your book, which i actually want to read right now i can disagree i think the fate of the Indians were settled in 1492 when Columbus discovered America. They were simply not allowed the chance to truly develop by Europeans. They were constantly shuffled further or further west even if they were civilized like the Cherokee (see trail of tears and the five civilized tribes).
    As to the french revolution never happening i can see this as happening. There is in my mind at least a significant possibility that the french never would have rebelled had the American experiment never been formed. Then again who knows those who the french drew most heavily from (Locke) never really had experience or exposure to America. I think that this is where the fun lies in alternate history it allows the author to ask the question on everyone's mind, what if? An author i recommend for this form of writing would have to be Harry Turtledove a true master of literature if you ask me.

  26. #26
    Zoodling Millipede Member Ariovistus Maximus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Also when considering the effects of an American defeat in the late 1700's we must consider the repercussions in France. The American Revolution sort of pulled the cork out of the bottle for a number of other nations, including the French Revolution.

    As with the U.S., the French would have done it eventually, but I would think that the American Revolution was a catalyst for the French.

    On the other hand, if the Americans had been defeated, the British would have gone after the French who had sent troops to help the U.S., and maybe the French monarch would have crumbled even sooner, due to British pressure...
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    A Member Member Conradus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    On the other hand, if France hadn't helped the colonials, its finances might be in a better state so one of the reasons for the revolution falls away, or lessens severely.

    And even if Britain went after France, which they couldn't really do, not on land anyway, they would never allow a republic to be set up, and soon help the royalists out rather than the revolutionaries.

  28. #28
    Zoodling Millipede Member Ariovistus Maximus's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Actually what I meant was if France had helped and we lost then the Brits might have gone after them.

    But very good insight! Yeah, the British would have had some things to say about the republic that's for sure.
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  29. #29
    Member Centurion1's Avatar
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    Default Re: What if?

    Well the french actually gained money from the revolution. This is "if" they won. remember to the victor goes the spoils. The war for americas freedom was more than a petty squabble between a mother and her child it soon became an entire conflict between the family (europe)

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