What if the British Had Won the Revolutionary War? Part 1

About what might have happened if the British had won the Revolutionary War, an alternate history of the United States.

WHAT IF . . . ?

What If the British Had Won the Revolutionary War?

What Really Happened: The American Revolutionary War was decided at the crucial Battle of Saratoga on Oct. 17, 1777. Burgoyne's surrender to Gates's army constituted the first major rebel victory. It helped gain foreign support for the American cause and provided the impetus for the eventual defeat of the British and the attainment of American independence.

But What If . . . the Americans had lost this milestone battle and the British had won?

Here Is What Might Have Happened: There would have been no United States of America, no Constitution, no Fourth of July. What would there have been instead? In his fascinating book For Want of a Nail, historian Robert Sobel projected the "what if" premise to rewrite American history and the history of the world.

The British under Burgoyne crushed the colonists at Saratoga. Realizing that his inadequacies as commander in chief were ultimately responsible for the defeat, Washington resigned his commission and retired to Mount Vernon. The rebel cause was now hopeless, and in June, 1778, the last American forces officially surrendered. Although George III granted a general amnesty, nine leaders of the rebellion, including Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Patrick Henry, were executed. Washington was imprisoned for life. In 1782 the British divided the colonies into three confederations--northern, central, and southern--which were known collectively as the Confederation of North America (CNA).

Many rebels still resisted British control, and a group led by James Madison and James Monroe settled in the Texas area, where they established the independent colony of Jefferson. Soon, with the introduction of the cotton gin and the use of slave labor, a cotton economy developed and flourished. By 1816 the Jeffersonians were eager for expansion and intervened in the Mexican Civil War, which had been dragging on for a decade. Under the leadership of Andrew Jackson, they took control of the Mexican government and merged Jefferson and Mexico into the republic of the United States of Mexico (USM).

The British economy nearly collapsed in 1835, leading to financial panic in the CNA. The Northern Confederation was particularly hard hit. When Indians from the Indiana territory staged a rebellion in 1839, they were savagely suppressed by the CNA army. The following year, in the midst of crippling strikes and mob rioting, CNA Gov. Daniel Webster was assassinated. Webster's successor managed to suppress the uprisings by 1841--after much bloodshed and suspension of civil liberties.

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