Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Guest Post: January 28, 1770 - Troubled Times Begin

From Today in Alternate History with addenda by Jeff Provine

Upon the resignation of the Duke of Grafton, His Britannic Majesty King George III invited Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford to form a Government. Having emerged triumphant from the Seven Years War with the traditional enemy France soundly beaten, the British Empire looked set for global supremacy. Appearances proved deceptive as a decade of crisis began under Lord North's watch.

His Tory Ministry was soon challenged by the Spanish seizure of the Falkland Islands on June 10. Many felt that a diplomatic solution would have been possible, but North determined to wield his might, and war with Spain soon began. While an overseas colonial war went toward British favor, upkeep of the Navy proved very costly to an empire who had become nearly bankrupt over the Seven Years War only a short time before.
As the cost was colonial, North determined to raise more funds from the wealthy American colonies as the military might was protecting them as well. Still enraged by the Boston Massacre that in March of 1770, the Americans soon determined to declare independence. The colony of Georgia, close to Spanish Florida, was apprehensive about losing British defense, but the other colonies "strong-armed" it into the Continental Congress.

North's unpopularity caused disastrous showing of the Tory Party in the 1773 election, and he was forced into an unlikely alliance with the Whigs. Their minority government, detested by the King, was vulnerable to a vote of no confidence. Now overly cautious and fighting two wars, North's Redcoats were unable to exercise maximum force in America, and, to the embarrassment of the British military, the patriots held on to New York City. 

Within a year, Great Britain was forced to acquiesce to American independence. The patriots soon developed huge unity problems of their own as the unlikely coalition of forces had come together so briefly.  For a short while the former colonies operated under a weakened Articles of Confederation but this broke apart within a handful of years as Georgia continually called for aid against supposed Spanish attack. South Carolina was the first to abandon the United States over perceived threats of its institution of slavery, and the once-Union soon broke into several pieces. Resulting wars over westward territory (Virginia and New York had charters with overlapping land grants) in the 1780s crippled the young countries, and military assistance from European nations proved a thin guise for a new wave of colonialism.

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