Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Post: British Permanently Seize Cuba

9th June, 1762 - British Seize Cuba
On this day British forces begin the Siege of Havana and capture the city. 

When the Seven Years' War broke out with Spain plans had been made in Great Britain for such an amphibious attack on Havana. The expedition was under the command of George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, with Vice-Admiral Sir George Pocock as naval commander. This plan also called for Jeffrey Amherst to embark four thousand men from America to join Keppel and to assemble another force of eight thousand men for an attack on Louisiana. Being an important naval base in the Caribbean, this British victory dealt a serious blow to the Spanish navy, but it came at a very high price.

Because so many of her best quality veteran troops had died of yellow fever (irreplaceable losses causing a problem that would later bite during the American War of Independence), the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris were steadfastly unwilling to give up the island. Instead Spanish restrictions on trade, business, land were dropped, the economy boomed, slaves rushed in, and sugar production rocketed. 

In short British cashed in big time and Cuba, although majority Hispanophone, quickly became a prized asset of the Empire. Caribbean planters, local merchants and other members of the middle class profited also from this unspeakable human misery. But with an enlarged West Indian Lobby in Parliament the island elite had also created a beacon of slavery. Of course their negotiating position was every bit as stubborn as their counter-parts had been in Paris. And this insidious development would also have major consequences a century later when America's southern states declared their own independence. For the Book of Proverbs 1:19 says - "Such are the ways of all who get things by hurting others. Their desire for stolen riches takes away their own lives".


In reality Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war.

Addendum by Jeff Provine:

In the coming decades, the land-hungry Americans pushed south and west, gobbling up old claims from France to Louisiana and Spain to Florida. The British presence in Cuba was a constant threat with the Empire's naval superiority. The two nations faced all-out war time and again with tempers rarely cooled before "embers" fired up again.

1 comment:

  1. on the Today in Alternate History web site we revisit a related scenario from the Seven Years War in British Permanently Seize Manila.


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