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Thread: War between US and Britain, late 1800s

  1. #1
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    War between US and Britain, late 1800s

    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Sure, it did take a while to go across but the Titanic sank in 1912 meaning there was a fair bit of traffic going across the Atlantic decades back. What stopped the king visiting earlier. No good reasons ?

    I was just surprised it took that long for a reigning monarch to visit. That US was going to overtake the UK was apparent by the late 19th early 20th century. Britain chose not to fight it. Usually when rising powers arrive they are challenged by the existing title holder. So there was an understanding much earlier or maybe accommodation is a better word. I need to refresh my memory about this, cpl years back i heard a prof talk about this period. Kori Schake.

    So the making of this special relationship i thought predated WW2. Or lets say its foundations did.
    Pragmatism on the part of Britain. If you can't beat them, accommodate them and certainly don't antagonize them.

    Britain made one hell of a dangerous play back during our Civil War. Rendering aid, trading with, and recognizing the belligerency of the Confederacy was an enormous mistake. There was nothing they could do to stop us from turning our enormous war machine and making a clean sweep of British North America in 1866/67. We were the world's pre-eminent land and industrial power at this point, and the primary population and economic centers of British North America were within marching distance of the US border.

    We also could have incited and aided insurrection in Britain's other colonial possessions. The extent to and effectiveness with which we could have done this can be debated, but we could have had certainly had an impact, creating a real mess in parts of the British Empire. We could have also aided Britain's colonialist competitors in Europe, or gone into league with them against Britain. Russia comes to mind.

    Having lost the Crimean War, and worried about the viability of keeping control of Alaska in the face of British consolidation in Canada, they sold Alaska to us to spite Britain, avoid losing it in a possible future repeat of the Crimean War, and as a thank you for allowing their warships to dock safely in our ports during the Crimean War.

    I think Britain realized its mistakes and spent the next 60 years backpedaling, before finally cultivating us as an ally in the 1910s to counter-balance the Germans, on the basis of shared culture, language, etc.

    France had made a double mistake in the 1860s, and paid the price for it. They took advantage of our distraction in our Civil War, and in a miscalculated misadventure, overthrew the Mexican government, installing the younger brother of the Austrian emperor as the "Emperor of Mexico". US policy, of course, was not to tolerate European intervention in the independent countries of the Americas.

    We provided just enough aid after our Civil War ended to force France out, and shortly thereafter France's puppet, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, would-be Emperor of Mexico, was executed. France also found itself diplomatically isolated, and without friends, just a few years later, when the Prussians rolled into Paris and overthrew Napoleon III. History may have played out that way regardless, but their meddling in our backyard, as well as their aid to, recognition of the belligerency of, and trade with, the Confederacy, surely didn't help things either.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 06 Jul 19, at 00:13.
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    ironduke,

    Britain made one hell of a dangerous play back during our Civil War. Rendering aid, trading with, and recognizing the belligerency of the Confederacy was an enormous mistake. There was nothing they could do to stop us from turning our enormous war machine and making a clean sweep of British North America in 1866/67. We were the world's pre-eminent land and industrial power at this point, and the primary population and economic centers of British North America were within marching distance of the US border.
    this is probably better for the "what if" thread but that wasn't the balance of power in the 1860s. the North was crucially reliant on the City of London's finances and UK trade; as it was, the North's economy was fairly shaky by 1863 (far worse in the South, of course, which essentially was melting down).

    UK industry was still bigger than the US at that point-- US wouldn't exceed the UK until the mid 1880s, IIRC. more importantly, the Royal Navy was far larger than the US Navy.

    had the British intervened, the North -might- have seized some parts of Canada; but then the British would have instituted a blockade that the USN would have been powerless to break, and then they would start bombarding the US coastal cities. that is in addition to breaking the Northern blockade of the South. the Northern economy would go off a cliff, the South would have free rein to financing and weapons, and Lincoln would have been forced to the table.

    if this happened during the Civil War, then the North is toast. the Civil War was a damned near-run thing in October 1862 and slightly less so in July 1863-- it wasn't actually clear that the North would -win- until fall 1864.

    if the US tried to fight the UK after the Civil War, it would have been a similar result-- the US economy would be broken by naval action alone.

    of course by the 1890s the balance had dramatically changed, which is why the British ultimately backed down in the Venezuela Crisis of 1895.
    Last edited by astralis; 06 Jul 19, at 03:08.
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    ironduke,



    this is probably better for the "what if" thread but that wasn't the balance of power in the 1860s. the North was crucially reliant on the City of London's finances and UK trade; as it was, the North's economy was fairly shaky by 1863 (far worse in the South, of course, which essentially was melting down).

    UK industry was still bigger than the US at that point-- US wouldn't exceed the UK until the mid 1880s, IIRC. more importantly, the Royal Navy was far larger than the US Navy.

    had the British intervened, the North -might- have seized some parts of Canada; but then the British would have instituted a blockade that the USN would have been powerless to break, and then they would start bombarding the US coastal cities. that is in addition to breaking the Northern blockade of the South. the Northern economy would go off a cliff, the South would have free rein to financing and weapons, and Lincoln would have been forced to the table.

    if this happened during the Civil War, then the North is toast. the Civil War was a damned near-run thing in October 1862 and slightly less so in July 1863-- it wasn't actually clear that the North would -win- until fall 1864.

    if the US tried to fight the UK after the Civil War, it would have been a similar result-- the US economy would be broken by naval action alone.

    of course by the 1890s the balance had dramatically changed, which is why the British ultimately backed down in the Venezuela Crisis of 1895.
    You're right on the finance and the time we we overtook Britain in industrial production (1880s/90s). You're right that Britain was a naval power without peer at this time.

    I think it's worth noting however, that while Britain was eventually able to get its cotton elsewhere (e.g. Egypt), the island would have experienced a serious famine without our food exports. Britain also had serious pressing foreign concerns elsewhere, and a war with us could have easily turned into a wider conflict with other powers. We perhaps had a lot to lose, but I believe they had even more to lose.

    Even with just hostility short of war, we did have a massive amount of military surplus and the means to get it places that would cause a fair amount of trouble for Britain. The Musket Wars among the Maori in New Zealand comes to mind as an example of arms ending up in certain places at a certain time, having a huge impact.

    You're right that I'm 20-30 years off in the scenario I laid out. This discussion too is better suited for the "What-If" forum. Maybe we should do another thread split if anyone's interested.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 06 Jul 19, at 07:44.
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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Hmm , i missed this thread. My replies to the points you bring up are still stuck in the other one

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Hmm , i missed this thread. My replies to the points you bring up are still stuck in the other one
    Copy-paste them over here. I asked Top a little while back if he could copy some of the posts from the other thread to this one.

    I think there's enough material and interest to work with to make for a good discussion.
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    So i listened to Kori's talk about her book Safe Passage and its very fascinating. We can date the beginning of the "special relationship" to 1823 when the Brits, get this, propose to the Americans an idea that comes to be known as the Monroe doctrine. The Brits then enforce said doctrine for the next fifty years as the Americans weren't ready yet. This came as a surprise to me as a) i didn't realise this was a British idea to begin with and that Britain did the heavy lifting for half a century thereafter. Nothing in wiki to this effect.
    I don't think the Monroe Doctrine was a British idea... Britain was simply on the same wavelength of excluding other European countries from the New World, but for entirely different reasons than the US. Namely, the import of raw materials and agricultural products from the Americas, and the export of manufactured goods.

    The US didn't want to be surrounded by potentially hostile European empires for geopolitical among other reasons, and didn't want to be encroached upon territorially. The US simply wanted a free hand to pursue its interests without European interference. Whatever cooperation there was, seems more coincidental than coordinated.

    The idea of this doctrine is America keeps other Euros out and this leave just the US & Brits as key players in the region. The Americans only enforce the doctrine on the Brits in 1895 when there is some debt problem with Venezuela. Funny how Venezuela was PITA even back then. So the Brits back down but this in reality was a reckless decision by the Americans as their navy was no match whatsoever to the Royal Navy in 1895. And the British decision not to push the Americans here as very shrewd.
    The 1895 dispute between Britain and Venezuela was over conflicting territorial claims. Venezuela laid claim to half the territory of Guyana up to the Essequibo River (and still does to this day). I think what you may have been referring to is the Venezuelan Debt Crisis of 1902-03.

    What the Brits did do was enforce blockades something the Americans didn't like but this was for larger British interests. They did it all over the world when necessary and this was not directed specifically against the US.
    An aside, but I suppose 19th century blockades aren't really any different than 20th/21st century American sanctions. Other countries may not like them either, but more often than not abide by them anyways. Just an observation, nothing to do with anything else that's been posted about.

    Go back a century earlier and a similar problem presented itself. The Brits lost the US in 1776 due to mismanagement on their part. At a time when they had to fend off the Spanish & French. What do they do. Move to India.
    The loss of the US, which in some measure re-directed Britain's efforts elsewhere, in addition to the buildup of British naval forces and army in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars certainly left it with, for lack of a better term, surplus capacity, which was used to conquer and colonize elsewhere.

    It only served to help that Spain had experienced years of occupation and war and was losing most of the last of its empire, and France had been finally defeated. Two major competitors were left incapable of challenging Britain's primacy, and there was no serious competition on the horizon for at least several decades.

    If you're interested in alternate history, there's a novel called The Peshawar Lancers, by S.M. Stirling. The background of the book, the British Empire is forced to move to India (henceforth known in the novel as the Angrezi Raj) in the wake of heavy meteor impacts in 1878, which rendered much of Europe cold, far less habitable, and unable to support much agriculture.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peshawar_Lancers
    Last edited by Ironduke; 06 Aug 19, at 18:13.
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