March 10, 2014

Alternative history - Texas stays non-Anglo a bit longer

The latest installment on my alternative history series? The Pointy Abandoned Object State doesn't get a rush of Anglo settlement in the early 1820s.

We go back to the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, known, with its earlier start, as the French and Indian Wars here in the U.S. Spain, on the losing side with France after its late entry, in the New World is forced to cede Florida to the British. France, in turn, besides ceding French Canada to Britain, yields the Louisiana Territory to Spain.

Under pressure from the early Napoleon, Spain gives Louisiana back to France in 1800. The Treaty of San Ildefonso has what we would call in today's sports free agency world a "right of first refusal." France is supposed to allow Spain a chance to match an offer from any third-party country before selling Louisiana.

Well, Napoleon, soured by defeat in Saint-Domingue (today's Haiti) by revolting slaves, and otherwise deciding that his plans for a French New World Empire are untenable in the face of the British Navy, sells Louisiana to the US, as well all know.

What if he hadn't?

The territory, under pre-1763 France, had been sparsely populated. (The same was true for Quebec; Frenchmen, unlike Spanish and British residents, despite a larger population, never really got into the colonizing mood.)

But, under post-1763 Spanish control, the population picked up. Even more importantly, the economic output, especially in cotton and sugar, soared.

It's a reasonable assumption that Spain would have taken it back, if allowed to.

So, then we get to the post-1810 era. Napoleon has forced his brother Joseph onto the throne in Spain. Joseph has said he's OK if Spanish colonies make themselves independent, in a statement that surely wasn't cleared in advance with his brother. Probably needing little encouragement anyway, the revolts that eventually lead to the independence of non-Caribbean portions of Spanish America take off.

It's safe to assume that this would have included Louisiana.

But, with what end?

Does it become part of an even larger Mexico? A Mexico with even more tenuous hold on Louisiana than on Spain? Do Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico unite to form their own Hispanic nation? Does a shady figure like Gen. James Wilkinson insert himself into this?

In short, there are several different ways in which Anglo immigration (well, legal Anglo immigration) to Texas might have been delayed by half a decade to a decade.

Would that, along with at least a moderate influx of Hispanics from elsewhere, made the likely still-inevitable Anglo Texas more supportive of Mexican property rights?

In actual history, Anglo Americans in all the territories gained by the Mexican Cession after 1848 used a mix of legal chicancery, threats of force and actual use of force, to cut Hispanic Americans, who had been guaranteed their property rights by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, out of said rights. But, nowhere was that worse than in Texas. (Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott should ask his newly-discovered Hispanic wife some of this.)

Something different than the current history of Texas and Louisiana, at the least, would have resulted. And, Texas exceptionalism might have gotten less of a foothold.

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