Questions regarding American Revolution & slavery with a what if?

Feb 2019
5
Seattle
#1
What if King George never felt the need to impose the tea tax that pushed the colonies over the edge? What would have happened if the Colonies had stayed British until 1833 when slavery was banned throughout the empire? Would we have fought the Revolution then to protect the right to own slaves? Would we have called it a war for liberty or would we have framed the argument in terms of Colonial Rights more than individual freedom?
What if my ancestors, who were very important people back in the day and were instrumental in the formation of the plantation system from it's inception becoming rich and powerful in the process, had caught wind in the late-mid 1700s that a younger generation of intellectual Europeans were starting to talk about new concepts of freedom and liberty? What if they even heard rumors of the young Prince of Wales and heir to the thrown of England had made statements in favor of abolishing slavery when he became King?
What if these ancestors of mine being as brilliant as they were in the business of protecting a most evil industry came up with an idea? What if they were thinking that since it was inevitable that Britain would ban slavery within the next generation or two, maybe this would be a good time to take up that new concept called liberty? Maybe they could sell it? All they needed was a little time and some event important enough for people to find this new idea attractive, and they will, because it really is a beautiful idea.
What if they thought it would be better to protect their way of life by taking on King George sooner rather than later because George was kind of an idiot and his son might not be as easy to defeat?
I'm wondering because those were my people and I have been studying how my people think for a long time and they were capable of thinking in ways like this. It's a fair question.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,484
Dispargum
#2
1833 is an interesting year. It's too early for abolition to become a major force in American politics. Many Northerners were aware of how important cotton was to the Northern economy. Long before 1833 there probably would have been strains in the colonial fabric. The Americans would have been attracted to independence. If they hadn't broken away from Britain yet, they might be very close, needing only a spark. If Britain had tried to abolish slavery in its American colonies, there could have been a war for independence in 1833.

On the other hand, considering how important cotton and slavery were to the imperial economy Britain may not have abolished slavery so soon. It was easy for Britain to abolish slavery when all of the cotton being consumed by British textile mills was produced outside of the empire. If abolishing slavery meant no more cotton and throwing the British economy into chaos, I doubt the British would have done it.

Without independence there would have been no Louisianna Purchase as Napoleon would not sell territory to the British Empire. Unless the American colonies, fighting the French during the Napoleonic Wars, invaded and captured Louisianna Territory as there is little else the Americans could have done to help out Mother England.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,770
#3
If no independence, would there have been expansion beyond the Appalachians or industrialization of the north, both of which were banned under British rule?
 
Likes: Futurist
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#4
What if King George never felt the need to impose the tea tax that pushed the colonies over the edge? What would have happened if the Colonies had stayed British until 1833 when slavery was banned throughout the empire? Would we have fought the Revolution then to protect the right to own slaves? Would we have called it a war for liberty or would we have framed the argument in terms of Colonial Rights more than individual freedom?
What if my ancestors, who were very important people back in the day and were instrumental in the formation of the plantation system from it's inception becoming rich and powerful in the process, had caught wind in the late-mid 1700s that a younger generation of intellectual Europeans were starting to talk about new concepts of freedom and liberty? What if they even heard rumors of the young Prince of Wales and heir to the thrown of England had made statements in favor of abolishing slavery when he became King?
What if these ancestors of mine being as brilliant as they were in the business of protecting a most evil industry came up with an idea? What if they were thinking that since it was inevitable that Britain would ban slavery within the next generation or two, maybe this would be a good time to take up that new concept called liberty? Maybe they could sell it? All they needed was a little time and some event important enough for people to find this new idea attractive, and they will, because it really is a beautiful idea.
What if they thought it would be better to protect their way of life by taking on King George sooner rather than later because George was kind of an idiot and his son might not be as easy to defeat?
I'm wondering because those were my people and I have been studying how my people think for a long time and they were capable of thinking in ways like this. It's a fair question.

Not quite slavery, but Revolutionary Era persnickety-ness on my part...

George only taxed colonial tea... the British East India Co was allowed to import tea to the colonies, tax free (thanks to an act of Parliament, not George)... the colonists couldn't compete and it was the East India Company's tea thrown into the harbor.

The British taxes that helped push colonists over the edge were the sugar, stamp and Townshend (general import tax to raise salaries for governors, etc) taxes... Though the second two were repealed...

Also, George III really had nothing to do with the taxes imposed on the colonies. It was Parliament who was doing that... George was a pretty down to earth guy, believing his duties as a sovereign to be in service to the country... He was fascinated by farming - developing new crop and selectively breeding sheep and cattle - astronomy and the sciences ... an intelligent, devoted, interesting guy. The people of England loved him! The Prince of Wales, on the other hand, was a reprobate (I wanted to say degenerate, but I'll stick with reprobate). He drank himself blind, spent beyond his income and constantly got himself into sordid affairs... at one point his father had to request Parliament to give the money needed to buy off some jaded mistress of George IV... He was a joke... just not a very funny one.
 
Feb 2019
5
Seattle
#5
1833 is an interesting year. It's too early for abolition to become a major force in American politics. Many Northerners were aware of how important cotton was to the Northern economy. Long before 1833 there probably would have been strains in the colonial fabric. The Americans would have been attracted to independence. If they hadn't broken away from Britain yet, they might be very close, needing only a spark. If Britain had tried to abolish slavery in its American colonies, there could have been a war for independence in 1833.

On the other hand, considering how important cotton and slavery were to the imperial economy Britain may not have abolished slavery so soon. It was easy for Britain to abolish slavery when all of the cotton being consumed by British textile mills was produced outside of the empire. If abolishing slavery meant no more cotton and throwing the British economy into chaos, I doubt the British would have done it.

Without independence there would have been no Louisianna Purchase as Napoleon would not sell territory to the British Empire. Unless the American colonies, fighting the French during the Napoleonic Wars, invaded and captured Louisianna Territory as there is little else the Americans could have done to help out Mother England.
Both the royal heirs George IV and William IV had demonstrated a commitment to the idea of ending slavery long before they had their chance at the helm. The economic realities of that were known to them at the time and the mood in England and Europe in general was decidedly moving in the direction of abolition. The Colonist knew that slavery was doomed as an institution within the a generation or two if action was not taken to extradite themselves from English rule.
I submit that the fear of abolition in England was a motivating factor for the American slave ruling elite, which included a majority of Founders, in their decision to break free from England. I further submit that the promise of independence was the mechanism used to motivate the common population into agreeing with that sentiment. The administrators of slavery had been fighting a very long game for a very long time keeping alive something that everyone of them knew, at its heart, was doomed to be overcome by history.
 
Feb 2019
5
Seattle
#6
Not quite slavery, but Revolutionary Era persnickety-ness on my part...

George only taxed colonial tea... the British East India Co was allowed to import tea to the colonies, tax free (thanks to an act of Parliament, not George)... the colonists couldn't compete and it was the East India Company's tea thrown into the harbor.

The British taxes that helped push colonists over the edge were the sugar, stamp and Townshend (general import tax to raise salaries for governors, etc) taxes... Though the second two were repealed...

Also, George III really had nothing to do with the taxes imposed on the colonies. It was Parliament who was doing that... George was a pretty down to earth guy, believing his duties as a sovereign to be in service to the country... He was fascinated by farming - developing new crop and selectively breeding sheep and cattle - astronomy and the sciences ... an intelligent, devoted, interesting guy. The people of England loved him! The Prince of Wales, on the other hand, was a reprobate (I wanted to say degenerate, but I'll stick with reprobate). He drank himself blind, spent beyond his income and constantly got himself into sordid affairs... at one point his father had to request Parliament to give the money needed to buy off some jaded mistress of George IV... He was a joke... just not a very funny one.
Thank you for the fill in. It wasn't exactly the point of this particular historical experiment, but thanks.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,484
Dispargum
#7
... the mood in England and Europe in general was decidedly moving in the direction of abolition. The Colonist knew that slavery was doomed as an institution within the a generation or two if action was not taken to extradite themselves from English rule.
I submit that the fear of abolition in England was a motivating factor for the American slave ruling elite, which included a majority of Founders, in their decision to break free from England. I further submit that the promise of independence was the mechanism used to motivate the common population into agreeing with that sentiment. The administrators of slavery had been fighting a very long game for a very long time keeping alive something that everyone of them knew, at its heart, was doomed to be overcome by history.
Interesting. Do you have any sources from the Revolutionary Period that shows that any of the founders were concerned about abolition in England spreading to America? There's a vague reference in the Declaration of Independence to Lord Dunmore's Proclamation, but it's a stretch to interpret that as you have.

There was a common belief in America, even in the South and even among slave owners, that slavery was dying a long, slow natural death due to economic factors. Can you prove that anyone thought that independence would pump new life into the institution of slavery?

Same question, do you have any sources showing that the planter aristocracy used the promise of slavery to justify independence? Independence was most controversial in the southern colonies, at least initially. There were more loyalists in the South than in New England, for example.
 
Likes: Niobe
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#8
I would think that their were indicators that abolitionist thinking was already happening within the brand new U.S. government - and that it would cause more concern than any figurehead's whims (good, or reprobate ;) ) in England. Jefferson originally had a phrase denouncing slavery in the Declaration of Independence... later edited out mainly to appease the South Carolinians (the Carolinas were very happy with being English subjects... it took work for the angry New Englanders to get them on board) - and the New England merchants who also profited from slavery. So there was a turning from slavery already happening *within* the U.S... not sure if anything the Kings of England said was really a threat.

It was Parliament, perhaps, that would be more likely to spook colonists wanting slavery, since you had people like Wilberforce and Fox taking up the issue in 1783 (I think...? Oh, my memory) and battling it out for years in Parliament. Parliament had the power to keep their Kings in check, essentially, since they tried Charles I for treason and abolished the monarchy for a period... finally letting Charles II have a go later on... maybe they missed their King? ;) They have the "door knocking ritual" in the commons for a reason... slamming the door shut in the face of the royal representative at the Opening of Parliament. It would be the "radicals" in Parliament they'd be more afraid of, I think.

My main point in contrasting George III with George IV (and even William IV, another indolent, spendthrift King... making people rather sick of the Monarchy in general)... when something intelligent comes out of an idiot's mouth... does anyone take it seriously? When a man who can't manage his life with any decorum or integrity backs abolition... it almost makes it into a joke. I don't know if it would be enough to make colonist slave owners quake in their boots... I think this might shows more about who the King's powerful supporters (and as the Prince of Wales, he was pretty desperate to be King, so he needed support... George III lived a long time and was afflicted with mental illness in later years) in Parliament were, and that he had started to pick up their views in mutual support. But again, a "Fop" denouncing slavery when the actual changing of laws would happen in Parliament... not too much of a worry, I would think.

What's interesting... is after the War if Independence, Jefferson (supposedly) drafted a bill to abolish slavery in the U.S... so this would have been very early... but he withheld it. In 1806, he did finally press to have the slave trade ended and participants treated as criminals... again, he couldn't get South Carolina on board (telling). The waters are a bit muddy, since Jefferson had some rather diametrically opposed statements and practices concerning slavery, but, here was a influential man, key to government, born into a "society of slavery", who was also denouncing it's practice. Pretty damning. I'd think slavery supporters would worry more about someone like him than fop Kings.
 
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#9
There's a vague reference in the Declaration of Independence to Lord Dunmore's Proclamation...
:eek: I think this is the phrase used to replace the anti-slavery "cruel war against humanity itself..." statement edited out from the draft of the Declaration... it's so euphemistic in it's current form, I didn't realize it related to Dunmore's Proclamation...

Is there any hope that I can grow up and be as smart as Chlodio? Maybe if I drink more coffee? :think:
 

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