Sep 142017
 

The AlternateHistoryHub YouTube channel runs through some interesting “what if” scenarios. A recent one – which the guy had the bad timing to release just after the national socialist LARPer in Charlottesville ran into the crowd of international socialist LARPers – discusses the scenario of what America might be like if the African slave trade never happened. It’s an interesting thought experiment, but a difficult one. The roots of the issue go back so far that even if somehow history could be altered so that the European powers never sailed down to Africa and bought African slaves for use in the New World sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations, so much time has passed that the number of alternate divergent timelines is uncountable.

 

But what he comes up with basically ends up with Europe being somewhat poorer, because they didn’t make as much profit from sugar and such, and the industrial revolution takes a little while longer to kick in. And the USA? Assuming it still comes about, it doesn’t have the same nasty racist history… but it also doesn’t really have any black folks, either.

It’s impossible to say that any one proposed timeline is impossible, barring the sudden use of AND THEN A MIRACLE HAPPENED, but one of his assumptions I disagree with: that the industrial revolution would be delayed. The European powers would still want to grow sugar cane and sell the sugar back home (and cotton, etc.), but without slaves they’d have to actually *pay* people. Which means the exercise would be less profitable. That much we agree on. But it seems to me… that would actually *spur* innovation. Slave-based economies tend to not be terribly innovative because they don’t really *need* to be, and because innovation can cause all kinds of social havoc. So I’d suspect that in this alternate history, if we assume the USA is still formed more or less on schedule, the Revolutionary War *might* be fought with some early steam-powered ships. Perhaps some terribly crappy locomotives are running around hauling cargo and troops. The American colonists *might* have had a substantial technological lead over the Brits for the simple reason they would have *had* to. Instead of the North being the unquestioned center of innovation compared tot he agrarian South, perhaps the South would have been industrialized early on in order to make plantations economical.

So by the time the Civil War would have broken out, the alt-USA has no need for a Civil War. The tech level in the alt-USA would be substantially higher than it was in the real-USA at the start of the war… but a few years later, with the pressures of the war, the real-USA might have done a job of catching up. But I dunno… I still think it’s quite possible that in the alternate timeline with the greater economic pressures to be an innovation nation, by the 1860’s the USA will be brightly lit with electric lights and telephone lines cross the land.

In the real-USA, the antebellum South was more-or-less broken down into a few really rich white folks, a lot of dirt-poor white folks, and a lot of dirt poorer black folks. In the alt-USA, the South would have broken down into some kinda rich white folks and a bunch of kinda poor white folks… and essentially no black folks. The poor white folks would be unlikely to be anywhere near middle class… the north, after all, didn’t have slavery in its industrial factories, but instead paid employees… and they were hardly living the high life. Still, the poor whites of alt-South would have been better off than the “poor white trash” of real-South. In the real-USA, small southern farmers were pretty well screwed; how could they compete against plantations using slave labor? In the alt-USA, that wouldn’t be an issue. Instead, they might be faced with the prospect of having to compete with plantations that are early adopters of mechanization.

Without the history of black slavery, the alt-USA wouldn’t end up with the Klan and Jim Crow laws and all that garbage. Probably wouldn’t have had laws against “race mixing” and all that. The alt-USA would have wound up almost certainly being a *really* white country; where the real-USA imported millions of black slaves, the alt-USA would have had to import a roughly equivalent number of European workers. The alt-USA would not have had the blatant racism… but maybe it would have had a more “comfortable” racism against, say, Hispanics and Asians and such. African slavery necessarily made the USA a “multi racial” society. But the alt-USA would at least in principle have had the option of being Europeans-only. *Perhaps* the alt-USA would have blocked the immigration of Chinese, Mexicans or perhaps even Italians… recall that back in the day, the likes of Italians and Irish were considered “non-white” for reasons we’d today find pretty laughable.

Or perhaps without the history of Unpleasantness, the alt-USA would turn out to be a perfectly accepting nation when it came to ethnicities, with none of that racist stuff.

Another recent video is “What if the War On Terror Never Happened?” Here I largely agree with the guy… the world would have turned out much the same, with the Middle East explodey as usual. However, one thing he missed when he assumes the US doesn’t invade Iraq and topples Saddam: the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Yes, the WMD program that the worlds intelligence services largely though was A Thing in Iraq turned out to be a lot of misdirection by Saddam. But the experience and intelligence and industrial base was still there; all Saddam really needed to do was wait out the UN inspection regime. And as memory serves, that would have ended circa 2005. So alt-Saddam, rather than being dead, would have restarted the Iraqi nuclear program, potentially with the assistance of the Pakistani and/or North Korean programs. So then when Iraq does eventually go into civil war sometime in the two-thousand-teens, the alt-ISIS is armed with if not actual nukes, potentially with dirty bombs, chemical weapons, weaponized pathogens. Greeeeeaaaat.

 

 Posted by at 1:50 am
  • Allen Ury

    I am a big fan of the Alternate History site and find most of his scenarios plausible. Of course, just because things would be “different” doesn’t mean they would have been “better.” Too bad we’ll never have a chance to go back and actually run these “What If?” timelines. I’m sure they’d be just full of nasty surprises.

    • Scottlowther

      >just because things would be “different” doesn’t mean they would have been “better.”

      Indeed. Too often I see people positing some what-if, only carrying it forward one step, and not seeing what comes next.

      “Let’s Kill Hitler!” Sure, great. Assume Hitler dies, say, in a gas attack in WWI. *Probably* the Nazis never gain the sort of traction they did in reality. S the Nazis don’t take over Germany, WWII and the Holocaust don’t happen. Whoopee!. But then… who does take over Germany? The Weimar Republic was a disaster. Chances were pretty good that *someone* was going to take over and change it, and if it wasn’t the fascists, chances are good it would have been the commies. So we end up with the Commies dominating Europe by, say, 1940. When some sort of war does inevitably break out, its the Soviet Union vs. Britain with *maybe* France, but the USSR now includes the might of Germany. At the very least you end up with Britain and the rest of Europe falling under Soviet domination for the next century or so. WWII still happens, maybe, just with slightly different players. No Holocaust, most likely… but very likely new and improved Holodomors. Britain surrounded by the Soviet Navy cut off from all trade. Tens of millions starve in Britain due to the imposed famine. Of course, even more tens of millions starve in the rest of Europe because the commies suuuuuck at running planed economies.

      The US stays out of WWII, because why the hell would FDR go to war with his pal Stalin?

      Eventually the US and USSR would tangle… maybe late forties, maybe fifties, who knows. Would we have nukes by then? Maybe. The US would probably not hve had the benefit of the Nazis-imposed brain drain; so the Soviets would have a whole bunch of European scientist who otherwise would have worked on Manhattan. So possibly the Soviets come up with nukes first. Without the horrifying examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a nuke-armed world would be more likely to start flinging the things around.

      So, kill Hitler in 1918 and cause a nuclear apocalypse in 1955.

      And then thousands of years later, Kirk and Spock show up to put an end to the fighting between the Koms and the Yangs.

      • Paul451

        So we end up with the Commies dominating Europe by, say, 1940. When some sort of war does inevitably break out, its the Soviet Union vs. Britain with *maybe* France, but the USSR now includes the might of Germany.

        Marxism was originally spun off from German socialist movements; for European communists, that is its natural “home”. So if Germany democracy fell to a socialist alliance which then fell to a communist purge, the centre of communism from then on would not be Russia, it would be Germany. Since Stalin would never allow himself to be suborned to Germany, Russia/Germany wouldn’t unify, certainly Stalin would have no influence over Germany. German-Marxism would dominate communist movements through Europe (including and especially in France) and rest of the world, much more than Leninist/Stalinist communism. And after Stalin, Russia would return to being the minor regional player of the Tsarist era; influenced by German communist fads and trends but always on the fringe, and never being willing to unify with German-dominated European communism.

        If Britain went to war with communist Germany, it’s likely that Germany and Russia would ally, of course. However, IMO, it’s less likely that Germany would be pushing for open war. They’d be trying to politically/socially/economically mess with Europe, rather than just invade. Even Stalin stayed out of major wars until the Nazi invasion.

        OTOH, it’s likely that in the face of local communist movements funded and coordinated by Germany, local fascist movements would be stronger in more countries; the middle would be lost. (Even in Britain. Remember the abdication crisis was in the ’30s, British Royalty was politically weak, that in turn undermines the whole link between a sense of patriotism and the existing national institutions. Against the spread of German-led communism, the Blackshirts wouldn’t seem so ridiculous.) So you might see a simpler divide in Europe between nations that fall to fascism (Britain, Spain, Italy, most of the south) and those that fall to communism (Germany, France, most of the north). Not sure which way eastern Europe and the Slavic regions would go, but without our version of WWII, they would not be under Russian control. Either way, you might end up with a Fascists vs Communists war in Europe, essentially north vs south. The more industrialised north would win, unless the US takes sides. And it should be a fairly quick war. So a communist Europe from Britain to Russia by the late 30’s, early 40’s at the latest.

        However… Japan? It’s likely that Japan would be still do its version of fascism, and still have ambitions to control Asia. Would they still try a crippling attack on the US? Or would the fascist-friendly industrialists in the US, like Ford and Kennedy Sr, be able to use that to push the US to support European fascism? In which case, seeing the influence of European communism on the German/French SEAsian colonies, would Japan not see the US as a threat, hence no Pearl Harbor, no trigger for war; lots of US pro-fascist political support for Japan. With the European war done by the ’40s (barring active US alliance with the southern/British fascists), the European communists would defend their former colonies in Asia from Japanese invasion. So the main war would be a land war in Asia, Japan (perhaps with US support) based from China, vs the communist Euro colonies (from New Guinea to greater India).

        After that… No idea. Would the independent British colonies of Canada/Australia stay loyal to the British fascists in the lead up to European war? Would Australia therefore support Japan, instead of fighting them and nearly being invaded? What would happen in the British Caribbean? In Sth America? Mexico? Nth Africa/Middle East? I mean, if communism was European, then there’d be no draw for the nativist anti-colonialists, would democracy be the trendy thing for young rebels in what in our history became 3rd world communism?

        • Scottlowther

          > the centre of communism from then on would not be Russia, it would be
          Germany. Since Stalin would never allow himself to be suborned to
          Germany, Russia/Germany wouldn’t unify, certainly Stalin would have no
          influence over Germany.

          I’d bet large sums of someone else’s money that if Weimar Germany became Communist Germany, Stalin would find a way to take over the joint, even if he had to roll right through Poland to do it. Dude didn’t seem the kind to take a back seat. Say what you will about Hitler, he and the Nazis did an amazing short-term job of unifying the defeated and ecomomically destroyed Germans, using propaganda, religion and hearkening back to local mythology. A Communist government seems unlikely to have been able to do the same thing… commies have largely been chucklefucks who are little better than bomb throwers, able to take over only through thuggery. A Commiefied Weimar Germany seems like it’d be a mess, and open form Stalins goons to take over.

          Of course, until we get that “simulate the universe on your Iphone” app up and running, it’ll be impossible to really say.

          • Paul451

            A Communist government seems unlikely to have been able to do the same thing… commies have largely been chucklefucks who are little better than bomb throwers, able to take over only through thuggery.

            I disagree. Commies excelled at the taking over part. And staying in power once there, precisely because of their ability to create a loyalist ideology. Running things is where they sucked. During the transition, they would have been highly successful; especially in a place like Germany.

          • Scottlowther

            I didn’t say commies were no good at taking over. I said that they wouldn’t have been able to forge the sort of insanely unified Volk that the Nazis were.

          • Paul451

            Except they did in Russia, China, Vietnam, etc etc. IMO, they have a better track record than fascists and the various dictators of the world. (I don’t why people continued to gravitate to communism, even after they’ve seen the reality, but anti-communist revolutions are much rarer than revolts against other systems.)

          • Scottlowther

            > Except they did in Russia, China, Vietnam, etc etc.

            To be fair, those were lands without a whole lot of history of political diversity. They were lands of serfs, essentially, while Germany was a more modern “cosmopolitan” place. it kinda looks like the only way the commies were able to keep a grip on East Germany was to ape the Nazi system… hell, their uniforms were almost exactly the same.

          • Paul451

            In the case of East Germany, that was a straight-up Russian satrapy, essentially an occupied territory. Obviously that requires… persuasion.

            In the case of Germany becoming communist, it would be its own national system. Indeed, I suspect the German communists would see Russia as, as you say, a “land of serfs”, offering them nothing. Ultimately, they’d expect Russia to become subservient to them. (Which might happen, at least philosophically, after Stalin died. As I said, similar to the Tsar’s relationship with European royalty.)

            {shrug} My point is that 1930’s Germany wouldn’t have our history, our expectations of communism as a Russian-centric phenomena. Likewise, Stalin wouldn’t, at that time, have the power to roll over Eastern Europe. (At that time, he was still purging the military of a goodly chunk of its officers.)

            Anyway, I’m flogging a dead horse, but I find it an interesting what-if because essentially one election in one country in the 1930’s would utterly transform global history. Probably as little change as the leadership of the workers parties allying with the Communist Party instead of the Nazi Party.

          • Scottlowther

            > essentially one election in one country in the 1930’s would utterly transform global history.

            There are those who think that if some triggering event could be altered, something would step in to set things back on course. Of course, most of the people who think that seem to write shitty screenplays, but still…

            L Neil Smith had his “Roswell, Texas” alternate history where Hitler became an unimportant artist, never hooked up with the Nazis and wound up emigrating to the US and marrying a Hispanic woman. The Nazis rose to power without him, but instead of Hitler they succeeded because of Rohm. But since he was gay, the alt-Nazis wound up wearing a lot of bondage gear and pink (it was kinda goofy).

            i once wanted to write an alternate history of the war where one particular Luftwaffe general *didn’t* die in a plane crash in the late 1930s (I forget the name at the moment). He was the main driver of the effort to get the Luftwaffe into the strategic bomber business; when he died, the Luftwaffe found itself happy with fighters and small relatively short range bombers. Change that one detail, and when the Germans and the Russians eventually tangle, the Germans would have the ability to reach beyond the Urals and bomb the crap out of the Soviet T-34 factories, as well as patrol the Atlantic better to take out ships taking supplies to the Brits and Russians.

          • Paul451

            i once wanted to write an alternate history of the war where one particular Luftwaffe general *didn’t* die in a plane crash in the late 1930s (I forget the name at the moment)

            Wever?

            I don’t think the arguments about the size of bombers was the key to Germany’s loss. His difference with mainstream policy wasn’t the value of strategic bombing, but a recognition of its limits. There was a theory that if you bombed cities enough, terrorised the people in the enemy nation, they would rise up against their own government. You could therefore conquer a people through air-power alone. It’s why they didn’t develop lander craft early. (The British air-commander held the same beliefs, as did the US. Hence the firebombings of cities in Germany (and Japan) between ’42 and ’44.)

            Wever thought that concept was… well, retarded. He believed in strategic bombing purely as a way to blow up airfields, factories, massed armaments, ports and supply ships, etc; providing support for ground assaults but not replacing them.

            (That was where the argument over bomber size came in. It didn’t take as much air-power to blow up housing tenements compared to hardened materiel stores. The key was continuous bombardment to cripple morale, hence lots of medium bombers rather than fewer heavies.)

            Likewise, the retarded-theory held that there was no defensive air-power. I suspect Wever might have pushed harder for more development of defensive aircraft over key German facilities, instead of the V1/V2 terror-weapons. Something that would have greatly protected German cities and factories, and ports, and troops, and… Which was, in our history, delayed until very near the end.

            But I’m not sure Wever’s survival would have made much difference; Hitler, Speer, and the other inner-circle were convinced of the veracity of the retarded-theory, and obsessed with gimmick weapons.

          • Bill

            “The bomber will always get through,” was a well known Maxim during the 1920s and 1930s. It was true because there was no way to reliability detect the bombers, far enough away to allow defensive fighters to be vectored to attack them quickly enough. Radar changed all that. Experiments with auditory detection had limited success but required massive concrete structures. They still exist along the Thames in the UK. It was the invention of detecting reflected radio waves which did the work and allowed the RAF to defeat the Luftwaffe.

            The crazy thing was, the Germans had actually developed their own radar and even flown ELINT missions along the British coast before the war to see if the British were doing the same. The problem was that the Germans were looking at the wrong waveband. The British radar was more primitive than their own and used longer wavelengths to detect the aircraft. The Germans couldn’t detect it, and so they ignored the problem until it was too late and the British system proved more resilient than they understood.

          • Bill

            Perhaps because Communism offers rewards now, within the followers lifetimes, rather than after death, in heaven. Capitalism only benefits the rich. Communism benefits the poor. As the world is made up mainly of poor people, guess who largely support Communism?

          • Scottlowther

            > Capitalism only benefits the rich.

            And since the western world raised itself up from abject poverty to virtually *everyone* living lives that the bulk of humans throughout history would be green with envy all through the power of capitalism, it’s clear that your views are those of a madman, an idiot or a troll.

            > guess who largely support Communism

            Idiots, the ignorant and psychopaths.

          • Bill2

            Oh, dear I appear to have upset you. I wonder why you get so wound up by an explanation of Communism, against Capitalism? I favour neither philosophy. Both have severe flaws in them. Capitalism is destroying the planet. Communism destroyed the planet.

          • Scottlowther

            > Oh, dear I appear to have upset you.

            Says the guy who’s constantly repeating “oh dear” as he clutches his pearls.

            > I wonder why you get so wound up by an explanation of Communism, against Capitalism?

            Lies in support of theft and democide tend to annoy rational people.

          • Bill2

            “Rational people” don’t insult other people simply because they disagree with their viewpoint. I was merely providing an explanation, disagree if you like but don’t resort to ad hominem argument to justify your views.

          • Scottlowther

            > “Rational people” don’t insult other people simply because they disagree with their viewpoint.

            Says the guy who takes every opportunity to call Americans “children” or “fearful.”

            Begone, foul troll.

      • Bill

        You make many assumptions. Stalin in fact was in favour of “torch light Communism” with the USSR creating a “leading light” which the world’s masses could emulate on their own, without Soviet help or intervention. He came to power after the disastrous Soviet invasion of Poland in 1923, where the Poles defeated the Soviets soundly. He had spoke against it, whereas Trotsky had supported it. Stalin was more interested in developing the USSR than in invading surrounding countries. It wasn’t until 1939 that he overcame that and it was more because of the lures created by Hitler than because he actually wanted to invade Finland or Poland.

        I know that sounds strange to US ears but it is the reality of what occurred. No, Stalin wasn’t a saint, far from it in fact but he was always practicable in what he could achieve and what he couldn’t. The Soviet Union only ever attacked countries post WWII that it already held and feared losing such as East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan. Afghanistan in particular was very interesting. Moscow in particular feared the spread of Islamism from revolutionary Iran and saw the invasion as preventing that.

        • Scottlowther

          > Stalin wasn’t a saint, far from it

          NO! You don’t say! A man who murdered dozens of millions of people wasn’t a saint!

          • Bill2

            No more than Hitler, various American presidents, Churchill, Mussolini and Mao were. I am no admirer of any of them.

  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    One of the difficulties with Alternative History is many people don’t understand the assumptions and “common knowledge” of the eras they’re starting from. You have already alluded to this a bit with the examples of how “Alt America” would have dealt with the mass influx of European immigrants. As noted, there was a tremendous amount of prejudice against Italians, Irish, Poles and others, but this wasn’t “racism” in the way the term is used now.

    Rather this was prejudice against cultural and religious groups that were looked down upon by Anglo-Saxon Protestants (the use of White as a descriptor or pejorative was also decades in the future).

    This might have had an interesting twist in an alt history where Hitler either dies or is a marginal figure in the 1920’s and 30’s; the CPUSA, on orders from the Soviet Union was known to work hard to infiltrate and mobilize marginalized workers groups in the US, and an alt history without blacks to discriminate against would still see large industrial slums filled with immigrant workers from all over Europe. Fanning the flames of Communism might actually be easier in this timeline, since the CPUSA can point to the relative success of communism in Europe. Maybe we end up with a “Communist witch hunt” in the 1930’s rather than the 1950’s, and a violent repression of workers which make the battles agains the “Wobblies” and John Steinbeck’s novels look like fairy tales.

    How Alt USA goes about dealing with this can be looked at in many different ways. The great American Melting Pot of the late 1880-s to the 1920’s was a deliberate act by governments, business, churches and social groups to integrate people into America through language, songs, patriotic festivals (many American patriotic songs and festivals originate in this time period), so there is a “positive” way to do this, and of course the mailed fist can come out for a “negative” interpretation.

    One thing which probably will be missing is the explosion of aeronautical engineering and rush towards spaceflight in the 1930-40 timeframe, American forces dealing with what would be called an extended insurgency inside the United States will be more focused on other forms of warfare. Naval and Marines will still be needed to enforce the Monroe Doctrine and prevent Communist forces from establishing beachheads in the Caribbean or South and Central America, so a much longer and larger series of “Banana Wars” could also result. I’m not sure Russia, even with parts of Europe in its grasp, would challenge the United States or the British Empire on the high seas, Russia is a Continental Power with continental interests, and Maritime Powers like the USA, the British Empire and Imperial Japan would have the advantages to keep a Eurasian power contained, while the USSR would have enough advantages to prevent the Maritime powers from entering the interior.

    • Scottlowther

      > Rather this was prejudice against cultural and religious groups that were looked down upon by Anglo-Saxon Protestants

      Been recently reading up on HP Lovecraft and his views. Man, he did not like Da Jooz. (Even though he married one…) It wasn’t because of racial issues, but cultural. But then… black folks. Hoo boy, black folks. HPLs letters about black folks are mind-bendingly cringeworthy.

      > I’m not sure Russia, even with parts of Europe in its grasp, would
      challenge the United States or the British Empire on the high seas,
      Russia is a Continental Power with continental interests, and Maritime
      Powers like the USA, the British Empire and Imperial Japan would have
      the advantages…

      Keep in mind: in at least some forms of this alternate history (assumign we’re talking about the “no Hitler” one), alt-Germany would be an ally of the USSR, a client state of the USSR or an outright possession of the USSR. Real-Germany did a *fair* job of countering the Royal Navy.

      And consider: no Hitler, means – probably – no successful Franco. So the Commies *probably* own Spain. And with CommieSpain on one side and CommieGermany on the other, seems to me chnces are fair that you’d have a CommieFrance before 1940. So Alt-WWII could see the Royal Navy going up against the naval forces of Alt-Germany – backed up by the power of the Soviets – as well as the Alt-French.

      • Thucydides_of_Athens

        I’m sure the permutations are endless. I’m going by the very real advantages that Maritime Powers have had over Continental powers over the ages, we can go as far back as Ancient Greece vs the Persian Empire, or Elizabethan England vs Hapsburg Spain, the Serenìsima Republic Veneta vs the Ottoman Empire….smaller Maritime states were successfully able to compete with and even defeat much larger, richer and more powerful Continental powers.

        And of course if the United States enters the fray, we have the unique combination of a fun fledged Continental power (with the material, industrial and manpower resources that implies) which is also a Maritime Power with unfettered access to the Sea. (In OTL, the Chinese will run into this problem, the PLAN must transit the First Island Chain to reach the open ocean, while the USN does not. In the Alt universe, even a powerful “Eurasian” Navy will need to pass several choke points to reach the open ocean, such as exiting the North Sea or the G-I-UK gap in the Atlantic).

        For anyone who is interested in exploring this in more depth, I’d suggest “God and Gold” by Walter Russel Mead as a good start.

      • Barmaglot

        No Hitler does not mean no NSDAP. If Gefreiter Hitler isn’t assigned to infiltrate this Deutsche Arbeiterpartei group, then you can just as easily get a Nazi Germany led by Röhm, or Heydrich, or Rosenberg, or any of a number of other colorful characters.

        • Scottlowther

          I don’t think it’s be “just as easily.” Sure, without Hitler there’d still be Nazis, but Hitler, through skill or luck, happened to catch and hold the attention of enough of the German people to turn a small group of Antifa-like knuckleheads into a political force.

          Compare to Antifa today: they are a problem to be sure, but there doesn’t seem to be some particular leader. Certain not some extraordinarily charismatic figurehead who could come to dominate politics. So Antfa will *probably* burn itself out, hopefully before it burns down too many cities. But if Antifa finds their Hitler…

          • Barmaglot

            The cesspit that was NSDAP didn’t lack for leaders – one of Hitler’s main jobs was playing them against each other so that they wouldn’t eat him. Ernst Röhm, for example, was an extremely charismatic figure, and who knows how things would’ve turned out had the Night of Long Knives gone the other way?

  • Paul451

    The video talks about the economic imbalance between north and south US states, but missed that, without slavery, the population of the southern colonies would be tiny. Even with the 3/5ths rule, counting slaves as pseudo-citizens gave the south a huge political boost in Congress. In essence, even white voter in the south had the equivalent of two northern votes. Without that, the south would have been politically irrelevant before the US revolution.

    However…

    Most Americans are aware that some of the first Australian settlements (including the very first in Sydney) were prison colonies, but they are generally not aware that the reason why the British even went to Australia was because the US revolution meant they couldn’t transport prisoners to North America. That’s were they used to transport prisoners. (That’s what people meant by “indentured” European servants. Transportees working off their sentences.) Once that destination was blocked, they turned to the newly claimed Australia.

    However, with slavery, once an indentured servant was freed, they were just a poor person without a job or land. Presumably most moved north. In Australia, sans slaves, the pattern was that a transportee would be assigned to a small farm where they would work for, say, five years learning the trade. Once freed, they would typically be given land at the fringes of colonisation and their own transportee or three to help them establish their farm. Rinse, repeat.

    Without slaves in the North America, that would have been the pattern of colonisation there too.

    Re: Industrial revolution.

    While farm mechanisation would have been attractive, the American colonies would have been much much poorer without the cotton trade. I doubt you would have had as much industrialisation in even the northern states.

  • Brianna

    “without slaves they’d have to actually *pay* people. Which means the exercise would be less profitable”

    I actually disagree. That’s like saying the South should have been richer than the North before the civil war, because factories in the North had to pay their workers while Southern plantation owners just had to cover room and board. Free people working by choice tend to work harder, longer and better than slaves whose only incentive is an overseer with a whip.

    • publiusr

      That’s true. It pays to look at workers as an asset–not a problem

      “That much we agree on. But it seems to me… that would actually *spur* innovation.”

      Not always. Even today–a general utility bipedal robot still seems beyond us.