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Author Topic: Hamilton for n00bs
PanaceaSanans
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So Hatrack has introduced me to "Hamilton", and John found it for me, and oh my god it's glorious.
quote:
If you stand for nothing, Burr,
what will you fall for?

---

And of course I have a question. [Big Grin]
Or two. More to be added in time.

Is America more free today than the European states are?

Is America more free today than it would be if it had remained under British rule?

Might Britain have moved the declared head of its monarchy over to America later, for logistical and psychological purposes, if there had not been a declaration of independence?
Or is that so un-british that it would never have happened under any circumstances^^?

It is a ridiculous idea of course, but an interesting thought, that the ("British part" of the) US might be a monarchy today - or to wonder what it would have become under British rule...

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TomDavidson
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I think if America had not achieved independence when it did, it would not have been in a position to take advantage of the Louisiana Purchase and would still be a thin strip of land on the east coast -- assuming Napoleon didn't decide to push us out.
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PanaceaSanans
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Tom, why would Britain not have been able to take advantage of the Louisiana Purchase (Offer, that is)? Might Britain not even have purchased the land, then tried to crush all resistance in the coastal region in a two-front war? Or have a truce with Napoleon to move Britain (the Monarchy, not every citizen) to America and "give" the Islands to France in an exchange for Louisiana?


Also, the Musical is so beautiful and sad and touching. They are all so amazingly brave. <3 [Except for Lee, obviously.]

[ September 04, 2016, 05:43 PM: Message edited by: PanaceaSanans ]

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think if America had not achieved independence when it did, it would not have been in a position to take advantage of the Louisiana Purchase and would still be a thin strip of land on the east coast -- assuming Napoleon didn't decide to push us out.

Would that have mattered? Quebec was already gone and there wasn't really much going on in the Louisiana Purchase that would have stopped Britain from just plain gobbling it up without need of buying it at all. Plus Napoleon still would have needed cash, in fact, he probably would have needed even more if a resurgent Britain, buoyed by resources from their American colonies, were giving Britain an enormous boost in territorial contests on the European mainland.

Assuming American colonies would have stuck around for it, the money Britain would have made off the cotton trade would have been astronomical, especially considering they likely never would have created Egyptian and Indian cotton as lower cost alternatives. They would have the market completely cornered on the world's premier commodity of the day.

Plus even without the LA purchase, they still would have set up colonies in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama (and probably would have annexed Florida at some point as well). That's still a massive colonial empire even without the west and midwest.

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theamazeeaz
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It's an interesting question. Certainly, I don't have issue with the way Canada, Australia and modern day UK are run. I imagine an an alternate future with a very big Canada. Given how Britain treated the rest of the world, I see no feasibility issues blocking the acquisition of other parts of the continent. So, to answer your question, Canada seems like a lovely place to live.

As for treatment of us in the alternate future, did Britain "learn something" from losing the colonies such that they become a better mother country by the 20th century? In their own backyard, did our democracy touch the evolution of their Parliament in some way that Britain wouldn't be what it is today without having learned those lessons?

On the other hand, Britain outlawed slavery well before the United States.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by theamazeeaz:
On the other hand, Britain outlawed slavery well before the United States.

Yeah sort of. They outlawed the African slave trade and slavery WITHIN England...and then proceeded to create a network of virtual slave states within Africa and India. Indian "coolie" laborers weren't exactly living in a workers paradise. In essence, they outsourced their slave labor while maintaining a moral fiction of superiority.

And if England had direct control of American cotton and tobacco crops, there's no way they would have outlawed it when they did. Eventually I think they would have. A combination of the Great Awakenings of the 19th century (if they still happened) and the rise of Organized Labor at the end of the 19th century would have eventually forced the issue. Or for that matter the civil war might have happened anyway.

But England wasn't exactly ahead of the curve by any means.

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theamazeeaz
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Yeah, that makes it a tougher call for our alternate history. Reading the Hamilton bio, the Brits promised freedom to slaves who fought on their side and took many with them, such that plantation owners wanted to be paid.

What shape would slavery after a British victory take?

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think if America had not achieved independence when it did, it would not have been in a position to take advantage of the Louisiana Purchase and would still be a thin strip of land on the east coast -- assuming Napoleon didn't decide to push us out.

Would that have mattered? Quebec was already gone and there wasn't really much going on in the Louisiana Purchase that would have stopped Britain from just plain gobbling it up without need of buying it at all. Plus Napoleon still would have needed cash, in fact, he probably would have needed even more if a resurgent Britain, buoyed by resources from their American colonies, were giving Britain an enormous boost in territorial contests on the European mainland.

Assuming American colonies would have stuck around for it, the money Britain would have made off the cotton trade would have been astronomical, especially considering they likely never would have created Egyptian and Indian cotton as lower cost alternatives. They would have the market completely cornered on the world's premier commodity of the day.

Plus even without the LA purchase, they still would have set up colonies in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama (and probably would have annexed Florida at some point as well). That's still a massive colonial empire even without the west and midwest.

Consider though that had the revolutionary war gone the other way, the British empire might have continued to be tied up with continued unrest and splinter groups. Unless they addressed the no taxation without representation grievance further conflict would have been inevitable, probably a second revolutionary war.

Meanwhile without the expectation of American aid perhaps French revolutionaries would have been less bold about executing the royal family and having war declared on them by GB. Our successful revolution after all galvanized and stoked the fires of revolution in France.

Then again, if the British instead offered the olive leaf after the revolution, they would have received incredible amounts of wealth from our commerce and development, and would have probably been able to strengthen their position everywhere across the empire.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I think if America had not achieved independence when it did, it would not have been in a position to take advantage of the Louisiana Purchase and would still be a thin strip of land on the east coast -- assuming Napoleon didn't decide to push us out.

Would that have mattered? Quebec was already gone and there wasn't really much going on in the Louisiana Purchase that would have stopped Britain from just plain gobbling it up without need of buying it at all. Plus Napoleon still would have needed cash, in fact, he probably would have needed even more if a resurgent Britain, buoyed by resources from their American colonies, were giving Britain an enormous boost in territorial contests on the European mainland.

Assuming American colonies would have stuck around for it, the money Britain would have made off the cotton trade would have been astronomical, especially considering they likely never would have created Egyptian and Indian cotton as lower cost alternatives. They would have the market completely cornered on the world's premier commodity of the day.

Plus even without the LA purchase, they still would have set up colonies in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama (and probably would have annexed Florida at some point as well). That's still a massive colonial empire even without the west and midwest.

Consider though that had the revolutionary war gone the other way, the British empire might have continued to be tied up with continued unrest and splinter groups. Unless they addressed the no taxation without representation grievance further conflict would have been inevitable, probably a second revolutionary war.

Meanwhile without the expectation of American aid perhaps French revolutionaries would have been less bold about executing the royal family and having war declared on them by GB. Our successful revolution after all galvanized and stoked the fires of revolution in France.

Then again, if the British instead offered the olive leaf after the revolution, they would have received incredible amounts of wealth from our commerce and development, and would have probably been able to strengthen their position everywhere across the empire.

I think they likely would have provided representation for the American colonists if they'd won the war. Many prominent British politicians at the time expected that at some point in the future Parliament would probably meet in New York and not London, because the center of gravity would inevitably move to such a larger and more populous (eventually more populous) part of the empire than smoggy ole London. Some of them were probably saying that just to mollify colonists, but some were saying it as a lament as if they knew it was inevitable. I'd have to look up the timeline of Canadian representation for a reference point, but I suspect the general discord and unrest in America would force the issue in fairly short order. Many would have recognized that while the rebels were wrong to fight, they weren't wrong in principle. England was still largely ruled by the Common Law.

I suspect the French Revolution still would have gone forward. French Revolutionaries had a terrible relationship with America, not the least of which because they jailed Lafayette, who was one of America's greatest heroes of the age after Washington. But regardless of the leaders of the Revolution, the Revolution itself was non-centered. It was a mass outraged response to high taxes and poverty that would have happened regardless, unless Louis had dramatically changed his policies from guns toward favoring butter. The conditions in place were ripe for Revolution, and I doubt the peasants in the streets were thinking too heavily about how things were going in America, even if news of their failed Revolution reached Paris, their issues were still alive and well.

On the other hand, King George was quite mad, and only got crazier with time. A SMART rule would have been magnanimous in victory and instituted reforms to strengthen the union. But he was hardly that smart a guy.

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Scott R
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quote:
A combination of the Great Awakenings of the 19th century (if they still happened) and the rise of Organized Labor at the end of the 19th century would have eventually forced the issue. Or for that matter the civil war might have happened anyway.
Not to mention industrialization.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
A combination of the Great Awakenings of the 19th century (if they still happened) and the rise of Organized Labor at the end of the 19th century would have eventually forced the issue. Or for that matter the civil war might have happened anyway.
Not to mention industrialization.
Possibly.

Don't forget that sharecropping (slavery under theach guise of freedom) extended right up through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and industrial farming never really found a food answer for cash crops slaves used to tend.

Given what migrant laborers suffer in the fruit, vegetable and nut fields, I'm not entirely sure we've gotten away from it even now.

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PanaceaSanans
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On another note: I finished listening to Hamilton today, and
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Weep city! Endless amounts of uncool mushy eye drippage!

It is heartbreaking! I cried through the last five songs. The way the whole piece is phrased is pure genius.

Also, I think it very interesting that Hamilton decided to "throw away his shot" in the end. He had encouraged dueling Lee when he was young, he had shot (at) people before, and arguably had been disloyal to a friend (Lafayette) in need. And, above all, he had always wanted to live. But he did nothing to prevent the duel from taking place, and I understand he needed to hold fast to his ideals, but he did not have to die needlessly - or didn't he? Was anything gained by his death at this specific point in time?

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GaalDornick
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I wonder if the revolutionary war actually went the other way what we'd be speculating would have happened to the colonies had they won. I doubt anyone would have speculated America becoming the world power that it is.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by PanaceaSanans:
On another note: I finished listening to Hamilton today, and
quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Weep city! Endless amounts of uncool mushy eye drippage!

It is heartbreaking! I cried through the last five songs. The way the whole piece is phrased is pure genius.

Also, I think it very interesting that Hamilton decided to "throw away his shot" in the end. He had encouraged dueling Lee when he was young, he had shot (at) people before, and arguably had been disloyal to a friend (Lafayette) in need. And, above all, he had always wanted to live. But he did nothing to prevent the duel from taking place, and I understand he needed to hold fast to his ideals, but he did not have to die needlessly - or didn't he? Was anything gained by his death at this specific point in time?

My reading of the book is that he never actually expected or feared in any way that Burr would actually kill him.

Which is pretty stupid considering how his son died.

But then, his biggest failures of life were all self-inflicted. He could never get over his ego or lack of self-control and it ruined him politically and mortally.

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PanaceaSanans
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Interesting thought, Lyr. I do despise lack of self-control (his, mine, the concept in general). But nobody is perfect, I guess - although Eliza got quite close.^^

I have been pointed to this letter, and it does sound like he well expected the possibility of death, don't you think?

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by PanaceaSanans:
Interesting thought, Lyr. I do despise lack of self-control (his, mine, the concept in general). But nobody is perfect, I guess - although Eliza got quite close.^^

I have been pointed to this letter, and it does sound like he well expected the possibility of death, don't you think?

Writing a letter to your loved ones is part of the code of duels. You're supposed to do it, and he was heavily into duel culture throughout his life, so it's not surprising he wrote it.

One of the things you have to consider when looking at primary source documents, ESPECIALLY letters or other documents in the subject's own hand and voice, is that they aren't always honest. People lied in history just as much as they lie now. They lie to each other and they lie to themselves. Hamilton said he'd planned to die at almost every major moment from when he was 16 onward. Maybe he actually did for a time, or maybe it was always.

But I think he'd gotten so used to the idea that he wanted to die a glorious death but HADN'T that he didn't actually believe he ever would. There's a certain romance in glorious death, especially at that time and ESPECIALLY for Hamilton. Certainly he was brave and it wasn't a put-on, but I still don't think he ever really thought Burr would kill him.

And frankly, I don't think Burr thought he'd kill him either. Surely he was pretty pissed, but Burr was also much more controlled and rational than Hamilton, and killing Hamilton pretty much ruined all his future plans and destroyed his dream of ever becoming President.

Ironically, killing Hamilton was probably the most Hamiltonian thing Burr ever did.

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PanaceaSanans
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Ironically, killing Hamilton was probably the most Hamiltonian thing Burr ever did.

I thought so too. Very ironic indeed.


quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
One of the things you have to consider when looking at primary source documents, ESPECIALLY letters or other documents in the subject's own hand and voice, is that they aren't always honest. People lied in history just as much as they lie now. They lie to each other and they lie to themselves. Hamilton said he'd planned to die at almost every major moment from when he was 16 onward. Maybe he actually did for a time, or maybe it was always.

But I think he'd gotten so used to the idea that he wanted to die a glorious death but HADN'T that he didn't actually believe he ever would. There's a certain romance in glorious death, especially at that time and ESPECIALLY for Hamilton. Certainly he was brave and it wasn't a put-on, but I still don't think he ever really thought Burr would kill him.

It is really interesting to look at this through your eyes, and to understand it from the point of view of somebody who is so much more familiar with (American) history. Thank you for elaborating. You may very well be right, and yours is a good answer to my question. [Smile]
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