What If… The USA had lost its War of Independence?

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Britain’s BBC4 Radio ran an episode of its What If show a few years ago on the topic of What if… the USA had lost its war of independence?

In fact George III and his Cabinet had every reason to believe they were going to win, until their surprise defeats at the Battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. It’s only the British Commander, Admiral Howe’s characteristic lack of boldness that prevented him from crushing the American forces on at least three occasions.

A number of historians have confirmed this is a strong story which leads to some quite unforseen developments: most astonishingly — there is no French Revolution. How, why?

A large part of Louis XVI’s problems were fiscal — bankrupted by his support of the American uprising.

In this programme we have George Washington losing the fight even before France involves itself in the American War of Independence, three thousand miles away across the Atlantic.

Bang goes one of the major causes of the French Revolution — the state’s financial crisis in the 1780s, directly attributable to its role in North America.


  1. Steven C. says:

    That’s the basic idea in the novel “For Want Of A Nail” by the American Professor of History Robert Sobel.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I was just listening to the audiobook version of Jeremy D. Popkin‘s A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution and thinking, how could an almost-bankrupt France bankroll an unnecessary war against Great Britain?

  3. Jim says:

    Sometimes, the Great Coin Flip of History lands on edge.

  4. Jim says:

    I will read Sobel’s book.

  5. Lucklucky says:

    I don’t think that French Revolution had anything thing to do with a financial crisis. Contrary to common opinion, most revolutions occur due to improvements in living conditions, and most are also done by the 2nd level aristocracy and bourgeoise.

  6. Isegoria says:

    The French Revolution was preceded by the so-called Flour War of 1775.

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