In 19th century Greece there was rivalry between those that supported the Chiflik system and those that supported small farmers. The ciflik owners tended to focus the production of their large estates to grains while the small time farmers were focused on export crops. To be more specific the export crops were arboriculture products (currants, olive oil, wine and silk cocoons) (Petmezas, 2006).
The urban bourgeoisie usually supported the small farmers since they expected that the hard currency obtained from the export crops will fuel the industrial development of Greece. Thus, I think that the earlier settlement of the National Estates and the continuation of the Kapodistrian Tiryns school will assist to that direction.

The chiflik system was Ottoman in origin, right? I seem to remember it being the agricultural system used in Ottoman Europe until its conquest in the 20th century.

Seems like a shift to smaller farmers would benefit the economy more but that there may be a greater need to import food crops from elsewhere.
 

formion

Banned
The chiflik system was an ottoman relic. By the the 1910s it was mostly absent in the original core of the Greek Kingdom, while it was strong in Thessaly, Macedonia, Thrace and in a far lesser degree Epirus. Export crops will be beneficial to the development of the economy, as long as they don't end up in monoculture ( the Corinthian raisin frenzy of OTL). Have in mind also that olive oil is used in soap production and cocoons in silk industry. So these crops both provide hard currency and can support some local industries. The downside of course is the need to import grains but there is no solution to it before Thessaly becomes part of Greece.
 
Thanks for the reply Earl Marshal.

I must admit that it is a great change from OTL. From top of my head the "National Estates" issue was not solved up until 1871. Furthermore an earlier draining of Kopais (finished in 1931 OTL) will give 53000 acres to distribute in small farmers.

In 19th century Greece there was rivalry between those that supported the Chiflik system and those that supported small farmers. The ciflik owners tended to focus the production of their large estates to grains while the small time farmers were focused on export crops. To be more specific the export crops were arboriculture products (currants, olive oil, wine and silk cocoons) (Petmezas, 2006).
The urban bourgeoisie usually supported the small farmers since they expected that the hard currency obtained from the export crops will fuel the industrial development of Greece. Thus, I think that the earlier settlement of the National Estates and the continuation of the Kapodistrian Tiryns school will assist to that direction.
No problem, I'm always happy to respond. Generally, I'm of the opinion that Kapodistrias' death and Otto's selection as King set Greece back about 30-40 years in terms of its economic development. So in a world where Kapodistrias survives and Leopold becomes King, Greece will almost certainly do much better in every field.

There are still several magnates and large plantation owners in Greece and many did in fact grow their lands through this system unfortunately. They do remain a relevant group in Greek society, but they are generally far and few between compared to the tens of thousands of small farmers across the country. The small farmers also had the support of Ioannis Kapodistrias and his followers in Government so that certainly helps their cause as well.
The chiflik system was Ottoman in origin, right? I seem to remember it being the agricultural system used in Ottoman Europe until its conquest in the 20th century.

Seems like a shift to smaller farmers would benefit the economy more but that there may be a greater need to import food crops from elsewhere.
The chiflik system was an ottoman relic. By the the 1910s it was mostly absent in the original core of the Greek Kingdom, while it was strong in Thessaly, Macedonia, Thrace and in a far lesser degree Epirus. Export crops will be beneficial to the development of the economy, as long as they don't end up in monoculture ( the Corinthian raisin frenzy of OTL). Have in mind also that olive oil is used in soap production and cocoons in silk industry. So these crops both provide hard currency and can support some local industries. The downside of course is the need to import grains but there is no solution to it before Thessaly becomes part of Greece.
Indeed, native food production will be a bit of an issue for the Greeks leading them to import a large quantity of grain and other cereals from overseas. They do produce a large amount of fruits, primarily grapes, oranges, and olives, but these are generally converted into oils and wines. On the plus side they have fully incorporated potatoes into their diet by the 1840's. Oh wait...
 
Indeed, native food production will be a bit of an issue for the Greeks leading them to import a large quantity of grain and other cereals from overseas. They do produce a large amount of fruits, primarily grapes, oranges, and olives, but these are generally converted into oils and wines. On the plus side they have fully incorporated potatoes into their diet by the 1840's. Oh wait...

Yeah, that might bite the Greeks, though not as badly as poor Ireland...
 
Yeah, that might bite the Greeks, though not as badly as poor Ireland...
Exactly. While the Potato Famine will have some impact on Greece, it won't have anywhere near the same catastrophic effect it did on Ireland IOTL because the Greeks aren't reliant upon them to them same extent the Irish were.
 
Who are Greece's biggest trade partners ITTL and are they any different from OTL? Are they even trading with the Ottomans at all?
 
Who are Greece's biggest trade partners ITTL and are they any different from OTL? Are they even trading with the Ottomans at all?
The biggest trade partners for Greece ITTL are Britain, France, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire surprisingly, which as far as I know were the same in OTL as well.

Britain, France and Russia are up there for obvious reasons, but the Ottomans are a bit more complicated. Despite the intense hostility between them during the war, Greece was somewhat inclined to do trade with the Ottoman Empire due to their close proximity to one another and due to the large Greek community in the OE. The only difference here are the better relations between Britain and Greece ITTL which have resulted in slightly better rates for the Greeks.

Greece also does a fair amount of trade with the various Italian and German states as well.
 
Thanks for sparing G.W.Q! Its a shame that this means an earlier end to JQA's amazing run in Congress (though, if the Amistad case still happens, maybe he will have a chance to shine), its nice to see the Adams family being spared a series of tragedies - with George W. Adams alive, we've butterflied away, likely, John Adams III's descent into alcoholism and death. I don't want to see this turn into an American timeline, of course, and fully trust the author not to go in that route. But its still nice to see some butterflies affecting the US as well :)
 
Very interesting stuff. I am afraid I don't know enough to comment, but it is all very interesting. Now that the butterflies are starting to flap, I wonder what else will change.

Exactly. While the Potato Famine will have some impact on Greece, it won't have anywhere near the same catastrophic effect it did on Ireland IOTL because the Greeks aren't reliant upon them to them same extent the Irish were.

Also, the Potato Famine affected Northern Europe much more than Southern Europe. I expect Greece to suffer in part because it's poorer than most European Christian states, but at levels comparable to say, France.
 
Do you have any plans for Mexico?
At the moment, not really, but I'm open to suggestions.

In fact, if anyone has anything they want to see ITTL, this is probably the best opportunity to see it for a long time as I will be starting a new arc in the timeline after this next update, an arc which is presently scheduled to run about 12 parts.

Thanks for sparing G.W.Q! Its a shame that this means an earlier end to JQA's amazing run in Congress (though, if the Amistad case still happens, maybe he will have a chance to shine), its nice to see the Adams family being spared a series of tragedies - with George W. Adams alive, we've butterflied away, likely, John Adams III's descent into alcoholism and death. I don't want to see this turn into an American timeline, of course, and fully trust the author not to go in that route. But its still nice to see some butterflies affecting the US as well :)
No problem, I'm always open to suggestions and I'm relieved to have finally followed through on it after initially promising it back in January. :) That said, I give and I take so while I saved George W. Adams the immediate effect of his survival is a shorter Congressional career for John Quincy Adams. That said, I've tried to give some of John Quincy's more famous accolades to George, like the Amistad Case, so it balances out I think.

I certainly don't intend on having this become an American timeline, even though the next update is another American heavy update regarding the Harrison years and the relationship with Britain. No, the core focus of this timeline will still be Greece going forward, with a broader focus on Europe at large and the occasional glance at the Americas every few decades. Oh and Asia and Africa too, they certainly exist in this timeline as well and will be getting updates in the future once the butterflies effect them more prominently.

Very interesting stuff. I am afraid I don't know enough to comment, but it is all very interesting. Now that the butterflies are starting to flap, I wonder what else will change.



Also, the Potato Famine affected Northern Europe much more than Southern Europe. I expect Greece to suffer in part because it's poorer than most European Christian states, but at levels comparable to say, France.
Thank you very much, the butterflies are slowly, but surely becoming more noticeable with each update.

I certainly agree that the Potato Famine will hurt a lot for Greece ITTL despite having a more varied diet. There are some things working in their favor here as opposed to OTL, one of which is the better management of the Greek Government, which should help improve their response to the famine and mitigating its effects. Greece is also much wealthier than it was in OTL due in large part to their increased territory and population so they certainly have the resources to manage the famine to an extent.
 

Deleted member 67076

There was a discussion on colonialism a while back, but I'd like to chime in and say that even though it is unlikely (and a really bad financial idea) for Greece to get colonies, that doesn't mean Greece can't be influential in them. Historically, one of the major European ethnic groups in places like the Congo Free State were Greeks, they were an important middlemen minority (and still are today). There's plenty of precedent for Greeks, (and other groups like Armenians) to immigrate to colonial areas to fill in the much needed niches given the metropoles ran everything on a shoestring budget.

So while you may not get a colony (and Christ I hope not given how much of a moneysink these things are), private actors are likely to get involved and make profit off of them.
 
We can make suggestions!?

I’d like to see a more successful dismantlement of the American antebellum Southern culture ITTL, whether after the conclusion of an alt-Civil War or not.

On a more local note, could we see a better outcome for the Assyrians ITTL? The Greeks and Armenians are already “answered for” ITTL but the Assyrians haven’t been touched on yet.
 
I know it's something marginal, but speaking about a future annexation of the ionian islands, what would be the the Greek government attitude toward the local Italian speakers and culture in Corfu? Is it possible for a different Greece to avoid the ban of the italian language at school or is it a necessary measure?
 
We can make suggestions!?

I’d like to see a more successful dismantlement of the American antebellum Southern culture ITTL, whether after the conclusion of an alt-Civil War or not.

On a more local note, could we see a better outcome for the Assyrians ITTL? The Greeks and Armenians are already “answered for” ITTL but the Assyrians haven’t been touched on yet.
Yep I'm always open to suggestions on what to write about. Generally, I am following an outline for this timeline which has the major events predetermined, but between those major events are openings where I like to talk about the development of certain countries or do suggestions.

I'm pretty sure an American Civil War analog is going to happen ITTL, but it will be somewhat different from OTL, so the end result may be to your liking hopefully.

Unlike the Greeks or the Armenians, helping the Assyrians is a bit more difficult sadly given their remote location within the Ottoman Empire. There are some things I can do to help them immediately, like avoiding the Badr Khan Massacres which happened in the 1840's so I'll see what I can do.

I know it's something marginal, but speaking about a future annexation of the ionian islands, what would be the the Greek government attitude toward the local Italian speakers and culture in Corfu? Is it possible for a different Greece to avoid the ban of the italian language at school or is it a necessary measure?
It should be better hopefully. Obviously the Greek Government will try to enforce Greek as the official language of the state, but I think their culture should be fine and some level of Italian would be acceptable as well depending on the circumstances.
 
Maybe Persia doing a bit better in Central Asia/Northern India? They really got the short end of the stick OTL. I would say the Caucasus, but them beating Russia anytime soon is unlikely.
 
Part 53: Tippecanoe and Earl Grey Too
Part 53: Tippecanoe and Earl Grey Too

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William Henry Harrison 9th President of the United States of America

With the 1840 Presidential Election decided in his favor, President-Elect William Henry Harrison began forming his cabinet and preparing for his inauguration ceremony which had been scheduled for the 4th of March. Among other things, Harrison busied himself over the list of attendees which would include former President Martin van Buren, most - if not all - members of Congress, the members of the Supreme Court, various representatives from foreign countries and an untold number of Americans who would flock to the inauguration in great numbers. He planned on entering the city aboard a locomotive, the first of any American President, and from the train station he would ride a horse to the Capital Building where he would take the Oath of Office. Another matter Harrison spent a great deal of time on between election day and his inauguration, was the writing of his speech.

It was a marvelous speech, and one which he had written himself. In it he detailed the various planks of the Whig platform that he wished to enact during his term as President namely, his support for the reinstitution of a National Bank and expansion of its powers, his intention to defer to the will of Congress on legislative matters, his desire to undo the spoil system of Cabinet posts and administrative positions to his political allies and supporters. Much to his chagrin, however the speech was paired down immensely by a team of editors led by his close friend and colleague, the Senator from Massachusetts Daniel Webster who famously quipped he had killed 19 Roman Proconsuls in the process of reducing Harrison’s speech. Webster had originally considered reducing it by 18 but his colleague George Washington Adams suggested 19 instead to save on time. Even still, the speech at 7,955 words would be the longest inaugural speech to date and to this day remains one of the longest in American history.

When the day finally came on the 4th of March 1841, the weather couldn’t have been more foul. The temperature on that day was a scant 48.5 degrees Fahrenheit (9.2 degrees Celsius) which was made worse by a frigid wind gusting through the narrow streets of Washington D.C. chilling every poor soul in attendance to the bone. Harrison’s own wife Anna, had been forced to stay home due to the weather as she only just recovered from a terrible illness that had plagued her over the past month. Harrison was undaunted however. Despite the cold and his own relatively poor health, Harrison would forgo wearing a heavy overcoat in favor of a lighter suit and he opted to stay atop his horse rather than take a closed carriage to the Capital Building. For his bravery, Harrison was comforted by the thousands of hardy men and women who had braved cold to catch a glimpse of their new President as he made his way through the streets of Washington D.C. to the dais outside the Congress building and began his speech to thunderous applause.

What followed was an hour and thirty-six minutes of political discourse, tariff policy, and the intricacies of the Whig agenda, all of which made for an incredibly dull and needlessly long speech. Nevertheless, the crowd remained relatively responsive to Harrison’s words for the duration of his performance in spite of the chill, cheering and chanting when appropriate and even sometimes when it wasn’t. When the speech finally came to a close, all those present released an audible sigh of relief that it had finally ended and raucous applause soon followed. The remainder of the day was spent celebrating, with music, dances, and entertainment, yet when the night of pageantry and patriotism drew to a close President Harrison’s attention began to shift towards the establishment of his Administration. He would appoint various congressional leaders like Daniel Webster, Thomas Ewing, John J. Crittenden to his cabinet and many more to the various posts and vacancies throughout the government to capable men.

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The United States Capital Building as it was at the time of the Harrison Presidency

One man who had peeked Harrison’s interest throughout the entire campaigning process was the young Congressman from Massachusetts, Representative George Washington Adams. Adams’ had come to Harrison’s attention during the Presidential Campaign in the immediate aftermath of the Whig National Convention for his role in the reconciliation of Henry Clay and Winfield Scott. In recognition of his experience overseas earlier in his life and for his remarkable negotiating skills and charisma, Harrison had thought it best to nominate him for one of the vacant diplomatic posts, moreover, Adams had the support of Harrison’s good friend and nominee for Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, who recommended the young Congressman for a diplomatic posting as well. While the most prestigious Minister Residencies to Britain and France were filled or promised to other individuals like Adams colleague Edward Everett, the former Governor of Massachusetts, many important Minister Residencies and chargé d'affaires were scheduled to become vacant soon. In the days and weeks following the Inauguration the Minister Resident to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Minister Resident to Russia would both retire from their posts, posts that Adam’s father had taken earlier in life. In truth though there was only one post that George Washington Adams desired at this time, Greece.

Harrison was perplexed by the request. Compared to grandeur and opulence of St. Petersburg and the culture and refinement of Amsterdam, Athens was a relative backwater. The post was unglamorous and likely to do little for his career going forward. Moreover, the American consulate in Athens was little more than a small manor, ill fit to serve as a proper embassy and would likely need extensive renovations and expansions to fit his needs. A more embarrassing reason for its poor state likely came from the fact that the United States had neglected to send an official representative to Greece for one reason or another, despite recognizing their independence in 1833. Despite all this, George persisted in his choice and Harrison put forward his nomination for the post. With the Whigs in control of Senate, Adam’s nomination was a simple matter and within a matter of weeks he was appointed as the First American Minister Resident for the Kingdom of Greece.

When Adams arrived in Greece in mid-November 1841, he discovered that much had changed in the country since he had last seen it nearly 12 years before. The countryside which had been thoroughly ravaged and ransacked by war had been rejuvenated and restored to its idyllic prewar state. The people who had been desperately impoverished and famished were, for the most part, well fed and generally well off. Even the government, which had been a republic nearly twelve years ago, had been supplanted by a monarchy and a German king who spoke a heavily accented Greek. Nevertheless, Adams remained infatuated with the country and its people for the entirety of his time there. During which time, he successfully established a series of treaties between the Kingdom of Greece and the United States which defined their tariff policies towards one another as well as American investment in Greece among a host of other issues.

Back in the United States, President Harrison followed through on his campaign promises to limit the spoils system, choosing instead to appoint men whom he felt were appropriately qualified for their positions rather than doling them out as rewards for loyalty or services rendered as the Jackson and van Buren Administrations had done. Additionally, President Harrison would show an incredible amount of deference to Congress when it came to signing legislation. In a special session of Congress starting in early May 1841, President Harrison would sign into law a bill authorizing the establishment of a new National Bank, following some last-minute modifications at his request to alleviate concerns that it would unfairly compete with state and local banks. He would also repeal the Independent Treasury Act, and signed into law the Bankruptcy Act allowing private citizens to voluntarily enter bankruptcy. Another bill signed by Harrison was the Preemption Act of 1841 which permitted settlers to buy up to 160 acres of government land without the competition of an auction. The final major piece of legislation President Harrison would sign into law was the appropriately named Black Tariff Bill which raised tariff rates from 20% on all foreign goods to 40%.

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A Whig Political Cartoon Blaming Democrats for the Economic Downturn

President Harrison did show some resistance to Henry Clay’s agenda and threatened to veto several bills when they failed to meet his expectations. Harrison was especially concerned with the public land disbursement plan that accompanied the Tariff of 1842, but eventually consented to it after some extensive revisions by Clay and the Congressional leadership. The President would also take the initiative on several other issues pertaining to the military, like the increased funding of the US Navy and the establishment of a Naval Academy in 1844. He would also admit the state of Florida to the Union in March of 1845, only days before leaving office. For the most part, William Henry Harrison proved himself to be a fairly uncontroversial President. The only questionable decisions on his part being his refusal to unilaterally annex the Republic of Texas to the United States, choosing instead to let the people of Texas decide their fate and his decision to not run for reelection in 1844. Another more contentious issue during the Harrison years was the Federal Government’s intervention in the Dorr Riot of 1842.

The Dorr Riot was a brief period of civil unrest in Rhode Island between the Dorrites, led by Thomas Wilson Dorr and the Charterites led by Rhode Island Governor Samuel Ward King. By the start of the 1840’s, Rhode Island was the only state in the Union to not provide universal white male suffrage to its inhabitants, instead using the old colonial charter established in 1663 to restrict voting rights to land owning white males. Tensions in Rhode Island began to boil over in 1841 when the Dorrites demanded the holding of a state convention to amend the State’s constitution to expand voting rights to include all white males of voting age, including immigrants and those without the property. Dorr even suggested expanding the right to vote to the Blacks, although he would later recant this view under pressure from his supporters in the immigrant community. These demands by Dorr were immediately refused by the Governor King forcing Dorr and the Dorrites to establish their own legislature and governorship which promptly passed their desired amendments to the state’s constitution. Alarmed at the lawless assemblages and the flagrant violation of his will, Governor King ordered the Rhode Island militia to arrest Dorr and the Dorrite Assemblymen. Governor King also petitioned President Harrison for Federal Troops to help aid him in subduing the rebels and malcontents.

President Harrison would oblige the Governor, dispatching 200 men to assist the militiamen in quelling the Dorrites who were quickly rounded up and arrested. Some Dorrites, would resist and a shootout would sadly occur between the two sides leaving 12 dead in an especially bloody shootout near Woonsocket including the Dorrite leader, Thomas Dorr. The resulting fallout from the Dorr Riot would ultimately lead Governor King to enact a revised version of the Dorrite Constitution in early 1843, establishing universal white male suffrage in Rhode Island. The Riot also served to inflame the relations between the Harrison administration and the Democrat Party, which had nominally supported Dorr and his followers leading to a decline in bipartisan initiatives in Congress for several months following the incident.

The timing of this incident could not have been worse for Harrison and the Whigs, however, as the Dorr Riots ended only months before the 1842 Midterms. Combined with the relatively mixed results of the Whig economic policies and the outrage over the Woonsocket massacre as it was later called by some, and it was no wonder that the Whigs would lose much of their majorities in both Houses of Congress, going from 29 Senate seats to 27 and 142 seats in the House down to 124. These electoral losses were compounded further by the departure of Kentucky Senator Henry Clay from the Senate to prepare his Presidential campaign in 1844. With their Congressional majorities eroded and lacking the political acumen of Henry Clay, the Congress would effectively ground to a halt on most matters following the Midterms.

While most domestic policy during the first half of the Harrison Presidency could reasonably be attributed more to Henry Clay than the President, Harrison’s legacy was to be defined more so by his foreign policy achievements than his domestic ones. Apart from the treaties signed with Greece in 1842, President Harrison would also sign on to the Treaty of Wanghia with the Qing in July the following year which established a general opening of relations between the two states and he agreed to a commercial treaty with the German Zollverein in 1843. President Harrison also deferred any decision on the annexation of the Republic of Texas angering many in the South who viewed his decision as a sign of Whig opposition to slavery and their way of life. By far though his most important diplomatic achievements would be with the British Empire.

Relations between the United States and Great Britain had been tumultuous over the past few years as various border disputes, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Caroline Affair had negatively impacted the relationship between the two states. Although they would avoid war and open conflict between one another, their grievances were still problematic and had frequently threatened trade between the US and the UK, and so at the beginning of the Harrison Presidency they began efforts to resolve their outlying issues with each other. Of all the tension points between the United States and Great Britain, the border between Maine and New Brunswick was one of the most contentious.

The border had been left relatively undefined by the 1783 Treaty of Paris, with it roughly following the St. Croix River from its mouth to its source. However, the source of the river was unknown and the line of demarcation beyond this point was incredibly vague. As was to be expected, this resulted in numerous problems for both the Americans and the British who agreed under the 1794 Jay Treaty to find the source of the St. Croix River. In 1798, a joint survey team was finally dispatched and the source of the St. Croix River was established as the Chiputneticook Lakes. The dispute would be addressed further by the Treaty of Ghent in 1815, which saw the distribution of the various islands off the coast of Maine and New Brunswick to both countries. A subsequent conference to resolve the dispute between Britain and the US was held in Amsterdam in 1831, but the talks ultimately fell through as the British diplomats walked out of the conference to protest the outbreak of renewed war between Belgium and the Netherlands that Spring.

With the dispute still unresolved tensions would flare up once again in 1820’s and 1830’s as the states of Maine and Massachusetts - which still lay claim to Maine’s territory - issued competing permits to prospective lumberjacks for all land up to the St. John River and its tributaries. The Canadian authorities issued their own permits to their own lumberjacks and huntsmen as well leading to numerous incidents between bands of American and Canadian frontiersmen. More problematic were the numerous settlements, townships, and communities which had sprung up in the contested area as both the US and Canada continued to lay claim to the region. Tax collectors and state officials from both countries were sent into the St. John River region to further their claim, and in response each state sent in soldiers to remove the trespassing officials. Military forts were established in the area and tensions gradually began to rise all of which nearly resulted in a bloody conflict in 1838-1839. By some miracle, violence was avoided between the United States and Great Britain as each side agreed to responsibly resolve the dispute. This draw down in tension was in large part to the capable administration of British Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.

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Sir Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister of the British Empire

Earl Grey had been appointed to the office of Prime Minister in 1834 following the death of former Prime Minister George Canning and the resignation of the Duke of Wellington. His first years in the post were relatively quiet and much less controversial than those of his predecessor George Canning who had intervened in the Greek War for Independence in 1827, abolished slavery throughout the Empire in 1831, and passed the Parliament Reform Act in 1832. Wellington’s Premiership was equally tumultuous which saw the emancipation of the Catholics in the Empire, the reformation of appropriations of church tithes in Ireland, and the reformation of the Corn Laws which greatly reduced the potency of the tariffs. Grey would enjoy several years of relative quiet service as most urgent matters of state had been resolved by Canning and Wellington. However, as he continued to advance in age, Grey considered retiring from public life following the coronation of the new Queen Victoria in 1837, however, at the Queen’s request he remained on for several weeks while she acclimated to the role.

Weeks quickly turned into months and then months turned into years. Grey would routinely ask the young Queen for permission to retire from office, and the Queen would ask the elder statesman to stay on a little longer while she continued to settle into her role as monarch. By the Fall of 1839, he was still in office as PM and with the outbreak of war against the Qing and in the ongoing crisis between the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, and France; Grey thought it best to continue serving despite his advanced age in the sake of stability.[1] When the crisis in the Middle East finally ended in 1841, negotiations over the Maine-New Brunswick border started up again leading Grey to famously announce that he would stay in office until the dispute had been resolved. To that end, Earl Grey dispatched the British diplomat Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton to Washington D.C. to meet with the new American Secretary of State Daniel Webster in order to reach an acceptable compromise between the two states.

After nearly seven months of negotiation, debate, and compromise, Webster and Ashburton would come to an agreement that would effectively split the contested territory between the United States and Canada. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty among other things established the United States-Canadian border along the St. Croix River in the East, to the Chiputneticook Lakes, and then Northward towards the St. John River. The border would then follow the St. John River to its tributary the St. Francis River and follow it towards its source, Lake Pohenegamook before traveling directly Southwest to the source of the Northwest Branch of the St. John River. From this point, the border would extend Southwest towards the preestablished line of demarcation along the Southwest Branch of the St. John River.[2] The treaty also reestablished the border between Canada and the United States as following the Collins Valentine Line towards the Great Lakes and the 49th Parallel up to the Rocky Mountains. What’s more both countries announced their support for the end of the slave trade and they standardized their terms for extradition with one another.

The Webster-Ashburton Treaty was not universally praised however. In the United States, many residents of Maine and Massachusetts were disappointed at the loss of nearly 5,000 square miles of territory to the British which they believed to be rightfully theirs. Many in the South were also irritated by the proclamation supporting the end of the slave trade as a precursor to the end of slavery in the United States. The reaction in London was generally received better than it had been in the United States as it secured the road between Quebec and Halifax, but there were still those who were disadvantaged by the deal like the Canadian inhabitants of the area. Still the measure was generally applauded by members on both sides, especially after Secretary of State Daniel Webster produced several documents alleging the great American statesman Benjamin Franklin had proposed this very border for the territory of Maine so many years ago.

Buoyed by the successful negotiation of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, President Harrison would once again task Daniel Webster with opening talks with Britain over a possible resolution of the other major territorial dispute between them, the Oregon Territory Dispute. The Oregon Boundary Dispute was a relatively recent development in comparison to the 59-year Maine Boundary Dispute, with the United States first staking its claim to the region with the famous Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Prior to that time, the region had been vaguely divided between the Spanish to the South, the British to the Northeast, and even the Russians to the Northwest. Even still, it was a relatively uninhabited region of the world and attracted little interest from both the Europeans and the Americans for many years. Even the War of 1812 changed little in the area as the only activity by either side in the Oregon Country was the capturing of the abandoned American Fort Astoria along the southern banks of the Columbia River’s mouth.

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Fort Vancouver, Oregon Country

Following the war, interest in the region would increase, albeit barely, as the representatives of Britain and the United States met in 1818 to devise a more permanent solution to the territorial dispute. While the diplomats would fail to reach a lasting compromise, they did agree to a joint occupation of the Oregon Country for a period of ten years. During this time, the Spanish would withdraw their claim to any territory North of the 42nd Parallel following the signing of the Onis-Adams Treaty in 1819 and the Russians would do the same with any territory below the 54-40 Parallel with the signing of the American-Russian Treaty of 1824 and the 1825 Treaty of St. Petersburg.

The Oregon Boundary Dispute would become a more pronounced issue as the end of the agreed upon ten-year joint occupation approached forcing then British Foreign Secretary George Canning to refocus his attention on the issue in the mid-1820’s. Canning would prove himself to be incredibly inflexible on the matter, however, as his rigid demands for a border along the Columbia River promptly scuttled any hope of progress under his term as Foreign Secretary and later as Prime Minister. With a permanent solution to the dispute lost, the United States and Great Britain were forced to renew the earlier Treaty of 1818 to occupy the Oregon jointly for another ten-years. Despite this disappointment, the issue remained a prominent focus of the British Canningite Government which made some progress on the dispute. But with Canning’s death in January 1834, the focus of the British government turned to other, more important matters leaving the Oregon Dispute incomplete.

The successful resolution of the Maine Boundary Dispute in the Summer of 1842 would bring renewed interested to the Oregon Country leading the veteran statesman Earl Grey to announce in late October 1842, that he would agree to the American proposal for another conference on the Oregon Country and that he would once again stay on for a few more months until the ‘Oregon Matter’ was finally resolved. Like their earlier negotiations, however, Grey instructed British Foreign Secretary Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, to stick to Canning’s policy for a border along the Columbia River when he met with the Americans in early March 1843. However, as was the case in their previous meetings over the Oregon, these demands proved to be unworkable for the American delegation led by Secretary of State Daniel Webster who insisted upon the 49th Parallel as a compromise which was summarily rejected out of hand by Palmerston and the British. With no signs of progress, the talks between the Americans and the British would sputter aimlessly for several weeks before a new development in the Oregon Country forced the British to the negotiating table.

The British would soon discover that much had changed in the Oregon Country since their last major conference over the dispute in 1825. Starting in the 1830’s, American settlers had begun to make the trek into the region. It was a slow trickle at first with a handful families making the treacherous journey across the continent, but over time it gradually grew, increasing the American presence from a few dozen hunters, lumberjacks, and traders in the 1820’s to several thousand men, women, and children that were there to stay by the start of 1843. More prominently, the Harrison Administration had encouraged the establishment of a Provisional Government in 1841 to administer the territory and had even stationed Federal troops in the region to help enforce a semblance of order over the land. The coup de grais would be the so called “Great Wagon Train of 1843 which saw over 1,200 Americans make the journey West to Oregon in a wagon train reportedly stretching as much as five-miles long.

For Earl Grey and the British Government, the strong American presence in the Oregon Country was a stunning development as the British had failed to counter it in any meaningful capacity. The Hudson Bay Company (HBC), which effectively managed the Oregon Territory on behalf of the British Government simply lacked the manpower or resources needed to adequately combat the growing flood of American settlers into the region. With more American settlers arriving in Oregon every day and in greater numbers than their British counterparts, the tone of the Oregon Country quickly took on a distinctive American accent. The British were only saved from a complete disaster only by the Americans’ failure to understand their growing demographic advantage over the British. One factor which ironically was in their favor was the decline of the fur trade in the region, making the Columbia River less crucial to British interests.

Without their raison d'être, the British were now willing to reach a compromise with the United States and proposed a second conference in the Spring of 1844. However, the Harrison Administration had been caught off guard by the sudden reversal of the British and showed little interest in hosting further talks with them at this time. And yet the Americans would soon be drawn to the negotiating table as well as politics and partisanship would see the Oregon Boundary Dispute become a mainstream political issue in the United States, thanks in no small part to the Democratic Candidate for the Presidency, former Governor of Tennessee and Speaker of the House James K. Polk.

250px-James_Knox_Polk_by_GPA_Healy%2C_1858.jpg

The 1844 Democrat Nominee for President, James K. Polk

Compared to his opponent Henry Clay, a man who had successfully revived the American economy with his various initiatives and had aided the common man in the settling the West, Polk was a relative nobody. Polk had served in Congress for 8 years and was renowned as a devout Jacksonian Democrat at heart, but with the Panic of 1837 still fresh in the minds of many, he was seen as a long shot for the presidency. However, Polk quickly found his footing as an expansionist calling for the annexation of both Texas and the Oregon Country for the United States. Though it had been a distant area of the continent, it remained a sore spot for many within the country who saw the land as rightfully theirs, and Polk, ever the opportunist used the ongoing dispute against his Henry Clay to great effect. Within a matter of days Polk had earned a surprising degree of support among many key groups across the country giving Polk and the Democrats an edge in the Presidential Campaign. Seeking to deny the issue to Polk, many of Clay’s allies in President Harrison’s cabinet convinced him to agree to another round of negotiations with the British and after several weeks the American and British diplomats would reach an agreement in early May.

The Oregon Country would be split along the 49th Parallel with all territory to the North going to Britain, and all territory to the South going to the United States. The island of Vancouver would be given to Britain in its entirety. Both states shall enjoy freedom of navigation throughout all the waters off the coasts of the Oregon Country. The rights and property of Americans and British citizens on the wrong side of the border were to be respected as would all property and assets belonging to the Hudson Bay Company and its subsidiaries now located in the United States. [3] With that the Oregon Boundary Dispute was resolved. While neither side truly got all they had desired, with some on both sides desiring the entire region for themselves, most were pleased by the deal as it settled a long-lasting point of contention between the two countries and removed the greatest remaining prospect of war between them.

Earl Grey would not see the fruits of his efforts unfortunately as the onset of a sudden illness in early February finally forced the elder statesman from the Premiership and by the 21st of June he was dead. Even so, his successor Lord Melbourne would see to the fulfillment of his predecessor’s work and signed on to the Oregon Treaty of 1844 when it reached his desk in late June. With the Oregon Dispute resolved in a satisfactory manner, Harrison had effectively deprived James K. Polk one of his campaign’s major talking points and provided a policy victory to Clay and the Whigs. While it cannot be determined one way or another what the true effect of this deal on the Presidential Election of 1844 was, what is certain is that the Polk campaign lost much of the momentum it had been gaining before the announcement of the Oregon Treaty in June 1844. While the race would remain close, it no longer held the same intensity and duality that it had before and by election day it was clearly Clay’s election to lose.

The resolution of the last major territorial dispute between the United States and Great Britain would also mark an upturn in relations between the two countries. While they would at times express differences with one another, the continued interweaving of their economies combined with the special relationship they shared as two English speaking peoples of Anglican descent ensured that no major hostilities would occur between them for the next few decades. The same could not be said of France. Tensions between the Britain and France had been steadily rising since the outbreak of the Second Syrian War in 1840 as France aligned itself behind its ally Egypt, while the British backed the Ottomans. Moreover, its conquest of Algiers was seen as a blatant land grab and dastardly by the other countries of Europe. Its self-destructive policies and short-sighted initiatives had served to isolate the French, with the only states choosing to maintain even a semblance of cordial relations with France being Bourbon Spain and Naples, Greece, the Khedivate of Egypt, and the nascent Kingdom of Belgium which was reliant upon French soldiers to protect them against the perfidious Dutchmen.

Next Time: Matters of State


[1] The First Opium War starting on schedule.

[2] Essentially the OTL border. Personally, I do not believe the survival of Harrison would have had any significant impact on the development of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, but if you believe otherwise please tell me and I will consider editing it accordingly.

[3] Also OTL, the only major difference being the timing. The historical Oregon Treaty was signed in 1846 well after the 1844 Presidential Election. While James K. Polk did campaign on the annexation of the entire Oregon Country up to the 54-40 to the United States, he quickly backed off this demand and accepted a compromise at the 49th Parallel. Here the United States makes the same deal two years earlier and there certainly was interest in resolving it at this time, Secretary of State Daniel Webster strongly supported a resolution to the dispute in 1843, but the lack of support and dis-functionality of the Tyler Administration caused him to abandon the issue.
 
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Fun fact: the building where the treaty was signed is still standing. Also OTL’s British Legation, although the interior is much altered.
 
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