What if Argentina & Chile were British?

Inspired by this thread. In 1589, the English retaliated for the Spanish Armada by sending an English Armada to attack Spain – it failed just as spectacularly as the Spaniards’. But consider this AH scenario: Sir Francis Drake, who has been there and done that, persuades the Queen to ignore Spain proper and attack – with the intent of taking for keeps – Spain’s South American possessions instead. Not all of them, just the silver-poor southern tip of the continent which the Spaniards might reasonably give up once the English hold it. He convinces Elizabeth that “The kingdom that controls the Antipodes controls the seas,” i.e., if England holds the southern tip of SA, the Royal Navy, securely based there, might control access between the Atlantic and Pacific. So she sends the Armada, which takes small the Spanish colony-towns of Buenos Aires on the east coast and Santiago on the west coast, renaming them “Fairwinds” and “St. James” respectively. In perverse British fashion they name the whole country “Silverland” after the Rio de la Plata, despite the relative dearth of actual silver; this becomes a deathless national running gag; comparisons to “Greenland” are commonplace. The English then start colonizing those towns and all the lands between, and all the lands to the south, and as far north as they can push it – colonizing them piecemeal in fits and starts, of course, just like the colonies on North America’s East Coast.

What kind of country/society would that have produced? How would it differ from British society and American society?

Nice thread you got there :slight_smile:

Anyway, it looks like you are looking at a colonial society that will become inhabited by a large number of English speaking Brits and will most likely become something resembling a mishmash of the US, Canada, NZ, and Australia. Are there any specific populations that are planned? E.g. large slave populations, large numbers of exiled convicts, etc.?

Or, are you willing to consider development along the lines of India, where the Brits were primarily involved in administration, and original cultures and languages survived much better than they did in British North America and Australia.

Sorry, this one.

I’m leaving it open for speculation. E.g., would slavery in Silverland have been economically viable? The land’s mostly good for ranching, never heard of slaves being used for that. Would penal colonies have been planted there? Would religious dissidents have fled there? How would all that have affected the development of British North America? There’s only so many British settlers to go around, after all.

Definitely not. Unlike with Peru, there would not have been enough Indians in the country. Not enough Spaniards, even, back then. Silverland very definitely would become a “settler state” with a white majority and Anglo-culture predominant.

The first thought that arises in my mind is that a South American colony would supply a much closer destination for penal settlement than Australia, after the loss of most of the North American colonies.
I somehow don’t see a set-up like the one the British had in India arising in South America. That was predicated on the idea that there was wealth aplenty to be had in India, and the British goverment’s presence was just to protect British merchant interests. Argentina and Chile just didn’t have cultures in place that would produce trade goods without the sort of manpower investment the Brits put in in North America or Australia.

I’m sure Silverland would be a more developed country today with a bigger GDP than Argentina’s and Chile’s put together, because, you know, superior Anglo-Protestant culture and all that. :wink:

Well, that assumes North American history plays out the same way in the Silverland-timeline as in ours. Perhaps the Brits, busy with Silverland, would just decide to let the French have all that.

Of course, the Spanish settlers exiled from Silverland at the takeover would have established a thriving trading colony and base for irredentism in the Malvinas! :smiley:

And I daresay the Malvinas would have had plenty of room for every Spaniard living in Patagonia in 1589.

I imagine the choice of Australia was because of the remoteness, as well as the fact it’s an island.

I think North American colonies would be still be preferable due to the closer location and more familiar climate.

The Brits? Let the French have something just because they have something else to play with? Now you’re talking real alternate history. :slight_smile:

Australia was a second choice for penal settlement after the loss of the American colonies. Most of the southern US states were initially settled by criminal deportees.

“Silver-poor”? Argentina is the world’s 15th largest silver producer despite completely half-assed investment in mining infrastructure.

I was thinking, back then and compared to Peru, which Spain would never have let go.

Colonizing South America was very difficult to the tropical diseases of malaria and yellow fever. Europeans trying to live there died like flies. The only way to exploit it since colonization was out of the question was to import africans who were immune to malaria and yellow fever while europeans tried to make a fast buck and then get out asap. Given this the only difference was that England would have gotten the money instead of Spain and since Peru was where the real money was at Argentina and Chile would not have made much of a difference. The real difference would have been in the 20th century where speaking english would have made trade with the USA much easier and more lucrative.

:confused: Argentina and Chile have a variety of climates, including some coastal areas which are wet enough even for an Englishman.

What kind of climates did you think they had, out of curiosity? Apparently puddleglum is mistaking them for the Guyanas…

Malaria and Yellow fever. Yes we also have monkeys.
In fact we do have monkeys but in the northeast. Argentina is a large country, please google image “Calafate” “Angostura”, “Pampa”, “Mendoza” “San Juan”.

I base this on the fact that Argentina today is a white-majority country. I amend as to Chile which it turns out is 44% mestizo; so, Silverland probably would have a significant Indian or Anglo-Indian population in its West. But, so does Canada in its North, and remains a Euro-culture nation.

I have no idea what’s supposed to be the link between “there weren’t many white Spaniards in the American parts of Spain c. 1583” and the current racial composition of those two countries. A lot has happened since, and much of their migration history would have been different if they’d been English colonies and ex-colonies: for example, all those Italians who moved from Dos Sicilias to Argentina would likely have chosen other locations. Would the large amounts of central-European refugees who got there c.1940, many of them via Spain, have done so, or would they have ended up in Mexico?

Estilicon can provide better cites than anything I could find, or correct me if what I heard was a black legend, but I’ve been told that Argentina used to have a lot more “indians” before they achieved independence and got tucked under English wings. Do you guys think that would have happened even sooner, if Argentina and Chile had been British?

And seriously, could people please take a look at a map and at those pictures Estilicon mentioned? Most of you guys sound like you can barely place the two countries, much less discuss alternate histories.

Well to me it sounds to me that the climate of Patagonia (where this South American empire is supposed to be beginning) is cold and somewhat harsh, with a lot of rain (far more than we’re used to in the UK) in some places and too little in others. On top of that of course there’s the fact it’s in the southern hemisphere. Personally I find the idea of a warm Christmas borderline offensive so I’m certainly not going to be moving there.

Compare that with the New England climate and I think North America creates by first the best “first impression”.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not especially attached to this theory, it’s just an idea. Maybe the climate makes no difference, or perhaps the extra rain was even enticing for crops and the grasslands useful for livestock.

Malaria in the US was a big problem south of the 40th parallel, the southern 40th parallel runs through through both Chile and Argentian so I assumed the climate is like the US climate. The first english colony in America, Jamestown, had a huge problem with malaria and was barely able to survive. This despite a rather mild climate. It is only in the last 100 years where malaria has been confined to tropical areas. Buenos Aires was specifically mentioned in the OP and that had a very large malaria problem when first colonized. Chile eradicated malaria about the same time as the US, only about 65 years ago.

I would imagine the scenario of Argentina and Chile under British control to be something like the current Falkland Islands situation…