Daniel Hannan is an internationally renowned voice of liberty. He is a Euroskeptic Conservative Euro MP for Southeast England, a writer for the Daily Telegraph, the author of several books, most importantly, an upcoming book called Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World. I have pre-ordered mine and I STRONGLY encourage you to do the same.
Mr. Hannan has informed us that his book and America 3.0 have shared intellectual foundations. We cannot wait to read it.
In the meantime, he had a terrific review today of a book about Russian colonization in North America called Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America.
Mr. Hannan’s review contained a great concise summary of a point we made in America 3.0, when discussing why the Russian lodgment in North America did not take root:
The American settlers had an advantage over every rival power: they administered their affairs locally. Dispersed land-ownership, elected town leaders, common law, religious pluralism, free contract, county militia: these made up an Anglosphere toolkit better suited to expansion than any rival model. Small wonder that contemporary Americans thought in terms of a manifest destiny.
Yes. Yes, exactly so.
We understand his review of America 3.0 is forthcoming, and we are looking forward to it.
9 thoughts on “Daniel Hannan: Channeling America 3.0!”
The “Anglosphere tool kit” wasn’t available in California until 1848.
The Spanish and later Mexican government of California assigned local civil authority to an alcade, the representative of the central government in a community, with a provincial governor over the alcades and the military. The missions had a separate charter from the king but were disposed after Mexico became independent of Spain.
California remained a stagnant backwater until the conquest by the US and the discovery of gold in 1848. It did have one geographic negative, the difficulty in sailing up the coast, against wind and current. However, the gold rush centered activity around San Francisco Bay and its hinterland with mostly long range sailing connections and still difficult coasting navigation, leaving SoCal as cow towns.
The Russian toehold was so tenuous that a private Swiss entrepreneur (Sutter) was able to buy them out.
An interesting question would be the economic history of California if gold hadn’t been discovered yet the Americans took over. Or vice versa.
Whitehall, Hannan’s speculation presumes, I suppose, a bigger Russian “toehold” and a bigger commitment on their part to trying to colonize California. Agreed California was a “stagnant backwater”– hard to reach, and not worth a whole lot once you got there. It is hard for us to imagine how remote the undeveloped Pacific coast of North America was not that long ago, say 1850. Russia and Spain both had access to it but could not do much with it due to the tyranny of distance.” The USA wanted a transcontinental railroad out to the West coast, at taxpayers’ expense, not for commercial reasons, but for political and strategic reasons. The fear of a European or even Japanese encroachment out there had to be checked by a military presence, backed up by access to the Eastern core of the USA.
One little oddity of our history was that Lincoln, during his time in Congress, was violently opposed to the Mexican War but went on as president to become the biggest booster of the Transcontinental Railroad.
It would have been interesting, if gold had not been discovered. I think there would have been Americans sifting in over the next twenty years or so, Sutter’s various enterprises would have given him a edge, economically. Even if he was a bit of a con-man, he was enterprising as all get-out, and he would have had the advantage of being an early settler. With a gradual addition of legally and economically-savvy Yankees adding themselves through marriage and partnership to the Old Californio families, the Hispanic elite might have been better fitted to hold on to what they did have.
It was hard to get there, indeed – a voyage by sailing ship around the Horn, or a 4-6 month trip from the Mississippi-Missouri by ox-wagon or mule train. Steamships might have sped up the process a bit – and so would the transcontinental railway – but without the gold strikes in California and the silver strikes in Nevada, what purpose would there have been for such an expense. Maybe the stagecoach lines, through the southern route, and passing through the Mormon establishment of Deseret. One of those interesting alternate history things, I expect.
The Yankees were already making a big impact on California before the Mexican War. Larkin was the US consul in Monterey and the Californios seemed to do more trade with New England than with Mexico City. One source said there were more Yankees than Californios in the state by 1848 (I’m skeptical) and were recognized as both a threat and a benefit by the local government. Yankees were the prime source of economic dynamism even before gold.
For an American with a little capital to get a land grant from the Mexican government wasn’t too hard. He had to convert to Catholicism and marry a Californio woman plus swear allegiance to Mexico. This was pretty much the same deal as in Tejas.
In “Two Years Before the Mast” Charles Dana describes a round trip between Santa Barbara and Yerba Buena as San Francisco was called then. It took three weeks for a sailing ship going North but the return trip south only took 3 days. Sydney, Australia was almost closer.
Whitehall, I did a post about on http://www.ncobrief.com way back in the day, when I posted a list of Americans resident in California before the Gold Rush – I can’t find it right off hand or recollect where I found it, but it was IIRC a fairly authoritative source. There were not very many at all; under 1000 in the last years before. There were so few that likely they all knew each other by name and reputation. There were only so many wagon trains arriving after 1842 or so, and only a handful of deserters from sailing ships or enterprising merchants. There was no entrepreneur scheme in California as there had been in Texas, no government-approved scheme to bring in settlers from the Anglosphere in the tens and hundreds.
I think that without the Gold Rush, there would have been a regular but slight trickle, until steamships made the trip a bit shorter.
There were only 3 to 4 thousand male Californios too and many of the Yankee residents lived “off the grid” to avoid the Mexican authorities.
The Americans were flooding in to Alta California even before the war and the gold.
I think we can agree there were very few Russians left.
It’s a shame we can’t run him for president. I love the guy.
Look at Baja California – same semi-arid climate – at least 1 good harbor (LaPaz) If the Anglos hadn’t comer it would be pretty much the same. With the Anglos – maybe agriculture and vacation spots.
A lot fewer people I would think.
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