UPDATE

To a post from a few years ago

Brilliant Maps.

This is what North America would have looked like had Nathaniel P. Banks’s Annexation Bill of 1866 passed into law, and been accepted by the United Kingdom. When I originally posted this, I noticed that Newfoundland (and Labrador) had disappeared, when that colony had an independent existence in 1866; I might have added that Vancouver Island was separate from British Columbia, and neither Canada West nor Canada East extended as far north as the map indicates. But I was not paying attention – the boundaries on this map were prescribed by the Bill itself, whose full text can be read on Wikisource. Banks wanted these states and territories admitted to the U.S. under the following conditions:

(1) New Brunswick, with its present limits
(2) Nova Scotia, with the addition of Prince Edward Island
(3) Canada East, with the addition of Newfoundland and all territory east of longitude eighty degrees and south of Hudson’s strait
(4) Canada West, with the addition of territory south of Hudson’s bay and between longitude eighty degrees longitude ninety degrees
(5) Selkirk Territory, bounded east by longitude ninety degrees, south by the late boundary of the United States, west by longitude one hundred and five degrees, and north by the Arctic circle
(6) Saskatchewan Territory, bounded east by longitude one hundred and five degrees, south by latitude forty-nine degrees, west by the Rocky mountains, and north by latitude seventy degrees
(7) Columbia Territory, including Vancouver’s Island, and Queen Charlotte’s island, and bounded east and north by the Rocky mountains, south by latitude forty-nine degrees, and west by the Pacific ocean and Russian America.

The bill was sent to committee and never made it out, and was not introduced to the Senate. One wonders why. The idea that the United States had a Manifest Destiny to rule the entire continent was especially powerful following the Civil War (thus the purchase of “Russian America” in 1867), and British North America, as representing the rump state of the previous regime, was especially illegitimate to a certain type of American expansionist. Banks was also interested in appealing to Irish Americans, who hated the British for obvious reasons, and northerners in general, who were peeved about Britain’s perceived support for the Confederacy in the late Civil War. But I guess this project was a step too far for other powerful people in Washington. I assume that they did not want to risk offending what was by that point the preeminent world power. 

I wonder what subsequent history would have looked like had Banks’s vision come to pass. I assume that the map would have undergone numerous changes, as the territories were subdivided and new states admitted to the Union. I think that Canada’s Francophones would have retained their culture and religion and would eventually have launched a secessionist movement against the United States, as they did against Canada in the 1960s. But would those who became English-Canadians have accepted their status as “Americans”? Much as I hate to say it, they probably would have eventually. There was always a strain of republican, pro-American sentiment among the Anglophones of British North America, and once the US replaced the UK as a world superpower, I think that this sentiment would probably have taken over and become their default outlook. And since the Annexation Bill would have passed prior to Canadian Confederation, people wouldn’t even be able to look back with fondness on a time when they had their own country, as Texans do. (Although I should think there would still persist some “northern” cultural characteristics, parallel to those of the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, New England, etc.)

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