We Could Have Had Canada?
Earlier this month, The Daily Mail (London, UK) posted Ten of the greatest: Maps that changed the world. Number 7 on the list was the "Red Line" Map of North America, 1782-3:
This map, also known as the Mitchell Map, was used during negotiations for the Treaty of Paris that confirmed the independence of the United States and set its boundaries with the remaining British Territories in North America. Interesting, in of itself... but the caption, written by Peter Barber, Head of Map Collections at the British Library, implies much more:
This map was used by British diplomats negotiating an end to the American War of Independence in Paris. Richard Oswald, secretary to the delegation, annotated it with coloured lines to show where it was thought past treaties established the U.S./Canada border.I have read occasionally in history books the suggestion that Britain was ready to give up much of Canada along with their claim to the thirteen colonies... but we never asked.
In the event, when drawing the northern border the Americans asked for less than expected, and in the century afterwards they tried to renegotiate.
To prevent them from seeing this embarrassing map, it was removed from the British Museum, where it had been since the 1820s, and placed in the Foreign O ffice.
How might history have turned out different if the fledgling United States included what is today Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes? Would there have been a War of 1812? Where would runaway slaves have found refuge at the end of the Underground Railroad? How would the United States have handled the Quebecois independence movements?
Via The History Tweeter