With all the problems affecting the United States of America today, it should come as no surprise that many are predicting (and even preparing) for what seems to be the inevitable collapse of this union. Many states have suggested secession from the Union, while the remaining problems seem to suggest the United States may follow the fate of the Soviet Union and dissolve. But as chaotic as it may seem today, the United States of America has gone through worse times. None so chaotic as the first years of independence, when the Thirteen Colonies were farther apart then what we take for granted today, and when the United States of America (as we know it) didn't even exist.
Imagine if at this crucial time in American history, the Confederation just ceased to exist. What would the world be like had the United States of America had taken the same path as many other failed unions throughout history? What if the Thirteen Colonies moved away from each other, and left behind a flag of 13 Fallen Stars?
Point of Divergence
When asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787, General George Washington was not persuaded to do so, believing that he has done all he could for the colonies, and not wishing to be considered a dictator or a new monarch. Instead, he stated he would not come out of retirement, and wished to be left alone at his plantation in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He gave his confidence for his fellow countrymen to keep the colonies together.
Not considered a major requirement, the convention began without Washington, with noted people like Thomas Jefferson (writer of the Declaration of Independence) and John Adams coming forth as likely contenders to lead the nation. However, none of these men had the same national recognition or humility as did Washington, leading to heated debates over the power of the presidency and the defined rights between the confederation and the states that made up the confederation. These differences would become rallying cries between those like Adams and Jefferson, further dividing the delegation.
By October, the Constitutional Convention ends with nothing being agreed upon or changed. Despite hopes of a new convention months down the line, the lack of unity within the delegation would only distance the states rather than hold them together. Many states began to assert more powers away from the Articles of Confederation, leading to paranoia over the viability of the United States of America.
The inevitable happened in November 1787, when New York Governor (and a noted opponent during the Constitutional Convention) George Clinton gained enough support within his state to declare secession for his state. The news shocked the Confederation, with many once again attempting (and failing) to persuade Washington to lead a battalion to regain control over the rogue state. In the end, it was too late, as Rhode Island followed in declaring secession within weeks; with the final nail in the coffin happening with the secession of North Carolina and Virginia by Christmas.
By March 1788, only Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania continued to have any faith in the Articles of Confederation. But even in this little haven, doubts were rising. On March 24, the remaining members agreed to void the Articles, ending the United States of America. The following years would become a turbulent time in the former nation. After a series of conventions, treaties, and wars; six republics would emerge out of the ruins.
In an ironic twist of fate, it would be the chaos of his nation's dissolution that would persuade George Washington to come out of retirement and lead the Virginian people out of the chaos. Further irony would come decades down the line, when the once despised Articles of Confederation become an inspiration for the vast British Empire, and becoming the basis for United Britannic Commonwealth that replaced it.
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