This is my very first attempt at an AU. I’d like to acknowledge llamaman2, thegrumpykestrel, & whitey_nl. Their AUs of the Channel Islands Federation, the Dominion of Westralia, & the Dominion of Newfoundland & Labrador inspired me to take the leap & attempt my first AU. I’m basing it on the former British colony of West Florida. It’s a what-if look at how things might have turned out had Britain retained a portion of its West Florida colony after 1783. But I’m an absolute novice when it comes to drawings, so please bear with me.
For those who have been following this AU, I've made some changes to the storyline. I've also done some editing to tidy things up, remove some duplication & put things in a little more chronological order.
The Dominion of West Florida
West Florida is a dominion of the British Commonwealth, like Canada, New Zealand or Australia. It lies along the northern Gulf of Mexico, bordering the US states of Alabama, Georgia & Florida. Its eastern border is formed by the Apalachicola & Chattahoochee rivers, with the western border following the Perdido river. The northern border is the latitude line of 31 degrees. West Florida has a total area of just under 22,800 square kilometres, making it slightly larger than Wales, with a population of just over 985,000. A large proportion of the population lives along the coast, particularly in Panama City & the capital Pensacola. West Florida lies in the US Central time zone. Historically, the West Florida economy has depended on farming, forestry & lumber. Shipbuilding & commercial fishing have also been important industries for many years. More recently, growth in tourism & the hospitality industry has been a major contributor to the West Florida economy.
Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years' War, Spain agreed to cede its Florida territories to Britain. France also ceded much of its Louisiana colony east of the Mississippi River to Britain. From this territory, two provinces were established. East Florida, with its capital in St. Augustine & West Florida, with Pensacola as its capital. West Florida was a strip of land along the Gulf Coast, bounded by the Mississippi River & Lake Pontchartrain in the west, by the 31st parallel to the north & the Apalachicola River to the east. New British settlers arrived, including some from the thirteen colonies. Surveyors mapped much of the landscape & coastline. Attempts were also made to develop relations with the indigenous tribes of the region. The first colonial assembly was established in 1764. Ten years later, West Florida was invited to send delegates to the First Continental Congress, but they declined. Once the American Revolutionary War had broken out, the colonists remained overwhelmingly loyal to the Crown. Spain officially entered the American Revolutionary War in May 1779 & by April 1780, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, had captured all British territory west of the Perdido River, including Baton Rouge & Mobile. Despite the Pensacola garrison surviving a long siege, the 1783 Peace of Paris required Britain to cede all Florida territories west of the Perdido River & east of the Apalachicola River back to Spain.
In 1813, British West Florida was invaded by American forces, led by future American president Andrew Jackson, during the War of 1812. However, the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war in 1815, called for all occupied territory to be returned. The pre-war boundaries between Canada, British West Florida & the United States were to be restored. By the middle of the 19th Century, the colonial population was granted self government, with the first parliament sitting in 1864, 100 years after the first colonial assembly. West Florida remained a colony until acquiring Dominion status in 1907, becoming a self-governing state of the Empire, relatively autonomous from British rule.
World War One:
As part of the British Empire, forces were contributed from the 1st West Florida Regiment during World War I. In 1915, West Florida joined Australia, New Zealand & Newfoundland, contributing troops to the Gallipoli campaign. Later in the war, the 1st West Florida Regiment served on the Western Front in France & Belgium, adding Somme
to their Gallipoli
battle honours. It was following their gallant World War One service that the regiment received its “Royal”
World War Two:
Despite its relatively small size, West Florida’s military once again contributed to British Empire forces during World War Two, mainly contributing naval units to serve alongside British & Canadian allies in the Atlantic. On 3rd September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, automatically committing India & the Crown colonies. But the 1931 Statute of Westminster had granted autonomy to the Dominions. Australia & New Zealand immediately joined the British declaration, with West Florida & Newfoundland both joining the following day on 4th September. In May 1940, West Florida joined Canada in providing troops to assist with the defence of the British Caribbean colonies. Several companies of the Royal West Florida Regiment served throughout the war in Bermuda, Jamaica, the Bahamas, British Guiana & Trinidad. From June 1940, vessels of the Royal West Florida Navy began contributing to convoy escort duties on BHX convoys leaving Bermuda & joining the HX convoys on route from Halifax to Liverpool. A small number of West Florida ships & crews also served in the Atlantic, in addition to British east coast & channel convoy escort duties.
In 1949, West Florida was a founding member of NATO & in July 1950, once again saw itself involved in conflict, this time in Korea. The frigate HMWFS Pensacola was deployed to the peninsula until May 1951, performing escort & shore bombardment duties. Two light batteries from the Royal West Florida Artillery also saw service in Korea. After the Korean War, West Florida’s military would not be involved in another conflict for almost 30 years, as they took no part in the Vietnam War. There would, however, be a brief period of high alert in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1982, West Florida openly assisted the UK during their recapture of the Falkland Islands. A RWFN vessel took up station as the West Indies Guard Ship for the duration of the conflict, allowing RN resources to be redeployed to the British task force. As a member of NATO, West Florida often hosts allied forces at their naval facilities in Pensacola, & their main air base near Panama City. The RWFN conducts regular exercises with RN vessels in the Caribbean whilst they are deployed to Atlantic Patrol Tasking North, & West Florida forces have been regular participants in various United Nations peacekeeping missions.
West Florida is a constitutional monarchy that uses a parliamentary system of government with Queen Elizabeth II as it’s monarch, represented by the Governor-General. It uses a bicameral parliament, consisting of an upper house (the Senate), & lower house (the House of Commons). By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint & the Queen or Governor-General provides royal assent to make bills into law. Senators are appointed by the Governor-General, while members of the House of Commons are directly elected.
Foreign Relations / Foreign Policy:
West Florida maintains good relations with all nations within the Anglosphere, especially Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand & the UK. West Florida is an active member of the Commonwealth, as well as a founding member of the United Nations & NATO. More recently, West Florida has started developing closer relations with Caribbean & Latin American neighbours to its immediate south. The military has also started working more closely with the Alabama National Guard as part of the US State Partnership Program. While visitor visas are not required by anyone travelling to West Florida for short periods, residency & work permits are required for longer stays.
West Florida has a market economy with moderate-to-high GDP per capita & low rate of poverty, with the West Florida pound as the nation’s currency. Farming, forestry, & lumber have historically been important industries to the West Florida economy, along with shipbuilding, & commercial fishing. Import/export shipping from Pensacola & Panama City has grown steadily in importance over the years. By 2015, the ports of Pensacola & Panama City had a combined annual container volume of around 175,000 TEU & a combined annual cargo tonnage of 5 million tonnes. Following World War II, the economy was boosted by the expansion of the West Florida military & the growth of tourism & the hospitality industry. To help encourage & maintain tourism, West Florida’s Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been kept low & although corporate taxation is payable, it is still significantly lower than other countries in the region, often encouraging businesses to set up operations in West Florida.
West Florida had a population of approximately 985,000 at its last census in 2015, with an estimated population of just over 1,000,000 by 2020. The majority of West Floridians are of English or Scots-Irish descent, with the largest minorities being Hispanic, Caribbean, Indian, Asian & native American. The UK, Canada, the British Caribbean & other parts of the Commonwealth have long been West Florida’s main source of immigration. The majority of the population lives along the coast, particularly in Pensacola & Panama City. Other population centres include East Bay, Crestview, Santa Rosa, St. Joseph, Queensborough, Williamtown & West Point.
Geography & Climate:
West Florida has land borders with three US states. It’s eastern border with Florida & Georgia is formed by the Apalachicola & Chattahoochee rivers. Its western border with Alabama follows the Perdido river. The deep-water port of Pensacola Bay is formed by the joining of Escambia & East bays which are fed by the Escambia & Blackwater rivers, respectively.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, completed in 1949, is a navigable inland waterway, beginning near the town of West Point on St. George Sound & traversing West Florida by means of bays, lagoons, sounds, & man-made channels to Perdido Pass at the border with Alabama. There it joins the US portion of the waterway which continues through Alabama, Mississippi & Louisiana, finally terminating near Brownsville, Texas. The waterway provides a channel with a controlling depth of 3.7 m, designed primarily for barge transportation.
The barrier islands of Perdido Key, Ono Island & Santa Rosa Island extend from the western border with Alabama to Choctawhatchee Bay. In the east, St. Vincent & St. George Islands form St. Vincent Sound & Apalachicola Bay, & reach to the border with Florida. The prevalent climate of West Florida is humid subtropical (Köppen: Cfa), with an average daily temperature of 21.5 °C. Mean high temperatures for late July is around 30° Celsius, with mean low temperatures for early to mid-January around 7° Celsius.
In the summer, high temperatures seldom exceed 38° Celsius. Winter low temperatures have been recorded between −1 & 4 ° Celsius. However, these temperatures normally don’t extend more than a few days at a time. Due to its subtropical climate, West Florida rarely receives measurable snowfall. However, on rare occasions, a combination of cold moisture & freezing temperatures can result in snowfall in the north of the country. Hurricanes pose a severe threat each year, particularly from August to October. It is rare for a hurricane season to pass without at least some impact by at least a tropical storm, the worst being Hurricane Ivan in 2004 & Hurricane Michael in 2018.