What would happen if the world never took up the democratic process? Like if in a modern world America still has 50 states but each state is independently governed by a monarch. What kind of effect would this have on trade? Diplomacy? Would the technology we have today even exist?


closed as too broad by L.Dutch, F1Krazy, Separatrix, AlexP, sphennings Jan 1 '18 at 13:08

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ World has thrived without democracy for as long as we remember, but the last 50 years. This apart, narrow down your question to a single problem and try to make it objectively answerable. As it is now your question is too broad and opinion based. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jan 1 '18 at 10:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This looks like a "How would society be different if..." question, which are generally closed as being too broad and opinion-based. I believe the rule of thumb is that if the answer would take up an entire book, then it's too broad, and answering this would definitely take an entire book. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Jan 1 '18 at 10:02
  • $\begingroup$ You should specify what you mean by "democracy". For thousands of years councils of elders would make decisions by agreement, it's still democracy of a sort. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 1 '18 at 10:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy Yes. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 1 '18 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ "America" is two continents. This question is bizarre; it reminds me of old Soviet history books from the 1950s, where everything, lightbulbs, airplanes, radios, had been invented in Russia by Russians. (E.g., radio had discovered by a Mr. Popov. Romanian joke from the time: how did Mr. Popov discover the radio? One day Mrs. Popov went into town and bought a radio,which she hid on the bed under a cover. When Mr. Popov came home, he saw the bulge and dis-covered the radio.) Seriously... Athens, Roman republic, Magna Charta, English Parliament, French Revolution, British Glorious Revolution... $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 1 '18 at 13:07

Does the Revolution Happen At All

Most state governors were royalists - they were appointed by King George and supported the monarchy during the war. Much of the agitation was brought about by a desire for a voice in Parliament and frustration for decisions being made overseas that were negatively effecting the colony. That being said, since the motivations were economic rather than ideology - I suspect the revolution would have happened regardless.

Not That King George

Assuming the American Revolutionary War had still happened, history tells us that the people wanted George Washington to become king, and he refused in favor of a democratic republic that had no such trappings. Washington may have refused still. Having no children who were his own by blood, Washington would have been aware that accepting a role as monarch would be setting up a blood bath a few decades later.

Alexander Hamilton is a likely candidate for who George Washington may have put forward as king in his place. Younger, trusted by Washington - Washington took an active part in the development of Hamilton's career - he was a member of Washington's staff, the Constitutional Convention, and a close friend. Alexander Hamilton also had very monarchist ideas - having proposed both Presidents and Senators have lifetime terms, pending good behavior, in the Constitutional Convention.

Kings often assume a regnal name. Maybe, out of respect for his mentor, Alexander Hamilton would have chosen King George. Then again, there was another living King George that they had just beaten in war.

Assuming King Hamilton avoided his duel with Aaron Burr and lived a long life, the monarch would have reigned into 1820s or 1830s, likely. Likely successor, eldest son Philip would die in a duel in 1801. Next in line daughter Angelica would be stricken with mental illness also in 1801 making her unfit for succession. The King, after Alexander Hamilton's death would be his son Alexander Hamilton Jr., who lived until 1875. Junior had no children despite trying, so the crown would have passed to James who'd reign from 1875 to 1882


Alexander Hamilton (and George Washington) both appeared to dislike slavery, but see it as a necessity - both owning slaves. As a result, I think they would have suppressed the abolitionist attitudes in the north and struck a balance favorable to keeping slavery in the United States.

Nevertheless, slavery - worldwide - was on it's way out. Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. England and Canada abolished it in 1833. It's possible slavery in the United States would still have met its end some time in the 1800's.

The Midwest

Would a King Alexander Hamilton have ratified the sketchy treaty - written by the chief's English tutor, an American, supposedly without any consultation or consent from the chief - that was rejected by the Supreme Court, that ejected the Cherokee from their lands in the midwestern United States? I think Hamilton would have rejected the treaty - so the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas would probably not exist.

That Cherokee were already in the middle of attempts to modernize - hence the Chief having an English tutor and the nation challenging the sketchy treaty in U.S. Courts. It's possible the Cherokee would have finished formalizing their nation, and made some allowance to U.S. population pressure by allowing immigrants into the territory.

The remaining pressure to expand west would have gone over the northern route, with the southern boundary of the United States being Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

Because it would not have as much United States influence, Texas may not have pushed for independence from Mexico - prominent leader's of the Texas revolution were hoping to become a state : much less likely if the Cherokee nation separated them. If Texas did rebel anyways, it's possible they remained an independent nation and maybe still entered the United States - maybe a little later in the 1860s.

The West Coast

California likely would still have joined the United States in 1850, making the contour of the country a little bit U-shaped around the Cherokee nation.

Hawaii was already being undermined by interests around the world. Hawaii likely would still have been undermined by U.S. interests in 1893, as the people involved were motivated by personal ambitions - not orders from Washington.

Civil War

If you accept the southern proposition that the civil war was more about pressure from urban cores for more national power and rural areas resisting this, then the civil war might still have happened. King Alexander Hamilton, a New York resident, would have been sympathetic with the power of the urban centers

Secessionists were empowered by their interpretation that, on paper, they had every right to leave the union. In a U.S. monarchy, that attitude would not exist. Also, the King likely would have backed the south's attitude towards slavery - so it's possible people would have just grumbled instead of gone to war.

World War 1 and 2

It's hard to find James Alexander Hamilton's children, so I can't trace who would be monarch in the 20th century. Our involvement in World War 1 was very limited - we sent relief supplies and arms to the British. Germany sinking our supply boats led to our direct declaration of hostilities. The non-invention, or non-battle-proving of the submarine may have kept Germany from being so aggressive - so the United States may not have entered the war at all. Even then, we entered the war very late, in 1917, of a war that lasted from 1914 to 1918.

Alternatively a U.S. King or Queen may have felt an obligation, like every other monarch of the time, to get involved in World War 1 early. In that case, which I won't explore in detail, I think our economic development may have stalled. Big exposure to World War 1 might have made the United States, like France and much of continental Europe, unwilling to get into a second World War with Europe - so our World War 2 involvement may have only been to confront Japan. In that case, disregard everything after this paragraph. I can't imagine what a world where the U.S. suffered heavily in both World Wars and was poorly positioned to grow in the Cold War period afterward would look like, but I suggest looking to France for an example.

U.S. entry into World War 2 was started by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which would remain a U.S. territory in this alternate history. The Japanese felt obliged to attack because U.S. refusal to export industrial materials to Japan felt, to them, like a de-facto act of war. This export ban by the U.S. was in response to Japan declaring itself a member of the Axis powers. I feel a U.S. monarch would have taken the same action, not expecting that what was intended to be economic pressure for Japan to stay out of the Axis would have turned into war.

The Cold War

As one of the only remaining largely unharmed industrial superpowers, the United States drew a great amount of wealth from the world in exchange for help rebuilding following the war.

The Soviet Union, with their anti-democratic and anti-monarch ideologies, tried building a collection of satellite and client states despite their wounded economy. This would have put the United States and the Soviet Union in opposition regardless of ideological differences. Stalin and Kruschev's behavior (Kruschev's "we will bury you" speech comes to mind, as well as the theft and rapid implementation of nuclear weapons technology from the U.S.) would likely still have terrified the United States that the Soviet Union was an existential threat.


What does this all mean for technology?

  • The Cotton Gin would have still been invented (too close to the revolution - 1793)
  • Ironclad boats may not have been invented in the United States (they were invented to deal with shore-based cannons during the civil war)
  • Submersibles may still have been invented as a novelty item (most of the invention was done in Lousiana and the now non-existent Alabama, and it's effectiveness was demonstrated in the civil war)
  • The airplane would still have been invented (done in Ohio, tested in the Carolinas; given it's military try by Europe)
  • Radio, the light bulb, motion pictures, telephone and telegraph would still have been invented (New York and Ohio)
  • Alernating and direct current power infrastructures would still have been developed (New York and Ohio)
  • Radar would have still been invented (invented by the British)
  • The atom bomb would still have been invented, and it might still have been used
  • The U.S. space program may have had trouble finding a home (Tennessee); but there was enough of a need for it (perceived existential threat of the Soviet Union to make it happen)
  • The polio vaccine (PA) would still have been invented
  • The mainframe computer (IBM - New York) would still have been invented
  • The artificial heart (TX) would have been delayed
  • The personal computer (Apple - California) may have been delayed. Mass market electronics giant Radio Shack had gone bankrupt in 1960 and was bought by TX businessmen Charles Tandy, keeping the amateur electronics community alive until Steve Wozniak built a computer with hobby electronics equipment bought at Tandy/Radio Shack in 1977.
  • The personal computer clone wars (TX) may not have happened
  • The development of the cellphone (Missouri) may have been delayed; there were plenty of people who wanted a mobile device, but the first people to try at a production level were in MO, a non-existent state in this alternate history.
  • The internet would still have been developed, but might have grown more slowly tied to the locked down marketplace. Compuserve, the first public internet company says it relied on Tandy/Radio Shack (TX), so public internet may not exist.
  • The iPad, iPhone, and other smart wireless devices might have lagged with the delayed development of the cellphone, internet, and personal computer.

What Would That Look Like

Imagine the film "Apollo" or "Hidden Figures" where computer equipment exists, just not in the hands of the general public. It would be something you do at work.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the question was more global than your answer, but it is a very nice text. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jan 1 '18 at 12:45

It is a very wide question, but here are some possible hints:

  • The industrial revolution depends on businessmen who invest in assets other than real estate. Think a bit about that name, and what it implies about the "reality" of stocks or patents. Even more than real estate, these investments require the rule of law to remain viable.
  • Rule of law cannot exist in an absolute monarchy.
  • Commoners who get used to the rule of law might demand a say in the development of those laws, to adapt to changing circumstances.

So the commercial/industrial revolution gives rise to conditions which caused the French Revolution and the 1848 German Revolutions, among others.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.