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Darien: The Flower of Scotland


The survival of a small Scottish colony in 1700 does not have any world-
shaking effects at first, but it changes small parts of the course of world
history, providing a world subtly different from our own.


William Paterson, a Scot who's other claim to fame was the foundation of
the Bank of England, was born in Tinwald in Dumfriesshire in 1658. He
made his first fortune through international trade, travelling extensively
throughout the America's and West Indies, and, upon his return to his
native Scotland, Paterson sought to make his second fortune with a grand
colonising plan. His plan was to create a link between east and west, which
could command the trade of the two great oceans of the world, the
Pacific and Atlantic. In 1693, Paterson helped to set up the Company of
Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies in Edinburgh to establish a
small colony on Darien (Panama). It was claimed that the company would
prosper through foreign trade and promoted Darien as a remote spot
where Scots could settle.

The original directors of the Company of Scotland were split between

Scottish and English, with the risk investment capital being shared
between the English and the Scots. However under pressure from the
East India Company (the same one that later ruled India), the English
Parliament withdrew its support for the scheme at the last minute,
forcing the English and Dutch to withdraw and leaving the Scots as sole
investors. The purpose of this Company was overseas trade and
colonisation for Scotland. Even though Scotland and England had had the
same monarch since 1603, when James VI of Scotland became also James
I of England, and styled himself King of Great Britain, Scots overseas
were treated in English colonies and trading posts as foreigners until the
Union of Scotland and England of 1707. This led Scotland to want its own
equivalent of the East India Company and its own colonies. (Even though
there were certain advantages in foreign status; the first Virginia
tobacco lords were Glasgow merchants.)

No shortage of takers though as thousands of ordinary Scottish folk

invested money in the expedition, approximately £500,000 - about half of
the national capital available. Almost every Scot who had £5 to spare
invested in the Darien scheme. Thousands more volunteered to travel on
board the five ships that had been chartered to carry the pioneers to
their new home where Scots could settle, including famine driven
Highlanders and soldiers discharged following the Glencoe Massacre.

The pioneers had believed – falsely - on the basis of sightings by sailors

and pirates that Darien offered them a colony where entrepreneurs could
establish trading links with the world and bring prestige and prosperity to
their country. And so it was much fanfare and excitement that the ships
sailed from Leith harbour on 12 July 1698 with 1,200 people onboard. It
was however, a depleted and less excited group of pioneers that arrived
on the mosquito-infested scrap of land known as Darien on 30 October
1698. They struggled ashore and renamed the land Caledonia, with its
capital New Edinburgh. The first task was to dig graves for the dead
pioneers, which included Paterson's wife. The situation grew worse
because of a lack of food and attacks from hostile Spaniards. The native
Indians took pity on the Scots, bringing them gifts of food. Seven months
after arriving, 400 Scots were dead. The rest were emaciated and yellow
with fever. They decided to abandon the scheme, retreating to New York,
after discovering evidence of English sabotage, such as proclamations
against them by the English governors of Jamaica and New York and their
own failure to have established factors in those other two places to
facilitate supplies not to mention the active opposition of William I, the
king they had counted on to back them. It seems he was more worried
about antagonising the Spanish than about a few colonists. However,
news did not travel quickly in the 17th Century, and six more ships set sail
from Leith in November 1699 loaded with further 1,300 excited pioneers,
all ignorant about the fate of the earlier settlers (aside from English

Only one ship returned out of the total of sixteen that had originally
sailed. Only a handful survived the return journey. Scotland had paid a
terrible price with more than two thousand lives lost. Together with the
loss of the £500,000 in investment the Scottish economy was almost
bankrupted. It has been claimed that the Darien Scheme crippled the
country's economy to such an extent that it triggered the dissolution of
the Scottish Parliament and led to the 1707 Act of Union with England.

Point of Divergence

It would take a remarkable POD for the Scots to survive on their own,
but fortunately there is a way round the problem. England and Spain have
had many differences; if both of them decide to support the colony there
is a better chance for the colony to survive.


1696: The Company of Scotland is formed by William Paterson. While

officially the English are disinterested, some of them see it as a change
to undermine Spain and quietly support it. With such quiet
encouragement, repersentives are sent to New York and the other
English processions to support the colonists if necessary.

Subscription books are opened and soon nearly half of Scotland’s wealth
is committed to Darien.

1697: The company’s fleet is assembled in the Firth of Forth (Forth


The Spanish court discovers the Darien plan and, believing Scottish
hostility to England to be great, orders that its viceroys, in her
declining empire, to support the Scots if necessary.
1698: The fleet is dispatched and soon reaches Darien. Building
rapidly, the Scots have a small colony going soon. They meet the local
Indians and organise relations.

1699: More colonists arrive, as do supplies from New York.

1700: First outbreak of Malaria hits the colony, now renamed

Caledonia. The food supplies from New York and Jamaica help to avert
that. Some Scots doctors begin to understand how the disease

War of Spanish Succession breaks out. Darien severes as a base for the
navy at one point.

1701: The Company of Scotland begins to expand by sending ships to

trade on the African coast.

1702: Several of the Scots have married Indian Women, causing

concern and new recruitment from Scotland.

1707: The Act of Union passes, uniting Scotland and England. The
Company of Scotland remains a purely Scottish, private concern. Like
parts of India, Darien is listed as part of the British Empire.

For Scottish nationalists, to whom this will be disappointing, the success

of Darien does very little to alter the facts that made union imperative.
Scotland’s still lost a large part of her wealth because Darien is not very
wealthy. However, the Company of Scotland survives.

1713: Peace of Utrecht ends war. Spain recognises the Darien colony,
hoping to curry favour with dissident Scottish people.

1714: The British army begins recruiting among the highlanders, but
discover that most of them want to serve in Scotland alone. When
dispatched to places like Flanders, some of them mutiny. When
arrested, some are sent to Darien, providing a backbone for the
colony's defences.

1715: The Company begins recruiting Highlanders for the colony in


1716: Population pressure leads to Darien annexing the reminder of

Panama, Costa Rica and Columbia, taking over the administration of the
Spanish territory. In private negosations, Spain demands Darien’s
loyalty in exchange for the land (which was becoming ungovernable
anyway). Paterson is smart enough to send his own personal loyalty
instead of the whole settlements.

1717: Paterson is forced to stand down as the settlement’s head

after his loyalty declaration. Spain does not attempt to interfere.

1718: The Company of Scotland suffers financial trouble and is

forced to concede a military base on Darien in exchange for
governmental help. The naval base there is expanded.

War of the Quadruple Alliance begins as Spain attempts to overturn

the results of the Peace of Utrecht. British forces manage to hold
back a Spanish attack on Darien and improve relations with
independence factions in the remaining Spanish colonies.

Willem Paterson dies in exile from Darien. Fifty years later, the
colony’s second real city will be named after him.

1719: After 20 years of what was effectively substance living,

Darien’s ecomany starts to look up as it serves as a supply base for
British efforts in the Caribbean.

Scots doctors accidentally deduce the source of Malaria. While they

don’t understand the reason, they deduce though observation that
mosquitoes spread the disease.
1720: War ends. Darien has gained a little more territory, but British
efforts have been centred on Florida and therefore the Scots are just
happy to be left alone for the last year of the war.

1721: After approaches have been made by independence activists

from Mexico, Darien supplies arms and ammunition to them in exchange
for gold and other wealth.

1739: War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1742) over allegations of Spanish

mistreatment of Englishmen prisoners. Relations were further strained
by continued harassment of French and Spanish settlements by English
colonists from South Carolina and Georgia. Darien is hardly touched by
the war.

Darien expands the base on the east coast and starts construction of a
naval base on the west coast. A road network is developed.

1740: The Company of Scotland starts a trading base in Africa.

1741: Completion of the Naval base near San Jose.

1742: After Rumors that they are to be sold as indentured servants

spread, a large number of Scottish regiments mutiny, killing their
officers, on Jamaica. Unable to return them to Scotland, the governor
of the Colony sends them to Darien.

This is quite likely as the wholesale execution of Scots mutineers was

seen as a ‘bad example’. Sending them to Darien is likely to keep them
busy and if they rebel again, at least it’s not an English problem.

1743: The colony now includes a fair number of mixed-race children as

well as pure Scots. They consider themselves Scottish and pave the
way for acceptance of all races in the colony.
1755: General Braddock is killed as he fails to adjust to military life in
North America. War effectively begins even though it’s not declared.
British morale is in tatters as the French score early successes.

This is the effective start of OTL seven years war. I could not think of
a good reason why it should not happen the same way.

1756: All out war breaks out in Europe as Austria, Russia and France
gang up on Prussia. William Pitt becomes Prime Minister of Great
Britain and her empires.

1757: The beginnings of formal war break out with France as war is
declared. An assault on Louisburg fails disastrously. In India, Robert
Clive's British and Indian force retook Calcutta, which had been taken
during the previous year, captured the French post in Bengal, and
defeated a much larger Bengali army at Plassey.

1758: Launched from Darien and Jamaica, the French processions in

the Caribbean are taken. Most of them are handed over to the Company
of Scotland.

Pitt subsidies Prussia and starts to deploy Britain’s naval strength


1759: James Wolfe captured Quebec in the decisive battle on the

Plains of Abraham in which Wolfe and Montcalm were both killed. In
this brilliant campaign Wolfe captured the key to Canada, preventing
the French from reinforcing or escaping from Canada. Amhurst, the
British commander, captures Montreal and accepts the surrender of

1760: The French suffer further defeats in India and elsewhere.

Britain takes the French territories in Africa.
1761: The British plan to attack Mauritius is cancelled as news of a
possible peace surfaces. However, the French have one last trick up
their sleeves…

1762: Under heavy pressure from France, Spain enters the war.
However, Darien serves as a base for a limited push into Mexico, leading
to the collapse of Spanish power and the establishment of nominal
Scottish power. However, the whole area is in chaos and the current
Scots governor, McPherson, decides to expand gradually rather than
trying to bite it all off at once. He does, however, persuade the royal
navy to hand over Cuba when it falls to Darien.

1763: The war ends with the Peace of Paris. Cuba remains in the
hands of the Scots, who declare themselves to be a loyal component of
the British Empire. Spain receives Louisiana, but its nominal as Spain no
longer processes the ability to generate the military power required to
occupy the territory.

1764: Economic crash in Britain as government expenditures fall off

sharply. Parliament, needing revenue from its North American colonies,
passed the first law (Sugar Act) specifically aimed at raising colonial
money for the Crown. The act increased duties on non-British goods
shipped to the colonies. Parliament further enhanced its authority by
passing the Currency act, which prohibited American colonies from
issuing their own currency. While many North American Colonies
attempted to ban British imports, Darien was aloof from all that, largely
because it was still very much a company state.

1765: Quartering Act and the Stamp act are approved. The American
group called ‘the sons of liberty’ makes its appearance. Darien has a
few members, but most are too attached to Scotland to contemplate

1766: The Stamp act is repealed, and the colonies abandon their ban
on imported British goods, however, the passing of the Declaratory Act,
passed by Parliament on the same day the Stamp Act was repealed,
states that Parliament can make laws binding the American colonies
regardless of their views. However, Americans disagreed,
demonstrated when the New York Assembly refused to assist in
quartering troops, a skirmish occurred in which one colonist was
wounded. Parliament suspended the Assembly's powers but never
carried out the suspension, since the Assembly soon agreed to
contribute money toward the quartering of troops.

1770: The arrival of troops in Boston provoked conflict between

citizens and soldiers. On March 5, a group of soldiers surrounded by an
unfriendly crowd opened fire, killing three Americans and fatally
wounding two more. A violent uprising was avoided only with the
withdrawal of the troops to islands in the harbour. The soldiers were
tried for murder, but convicted only of lesser crimes; noted patriot
John Adams was their lawyer.

There is an interesting field of speculation that if he (Adams) had not

defended the British troopers, who had been provoked, it might have led
to a short crushed rebellion in Boston alone and the British would have
been able to stop it with support from the rest of America.

1771: Darien was in constant ferment at this point. Many of them

have no love for the English, but they do need the connections to
Scotland and they are not really affected by the parliament acts. Most
of the colony wants Darien to remain neutral in any conflict.

1774: The First Continental Congress takes place. Significantly, there

are a few repersentives from Darien. However, Darien chooses to stay

1775: When the battles of Lexington and Concord break out, Darien
declares its neutrality.

The American War of Independence will be along the same basic model as
the OTL one. Darien can’t add very much to the colonists and is too far
away to be helpful. I might do one where Darien does take part, but
that’s another story. Saratoga, New York, Yorktown, etc still happen.
However, Darien receives some of the American loyalists as colonists
(this is a cunning plan to strengthen the loyalty of the colony) and the
Philippines are (re) taken by Britain and this time kept. As a side note,
Benedict Arnold, who was a reasonably competent general, becomes part
of the Darien ruling council as British repersentive, even though no one
really trusts him.

History continues to bumble along; Darien continues to grow as the

Napoleonic wars go on, the war of 1812 and so on until we get to the first
Mexican war. Darien at this point is most of Latin America up to the
Mexican border, Columbia, Venezuela, Cuba and a few tiny islands that
were picked up by the first colonists. The Monroe Doctrine of OTL,
however, does not exist in this timeline.

1820: The beginnings of an insurrection in Scotland, swiftly stamped out,

leads to members of its leadership fleeing to Darien. (Believe it or not,
the insurrection really happened, never got very far though.)

1835: The Anglo-American settlers of Texas, aided by private

citizens from the United States and a handful of Tejano compatriots,
rebelled against the government of Mexico

1836: Texas proclaims itself an independent republic. When Mexican

President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna leads an army into Texas to put
down the rebellion, he is defeated and captured by General Sam
Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto. While a prisoner, Santa Anna
ordered his troops to leave Texas and signed the secret Treaty of
Velasco, which recognized both Texan independence and the Rio Grande
as the boundary of Texas. Although the Mexican Congress repudiated
the treaty, the Republic of Texas maintained its independence.

1837: Pride ruffled, Mexico made threatening statements towards

Darien, claiming that she had wrongfully claimed lands that rightfully
belonged to Mexico. Governor McGraw ordered a military build-up and
opened secret discussions with the US.

1845: The US offered to annex Texas as a state, which was accepted

by a Texas convention and then was overwhelmingly affirmed by the
voters of Texas in the fall. On December 29, 1845, Texas was formally
admitted to the Union. However, Mexican leaders threatened to invade
Texas for the purpose of re-conquering the lost province and therefore
the governments of both the Republic of Texas and the United States
mutually agreed that the U.S. would station troops on Texas soil as soon
as the offer of annexation was accepted. Darien, now practically
independent, looked on these developments with concern.

1846: After a hard-liners coup in Mexico, Darien sought a British

army, under the command of Sir Colin Campbell, and reinforcements for
Darien’s small navy. After approaches by individuals in the US
government, the small Darien Army was told to plan for an invasion of
southern Mexico in concurrent with the US attack. Campbell, however,
has strict orders from the British Government to prevent a clash.
However, Mexico struck first and crossed the Rio Grande with troopers
and supplies. Darien forces struck at Mexican border posts as both the
US and Darien declared war on May 13th.

1847: As US forces occupy New Mexico, there is a bloody, Mexican

instated uprising. Working with Darien, the two armies crushed Mexico
between them, drawing a border at Tampico.

1848: The war wound down as the US and Darien forces hunted down
the last of the Mexican forces and drew up the border plans. Darien
directly annexed their half of Mexico to Darien, while the US took
them its share as new territories.

1849: There is a serious uproar in parliament as to how British forces

got dragged into an unnecessary war, which provoked trouble between
Britain and Darien. The diplomats worked it out, but the upshot was
that Darien was the British leader there. The US and Darien have
developed a special relationship in keeping Mexico down, then
integrating it into their respective systems.

1850: April Fool’s war. A short battle between Darien and US forces
after a young prankster (who was never caught) attempted to trick both
sides into believing that the other was attacking them. The result was a
short battle between the forces that ended once the commander, one
Robert E. Lee, realised what had happened. Sadly for the US, Lee is
among those killed by the brief exchange of fire, his life remembered
as one that never quite completed its promise.

1851: Darien has to struggle to cope with the addition of almost 80%
of the Mexican population to its holdings. Some of the Spanish
descendents want merely to return to Spain – which is granted – and the
others just want to live in Peace. After ending slavery in the occupied
territories, which took the reminder of McGraw’s political capital, he
set up a number of states for the different ethic groupings and
resigned from office.

1852: A large number of Mexicans leave their homes and head to


1853: Governor McGraw is married to a black ex-slave. This marriage

is one of the final steps in breaking down the race barriers in Darien.
More Scottish immigration helps to create the new basis of living in

1857: Indian mutiny in India. Darien forces are called upon to go help
fight alongside their old commander, Colin Campbell.

1858: The US continues the slide to disintegration.

1859: President Buchanan of the United States asks Darien for

material support in Mexico if the situation in the US worsens.
1860: Abe Lincoln elected president of the United States, two of the
US states secede

1861: The United States Civil War begins

While in broad detail the civil war is the same (slaves, land, states rights,
etc), the brushstrokes are very different. France sees a chance to get
involved in Mexico again and sends supplies to the CSA. The Mexicans
also rise up in revolt in both sides of the border and the US forces are
distracted from peacekeeping. Darien’s military resources are stretched,
perticuly when James M. Mason and John Slidell, Confederate
commissioners, turn up in Cuba and attempt to press the case for CSA
intervention. A confrontation between the Darien navy, backed up by the
RN, and the US navy is averted though careful diplomatic actions and
Richmond falls to the US in 1862. Baring a few holdouts, the American
civil war is over by early 1863.

The British Empire, which had been getting more involved in the Far East,
looked at Darien and realized how the area could be developed even more
and serve the empire as well. They had the brilliant idea of digging a
canal at Panama and using it for the British Navy. The US also expressed
interest and, in exchange for border concessions, was allowed to pay for a
bit of the canal.

The worse news, as far as the Company of Scotland was concerned, was
that Darien was not very profitable. Governor Sutherland, who believed
that Darien should be more independent of Britain, had deliberately
supplied false details to the company board about the cost of the canal
and the expected revenue. Thus misled, the company granted Darien its
independence completely (although, to be fair, they had had that for a
while now) and Darien became a Dominion of the British Empire.

Governor Sutherland, now prime minister until elections could be held,

arranged the political system of Darien. There would be seven real
states, plus the forty small Mexican ones. States would be responsible
for local government, tax collection, and police services. The main
government would be responsible for everything else. The Parliament
would be small and efficient, with one member for each proper state and
the Mexican ones would take turns on their seat.

The canal, when opened in 1870, one year after the Suez, became a great
success. Trade between Britain, Darien, the Philippines and Japan trebled
in the first year. Japan soon became friends with Britain and would
become a British ally in 1904. American trade also boomed, more then
repaying the America debt and allowing America to divide its navy
between both oceans.

When the First World War occurred, the then prime minister of Darien
was reluctant to get involved, but the Darien Navy committed a battle-
cruiser to the British forces hunting Von Spee in 1914. The naval battle
off the coast of central Chile, at Coronel, ensured the complete
destruction of German Admiral Spee’s small fleet and safeguarded the
Falkland’s islands. Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's famous remark that
the Scots had saved the English from certain defeat once again would
later become the motto of the Darien navy.

What did give the Scots fits – not to mention the British, French and
Americans, once they joined in – was the German presence in Argentina
and other South American countries. The short Falklands battle, in 1915,
was an attempt by Argentina to claim the Falklands when Germany
promised a sortie by the High Seas fleet to invade Britain if the British
responded. Small Darien forces had to be deployed to the Falklands to
hold off the Argentinean forces. The Argentina’s also invaded Brazil and
elements of the Darien army had to be committed to that theatre to
protect the food supplies coming from them to Britain.

When world war one ended, Darien and America shared control of
Argentina until 1930, when the great depression ended their ability to pay
for the forces required for a while. The new government became fascist
in nature, much like Hitler and Mussolini, and had to be fought again in
1939, when Argentina declared war on Britain after Germany invaded
Poland. Darien also suffered the distinction of being the only British
dominion to be attacked on its own ground by two axis powers, as a small
Japanese commando squad landed to blow up the Darien Canal just after
pearl harbour.

After World War Two ended, Darien declared its complete independence
from the British Empire – although it was a founder member of the
commonwealth – and asserted its protectorate over all of South America
aside from Brazil. While integrating the South American nations into
Darien - now renamed the commonwealth of Caledonia – was considered,
it was considered more economical to set up democratic institutions in the
nations concerned. As the nations concerned are now poor, but stable
democratic states, the decision is now seen as one of the greatest in the

In the basis of world position, Darien is probably tenth. She is a founder

member of the Commonwealth, founder of the American democratic union
(an association of American states) and one of the nations that suggest
more powers to the UN. She is a fully race-integrated nation with the
possible exception of Japanese, the attack in 1941 having come as a
complete shock to a nation that believed itself safe. The army is small,
but professional, the navy is large (although concentrating on small craft)
and the air force is first rate. Alliances with America and the UK
increase the strength available to Darien. Lingering paranoia over
American objectives led to the construction of the Commonwealth
Nuclear deterrent, a small fleet of nuclear-armed submarines that are
controlled by the British Commonwealth. Countries that contributed to
this include Britain, Darien, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New
Zealand, India and Iran.

The world after the war is a more peaceful place. The American
continent is peaceful and completely democratic, there is no place for the
Soviet Union to infect with the virus of hatred. The transfer of power in
India and Pakistan went more smoothly than in OTL as Britain drew on
Darien’s experiences and kept a sizable force in India to stamp out
trouble. It is probably the ultimate compliment that the Indians asked
the force to remain for a year after independence to keep the peace.
Other aspects of Darien also became integrated into India, such as semi-
independent states for Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. The suggestion that
they should be independent states was ignored and quietly forgotten
In 1997, after Tony Blair established the Scottish Parliament, many
Scots have been considering a union with their old colony in the
Caribbean. As more scandals break involving the Labour government, that
option is starting to look more and more attractive.

(All right, this last bits really a joke, but it should illustrate the fun of