6 Assassination Attempts that Almost F#@ked the World

#3. The Spanish Armada Fails to Off Elizabeth I

The Target:

Queen Elizabeth I

If Successful:

The U.S.A. would not exist.

Way back in 1588, England was just an isolated island with a lot of enemies and Spain was the undisputed champion of the New World. But Spanish King Philip wanted more, specifically he wanted his kid on the throne in England and to make it Catholic. Which meant he needed Elizabeth I out of the way.


So like all dads hoping to usurp the last Protestant heir to the House of Tudors, Philip built up an Armada to get the deed done. Unfortunately for him, poor planning and shitty weather got his Armada's ass kicked all around the British Isles. To this day England credits their win to the notion that God is a Protestant.

But What If They Succeeded?

Viva los Estados Unidos!

Or something like that. Had Phillip successfully wiped out Elizabeth, the ongoing Catholicism versus Protestantism death match would have ended with a bloody Elizabeth/Protestant England knocked out cold and a victorious Philip/Catholic Spain doing a salsa-infused victory dance around the ring/Europe.

Spain is here represented by Don Flamenco.

The implications of a Spanish victory over England would have been huge. Like, we all speak Spanish now, huge.

Instead, the Armada was defeated and England was on its way to dominance. Had the Armada landed, Philip would have eradicated Protestantism, which would have meant no funding of English religious colonies in the New World, no British empire (in fact, no United Kingdom at all) and, of course, no American Revolution.

Instead, Spain would have continued their takeover of the New World, but with an undefeated navy backing up their endeavors. Not only would Europe and North America have been dominated by Spain, but the destruction of the Protestant faith would have probably knocked out the Enlightenment as well, because the non-Catholic arm of the Christian church was a little more open to new ideas back then. So we'd all be getting our science from the Creation Museum. In Spanish.

#2. The Gunpowder Plot

The Target:

King James I and Parliament

If Successful:

The U.S.A. would not exist even more than in that last entry.

On November 5, 1605, a handful of pissed-off British Catholics thought they'd get the religious tolerance ball rolling by blowing up King James I and Parliament. The plan was simple: get 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, light it, run, assume the revolution was underway.

Google Image result for "The Revolution."

Except the revolution never even got their drum machine set up, because Protestant James was tipped off about his pending assassination days before. Conspirators were subsequently discovered and executed in horrific Saw-like manners.

But What if They Had Succeeded?

The U.S.A. wouldn't exist (not as you know it, anyway).

The idea, according to some historians, is that the act of terrorism would have actually sparked a whale of a backlash against the country's Catholics. Like, Salem Witch Hunts where targets aren't accused of sexing it up with the Devil, but religioning it up WITH THE POPE.

As it played out, King James' son Charles went pretty easy on the Catholics and reversed a lot of anti-Catholic policies. But in this alternate universe where Catholic terrorists blew up his dad, you can imagine how that would have changed things.

That Charles would've gone bananas for Protestantism, probably turning England into a hard-lined Protestant absolute monarchy. England would have become one of the most frigid, God-fearing, stuck-up places on the planet, thus making the whole voyage of the Mayflower unnecessary--the Puritans would have had no reason to leave.

Without the Mayflower, we wouldn't have the Mayflower Compact, the document that established a watered down form of democracy in the colonies. And without a thriving, orderly, colonial system to develop the continent, the U.S.A. would have likely remained a Loose Collection of Multinational Settlements.

L-C-M-S! L-C-M-S! These colors don't run!

Spanish, French, Russians, Native Americans and Dutch settlements, to be precise.

So just when you start wondering if America totally made a deal with the Devil (or God?) to thwart these "the U.S.A. would never have happened" assassination scenarios, we're going to submit another one. Behold:

#1. The Tory Conspiracy

The Target:

George Washington

If Successful:

The British would have won the Revolutionary War, the U.S.A. would not... well, you know.

On June 21, 1776 several pro-British Americans, or Tories, were implicated in a plot to assassinate General Washington and recruit enough Loyalists to take on the Yankee army. Included in the conspiracy were several of Washington's personal bodyguards, as well as the ex-governor of New York and then current mayor of New York City.

Only one conspirator, Thomas Hickey, was actually put on trial for treason. He was executed in front of no less than 20,000 spectators one whole week after the plot was discovered. And thus American Justice was born.

But What if They Succeeded?

The British would have won the Revolutionary War.

By most accounts, the Continental Army should have lost the war anyway. But without Washington's leadership of the underfunded, under clothed farmer-soldiers and his brilliant strategy of avoiding major battles whenever possible, the revolution would have ended in a short, sputtering anti-climatic disaster.

Especially since most of the entire army nearly called it quits at the end of their enlistment terms in December of 1776. It was Washington's charisma and handsome jowls that persuaded them to continue on. And when they did, he had congress change their enlistment terms so that they'd stick around for the length of the war. Without him and Monsieur King Louis, the British would've had thrashed the colonies in short order.

Alternate Universe America, January, 2010.

For even less consequential events with repercussions that would have left you speaking another language today, check out 6 Random Coincidences That Created The Modern World. Or learn what might have been lost if America didn't exist with our look at The Bizarrely Specific Rules of Country Music Album Covers [CHART].

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