I think it could have, but it would have taken longer. The Colonials would simpley have to continue using the guerilla warfare tactics that helped them win the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
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I figured there'd be a follow-up.
At the Battle of Saratoga, you know how much of the munitions came from France? 90%. How well would the rebels had done with 90% fewer munitions?
Ever heard of the Marquis de Lafayette?
How 'bout the troops the French poured in?
Or the naval support?
Or the Continental European war started to divert British resources?
But I think you're asking the wrong question.
The real decisive help came from Russia. That's right, Russia.
Catherine had some of the best troops in the world. The Brits were primarily a naval power with a weak army. The Russians were battle-tested, fought in the worst environment imaginable, and offered no quarter to anyone. They fought with the Cossacks, who were a mean bunch of bastards. Just before the American revolution, these Russian & Cossack forces had put down the Pugachev Rebellion, which was by far the largest insurrection of the 18th century.
Russia didn't necessarily help as the French did. But they did help. King George requested of Catherine 20,000 troops. She said no. Imagine if these fierce S.O.B.'s had been turned loose in the colonies. It would have been over & done with in a matter of months. But not only did Catherine not give George the requested troops, she also proposed the League of Armed Neutrality.
Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Prussian, Austria, Portugal, the Ottomans, the French, & the Spanish all signed on. What did this mean? Well, it meant that British sea power was counter-balanced with the other leading sea powers of the time. And Britain was completely isolated diplomatically. This Doctrine also aided France's sea power, allowing the French to divert Britian's focus on her American colonies.
So, the scenario is obviously a bit more complicated than "did France tip the scales of power?" They did, but that wasn't all. There was so much more, and Catherine's Doctrine was probably the most decisive piece of all.
Now, if Britain could have simply focused her entire might on the colonies, it would have ended as badly as the Irish revolt of the year before, when the leaders were hung, taken down before dead, drawn, shown their innards, and then quartered. The Brits didn't fuck around, and I expect that without Catherine's move we'd be flying the Union Jack today and learning about the traitors of 1776 in our schools.
But I also knew that over 90% of the arms, provisions and finances for the American Rebellion came from France. I have tried to make the point before that it would not have got off the ground, long before the Battle of Saratoga, without the support in every way of the French.
I hope people will credit your erudition where they have discounted my views as just those of another high school kid.
I disagree. The US turned the full might of it's millitary upon the VietCong, but they slowly won by eroding American support for the war, slowly picking GIs off. The Americans could have done the same thing using guerilla tactics, which were radically new at the time. The Americans would hide behind trees and rocks, and use snipers to assassinate officers. The British refused to respond in kind because they considered it unsporting. The Brits also wore bright red uniforms and stood in long line formations, while the colonists were scattered about. The colonists had vastly superior tactics by modern standards.
It might have taken longer, but perhaps the Brits would have gotten tired and given up eventually.
The colonists would have been crushed instantly were it not for the French bankrolling, arming and supplying the revolution. No nation, no matter how civilised or barbaric, will stand by while a section of its populace engages in armed rebellion and high treason. Try deposing the United States government by means of armed insurrection, if you doubt what I am saying.
Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, et al. would have been swinging from a gibbet in no time if the French had not intervened.
But, and this is an important point, Great Britain could not have held on to her American colonies indefinitely once there had been a popular rebellion. So the French probably, and cerainly unwittingly, did us as great a service as they did you.
The rebellion was unnecessary, but once it occurred, an unamicable parting of the ways was inevitable. Britain gave all her colonies independence when the time was appropriate and this happened without the need for violence. But, had she been so ill-advised as to try and hang on to her rebellious American colonies indefinitely, and by means of force, we would not be chatting on the 'net today. British soldiers would be being ambushed and killed in the Americas, just as US soldiers are being ambushed and killed in Iraq.
As you quite rightly point out, resistance and guerilla tactics will drive out all those who cannot bring themselves to eradicate every last one (including women and children) of those who want them out of their country. Happily the British realised this, but they could have returned after defeating the French and Spanish, and annihilated the American colonies - gaining nothing but ill-will, costly military occupation, and guerilla warfare forever.
Instead, in the long term, we gained a friend and an ally.
But the costs to the colonists would have been horrifying. Can you imagine what life would have been like under a military occupation? Curfews, guerilla attacks and the inevitable reprisals. Industry unable to develop because of acts of sabotage, and continuing hatred between republicans and loyalists (remember that by no means the majority of colonists favoured the rebellion) with vendettas, denouncements, families divided, and all the hatefulness of a nation under occupation.
So if you want to consider that as 'winning' then certainly that outcome was possible.