Napoleon's Victory [LONG]
I got a very nice PM today asking if I had written anymore from a timeline I wrote a few years ago and it is indeed quite long but also unfinished! I've also divided it up to make it more readable. It's probably not edited as well as it could be considering how young I was when I started. Well, I'm still young.
I've been focusing lately on adding visuals such as maps to help the reader and I have a few but there are far, far more words than visuals.
WARNING: This is not for British Empire lovers.
PART I: WORLD FROM 1807-1860
Chapter 1: Conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars
The Defeat of Portugal and the Triumph of the Continental System
The year 1807 began with Napoleon Bonaparte in firm control of Europe. In the past two years his armies, fighting under the red, white and blue Tricolor which had been the scourge of traditional European regimes for fifteen years, had brushed away Continental resistance. The fields of Austerlitz, Jena and others were bathed in his imperial glory. Only Great Britain remained defiant. Their great victory, taking place on water off Cape Trafalgar, was still cause to triumph as a Briton. Because of their naval superiority and the French superiority on land, the war had reached a stalemate of sorts. Napoleon resorted to economic warfare under a system known as the Continental System, aimed to isolate the British from trade with the Continent. In late 1807 only Denmark and Portugal remained opened to British trade. Soon, however, Denmark was attacked by the British in a desperate ploy to save the Danish navy from falling into French hands and as a result the old Danish king was forced to ally himself with Napoleon. Only Portugal remained.
Portugal remained a thorn in the side of Napoleon. The ancient alliance between his enemies across the channel and the Portuguese could prove disastrous for the French Emperor. He cajoled the Spanish into attacking Portugal which was done in late 1807. The French invasion of Portugal was precipitated by the latter’s lack of embrace for the Continental System. To the Spanish court, this was taken as a warning and Spain vowed to not make the same mistake its Iberian neighbor did. Under the leadership of the largely unpopular Prime Minister Manuel Godoy, appeasement to the French Emperor became the predominant attitude for the Spanish government. Defiant Portugal was quickly subdued in a brief campaign involving numerous victories from the armée du Portugal under General Junot. Backed by numerous Spanish divisions, Junot proved to be a capable commander in defeating the Portuguese. With Iberia thus under the Continental System, Napoleon was content on leaving the Peninsula alone. It may have crossed his mind to take advantage of his Spanish allies while so many French soldiers were in the area, but no orders were given out to act. On the Third of May, 1808 the French and Spanish signed the Treaty of Madrid which reinforced the Franco-Spanish relationship.
As for Portugal itself, the country was divided into three parts as per the Treaty of Madrid. The southern portion, with a northern border on River Tagus, was given to Manuel Godoy who was crowned King of the Algarve, title of the ruler of the area which was known as the Kingdom of Southern Lusitania. His coronation was met with both enthusiasm and relief by Spaniards; they were glad to have him out of their country. Everything north of the River Douro was greedily annexed by Spain while the left over land remained Portugal. Only the crown changed hands in this area. Dom Joao VI was replaced by Joseph Bonaparte, older brother to the Emperor, who became Dom Jose I. The partition of Portugal further strengthened the relationship between France and Spain. Although there were a few resistance groups in Portugal, most insurrections were ruthlessly crushed with the use of the armée du Portugal and the newly promoted Marshal Duvot.
The Immediate Effects of the Portuguese Defeat
During the chaos that inflicted Portugal during its conquests by the French, the Portuguese royal family of the ancient Bragança line was forced to flee their homeland. They managed to escape Portugal and sail to Brazil under heavy Royal Navy escort. When Dom Joao VI learned of the conquest and partition of his country he was deeply shaken but established himself as King of Brazil and Portugal. The fact that Brazil came first in the illustrious title mirrored his idea that the regaining of his homeland would be futile especially since most insurrections had thus far been successfully put down. Nevertheless, the very fact that the true Portuguese king lived and reigned inspired many resistance groups to act. Still more Portuguese actually left their homes in Portugal and made the arduous transatlantic journey to Brazil, to settle among loyal Portuguese. Although some hotheads vowed to fight for their mother country, others were content in Brazil. The arrival of the cream of Portuguese society enhanced the power of Brazil on the South American continent and the former aristocracy of Portugal became the ruling class of Brazil. However, it left actual Portugal without many of its traditional leaders, allowing for Spanish and French people to take over many functions there.
The defeat of Portugal with the combined forces of France and Spain expelled the British totally from the continent. They thus committed themselves to destroying the trade Spain had with her American holdings and blockading European ports. Rather then seek an honorable peace with Britain, the Spanish and French went about reorganizing their navies with plans to create a new fleet “from the ashes of Trafalgar”. Not that they did not try diplomatically. On the contrary, Napoleon was very much in want for a peace with Britain so long as they admitted defeat. Britain was by no means defeated and declared they would fight till Europe was rid of the Bonaparte menace. Their defiance was comforting to other defeated nations on the Continent who soon rose up to help the British in their fight.
The Fifth Coalition
The Austrians bravely entered the war with Britain on April 10th, 1809 but the lack of either Russia or Prussia on their side resulted in a disastrous war for Austria. It was shrewd diplomacy and vague monetary promises from the vast vaults of the British Treasury that enticed the Hapsburgs into war; however it was quite unpopular once announced. It is wrong however to say the Austrians were completely drawn into this futile war because of greed. They wanted to avenge the memory of Austerlitz that had haunted the Austrian nation for nearly four years. A series of reforms and improvements in the Austrian army gave the Austrian leaders false hope that a victory would be easy. Strategists for the Austrians noted a number of pros for their side. With the majority of French soldiers at the coastline and elsewhere, the border with Bavaria was quite thin. Certainly the reforms had strengthened the Austrian confidence and they were eager to have another shot at the French. Austrian military leaders hoped for a series of quick blows to the French that would culminate in a favorable peace for them. They were quite wrong on a number of counts: The army in Bavaria had been reinforced with veterans from Portugal and the French were highly aware of the Austrian reforms. The short war culminated in the crushing Battle of Wagram in which the Austrian army was nearly wiped out. The Treaty of Schönbrunn was concluded on October 14th 1809 which gave 75 million francs to France as well as much of the Adriatic coastline and various other lands to Bavaria, Warsaw and Russia. It was a total humiliation for the Hapsburgs.
Meanwhile the Netherlands were formally annexed to France in 1810. Napoleon’s displeasure at the way his brother Louis was handling business of state led to the action. Louis in turn retired to his Duchy in Berg and Cleaves while the French Empire increased in size.
In 1810, a marshal of Napoleon, Charles Bernadotte was chosen to be crown prince of Sweden, a position he graciously accepted. He became King Charles XIV in 1818 at the death of his adopted father, Charles XIII. His treatment of Swedish prisoners had made him popular in Sweden and he was elected heir to the Swedish throne, a post he held from 1818-1848.
Fight against Britain
The British blockade of both France and Spain was kept although by this time the British were extremely overstretched. With just Britain left to fight Napoleon turned once again to his navy to vanquish his old foe. The war, which had been going on for more or less eighteen years, now entered its “Naval Stage”. A massive new fleet, backed by the millions of francs gained from recent wars, was put on order to be completed by 1813. His plan was just to gain naval superiority in the channel for just a few days at most or at least keep the English out of their channel. Starting in 1809 much more attention was spent on naval affairs and not even secretly. Headed by the capable Denis Decrès the French Navy started to slowly and surely rebuild itself and with little British interference. The Royal Navy was overstretched as it was from blockading much of Europe. Admiral Decrès also founded the Académie française impériale de la marine in early 1809 with the aim of turning out capable sailors. Previously the lack of capable sailors was what led to the defeat of the French but soon hundreds are applying from across France. For many, the navy appeared to be the “way to go” as it was where the future and glory lay. Certain incentives were handed out toward possible recruits and sailors enjoyed, at least for this period, a higher pay than the average soldier. The Académie was one of the best of its kind. It provided tough training for future sailors and in order to graduate each sailor needed a certain amount of time at sea. This was sometimes hard to do because of the British blockade but by the time the class of 1813 had graduated, the Académie had turned out over five thousand capable sailors.
British public opinion remained staunchly anti-French with peace “out of the question” for most, despite a growing imperial navy, lack of foreign allies and no British troops on the continent anywhere, save Gibraltar. Under the government of Spencer Perceval the British began to strengthen their shore defenses which have been built and rebuilt time and again with each invasion threat. Perceval’s anti-Catholic bigotry strengthened feelings of Anglophobia across Catholic Europe, most notably in France. His administration saw the Orders of Council drafted to counter the Continental System. These were generally unpopular and led to his assassination by John Bellingham in May, 1812. He was succeeded by Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool who was a very capable and all around good man. He mediated the opposing sides and created a coalition government, the first of any kind in Britain, against the new French threat which was quite evident by June 1812. Liverpool’s kind and honest attitude gave the British strength during the invasion scare of 1812-1813.
Meanwhile the French fleet had grown tremendously especially with the help of patriotic funds across France which helped pay for many ships. Even though the Continental System was beginning to show a strain on Europe, the funds for the great naval projects were never dried as Napoleon put it at top priority. The Second Imperial Flotilla, numbering some 2,300 ships by mid-1813, was comprised of some original ships from 1803-1804 but most were new. Also by that time a staggering 70 new French warships had been created - yet all remained in French harbors due to a much strengthened British blockade. It was led by the incapable Admiral St Vincent who was nearly eighty years old, former First Lord of the Admiralty, yet still a self-proclaimed hero. This seemed to be the same situation as 1805 except there was no inspiring Nelson, accomplished Cornwallis or sturdy Pitt to guide Britain. In fact the deep debt Britain was in because of the creation of more ships was starting to hurt the economy and several were put on hold. The English had no massive amounts of war booty to help support their navy They had, rather, irregular convoys from far flung colonies which were increasingly under attack by French and Spanish raiders.
In January 1813 Napoleon appointed Admiral Ganteaume as commander-in-chief of the Grand Imperial Fleet which was supposed to rendezvous at Brest in April of that year. This would include numerous Spanish ships under the command of Admiral Hidalgo de Cismeros who was wounded at Trafalgar. Around 30 French ships and 15 were in ports east of the straits with a further 7 French, 12 Spanish and 4 Portuguese (built in the puppet state under King Joseph) west of the straits on the Atlantic. The remaining 33 French warships were across French Atlantic ports, 23 of them in Brest alone. This gave a total of 101 ships for the Grand Imperial Fleet!
The order of battle of the Combined Fleet on February 10th 1813 –
13 French warships
1 French warship
9 French warships
4 French warships
10 Spanish warships
Other (Italy, etc.)
4 French warships
4 Spanish warships
Iberian Atlantic Fleet
5 French warships
3 Spanish warships
El Ferrol/La Coruna
2 French warships
6 Spanish warships
3 Spanish warships
4 Portuguese warships
23 French warships
10 French warships
February 21st 1813 saw the departure of Allemand’s Mediterranean fleet, with the Toulon and Marseilles squadrons (a total of 23 ships) meeting the next day. Sailing toward Cartagena to meet up with the 14 warships there, they met head-on into elements British Mediterranean Fleet numbering 15 ships by the Balearics. It was a surprising French victory resulting in the captire of one prize as the British fled eastward.The Battle of Minorca becomes the first French naval victory in an extremely long time. Meeting up with the ships in Italy and those at Cartagena, the French Mediterranean Fleet was chased by the somewhat superior British fleet past Gibraltar. A number of inconclusive actions between the two fleets resulted in the loss of two French ships, but the French managed to sail out of the straits by the 28th of February.
The further blockade of French ports, especially Brest result in the delay in time for them to rendezvous. One particularly bad storm one day blew the British blockade away from Rochefort and the French there are quick to move towards the Iberian Atlantic Fleet, which had been moving north. The entire Iberian Fleet and Rochefort squadron meet on March 11th creating a fleet of 33 ships. The French Mediterranean Fleet attempts to catch up with this new fleet and reaches El Ferrol on March 15th, soon after the Iberian Fleet had left it. In the second time during the campaign, a storm hurt the British blockade and the French slipped out of Brest to meet with the Iberian and Rochefort elements after sailing south for a day. On April 3rd the Mediterranean fleet met and combined with the large fleet southwest of Brest, thus creating a massive fleet of 99 ships. Admiral Ganteaume - who was aboard his flagship the Empereur and was part of the original Rochefort squadron - was delighted with the massive fleet and he promptly sailed the fleet toward the British and a great battle.
Within site of the port city of Brest a great battle was fought. Opposing the large French fleet of 99 ships was the British Channel Fleet, comprised primarily of those ships that had blockaded Brest along with a couple dozen more. They numbered 62 ships of the line under the Admiral St Vincent. Behind the French were the 14 ships of the British Mediterranean Fleet in addition to 13 others that tagged along, most from the Atlantic, bringing a total of 27 ships behind the French. However this fleet kept a respectful distance for a number of reasons. One, their commander was afraid the French would turn on their smaller fleet and destroy the two British fleets one by one. Second, they were unable to combine with the Channel fleet because the French were blocking the way.
On April 29th, 1813 the Battle of Brest commenced, resulting in thousands of deaths which, to many, gave the battle the superlative as the worst and most horrendous battle fought on water in human history. It lasted nearly 24 hours and not a ship came out unscathed. Despite being extremely outnumbered the British managed to sink 3 French ships and capture 6. However the French were just as successful, sinking 2 and capturing a magnificent 24 ships! Admiral St Vincent was wounded but managed to escape the battle on the HMS Victory. Many British ships were damaged and unable to sail back and an additional 7 were captured. The outstanding numbers of the French fleet and their courage can not be overshadowed by the effort put into place by the Royal Navy who fought gallantly and with awesome skill. Years of training for many French officers and sailors for the moment helped to contribute to their ultimate victory. The Battle of Brest was the twilight of the British Empire and the end of their supremacy on the seas. To the horrified British public, peace suddenly seemed nearer than ever before.
The vanquished Channel Fleet fled back to their ports to make much needed repairs while most sailors were taken off the ships with many cannon to help guard the coastline against the inevitable invasion. The Mediterranean fleet backs away from the massive and victorious French fleet but shadows them. Slowly and surely the French fleet now number 75 - minus losses and prize escort duty - sailed into the Channel now almost unopposed. The Second Imperial Flotilla, numbering 2,300 ships, sets sail with their full complement setting their sights on England. Around 200,000 men had waited for the invasion for twenty two months at several mammoth army camps across northern France. It had taken a tremendous effort to feed the men during the waiting tenure and at last they were ready to move. When the time came, these veterans of Austerlitz, Jena, Lisbon, and Wagram boarded their ships and sailed, with great dreams of conquest, to England.
The landings took place in Kent, as anticipated by the Duke of York, commander-in-chief of the British defense forces and second son of King George III. The defenses in Kent were by far the strongest with many squat yet powerful Martello towers hindering any sort of French advance. A withering fire from the French Navy helped demolish some defenses but when the first French troops landed just to the north of Dover on May 1st 1813 they were met by a terrible fire from the strong defenses present there. General Dundas of the Kent military district had 90,000 soldiers at his disposal that day, with 20,000 in the Dover area. For a moment it had seemed like the French would falter, but a push drove the British away from their frontal defenses and within a few hours French troops were pouring into the area including the first artillery batteries. Towards the evening of “the Fateful First” Dundas launched a disorganized counterattack which was an immediate failure as units (the majority being freshly created militia comprised of enthusiastic volunteers) failed to coordinate their efforts and were defeated piecemeal by the newly landed French.
An attempt to land south of Dover early the next day was repulsed due to the heroic efforts of the 50th West Kent Regiment under General James Duff who repulsed three efforts to land in this particular stretch of coastline. However this small victory was quickly overshadowed by growing events north of Dover, as more and more French troops landed. By the end of the second day the French had advanced ten miles inland and Marshal Davout’s entire corps of 65,000 had been landed in an outstanding organizational feat. May 3rd saw the attack on Dover itself take place which fell on the 4th following a costly battle. The third of May also saw Napoleon himself arrive on the island which was a massive propaganda event and a gigantic morale booster. He took command of the invasion from that point.
The fall of Dover provided the French with an adequate port to land the remaining troops which soon happened from May 5th - May 15th. Meanwhile light cavalry were making raids as far as Canterbury and on May 6th the 80,000 men present marched north to take that town, as well as nearby Sandwich. The Battle of Canterbury was fought on May 10th and further showed that the new militia was not proving itself to be very worthy in battle. Not at all short of bravery, they were short of skill and organization despite the best efforts of veteran officers. A French victory thoroughly crushed a part of the defenders here resulting in 2,000 British casualties. The British retreated to west of Canterbury and thus gave up all of eastern tip of Kent to the invaders. The French continued to advance westwards toward London and a series of small engagements did not halt the great blue columns of France. Militia and regular units from all over Britain were streaming south toward London and a great showdown was inevitable.
By May 15th, approximately 200,000 French soldiers were in Kent with a daily shipment of reserves from France coming into Dover. The French met many setbacks, including a very hostile civilian population and the flooding of the Romney Marshes, although the latter wasn’t as successful as it planned to be. The 200,000-strong army advanced as a solid wall, ravaging the countryside for food and fodder. About 225,000 British soldiers were in the London area at this time under the command of the Duke of York and they set out toward Rochester, with men continuing to arrive in London.
By no coincidence the large French army was moving toward Rochester. Napoleon realized that without defeating the British in a large-scale battle, he cannot take London and win this war decisively. That battle came on May 23rd - 25th 1813. The British were barring the way to Rochester by setting up just to the southeast of it. Their left flank was the River Thames while their right was given the most attention and commanded by a General Wellesley, who had won brilliant battles in India. The French however attacked the left flank in full force, turning it and causing the numerous militia there to retreat. The British in turn attacked the French salient - on the French right - thus drawing considerable numbers from the center and right. Another attack into the center broke through and now both salients joined together to surround some 5,000 British soldiers, who were led back as prisoners of war. The first day of battle ended in French victory. The next day the shattered divisions of the left and center withdrew to create an oblong line with Wellesley’s undamaged divisions to be the anchor and most southern units. The French viciously attack the southern flank at dawn and after three bloody charges start to roll the British line up. The cost in life was horrendous and Wellesley’s orderly retreat nearly turns into a chaotic route. Along the banks of the Thames were the soldiers of Soult’s corps who would be the anvil in the next day’s attacks. When night came, the cries of the wounded sounded and the piles of dead stacked up. The last day of the battle saw the British utterly surrounded save for Wellesley’s divisions who held out against the French and retreated. Unfortunately they numbered a mere 54,000 by this time and the remainder of the British army was annihilated by the pincers known as Soult and Davout. Napoleon had won his victory at a tremendous cost. Seventeen thousand French and 25,000 British casualties littered the fields near Rochester while a further 20,000 were taken as prisoner, the majority being not-so-enthusiastic militia. The Duke of York’s army was demoralized and beaten and the retreat back toward Greenwich was an unpleasant experience.
When news of this defeat reached Prime Minister Liverpool he was visibly shaken but regained himself and vowed to throw this evil off the isles. Another French victory at Hastings by Marshal Ney’s troops on the 27th was largely symbolic and British morale plummeted. The fighting continued deep into June although no significant battles took place until July 5th when the British launched a large offensive aimed at cutting the French from their supply lines. That offensive failed and the British were repulsed at the Battle of East Kent. During that battle General Wellesley was wounded and had his left leg amputated.
London was reached two weeks later after long and bloody campaigns. The French numbers had dropped to 160,000 but reinforced to 210,000 after reserves came. A bloody battle for the outskirts began, with nearly the entire population pitching in to fight. The French could very well have been lost in the meat grinder known as London, but instead Napoleon asked for an “honorable peace” on August 1st. Since the invasion, public opinion had changed from anti-peace to pro-peace. Being alone in the world against the French menace and with Americans threatening Canada the British were in a poor position. Thousands were dying against Napoleon’s large army whose reserves seemed limitless and Kent was devastated. Although the British were mobilizing across the island, the recent defeats had turned the tide. Prime Minister Liverpool, despite his earlier attitude, showed his mediating side and accepted Napoleon’s offer for an honorable peace.
The war was over.
Delegates traveled to Paris while the large French army maintained its presence in Kent, fighting an occasional skirmish against rowdy soldiers. Finally after a month of deliberating the Treaty of Paris (1813) was signed. Napoleon was master of Europe.
Across the Atlantic in the halls of the American Capitol, the War Hawks were screaming for war against Great Britain for a variety of reasons. Most notably, the impressments of American citizens onto British ships and the instigation of Indians on the United State’s western border were cause enough for war. The United States had long ago declared neutrality but its “Freedom of the Seas” doctrine was not recognized by Britain. Other War Hawks viewed an American conquest of Canada as glorious and necessary for counry. War was declared on June 1st 1812 and ratified on June 18th.
Napoleon was quick to see the benefits of the American declaration of war on Britain and sent Talleyrand himself to Portugal to negotiate an alliance with the American ambassador there. The Agreement of Lisbon was signed on July 16th 1812 and brought the Americans and French together against Britain. Napoleon was delighted, but the Americans were somewhat reluctant as they saw Napoleon as more of a dictator that suppressed freedom rather than a man fighting for the liberties the United States cherished so highly. Nevertheless, the War Hawks were delighted at the thought of expelling the British from the North American continent and applauded the agreement.
As the Battle of Brest was being fought and England itself being invaded, the British and Americans were fighting their own war. The War of 1812, as the conflict came to be called, had a negligible result. Several American attempts to invade Canada ended in failure while British attempts to wage war on American soil met little success. When the first reports of European peace reached the Americans, several high-ranking military officers viewed the possibility of peace with consternation. Without the War Department’s approval, an army under General Andrew Jackson launched an offensive from Maine and managed to drive deep into the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The British were for the most part reluctant to resist and the drive was completed in a month or so. Thus, when the two nations came to the peace table, the Americans had a slight upper-hand in the negotiations.
Treaty of Paris and Canadian War conclusion
The Treaty of Paris was a humiliation for the British but the desperate situation in which they were in allowed the French to squeeze out as much as they could from the beleaguered nation. The terms included the following:
- The immediate end to all hostilities and the disallowing of a British declaration of war on France for the following thirty-five years.
- A reduction of the British navy and army. The navy would have all ships over 80 guns given to France and Spain as payment, while the army was not allowed to ever surpass 85,000 internationally.
- A monthly report to be sent to the Emperor showing the size, strength and location of all regiments and ships.
- Twenty thousand French troops would be stationed in major cities to keep “seditious activities to an extreme minimum”. This was the most humiliating clause of the treaty but luckily the proposed number of 135,000 was dropped way down. These 20,000 Frenchmen would endure the most miserable service and a high number of suicides would befall these soldiers. A posting to Britain was as good as a death sentence in the eyes of French privates.
- As for land exchange the British lost quite a bit in the Caribbean. Every British holding was given to the French except for Jamaica and Anguilla. Ireland was hotly disputed but after much debate, allowed to remain under British jurisdiction. India stayed under British dominion as well. British Guinea in South America was given to France. Some minor posts in Africa were given up and lastly Malta was given French jurisdiction.
- A payment of 100 million francs
The effects were immediate and soon many of the largest British ships soon bearing French flags. By no coincidence, a number of them were burned before being handed over to the French, who, after years of war, could only resignedly accept this. In an act of kindness, Emperor Napoleon allowed the vanquished British to keep the HMS Victory as their own “in honor of my greatest foe”, Nelson. The armée du Angleterre was established and the 20,000 unfortunate soldiers were sent to their various posts to the spits and anger of the local civilians.
Meanwhile, in the Americas, a separate peace was signed in Toronto on October 24th. The Peace of Toronto was not nearly as strict as the Treaty of Paris mainly because the latter had already weakened the enemy. The Peace of Toronto merely ended the war and demanded a payment of some $5 million as an indemnity. A land change did take place though when New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were annexed into the United States thanks to General Jackson’s last minute offensive into the Maritime Provinces.
Chapter 2: Repercussions of the Napoleonic Wars
The double defeat and accompanying treaties humiliated the British to a great degree and the general public sought to find a scapegoat for their awful defeat. The scapegoat was found in Lord Liverpool who endured an awful political life after the treaty and resigned soon after. King George III was certifiably insane by this point and so the Prince Regent appointed George Canning as the new Prime Minister and he was brought into office, carrying a banner of anti-French sympathies which would characterize a universal attitude in Britain for many years. Despite the close presence of French troops, Canning’s francophobia helped unite Britain in what could otherwise be a disorderly time. The government and attitude of Britain turned to the right-wing after the war, toward a sort of “revenge” banner while private militia groups sprung up everywhere to get around the army size restriction.
The United States enjoyed great prosperity following the war. They had gained land and great national pride while finding new trade partners in France and their allies. The Federalist Party died its sad death after the ‘victorious’ war against Britain and in the election of 1816, James Monroe ran without any opposition, replacing his highly respected predecessor, James Madison. The nationalism showed during this time boosted American confidence and belittled any sort of slave dispute. It was during his administration that Florida was bargained from Spain who was having a bit of colonial problems of their own at this time. It was bought for $10 million in 1819. Also, American adventurers and brave settlers started to head in the westerly direction into the vast Spanish lands of the west. Some moved past St. Louis, some as far as the Rockies, a handful all the way to Pacific. The Spaniards would later give these same people a hard time, but until 1824 it was an “era of good feelings”.
And as for France, the repercussions were huge. An immediate boom in the economy followed the victory. The income and the treasury of France grew to amazing new heights. Napoleon was the undeniable leader of Europe and for days his victorious armies marched under the newly erected Arc de Triumph. Nationalism in France was colossal and French culture and ideas blossomed throughout Europe. Previously, France had been largely agrarian with little industry but with Britain opened up for French to see and wonder, new industrial ideas began to develop within France. Many British entrepreneurs, several of whom cared naught for anything except profit, traveled to France to get their own businesses started there. Obviously, that was where the future lay and where all the money was to be made. Nearly overnight the industrial capacity of France grew and soon factories across France were mass-producing many household items. Clearly, France was entering a Golden Age.
Spanish colonial problems
Starting with the British blockade of Spain leading up to their ultimate defeat at Brest, the Spanish ties with their vast colonies in the Americas was strained. An uprising in Paraguay threw out local Spanish officials and soon rumblings for independence were heard all over the vice-royalties. The Spanish under no conditions would allow such a thing to happen and immediately asked Napoleon for help to quell the rebels which were sprouting up all over the Spanish colonies. The victorious Napoleon dispatched Marshal Massena with 60,000 troops to various Spanish colonies. In a series of open battles, he defeated the rebel armies one by one.
On June 18th 1815 the Battle of Caracas took place in which 18,000 French troops took on 30,000 rebels who were led by a man by the name of Simon Bolivar. Sometime during the course of the battle, the rebel leader was killed, bravely leading his men in a battle against tyranny. His army was soundly defeated and the rebellion in the area sputtered out. To the south, a joint Franco-Spanish army defeated the forces of another rebel named Jose de San Martin near Santiago in the hills of the Viceroyalty of Peru. His fate was capture where we died years later in a stinking Spanish prison. This was the fate of many other captured leaders, including Morelos in North America.
All large-scale resistance was crushed by 1817 and the French withdrew, leaving Spain alone. During the American Campaign, the French learned about guerrilla warfare which had to the potential to be awesomely terrible if only the rebels were more numerous. French militarists quickly studied this type of warfare and attempted to figure out able defenses against it.
After the defeat of the various rebellions, the Spaniards graciously thanked the French and gave them large chunks of New Granada. They sent more soldiers to guard against remaining colonies and enforced Spanish law a bit more harshly. Although for a time this caused peace and order to be restored, concealed rifts between the colonials and the peninsulares grew deeper. A renewed interest in their colonies led to the creation of a few groups of progressive Spaniards who favored industrialization in the colonies. Their ideas led to not much avail but nevertheless the idea was planted among the locals.
As mentioned, many thousands of Americans moved into the vast lands of Spanish North America which was quite unsettled by any sort of Spanish presence except for a handful of distant outposts and forts as well as a number of far-off missions. With a renewed interest in their colonies, strict Spanish officials combed the area Americans had settled and promptly detained them where these brave individuals were promptly deported back to the American border. The reasoning for this was rather simple. The Americans allegedly were bringing ideas of freedom and liberty and consequently ideas of rebellion into the Spanish colonies, something which was totally unacceptable to the Spaniards. The first of these deportations began in 1822 and were continued until 1824 when the American finally took notice of what was going on.
At this time Monroe was ending his second term but the election of 1824 would prove to cause a split in the Democratic-Republicans. The main issue at this time was of course “The Spanish Question” as the deportation of a few thousand Americans to the frontier became to be known. Henry Clay got his party’s nomination under the awning of war against Spain, or at least very strong measures. John Quincy Adams led faction away from the Democratic-Republicans, who were simply called the Democrats, under a more isolationist and non-interfering approach. Henry Clay swept the south and west and won the election with the majority of electoral votes. His first act was to demand the resettlement of the deported Americans (numbering some 7,000 or so) back to “their proper homes which were built under brave conditions yet so wrongly taken away!”
The Spanish - confident of their military skill because of the wars against the rebels - kindly rejected the offer and moved several fairly large armies into the reaches of their northern territory. They were hoping for a destruction of the American armies and then a possible invasion of Louisiana. The Americans were only hoping for a few Spanish defeats by their small, professional army which would lead to more reasonable diplomatic talks, contrary to Clay’s election words. General Andrew Jackson changed all of that, and changed American history forever.
Henry Clay asked Congress for a declaration of war on Spain and on May 1st Congress voted for war. Immediately General Jackson’s Army of the West was dispatched to defeat any enemy force. General Jackson was a pretty unknown person during this period, but a brave and competent military officer who served valiantly in the Canadian War. His army numbered some 10,000 on paper but probably never surpassed 8,000. American numbers were woefully small to wage a war so far from the populated areas so once again President Clay turned to Congress to ask for 50,000 18 month volunteers. The American Navy was fairly powerful at this time and immediately set out to wreck Spanish trade with their colonies. Spain requested French aide against the Americans but by no means were the French ready to fight any of their former allies. At first the Spanish people welcomed the war as more glory for Spain and King Ferdinand VII was almost declared a saint. As the war progressed however, its popularity and for its main instigator (Ferdinand himself) became less popular.
Jackson’s advance across the west was incredibly remarkable. The first action was merely a skirmish deep in the Rockies but it was a clear American victory and gave the small army great confidence. The summer of 1825 saw this small army makes its way all the way to the Pacific coast by September. The vast wilderness shocked many of the troops, many of whom came from the eastern coast. The site of the Pacific Ocean was mind-boggling for most soldiers, considering how only a few Americans had seen it until this time. During the winter they camped near the missions of San Francisco which were captured in the fairly mild weather that characterized that part of the world. The advance was taken up again and the over-stretched Spanish armies in this area (never really “armies” but more like battalions or companies) were never able to stop the superior Americans. By June they had reached San Diego where a small battle raged but for the most part this remarkable army had been unopposed. Meanwhile other armies had invaded across the Rio Nueces and defeated several Spanish armies there. By September, 1826 the army of “Action Jackson” had finally met up with a large Spanish force under a somewhat obscure soldier named Santa Anna. His army had marched fresh across New Spain to meet this now legendary force who had marched thousands of miles. Santa Anna’s own army numbered close to 20,000. Near the village of Villa de Pitic the two forces clashed. It was in this dusty village that the smaller American force inflicted 4,000 Spanish casualties and captured the same number therefore mauling the enemy to such a degree that he could no longer fight. A further defeat in January of 1827 against a new army at Guayamas, local Spanish leaders ask for a cease-fire in the area and a week later an entire cease-fire is in affect along the entire front. By this time other American armies had taken land all the way to Monterey, destroying every Spanish army thrown at them.
It took another month for President Clay to learn of these developments and another month for Ferdinand VII to sue for peace. The long distances made it impossible to have a sure peace before March of 1827 probably causing needless deaths. France offered to host the peace talks in Martinique and the Treaty of Martinique was signed on March 8th, 1827 thus ending the most successful war in America’s short history. The terms ceded massive amounts of land to the Americans. All Spanish territory on the Pacific coast down to Guayamas (including Baja California) was given up and Monterey became a border town on the Spanish side. The treaty was extremely one-sided but the Spanish could not risk more as they were afraid the Americans would advance even further. This defeat over an old war power gave the United States - barely 50 years old - great prestige in the international community and much more power. As in Europe with Napoleon, the United States was supreme in the Americas. Just overnight they had doubled in size and the vast new territories that were generally empty, save for a few Native Americans and Spanish settlers, beckoned to American settlers.
Utterly humiliated and broken, the Spanish over went a massive military overhaul, spending millions that they simply did not have. New insurrections across the empire were brutally crushed, especially in Paraguay where many thousands of Guarani were massacred quietly. King Ferdinand VII vowed for to hold on to the remaining colonies “at any cost so long as the standing of Spain is preserved.”
I like it. I love it. I want s'more of it.
A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.
Yeah, I tried that, didn't work out too hot.
Chapter 3: The Napoleonic Era
General overview (1820-1840)
Europe during this period underwent a period of peace, at least for France and her allies, who reigned supreme in Europe. Russia, although part of the Continental System, was as far away from France as any European nation except the Ottoman Empire. Technically, Russia and France were allies but relationships between both Emperors were quite strained by the 1820s. The death of Alexander I in 1825 and the declining health of Napoleon put contact between Russia and France at a standstill temporarily.
However, Austria had by far the short end of any bargain, being all but a vassal of the French Emperor. A lot of its land has been stripped away during the wars and even the Austrian Emperor’s daughter had been married to the French ruler. Austria was forcibly allied to France, albeit quite reluctantly, and was a part of the Continental System as well.
Prussia was in a weakened state by 1820. The Napoleonic Wars had ruined the country in spite of a fearsome reputation of Prussian soldiers. Like Austria, it was stripped of much of its land - most notably those in Poland, now a French ally/puppet -, was forced into an alliance with France and had adopted the Continental System. People in Prussia particularly resented this set-up but (as in the case of Austria as well) the younger generation was being taught in schools that France was not quite the enemy and that it stood for something good.
As for the rest of Germany, it remained a collection of French dominated states, the most prominent being Saxony, Bavaria and Westphalia. The Confederation of the Rhine loosely bound the numerous states together into one entity but the actual confederation as the states cooperated independently. Really their only thing in common was allegiance to the Emperor of France. To the east the Grand Duchy of Warsaw prospered with help from Napoleon who in 1818 promoted it to the Kingdom of Poland whose first king was none other than Józef Poniatowski, a marshal of France whose loyalty remained with that of Napoleon. He was crowned King Joseph I of Poland on Christmas Day of 1818. With the kingdom came independence from the Confederation of the Rhine of which it was a part of until it became a kingdom. Although reliant on France, the hard-working people were motivated to become self-sufficient.
Italy also remained French dominated. Southern Italy was dominated by the Kingdom of Naples ruled by Murat. The Kingdom of Italy was in fact under direct control of the French crown, with whomever having the title Emperor of France also having the title King of Italy.
Death of Napoleon I
On November 20th, 1829 Napoleon I, Emperor of France, died at the age of 60, allegedly of stomach cancer. The man who had forged the modern Europe, the man who had conquered and vanquished all of his foes passed away peacefully in his sleep. His son, Napoleon II, was just 18 years old but he took firm control of the imperial throne and immediately declared a week of mourning for his accomplished father. At his funeral a representative from nearly every country in the world was sent, including Czar Alexander II and Napoleon’s old enemy, the old Francis I of Austria. Napoleon’s son additionally insisted that his father be known as Napoleon the Great which took hold mostly in Europe but most certainly not in Britain. Napoleon II became an immediate popularity across the French Empire. Young, charismatic, ambitious and clever, Napoleon II strove to outdo his father in accomplishments. He was also unmarried and overnight became a favorite with various princesses across Europe. He had the choice of any woman in the world. On a state visit to Prussia in 1830 the Emperor was smitten by the King’s unmarried daughter Princess Luise Augusta who was beautiful, smart, absolutely loyal to him, and three years his senior. The two were married in April of 1832 in a grand ceremony and soon the dashing young couple became the talk of Europe as their grand balls and concerts impressed almost all guests. Napoleon II, already with an Austrian mother, now has a Prussian wife, thus bringing these families into France and strengthening ties with them.
Meanwhile in Britain, the popular George Canning resigned in 1822 due to fatigue and a decline in health. After his resignation John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst, was ushered into the position of prime minister and continued the francophobic policies initiated by Canning despite the presence of French troops in London itself. Copley had no love for the French either and secretly went about supporting “militia clubs” that were comprised of disgruntled ex-soldiers who trained for an eventual expulsion of the French from their land.
Greek War of Independence
In 1822, Greek nationalists rose up against their Ottoman overlords with the intent of independence. They had seen ideas of “liberty, fraternity and equality” sweep across Europe and desired it for themselves. It was a time when all of Europe could agree on one thing. At first sympathy poured into the Greek fight as they were steadily defeated by the Ottoman forces. In 1824, mercenaries from all over Europe were joining the Greeks, including Lord Byron of Britain. Even Russia added pressure on the Ottoman border with the ascension of Nicholas I in 1825 to the Russian throne. A combined Anglo-French fleet defeated the Turks at Rhodes in 1828 and the following year the Ottoman Empire was forced to grant Greece its independence. Napoleon, though somewhat sick at the time, managed to maneuver the allies into granting the Greek throne to his young nephew Louis Napoleon, the son of his brother Louis, and he was coroneted King of the Greeks in 1830 as King Louis I.
Besides the death of rulers and the changing of various governments, the 1820s remained quite monotonous and peaceful in Europe. Believe it or not, there were no wars during this decade worth mentioning, perhaps showing that the domination of one particularly strong nation was the way to go. This theory was shattered with the Uprising of 1833. British patriots who resented a French presence their country revolted against the 20,000 Frenchmen there and against the pro-Bonaparte British. They initially met some success mainly because they were centered in rural areas and most troops stationed in the cities. The rebels - numbering only a few thousand - were hoping to gain popular support but really did not gain widespread sympathy from many people. The joint British-French forces sent to quell the rebellion worked in unison but most reluctantly and with a lot of rivalry between the two forces. Towards the winter of 1833 the insurrection was brutally crushed, the leaders rounded up and hanged in front of large, silent crowds. The brutality of its downfall caused a bit of sympathy to come from the common person and in the next election the Britain United and First Party - the main party that supported an ejection of the French and everything French, even more francophobic than George Canning - gained a few seats.
Across the channel, Napoleon II celebrated the birth of his son on April 17th 1833 who was appropriately named Napoleon and declared heir to the Imperial throne. Later the Empress Luise would bear another three children, Louis, Henry and Marie. The news of an heir was greeted with great enthusiasm across the empire and for a week church bells rang and cannons fired the good news. Still, Napoleon II was just 22 and had a full life ahead of him. Vowing to overshadow his father in greatness, Napoleon II drew up plans to spread French hegemony into the Middle East and threaten British India, which had expanded greatly with the help of Indian allies who technically were not part of the British Army. His plans first included Egypt and then the tottering Ottoman Empire and ultimately India. Napoleon was a meticulous man who made sure plans were all in place before acting. He expanded the French army to 320,000 and started to encourage French naval scientists to utilize the new steam engine for military purposes. By the summer of 1840 Napoleon had everything in place for his great campaign which began later that year, despite growing problems from the left at home.
French expansion into Egypt
Egypt had been free of the French since 1801 but Emperor Napoleon II was intent on finishing up the job his father started forty years before. In 1840 he bid the Mediterranean Fleet with the new Armee du Africa on it with the intention of taking Egypt in the name of France. The command fell to the venerable Marshal Soult who was 71 by this time. He would be in command of a relatively small task force compared to the great wars that had raged the Continent in Napoleon I’s time, numbering nearly 40,000 men. Initial French actions included naval victories against the modernized yet incapable Egyptian navy. Their ships were subject to cannons of a much longer range as well as a handful of new ships equipped with steam engines. The coastal towns of Rosetta and Damietta were quickly taken with a docile enough reaction: the towns had gained much prosperity from France and her European satellites. Mehmet Ali, who had modernized Egypt from a backwards agrarian backwater into a semi-industrial area, was quick to respond with an equally modernized army, ironically trained by some French officers. Alexandria was hotly contested and on December 17th, 1840 the Battle of Alexandria took place resulting in a sound defeat of the Egyptian forces. Undeterred, the Egyptians attacked the advancing French forces at Zagazig. At the First Battle of Zagazig, the Egyptian forces smashed through the French forward guard but were unable to follow through their victory. Soult, smarted from the sting but now doubly determined to crush his foe, boldly moved his army on a roundabout route through the lush Delta to attack the Egyptian army at the Second Battle of Zagazig, fought a week later. The result was amazing: the Egyptian force became completely confused and the French attacked from the flank and the front, soundly defeating the army. If this was not enough, Soult unleashed a storm of cavalry including pro-French Mamelukes, who scattered the Egyptian army and in a miraculous turn of events, captured Mehmet Ali two days after the wild pursuit began.
With their leader in enemy captivity and a thorough defeat in their pocket, Egyptian morale plummeted to new depths. While Soult waited on a response from his Emperor, French forces easily reached the gates of Cairo where they met an extremely determined Egyptian army that was nearly three times the size of the French task force. Daunted yet still elated over his previous victory, Soult made the first moved and attacked the Egyptians on the plains outside of Cairo with the Pyramids of Giza in the distance. The Egyptians were surprised at first but were able to regain a steady control despite the absence of their leader. A series of futile raids of the bravest men were sent out to rescue Ali, but all met their doom in the face of French grenadiers. Marshal Soult pressed onwards and the Egyptians, against the disciplined volleys of fire and the overwhelming sight of the column that snaked its way forward, gave ground easily until eventually a panic ensued. The Battle of Cairo ended with another defeat for the Egyptians in the face of the best armies Europe had to offer. By July of 1841, Egypt was completely in French hands. Mehmet Ali, in captivity, was offered a chance to rule the ancient land as an Imperial Viceroy but he proudly refused, saying “independence or not, there is no middle ground!” Instead, one of his sons, weaker men than himself, was chosen to rule Egypt in the name of the Tricolor and in August of that year was installed as Khedive of Cairo, the position synonymous with ruler of Egypt.
The conquest of Egypt gave Napoleon II his first military and he was about to score his first diplomatic. The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abd-ul-Mejid I, looked at the conquest of Egypt with some sort of fear. For too long his empire had been in decline and with a potentially explosive Russia to his north, Mejid was a cautious man. But now with the French to his south and technically in his own sovereign area, Mejid was doubly threatened. Thus he requested a meeting with Napoleon II as soon as possible for some sort of friendly agreement. The Sultan saw France as the lesser of two evils encroaching upon its borders, as well as the stronger and the most glory-covered. The Cyprus Conference took place in September of 1841 and was the first time Napoleon II had stepped off the Continent. The Conference, in effect, comprised of the Sultan, the Emperor, two translators and a great deal of negotiating. By the end of the Conference the following had been settled:
- Egypt, as well as the rest of Ottoman North Africa was to be given to the French Empire in exchange for
- A defensive alliance, as well as a French-sponsored modernization of the armed forces of the Turkish Empire. Specifically, the “defensive” part of the alliance would be directed toward Russia; France would not get involved if the Ottomans were attacked by an Asian or Arab power.
- France would help maintain the Ottoman Empire in Europe.
- Passage through the Ottoman Empire would be granted favorably toward the French.
- Exclusive trading rights with France and her puppet states (to all intents and purposes most of Europe except Britain and Russia).
At the end of the Cyprus Conference, the situation for France was looking extremely favorable. It had gained not only Egypt, but most of North Africa as well as an important ally in the Middle East. Originally, Napoleon II had planned to conquer the Ottoman Empire and divide it into a series of puppet states but when confronted with the economic cost and list of drawbacks, he found this to be a much better policy. Indeed, the Sultan found it excellent as well. It would allow the Ottomans to retain their lands in Europe, it gave them a powerful ally against their traditional enemy and there was a large possibility of renewed economic prosperity for the Empire.
The defeat of Britain in 1813 led to the immediate introduction of France as an industrial power, more or less at the expense of Britain. The war had drained the British economy in both men and materials and the restrictions of the peace made it appear as if the Continent was the new up and coming power. Many British entrepreneurs shoved nationalistic pride aside and traveled to France and its puppet states in order to make a potentially huge profit in the immediate postwar boom that followed the French victory. The Continental System, which had worked to some degree during the wars, continued to play a large role in the economy of the continent.
The industrialization of France was certainly quickened by the government of Napoleon I. For one, he was impressed in the methods the British had used and prophetically stated that “soon the world will follow these footsteps”. He provided vast funds for public works including a series of roads and canals which would link the budding industries of France. These funds also contributed to a favorable business environment in France because it provided Continental entrepreneurs with funds to pursue their businesses as well as bolster any promising businesses financial needs. The defeat of Britain put it in a second position in European trade as Napoleon instituted high taxes to keep out the flood of cheap British goods, which, despite having lost the war, continued to be made. Instead the British were forced to trade overseas and did so excellently in many parts of the world, especially Brazil. However because of this, the woolen industries of France and Belgium as well as the textile industries of Silesia and along the Rhine were greatly bolstered and soon changes began to take place in these industries as modernization became more eminent. Many Continental industries were focused on heavy industry although textiles were still quite an important asset to traditionally textile-centered Flanders.
The introduction of the steam engine into France following Britain’s defeat greatly altered the means of production. Suddenly, a never tiring machine could do much of the work and by 1830 many Continental industries depended on steam for power. The British and French were soon working on steam engines and ultimately the railroad. By 1840, about 2,000 miles of track crisscrossed Britain and about 1,800 miles in France, although the latter was significantly expanding. The majority of these were located in Belgium who, with its scarce water and large amounts of coal, was able to exploit the steam engine to a large degree. This area of the French Empire soon became a leading center of railroad building and engineering.
The introduction of steel into the market in the mid-nineteenth century only helped the further progress of the industries across Europe. Britain was still very much stuck in the early nineteenth century and adaptation to the new steel-based system was difficult. Indeed the same could be said about France but the size of the Empire allowed for more changes to take place. Nevertheless, Britain was sadly not the leader in industrialization by 1850 as the Continent combined soon took over Britain in terms of industry.
The rapid growth of industries that characterized the postwar era had even bigger consequences on the social scene as compared to the economic scene. Previously, the vast majority of the population of Europe was agrarian, as it had been for all of time. The sudden appearance of factories across the land suddenly paved the way for new job opportunities for small farmers barely pulling through as well as various levels of urban poor. Soon this new industrial working class was being crowded into cities that housed many factories. In Napoleonic Europe, however, the government structure and roots of the system were fairly quick to note the problems associated with the living conditions of the relatively few crowded industrial cities and in the 1840s, in the wake of the Egyptian campaign, Napoleon II passed a series of sweeping urban and working reforms that instituted regular working hours, child labor laws and a basic welfare system. These were steps unheard of before and for once, in the world of industry, it was France who took the lead and before long the British Parliament was passing their own labor laws. Previously they had been so preoccupied with retaining their position as the preeminent industrial power that they had neglected the cries for urban and labor reform. Now, seeing the success of the French programs, Britain passed their own laws. A bitter working class was avoided and the meritocracy that characterized Napoleonic Europe kept the social classes in motion. Class struggle was thus thwarted in the Western Continental Europe.
The rapid industrialization following the wars eventually led to a demand by France for access to raw materials and thus colonies. French business leaders had seen how successful British industry was thanks in part to the vast market it commanded. Although allied with Spain, a premier colonial power, the archaic methods the Spanish used were not cutting it for many Continental moneymakers. Obviously France would need some of her own colonies.
The rise and fall of various empires throughout the nineteenth century can be seen most definitely in the overseas imperialism that took hold among European countries following the wars in the early part of the century. The Industrial Revolution on the continent produced a demand for overseas possessions, while the British continued to vie for supremacy.
In 1813, the British were still the premier colonial power in the world despite losing all influence on the continent and losing their precious American colonies thirty years prior. Even the loss of many Caribbean islands to France did not deter Great Britain from becoming a great colonial power. The constraints put on Britain in the Treaty of Paris did not stop them from expanding in India. Although the official number of the international British Army was limited to 65,000, there was little enforcing of this rule. In fact, there was probably more than 65,000 on the British Isles alone. Nevertheless, the British were quick to use non-governmental forces, such as those of the British East India Company in helping to conquer India and by the mid 1840s, India was in firm British control. The mentioned company blossomed after the postwar slump. More companies were formed including the British East Indies Company and the British Southeastern Asia Company. The former of these had taken effective control over the former Dutch East Indies that had been seized by the British in the aftermath of the annexation of the Netherlands by Napoleon in 1810. The British were allowed to keep them after 1813 in exchange for numerous islands in the Caribbean. New interest was taken in Australia and imperialist eyes looked hungrily toward Burma and Afghanistan as further extensions of the already large British presence in Asia.
This presence was extended even further east into China and ultimately Japan. By no means did the British desire to conquer or subdue the vast Chinese Empire, but through a series of unfair treaties coupled with a potent military presence in South Asia, they gained a powerful economic foothold in China. They established themselves on Hong Kong but actual British nationals were limited to a few areas because of the Chinese fear of considerable foreign influence upon the people. Japan too came under a limited degree of British influence. In 1849 a group of ships under the command of Baron Edmund Lyons sailed into Tokyo Bay, some of which had their hulls painted black. At Tokyo, then called Edo, the representatives of the shogunate told Lyons to head toward Nagasaki, but he refused, demanding trade rights with the isolationist Japan. Since the Japanese had long since shunned modern technology, the ships under the command of Lyons could have caused great damage and the Japanese could only accept. The Convention of Kanegawa was signed in 1850 after a second visit to Japan by Lyons accompanied by a larger ship and it granted the British exclusive trade rights in a number of Japanese ports. In a couple more years the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty was signed by Admiral Sir James Stirling and soon after France, Russia and the United States would follow Britain suit in establishing trade with Japan.
By the 1840s, the French had made their arrival on the colonial scene. At first their colonial exploits were limited to North Africa. In actuality, the Mediterranean Sea was a Bonaparte lake, or at least large portions of it dominated by members of the Bonaparte family. Only the Ottoman Empire and Spain were non-French vassals, though they were allied to France. Following the Cyprus Conference, the French gained control of most of North Africa, except for Morocco. Overseas, they expanded as well. Seeing the large British expansion in Asia, Napoleon II called for a piece of the East as well. In 1842, the first expedition in Indochina was launched and established various trading and military posts. Obviously, the French planned to take the area and the Confucian isolationists that ruled the area were firmly against this. It didn't take long for a series of cajoles, manipulations, assassinations and offensives to take care of this and by the 1860s, much of Indochina was under French control. At about the same time the British had advanced from India. In order to secure a buffer between the two colonial powers, Siam was effectively established to balance the forces in southeastern Asia.
In 1861, Napoleon II convinced the Spanish king to sell the Philippines to France for the ridiculous price of some one hundred twenty million francs. But the Spanish at the time were going through a rough era and desperately needed the money to retain control over the troublesome American colonies which were slowly deteriorating as nationalist movements sprang up in all of the colonies. In part, this was due to the independent Brazil, though really a "Portugal-in-exile" that sent out eager young men to stir up trouble among the Spanish colonies. This was not hard to do as the vast majority of people living in the Spanish colonies continued to live in abhorrent conditions that benefited the minority rich, mainly peninsulares. Although the Spanish would retain control of the vast areas for another decade, it became increasingly harder to control and improvement was far from reach. In fact, in Spain itself, there grew an increasing group of progressive-minded politicians who pressured for Spain to rid those colonies or else go bankrupt.
Portugal too was overcome with the imperialist fervor that was set in motion by the British and French. In 1807, when the Portuguese royal family established themselves in Brazil, their colonies in Africa and Asia remained loyal to Joao VI, not the Bonaparte usurper. The Portugal in Europe under the rule of Joseph Bonaparte was intent on getting some colonies as well, more for national prestige than anything. So too were the Southern Lusitanians, a small and highly backwards nation under the rule of the corrupt and inefficient King Manuel I, ex-prime minister of Spain Manuel Godoy. In effect, it was really the Portuguese who did the first post-war imperializing in Africa. Joseph I of Portugal sent an expedition to Africa in 1820 and before long an outpost was established on the Volta River. The Kingdom of Southern Lusitania was less successful and all of their attempts at imperialism ended in failure because of a lack of funds, motivation or a plethora of bad luck.
Perhaps it was this interest in Africa that led Britain to start looking at the Dark Continent above the southern tip. Sensing a potential economic source for their burgeoning overseas empire, the British established a handful of scattered colonies in West Africa and on Zanzibar in the 1840s. The French were quick to follow. Such was the pattern for the imperialism of Africa which was equally divided among European powers between the 1840s and the 1880s. Many Continental powers too got a small piece of Africa, including untraditional colonial powers: Greece, Naples, even the German states of Prussia and Westphalia. Africa by the turn of century was effectively in the hand of Europeans, only Ethiopia remained independent of any European nation. Economic demands, including the increased demands for raw material and new markets, were a deciding factor in the "scramble for Africa". National prestige and racism played large roles in the imperialism of the nineteenth century as well. Small countries such as Greece and Naples wanted to be promoted to first rate powers and thought by gaining colonies they would be able to achieve this. Larger countries such as Britain and France participated in the imperialist tendencies for many reasons not least of all being national prestige, but also because the other was doing it and it became necessary to imitate in order to curb the growing power of each. Also, the view that the Europeans were civilizing the technologically deprived peoples of Asia and Africa - "barbarians and savages" - played a large moral role among imperialists. In short, by year 1900, the world was largely European dominated.
The years from 1840-1860 were years of peace and prosperity for nearly all of Europe. Britain too was starting to recover greatly from its losses against the first Napoleon and thanks to its colonies the British economy was soaring to above pre-war levels. The war was already thirty years off and the bitter feelings were being shed by a younger generation that looked forward, not backwards. This too could be said about France; as the veterans of the great wars slowly passed, so did their ideals. The Revolution of 1789 was getting further and further away and a new generation of people began to see the world differently.
Technologically speaking the world was changing. In Europe and the northern United States, the steam engine was quickly becoming a useful tool, replacing the traditional energy power used by men and horses. Railroads were starting to crisscross France and Germany and a domestic infrastructure improvement plan implemented by Napoleon II was starting to take practical form. Roads, canals, shipyards, modern ports and other devices of the age popped up across the French Empire. Probably a more unusual invention being looked at during this age was the balloon, which had made a debut in France in 1783. For once it was being thought of as an actual means of transportation, not just an oddity or observation unit in the military. Another important advance was the invention of the telegraph, allowing messages to be sent across an entire continent in a few seconds. The Paris-New York line was laid in 1845, the New-York-London line a year later and by 1850 all the major cities of Europe, the United States and Brazil were connected.
Britain during this time underwent some major changes. Included among them was their rapid overseas expansion, motivated by their expulsion from the continent. For a time after their defeat, British politics turned staunchly conservative with a focus upon foreign policy and revenge. Prime Ministers such as George Canning and Lyndhurst took a very anti-French stance, making a motion to expel the French troops on English soil at every possible moment. The ascension of Queen Charlotte after the death of her decadent father ushered in a new age of British politics: one of compromise and cooperation rather than militaristic revenge. Obviously the latter was not working as shown by the second term of Lyndhurst, as the new French Emperor could not be persuaded to withdraw his troops. Hence, the British resorted to militaristic jingoistic policies overseas and one of cooperation in Europe. This was evident in Peel’s tenure as he laid the groundwork for Anglo-French rapprochements to come in later years. But despite all of this good feeling ushered in by Queen Charlotte and more liberal statesmen, there still remained a deep ill-feeling toward the French in the common British citizen. There were demonstrations at every French barrack in London on every possible anniversary: the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the Battle of Brest or Battle of Rochester, the birthday of George III, etc. Every year a petition with some million signatures was sent to Napoleon II but these were ignored until 1852. It was in this year that a demonstration turned violent. French troops foolishly fired upon peaceful British marchers in London, killing seven, and within a couple hours the city was seething with rage. With strict orders to not fire again, guards at the French barracks could only flee into the safety of the buildings. It appeared as if they would be overrun by the angry London mobs but only cooler heads in the form of the Earl of Derby and other parliamentary leaders stopped it. The St. Alban’s Street Massacre, as it was to be known, was to the final straw for many. The new king, George V, had grown up in a francophobic environment and thus hated the French deeply. He called for the immediate removal of all French soldiers from British soil. Napoleon II had long tried to stall this as it would be a shame to the name Napoleon and France in general. But seeing the writing the wall, he withdrew the French troops later that year, the first time Britain had been free of French occupation in forty years. Rather than be grateful, many Britons were unhappy with the soft way the Earl of Derby had dealt with the French and the next year ushered in Lord Palmerston for his second term of office. Great Britain had swung back and forth between reconciliation and francophobic tendencies since the end of hostilities over forty years prior and it would continue to do so in the future. Nevertheless, Britain prospered and by 1860 was again a potential threat to France.
France meanwhile had become a bastion of culture and civilization. Napoleon II, with all of his bombast and words, had indeed taken Egypt in a few short months and wrested away North Africa from the rule of Constantinople. His popularity was comparable to that of his father in 1813. Plans for a canal to link the Mediterranean to the Red Sea were put into action in 1850 and the Canal Majestueux à Est was completed in 1852, thereby extending French influence to new places. British India was potentially threatened and great faith had to be put into the Cape Town colonies. Napoleon’s plans to reach the riches of India included expansion into Arabia and Persia. The Ottomans were already allied to the French and in 1855, the French made a series of treaties with the tribes on the Arabian peninsula with the purpose of uniting them, and uniting them with a pro-French ruler in place.
Russia too expanded between these years and like the western powers, they expanded east. The death of Nicholas I brought Alexander II to the throne, who, as compared to his father was rather liberal-minded. Accordingly, he “liberated” the serfs of Russia in 1861 though in reality they were still tied to the land as ever. Russia remained large, backwards and autocratic. The Industrial Revolution had yet to kick in, though Alexander II encouraged industrial growth in order to match up to the rest of Europe. Under Nicholas, Russian foreign policies still looked greedily toward Constantinople and the Straits. Alexander II too looked wistfully toward the coveted land, but realized that if he were ever to take those lands from the sagging Ottomans, his country would have to be ready. Russia was in fact the only Continental power not under the close influence of Napoleon II. It was officially a French ally as said by the Treaty of Tilsit back in 1807, but they had drifted apart in recent years. Britain looked with interest at Russia as a possible ally if anything were to come up.
Austria was landlocked but still hanging on despite the homogenous population that threatened to tear it apart. Westphalia, under the guiding hand of the old Jerome I, the last surviving brother of Napoleon the Great, managed to absorb the nearby minor principalities thereby expanding the size and prestige of Westphalia. The Germanic Confederation was hardly a confederation and was merely a geographic landmark, nothing more. Its Congress possessed no power or esteem. In Spain, the monarchs insisted on hanging on to the American colonies but at increasing cost. Millions of pesos were poured into keeping the land but the price became too much. A change was needed in Spain but it was not to come until the 1880s. Italy remained a French puppet and Naples more or less the same. The Balkans remained under the autocratic rule of the Ottoman Empire which was now propped up by Napoleon II.
First Polish-Prussian War
The rest of Europe experienced a rather bland time except for one instance. Prussia and Austria were merely second-rate powers, the former hardly being above a typical German princedom. Nevertheless in one of the few wars fought between 1813 and 1900, Prussia launched an attack on the Kingdom of Poland in 1848 with the intent of gobbling up some lost territory. The Polish king was a son of the first king, Joseph I, and was aptly named Joseph II. He was new to the throne but had been to the Military Academy in Paris. He was quick to personally lead his troops into battle and in fact did so in the first battle of the war, the Battle of Mlava, fought on the plains outside of the border town. The long-stagnant Prussian army managed to pull off a victory after a series of futile charges by the brave Polish hussars. It nearly took the entire royal staff from keeping King Joseph from leading the charges and as the Poles retreated, it is said that Joseph blamed the loss on the lack of his own personal participation.
Just two weeks later the Poles and the Prussians met again, this time at Modlin. Joseph insisted on personally leading the troops though when he did, he fell to an unlucky shot. The Polish forces disintegrated without the royal leadership necessary. At this point Napoleon II felt it was necessary to step in to keep the Polish state from total defeat. He threatened to war with Prussia if they did not stop hostilities immediately and Frederick William IV was forced to stop the war against Poland. This created such resentment in Prussia against the Bonapartes and the Poles that it actually took the returning Prussian army to keep the peace in Berlin due to so many anti-French demonstrations. The First Prussian-Polish War sowed the seeds for odium in Eastern Europe.
PART II: THE UNITED STATES – 1840-1865
Chapter 4: Road to Civil War
Calhoun, van Buren, Polk
The massive new tracts of land gained by the victory in the Spanish-American War at first seemed to belittle the conflict of slavery. President Henry Clay left office with a crown of laurels, the “man who won the west”, the “father of half of the United States.” In his place came John C. Calhoun who, as vice president the Clay administration, was responsible for much of the improvement that followed the United States after its great victory. In the election of 1832, John Quincy Adams was again defeated and Calhoun took up the burdens of office in March of 1833. His victory was not based upon any new ideas and his stance on slavery was a distant second as compared to his recent actions in bringing glory to the new American state. However, as a Southerner and fierce advocate of slavery, many were soon alarmed as President Calhoun began pressing for slavery to be allowed in all of the new territories.
At the time, the vast tracts of land out west were home to very few settlers and the majority population was Native American. Before long, however, promises of the richness of the immeasurable new plots of virgin forests and lush soil attracted settlers from all over the world. In Europe, oppressed people such as the Irish and even a few disgruntled members of the ancien regime made the journey to the American west where they were met with an incomparable spectacle. People from Western Europe made the trip across the Atlantic starting in the late 1820s and by the 1830s; it was a full stream of people. Meanwhile, statesmen grew concerned over the rapid influx of people. It would not be incorrect to say that the 1830s saw a rampant rise of racism in the United States. The new lands were divided into territories and once each territory had a large enough population and had drawn their own constitution, they could apply for statehood. The number of states grew considerable between 1830 and 1860 as more people made the trek out west.
One of these particular territories was the Indian Territory, as designated by an 1835 act of Congress that set aside large amounts of land in the south-central part of the country, between the Red, Sabine, and Rio Grande Rivers, to all Indians east of the Mississippi that were to be moved there by 1837. The policy was met with a more or less a universal applause as most Americans saw it as their destiny to rule all the way to the Pacific; the natives were just getting in the way. The forcible removal of the Native Americans did cause an outcry among themselves but the United States Army enforced the removal and the Indians were helpless for the most part. Along a number of “Trail of Tears” thousands of Indians moved west, away from their primordial homelands.
But with all this new territory came the argument over slavery. Should the new states be admitted as free or slave states? Should they choose for themselves? For pro-slavery politicians, it seemed necessary to have an equal number of slave and free states or else the Senate (with two senators from each state) with a free majority would overturn slavery. All Northern states had abolished slavery by 1804 and even the Northwest Ordinances of 1787 stated slavery was illegal above the Ohio River. A compromise was made in 1820: a slave state would only be admitted if a free state was to be admitted as well. This became known as the Missouri Compromise after Missouri and Maine came in as slave and free respectively. After 1827, the Missouri Compromise was put onto a much larger scale.
The election of Martin van Buren in the election of 1840 ushered in a new era. He ran unopposed. However by 1844, he did not desire to run for office and soon after leaving the White House died. The unopposed ascension of his former vice president, James Polk, was a continuation of the policies of Calhoun and the statesman Jackson, though Polk added his own expansionist flair into the face of the administration. No election had been opposed since 1832 and the United States Congress was made up of mainly Democratic congressmen and senators. In 1848, pleading poor health, James Polk decided not to run for re-election. After four years of strenuous work, he was ready to retire. These administrations successfully maneuvered away from the potential threat that slavery could cause. However by the 1850s, the problem could no longer be ignored. Even before that the growing problem of slavery was evident. In the 1830s, Britain abolished slavery once and for all and a few years later Napoleon II followed suit, though allowing “extended servitude” in overseas properties.
Columbia, 1848, Cass
The problem boiled over towards the end of Polk’s term with the upcoming admittance of the Columbia Territory into the Union. There, the territorial legislature had voted after a long and arduous debate to admit Columbia as a free state. However there was no corresponding slave state to be admitted at the same time, as the precedent set by the Missouri Compromise required. The problem had never risen before as all previous admittances had happened in pairs: either a free or slave state would be admitted followed by the other. Thus a national argument grew over the Columbia Territory controversy. Some argued that it should wait until a slave territory was ready for statehood, others said let it join the Union regardless. Slave-supporters vehemently opposed the latter option, afraid that they would be outvoted in the Senate. The controversy was the main topic of the 1848 election which caused a split in the Democratic Party, really the only party left in the country. Those supporting the “wait-it-out” option stuck with the Democratic Party and nominated Franklin Pierce, a man who believed agreement and compromise was best. The branch off from the Democrats formed themselves as the Liberty Party and nominated Lewis Cass, a believer in Popular Sovereignty, as their candidate. It was a hotly contested race that was neck and neck until Election Day. It would be four weeks until a winner was announced, showing how close the election was. Lewis Cass managed to scrape up enough electoral votes and became the tenth president of the United States.
The Cass administration immediately set out to admit Columbia as a state, though the Democrat-dominated Congress would hear none of it. In 1850 it went to the Supreme Court and in Cass vs. United States Congress the idea of Popular Sovereignty was upheld as constitutional. Columbia, so long as the people of that territory found it fit, could be admitted as a state regardless of whether there was a corresponding slave state. Slaveholders and their supporters pitched a fit and threatened secession but cooler heads prevailed. President Cass promised that the only territory that met statehood requirements, Indian Territory, could be admitted as a slave state. Crisis was averted for the time, almost at the expense of the Indians who were forced to move to the land and now had slavery forced upon them. Luckily, the issue was put on hold for the time. Unluckily, the Missouri Compromise had been torn to shreds and the Popular Sovereignty Act of 1851 put the Supreme Courts decision into action. It would not be until 1857 and the possible admittance of the Platte Territory as a state that the controversy rear its ugly head.
The election of 1852 had easily reassured the compromising Cass as president but the 1856 election was more closely contested. Charles Sumner, a fairly young man and one time senator from New Hampshire, ran on the Liberty Party ticket and almost won the election thanks to the anti-slavery sentiments that that country felt at the time. However, a less radical Democrat, Stephen A. Douglas, won the presidency. His election resulted in a temporary sigh of relief for Southerners who viewed Sumner as the ultimate opposition to their way of life. That sigh of relief turned to a gasp of indignation when President Douglas mentioned to reporters that slavery could not exist without popular support, a statement many slaveholders viewed as wrong. Because of this, he was not nominated again in 1860.
Many northerners during the Cass and Douglas administrations turned against slavery, mainly due to the popularity and horror of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Joe’s Log Cabin. The book told the tale of a fugitive slave and the series of owners he went to before being beaten to death after becoming free. The tale horrified many northerners and the ranks of abolitionist groups, such as the American Antislavery Society, swelled. That and the increasingly brutal methods of keeping slaves as slaves turned many Americans away from the institution. The Fugitive Slave Acts enforced the punishments that could be put into action onto runaway slaves. Their addition to the law books during the Douglas years provided a concrete moral excuse for the growth of anti-slavery organizations, rather than a work of fiction.
The Platte Problem of 1857 was the cause of much bloodshed and fury in the days leading up to the Civil War. As there were an equal number of slave and free states, the Popular Sovereignty Act was truly tested in 1857 when Platte applied for statehood. Its territorial legislature had not figured out whether it would apply as a free or slave state and thousands of supporters for both sides streamed into the territory to help convince the legislature to vote one way. Thus Platte became a fierce battleground between the two ideologies and the land became known as “Prickly Platte”. A number of territorial legislatures were kidnapped or killed and the statehood process was slowed down. It was only after federal troops were sent in to restore order did the violence abate. But martial law was no way to govern a territory and within three months the troops had withdrawn. President Douglas was constantly overwhelmed by the precarious situation that had begun to take grip on the nation. As Americans fought each other in Platte, he actively sought a solution to the problem. Many possibilities were drawn up, such as the overturning of the Popular Sovereignty Act and the reinstitution of the Missouri Compromise. Another possibility he briefly considered was to make slavery a constitutional right but so many were opposed to it that he quickly withdrew the option. By the state of the new decade, Douglas was utterly exhausted of the presidency and the criticism that he drew from all corners of the nation. When he was passed over in the Democratic National Convention to his vice president, John C. Breckinridge, Douglas did not mind. What he minded was the brewing clouds of conflict, especially after the re-nomination of Charles Sumner to run for the Liberty Party.
Platte and Sumner’s mistakes
The election of 1860 was hotly contested, more so than the tight 1848 race. However within a week of election day it was clear who the winner was. The bloody Platte Territory issue was the hot button topic of the day and Sumner’s position to stay the course on Popular Sovereignty appealed to many voters. The antislavery attitude of many Americans was to be represented in the White House by Charles Sumner who became the thirteenth president of the United States on March 4th, 1861. The South was outraged that Breckenridge had lost the election, as he had carried the entire South and in some districts, Sumner’s name hadn’t even appeared on the ballot. Nevertheless, Southern politicians decided the best course was to see if Sumner had any weight behind his abolitionist talk. In his Inaugural Address, Sumner promised to “never touch the institution that provides such a considerable amount for the Southern states.” Without actually naming slavery, Sumner could have meant something else, like the plantation system. Angered but patient, southern leaders decided not to take any drastic steps unless provoked.
That provocation came in a two punch blow. On December 9th, 1861 Platte was admitted as a free state, thus outnumbering the slave states in the Senate. It was done as quietly as possible and to many, as deceitful as possible. An outcry went up across the slaveholding parts of the country. The other blow came in President Sumner’s New Years Address to the Senate. In it, he promised that all “tyranny and forms of horrific servitude will end in this great nation within a decade of this date.” It was clear what he was referring to on this occasion and the statement outraged Southern congressmen so much that they began to boo the speech. It took the master at arms to arrest two Georgian Congressmen for them to finally calm down, but the seed had been planted and Sumner’s policies became known to all. Across the South, secession became the hot topic of the day. Prominent financiers and politicians discussed the policies of an independent south, free from the potential constraints of Washington. Many fire-eaters from the Deep South deeply resented anything antislavery and their delegation that met in Charleston in February of 1862 promised that South Carolina would secede from the Union if Sumner “dared to touch our precious way of living.” Unimpressed, Sumner thundered that no state had the right to secede from the United States.
Why did the President and the Congress act in such a manner in such a precarious situation? There is no clear cut reason but the roots of the American Civil War can certainly lie in the almost reckless policies of President Sumner and the Liberty Party. For one, the Liberty Party enjoyed a large majority over their Democratic opposition in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The northern votes had put a number of Libertarians into Congress in the election of 1860 and even a number in the midterm elections of 1858. The rapid rise of the Liberty Party across the northern states gave Sumner confidence. He believed that because he was elected, he represented the wishes of the American people. If the American people were merely northerners then that statement might have been true. Unfortunately, many from the south vehemently opposed his policies and he made a fatal error by constantly turning a blind eye to them. “They will come around” was a well-known saying of his. Perhaps even he wished to make a clear name for himself. After all, he was the first non-Democratic president in years and was the top ranking member of the Liberty Party whose very name expounded his plans for those in servitude. Whatever the reason, the quiet admittance of Platte and the New Years Speech led to the bloodiest conflict in North American history, one that would have lasting international consequences.
On March 1st, 1862, the South Carolina legislature voted unanimously to secede from the United States and form an independent republic. It encouraged other southern states to do the same. Other states hardly needed encouraging and others soon followed South Carolina’s lead. Mississippi seceded on March 5th, Florida on the 6th, Alabama and Louisiana on the 7th and Georgia on the 9th.
May we please have a map of US states & territories including succeding states? Thank you. This is an excellent TL Zach.
I wrote this during or after I read Shelby Foote's massive Civil War series.
Chapter 5: The American Civil War
While European powers started to spread their influence beyond Europe, the United States fell into a civil war between the Northern states and the Southern states. Brewing tension and a series of crises involving northern versus southern states had finally blew up to secession. Delegates from the Deep South states that had seceded in early march met in Montgomery, Alabama in order to set up unity among the Southern states and elect a leader and government. The delegates elected Jefferson Davis, former Secretary of War and Senator from Mississippi as President of the Confederate States of America. A constitution was formed by the beginning of May that mirrored the American constitution except that the president was limited to one six-year term, slavery was declared legal, the Confederate Congress could not make appropriations for improvements within states or levy a protective tarrif, the president was allowed to veto any portion of an appropriations bill, a two thirds vote of both houses of Congress were required to admit a new state and members of the Cabinet could have seats on the Congressional floor, but no vote. Appeals were sent out to other slave-holding states but they held off, thinking that their problems could be worked out with the Union.
A peaceful solution was thrown out the window on the morning of May 28th, 1862. Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor still remained defiant of the new Southern government, although attempts to resupply it were driven off by Confederate batteries. On May 28th, Fort Sumter was fired on and subjected to a 34 hour bombardment that shattered the outside of the structure but caused no casualties among either side. The fort was forced to surrender on May 30th. The violent show of force outraged President Sumner. Previously, he had thought he could speak with the Southern leaders in order to hold the Union together. The firing on Sumter led to Sumner demanding a forcible end to “this ridiculous rebellion that has begun to fill our great nation with a terrible stench”. In June he called for 75,000 volunteers for a three month tour of duty, expecting a quick war. What he got instead was a war, but not a quick conflict.
Fort Sumter instilled a sense of pride in Southerners and more importantly led to the secession of other Southern states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia. Missouri, and Kentucky to a lesser extent, had large populations of both pro-North and pro-South populations and were plagued with often brutal internal conflicts. With the secession of Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery to Richmond, within one hundred miles of Washington itself. Before long, many officers in the United States Army were re-signing to join their respective, seceded states. Among them was Robert E. Lee, who followed his native Virginia rather than stay with his country. Although the United States Army was small, it was a highly professional volunteer force which had seen plenty of conflict in the West and even a few elderly officers had seen action in the Spanish-American War. But for the tens of thousands of men being amassed for their respective causes, the armies were green, the stakes were high, the causes were righteous and the glory seemed to be never-ending.
The war was divided up into two major areas, based on geographic location. The Eastern Theater was to be primarily fought in Virginia whereas the Western Theater would be fought mostly in Tennessee and Kentucky, though Missouri and Louisiana were not devoid of their fair share of battles.
As the green armies led by their green officers poised themselves for a quick finish to the war, the Southern Government sent emissaries abroad for international recognition. The largest and most important delegation was sent to Paris where they were received cordially by Napoleon II. Other delegations were sent to Great Britain and Spain, both powers still having a considerably amount of pull in the Western Hemisphere by their colonial presence. They were warmly welcomed in London and Madrid as well, although instant recognition did not occur. The delegation in Paris held the most promise, although Napoleon II did not want to upset his American friends nor did he want to commit toward a potentially lost cause.
Among Southern citizens, thoughts that the cause would be “lost” were washed away in the first weeks of the war. At the Battle of Manassas on July 1st, the Federal troops were dealt a sharp defeat at the hands of a Confederate force under the command of General James A. Armstrong who successfully defended the railroad junction at Manassas against the green Federal troops. They were so distraught by this defeat that they streamed back to Washington in a continuous, demoralized stream. The South hailed Manassas as proof of their need for self-identity and praised their soldiers for the “lickin’” they gave. The Fourth of July was celebrated in a gloomy atmosphere across the North.
As the Northerners streamed northward, the victorious Confederates slowly followed up, unable to exploit the rout because of their greenness and because of general bad weather. By July 14th, the Confederates had taken up positions on the south bank of the Potomac River and their guns peered down upon Washington itself. It would take until October for the Confederates to be dislodged from their positions on the Potomac after much restructuring and reorganizing of the battered force hiding out in Washington’s forts. In August, the Army of the Potomac was given a new commander, General George B. McClellan who set about a large refurbishing program for the large army. Within two months, his army numbered well over 110,000 whereas in Virginia, Armstrong’s army numbered no more than 70,000.
Meanwhile, the President and Secretary of War John Fisher adopted a plan that would strangle the rebelling states into submission. Called the Python Plan by newspapers, it called for a blockade of all Southern ports in order to disrupt the Southern economy, dependent on cotton. It also called for the seizure of the Mississippi River, thereby denying the western portion of the rebellion contact with the east. The American navy at the time was very small and many ships desperately needed repairs. A program for the enlargement of the navy was installed, while a similar program was instituted for the Confederacy.
War in the West to spring, 1864
In the West, the war began less spectacularly for the South. Excursions into Missouri were limited to small-scale cavalry raids and attempts to make Missouri secede were blocked both politically and militarily. Other escapades into Kentucky were also repulsed although they were more successful. A bishop turned general, Leonidas Polk, invaded Kentucky in late 1862 with a force of some 15,000 but the Federals under General Buell decisively defeated him at Paducah.
The spring of 1863 saw the Union push forward with plans to occupy Tennessee. The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers effectively came under Union control thanks in part to the gunboat fleets’ presence in those rivers as well as close coordination with the army. The fall of Forts Donelson and Henry in northern Tennessee began this campaign, thereby alerting Richmond of the growing danger in the West. Albert Sidney Johnston and Joseph E. Johnston were dispatched to the West, the former given overall command of everything west of the Appalachians, and Johnston taking command of the Army of Tennessee, a scattered force of some 50,000 who were spread across Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.
Successful recruitment of local Tennesseans brought up that army’s total to near 65,000 when it was consolidated at Nashville in order to block the Union advance on the key city. Under Buell, the Army of the Ohio moved slowly and methodically toward Nashville as reinforcements streamed from all over Tennessee to help in the defense. Among the reinforcements as a cavalry general by the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest who immediately set out with some 1,000 raiders to ride into the rear of Buell’s army to wreck the long supply train and capture prisoners. Forrest returned with just three empty saddles and over 200 prisoners in a raid that would earn him national attention. Meanwhile, A.S. Johnston decided that while Buell was moving slowly toward Nashville, the time was right to strike at him while he was on the road.
The Battle of Clarksville was fought between March 8-9th of 1863 and was easily the bloodiest of the Western battles. Involving some 150,000 men, it resulted in an indecisive outcome and some 16,000 Confederate casualties and 21,000 Federal. Originally supposed to be a surprise attack by elements of the Army of Tennessee, it quickly turned into a bloody stand-up fight in the woods of northern Tennessee, along the banks of the Cumberland River. A.S. Johnston and Joseph E. Johnston both proved their worth on the battlefield, the former seeming to be everywhere at once and the second holding off repeated Union attacks. By the end of the second day, however, the casualties became so great that the Confederate army was forced to withdraw in the direction of Nashville, ready to defend the city.
In April, 1863 Joseph Johnston withdrew his army from Nashville, burning everything of use to deny the imminent occupiers of anything useful. The fall of the capital of Tennessee was a large blow to the Confederacy, but Johnston argued that it was no use getting into a siege. A.S. Johnston, meanwhile, was in Western Tennessee fighting off another Union attack and when he heard of this, he recommended to Richmond that Johnston be removed to another theater. He was and Braxton Bragg took his place as commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Another major blow came to the Confederacy in April of 1863. A large Union naval force appeared off of New Orleans, carrying some 22,000 soldiers with the intent of capturing the South’s largest city. As many soldiers were off fighting elsewhere, New Orleans was guarded by less than 7,000 militiamen who depended on the forts on the Mississippi to defend them. When the Union ships snuck past the forts in a skillful maneuver, the defenders of New Orleans were forced to withdraw and did so. New Orleans fell on April 20th, three days after Nashville.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee the Army of Tennessee was recuperating from the disastrous Battle of Clarksville and the fall of Nashville. A.S. Johnston planned for a three-pronged offensive in mid summer to deflect the string of western Union successes. The first offensive would be in Arkansas, aimed at riling up pro-Confederate sentiment in Missouri. The second would involve the Army of Tennessee, now encamped at Murfreesboro, to bypass Buell in Nashville and force him to do battle on favorable terrain. The third was aimed in western Tennessee, involving Polk’s Army of West Tennessee, numbering some 35,000. In all, the three offensives would reverse the Union tide, bring Missouri into the Southern nation and put Kentucky on the brink of secession.
It did not turn quite out like that. In Missouri, the Confederates came to a stumbling halt outside Springfield where they were dealt a stiff defeat in early July. In Western Tennessee, the Confederates were more successful, advancing with the Mississippi on their left flank to within the Kentucky border. However this was due to the relocation of the Union Army of the Cumberland to support the Army of the Ohio which was being threatened by Bragg in the third offensive. With his recuperated army, bolstered to 80,000 men, Bragg was in command of the South’s largest force. He advanced from Murfreesboro to menace Buell at Nashville who did not give battle. Buell, numbering about 90,000 was counting on reinforcements from the Army of the Cumberland to help crush Bragg. That army arrived in mid June, adding to a grand total of some 125,000 for Buell. Thus set, he moved out from Nashville in late June to give battle to Bragg who had set up defenses outside of the city. Or at least, it appeared that way. Only a brigade held those defenses south of Nashville, while the rest of Bragg’s army has swung to the left to strike at the Unions right – made up exclusively of the Army of the Cumberland. The Battle of Nashville began on June 30th with the Confederates scoring big until late in the day when Buell got the nerve to counterattack. The fury of the Union counterattack halted the Confederates, who retired that night. The battle was another indecisive action, disappointing to both sides.
Displeased with Buell’s slow actions, President Sumner replaced him with a corps commander that had shown himself worthy at Nashville, William Rosecrans. Unfortunately, Rosecrans was no faster than Buell and it was not until early August did Rosecrans set out against Bragg. His methodical planning and number of contingency plans forced Bragg to withdraw from Murfreesboro, deeper and deeper into Tennessee. In mid-August, the Army of the Cumberland was sent back to Western Tennessee to do battle with A.S. Johnston there. It was not until September, 1863 did another major action occur, this one between A.S. Johnston’s Western Tennessee Army and the Cumberland Army. The Yankees were whipped in short order, effectively ending the campaign there for the rest of the year.
A stalemate occurred in the West until the spring of 1864. Everywhere the Union turned to advance its cause it was blocked by well-entrenched and victorious troops, in the cases of Bragg and Johnston respectively. Outside of New Orleans, a sizeable force under General Edmund Kirby Smith threatened the Union force there, unable to retake the South’s “first city” but capable of keeping the blue force there in siege. William Rosecrans proved himself to be a very slow and methodical planner, no quicker than Buell before him. His continuous telegrams to Washington promised movement but begged for reinforcements. Eventually after not moving at all during September, he was sacked and replaced with John Pope, who had proved himself on various smaller missions in the Army of the Cumberland. Pope immediately set out to flush Bragg from Murfreesboro but was defeated three times in the process. Not deterred, he set out to bypass Bragg in the spring.
War in the East to spring, 1864
The war in the Eastern theater took on a very different tone for the Confederacy. Whereas the west was filled with great loss of land for the Confederacy as well as stalemates and the occasional defeat, the Eastern theater was filled with spectacular Southern success against larger Northern arms. Following their victory at Manassas, the Confederates nearly took Washington itself but were stopped by spirited resistance and fatigue. Only in October under a new general, George McClellan, were the Confederates finally pushed off the south bank of the Potomac. That month saw the Army of the Potomac, numbering some 115,000, lurch from its relatively safe position south of Washington to invade the Old Dominion and take Richmond, thus ending this rebellion once and for all.
The Army of Northern Virginia, now under the command of Robert E. Lee who took over from the dying James Armstrong (a veteran officer of the Spanish-American War, who at 65 was one of the oldest commanders in both armies), was quick on its feet to counter the Union movement. With his two corps commanders, Thomas Jackson and James Longstreet, Lee was able to maneuver the Northern army into a trap at the confluence of the Rapidan and Rappahannock, dealing them a terrible blow on that late October day. The Battle of Aquia Creek promoted General Lee to hero status among Southerners. Following this particular action, the Army of Northern Virginia went onto the offensive to bring the battered Army of the Potomac to its knees. In a battle of maneuver, McClellan successfully retreated away from possible destruction but was forced to retreat even further from his goal. Although Lee did not finish off the invading army, he did force it to withdraw some thirty miles and lower its morale, thus recovering more of Virginia for the South. By this time, it was November and in the 1862 midterm elections, Sumner’s party did a poor showing, mirroring correctly the attitudes of the American population following the two recent defeats.
After his double defeat at Aquia Creek and Occoquan Creek, McClellan drew up a new plan to advance up the Virginia Peninsula between the York and James River to take Richmond from the southeast. The campaign started in early March after months of preparations and transportation allowed some 120,000 men to be settled on the tip of the Peninsula. Meanwhile, the Army of Northern Virginia possessed no more than 68,000 and during March, they were forced to retreat from one line of defense to another. During this time, General Lee became known as the “King of Spades” as he built up a series of impressive fortifications to hinder the Federal advance. The lopsided numbers allowed the Federals to advance relatively well and by the beginning of April, forward scouts of the Army of the Potomac could see the spires of Richmond. Bolstered by a few thousand local militia volunteers, Lee decided during the rainy April season it would be best to attack and drive back the Federals from the gates of Richmond. During the Nine Days, Lee did just this and in a series of attacks, counter-attacks and maneuvers, the Army of Northern Virginia did the unthinkable and drove back the Army of the Potomac from the gates of Richmond, almost halfway down the Peninsula. This defeat was seen by the nation as a major setback but General McClellan managed to hold onto his control, arguing that the enemy was extremely weakened and blamed his defeat and subsequent retreat on his subordinates.
The victorious Lee, meanwhile, was hailed throughout the Confederacy for his victories. Under pressure from President Davis, Lee drew up plans to invade the north and win a victory on enemy soil, thus gaining international recognition. This plan was off set by a minor excursion the Army of the Potomac made at trying to take Fredericksburg, which again ended in bloody defeat. Although McClellan was not present, he took the blame for it and was given one more chance to win a battle against Lee. Hence, in August when Lee invaded Maryland, McClellan was in a desperate personal position. At the Battle of Frederick, the Army of the Potomac scored a victory against the Southern invaders. Lee was forced to retreat back into Virginia and a stalemate ensued all the way until February of 1864. However, McClellan finally was relieved after command after not following up with his attack, allowing Lee to retreat to Virginia. He was replaced by William “Hard-Hitter” Hardy, a man of promise who had won recognition at the Battle of Frederick.
February of 1864 saw the Thirty Days Campaign in which the much built up Federal army, numbering 130,000, launches its largest offensive in almost a year, aimed at destroying Lee’s army with sheer numbers. With Lee dug into formidable defenses, this task seemed impossible at first. Hardy “hit hard” at Lee starting on March 2nd, although always Lee’s army held against the invader. Yet Hardy would simply move to the left and plow on towards Richmond. With this, Hardy got within five miles of Richmond but in the bloody Battle of Yellow Tavern, the Federal army was dealt a final and miraculous defeat. Thus Hardy was forced to retreat to where he started from but soon was forced to retreat even further thanks to an even larger threat.
War in the West, 1864
As General Lee set out from Virginia to score a victory on Northern soil, General Bragg set out from Tennessee in the spring in the double-pronged Confederate offensive of 1864. His goal was far different from Lee’s. His purpose was to actually gain land for the Confederacy by attacking and occupying Kentucky. However, in doing so Bragg was forced to deal with Pope who also was setting out to whip Bragg come spring. In distracting Pope, Bragg utilized thousands of Confederate cavalrymen and their mounts to go on special raids aimed at disrupting Pope’s rear and supply lines as well as rounding up popular support in Northern Tennessee and Kentucky for the coming invasion. Pope was indeed in a tough spot come spring. With three defeats in his pocket and an enemy known for his wiliness, Pope called off the offensive in order to wait for the coming battle with Bragg. But that battle never came. Bragg managed to bypass Pope on a complicated flanking maneuver and even held Pope in his spot for a full three days as the Army of Tennessee marched around Pope’s flank because of clever reconnaissance ploys.
With slippery Bragg on the loose, Pope was forced to pursue the Confederate all the way up into Kentucky. Without actually fighting any large-scale battles, many Confederate horsemen managed to occupy key Kentucky cities such as Lexington and Frankfurt. By mid-June, Bragg was firmly situated in Kentucky itself and with news of the great Yankee defeats in the east reaching Pope’s ears, Federal morale plummeted. In July, Bragg organized the election of a Confederate governor of Kentucky, Richard Hawes.
The rest of the summer saw Pope’s timidity at its finest. He was never able to seek Bragg out and destroy him while numerous Confederate raiders made short work of smaller Union commands. The truce in September extended all along the Kentucky front although Kentucky would become important during the Treaty of Dublin.
War in the East, 1864
That larger threat to General Hardy was Lee’s Second Invasion. Reinforced to 78,000 men, Lee bypassed Hardy’s shattered army and sent Jackson’s corps up the Shenandoah Valley to invade Pennsylvania. Hardy, meanwhile, was forced to retreat out of Virginia completely to defend Washington. In Pennsylvania, the Army of Northern Virginia scored some small scale victories against small scale resistance and the close proximity of the Confederate cavalry kept that army on alert for Hardy’s large force coming up from Virginia to meet them. On May 25th, Harrisburg came under fire by Jackson’s guns and a day later was occupied by parts of Jackson’s corps who halted there. Cavalry elements rode across Pennsylvania and even raided Philadelphia on May 29th. Meanwhile, it became clear that Hardy’s army was coming up quickly and Lee called all three corps to mass at York to counter the Federals. The Battle of York raged from June 9th-11th and pitted 130,000 Federals against 75,000 Confederates. The result was a clear Confederate victory and the Union army was forced to withdraw from the field where it fled back to Washington and the relative safety of the large forts there. On June 20th, a preliminary assault against Washington failed and Lee decided it best to not try and assault the heavily armed city, rather, to move on Baltimore. That city fell easily but by July 10th, Lee was forced to withdraw from Maryland due to supply difficulties but he withdrew intact. He returned to Virginia victorious.
The South had much to celebrate for the summer of 1864. For one, they had scored a major victory on Northern soil, captured a Federal capital (albeit briefly) and occupied a major northern city for two weeks. But most of all, they had scored a diplomatic victory. When news of the Battle of York reached London, the British Foreign Ministry took the bold step of sending an official emissary to Richmond. Already no friend to the United States, the British hinted to Sumner that hostilities should end as quickly as possible. This subtle recognition of the Confederate States of America was a huge blow to President Sumner, already facing an uphill battle for the Presidency in a few months.
In late July, Hardy was unceremoniously stripped of his command and it passed to John J. Skinner, a bull-headed regular army officer whose career thus far in the war had been lackluster at best. When he moved south into Virginia again, the victory-minded Lee sent one Jackson’s corps, just as he did a few months ago, up the Shenandoah to threaten Washington. Like the Second Invasion, the appearance of a Southern army outside of Washington panicked the people there. Although Jackson was forced to withdraw after a series of small scale raids into Washington in mid August, it was clear that the Union had lost the war. Skinner had not only failed to make headway, he failed to dislodge the Army of Northern Virginia from their defenses.
On September 1st, 1864 the Confederacy offered the North a truce which was reluctantly accepted. The firing across the country came to a halt for the first time in over two years. By October it became a cease-fire. President Sumner, meanwhile, was so unpopular amongst his countrymen that he was not even nominated to run for a second term. His party, still hoping it can win by distancing itself away from the incumbent, nominates another person, while the Democrats ran the popular, albeit militarily-defunct, George McClellan who clearly won in November. Sumner became merely a sitting duck and asked President Davis for a permanent cease-fire.
The Civil War was over. To those in the South, the end of the war marked the end of their War for Independence. For Northerners, it marked the end of a united United States. A new age in North American politics had begun.
Treaty of Dublin
The official end of hostilities came on January 15th, 1865 at the Treaty of Dublin. Following Britain’s recognition, other countries expressed interest in establishing relations with the new American nation but Napoleon’s Europe was still neutral in expressing support for Confederate independence. It took many Continental countries until the initial cease-fire to acknowledge the Confederate envoys. Nevertheless, by 1865, the Confederate States of America was welcomed as the newest member in the family of nations.
The Treaty of Dublin was negotiated among Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin and American Seward. It contained the following terms:
- The recognition by the United States of the legitimate sovereignty of the Confederate States
- The total independence of the Confederate States regarding its domestic and foreign policy
- The establishment of a clear border between the Confederate and United States (the Indian Nation was included tentatively as a territory of the USA)
- The legitimate transfer of West Virginia into the United States and Kentucky into the Confederate States
- The complete independence of the armed forces of the Confederate States
- The fair exchange of prisoners-of-war of both sides and all property owned by the United States on Confederate territory to be returned.
- The independence of Indian Territory from Confederate Arms
- Both parties vow to settle on the question of the Indian Territory within two years.
This is the most recent map I've made. I like it
PART III: THE AMERICAS – 1865-1900
Chapter 6: Post-War United States
The Treaty of Dublin effectively split the North American continent from almost complete American control. The vast swaths of land to the Far West were still relatively unsettled at the end of the Civil War although among the few thousand settlers there, talk of secession raged in many local meeting halls. The creation of a “Western United States” was actively discussed but the ideas were shot down by 1866 with the arrival of many Federal soldiers from the east, intent on keeping order from the Spanish, Indians and Western rabble-rousers.
The Indian Territory, courted by the Confederates during the war but in name controlled by the United States was the subject of intense bargaining between the Davis and McClellan administrations. Still very much a collection of dozens of Indian tribes from across the United States and Confederate States, the only unifying force in the land was the American territorial government. As the Treaty of Dublin stated, the Indian Nation question was to be solved by 1867 and both nations quickly set out to do so. After months of ideas (including the abolition of that territory, splitting that territory, a plebiscite, remaining the United States, going to the Confederate States) the idea of independence from either country was settled on. The Treaty of Shreveport, as that was the town it was signed in, was signed on December 15th, 1866 and it granted a total independence to the newly created Federated Tribes of North America, or popularly known as Indian Nation.
The top chiefs among the largest tribes in the Indian Territory were consulted in the formation of the Treaty of Shreveport so it was not merely a white creation to rid them of the Indian problem. One clause of the treaty, put it by the Americans, stated that neither nation shall dominate that nation politically, militarily and economically. Thus, due to the intense rivalry between the United States and Confederate States, the Native Americans were granted total independence in their corner of the continent.
The system of government employed by the Federated Tribes of North America was a unique system but justifiable due to the unusual situation the Indians found themselves in. Each tribe would get representation in a House of Representatives which would have veto power over the Council of Chiefs. However, that veto would only come in the form of a three-fourths vote or more. The Council of Chiefs would be selected from the largest twenty tribes in the nation, and among those twenty one would be chosen as the Head Chief, who would rule until death. Elections for representatives were uniform across the whole country but the chief selection process was unique to each individual tribes. It was important to the Indians that each tribe remain intact and that not all Indians be meshed together so much more power was put into the lower forms of government while the national government remained relatively weak, although ultimate power was with the Council of Chiefs.
George McClellan had campaigned on an anti-war platform in the election of 1864 and due to the fierce unpopularity and string of Federal defeats managed to win a considerable victory. However, the McClellan Administration was not one to yield completely to Confederate demands. The idea of grabbing as much as possible while the Americans were weak was strong among Southerners. McClellan successfully stood up against this pressure following the American defeat. “I sincerely regret the circumstances that have forced so many of our countrymen to die in vain. Yet their deaths occurred for Union. We cannot have union with division”, he stated in his inaugural address in March, 1865. He called on the remaining states to move forward together and leave past conflicts behind. “Now that the American nation has been rid of its divisive elements, we emerge a stronger nation, the greatest in this hemisphere, united and inseparable, indivisible, one and forever.” During his first months as president, McClellan was cordial enough to the Confederate emissaries and whatever his personal convictions were, he did not acquiesce to them as he kept the public’s bitter anti-Confederate sentiment in the forefront of his policies. However he realized the potential for future conflicts, possibly bloodier, and his foreign policy was focused on limiting those or perhaps even working to forestall them completely.
The Democrat-dominated executive and legislative branches of government worked closely with the Confederates until the election of 1868 in which McClellan was forced to battle the opposition in Congress. Until 1868, however, much legislation concerning foreign policy was passed. First and foremost was the Treaty of Dublin which officially ended the bloody Civil War and established Southern independence. Following this was Crawford’s Bill #1, named after its sponsor, New York Congressman Peter Crawford. It severely limited the number of American soldiers on the Virginia and Kentucky borders. At first unpopular, it became a success a few months later with the passing of a Confederate equivalent, the Peaceful Borders Act. Crawford’s Bill #2 suggested, but never put into action, collaboration between the Confederate and American navies to stop smugglers and pirates. Although less successful than the first bill, it was still a shining example of collaboration and cooperation between the two former enemies. The Treaty of Shreveport in 1867 also worked on the collaboration between the two nations, jointly establishing the Indian Nation as a sovereign entity. Undoubtedly the least popular of the stream of post-war legislation was the Second Fugitive Slave Act of 1867 which not only reinforced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 but promised to work harder to crackdown on slaves escaping to the United States. It hardly passed and when it did, the bill caused a storm of sensation in the abolitionist north and there were calls for McClellan to resign.
The unpopularity of the Second Fugitive Slave Act was almost completely offset by the ratification by both nations of the Benjamin-Seward Treaty, named after the Confederate and American secretaries of state respectively. It essentially established a non-aggression pact between the United States and the Confederacy. Neither nation “shall use force for an irrational reason under any circumstances…Peace on this Continent is of a greater priority than enforcing any violent situations.” It also stated that neither nation will ally with another nation against the other. The treaty, signed in the last days of the Davis administration, was an optimistic boom to the euphoric Confederacy which was experiencing an economic explosion as the cotton market took off. It was also extremely popular among many Americans, who increasingly viewed reconciliation over provocation as the instrument of their country’s foreign policy.
Formation of the Republican Party and Overview
One group that did not take kindly to the Benjamin-Seward Treaty nor the idea of reconciliation was the Grand Army of the Republic, a large veteran organization formed shortly after the war with the basic goals of providing basic needs for veterans and recognizing the efforts of Federal veterans during the war. It became increasingly popular and as a result had a membership of over 100,000 in 1868 to over 400,000 in 1890. Many members of the Grand Army of the Republic also became founding members of the Republican Party, which was officially formed in 1866 by many ex-Liberty Party members as well as abolitionist and extreme Democrats. The Republican Party favored a harder line against the Confederate States, an overall tougher foreign policy and American involvement in international affairs. Although two opposites of the political spectrum – abolitionists and bitter veterans – found themselves in the same party, there were many disagreements among them. Nevertheless, the Republican Party became an umbrella conservative party, generally anti-Confederate, pro-national government and after its formation led to the United States becoming, once again, a two party system. The Democrats remained strong after the War, controlling the legislative and executive branches for most of the remainder of the nineteenth century. In 1872, George McClellan was easily replaced by Horatio Seymour who was in turn replaced by Democrat William P. Gibson in 1880. Democrats during this era advocated a classical liberal ideology of laissez-faire, fighting for business, banks, and for railroad expansion. They were the conservative party, being more popular among western states than the progressive northeast. The Republicans only held one term in the White House, that of John Sherman, who beat incumbent Gibson after an administration riddled with corruption and scandals. However, Sherman’s policies and the Republican Party were not popular enough to see a re-election and the Democrats took over the White House again in 1888 with the election of Benjamin Hope who was reelected in 1892. In 1896, the Democrats split into the traditional Democratic fold and the Progressive Democrats who ran a third candidate. In an extremely close candidate, the traditional Democrat, Alexander Mills won with barely a majority of the votes.
Chapter 7: Post-War Confederate States
Act of Manumission and Overview
In the Confederate States, the hard-working Jefferson Davis finally ended his term in 1868 after guiding his country through a bloody and oftentimes difficult war of independence. The election of 1868, roughly coinciding with the American presidential, as not too bitterly contested as the entire nation almost unanimously nominated war hero Robert E. Lee as the next Confederate president. He was elected easily, carrying all states in a landslide, and he took office in November of 1868. The Lee Administration was characterized by a compromising, moderate and non-partisan approach to governing. As President, Lee governed by the laws of the Confederate Constitution and did little to overextend the power of the executive branch or the central government. He appointed the first five justices of the Confederate Supreme Court, all of whom were political moderates like him. Previously the Supreme Court did not exist in the Confederate States and its creation was met with chagrin by extreme state-rightists who saw it as encroachment by the federal government. The Lee Administration rarely touched on the subject of slavery, leaving it up to the states, but strictly outlawing the international slave trade. In the last two years of his administration, Lee was often sick and unable to govern, leading to a Constitutional Amendment that stated in the event that the president is unable to govern, executive power will go to the vice president.
The election of 1874 was the first Confederate election to feature two candidates: James Longstreet of Georgia against Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard of Louisiana. Longstreet narrowly won the election but the contest provided a precedent for multiple candidates to run. Unlike the compromising Lee, Longstreet was far more partisan, favoring a stronger national government than the one in place. At first he was tolerated by many because he was a war hero but as his administration continued, many Southerners became dissatisfied with his frequent attacks on governors and the institution of slavery. The latter, though, merely caused dissatisfaction because of the way in which Longstreet advocated limiting it through the national government. The Sixth Confederate Congress (elected in 1877) contained many supporters of Longstreet who by this time had formed those following his ideas of a stronger national government, active foreign policy, internal improvements and economic diversity into the National Party. The remaining members were not organized into any other party and were merely “opposition”. This Congress was very much in favor in limiting the expansion of slavery, preferring to keep it limited to where it was. As such, the entrance of Sumter into the Confederate States in 1878 saw it enter as a state in which slavery was strictly outlawed. For many Southerners, this was an abomination but Nationalists were quick to point out that the citizens had chosen it that way. The institution of popular sovereignty was still popular among Southerners and they eventually accepted Sumter as a free state.
That year also saw a tough depression hit the United States, the Confederacy as well as most of the West. Its causes were rooted in the high rate of industrialization, an overall lack of gold on the current markets and instabilities in Spanish colonies. The latter had a tremendous effect on the economies of Europe, particularly Britain and France. High tariffs were enforced on the French-dominated Continental System and Britain responded in kind. The British by this time had colonized India to a large degree and the French were strong in Egypt. In those particular areas, cotton was an increasing crop, supported by European business entrepreneurs who were motivated by wealth and not working with a slave-holding nation. When the depression hit, the Europeans were effectively non-dependent upon the Confederacy for its cotton. The depression particularly hurt the agricultural nation which depended heavily on cotton exports for economic independence. However in the late 1870s, with a depression raging and Europeans losing interest the Confederacy declined even more into depression.
It was in that climate that ushered in Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson into the Presidency, the third war hero to take the reigns of Confederate government. In the election of 1880, Beauregard was again defeated at the hands of a National Party candidate. Jackson’s administration was initially overwhelmed with economic problems. Inflation increased, unemployment among urban whites ran high and there was mass discontent. Especially disconcerting was the lesser degree the depression was having in the United States. As such, Jackson began to seriously consider manumission as an economic solution to the depression. Although personally not an advocate of slavery, he understood that the nation would be better off without such an institution, both economically and on the international stage. He strongly believed that economically, slavery was hurting the Confederacy because it prevented further economic development such as industrialization as well as potentially causing a class divide among the white populace between slave-owners and non-owners.
On April 10th 1882, Jackson signed into law the Act of Manumission which stated that those born into servitude after December 31st, 1883 would be born as free. Existing slaves would be freed “at the leisure of their respective owners” no later than December 1st 1891. Slavery would be outlawed in the Confederate States by 1892. The act mentioned nothing of legal rights for blacks and only implied that they would become free people. The reaction was varied throughout the world. Many Southerners viewed as unnecessary despite the depression and many of the elite planter class were enraged. Poorer whites were generally apathetic of the move because they did not own slaves nor were their social position threatened by the free blacks who would still be without rights. Europe applauded the act and the United States hailed it as “a fair act for our Southern brothers”. Not all were pleased, however, and President Jackson was shot by a pro-slavery extremist later that year, forcing Jackson to have his left arm amputated. Most Confederate states viewed the Act of Manumission as necessary anyway and did not fight the legislation very hard. They acquiesced to the national government in this matter. Not coincidentally, the liberation of Latin America from Spanish rule helped to alleviate the depression and by 1884, the depression was effectively over.
In 1886, former cavalryman, ex-governor of South Carolina and popular opposition senator Wade Hampton was elected, defeating the National Party candidate. He ran under the banner of the Whig Party, which was rejuvenated by Southerners favoring more states rights than what Nationalist presidents had given them so far. He was the fourth war hero to take the reigns of the Confederate presidency. Wade Hampton favored a weak central government but that did not stop him from shoving some bills onto the states which made many of his opponents call him a hypocrite. His successor was Nationalist Thomas Norwood who was later replaced in the 1898 election by Whig Henry Barksdale.
Chapter 8: Canada and Latin America
Since the Canadian War of 1812, the British had a relatively strong presence in Canada, not to the chagrin of the populace. Despite American annexations into New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and a large French speaking population in Quebec, Britain maintained hegemony over Canada. In the 1870s, Parliament passed certain resolutions that would establish Canada as an independent kingdom. These resolutions came after armed insurrections against the British flared up in Ontario and Quebec sporadically in the 1850s to the early 1870s. These insurrections were not large-scale and were eventually put down. However they began the talks of Canadian independence. These talks culminated in the British North America Act, passed in 1876 and resulted in the “independent and self-governing King of Canada” whose head of state remained the British monarch.
Latin American independence
Latin America was affected tremendously by the Spanish Revolution of 1880. The violent turmoil that raged in Spain from 1878 to 1880 ultimately ended in total and complete independence for all Spanish possessions in the New World outside of Cuba. The vast tracts of land that had existed under the Spanish flag for over three hundred years finally became independent nations in their own right. By 1882 all Spanish soldiers had left the major land masses and Latin America was free.
The first nation to officially gain its independence was the Republic of Mexico on December 17th, 1881. By the Treaty of Veracruz, signed in that city, Mexico was forever set free from Spanish fetters. The new nation shared its northern border with the United States, officially establishing the sometimes questionable border in the 1883 Monterrey Treaty. Its southern border was established as the Usumacinta River. The Mexican Constitution was modeled slightly off the American and Confederate models but with a stronger representative body. It called for a weak executive head and for equal representation among all groups, stressing civil rights for the indigenous people. This system of government would prove too hard to work with in the impoverished nation and in 1895, a military coup with General Hector Guerrero at its head, overthrew the republican form of government, and established a military dictatorship with Guerrero at its head. Styling himself as some sort of Napoleon I, the general crowned himself Emperor Hector in 1897.
The next nation to officially gain independence from Spain was the Republic of Central America on January 4th, 1882. It comprised of all land between the Usumacinta River and the South American continent. Its government was based heavily off the United States in its federal form, with power being shared between a central government – based in San Salvador – and provincial level governments based in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. In its first years, the fledging republic struggled with corruption and local interests interfering with national stability as well as militant indigenous groups whose goals included secession and separation. In 1887, Pedro de Villanueva was elected President and remained in office until 1910, fighting corruption and firmly establishing stability and prosperity in Central America.
In South American, republics were established in Argentina, Grán Colombia, and Peru on January 28th, January 29th and February 10th respectively. These three new South American nations were only among four on the South American continent, which until this time had been dominated by the Empire of Brazil. Argentina was limited to the southern portion of the continents, Colombia in the north and Peru to the west. Soon after independence, Argentina and Peru were plagued with internal problems, mainly separatist Indian groups. Only one group, the Guarani, succeeded in their bid for independence after a bloody war in 1885-6. Brazil originally supported the natives, fearing a powerful southern neighbor, and Brazilian weapons and funding allowed the nation of Paraguay to be formed in 1887. The new South American nations were all blessed with relatively stable leaders in the late nineteenth century, with transitions between leaders going oftentimes smoothly and without controversy.
PART IV: EUROPE – 1860-1900
Chapter 9: Spanish Revolution
The forty years until the turn of the century was characterized by the passing of the old generation and the arrival of a new. The veterans and statesmen that had fought the great wars under Napoleon the Great had passed and their children were slowly passing. A new generation brought up in the postwar world had grown up and now took the reigns of control from the forefathers. This new generation was less suspicious toward change and looked forward, toward a new era. That was where they split in outlook. Some looked forward to a period of peace and cooperation. Others looked toward a world in which their own nation would dominate all others. Writers such as Joseph d’Laginy who wrote The French Nation and Henri Chambord and his Paris is the Center of the World helped inspire young Frenchmen toward a nationalist viewpoint. Probably one of the most notorious was Georges Boulounger who wrote Importance de Offence, a book that advocated such extreme nationalism that it bordered on the racist. Nevertheless the Empire supported such works because it enthused the populace toward a pro-French upbringing. Britain and Russia too had their own nationalist works published, probably in response to the French books. Howard Langston’s Britannia was not only a defense of imperialism but also a call to arms for a return to British influence on the continent. It was an instant bestseller and the conservative George V was quick to give Langston top honors. Alexander Kelevosky also inspired many literate Russian people, mainly of the upper and middle class, with his novels about war and the glories of it. Accordingly, most of them took place before the Napoleonic Wars, as Russia was not exactly a big winner in them. A series of events also led to the rise of nationalism in the European nations. For Britain, it was the expulsion of the French from the Isles as well as the rapid expansion of their empire that led to patriotism. In France, the victories abroad as well as the continued domination of the Continent helped inspire flag-waving fervor.
Spanish King Alfonso XII
Amidst all this nationalism, Spain experienced a serious decline as a world power. Ever since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it had never recovered from the expenditures accumulated from retaining a tight grip over their vast colonies in the Americas. Although they did succeed in retaining those vast amounts of lands, they did so at a tremendous cost. Thousands of Spaniards were recruited everywhere to serve on colonial duty. They would, as soon as they turned 18, be sent to a few weeks of training, armed with an old style rifle, board an old style schooner and make the long trip to the Western Hemisphere where they would serve with some garrison at a desolate colonial outpost amidst an increasingly hostile populace. Although the Spanish had become experts of sorts on guerrilla warfare because of their exploits in the late 1810s in the Americas, they had neither the manpower nor the funds to battle the escalating number of anti-Spanish rebels. In Central America an ex-priest by the name of Pablo Aranjuez fought against Spanish authorities there. Motivated by the burning of his church by the Spanish, he formed a guerrilla army in the 1860s of a few dozen misfits. By 1875 it had grown to over 3,000. In the Viceroyalty of New Grenada, two brothers, Francisco and Juan Solano, battled with a larger army against a larger Spanish force. And in the far south, Bartolome Mitre fought against the Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata in order to free the people down there from Spanish rule.
The 1870s, for Spain, was a time of troubles. The amount of money spent upon retaining the colonies drained the Spanish treasury which was already vacant because of the profitless Spanish economy. The pride of the royal family and the aristocracy allowed for nothing to be done. Only a few saw what was to come. The disparity between the rich and poor, already very pronounced, grew even larger during this time. Aristocratic boys would not have to serve in the army, or if they did, would get easy jobs as officers in relatively safe cities like Mexico City and Buenos Aires. The deteriorating condition was not seen by Alfonso XII who lived in somewhat of a dream world of Spanish glory. He was convinced that if Spain was to remain prestigious in international eyes, the colonies must be retained. In 1878 the first of many protests erupted in Madrid. Eventually it sputtered out because the royal authorities were so unresponsive, but precedence had been set. The following September, a much larger protest marched down the streets of Madrid. It numbered near 20,000 and included people from all walks of life: peasants to bishops. In response, Alfonso XII ordered that “no demonstrations of more than four people may be permitted within the city limits of the capital.” The people were extremely angry but cooler heads prevailed. The protestors moved to the outskirts of the city where they set up themselves in much the same manner a siege would be set up. Later in the month, the king agreed to their demands as long as they went home. The demonstrators did but less than a week later Alfonso reneged on his word. The people were utterly livid and all over Spain there were riots. Obviously the situation in Spain was spiraling downhill quickly.
On March 6th 1880, Napoleon II passed away in Paris after an illustrious reign that spanned over half a century of rule. He had expanded France all over the world and had created a great empire. At the same time he instituted reforms when they were needed and helped usher in the Industrial Revolution into France. His passing was met with sorrowful mourning throughout France and his son, the forty-seven year old Prince Imperial, was crowned Emperor Napoleon III in a glorious ceremony on March 14th . However the first months of his reign would immediately test him on both foreign and domestic policy.
In Spain, the situation had gotten worse. The annihilation of an entire garrison in Peru had been the last straw for many. Although the government had tried to censor the news, it had gotten out anyway through underground newspapers and on April 17th 1880, the people of Spain revolted against King Alfonso XII. The revolts were not just limited to Madrid, this time they spread all across the nation in a surprisingly organized effort. Since the September Protests had disbanded, elements from across the country organized themselves for another, larger protest. Thus when one group protested, the rest followed. Even traditionally conservative elements of society such as the clergy and even a few aristocrats urged the rebels on, tired too of the corrupt government. Alfonso XII was reported to have been exceedingly surprised and that he dismissed the revolts initially as another “silly little parade of radicals.” When he ordered the military and police to put down the restive crowds, many soldiers and policemen in fact joined the protesters. On April 20th the royal palace in Madrid itself was attacked and Alfonso barely got out with his life. The demonstrators in Madrid declared a Republic of Spain.
At this point, Napoleon III, barely on the throne, could not hope to see his close ally to the south become turned to a radical form of government. Realizing that sending French troops would actually hurt his monarchist cause, he instead urged Alfonso XII to abdicate at once in favor of a distant nephew, a much more liberal man. On April 24th, Alfonso abdicated the Spanish throne in favor of his nephew who became Alfonso XIII. Immediately the new king set out from his country home toward Madrid but en route was set upon by rebels. He wittily tricked his way out of near death but the experience sent a shock of reality into him. April 26th saw the issuing of Declaration of the Rights of Spain by Charles V. This declaration called for an immediate stop to insurrections against Spain, the formation of a legitimate constitutional monarchy, ministerial responsibility to go to the Spanish representative body, the Cortes, the creation of universal male suffrage, the right to tax all classes of society, and a plan to withdraw from the colonies as soon as possible. The Declaration of the Rights of Spain appealed to many groups except those Madrid demonstrators that had set up a Republic. Throughout the rest of April and May, supporters of Alfonso XIII battled against the Republicans in Madrid. It was largely contained to Madrid because as many elsewhere heard about the Declaration, they declared victory and went home. Nevertheless the time from April to July of 1880 became known as the Spanish Civil War.
Spanish King Alfonso XIII
The first elections were held in July and showed a split between conservative, moderate and liberal elements. However all elements could agree on a withdrawal from their colonies but the debate was on when. Some argued that in order to do so, a definite plan and dates must be set so that the suddenly independent colonies would not be left without a “parent”. Finally, in December it was agreed that withdrawal would begin the next month and official independence would be granted in January of 1882. The vast colonial holdings in the New World would be split up as follows: from the Isthmus of Panama to the Usumacinta River in Central America would become the Republic of Central America. From there on up to the United States would become the Republic of Mexico. In South America, the southern portion of the empire would become the Republic of Argentina. The Empire of Brazil also offered to pay millions of dollars for former Spanish land, an offer Spain could not refuse. The ex-Viceroyalty of New Grenada became the Republic of Grán Colombia while the rest would become the Republic of Peru. The last Spanish Viceroys saluted the Spanish flag in January of 1882 and by the end of the month, the remaining Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere were merely the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. Latin America was free.
Meanwhile, the idea of freedom and the liberal government that had been desperately put into play in Spain had appealed to many. In many countries, there were numerous demonstrations and even a few bouts of violence. The short-lived Republic of Spain had inspired many that perhaps that was an ideal form of government. Some radicals harkened back to the short-lived French Republic but dreams of utopia were almost always shattered with the chaotic days of the Reign of Terror. Indeed, their lives were not particularly hard under the Bonaparte emperors. The economic and social reforms under Napoleon II had created a society in which class struggle was not a very realistic war cry. The meritocracy first inaugurated by Napoleon I continued to inspire new generations to work hard because the way to the top of society was not limited. If there were any problems in Europe, they would not occur in France. There were few demonstrations in France based on corruption and a discontent of the government following the Spanish Revolution. But there were a few in other countries.
In Naples, for example, the secure conservative monarchy there was threatened in 1882 when inspired marchers to the Neapolitan streets to demand civil liberties and the creation of a representative body with power. The old king Charles I gave into the demands of the marchers, wisely seeing into the future and his descendents upheld the reforms. More demonstrations occurred throughout Eastern Europe as well, except in autocratic Russia where things of that nature were strictly prohibited. Liberals everywhere managed to eek out some reforms from the governments on the Continent.
But the Spanish Revolution also had consequences that would bring about nastier results. One of these was nationalism. As mentioned, nationalism among the larger powers was very strong during this period. But for displaced peoples such as the Germans who were split amongst many smaller states and among three larger ones – Prussia, Austria and Westphalia (a growing German power that outclassed other petty kingdoms like Bavaria and Württemberg) – and minorities in the Austrian Empire, the nationalism displayed by the Great Powers was merely a taunt to them. In the 1860s and 1870s, there was a distinct rise in nationalism in Germany and among the Slavs in southeastern Europe. This was not so in Italy, a sectionalist peninsula who had been so divided for so long that thoughts of nationalism were dismissed by the majority of the populace who were content under French autonomy in the Kingdom of Italy or the Kingdom of Naples. Nevertheless, German and Slavic nationalism would play a large role in years to come.
Second Polish-Prussian War
Prussia was greatly misled by their diplomatic defeat in the first war with Poland, although their armies had performed well even succeeding in killing the current Polish monarch, Joseph II. In 1882, William I of Prussia authorized another attack upon the Poles, noting the recent European turmoil as a good excuse for the invasion. Prussian authorities figured the invasion could be justified as merely an “exercise” to quell republican elements in Poland. It was a thin disguise and hardly any statesmen saw through it. The Poles in the 1880s had strengthened their military and were under the leadership of a capable king, Paul I, who had served in the French army as an honorary officer overseas. Prussia attacked in April, 1882 and were immediately denounced by the French and their close allies, though Moscow and London remained oddly silent about the issue. On the field, the Prussian armies performed well despite the heavily militarized nature of Poland. Yet for all the preparedness for the war by Prussia, they were unable to maneuver their way into a total victory. By June, Napoleon III had enough of Prussia marching all over western Poland and made that clear by moving a French army corps to the Prussian border. By the end of June, the war was effectively over and the combatants went back to status quo antebellum. Less spectacular than its predecessor, the Second Prussian-Polish War did nothing to help alleviate Eastern European feelings nor did it help Prussian relations with many of its neighbors. A military draw, it was nevertheless a diplomatic defeat for Prussia.
Chapter 10: Rise of Nationalism
In 1882, Germany was split among many states loosely bound into the Germanic Confederation, a confederation that actually carried little to no power. After the Spanish gave independence to their colonies in the Americas, many Germans wondered why they could not get a unified homeland of their own. In Erich Brautisch’s Germany Awake! he posed the question “if a group of ragtag rebels and savage natives can achieve freedom for themselves, I am not alone in asking why the mightiest of all peoples, the Germanics, cannot do the same for themselves?” His question was answered by many and with the publication of his book a fire had been lit under the weak fire of German nationalism.
In 1885 a delegation of voluntary representatives from all over Germany met in Frankfurt to form a national German government. It was a disaster. The Frankfurt Convention (or as cartoonists liked to say, the Frankfurt Cantvention) was plagued by disagreement and petty squabbles from the hundreds of delegates present. There was no proportion of delegates according to the size and status of a state; there were more delegates from Hesse than from Prussia. Westphalia dominated the Convention, saying that unification was out of the question because the great powers would never allow. They were right to some degree. In France, Napoleon III frowned upon the Frankfurt Convention, realizing that the sudden appearance of a German nation would disrupt the French dominated balance of power on the continent. In a telegram, he warned Joseph I of Westphalia, a relative of his, which “any more charades like this may lead to terrible trouble.” Joseph was somewhat angered by this and he was openly annoyed at the interference of Napoleon. It did not take long for Napoleon to remind Joseph that if it were not for the French, and specifically his own great-uncle, he would not be in the position he was. Peeved, Joseph relented to Napoleon.
Nevertheless, in 1886 a Second Frankfurt Convention was called on without the consent of Joseph. It was declared illegal by the Westphalian king under pressure from his French cousin and the Convention moved promptly to Saxony where it enjoyed a successful meeting. They argued over a number of topics. Firstly, they argued that if Germany were to be a united state, who would be the dominant power, if any? Prussia, Austria and Westphalia were all strong powers in Germany that seemed likely candidates. The conclusion they came to was that no power would dominate. The Convention also argued over the issue of unification itself. Military or diplomatic? They came to the conclusion that diplomatic was the best because they had no army. When one delegate asked “how?” there was no reply. Apparently their ideas still needed to be ironed out.
The Spanish Revolution of 1880 did not have a major effect on the German states as the majority of them enjoyed reformed systems of government, a degree of civil liberties and a minimal extent of class struggle. The industrial reforms of Napoleon II had spread to French dominated parts of Germany while Austria hardly needed them because of their lack of industry. Meanwhile Prussia under the old William I was the center of a battle between liberal and conservative forces. The former pressed for changes quickly, the latter did not want changes at all. Prussia was not much of an industrialized nation but the Junker class still enjoyed a large control over the peasant class. In Prussia and Russia of all places in Europe, a class difference was large pronounced. This boiled over in 1882 with the unsuccessful Polish War of that year when a wave of revolutionary fervor swept over Prussia. The innate Prussian conservatism and militarism led to that wave being short-lived and relatively limited. However, William was not willing to risk another uprising on a larger scale and granted larger measures of reforms and liberties to Prussians. Still, it ranked as a conservative state and the rise in German nationalism later in the decade prompted an escalation of Prussian leaders looking toward Prussia as a natural German leader.
But these Prussian leaders would be in conflict with others who looked toward a unification of Germany as well. The Third Frankfurt Convention met in 1892 to try and set up a national German government again. Also, in 1891 Joseph I of Westphalia died and was succeeded by his son Jerome, who became Jerome II. Jerome II was an ambitious young man, one who looked at Westphalia as a place where much improvement and glory could originate. He was of the young generation (he was twenty one at his coronation) of nationalist idealists and as a reigning monarch, he aimed to put his generations ideals into place. He immediately set out to expand the power of Westphalia, actually incorporating smaller principalities into Westphalia through agreement, never through military ventures. He contributed to the making of an actual Westphalian identity. Indeed the dying out of the generation of people who were around when Westphalia was not the independent nation it currently was contributed to the gain of actual Westphalian nationalism. By 1900, Westphalia was probably the premier German power, out shadowing Prussia, Austria and other German states due to its successful industrialization and independent leaders who were not tied down by tradition. Jerome II himself said, “we are not following tradition, we are making it” after a controversial decision, a statement that summed up what many Westphalians felt about their growing state.
As Germany experienced an expansion of nationalism, the Balkan Peninsula did as well. A number of factors contributed to this. Firstly, the area has been dominated by the Ottoman Empire for many hundreds of years. Their constant occupation of the area included no shortage of brutalities and insulting acts were the cause of some extent of misery in the Balkans. The subject Slavs were by no means treated on first class terms by the Ottomans. It was still large a medieval world, with little to no industrialization, few railroads, a large influence by various churches and mosques, a majority of people still tied to the land and an oppression of certain minorities. After the Napoleonic Wars, the ideas of the revolution were slow to reach the Balkans. The ruling Ottomans had done their best to contain any sort of nationalism in the Balkans, a task they got more difficult by the year. Leaders of a Montenegrin independence group, for example, had been publicly beheaded in 1847; an event the Ottomans hoped would quell any ideas of rebellion. On the contrary, it inspired many Balkan citizens to act and the latter half of the nineteenth century saw hundreds of acts against the Ottomans from sabotage to assassination. Many Balkan citizens traveled abroad, journeying to Britain and France and getting a taste of what freedom should be like for the first time in their lives.
Russia, a Slavic nation, was sympathetic toward the subjugated peoples in the Balkans and sent them aide in the form of money, small weapons and hope every year. Possibly without Russian aide, the Balkan nationalist movement would have sputtered out but the French-backed Ottomans were not a weak force and managed to quell many small insurrections. Nevertheless, when Alexander II found out about the Franco-Ottoman alliance, he was shocked and angered at, what he perceived as, a geographic “disappointment to Russia”. The coveted straits now lay farther away, as Russia would have to fight both the Ottoman Empire and France to gain the land, something Alexander II was not willing to do. Without many (or any allies) he would not risk war. His successor Alexander III was of the same impression although Alexander III was more open in his support of the nationalism in the Balkans.
The Slavs in the Balkans were greatly inspired to act in 1888 when the Ottoman rulers ordered the properties of certain “enemies” to be confiscated. Coincidentally, these enemies were among the richest non-Ottomans in the area, not to mention Christians. It was another foolish move on the Ottoman part. For one, a Croat living in London, Draja Rijeka, published a book on the horrors of life under Ottoman rule. Later in the year, a series of photographs showing Ottoman soldiers taking reprisals against a village in retaliation for the assassination of a low level official horrified many in Europe. Even Napoleon III was disgusted at his Ottoman allies. But most disgusted was Alexander II who was in the last years of his life. These events plus what appeared to be unanimous foreign support led many Slavs in the Balkans to act and possibly declare independence. Seeing this move, the Ottomans granted a “complete overturn of any discriminatory acts” and that temporarily sated the Slavs thirst for independence. These so-called Appeasement Acts were unpopular in Constantinople.
Austria, contrary to many European nations, was in horror not of books, actions or photographs, but from the obvious progression of nationalism in the Balkans. Its own existence depended on the suppression of these particular minorities, otherwise the ancient Hapsburg empire would cease to exist. It was the only country to secretly support the Ottomans but in public pretended to be horrified. However, the rampant nationalism in the Balkans lead the leading minority in Austria, the Magyars, to demand a share of power. Although reluctant, the Emperor Franz Joseph I created a Dual Monarchy in 1890. He shared the crown of both an autonomous Hungary and imperial Austria. In doing this, he hoped to show Slavs everywhere that the Austrians were not greedy oppressors but instead this only prompted other minorities their own share of power. They were denied for the time.
The Appeasement Acts of the Turks were, unfortunately for the people of the Balkans, overturned in 1891 with the ascension of a new sultan that year. A conservative, the new sultan, Abd-ul-Mejid III, took an immediate strong hand against the Slavs. He ordered that anyone resisting the rule of the Ottomans would be thrown into jail or put to death. Of course, the stubborn subjugated minorities were quite angered by this and appealed to Alexander III for help. He was unwilling to do so publicly, but they got a stroke of luck when he died and his brother Michael II became Czar of Russia. Michael was the same sort of character as Abd-ul-Mejid III, conservative and strong in foreign policy. Michael announced his full support of the “brave fighters against the barbarians in the Balkans”, the first time a European leader had done so. Even Napoleon III was keen on agreeing as the new sultan’s policies were quite unpopular in Paris. This only created further tension and the continuous violence in the area did not help abate the Balkan situation.
Class tensions in industries
The widespread arrival of industry in the nineteenth century after its initial appearance in Britain and a few areas of the Continent gave way to a new type of tension in Europe: class tension. After the French victory in the Napoleonic Wars, industry spread across France and much of northwestern Europe. Later, the Iberian Peninsula and the northern portions of the Italian peninsula industrialized after France and Germany did so. Even later in the century, the idea of industrialization took strong hold in the east, mainly in Russia. However, Russia was politically and economically independent from a Napoleon in Paris, having strayed away from the stringent and unprofitable Continental System years ago. By 1890, industries were budding all over Russia and Austria, oftentimes managed and helped along by British entrepreneurs who, like their actions in the west in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, sensed profit and moved east.
Under Napoleon II, France was a leader in industrial and urban reform, spending millions upon millions of francs to create practical and functional public works. They also spearheaded worker equality laws that promoted shorter work hours for the average worker, banned child labor, limited the amount of women in areas of heavy labor and installed a system of meritocracy. The latter made promotion and success open to all, whether it is from the increasing middle class or the new aristocracy that emerged from the ashes of the old royal French nobility. These reforms spread to Britain as well as French-dominated Western Europe and touched lightly in Prussia and Austria. However in Russia, industrial reform was unheard of and meritocracy was unheard of. The Russians, rigidly conservative and very much stuck in old times, resisted industrial reform. The rapid industrialization of Russia in the late nineteenth century, especially in the last decade with the arms race occurring and the threat of war looming, resulted in vast urban overcrowding and terrible conditions for the millions of Russian peasants looking for jobs in cities. The Empire of Russia was thus subjected to this climate of intense inequality between the upper and lower classes when they bombastically entered the Great War in 1900. Indeed, the unfair climate towards the lower classes were such a remarkable contrast to those of Western Europe that many French classified Russia as an Asiatic nation rather than Europe. “It is shameful to consider that great lumbering beast of the east to be part of our enlightened and equal Continent. They are hordes, led by an uncompromising baboon who is out of touch with his starving subjects,” wrote Henri Chambord in Paris is the Center of the World in one of the more scathing attacks of Russian society.
Without a means of moving up in society nor the support of government officials, some Russians turned toward secret socialist groups that flourished underground. These political groups actually ranged in ideologies from anarchism to republicanism to socialism. The latter held most appeal to the displayed Russia intellectuals who were often persecuted by Czarist officials. One such political group was the Russian Social Labor Party which was formed in the 1870s by Alexander Fedorov, a native of Tsaritsyn and a lifelong worker in the burgeoning industry there. He rejected the anarchists and individualistic groups, preferring the total overthrow of the Russian Empire and replacing that with a classless, paradisiacal society in which everyone worked for each other and eventually all class distinctions would be erased. Although political parties were explicitly outlawed in Imperial Russia, Fedorov’s group attracted many members and by 1890 they were a powerful member of the Russian underground. When Fedorov died in 1895, he was unquestionably replaced as the leader of the Russian Social Labor Party by Konstantin Vlasov, a charismatic and popular member of the party and consequently a target for the Russian secret police. Other extremist groups found homes in European nations but they were mainly contained and countered by an atmosphere that did not foster class struggle or much class tension at all.
Thank you very mucxh for the map. It helps bring your TL to life. One question, how did P.E.I. remain in British hands when the US took Nova Scotia & New Brunswick? Shouldn't it have become the State of St. John at that time?
Chapter 11: Road to the Great War
Final Years of Peace
The final decade of the nineteenth century was filled with much of the same anxiety as the same time in the last century but without the violence. The steady growth of nationalism among the major nations was unnerving to everyone, especially neighboring nations. In compact Europe, neighbors were often enemies or rivals. An arms race started in the late 1870s and reached great heights in the 1890s. The American Civil War, the Polish-Prussian Wars and wars of imperialism were watched closely by military advisors of nearly every nation, even small South Lusitania.
As well as record numbers of rifles, cannon, ships and uniforms being manufactured in Europe, the 1890s also saw a booming economic period. This prosperity was due to the false sense of security that all the arms had created as well as an overall stability the world was feeling. Europe was also experiencing the benefits of their large colonial empires whose outputs reached record levels in the 1890s. Industrial benefits were also making their mark on Eastern Europe who had finally started to industrialize in the late nineteenth century. Russia’s rapid industrialization proved to be wholly successful and their great natural resources were put to use in the new factories springing up across that vast nation. Even in the Ottoman Empire, factories started to dot the landscape.
In Russia, a wave of intolerance swept the nation. Jews were targeted by a number of groups as the root of their problems: conservative aristocrats viewed the Jews as fueling the growing number of underground leftist groups, religious leaders called on their congregations to fight against the Jews who were allegedly plotting against the Czar, and the secret police was ordered to assassinate certain Jews after the mysterious death of an important Russian minister. Although the ties between Jews and many of these accusations were tenuous, in conservative and religious Russia this was ignored. Pogroms raged across portions of southern Russia from 1894-1896 when they finally burned out. The riots were in fact led by priests and surprisingly well-organized. In the years of turmoil, some 4,000 Jews were reported to have died at the hands of anti-Semitic mobs. These pogroms were heavily denounced by Napoleonic Europe who was highly tolerant of other religions. In fact, since the seizure of power by Napoleon I almost a century ago, there had been no religious strife in France. The freedom and liberties the Jews enjoyed in France were great and they were treated on the whole as equals. “It is my wish that the Jews be treated like brothers as if we were all part of Judaism” Napoleon I said and that doctrine still rang across France. Following the pogroms, many Jews in Russia migrated westward toward France, Germany and Poland where they were welcomed with tolerance. By 1900, the Jewish minority in Russia had shrunk to less than 8,000.
Ironically, the last decade of the nineteenth century was the most advanced the world had ever seen in regards to international conventions. Numerous meetings among leading American, European and Asian nations met to speak on various issues. Among them were the International Peace Coalitions which met in 1893, 1896 and again in 1899 to discuss the “obsolete method for problem-solving”. They proposed plans to reduce the massive build-up and a few radicals proposed an international governing body. The meetings drew little worldwide attention but their discussions would later become important in the aftermath of the Great War. A special Convention met in Geneva, forty years after its predecessor did such a thing in the same city, to make an international law regarding the treatment of sick, wounded and civilians during wartime. A convention in Brussels in 1898 established a set of rules regarding the relationship between neutral and belligerant nations, banned certain types of projecticles as well as chemical weapons. Other conventions and conferences among international educational, environmental, religious, entertainment and other groups met. The final decade of peace saw the world grow ever smaller as the telegraph, steam engine, electricity and soon the telephone decrease distances. The world’s largest cities started to be lit at night by thousands of light bulbs while telegraph lines crisscrossed oceans, jungles, mountains and just about every settlement of notable size in the world. On the open sea, ocean liners and freighters plowed the seas, transporting increasing numbers of items all over the world. Those liners continued to transports thousands of Europeans to New York and Charleston as many poor and unfortunate people in Europe sought a better life in the burgeoining North American powers. Fiercely competing the queens of the ocean, airships were becoming viable means of transportation. The nineteenth century had seen a particularly strong growth in this method of transporting and a regular London-Paris route was established in 1877. By 1900, these huge giants of the sky were criss-crossing continents but not yet the oceans. Yet, as technology increased for the good of the common people, it also increased the method of killing. New war machines were being invented periodically and airships were being built with the sole purpose of aerial bombardment. Although hopefuls hoped the international conventions would stop the world from plunging into another war, the political situation in the last years of the nineteenth century pointed increasingly toward a greater conflict.
Seven Causes of the Great War
The outbreak of the Great War was caused by a number of factors. They were vastly different but they would all eventually combine to proke a single war of hate and destruction.
Colonial and economic rivalries: The growth of colonial empires paved the way toward bitter feelings between Britain and France as each tried to outmaneuvered each other to gain a larger colonial empire. French and British control of the globe greatly enhanced both powers but Britain in the long run won the position as a premier colonial power while France continued to dominate on the continent. To some French patriots, this position was not at all acceptable. As they saw it, France was destined to rule the world; Europe was merely a stepping stone for the big prize. To ultra-nationalist Britons, the empire was too small. France was getting in the way of the big prizes and must be quashed. Their decades spent in “splendid isolation” had enhanced the British economy to a new level of prosperity. The 1890s were a boom as raw materials poured into British factories from all over the globe. But the French too enjoyed economic prosperity in the 1890s with her own colonies providing riches, jobs and glory for France. But the very presence of colonies and the profits from them created a fierce rivalry between Britain and France, the two major colonizers. There was no shortage of border skirmishers between garrison soldiers in Africa and Asia who occasionally took potshots at nearby French of British soldiers across the colonial border. In some cases, a few daring and bored cavalrymen might make a raid into British or French territory, burning crops or torching small villages. They were ignored by their governments. These actions created much tension in the colonies and to some extent between the powers.
The Far East was also a scene between rivals. The Japanese, allies of the British, had seized upon internal trouble in China to make some territorial gains. “Playing the white mans game” was how some Westerners saw it. They seized bits of northern China and Korea before being worn out, but the First Sino-Japanese War was a good practice run for the modernizing Japanese imperialists. The British had trained thousands of Japanese soldiers and the Japanese came very close from adopting British red as their uniform color. The Royal Navy encouraged the growth of the Imperial Japanese Navy, a “little brother to us” as one admiral put it, and helped share technological secrets with the Japanese. The French were quick to seize on the moment and signed a Treaty of Friendship with the Empire of China in 1880, seeing the Chinese as a bastion of the old order and useful ally in the face of anti-French camps in the East. They became official allies in the 1890s and the tension in the east was this expanded. Japanese militarists thirsted for conquests and looked toward China and French lands for it.
British jingoism and naval buildup: Howard Langston’s Britannia had helped instill a national pride among the British people. The expulsion of French troops from their island also helped contribute to the British pride. Although the defeat of Britain in 1813 had led to an anti-French government, calling the governments of Canning and Lyndhurst pro-British would be exaggerating. It was not until the British Empire began to expand and gain profits did British patriotism started to soar. The term “jingoism” was not coined until the reign of George V who apparently exclaimed “by jingo!” whenever he heard of a colonial success, of which there were many. By the time 1900 came around, there was a renewed francophobic attitude that was ushered on by the first government of the Britain United and First Party, which had gained prominence of laid due to scandals in the Conservative and Liberal Parties.
Accordingly, the 1880s and 1890s were a time of large naval buildup for the British Empire. The terms of the archaic Treaty of Paris (1813) had demanded only ships over 80 guns to be handed over to France. As the American Civil War had shown, the old wooden ships were far outmatched by new ironclad ships. Consequently British and French naval engineers developed many ideas for new ironclad ships. No longer would the less than 80 gun rule be applicable because nearly none of the new iron ships were greater than 50 guns, let alone 80. In a semi-secret state the Royal Navy began to grow. When Napoleon II in his old age and Napoleon III began to demand a stop to this, George V and his conservative governments showed great backbone in declining the French demand. It infuriated the Bonaparte Emperors who could not risk going to war over a few ships. Thus they built up their own navy and the naval race was on.
Arms race: As Britain and France launched more and more advanced ships, other nations looked on in consternation, jealousy or both. Russia was a power in Europe that saw this buildup as a threat to her own national security and began to build up as well. Not only did the Romanov rulers build a great new navy, they expanded the Russia army and by 1890 it was easily the largest force in Europe with a good 600,000 men in peacetime. France, held on the militarist tradition of Napoleon I but softened up by years of peaceful living, reintroduced a five year conscription term instead of two in the reign of Napoleon III. The French army swelled to 400,000 in 1890 and got bigger year by year. Britain had already thrown off the clause that limited its army size in 1888, once again to the unease of Napoleon III, who instead of demanding an immediate stop, just expanded his own army.
As the armies grew, the technology of the age advanced. The American Civil War was watched with interest by the European powers that saw it as a prelude to any future European war. After the war inventions such as the repeating rifle, machine gun and submarine caught some interested eyes in Europe, including those of Napoleon II. Before his death he had already commissioned the creation of a number of machine gun battalions, using the design created by one Richard J. Gatling of the United States. The invention of smokeless powder would make battlefields more clear and easy to see, although there were hardly any battlefields in Europe between 1813 and 1900. Also, the balloon, an important invention made by the French and used extensively during the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War was developed on. By 1900, French engineers had made some balloons reach new heights and attached propellers in order allow the balloons to move on their own power. Balloons became more powerful and larger, so large that some people called the largest versions “airships”. Soon the term airship began to be referred to only as those that could propel themselves and the non-propelled balloons became a dying breed. By 1900, airships had become an important player in both the military and in civilian life.
German nationalism: Although not a major driving force for Europe as a whole, it impacted Germany itself to a large extent. Prussia, Austria and Westphalia were all overcome with a sense of nationalism in the years prior to 1900. Each viewed them as a leader of Germany and accordingly the three German powers grew more wary of each other with each passing year. By the time 1900 came along any of the powers was looking at a reason to limit the power of the others.
Balkan nationalism: The upsurge of nationalism on the Balkan Peninsula in recent years threatened the status quo of the area. The Ottoman Empire, that occupied the area, was intent on keeping the lands in Ottoman hands while Russia saw this as an opportunity to topple the Ottoman Empire once and for all. Not to mention the fact that Russia was a Slavic country and was prone to support fellow Slavs in the Balkans, especially when occupied by overbearing Turks. The “Balkan Question” led to much rivalry and tension between the Ottoman Empire, allied to France, and the Russians, who were on friendly terms with the British. Although a relatively minor part of the world, it was a great thorn in the side of a European dove.
Personalities such as Michael II and Abd-ul-Mejid III: By an unfortunate coincidence, Europe was blessed with a series of militant, nationalistic leaders. These were of a generation different from that of Napoleon III, although not anti-military, tended to use diplomacy over force of arms. They took their lead from George V of Britain, xenophobic and patriotic, rather than Napoleon III. These leaders had grown up in an increasingly anti-status quo environment that looked to the pre-Napoleon world was an ideal. These personalities would contribute and eventually cause the outbreak of the Great War.
Probably the most conservative and jingoistic was Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid III of the Ottoman Empire. He hated Slavs and passed laws to limit the growing nationalism in the Balkans, though most of the times to no avail. He saw the writing on the wall and realized that eventually he would have to fight with Michael II of Russia. Accordingly he pushed for military modernization and reforms within the empire, though these reforms mainly benefited the ruling Turks and often shorted the ruled Slavs, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians and other groups. Under his rule the Ottoman Empire grew stronger than before but internal dissent grew stronger.
Countering the Ottoman Sultan was Czar Michael II of Russia who was equally conservative, patriotic and vehemently religious. He viewed Russia as the rightful owner of the straits on which Constantinople lay and pursued a vigorous foreign policy. In the east he expanded Russian power at the expense of China, in the south he made threatening noises against the Ottomans and in the west he expanded Russian control in Finland and Poland. His conservative policies also were present in Russia itself, ruling ruthlessly and utilizing a secret police to smoke out anti-czarists. Michael II grew many secret enemies and a series of underground societies sprung up in Russia including extreme left wing groups such as the Communists.
Other personalities of the years prior to the Great War included Kings Charles III and Charles IV of Great Britain, son and grandson of George V respectively. Charles III was not nearly as anti-French as his father, being actually Napoleon III’s brother-in-law. Nevertheless popular opinion as well as the various conservative governments that dominated his thirteen-year reign contributed to a rather pro-Russian viewpoint for many Britons. His twenty-eight heir was quick to jump into an alliance with Michael II in 1899 and thus the Anglo-Russian Entente was formed.
Napoleon III was 67 in 1900 and was the oldest of the major monarchs. However he was also the most powerful, leader of the most dominant force in Europe and possibly the world. His reign has seen the use of diplomacy over arms but the growing in Europe had led to a vast overhaul and modernization of the French armed forces in the 1890s. Napoleon III was not blind to the growing tensions and as the nineteenth century closed, Napoleon III led France with a steady, wise and thorough hand.
However it was mainly the traits of Michael II and Abd-ul-Mejid III that led to the intensification of the European situation as their strong-arm foreign policies and authoritarian methods of ruling led to discontent and a more militaristic view on problem solving.
The Spanish Revolution: Although class differences were not a pronounced problem and had caused little unrest over the years, at least outside of Spain and Eastern Europe, it was still a driving force in some countries, mainly in Russia. The Spanish Revolution had inspired small groups across the world that it was indeed possible to act and to accomplish goals that were not monarchist or imperialist in nature. In Russia, for example, the Spanish Revolution and the reign of Michael II had provided motivation for radical groups to form and start activities of their own despite being strictly against the law. If war were to come, the assumed pandemonium of a war would give these groups an opportunity to act. In short, the Spanish Revolution did not have a direct impact on the outbreak of the war itself, but rather on sideshows that would spring up from the war itself.
Thus the tension in Europe reached new heights by the beginning of the twentieth century. All these factors would boil over in 1900 and start a war of epic proportions, the likes of which had not been seen in Europe for almost a century, if ever.
Great War Alliance System between the Sixth Coalition (red) and Continental Alliance (blue)
WELL, that's it. Anyone who reads the whole thing deserves a pat on the back and a good eye-rub.
I've written some more on the Great War but I want to post that all at once when I am done.
Thats all folks, thanks for reading
Questions/comments/complaints/critiques/cries of horror or shame or disgust? LET ME KNOW!
A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.
Yeah, I tried that, didn't work out too hot.
YES!!!! IT'S BACK!!!! So very glad to see this and I'm also glad to see you mentioned the PM I sent you on the first post! Keep up the good work! Can't wait for the Great War and the rest of the 20th Century!
This looks incredibly detailed and in-depth.. just started reading, and I like it so far.
Currently planning: "All who want revolution, step to the Left." -- Liao Zhongkai's China
I'm afraid I don't understand; why doesn't Canada fall if Britain has been invaded?
And anyway, there still is a British Empire...