A More Perfect Union: An Alternate History of the Land of the Free

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by HeX, May 22, 2019.

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  1. Threadmarks: Manifest Destiny, Part One: Madison's First Term and the West Florida Crisis

    HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    James Madison was an unassuming man. He barely cleared 5' 4", and throughout his life had never weighed over one hundred pounds. He was, without a doubt, the most diminutive president America had ever seen.

    But Madison had two things on his side to get him elected in 1816, two aces up his sleeve the Federalists could do next to nothing to combat. The most important factor in putting the Father of the Constitution in the White House was the fact that he still held the aging Thomas Jefferson's favor. Jeffersonianism was still very popular especially in the South, and was what defined the Democratic-Republican Party until the election of Andrew Jackson. Another sucker-punch to the Federalists' polls was who they put up to run as their presidential candidate in 1816: Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was determined to break George Washington's precedent of staying in office for just two terms, and judging by his narrow victory in 1808 and overwhelming win in 1812, the Democratic-Republicans had every right to be frightened. Madison didn't exactly have a good track record of running in opposition to Hamilton. Luckily for them, even the staunchest Federalists were disgusted by Hamilton's attempt to break a tradition set by a man not dead twenty years. In 1816, the people put James Madison in office as the head of the nation.

    Hamilton had left a bevy of issues behind that Madison was almost unwilling to solve. Plans for the Erie Canal, reinforcing the Bank of the United States, and expanding the military lay untouched during his tenure. In fact, the only policy Madison and Hamilton both focused on was one thing, and one thing alone: westward expansion. The Hamilton Doctrine was fully embraced by both parties, and it became America's God-given right to strive to engulf the continent, a goal that would not be considered completed for over a century.

    Manifest Destiny stated the United States should first conquer what lay to the north and south of the nation before going west, and with the Canadian War a victory, Florida was the next box to tic on the checklist. Spain had grown wary of the Americans after their 1814 victory, though. All talks of purchasing the two Floridas ground to a halt by summer 1818, when Spain--in the process of losing its grip on South America--became paranoid that the United States would use Florida as a launching point to the Spanish's Caribbean jewel, Cuba. James Madison was infuriated, and in response he sent massive aid to the Republic of West Florida, whose American-born denizens had been fighting a ten-year war of attrition against the Spanish.

    Congress wasn't sure about going to war against a European power so soon after narrowly defeating the last. After much deliberation, in the winter of 1818 Congress chose not to declare war on Spain, though it did nothing to stop the support for West Florida. In the meantime, Madison worked to build upon the industrial economy Hamilton had cultivated.

    Then, in the spring of 1819, the unthinkable happened. The USF Franklin, an unarmed Navy frigate, was on its way from New Orleans to Mobile, delivering supplies to the rebels when it ran into the Spanish ship the ESPS Cornelia. Without warning, the Cornelia opened fire on the Franklin, sinking it and taking its captain and crew prisoner. Spain used the captive Americans as leverage in a desperate attempt to cut off support of the Republic of West Florida. James Madison declined, and Congress and the rest of the US was inflamed with anger. On April 3, 1819, they declared war on the Kingdom of Spain. It had taken just five years, but the United States was already willing to fight another European empire for the nation's honor. And who would be leading the Army and Navy against the Spaniards? That honor went to hero of the Canadian War and Native American sympathizer, General Andrew Jackson.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2019
  2. Unknown Member

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    Talk about creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, Spain...
     
  3. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Well. This one will be a challenge, but nowhere near as much of a challenge/mess as 1812. The US has a chance of winning on points depending on how the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars has left the Franco-Spanish relationship (Spanish over-commitment could be seen as an opening, which also means that the Spanish will be leery of major commitment what with the aftermath of the Peninsular War still an issue to be dealt with.
     
  4. theg*ddam*hoi2fan Beware of the Leopard

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    This looks interesting - will be following!
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Manifest Destiny, Part Two: The Spanish-American War

    HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    The Spanish-American War began as a series of naval conflicts in the Gulf of Mexico. The Spaniards controlled America's access to New Orleans by the seas, forcing them through a bottleneck between East Florida and Cuba and hurting trade along the Mississippi River. The navies of either nation had been on uneven ground before the Canadian War and the Peninsular War, but with America bolstering its armed forces and Spain split between North and South America, the two were on the same level. The problem was, the Americans still had a clear advantage in the fact that their shipbuilding center was considerably closer than Spain's. To make up for such a difference, Spain began a policy of 'reclamar y conquistar', where the objective of any battle was to leave the enemy ship still floating, to be taken in and used by the Spanish Navy.

    For the rest of the spring, the war solely consisted of fights on the high seas and in the Caribbean. Many Americans seemed to expect Spain would attempt to squeeze an armistice out of Congress before the season was over, due to escalating tensions in South America. But that would prove not to be the case. Come June 16, 1819, Spain launched an all-out assault on New Orleans, hoping to stop the vast majority of American trade altogether.

    Major General Andrew Jackson, stationed in New Orleans, heard the news of the oncoming attack and led the defense of the city. The Spanish began it under the cover of darkness, in the hopes of catching the Americans off-guard. Instead, they went toe-to-toe with Jackson's well-oiled machine of an army. Most of the men under his command were veterans of the Canadian War, some even holdovers from the Revolution, and managed to outpace and outflank the superior numbers of the advancing Spanish. Over the course of two days, the Spaniards found themselves at a loss as they faced American soldiers fighting to defend their home turf. General Francisco Ballesteros, commanding officer of the Spanish forces during the battle, is quoted as saying, "The Americans fight like the hounds of Hell. They howl louder than any mortal creature, and fight more ferociously than the Devil himself". When Jackson heard of this slur, he took it in stride, and gladly branded his men the 'Devil Dogs', a name that would later be applied to the entirety of the American armed forces.

    Needless to say, the Battle of New Orleans was an overwhelming victory for the United States, and severely discouraged further offensive action on the part of Spain for the remainder of the war.

    In the meantime, West Florida had finally been officially absorbed into the Union, and sights were set on East Florida. During the span of time between the wars in Canada and the Caribbean, much of the region's north had come under de facto control during the Patriot War, where Andrew Jackson and George Mathews had led militiamen and Creek tribesmen against the warmongering natives there. Now, it was just a short hop from Tallahassee to Saint Augustine, then the southern tip of the peninsula. Jackson led his troops swiftly down the Atlantic Coast, barely stopping to even sleep. He did not attempt to exercise control over central Florida, which was still overrun with Seminoles.

    On the other side of the Mississippi, Major Generals Winfield Scott and William Henry Harrison were doing their best to manifest some destiny. From Louisiana, they led an army of new recruits into New Spain to take the territory of Tejas. They advanced quickly, with most of Spain's focus being on keeping Cuba from the United States, and by the end of summer they had reached as far west as San Antonio. Notably, the United States government contracted many privateers of the area--including soon-to-be-American-hero Jean Lafitte--to aid in the naval side of the war, with the bulk of the Navy occupied in and around Cuba and East Florida.

    On September 29, 1819, Jackson's armies finally reached Key West. They waited there for weeks, as troops from the Tejas front poured in, and planned landings at Cuba, as well as Puerto Rico if the Spaniards refused to sue for peace after Cuba fell. Then, on October 24, 1819, the US struck out for their targets: Jackson and Lafitte went for Habana, the largest and most important city on the island, while Scott and Oliver Perry sailed for the rural Bahía de Cochinos (the Bay of Pigs), where they had been directed to divide and conquer by stirring up a slave revolt across the island.

    The chattel slavery system in Cuba had been tormenting African slaves for centuries; so, when white men yelling in English that their hour of freedom had come and if they revolted against their masters, independence would be certain, slaves didn't hesitate. All across the island, sugar plantations erupted into full-scale revolution, bogging down any Spanish troops hoping to get to Habana.

    Speaking of, the Siege of Habana was ongoing as Scott and Perry traveled east. The battle at sea lasted for eight days, and the Cubans were relentless when Jackson's men finally touched down. Yet, as Spain's grip on the Caribbean loosened, the Cubans found themselves undermanned and unequipped for fighting a drawn-out conflict. As Scott made major advances along the Atlantic, Andrew Jackson hoisted the Stars and Stripes above Habana, going down in history as the moment the general went from a military superstar to a bonafide legend.

    King Ferdinand VII had had enough. Cuba, while a very wealthy possession, wasn't worth this much trouble. East and West Florida were next to worthless if Cuba was in American hands, and most of northeastern Tejas was pretty empty. Besides, petty squabbles over holdings in the Caribbean was not what Spain should have been focusing on, but rather the rebellions and uprisings popping up all over South America. The United States accepted an armistice on December 6, 1819--one week after the victory at the Battle of Habana--that eventually evolved into peace talks held in London.

    For the second time in a decade, the United States sat down at the negotiating table with a European empire. The conditions were humiliating, and on New Year's Day, 1820, the United States made itself a powerful enemy.

    • The territories of West Florida, East Florida, and Cuba are to be ceded to the United States in their entireties. The territory of Tejas east of the Colorado River is to be ceded to the United States.
    • The Kingdom of Spain is to abandon any and all claims to the Oregon Country for good.
    • The borders between the United States of America and the Viceroyalty of New Spain are to be set following the Colorado River until it intersects with the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase, then where the borders of the Louisiana Purchase intersects the Forty-Second Parallel.
    • All slaves freed by the United States Army or Navy is to be set free.
    • The Kingdom of Spain is to pay for the damages caused to the USS Franklin.
    Support for American expansionism and the Hamilton Doctrine experienced a new high, hot on the heels of two major military victories. The United States truly saw itself as a beacon of freedom, a sense that would soon draw the nation out of its characteristic neutrality. But there would be consequences. The South desperately wanted to bring their peculiar institution into Florida (most of West Florida was absorbed into the Mississippi Territory) and Tejas and rebuild it in Cuba. But the North had other plans, and utterly refused any further spread of slavery. Reinstating slavery in Cuba--still reeling from the slave revolts and now heavily populated with ex-slaves--was not an option, if they wished to keep the island under control. While Madison was triumphant, and the Election of 1820 was barely a contest, the coming debates over slavery would nearly tear the nation in two. America was in for a wild ride.

    --------------------------------
    August 30, 1819

    The harsh Tejas sun beat down upon San Antonio and the captured Spanish army inside. Twenty-five-year-old Antonio López de Santa Anna sat hunched against a wall beside a dozen other fellow soldiers, with two blue-coated American guards standing watch, chatting in English. Santa Anna could make out a few words here and there, mostly the Spanish names like Cuba, Habana, and Florida. He cringed every time they butchered 'Tejas' with their drawling accents, making it sound more like 'Texas'.

    A negro messenger in the same blue uniform entered the building, and saluted the two white men, who barely acknowledged his existence. The negro had to--presumably very politely--ask for their attention twice more before he could deliver his letter

    The soldier on the right grabbed it and read it over. He showed it to the other one, who scratched his head and shrugged. The two men turned and looked the row of Spaniards up and down. He ordered something in English.

    "He says, 'Spin around, spread your legs, and put your hands against the wall'," translated an older Spanish officer next to him.

    Santa Anna gulped, but did as he was told. He knew where this was going. The Americans were going to shoot and kill him and his friends. Apparently, they didn't need prisoners anymore.

    The soldiers pulled out their rifles, and the negro messenger swiftly left the building. Santa Anna heard the cocking of a gun, and then...

    BLAM!

    A fellow Spaniard fell to the ground, his head no longer there.

    BLAM!

    Another one crumpled, still wailing.

    BLAM!

    The second shot silenced him.

    BLAM!

    Another one.

    BLAM!

    Another one.

    The gun was reloaded, cocked once more, and pointed directly at Santa Anna. He took a deep breath, and steadied his nerves. He would not die weeping like a child. He would not lose his dignity. He would not...

    Another American threw open the doors to the courtyard, a general by the looks of his decorations. He grabbed the rifles from the hands of both soldiers, and started yelling at them. Then he dismissed them, and two fresh soldiers ordered the Spanish to follow them.

    The group was led down many streets and through back allies. The walls of nearly every building had been damaged by the battle that had raged on until earlier that morning. As they walked, Santa Anna asked the man behind him, who spoke English, "What was that all about? Why did they stop?"

    The officer whispered in reply, "I'm a little rusty when it comes to my English, but the guy who just saved our asses was General William Henry Harrison. Apparently, the letter that said to kill us was a forgery."

    Santa Anna's mouth dropped open. "Who would do something like that? What could the Americans possibly accomplish from--"

    "The Americans nothing. It was Spain, they said. Trying to stir up infighting in the US armed forces by pitting the Northerners and Southerners against each other."

    "Spain did this? The Crown is willing to sacrifice and slaughter its own men in a ploy that didn't even work?"

    "Yes, I think so."

    "Then they shall both be my enemies. The Crown, for murdering innocents for their own petty goals... and the Americans, for firing upon my friends and allies without a moment's hesitation. I hate them both, with a burning passion. Should they cross my path again... things will not go well for them. Not well at all."
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  6. Bennett Human Time-Waster

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    I can't express how great this timeline is so far! Lovin' it, dude.
     
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  7. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    Thanks! I'm excited for the next couple of chapters. At least one of them will be focusing on a popular uprising that failed IOTL, but won't here, and a lot of them will focus on slavery and abolitionism (the 1820s and 30s will be the 'Era of Bad Feelings', I suppose).
     
  8. Bennett Human Time-Waster

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    Nullification Crisis or something different?
     
  9. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    Nullification Crisis, debates over slavery, a compromise that's similar to but also very different from the Compromise of 1820... the Democratic-Republicans and Federalists are going to be going after each other harder than the Democrats and Republicans of today do.

    So... all in all, an Era of Bad Feelings.
     
  10. Odinson Amateur stand-up comedian

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    I got a feeling this is something to do with Nat Turner
     
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  11. Unknown Member

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    Oh, this will be interesting (Jackson is a Native American sympathizer ITTL?!? Kinda ironic, given what he's most infamous for...)...
     
  12. The Hawk Radical Centrist and Slayer of BS

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    It's going to be very interesting with the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans still lingering around and especially with the how issues regarding western statehood pose a threat to the Federalist Party and the its electoral viability due to how their electoral base conflicts with America's increasingly agrarian nation. Also, great update, i'll be keeping me eye on this TL
     
  13. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    I love some irony in AH. You'll notice during TTL's Spanish-American War one of the invasion locations on Cuba was the Bay of Pigs--and it was a success.

    Jackson only befriended Malatche (the Creek warrior who saved Jackon's life during the Battle of Mobile) because he felt he owed something to him, even if he was a Native American. Spending some time with people of another race opened his eyes to the idea of being less overtly racist (though he's still very prejudiced) and showed him the value of Native American culture, and Malatche became a true friend of Jackson's.
     
  14. Unknown Member

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    Oh, talk about irony...
     
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  15. Bennett Human Time-Waster

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    With a less racist Jackson (at least in terms of Natives), might we see a world without the Trail of Tears?
     
  16. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    I can't spoil anything like that, so you'll just have to wait and see.
     
  17. EddyBoulevard Your friendly suicide bomber (Back from Coventry) Banned

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    Can we have a map of the USA after the war with Spain?
     
  18. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

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    I'm gonna have a map up for the alternate Great Compromise, so one's coming soon.
     
  19. Narissa Confused

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    Jan 25, 2017
    Watched. This already has had a great start, can’t wait to see where it goes!

    Since Santa Anna is mad at both Spain and America, and a war for independence likely, maybe he’ll be the one invading Texas, and not the other way around?
     
  20. DTF955Baseballfan 12-time All-Star in some TL

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    Lots of fun. A few things I caught as I skimmed.

    1. Churchill the 26th President in 1940; I thought maybe someone would break the two-term tradition earlier, but Hamilton didn't (rightly so, he was an elitist and while it was mostly at the state level more and more voters were getting the right to votes, his push for aa 3rd term could easily backfire and cause a close election.) But, if we eliminate some of the deaths in office, a few one-termers, and the fact of Cleveland being 22nd and 24th, it's rather doable even without anyone being president for 3 terms.

    I like timelines that don't force an end to people being born just becasue it's after the POD - easier to keep track of names and such. Directly impacting the posssibility of birth is different.

    I wonder if Louisiana is still a slave state - I can see it going free, but if the first 3 Presidencies are the same, it might not have.

    Cubaa was close but with slave uprisings happening there I can see it happening; as you saay the Rule of Cool. Not impossi le, anyway, especially with how Hamilton will have built up the military in the previous 8 years.

    I hope Gabriel Prosser lived to become one of the leaders of a black regiment, even if it's under aa white commander and there's a glass ceiling. gain, though, not sure if he could.
     
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