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.

  1. generalurist Map Staring Expert

    Dec 21, 2013
    If it's actually good for everyone, it's not called the Gilded Age. (at least, not via OTL etymology, where it was called that because things looked prosperous on the surface but underneath most people chafed under colonial or capitalist oppression. Hence, the gold was only surface level)
  2. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    What do you mean? I haven't discussed it yet, but trusts and monopolies are definitely rising in the background. The Gilded Age is strictly an American term, describing the oppression felt by the common worker under a laissez-faire economy, and that is most certainly happening in the Union at the moment, hence it still being called the Gilded Age.
    Iskandar Khayon, Simeon, NAF and 2 others like this.
  3. Ismaili777 Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2019
    Imperial Chinese Soldier Uniform, WWII
    Having both German and American influences evident in the uniform, notably the army uses the blue star of Chinese philosopher sun yat sen as its symbolism.
    Imperial regiment marching.
    The German influence shows in uniform, whereas American doctrine is used more frequently.
    A more traditional officer uniform.
    While having a clear advantage in manpower, initial enemy offensives caught China off guard.
  4. generalurist Map Staring Expert

    Dec 21, 2013
    Ah I see. Though if that oppression is happening, I wouldn't call the Gilded Age great.

    Sigh, from one threat to american liberty to another.
    Whiteshore and AeroTheZealousOne like this.
  5. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    Oh, I was saying it'll be great to write, not great to live in.
  6. Threadmarks: Redemption, Part Nine: The Red Hand of Violence

    HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    The United States had never known true loss. Every single president ever elected to the office had survived their full terms. And while mourning for George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton had gripped the nation, nothing could ever quite compare to the Three Deaths.

    Robert E. Lee was the first to go. Already aged when the Civil War had begun, Lee was ancient by 1880 at seventy-three years old. Immediately following the war, he had been a major player in devising how to keep the South down. And while Lee was constantly bombarded with questions of if he was going to run for president, he never stepped foot in public office. He was the hero of the Union, the next George Washington, but he just simply wanted to retire, like Cincinnatus in the days of the Roman Empire. While Lee agreed to stick around as the Commanding General of the United States Army during Lincoln's second term and then all of his war buddy Ulysses S. Grant's eight years, by the time Frederick Douglass was elected, he was finally able to retire, passing the sword to Grant, who had decided to return to military life following his presidency. Robert E. Lee peacefully lived four happy years out at his home in Arlington, which had been slave-free for over fifty years by that point, and sat just a short ways down the Potomac from Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. But, in August of 1880, he began to feel ill. Eventually, on September 9, 1880, Robert Edward Lee perished due to pneumonia. His last words were, "Tell Sherman he must come up. Strike the tent."

    Lee, unlike the far more down-to-earth Grant and Sherman, had achieved mythical status following the Civil War; he wasn't a modern-day Cincinnatus, he was a modern-day Hercules, embedded in the web of history alongside Caesar, Washington, and Napoleon. In his will, he bequeathed a large tract of land on his Arlington estate to the federal government. This was to become the Arlington National Cemetery, where "those lost in the fires of war might finally find home at last." The government was able to do whatever they pleased with the land, as long as it became a cemetery and they "took care of [Lee's] wife's prize rosebushes." The legendary general would be the first person interred at Arlington National Cemetery, with his grave protectively overlooking the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    Union troops march as part of Lee's funeral procession through Washington

    The next death was one America was not ready for. They could never be ready for it. On the heels of Robert E. Lee's untimely demise, Abraham Lincoln, Twelfth President of the United States, passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of January 11, 1881. And the entire world mourned. Lincoln had grown to become recognized as one of the greatest presidents in American history, outclassing even Hamilton and Jefferson and pulling even with only Washington. He was a giant, both literally and figuratively, and when he left the world behind, he left a titanic hole no one could fill, not even Ulysses S. Grant or Frederick Douglass. Honest Abe, the Man Who Wouldn't Die, had finally passed. Lincoln had died in Washington, D.C., visiting the city for the second inauguration of Frederick Douglass, who had handily won re-election in 1880. His body, then, needed to be returned to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. President Lincoln's funeral train was the largest in history. An honor guard carried the casket to the train depot, where they were succeeded by another guard, this one legendary in its lineup: Ulysses S. Grant, John C. Frémont, William Tecumseh Sherman, George A. Custer, James Longstreet, and Geronimo of the Apache were among those who accompanied the train on its journey from D.C. to Illinois. The train stopped in many cities along its way, where it was met with huge crowds of mourning Americans. It left Washington, D.C. on January 17, and proceeded to travel through Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, and finally arriving in Springfield on February 1, 1881. There, the official funeral was held at Oak Ridge Cemetery, where Lincoln had requested he be buried many years ago when he was running for president. Over ten thousand people, including President Douglass and Vice President Woodhull, attended, pressing the tiny cemetery and city of Springfield to its limits. Not a word was spoken outside of the official rites given by a minister.

    Lincoln's Funeral Train

    The Funeral of Lincoln

    The Union was in for some dark days, mourning the loss of not one, but two of their most beloved heroes of the War Between the States.

    And then, someone got shot.

    February 10, 1881

    Robert Johnson shifted the strangely-shaped package under his right arm, hands in his pockets, whistling a merry tune as he strolled across the grass of the National Mall. He blended in well with the crowd, and, being surrounded by Virginians and Marylanders, his heavy Southern accent wouldn't sound too strange, if he could keep his speaking at a minimum. Washington, D.C. was draped in black, even the White House and Capitol Building, in honor of the loss of Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee so soon after each other. Everyone wore their Sunday best, but colored that of charcoal, displaying their mourning. Johnson wore black, too, but he wasn't mourning what everyone else was.

    Loss, thought Johnson. They've seen nothing yet.

    He took a pull from the flask he kept hidden in his jacket, the warm taste of alcohol the only thing keeping him from biting off the head of a revolver these days. He steeled his nerves, and continued on.

    When the masses of people reached the Smithsonian Institute, they diverged into two swarms, heading left and right around the castle. Robert Johnson did no such thing. He walked straight up to the doors of the building, where two soldiers dressed in Union blue, one black, the other Asian, stood at attention, their rifles trailing a black cloth from their bayonets.

    "Sir, I'm afraid you can't go inside," said the one on the right.

    "I'm sorry?" asked Johnson dryly.

    "It's a time of national mourning, sir. The Smithsonian Institution is closed in respect for the memory of President Abraham Lincoln and Major General Robert Lee. No tourists are allowed inside."

    "I am no tourist, good sir," he scowled. "I am Professor Andrew Johnson, lifelong member of the Smithsonian Institute!"

    With a flourish, Johnson pulled out an identification card, upon which, adjacent to the blazing sun symbol of the Smithsonian, was his visage. Or at least, the visage of someone who looked very similar to him.

    The soldiers' eyes widened. "I'm very sorry sir," apologized the Asian man.

    "I had no idea!" exclaimed the black man.

    "It is quite alright, my boys," said Johnson reassuringly. "I am not the most... recognizable face on the street."

    As he stepped inside, the Asian soldier asked, with a furrowed brow, "By the way, Professor, what's in the package?"

    Johnson smiled. "Curtain rods."

    The guards nodded, and let him by. Robert Johnson entered the empty, dark interior of the Smithsonian Castle. He immediately turned left, and walked swiftly up the stairs to the next floor. As he went, he tore apart his identification card and tossed it over the railing "Idiots. A Chink and a nigger. What did those Army fuckers think would happen when they put two men stupid enough to mistake a man for his father in charge of this place?"

    The man strolled through the upper rooms of the Castle, past the reconstructed bones of beasts that walked the Earth an infinity ago. They had their place in history. Now, Robert would find his. His eyes lit up as he located the back door, to the rear rampart leading out to the tower overlooking the gardens that bordered Independence Avenue, where traffic had been stopped for the day. He knelt down, and unwrapped his package. It was not, as he'd said, curtain rods.

    It was a Whitworth rifle.

    Johnson had wielded such a weapon in the Fourth Tennessee Confederate Infantry--he'd shot and killed a damnyankee general with one at 2,000 yards--but he hadn't gotten his hands on one again since the war ended. It felt good in his grasp, as familiar as a bottle or flask.

    "Let's do this, then," he muttered, popping up over the red sandstone wall and aiming down the sights, squarely at the forehead of the man everyone had their eyes locked onto.

    "Deo vindice, motherfucker."

    He pulled the trigger, and the world exploded.

    Captain Matthew Richards stood attentive at the side of President Frederick Douglass. He was a young man, far too young to have served in the Civil War, but he'd muscled his way up the ladder to become a captain at just twenty-one years old. But while he was technically in charge, he commanded a group of veterans from the Civil and Banana Wars, veterans who acted--and were--much older than he. But Richards didn't care. Frankly, he was in an all-consuming state of awe at the fact that he was standing right beside the President of the United States of America.

    "...and it is important today that we, the people, live and work in the memories of these great men," boomed Douglass. "That we strive to achieve what these men defended to their final days! That we protect the sacred boon of equality for all races! And that we remember the struggles our forefathers went through to bring forth this day of freedom and liberty for all! Because, if there is no struggle, then there is no progress!"

    The crowd, enraptured, was on the edge of their seats. "Hear, hear!" cried out a woman at the back of the crowd.

    President Douglass looked ready to continue his speech. He looked up, and his eyes widened. "Everybody!" he yelled, "Get do--"


    The sound of a rifle shot cut through the air. An instant later, Frederick Douglass went flying back, tumbling over the edge of the stage and into the shrubbery below. Vice President Woodhull screamed, before being swept away by a trio of guards. Captain Richards screeched "EVERYBODY DOWN, NOW!" and leapt off the stage after the fallen president. He stared, dumbstruck, into the unmoving eyes of America's leader, a bullet hole right between them.

    One of the captain's men leaned over the edge of the stage. "Sir, is he... is the president..."

    "Gone," choked Richard's. "Where the hell did that shot come from?"

    "Up on that tower, I think, but--"

    "Well then, what the fuck are you doing just standing there?" the captain demanded, vaulting back on stage and grabbing his rifle. "We need to go get that sunnuvabitch! Second Maryland Infantry, to me!"

    A wave of Union soldiers stormed into the Smithsonian Institute. Most of them fanned out to cover the labyrinthian ground floor, but Richards and a few men took to the upstairs. They unceremoniously broke down the door to the attic and stormed past contorted structures of bone and fossil. The paintings on the walls seemed to be laughing at them.

    Captain Richards, satisfied the room had been thoroughly swept, paused by the door to the back rampart of the Castle. Then, he slammed his foot into it, and it burst open. The cool air of February cut into Richards like a knife, as he trained his rifle on a man on the edge, a rifle at his feet.

    "Hey you bastard, look at me while I'm talking!" roared the commander.

    The man turned. He took a swig from his iron flask, then threw it over his shoulder. "For luck," smiled the man.

    "What's your name?" Richards demanded.

    "Robert Johnson, sir."

    "Robert Johnson, eh? Alright, Robert Johnson, what are you doing up here with a gun when the president's just been shot?"

    "...Well, I suppose I must've shot him, then!" slurred Johnson through an drunken Southern accent. "Doesn't take a genius to work that one out."

    "You... you shot the president!" cried one of Roberts' men.

    "Give me one reason I shouldn't shoot you right now," demanded the captain.

    "...Because I'd rather do it myself?" answered the assassin, pulling a large silver handgun from his waistcoat.

    "Goddammit..." muttered Richards. "Sir, I'm going to need you to put down the weapon and come down off that ledge, please," he said, trying to steady his voice.


    "Sir, I'm going to need you to--"

    "No! That's the problem with you damnyankees, always forcing yourself on free people with your bullshit about liberty and justice and equality... You should have just let us go! But no, you had to make an example out of us! You had to destroy the South, our way of life, our heritage! I fought for the South, and I'm proud to say it! I fought for good old Jeff Davis! I killed six hundred of you damn yanks! I fought at Columbus! At Dayton! At Williamsburg!"

    "Sir, the war is over--"

    "Maybe for you!" screamed Johnson. "Maybe for you... but not for me! The Song of the South plays on!"

    Richards pulled back the hammer on his rifle. "This is the last warning, Johnson! Get off that ledge or--"

    Out of nowhere, the assassin turned to the edge and shouted, "Sic semper tyrannus!" Then he faced Captain Richards, looked him in the eye, and growled, "The South will rise again."

    With that, Robert Johnson let himself fall backwards off the rampart, bit down on the barrel of his revolver, and pulled the trigger.

    He was dead before he hit the ground.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
  7. farmerted555 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2015
    Well, THAT just happened!
  8. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Didn't see that coming...

    On a side note, Andrew Johnson...well, this is really gonna suck for him, to put it mildly...
  9. Iskandar Khayon Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    I have a feeling that there will be even more harsh feelings and treatment towards the South after this mess. Also, will we possibly see one of Lincoln's sons gunning for the presidency?
  10. Born in the USSA Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2015
    So the US is in its own Victorian age now I suppose.
  11. farmerted555 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2015
    One word for the South: Endlösung.
  12. Ironshark Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2018
    That chapter was heartbreaking
    Bobby lee honest Abe and Douglass all in that short time period

    Especially cause The presidents last action wasn’t just dodging or running which might have saved him but warning everyone to get down...

    I could picture it all in my head Woodhull screaming the guards pulling everyone back the crowds shock..and the tension building up to the horrible release
    ..America’s innocence is lost

    This is this TL red wedding ...
  13. Iskandar Khayon Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    Well, Douglass didn't die in vain. So if others (Robert Johnson, Britain etc) thinks America and it's ideals are down after this their dead wrong. While tragic, this event will make the cause of Revolutionary Spirit and Equality for All even stronger.
  14. generalurist Map Staring Expert

    Dec 21, 2013
    America has learnt a harsh lesson: Bloody prejudice is very hard to kill. When the nation is through with this, the few white southerners not cowering in terror will curse him as the man that doomed them.
    Simeon, NAF, Alexei and 1 other person like this.
  15. Iskandar Khayon Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2017
    I have to ask because I'm dying to know, what's John Wilkes Booth up to ITTL?
  16. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    John Wilkes Booth is a well-known and very distinguished stage actor... in Britain. ITTL, following the Oregonian War (AKA the Second Anglo-American War) he and his very British parents felt threatened and moved back to London.
  17. Alexei Filipino Frick-Frack

    Jul 14, 2019
    Somewhere in South-East Asia
    Long may he live. So the VP becomes President? First woman becomes President after Douglass' and Abe's death - interesting. Is there going to be some sort of Non-Racist Moniker for ol' Fred Doug?
    Whiteshore, Simeon, NAF and 2 others like this.
  18. Joriz Castillo Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2019
    Can we have a map?
  19. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    Workin' on it.
  20. Joriz Castillo Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2019
    What happened to the OTL Presidents after Grant and before Teddy Roosevelt? I'm talking about those from Rutherford B. Hayes to William McKinley.