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. Ismaili777 Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2019
    For something more of this era:
    German Cuirassier 1890s.
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  2. Threadmarks: Redemption, Part Fifteen: The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started

    HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.

    Mark Twain Bibliography

    The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873)
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1878)
    The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
    Westward, Ho! (1884)
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
    Mutiny on the Seven Seas (1891)
    Huck Finn: Master of the Mississippi (1892)
    Gangsters of Galveston (1892)
    Nightmare (1894)
    Mystery of Blackwater Manor (1897)
    Personal Recollections of Samuel Clemens (1898)
    Tomb of the Lost Emperor (1900)
    The Decidedly Nonsensical Tales of Dolores Kissinger (1903)
    Tom & Huck: Together At Last (1910)


    Jules Verne Bibliography

    Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863)
    Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
    From the Earth to the Moon (1865)
    The Desert of Ice (1866)
    In Search of the Castaways (1867)
    Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1869)
    Around the Moon (1870)
    The Golden Country (1871)
    A City of Angels (1872)
    Around the World in Eighty Days (1873)
    The Mysterious Island (1874)
    The Survivors of the Chancellor (1875)
    Deus Ex Machina (1876)
    Off on a Comet (1877)
    Columbia Triumphant (1878)
    Guns of Utopia (1879)
    Tribulations of a Chinaman in China (1879)
    The Steam House (1880)
    Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon (1881)
    Symphony of Illumination (1882)
    Twenty-Five Leagues in the Skies (1883)
    The Vanished Diamond (1884)
    The Automaton (1885)
    The Clipper of the Clouds (1886)
    The Nights of the Golden Circle (1887)
    Voyage of a Lifetime (1888)
    The Purchase of the North Pole (1889)
    The Pearl of the Pacific (1890)
    Master of the World (1898)
    The Sea Serpent (1899)
    Libertas Et Imperium (1900)
    Enigmas of the Mystical (1901)
    Gallery of Marvels (1902)
    Cape Fear (1903)
    The Green Ray (1904)
    The Lighthouse at the End of the World (1905)
    Invasion from Under the Earth (1906)
    The Greatest Mystery (1910)

    (painted by Vincent van Gogh, 1887)

    As the war on racism raged in the South, the war on the wilderness raged in the West, and the war on crime raged in the North, people really needed a break from reality, some time to disappear into a fantastical new world of wonder and mystery. Some went for long walks. Some threw themselves into their personal lives. But most just read a good book.

    No two authors were more famous in the span of time between the 1860s and the 1900s than Samuel Clemens (better known by his pen name, "Mark Twain") and Jules Verne. Clemens was a native of a little podunk town in Missouri and a veteran of the Civil War, as a member of Lincoln's ring of spies, the Children of Liberty. Verne was a French immigrant who ran away from home at age fifteen, travelling on a ship as a cabin boy from his hometown of Nantes to New York City, where he set up shop as a writer for a newspaper and later served in the Mexican-American War. Both men eventually left an indelible mark on the landscape of American literature, alongside the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman.

    For Jules Verne, it all began in 1851, when he published his first short story, "A Drama in Mexico," echoing his time spent there during the war. Intermittently, he would put out more short stories in various newspapers and magazines, and as time went on, they became longer and longer, before eventually becoming genuine book-length stories in a serialized format with his 1863 tale, Five Weeks in a Balloon. This novel marked the first installment in one of the most iconic book series of all time, The Extraordinary Voyages. While initially separate stories, over time Verne built a loosely-connected universe that competed with the works of British author H. G. Wells in the creation of the modern science-fiction genre. Most tales of The Extraordinary Voyages featured recurring characters and themes, such as Captain Nemo and his various mechanical contraptions and modes of transport (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon, Twenty-Five Leagues in the Skies, Invasion from Under the Earth) and the escapades of the Baltimore Gun Club (From the Earth to the Moon, Around the Moon, The Automaton, The Purchase of the North Pole, The Pearl of the Pacific, The Lighthouse at the End of the World). In 1876, Verne's one and only true book series, Columbia Reigns, began with Deus Ex Machina in honor of the American Centennial. The story followed the happenings on the floating island of Columbia, an artificial structure constructed by the US government as a beacon of American exceptionalism for the Centennial Exposition but which then broke free from the Earth and flew around the world. Everything was not as it seemed on Columbia, though, with dark secrets of crime, subterfuge, religious fundamentalism, and an overzealous, borderline theocratic brand of all-consuming patriotism lurking just below the city's gilded exteriors.

    The Extraordinary Voyages: The Complete Series, by Jules Verne
    (French Special Edition, ca. 1911)

    Verne attempted to keep politics out of his adventures, but more than a few life lessons were slipped into the pages of his novels. Some were more blatant than others, like with Tribulations of a Chinaman in China, which explicitly discussed the Chinese's neverending battle against Western imperialism, and in Guns of Utopia, which, inspired by the tyrannical reign of the French Commune, mulled over the shortcomings of communism.

    Mark Twain, on the other hand, packed food for thought into every one of his books. His first novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, was so influential in its dissection of the rampant organized crime and corrupt business dealings of the day that its title eventually became the name given to the era by future historians: like a ring, the time period was gold on the surface with seeming prosperity and wealth abound, but just below that was the steel center of that ring, an underworld of poverty, cheating, and squalor. Even Twain's most famous story, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, later named the "Great American Novel" of the nineteenth century, turned into a public service message as Huck Finn traversed the Mississippi with his Chickasaw friend Miko, prominently displaying the oft-ignored good side of the American Indian. And Twain's books, though few and far between, were far more popular than even Verne's instant classics. Both men revolutionized American literature for the better, and introduced entirely new genres to the public.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,
    by Mark Twain
    (American First Edition, ca. 1878)

    The fledgling world of the American arts wasn't just limited to writing, however. In fact, thanks to one man, the United States began to dominate the traditional arts, an achievement that usually belonged to Europe. Vincent van Gogh was the main reason for this. Coming from a well-off family in the Netherlands, van Gogh was sent off to boarding school from the time he was potty trained. While he spent a few years in a Parisian academy, he was sent off to study in America at age twelve. Eventually, feeling unwanted, he ran away from the university and his old life in his teens to paint, his one true passion. Van Gogh's spark of imagination soon followed, and by his twenties he was among the most respected American artists of his day, even when his contemporaries across the Atlantic found his work uninspired and derivative. He was so revered, in fact, that much of his work was given a spotlight at the arts pavilion at the Centennial Exposition, and when he painted there in person, crowds of thousands gathered to watch. Van Gogh battled with a few bouts of depression throughout his life, though he managed to overcome them all, with significant help from his family and his best friend, none other than Theodore Roosevelt. While the artist initially wished to just paint anything, he later transferred to painting exquisite images of the new National Parks, which only contributed to the environmentalist fever sweeping the Union.

    "Fishing Boats on the Beach at Cape Elizabeth, Maine"
    (painted by Vincent van Gogh, 1888)

    In the end, the hunger for entertainment and distraction the people of the United States held following two decades of near-constant conflict was found to be enormous. Though they had to compete with other writers both across the country and across the oceans, Mark Twain and Jules Verne's books still sold like hotcakes even long after they were dead. Their works would inspire other, future creators and artists, too, including a certain young man from Chicago who would revolutionize American arts and entertainment a little ways down the road...
  3. farmerted555 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2015
    So Jules Verne ITTL created Bioshock. Cool!
  4. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

    Jan 9, 2012
    Charleston, SC United States of America
    I honestly laughed at loud when I read that part. Funny thing is it sounds exactly the kind of fantastical science fiction that was written during the time especially by Jules Verne.
  5. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    I must admit, though I've never played it, the world of Bioshock Infinite has enraptured me (heh, puns) ever since I discovered it was essentially America hopped up on patriotic LSD and worshipping a pagan religion with the Founding Fathers as deities. (My favorite AH idea is a United States that creates a state religion that is based on Christianity, but instead it worships the Holy Trinity of Uncle Sam, George Washington, and Lady Columbia and the Founding Fathers and other influential Americans are seen as demigod-saints. Crazy, but insanely fun.)
  6. farmerted555 Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2015
    Better than worshipping Aaron Burr at any rate.
  7. DTF955Baseballfan 12-time All-Star in some TL

    Oct 19, 2005
    10 miles north of 10 miles south
    I was intrigued when I saw that Huck Finnwas written in 2 years and not 8 like OTL. A college professor at Wooster where I went speculated that his problem then was he'd written himself into a corner, because "what could he do at that age to help Jim?" (I wrote this a few years back - it involves him meeting a certain honest attorney in Springfield and a "A Different Kind of Crazy" as the title says to how he gets free.) Here, I gfuess there is no real corner for him to write himself into.

    Nice to see VanGogh have such a long life. It'd be nice if there was a Starry Night painting TTL that is a picture of the night sky as a canopy over one of the National Parks.

    Is P. T. Barnum the showman? I just checked and he was born in Connecticut, but no reason he can't have gone out there TTL.
  8. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    Mark Twain was just on his game ITTL. I read a sort of special edition version of Huckleberry Finn and it pointed out that he just stopped writing a few times because of writer's block, so I suppose he just got over them much quicker.

    There probably is that version of Starry Night ITTL, now that you mention it. The original still exists in some form or another, too, though.

    P. T. Barnum's still a showman ITTL, I just honestly forgot he existed when writing this.
  9. TheImperialTheorist To theorize & imagine worlds of possibilities.

    Feb 10, 2017
    California, USA
    Who's the leader of the club
    That's made for you and me?
    M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!
  10. HonestAbe1809 Abraham Lincoln 2020

    Dec 1, 2013
    Though with the butterflies that song could be "O-S-W-A-L-D" instead.
  11. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

    Jan 9, 2012
    Charleston, SC United States of America
    If you have never seen it, I suggest you see the Epic Rap Battles of history video Jim Henson vs Stan Lee. The ending will make you see Disney in a whole new light and remind how far they have come from the 90's nadir.
  12. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    Oh, I've definitely seen it. It's one of my favorite ERBs. Of course, I can't help but be a bit disappointed at their depiction of Walt Disney at the end of it. While his company has evolved into something truly monstrous (though something I still adore nonetheless--trust me, I was cheering when Disney bought Fox, even if I know that that's bad every way to Sunday), the man himself was nothing like what they showed (though it's a pretty good representation of the modern Walt Disney Company). Walt was a man who merely wanted to escape into his own imagination, something he did first with drawings, then animation, then the theme park, and finally capping it off with the original E.P.C.O.T., his personal utopic metropolis which was never built and something that didn't even get off drafting table before he was taken from the world far too young. Walt didn't care about money (the studio was constantly in the red under his leadership) and he didn't care about fame (he was notorious for hating signing autographs), he just wanted to make good movies. And good movies he did make--I'd consider Fantasia to be on the same level of cinematic magnificence as Citizen Kane.

    Side note, if you want to see my Disney obsession expressed more fully, come check out my other timeline, Laughin' Place: Redefining Disney, which explores a world where Walt gave up smoking in 1923 and is still very much alive into the 1980s and beyond.
  13. Andrew Boyd Resident Rail Enthusiast

    Feb 23, 2018
    Speaking of which, is the next update after Labor Day?
  14. HeX Self-Proclaimed Disney Expert

    Sep 21, 2018
    Disneyland, U.S.A.
    Yes indeedy, the day after tomorrow the TL comes off of hiatus. However, since I'm taking three AP classes this school year and also managing this timeline, there will only be one post a week in LP, and probably two or maybe three over here, since AMPU's chapters tend to be shorter and require less brainpower.
  15. Cryostorm Monthly Donor

    Jan 9, 2012
    Charleston, SC United States of America
    Oh I am the same, I was very happy they got 21st Century Fox and grabbing most of the Marvel properties they didn't already own. It is also amazing how thoroughly their fortunes reversed with a few good movies and the Disney Channel before they became the giant they are now. I do wish they would do more animation like fantasia but they certainly have hit the photo-realism moment while it is hot and are riding it for all that it is worth.
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  16. Andrew Boyd Resident Rail Enthusiast

    Feb 23, 2018
    That's OK. I was kind of in an AH rut with the classes I had back in high school too. You see, I have a DeviantArt account where I often would place my alternate history ideas before finding this site.

    Good luck on your AP classes BTW.
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  17. eldandythedoubter Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2015
    And now I have something else to look forward too post Dorian, aside from astral chain.
    Simeon and HeX like this.
  18. Knightmare Well-Known Member

    Apr 5, 2012
    That wasn't due to regulations. After the 2nd Indianola flood, which was followed up by a fire, they drew up plans for a seawall. It would've been, according to the engineer, E.M. Hartick, "a dike ten feet high extending completely around the island, except for the north side. There, the wharves were to be raised to form the dike."

    Texas eventually authorized a bond, but then everyone figured "Eh, Indianola got nailed by the storm, we'll be fine."

    Isaac Cline, the head of the Weather Bureau post in Galveston wrote a article basically saying that hurricanes wouldn't hurt the city, and even then, they'd do minor damage at best.

    Boy was he wrong.

    Looks like it will, thanks.
  19. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Yeah, he sure was, at the cost of up to 10,000 lives, including his own pregnant wife and, very nearly, his three daughters...
    Israel_Dan the Man and Ironshark like this.
  20. Ismaili777 Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2019
    I feel like given the ideals of 1848, despite a ceremonial monarchy remaining, this Germany will in essence by modern day be a “social democracy.” Granted I think America also will be less neoliberal influenced.
    This Germany has the fundamental human rights demanded in 1848. Granted I think both the American Revolution and the legacy of 1848 will be influential for future movements.
    Interestingly given the military’s tradition is very Prussian, yet politically not so much, what legacy will men like Frederick the great have? I feel he may be admired for his empire building and strong military reforms (especially within you know, the army that retains a kinda macho Prussian attitude) but disliked for not being the most democratic man of the time, to say the least. It’s entirely possible it might differ on the segment of society. I certainly think he will be far more prominent in the history books, given Germany’s prominence.
    I wonder if this timeline will have a Cold War?