AHC: An American "Taiping Rebellion"

My knowledge is far from being stellar in American history, but I will attempt to take a stab at this:

Let us consider as many potential ways to make the US, otherwise a hegemonic and territorial behemoth into a dysfunctional and fragmentized empire that, despite declining in power, otherwise maintains an ethos of unity and 'imperialism' which allows it to maintain itself as a concept even through collapse. First I would suggest that the War of 1812 develops into a more decisive American defeat, with no victory of Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans and the British instead are able to extract a clear cut loss without any accompanying American popular reasoning that a victory occurred. Rather, the British manage to acquire a favorable treaty after occupying New Orleans briefly wherein they acquire an economic zone of occupation therein and create a rule wherein the US is unable to station soldiers in New Orleans.

The result of the defeat, let us say, unites more of the radical politically motivated peoples across the region in hatred against the British and more importantly divides the country in regards to who is to be blamed for such a defeat in war. Traditional elites who controlled the Virginian Presidency receive much blame and political agitation emerges against planting elites from more westerly southerners and by northerners who already harmed by the war, seek appeasement with the British. How to retake or renegotiate the situation in Louisiana becomes the critical political discussion, but otherwise is hampered by dissent within the government. Southerners envious of their position advocate war readiness and combatting the British menace, expelling the foreigners and harrying the foreign economic power on the north and south. Much of the northern politicla establishment, such as Whigs, however rather advocate focusing inward, appeasing the south by extending slavery into the territories of the Louisiana Purchase and so forth so as to not endanger trading relations with the British via Canada. Dissent and agitation is quelled temporarily by American expansionism through settlement of the Louisiana Purchase but the dissolution related to the success of the Republic, traditional religious institutions and the older elite of America grow amongst the younger segments of the population whose fervor for reclamation and imperialism know no limit.

Settlement of the west is paired with agitation within Texas against Mexico which the government readily supports otl due to its politick of utilizing western expansion as a component of avoiding making a decision on the virulent hatred of the British and or of foreign realms and states. Migration is more readily promoted earlier by both factions of the government, with families expanding westward against the declining Mexican government swept aside in a lighting war against a victorious US, however the victories are bitter sweet for the US.

Expansionism against Mexico carries with it a firm 'why,' why have the Americans expanded against Mexico but not against the British and 'reclaimed Canada' or driven the foreigners from New Orleans? Piled onto this, traditional political classes in the states attempt to suppress the ongoing agitation by maintaining limitations on the franchise and by promoting more rampant appointments of officials without electoral processes, creating a system of cronyism across much of the states and expanding into the west. Further, migrants from Europe are unleashed into the US as more friendly migration policies are maintained or adopted so as to dissipate political angst and to improve the economy and or to populate the new western territories that are enlarging as they speak. As a result a growing fragility starts to emerge in the system, a radicalized population disaffected and moving towards the west and or into places more distant from centralized control alongside a changing demographic situation with immigrants becoming more prominent in certain areas.

Enter thus the figure of Joseph Smith, who we can say promotes a similar form of Mormonism as otl, but with a greater emphasis on his divinity and or divine kingship. This alt Smith suggests himself and is hailed by his people as not only a prophet but as a living deity and a king of the earth. Dissatisfaction with the current situation in the US leads to some people following him, but not yet huge numbers. Joseph Smith and his followers then suffer their otl increment incidents in Missouri and he is killed but instead, he is said to have ascended and an heir is chosen with a royal ordinal adopted and the sect flees west with a radicalized goal of creating a divine empire within the holy land that is America, the true and new holy land, a central empire that encompasses all humans and possesses all necessary resources. People to the east however take little notice to this cult that fled west as new issues emerge in the imperial center of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, etc...

Abolitionists in the north, who focus upon inward improvement and sanctifying the country into a devout land preach a movement of reconciliation with god, rejection of vice, crushing indecency, ending tyranny and cleansing the country of decadence in an effort to sanctify the country to be greater. Some people join these movements and many readily adopt the message of these abolitionists for their charisma in promoting reforms to the government such as destroying corruption, eradicating the planting elite whose decadence and vice costed the country control of New Orleans and in readying the country for a religious revival. Southerners react to this movement as can be expected, by harsh resistance in preservation of their perceived privilege and dominance over the US. Accusations regarding the reasoning for failure to renegotiate the situation with the British wash aflow and corrupt officials and politicians receive bribes and rewards from agents from Britain and from merchants who benefit from the continued status quo of division that disallows US action decisively.

The stalemate however turns into a disaster as southerners increasingly assert the doctrine of nullification and refuse to adhere to the mandates of a federal government on any issue due to perceived sympathies to abolitionism. Tensions rise to a boil as in the 1856 election a moderate president wins and defeats a southern aligned candidate, rocking the country and the southern states threaten secession. No Andrew Jackson figure has emerged and the franchise is limited and hence popular interest is not firmly zealous amongst the yeoman farmers or middle class for any side and the situation becomes more of a dispute of the 'palace' that is of upper-elites and their proxies as opposed to a more wholesale 'people v. people' struggle.

War occurs as the southern states secede, including Virginia and Missouri. War rages across the country but in the west, a new empire is being born. Creating a capitol city in the west in Utah, the alt-Mormons develop an imperial court and imperial dogma and a set policy for 'reclaiming the holy land' and 'expelling the foreigners.' Part of this programme is the adoption of a talented and militant cadre of missionaries who are funded by this imperial city, the missionaries are dispatched across the lands in the west and towards the east to convert the population to either become Mormons in their land or to migrate to Utah and its surroundings to receive the benevolence of the god emperor and aid in the goal of expelling the foreigners and reclaiming America. The war in the east becomes more volatile than otl with a more equal distribution of forces as New Orleans remains open and British neutrality ensures southerners receive shipments of weapons and supplies via the ungarrisoned New Orleans.

Better southern generals and initiative allows some early victories which frustrate the US establishment and accusations continue to fly and it is decided that Democrat politicians are spies for the rebels and or allies of the British who increasingly are, oddly, associated with supporting the South and its rebellion. Therefore, Democratic northern senators are purged and legislation is put into effect enforcing a general draft and the eradication of political dissent from the opposition party. Killing off the potential Copperheads and radicalizing the political base allows the US to become politically united in their resolve and the war effort begins to turn positive by 1859-1860. Immigrants are filled with military roles and outfit the army with the majority of its recruits and the US gains significant victories on the Mississippi River, taking Saint-Louis and then subsequently pushing south and occupying all of Arkansas and devastating the Southern army at Natchitoches, securing the heart of Louisiana, creating panic in Baton Rouge and in Mississippi.

On the eastern front, the US defeats the Southerners in Maryland and finally turn the tide as the Southern government rescinds armies from the east to the west to defend Natchez. Southern defeat in battle in Virginia divides the Southerners politically into factions as Jefferson Davis and his cadre are criticized as corrupt and decadent and favoring the west over the east and many argue that the war will be won in the east and not the west. Davis asserts the importance of holding the river transport and reclaiming Saint-Louis, but his arguments are followed by firm denunciations by the governor of Georgia, who with support of a militia army, assert a nullification of their own against Jefferson Davis and control from Richmond, effectively breaking the cohesion of the south. Brief division in the south allows the US to take greater initiative and push deeper down the river towards Baton Rouge, capturing it a few months later. However, without orders, overzealous an American general pushes towards New Orleans and blocks transport of goods going from New Orleans towards Biloxi in an attempt to quarantine the movement of goods to enemy positions. The result is a crisis wherein the British threaten the US.

Once more, the US is divided and the political elites decide to acquiesce to temporary concessions to the British, granting them greater trading privileges and removing all armies within a certain distance from New Orleans. Concessions are argued to be necessary to ensure an alliance between the British and South never occurs, but the politically agitated population already lacking a firm vote and the army resent the decision and the US military forces become increasingly more independent in their continued war operations against the South. Taking out pent up frustration on the South, US armies devastate the countryside, destroying slave and slaveowner alike and cities are not only captured, but sacked wholesale. Corrupt generals and officials in the army collect the revenue from the spoils and the population of Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee suffer devastations. Destruction of large amounts of area cause the flight of many people to the west and in different directions, causing a growing population in the west in rapid fashion and also the spread of diseases which hammer a fragile South.

By 1861, the Southern government is wracked by epidemic, refugee crisis and a declining military effort and in early 1862 surrender but official government surrender is refused in many pockets of the South as militia and local governments (Georgia) maintain the war unofficially as local actors. Areas recaptured by the US soldiers become difficult places to live as the enlarged armies do not demobilize as generals maintain war conditions against guerilla, militia and continued hostility. Manumission of slaves is carried out, but continued devastation and the rise of terrorist organizations such as the KKK limit the benefits of AA liberties, many of whom remain unable to vote due to lacking franchise. As a result of poor morale, continued war efforts and corrupt generals increasingly fat on spoils and dissatisfied with ever demobilizing, the US field armies decline in efficacy and become little more than large armed robbers devastating the countryside and looting allies and enemies alike, creating general hatred across the region.

All the while, refugees fleeing west are met by the alt-Mormons who are building a new empire in the west free from the situation to the east. Without necessarily agreeing to the religious tenants of this 'empire' many join under the protection of this empire. American armies likewise increasingly poorly commanded fail to control the status in Texas as Southern militia maintain control of Eastern Texas and the Comanche and Karankawa tribes harry the Texan settler populations from south and west. In 1863, with new refugees and influx of illicit guns from the east as a result of fleeing militia, the Imperial Court in Utah dispatches armies to suppress the Comanche and establish provinces in Texas, beginning a true war between it and the US. Previously, the US, due to disinterest, maintained a lack of interest in Utah aside for connections to California, but as the Mormons began to influence Texas, the US, confident in its victories resume interest in Utah and in reasserting central control of California.

The issue however emerges when the American armies dispatched are poorly prepared and are phenomenally defeated in a battle due to smaller size and lack of planning. Victory for the Mormons, while small, appear large and across the Midwest peoples already unhappy with the war and situation begin to send envoys and politicians to the 'Emperor' to try and create connections. Mormon victories also isolate California, which increasingly begins to drift alone and in greater collaboration with the British as an unofficial protectorate. Mormon victory also emboldens popular revolt elsewhere in the south as groups like the KKK find more recruits ready to rise up as militia and attack the US military encampments. Government officials in Washington already corrupt and short sighted attempt to double down on their mistakes by sending larger armies and restarting drafts to suppress rebellions in the south, reconnecting California, suppressing the Texan rebels, crushing the Comanche and capturing the false American Emperor. Rather than aiding in the efforts, the already fragile situation begins ripping apart as latent Irish agitation in New York City erupts into a city wide rebellion which ends in the occupation of the city by the Irish immigrants supported by certain mutinied soldiers of Irish descent. The divided situation in the east coast makes dealing with all of these growing issues difficult and the army, increasingly corrupt and the populace weary of war, makes dealing with the issues problematic. Problems however escalate when the Mormon Imperial forces strike east and with armies composed of Mormon militia and refugee soldiers from the south and west invade Iowa and Missouri and rout the US garrisons, and the rumors wash across the lands as people expect either the end of the world is nigh or that the so-called Emperor is an omen of the rise of Christ.

In late 1863, the Mormon army captures Saint-Louis and celebration is held in Utah as the Emperor has expanded far and wide.

Probably unlikely, but here is my attempt aha.