America - Albion's Orphan - A history of the conquest of Britain - 1760

Chapter 256: Checkbook Diplomacy
1831

Manhattan


Though it would take much of 1830 and early 1831, Parliament finally agreed how to fund the Sonoran Purchase (renamed by His Majesty as "Baetica" after yet another Roman Province, this one in contemporary Spain and Portugal). The nation's finances remained fragile but the influx of gold and silver over the past decade had helped stabilize the banking system.

Still, "Smith's Folly", as it was known in some quarters, forced the nation into the unaccustomed practice of debt financing. There were plenty of Americans wiling to invest in government bonds, though.

King Frederick would see the nation's political leaders start to fragment as the "Constitutional Crisis" reached a boiling point. If a vote of No Confidence does not bring down a Ministry....what did?

The King invited the Ministers to form a government...but theoretically were beholden to Parliament. If Parliament could not bring down a Ministry....then the King may keep anyone he likes in control over the government indefinitely without any pretense of democratic sanction. The worst Parliament could do is refuse to fund the government...and there were ways around this. This neither Parliament nor the nation could allow.

Oddly, it was the First Lord which proposed a solution. If the King could give up that authority to select the government in more official terms, then perhaps some sort of compromise could be worked out.

William Steuban Smith recommended an alternative...well, several.

These included:

Giving Parliament authority to vote on the First Lord for a set number of years.

Allowing direct vote by the American people, also for a set number of years.

This second was obviously unacceptable thus Smith proposed an Amendment to the Constitution to reflect an automatic vote among Parliament every three years. Later this was changed to five years to match the automatic Parliamentary election cycle.

The Crown, as always, had the right to call for a new election at any time (though this has rarely ever been utilized in the past). The First Lord, like the rest of Parliament, would only serve until the next automatic Parliamentary cycle in cases of a Royal Call for an Election, not a full five year term reset at that point.

In spring of 1831, the First Lord ushered this through Parliament, perhaps the most profound change to law in the past six decades. At the fall election in Parliament, there were numerous contenders for the First Lordship. While political party and faction had not quite developed despite ardent efforts from some quarters, there were obvious interest groups backing certain candidates.

Among the men rising to threaten Smith were:

Daniel Webster - popular in some quarters of the public for his ingenious, the abrasive Vermonter also managed to alienate a number of people in Parliament.
Henry Clay - perhaps the closest thing to an old-style British Party boss. Clay had a history of making alliances and pushing through legislation applauded by his western constituents in Shawnee.
Martin Van Buren - another skilled political organizer from New York born to a Dutch family who learned English as his second tongue.
John Quincy Adams - the son of the former First Lord, Adams was an intelligent, hard-working and honorable man hindered by his glacial personality. He was also a cousin of the First Lord.
John Sergeant - A Princeton educated Pennsylvanian.
Richard Rush - Pennsylvanian
Philip Hamilton - New Jersey

In the end, Parliament would hem and haw for days, apparently uncertain how to exorcise their new power. Late night bargaining sessions behind closed doors occurred with regularity as men attempted to gain support. Eventually, the King himself had to publicly and politely inquire just when Parliament was planning on making a decision.

The first round of votes occurred in October. Fourteen men received at least one vote. By agreement, every round of voting would see one name be removed. In this case, a full five gentlemen receiving votes requested that their names be taken off the ballots.

One by one, the true contenders weeded out the pack.

By late October, on the 5th Ballot, the man who won 50%+ of the votes in Parliament for the position of First Lord was......the current First Lord William Steuban Smith.

His official term, unless he died, resigned or was dismissed by the King, would carry through 1835.
 
Chapter 257: Creaking Floors
1832

Santa Fe, Iceni Territory


General Sam Houston, governor of Iceni and Dobunni Territories, was getting signals that his career appear to have peaked. The humiliating defeats of his forces in California, Russian America and what is now Baetica had damaged his prospects of a more desirable posting. He was lucky not to have been relieved despite having no hand in the fiascos.

At least that damned Zachary Taylor was down in Baetica, out of Houston's hair. But, of course, that left two huge provinces under Houston's care. Prospectors continued to pour in, though few dared to cross the Russian or Californian border. There was some interest in mining in Baetica but the hostile Indians of the region, unhappy with being handed over to British America, continued to create problems.

Perhaps the biggest issue facing Taylor's inner circle was that Lieutenants Lincoln and Davis were both courting the same girl: General Taylor's daughter Sarah. Houston knew damned well this was not going to get better.

At least his "mustang" James Smith, whom had been raised from the ranks, wasn't causing problems. Indeed, the man had been tasked with escorting the Taylor women from Santa Fe to General Taylor's camp in Villa de Pitic, Baetica Territory. Houston hoped that getting rid of the troublesome girl would allow Davis and Lincoln to mend their friendship.

Smith would also carry with him a large amount of currency, the second payment of 1,000,000 pounds sterling due to Anahuac for the sale of Sonora (now Baetica).

Russian America

For the past several years, with the discovery of gold fields, the Russian Empire actively sought to colonize as many people as possible in Russian America. Previously, most Russian immigrants to the American colonies would sail along the indian Ocean to the Pacific...or just directly from Siberia.

But changing political situations allowed the Russians to increase this quantity of migrants. Previously, the Spanish saw no reason to aid Russian Immigration to America. But the separation of Anahuac and California would reduce any particular friction between the colonial Empires. Also, the weakening relationship between Spain and France left the Spanish Ministers seeking political ties elsewhere.

Thus when the Russians asked the Spanish for permission to transit the Panama region rather than circumnavigating the globe, the Spanish saw little reason to create an international incident. Thus thousands of Russians would begin pouring into Russian America from the western Russian lands (mostly out of St. Petersburg or the Black Sea region), areas previously too remote from Russian America to provide manpower.

Some Spanish ministers (and colonial officials) protested this. There were still dreams of retaking Anahuac and California as well as challenging the borders of British North America and Russian America. Few saw how closer relations with Russia mattered to or could benefit Spain.

From the Russian standpoint, this meant increasing the influx of Russians to the colonies from perhaps 2000 per year to over 10,000 eagerly seeking quick wealth in a land with fewer social restrictions (no serfdom).

With a huge swath of coastal land to fill, the Russians flooded across Panama to fill it.

Guadalajara, Anahuac

King Augustin II of Anahuac had long feared a coup d'etat. People were unhappy with the economic doldrums. Powerful men were reportedly hearing offers of bribes from the Governor of New Spain to help regain the territory for King Carlos V .

The sale of a square inch of territory was abhorrent to Augustin II but he realized that the nation was so far beyond bankrupt that only a massive infusion of specie from America would allow any semblance of solvency.

Agustin, now in his mid-twenties, had grown up to be a well-read and intelligent young man. He knew more about civic finances (and bankruptcy) than only in Anahuac. The Kingdom was forever on the verge of collapse and he'd hoped that the 3,000,000 America Pounds Sterling would revitalize his country...or at least allow the government to function and the purchase of military supplies.

Little did he realize that the 2nd installment of the American payments were being waylaid at the border by a twenty man gang led by "One Leg Tony", the former Spanish Royal Officer, former rebel officer and former British American officer, Antonio de Santa Anna.

After losing his leg in a battle with the Yaquis fighting for King Frederick, Santa Anna was put on half pay (in reality retirement). Humiliated, Santa Anna would forge a gang with South Carolinian Will Travis and other men, including a 14 year old former Maryland Slave named Frederick.

Despite having twice the manpower available when Santa Anna attacked, Lieutenant Smith would panic and lead his men to high ground nearby....leaving most of the gold and silver upon the horses. Santa Anna would utilize the fear of the Yaquis by having several of his men dress up on warpaint and feign an Indian attack.

By the time Smith figured out the ruse, the gold and silver had vanished into the ravines.
 
Chapter 258: Consequences
1832 - Fall

Santa Fe


"How the hell can you lose 1,000,000 lbs sterling?!" General Houston demanded in utter exasperation to Lieutenant Smith, who had trouble keeping from quivering.

Smith knew better than to interrupt his superior's rant. The two had served together for years and formed a general sense of mutual respect. But Smith returning empty handed...and without taking a single casualty....after failing in his mission to deliver his precious cargo was enough for even Houston's patience.

"This is an utter catastrophe, you know this don't you?!" Houston demanded. "Half of Parliament will demand an investigation! This will be a terrible blow to the reputation of the 20th Infantry!"

Armstrong Hymen Thruston, aka "John James Smith", merely nodded, hoping the interview would be over soon. He knew damned well that this would result in far more attention that the once-attempted regicide wanted. Ignoring the potential for personal prosecution, the last thing Smith wanted was to return to Manhattan where people would look uncomfortably at his past. It had been decades since Smith killed George Washington in an attempt to assassinate Frederick I for British North America and no one had ever managed to associated his alter-ego "Smith" with his true identity.

But losing 1,000,000 lbs sterling?

That could be trouble.

Smith quietly considered simply walking away from the army, perhaps crossing one of the local borders. But Americans were hardly welcome these days in Russian America, California, Anahuac and New Spain, not after the border incidents of the previous years. Also, there was a chance which he would be captured by the army if he attempted to abandon his post and face prosecution for desertion and possible even be accused of collaboration with the thieves. As humiliating as it was to be known as the man who lost a huge amount of gold and silver for the nation.

Already the international incident had led to arguements between America and Anahuac over who was responsible for the loss. The attack took place on Anahuac and by, supposedly, Anahuac citizens. But the Anahuac government would point out stipulations in the contract that America was responsible for delivery to Guadalajara.
 
Chapter 259:
1833

Nepal


The Raja of Nepal, Arthur Wesley, had started his own dynasty over the past two decade in Nepal, serving as a nominally independent but nevertheless subservient client state of the Maratha Empire. Many other Kingdoms on the subcontinent had similar relationships with the Peshwa. Occasionally, these would be polite but distant, something which made the assorted petty crowns breathe easier.

However, other occasions would create more concern.

Too many times the Peshwa would make unreasonable demands for treasure or troops. As the Peshwa's MADE many of these Kings and Princes and Rajas (etc), this did not seem so unreasonable. Other occasions he would unilaterally commence oppressing ethnic or religious minorities, often with no particular reason.

By 1833, Wesley was well entrenched in his Nepalese Kingdom, his native wife having provided multiple children (all of who followed the Hindu faith, the majority in Nepal). Aging, the man had no desire to return to the field. However, the Peshwa's command did not leave any particular leeway.

Wesley rode from his high eastern Kingdom towards Pune. Here he learned that the Peshwa desired to "protect" the Hindus under the rule of the Nawab of Bengal. The Irish-born man had not heard of any particular oppression in recent years by the Nawab of the Hindu minority. But the Peshwa intended to put a stop to it nevertheless (assuming it was at all true and if the Peshwa cared in the slightest).

Well into his sixties, Wesley knew he may not survive another campaign. Leaving his wife and son in command of Nepal, Wesley had not choice but to take command of the Maratha forces massing at the border of Bengal.

Manhattan

The Ambassador from Anahuac would be received with courtesy by the King...and deferred to the government ministers. Unsurprisingly, the Ambassador demanded full payment for the "Sonora Purchase". Parliament was already debating whether or not to take responsibility for the stolen shipment when the third and, theoretically, final payment was dispatched.

Naturally orders were sent for General Taylor and Houston to ensure its safe delivery.

Guadalajara

Despite the second payment of the 3,000,000 lb sterling purchase having been waylaid, the Kingdom of Anahuac was, indeed, experiencing an odd economic situation of inflation. With the first payment of 1,000,000 lb sterling arriving safely, the Anahuacans swiftly realized that they had little to no ways to obtain actual products. Spain continued to forbid direct trade with New Spain or allow Anahuacan ships from naval trade. That only left the Kingdom of California, Russian America and British America as potential trading partners.

Unfortunately, the great distances made receiving bulk goods from British America unfeasible. California lacked a population to import or export significant goods. Russian America also had a low population but wanted little of what Anahuac produced.

Thus, the Anahuacans suddenly held large gold reserves...but nothing to spend it on. Thus the government used some of the gold to pay off internal debts while also giving the long-suffering "volunteer" soldiers with some gold. As individuals, they similarly had nothing to spend it on the the inflation wreaked havoc upon the nation. The barter system that was common among the lower classes proved prevalent and was perhaps the only thing that kept the economy functional.

Any transaction utilizing gold would see the costs spiraling ever higher.
 
The situation in Anahuac cant keep going on like this, the more this economic crisis grows the more likely I think BNA will end up with the territory voluntarily
 

Ganishka

Banned
The situation in Anahuac cant keep going on like this, the more this economic crisis grows the more likely I think BNA will end up with the territory voluntarily
I just want to see the Americans expelling the Russians from NA, Moscow punished for the stupidity of being a land empire with oversea colonies.

Ugly borders, the most gruesome crime of all
 
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I find it a bit weird that France doesn't seem to care in the slightest that Russia is turning the Balkans and the whole Middle East into its backyard.
 
Chapter 260:
1833 - Fall

Baetica


Governor-General Zachary Taylor had been amused at the junior officers fawning over his daughter Sarah. However, it soon became apparent that Lincoln and Davis were intent on battling for his daughter's hand. This was creating enough dissention that Taylor was happy to have been transferred in 1832 from Iceni to Baetica, recently acquired from Anahuac. Naturally, Taylor's entire family travelled from Santa Fe to Baetica.

Taylor expected the nonsense to end. He did not want another daughter (like his eldest who married an Army surgeon) to waste her life as a soldier's wife in god-awful hellholes like this. Indeed, Taylor had nearly ordered his own long-suffering wife and children from Baetica after some of the local Indians rose up again. However, it seemed unlikely that the natives intended to raid larger towns and Taylor expected the situation to resolve itself soon enough. Emissaries had been sent to the local tribes and most seemed willing to make peace with the American government.

Now, Sarah was once-again deluged by ardent admirers as Davis and Lincoln had passed through en route to Guadalajara with the third shipment of gold and silver (the second to make it) for the purchase of Baetica. Sarah was pressed for an answer. Taylor considered ordering both out of his camp but that was ungentlemanly and unprofessional.

Eventually, Taylor decided to speak with each man privately and give them the only conceivable answer he could give: he would allow his daughter to select her own husband...provided that that man was not a soldier.

A few weeks later, Sarah Taylor would be married to Lieutenant Abraham Lincoln...who had tendered his resignation from the Army with the intent of entering the field of law.

Heartbroken, Jefferson Davis could not summon the will to remain for the wedding. He opted to return to Santa Fe beforehand to report to General Calhoun.

Manhattan

First Lord William Steuban Smith, spent over a year convincing Parliament to extend another million pounds sterling to the budget to replace the funds stolen by the bandits in Baetica intended for Anahuac. This did not prove popular and many Parliamentarians made good political points with constituents for opposing this. However, the First Lord had witnessed the King stating it was "a matter of honor" and few Parliamentarians truly opposed the measure. Still, some public resentment remained for years afterwards.

Smith also managed to allow the ruckus over the humiliating military defeats in the west to subside, mainly by continually pushing it to the back of the agenda until people forgot about it. The Ambassador from Russia nearly departed in a huff but Smith managed to pen an apology/non-apology which spared the pride of all involved. In truth, there wasn't much either nation could do to harm the other if relations devolved. Perhaps Russia may raid American shipping in the North Sea and the Caribbean. Perhaps America might....and this was a big MIGHT...find some way to launch an invasion of British North America over the Rocky Mountains. In truth, with the population of the Russian colony well over 250,000 and apparently rising by the day, it did not seem likely that any force of American origin could possibly cross the mountain chain and sustain a logistical base (though some soldiers remained hard at work reviewing the matter and hoped to provide an invasion plan sometime in the 19th century.

As it was, America actually prospered almost as much by the Russian Gold Boom as Russia as many of these prospectors, seeing the high taxes levied upon gold mining by the Russian colonial government, the lack of products to actually spend it on in Russian America (inflation was, if anything, more rife in Russian America than in Anahuac) and facing a god-awful 6-12 month long journey back to Russia where serfdom remained prevalent....well, many simply opted to travel along the mountain trails into America, taking their gold with them. Indeed, much of the gold used by America to purchase Baetica (the Sonora Purchase) had entered circulation in America from these Russian miners. Evidently, the Russian colonial government was better set up to fight a war than keep individuals from escaped east.

It was these men and women whom would form the first Russian communities in America.
 
Eventually, Taylor decided to speak with each man privately and give them the only conceivable answer he could give: he would allow his daughter to select her own husband...provided that that man was not a soldier.
So dramatic! I like it. Would look great as a TV show.

....well, many simply opted to travel along the mountain trails into America, taking their gold with them. Indeed, much of the gold used by America to purchase Baetica (the Sonora Purchase) had entered circulation in America from these Russian miners. Evidently, the Russian colonial government was better set up to fight a war than keep individuals from escaped east.
Somehow, the Rocky Mountains are becoming something akin to the Berlin Wall in the 19th century… Fascinating!
 
So long as the Russians keep the squatters out of California and the rest of the Pacific coast, St Petersburg is happy enough with the gold they get.
 
I find it a bit weird that France doesn't seem to care in the slightest that Russia is turning the Balkans and the whole Middle East into its backyard.
I'm not sure if France would be overly concerned with any form of Russian threat. Russia is, if anything, a potential ally against their age-old enemy, Austria.


Yes, Russia's fleet is expanding and would rival France's as strongest in the North Sea and Mediterranean but neither French or Russian interests necessarily collide.

If France were to act aggressively against Russia, it seems unlikely that they would be able to project enough power from across Europe. The OTL Crimean War saw a considerably less capable Russian than this one I've created for this TL beaten only by an alliance of Britain, France, Austria, Piedmont and the Ottoman.

I can't see any cassis belli which would make France care enough about Greece or the Levant to draw France's attention away from closer matters like Germany, Italy, Spain or Austria.

I can't imagine French or Russian fleets battling for domination of trade with neutral nations. Both have more important things to do and little to nothing to gain by direct conflict.
 
So long as the Russians keep the squatters out of California and the rest of the Pacific coast, St Petersburg is happy enough with the gold they get.
Probably, this remote colony was started for a few hundred pelt traders. Now that most of the fur trade was dead (along with most of the fur-bearing animals of this era), anything Russian gets out of America is simply "extra".
 
So dramatic! I like it. Would look great as a TV show.



Somehow, the Rocky Mountains are becoming something akin to the Berlin Wall in the 19th century… Fascinating!
Thanks for reading.

The Berlin Wall may be good symbolism though in the short term it makes a far greater physical barrier.

At the level of technology in this TL (a bit behind OTL), the light American population of the Plains, the fluid political situation with the Great Plains Indians and the sheer distances involved, I don't think any American aggression would be possible against Russia, probably not until another several decades of population expansion west AND the emergence of railroad technology for logistical support. Even then, the Americans would have to cross the Rockies in suitable numbers to conquer hundreds of thousands of Russians or Californians.

I don't think organized American aggression against these west coast nations/colonies would be likely until at least the 1860's to 1870's. By that time, the populations may be so large that it is unlikely for America to try to conquer them.

Looking back at American history, The American colonies and later the United States of America repeatedly made huge acquisitions of land:

1. The British/Colonial Conquest of Canada and Florida during the 7 Years War.
2. The Louisiana Purchase.
3. The American effective conquest of East and West Florida from Spain.
4. The movement into Washington and Oregon
5. The Texas Annexation
6. The Mexican conquest of half of Mexico.
7. The Seward Purchase of Alaska

In every case, the populations were either very low in Europeans. French Canada only had 80,000 French. The Louisiana Purchase had fewer than that. The Florida annexations were even less than that. The Oregon territory less than that.

There were some Europeans in Texas but they were mainly Anglos already or Spaniard's/Mexicans with many supporting of the Annexation.

Even the conquest of the half of Mexico didn't bring much in the way of population. While California, New Mexico, Arizona, etc made up half of Mexico's land, it only had about 3% of Mexico's population and a disproportionate number of those were Indians hardly integrated into the Mexican state.

This is a long way of saying that America annexing say, 500,000 Russians or 400,000 Californians, by force would not be within the American skillset. Even the OTL acquisitions of Puerto Rico and Hawaii, with their relatively light populations caused problems while the temporary additions of Cuba and the Philippines with their larger populations proved insurmountable.
 
Chapter 261:
1833 - Winter

Puebla


Tomas de Zumalacorregui, Governor of New Spain, had spent three years attempting to corral the sheep he'd been given to govern. Assuming that he could get through to the local gentry that it was for the best that Peninsulars like him continue to guide the colonies, he would swiftly be disappointed.

Already, there had been great sentiment against the King...or at least against the Cortes of Spain by all segments of the population. While reforms had been many, political reforms had been few. The fact that two nations (excluding the lands taken by the British and Russians) emerged from this sentiment in the past decades to the west proved the weakness of the Spanish grip.

Even the colonials of what was left of New Spain proved restless. The patricians desired more power...naturally. Even the plebians expected some sort of....of....votes as if they were deviant Protestants to the north. The fact that the King of British North America actually yielded to this mob by ceding virtually all his power proved how dangerous this sentiment could be.

Thus Zumalacorregui would work as extensively to maintain order over the lands still under his control as he did to attempt to regain control over the disputed Valley of Mexico. Naturally, the Governor also was preparing to regain Anahuac...and potentially other lands to the North.

Zumalacorregui spent years building up resources, ordering the colonials into "volunteer" regiments under command of Peninsular officers and a few colonial gentry he trusted. This, of course, irritated much of the aristocrats and alcaldes of New Spain.

Due to the economic crisis of the times , trade had been down and even the still-lucrative mines were facing social and political unrest, the "volunteers" were increasingly refusing to assemble on Sundays after church. The colonial gentry, whom prospered by the Spanish system, bafflingly began supporting THE PEASANTS in their resistance.

Strikes became common in the vital silver mines. Unapproved migration back and forth with Anahuac and California continued apace as Spanish colonials sought better working conditions on haciendas or mines (it was unclear where, if anywhere, conditions were better). This was unacceptable. For taxes to be collected, workers had to work. Zumalacorregui was sympathetic to the working classes and was willing to discuss wages in areas which the government held certain powers.

But men not showing up for duty and their social superiors actively supporting them....

This could not be allowed.

With the losses of revenue, the Governor was forced to raise taxes and then impose fines for failure to show up for militia. With so many of the local patricians resisting his authority, Zumalacorregui was inclined to replace any officers in the militia whom were not politically reliable.

Humiliated, many of these colonial gentry would commence communicating with one another to air their grievances and find new ways to resist.
 
Hmm… Interesting! I’m getting some OTL American Revolution vibes. “No taxation without representation!” Almost everyone is getting angrier and angrier at the Peninsulares, while uniting in a common front.

I wonder how a successfully independent New Spain (name change pending) would develop and evolve, under the circumstances given to them in TTL.
 
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