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

Chapter 311 New
1865

The Congo


For six months, Armstrong Hyman Thruston had lived within a mud hut in some remote backwater. The Pygmies had little idea what to do with him but assumed that he must be a man of some power given his shocking tumor growing upon his neck. Tiny Pygmy children would poke his flesh throughout the day and the old man suffered endless indignities. While his presence was nominally explained to his servants as intending to "negotiate trade" with the Pygmy elders, Thruston gave up any pretense of this within days. Instead, he merely accepted the mud hut and food. Oddly, the Pygmies didn't press the matter and seemed to accept his new residence without further comment.

He wondered when it would be safe to return to the mouth of the Congo and flee the continent.


Manhattan

King Henry II would personally welcome King Alexei I of Russian North America when he got off the ship. Henry and his First Lord, Abraham Lincoln, would feel that the elevation of Russian North America to a Kingdom in its own right (with Alexei being a nominal vassal of his brother, the Czar Alexander III) would be a good thing for Russian and American relations as it indicated that Russia would be less likely to challenge American interests. A few jingoistic Parliamentarians had long advocated conquest of both Russian America and California but both the King and his First Lord found this naked aggression distasteful and dishonorable and refused to countenance this. However, eliminating the threat of Russian intervention in North America was still considered a good thing.

While it took some doing to find a good translator of English to Russian, the two Kings would eventually manage to communicate.

After all the effort, Henry would seem deem Alexei a vacuous idiot and his wife a shrewish hag. When the people finally boarded the transcontinental train bound for the Gulf of California (from which they would sail to Russian America), Henry breathed a sigh of relief for being rid of them.

He wondered if this was the reason why Czar Alexander was willing to grant Alexei a Kingdom on the other side of the earth? Just to get the younger sibling out of Moscow?

No, that seemed silly but odder things had happened.

The Levant

Over the course of the past decade, both Jews and Christians had been slowly filtering into the Levant. The Jewish population had increased to over 100,000 in the Holy Lands largely due to being inexorably pushed out of Poland (well over a third of the 1,000,000 Polish Jews had been expelled in the past decades and this number was only increasing by the year). While Spanish America, British North America, the French West Indies and the Berber Kingdom all accepted Jewish migration, this was not necessarily the same thing as WELCOMING Jewish migration. The European Muslims which had been resettling in the Southern Levant weren't necessarily happy with this either.

What REALLY slowed Jewish immigration to the Holy Lands was the arrival over over 25,000 Polish Catholics in the region over the past few years (the latest Christian group to migrate). Apparently, there had been a religious reawakening among the Catholics of Europe and the Papacy was now encouraging Catholic settlement of the Holy Lands in order to stake their own claim to being there. The last thing the Jews wanted was to be living with Poles again.

Therefore, by the mid 1860's, the massive wave of Jewish emigration from Poland was go almost completely to Southern Africa, where the East India Company and the Dutch Republic had opened the gates to all European settlers but especially the Jews. The lands east of the Cape Colony would rapidly become overwhelmingly Jewish.
 
Chapter 312 New
Summer, 1865

West Point


Though he enjoyed the company of the cadets, First Lieutenant George Custer was getting tired of sedate academic life (he also wasn't particularly getting along with his Commandant). It had been "suggested" that Custer seek a new post in the fall of 1865. However, the alternative of some remote frontier post didn't exactly excite him. Often officers were stuck in some tundra or desert under command of some drunken Captain for years....or even decades. Now that Custer had married, the last thing he wanted was to drag Libbie to some hellhole in the vague hopes that he may be called upon to fight a handful of Indian rebels of some non-descript Indian nation no one ever heard from.

Worse, an incident happened just after exams in May of 1865. Custer's brother Thomas and his friend Frederick Nietzsche had decided to celebrate the end of the semester with a wee bit of alcohol and ended up rather destroying some of the dormitory rooms one night. The Commandant, some idiot Hanoverian named Pierre Beauregard, decided to make an example and suspend the Cadet's for the following year. Not for the first time, Custer wished that Robert E. Lee had taken over West Point instead of Beauregard, who seemed to hold all northerners in contempt.

Both Thomas Custer and Frederick Nietzsche, though regretting their actions, had nearly lost their composure during Beauregard's tirade. Thomas virtually had to hold Frederick back from striking the man. But both managed to escape the office without an actual Court Martial, something the elder Custer barely avoided himself later that night.

The trio left the Academy that night and promptly got stinking drunk. Here, George Custer would reveal he'd been invited to partake in an expedition to Southern Africa against the feared Zulu people. An American officer in East India Company pay named Chatham Wheat had solicited help from his friend in Hanover, Nathan Bedford Forrest, to gather up a cavalry regiment of skilled and experienced horsemen.

Custer, seeing a poor paying position in some backwater in his future, was interested and his younger brother and German friend were happy to agree to join him. They didn't have anything to do in 1865/66 apparently. Indeed, the trio expected to be home by commencement of class in September of 1866 when the younger Custer and Nietzsche were eligible again to return to West Point.

Custer applied for a "leave of absence", something Beauregard almost fell over himself to provide without asking a single question, and managed to get his second brother, Boston Custer, scheduled to attend the academy in the fall of 1865, a deferment until 1866 as well. Then the three brothers and German friend would sail to Charlestown where hundreds of men Forrest had recruited to Company pay were assembling. Custer, as a legitimate West Point officer and Cavalryman, would be assigned command of a 100 man "battalion" of cavalry. Among his new command was a trio of Illinois farmboys named Virgil (22), Morgan (20) and Wyatt (18) Earp who seemed more interested in adventure and potential land grants than their pay.

Despite serving in foreign armies being technically illegal for American citizens, no real attempt was made to stop them departing despite it being common knowledge (even advertised in the newspaper) that they were doing so. In June of 1865, 300 Americans under command of a failed businessman from Hanover (Forrest) sailed for Africa on a pair of steamships recently produced by American shipyards in Virginia for the East India Company.

Messina

King Ruggero II of Sicily (House of Settimo), having inherited the Kingdom from his late father in 1863, would cast about for a few years in search of a bride. Only 25 years old, the young King aspired to stabilize his dynasty as quickly as possible. While the King (and his late father) remained popular with his subjects, the fact was that Ruggero Settimo had been nothing beyond a petty noble and naval officer when called to the throne of Sicily. At any point, the people of Sicily may deem him unacceptable and cast him aside with as little effort made in putting the family on the throne.

While neither Spain nor Habsburg Italy had attempted to conquer Sicily in decades (and showed no signs of doing so in the near future), a political marriage to a strong European Court was deemed preferable as it may provide a measure of protection for the island nation in the future. Unfortunately, many suspected that the ancient crowns of Europe would look down their noses at the upstart House of Settimo. Both the French and Portuguese monarchs "politely" declined to discuss a match for one of their unmarried princesses. It was looking increasingly likely that the King of Sicily would have to find some petty German state of Catholic extraction in order to find a Queen. This would do little to cement the House of Settimo in the eyes of Europe's elite as a powerful house.

However, to the general astonishment in Messina, the Habsburg Emperor Francis III would quietly inquire if Ruggero would consider one of HIS daughters. As many European members of the political class assumed it was only a matter of time before Habsburg Italy (backed by the rest of the Empire) or Spain would launch another attempt to invade Sicily, the fact that such an offer was made drew great astonishment.

In truth, Francis III had no interest in invading Sicily as he suspected, no doubt correctly, that the Spanish and/or French would oppose this. In many ways, the centrally located Sicily as an small independent nation served the regional peace more than three great nations contesting it. Further, unlike the King of Spain, whose Royal Family had a shortage of eligible Princesses at this time, Francis III and his wife had a bounty of eight daughters aged 20 down to 6 (and only two sons). There seemed to be few suitable marriages for them which would support the Imperial agenda. If even a secondary Kingdom like Sicily desired a wife, the Emperor was happy to dispatch one of his daughters. Otherwise, the Archduchesses would just sit around Court for decades demanding greater allowances from their father.

Any problem lay in the fact that the Archdutchess/Princesses, at least the elder three or four, lacked their mother's beauty. In her youth, the Empress had been known as one of the prizes of Europe and the Emperor had immediately been smitten with her. Ten children in 14 years lent evidence of this. Unfortunately, the elder girls more resembled their sallow faced father.

But Ruggero cared little of this. A Habsburg Princess would give his Kingdom a credence it had long lacked and perhaps even diminish the potential for invasion by Spain, France or Austria (in the case of the latter, having a Habsburg Queen on the throne did not necessarily mean the Empire wouldn't act with hostility if it suited the Emperor's purposes).

Thus the plain-faced Princess Theresa (named after her august ancestor) would travel to Sicily to wed the upstart King.
 
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Chapter 313 New
1865, Fall

Manhattan


In 1859, the drama between the two Royal District Attorneys came to a head when Daniel Sickles would discover his wife's affair with Philip Barton Key (son of the man who penned the defacto National Anthem "When the Warrior Returns") and attempt to shoot the unarmed man in broad daylight before witnesses. Fortunately, a passing actor, John Wilkes Booth, would witness Sickles shouting "You have assaulted my family" and, seeing the weapon being brandished, managed to strike Sickles hand with his cane, forcing the weapon from his grip. The younger man managed to wrestle Sickles to the ground until a pair of teamsters brought forth a rope and managed to tie the lawyer up until a constable arrived.

The trial was sensational. Sickles would reveal to the press a confession from his wife which detailed Key's behavior. Soon the public turned against Key. However, Key would retaliate by revealing Sickles' own rakish behavior and repeated affairs. By the end of the trial, the reputation of both men was shattered. They were compelled to resign their positions in the King's government. Sickles was found guilty of assault and ordered to spend a year in prison (which was largely spent in comfortable confines in the local jail where he received multiple liberties including allowing his wife to effectively move in with him, visits from many members of the community and occasional "furloughs").

The public would soon turn on Sickles after initial support. Many found a man defending his family honor to be in the right. However, they would find his reconciliation with a wife having done him wrong more infuriating than an attempted murder. Then the revelation of Sickles having multiple affairs himself colored him as a hypocrite.

Key, considered by many the handsomest man in Manhattan, would never again find government occupation. Both men would spend the early 1860's working as efficient attorneys for second-tier firms. Eventually, both would depart Manhattan .

Sickles would travel to Brazil and marry a local woman, eventually siring a large family in Sao Paulo.

Key, on the other hand, had four children to support after the death of his wife in 1859 (fortunately she never knew of the affair or had to face the shame of the public knowledge). He learned that the East India Company was looking for administrators in the Congo. He left his children in the hands of his in-laws and travelled to the Congo where he was placed in command of a district. In very short order, Key would find himself appalled at the brutality of the regime and submitted his resignation within months.

However, lacking enough money for a ticket home (his initial bonus sent by the company was left behind to support his children), Key was forced to remain for several more months. He was tempted to remain a few months longer for financial purposes. Finally, his resignation was accepted and his arrears paid. However, just before he planned to depart at the fall of 1865, he was offered another commission. Rumors of the infamous attempted regicide Armstrong Hyman Thruston serving as a petty official in the company had run rife for months. Initially thought to have escaped in the spring, now reports of a white man with a huge tumor on neck being spotted with Pygmies were circling the EAC plantations.

America was a large customer for EAC products and even the hint of an attempted regicide being harbored EAC territory was unacceptable. Therefore a man must be sent to investigate.

Key would be given several African Bantu translators and sent into the hinterlands in search of a man who may not even exist.

Lyrics of "When the Warrior Returns", a ballad regarding American soldiers and sailors of the Barbary wars by Francis Scott Key:
WHEN the warrior returns, from the battle afar,
To the home and the country he nobly defended,
O! warm be the welcome to gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended:
In the full tide of song let his fame roll along,
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng,
Where, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Columbians! a band of your brothers behold,
Who claim the reward of your hearts' warm emotion,
When your cause, when your honor, urged onward the bold,
In vain frowned the desert, in vain raged the ocean:
To a far distant shore, to the battle's wild roar,
They rushed, your fair fame and your rights to secure:
Then, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
In the conflict resistless, each toil they endured,
'Till their foes fled dismayed from the war's desolation:
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the Star Spangled flag of our nation.
Where each radiant star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turbaned heads bowed to its terrible glare,
Now, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Our fathers, who stand on the summit of fame,
Shall exultingly hear of their sons the proud story:
How their young bosoms glow'd with the patriot flame,
How they fought, how they fell, in the blaze of their glory.
How triumphant they rode o'er the wondering flood,
And stained the blue waters with infidel blood;
How, mixed with the olive, the laurel did wave,
And formed a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
Then welcome the warrior returned from afar
To the home and the country he nobly defended:
Let the thanks due to valor now gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended.
In the full tide of song let his fame roll along,
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng,
Where, mixed with the olive, the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave.
 
Chapter 314 New
1865

Paulgrad, Russian America


King Alexei I of Russian America was welcomed by his new subjects. They'd long desired more autonomy than the assorted Imperial governors were permitted to provide. Indeed, the Democracies along their borders (the Kingdom of British North America and the Kingdom of California) had left the Russian settlers with a sense of being left behind. By nature, these Russians were rugged and individualistic. Even those who arrived in Russian America and did not see their dreams of wealth come true were impressed that the colony allowed more freedom than even post-feudal Russia. Land was cheap and available and few people tried to tell them what to do.

While nominally the vassal of his elder brother, the young King Alexei (30 years old) would immediately attempt to stamp his own mark on the Kingdom. Initially, it had been explained that the Kingdom's budget would be modest at best as taxes were falling since the end of the gold rushes. Fortunately, the new King was less interested in building a great palace or the like than making a break from his brother. Therefore, the King would immediately determine to rename Russian America to something else.

Ideas considered included renaming the whole Kingdom after the initial Russian Colony of Alyeska but this was discarded.

Then "Northern Kingdom" was proposed (Severnaya Korolevstvo) but this was deemed perhaps too generic.

The Queen recommended "Alexei-land" but this brought such rounds of laughter among the commoners that the King dared not speak of it.

Finally, Tikhookeaskoya Korolevstvo was chosen (Pacifican Kingdom). It was accused of being rather predictable as well but the King was unwililng to simply call the land "Russian America" as it pointed to the Kingdom still being subordinate to Russia (which it technically was in 1865).

As it so happened, a few mini-gold rushes would renew in the next few years as new finds were discovered in Alyeska and other regions which allowed the budget to be balanced with enough tax money left over to build the palace that the Queen was demanding (which, incidentally, would be largely flattened and burned in the Paulgrad earthquate of 1906).

To further place his own stamp upon the region, the lands surrounding the relatively unpopulated southern portion of what was still called Saint Frantsisk Bay would be forged into a new city via land grants and renamed Aleksey Posadka (Alexei's Landing) as it was technically the first place the King had ever set foot upon his new Kingdom's soil (mainly due to a blown turbine on his ship as it steered into Saint Frantsisk Bay and the ship was forced to sail into the closest dock on the south of the Bay).

Legend would have it that the King had promptly disembarked and kissed the soil of this new land. In truth, after a night of drinking, His Majesty was passed out the entire time and only the following day could be roused to ascend to the dock and board another ship for Paulgrad. But these are the legends which make a nation.

Alexei would demand a census in 1866 and was stunned to learn that he had over 800,000 subjects. Earlier estimates had been closer to 700,000. Like his elder brother, Alexei would only permit Russian immigration with low numbers of foreigner licenses to reside given out. But, within a few years, Alexei would become friends with some foreign expatriates like the writer and humorist Sam Clemons and his family. Still, without any further Imperial transport subsidies, the influx of Russian settlers continued apace at roughly 10,000 per year with another 1000 legal foreigners (and maybe another 1000 illegal foreigners). New industries like fishing and mining were being developed for export while improved transportation and good relations with the Spanish Empire (which controlled the seas around and passes through the Americas) allowed agricultural surplus of wines (introduced by some German settlers), oranges (only in the south) and other goods to be exported in time to reach market.

Tikhookeskoya would quietly prosper over the course of the next decades.


The eastern reaches of the Congo

Philip Barton Key finally reached the Congo in early 1865 with a contract as a defacto bureaucrat for the East India Company. However, he loathed the injustices he saw about him so much that he nearly returned home immediately, only his financial status kept him from doing so. Finally, he was offered a sum of money plus passage back to America if he were to investigate the rumored presence of the attempted regicide Armstrong Hyman Thruston. As an American himself, the Company directors in the Congo hoped that an investigation by one of their own would mollify the public opinion in America against the EIC.

Given a party of a dozen Bantu translators and porters, Key entered the region of the Congo which had yet to be properly mapped in search of the Pygmy tribe rumored to be harboring a white man with a remarkable tumor on this throat. The party was joined by two dozen Bantu tribesmen who seemed to make even the African translators nervous. It was explained that they learned of the mission and desired to participate. It was also recommended that Key not try to stop them from doing so.

For days, the party paddled against the current, occasionally stopping at riverside Bantu-speaking villages. Eventually, the group were given the location of the Pygmy tribe, dozens of miles inland. Key and his "allies" would mark inland to the reported Pygmy village and, with shocking ease, found himself face to face with a withered white man with a bulbous tumor about his neck. In truth, Key couldn't comprehend how the man breathed with such a horrific affliction so near his throat.

When found, the man was laying upon a mat as a Pygmy villager cut open veins in his feet and pulled out long length of ringworm. Other wounds to the feet lent evidence that this was not the first "operation" visited upon him. Given the pestilential climate and the man's advanced age, it was astonishing that the old man still lived.

Seeing no reason for prevarication, Key quietly inquired "Mr. Thruston, I presume?"

With a grim smile, the fellow returned, "So they finally found me? I've been left in this hell so long that I had wondered if you were never going to arrive."

"I'm afraid that, under the authority of the East India Company, that you are to be placed under arrest and repatriated to the Kingdom of British America."

Resigned to his fate....and still staring at the expanding length of ringworm being pulled from his foot....Thruston merely nodded. He seemed to have no life left in him.

Key sighed, happy that his own ordeal seemed to have an imminent ending. Unfortunately, he was wrong. The Pygmies, who seemed unaccountably fearful when the Bantu warriors entered their village, soon commenced screaming as the Bantu warriors began butchering every Pygmy in sight. Several were killed, including the one patiently removing the ringworm, while the rest fled into the forest to escape the whooping Bantu.

In horror and outrage, Key shouted for them to stop. He didn't speak a word of Bantu but didn't doubt his intent could be mistaken. However, the African translators the EIC had dispatched to aid Key grabbed the American and fled with him into a nearby hut. Begging the not to speak, they explained that the Bantu tribesmen had long enslave the diminutive Pygmies and occasionally even ate them. The translators assured the EIC man that, if he were to try to interfere, the entire party would be massacred. Still, Key struggled to restrain himself and almost broke through to challenge them with his six-shooter. But, as it was apparent his translators and porters had no intention whatsoever of backing him, Key mentally counted the children at home counting upon him and chose not to take on two dozen Bantu.

Over the course of the night, terrible noises could be heard outside. At first, he'd assumed the shouts were coming from the Pygmies but eventually he could make out cries in English. The Pygmies apparently were not the sole subjects of the Bantu wrath. Only by morning would the group dare to creep out of the mud hut. What they witnessed would stay with Key forever.

While a few Pygmy bodies lay strewn upon the ground, there did not appear to be any prisoners. Instead, a great pot in the middle of the village was surrounded by the Bantu warriors. Summoning courage he didn't think he possessed, Key would lead his EIC Africans forward to see that the five foot tall pot was roiling over a high fire. Rumors that the Bantu occasionally ATE Pygmies sickened him. What he saw sickened him further.

The head of Armstrong Hyman Thruston peaked out of the boiling liquid, his features permanently etched in pain and horror. Sometime during the night, the Bantu had placed the infamous American in the pot, filled it with water.....and boiled him alive.

Rage exceeding his fear, Key ordered his own aides to translate, "The Company desires this man's body to return with me. He is a criminal and his face must be known to all."

The Africans laughed, their spears glinting in the sun. Only Key and one of his adjutants were armed with firearms (the adjutant unlikely to be much aid as he visibly quivered at the sight of the "tribal Africans"). Through the translator, Key learned that the Africans only joined the expedition to dine on the flesh of the mutated white man, his tumor apparently evidence of some great power they wished to transfer.

Feeling courage he didn't know he possessed, the American pulled his weapon and placed it to the chest of the apparent leader, "I will not leave without evidence of his death."

The tall and powerful man scowled, obviously deciding if he should attempt to kill the interloper. Finally, in a grunt of irritation, he turned about and pulled out a long blade which in Spanish lands was referred to as a "machete". He then cut off the head of Thruston at the neck. Most of the tumor came off with it. Grabbing the old man by the hair, the African threw the several appendage at Key, his eyes glinting dangerously. He said nothing more, just stared in anger.

The African translator begged the American in a soft voice to flee to the canoes.....now.....before it was too late. This Key was willing to accept and the group quickly retreated before the predatory glares of the cannibals. With one last glance backwards, Key saw the Africans cutting off swathes of flesh from the decapitated body, obviously to satiate their desire for...whatever power they would obtain.

The EIC party halted only momentarily to grab a large pot of what Key had learned to be the local alcohol and stuffed the head into it. Always fearful of an attack in the forest during the following hours, Key and his translators nevertheless made it to the river without further incident. They would immediately depart west along the currents and, again fearful that the Bantu tribesmen would change their minds and pursue, refused to halt for nearly two days in their desire to expand the distance between them and the ravenous men in the Pygmy village. Only later, when they encountered a remote EIC trading post would Key find a suitable container for the head and filled it to the brim with rum in hopes of preventing decomposition.

By October, Key had made his report and been approved to travel on an EIC ship for North America. Fortunately, this was a new steamship recently purchased from the Virginia shipyards and, in only two weeks, Key alighted upon a dock in Brooklyn. A day later, the American stood before the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs with a letter from the EIC Directors of the Congo explaining that they were returning the head of the infamous Armstrong Hyman Thruston with their compliments.

Naturally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, William Seward, was doubtful about this but would summon assorted men who had known the scoundrel and asked them to inspect the decapitated head. To his astonishment, Seward would receive universal agreement that this was....indeed....the remains of the assassin of George Washington and would be assassin of King Henry I of British North America.

The news would spread quickly throughout the country due to the new telegraph system. Even cities in the far west would become aware of Thruston's ghastly fate. First Lord Abraham Lincoln would seek an audience with His Majesty to inform him that his late father's would-be killer had finally met his end and inquired what His Majesty desired to do with the unsightly remains.

Henry II would point out the Department of Deviant Psychology at the College of New Jersey of Princeton had taken to studying abnormal brains. Perhaps the remains could be donated to that department?

Lincoln naturally agreed and thanked His Majesty for the suggestion.

And so, the head of Armstrong Hyman Thruston would remain for centuries on a shelf in Princeton. Generations of students would take the opportunity to gawk at the still-horrified expression etched across the man's face as the head rested in a large bottle of formaldehyde (recently discovered by a Russian chemist). Eventually, gaining entrace to the Psychology Department and viewing the remains in person (through a glass enclosure) would become something of a rite of passage for Princeton student.

For his efforts, Philip Barton Key would be granted a reward of 1000 pounds sterling from the King and memoirs of his journey would make him far more. He was able to regain custody of his children and purchase a quiet farm in New Jersey (oddly, not far from Princeton, though he never again sought to look upon Thruston's hideous visage) where he would practice law and live out the rest of his life in comfort.
 
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Chapter 315 New
1866

Manhattan


The election of 1865 would, like 1860, return a substantial number of Parliamentarians. However, it would also see the slow but inexorable movement towards Political Parties. While the diverse nature of the nation had prevented full-on parties to this point, the fact was that many Parliamentarians had trouble organizing to get local goals passed through Parliament. They needed allies....and allies turned to Parties where men voted on legislation which held no particular meaning for their own constituents.

While many expected Abraham Lincoln to stand down after 1865, the failure of his Ministry to assemble enough support for his Universal Suffrage Bill grated on him and, should he win the spring election among his brethren in Parliament, he would make this his highest priority.

As it was, there had been incremental change. Several Dominions had formally removed any discrimination in voting law (or halted the intentional violation of laws in place protecting universal suffrage). Others seemed inclined to do the same in the coming years.

His Majesty had done much to quietly support the agenda without officially taking public political positions.

It helped that the four Black or Mulatto Parliamentarians had grown to six. Further, several Black and Mulatto men had made their mark in various industries. The brilliant engineer Benjamin Boardley of Maryland, born a slave, was now a regular lecturer at Annapolis. Boardley had been among the early revolutionary thinkers in the steam engine generation, his patents almost matching Sir John Ericson in utility for the Royal Navy and private merchant fleets. Indeed, his most recent screw-driven design was so superior that it gave American warships at least a temporary advantage in speed over any conceivable rival.

King Henry II would formally knight Benjamin Boardley in 1866 at Lincoln's recommendation for his contributions to the nation, the first black man to be so honored.
 
Chapter 316 New
1866

Cape Colony


Upon the arrival of the American cavalrymen to Southern Africa, now "Major" George Custer would command one of the three battalions under Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was among the toughest sons of bitches Custer had ever met and the two swiftly developed a good working relationship as the men were given horses recently purchased from the Dutch by the East India Company. Too many of these would prove to be difficult to break and the cavalry men would remain close to Capetown for the immediate future.

Much of the infantry of the EIC had been dispatched east to isolated fortifications along the frontier of lands claimed by the African tribes. Custer would begin to realize that the political situation in Southern Africa was similar to that of the American West. Large numbers of tribes existed, often in warfare between themselves. However, in Africa, the populations were much, much greater. The only benefit was the fact that the Zulu Empire appeared to have fractured after the death of Shaka else Custer suspected by the tone of the oldtimers that Capetown would have been wiped off the map by now. Even with French assistance, the Dutch had accomplished nothing against the Zulu.

Prince Felix of Salm-Salm, apparently some German or French noble (he sounded German) from mediatized petty state, was commander of the EIC army. Custer wondered how it must feel for a man with "Prince" in his title must now take orders from petty bureaucrats. In the end, Custer didn't care much and Felix didn't appear to do so either. For all his title, Felix was a mercenary attempting to pay the bills.

Custer's new wife, Libby, would swiftly make common cause with the handful of other officer's wives (there were only three women among the American transplants) and formed their own little society. Attempts to ingratiate herself to the Dutch women largely failed and naturally the Americans did little to reach out to the Jewish women passing through to the new frontier. Neither the Indian or Javan infantry brought much in the way of women and certainly Libby couldn't associate with them even if they did. instead, the American ladies made due with themselves and their African servants.

As the months dragged by the an cavalry horses were tamed, Custer began to wonder why they'd been hired. After all, the Zulu hadn't attacked what was left of Dutch territory in well over a decade, closer to two. Why pay for entire regiments of foreign soldiers?

For his own part, Custer got along well enough with the Dutch, was outright fascinated with the Africans and Jews, actually made an attempt to learn the Maratha language spoken by the Indian soldiers and even attended a few events hosted by the Musselmen of Java and Sumatra.

What Custer did NOT know was that company officials, on diplomatic missions to the fragmented Zulu Empire, had discovered what appeared to be a large trove of diamonds and gold. But this would not be public knowledge for years.

In the meantime, Custer would witness an astonishing influx of Jewish migrants to the eastern reaches of Dutch/EIC control. He had a vague knowledge that the Jews were not popular in Poland (though he didn't knew exactly why) and sympathized with them just as he had the many American Plains Indians who were being pushed aside in the west. But Custer had observed the huge expense of shipping 300 American horsemen to South Africa and could not imagine the conditions which would lead to so many civilians abandoning their homeland. Apparently Poles REALLY did not like Jews. Perhaps truly familiarity breeds contempt.

In the end, Custer's wages were paid on time and Libby didn't complain....much. Therefore Custer continued to train his men and break the horses. He was sure by the end of 1866 that he would have an elite cavalry unit.

Manhattan

Over the course of the past few years, it became apparent that the old method of manning a Navy was to be consigned to the dustbin of history. For centuries, navies of the Dutch, French, British, Marathas and others would dominate the waves due to their sailing skill and large standing navies. By 1866, the strongest navy in the world was the one which the most modern and recently launched ship.

And that "advantage" tended to only last a few months, not years and certainly not decades.

The rapid advances in turbine technology mated with armor plating and naval artillery meant that a single ship could wipe out an entire fleet of ships thought to be at the pinnacle only a few years before. Bizarrely, even petty states, if they ordered some new vessels, may find themselves in position to challenge established naval powers almost overnight. In one instance, the Spanish Colony of Brazil purchased four new "patrol vessels" to control their coastline. Closer inspection by both Spanish and foreign experts would lead to the opinion that these four vessels could reasonably take on the entire dilapidated Spanish fleet if they so chose.

Thus half a dozen nations threw themselves into the "naval race" including America, France, Spain, Russia, China, the Maratha Empire and the EIC.

First Lord Abraham Lincoln would be disheartened to learn that America would probably lose a naval war against several of these nations had it not been for the recent launch of a few of Ericson and Boardley's new ship design. The two engineers had now teamed with two soldiers by the name of Robert Parrot and John Dahlgren to develop superior guns suited to fit the new steam vessels. Indeed, unlike virtually all previous steamships, the American vessels completely abandoned any form of power by sail. Lincoln wondered, given how often the steam engines tended to burst, if this was a good idea but he trusted his First Lord of the Admiralty knew what he was about.

As it was, the budget for the Navy was a constant source of irritation in Parliament and Lincoln was forced to spend too much of his time defending it.

But, overall, the government got its way and, with a powerful navy, the American borders were so secure that the army remained a limp shell of what it could be. There were petty states in Europe a fraction of America's population with armies which could crush the Americans in the field. But no potential threats on the borders and the inherited British suspicion of standing armies left America's own army almost comically small relative the nation's size, population and wealth.

In the end, Lincoln considered this a good thing and he proceeded to spend most of his time on his cherished Universal Suffrage Bill which had been consistently bogged down in politics over the past years. On the plus side, three more dominions in 1866 had passed laws explicitly banning race of any kind being a hindrance to the franchise.

Perhaps more controversial in the eyes of the public was the proposed reduction of the property minimum requirement to grant the vote. In America, over 60% of adult males (even including the Coloured) were entitled to vote, the rest possessing no property or income of substance. Over the past generations, this percentage had increased greatly as Americans prospered.

However, new waves of immigration would lead to property-less (and therefore vote-less) laborers clustered in cities working in dreadful conditions....conditions which were leading to a level of discontent. Lincoln had visited many of these slums (Manhattan had few but neighboring cities across the East River and Hudson River had plenty) and sympathized. Indeed, THAT situation appeared to be getting worse not better. Irish, German and other migrants were paid little for long hours of work. This seemed a social problem unlikely to go away soon.

The First Lord of the Treasury understood that the public was more aware of this on a daily basis than the restriction of the franchise exclusively to blacks and mulattos in a diminishing number of Dominions.....Dominions in which fewer and fewer blacks and mulattos resided anyway. It was, in fact, fair to say that there were nearly ten times to twenty times as many whites denied the franchise by their poverty than blacks by their skin color.

Still, Lincoln was unwilling to rest on the matter. For political reasons, he opted to adjust his strategy of pressing for expanded franchise to ALL men, regardless of income or race, in hopes that this would expand his base of support.

Lincoln had his own problems. Several of his elder sons were clamoring for some sort of government position but the First Lord had long condemned that form of nepotism in others and could not bear the stigma of hypocritical behavior himself. It cost him with several members of his family even as it stood him in good stead with the public.

Panama, Viceroyalty of New Granada


For nearly a century, the Isthmus of Panama had been a shortcut for the transfer of Spaniards to Western South America and for gold shipments of Peru going the opposite direction. However, the disease and heat would fill the graveyards on either side of the trail through the mountains.

In the 1860's this was greatly reduced by the construction of a rail system through the rainforest and hills. Though it cost much in the way of lives to construct (nearly 5000 workers would die of disease), the Panama Railroad would vastly improve transportation time of people and high-value/low-weight goods between oceans (even with the swifter travel around South America by steamship).

However, a greater project remained tantalizingly close. Surveyors had long proposed a full canal, where entire ships may transit between Atlantic and Pacific within hours, not the weeks or months of the past by travelling around the Straights of Magellan. Some pointed to the Suez Canal as an example but this was quickly dismissed as accurate as the land of the Suez was very, very low and the canal relatively simple to build. In Panama, entire mountains must be cut through and disease felled so many.

The huge cost in lives of just building a relatively short railroad (though through difficult conditions) would go up astronomically in building a canal.

On the other hand, the recent evolution of dynamite by Alfred Nobel and others would give builders the tool they needed to cut through a mountain, if only the human cost to disease could be avoided.

Carlos VI of Spain would offer a reward to any man who could find a cure to the hideous malaria malady which would allow the project to commence.
 
Chapter 317 New
1866

Paulgrad, Tikhookeskoya


Having married a Russian (now apparently a Tikhookekoyan) woman, Sam Clemens had become a legal resident of what was still generally called Russian America despite it being broken into a separate Kingdom. However, Clemens would never be a citizen, only his children would be as such. Both he and his brother-in-law Fyodor Dostoyevsky had been financially able to back away from craven monetary pursuits with the success of previous ventures and could now concentrate upon their writing. Dostoyevsky had something of a grim outlook to this writing and Clemens more humorist.

But tragedy came upon Clemens in 1866 when his beloved wife died, leaving him with a large brood of six children (whom he had rarely been called upon to rear personally before). As was common of the time, Clemens looked for an immediate replacement as rearing children was woman's work. He found a pretty 28-year old widow with two children who was willing to raise Clemens' children (as he had no intention of doing so). Indeed, his new wife would "gift" him with 4 more children bringing his own number to 10 (with 2 stepchildren).

Though "Clemens" as as far from a Russian name as one could get, between Sam and his two brothers, Orion and Henry, over 32 children would survive to adulthood with this surname, including 20 boys. Their respective mothers would be adamant that all children should marry early and thus, decades later at his death, Sam Clemens alone had over 140 living descendants and his brothers perhaps another 240 between them.

As it was, the Clemens-Dostoyevski clan (both Sam and Orion married Dostoyevski women) was not the only one growing. King Alexei and his wife would have three more children born in the former Russian America, ensuring a healthy brood of four princes and three princesses. Though the eldest boy and heir was but 10 years old, the eldest daughter was 12. It seemed that a reasonable quantity of living heirs would ensure a stable dynasty.

Bourbonia (Australia)

Though the practice of "recruiting" had stripped much of the islands of the southern Pacific of human souls, their descendants had grown up in Bourbonia as effectively forced contract laborers. While the "recruiting" had stopped many years ago and France officially ended the "apprenticeship" period several years ago, there was relatively little migration from Bourbonia back to the assorted islands of the Pacific (New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Fiji, the Zealand Islands, Kakatia, etc) as many of these peoples had been in Bourbonia for generations an only had a vague oral history of their origins to recall. Many of these peoples had interbred with other islanders and it was no longer possible to identify exactly where their origins may be.

Despite its huge size, the French colony of Bourbonia had only limited quantities of truly arable land. Therefore, the newly free to migrate Polynesians and Melonesians would have limited opportunities for starting their own farms, land being universally considered the measure of true independence. But nevertheless this change would take place, though often so slowly that society could not see it. By 1866, nearly 40% of "Pacifiatic" (peoples originating from other Pacific islands) adult men would own some sort of land.

In the meantime, the near-destruction of the indigenous Bourbonians would be effectively complete by 1866. Having determined that the Aboriginals were nearly useless for "recruiting" despite four generations of attempts, the French government over four decades prior had determined to take away as many children and, perhaps more importantly, young women from the assorted tribes and deliver these to the plantations. The women were handed over to the islanders (or whites) and in very short order the native peoples were rapidly assimilated into the Franco-Polynesian races.

With the fall in prices of sugar, the major cash export of Bourbonia had been lost. However, wool, manufacturing and other industries would rise to take their place.

A new source of immigration would permanently alter the demographics of the Pacifiatic/Native Bourbonian majority on the massive island, one which few would have predicted: the French themselves.

For the first time in French history, large numbers of French were migrating abroad. While the French population growth had slowed relative to Britain, Germany, Italy and Russia, there remained an increase of nearly 500,000 French per year. By 1866, almost 200,000 were migrating abroad. Most would sail to the Americas (either British North America, the French colonies or the huge expanse of Spanish America) but some would brave the horrifically long voyage to Bourbonia. Indeed, this amounted to nearly 50,000 French souls per year, a number largely due to the rapid improvement of steam transit.

By the 1860's, over 50% of the islands were counted as full-blooded French, another 5% assorted "white" and the rest a mix of Asians, Polynesians and native Bourbonians. This trend would continue for the next forty years as France's population continued to expand with few outlets. By 1900, nearly 69% would count themselves on the census as "French" or "White", though some of these may indeed have been mixed blood.

Many of the early Javan, Chinese, Japanese, Maratha and other worker had already departed Bourbonia as new laws preventing their immigration (particularly the Chinese, who were deemed a threat) were implemented. Anti-Asian immigration laws became en vogue for the next century and the racial mix would skew back towards Europeans.

In the meantime, the French disinterest in many of the former Polynesian islands had allowed American logwood cutters, traders and even some settlers to descend upon islands nearly forgotten by the French.

In the coming years, the King of France would gentry but firmly remind the King of British North America of his own ancestral agreements which allowed Americans to claim Van Diemensland and North and South Zealand and gave up any claims on these other islands.
 
1. Holy crap, people in formerly "Russian America" seem to have a lot of children.
2. Do you think Bourbonia will have more or less people than OTL Australia? Always wanted an Australia with way more people than OTL.
 
Chapter 318 New
1866

Manhattan


Queen Adelheid would deliver her third child in 1866, finally a girl after two boys. The Queen seemed thrilled so Henry II opted to remain silent. By unspoken agreement (publicly), the King was able to name the boys, the Queen the girls.

The previous generation carried this tradition and King Henry I had tended to name his large family with English names like Henry, Charles, Arthur and other historical British names. Queen Rhiannon had opted for Welsh names for the Royal Princesses (Henry's sisters) like Gemma, Gwendolyn, Danielle, Seren, Sian and Tara. Naturally, these names became very popular among the common people of British America for generations.

As a German-born Princess, Queen Adelheid would choose to name her daughter (thought she hoped for and would receive many more in the coming years) after her mother Amalia and later Princesses would similarly bear German names. Later daughters (there would be a string of twelve straight daughters including the Princess Royal over the next 15 years as the Royal Couple were VERY fond of one another) included Antonia, Charlotta, Gabriele, Gretchen, Isabella, Jana, Katrin, Lena, Lydia, Theresa and Vanessa. Naturally these names, as well as that of Adelheid who did not choose to name one of her daughters after herself, would become popular as well for generations.

What was also unique was that Queen Adelheid would not attempt to "anglicize" the Germanic names as many others would have chosen. For example, Adelheid herself never accepted the anglicized "Adelaide" as her name in public. She was "Adelheid" and would die "Adelheid". Indeed, the new capital of Van Diemensland was named "Adelheid" in her honor at the King's request.

By astonishing good luck (and excellent nannies) all eleven of the girls would survive to adulthood. Both their elder brothers would have greater health issues to face. By 1866, it was apparent that the eldest son and heir to the Kingdom suffered from respiratory difficulties while the second son was a bit slow (if not deficient enough to cause worry by this point).

In truth, the King was more worried at this time in marrying off his own sisters. The King of Scotland, only 22, would arrive in 1866 on a "good will tour" but it was obvious that he was looking over the Royal Princesses (King Henry II's sisters) with an eye for a potential mate. He would settle upon Gwendolyn who was considered the prettiest of the sisters. This broke precedence as it was expected that the eldest sister would marry first but King Henry didn't care about that. He just wanted a few of his own sisters out of his hair.

In the end, the eldest of King Henry's sisters, Gemma, would announce that she desired to marry her lover, a wealthy trader. To the surprise of many, King Henry approved of the marriage. He still had a number of sisters to marry off and doubted that there were enough Princes or Kings for all of them so why worry about Gemma not achieving a crown? She seemed happy enough and if one of Henry's bitchy sisters was out of his hair, why complain?

The true major event of 1866 for the Royal Family though was the death of Queen Adelheid's brother, the childless heir to Queen Amalia of Oldenburg. While a sad event, this brought up a very, very awkward position for Henry II. His wife, Queen Adelheid, was the next in line for the throne of Oldenburg. There was no Salic Succession in Oldenburg and therefore the Queen was more was legally in the right to inherit.

However, the American public was somewhat less than eager to unite the massive North American nation to some petty German state. This was somewhat analogous to the previous union a century prior of the House of Hanover's ancestral lands in Germany (the Electorate of Hanover) and the British lands to which the Protestant House of Hanover had been invited to assume after the death of Queen Anne of Britain. For a century after the fact until the end of Britain as an independent nation after the conquest of France, this had been a serious problem among the British political classes. They often viewed the House of Hanover's attachment to their ancestral land as being contrary to the interests of the British people (in reality, many later historians would agree that Hanover was the one which suffered most from this unification via the throne).

The idea of unifying the petty German state of Oldenburg to America was already causing ripples in America. It would be been easiest for the Royal Couple if Adelheid's mother, Queen Amalia, were to place one of Adelheid's two younger sisters ahead of her to assume the throne. However the second sister was known to be emotionally unstable and the third had elected to convert to Catholicism and join a convent. While the people of the overwhelmingly Protestant nation of Oldenburg would probably prefer a madwoman to a Catholic, Queen Amalia informed them that Adelheid would remain the heiress.

Within the year, Queen Amalia would sicken and summon her daughter home to Oldenburg. She would die in 1867 leaving Adelheid in a precarious situation. Finally, she determined to return to America and leave her uncle by marriage, Maximilian van Washington in command of her nation as Viceroy. He would prove a popular choice and effectively rule for the rest of his life.

But there remained concerns among the Americans (and to a lesser extent among the Oldenburgers) of what would happen when the current King of America and his Oldenburg Queen died and the Crowns were united in Personal Union.

Would America's government take an interest in European affairs due to this Union?

Only time would tell.
 
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1. Holy crap, people in formerly "Russian America" seem to have a lot of children.

Probably no different than the high birth rates of OTL America.


2. Do you think Bourbonia will have more or less people than OTL Australia? Always wanted an Australia with way more people than OTL.

Good question. I hadn't thought about that but I suspect they would be similar in 1866 but eventually the more arable land of Russian North America would eventually eclipse this. While Australia is a huge country, larger than what we Americans call the lower 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), little of Australia is arable and this would limit its long term population.
 
As a German-born Princess, Queen Adelheid would choose to name her daughter (thought she hoped for and would receive many more in the coming years) after her mother Amalia and later Princesses would similarly bear German names. Later daughters (there would be a string of eleven straight daughters including the Princess Royal over the next 15 years as the Royal Couple were VERY fond of one another) included Antonia, Charlotta, Gabriele, Gretchen, Isabella, Jana, Katrin, Lena, Lydia, Theresa and Vanessa. Naturally these names, as well as that of Adelheid who did not choose to name one of her daughters after herself, would become popular as well for generations.
What?

Jesus. This royal family just got huge.
 
Chapter 319 New
1866

The Levant


Throughout 1866, the political situation in the southern Levant had gotten so complex that the Czar of Russia had finally decided to break off the southern Levant into a separate entity, Palestine (previously a subsidiary of Syria). The elderly King (or Sultan or Prince or Khedive or whatever other title which was being used by the King) had decided he would accept splitting his Kingdom in half between his two surviving sons. As it so happened, several of his sons had died young and this allowed him to separate his Kingdom much more easily between the two survivors.

The two Kingdoms, Syria and Palestine, could not be more different. The northern Kingdom of Syria had remained largely ethnically stable in the past century. Most of the Balkan Muslim, Russia, Jewish and European Catholic migration of the past half century had occurred in the south, changing the once-Arab dominated demographic forever.

Now, nearly 30% of the population was European Christian (Russian being the largest ethnic group while Catholics being the largest religion) , 10% Jewish and 40% Balkan Muslim (including Turks) and the remaining 20% Arab. In just a few generations, the once-Arab dominated area was overrun by Europeans of Muslim or Christian descent with Jews being a third grouping.

The two sons of the dying King were willing to accept the situation. Both had been raised to recognize the political realities that Russia controlled the region. Where once had been a united Muslim nation under the early Muslim rulers had devolved into a divided region of Muslims and Christians. Both were willing to accept the status quo and the Russian "advisors".

Madrid

Carlos VI would look upon the political situation his Empire found itself in with a measure of shame. Rather than looking upon other European powers with concern, he realized that most European powers (in reality, this was limited to France and the Habsburg Empere) would find Spain so backward that invading it would cost more than it was worth.

In reality, America (British America, Anahuac and California) were perhaps more of a threat than any European nation, if only by example of their democracies.

In harder reality, the continued usurpation of Imperial power WITHIN the Spanish Empire was more of a threat. Local Vice-royalties, including his own brothers, would see the local conditions as a chance to consolidate their power. Carlos VI, seeing the weakness of the Imperial arm, would realize that concessions would keep him on the throne longer than suppression and instead focus on the positive points of Imperial rule (to the colonies.

China

The Chinese Admirals, though long acquainted to Chinese superiority in all things, would accept that the foreign ships purchased from European and American shipyards were superior in every way despite attempts to modernize.

Until the Chinese shipyards produced a superior product, the Chinese Imperial Navy would remain behind the West and this was utterly unacceptable to the modernizing Emperor.
 
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Madrid

Carlos VI would look upon the political situation his Empire found itself in with a measure of shame. Rather than looking upon other European powers with concern, he realized that most European powers (in reality, this was limited to France and the Habsburg Empere) would find Spain so backward that invading it would cost more than it was worth.

In reality, American was perhaps more of a threat.
Was this a typo?
 
Devolving more and power to the colonies is the only way to keep them at least nominally Spanish. Though eventually both the colonials and the Spaniards will have to decide if the prestige and theoretical protection of the Crown are worth continuing the union or breaking up like the OTL British Dominions.
 
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