Cinco de Mayo

Hendricks: America's 20th President
"...inaugurated on the heels of the centennial of the Declaration of Independence, and as the 20th man to hold the office, the new President was already thinking legacy and symbolism even before he placed his hand on the Washington Bible. The three living former Presidents - Lincoln, Seymour and his immediate predecessor and rival Hoffman - were all in attendance, and by all accounts the carriage ride to the Capitol with Hoffman was courteous but stiff. In his 2,314 word inaugural address, he spoke of the promise of the new day and of America's achievements in a century of independence, and most markedly, "today's break with the rapacious greed and centralized corruption of yesteryear, of a new Constitutional covenant enshrining self-governance and trust in the people, rather than trust in an insular capital that views the co-equal fraternity of states the way the Old World's empires view their colonies." Hendricks had, even before his inauguration, sketched out an ambitious plan - an immediate suspension of homesteading and railroad grants, a cancellation of a quarter of the Navy's ordered vessels under the 1869 Naval Act, and expanding the Silver Purchase Act's terms from a gold ratio of 4:1 to 8:1, which was still a more moderate course than that demanded by the free silver wing of the party and the Greenbackers, who wanted an entirely fiat currency. Hendricks, in his early days in office, was both a break from the past 16 years of administrative style in accordance with his Midwestern conservatism and an effort at continuity to appease various Democratic constituencies. As Attorney General he elevated esteemed Vermont Democrat Edward J. Phelps, regarded to this day as one of the 19th century's finest legal minds; in an effort to bury the hatchet with Hoffman he made former Vice President Cox the Secretary of State (lost on none that Cox's maneuvering at the convention had resulted in Hendricks' nomination and now Presidency); to replace Vice President Church on the Supreme Court, he appointed his political ally Melville Fuller, a prominent Illinois railroad attorney who had read his nominating address at the 1876 convention, and when Justice Clifford resigned in failing health later in the year, conservative Ohio Senator Allen G. Thurman was elevated in his stead. In somewhat of a break from previous Democratic administrations, however, Hendricks stepped back from executive prerogatives - though he held Jacksonian views on banks and racial matters, he was leery of executive power, a holdover from his opposition to the Lincoln administration's endeavors during the 1860s and his own experience as Governor of Indiana, and so he left many matters to the trusted and battle-hardened Speaker Sam Marshall of Illinois, and he and wife Eliza kept a fairly modest social schedule in the executive mansion. Jeffersonianism was what truly inspired Hendricks, and it seemed in the early days of his Presidency to be making a moderate comeback in Washington..."

- Hendricks: America's 20th President
 
What's the rationale behind suspending homesteading? I get the rest, but...? Is that just pressure from the cattle barons who don't want to see fences all over their 'free range'?
 
What's the rationale behind suspending homesteading? I get the rest, but...? Is that just pressure from the cattle barons who don't want to see fences all over their 'free range'?
Just small government shenanigans from a really conservative President. It’s tough coming up with government policy for the alt-US here since the 1870s were so dominated by Reconstruction OTL and the federal government did so much less back then
 
Maximilian of Mexico
"...the funeral of Santiago Vidaurri in Nuevo Leon's capital of Monterrey was not unlike that of a king, emphasizing not only the deep respect Mexico had for its fair and competent First Minister but also the might of the local caudillos even after Vidaurri and Maximilian's efforts to centralize authority in the capital. Particularly in northern departments, Vidaurri's death was both a reminder and a warning to Mexico City that there were other forces that had been kept at bay largely through the strength of a growing economy, fifteen years of internal peace (both politically and literally), and the force of personality of El Indio Viejo.

The death of the First Minister set off the scramble at Chapultepec to designate his successor, timed almost exactly with the "expiry" of the aspirational Plan Nacional. In two senses, the plan had been a spectacular success under Vidaurri's concurrent ten years as the Emperor's hand. Mexico's railroad capacity had nearly quadrupled in size, particularly in the central Altiplano, and immigration combined with foreign trade had buffeted the Mexican economy, along with lack of civil conflict, expanding the country's urban middle class, establishing formal banking, bringing many Maya natives into mainstream society through improved and regulated labor, and connecting Mexican institutions to other nations in the Americas and Europe to bind it more fully into the burgeoning, nascent globalist trade network. It had fallen well short of the Emperor's original goals in terms of education - perhaps a quarter of the gymnasium-style schools Maximilian had dreamed of had been built, almost none of them outside of the core central Mexican region - and the Church, still under the guiding hand of reactionary ultramontanist Labastida, still held considerable sway in the day to day life of much of rural Mexico. Nevertheless, the coinciding years of Vidaurri's ministry and the Plan Nacional had been one of the most peaceful and successful in the history of Mexico, years that the Emperor would in effect have to "bank" as storm clouds rose on the horizon, for Vidaurri was one of a kind, a centrifugal force in Mexican politics able to balance centralism against provincialism, liberalism against conservatism, and national interest against the personal ambitions of a growing cadre of figures at Court..."

- Maximilian of Mexico
 
The Eastern Question
"...the Budapest Convention effectively sealed Russia's mobilization. Austria agreed to benevolent neutrality, but that it could occupy Bosnia at any time of its choosing (of course, this would occur only if the war went in Russia's favor, which all of Europe suspected it would). Russia agreed to establish a network of sovereign states in the Balkans rather than any large Slavic state that could disrupt the balance of power. In return for this, all stipulations heavily skewed towards Vienna, Greece would be expanded and it was even thought that there was a path towards a Neo-Byzantine restoration not unlike Catherine the Great's Greek Plan [1]. Skeptical of the Ottomans and wary of growing French influence in the Near East, the British Foreign Office under Salisbury was made aware of this arrangement by Russia and gave its silent, secret acquiescence, but warned Russia not to advance any more than within 100 miles of the Turkish Straits or the Royal Navy would respond. The stage was set, and so on April 27th, Russia declared war on behalf of the persecuted Slavic peoples of the Balkans and Orthodox Christendom, also citing Istanbul's difficulties in the Constantinople Conference as a cassus belli [2]. In mid-April, Romania gave permission for Russian troops to advance through Romanian territory to attack the Ottomans and in that same moment declared its independence from Ottoman suzerainty. The response was Ottoman bombardment of Romanian border towns, the destruction of vessels on the Danube that could be used to cross it and the immediate mining of the river and destruction of bridges to buy Istanbul time [3], with Istanbul gambling that Russia would try to circumvent its more heavily fortified roads near Kostence. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 had begun."

- The Eastern Question

[1] There is some indication Alexander II hoped for something along these lines.
[2] Three days later than OTL
[3] This was undertaken by Russia and Romania in OTL - here, a more aggressive Ottoman Empire thanks to experienced Defense Minister Huseyin Pasha (see told you he was important) surviving makes this move first, correctly taking into account the possibility Russia doesn't attempt to thrust through Dobruja
 
The Land of Plenty: Southern Africa in the 19th Century
"...Cape commandos were generally held in reserve by the Molteno government as the feud between he and Frere deepened, and the High Commissioner decided to put down the restive Basutoland via Natal instead, deploying the Natal Field Force from Durban in late April. The advantages lay almost entirely with the Basutos and their Boer advisors; King Cetshwayo, who had zero interest in the British confederation plans, had dispatched a force of 5,000 of his rifle-armed impis to Basutoland to assist, the British had to attack into the Drakensberg Mountains which held geographic and familiarity advantages for the locals, and the British were internally divided, with the war being largely an endeavor of London rather than the Cape government, which was leery of her Boer neighbors. Further complicating matters was Portugal's staunch neutrality in the matter and stubborn refusal to allow Britain use of Lourenco Marques to launch potential attacks into the Transvaal..."

- The Land of Plenty: Southern Africa in the 19th Century
 
How likely that Maximilian and his government can stay in power or will they end up like the porfiriato of OTL fighting rebels all over the country ?
 
How likely that Maximilian and his government can stay in power or will they end up like the porfiriato of OTL fighting rebels all over the country ?
For now seems they keep the whole monopoly of power and violence and seems organize, the issues might not be Max but his sucessors
 
Youth and Vigor: The Presidency of John T. Hoffman
"...Hoffman's early retirement was spent in Ossining practicing law, an endeavor which made him profoundly wealthy and until his sudden death [1] led to suggestions that the former President potentially have a swansong as a Justice - perhaps even the Chief Justice - of the Supreme Court. In his spare time he wrote several books on the law, the Constitution, the history of the United States and also published one of the most thorough autobiographies of any President until that time, a primary source document used heavily both for this text and countless others.

It is the vast annals of writing from Hoffman himself and his contemporaries that shed so much light on his Presidency and his led to its evaluation and re-evaluation throughout history. For decades he was known mostly as the "young President" and tainted by his association with Tammany Hall, leading to the still-prevalent view that he was personally corrupt. Later historians elevated his standing in the pantheon of Presidents due to his efforts to create a civil service office, his peaceful foreign policy with all of the United States' neighbors, and his early moves towards accepting and legalizing laborism, three policies that all survived him into his successor's administration despite their strongly different backgrounds and worldviews. Of course, in recent years, Hoffman has been reassessed for the worse again - not due to Tammany, but due to the years of his Presidency coinciding with the genocide of the Plains Indians, easily the most brutal and atrocity-filled half-decade period of any of the wars between Washington and the indigenous peoples of the lands. Though it was the future President Custer [2] who has truly had his legacy reframed as Native rights groups in recent years have demanded apologies and recognition for their treatment at the hands of the Indian Office, a Lakota chief in 1965 said succintly: 'it was Hoffman who took the leash off the Wolverine...'"

- Youth and Vigor: The Presidency of John T. Hoffman


[1] IRL Hoffman died at age 60 in 1888
[2] I'm still pretty excited about this
 
From Borodino to Bulgaria: Russian Military History in the 19th Century
"...purely from a perspective of numbers, Russia should have had a critical advantage in the manpower and resources they themselves possessed - this was already history's largest land empire, after all - even before taking into account Rumanian forces that buffeted their efforts. 300,000 men were mobilized for the Russian invasion, against 200,000 Ottoman soldiers, half of whom were committed to fortified garrisons. The fortified nature of the Ottoman forces offset whatever advantage the Russians may have enjoyed, as did the more modern German and American artillery possessed by Ottoman forces, and their repeating rather than single-shot rifles. This disadvantage was compounded by the fact that the reconstituted Black Sea Fleet was essentially coastal monitors built in short order and impressed merchant vessels outfitted with cannon, against the third largest Navy in the world. The Russian offensive strategy was reliant on Ottoman passivity and thrusting into Bulgaria near Nikopol, far west of the fortified Ottoman positions in Dobruja, but also stretching Russian supply lines further through Romania and requiring a more difficult Danube crossing. Critically, the number of men earmarked to cross the river - 185,000 - were fewer than the Ottomans had stationed in the Balkans prewar.

The first such attempt to cross the Danube near Shvishtov, in June, was an outright disaster for Russia thanks largely to the Ottoman's command of the river, resulting in Russia having to retreat from its efforts to seize the south shore at four times the casualties of the Ottomans. Istanbul deployed Osman Pasha and his 30,000 men from Vidin in the far west - still stationed there due to the recently-ended war with Serbia - to the central Danube, at Nikopol. From Istanbul, Defense Minister Huseyin Pasha also redeployed men from the Middle East, particularly elite Circassians, to defend the mountain passes and even withdrew some men from the Dobruja fortifications to prevent any potential Russian incursions through the Balkan Mountains.

In mid-July, the Russians were able to finally cross the Danube with a successful sinking of Ottoman monitors with Romanian torpedo boats, deploying their own mines, and constructing a pontoon bridge near Nikopol. In bloody fighting they were able to cross the river, taking once again nearly three times the casualties of the Ottomans..."


- From Borodino to Bulgaria: Russian Military History in the 19th Century
 
The Eaglet Takes Flight: The Reign of Napoleon IV 1874-1905
"...the constitutional referendum was a resounding success for the new Emperor, in one move decentralizing power in many respects away from Paris as part of a liberal vision to re-empower the common Frenchman while also defanging the republicans and radicals in the National Assembly by dramatically changing the composition of the body. The Constitution of 1877 would remain in place through the end of the Second Empire [1], easily one of Napoleon IV's great achievements on the domestic front in addition to his forthcoming efforts to create one of the world's first genuine general welfare programs and safety nets for workers..."

- The Eaglet Takes Flight: The Reign of Napoleon IV 1874-1905


[1] Bit of a flashforward...
 
The Eastern Question
"...Huseyin Pasha's strategy relied heavily on a two-pronged strategy, both making heavy use of the Ottoman Navy. The first prong was to bleed the Russian-Romanian army as it attempted to cross the Danube, with mines and river monitors. Though the Ottomans accepted that the Russians would eventually cross the river, they wanted to exact as heavy a price as possible upon the Russians for earning that strategic win, and to effectively "choose" the route the Russians would take through central Bulgaria. In early August, Osman Pasha withdrew from Nikopol under heavy fire towards Plevna, a key city that had been heavily fortified and which the Russian force critically required if it was to move on the mountain passes in the south. With the Russian Caucasus Army being bogged down near Kars as well, it seemed that the war was headed for a stalemate.

In came the second prong, in which the Ottomans took offensive action and established their Naval supremacy. The Navy shelled the port of Odessa and sank much of the Russian merchant marine there - when the middling Black Sea Fleet responded, the Ottomans lured them south to the Danube Delta, where they engaged in the Battle of Kilya, sinking essentially every ship Alexander II had outfitted to contest the coast in a matter of hours. It decisively ended any Russian threat to the Ottoman Navy and once again gave them total control over the river. As the Russians besieged Plevna in the south, the Ottomans launched a daring assault on the city of Galatz with a force of 10,000 men recruited from the Middle East, primarily Egypt and the Sudan, burning much of the city, twisting her railroads into "Turkish ties" and essentially severing the connection of the Danube Army from the rest of Russia. Men from the Dobruja fortifications were rotated out of their fortresses to hold Galatz shortly thereafter as Suleiman Pasha's 30,000-strong force marched through the Balkan passes to reinforce Plevna in late August..."

- The Eastern Question


(Much of Turkey's problem in this war was that they sat back and let the Russians dictate the pace of the war and failed to take advantage of numerous instances of Russian incompetence and poor-planning. Here, we have them be slightly more aggressive/flexible, to their advantage. It helps that there's five whole years less of Russian naval investment before the war, too)
 
I get the feeling that Britain won't have to worry about the tsar controlling the Straits any time soon.
Sure looks that way doesn’t it?

Not too get too ahead of myself, or give too much away, but there are a LOT of cool butterflies I’m excited about poking around if the course of this war goes the way it seems
 
Not too get too ahead of myself, or give too much away, but there are a LOT of cool butterflies I’m excited about poking around if the course of this war goes the way it seems
HMM...

Possible Spanish-Russian Alliance against the Ottoman Empire? After all, there is this from Post #603:

Serrano could proceed with his grand project of trying to become Spain's answer to Bismarck and Bazaine, and make his homeland the great power he knew it was destined to be..."

- Old Bull: Francisco Serrano and Modern Spain
“It’s time to defend Christianity and put the Turk again in his place! We will have another Lepanto!”
 
HMM...

Possible Spanish-Russian Alliance against the Ottoman Empire? After all, there is this from Post #603:



“It’s time to defend Christianity and put the Turk again in his place! We will have another Lepanto!”
haha I love it! This would totally have happened had the Carlists won, I bet 😜
 
Wow, the Ottomans are doing fantastic in the war. I'm impressed
Believe it or not, it’s not a huge diversion from OTL. Had they been a little more assertive and 1) not conceded control of the Danube entirely and 2) not wasted months and resources on Shipka Pass and just used one of the open passes to reinforce Plevna, where the Russians spent 5 months beclowning themselves, they could have ground things to a status quo ante stalemate, which of course was their entire strategic goal
 
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