Cinco de Mayo

The Giant of Kentucky: John C. Breckinridge and the Dawn of the Confederate States
"...beyond his unique legacy of having served as Vice President of both the Union and the Confederacy, and the strange circumstances of his elevation to and loss of the Presidency, the Gentleman from Kentucky emerged as a titanic figure in the emerging Democratic Party that was quickly being reconstituted south of the Ohio. Yes, the passing of Breckinridge [1] left a gaping hole in the anti-Harris factions of the Confederacy, but nevertheless, a new era was dawning. As the country slowly recovered from the effects of the Depression, the patrician planter class came to view the late Breckinridge as the ideal gentleman and President, strongly unlike the more brusque, corrupt Forrest-Harris duo that had ruled the country for a decade. As Harris - grievously unpopular both in the states and in Congress, and with his Klan machine marred by infighting - retreated from public appearances and began down the road that would eventually lead to his slide into obscurity and memory as one of the worst Confederate Presidents, the next election was very much on the horizon - and with the election by the Virginia Legislature of famed General James Longstreet to the Governorship, the Breckinridge faction of government would have her next champion..."

- The Giant of Kentucky: John C. Breckinridge and the Dawn of the Confederate States


[1] Delayed two years due to lack of as many war wounds
 
Maximilian of Mexico
"...Mejia [1] cut a very different figure than Vidaurri, immediately taking to aggressively overhauling the Council of Ministers. Despite a reputation for pragmatism, Mejia viewed his personal rivals at Court as enemies of the Emperor, to whom he was devoted, and sought to rapidly consolidate power in Mexico City. Of course, a broader issue for Mejia was growing tensions between the central government and the caudillos who in effect ruled the various departments of Mexico, particularly in the north and west of the country. Here, the industrialization of the last fifteen years had not penetrated; peonage may have been abolished, but the people - many of them more indigenous in their descent than European - still ground out difficult existences on haciendas in utter poverty. Maximilian's Mexico, that of operas in Nahuatl and light industry in cities such as Queretaro and Puebla, did not exist in places such as Mazatlan, Sonora, or Tamaulipas. Despite the gains made in the Altiplano since the Empire's founding, the peripheral departments of the country only seemed to grow poorer and more restless.

The Emperor himself had, at this point, become remarkably blind to the brewing issues in the poor rural north. Mexico City was still transforming into a semi-European capital; industry thrived in the other major cities in the vicinity, and besides, he had his rocky marriage to Carlota and his numerous mistresses to distract him. It fell to Mejia then to navigate the thorny matters presented not just by restive caudillos like Manuel Lozada, a mercurial figure known as the "Tiger of Alica" who effectively ran Nayarit as a personal fiefdom [2], but also the ambitions of Miramon and the hyper-reactionary ultramontanism of Archbishop Labastida..."

- Maximilian of Mexico


[1] Credit due to pathfinder and Capibara for suggesting to me that Tomas Mejia take on a larger role in this TL
[2] Interesting guy, Manuel Lozada. Still alive at this point obviously as Diaz wasn't President and ordering his execution
 
The Age of Questions: Britain in the Gauntlet of Change and Upheaval
"...it can be said with absolute certainty that in the "Age of Questions," as Prime Minister Walpole so famously termed it, every time a question was asked of Her Majesty's Government, particularly when the Earl of Carnarvon resided at Downing Street, the answer was always not only insufficient but wrong. The 1870s found the Cabinet caught flatfooted by nearly every development, both foreign and domestic; in perilously few cases did the Government react with prudency, either grotesquely overreacting (such as on domestic matters in Ireland, which in 1877 represented more the Thirteen Colonies in the pre-Revolution days than an integral part of the United Kingdom, or against trade unionists and suffrage campaigners, and in Carnarvon's insistence on gambling and wasting British blood and treasure on his failed campaign to subdue South Africa) or underreacting (such as Britain's somnambulant response to the Eastern Crisis and replacement by France as the world's preeminent trading and financial power in the last quarter of the 19th century). It is no wonder that modern historians consider the Carnarvon ministry to be one of Britain's worst - it was a time when the government squandered the Royal Navy's global hegemony and allowed the other great powers of Europe to catch up and pose genuine threats to the Crown's interests, and a time when the government would sow the seeds not only of Irish nationalism but also socialist agitation and reactionary police action..."

- The Age of Questions: Britain in the Gauntlet of Change and Upheaval
 
From Borodino to Bulgaria: Russian Military History in the 19th Century
"...the third attempt to seize Pleven, in late September, was the most disastrous one. Prince Carol of Romania had withdrawn a substantial piece of his army by this point to retake Galatz and defend against a feared Ottoman offensive against Bucharest, and General Gourko's attempts to seize the Shipka Pass had all failed. When General Skobelev's latest attempt to break the Ottoman defenses collapsed on the morning of September 28th, the counterattack by Osman Pasha's forces caught the Russian Army entirely flatfooted. The ensuing rout on the plains north of Plevna remain one of the worst defeats in Russian military history, a double-embarassment thanks to the death of Skobelev in the field and the subsequent capture not only of Grand Duke Nicholas, head of the Danube Army, but also Tsar Alexander II himself, who was there in a pavilion with his brother to observe the siege. With not only the head of the scattered Danube Army but also his brother the Tsar now held hostage, Russian morale collapsed. Matters became worse in early October when the Ottoman river monitors, with full command of the Danube, sank the pontoon bridges that would have allowed a Russian retreat back into Romania. Tsarevich Alexander, the Tsar's son in the western end of the Bulgarian theater, was a practical man and saw the writing on the wall - Russia had been not just defeated but humiliated, an outcome he had predicted before the war when he criticized the lack of equipment and preparation. "We have underestimated the Turk," he would later remark. "We shall underestimate no enemy ever again." With the central corps of the Danube Army broken and largely captured, and separated from Gourko's divisions by most of Bulgaria, the Tsarevich took command and sent signals to the Ottoman forces that he was interested in a ceasefire..."

- From Borodino to Bulgaria: Russian Military History in the 19th Century
 
The Land of Plenty: Southern Africa in the 19th Century
"...the Basuto War was effectively a long, ugly stalemate, one marred by atrocities carried out by both sides. In the end, it resulted only in combining Natal and the Cape into British South Africa, a unitary state to be ruled from the Cape. Though Frere had dismissed the Molteno government and ruled the Dominion personally, when the war ended in late 1877 he was recalled to Britain, crestfallen and humiliated by not only the Natal Field Force's defeat and evisceration at the hands of Boer commandos and African warriors but also the struggle of the Royal Marines dispatched to Natal who also "ran aground," in the parlance of the First Sea Lord, Sir George Wellesley. The Drakensberg Mountains proved difficult terrain, and the complex pastiche of South African politics a vipers nest. Critically, of course, was the British mistake in trying to blockade the Delagoa Bay - the Inhaca Crisis that September nearly destroyed the Anglo-Portuguese alliance and the withdrawal of the Royal Navy's presence there was just a further embarassment to Cabinet..."

- The Land of Plenty: Southern Africa in the 19th Century
 
The Eastern Question
"...the Conference of Berlin sought to find a peace accord between the humiliated Russians and the Ottomans, who despite their reputation as the "sick man of Europe" had fended off the Bear and indeed decisively controlled the entire pace of the war. In the end, it was a status quo ante settlement, with one major caveat insisted upon by Germany; the end of the "legal fiction," in the words of Bismarck, that Serbia, Montenegro and Romania were "part" of the Ottoman Empire. This was placed in the final treaty signed in Berlin with the acquiescence of the other Powers at the table largely as a measure for Russia to save face at minimal losses to Istanbul. As such, in return for Europe accepting the Constitution of 1876 and neither the Ottomans nor Russia requesting any war indemnity, the three principalities were given total and formal de jure independence. The idea was that these three small states, which received no additional territory, would join the conference of powers in Europe as minor players - in reality, each became a plaything for a larger power. Montenegro almost immediately became a French client; Francois Bazaine was in Podgorica within days of the Berlin Conference's conclusion to negotiate basing rights out of Kotor. Serbia, with the Austrophile Obrenovic dynasty already in charge and situated on the Danube, slid cleanly into being an Austrian sphere of influence [1]. Romania, while initially Russia's sole ally in the conflict, quickly became a close friend of Germany. It had a Hohenzollern sovereign and irredentist interests in Transylvania, and Russia's failures in the conflict had made her much less of a reliable partner moving forward.

Of all the parties at Berlin, it was Britain and Russia - enemies in Central Asia - who came out worst. Russia was of course the laughingstock of the Great Powers, and in the next two decades turned both inwards and eastwards in her interests. But it was Britain that now had lost her ability to hold sway with the Porte and had gained nothing in the Balkans for her neutrality. It was the fallout from Berlin, and the plain advantages the settlement gave both France and Germany, that moved Britain to substantially overhaul her foreign policy approach in the years to come..."

- The Eastern Question


[1] Yes I see the irony in this, but the Obrenovic dynasty *was* generally pretty pro-Austria
 
It was the fallout from Berlin, and the plain advantages the settlement gave both France and Germany, that moved Britain to substantially overhaul her foreign policy approach in the years to come..."
What do OTL, this OTL give us the entete, this here seems butterfly away,,,
 
...and the subsequent capture not only of Grand Duke Nicholas, head of the Danube Army, but also Tsar Alexander II himself, who was there in a pavilion with his brother to observe the siege.
Well… If this was a game or a quest, looks like the Russians rolled a natural 1 in that turn.

Grand Duke Nicholas: “Whatever was happening out there, it surely has already ended.”

Tsar Alexander II: “Someone is coming, we will be getting soon an explanation for that disturbance- You there! What is this, dressing as a Turk? Battle is no time for costume parties! Is this some kind of joke?”

Osman Pasha: “Well, not a joke exactly… But you are really going to find it funny when I explain it to you.”

And it seems there are going to be consequences. Russia focusing inwards and eastwards… Things won’t ever be the same now.
 
Well… If this was a game or a quest, looks like the Russians rolled a natural 1 in that turn.

Grand Duke Nicholas: “Whatever was happening out there, it surely has already ended.”

Tsar Alexander II: “Someone is coming, we will be getting soon an explanation for that disturbance- You there! What is this, dressing as a Turk? Battle is no time for costume parties! Is this some kind of joke?”

Osman Pasha: “Well, not a joke exactly… But you are really going to find it funny when I explain it to you.”

And it seems there are going to be consequences. Russia focusing inwards and eastwards… Things won’t ever be the same now.
Ahaha that little dialogue is *really* funny. Well done!
 
Ireland Unfree
"...Britain's sluggish defeat in South Africa led to the Brotherhood wondering if perhaps this war their hour, and so in the shadow of the Crown's embarrassment on the other side of the world, the Irish Land War kicked off that autumn. As 1877 drew to a close, the agitation by tenant farmers against their English landlords was reaching a crescendo, and even the deployment of the British Army to the rolling emerald green hills of Eire [1] to force the peasantry back to their land failed to quell the unrest..."

- Ireland Unfree


[1] Decided to make this textbook pretty bluntly biased
 
This concludes Cinco de Mayo Part III: An Age of Questions

Please leave your thoughts, ideas, feedback, critiques, predictions, jokes, hot takes and memes in the comments! I love to hear from my readers :)
 
Still worked well, we going to see even more Fennians now?
More or less. The massive crackdown on Ireland in the late 1860s after Prince Alfred's assassination scoots up some of the later Irish agitations by a few decades, basically, radicalizing everyone on both sides. The reactionary Cabinet in the 1870s rather than Gladstone doesn't help matters either.
 
On a website chock full of Brit-Wanks I'm hyped to see a 19th Century Great Britain who is realistically portrayed as run by bumbling fools who can't get out of their own way.
 
Liberalism in the Old World and the New: A History
"...if the 1860s were defined by nationalism and the redrawing of the world's maps, and the 1870s were defined by politics of reaction to the new political order and the Great Depression that consumed that decade, then the next two decades were defined by liberalism, prosperity and peace. Indeed, the period from the 1877-78 Conference of Berlin that ended the brief Russo-Turkish War to the crises of the early 1900s would mark almost exactly the most peaceful period in European and, frankly, global history, as expanding trade networks, more sophisticated industrial economies and the interconnectedness of every continent - even Antarctica! - led some world leaders to wonder if the age of war had ended entirely.

Of course, as reactionary governments and leaders gave way to reformists and dreamers, as universities became populated with the propagators of liberal nationalism [1] and populist measures, there were darker forces at play beneath the sunny surface of what would later be known as the Belle Epoque. Colonialism and imperialism were as exploitative as rampant laissez-faire capitalism; the politics of radicals, whether proponents of anarchism or communism, became ever further inflamed; and the crises of legitimacy and discontent as the modern era and modern technologies reshaped the world many times over only deepened and the challenges to the peaceful world order began to slowly, one by one, emerge until the pillars holding up the great liberal era of the late 19th century were riven with cracks..."

- Liberalism in the Old World and the New: A History (Mark Taylor, University of California-Berkeley, 1997)


[1] Nationalism was of course through WW1 more of a liberal ideology than a conservative one, as conservatives were more attached to monarchy/aristocracy
 
Brief request - I'm absolutely terrible making maps. Is anybody with mapmaking skills interested in creating a world map of the world of Cinco de Mayo as of 1878?
 
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