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Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria
"...though the wedding of Rudolf to Princess Stephanie of Belgium at the Augustinian Cathedral was a happy affair, like always there was some diplomatic or political matter that cropped up, as it did at every royal European wedding in those days. A Napoleon IV still reeling from his wife's miscarriage was in attendance, as was Prince Arthur of Britain, as always representing his mother on state matters, with Foreign Minister Granville in attendance as well. The Paris-Vienna alliance was in as good of health as ever and Napoleon was later said to have enjoyed his time in Francis' company, who in later years came to prefer his French ally to his own son due to their similar views on the role of the Church, the primacy of the monarch over the government, and their mutual suspicion of Germany. The Germans and Italians declined to dispatch their sovereigns; Frederick was concerned about a potential assassination plot recently uncovered and chose to stay as close to Berlin as possible, sending Bismarck in his stead. King Humbert of Italy, meanwhile, was represented by Prime Minister Cairoli, a soft Francophile who had begun to make efforts to chip away at the frosty relations between Rome and the Iron Triangle - of course, the matter of the Maltese Exile and Cairoli's aggressive anti-clericalism continued to pose an issue for the visitor's reception. Perhaps the most prominent guest was Tsarevich Alexander, who traveled despite the near-death of his father in a spectacular assassination attempt but two months earlier [1], with hopes in Vienna high that his meetings with the aging Emperor could perhaps help soothe the wounds left by Russia's humiliation in Bulgaria three years prior and her subsequent exile from Balkan affairs.

Francis paid little mind to a number of these visitors, instead in stunned shock that his brother Maximilian had chosen to travel to his "favorite nephew's" wedding all the way from Mexico, bringing his sickly son Jose Francisco (future historians surmised that Maximilian's second son suffered from a number of congenital birth defects). Francis had not seen "Maxi" since the latter had departed nearly two decades earlier having given up all his titles and Austrian claims. The brothers, now both middle aged rather than the young ambitious hotheads of the early 1860s, bonded through hunting and drinking for several days in Vienna and beyond, regaining trust for one another, and when Maximilian was to continue his European tour [2] it was said that Francis wept to see him go, wondering if and when they would ever see one another again..."

- Francis Joseph, Emperor of Austria

[1] More on this in the next update
[2] A bad idea considering how things are going back in Mexico yet very on-brand for Max
Alexander II, Tsar and Autocrat of Russia
"...the failure of the first bomb to detonate led to the second one being thrown, and as it exploded behind the carriage, the guards ushered the Tsar's coterie forward aggressively, through a shocked and screaming crowd. It was the third bomb, this one in a suitcase, that hit home, detonating to the carriage's left and flipping it on its side. In shock and with his shoulder and hip broken, the Tsar was pulled from the smoking wreckage to the sound of gunfire as his guards fired wildly in the direction the briefcase had come from, hoping beyond hope that whoever had tried to murder Alexander was still there. [1]

Brought back to the Winter Palace in a sleigh, Alexander lay in convalescence for nearly a month as doctors did everything they could to save his life. In the end, the bad breaking of his hip left him wheelchair bound for the last five years of his life and increasingly cloistered within the confines of his two St. Petersburg palaces. He seldom traveled elsewhere in Russia, handing increasing responsibilities to his estranged Tsarevich to do so, and spent most of his time reading and entertaining his controversial wife Catherine, whom his children aggressively shunned. As for the proposals Loris-Melikov had brought him, once he had sufficiently healed to meet with his Council of Ministers again, they were proposed, but watered down ever from the relatively conservative nature of their initial ideas - in addition to a Council of Ministers, the Tsar would appoint a Council of the Commons, known colloquially as the "Duma," a purely advisory body with less power than the zemtsva or municipal dumas established in the provinces. The task of appointing the "voice of the commons for the ear of the Tsar" fell to Loris-Melikov and other ministers, and despite the Tsarevich's disapproval it was the heir who had the responsibility of meeting with the "rabble" he detested. Of course, with its appointed nature and purely advisory role, and due to the conservatism of the men appointing it, the first Duma had no legislative or operational powers and was stocked with academics, non-titled petit-bourgeoise, military officers and other "commoners" who had a substantial investment in the establishment [2]. It was hardly the constitutional body hoped for by many reformers, let alone the revolutionary organ of the Narodnaya Volya that had nearly claimed the Emperor's life.

Indeed, the failed death of Alexander II may have been counterproductive to Narodnaya Volya's goals. The Tsarevich, outraged and now empowered due to his father's continuing decline in health (the future Alexander III commented that "the bomb killed him five years late" upon his father's death in 1886), unleashed the Okhrana upon suspected "subversives and revolutionaries," and did little to discourage the wave of anti-Semitic pogroms that erupted across the Pale of Settlement in anger over the "Jewish conspiracy" to slay the Emperor. Russification efforts were redoubled even over his father's skepticism, and in a stroke of irony, the crippled Alexander II may in fact have become the constitutional figurehead many liberals had dreamed he'd one day become..."

- Alexander II, Tsar and Autocrat of Russia

[1] There were three bombers on the day of Tsar Alexander's OTL assassination, but the first two did the job. Alexander's carriage was bulletproof and only sustained minor damage - had he just stayed inside and not jumped out, and had the second bomb land at his feet and blow his bottom half clean off, he probably would have survived. The third assassin had a suitcase bomb, which here knocks the carriage on its side, but doesn't destroy it entirely.
[2] Alexander II's liberalism, like Frederick III's, has been much overstated in my view, and the Loris-Melikov "constitution" was not going to just change the autocratic nature of Russian government overnight even if Alex II wanted a path to some eventual form of constitutional prescriptions upon the Emperor's authority or structure of the state
[3] The previous "reference book" I created for Russian updates suggested Alex II living until 1899 - huge retcon, that's not gonna happen.
Umberto's Italy
"...even as Umberto turned his eyes towards glory in the name of Italy and acquiring colonial possessions - chiefly of interest to him was the territory of Massawa on the Red Sea, where Egyptian forces had withdrawn, beleaguered, after their defeat by the Ethiopian Empire some half-decade earlier - Italy was undergoing severe changes and upheavals. It was still the poorest country in Europe, particularly the southern Mezzogiorno, where the Mafia, Comorra and 'Ndragheta held sway, making sure that deputies elected to parliament prevented the construction of new schools or infrastructure in the South to keep the populace there beholden to their feudal parallel states. Deputies could earn votes in return for a blind eye, and before long organized crime in the Italian South was a critical function of the state. The King, despite being an ardent opponent of yielding on the Maltese Question and allowing Leo XIII back to Rome unless the Pope agreed to accepting the Leonine Compromise en toto, was a reactionary more similar to Austria's Francis Joseph or the Russian Tsar than any other monarch in Europe, and his stubbornness in dealing with Parliament alienated him from his own people. In terms of foreign policy, he was brusque and fairly disliked; Friedrich of Germany and his Iron Chancellor barely tolerated him only due to their need for an ally to pressure Paris and Vienna; ultramontane France and Austria refused to countenance the behavior of his governments towards the church despite his shared conservatism, and only Spain's Leopold seemed to view a partnership with Italy as mutually beneficial in terms of checking French power in the Mediterranean [1]. As the 1880s began, so did a mass movement from the impoverished state, as over the next fifty years one of the largest voluntary migrations of people in human history would occur from Italy, as millions upon millions decamped for not only labor-tight France but the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Canada, European settler colonies in Africa, and even remote Australia. The Italian diaspora would be one of the world's largest as the poor, especially the illiterate of the Mezzogiorno, left for a new and better life beyond Umberto's erratic Italy..."

- Umberto's Italy ("Dispatches from Europe" Essay Collection, University of Missouri, 2005)

[1] As was once said of Umberto I, "one is left to marvel that only three people tried to kill him."
Ireland Unfree
" further Land Reform was debated in the Commons, spearheaded largely by the "realist" faction of the Liberals who understood that Britain's agricultural policy was woefully underequipped, with its low tariffs and poor harvests in 1879 and 1880, to sustain more flooding of her markets by cheap and plentiful American grain, the situation in Ireland grew further dire. The Land Act of 1879 had been not even a panacea but indeed counterproductive, both in Dublin and London, and so Hartington's ploy was to wrap the Land War into broader agricultural and land reform for the whole of Britain as well as eliminate all tariffs on "preferential" trading partners - such as Canada, Australia, Hawaii, and other protectorates, with special reciprocal treaties pondered for Chile, Argentina and Brazil as well, major sources of British investment [1]. While some Radicals such as Chamberlain wanted a full customs union, for now Hartington merely wanted to cool the tensions with the farmers over the dire economy that had still not recovered despite the aggressive policy programme of the Commons. Land reform was unacceptable to the Tories, however, the party of the landed gentry, and Hartington pulled the Land Act from the floor of the Commons when it was clear that the Lords would defeat it without further work.

This was the time that Parnell chose to strike, calling for tenants to withhold their rents across Ireland to "pinch the landowners" and press for even more militant land reform than what was being proposed in Hartington's slightly more incremental building upon the 1879 reforms. Hartington was outraged at Parnell's attempts to triangulate him, and Forster from his seat in Dublin began his aggressive crackdown on not just the IRB but Parliamentarians in Ireland as well. Dozens were shot throughout the year as the crisis escalated, earning Forster his epithet "Buckshot" for his endorsement of lethal force to pacify Ireland into submission. Parnell, shortly before being sent to the gaol after being arrested by the Royal Constabulary, declared: "Tory, Liberal, Whig, Radical: it makes nought a difference here!"

There was certainly a large constituency in the Liberal caucus that reacted to this with alarm, fearing that a blossoming Irish crisis - on the heels of ugly rioting and extrapolitical violence in Canada that same summer between Orangemen and Irish immigrants - would jeopardize the government. The Home Rulers saw some new blood within their ranks, lead by Colonial Secretary John Bright, whom Hartington kept as far from Irish debates as humanly possible, at one point even informing him: "Utter a word about Ireland, and you'll be retired so fast I'll buy your train ticket to Newcastle for you!" Of course, the more Whiggish attitude prevailed, that of finding a solution to mollify Irish tenant farmers while bringing Ireland as a whole closer to London than pushing it away via either Home Rule or continued antagonism. Chamberlain again was a protagonist in this push, condemning the former Tory Home Secretary's R.A. Cross's "we shall not yield even a single blade of green Irish grass to the Fenian" speech with his declaration: "Ireland must be brought to the fold not as an enemy nor as a subject but as a constituent; would we grant Home Rule to Scotland or Wales? Would we grind the gallant Scotsman or the proud Welshman beneath our heels? No, for they are British, as Ireland is British!"

The sympathy for Ireland but skepticism of Home Rule ascendant in much of the Liberal caucus, encouraged by Hartington, only further exacerbated the crisis with Parnell's clear contempt for Cabinet and the difficult of finding a solution that would satisfy the tenancy boycott..."

Ireland Unfree

[1] British chumminess with Chile and Brazil will become an issue for their relations with Argentina in the future, but what we're seeing here is an early form of "imperial preference," even if it doesn't pass as of right now
Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine
"...Blaine's inauguration train ran through Boston, New York and Philadelphia on its way to Washington from Portland, and in each city the President-elect made a unique address to the gathered crowd. After conspicuously choosing not to address Baltimore the night before he arrived in the capitol - Maryland being a staunchly Democratic state and having given Blaine perhaps his lowest vote total out of any state - Blaine rode to the Capitol on the crisp morning of March 4, 1881 in a carriage shared with outgoing President Hendricks, whom he had only met a handful of times in the past decade despite their overlap in Washington. Blaine was shocked to see that Hendricks could not move his legs and gave condolences as to his frail physical shape.

His inaugural address, among the longest ever delivered, Blaine surprised many by effusively praising his predecessor and then combined elements of his previous "preparatory remarks," as they came to famously be known. Drawing from his speech in Philadelphia, he praised the revolutionary spirit of America and the promises of its liberal democracy; from his remarks in New York he spoke of the industrial might of the nation, of his trust in her finances and those of the National Bank, and of the commercial innovations of the new decade paired with the critical need for civil service reform; and from his speech on the Boston Commons in the shadow of the Commonwealth House, he admonished the dangers of high illiteracy and warned against the dangers of polygamy, such as that practiced by the Mormons. Then, he dove next into what can best be described as a policy platform: a proposal of "Columbia Invictus," of a robustly re-invigorated Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere and increased trade with fellow American nations as well as other "rising states of the world," of a policy of reward and counter through reciprocal tariffs, and of international arbitration, all enforced through new and expanded investments in the United States Navy, which the Liberals had seen as languishing in the Hendricks years and would soon be technologically obsolete despite its increasing size with the introduction of protected cruisers the next year. The inaugural ball was a celebration of American industry and science, and newspaper coverage of the pomp and circumstance was positive, capturing the optimism inherent in Blainism. [1]

The next challenge for Blaine would be to introduce his Cabinet, and here he inched away from the practices of patronage in prior Cabinets. As his Secretary of the Treasury he chose "the most illustrious expert of finance in our Republic," former Ohio Senator John Sherman. As Attorney General, he invited former New York Senator William M. Evarts - who had never formally disestablished his Republican identity - to serve as a capstone to his career. Regarded as among the most eminent men in America, neither was a controversial choice. Where Blaine elicited some controversy instead was in his decision to appoint Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the former President Abraham - and one of the wealthiest attorneys in the United States and a critical supporter of Blaine's nomination and campaign - as Assistant Secretary of State to John Hay, the former private secretary to President Lincoln, a member of the Lincoln law practice, and a former diplomat, writer and financier who had married into one of the wealthiest families in America. There was some controversy over Hay's appointment - was he an Ohioan, as his career in Cleveland would attest? A resident of New Hampshire, with his grand home in the mountains there? Or an Illinoisian, from his time in Chicago and Springfield every year working with the firm of Lincoln & Herndon, of which he was a senior partner? With his Cabinet stacked with former Republicans of note, he needed an olive branch to the wing of the Liberals composed of "Tildenites," or former Democrats. The matter became difficult when his first choice for Secretary of War, Wheeler Peckham of New York, politely declined to remain in the Senate (and not add another New Yorker to an already sectionally uneven Cabinet), and Blaine was thereafter left without a clear Tildenite to name to the Cabinet, eventually settling on Alexander Ramsey of Minnesota, long out of elective politics and considered amenable to all factions within the party..."

- Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine

[1] Many of the ideas for this inauguration are lifted from James Garfield's in the same year
I swear I've read this before, but in reference to Max's first departure otl. I'll have to read my sources again...

That would be seriously uncanny if I channeled another source in writing that, since I pantsed that entry this morning

We’ve got some Mexico action coming up in the next update as the country barrels towards the long-teased Revolt of the Caudillos, btw!
Maximilian of Mexico
"...even beyond his long-desired reconciliation with his older, more conservative brother, Maximilian viewed the tour as a tremendous success. He visited eight countries, was able to observe all manner of new technological innovation, met new sovereigns face-to-face for the first time (the young Napoleon IV made a considerable impression on Maximilian in ways that would serve him well upon his return), and he was able to meet with settler societies and in many ways act as a pitchman for his country. Indeed, immigration in the 1880s only sped up compared to the two successful decades of attracting new settlers to his Empire.

However, as with so many things Maximilian, the good was balanced with the bad. Max's months-long absence for much of 1881 came at a critical juncture as relations between Chapultepec and the provincial caudillos continued to deteriorate. The careful balancing act of what is today known as Vidaurrismo, where former Juarez-sympathetic commanders and local leaders had been given personal fiefdoms in the departments to keep them quiet, happy and most importantly loyal to the regime - the so-called "Reconciliados" - was in freefall as the Rurales aggressively scoured the countryside for Zocalista bands and the caudillos angrily protested that the Rurales in their departments should answer to them, rather than to Mexico City. Maximilian had left Carlota as regent in his absence, as customary, but real power was wielded by Zuloaga, who lacked Mejia's straightforwardness or Vidaurri's deft touch in the role of First Minister and instead consolidated influence to his own office at the expense of the rest of Cabinet. For the five months Maximilian was in Europe, Mexico City bristled with intrigues between Zuloaga and his rival from the War of Reform, Miramon. Much like with his relationship with Mejia, the only thing Miramon seemed to agree with Zuloaga on was that Maximilian's dalliances with Barrios in Guatemala were dangerous and that the influence wielded over the Empress by Labastida was unbecoming.

The crisis started to bloom more fully a month before Maximilian's return, when fighting broke out in Oaxaca between supporters of Matias Romero, a former Juarista who had long held informal power in the department at the behest of the government, and the department's official jefe, Ignacio Mariscal, appointed earlier in the year. The fighting turned deadly on September 20, when sixteen men were shot to death for attempting to remove one of Romero's "caciques" from a local tax assessor's office. The Rurales company in Oaxaca, on paper loyal to Mariscal, responded by arresting Romero and indulging in a string of assassinations in towns around the department, and then the police split their loyalties in half and began fighting amongst themselves. A smaller version of the same crisis blossomed in the North, where with the completion in 1880 of the Mexican Central Railroad to Paso del Norte [1] had brought a wave of new settlers, primarily Chinese railroad builders, into that department as well as its neighbor Batopilas. Luis Terrazas and Antonio Ochoa had long held de facto control over both provinces, and despite their rumored support for Porfirio Diaz in the days of the Caudillo del Norte's resistance, Vidaurri had allowed them to hold informal power under Maximilian's White Laws. New governors being appointed by Chapultepec on the six-year schedule devised in the Imperial constitution ran into friction, however, as Angel Trias and Donato Guerra - the new "jefes" of Chihuahua and Batopilas respectively - sought to bring pliable cacique bosses to heel and exert their own influence. A Sinophobic riot that killed six Chinese in early October was responded to with a brutal crackdown by the Rurales loyal to the new governors, eliciting protests across the North, even in Matamoros, where Manuel Gonzalez began to consider whether he should attempt to reason with Maximilian's triumvirate down in Mexico City again.

Upon returning, the Emperor was more excited at the news that railroads had been completed linking Paso del Norte, Chihuahua and Matamoros to the Altiplano than he was concerned at Miramon's urgent warnings that the buzz of revolt was in the air in several restive provinces. Little did either man know that the preternaturally ambitious "Tigre de Tepic" Manuel Lozada traveled that October to Sonora and Chihuahua, the most restive departments beyond his own Nayarit, to discuss the potential of an alliance, in which multiple caudillos would move as a bloc if the central government attempted to curtail any of their powers more directly..."

- Maximilian of Mexico

[1] Juarez being dead in 1862 means there's no name-change to Ciudad Juarez. Also, yay, the North finally gets its railroad connection, a year before OTL!

(Note: took me a bit to find names that could fit as both pro- and anti-Max caudillos in the coming war. If any of these names don't make sense, please let me know)
Bismarck Ascendant: The Era of the Iron Chancellor
"...Bismarck's legacy generally revolves around his efforts in the 1860s to unite Germany, his diplomatic high-wire acts in the 1870s to keep other powers from taking advantage of the newborn and mighty empire he had forged, and then closes with his feud with the new Kaiser Friedrich leading up to his 1883 dismissal [1]. Discussions of his downfall tend to overlook his social policies, proposals that were inspired by similar legislation in France and Spain and primarily passed under his successor, although he managed to pass his tentpole Sickness Insurance Law through the Reichstag in 1883 shortly before his sacking. Late-era Bismarck should be understood as a man out of his time, then, having retreated from the Kulturkampf (a move which many historians, in thrall to the myth of the "great liberal" Friedrich, neglect to recall the Kaiser supported and which alienated him from his Chancellor), and only slowly opening himself to new moves. In an age of alliance, Germany was profoundly isolated by the Franco-Austrian partnership and Russia's retreat from Europe's alliance system; Bismarck would later regret the full-throated German support for Romania following the Bulgarian War, commenting, "We traded a friend in St. Petersburg for a vassal in Bucharest." He was in attendance for the crowning of Carol I in the spring of 1881 and spent some time speaking with Carol's younger brother, Leopoldo I of Spain; the Iron Chancellor seemed old and more weary to the Spanish sovereign, whose thorough diaries remain an incomparable primary source for both Spanish and European history of the era. Discussions of a Spanish-German alliance were touched upon there, but talks collapsed yet again, with Bismarck's hedging caution frustrating Leopold, who of course was leery of making any foreign commitments on behalf of his Cabinet in a fashion that would embarrass him yet again such as the Spanish Insult of 1878 that bloomed out of his last attempt.

The weariness, of course, can be explained by the long-running rivalry with his own sovereign. Bismarck had sparred with Wilhelm on many an occasion but in the end the old Kaiser generally deferred to him; Friedrich, deeply resentful of how Bismarck had isolated him and his wife for years, was not so deferential and wanted to chart "
mein egener kurs", his own course. Whatever political truce had come out of the death of Kronprinz Wilhelm's drowning death the year before soon evaporated; indeed, Bismarck would remark that the prince's death only delayed the inevitable conflict by a few years, and that "I was not the man to console either a Kaiser or a nation; to console is not in my nature." The same fluidity Bismarck displayed in diplomacy, now to his disadvantage, suddenly sprung up on him domestically as Friedrich turned the National Liberals to his cause, wielding them against protectionism and finding a natural constituency in elective politics to array against the Chancellor. The elections of 1881 would prove the final breaking point in the relationship; the National Liberals, already with 109 seats in the Reichstag, indeed increased their majority at the expense of the Conservatives and Free Conservatives, two critical components of Bismarck's base, and in a loose alliance with the Progress Party and People's Party, which also saw substantial gains, created an effective bloc that nearly had a majority in the Reichstag [2]. The Centre Party of lay Catholics remained the only nominal ally to Bismarck to see any particular gain, and some smaller regional parties hemorrhaged some seats. It marked an effective end to the efforts of Bismarck to pass any more anti-Socialist laws, strained his ability to continue with his aggressive protectionism (though the liberal bloc was leery of touching the grain tariffs that kept the Junkers pacified, for the time being) and for the first time saw the Chancellor facing a genuinely hostile Reichstag majority (and the Centre Party, it should be noted, had a long memory of the Kulturkampf and had partnered with Bismarck primarily to ward off the Social Democrats, who also increased their seats in the watershed election).

Bismarck now needed a power base to justify his continued Chancellorship, lest he give the Kaiser any excuse to sack him. Outside of the Reichstag, of course, there were two: the Junker class, and the famed military with an officer corps populated heavily by said landholders..."

- Bismarck Ascendant: The Era of the Iron Chancellor

[1] Flash forward
[2] Without the Liberal Union splitting off, is the key here, and with the context
The Revisionism of Reconciliation: The Real History of the Confederate Grand Consensus
" that standard, yes, perhaps Longstreet is indeed the delineation point between the chaotic "Rapprochement" that was anything but and the "Reconciliation" that gave the "brothers divided" two decades of peaceful, even cooperative relations. But as this text means to show, the entire concept of "reconciliation," celebrated on both sides of the Ohio River in contemporary and modern times as beginning with James Blaine's Pan-American Conference of 1881-82, was a branding exercise, a necessary fiction meant to indulge the laudable but entirely laudable Liberal project of "a hemisphere without interstate conflict," a way to blame Longstreet's successors within the Confederate Democratic Party and beyond it for the breakdown in relations, which the caciques [1] of the Dixie establishment more than happy to indulge the idea that if they had just stuck with the Longstreet-Lamar consensus, then oh, no, nothing would have gone wrong in the 1910s.

Such revisionism serves its purpose, to lionize Blaine and his brain trust and to paint a happy picture on an ugly police state built upon white supremacy. Longstreet deserves credit for a handful of achievements; his election over Jubal Early ended the violent, overt thuggery of the Forrest-Harris years, with its reliance on paramilitary violence to effect political means. His campaign to amend the Confederate Constitution improved the ability of its national government (the preferred parlance in Richmond to "federal," which to this day carries Yankee connotations in the South) [2] to connect the country for commercial and strategic purposes with internal improvements outside of wartime, and the economy of Dixie did improve by the end of his six year term, but consider that under his successor there were two famines and as many as 25% of independent small farmers - most of whom owned no slaves - lost their farms in the Great Depression and had their lands seized by the planter oligarchy.

Indeed, that is Longstreet's great sin, that the plantocracy only became more entrenched and began exporting its hateful chattel worldview more effectively, most notably to Brazil, where alliances between New Orleans and Charleston elites and the coffee planters may have delayed slavery's extinguishing by two decades or more in the Empire. Numerous states passed laws allowing freedmen to be re-enslaved under certain conditions, most prominently Longstreet's birth state of Georgia, and a number of others banished the residency of freedmen but took to action to enslave them. The number of voluntary emancipations of slaves, which had increased exponentially in the 1870s as many could not afford to maintain their slave labor, halved in the following decade and more than halved again by 1900 despite only fleeting economic improvements over that time. The Democratic Party by the end of the century controlled effectively every state legislature, in some of which they held supermajorities, and enjoyed essentially total command of the Confederate Senate in alliance with the rotating six-year Presidencies. The Longstreet years created a rubber stamp for plutocracy and chattel feudalism and yet is celebrated as a triumph of liberalism south of the Ohio only because the tensions and mistrust of previous years began to be defrosted with him and Blaine in their respective executive roles [3]..."

- The Revisionism of Reconciliation: The Real History of the Confederate Grand Consensus (Harvard University, 2004)

[1] If you're going to behave like a caudillo state you get to have caudillo state terminology used
[2] I do want to play a bit with how certain terms would change over the years
[3] TL-191 fans will appreciate the irony of this
The Hamidian Era: The Ottoman Empire 1876-1918
"...Istanbul first saw the Mahdist rebellion in the Sudan as a minor nuisance, though concerns about Muslim revivalism as a vehicle for ethnic Arab discontent was never far from Abdul Hamid's mind. Nevertheless, the nominally independent Tewfiq Pasha in Egypt was to deal with it, as Sudan fell within the Khedivate's purview. Of course, as Grand Vizier Mehmed Said Pasha pointed out, the Khedive had put itself in this position with its scurrilous finances, gradual reduction of forces within and outside of Khartoum as a result of its ruinously expensive wars and debts, and insistence on appointing foreigners, particularly the British, to positions of power to manage its mounting liabilities. Abdul Hamid began to ponder, then, as the Mahdi drew ever more followers to his cause, whether it was time to restrict the Khedive's authority and introduce the kinds of constitutional bureaucratic reforms that had taken flight in Istanbul and his other domans in the wake of his victory over the Russians. On this matter, as most, he consulted the French, who agreed that the deteriorating situation in Sudan warranted watching, and that garrisons on the Suez should be boosted, for there was another matter that suddenly attracted their attention beyond Sudan: the emergence of Ahmad Urabi in Egypt over the summer of 1881..."

- The Hamidian Era: The Ottoman Empire 1876-1918
It looks to me like Bismarck is going to try to make a reactionary bulwark against the Kaiser. I imagine that a failure might diminish the power of the Prussian nobility and empower the bourgeoisie as a result.
Also, it seems like the condition of blacks throughout the slave states are only going to get worse. Are many CSA slaves escaping to the US, Mexico, or Cuba as a result? And how is the integration of Spanish freedmen going for the Empire? I imagine racism will create serious obstacles.
It looks to me like Bismarck is going to try to make a reactionary bulwark against the Kaiser. I imagine that a failure might diminish the power of the Prussian nobility and empower the bourgeoisie as a result.
Also, it seems like the condition of blacks throughout the slave states are only going to get worse. Are many CSA slaves escaping to the US, Mexico, or Cuba as a result? And how is the integration of Spanish freedmen going for the Empire? I imagine racism will create serious obstacles.

You’ve read my mind on Germany! Some big upheavals coming up there.
Yeah, the Underground Railroad is active in several directions. Mexico gets a surprisingly large amount of slavery refugees though nothing like the Union.

Spain is doing an eh job integrating its freedmen. Most stay in the Caribbean, a lot of them wind up in the military, particularly the reinvigorated Navy. Racism is definitely a substantial problem for those who make the trip to Spain proper
Had to do a slight retcon on my population numbers for the US census - made Maine’s pop WAY too high so I had to give 100k people to New York instead. New EV calculations reflect that too
We Come From Canton: Chinese Diaspora in the 19th Century
"...the continued flow of Chinese laborers into the New World did not come without reaction. Most prominently in Peru, where despite the Chinese having intermarried with locals (particularly indigenous), pogroms occurred throughout the years following the Saltpeter War, driving hundreds if not thousands either south into Chile or onto ships that would take them to friendlier shores. Efforts to restrict the "importation" of Chinese intensified in Canada in 1881, the same year the "golden spike" of the Canadian Pacific Railroad was driven in years ahead of schedule, where now the need for cheap coolie labor would no longer be needed. British Columbia, like California in the previous decade, attempted to expel her Chinese, before such efforts were dismissed by the Supreme Courts of both countries. Domestic politics made efforts to explicitly ban Chinese immigration flounder in both Canada and the United States; in the former, because British Columbian mining and shipping interests desired cheap labor, and in the latter, because in addition to the need for a steady supply of cheap railroad labor and a dwindling supply of Irish and blacks willing to build railroads at the wages offered by the increasingly debt-saddled railroads, there were concerns over retaliation by China for violating the Burlingame Treaty, and efforts to renegotiate it and pass a law banning the migration of women suspected to be prostitutes ran up against the Presidential election of 1880, the convalescence of President Hendricks, and a lack of desire within the new Blaine administration to revisit the Treaty in its initial years.

Sinophobia was not limited to Anglo-Saxon settler colonies. Chinese in Mexico, immediately granted citizenship upon arrival and generally quick to assimilate with Catholic marriages, intermarriage with mestizo and Indian locals and prone to granting their children Spanish given names, were often the target of ire in both the bourgeois Altiplano and in the impoverished peripheral departments, where they clashed with locals as they gradually found mining and building jobs. Zacatecas and Sonora in particular became hotspots, with an infamous lynching occurring in early 1882 in Guaymas. In Cuba, decades of coolie labor finally came to a head as the Spanish government abolished indentured servitude of any kind, even the "loan labor" so common among those departing Canton and Hongkong, and the Chinese there competed with the
incompensados, or uncompensated freedmen, who a decade after emancipation often still struggled at the bottom of Cuban society as sharecroppers or day laborers for pitiful wages. Nonetheless, the flow continued, even as head taxes gaining currency in many countries as a way to arrest the constant flow of new Chinese - and disproportionately male - labor and also raise revenue off those who came..."

- We Come From Canton: Chinese Diaspora in the 19th Century
The Dragon Stirs: The Qing Dynasty under the Guangxu Emperor
"...the death of Empress Dowaged Ci'an, beyond devastating the boy Guangxu Emperor, immediately empowered the Empress Dowager Cixi, already the dominant figure at court despite her continuous bouts of liver disease that would plague her for the rest of her life. Cixi wasted no time asserting herself now as sole regent rather than one of a tandem..."

- The Dragon Stirs: The Qing Dynasty under the Guangxu Emperor
The Urabi Revolt at 100
"...with such a vast pool of unemployed and embittered former army officers and soldiers in Egypt, the image of a pliable Khedive in hoc to the French and British creditors who in effect controlled not only Egypt's finances but much of its upper civil service at the behest of the Turco-Circassian European Muslim upper class, and the caustic, satirical and borderline inflammatory Abu Naddara Zar'a magazine, written not in the high Arabic or Turkish of the elites but in the ordinary Egyptian vernacular, thus consumable by the street. Into this mix in the summer of 1882 came a potent and familiar figure - the populist man of the people, seizing power in their name, and his own. Ahmad Urabi, a peasant and native Egyptian risen high in the ranks, commanded respect of military and civilians in Egypt alike and channeled the resentment of tax-exempt elites into essentially seizing power in Egypt by demanding a new assembly be seated by Khedive Tewfiq, one containing a number of his allies. By January, he would be Minister of War, and the effective ruler of Egypt in all but name..."

- The Urabi Revolt at 100 (The Economist, 1982)
The Cornerstone: John Hay and the Foundation of American Global Prestige
"...with the end of his "dilettante years" - the pseudo-exile from active politics of a wealthy dilettante experimenting in writing editorials from whatever state he was in for his political patron Reid [1], of managing his father-in-law's portfolio through the Great Depression, of his expensive and infamous social life, and even his occasional sojourns to Illinois to practice law as an amusement with the Lincolns - came a new vigor and joy for Hay, who was as shocked as anyone else that despite his vocal and spirited support for Blaine and his failure to be elected to Congress he had been chosen as Secretary of State, when he would have been merely contented with an ambassadorship to a foreign court such as London or Paris. The Blaine Cabinet, over which Hay presided in his formal duties, was not a Lincolnian team of rivals but instead a gathering of men who all had a deep and mutual respect for one another. Sherman was an idol of Hay's from their time during the war; Evarts, perhaps the most respected attorney in the nation to not serve on the Supreme Court. Even George Henry Williams, the relatively unknown Secretary of the Interior from Oregon, was held in high regard in Washington.

Hay brought to the Blaine program his enthusiasm and total belief in his role, in perfect sync with the President on the matter of a more robust and assertive role for American foreign policy, particularly as her navy expanded (though despite its larger size, the Naval Act of 1869 had run aground upon budget cuts from the Hendricks White House, being technologically outdated compared to nimbler navies, and trouble filling contracts during the Great Depression). Blaine and Hay, over cigars and brandy as was their custom, developed their vision together, of a new and liberal order in the Western Hemisphere with the Union as its north star. Rather than blunt protectionism, the United States would pursue reciprocity treaties and favored nation trading status, using a combination of carrots and sticks in setting tariff rates by country rather than by product. Nations as far-flung as Korea and Madagascar were potential markets for an American industrial base that Blaine predicted would only grow more precipitously. In addition to reciprocity, the second prong of Blainism was arbitration, building upon the previous work of Secretaries of State such as Fish and Cox. To this end, Blaine called upon Hay to organize a Pan-American Conference for that fall, with all members of the Western Hemisphere to attend, to begin discussions towards the future of the Americas. There was no part of Hay that considered such an endeavor naive - to him it was a bold vision.

Moreso than anything else, though, the arrival of Hay in Washington coincided with the emergence of a new society in the capital, for the mansion he and Clara Stone Hay built for themselves on Dupont Circle became the epicenter of all his literary friends, from Twain to James to Adams and all the rest. The circles in which Hay traveled now included not only journalists, writers and Liberal bigwigs coming to pay tribute but Supreme Court judges, congressmen, civil servants and the whole of the capital, trying to make sense of the Secretary of State who was as avid a novelist as he was a diplomat, who could not only speak on politics but read poetry to enthralled listeners..."

- The Cornerstone: John Hay and the Foundation of American Global Prestige

[1] Whitelaw Reid, that is
The Cradle: Social Democracy in Germany
"...despite the persecutions that followed the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1878, at the very minimum the party was not disbanded, and there were a number of loopholes for its leaders, most notably to meet in Switzerland, London or, increasingly, in Belgium, the burgeoning hotbed of socialist activity on the continent due to the laissez-faire attitude of King Leopold II and the lack of a substantial native social democratic tradition in a country riven between the rivalry of its liberal and clerical parties. While Marx and Engels chose to stay in London, with its lack of censorship and permissive government (and the growing radicalism of both its trade unions and its petit-bourgeoisie), it was "Red Brussels" in the 1880s where the intellectuals of the left gathered, where the International Workingmen's Association met twice in a row, and where dissident socialists from Germany and France could meet in between, with many of the successors of the communards of Paris '68 now writing, organizing and strategizing from Belgium's otherwise placid capital. It was in many ways a golden era for Europe's socialists of the time, safe from harassment or imprisonment but near enough to their homelands to visit friends and family as desired..."

- The Cradle: Social Democracy in Germany
Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine
" was the former Tildenite, Wheeler H. Peckham, the man most famous in New York for his aggressive prosecution of the Tweed Ring, whom Blaine entrusted as the "tip of the spear" on civil service reform, the first item on his legislative agenda. Even among the ostensibly good-government Liberals there were many who wanted some form of patronage, and beyond Senator George Pendleton the Democrats initially closed ranks against reform in anticipation of when they might some day take power again, refusing to lend a hand to any measure that would go further than the toothless, practically sinecure Civil Service Commission established late in the John Hoffman administration. Peckham's proposal was in fact so radical that even some Liberals balked - he would have cordoned off nearly every appointable position beyond the Cabinet, including the judiciary, with strict rules for appointments and establishing the Civil Offices Board and Judicial Appointments Board to produce lists which the President would be bound to select from. Blaine himself was skeptical that such a program would hold constitutional muster, and upon consulting his friend, Vermont Senator George F. Edmunds, among the most powerful men in the body and who was close with several Supreme Court Justices, he quietly instructed Hay and Evarts to signal to Congress that he opposed the measure.

The next attempt at reform came from Speaker of the House James Garfield, who along with a handful of allies from the Midwest proposed instead a "tiered" system of appointments, where lower-level bureaucratic posts would be professionalized by competitive examination, mid-level offices would be chosen from a "pool of selectmen" who were qualified by a formula of professional experience and examination, and then leave high-level offices to full Presidential appointment. Perhaps most notably, the Garfield Act would leave judges uncovered by the provisions of the reform, thus eliminating some of the thornier constitutional concerns, and leave the determination of the civil service examinations and the "appointment formula" up to a seven-member Civil Service Commission, whose members would serve staggered six-year terms [1]. The Garfield Act passed the House of Representatives in early October 200-125, with all opposition coming from Democrats. In the Senate, meanwhile, Pendleton would propose his own act that gave the Commission broader rule-setting powers in how it determined which positions to cover and left out the tiered system, and perhaps more critically, outlawed "assessments" payable to political parties by appointees [2]. Garfield had left the assessments ban out of his bill out of concern that it would so poison the Act that it would be unpassable, but several Liberals - including Peckham - made it a redline for pressing ahead in the Senate. The Pendleton Act initially covered considerably fewer federal employees as well; the only substantial similarities to what had passed the House were its outlawing on firing, demoting or punishing professional civil servants for political reasons, the use of some form of examination, and genuinely empowering the Civil Service Commission rather than having it serve as an advisory body to the President as it had, with some success, during the Hoffman and Hendricks years.

As the civil service reform effort was bogged down between the competing bills, Blaine's attention fell on other matters - the replacement of the ailing Noah Swayne on the Supreme Court. Swayne, regarded as a judicial mediocrity and the first appointment of President Lincoln to the Court, had initially refused to step down despite being infirm, only wanting to resign on the condition that his friend, Ohio attorney and close friend of former Ohio Governor Rutherford Hayes. Matthews' ties to the railroad industry, in particular financier Jay Gould of "Black Friday" fame, made his appointment an impossibility to the Liberal Party that had run for a decade on "prudency of the public purse" and bristled at accusations it was in hoc to the hated railroad barons. It fell to two unexpected sources to intervene - Treasury Secretary Sherman, an Ohioan, begged Swayne to retire rather than potentially die under a Democratic administration as he nearly had done, and secondly President Lincoln, who traveled to Washington to visit his son Robert as the Thanksgiving holiday approached and, still an imposing and virile figure even at 72 years of age, finally persuaded Swayne to step aside.

The favored choice of Blaine now fell to his friend Senator Edmunds, who had served on the Judiciary Committee of the Senate as both a Republican and Liberal and was dear friends with Chief Justice Davis and Justice Thurman. Edmunds was skeptical to leave the Senate, where he loved debating, and had mulled a Presidential run of his own once Blaine left office, now that a sitting Senator had been elected to the White House for the first time. Blaine, Evarts and Hay spent Thanksgiving in Vermont with Edmunds, persuading him to take the appointment, with Blaine assuring him that he would make him Chief Justice if and when David Davis, who was frequently in poor health and now in his late 60s, left the bench via retirement or death during his term. Edmunds suspected - and was proven right, as Blaine and Hay's private diaries would one day prove - that his appointment to the Court was meant to remove a potential rival for Blaine's proteges to the Presidency, and he oscillated for days before finally accepting the offer [3]. Swayne announced his retirement shortly thereafter, and now two battles would become one in what Hay would later describe as "the Christmas Dispute."

Edmunds had earned himself a number of enemies among Democrats over the years and his record of holding retainers from railroad companies and practicing law during his Senate years, as many of his colleagues did, became an issue. The skepticism of some Liberal reformers towards him also bogged the debate on his nomination down, a shock to Blaine who had expected him to coast through as a Senatorial courtesy. The nomination of Edmunds to the Supreme Court became intertwined with the civil service reform acts, and finally, days before the Christmas recess, Edmunds voted in favor of the Pendleton-Peckham Act, a signal to the more radical reformers that his previous reputation for slow progress or the status quo was perhaps at last melting. With the Senate act passing 32-20, with Edmunds and Senator Hearst of California abstaining, and primarily Liberals and a handful of Democrats in support, the logjam on Edmunds' nomination was broken after two weeks of debate, a considerable amount for that time. Justice George F. Edmunds' nomination was passed 42-10, with only Democrats - including all six former slave state Senators and George Pendleton - in opposition as the last act before the Senate recessed for nearly two months, and he was sworn in by Chief Justice Davis the next day. As for the competing House and Senate bills, that battle would need to wait for the spring..."

- Titan: The Life and Presidency of James G. Blaine

[1] President Garfield of course never lived to pass his vision of civil service reform, and I've never found any indication of what exactly he aspired to pass; here, I invent an idea that would probably suit the inclinations of the Liberals of TTL, where patronage reform is a much more livewire issue after the scandals of the 1870s and it being a raison d'etre for their entire political party
[2] In effect the exact provisions of his OTL bill. Ironically, IOTL leading on patronage reform so angered his colleagues back in Ohio that it effectively ended Senator Pendleton's career. He was an interesting figure, that's for sure, a fire-breathing reactionary in some respects and a canny pragmatist in others
[3] In OTL he refused a similar office to be appointed to SCOTUS
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