Fenians, Brits, Mexicans, Canucks and Frenchies....OH, MY! An alternate American Civil War

Chapter 194
May 1883


With the death of Disraeli in 1881, Lord Salisbury and Sir Stafford Northcote had taken over the Conservative Party in opposition. With the fall of Gladstone (hopefully for the last time, God willing), an alliance was made with the Liberal Unionists under Chamberlain. Compromises had to be made in policy and positions, but anything to get Gladstone out of power was acceptable.

Of course, the new coalition faced many of the same problems which had haunted Gladstone, namely India and Ireland. Gladstone had been negligent in allowing so much Indian political involvement. Now it seemed almost impossible to put that genie back in the bottle. Disraeli must be turning over in his grave.

Fortunately, the defection....once more....of the Irish MP's back to the Liberal Party was more than offset by the new coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists. It was impossible to see the opposition regaining power in the foreseeable future as long as Gladstone and his minions supported Irish Home Rule. In the end, the rural voters of Britain that were the bedrock of the Liberal Party were simply unwilling to accept the inevitable sundering of Ireland from Britain which Home Rule must bring.

Gladstone was simply an idiot.

The question was if the Conservatives could do better. No one was certain of this at all.

As it was, the new government was happy enough to follow SOME of the Liberal policies, most notably the pseudo-alliance with the United States and the prevention of any other European power to reestablish colonies in Asia and Africa (Russia's eastern Empire didn't count).

France and Italy were always sniffing about Africa with an eye for colonization. With the power of the Royal Navy, the alliance of America, Egypt, Madagascar and Ethiopia and the resources of India, it seemed fairly straightforward that no European nation was likely to interfere in the southern hemisphere.

However, the complexity of maintaining this tenuous system of colonies and alliances would continue to strain Britain's political and social systems. Gladstone had been anti-colonial to the core and may have permanently hampered British interests in Asia.

In order to keep their allies in Africa happy, Gladstone had even offered seats on each of the new "Co-Protectorates" Administrative Councils of Africa to the King of Morocco (the Maghreb), the Khedive of Egypt (and the Levant), the Emperor of Ethiopia and the King of Madagascar. This seemed insane at first but the new government realized it would bond the African Kingdoms more tightly to the Co-Protectorates and ensured it would be virtually impossible for a competing European power to lay a claim on the African continent.

If Great Britain (and, yes, their allies) controlled Africa, then India and the Far East were safe.

Oddly, the actions of Gladstone to "protect Africa from colonization" may actually expedite the process to defacto British control over the continent and Asia to boot.

As it was, a British expedition from India had seized Zanzibar on the pretext of "anti-slaving" in the notorious Muslim slave-trading station. The Indian troops involved were entirely volunteers as no sane British administrator would attempt to force the Indian Sepoys to do ANYTHING these days lest there be another Mutiny.


After several months of chasing the Mormons through the hills, the Australian Army finally managed to crush the remnant of the insurgency. While polygamy had always been formally illegal, the Anglo-Australian government had largely turned a blind eye until the Mormons rose up. Now, the practice would be viciously put down. The "Honeycomb" houses of Polygamists (a minority among the Mormons) were burned where they were found, much as they had been in Utah. Any plural marriages were annulled.

Dozens of senior Mormon leaders were arrested and deported to a prison colony on Pitcairn Island.

While mass-eviction of Mormons....somewhere....maybe back to America......was considered, there seemed to be no way to maintain the Hawaiian economy if the labor was lost. Instead, a large garrison was left in Hawaii (at local expense) and Britain was formally requested to assist in settling large numbers of Anglo-Australians to Hawaii.

There was another option, of course, in obtaining labor. However, the Australian officials were adamant that no Asians were to enter "Australian Territory". That they should so openly describe it as so was disconcerting to some Britons but, in the end, the Metropolis acceded to their "colony's" demand.

Guajira Peninsula

After months of negotiations came to nothing, the American diplomats warned the Venezuelans that further aggression in the Guajira Peninsula would lead to American intervention. A British observer was dismayed to see American flexing its muscle....again.....but was not inclined to argue publicly. The American propensity to intervene in Latin America was making the old "Monroe Doctrine" look like something akin to an actual barrier to European (i.e. British) involvement in North and South American affairs.

But the alliance with the United States was too new and too valuable for Great Britain's already buy new government to reconsider. Best let the Americans have their way involving themselves in a petty South American border conflict. They'll probably exhaust themselves if they plan on doing this again and again in the future. It was even possible the still-largely isolationist elements of American society may decide the whole enterprise of International Politics to be too complex and cede the matter to Britain in the future.

Maybe ALL of Africa might someday fall under British colonial control and not this "Co-Protectorate" nonsense.
Chapter 195
June, 1883

Bay of Venezuela

Western Venezuela had long been geographically isolated from the rest of the country. No roads reached Maracaibo (the primary city of the region) or other remote regions to the bulk of Venezuela and thus only water transit allowed for communication and trade. This naturally led to a rather independent streak for the locals. During the war for independence, the region had long supported the crown in the face of Republican majorities. Only the complete lack of assistance from Spain allowed Venezuela to conquer what was now the "Zulia" Department which straddled Lake Maracaibo.

Zulia Department within Venezuela in 1883 including claims to the Guajira Peninsula.


An American flotilla under Captain Mahan (who had....ONCE AGAIN....been forced out of his comfortable desk job to wallow out at sea) would wonder why the hell Dewey didn't get this assignment. Dewey LIKED to be at sea and his leadership in defusing the Chilean-Bolivian conflict was still hailed in Washington.

Mahan would vastly have preferred to continue assembling his thesis on naval power in the world from the comfort of his office. The title was not yet settled but Mahan would build upon French-Swiss Admiral Jomini's assertion that key chokepoints and vital bases around the world were as big a key to hegemony as the quality of the fleet a nation possessed.

Singapura, Madras, the Cape, the Suez, Gibraltar, Havana, Quebec, Honolulu, the Colombian Canal if the laborers building it lived long enough to complete.....these were as important as guns and armor. It would come to no surprise to any learned observer that Great Britain currently controlled, had once controlled or, in the case of the Colombian Canal, WOULD someday partially control most of these key chokepoints of world trade.

To Mahan's regret, America's great expansion over the past two decades to seize overseas colonies (i.e. naval bases) did not remotely put America into Britain's class. Apparently, when one BUYS colonies like the Danish and Dutch West Indies, there is a reason why the nations were willing to sell. Most of these islands lacked good harbors for naval bases and were largely unfit for any agricultural pursuits (unlike virtually ALL of the rest of the Caribbean).

Similarly, the Pacific Islands claimed, seized or assumed by "negotiation" with the natives, would prove poor comparisons to Hawaii and other Anglo-Australian possessions. Samoa had a bit of potential but the Chamorro Islands, Midway, Wake, Tahiti and Easter Island really weren't worth that much. Having entered the colonialism game late, it was apparent that all that was left was scraps ignored for good reason.

Now, Mahan was ordered to "investigate the region's usefulness as a base" in addition to his publicly proclaimed "peaceful mission". In truth, Mahan didn't see much in the Gulf of Venezuela or Lake Maracaibo which would be much use to America. Yes, it would be a better naval base than American Guyana but America (and Britain) were already in the midst of negotiating a naval base near the Colombian Canal in the province of Panama with the President of Colombia. There seemed to be no real reason for an American presence here.

Fortunately, that left Mahan's job somewhat easier as he could concentrate on his own job...blockading the Bay and Lake to prevent Venezuelan reinforcements. The American was simply following the formula of using superior American naval power to segregate the combatants until they tired of the situation and made peace.

Who Mahan did NOT realize was that Venezuela had received a new vessel from Italy the previous month which outgunned his own flagship. He also didn't realize that a ship from Britain had dispatched the previous year to Venezuela (which had been sitting at anchor waiting for armaments) had finally been properly outfitted. The two ships alone bore as much firepower as Mahan's entire five-ship flotilla.

When the Venezuelan "Grand Admiral" (exactly what made him grand was up for debate as he was a political appointee with limited service at sea) arrived with a convoy of reinforcements, the green officer would panic and open fire upon the American fleet.
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Chapter 196
July, 1883

Lake Maracaibo

The battle of Lake Maracaibo on June 28th had been a close-run thing. In truth, the American victory could be drawn to three major points: experience of commanders, experience of common sailors and the torpedo.

The first point would be evident when the "Grand Admiral" of the Italian-made Duilio-Class warship Caracas failed to coordinate with the British-built Ajax-class Orinoco. On the evidence of firepower, the two ships SHOULD have wiped out the Americans if they'd coordinated. However, the Venezuelan would failed to coordinate and the Americans were initially able to concentrate their firepower upon the Ajax while the Caracas fired ineffectively from a distance.

Mahan himself was not a "fighting admiral". His talents were in strategy, not the mundane everyday requirements of maintaining naval efficiency and communication between ships. However, he was at least....adequate....and his junior Captain knew well enough what he wanted.

The second was plain that the Venezuelan common sailors from gunners to mechanics simply did not know the ships terribly well as most had been dragooned from other vessels in the weeks and, in some cases, days before they sailed. No real "shakedown cruise" had been scheduled for either ship. Instead, once crewed, they were ordered to sea by President Blanco without regard if the crew was ready to battle a rowboat. This handicap proved obvious with the sluggish maneuvering and poor gunnery accuracy and rate of fire well below that of experienced crews. The American sailors, on the other hand, were well versed in their ships, their guns and their discipline.

As the five American ships managed to pummel the Orinoco to submission, the Caracas would belatedly make its return to the battle when the Grand Admiral sailed past the main American fleet with the intent of "crossing the T". However, he did not take into account that the smaller American vessels sailing towards his guns bore newly developed "Whitehead Torpedoes".

Three self-propelled torpedoes struck the Caracas amidship. One failed to detonate but the other two would carve gashes into the hulls, forcing the mighty vessels to take on water. The Venezuelan Admiral ordered the ship to withdraw, leaving the Orinoco to her fate. Abandoned, the Orinoco struck her colors.

The Caracas would not make it far as, badly listing, the ship was forced to beach along the Guajira Peninsula within site of Colombian Army. Mahan cautiously caught up and, seeing the vessels listing so badly that her guns were unable to be leveled towards land or sea, gave an ultimatum:

Surrender the vessel intact to the Americans....or scuttle it and face the Colombians and their Wayuu Indian allies out for blood for the massacre of thousands of their people by the Venezuelan Army.

Swiftly, the ship would strike he colors and the sailors allowed to sail back to Venezuela on four Venezuelan cargo and transport ships. Upon arrival, the "Grand Admiral" would be shot.

Mahan would be hailed as a national hero but no formal declaration of war would be issued between America and Venezuela. By the time the public furor in America erupted, the Venezuelans were already asking for terms. Having lost the only two useful ships in their fleet, America could blockade the Venezuelan coast with impunity.

The Orinoco and Caracas were given repairs in Cartagena and sailed back to America as prizes of war. Inspected by the Naval Department, the Americans were dismayed to find out how beyond they were to the Italian-made Caracas. The British-built Orinoco was at least as good as the ships now in development and construction in America. It was obvious that America was falling behind and President Grant approved expediting the new "heavy" battleship design proposed that spring.

In the meantime, the peace negotiations (despite no actual declaration between America and Venezuela) proceed apace. The disputed lands of the Guajira Peninsula were to be formally ceded to Colombia.

In a surprise, the Zulia Department, now cut off from the rest of Venezuela, would request independence and both America and Colombia were eager to create a neutral barrier between Colombia and Venezuela and Zulia would be declared independent.

Perhaps even worse, the greedy Americans now demanded that the Orinoco River be the new border between American Guyana and Venezuela. This meant that the largely unpopulated southern Venezuelan, nearly half the nation's territory but less than 5% the population and the Orinoco Delta to its westernmost tributary running into the Gulf of Paria.

President Blanco was more than willing to cede claims to the Guajira Peninsula but could hardly accept losing Zulia, the Orinoco Delta and the huge Bolivar and Amazonas Departments. He swore to fight on but the ruthless Americans would dispatch River Monitors and Marines to the Orinoco and heavier ships to blockade the rest of the coast.

By Fall, Blanco would be overthrown and yet another Civil War ensued. This allowed America, Zulia and Colombia to consolidate their claims with little Venezuelan resistance.

Map of Orinoco Delta

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so just skimmed over some of the story but there's a Trent war and the US and UK are still ailles by the 1880s
very interesting and unique
Chapter 197
August 1883

Krakatoa, Japanese East Indies

In an eruption unparalleled in living memory, Mt. Krakatoa would devastate the island, killing 30,000 via gas and tsunami. The Japanese would accomplish little to mitigate the disaster as they continued to put down resistance in Sumatra.

British Raj

For the first time, the laws of India were adjusted to allow Europeans to be tried in Indian Courts via Indian Laws by Indian judges. It is a major concession, the latest of a seemingly endless series.

The British residents would be outraged but the government of India, having finally received approval from London, knew that the people of India would not accept such second tier status any longer.

The fact that the British Empire relied upon Indian troops (all volunteers as Hindus normally did not travel overseas) for seizing Zanzibar.....for the Co-Protectorate, of course....not that America had yet forged much influence in Eastern Africa beyond dispatching Councilors....would prove that Britain perhaps relied upon India more than India relied upon Britain.

It was a realization that would make many nervous.

September, 1883


For months, Venezuela convulsed once again in Civil War as half a dozen would-be strongmen battled for control. Tens of thousands would die of direct conflict, mass fires set in most cities and the inevitable hunger and disease that follows the collapse of the social order.

Like most nations in South America, Venezuela had grappled with Independence from Spain without a base of democratic history to rely upon (as the United States possessed prior to Independence. Thus military dictatorships became the standard and racial tensions abounded between white, black, brown and indigenous. Bearing less than 2,000,000 citizens, the small country was ripe for political disarray. The fall (and later murder) of President and former General Blanco would lead to renewed conflict that only periodically spread out to Zulia, Colombia and the United States. These three nations now occupied (in the case of the Americans, only nominally) half of Venezuela's claimed territories. But nothing could be done about this until the internal disputes were resolved.

Rio de Janeiro

The Empress of Brazil would tire of her advisors constantly whining about the troubles of the world. If they wanted Isabel to solve the problem, they should beg her to become a Dictator.

Now her Foreign Minister is worried about the Americans. Isabel didn't see the problem. Americans had aided Brazil against the Portuguese when her father was killed in Lisbon harbor....though it was possible that had been an accident.

Rumors that America now wanted to expand their border in Guyana to reach the shores of the Amazon River. The region had been ignored for nearly 400 years until the sudden increase in interest for rubber production. The industry was now proliferating in the region but there were fears that the sudden wealth would attract interest from the massive Protestant nation that appeared intent on expanding omni-directionally.

In truth, Isabel doubted this. Yes, on paper the Americans had taken up huge swathes of South America. But it was arguably the least accessible lands on the Continent....which had largely been ignored by Spain, Britain, France and the Netherlands (and, arguably, Brazil) for centuries. Guyana was nothing but mountain and rainforest bearing a few thousand Indians and freed slaves. There would be no invasion of Brazil from Guyana.

The Ministers pointed out that American Naval might would make it easy to control the mouth of the Amazon...and therefore the entire remote and isolated Brazilian interior. Yes, it WAS possible that America could seize the mouth of the Amazon....but to take advantage of that, they had to sail inland a thousand miles to the Madeira, Mamore and Guapore tributaries in the south where most of the rubber was grown....all through regions little developed and bearing hardly a soul capable of speaking English.

Were the Americans, the Empress inquired, planning on stationing a permanent army along the Amazon, forcibly moving hundreds of thousands of American settlers to the region and then massively developing the infrastructure.......all in a relatively short period of time?

Yes, the Americans COULD do that but it would be a decades-long project and most nations were not inclined to such long-term thinking (the Americans in particular had a notoriously short attention span).

No, the Empress determined, she very much doubted that some conspiracy existed in Washington to seize northern Brazil.

But, to shut the Ministers up, the Empress determined to pay a visit to President Grant that fall. She'd lived most of her life in Brazil, seldom leaving and even then never experiencing the cold. Why not personally see a "northern winter" for herself? She'd love to witness snowfall.
Chapter 198
October, 1883


The announcement of the impending arrival of Empress Isabel (the Liberator) was met with public excitement. Having been cast by the American press in a generally favorable light given her disinclination towards politics, her abolition of slavery in Brazil and the perception that the monarchy had staved off a military dictatorship, Empress Isabel also received much public sympathy for the death of her father on the deck of an American warship in Lisbon.

Exactly why she determined to sail uninvited to America was something of a mystery but the lady was bringing her heir, the eight year old crown prince, with her. The lady would sail for Washington, then for New York and then home to Brazil on a month-long tour (including sailing time).

On short notice, the President and city gentry would hasten to set up a series of events - balls, receptions, visitation to the local National Museum, etc - suitable for an Empress.

Abraham Lincoln even planned on travelling to Washington to attend the festivities (this time bringing along Mrs. Lincoln). As the Grant Administration was not famous for its riveting social scene, a visit by an Empress was considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Empress Isabel's visit would be among the biggest social events in American history. With grace and aplomb, the young woman would charm the American public.

In private, the Empress expressed her Ministers' concerns about America seeking to rewrite the borders of Guyana and Brazil. On more than one occasion, the former owners of eastern Guyana (France) had clashed with Brazilian authority over the sparsely populated region of Para. Grant could reply in absolute sincerity that he had never considered the matter for a single second. Why would he want MORE rainforest?

In over a decade of possessing Guyana, barely 5000 Americans had migrated to the huge territory. Now, someone thought America wanted MORE useless land?

Grant would agree to publicly stated that America would stand by the somewhat vague borders long claimed by Brazil while he and the Empress pronounced the formation of a joint commission to accurately map the inland region of the Amazon and Guyana Shield.

Given that America hadn't even BEGUN to colonize the vast tracts still claimed (but not legally ceded due to lack of a government) by Venezuela, grabbing an expanse of swamp the size of the Yukon was not an option for the Americans.

Besides, Grant's recurrent bouts with throat and chest problems more or less ensured that the President was NOT going to run for a third term in 1884 thus Grant simply hoped that the Venezuela situation resolved itself by that point and he didn't leave a conflict for his successor to clean up.
Chapter 199
November, 1883


The first trip of the "Orient Express" was expected to commence in October but this had been pushed to November due to "technical problems" (i.e. a bridge collapse). The new service would pass through over a dozen countries and run from Paris to Constantinople. There was even talk of extending it again across the Dardanelles into the Ottoman and on to the Holy Lands, maybe even across the Middle East and India.

Emperor Napoleon IV would formally cut the ribbon himself.

The new route was remarkable as it required cooperation in rail gauge and economic integration across many nations, several actively forming into coalitions against one another.

Napoleon IV and his Ministers would actively seek alliances against the German Confederation on land and against Great Britain by sea. In truth, by the 1880's, the near-complete immolation of the French Empire abroad had effectively ensured that it would be virtually impossible to regain the initiative on the high seas without ANY advance naval bases to speak of. Regaining an overseas Empire would likely therefore be the work of generations.....decades or centuries of massive expense to seize a few colonies....then a few more.

Great Britain's alliance with Morocco and Egypt (and now Madagascar and Ethiopia) likely prevented any seizure of nearby African territories. Without them.....

France was looking more and more like a....Continental.....power....no longer a global one. Of course, seeing the collapse of every non-British colonial power (Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Ottoman, Danish, etc) and even Britain herself seemed to struggle to hold on to the jewel of her Empire.....India....which had effected two mutinies in 30 years and was now reportedly demanding greater and greater political representation by the year.

Maybe losing its Empire was a mixed blessing, after all.

Napoleon's alliance with Italy was intended to be an both a continental military alliance and an overseas naval coalition. Between the two of them, the nations may......may.....reestablish at least control over the Mediterranean.

But extending French (and Italian) power in Africa, Asia or South America?

A bit more of a challenge.

Napoleon had solicited Spain and Portugal to join the alliance but neither expressed any interest. They had no geopolitical rivalry with Germany and had largely given up any pretentions of Empire. In truth, the primary use of the Iberian nations would be as naval bases for France (and Italy), not that their militaries would make any significant difference.

The "obvious" solution to returning to some sort of balance of power would be to entice the newly crowned Czar Nicolas II (40 years old) into an alliance. However, Nicolas, a man of a delicate constitution, saw no more reason than his later father Alexander II to seek out alliances. By definition, most alliances tended to drag participants into conflicts not to their advantage.

Nicolas was not intimidated by the power of....the German Confederation? Was THAT what the Czar of Russia was supposed to fear? A loose collection of feuding German princes? THAT was going to threaten the vast reaches of Russia (and Poland, the Ukraine, Finland, Armenia, Georgia, Assyria, Alevistan, etc)?

Hardly. The Czar felt quite secure in his endless domains and, despite the constant British fears of a Russian assault on the waves, didn't hold any more interest in endless conquest of India either. Thus any further confrontations with Great Britain seemed unlikely given that Russia had already accomplished her main objectives over the years....namely controlling the Black Sea and Dardanelles while influencing the Balkans and the Levant. What more did Russia need?

Thus the Czar continued to concentrate in internal improvements and eastward expansion into Siberia and Central Asia. Europe could tear itself apart for all he cared.

But the Czar's opinion of European affairs was perhaps not as comprehensive as he believed. What he didn't realize was that Alexander II's insistence upon "liberating" Transylvania from Hungary and uniting it into one unified Romania had alienated much of Catholic Europe. This left King Maximilian of Hungary to drift into alliance with the German Confederation. Bohemia and Croatia would do the same....though for different reasons. Croatia (and Slovenia), for example, was worried about Italian aggression and Russian favoritism for Orthodox Balkan neighbors.

Europe was dividing into distinct camps....a Continental powderkeg.

Joseon Kingdom

Though the Joseon Kingdom had long sought solitude among all things, the rapid development of both China and Japan as well as the increasing presence of Russia would leave the somewhat medieval Kingdom to take its first, halting steps into the modern age. Perpetually under the Chinese thumb and fearful of Japan, the Korean governmetn would agree to allow European traders, teachers and.....sigh.....even missionaries into their country. For the next decade, the latter would have the greatest impact that hundreds of thousands of Koreans would convert to various Christian denominations.
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What he didn't realize was that Alexander II's insistence upon "liberating" Transylvania from Hungary and uniting it into one unified Romania.
I think you're missing the end of this sentence.
Chapter 200
December 1883


President Grant would spend the winter of 1883-84 filtering through the Statehood applications of Idaho, Montana, Cheyenne, Santee and Dakota. Over the past twenty years, the Northern and Central Pacific Railroads had brought a bevy of settlers and most were reaching the projected necessary population for statehood. In truth, the President had doubted that this would EVER happen given how cold and desolate some of these regions were (though he'd really only been to Montana and Dakota nearly two decades prior). However, the rich farmland would produce bountiful harvests and vast herds of cattle. The Indian Relations had been relatively peaceful for years, allowing for greater ease of migration and settlement as well.

Though some Republicans had feared that the rural areas, mostly farmers and European stock (i.e. few Black settlers), would favor the Democrats, the President felt that the high prices for grain and Republican compromises to expand the money supply via paper money (a favorite of small farmers nationwide), would entice enough voters to the Republicans and not just hand over 10 Senate seats to the Democrats.

In the meantime, Grant would proceed to finally break the massive Standard Oil monopoly after over a year of Rockefeller's stonewalling. Grant was already preparing a Law formalizing the standard administration of Unions and men like Rockefeller were making it easy for Republicans to support.

Among the new "Trustbusters" he'd hired included a young law student hired away from graduate school named William Jennings Bryan. The youth was plainly talented as he prepared a monograph regarding the monopolistic practices of the railroads.

In the meantime, President would write a letter of consolation to former President Lincoln. Apparently, Mary Lincoln had expired at home while Lincoln had been in Washington for the reception of Empress Isabel of Brazil. Though, having met Mrs. Lincoln, Grant suspected that the former President's problems had just been relieved to some extent.
Chapter 201
March, 1884


President Grant was getting frustrated. His attempts to make peace with Venezuela were being ignored....largely because there was no one in charge of Venezuela to MAKE peace. The nation had completely collapsed into chaos. The level of misery was horrific by the stories of Venezuelans crossing into Colombia.

But, at least the Americans were not being actively resisted in the lightly eastern and southern districts. It was becoming questionable if the nation of Veneuzuela would even continue as a recognizable entity (minus what had already been stripped by America and Colombia).



Both the Republican and Democrat Conventions would be held in Chicago in May. Both would be contentious with corruption a primary debating point in both parties.

Grover Cleveland was the staunchly reformist Democratic Governor of New York who was an enemy of John Kelly's Tammany Hall faction, which he viewed as utterly corrupt. Cleveland had the support of Samuel Tilden, another reformist ex-Governor of New York. However, Cleveland had the misfortune of several personal skeletons in his own closet. It had been Kelly who revealed the sordid details of Cleveland's illegitimate child the Governor had sired by his fiancee. After an argument, Cleveland had the woman institutionalized despite the institution's doctors openly stating that there had never been anything wrong with the woman's mind. The sordid details of the crass political act (especially when printed in spectacular fashion by Kelly's media allies) would end Cleveland's career.

Unfortunately, the cabinet was largely barren of high-level candidates. Samuel Tilden was too old and in poor health.

This left the door open for other candidates. The northern Reformers would flock to Samuel Randall of Pennsylvania. As a rare Democrat who had served in the Civil War, he could not be claimed as a southern sympathizer. He was pro-Tariff and largely pro-Gold Standard. However he was willing to put an end to Reconstruction and generally supported other Democratic Party positions and was considered a "loyal soldier".

Senator Bayard of Delaware, however, was the very definition of the old Democratic order. His blistering defeat in the previous election was ample evidence that this wing of the Party was no longer capable of winning an election even two decades removed from the War. Pandering to the South was no longer demographically required or even viable. While he had a base of support, the bulk of the electors were utterly opposed to his selection.

Various "favorite sons" and regional candidates threw their hats in the ring but the Democrats swiftly reached an impasse over tariff policy, reconstruction, taxation, money policy and assorted other structural issues.

Northeastern Democrats demanded the Gold Standard and Tariffs (to better protect growing industry).
Western small farmers wanted ever expanding money supply, either paper or silver.
Southern Democrats were willing to go either way with either of the above factions....but only if Reconstruction and all the odiousness affiliated with it (armed occupation, Freedman's rights, integrated schools, etc) were withdrawn. Large portions (though perhaps not a majority) of both Northern and Western Democrats were opposed to this.

Across town, the Republicans were facing the same problems: policy and personality.

Like Cleveland, James Blaine of Maine came into the Convention as the front-runner but his own financial irregularities and eternal willingness to use his offices to support his own ambitions drew deep opposition from the "Mugwumps", Republican Reformers.

Grant generally supported the latter. He'd found Blaine's self-promoting endlessly tiresome.

Both conventions would prove bitterly divided and drag on into June.

Dakota, Montana, Cheyenne, Santee, Idaho

Though several members of Congress would dispute the reported populations and capacity of the territorial governments to evolve into statehood, the matter was approved en masse in Congress with large margins.

Grant himself would travel west over the Summer to congratulate the impending states for their admission to the Union. It would prove to be the last major trip of Grant's life. A "lame duck", Grant was inclined to let his Party determine its own fate in Chicago.

His train DID stop in Chicago but not to meet his Republican colleagues. Instead, he made a speech to the local "Knights of Labor" advocating that the 8 hour day (now standard for federal workers) be made universal even in the private sector. This was somewhat Radical but the President was on his way out. He could be as Radical as he desired.
Wow, the five deep southern states in yellow are still resisting, huh. I wonder how long they can keep it up for.
I suspect the Deep South is still going to be under military occupation by the time of the end of the 19th century. I wonder what life is like down south for people under occupation for 20 plus years.
Chapter 202
June 1884


In addition to his stop in Chicago to support the 8 hour day, the President would spend a few days with his old friend Abraham Lincoln, still mourning his wife. His sons Robert and Tad (the Secretary of Defense) were there to comfort him but Grant hoped he could get Lincoln out of his depression by inviting the former President to embark on a "goodwill" tour of Africa, Asia, etc. Grant had wanted to extend American influence in East Africa, which was tolerated only with British permission. All real power in the region derived from Britain, not America.

Robert and Tad managed to talk their father into taking the trip to Africa, India, Australia, China, maybe even Japan. The equally aged Frederick Douglass, Lincoln's travel companion on his trip to Europe, would be invited as well. Douglass announced his own retirement from the Freedman's Bureau. If the Bureau could not outlast him after 20 years.....well, then the future was dark indeed.

The men would leave prior to the election in the fall.

Grant would go on to his tour of the newest five states in the Union, leaving Lincoln to his own fate.


Both Republican and Democrat Conventions would spend weeks in virtual deadlock as the diverging interests of each party was reduced to petty namecalling and backroom political deals.

With remarkable alacrity, both Conventions would be forced to back away from the "favorites" in desperate attempts to find some sort of compromise.

The Republicans were perhaps a bit less torn of the two but there remained significant differences in policy and personality (depending on the day, one or the other was paramount).

By June, Blaine's status as frontrunner had evaporated as his character proved too much to overcome. However, the Mugwumps perhaps had no real alternative. In the end, the Party almost openly agreed upon a candidate which possessed few major public opinions.

Charles Eliot was the President of Harvard and a passionate advocate in education reform. In particular, he railed against the "classical" education system teaching useless subjects like Greek, Latin, Philosophy, Religion, etc in favor of one offering useful trades like Medicine, Engineering, Business, etc.

Philip Sheridan would be selected as his Vice-Presidential Candidate to balance out the ticket with a war hero.

Eliot was considered a firm supporter of the Freedman's Bureau (as well as Jewish and Catholic equality) and Grant's other reforms though he was considered a firm opponent of women's education/political rights, was a confirmed anti-imperialist and held many bizarrely eccentric views on ideas ranging from banning most sports to an unabashed hatred of labor unions.

With Grover Cleveland, the initial frontrunner discredited based upon personal scandal and Thomas Bayard, the standard-bearer for ante-bellum Democrats having been decisively defeated in 1880, the Democrats would finally settle on Thomas Hendricks (a Unionist Democrat during the war) and considered a moderate. Samuel Randall, another Unionist Democrat during the war, was more of an orthodox Democrat in most policies. Both were desirous of ending Reconstruction but generally supported Freeman's Rights.

Hendricks, though, was in poor health and was unpopular with labor after having used the militia to crush several mining strikes in Indiana.

Both Hendricks AND Randall were unpopular given their pro-Gold Standard position thought that issue was somewhat dying down in importance as the Government under Grant expanded the money supply with paper money (apparently permanently).
wow, a battle of the nulities . Elliot, with his eclectic views, even if elected, i doubt he will last long into office. Also, considering OTL, if not butterflied, Hendricks would die very early into office so, you could guess the vice president candidates are the actual frontrunners
Chapter 203
August, 1884

Eastern Venezuela

Over the course of the past twenty-five years, the Federal War between Centrists and Federalists left an indelible mark on the country. The old Conservative/Liberal political split had ceased to exist but the internal disputes remained the same. After Blanco's fall (and later death), a dozen pretenders rose up in Venezuela claiming power. Certainly no election was to be had thus the nation became a quagmire of internal civil war, often more based upon personality and ambition than actual politics.

Over 150,000 men, women and children were estimated to have lost their lives thus far with no end in sight. Another 50,000 would flee the nation.

Eastern Venezuela was largely dominated by caudillos and General Joaquin Crespo. Crespo would march west upon Caracas only to be ambushed by local partisans and killed. Until that point, Crespo had controlled the largest remaining portion of land in Venezuela. His death would leave the caudillos of the more lightly controlled east and southeast to their own devices.

Soon violence would pour over into those states now seized by America. The governor of Guyana (which now nominally controlled these regions), former Congressman John R. Lynch, one of first African Americans in high office, would see the terrible effect of what was happening to the Indian, Black, Mestizo and Mulatto minorities of the eastern Venezuelan states of Sucre, Monagas and Anzoategui. These were lightly populated and undeveloped regions which had not seen as many modern social reforms as the larger cities near the coast of Venezuela. Lynch had long since worked with General Rosecrans to consolidate American control over the former (though still "official") states of Amazonas, Bolivar and Amacuro. Lynch would give orders granting Rosecrans the authority to cross the border into these neighboring states to protect the people.

Western Venezuela

As the capital collapsed into anarchy, the western-most regions of the nation still under Venezuela control northwest of the Andes would slowly collapse and gravitate towards the new "Republic of Zulia".

In the west, a dozen Crespo's battled for power amid a backdrop of class and race warfare. In the isolated east, the people of Falcon and Trujillo's western reaches (again, northwest of the Andes) would inexorably press to join the seemingly stable Republic.


After giving a long speech on a rather strikingly cold day, Vice-Presidential Candidate Samuel Randell would catch a cold. By the end of October, he would decline several appointments due to ill-health.

By election time in November, his doctor feared pneumonia.