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

Chapter 183
  • September, 1881

    Monrovia, Capital of Northwest African Co-Protectorate

    Frederick Douglass Jr, was horrified by the abject chaos of the new government. As dozens of temporary administrators (mostly British and American military men seconded to the government) went home to be replaced by the first of the new bureaucrats educated in the West Indies and America (the first few American “classes” would be hired directly via college and not the formal process being established in four American universities).

    It did not take Douglass long to figure out the British knew what they were doing far better than the Americans. America was not a “colonial nation” and there was not a corps of skilled administrators of foreign peoples.

    But there was no shortage of enthusiasm among the majority black bureaucrats as they rapidly sought to establish order. First order of business was….as with all governments….achieving revenue. This meant throwing their best resources into the harbors where the tariffs would be collected. This was somewhat cold-blooded given the needs elsewhere but no nation could exist without money and the Anglo-Americans were NOT going to foot the bill for long.

    In truth, Douglass was shocked that the “home nations” would even allow their own goods to be taxed entering Africa given that this was always a political issue at home.

    But slowly, chaos turned to order and the still-young government would turn its attention to forming schools, hospitals and encouraging good relations with the tribes of the interior.

    A new subcommittee for distributing land to settlers from America would form with the explicit instructions NOT to hand over large plots to cronies or the like.

    October, 1881

    Havana, Washington

    King Alfonzo of Spain would spend over a month and a half in the Spanish West Indies. Having abolished slavery and encouraged more local government and autonomy (political participation was HIGHER in the colonies than at home), the King was unsurprisingly welcomed wherever he disembarked.

    The King would also visit Washington where he was courteously welcomed by the President and feted by Washington society. While Americans lacked the manners and etiquette of Europe, the genuine warmth of the people were appreciated and did much to heal ill-feelings towards America over its seizure of the remnant of the Spanish Pacific (Guam, etc) and the sale of the tiny Spanish exclaves in central Africa) to the Co-Protectorate.

    November, 1881


    While Gladstone had seen several diplomatic successes (the growing rapport with much of Latin America, the expansion of the Co-Protectorate, better relations with the Boers, etc), he was beset by “internal” issues in Ireland and India.

    Irish MP’s had transferred their loyalty from the Conservatives to the Liberals years before when Gladstone vowed to support “Home Rule”. Unfortunately, this would not sit well with large portions of the party and then the frustrated MP’s of Ireland began to defect back to the Conservatives when little progress with Home Rule was made.

    Gladstone’s majority thinned to a razor margin.

    Then, yet another series of strikes hit India, this time over government worker pay, and the Ministry began to falter.
    Chapter 184
  • October, 1881

    Mindanao, Sumatra

    Despite years of harsh suppression, the Japanese occupation and annexation of the former Philippines and Dutch East Indies continued to be contested. This was partially due to the fact that the Spanish or Dutch had not sought to immediately remove all local Kings or assert their authority in all regions of the islands. Their governance was relatively light compared to Japan.

    Indeed, this first foray into colonialism was as much an eye opener for the Japanese as their American counterparts were experiencing in Africa (though the latter was much less violent).

    But the Japanese, seeking resources not available on their barren home islands, did not see an alternative to maintain their sputtering march towards industrialization. To their chagrin, they would see that British Malaya (and Australia) had more metal-producing potential than any of the lands taken by Japan. It would arose frustration and jealousy.


    With their own rebellion in the past, the Empress’ government (largely without Isabel’s input or interest) would form a revolutionary “guest worker” program which would provide transport and guaranteed contracts for foreign workers (Italians being the most common). Unlike many migratory groups of the centuries, the bulk of the Italians would go home eventually.

    Dominion of Australia

    Seeing the bulk of the British emigrants (a large number indeed) sailing for America or Canada, the Dominion of Australia would request that the home government encourage more British emigrants (that nation’s population expanding rapidly) to sail for Australia, the Cape, India, etc.

    The British government was willing but insisted that Australia and the other Dominions/Colonies foot the bill for the transport (still very long and expensive relative to sailing for North America). This was largely agreed and the centuries-long practice of Britons sailing for America starting to change with the bulk of British emigrants by the turn of the century sailing for British possessions.


    Though her son was still younger than most would prefer for a King, it was becoming obvious that Queen-Mother-Regent Maria Pia was being blamed for much of the nation’s woes over the past few years (i.e. the loss of their African Empire). It was determined that the King would assume his formal duties the following year and give his long-suffering mother a welcome retirement.

    Following the open theft of their Empire by the British and Americans on a flimsy pretext, the nation was happy to remain politically neutral from then on.

    Northern United States

    Over the course of the past decade, the first large-scale migration of white (and black) settlers to Dakota, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan would take place. Surprisingly, among the most common settlers were Scandinavian and German immigrants. Given how few people wanted to live in the bitter cold, no one in Washington complained. It would be over a decade before these territories would be ready for statehood but the process was finally under way.

    Utah, Comancheria

    Two other territories would soon apply to statehood. Utah was no longer majority Mormon (and those that remain had abolished any form of polygamy in their church) and was considered a quiet and well-behaved Territory worthy of admission.

    Comancheria had been part of the region which had seen borders torn asunder for years by Washington as they redrew lines on a map of an area unlikely to ever be seen by most of Congress. But the population had grown to a reasonable level and the railroads knifing through the territory made for easy transport.

    Congress would have little reason to delay admission for either territory to statehood.

    Yukon Territory

    While the vast territory of land acquired from Russia (and some land added from the British cessation) was never expected to achieve a population adequate for statehood, there hopes of mineral wealth were finally met in 1881 with the discovery of gold inland. Yet another gold “boom” was in the making.


    The Chinese Navy would happily receive delivery of two ships of the new “Arkansas-Class” design (which was one more than the American Navy had received). This would return the balance of power with Japan back to China’s nominal favor. China had no interest in Japan or her colonies but Japanese aggression could not be discounted….or British or Russian or American for that part. China MUST have a strong navy to protect her coasts.


    Even as the Abyssinian Empire was slowly forming from the various Ethiopian Kingdoms, challengers would arise. Italy was already looking to expand into the colonial sphere (which was harshly resisted by Britain) by influencing Eritrea and the Somalis.

    Worse, the self-proclaimed new “Mahdi” of the Sudan was starting to look aggressively towards his Christian neighbors as well as north.


    With barely a fight, the Mahdist forces seized Khartoum. A few thousand people, mainly Egyptians and a handful of westerners, would manage to sail north to Upper Egypt.

    The Mahdi would determine which direction to ride now and elected for north where the Egyptians were actively demanding British support against the madman from Sudan who had been deemed a heretic by much of “conventional Islam” for claiming to be the heir to Muhammed.
    Chapter 185
  • November, 1881

    Boer Republic

    Though the Boers had lived for decades with heavy tensions with their neighbors, the Republic’s relationship with Britain had improved enough to lift the ban on British immigration and labor. Joint efforts at establishing the border would lead to peaceful resolutions of several disputes and the Republic and the Cape Dominion would return to more important activities: like making money.

    Many Boers had feared the discovery of gold and other metals over the years as these may stir renewed interest among the British colonial office. However, it also ensured a massive immigration boom over the past decade which saw the nation’s population expand greatly to the point that the lightly populated nation would feel more secure in her borders.

    Indeed, the Boers were so flooded with Europeans (of all stripes) that they were more than willing to eject much of the black population of the Republic. The tribes (or what was left of them) were forced further and further north towards Mozambique and other remote regions (Let the British and Americans deal with them) and the mixed descendants of slaves were forcibly put on boats for Angola or Liberia.

    Unfortunately, most of Africa would soon suffer a terrible blow. Some Italian cattle would be shipped via the Suez Canal to Africa by a local Italian migrant. These animals harbored a terrible disease – rinderpest - which was devastating in conjunction with sleeping sickness. This would spread throughout much of Africa, wiping out vast swathes of cattle, horses and various other animals.

    Absent these herds, millions would die of starvation for lack of meat or plough animals. The very land itself would transform as the beasts which once kept the prairie “Mowed” would see vast swathes of land reclaimed by scrub (and the terrible tse-tse fly which inhabited them). Millions of square miles of land once dominated by humans would soon see elephants, rhinos and other animals long marginalized by human encroachment, particularly in southern and eastern Africa.


    Though viewed by many as having backed away from the rapid reforms of earlier years, the Czar Alexander II would consent to maintaining a permanent Duma which would help “oversee the rapidly expanding bureaucracy” including revenue collection, etc.

    Russia was simply too vast a land for one man and his cadre of favorites to govern and the Czar was forced to concede to reality. However, the Duma would maintain pressure on the Czar for continued reform and cession of power to it.


    President Grant was pleased that the economy appeared to be doing well. Trade was up (as was tariff revenue) which aided the payment of the war debts. These were down nearly 60% by 1882 and, at current rate, the debt would be paid off by 1886.

    There were already calls to eliminate the last of the war taxes but Grant feared that failing to pay off the debts early would result in them never being paid thus he declined.

    Instead, Grant would use the mid-term elections to point out the growth of the country, the stability of the bank and currency (now using paper script in a VERY controversial move) and the continued progress of the Freedmen.

    The Navy appeared to be falling behind Britain (again) and Grant would endorse expanded funding but agreed to allow the army to be reduced by another 20,000 men to compensate.

    Perhaps most controversially, Grant would support Douglass’ Freedman’s bureau to advocate unified classrooms of white and black students. As the Federal government had FAR more power to do this in the Territories and former Confederate states STILL not returned to the Union, this would prove a rather risky experiment.

    In Louisiana, truncated Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, this “integration” would inspire greater resistance…and violence….among the white population. Burning of schools and churches returned. However, as for the students themselves, the greater portion of the white population refused to send their children to school, leaving the schools disproportionately populated by black children (which was largely fine by them).

    This would have a terrible effect upon the white population of which only tiny minority could afford private tutors. Much of an entire generation of white children were deprived of school.

    Only a handful of northern and western states would follow suit to this Federal dictate though and segregation remained common with black students almost always deprived of equal resources.

    Luanda, Angola

    Against his father’s wishes, young Theodore Roosevelt would apply for a position in Luanda with the Co-Protectorate government. An athletic young man of great wealth, the New Yorker sought a “more exciting life” than the business office his father envisioned of him.

    In many ways, Roosevelt clashed with his aristocratic father, not least in the fact that the elder Roosevelt had declined to serve in the War Between the States. By the time that the conflict had expanded to Britain and (at least nominally) France, the American government’s policy of allowing wealthy men to form their own regiments, with themselves as Colonel, had changed and the senior New Yorker had no intention of serving as a “gentleman volunteer” or as starting as a Lieutenant under some plebian Captain. Seeing brave men returning from serving his country while his father did nothing brought a wave of shame to the young man and he vowed never to see his nation in peril without extending every effort to her defense.

    Thus, when the Co-Protectorate sought out soldiers for their newly raised regiments in “Southwest Africa”, Roosevelt volunteered. The Co-Protectorate would raise forces largely of locals but also some foreign volunteers. As a “gentleman”, Roosevelt was naturally offered a Lieutenant’s position. This was adequate enough for Roosevelt who longed for adventure more than status.
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    Chapter 186
  • March, 1882


    The defection of the Irish MP's back to the Conservatives would prove an almost crippling blow to the Liberal Party. Gladstone's majority had shrunk to virtually nothing. Any piece of legislation may result in an effective vote of no confidence. Grumblings for a new election were nearly constant.

    Hoping to lure back some Irish MP's, the Prime Minister (and Foreign Secretary) would dispatch Lord Cavendish as the new Chief Secretary of Ireland in the summer.

    April, 1882


    Emperor Yohannes of Ethiopia would demand that his nominal vassals cease fighting one another. With the damnable "Mahdi" threatening Ethiopia as well as Egypt, the nation could not be divided at this time.

    Fortunately, the British Consul would arrange for the delivery of thousands of modern rifles and light cannon which the Emperor could use against enemies foreign....and domestic....if the King of Shewa, Menelik, continued to act up.

    The British even sent several doctors to the Imperial Court where the Prince and other members of the Royal Family were among the first in Ethiopia to be inoculated for smallpox.

    May, 1882

    Nashville, Tennessee

    The James Gang, led by Frank and Jesse James, would accept the Ford brothers in the early 1880's and proceeded to rob yet another bank in Nashville, this one which catered to Freedmen. The robbery initially went well but would soon fall apart rather spectacularly when a Troop of Buffalo soldiers happened by when the Gang was attempting to flee the bank. A massive firefight ensued in which the Gang's horses were driven off, leaving the men to attempt to flee on foot. Within minutes, several dozen locals, both white and black, would arrive bearing rifles and shotguns.

    In short order, Jesse James and the Ford brothers were killed and tough old Frank James was wounded six times before he finally through down his weapon and surrendered.

    Surrounded by Buffalo soldiers, Frank James cried out for mercy and seemed about to receive it when one of the men shouted, "My god, that's Frank James!"

    Beyond being arguably the most famous bank robber in the nation, Frank James was also held to be a member of the infamous Quantrill's Raiders who had murdered 200 men and boy abolitionists in Lawrence, Kansas in the dying days of the Civil War.

    Immediately, the Buffalo soldiers raised their weapons again and fired 147 more bullets into the man's body.
    Chapter 187
  • May, 1882


    Over the course of the past 15 years, the "Mormon" migrants to Hawaii under the late Brigham Young (now led by his son Joseph Young) had actively moved to evangelize their religion among the natives of Hawaii and other Pacific Islands with some success. Attempts to convert the British-Australian population often led to bloodshed.

    Finally, the situation reached a crisis point when it was determined that nearly half of the 72,000 residents of the Hawaiian islands were affiliated with Brigham Young's "Polygamist" Sect of the Mormon Church (they had been excommunicated by the mainstream church in America years before.

    The overthrow of the native Hawaiian dynasty (largely supported with Mormon militia) would see the balance of power thrown to the unified Mormons. Indeed, over half the white population of the islands were Mormons (though the majority did not practice Polygamy).

    Joseph Young was considered somewhat of a moderate, bearing only one wife (a Hawaiian woman at that) and concentrating more upon managing missionary work and the building of a new Temple. However, many powerful polygamists would effectively assume control over the church and lead a rebellion against the British authorities which possessed barely 200 soldiers upon the islands augmented by one or two warships normally at anchor in the remote region.

    The revolt took the British by surprise as over 2000 men took up arms against the government.

    Within days, the rebels had control over much of Oahu as well as "Big Island" of Hawaii.

    June, 1882


    Just days after Irish Nationalists founded a new society intended to petition to wipe out arrears in poor tenant farmers, a terrible event would occur. The new Chief Secretary of Ireland, Lord Cavandish, and his Private Secretary were murdered in the streets by Radical Irishmen, the Irish National Invincibles.

    Within days, London convulsed with anti-Irish feeling and Prime Minister Gladstone would realize that his hopes for quietly pushing through Home Rule were at an end.

    August, 1882

    San Francisco

    The dockworkers of San Francisco would successfully form a Union which guaranteed pay from their various employers. Attempts by companies to employ "blacklegs" would be legal...but it would soon prove disastrous as most dockworkers would permanently boycott that company's service. It became common for goods to rot in a hull for lack of longshoremen to move them ashore.

    Eventually, most companies came to pay the wages and be done with it.

    September, 1882

    Upper Egypt

    Having had their fill of dismal garrison duties or desk jobs in Washington, Generals Jeb Stuart and George Custer would resign their commissions and accept a position to serve the Khedive of Egypt. They would be among many American and European officers hired to train the Egyptian Army (armed by the British) against the madman from the Sudan.

    Under the overall command of General Garnet Wolseley, the officers had steadily drilled the Egyptian Army 20,000 men to a fine state and then marched south in September of 1882 to face the man who had conquered most of the Sudan and threatened both Egypt and Ethiopia. Realizing that supply was the key to victory, Wolseley would organize a large convoy of supply vessels and barges bearing huge amounts of powder, shot, shell, animal feed and other provisions to sail down the Blue Nile in parallel to the march.

    In October, Emperor Yohannes and King Menelik would meet the Egyptians with 15,000 Ethiopians (again, mostly armed with British weapons) 100 miles north of Khartoum and join the march on the Mahdist Capital.

    The Mahdi would gather his faithful, calling for the "pure" to defend their faith (and himself, as well).
    Chapter 188
  • September, 1882


    Thomas Edison would flip the switch on a power plant which would light a square mile of Manhattan. This would be considered by many as the start of the electrical age.

    October, 1882


    Augmented by the Ethiopians, the Anglo-Egyptian force now reached 35,000 as it sailed and/or marched down the Nile to the confluence of the Blue and White Nile at the city of Khartoum.

    Years earlier, Muhammad Ahmad had declared himself the Mahdi and determined to evict the Egyptians from Sudan so he may install Sharia Law upon the land...prior to conquering all within his reach.

    By 1882, it was more than obvious that the man was too dangerous to be allowed to remain and the Anglo-Egyptian Army allied with the Ethiopian states to crush the rather presumptuous Muhammad Ahmad.

    Backed by 50,000 Dervishes, the Mahdi would order his capital defended. With the advantage in cavalry by almost 5 to one, the Mahdist forces attacked with vigor....only to be pushed back again and again as Egyptian and Ethiopian troops, armed with modern rifles, would wither the Sudanese cavalry. Thousands of brave soldiers were massacred with only modest success on the part of the natives. Eventually, the Mahdist Cavalry retreated, leaving their infantry trapped in the Capital.

    As the Blue and White Nile protected most of Khartoum's borders. However, the confident Mahdists had not expected to face a siege and failed to properly entrench before the remaining landward border. This proved a pivotal mistake as the heavy land and sea-based artillery easily breached the walls and set much of the city aflame. To the horror of the allies, the Mahdist troops within the walls killed most of the civilians themselves before throwing their bodies upon the enemy in pointless charges. Among the dead were many of the Mahdi's top commanders.

    Belatedly, the Mahdi managed to reform his cavalry in an attempt to relieve the town but this resulted only in thousands of Sudanese dying upon the barrages of modern rifles and cannon. Broken, the natives retreated. They would leave behind the Mahdi himself who had been leading the final charge in a desperate attempt to encourage his followers. His horse was shot out from beneath him and his knee wrenched. By this point, he had few followers still breathing to attempt to assist.

    Muhammad Ahmad was put in chains and sailed up the Nile to Egypt where the "Redeemer" was widely mocked by the Egyptians. Worse, the King of the Hejaz and Shareef of Mecca would similarly condemn the Mahdi (who had himself condemned all Muslims who did not follow him) as an apostate and heretic.

    Within months, the remnant of the Mahdist forces were already fighting among themselves and the more "orthodox" Sunnis of the Sudan would turn upon the Mahdists as heretics and a bloody civil war emerged from which the Sudan would suffer for generations.

    The Egyptians, who had hoped that Britain would help them regain control over the Sudan, would be disappointed as Garnet Wolseley had no such orders and only wanted to end the threat to Upper Egypt. The Khedive would consider continuing the Expedition on his own but the costs proved prohibitive (the Khedive's spending prevented any possible hope of financial such an initiative without British support).

    Beyond the defeat of Mahdism, the greatest, long-term result of the expedition had been the closer ties forged between Britain and Ethiopia, the primary Christian region of eastern Africa. Seeing Emperor Yohannes as reasonable (and Christian), the British would encourage diplomatic and military ties which would see the Emperor crush his domestic rivals and unify Ethiopia....as well as Muslim Eritrea and Christian southern Sudan under his banner. The British where happy to do so as this meant that the increasingly expansive Italians were effectively blocked from East Africa by Ethiopia....and Britain was able to avoid the worst of the fray.

    As for Custer and Stuart, the American Generals would spend over two years in Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. Custer would enter the service of the Emperor while Stuart would explore south inland all the way to Zanzibar.
    Chapter 189
  • October, 1882


    The incorporation of Standard Oil in January had not been remarked upon by the public in any meaningful manner. However, a general strike in Chicago would lead to John Rockefeller, the Chairman and majority owner in Standard Oil, to perhaps too overtly display his power in firing several hundred workers agitating for a Union in various industries from Rail to Longshoremen to pipefitters. For the first time, the government learned of the true extent of Standard Oil's holdings (something withheld from virtually all employees).

    President Grant would authorize his Attorney General to review the potential of this new conglomerate to become a monopoly, something even the business-oriented Republicans despised. An investigation was begun with various court orders demanding that Standard Oil open up their books. With the Railroads having established the right to form Unions and the anti-monopoly laws still being expanded in the nation, Standard Oil was looking to be first non-railroad to face Federal wrath.

    The Attorney General authorized a deep investigation which required dozens of clerks to support the regional authorities. Among these was a young Illinois student who spent the summer auditing company books, effectively a clerk in service of the Attorney General. His name was William Jennings Bryan.


    President Grant was confident enough in his Party for the mid-term elections.

    1. The economy remained strong.
    2. The war debt was being paid off.
    3. Tariffs were high enough to protect growing industry but not TOO high to anger the agricultural and mining industry who desired no inhibitions to trade.
    4. The return of paper money, though controversial to some, was adding to the money supply to the point that the western farmers who were most supportive of "silver currency" to be placated as their debts were easier to pay off.

    Peace was the order of the day. Given how expensive the wars of the early 1860's had been, this was a practical desire.

    The Indian Wars were largely over and the President had sought to be generous to the natives.

    There were few inhibitions to the black voter anymore....except in those states STILL not readmitted to the Union....largely by THEIR choice. This allowed Grant to experiment with unified black and white schools....an experiment very much in process. For the most part, Grant would be happy if the remaining five "holdout" states never returned to the Union as they would likely vote almost entirely Democrat.

    The result of the election was predictable. The Republicans lost a few seats they'd gained in the 1880 self-inflicted Democratic rout but not as many as one might think.

    The new states of Comancheria and Utah were welcomed to the Union....though the latter was received with reservations given that so many residents were Mormons (though the "reformed" anti-polygamist variety).

    In the end, Grant would see the Republican Majority maintained by a moderately large margin. Shortly enough, he would have enough of his own problems as the constant cigar smoking would wreak havoc upon his throat, often leaving the man incapable of speech for hours at a time.
    Map of North America - 1882
  • Fenians - 1882 - North America.png
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    Chapter 190
  • November, 1882


    Though it had taken several months, the Dominion of Australia were finally able to summon adequate forces to dispatch an expedition to Hawaii and reassert Australian control over the government.

    Over 8000 Australian Regulars (well, some were moderately well-trained militia) and 2000 British Regulars would sail upon a convoy of 28 ships for Honolulu. A devastating squall would scatter the force 500 miles west of Hawaii. Fortunately, only one ship (a supply vessel bearing heavy guns and ammunition with 38 crew) would sink, but the crew would be saved by a nearby vessel. One by one, the warships and transports would arrive in Honolulu.

    The Mormon insurgents would not have access to artillery thus the landing was largely unopposed.

    The material differences soon became apparent as the Gatling guns and light artillery were enough to prevent the Mormons from putting up a determined stand at any given point. Though they offered a brave resistance, it became immediately obvious that a partisan war was the only option. The Mormons retreated to the hills where the Australian artillery would not give so great an advantage.

    The Mormons had been under the delusion that Hawaii was too remote, too unimportant, for the Anglo-Australians to dispatch an expedition six thousand miles across the empty sea to regain. But the very isolation was what made Honolulu Harbor so vital to the Royal Navy. Australia needed no encouragement from Britain to arrange an invasion. Indeed, failure to do so on their own initiative may well have led Britain to reestablish their own direct rule over Hawaii or other Pacific possessions currently under the delegated government of Australia. The Dominion had no intention of losing their hard-won authority.

    December, 1882


    Abraham Lincoln had....FINALLY....made it to Europe. After Mary's health issues in recent years, the former President would travel to Europe with his friend Frederick Douglass. Despite having fought French forces during his Presidency, Lincoln was welcomed wherever he went and, despite Parisian reputation for rudeness, he found the French people charming.

    While attending an exhibition of art, a piece by some local artist name "Manet" would catch Lincoln's eye (a Bar at the Folies-Bergere) in which a comely barmaid was staring towards the viewer with an odd expression. He would not know until later that she was assumed to be a prostitute.

    But Lincoln, who had finally come into some money after over a decade in the private sector (no pension) serving as an "advisor" to various law-firms and on various corporate boards. Mary didn't want to travel so he was happy to take Douglass in her stead (poor Tad was left with his mother). Seeing the picture, the former President felt the spontaneous urge to buy and took the item home. The artist, Manet, was honored that the liberator of so many slaves desired his work that he not only gave Lincoln a good price but even offered to throw in a painting for Douglass as well (Garden Path in Rueil).

    Though neither man was an art collector, they both appreciated the impressionist paintings which would remain affixed to their walls of their respective family homes (Douglass hung his over his toilet) over a century after their deaths. Their heirs, on the other hand, would greatly appreciate the millions gained when the paintings were sold in the 1980's.

    Lincoln and Douglass followed their European tour by travelling to Rome (despite Grant's poor experience there, having been shot by a French madman) before moving on to Egypt, Greece and the Holy Lands.

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    Chapter 191
  • December, 1882

    Guajira Peninsula

    After nearly two years of tension and threats, President Blanco of Venezuela finally dispatched forces to push the Colombian squatters from the Guajira Peninsula. As the conflict escalated from border conflict to outright war, the local Indian population which had resisted European domination for 400 years would be largely wiped out or displaced.

    As both Venezuela and Colombia had convulsed in Civil War over the past decade, the two armies would prove poorly prepared for war.

    Colombia had only recently reorganized into a more central nation. It would prove problematic as the effectively decentralized and autonomous states would prove resistant in many cases to that unification. This would leave Colombia weakened in the face of aggression by Venezuela. President Nunez, unlike most of his predecessors, was not a former General and instead opted to ask support from abroad, namely using his leverage with America and Britain recently gained with the commencement of the Colombian Canal.

    Amarillo, Camancheria

    Three decades prior, in 1852, huckster P.T. Barnum would visit the Durban in the Cape Colony in his travels (the region now part of the Boer Republic) and witness a local 14 year old girl "Riding" (poorly) a Cape Zebra, also known as a Quagga.

    Since then, white settlers had hunted the beasts to extinction. However, Barnum had envisioned a trick-riding show born upon the odd-looking animals and arranged for 44 females and 20 males to be transported to America where he prepared a breeding program. It soon became obvious that the animals would NOT be easily tamed. However, proliferating American zoos may like a breeding pair so Barnum would spent decades breeding the animals methodically to enhance the bloodline, even arranging to ship the last 8 known animals in Southern Africa to America to spice up the blood in 1878. By this point, there were only a few other Quaggas in the world, all in zoos and none breeding.

    Barnum owned large properties in Montana and Camancheria where he raised, among other animals, including Plains Buffalo, Capybaras, Sumatran and Javan Rhinos and Komodo Dragons (in a specially created ravine formed into a animal pit) with the intent of someday adding them to his shows. In the meantime, he used the convenient presence of nearby railroad lines to create the first "Open Air Animal Attraction" which would be visited by tens of thousands of paying tourists per year. He would pronounce his stock the "last of these animals in existence" though only the Quagga would meet that description as this time.

    By 1883, his herd of Quagga had reached over 360. His herds of Plains Buffalo in Camancheria and Montana were also among the largest in North America and would be primarily responsible for reestablishing the animals in the national parks proliferating through the nation. Barnum would actually hire local tribesmen to tend to the animals. Their presence would lend to the "authenticity" of the experience though it would lead to problems when Barnum's ranch manager fell behind on pay and the Indians would effectively go on strike, refusing to go to work. This led to several dozens buffalo and, much worse, over half a dozen Komodo Dragons escaping the "preserve".
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    Chapter 192
  • March, 1883


    President Blanco was not intent on warfare with Colombia. It simply....happened....in the manner that such wars had cropped up throughout South America over the half century since Independence from Spain. South America, with its vast unsettled spaces inland where mountain and desert and rainforest...etc, etc, was rife with vague boundaries.

    Virtually all of Venezuela's population lived along the coast and the Guajira Peninsula was one of the few unsettled coastal areas thus was of prime concern to Venezuela. Similarly, the Venezuelan border with British Guiana had been nebulous at best.

    As Colombian and Venezuelan forces clashed, a series of American and British "mediators" were dispatched in hopes of ending the dispute but were rejected out of hand by the Venezuelans.

    Irritated by suspected American partiality towards Colombia, a mob of 200 Venezuelans would burn several prominent American merchant homes and businesses. Several were assaulted in the streets and one was murdered by a drunken mugger.

    Within days, news of this reached Washington and the population would swiftly rise up in arms.

    Darien, Panama, Colombia

    Howard Carson, a brilliant American engineer who had been placed in command of the Colombian Canal, would cry out in frustration as the first few waves of workers would suffer and die in great numbers, having accomplished very little.

    Over the past year, the initial phases of the project would commence with experimental equipment and improved dynamite.

    But none of this would matter in the face of malaria. Great Britain, in particular, would arrange for many of these workers to arrive via the West Indies, which by 1883 was in a perpetual state of recession. Well-paying construction jobs lured thousands, then tens of thousands of men to cut a path through two continents.

    The Chief Engineer would dispatch messages to Washington and London BEGGING for help with the damned malaria situation. At is so happened, Cuban Doctor Carlos Finley would write a revolutionary opinion paper that the mosquito...of all things....was responsible for the transmission of Malaria after discovering the biological causes during a Havana outbreak in 1881. This was ignored at first but Carson, with little to lose, would request that Finley travel to the Canal site to review his findings.

    He'd certainly have no shortage of patients.
    Chapter 193
  • April, 1883


    Gladstone was livid. After years of struggling to keep his Party together, Gladstone's insistence, however, on supporting the Home Rule movement of Ireland (and keeping the Irish MP's on his side) would lead to a greater break with the rural Liberal supporters of Britain. Finally, fed up with Gladstone's stubbornness, the Liberal Unionist Party would break away from the Liberals and begin to support the Conservatives in a new coalition. Even if the Irish MP's had stayed loyal to Gladstone, which they didn't,

    Finally, after a Home Rule died on the first reading in the House of Commons, the leaders of the Liberal Unionists (Jacob Chamberlain and Lord Hartington) would break away and vote against the government.

    The vote of No Confidence end the aging Gladstone's Ministry and a new coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Unionists would come to power.


    President Grant still regretted the actions of American against Portugal. The last thing he wanted was to involve his nation in another conflict, especially a dishonorable one (as the Portugal "incident" was looking more and more likely to have been).

    But with American lives at risk and America's ally Colombia begging for help, Grant had no choice but to dispatch a flotilla to the Venezuelan Coast.

    As it was, the government of Venezuela was making the grievous error of pressing claims against the border territories of the Orinoco Delta.

    Constantinople, Greece

    Czar Alexander II of Russia would visit the great city of Constantinople (the same which he had liberated from centuries of oppression of the Turk) for the last time. A series of assassination attempts would shatter his confidence. For years, the Czar had viewed himself as a reformer who liberated millions and modernized a backwards nation.

    Visiting the Hagia Sofia, the Czar would suffer a sudden heart attack and, perhaps fittingly, die within the walls of the symbol of Eastern Orthodoxy.


    For years, the 2nd Mutiny forced the British to grant concession after concession to the Indians as a massive, decade-long would see reform increase exponentially. By the end of the decade, the increasing number of educated Indians from the proliferating regional colleges would press more and more for Dominion status akin to Australia, the Cape and the Maritimes.
    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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    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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    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.