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

Chapter 201
  • March, 1884

    Washington


    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).

    May

    Chicago


    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.
     
    Map of North America - 1884
  • Fenians - 1884 - North America.png
     
    Chapter 202
  • June 1884

    Springfield


    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.

    Chicago

    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).
     
    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.

    October


    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.
     
    Chapter 204
  • November, 1884

    Washington


    The November election of 1884 would prove pivotal to the nation and much of this would fall upon the internal dissention within political parties as much as rivalry without. Ex-Senator James Blaine would refuse to support his own party's candidate, Charles Eliot.

    For Eliot's party, the President of Harvard would do enormous damage to his own candidacy by publicly condemning female suffrage and education, vowing to abolish most sports other than rowing and tennis (thus proving his elite credentials) and publicly castigating the Grant Administration for the "aggression" in Venezuela.

    Though calling the American actions to seize much of Venezuela's non-developed regions a "crass opportunistic act" may be correct in many eyes, undermining the leader of your Party does not gain one many favors, especially from the still-popular Grant.

    But perhaps as damaging was Eliot's open disdain for labor unions and his public bragging of using Harvard students as local strikebreakers. This would not play well with the large labor classes of the northeast where any victorious Republican would expect a near sweep in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Eliot was soon viewed as arrogant, aristocratic and eccentric even amongst his own party.

    Thomas Hendricks, on the other hand, was a lifelong politician, a moderate, and smart enough to know when to shut the hell up or say the blandest thing possible.

    For a Democrat to win an election in 1884, a number of key states must fall just right. Eliot's positions and lack of Grant Administration support (and, to a lesser extent, Blaine's support) would see Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania fall to the Democrats for the first time in a generation. This was enough to swing the electoral college to Hendricks.

    Though there were some allegations of fraud, the Grant Administration would investigate and publicly declare the race the cleanest ever run. By December, Eliot would concede and publicly congratulate Hendricks.

    Unfortunately, there would be no pats on the back of Vice-President-elect Randall as the Congressman died in December after a long bout with illness. Though elated with their first Democratic President since 1860, the Democrats were also painfully aware that the Republicans maintained a majority in both Houses of Congress....and without Randall, the next person in line should the aging and frail Hendricks expire.....next in line as "Acting President" (only the Vice-President was seeing as BECOMING the President in the succession laws) would be the President Pro Tem of the Senate.....almost certainly a Republican (for the past year, this has been Vermont Senator George Edmunds, a man who apparently rejoiced in tweaking the nose of southerners on a daily basis for decades).

    Almost immediately, cries of conspiracy rose among the Democrats and several Senators and Congressmen would demand a Constitutional Amendment to put Cabinet members in line for Succession....or at least a new election....if an elected President and Vice-President both died in office (or in Randall's case, BEFORE taking office). Naturally, the Republicans laughed, knowing that there was no way such an amendment would pass.

    However, there was a rapid stampede to Constitutional lawyers to see what, if any, differences in actual powers would be actions by an "Acting President" versus a VP becoming President and if there was any sort of time limit to these "Acting" powers. None existed in the Constitution and the state of Hendricks' health would become of paramount concern for Democrats nationwide.

    Louisiana and Florida


    Among the other momentous events of 1884's election was the welcoming to the Union of five new western states (Idaho, Cheyenne, Montana, Dakota and Santee) as return to the Union of the states of Louisiana and Florida. The Republicans would eventually gain eight of the ten new Senators and three of the five new Congressmen from these territories.

    The Grant Administration and Freedman's Bureau would monitor the election and declare them "clean". The Democrats would take Louisiana's Legislature and send two Senators and half of Louisiana's Congressmen to Congress. Lightly populated Florida, on the other hand, having been largely populated over the past two decades by northern migrants, Freedmen from other areas of the south and one of the larger influxes of European settlers, would fall to the Republicans with all but both Senators and all but one Congressman falling to them.

    On the whole, the Republican Senate Majority actually INCREASED by 3 members in 1884 despite the Democratic Presidential victory and the Republican Majority in Congress fell by only one seat.

    Naturally, with a Democratic President, it was assumed that Reconstruction would be ended soon, if only by the President vetoing budgets for the Freedman's Bureau and military.

    It was also assumed that Hendricks would immediately accept the return of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama to the Union.
     
    Chapter 205
  • December, 1884

    Southern Anzoategui State, Venezuela


    While the inland southeastern state of Anzoategui was perhaps less affected by the war than the coastal regions, the area DID face a devastating array of irregulars and renegades who used the breakdown in civil order of the Venezuelan hinterlands to their own advantage to settle old scores. Caudillos from ancient powerful families were murdered. Indians, Mestizos and Mulattos were massacred or impressed into armies. Women were raped and children left to starve.

    Governor Lynch of Guyana would authorize General Rosecrans to cross the border and wipe out bandits and brigands with impunity. Augmented by 2000 American regulars and another 1500 Guyanan volunteers, the Americans brushed aside any organized resistance. They would gain the loyalty of several tribes and large numbers of mestizo and mulatto residents. Information was readily passed on in hopes that the Americans could establish order and halt the slaughter. Much of Sucre and Monagas States would similarly face heavy civilian casualties.

    By the New Year, Rosecrans was organizing local militias to augment the Americans.

    North-western Venezuela

    By December, the Venezuelan Civil war had devolved from political in nature to entirely personal. Juntas now graced the cities of Caracas, Valencia and Barquisimeto where strongmen wrestled for power. Generals declared themselves Presidents. Presidents became dictators. Dictators became Dictators-for-Life.

    Trade fell off to nothing. Food, that which was harvested, ceased to transport from the countryside to the cities. Hunger and disease proliferated.

    Panama State, Colombia

    Over the course of the past few months, a bevy of medical experts and scientists had been dispatched by America, Great Britain and Colombia to review potential solutions for the malaria and yellow fever problems. The Colombia Canal was intended to be an engineering marvel....but the death toll in workers was nothing short of staggering. Despite attractive wages, the combination of bitterly hard labor and high death toll from disease was already limiting the labor supply. Many West Indians with an interest in working the Canal Zone would look upon the cemeteries and decide that the posted positions in Africa were more inviting.

    By 1884, it had been established by multiple sources that mosquitos were the vector for these diseases and treatment, besides quinine, had yet to provide any form of vaccine. Instead, prevention by eliminating mosquitos would be the primary focus.

    Entire brigades of men were assigned to draining swamps and stagnant ponds. Various methods to prevent mosquitos from hatching were attempted, with varying levels of success. These included dumping assorted chemicals into puddles, ponds, etc.

    Slowly, through 1885, the death rate eased to manageable rates and workers once again were willing to travel to Colombia for employment impossible to find on their home islands. Some islands were so depopulated by adult males "gone to the canal" that they appeared "Isles of Women". Between the exodus to Africa and to Colombia, the West Indies began to empty out.

    Dakar, Monrovia, Gladstoneville, Luanda, Lourenco Marques, Zanzibar and a dozen other locales would see an influx of West Indian (and some American) Bureaucrats to handle the increasingly complex administration of coastal Africa.

    Boston


    The losing Presidential Candidate would return to Harvard where he continued his quest to reform education. It could be argued that no man in American history did as much to improve the national education system for his policy of standard entrance exams would be copied by virtually all Universities while his new curriculum would encourage primary schools to upgrade their own courses to include more mathematics, etc, which would prove more relevant to the new college requirements.

    As higher education had long been controlled by religious institutions, Charles Eliot, a man of faith himself, would rail against this dogma and press for a more standard curriculum. Armed with huge donors, Harvard would remain at the pinnacle of the nation's elite institutions, encouraging all others to follow in his footsteps.

    Oddly, Charles Eliot would not feel losing the Presidential election as being the worst defeat of 1884. That honor went to his failure to absorb the frequently bankrupt twenty-five year old Massachusetts Institute of Technology into Harvard. Every time he almost arranged a merger, some benefactor would donate enough to keep MIT independent.
     
    Chapter 206
  • March, 1885

    Philadelphia


    Over a century prior, the Low German Mennonites had been invited to migrate to Russia by the Czarina. For a century, they prospered. But, by 1870, the Czar was no longer inclined to allow certain privileges like exemption from military service and freedom to maintain their language/religion. Given a deadline to accept the new situation or depart Russia by 1880, the Mennonites begged the Czar to change his mind. When Alexander II died, they could not even get an audience with Nicolas II.

    By 1885, the heavy majority of the "Russian" Mennonites had departed and the final wave of about 10,000 more would arrive in America where they settled in Winnipeg, Minnesota, Iowa and other regions. In addition to the "Russians", the Germanic peoples also enticed large numbers of Mennonites which had never left Germany as the wars of the past century had ravaged even that prosperous community.

    4000 would sail down the Volga, board ships through the Mediterranean and arrive in America to join their communities.

    Only about 5000 Mennonites remained in Russia after 1885 and most would come to regret it.

    Oddly, the "Russian" Mennonites would be joined in America by the Russian "Old Believers" who had suffered intermittent repression over the past two centuries. Many were shocked to find some of their old neighbors in the New World.

    Following the Mennonites and Old Believers were conventional Russian Orthodox, Ukrainian Catholics, Jews and Polish Catholics. Many settled the Midwest and Great Plains while those of an urban bent.....or just couldn't afford to move anywhere with land and were stuck looking for work as laborers.....would more often than not find themselves in New York or Chicago.

    Giza, Egypt

    Abraham Lincoln was having a great deal of fun on his trip. He had visited Monrovia with his sons and his old friend Frederick Douglass, inspected the new facilities, schools, etc. Douglass was reunited with his son, who now held a high position in West Africa.

    After a short stop to pay his respects to the King of Morocco (the first nation to recognize the Independence of the United States), the Americans stopped in Egypt to take in the same sites viewed by Alexander the Great and Napoleon I of France.

    The Pyramids were spectacular.

    He was in Africa when news arrived of the Democrats regaining the Presidential Mansion. Lincoln knew it was inevitable but both he and Douglass feared for the future of the Freedman's Bureau. But there was nothing they could do about the matter now. If America was unwilling to follow the path Lincoln set for them in 1861....then......

    Indianapolis

    President-Elect Thomas Hendricks would depart via train in late March for Washington. In only a few more days, he would take the Oath of Office. Many expectations would be upon him in the near future but Hendricks could only do what he thought best.
     
    Chapter 207
  • April, 1885

    Washington


    President Thomas Hendricks of Indiana would take the Oath of Office in April, 1885. Conspicuous by his absence was the Vice-President, who died weeks before his election. The Constitution held that only other officer next in line to the President was the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, in this case the Republican George F. Edmunds of Vermont.

    Hendricks, the former Governor of Indiana, had been a compromise candidate largely because he was unknown among the general public. It would not be the first time that men with modest public record were chosen when a political party was divided by major issues.

    In truth, the Democrats were so elated to finally be back in the Presidential Mansion that very little would have dampened their mood.

    The new President would immediately begin addressing both current events and long-term political desires of the nation.

    Even before he took office, Hendricks began to communicate with the Republican Congressional leadership. The President would get nothing done without them....and they could not get much done without him.

    Deeming himself a reasonable man, Hendricks would address one of the major issues of the day....tariffs. Historically, the Democrats tended to prefer lower tariffs while the Republicans generally preferred higher. But the recent industrialization of the country meant that there were many laborers who preferred higher tariffs as well. The day had past when Democrats could rely upon small farmers for election.

    Hendricks would agree to a more modest reduction in tariffs (roughly down from 13% to 10%) and a continued expansion of the money supply via the purchase of as much gold as the country could afford so gold-backed greenbacks could be issued. Though the nation was still years away from a purely paper currency, the path was plain and Hendricks was not aligned with the "Free Silver" rabble who wanted to expand the money supply by switching over to silver currency.

    The President also met with several key Republicans and would make an astonishing pronouncement. The 25 year charter of the Freedman's Bureau was to be up before the President's term was to be over (1887). Hendricks would publicly support the Bureau's efforts and agree to expand it for another ten years. Though Hendricks was no great supporter of the black race (he'd asked many times what invention the African had ever created that contributed to humanity), he was seasoned enough to realize what even some Republicans did not: that the suffrage of the Negro could not be taken away for that most practical of reasons.

    Power.

    Over the course of 20 years, the Negro had voted in every state and territory (even those which had been temporarily banished from the nation). In 1862, even many pro-abolitionist Americans were hardly inclined to extend the franchise to the black man, much less put them in schools with white children. But two decades of black political participation led to a series of very logical social changes.

    The Freedmen tended to vote overwhelmingly Republican. In many states and Congressional seats, the 11% of the American population that was black determined the winner and losers of elections. Even Republicans from districts or states without a large black base could see that the loss of this demographic would be disastrous to the Party's chances. Thus, the black voter could not be ignored. Every Republican Congressman and Senator was, by default, forced to support the Freedman's Bureau even if they personally didn't give a damn. If they wanted reelection or continued relevance of their party, a group that contributed a fifth of their voters could not be disregarded.

    A politician like Hendricks knew this intuitively. Though he'd been a "Union Democrat" and generally considered an abolitionist, Hendricks, like many Americans had been disconcerted with the rapid social change. But that change had now occurred and Hendricks saw little reason to make "race" central to political debate. The Indianan had been appalled at the lawlessness and vindictiveness of the "raiders" over the years and was no less brutal in suppressing them than his Republican predecessor.

    With all but three states returned to the Union, the President felt that true peace (absent 25 years) may be returned to the nation. But a sudden attempt to disenfranchise the Freedman would only lead to another Civil War. Thus, Hendricks had no intention of doing that. If he were to end Reconstruction tomorrow, he suspected that the South would turn into a charnel pit of slaughter. This time, however, the blacks would not be returning to the fields. They would no doubt give as well as they got.

    Thus, the pact with the Republicans to extend the Freeman's Charter was only logical, as much for his own Party as the Republicans (and the Negroes, of course). In conjunction with this announcement, the President would also inform the nation that the States of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina would be encouraged to "request readmission to the Union" with a formal vote in the fall. Hendricks stressed that the Federal requirements for readmission remained in effect. The state must ratify all Amendments enacted since the War between the States and accept the primacy of Federal Law (including voting rights).

    Many in the South smirked, assuming that some remnant of the old order was to be restored.
     
    Chapter 208
  • April, 1885

    Berlin


    Though he'd been largely discredited after supporting the rather disastrous attempt to unify Germany under Prussian leadership, Otto von Bismarck had slowly rebuilt his reputation after years of service to the King (he still imagined the leader of House of Hohenzollern as the German Emperor, not merely an unpopular King surrounded by others) in various positions.

    In 1885, the Prussian would be elevated to Chancellor and embark upon a new series of "reforms". Among these were the expulsion of most Poles and Jews remaining in Prussia. This would prove unpopular in the German Confederation who considered it both cold and provocative to their neighbors (though Poland's master, Russia, didn't care much either way). This would prove to be another symbol of the growing nationalism of Europe.

    May, 1885

    Washington


    In addition to his unexpected plethora of agreements with the Republicans over tariff policy, expansion of greenbacks and the Freedman's Bureau charter extension, the President would also quietly follow the previous administration's policy in Venezuela where that nation appeared to be tearing itself apart.

    Thousands of soldiers were dispatched from the shrinking American Army to Guyana's border with Venezuela. General Rosecrans was already exerting control over the inland regions of Venezuela while the warlords operating out of the larger cities of Barcelona, Caracas, Valencia and Barquisimeto fought over control of the rest. By summer of 1885, Rosecrans controlled much of southern Anzoategui and Monagas as well as all of Sucre. This represented only a very small percentage of Venezuela's population as these regions were always lightly populated (over 90% of Venezuela's population resided within a few dozen miles of the coast prior to the war).

    America now controlled over 64% of pre-war Venezuela's territory but less than 5% of the population (Zulia controlled another 10% of the territory and population).

    Guyana had proven effectively worthless to America in the past decade since acquisition. The sugar plantations had been largely reclaimed by the forests for lack of workers and disappointing profits on the rare occasions when labor WAS available. There was the odd bit of mining here or there but there seemed no real value to the region. Attempts to entice immigrants largely failed to even replace the large quantity of Guyanese (mostly black and mestizo) emigrating to Africa or mainland America or Colombia (as workers on the Canal).

    Zanzibar

    Abraham Lincoln was having the time of his life. Though he'd been informed that the new President actually EXTENDED the Freedman's Bureau's Charter, Lincoln still worried about the future of the country in Democrat hands. But that was no longer the responsibility of an old man.

    Lincoln, his sons and his old friend Frederick Douglass had spent months travelling Africa and greatly enjoyed the freedom. He was surprised to find a familiar face. The young son of the New York magnate and political fixer Theodore Roosevelt was stationed by the Co-Protectorate in Zanzibar and assigned to escort his esteemed countrymen around. A rather enlightening safari through the countryside proved the young man's adventuresome spirit.

    Roosevelt was obviously a "great white hunter" but would express his dissatisfaction with the rapid elimination of all types of animals in only a few years of Anglo-American domination of the region. He had proposed a "reserve" system for vast swathes of Africa akin to the expanding National Park system in America. Having risen in a short period up the hierarchy in the Co-Protectorate hierarchy, the man's ideas were gaining traction with the Governing Council of East Africa (10 Americans, 10 British and 1 each from Egypt, Morocco, Madagascar and Ethiopia). A dynamo of energy, the youth was radically changing the East African slaving capital of Zanzibar.

    Lincoln could see resentment from the old Arab merchant classes but apparently the racial demographic was quickly changing as Freed Slaves, mainland Africans, Indian Merchants (often Muslim and Christian) and North American "Returnees" established new neighborhoods on the island even as the Council debated establishing a new Capital on the mainland.

    Though Lincoln and Douglass were not exactly young men, they managed to climb upon the backs of an elephant and rode throughout the African Savannah, so radically different from the forests of western Africa.

    June 1885

    New York


    The Head of the Statue of Liberty, a gift of Napoleon III of France, would arrive in New York in an attempt to reconcile with America after years of discord. A subscription had been raised over the past two years in America to acquire enough money for the base of the monument (it would cost more than the Statue itself) currently being erected on the chosen site, Ellis Island (chosen over Bedloe's Island which would become the primary immigrant processing station of America).
     
    Chapter 209
  • July, 1885

    Wilton, NY


    Having been given the death sentence months before, President Grant would finally expire of throat cancer. The nation would go into mourning as the President was laid in state in Washington for a full week. President Hendricks would give a moving speech before the late President would take his final journey by rail to Illinois.

    Venezuela

    Having grown tired of the chaos of Venezuela, the Admiralty would implore President Hendricks to allow a full-on blockade of the entire Venezuelan coast. This was intended not just to force whoever was in charge of the nation (about half a dozen warlords by now) to formally cede the inland regions already conquered by America....but to do something to halt the slaughter. An estimated 150,000 lives had already been lost (out of a prewar population of 1,800,000. Given that about 500,000 resided in lands taken by America or broken off into Zulia, the losses were horrific. Another 100,000 fled to Guyana, American-controlled Venezuela, Zulia or Colombia.

    German Confederation

    Beyond the drama unfolding in Prussia, a great many things were happening in Germany.

    Gottlied Daimler invented the water-cooled engine and the reitwagen (the first motorcycle) in the same year that Karl Benz built the first real automobile.

    Guyana

    Andreas Schimper, a famous German naturalist and botanist, would spend years in Guyana and other parts of South America where he would make great contributions to science. Having visited the United States (North America) before, he was granted leave to explore the fauna and flora of Guyana in hopes that he may increase America's understanding of the vast Guyanan Shield.

    Perhaps his greatest contribution was ensuring that vast swathes of the remote and isolated region would be recommended for National Parks akin to the Yellowstone, Yosemite and Everglades National Parks.
     
    Chapter 210
  • August, 1885

    Ceremony in town of Banff, State of Columbia / Saskatchewan Territory - Nakoda National Park


    President Hendricks would travel by rail during the summer Congressional recess to formally sign the bill embodying the Nakoda National Park on land purchased from the Stoney Nakoda (a large adjacent land was set up as a Reserve and the Nakoda would be given free access to the Park). This would be the latest in a long line of National Parks apparently proliferating on a regular basis. Banff was a small mountain town named by the President of the Northern Pacific Railroad after his home town in Scotland.

    Having only presided for a few months, Hendricks was already exhausted and was happy to get the hell out of Washington during the hideously hot summer (he thought Indianapolis was hot in summer). The Indianan was in poor health, something he had hidden during the election. A year prior, while bathing at hot springs, he would suffer weeks of partial paralysis. Fortunately, the isolated politician was able to keep this quiet.

    Both the Galapagos Islands and much of Easter Island were so designated as well and Congress was debating turning huge swathes of the Guyana Shield for National Parks as well.

    Hendricks would also struggle with the reports coming from South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama that voter intimidation for the September election was so rampant that there was no way whatsoever that they would be "free".

    Hendricks had been an abolitionist Union Democrat during the War between the States but had never taken the black man as an equal. But this was now the case throughout the nation. Over a dozen black men sat in Congress....some of whom the President hoped to entice support for votes. Allowing such voter suppression to continue in just three states would open the nation up to political turmoil once again, just as the nation's future seemed so bright. This Hendricks could not allow.

    Quoting hundreds of accounts from Federal Employees, testimony by voters, the Army and the Freedman's Bureau, President Hendricks would formally annul the September election intended to renew South Carolinian, Alabaman and Georgian citizenship in the Union.

    Predictably, much of his own Party erupted in outrage but the President received a great deal of support from Northern Democrats. He was also well away from Washington and didn't have to put up with the worst of the vitriol.

    Sporadic violence would emerge through these states which were largely isolated enough for the garrison to put down easily enough. The President would announce he would "welcome" the return of these states to the Union once they accepted the social changes of the past 25 years.

    September, 1885

    Coast of Venezuela's assorted divided territories.


    Having devolved into tiny states surrounding the larger cities of Venezuela (Barquisimeto, Valencia, Caracas and Barcelona), the United States Naval Squadron blockaded the ports in hopes of ending any influx of war material to the feuding states. While war material WAS being cut off, the vicious border conflicts continued as regional armies devolved into abject savages. Rural villages were raided, plundered and burned....all for no particular gain for any side. Soon starvation would set in again for lack of a harvest and the Americans were forced to amend the blockade to allow food shipments...not that very many people could afford foreign grain.

    Misery piled on top of misery for the Venezuelans.

    South Carolina

    Over the past decade, South Carolina had convulsed in social change as well as political stagnation. Perhaps the most important development (well, since Abolition) had been the rise of defacto "Unions" of agricultural workers.

    Many black South Carolinians had migrated out in the past twenty-five years, putting white South Carolinians in a modest majority for the first time in many decades. However, the remaining black citizens, most still owning their own land, would remain in sharecropping or migrant labor positions. But the demand for labor exceeded the supply and the Freedman's Bureau quietly and unofficially arranged for a detailed list of those South Carolinian plantation owners who opposed black suffrage or encouraged violence. These landowners would find themselves effectively boycotted by the rice, indigo and cotton harvesters and many would be bankrupted over the past decade.

    Eventually, only those white South Carolinian landowners willing to at least keep their thoughts to themselves would manage to hire workers to harvest their crops. This naturally increased tensions.

    Land (and slave) ownership had long been associated with southern gentry. Historically, most office holders in South Carolina (and most southern states) had been landowners of this class mixed with the odd doctor or lawyer sitting in the Legislature. Now, this was changing as non-plantation owners were becoming the new gentry (merchants, tradesmen and other "unsavory" types) who were less tied to the old social order of the past. Increased urbanization was occurring even in the south. This also represented a shift in local power.

    While a "Reconstruction Legislature" had long been embodied, it was very much a rubber stamp organization with little power and limited only to those who swore an oath to all aspects of the new order.

    A bitter conflict between whites was emerging which was almost as disruptive to the region as Emancipation had been.
     
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    Chapter 211
  • October, 1885

    Washington


    President Thomas Hendricks had one major regret since ascending to the Presidency.....having taken the oath at all. Or merely having returned from Banff. He wondered if the day would come if he could have all his mail directed from Washington to some remote location and just work from there.......thousands of miles from Washington....and Congress.

    Hendricks' decision to annul the elections in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama led to an open revolt among members of his own party....though he did receive a level of support from the Republicans for his actions.

    Hendricks had spent four years as Governor of Indiana and found the task arduous when dealing with a intransigent Republican Legislature. In some way, the opposition was the least of his worries in Washington.

    The President had thrown his support behind the Freedman's Bureau and sent the strongest possible message that the former Confederate states would have to abide by Federal terms.

    In truth, Hendricks had managed a relatively successful legislative session over the past seven months. His negotiations with the Republicans prior to taking the Oath would allow for a compromise regarding the annual budget, tariffs, incremental issuance of more paper currency, relative peace on Foreign policy (Co-Protectorate, Venezuela).

    The Cabinet had been difficult to fill as he refused to offer high-level positions to his rivals Grover Cleveland and Thomas Bayard (both of which fancied the Secretary of State position). Having suffered the snub, the Governor of New York and Senator of Delaware would do much to undermine their the first Democratic President elected in 28 years.

    Cleveland's resentment was personal, a result of his defeat for the Democratic nomination.

    Bayard's was political. Arguably the last of the pre-war establishment Democrats, Bayard still viewed American politics through the lens of the old order: the Democrats carried the "solid south" which meant they only needed a few more states in the north to gain an electoral victory. However, this was no longer demographically accurate. Rapid population expansion of the northern and western states while the south stagnated would alter the demographics greatly. Even carrying the south would not do much to guarantee future elections. And the south was no longer "solid" given that several states like Texas, Cahaba, Mississippi, Calusa, Florida, Kanawha, Arkansas, Nickajack and North Carolina had all voted Republican more than once in recent years and even Louisiana barely fell to the Democrats in the past election.

    No, the "solid south" was solid no more. Democrats only won the election by virtue of several razor thin majorities in key northern states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana). Had it not been for several blindingly stupid speeches by his political neophyte opponent which riled up Republican supporters, it was unlikely Hendricks would have carried much in the north beyond his home state.

    Hendricks considered this fair given that Democrats were due a break after horrifically botching several elections in the 1870's. Let the Republicans be their own worst enemy for a while. But the Indianan doubted that the opposition would make such a mistake twice.

    As it was, the President could afford to ignore the backbiting of his failed rivals. Cleveland and Bayard had both largely been discredited as public candidates and could only effect influence going forward via backroom deals thus....they only had power if he deemed to give it to them. Having no particular affection for either, Hendricks chose to turn a blind eye to petty slights from the pair of them. Only Bayard had any real influence in Washington.

    The Cabinet was somewhat....lackluster. Most of the Secretaries were of the 2nd rank....largely known more for administration than anything else as Hendricks lacked support from high-ranking Democrats. This allowed him to select soldiers and bureaucrats rather than politicians. Winfield Scott Hancock was the most notable. The General was perhaps the highest-ranking soldier of the war to steadily align with Democrats. Several other soldiers were appointed to Ministry positions. General John C. Black was appointed to Secretary of State....despite only serving for a few years on the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee.

    George Hoady and Allen Thurman of Ohio would accept positions as Secretary of the Interior and Attorney General.

    It wasn't the best cabinet in American history, Hendricks would wryly concede, but it was functional.

    In October, the President would witness the launch of the two latest American battleships, the USS Arizona and the newest USS Maine (a sentimental pick). It was a pleasant duty, one at least partially removed from politics. In the carriage ride home from the shipyard, Hendricks would be afflicted with the same partial paralysis he'd suffered the previous year. He would take to his bed and only emerge after a few days, with visible problems walking. As with the previous incidents, Hendricks would keep the illness secret, known only to his closest aides and his wife Eliza (who personally nursed him).
     
    Chapter 212
  • November, 1885

    Washington


    President Thomas Hendricks would state that he was feeling ill on the evening of November, 24th and go to bed early. He would never wake up, passing sometime in his sleep the following night.

    Hendricks' death would America in a terrible political crisis as Vice-President-elect Samuel Randall had died prior to taking office. Per Federal law, the Vice-President would have assumed the office of President. Next in succession was.... the President Pro Tempore of the Senate: Republican George F. Edmunds of Vermont.

    The law was somewhat unclear on the definition of Edmunds' powers. He was to be "Acting President". That meant, to some, that he would not bear the full powers of the office including the right to alter the cabinet. Others assumed that a new election would be called to fulfill the remainder of the term.

    Edmunds would not see any difference between "Acting President" and "President". Indeed, he also flatly asked the Democrats to point out where, in any law passed in American history, which mandated or even suggested calling for a new election. As far as the Vermont man was concerned, HE was President...."Acting" or not.

    In truth, Edmunds had actually liked Hendricks and had supported most of the compromises the late President had approved. What was more, Edmunds realized that "stealing the election" as the Democrats were already charging amid more ridiculous claims of assassination would only lead to decades of strife. The 1824 Election of John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson was decided not by voters but by Congressional backroom politicking. This left Jackson's faction paranoid and vengeful for years afterwards and a generation of politics was poisoned (even more than usual) much to the detriment of the nation.

    "Acting President" Edmunds would spend his first months quietly referring challenges to his authority to his attorneys. Oddly, his own Attorney General, Allen Thurman, was considered among the best legal minds in the Senate and openly admitted that the "Acting President" was not required to call another election. He may continued as "Acting President" until the next scheduled election in 1888.

    Indeed, Edmunds would not even request immediate resignation of his Cabinet. Hoping to stay the political rancor, the "Acting President" only called for the resignation of a few higher officials, including Hoady, the only Cabinet Secretary for whom Edmunds had serious policy differences. Hoady refused and Edmunds ordered all the Secretary of Interior's papers confiscated by the career bureaucrats. This naturally provoked rounds of protest....which Edmunds largely ignored with good humor.

    Venezuela

    Commodore Dewey would look against at the smoke billowing from La Guaira, the port to the inland city of Caracas, five miles inland. Looking further across the horizon, he saw large black clouds above the city. By nightfall, he would see the eerie glow of the city aflame against the sky.

    The Junta of Valencia had stolen a march on their capital equivalent and the raid would burn much of they city. By the end of 1885, the caudillos of Barcelona and Barquisimeto would appeal to the Americans (both Dewey at sea and Rosecrans on land) to recognize them as independent republics. As there two "republics" happened to be the ones which bordered the new American claims in the southeast and Zulia in the west, a recommendation was forwarded to Washington for President Hendricks (they would not know until the end of December than Hendricks was dead) to approve the proposal. If nothing else, dividing Venezuela into smaller states would make the consolidation of the Orinoco and Venezuelan hinterland regions far easier.
     
    Chapter 213
  • March, 1886

    Venezuela


    Having been authorized by the State Department to "negotiate", Governor John Lynch of Guyana would sail to Barcelona where the regional Junta had gained control over the eastern Venezuelan coast including Sucre and the northern portions of Anzoategui, Monagas and Guarico. Eastern Venezuela was relatively sparsely populated relative to the west and, if Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo and Barquisimeto ever got their act together (i.e. ending the civil war), then Barcelona would fall in no time. Given the slaughter of the past several years, the ruling Junta of Barcelona was terrified of what would happen should the Capital forces turn their eyes eastward.

    Over the past two years, Governor Lynch and General Rosecrans had concentrated on protecting the inland Indian villages and plantation laborers from the endless bandits taking advantage of the chaos. Lynch was particularly guilt-ridden as the desperate situation in Venezuela was at least partly to blame upon the United States actions.

    But Rosecrans and his 5000 American regulars and militia occupied most of southern Anzoategui, Monagas and Guarico. When President Hendricks took office, the black Mississippian had assumed that he would be recalled but that never occurred. Lynch suspected that, should the Venezuela situation devolve further, that Hendricks simply wanted to have someone else to blame. Thus, for nearly seven months of the Hendricks administraiton, the former Republican Senator would remain in Guyana with political authority over Rosecrans and his "Army of Guyana".

    Or maybe Hendricks just didn't want Lynch returning to Mississippi to run for office again.

    President Edmunds had done little to alter the situation in the past 5 months either, no doubt the man rather busy with the political chaos erupting from an unprecedented shift in power. Thus, Lynch, eager to aid the large agrarian interior, would dispatch Rosecrans to assume control of more and more land north of the Orinoco. By 1886, the Americans had seized huge swathes of the central Venezuela plains. Despite America now controlling roughly 65% of pre-Civil War Venezuela, this amount to only about 7% of the population (120,000 or so souls) and that was disproportionately Indian, Mestizo and Mulatto spread over a vast area.

    Lynch and Rosecrans would spend more time fighting brigands than Venezuelan armies.

    When the Barcelona Junta asked for peace and assistance in maintaining their hegemony over the northeastern Venezuelan coast, Lynch agreed to negotiation....provided that America maintained a claim to the suffering Venezuelan plains already under her control. Lynch didn't care about the land but had been shocked by the devastation among the black and mulatto sharecroppers and Indian villages.

    Thus, a line was drawn which granted the very lightly populated south of Anzoategui, Monagas and Guarico to Guyana while Lynch and Rosecrans agreed to "ensure the border" of the new "Federal Republic of Barcelona" until the treaty (and boundary) would be approved by President Edmunds and Congress.

    There had been no official direction to Lynch to do any of this but the political chaos in America would leave Lynch a great deal of autonomy (almost unprecedented) for a regional territorial governor.

    Washington

    President Edmunds had actually enjoyed working with Secretary of State Black and Secretary of War Hancock. Soldiers tended to be efficient administrators and were respectful to superiors. Despite calls from his own party to remove them, the Vermonter was happy to keep them along. It at least avoided the worst of the Democrat outrage at losing the Presidency.

    Secretary of the Interior Hoady was the highest level man to be publicly fired. Other officials like Attorney General Thurman, the Postmaster General and a few other lesser posts opted to resign after a few months. Edmunds actually gave a moving speech thanking each man for his service (ensuring it was publicized) and thus making future complaints against him seem crass. Edmunds had delighted in verbally tweaking the noses of Democrats over the years, particularly the southerners, and knew full well how to play the game.

    In truth, despite all the vitriol (a suit to the Supreme Court attempting to force a special election to fill out the rest of the term was no doubt going nowhere) from the Democrats, Edmunds was growing more irritated with his own Party than anything else. James Blaine, whom Edmunds liked personally but found to be corrupt and self-serving, was demanding a high position in the government, most recently Secretary of State. However, Blaine was no longer in the Senate and his influence was muted. Let him whinge to his heart's content.

    Various other lawsuits were being filed to attempt to limit his powers as "Acting President" but Edmunds wasn't bothered. He would do as he felt right.
     
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    Chapter 214
  • May, 1886

    Washington


    Having been summoned home to personally account for his actions in Guyana/Venezuela as well as personally testify to the President and Congress regarding his proposed treaty with the "Republic of Barcelona), John Roy Lynch of Mississippi would receive a mixed welcome. Anti-imperialists and those disinclined to support anything a black man did with power would criticize him. Those ambitious for American expansion in ANY direction or interested in the humanitarian situation in the collapsed nation of Venezuela would hail his actions.

    Effectively, Lynch negotiated with the Junta in Barcelona to recognize the eastern coastal regions of Venezuela as an independent country and guarantee her borders.....in exchange for them ceding the southeastern areas of Venezuela (the Plains) to America.

    After much debate, Congress would approve the "Treaty of Barcelona" with only a handful of dissenters though many would wonder why America was extorting yet more territory in South America which bore no conceivable usefulness to the nation. The Guyana Shield was basically all highland and mountain, much of it impassible and not even useful for timber export. Few navigable rivers were present either beyond the Orinoco, the effective dividing line between the Guyana Shield and the Venezuelan lowlands.

    Now America was expanding into the LOWLANDS too?!

    What for? It was obvious that the land wasn't worth much beyond modest agriculture. Even that was hampered by the black sludge which seemed to bubble up through the soil in much of the Venezuelan plains. Instead, Lynch had gotten America into god knows who much trouble in the future with such chaotic neighbors.

    Many likened the seizure of the Venezuelan plain to purchasing Alaska. What good had THAT territory ever done for America?

    To Lynch's surprise, he would be recommended as the first black man to Cabinet position, taking over the Secretary of the Interior post.

    Frankfurt, German Confederation

    The Triple Alliance was formally signed in 1886 in the German Confederation Capital of Frankfurt. The Confederation, Hungary and Croatia were the initial signatories. Bohemia was similarly invited but that nation found Germany more intimidating that Russia (one of the primary reasons for the Alliance).

    The Latin Alliance between France and Italy would get nervous at this and begin casting about for alliances. Russia was the obvious solution based upon the "enemy of my enemy" theory. Napoleon IV would dispatch diplomats but would receive only a modest and vague response.

    Indeed, the greatest reaction regarding this entreaty would be the sudden interest from London regarding the French attempts to forge a great alliance....which could only be detrimental to British interests. After nearly two decades of defeat, the French Empire had regained financial and military strength. Resentment of losing an Empire abroad to Britain (which also stymied Franco-Italian attempts to establish a foothold in Africa), a humiliating defeat to the German Confederation and public unrest would bring French public anger to a boiling point.

    Napoleon IV needed an outlet for this and happily pointed in the direction of his nation's enemies.

    The French Navy was FINALLY producing ships to rival those of Britain (and Italy, America and Russia) and a rapid expansion of the heavy steel-hulled vessels with massive armaments was well along. As Britain had stripped France of her colonies, this indirectly allowed France (and Italy) to gain regional superiority in the Mediterranean once more by consolidating her fleet. For several years, the heavy Italian warships were the most powerful on earth. However, by 1886, Great Britain, America and France were similarly churning out several massive ships per year. Russia would proceed nearly as fast while China, Brazil, Japan, Chile and Peru similarly purchased or produced their own competing vessels.

    In 1885, Chile would purchase a French ship which could have single-handedly obliterated the entire American Navy in 1875. The Naval Arms Race, which had taken a momentary breath after the defeat of France and Russian withdrawal from most world politics, was back in force.

    Calcutta

    Ex-President Abraham Lincoln and ex-slave Frederick Douglass were greatly enjoying India. After spending months in Africa, the pair (and Lincoln's two sons) would visit several destination throughout the subcontinent prior to embarking once more (after a farewell dinner with the Viceroy) and the duo were off to Siam in May of 1886.

    King Chulalongkorn would receive both amicably as his teacher, Mrs. Leonowens had spoken highly of President Lincoln decades before and the late King Mongkut had even offered several war elephants to Lincoln for use during the War Between the States.

    After weeks of lavish hospitality, the pair would proceed on to Australia.
     
    Chapter 215
  • August, 1886

    Washington


    The Summer Recess of 1886 would be eventful. It would not be until Congress was reseated in 1886 that the Treaty of Barcelona was finally approved and new Secretary of the Interior Lynch became the first black man to hold a cabinet post (besides the head of the Freedman's Bureau, which didn't really count).

    Thus America would formally lay claim to roughly 2/3's of the former Venezuela (though less than 10% of the population).

    As part of the agreement, General Rosecrans would situate 1000 American soldiers near the Republic of Barcelona's border with Caracas.

    America also formally recognized the "Republic of Venezuela" (i.e. those regions just east of Zulia). That left the two states run by the Juntas of Caracas and Valencia. Both cities had been ravaged in the war and resembled more like burned-out husks of the hungry and desperate.

    New York

    President Edmunds would formally inaugurate the Statue of Liberty in 1886 (after a few months of delays). The French would send a group of dignitaries in hopes of renewing good ties with America.

    Rio de Janeiro

    For the past years, the Empress of Brazil would happily cede most of her authority to the government. Isabel had no interest in politics. Her French nobleman husband would go progressively deaf, slowly reducing long term Brazilian distrust of the Duke of Eu acting as defacto Emperor. In truth, the Duke was never interested as much in politics as was publicly feared and his deafness made him less of a threat.

    However, Brazil's government itself was being strained by international relations on the Continent. A border conflict between Ecuador and Colombia was causing strain as was a similar problem between Chile and the Argentine over territory in the Puno de Atacama.

    Bolivia, the Argentine AND Paraguay were engaged in a war of words over the inland Chaco region.

    Chile had never reconciled with their humiliation by the United States Navy years before when they were prevented from pushing into Bolivia's Litoral Province. The negotiated treaty strictly demanded that Chilean citizens and private property (saltpetre industry mainly) would be protected along the coast of Bolivia....but that was promptly ignored and most Chileans evicted within two years from the dispute zone. This would never be forgiven by the Chileans.

    Brazil would purchase several large warships from Italy and France and ties to the "Latin Alliance" would tighten as large numbers of French and Italian immigrants (or short term workers) would arrive, greatly altering the demographics of the region in a short amount of time.
     
    Chapter 216
  • September, 1886

    30 miles west of Sydney, Australia


    Abraham Lincoln was utterly stunned by the....well.....freakish.....fauna of Australia. He could not make heads or tails of some of the animals. The kangaroos were awe-inspiring and some of the other animals (a platypus was kept in an exhibit) could not easily even be described.

    Frederick Douglass would fall ill for a long week in August but would recover. It was obvious that the two men were aging.

    But, while the pair were in Thailand, the Chinese Envoy to Bangkok wrote a letter of the foreign dignitaries to the Court in Beijing. The Mandarin would order his diplomats to dispatch a message to Sydney on one of the few Chinese vessels to ply the trade (Australia would, like America, ban Chinese immigration) and invite the two men to Court.

    This was a rare and almost unprecedented honor and Lincoln and Douglass felt obligated to accept. Hiring a translator in Australia (a Eurasian bastard son of a female British convict and a Chinese trader), the Lincoln-Douglass party would continue on to Beijing.

    London

    Lord Salisbury, Northcote and Chamberlain would look upon international events with a wary eye. The Continent appeared forming into enemy camps. Though the English Channel had long cut off Britain from the mainland quite effectively, the rise of modern steamships greatly narrowed that gap to the point that only a massive, permanent fleet could protect Britain's shores.

    France and Italy visibly chaffed at the restrictions upon Empire (not that Great Britain had experienced endless joy with theirs) and Britain was the only outlet to this frustration.

    The Conservatives would begin to cast about for their own allies. America alone was not to be trusted to actively support Britain in a war over Africa with multiple European parties. It always seemed more likely that the Americans, who were hardly robust in their support for the Co-Protectorate, would turn tail across the Atlantic.

    Salisbury would consider an offer of alliance with Russia though he dismissed this. Russia had no real rivalry with France or Italy on the Continent and had no overwhelming reason for any form of alliance. Just making the offer and being rejected would make Britain seem weak and desperate in the eyes of the Czar and other European nations.

    Eventually, the German Federation looked like a more reasonable ally. Germany was an obvious threat to both France and Italy and the Latin Alliance could hardly afford to use overly many resources abroad if facing a strong threat on their border.

    Of course, THIS had its own dangers as the Confederation could drag Britain into an unwanted war itself. And there was always the chance that this new "Triple Alliance" (Germany, Hungary and Croatia) may pick a fight with Russia....perhaps the one thing Britain was most ardent to avoid. The Russian Bear had been relatively quiet of late. Fears of aggression in India had proven.....overstated.....much to the chagrin of those British diplomats that led the nation into a pointless war with Russia in Afghanistan which directly lead to the 2nd Mutiny.

    Salisbury could see potential advantages in an alliance....but perhaps greater pitfalls. For the moment, Great Britain would do nothing beyond extending good will to all of Europe...knowing that the armed camp which the continent had become was more likely to get worse than better.
     
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