Greek Fire (7)
June 27, 1824
Preveza, western Greece
It was the kind of weather you only got in the Mediterranean in summer —the sky a perfect blue, the ocean breezes providing just enough cool air to modulate the effect of the blazing sun. Crimean summers were only a shadow of this.

The weather wasn’t the only thing making Ioannis Kapodistrias happy, standing at the front of the ship as it approached the entrance to the Ambracian Gulf. The provisional government of Greece had invited him to take part in their constitutional convention, and there were rumors he was favored to be the first chief executive. Admittedly, this was mostly because the collection of bandits and magnates (not mutually exclusive categories in this part of the world)[1] in charge of the Greek rebellion couldn’t agree on a leader among themselves, but it was something.

Especially since it was now clear who was going to win this war. Austrian and Russian armies were marching through Moldavia and Wallachia now. Kapodistrias wasn’t sure how much resistance the Turks were putting up, but given that they hadn’t been doing so well against glorified bandits and were still fighting a major war in the east, he liked the odds. Italy was sending men and arms to Albania, which was unfortunate, but no help for it. (The “Sultan Ali I” was said to be very unhappy about having to cede control of this part of Greece. That would probably be a problem later.)

The only question mark was the man who had come on board in Dubrovnik last night, the man who… was stepping out onto the deck right now.

“Your Majesty,” said Kapodistrias.

“Not yet, I’m not,” said Paul, fiddling with his moustache.

Paul came of a family of giants — literally, in the case of his father. His brother, the king of Württemberg, was a true Nancy boy who had once defeated Napoleon himself. His sister, speaking of the Corsican, was married to one of the Bonapartes. His first cousin was the Princess of Wales. But Paul himself was very much just a man. A decent sort of man — with a great interest in the company of artists and writers, and almost as great an interest in drink — but not what you’d think of as a king.

In this case, that was a good thing.

“I hope… you have a clear understanding in the role you are intended to play.”

“You mean, am I fool enough to actually try to give people orders?” said Paul. “I hope not. I know a little of ancient Greece, but nothing of the modern country. I wouldn’t even be here if that blasted Austrian[2] didn’t insist on Greece having some sort of monarch… or if the Greeks had a suitable candidate for the job. I hope to have the chance to learn from you, but I won’t get in your way.”

“I think we understand one another,” said Kapodistrias.

[1]To get an idea of the sort of people we’re talking about, check out the Wikipedia page on Theodoros Kolokotronis. My favorite line is “He acquired wealth by stealing sheep and marrying the daughter of a wealthy Peloponnesian notable.”


“Not yet, I’m not,” said Paul, fiddling with his moustache.
Would you believe I pictured this? :D


Also, nice to see your slow changing of terminology ITTL with the example of "Nancy boy" continuing to pop up. ;)
I'm now working on the big world-covering "PoD Ten Years Later" post. Any particular parts of the world that everyone's curious about?


I'm now working on the big world-covering "PoD Ten Years Later" post. Any particular parts of the world that everyone's curious about?
Saartje Baartman? Abraham Lincoln (since he was born before the POD)? ;)

Oh, and Shelley. And Keats. And Poe! And Nemesis Byron! :D
Interlude: December 23, 1824

The Dead Skunk

December 23, 1824

Ten years ago today, Major General John Keane saw something in the Louisiana woods that caused him to make a different decision than he otherwise would have.

Let’s take a look at the general state of the world.

North America

Up north, Prince-Viceroy Edward is the most popular man in Canada. From his small but tasteful court in Halifax, he has governed French and English fairly without trying to micromanage them. He’s having canals built to get past Niagara Falls and the rapids on the St. Lawrence. The most controversial thing he’s done has been merging the HBC and North West Companies, which resulted in a fair number of people out of a job because their trading post was suddenly redundant (it’s an older problem than you think) — but he got away with it because a lot of Canadians were getting tired of those two companies threatening each other with mayhem.

Now he’s planning something big. Robert Owen and a bunch of his followers arrived in Canada this summer. Next spring, weather permitting, they’re headed west to set up an experimental commune. Owen originally wanted to take over the less-than-successful commune at Harmony, Indiana, but with Prince Ed being so much friendlier than the Dead Roses, he thought he’d have more support in Canada. What he’d really like is to take over a good-sized factory town and try out his ideas there, but not even the Prince-Viceroy can make that happen. The biggest town in Upper Canada is York[1], which has only a few thousand people in it. Still, those are a few thousand people who didn’t sign on for any utopian experiment.

So Owen and company are headed for the site of Fort William[2], one of those abandoned trading posts. It’s a bit chilly, but it’s on the way to the Red River colony, it has a decent harbor and crops will grow there. A few people leaving Harmony, Indiana will be joining them there, but only a few. (One of the complaints about Harmony was that it was too far out in the boonies and away from the eastern markets, and Fort William is of course much farther.)

This isn’t just about trying to build the perfect society. Back in London, they want a stronger British presence in western Upper Canada and Rupert’s Land. The Secretary of State for War and the Colonies has noticed that the U.S. is pushing hard to expand westward, and in order to secure its own western regions Canada needs not only to keep up with Cousin Jonathan, but to develop a naval presence that can control the Great Lakes. (This is the sort of thing that looks doable from a comfy office in London.)

The United States has just been hit by a surprise political development — and it wasn’t the election. That went more or less as expected, with Clay and Barbour winning all but four states against William Branch Giles and Outerbridge Horsey III.

DS election 1824.png

No, the big shocker was that John C. Calhoun renounced his position as House Ways and Means chairman and his membership in the Democratic-Republican Party, and joined the Tertium Quid Party. With him he brought four senators and thirteen other representatives, more than doubling the Quids’ representation in Congress. The reason they waited until the election was over was to give the voters a good long time to get used to the idea before they had to face them again.

You might think John Randolph of Roanoke would be the happiest man in America right now. You would be wrong. After all, some of the people now joining Randolph’s caucus just got through defeating challengers he himself approved. He can’t help feeling a little miffed about that. And however out there he may seem at times, Randolph is no fool. He knows that right now, his position as leader of the party he founded is on shaky ground. More importantly (even to him) so are the party’s principles. Are these new Quids really going to vote against all tariffs, or just the ones that hurt their business? Where do they stand on the canals?

President John Quincy Adams, whose second term ends in March of next year, can look back on a number of accomplishments — the second Bank, the U.S. National University, the new officer training schools and the observatory up in Massachusetts, which he’s particularly proud of. Adams is happy to show off all this stuff to the visiting Marquis de Lafayette. When Lafayette visited Richmond, Edgar Allen Poe (back from studying in Paris and still pen pals with Honoré de Balzac) served as lieutenant of the youth honor guard, and got to chat with the old man in French.[3]

There’s no question Adams has left the country stronger and healthier than he found it, with a promise of even better days to come. Next year the Erie and T&T Canals will be completed. And this is only the beginning — the American canal system is starting to be seen as a good investment, in London and Paris as well as in the U.S. (Yes, London bankers are perfectly okay with funding a project whose main purpose is to undercut their empire’s control of the mouth of the Mississippi. Money’s money.)

The building of the canals is opening employment opportunities for all sorts of people. Some freight haulers are getting contracts from the Southern Inland Navigation Company to supply the workers with food and water. A tall 15-year-old named Abraham Lincoln got a job with one of these companies in the summer. He was part of a small crew that took bargeloads of corn meal and salt pork down the finished part of the T&T, and by mule train the rest of the way to where the slave women turned it into meals for the laborers. He took this job as a way of getting out of the house while earning his family some money and seeing a little more of the country.

Young Lincoln saw a lot more than he bargained for. Summer is when the free laborers are replaced entirely by teams of slaves. SINC is actually pretty scrupulous when it comes to wages and manumission[4], but working conditions for company-owned slaves are exactly as bad as you’d expect. Lincoln knows a thing or two about hard work, and he has never seen anyone work at such a grueling pace for so long in such pitiless heat. Sometimes a slave collapses from heatstroke and has to be carried into the shade and splashed with water, and no sooner can he stand up again than the crew boss (invariably a white man) comes along and tells him to get his lazy ass back to work. Lincoln happened to be present on a day when an older man died from heart failure. All this has left a permanent impression on him. He’s thinking I’d heard slavery was bad, but I had no idea it was this bad. What terrible coercion must be making them work like this?

In one sense, he's wrong. What he’s seeing is not normal at all. As anyone who’s ever spent time on a plantation could tell him, the normal working pace of a slave, summer or winter, is just fast enough to avoid a beating and not one bit more — this is where the "lazy Negro" stereotype comes from. But in another sense, Lincoln is right. The reason these men are driving themselves at a literal killing pace is that they're working towards their freedom. So this isn't normal slavery — it's what slaves are willing to endure to escape normal slavery.

And none of the canals are even finished yet. And the National Road is still just short of Armistead[5]. It will be two more years before anyone graduates from USNU. In D.C. itself, everything from the iron-hulled demologos at the Navy Yard to the gas-works at Foggy Bottom[6] to the Capitol itself is half-finished. Even after eight years, Adams’ work and the work of the DRP have barely begun.

And it must be said that not all of Adams’ ideas have worked out as intended. Out west, Fort Clatsop[7] has some unexpected guests this Christmas. Two ships arrived in mid-December, both with a diminished, malnourished, scurvy-ridden crew under the nominal command of John Cleves Symmes, Jr., although about two-thirds of them are swearing they will never obey any order of his ever again. So what’s the story behind all this?

Symmes believes that the planet is hollow, that the gateway to its interior is somewhere in the polar regions, and that if he can just get enough men and draft animals acclimated to the north, he can go through the hole, discover the land within the earth and make contact with its inhabitants.[8] Incredibly, he persuaded Adams to support him, although Adams advised him not to go by way of Canada, lest the British find out what they were up to. So these ships departed in Boston in the spring, sailed to France and Denmark to purchase supplies, then went up the coast of Norway (stopping to buy some reindeer) and into the Arctic Ocean, skirting the edge of the icecap. Where they found what looked like a good solid place, they got out the sleds and reindeer and headed out onto the ice. Symmes didn’t find the gateway to the inner world, but he did make the following important discoveries:
• Even in summer, it is damn cold in the Arctic.
• When the ice is covered with snow, it’s very hard to tell how thin it is.
• Turns out reindeer can’t forage on ice floes.
• For such big animals, polar bears are surprisingly good at sneaking up on people.

Symmes and company did manage to get far enough east that there was no way for them to turn back. They narrowly escaped being trapped in the ice as they headed south through the Bering Strait. But Adams’ private, secret dream of a strategic alliance between the United States and the center of the earth is just not going to happen.

Speaking of ill-conceived expeditions, now that the real Spanish armies have been transferred to the Gran Colombia front, the war in Haiti is now being fought (on the Spanish side) mostly by Filipino soldiers under the command of Spanish officers. They’ve pushed inland from Port-au-Prince to Barahona to establish nominal control over the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac and are now trying to trap the guerrillas on the Tiburon Peninsula. Meanwhile, they’ve lost what little control they ever had of the rest of the interior.

Some of the Filipinos are fighting like men with something to prove. Most of them, however, are fighting like men who don’t like this place at all and really just want to go home. All of them, however, are learning more than they ever wanted to know about what guerrilla warfare is, how it’s done and what a nightmare it is to try and fight. Especially in the jungle. (To give you just a taste of what this war is like, on a chilly and rainy night in the highlands when a squad of Filipino soldiers were sleeping huddled together in groups of two or three, some Haitian with a painlessly sharp knife and a very dark sense of humor snuck past the sentries and quietly slit the carotid arteries of one man in each pair or trio, ensuring that the rest of the squad would wake up to an unforgettable surprise.)

The armies of New Spain are somewhat better off as they head to Lima and Caracas one shipload at a time. Francisco could send a lot more of them if he could send them by land, but even if the Tehuantepecans were willing to allow them passage (which they are not) the roads in Central America aren’t really suitable for that kind of traffic.

In Trafalgar, Lord Byron is taking a well-earned break, and doing the final edit on some odes to the sea he wrote along the way, while he considers where to go from here. When you’ve helped create a popular epic poem and burned half a navy to the waterline in the space of a few years, it’s hard to know how to top that. Also, when he looks at the results — a Britain where reform might possibly happen some day, a liberated Greece that is now a constitutional monarchy with a foreign king — somehow it’s not as satisfying as he imagined. The fight for freedom still calls to the Sword of Nemesis, but in a new way. When you free people individually rather than wholesale, you free fewer people, but you know they’re being freed. And Florida is a great place to get in on that action.

Also in Florida, the Creeks and Seminoles are arguing amongst themselves. They own a huge amount of land in the interior of the colony, some of which is being used by tenant farmers. You might be wondering why anyone would become a tenant farmer when there was still unclaimed land to be owned outright. The answer is that starting a new farm is not as easy as it sounds. You have to eat something while you’re clearing trees, planting fields and waiting for the first harvest. The Creeks and Seminoles are willing to share a certain amount of food for the first year — and if you’re planting an orchard, they’ll be delighted to shoot any deer that try to browse on your new trees. (Also, a lot of the best land near the markets of Trafalgar and Sepharad is already taken, bought up by speculators back in London who are not nearly as pleasant to farm for.) But as more people are trying to set up farms, orchards and apiaries in Florida, the Creeks and Seminoles are starting to debate just how many they want. Their traditional lifestyle is a balance of hunting and farming, and it takes a lot more woods than farms to make that work. If more settlers come, if the forests and the deer diminish, something will have been lost to them forever. Compared to what they’ve been through, however, this is very much a First World Problem.

The Cherokees in Georgia have a more complicated problem. They own bits of eastern Alabama and a lot of southeastern Alabama — what would be the Florida panhandle IOTL — which they’re mainly using for their own plantations. The garrison towns of Amequohee and Oonolequa[9] are turning into fishing villages with Cherokee-language newspapers in them, one of them run by Sequoyah himself. But the place they still think of as home is northwest Georgia. Unfortunately, because the U.S. doesn’t yet have uniform standards of citizenship, those of them who have served in the army are citizens of Alabama, but not Georgia. The majority of them still live in Georgia, but the white population of Georgia, backed by the state government, is doing its damnedest to change that.

Now for the bad news. Although someday this U.S. will see its treatment of the Cherokees as a wonderful example of tolerance that should have been tried elsewhere, in 1824 it’s seen mostly as an example of what not to do. Nobody white wants the tribes still living in Ohio and Indiana to turn into landlords. The Army and the state militias (much bigger and better armed than before the War of 1812) are putting pressure on all the Native Americans between the Appalachians and the Mississippi to make them go west, and it’s working. This year, Tenskwatawa and Menominee led a mass migration of a thousand Shawnee, Potawatomi and Kickapoo to western Louisiana, where they were welcomed by the Chacta and Chicacha, who need all the help they can get to defeat yet other Native Americans. (Not so much the Comanches, who don’t often attack this far east, as the Atakapa, who live around here and are said to be into cannibalism.)
[1] Old name of Toronto
[2] Where Thunder Bay is IOTL.
[3] This happened IOTL, except that Poe studied in London, not Paris.
[4] Not so much because Rufus King is keeping an eye on them — the Department of Domestic Affairs’ oversight capacity is still pretty limited — as because it would take a special kind of stupid to openly break faith with a large group of slaves who have practically been selected for rebelliousness.
[5] OTL Indianapolis
[6] IOTL the Washington Gas Company was only established in 1848. It took an embarrassingly long time for gas light to reach the nation’s capital.
[7] On the southern bank of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific. Originally built by Lewis and Clark nineteen years ago to get through the winter, now a center of the Pacific fur trade.
[8] IOTL, Symmes never led an actual expedition.
[9] OTL Fort Walton Beach and Panama City, Florida

South America

The good news is, one of the three major wars happening on this continent has been brought to an end. As of last year, the Portuguese Cortes has bowed to the inevitable and signed a treaty recognizing the independence of the Empire of Brazil, which can now trade with anybody it wants to. Sugar futures aren’t what they used to be, with demand dropping in the U.K. (blame Charlotte Augusta again) and France encouraging the Crou to start growing sugarcane, but there’s always coffee and cotton. (Both of which are hell on the soil, but that won’t be a problem for a while yet.)

The war in Argentina, on the other hand, is still raging. It has turned, for the moment, in favor of the federalists — the porteños are no longer fighting for control of the whole country, but for the independence of Buenos Aires and as much of the east as they can control. They are also seeking help from the British Empire (hey, it worked for Louisiana) and considering an alliance with Paraguay. Nobody else on the planet is considering an alliance with Francia’s Paraguay, because crazy.

And then, of course, there’s Gran Colombia. This has been a very bad year for the republic, whose armies have gone two steps back, one step forward, two steps back again. Right now the armies of Spain and the viceroyalties are outside Mérida in the northeast and Popayán in the southwest.

And where they have conquered, they are brutal. On the Ecuador front, Carlos has made it clear he intends to annex as much of southern Colombia as he can take, and is ruthlessly suppressing dissent. On the Venezuelan front, the Spaniards know they aren’t going to be permanent residents, and are simply stealing everything that isn’t nailed down and prying out the nails on many things that are, and if any civilian tries to stop them… well, you can guess. Bolívar now has all of Gran Colombia rallying behind him against the invasion. He’s praying it will be enough.


First to Spain, where the one thing the Tradition and Constitution parties are agreed on is the war — it is vital for the national interests of Spain, it will end in glorious victory and it is totally not a senseless waste of blood and treasure. Speaking of treasure, Carlos is not only paying for his end of the war with silver from the pumped-out and reopened mines, but is using more of that silver to buy Madrid war bonds… and his supporters in the Cortes are bringing the fact to the attention of everyone. Nobody wants Spain to end up like Portugal, where the government has collapsed in recriminations over the loss of Brazil.

In the U.K., with the economy continuing to improve, radicals are finding less of an audience. This is something of a disappointment for John Keats, back in Wentworth Place, as he prepares to finally make an honest woman of Fanny Brawne. A source of comfort to him is the new literary journal, The Liberal, published by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Leigh Hunt, which mixes radical editorials with poetry and short stories and always makes room for one of his odes, but which has stopped just short of advocating the overthrow of the government.

Wellington (a man who believes conservatism means leaving well enough alone) has decided that rooting out Jacobinism is less of a priority, and Peel is building his police force with an eye towards fighting street crime. (Mostly. An exception is mentioned below.) Peel has also persuaded Parliament to abolish the death penalty for many offenses, and to give judges the option of commuting death sentences to transportation or imprisonment for anything other than treason or murder. (This will greatly boost the population of Australia.) There are still a number of Conservatives who think Earl Grey and Henry Brougham are secretly working for the French and had Liverpool and Castlereagh killed, and there are Radicals who think the evil Tories murdered Queen Caroline and are plotting to assassinate or disinherit the Princess, but, British libel law being the fearsome thing it is, they tend to be very quiet or anonymous about it.

Before we return to the Continent proper, let’s take a detour to Ireland, where a man named Daniel O’Connell is ushering in the age of the modern mass pressure group. Last year he founded the Catholic Association, an organization dedicated to Catholic emancipation. Full membership is a guinea a year, but those who can’t afford that get associate membership for a penny a month. This greatly expands the group’s membership and funding, and gives the poorest people of Ireland a voice within it. It also scares the hell out of the echthro wing of the Tories — and out of Peel, who is normally pretty levelheaded. He’s having the Association infiltrated, just to make sure it isn’t secretly working for France.

Speaking of France — on this 35th anniversary of the Revolution, France also benefiting from the improving economy. Even the painters are getting more commissions, as more people make money and want something in their house to look at besides the wall (TV won’t be invented for a long time). This is good news for Sarah Bertin (formerly Saartje Baartman, a.k.a. “The Venus Hottentot”) because she’s married to a painter and just gave birth to her fourth daughter. Her French has gotten very good, and when her autobiography comes out in a few years it will move all France with its eloquence and become one of the founding texts of humanism, feminism and racial equality. (It’s actually being ghostwritten by a 22-year-old poet named Victor Hugo, but don’t tell anybody.)

The economy is making things a little easier for the Liberal Party as they continue their balancing act of throwing just enough bones to the Jacobins to keep them on board without enraging enough of the country to give the Conservatives a majority. Their biggest concession to the Conservatives has been in the area of foreign policy, where Dupont de l’Eure and his foreign minister the Comte de Laforêt (replacing the retiring Caulaincourt) are trying to introduce Europe to a couple of French words: détente and rapprochement. De l’Eure is trying to persuade Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and the rest that France is now officially out of the existential-threat business, and while they don’t expect to be friends with everybody, they don’t need to be mortal enemies either. The other powers aren’t too sure how to take this — it’s nice to hear that France doesn’t want another war right now, because neither do they. But some people (like Metternich and Ferdinand VII) will never be able to see any non-Bourbon French government as anything but an open wound in the flesh of Europe. And so long as one Talleyrand draws breath, nothing any Frenchman says or does will be taken at face value in London, Amsterdam or Vienna. So everyone remains polite, but cautious. The biggest impact this is having right now is that it’s forcing Britain to adjust some of its own policies toward smaller nations — they can’t afford to let themselves be out-niced by France.

In Rome… god damn, that was a short papacy. Pope Pius VIII has died, and the College of Cardinals has chosen Giulio Maria della Somaglia to replace him. Gregorio takes the papal name of Pius IX. As for the rest of western Europe, it’s relatively quiet. Prussia isn’t terribly happy with France at the moment for building canals to circumvent their stretch of the Rhine, but isn’t treating it as something to go to war over. In Sweden, the king keeps trying to persuade the Riksdag and the Storting to grant him additional powers — little things like an absolute veto and the right to rule by decree — and the legislatures keep telling him to shove it.

The big news is in the Balkans. The Treaty of Thessalonica, which the various powers more or less forced the Ottomans to sign, recognizes the independence of Serbia, Moldavia, Wallachia, Albania and Greece. Serbia is now a Russian ally, while Albania and Greece are keeping their options open as far as alliances go. (There’s still some fighting going on in the Peloponnesus, but it’s between Greeks now. Not everyone in Greece is reconciled to the new government.)

Moldavia and Wallachia are the interesting ones. They are officially in personal union under Charles, younger brother of the late Louis XVIII — another unemployed royal dragged in to govern people he knows nothing about. And unlike Paul of Württemberg, he really is expected to govern — the parliaments of Moldavia and Wallachia are strictly advisory in their capacity. Just to make things more complicated, Wallachia is part of the Sudzollverein, while Moldavia is a Russian protectorate. By the terms of the treaty, neither country will be expected to take part in any military actions, except against the Ottomans. Nonetheless, many people in the world will mistakenly believe that in the event of conflict between Russia and Austria, Moldavia and Wallachia would be drawn into the fight and King Carol (as he is now known) would therefore be obligated to declare war on himself. (This will be the inspiration for Rossini’s 1826 comic masterpiece Il Re Di Moscavia e Slovaria, proof that Italian opera did not entirely have its sense of humor shot off in the war.)

Russia and (what’s left of) the Ottoman Empire

First, the good news — schools at all levels, from primary schools to universities, are expanding in Russia. Education is a big part of Tsar Alexander I’s big plans, and he’s put Alexander Golitsyn in charge of implementing them. Golitsyn, as head of the Ministry of Spiritual Affairs and Popular Enlightenment, is in charge not only of Education, but of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and — according to the tsar — of all Christian churches within Russia. The Pope disagrees. Which makes things very awkward for Catholics in Russia.

But even people within Russian Orthodoxy are unsure about some of these changes. Recently Archimandrite Fotii, a monk from a monastery near Novgorod, wrote an angry pamphlet about the Imperial Bible Society’s new Russian-language Bible[10], claiming it was written by Freemasons and degrading Scripture by selling it alongside common merchandise. His immediate superior, Metropolitan Serafim of Novgorod, also disagreed with the translation, saying that allowing ordinary Russians to read the Bible would inspire them to question religious authority. Serafim and Fotii are now experiencing their first winter in Siberia[11], and people who thought Alexander’s attempts to bring about a great spiritual revival were just another big idea doomed not to go anywhere are now thinking “oh crap, he means it this time.” In the southern parts of Russia, the serfs are… not really seeing the difference.

Even further south, the future is looking bright for Muhammad Ali and family. The Ottoman Empire south of the Anatolian plateau is under his effective control. His son Ibrahim is now governor of Iraq, and has forcibly persuaded the Wahhabis to stay off his turf. He has never been stronger, and the Ottoman state he allegedly serves has never, ever been weaker. All he needs now is an excuse. Maybe not even that.

In Constantinople, the future is not looking bright. If it seems like the handover of Moldavia and Wallachia went awfully smoothly, that’s not because the Turks didn’t try to keep them. They did try. And failed. Hard. Austria and Russia both had armies that were rebuilt and retrained over the last few years, with an officer corps that learned its business fighting Napoleon himself. The Janissaries were barely more than a speed bump, and the Sipahis had been exhausted from years of fighting Greeks and Albanians.

In Anatolia, Mahmud II is training the core of a modern army, in the hopes that when it’s big enough he can use it and the loyal Sipahis to beat down the Janissaries. Now he’s thinking he’ll have to move his plans forward a little faster. Because as things stand, the Ottoman Empire will not survive the next war. Something must be done, and soon… if it isn’t already too late.
[10] Before this, the Bible in Russia had been written in Old Church Slavonic.
[11] IOTL, Alexander changed his mind and sided with Fotii. ITTL, he doesn’t because it’s too much a part of his legacy project.


Prepare to do some serious facepalming. In Morocco, Algiers and Tunis, the big question on the minds of many people including the Sultan and the Deys is — is it safe to start pirating again?

Yes, they’re serious. Even though Lord Exmouth showed up with a navy a few years ago and told them to knock it off. Even though they then suffered a thorough beatdown at the hands of the U.S., France and Italy, which are not the world’s greatest naval powers. Even though all their possible targets have only gotten stronger since then — except for Portugal, which has withdrawn much of its fleet into home waters after losing Brazil, making its coast a lot harder to attack. Because without piracy, they’re just a poor, backwards part of the world destined to fall under the economic domination of Spain or Britain or whoever thinks they’re worth dominating. At least with piracy, they can scare people, and maybe get some ransom money, at least until the next time the functioning nations get tired of them. It’s a weird mixture of economics and warped psychology… like most of human history, come to think of it.

Down in West Africa, the Crou are making what appear to better plans for the future — at first glance, anyway. They’re using more land to grow sugarcane and other cash crops for the Compagnie de Commerce Africain. Fort St.-Napoléon at Cape Mesurado has become sort of an unofficial meeting place for local leaders, where they can talk freely among themselves with less risk of a war breaking out., settling border disputes, arranging marriages and so on. As they talk, they realize that with all of them trying to sell and just the CCA buying, they maybe aren’t getting the best prices they could. On the other hand, no one has ever dealt as justly with them as the French have. Perhaps they could negotiate more effectively as a group.

East along the coast, Joseph Dupuis[12] and Osei Bonsu have worked out a completely different deal. The U.K., Denmark and the Netherlands will all be allowed to maintain trading posts in Asanteman. The Ashanti gain because now they can encourage Europeans to bid against each other. Denmark and the Netherlands gain, because their right to trade directly with West Africa has now been confirmed by treaty. Britain doesn’t really lose, since they have more to offer as trading partners than either of the other two nations. (Dupuis agreed to this deal on orders from Lord Clancarty, as a part of Britain’s new softer touch with the Dutch and Danes. Especially the Dutch. Lord Clancarty really wants the Netherlands to stay in the game and remember which country stole their entire southern half.)

In more purely African news, for the past couple of years, the kingdoms of Dahomey and Oyo have been fighting a war, and Dahomey is winning. Dahomey is fighting to escape its status as a tributary state of Oyo, which has a nasty habit of forcing them to hand over people to be sold into slavery. Dahomey kicked off the war by… kidnapping people from villages in Oyo and selling them into slavery. Sorry, there really isn’t anybody to root for here. (Dahomey has those kickass female warriors, if that’s any help.) In South Africa, the British are steadily expanding (actually the British are just sitting there and the Boers are steadily expanding to get away from them), the Zulus are also steadily expanding, and the Xhosa are sitting between them thinking “oh crap.”
[12] His name is definitely Dupuis. I’ve referred to him elsewhere as “Dupleix.” Oops.


We begin in China, where the Jiaqing Emperor died in the spring of 1821. His son, the Daoguang Emperor, is getting very tired of all this opium-dealing going on. Barbarians are supposed to give silver to China in exchange for tea and porcelain and other wonderful Chinese things, not take Chinese silver in exchange for cheap foreign crap. It’s actually starting to cause deflation, as specie flows out of the country faster than it’s coming in from legal trade. The fact that opium is causing addiction and ruining lives just makes things worse. And so, the edicts are coming out of the Forbidden City: “Just say no to opium.” (What the Daoguang Emperor doesn’t realize is that in a couple of years, he’s going to have a much bigger problem.)

Speaking of bigger problems, the war between Burma and Siam isn’t really going well for anybody, but it’s going even worse for Burma than for Siam. The Burmese have been driven back from Bangkok, and King Rama’s forces are striking across the border for the first time. Rama is vowing terrible vengeance on King Bagyidaw who attacked him unprovoked, and even terribler vengeance on Anouvong and the Lao people who betrayed him in his hour of greatest need.

If anybody’s going to win this war, it looks like it’s going to be the British Empire. The Burmese have withdrawn from Assam, but the East India Company has moved in to replace them as overlords. This isn’t all bad — the EIC’s new princely state will get at least a small share of the money that comes in from selling Assam tea.[13] With Burma surrounded, Siam allies with Britain and the Dutch settlement at Temmasek expanding steadily, you might think Emperor Minh Mang of Vietnam would be looking for allies of his own — say, those French who keep hanging around like persistent suitors. But Minh Mang is way too stubborn.

The Company now effectively controls most of India — most, but not all. Not only is the Sikh Empire still independent and in control of the Punjab and Kashmir, the EIC isn’t even its biggest problem. Instead, founder Ranjit Singh has the usual problem of rulers in northwestern India — he really wants the Khyber Pass secured against invasion, but the Pashtuns who live in the Khyber Pass area really don’t want anybody to come along and secure them, and Kabul is happy to help. For the past few years, his general has been handily defeating insurgents and Afghan west of Peshawar, to the point where the last battle wasn’t even a battle — the enemy just took one look at his army and skedaddled.[14] Anybody who scares Pashtuns is somebody London has to take seriously.
[13] “Buy this tea! It’s really Assam!” Sorry, couldn’t resist.
[14] This is all pretty close to OTL.
Australia and Oceania

Australia’s big problem is that nobody can agree on what sort of place it’s supposed to be. The government back in London wants it to be a horrible hellhole whose very name will strike fear into the hearts of would-be criminals and terrify them into lawfulness. The government in New South Wales wants it to be an expanding colony that will attract more free settlers and reform transportees. Luckily, London doesn’t have that much influence — and if there’s one lesson PM Wellington has learned the hard way, it’s that you can’t micromanage a situation from across an ocean. The upshot is that Sydney is a pretty good place to be free, and the penal colonies are nightmarish places to not be free.

The Dutch, now that they have a good strong outpost at Temmasek, are trying to extend their control to all the Indonesian islands (except for the bits like Bencoolen and East Timor that some other Western power has). But this is a big archipelago and the Dutch are stretched thin. In order to secure their power on Java, they’ve had to agree to stay out of the war in Sumatra. For now, anyway.

King Kamehameha II and his first wife/half-sister Kamamalu are on their way back to Hawaii from their trip to Temmasek, Paris, Amsterdam and London, where Kamamalu briefly turned heads as one of the few women currently in England who were taller than Lady Hamilton. The king is favorably disposed toward Europeans and their kickass boats, but he’s trying to keep his options open as far as alliances go — not least because Protestant and Catholic missionaries in his country are doing their best to undercut each other.[15]
[15] The king doesn’t know how lucky he is — IOTL he and his wife died of measles while visiting Britain. And considering how many Europeans he’s contacting and how little immunity his people have, they’re not out of danger.
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Well, what an interesting world Major General Keane has butterflied into existence... So much to comment about!

Abraham Lincoln! Woohoo! And on the path to become a staunch abolitionist. What's not to like (apart from the plight of the slaves. That's not good.)?

I didn't know much about Robert Owen, so I googled him. The man had... an interesting career. Here's to the colony of Fort William!

I'm so glad that Quincy Adams got to send an expedition to the center of the earth (Damn. Jules Verne can't write about it. Born way too late). Even if the sailors probably won't thank him for it. How far north did they actually get?

The situation in Southern America and the Carribeans is... well... it's very them.

I do love that Charles X has actually ended in Moldavia and Wallachia. The man must be out of his mind with dejection. If only the French could see him! They would rally to him right quick! The one good thing for him is that the duc du Berry has probably not been assassinated. Then again, he has no way of knowing it would have happened. He must be thinking very hard of Henri III and wishing the same thing could happen to him.

As a sidenote, when you are referring to Bernadotte's attempts to get absolute power in Sweden, do you mean his interactions with the Riksdag? I was under the impression the Storting was Norwegian (which he also controls, to be sure).

Victor Hugo writing for his 'Vénus hottentote'? You have no way of knowing how pleased that made me (so long as the horndog doesn't try and sleep with her. You seem to have given her a pleasant conjugal life). Poe and Balzac as pen-pals? Even better!

And I don't get what you mean when you say there are no good sides in the Oyo-Dahomey war. For goodness sake, Dahomey doesn't only have the 'Amazons', its king actually paves his palace with skulls! That right there is prime support material. :p Also, the Crou are bringing collective bargaining forth. Here's hoping the French don't take it the (very) wrong way. As for Northern Africa... Pirates gonna pirate.

When you're saying the Daoguang Emperor has problems coming for him, is that an early Taiping rebellion? something else entirely?

Will you also include the newborns of this year who'll be important later on?

On the whole, this is a brilliant timeline you have got there, sir. Carry on, by all means!
Toledo Strip Crisis?

The short version is that Ohio and the the territory of Michigan both claim a strip of land that includes the city of Toledo, an important port on the Great Lakes at the time. This did not come up until the Michigan wanted statehood in 1835, and Ohio blocked it, until a comprise where the Michigan gave up the strip for an increased portion of the Upper Peninsula.
This might not come up for a while, but is the increasing importance of the Great Lakes and the shipping there it possible that the dispute over who owns the Toledo strip might be more important. Michigan could get statehood sooner if the government pushed for more people to move there, so there would be a large population to defend it from a hypothetical British attack. It could be an interesting flash point for the more militant US government to deal with. It could also be affected by the new political landscape with new parties use it to some end.