Hope for This Kingdom (1)
August 17, 1829
Just before 6 a.m.
Claremont House

“I see you’re awake, Your Highness,” said Baron von Stockmar. “How do you feel?”

“I’ve felt better,” said Charlotte softly. She didn’t have the strength for anything louder. “How is Sophie?”

“Doing very well, and having her first suckle in the next room,” said the doctor. “Later you may feed her yourself, after you’ve rested and taken some nourishment of your own.”

“I should like that.” Of course, the wet nurse would end up giving Sophie most of her milk — the social demands on a Princess of Wales were not compatible with a baby’s feeding schedule — but every mother should nurse her own baby at least once.

Even so, five children was enough for a woman with duties beyond them. She had suffered two miscarriages under Sir Richard’s care and another last year, but all her children who had drawn breath were still doing so. God had shown her more kindness than she could have expected. She had no idea how her grandmother had managed to bear fifteen children, and wasn’t feeling ambitious enough to find out. Especially after that last one.

“A Caesarian section is always a terrible risk,” said the doctor. “You pulled through as well as any woman I’ve ever seen. And there’s no blood poisoning. You’ll need a period of rest, of course, but you should make a full recovery.”

“Rest I can certainly manage.”

Charlotte turned her head a little to the right. Her aunts Augusta and Sophia were there, along with the Prince Consort and young Leopold. At thirty-nine, her husband’s hair was still dark, but was showing signs of a distinct widow’s peak. Her oldest son was very much like the Leo — tall, with a long, handsome face that could smile but wasn’t built for it. She smiled at them, to let them know she was doing well. Outside, it sounded like all the church bells in the city were ringing at once. The sound was strangely mournful.

She turned her head to the left. There was Margaret Brougham, family in all but birth, along with her oldest daughter Amelia and Margaret’s daughter Elphinstone, both nine. Elphie was smaller and paler than Amelia, with darker eyes.

“Please tell me you two haven’t been up all night on my account,” she said.

“I tried to sleep,” said Amelia. And since she was awake, of course Elphie was awake. They were inseparable. Charlotte sometimes thought if Amelia pricked her finger, they’d both start bleeding. “When can we see the baby?”


“Christian and Caroline are asleep,” said Margaret.

“I’m glad someone is,” said Charlotte.

There came a knock at the door. “Your pardon,” came the voice of Lady Anne Hamilton, “but Henry wishes to speak to you on a matter of… utmost importance, he says.”

Elphie perked up at the mention of her father.

“Surely it can wait until you have your strength back,” said the Leo.

“I don’t propose to jump out of bed this minute, any road,” said Charlotte, “but I should at least know what it is. Let him in, Anne.”

Henry Brougham stepped into the room. At fifty-one, he was as slender as ever, but his hair was iron-grey and his face was finally beginning to lose its boyishness, with wrinkles forming under the eyes and around the mouth.

“You’d better have a good reason for being here, darling,” said Margaret.

“My dear, only one thing could have impelled me to intrude upon Her Majesty at such a time,” he said.

Elphie, already clever beyond her years, let out a gasp. This caused Charlotte to notice what Henry — who had never spoken a careless word in her presence — had just said. And all those bells ringing just now… no, not ringing. Tolling.

Seeing the look of sudden understanding in her face, Henry nodded. “There is no easy way to say this,” he said. “Your father the king has joined the majority. He passed away in his sleep last night.”

For a long moment, the silence was so profound that Charlotte could hear the little noises Sophie was making in the next room. So it had finally happened. That was it. There would be no reconciliation with her father this side of Heaven. And now…

Then, Henry bowed to her. Not like a mentor. Not like a friend. Not like a powerful ally that she trusted only so far.

Like a subject.

“Long live Your Majesty,” he said.


Marvelous. The long-awaited -- the Princess That Was Promised.

I would've liked a little glimpse into the king's mindset before he went, but what's passed is passed. I only hope his grandchildren were on fond terms with him, if any at all.

You know what? This coming year, I'm going to see that this TL gets a Turtledove. It more than deserves one, and has been passed over far too many times since its inception. It's one of the best TLs on this site, and that it doesn't have a single award under its belt is a crime.
Thank you!

By the way, I'm working on one of those big five-year posts like this one and this one. People I'm going to feature include Nat Turner, J.F.F. “Jeff” Green, John Adams II and his brother George Washington Adams, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry Hungerford, Thomas Carlyle, Sam Houston and Honoré de Balzac. Is there anyone else that anyone wants updates on?


Thank you!

By the way, I'm working on one of those big five-year posts like this one and this one. People I'm going to feature include Nat Turner, J.F.F. “Jeff” Green, John Adams II and his brother George Washington Adams, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry Hungerford, Thomas Carlyle, Sam Houston and Honoré de Balzac. Is there anyone else that anyone wants updates on?
Could you please write a meeting between the Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, and Walt Whitman of TTL? :)
Ranjit Singh, and Shaka Zulu if he hasn't been stabbed. Oh, and has Lakshmibai of Jhansi been born on schedule?

Finally- any chance of an overview of what's happening with Irish nationalism?
Hope for This Kingdom (2)
December 9, 1829
Claremont House

The day was wet and bitterly cold. As it so often did on days such as this, the Duke of Wellington’s mind went unwillingly back to that long, long winter in Bois de la Vente fourteen years past. Unlike then, his body was well nourished and armored against the elements with proper clothes and boots.

But it wasn’t the cold or the hunger that had worn away at his spirit there. It was the inaction. Which was why the prospect of returning to the backbenches, even as Leader of the Opposition, dismayed him. He was sixty. Not young, not middle-aged, but not ready for even a partial retirement.

And there were two great banes to his existence. One was the Whig party and its Radical wing, who despised him and his fellow Tories as bigots, imbeciles and petty tyrants. The other, unfortunately, was the horde of bigots, imbeciles and petty tyrants that did in fact infest the Conservative party. Those, at least, he had finally managed to overcome long enough to accomplish something worthwhile.[1]

He’d hoped it would be enough. The new queen hadn’t even had any complaints about his Government — she’d only said that seven years was long enough for any Government, and nine years was rather too long to go without consulting the electorate. That her political leanings were very different from his went unspoken. He had dared to hope the people would use those elections to inform her that they liked the kingdom just as it was, thank you very much.

That hadn’t happened. The Whigs had a majority — not an overwhelming majority, but a majority. The Earl Grey was the prime minister, and was making a great show of remodeling 10 Downing Street[2]. Henry Brougham was home secretary.

But now he had been summoned to an audience with the queen. Well, what servant of the Crown could say no to that?


The formalities were over. Wellington was seated in front of his queen, really looking at her for the first time since she’d taken the throne. Thirty-three years old, and not a hint of grey in her teak-brown hair. This was going to be a long reign. The rest of his life and far beyond, most likely.

Queen Charlotte was dressed in simple black velvet belted with gold. Wellington had heard that she intended to continue wearing black until the end of the year, as a sign of mourning for her father — possibly the only sign the late King George IV would ever have from anyone. At the very least, this proved she had some respect for the forms.

Seated at her right hand was the new Prime Minister, the lamps shining off his bald done. Seated at her left was her eldest son, who had turned twelve last month. Prince Leopold seemed a likely lad, for what that was worth. And at least a certain overclever home secretary wasn’t in the room.

“Great as your service has been,” Charlotte said, “I am pleased to inform you that it is not yet at an end. I have a position in mind for you.”

Wellington hadn’t expected this. “Name it, Your Majesty.”

“Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.”


The queen smiled. “This is no pension, Your Grace,” she said. “I would never assign a man such as yourself to such an office if I didn’t expect you to do great things with it. I believe it is time for Ireland to become a proper part of this kingdom, not merely a source of wealth for its landowners. If the Yankees can develop a backcountry half the size of Europe, surely we can do likewise with one not-so-large isle. With the support of the Crown and Crawford as your Chief Secretary, I imagine you will be able to overcome any obstacle.”

“I am honored by your trust, Your Majesty.” William Sharman Crawford? What, did Daniel O’Connell refuse the position?

“Who knows Ireland better than you?” said Gray. “And who else has earned the trust of both her great men and her common people? You gave them their voice. They won’t soon forget.”

Wellington nodded. He still wasn’t looking forward to working with Crawford.

“And you will have an apprentice,” said the queen. “Someone to teach the skills of leadership to.” She gestured to her left. “Leopold Prince of Wales.”

The boy stood and nodded. “I would be honored to learn from you, Your Grace,” he said.

Wellington bowed. “You do me a greater honor than I had imagined, Your Majesty.” He meant it. To be trusted with any part of the education of the heir to the throne… that made up for a great many things. She’s still a Radical. For every idea that might be worth something, she has a dozen silly ones. But she wasn’t entirely Brougham’s creature nine years ago, nor is she today. And — without false modesty — she knows merit when she sees it, in a man of whatever party.

There may yet be hope for this kingdom.

[1] As IOTL, Wellington’s government passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act earlier this year.
[2] Again as IOTL, Wellington only moved into 10 Downing Street for as long as necessary to repair Apsley House. Then he went back home.


This all seems nice but considering her husband and considering how their is a history in European Monarchies with the son of liberal monarchs becoming utter reactionaries AND considering the Young Princes' father...

Well, as far as a tutor in power goes, could do far worse than the Iron Duke. A good update here and interesting to see the effects that a Liberal Monarch could have. Although interfering in politics a bit too much could have unintended consequences.
Interlude: December 23, 1829 (1)
I was supposed to get the big interlude post done by Christmas… then by the end of the year.


In the interests of being able to give you all something within a reasonable amount of time, I decided to split the post in two and concentrate on getting the first half done ASAP.

DS 1830 world.png

The Dead Skunk
December 23, 1829

Part 1: The Western Hemisphere

Fifteen 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.


Robert Owen’s commune, known as Port Harmony, is functioning (more or less) but not exactly as he intended. It was supposed to be a center for his vision of what industry should be, but there isn’t much industry there at all — it’s too far from the markets and doesn’t have a lot of raw materials to work with. Also, the people who joined him in this venture are the sort of people who believe in community-based socialism with all their hearts but are not actually any good at it. Every day brings new arguments over whose job it is to do what and how the credit system is supposed to work. And when they first tried to warn Owen about the climate in this part of Upper Canada, he just laughed and said he'd been to Scotland. He stopped laughing when the first winter hit.

Why hasn’t the commune collapsed yet? For one thing, the very fact that it’s so far out in the boonies makes it much harder to desert. For another thing, it functions as a link between the farmers in the Red River colony and the rest of Canada, which brings in some money from trade. Those farmers find the Harmonians to be very strange, but easier to deal with than the fur-trading companies. (Say what you will about socialists, they don’t generally get into turf wars over animal pelts.)

Finally, Owen maintains good relations with the Ojibwe. In fact, a lot of the settlers are Ojibwe fanboys, and have been ever since they learned that the Ojibwe aren’t really into the whole concept of land ownership. They’re going out of their way to learn the language and soak up all that simple tribal wisdom of these noble savages in harmony with nature and uncorrupted by the hierarchies and greed of white man’s civilization. (Don’t tell them the Ojibwe have been transacting business with the Hudson’s Bay Company for centuries.) Condescending though this attitude is, it’s doing a lot to keep Port Harmony alive. The Ojibwe do in fact know a thing or three about survival in this climate, and the harshness of their environment has imposed upon their culture something pretty close to the communitarian ethos that the Harmonians are trying to cultivate in themselves.

(“Trying” being the key word. Owen has to admit that not only is Port Harmony not as successful as he hoped it would be, but to the extent that it is getting by, it’s doing so by compromising its vision — putting responsibility for plots of land into the care of individual farmers for their own profit, for instance. He came out here to teach the world a lesson, but he’s ended up learning some lessons himself.)

And how do the Ojibwe feel about their new neighbors? Nervous. Their whole nation moved this far west precisely to get away from these pink-cheeked harbingers of doom. That said, they can’t help noticing that this batch of white people are a lot friendlier and more respectful than usual. If anything happens to them, the next lot probably won’t be so nice.

The rest of Canada — or the rest of the people who count in Canada, which is actually a very small political and economic elite — regard Port Harmony as the eccentric pet project of their esteemed Prince-Viceroy Edward. They’re more concerned about the fact that the major transportation artery of western Canada — the Great Lakes — also happens to be the only major expanse of water on Earth (apart from the Caspian and Aral seas) where the Royal Navy doesn’t have the upper hand. This calls for more canals.

The United States

Speaking of canals, in the United States, the big infrastructure projects the nation first embarked on more than a decade ago are finally starting to show some results. The National Road is at last complete, stretching from Cumberland, Maryland to the village currently known as Illinoistown[1]. The Erie and T&T have been running smoothly for some time, and now the Grand Southern has joined them. The Alabama and Chattahoochee is due to open in a couple of weeks. Buffalo, Mobile and Savannah are growing like crazy, and other towns like Demopolis, Republicville, Girard and Alpheus are not far behind.

For the slave states, the black work gangs are something of a social safety valve. One of the slaves working on the A&C, a Virginian named Nat Turner, was starting to scare the white people with his preaching about visions and bringing down the “Great Serpent,” so he got sold to SINC. Even with the frenetic pace of work on the canals, Turner still finds breath and energy to preach. The management at SINC are used to willful blacks, but even they’re thinking the sooner this guy earns his freedom and goes west, the better. There are a number of freedmen’s communities, especially in the unpromising lands west of Arkansaw Territory and south of Kaw-Osage Territory, where he’ll fit right in.

Further north, despite numerous problems the Ohio and Erie has made it as far as Newark. Even that aggravating beast, the Chesapeake and Ohio, is getting close to completion.

You might be wondering, how is New England responding to all this? After all, they were starting to feel eclipsed by the rest of the country as far back as the War of 1812. Now here’s all this development which is helping every other part of the country grow. So how do they feel?

They used to be bitter. They didn’t talk much about it, because that was when they were still rebuilding from Bloody May and trying to get everybody to forget about the Hartford Convention, but they were. But they’re over it now, because Yankee ingenuity and a lot of hard work are producing an entirely new system of transportation — railroads. These have certain advantages over canals. For one thing, the infrastructure is much easier to build — there’s a lot less digging involved, and you don’t have to be up all night poring over maps and hoping they’re accurate, charting a course that will make sure the highest point on the canal has water flowing into it and the lowest part is properly drained. You can build them through the mountains if you feel like it. (You can also build canals in the mountains, but as the poor saps trying to finish the C&O could tell you, it is a major pain in the butt.)

The states are planning ahead. They want to avoid the sort of problems that the South is already having with boats that can go on the Grand Southern but not on the T&T, or on the T&T but not on the A&C. So they’ve gotten a bill through Congress requiring that all railroads be built to a standard gauge of 1.5 m. Nice even number.

The railroads are growing. Already they’ve connected Boston with Hartford, Providence, New Haven, Portsmouth, Worcester and Portland, and within a year there’ll be a line to New York City. And why stop there? Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh… they’re all just sitting there in a neat little row, ready to be plugged into the system. Ready and eager, in fact — Baltimore in particular is feeling left behind by the building of the C&O[2], and Philadelphia has noticed that when the C&O is complete it will be easier to get from Pittsburgh to D.C. than from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia. Railroads can go all sorts of places where it isn’t practical to build a canal, and in time they will be ready to compete with the canals on their own turf. (You hear that, SINC? That is the sound of inevitability. It goes choo-choo.)

Speaking of business, sixty-year-old Edward Stabler is one of the most successful men in the country. He and his family preside over what can only be described as a sort of early chain store in Virginia and D.C. These stores function as general stores, but, Stabler being an apothecary, their emphasis is on dyes, paints, varnishes, soap, perfume, mineral water, Florida water (locally made, not actually imported from Florida), tobacco products and the best medicines available in America at the moment, which is saying very, very little. In addition to which, Stabler & Sons has a monopoly on the (legal) manufacture of Republican Purple dye (DRP organizations in other parts of the country have been known to get “generic” versions that look more or less the same by lamplight) and now the company is refining saltpeter mined in Kentucky and supplying it to the Army. That last is a weird line of business for a Quaker family to be in, but as with the New England railroads, we’re looking at the start of something big here… for good and ill.

Speaking of the Army — having decided that it needs a bigger army, the U.S. government is now in the business of figuring out how to pay for it. One way is let companies like SINC and the railroad firms contract out the surveying work to the Corps of Engineers. The Corps gets paid extra to do what it does best, the companies get help building up America’s infrastructure… win-win.

On the border, the Army has to coordinate with the state militias. John Macpherson Berrien has done a good job of turning the Georgia militia into a real fighting force, but he’s under a lot of political pressure from people who think of guarding the border as a distraction from the important work of catching runaway slaves, which in turn is a distraction from the really important work of doing bad things to the Cherokees who still live in the northwestern part of the state. This attitude gets him into a lot of fights with the Army’s liaison to the Cherokee regiments in Alabama, Sam Houston, currently in Pensacola married to Tiana Rogers with four children.

As it happens, Houston is drinking buddies with a young canal worker named Joe Baldy[3]. Baldy and a few of his other friends have started up a little group called “the Charcoal Burners,”[4] whose purpose is to help runaway slaves reach freedom in either the north or the south. Houston isn’t an abolitionist himself, but he finds the pro-slavery fanaticism of people like Calhoun kinda off-putting.

And, of course, the Army is doing some actual shooting. General Henry Atkinson has just finished a brutal war against the Sauk, Fox, many of the Ho-Chunk and what’s left of the Potawatomi nations.[5] After he defeated their raiders in Illinois, Colonel Zachary Taylor drove them back into the heart of Ioway Territory and crushed them there. Just in time for winter, the colonel has completed a fort on the banks of the Des Moines River, which he’s named Fort Black Hawk[6] in honor of the Sauk war chief he killed.

On reviewing the war, the Army finds that Gen. Atkinson’s logistics and coordination benefited a lot from the assistance of his aide-de-camp, Capt. John Adams II (son of the former president). They also find out what they already knew — militias are kind of a mixed bag. Henry Dodge’s Wisconsing Territory militia was pretty decent, but the Illinois militia was kind of useless. The only one of them who distinguished himself in battle (at least in a good way) was a tall, gangly 20-year-old volunteer named Abraham Lincoln — and he wants to go into law as soon as this war is over.

Elsewhere, the Army officer schools of Fort LaBoeuf and Ferry Farm are operating smoothly, but under kind of a shadow — they’re widely seen as places for people who didn’t have the brains or connections to get into West Point. At Ferry Farm, a 20-year-old student named Edgar Allen Poe is starting to suspect that he isn’t suited for Army life. What he really wants to do is write — he’s already working on some stories and poems. That said, Army pay is steady and a man’s got to eat.

Speaking of people in places they wish they weren’t… in Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary has just opened. As much as it looks like a castle, the building itself is absolutely state of the art, with central heating and flush toilets. (They only flush twice a week, but the point is, they flush.) At the same time, the designers drew a lot of inspiration from some very old sources — chiefly churches and monasteries. The individual cells are small, with high ceilings and skylights. Each cell has its own little yard, where the prisoner can keep a pet or do a little gardening.

If you’re in there, you spend most of your time reading the Bible or working in silence alone. When you leave your cell, you do so with a hood over your head. No one — not your fellow inmates, not the guards — knows who you are or has any idea what you’re in for. (Probably petty theft.)

This is why ESP is called a penitentiary, not just a prison. The theory is that your fellow inmates can’t mistreat you if they can’t touch you, and they can’t corrupt you if they can’t talk to you. The theory is that the guards have no reason to mistreat you if they don’t know what you did. The theory is that all this silence and solitude will give you plenty of time to contemplate your relationship to God and the state of your soul, and after a couple of years you’ll emerge penitent, spiritually refreshed and not even slightly insane. Theory is wonderful. (And if you’re wondering why I’m going into such detail about the opening of a prison, it’s because the Russian ambassador is absolutely gushing about the place in his letters to the Tsar. This will be important one day.)

Before we leave the United States, let’s get some uplifting news for a change. The Milan Conservatory in Italy has accepted a couple of 16-year-old music students, Francis Boott and Jeff Green. (His actual name is Joseph Fortune Francis Green, but his friends call him “Jeff.”) Even though one is from New England and the other is from the South, they have a lot in common. Both are children of immigrants. Both of them want to go to Italy and study the craft of music further — in fact, Green was born there and can still get by in the language. The main difference between them? Boott is… good but not great. Green is… astonishing.[7]

Louisiana and Florida

In western Louisiana, the Atapaka, or Ichacq, have at last been defeated. They’ve accepted the loss of most of their land, and are taking up subsistence farming and learning French in the hope of one day becoming citizens. In another couple of years, the road to Fort-Keane will be completed. The Republic will be able to grow, like a crawfish, until it hits the boundaries of its shell. I use that metaphor because Louisiana isn’t likely to get any bigger in a physical sense.

Not just because neither the United States nor New Spain is likely to part with any more territory. Immigration from France has been slacking off for the past few years, because with the growth of the French economy there are too many opportunities at home — especially in the northern cities. As for the disaffected arch-conservatives and royalists who are literally up in arms (much more on that later) by now they’ve gotten wise to the fact that apart from the whole slavery thing, Louisiana is even more liberal than France. If you want to live somewhere the Church holds sway and there aren’t all these Protestants and Jews and freethinkers running around, better go to the Viceroyalty of South America… which has a lot more room to grow anyway.

Between that and the (small) drop in tariff revenue from trade as a result of the T&T and Grand Southern opening, President Bouligny is seeing an age of limitations ahead. Finish the great road, fund the schools his predecessors built, but don’t expand on any of this.

So of course, some people in his own party have already come up with an idea for a new expense — a national gendarmerie. Naturally, they’re trying to explain this as something that will benefit the entire nation — and it’s true that law and order are thin on the ground in much of Louisiana, especially out west. But the real reason is the runaway slave problem. In the American South, if you’re a slave who wants to escape you go north to the free states, south to Florida or west beyond Arkansaw. In Louisiana, you go deeper into the swamp. It’s a much shorter trip.

Despite the fact that it’s mainly intended to help the landed gentry, the measure is getting a surprising amount of support from the Radicals. It helps to know that more than a quarter of the Assembly hails from Orléans Parish (along with half the Radicals), and Nouvelle-Orléans is dominated by business, and businessmen like to know their assets are safe.

Which leaves Bouligny left figuring out how to pay for it. And he is doing so without the help of Louisiana’s friend from London. George Canning has passed away, and he will be missed. He might have been meant for greater things (and, alas, knew it) but he did his very best for the little republic and tried not to be bitter about the ridiculous circumstances that landed him there. His body is being sent home with all due ceremony. (His letters to his friends back home are being collected and will be published next year.)

On to British Florida, home to Bengalis, freedmen, Hindus, Seminoles, Creeks, Keralans, Balinese, Javanese, Haitians, Jamaicans, Cubans, Malays, Cantonese, Jews, probably some other people I forgot to mention, and, recently, a handful of Yorouba, all of whom are swapping songs, recipes and cooking tips in varying grades of English, ensuring that Florida will one day have musical and culinary traditions to rival Louisiana’s. In the growing city of Trafalgar, Lord Byron is feeling kinda midlife-crisisy. He knew when he came here that he was never going to be able to do anything as spectacular as setting fire to the Ottoman fleet, and that it was about setting people free rather than fulfilling his own desire for greatness, but… lately, that’s been the problem. This year has not been a year of success. Oh, he got to meet interesting people like that Joe Baldy character and a promising young Negro lad in South Carolina, but he didn’t actually bring anybody into freedom.

And money is getting to be an issue. Governor MacCarthy is paying him a small stipend under the table to keep doing this, and he’s also completed another book of poems which is selling well, but he also feels bound by personal honor to make little payments to the three local women of three different races who are currently bringing up Byronic babies.

The Sword of Nemesis will keep up the fight for freedom, because, again, it’s not about him. Nonetheless, he is keeping an eye out for the opportunity to do one more big thing before he grows old.

New Spain and the Caribbean

Interesting things are starting to happen in New Spain. To understand them, first you have to understand Francisco himself.

People underestimate the youngest of the royal brothers because, being less personally mulish than Ferdinand and less religiously/ideologically committed than Carlos, he comes off as a pushover. Francisco is, however, smart enough to figure out that if he tried governing this place as a dictatorship, he’d end up relying on his father-in-law’s military connections and ultimately becoming the man’s puppet. Allow a certain degree of democracy, and other ambitious men will rise to the surface — men who are far more likely to challenge the general who made good than the brother of the King of Spain.

Complicating matters is the fact that New Spain doesn’t so much have a political spectrum as a D&D alignment chart, with liberals, moderates and conservatives along one axis and federalists, moderates and centralists along the other. (Fun fact: Federalists and unitarians are both dissatisfied with the name “New Spain” but federalists want to call the place “Anahuac,” while centralists want to call it “Mexico.”)

Up until the past few years, Iturbide’s been able to hold together a big enough coalition of moderates and conservatives in the Mexico City Cortes to maintain his own majority, even as he arrogates more and more power to himself and his own office. All the same, there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with him in the Cortes — partly due to the war (which didn’t really benefit New Spain all that much) and partly due to the tendency of money intended to support the war effort to wind up in the pockets of Iturbide or one of his cronies.

Francisco himself, however, is as popular as ever. And in addition to his son, he has two daughters, all of whom are healthier and show signs of being smarter than the Infanta of Spain. (I hate to sound like a broken record on the benefits of not boning your niece, but as we’ll see when we get to Austria, inbreeding has consequences.)

In Haiti, the Spanish government is still dumping Filipino men into a bottomless pit of war and mayhem as fast as they can be shipped over — which, mercifully, is not all that fast. (It’s hard to bring over an army of any size from the other side of the world, especially since there’s no Panama Canal. Since the port of Veracruz has had the discourtesy to end up in Tehuantepec, Francisco has had a branch of the old Royal Road[8] built to Tampico so troops can march across that way.)

The people who have it the hardest are the hispanophone inhabitants of Santo Domingo. As far as they’re concerned, España Boba hasn’t gotten any smarter since it remembered that this place existed. They’re caught between Haitians with a raging hatred of anybody lighter than a dried tobacco leaf and Spanish authorities who have nothing better to do than investigate them for allegedly having supported independence or annexation by Gran Colombia. Some are just trying to keep their heads down. Some have actually joined the Haitians — the 35-year-old María Trinidad Sanchez[9] is now one of the few women guerrilla leaders. And some have already fled to Gran Colombia, or New Spain, Puerto Rico or Cuba.

Speaking of which, Cuba is at the center of a scandal that has rocked London. It has to do with the Royal Navy’s anti-slave-trade efforts, and what they do with the shiploads of captives they rescue at sea. If the slavers are caught near Africa itself, it’s not so much of a problem, but if it happens near the Caribbean… well, you’ve got a hundred or so very cramped people who’ve just undergone a hellish journey, you don’t have any way to provide for their immediate needs, and if you try to take them all the way back to Africa now it won’t be much better. So what’s the RN to do?

It turns out that the usual fate of these captives is to be brought to Cuba and turned over to the authorities in the city of Havana, where they are taken charge of by the courts… and immediately sold into slavery.[10] Which does kind of defeat the purpose.

And while there’s no good place to be enslaved, Cuba might well be the worst place on Earth for it. Sugar plantations anywhere are cruel places to work, but those in Cuba are a bottomless pit. A man who starts working those fields (and they are mostly men — why breed them in captivity when you can keep stealing them in the wild?) has a life expectancy of eight or nine years. When Henry Brougham compared the slavemasters of Cuba unfavorably to African cannibals, saying “if law or custom required them to devour the flesh of all the men they killed, they would gorge themselves to death,” he wasn’t exaggerating by much.

Before we leave North America and the Caribbean behind, let’s pay a visit to Tehuantepec. The revolution left this republic with a kind of problem. Their biggest export and source of currency, by far, was the henequen and sisal fiber that produced such excellent rope — but half the people who rose up against Spanish rule were driven to do so by the working conditions on the agave plantations. Now, the plantation workers have machetes and are not so much a labor union as a reserve guerrilla army, which Tehuantepec may need one day because it’s bracketed to north and south by the domains of a hostile colonial power. On the other hand, it’s not like those two species of agave won’t grow anywhere else. (In fact, along with rice, fruit and honey, British Florida is starting to produce agave fiber. The Royal Navy always needs more rope, and would rather not depend entirely on a republic aligned with France and the United States.) So, how do you do this kind of agriculture without either exploiting the hell out of your labor force or raising the price of your product out of reach?

For one thing, you cut out as many middlemen as possible. The batabo’ob[11] who run things on the local level in the Yucatán also oversee the harvesting and shipping of the fiber as part of their duties. They are possibly the busiest and most underpaid leadership class in the world. As for the workers, they aren’t actually that well paid, but the cost of living in Tehuantepec is pretty low, so it evens out. (If Robert Owen knew about this place, he’d be kicking himself for setting up shop in the freeze-your-junk-off north.)

And the Tehuantepecans have, with a little American and French investment, got their own ropewalks set up in Veracruz and Coatzcoalcos. As the workers pace the lengths of the ropes ranging from one hundred to three hundred and fifty meters long, over and over and over again, the national motto of “There is Freedom Where We Walk” starts to sound a little snarky.

South America

Gran Colombia isn’t feeling so gran right now. They’ve been through a long, expensive war, and they lost it, and lost a chunk of their southern territory to their former colonial master along with it. (Hey… that sounds familiar.) As with New Spain and Argentina, Colombians used to be split between federalists and centralists, but now there is a perceived need for unity in the land, to protect it from further encroachments.

The thing about a perceived need for unity is that it doesn’t actually tell you how to resolve existing disputes — just that you should. In this case, the federalists have lost. The parts of the country that most wanted autonomy if not independence also happen to be the parts that suffered most during the war. At the same time, the authorities in Bogotá have seen what happened to Argentina and don’t want to risk a split like that.

One thing is clear — much as everybody loves Bolívar, it’s time for him to retire. Leading Gran Colombia into a war for Santo Domingo on the theory that the rest of Spain’s empire in the New World would fall down with one good shove was a bad, bad call. So Bolívar stepped down last year, and the Congress has named as his replacement Antonio José de Sucre y Alcalá… who also supported the war, but, it is hoped, has learned his lesson regarding foreign interventions to spread democracy.

One thing de Sucre has definitely learned is that is that their government needs better information on what’s going on to their south. So he’s developing an intelligence office and spy network… and what he’s learned so far is crap-your-pants scary.

Carlos is doing a lot to develop his viceroyalty. He isn’t building railroads — the Virreinato doesn’t have a lot of steam engines yet (or coal to put in them) and those it does have are being used to pump out old mines and bring them back into service — but he is building roads and bridges. He’s doing this with a lot of help from the mita, or repartimiento, a corvee labor system wherein the indigenous people do a certain number of hours of work for the government every year. It’s less efficient and more burdensome than an income tax — the time spent assembling into work gangs and going home again does no one any good — but as long as nobody does anything really stupid like demand their labor in the middle of an important harvest, it’s endurable. And as long as it’s only used for certain purposes, such as public works projects and silver mining, it doesn’t depress the cost of labor in other fields such as agriculture, which means immigrants from Europe can find work. (Carlos is no economist and doesn’t realize this, so he’s avoiding a big mistake by accident here.)

The relevance of all this to Gran Colombia is that better roads mean the government can put more troops in the same place at the same time and keep them in supplies longer. This is how wars are won.

Paraguay is still being run by El Supremo, who is doing his best to cut it off from the outside world. The economy is geared toward self-sufficiency rather than trade, and is actually kind of socialist. This is another place Owen could learn a lot from, if only it weren’t so isolated.

Taking a completely different approach is the Republic of Entre Ríos. Unlike Louisiana, this isn’t an official protectorate of the British Empire, but is definitely allied to them and is trying to profit as a center of trade for South America. The national pastime is trying to persuade the British that yerba mate is the new tea.

Being able to operate out of Buenos Aires has given the Royal Navy a whole new stretch of ocean to hunt slave ships in — specifically, the slave ships going from Angola to Brazil. Of course, once again they run into the problem of what to do with the captives. Entre Ríos doesn’t want them as immigrants, but is willing (for pay) to set up a place where they can be cared for until they can be taken to Sierra Leone. The RN is working on this… but in the meantime, they’ve been handing them over to the Brazilian courts, which has about the same effect as handing them over to the Cuban courts. The alternative is taking them straight back across the Atlantic, up north to Cayenne (also a long trip) or down south to the Falklands, which is not a place where it’s easy to provide for a hundred starving people on short notice.

Speaking of Brazil, Emperor Pedro has managed to make pretty much everybody in the country mad at him. Conservatives were already mad at him for being a gradual abolitionist and talking up the rights of Negroes. Now he's left his sister and son in charge of Rio while he raises an army and goes to secure the crown of Portugal which he had earlier renounced. Tensions are rising in the Assembly.

Finally, there’s the Federal Republic of Argentina, nominally presided over by Manuel Dorrego[12] in Tucumán. This country has lost its richest and most developed part, but also has been set free from its political and cultural domination. There won’t be any big central plans for national growth and recovery, but the Argentines will be expanding, rather naturally, into the south.

They’d better hurry, though. The Mapuche of Araucanía are also expanding towards the southern tip of the continent. And Araucanía, you’ll recall, is in personal union with the crown of Spain.

This… could be a problem later.

[1] Which became East St. Louis IOTL.
[2] IOTL, for similar reasons, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad was one of the first to be built.
[3] Or, as we know him, Giuseppe Garibaldi.
[4] Or Carbonari in Italian.
[5] This is a few years earlier than OTL’s Black Hawk’s War. A more advanced infrastructure and a bigger peacetime army means the pace of the Indian wars is a little faster… and that the wars are even more one-sided when they happen.
[6] OTL Fort Des Moines.
[7] In case everybody forgot (it’s been a while) J.F.F. Green is none other than OTL’s Giuseppe Verdi.
[8] The road that runs from Acapulco to Mexico City and up to Santa Fe.
[9] IOTL she was a national martyr of the Dominican Republic.
[10] Yes. Really. IOTL.
[11] Maya village chiefs.
[12] IOTL he was assassinated in 1828.
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Ah, little Louisiana. Stay safe and look out for your people, of all stripes. I hope the local natives get to become citizens.

So New England, the way you describe it, feels like they still have a sense of being different from the rest of the country. Even if right now times are good with the railroad boom.

And that insane asylum talk...why must Russia take that bad idea and apparently be ready to make it worse!? >_<
You hear that, SINC? That is the sound of inevitability. It goes choo-choo.

Lost it there.

Sam Houston, currently in Pensacola married to Tiana Rogers with four children

Yes! Has he given up the drink?

Joe Baldy

You utter madman.

This is why ESP is called a penitentiary, not just a prison. The theory is that your fellow inmates can’t mistreat you if they can’t touch you, and they can’t corrupt you if they can’t talk to you. The theory is that the guards have no reason to mistreat you if they don’t know what you did. The theory is that all this silence and solitude will give you plenty of time to contemplate your relationship to God and the state of your soul, and after a couple of years you’ll emerge penitent, spiritually refreshed and not even slightly insane. Theory is wonderful. (And if you’re wondering why I’m going into such detail about the opening of a prison, it’s because the Russian ambassador is absolutely gushing about the place in his letters to the Tsar. This will be important one day.)

Wow. Siberia is going to be even more hellish, isn't it?

Your snark made this update very enjoyable and I could go on and on about all the little details I loved but I'm going to err on the side of brevity and just say that it really brought a happy smile to my face.
I understand the comment about the Royal Navy and the Great Lakes was sort of a throw away, but does the Royal Navy have the upper hand on the Black Sea at this point?