“We will return to that. But speaking of Mediterranean powers, how goes the war in Portugal?”

“Prince Miguel has suffered a defeat and retreated into the Algarve,” said Palmerston. “The government of Spain is sympathetic, but quite preoccupied with Cuba and New Spain. To say nothing of Haiti — the only people they have left fighting for them in Hispaniola are a few mad Americans, a few local Spaniards and a lot of islanders from the East Indies who by all accounts want to go home.”

“Then they have no plans to assist Miguel in his claims?”

“No. Barring a miracle, I estimate that his cause won’t see another summer.”

Grey nodded. Supporting the rebels had been a gamble — one that might possibly have cost Britain an ally had they lost. Instead, their alliance would only grow stronger. That was to the good.
King Miguel is defeated faster, that's good. :) But its still important to avoid the political instability of the following decades.
Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (2)
In some respects, the War of the Sardinian Succession was a classic war of sharks and lions. Italy’s small but advanced navy made short work of Austria’s larger but obsolescent navy, and was able to raid the Dalmatian coast with impunity from late 1831 until the end of hostilities a year later. These raids did little to damage the Austrian economy, but they did allow Italy to reinforce Venice and complicate matters for the besieging forces. The fact that Venice never fell is more a credit to Italy’s navy than its army.

On land, Austria had the advantage of numbers. The greater rate of fire from the the Italians’ Francotte revolvers was often a decisive edge, but not many regiments were yet equipped with these revolvers. So the Austrians advanced, but slowly, its victories—Treviso, Montebelluna, Castelfranco Veneto, Padua—ranging from expensive to downright Pyrrhic. In early May, a cavalry raid out of the Brenner Pass looted and set fire to Verona, but suffered heavy casualties during the retreat to Austrian territory.

In June, Vienna was confronted by two disasters. Vicenza proved to be a bloody month-long stalemate that dashed any hopes of extending Austrian control further west and threatening Milan. Then, on June 19 at Chioggia, four Austrian regiments were lost, trapped between the Italian garrison inside the town, two regiments of Italian infantry and the guns of the Aquila di Mare, Campi Marcariani, Utica and Zama, which enfiladed the right wing of the attacking army and destroyed its artillery. This ended any hope of interfering with Italian efforts to keep Venice supplied by sea during the siege…

During the war, Britain and France repeatedly offered to play the role of peacemaker, favoring a white peace and return to the status quo ante bellum, with the status of the new island south of Sicily to be determined by negotiation. The Sultan of Albania agreed to play host to the negotiations. Lord Palmerston and the Duc de Bassano were finally successful in August, when Terni and Vienna agreed to a cease-fire. The problem was that Austria was making demands—the new island and the independence of Sardinia under “King Ranier”—that it was singularly ill-positioned to enforce, and had no official claims in the places where it at least held Italian territory.

On September 3, Foreign Minister Guglielmo Pepe offered to cede the island to Austria in exchange for formal recognition of the political unity of Italy and Sardinia. His decision provoked an outcry in Italy and calls for his resignation in the Assembly, but it also served as the fig leaf that allowed Metternich to accept a white peace. Thanks to the observations of British and Italian scientists, a few officials in London and Terni knew the truth; the eruptions birthing the island had ended, and the gentle waves of the Mediterranean were eroding the soft ash of which it was made. By the end of the year, Isola di Cenere (by whatever name) would have vanished beneath the waves as though it had never existed. By that time, of course, the Treaty of Scutari had already been signed…

The seemingly pointless war had the effect of reinforcing the antipathy between Italy and Austria. The Italians had seen cities burned and towns occupied, and Austria had paid no indemnity for this beyond the blood of its own men. And yet Italy had matched Austria in force, and more than matched it in guile. To a nation still haunted by the horrors of the Other Peninsular War, this was no small thing. The lesson learned in Terni was that modern weapons were good, and Italy needed more of them—and would do well to manufacture them itself.

Austria, meanwhile, had spent blood and treasure and gained nothing. Its armies had fared poorly against a weaker power, and it had been humiliated at sea. Worse, the ravaging of its ports had brought trade to a standstill at a time when the economy of the Western world was already beginning to slow down. The lesson learned in Vienna was that modern weapons were necessary—otherwise, its larger army wouldn’t be a larger army for very long in time of war. And so, Metternich shelved the proposal for a war against Bosnia-Rumelia in favor of yet another round of reforms and modernizations.

Vienna learned another lesson was well, concerning the United Kingdom. In an effort to bring an end to the war as quickly as possibly, London’s Foreign Office had withheld the news of the island’s sinking until both parties had signed the treaty, turning the wily Metternich into an international laughingstock. At the same time, Vienna was indebted to London for maintaining Austrian rule over Tripolitania at a time when Vienna was in no position to assert that rule. Thus, Britain was a power with which good relations were necessary, but not one to be fully trusted.

H. Michael Wolcott, A History of Western International Diplomacy, 1648-1858
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Oh my is this TL still living? HOORAY!

Oh my, are we setting up for a world where Italy prides itself on tecnological development and military skill? THE HUMANITY! /s Also, Perfidious Albion gonna perfidy.
Sad Stories of the Death of Kings (3)
In April of 1832, the monarchs of two different countries—Persia and Spain—both died at the worst possible time for their nation. Both left legacies that would lead, immediately or in the long term, to civil war and disaster…

Azeris and other Muslims in the Tsar’s dominions were facing greater and greater repression, and many of them were fleeing into Persia. Although Persia had come off badly in its last war with Russia, its forces under the command of Crown Prince Abbas Mirza had been doing well in Kurdistan recently, which boosted the confidence of the government.[1] On February 24, shortly before the Laylat al-Qadr, the Ulema proclaimed a jihad in defense of the Azeri people, and Dowlatshah began preparing for war with Russia…

On April 19, at Zewa, Abbas Mirza’s forces suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of King Ibrahim of Iraq, regent of Kurdistan in the name of King Abdülaziz. By the time it was over, the Persians had been routed, Abbas Mirza had been wounded and taken prisoner and his eldest son, Mohammed Mirza, was dead—and this was not even the worst thing to happen to the kingdom on this day.

The death of Fath-Ali Shah is a mysterious matter, not least because so many of the witnesses died in the ensuing civil wars. The story that he died in an accident in the bath involving a concubine on a marble slide is no more plausible than any of the others, despite its greater entertainment value. The one certainty is that neither he nor anyone in the palace could have been aware of what had just happened to Abbas Mirza and his son. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before everyone in Tehran knew that their king was dead and his heir was a prisoner in the hands of the Cairenes. Before long, Ali Mirza had leaped into action[2], having himself declared Shah and quickly ordering Dowlatshah to secure a cease-fire with Russia.

With the acknowledged heir Abbas Mirza returning to Tehran backed up by a Cairene army and Ali Mirza increasingly bowing to the whims of Moscow, the patriot Dowlatshah stood aside, keeping his army in reserve for when the nation was one again. The son of a Georgian concubine, he did not presume to seek the throne for himself. No one knows whether it would have gone better or worse for Persia/Iran if he had…

The Spanish-Haitian War had gradually drained Spain of its strength and wealth to the point where it could no longer be endured. In New Spain, Valentín Gómez Farías had brought an end to Iturbide’s coup and set up a provisional government until new elections could be held. The father-in-law to Prince-Viceroy Francisco had been shot while trying to escape—and to further the ignominy, it appeared that that was in fact what had actually happened, not merely a cover for a convenient murder. The effect of this was that the armies of New Spain were pulling out of Hispaniola. Meanwhile, José Cecilio del Valle[3], Francisco Morazán[4] and Juan Mora Fernández[5] were in Madrid to present a petition demanding equal citizenship status for the people of the Central American provinces.

It was at this moment that Ferdinand VII went to sleep and did not wake up again—leaving the kingdom in the hands of young María Isabel, but much of the army in the hands of her uncle Charles, who was occupied with trying to keep the situation in Cuba under control even as he was mourning the recent death of his wife…

Robert W. Derek, Great Coincidences of World History

[1] IOTL Persia did really badly against Russia in a war in the late 1820s. ITTL that war hasn’t happened yet.
[2] IOTL Ali Mirza attempted to usurp the throne from Mohammed Mirza.
[3] IOTL the man who wrote the Act of Independence of Central America in 1821.
[4] First president of Honduras IOTL.
[5] First elected head of state of Costa Rica IOTL.
Lord Byron's Last Adventure
February 22, 1998

KLYCE: Welcome to “Reflections.” I’m your host, John Klyce. Today we’re joined by Maria Vinakayam, director and co-writer of the historical K-graph One Last Adventure, a finalist for the Kinematographic Institute of America’s 1997 Nonpareil Award in the categories of Entertainment, Direction, Lead Actor and Lead Actress. Welcome to the show, Mrs. Vinakayam.

VINAKAYAM: Thank you.

KLYCE: Now, rather than go into your personal history, which has already been covered in several interviews, I thought we’d go into the background of the K-graph itself—the original incident that gave rise to it and the various other attempts to bring it to the screen.

VINAKAYAM: Thank you. I never thought I’d get tired of telling the story of my nana’s[1] restaurant.

KLYCE: What drew you to this particular story, which has been depicted a number of times already?

VINAKAYAM: Well, with all due respect to previous directors, I made my own version because, obviously, I wasn’t fully satisfied with theirs. Most of them seemed to err on the side of romanticizing the story, presenting the situation almost the way Lord Byron saw it. On the other hand, the last one, twelve years ago—The Great Rescue—have you seen it?

KLYCE: Yes, I have. More of a grim K-laugh[2], wasn’t it?

VINAKAYAM: Yes—deliberately so. ‘Silly natoroo[3] aristocrat and clever young thopsocrat[4] team up to save a stupid fat inbred princess from a stupid inbred king’—they weren’t subtle about the Elmarism.

KLYCE: So it went too far in the other direction?

VINAKAYAM: Yes. As I see it, the story of Lord Byron’s attempted rescue of the Infanta María Isabella is… not a romantic story, but a story about romanticism, if you understand the distinction. A story about Byron’s belief in himself, in the sort of person he was and how it made him see the world and what it made him do. And at the same time, there was the reality of Spain in 1832.

KLYCE: Tell us a little bit about that.

VINAKAYAM: Certainly. So—King Fernando VII was dead. His daughter, María Isabella—I don’t know why we keep calling her a princess, she was a queen—was officially the monarch, but nobody thought she was prepared to take the job. Her mother, also named María Isabella[5], was supposed to have served as regent, but she died the previous year during a miscarriage. The most obvious solution was for the king’s brother Carlos, duke of Molina, to become her regent. But he would not accept that title. He wanted to be king, he honestly thought God’s plan for himself and Spain was for him to be king, and there was a growing faction in Spain that wanted him there.

KLYCE: Because he was a man?

VINAKAYAM: That was partly it. Partly it was just that he was a stronger leader and obviously up to the job. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not expressing support here. As I see it—just my personal opinion here—the two biggest criteria for judging a potential leader are agenda and competence. What does this person want to do, and how good is he or she likely to be at it?

KLYCE: What about honesty versus corruption?

VINAKAYAM: I file that under agenda. If the list of things a leader wants to do include help out friends or grab a big pile of money, obviously… but in the case of María Isabella—honestly, it’s hard to say what her agenda was. I mean, politically, she was… she was fourteen, is what she was. There’s just not a whole lot more you can say. She was fourteen and she kept getting sick and she wasn’t that good of a student even when she was healthy. And her father—it was complicated. First he tried to raise her to just be a good little obedient Catholic princess. Then, once he’d accepted he wasn’t going to have a son and she was going to have to be his heir—and that took a while—he tried to teach her his politics, his conservatism and absolutism. But even doing that, he couldn’t help giving her a certain awareness of political reality, which was that absolute monarchy was a falling star.

KLYCE: Especially after the Portuguese civil war—hadn’t that just ended?

VINAKAYAM: Yes, but that was between two good princes. This was a choice between somebody who couldn’t do much besides smile, wave at the crowd and sign whatever the Cortes put in front of her, and somebody who was already doing most of the work of a monarch. There was the situation in Cuba, helping General Novales get the Luzonese—sorry, Filipino—units back home before they started mutinying… for anyone who thought a monarch should be more than a figurehead, there was really only one choice. Especially since both parties in the Cortes had discredited themselves fighting a losing war in Haiti for so long. At the same time, there were limits to what the army would allow him to do as king—a lot of the leading men in the army were the same people who’d forced his brother to accept the constitution in the first place. General Espartero, who was Carlos’ right hand in Cuba[6], told him as much—don’t try to shut down the Cortes, don’t touch the Constitution, you want me as an ally, not an enemy. So Spain was facing a civil war nobody wanted and nobody saw a way to avoid. María’s idea, or at least the idea she endorsed, was for Carlos to do what Claudius did in Hamlet—without, obviously, the implication that he poisoned his brother.

KLYCE: You mean, for Carlos to become king but to name María his heir.

VINAKAYAM: Yes. It seems obvious in retrospect—you have a competent king who wants to rule and is ready now, and this lets him do that, and you have a girl who’s not ready to be queen and this gives her a few more years to prepare. Spanish history would have gone very differently if Carlos had taken this deal. But he didn’t just want Spain, he wanted to leave it to his own son. The Cortes wouldn’t budge—the queen, the king’s official heir, had to be kept in the line of succession. And then someone came up with… the compromise.

(2-beat pause)

KLYCE: It seems grotesque, marrying a girl to her uncle against her will.

VINAKAYAM: It happened in many dynasties, not just the Spanish royal family. In fact, María herself was the product of just such a marriage—her mother was her father’s niece.

KLYCE: Which means she was also Carlos’s niece. So Carlos was her uncle and her great-uncle?

VINAKAYAM: Yes. Obviously this was not a good idea from a medical standpoint. There’s a reason none of their children lived more than a few days.

KLYCE: Was this why Lord Byron decided he had to come to her rescue?

VINAKAYAM: This, and the fact that the queen was so opposed to it. And the fact that no matter what he promised, everyone knew freedom in Spain would be taking at least a few steps backward under King Carlos. He’d gotten his start fighting the Bourbon dynasty in Italy, long before Greece or Florida.

KLYCE: The thing everybody finds hard to believe is that Lord Byron—who was part of a whole network of people that specialized in freeing other people from captivity—but instead of asking any of these people for help, he finds some random young man in Sepharad and says, “Hey, want to come help me rescue a princess?” And the man says, “Yes!” Is that how it actually happened?

VINAKAYAM: More or less. To begin with, there was a limit to Byron’s ability to ask for help, because the biggest single authority figure on the southern Hidden Trail wasn’t him, it was Charles McCarthy—who was also the governor of Florida and would’ve felt obliged to stop him if he’d known what he was up to. And he had to move quickly—as long as it takes to plan a royal wedding, it also takes time to plan a trip across the Atlantic. So Byron talked to the people he trusted not to spread the word any further, and all those people said the same things—“No!” “Are you poggled[7]?” “This isn’t going to work! You’re going to get yourself killed for nothing!” “Every last slave in the South is worth as much in the sight of God as this Spanish girl!” “We do what we do so they can be free, not so we can be heroes!”

KLYCE: Wait—did you write this scene?

VINAKAYAM: Obvious, isn’t it? Yes, I personally wrote a seven-minute scene of Lord Byron’s friends saying no to him. It was cut.

KLYCE: Did they say why?

VINAKAYAM: Yes. First of all, they wanted to cut the K-graph down to two and a half hours at most. Second, they said the scene distracted from the story—that it was too persuasive, it made the hero look like too much of a moodin[8]. I thought it was an important scene. You know, as much as we honor freedom fighters, the key word is always “freedom,” not “fighter.” If you ever forget that… that way lies aristism. Not only that, there were some actors for whom that was their only scene in the K-graph. You can imagine how disappointed they were.

KLYCE: That must have been hard for them. When we come back, more on the history behind One Last Adventure

KLYCE: Returning to the history of the incident, Byron didn’t find help from his usual friends, but he did find…

VINAKAYAM: Judah, yes. He wasn’t part of the Hidden Trails organization—in fact, from what I’ve seen of his writings, at this point he had no sympathy with the cause at all.

KLYCE: Really.

VINAKAYAM: Not everyone in Florida was a bishasto[9] abolitionist, and Judah grew up in the West Indies and the Carolinas. At this point, he was… he was a young man in search of adventure, is what he was. He might have already found some—I wasn’t able to pin down what he did to get thrown out of Yale. Whatever it was, he seems to have decided to lie low in Florida with his friends the Levy family.

KLYCE: He still seems an unlikely choice for a mission into Spain. What was it about him that drew Byron’s interest?

VINAKAYAM: It was probably the fact that he was a Jew and—officially—there weren’t any Jews living in Spain at this point, and if there were any they were keeping their heads down and probably moving to Morocco. Judah could’ve easily passed for a Christian. Instead, he spent the whole sea voyage growing his beard out and showed up in Madrid in his best clothes and a proper British accent, pretending to be a rich businessman, throwing money around and saying, “Hey, not everybody in Florida likes ghee, there’s a market for olive oil, act now before the new groves in New Spain start producing.”[10] Or “Why should the Americans, French and Italians corner the wine market in a British colony? Let’s get some good Spanish wines over there.” So wherever they went, everybody was focused on this rich Jew with his fancy clothes and big long neckbeard running around all over Spain praising their oil and wine. Nobody looked twice at the man acting as his servant. People who study espionage, infiltration, exfiltration—which is what this was—say that’s how you do it. Ideally you want to be as anonymous and forgettable as possible, obviously, but if that’s not going to work, you try to draw everyone’s attention to something else, someone else.

KLYCE: And of course when the time came for him to escape, all he had to do was shave, change his clothes, take the padding out from under his shirt…

VINAKAYAM: And put on a different accent. Obviously. Just another young American seeing Europe.

KLYCE: That’s another thing critics have found unrealistic—the experienced rescuer of slaves got caught and the complete nove[11] was the one who escaped.

VINAKAYAM: And yet it did happen that way. Byron was experienced, but it was the wrong kind of experience—helping a slave escape a farm in the backwoods is one thing, and getting a princess out of the Escorial and through the heart of a European nation is… something else again. As for Judah’s escape, I must admit we rewrote it for extra drama. Judah didn’t really change his disguise in the bathroom while the guards were searching the street, he snuck out of Madrid the day before Byron left for San Lorenzo[12]—which was the plan all along. Byron needed him in La Coruña, looking for a ship bound for Florida, so that when he and the queen got there they could board it and go. Of course, by the time he got to La Coruña Byron had been caught and the wedding was back on. They had good horses, but the best horse in the world can’t outrun the semaphore.

KLYCE: When you think about it, the surprising thing is that it went as well as it did.

VINAKAYAM: The reason it went so well is nobody was expecting it. All the guards at the Escorial were expecting trouble, but a different kind of trouble—either a coup attempt by liberal army officers or a mass demonstration in Madrid. One man, one foreigner, coming in to abduct María Isabella out from everyone’s noses—that was completely ow-kotow[13]. The other reason it worked is that Byron had her full cooperation. Which gives you an idea of her attitude toward the arrangement. Normally, a girl would scream and call the guards. In her case, she ran away with this total stranger—no servants or maids-in-waiting or anything, and going without these people was a major inconvenience for someone in the royal family—in a disguise that turned out to not even fit properly.

KLYCE: She really must have wanted to get away from her… what? Uncle/great-uncle?

VINAKAYAM: Great-uncle/uncle/husband/rapist.

(3-beat pause)

KLYCE: You know, I could’ve lived a long, happy life without ever hearing that phrase spoken out loud.


KLYCE: Byron’s trial and execution—how much of that was taken from the historical record?

VINAKAYAM: Almost all of it—heavily condensed, of course. The “Sword of Nemesis” could be very dramatic when he wanted to be.

KLYCE: Authenticity. Good.

VINAKAYAM: Yes. When you’ve got an American playing Lord Byron, a Frenchman playing Carlos, an Tripolitanian playing María Isabella and an Irishman playing Judah P. Benjamin, obviously you need all the authenticity you can get.

KLYCE: Speaking of which, tell us more about the choices you made when depicting María Isabella.

VINAKAYAM: Yes. I understand the controversy around that. Obviously, Iliana Kosor is nineteen, not fourteen. We cast her because she was the best actress out of the many who tried out, and also because no one wants to see a forty-four-year-old man and a fourteen-year… all right, some people probably do want to see that, but I’m not going to be the one to show it to them. And there are some very troubling aspects to the story. We don’t know what—well, obviously we do know what happened between Lord Byron and the Queen of Spain that night, but we don’t know the precise details. If we wanted full historical accuracy and emotional honesty, we’d have to say it wasn’t all that different from what Carlos did later—her age and the circumstances both made her consent meaningless. Presenting it as a free interaction between adults made it easier for us to make and more enjoyable for the audience.

KLYCE: Most of the audience.

VINAKAYAM: All of the audience we care about.

KLYCE: There have been those who have criticized this K-graph’s depiction of Queen María from a feminist perspective—that in spite of your best efforts, she still seems too passive, that the world needs more stories of women who go on quests of their own instead of being the object of other people’s quests.

VINAKAYAM: I’m aware of that. Here’s the thing. Focusing on the achievements of extraordinary women—that’s not feminism, that’s aristism in a dress. I’m not quipping here, I’m in earnest. Remember when Roxelana was a worldwide hit? Everyone in the free world thought it was this inspiring tale of the triumph of true love and the human spirit? And it turned out it was originally intended as aristist propaganda? The K-graph was basically saying, “This girl who got kidnapped and sold as a sex slave rose to become the most powerful woman in the world! See, if you’re truly worthy you too can do great things within the context of your social role!” María Isabella was not Roxelana. She wasn’t even Charlotte the First. Unlike her daughter, she wasn’t all that smart or strong-willed. She was, when you get right down to it, a fairly ordinary young woman who happened to be in an extraordinary situation, and at that moment, she needed help. That’s why her story matters. She was a mediocrity, but so are most people—if you think that means they don’t matter, you might as well put on a remer armband. She was a mediocrity, and at that moment, she needed help. The tragedy is that the only person who helped her didn’t plan it very well, and also took advantage of her himself.

KLYCE: Is there anything you regret about the movie? Anything you wish you could have included?

VINAKAYAM: Byron’s funeral. It was one of the great events of the 1830s, both for the literary world and for the political world. There was a good deal of controversy, at least among the Tories, around giving so much public recognition to a man who’d tried to cause so much trouble for a country that wasn’t an enemy. The conversation ran—not in these exact words, of course—“We buried Lord Castlereagh with a lot more ceremony, and look what he did.” “But Castlereagh was poggled.” “And you think Byron was sane?”…

[1] Grandfather
[2] Dark comedy
[3] A Plori word for “having a mid-life crisis.”
[4] An Elmarist term for one whose skills begin and end with social climbing and self-promotion.
[5] IOTL she died of a miscarriage in 1818. Ferdinand first replaced her with Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony, who for once wasn’t a niece but did have the idea that good Catholic girls were not supposed to have sex with their husbands (or possibly just didn’t want to have sex with this particular husband). After she died, Ferdinand went back to his nieces again, marrying Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies. When he died, she became regent for her infant daughter.
[6] IOTL Baldomero Espartero was Carlos’ greatest enemy in the Carlist Wars. Here, he’s been serving under Carlos for some years, and so respects the man if not his politics.
[7] A Plori word for “crazy” which has entered into standard English. (Not meant as a direct quote. The Plori dialect didn’t exist in 1832.)
[8] A Plori word for “fool.”
[9] A Plori word for “dyed-in-the-wool, fully committed to a cause or agenda.”
[10] In an example of the many and various goats that colonialism blows, Spain introduced the olive tree into Mexico in the 16th century, only to destroy the olive groves and the industry they supported in 1777 so as to create a captive market for Spanish oil. Francisco has managed to get away with replanting olives in Tamaulipas, Sonora and parts of Alta and Baja California, but it’ll take a few more years for the trees to start bearing fruit.
[11] Newcomer. (Not Plori—just regular slang.)
[12] San Lorenzo de El Escorial, site of the Escorial.
[13] Plori for “out of nowhere.”
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Winter is Coming (1)
The Class of 1822: Ten Years Later

Paul Verdon turned 10 years old March 10. I’m sorry to say he’s getting bullied a lot. The other children have noticed he can’t stand contact with any kind of filth, and, well, this is Paris. Horse and dog poop are never hard to find. His parents aren’t especially sympathetic—they’ve apprenticed him to a surgeon because they’ve noticed he’s good at working with his hands and they’re hoping the work will strengthen his stomach. It’s not as bad for him as you might think. The sight of blood doesn’t bother him—he just really, really needs everything he touches to be clean.
“Just think—that shy little man, frightened of his own shadow, has saved the lives of more women than all the heroes ever born put together.” —Napoleon II

Anil Malakar turned 10 years old April 30. He speaks Bengali, passable English and a smattering of Hindi and Seminole. His family has a farm along the Hillsborough River, and his father sometimes works with the crews rafting hickory, pine and cypress down to Trafalgar.
Anil is deeply curious about God, which worries his family more than you might think. They’re deeply versed in Sufi traditions, but they haven’t seen a teacher of Islam since they came to Florida, nobody in his tiny community even has a Quran and Florida is full of all sorts of weird idolaters that no one back in the Ganges delta had ever heard of. That, at least, they don’t need to worry about—Anil is already quite clear on the oneness of God.
“Let those with voices sing! Let those with legs dance! Let those with minds meditate!” — Anil Malakar

Jeremiah Frederick Dent turned 10 years old on October 11 in White Haven, Missouri. His father was involved in helping John Sergeant carry the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.
DS election 1832.png

Despite the Tallmadge Amendment, President Clay remains popular in Missouri, and St. Louis has done well. The National Road stops on the other side of the river, but that’s not so bad—thanks to the T&T, the Erie Canal, the Grand Southern, and the now-finished C&O and O&E, you can take a steamboat from St. Louis to Mobile, Savannah, Cleveland, Washington, D.C. or New York City. And likewise, of course, people from all these places can go to St. Louis, which is good news for both the Army trying to secure the West and the immigrants who want to settle it. (This is not, of course, good news for Native Americans. Few things are these days.) But the big infrastructure program is turning out to be a victim of its own success. It’s hard to make money running, say, a turnpike to Cumberland when travelers can take a boat to Baltimore via Pittsburgh, the Potomac and the Chesapeake. And this December the Dent family received a very bad Christmas present—the value of their shares in the Southern Inland Navigation Company started plummeting like passenger pigeon poop.
“My state is not free, slave, Northern or Southern. My state is American, and woe betide the traitor who dares set foot in it.” — Lt. Dent
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Some very interesting foreshadowings here, particularly with young Mr. Dent. I am also interested in seeing where this "Plori dialect" originates from - Florida, perhaps?

Also a bit odd to see "upper Louisiana" merged into Mississippi rather than something of its own. When did that happen? Eerie how closely Mississippi resembles New York now...
Some very interesting foreshadowings here, particularly with young Mr. Dent. I am also interested in seeing where this "Plori dialect" originates from - Florida, perhaps?

Thank you. "Plori" does indeed come from Florida, although the Plori won't emerge as a distinct people for some decades yet.

Also a bit odd to see "upper Louisiana" merged into Mississippi rather than something of its own. When did that happen? Eerie how closely Mississippi resembles New York now...

That happened here. (I hadn't realized that Mississippi is shaped something like New York now.) The people who pulled off that little merger are really starting to regret it.
Winter is Coming (2)
In modern economic terminology, the term “panic” is used to describe the collapse of a crucial industry or stock market rather than the full course of a hiemal period[1]. Certainly, what happened to the canal industry in the United States, Great Britain and France in the winter of 1832-33 and the spring of 1833 fits the modern definition of a panic. The Southern Inland and Navigation Company had sold too many shares and incurred too much debt. The revenue SINC was collecting from the canals they had already completed was not and could not be enough to meet these obligations…

The turnpikes and canals were in that gray area so familiar to economists and tributologists[2]: not so easily monetized that they were capable of turning a profit in hiemal times, yet far too useful and advantageous to be allowed to wither and die from lack of maintenance. And they would need maintenance, as they were still seeing use. Businesses could be shuttered and locked and their chattels secured in vaults, but with toll collectors laid off there was no way to withhold the National Road and the other turnpikes from the public. Settlers going west and farmers who lived near the road could effectively use them free of charge until their status was resolved.

The canals were only slightly harder to exploit. To make use of the National Road one needed only a working pair of feet; to use the canals required a boat, some way to propel it (a steam engine, a pair of oars or a mule with a rope), a windlass and the knowledge of how to operate the locks. As of 1833 the canals were still receiving enough regular use to pay the canalkeepers and toll collectors, but only by delaying maintenance and deferring payments on the mountain of incurred debt…

The New York state legislature shelved plans to enlarge the Erie Canal, and state governments held off on permits for the construction of new canals. At the federal level, Secretary of Domestic Affairs Joseph Swift organized a commission to triage the canals still under construction, determining which would be worth finishing and which would be best abandoned entirely. Unfortunately, in June Vice President Benjamin Tappan inadvertently revealed the names of some of the commission members (including Charles Mason and Robert E. Lee) to a friend, who shared these names with financiers for a price. Suddenly, the whole commission found themselves being bombarded with missives explaining why one project or another was vital for the economic and military well-being of the United States. (For the rest of his term, President Sergeant could not hear the name of his own vice-president spoken without muttering, “Tappan. That ass.”)

In the end, the only unfinished canals to be judged worthy of completion were the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which would be of inestimable value to the growing town of Chicago and other towns on the upper Great Lakes, and the Brunswick Spur, which was nearly useless for anything beyond military purposes but was within six kilometers of completion and would support military action aimed at British Florida…

With the benefit of hindsight and analysis, the modern economist can discern that by the date of President Sergeant’s inauguration the long aestal period[3] which his predecessors had enjoyed had come to an end. At this point, however, contemporary observers considered the problem as one confined to the canal industry. Businessmen still came to Philadelphia[4], New York, London and Paris to seek investors not only for railroads, but speculative land purchases, shares in riverine and canal shipping and such projects as the on-again-off-again proposal to establish a major city on the floodplain peninsula between the Ohio and the Mississippi—a proposal that would eventually lead to the founding of Cairo, Illinois.[5]

By the summer of 1833, however, these investors had begun to realize that the same speculative forces that had driven canal shares up had also raised land prices to unrealistic heights. Average land prices in Illinois and Indiana fell from $8-9 an acre in January to around $5 in December. Despite these lower prices, federal land sales in the last quarter of the year were 24 percent lower than they had been in the last quarter of 1832.[6]

The chain reaction of deflation spread through the American economy. From Boston and Savannah to Pittsburgh and Coffeesburg, small shops cut their hours of operation or closed their doors entirely. Farmers sold their crops for whatever they could get, and vowed to plant less next year. Many independent druggists in Virginia and Maryland were compelled to place their businesses under the partial or complete ownership of the expanding Stabler empire. Apart from Stabler & Sons, only the railroads continued to grow, the shortage of investment capital offset by the lower price of land…

No discussion of pre-Troubles America, even from a strictly economic standpoint, would be complete without considering the institution that served as both engine and legiron to the economy of nearly half the nation. As the abolitionist and anti-slavery[7] factions within the DRP grew, the Second Bank of the United States took greater and greater pains to avoid mentioning the degree to which it was involved with the sale and exploitation of slaves. A letter from bank president Nicholas Biddle noted that if his investors in New England and Pennsylvania understood the degree to which their own highly fungible money was entangled in “what is going on down in Mississippi… they might not be happy about these relationships.”[8]

The fact remained, however, that in the states where slavery was legal, the Bank considered them exactly as it would any other form of movable property. It factored their presence and condition into its estimates of slaveholders’ wealth when evaluating loan applications. It accepted them as collateral in these loans. It allowed slaveholders to take out mortgages on them. (It also involved itself in less direct ways, selling bonds to brokerage firms such as Thomas Biddle & Company which also invested in plantations and collateralized slaves, and which could re-sell the bonds anywhere in the world, even in nations where slavery itself was illegal.[9]) The net result was that whenever a slaveholder fell into bankruptcy, the Bank found itself the legal owner of one or more slaves—human beings who it would dispose of at auction in accordance with standard practice. And with more plantations and small farms falling into bankruptcy every month, this was happening more and more often and becoming impossible to ignore. Even before the violent and tragic events of December 1833, the Bank—and Biddle himself—would find themselves subject to the ire of both abolitionists and slaveholders…

-Thomas N. Wingrove, An Economic History of the United States, Vol. 2

[1] Depression
[2] Tributology is the study of taxation and public expenditure, a branch of economics.
[3] Economic recovery; period of sustained growth
[4] The Second Bank’s headquarters is here.
[5] The first proposals for Cairo predate the POD.
[6] This crash and depression is modeled roughly on the OTL Depression of 1837. It’s not quite as severe and won’t last as long because TTL doesn’t have the wildcat banks and Jackson’s war on the Second Bank.
[7] The author is drawing a distinction between those who wish to abolish slavery and those who would be content to diminish and curtail it wherever possible.
[8] Biddle sent this letter IOTL.
[9] All OTL, including the fact that Thomas Biddle is a cousin of Nicholas Biddle.
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With Britain controlling a decent chunk of New England, Slave Power is probably in a more advantageous position compared to OTL. On the other hand the south has lost Louisiana. Both sides are pressured, this will indeed result in trouble.
With Britain controlling a decent chunk of New England, Slave Power is probably in a more advantageous position compared to OTL.
Less than you'd think. The part of Maine the British got ITTL was IOTL still disputed territory as late as the 1830s.

On the other hand the south has lost Louisiana. Both sides are pressured, this will indeed result in trouble.

The southern half of Louisiana — and especially New Orleans — were serious losses to the South. Compounding this is that as things stand, the free states have a lot more room to expand than they do. So the south is feeling especially cornered, and (thanks to the Bank) anyone in America who hates slavery is feeling ever more morally compromised by the bare fact of its existence.
There is a map above on this page. Other than the northern part of Maine, the Union has lost essentially the northern Tier of states west of Minnesota and the southern of Louisiana. The total amount of mid 19th century industry in the northern parts (Maine, and Dakotas west is miniscule)

A more exact map of just the west was posted in March of 2012.
What the military of new spain vs United states?

At the moment, New Spain's army is larger — about 50,000. This is because New Spain has been participating in Spain's wars for about a decade now and hasn't started demobilizing yet. The U.S. army is around 40,000, but is designed to grow rapidly at need. They haven't needed to, because current forces are more than they need for things like the Sauk War and various small, nameless conflicts with the Ho-Chunk, the Osage and the Caddo.

The U.S. has a slight advantage in the ability to project force into the west, although neither party is really good at this yet. The U.S. army can use roads, canals and rivers to go anywhere between the Atlantic and the Mississippi. West of the Mississippi it can move a well-supplied army as far up the rivers as a steamboat can go. (In the case of the Red River, of course, Henry Shreve is still clearing away the Great Raft one tree trunk at a time—hence the conflict with the Caddo.)
Winter is Coming (3)
Edward Stabler died on January 17, 1833. He left behind five sons—Robinson Stabler. Thomas Snowden Stabler, and their half-brother Edward Hartshorne Stabler, all fairly young men, as well as Henry Hartshorne Stabler and Richard Quincy Stabler, who were sixteen and thirteen[1], respectively. The senior three were now the masters of what was currently known as “Stabler & Sons Quality Dyes, Medicines & Goods,” an already large and growing commercial empire. The two younger brothers’ shares in the firm were held in trust. America and the world waited to see what the heirs to this empire would do with it. Robinson would run the Lynchburg branch and expand the firm further south and west, while Edward H. would have the full-time job of running the New York branch, but Thomas was the one everyone would remember.

The initial impression of Thomas Stabler’s career would suggest a real-life example of the combination of invention and entrepreneurship occasionally seen in the nineteenth century and far more often seen in bad aristist novels of the twentieth century. The secret of being such a person, of course, is having someone to whom one can delegate those tasks that aren’t one’s strongest point. In the case of Thomas, his brother-in-law Abdiel Crossman[2] (a man of the same age as himself) was in charge of sales, and his friend John L. Leadbeater (who would become his brother-in-law in 1835 when half-sister Mary married him[3]) was in charge of managing the firm’s day-to-day business. This left the development and testing of new medicines and other products to Thomas.

Thomas had also learned from his father how to use a reliable source of income to finance research that might yield more income. The War Department and the Navy always needed niter, for instance, and the budget shortfalls in Washington meant that they could no longer afford the imported niter from India and had to use Stabler’s product, which was not yet of such consistent quality but was less expensive. Just as Edward Stabler had used money from the regular sale of Republican Purple dye to pay for the research that led to the first indigine[4] dyes, Thomas now used the money from Kentucky niter to finance his own researches for the War Department…

Even in a hiemal period, of course, people still got sick or hurt and would pay any price to be well, or at least feel relief from pain. Thomas was not the first person—not even the first person named Thomas—to cultivate Papaver somniferum in America. Thomas Jefferson had done so at Monticello many years earlier. Now Thomas Stabler was encouraging farmers who were struggling with still-high debts and low prices to do so on a larger scale. Beginning in 1833, his signature appears on many purchasing contracts for raw opium poppy. Officially, this was also for the War Department, to supply the army with “morphia,” or morphine, in the event of war. But the war had yet to begin, and Stabler was already starting to turn a profit…

An overseas trade good that China was happy to accept was American ginseng. Thomas began cultivating this on a larger scale as well, shipping it to the Far East along with “rhinoceros horn” which was, in fact, finely ground human nail clippings[5]. Along with every shipment, of course, was a certain amount of raw Stabler opium, generally sold in quiet deals by certain sailors rather than openly traded, to avoid the wrath of the Qing government coming down on Stabler’s agents, who were his eyes and ears in China.

These agents were also learning more about the traditional herbal medicines the Chinese favored, and relayed this information to the home office in Alexandria. Although Thomas was understandably reluctant to trust the medical lore of a nation that was buying his discarded toenail clippings at many times their weight in silver, he did not dismiss such lore entirely. He had samples of herbs from China and other nations brought home. The most successful of these was Artemisia annua, or Chinese wormwood, although it would take well over a decade for Thomas Stabler to find a way to extract the active ingredient[6] reliably and in quantity…

-Sharon-Rose Nicholls, For the People[7] (Who Are Still Alive): The Long and Sometimes Honorable History of Stabler, Inc.

[1] Slightly different from Thomas Stabler’s IOTL half-siblings, although IOTL Edward Senior did leave two sons with the middle name “Hartshorne.”
[2] IOTL a successful businessman and mayor of New Orleans despite being from Massachusetts. ITTL he’s married to Anna Stabler. (I can’t find any mention of either of these two marrying IOTL.)
[3] As IOT
[4] OTL aniline, ITTL first discovered in 1825.
[5] Human fingernails and rhino horn are both made of keratin.
[6] Artemisinin, a powerful antimalarial drug.
[7] In decades to come, the corporation that Stabler & Sons Quality Dyes, Medicines & Goods is evolving into will adopt a linked series of slogans for products meant for household purchase and use: “Beauty for the People” (cosmetics), “Health for the People” (pharmaceuticals), “Hygiene for the People” (soaps, shampoos, etc.), “Refreshment for the People” (soft drinks), etc.
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I'm looking forward to seeing how this relationship between American commercial interests and Qing China develops. While rather on the exploitive side right now, I can see it helping prop both of the two up later on (American international business becoming bolstered in growth by a large pool of consumers, Chinese consumers obtaining cheap products and getting a good in to what will be a premium source of more manufactured goods in the future) and eventually leading to some meaningful degree of diplomatic rapport between the two so long as stability is maintained. It's also good to see the farce of rhinoceros horn being exploited; while I'm hoping it will have the effect of reducing demand for genuine stuff in the long run, it may also lead to more of it as the consumer pool grows.

I get the feeling that the Americans getting a head-start in the process of securing production of anti-malarial drugs is going to make their role in the colonial games of the century substantially larger.

How far does the Rio Grande border of New Spain/the U.S. continue?


I tried my hand at making a map of North America in the early 1830's, using the best of my historical knowledge coupled with the prose. I tried following the info from the prose and Lycaon's maps as best they could unless they didn't reflect reality. Some parts of this map are hard to find info on both OTL and ATL, and are thus pure speculation on my part as to borders and control.

This map is not canon and I do not intend to imply it is so, it is purely my own idea of the borders.

Some notes:

- The southern area of the border of Russian Alaska doesn't really look like that. The area wasn't exactly defined and was disputed until the early 1900s, but the modern day border is close enough to a midway point.
- The entirety of Labrador is disputed between the colonies of Newfoundland and Quebec. That red border is pretty much meaningless.
- The status of present-day British Columbia and Washington beyond "under British control" perplexed me. With no joint occupation of the Oregon Country, I imagined at some point they just gave a chunk of it to the Hudson's Bay Company, the boundaries of which I abstractly chose as the Columbia River drainage basin border and I just followed some rivers down to the Pacific.

Other than these speculative areas, the map should be more or less wholly authentic to the prose. I'm still not satisfied with the Maine border but whatever, this took me ten hours to make.

Full-size version here: https://imgur.com/a/NtC1YMW
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