Cool update! Looks like interesting times in the good old US of A. The different course of the whole slavery debate with the populists and liberationists is really interesting.
Good insight into the country at this time and it looks quite rough if even the settlement of the west is floundering under economic woes. Is the US just generally isolated in the diplomatic front throughout all of this then? Seems only Italy is on fairly good terms with it at present.
Yes, farmers are struggling to stay afloat and the poor are suffering, but unless they’re being horsewhipped, watching their wives get raped or having their children sold to strangers, they can take lots of seats as far as the Liberationists are concerned. And as for foreign policy, the big bad boogeyman Britain is abolishing slavery, which is a lot more than the U.S. can say right now. The Liberationists have elected two candidates to the House—a good first try, especially for a party dedicated to winning the votes of white men by telling them to shut up about their problems, but not enough to give them any clout to speak of.
(The Liberationists’ position on the banks is that they’re SEIZING AND AUCTIONING SLAVES, in case you were wondering.)
Alas, Dew has come down with a case of pneumonia and is in bed, being cared for by his wife until he can get his strength back and start writing his latest essay, which will be on the fundamental weakness of women and their need for men to look after them.
(I said he was of two minds. I didn’t say either one was any help.)
His ship is the USS Representation. and its adventures are as exciting as its name.
I’ve missed your one-liners.
Interlude: December 23, 1834 (4)
Glad everyone's enjoying it! (I hope you're still enjoying it after you get to the end of this next update.)

The U.S. isn't totally isolated, but (and this is their biggest problem as far as foreign policy goes) of all their allies, only one—France—might conceivably be able to help in time of war. That's the one they most want to keep happy.

At first glance, it appears that little has changed for the worse in this growing colony. Over a thousand immigrants came from India, Southeast Asia and China this year. Rice, honey, preserved fruit, Florida water, sugar grown by free labor (for a given value of “free”)—the market for these things hasn’t gone anywhere. But the pace of immigration and growth has slowed in the past two years, mostly because of the credit crunch. This has somewhat strengthened the position of the Creek and Seminole tribal organizations as lenders, even as those tribes await the next census knowing they’ll find they’re quite thoroughly outnumbered by the new immigrants.

There has been one change right at the top. Governor Charles MacCarthy turned 70 this year, and decided to tender his resignation and retire from Florida. Replacing him is the 51-year-old Joseph Wanton Morrison, who served with distinction as a general in the war in Burma—and before that as a lieutenant colonel in the War of 1812, inflicting an embarrassing defeat on the Americans during the invasion of Canada. His appointment to this post is a rather obvious message to their northern neighbors not to try anything stupid.

Governor Raffles divided Florida into seven provinces. In the northeastern province of Augustinia, blacks and Jews alike have learned from the Creeks how to plant the Three Sisters together, so the beans enrich the soil and the hairy squash leaves ward raccoons away from the corn. They’ve learned to soak the corn in limewater to make it safer and more nutritious. They’ve learned to care for the various wild fruit trees they find to increase their production. Above all, they’ve learned from Cantonese and Bengalis how to cultivate and prepare the rice that now grows in profuse abundance along the St. Johns River. The poorest people in Augustinia go to bed every night with bellies full of boiled rice and veggies.

David Levy Yulee and Judah P. Benjamin are not the poorest people in Augustinia. Both of them are bright young lawyers working in the provincial capital of St. Augustine. Yulee in particular is the son of Moses Levy, the most powerful and respected man in Florida’s Jewish community and the main driving force behind the existence of that community. He took the surname “Yulee,” the name of one of his Moroccan ancestors, as a way to literally make a name for himself rather than staying in his father’s shadow.[1] Benjamin is the guy whose account of his Spanish adventure was getting him free drinks for most of a year before it was eclipsed by Fed’s account of his escape from Savannah. Yulee and Benjamin both go to bed with bellies full of jerk chicken or fried fish, or beefsteak on special occasions (and there are still few Hindus in St. Augustine, so they don’t get any dirty looks for the steak) and the beds they go to are surrounded by drapes of scented cheesecloth to keep out the mosquitoes. The one drawback to their wealth and status is that even in Florida they’re expected to dress like they’re in London, and this time of year that’s almost comfortable.

Especially right now—Christmas is in two days and Hanukkah begins in four, but this Tuesday evening Yulee and Benjamin have gotten the last of their business wrapped up for the year, and are celebrating with sweet, fragrant lychee wine in a local pub, the Menorquín. They’re flirting with the waitress, a pretty Balinese girl from down the coast. And they’re keeping their ears open for gossip. The Menorquín draws a crowd of their fellow Jews, the Minorcan Spaniards who’ve been living in this town since long before it was British, the small handful of immigrants from the British Isles, the occasional Creek or Seminole on business, and even a few black people.

By the standards of 1834, St. Augustine is a model for racial harmony, but that’s saying almost nothing. The Jewish, Spanish and black parts of the city are practically separate towns with not a lot of socialization between them, and though the black part of town holds nearly half of its roughly 5,000 people, it holds a lot less than half of its wealth. But the Menorquín is one of the holy places where the races meet[2], which makes it a place where Yulee and Benjamin can tap the flow of information that goes up and down the southern Hidden Trail. The word they’re getting now is that up in Georgia, Governor Berrien is spending a lot of time in the company of Isaiah Hart, an American slaveholder who lived near what is now Sepharad before the war, and has never quite gotten over the loss of his land. That has to be bad news. Good thing Morrison is in charge.

Neither of these men is an abolitionist. Both of them grew up in the Caribbean—Yulee on St. Thomas, Benjamin on St. Croix. They don’t remember slavery as being all that bad, since their experience was more of the having-them than the being-one variety, and for a long time they felt like Florida was missing out by not having it. But they’ve been without slaves for some years now, and the majority of their neighbors in Sepharad never had any to begin with. And after the Paixão de Cristo and Savannah, even they have a hard time arguing that Raffles made a mistake—especially since the Empire’s gradual emancipation program is causing Florida no disruption at all, unlike Jamaica or Guiana.

And there are other ways of getting work done. On the east bank of the St. Johns south of Sepharad, Jews from the Netherlands, Portugal, Morocco and what is now the Kingdom of Turkey own more acres of paddy than they can ever hope to cultivate, even with the help of the water buffaloes that someone brought over as calves and that are now big enough to be ready for work. But there are Muslim boys in Florida who already know how to grow rice, whose parents come from India, Malaya and Java and are willing to hire them out for a little money and—for the boys—a lot of education. Florida is not richly supplied with imams and has no madrassa, and most of the colony’s religious schools are Christian and inclined to proselytizing.

Florida is definitely a cultural mosaic—but right now it’s an abstract one, its various elements forming no obvious pattern. For example, if you ask Mani Jiya Menon of the Narinna district of the province of Tequesta, north of Lake Mayaca, she would tell you she’s a Travancoran woman living in Florida—and by the way, she’s definitely of the menon caste. (Nobody in Florida can prove otherwise.) And, Jiya would say, the same is true of her 9-year-old daughter Teji (full name: Mani Teji Menon), who she insists is the child of her dear departed husband. Everyone agrees that judging by Teji’s appearance, said husband must have been a particularly handsome man—and must also have been much lighter-skinned than Jiya.

Jiya and Teji only speak Malayalam when they’re at home. The rest of the time they speak English, and Jiya makes Teji practice her English as carefully as she judges the ripeness of an ackee[3]. Jiya is one of the hardest workers on the Seminole-owned fruit orchards and apiaries in the district, where they grow a particularly delicious breed of lime, but she wants to make sure her daughter gets a ticket into a better life in Florida.

Likewise, Josie Shepherd thinks of herself as a black woman in Florida. She lives in the mostly-black village of Angola at the northwestern tip of the province of Charlottea[4]. Her husband of three years is named Akinwale, but everyone calls him Wally. He was one of the Paixão de Cristo rebels, and only speaks a little English. They agreed on the surname “Shepherd” on account of their job, which is helping raise the expanding herds of meat and dairy sheep. Because these herds are still meant to be expanding, few sheep are slaughtered until they’re old enough to have gotten some breeding done. Local butchers run the tough, gamy mutton through grinders, hickory-smoke it, salt it and spice it, then pack it tight into the casings and smoke the sausages again. British sailors love this stuff—it lasts for months at sea, it goes well with the lime juice ration, and best of all, it isn’t hardtack. Hindus, Muslims and Jews will also buy it because it’s guaranteed not to have any beef or pork in it, and it’s good with the fermented fish sauce they make in Zarazota a little ways south.

Already helping out in the fields is Josie’s 8-year-old son Gordon, who’s quite obviously not Wally’s son—where Wally is one of the darkest-skinned men in Angola, Gordon is several shades lighter than his mother. This, plus his precocious charm, are why he’s been nicknamed “Golden.” His biological father used to help out with money, but he passed away a couple of years ago.

Choi Ming lives in Trafalgar itself—in fact, she has a room in the governor’s mansion and works in the famous botanical gardens alongside a young man from India, who has taught her the art of fixing a good curry and whom she’ll marry next year. He’s agreed to adopt as his own her son, 6-year-old son Choi Yin, who’s already a bit tall for his age. Which is good—her own parents were far less accepting. Yin is due to have a Hindu stepfather, but as far as Ming is concerned he’s perfectly Chinese, even if his deep-set eyes, the subtly different texture of his hair, and his taste for clarified butter would stand out back in Canton. She’s taught him the bare handful of characters that she knows, but has made sure he also has a start in speaking and writing English.

And back in St. Augustine, Ni Made Dewi has learned a lot she didn’t know in her childhood in Bali, or later in the fishing village of Tebanan[5]. She’s learned how to brew the strong rice beer called choo, how to flirt with young lawyers without making any promises and look graceful and self-possessed while dodging their hands, and how to hold her head high when talking about her 3-year-old daughter, Ni Wayan Suardika[6], whose father crossed the ocean two years ago and never returned. And yes, if you asked her, she’d say that she and her daughter are both perfectly Balinese.

Because nobody ever sets out to create a new ethnic group. Different tribes and nations can and do exchange ideas, skills, the odd strand of DNA, and even whole languages with each other, but as Anil Malakar will one day say, “Identity and pride—whether it be that of an army, a faith or a people—are forged by the Creator in the fires of shared travail.” British Florida is hardly a generation old, and apart from the bad hurricane back in ’28 and a couple of outbreaks of yellow fever, it’s not a place where much shared travail has happened… yet.

Some of the news is bad, and some of it is downright horrifying, so let’s start with the good news. John Keane (remember him? Soldier? Louisiana’s conqueror-turned-savior? Very model of a modern major-general?[7] Man who still has no idea how much he’s changed the world?) is back in New Orleans, and he’s been named Minister of War for the Republic of Louisiana.

The presence of all these British officials in their government is starting to become controversial. The stated rationale is that these guys are just better at what they do. After all, Louisiana has a population of just under a quarter of a million, of whom over forty percent are slaves. At last census, the UK had a population of 24 million people just in the British Isles. The men who come from London to serve New Orleans are drawn from a talent pool two orders of magnitude greater, and Louisiana should be grateful they’re here. Still, most people are well aware that this is the Crown’s protection turning, little by little, into domination.

But this is Keane—they can’t be mad at him. When he arrived last September after eighteen years away, the city outdid itself in revelry to celebrate his return. He went on a tour of the little republic, and was greeted as a hero in the border forts and the small but growing town named after him. The only sign of trouble was that people kept wanting more reassurance that Queen Charlotte wasn’t going to abolish slavery in Louisiana, and he kept having to tell them that the Crown could not and would not do that here.

As minister of war, Keane has already made one important decision—the Army companies that use rafts and pirogues as transportation will remain in the Grand Army of the Republic rather than being placed under the Navy’s jurisdiction. But the Navy isn’t complaining much, because Keane came with a gift for them, courtesy of their friends in the Royal Navy—24 long nines and enough inch-thick iron plate to allow them to complete a unique warship, the Volonté de la République.

They’re calling the Volonté “Louisiana’s demologos” but it isn’t really one. It’s smaller and lighter, with (as might be expected for a strictly brown-water vessel) a much shallower draft. It doesn’t have the monster columbiads that can fire a hundred-pound[8] cannonball through an enemy’s hull below the waterline. But it’s not like Robert Fulton is going to come to Louisiana and tell them it didn’t pass certification. When built, it will be fully armored above the waterline, able to fire 24-pound heated shot from its bow and stern chasers, and with the long nines the British were kind enough to provide, it will be able to steam up the middle of the Mississippi and kill invaders on both banks.[9]

Keane is hoping this formidable vessel never sees action. After the war, he was very happy to return to his wife, and she was very happy to have him back—so happy, in fact, that they had three sons in as many years.[10] The oldest of those sons is now in the Army, and the others are likely to follow suit. He’s proud of them for their choices, but he does not want war.

And things here are bad enough as it is right now. Where the global recession has touched Florida lightly, it’s smacked Louisiana hard. A lot of cotton brokerage firms are headquartered in New Orleans for tax reasons, but those lower taxes didn’t save them from this year’s collapse. Biddle’s attempt to corner the market is making it harder for them to get hold of cotton that doesn’t come from Louisiana itself. Trade in general has declined, which is bad for a number of reasons—the lower the volume of trade from the American frontier to the Gulf of Mexico, the higher a percentage of it can be funneled through the T&T Canal, meaning even less money for Louisiana tariff collectors, brokers and shippers. Land prices haven’t fallen as far as they have in Canada and the United States (this is one of the rare cases where being small and at the limits of possible growth is an advantage) but they’ve gone down enough to hurt the speculators. And of course the market in fur has collapsed, ruining those who depend on searching the bayou for muskrats and other hairy things to kill. The result is the same problems they’re having in New York and Charleston, and a government with no power to address them.

Even the wages of sin are getting low. Prostitutes aren’t doing as badly as fur traders[11], but they have had to lower their prices, which is hell on their self-esteem. Most of the gamblers still coming to the casinos are either addicted or desperate. They’re the sort who are pretty reliable about losing their money, but don’t have much money to lose.

When most people think of the little republic, they think of the city of New Orleans, but only one in five of Louisiana’s people lives there. Much of the rest of the country is dominated by the cotton and sugar industries. It’s the familiar pattern—big farmers can devote more of their land to growing cash crops, so they make more money and buy land from their neighbors, grow more cash crops and so on. And they need that land, because cotton and sugar are both hard on the soil. But there’s a limit to how far this expansion can go. Louisiana is (it bears repeating) small, and much of its land is wetland which can’t be drained because it’s at sea level or because it’s haunted by small semi-legal communities of runaway slaves which it would take a war to get rid of. Then there’s the fact that in Britain, one of Louisiana’s two biggest trade partners, slave-grown sugar is out of fashion. So even as food production was going down, cotton and sugar were already running into trouble. The, of course, the economy went south—which in Louisiana means it sank into the Gulf of Mexico.

And as elsewhere, voters are starting to look angrily at their government. Louisiana has had less of a political monopoly than the U.S., but the Conservatives have been in power since 1824. If Jacques Villeré were still alive, they’d probably make him president again.[12] Since he isn’t, last year they chose his oldest son, René Philippe Gabriel Roy Villeré, mostly as a sort of placeholder until Bouligny can step in again. He has no idea how to handle this situation.

He is getting some suggestions. André B. Roman, leader of the opposition, is of the opinion that what Louisiana needs is debt relief for farmers and small businessmen and tax breaks for the production of food. Like the Populist Party in the U.S., his main concern is keeping people alive and in business. The Conservative party whip, a young up-and-comer named Alexandre Mouton, is of the opinion that Louisiana should just ride this out and not do much of anything.

And then there’s what’s happening in foreign affairs—specifically the United States. A number of newspaper editors and Tertium Quid politicians have been putting forward the idea that Louisiana should cast off British protection and rejoin the United States. This would accomplish two goals—protecting slavery in Louisiana from the abolitionism of the British Empire, and give American slaveholders domestic allies to protect slavery within the United States.

This suggestion is not going over very well, and the person doing the most to sabotage it is Thomas Hart Benton, U.S. Secretary of War. He still remembers Andrew Jackson fondly, and he thinks of the Louisianans as the people who betrayed and murdered him. He wants to conquer Louisiana by force, and has no problem saying so.

As it happens, Louisianans also remember Andrew Jackson. For those in their thirties, who were born around the turn of the century and are just getting into politics, one of the defining memories of their adolescence was learning that the general they trusted to defend their city was trying to burn it to the ground.

And no one born after 1810 has any clear memories of life under the United States. The younger generation—especially those connected in some way with trade—think of Louisiana as the northern edge of the Caribbean as much as the southern edge of North America. They look to New Spain, Florida, Spanish Cuba and Tehuantepec, and beyond them to a great variety of places, especially the French-speaking Guadeloupe, Martinique and Cayenne. (Quite a few whites from Guadeloupe and Martinique are moving to Louisiana in response to the abolition of slavery there.) They think of Louisiana as a unique and special place in the world, and they don’t want to trade that uniqueness for two senators and four representatives in Congress[13].

One of these young people is Corporal Augustin-Frejus Toutant-Beauregard[14], youngest of the Beauregard children, whose father was killed at the Battle of Pearl River before he was born. He’s nineteen years old and has been in the Army for the last two years. He’s too young to have taken part in the Ichacq War, and in fact has spent his entire service in a unit stationed near the capital to protect it from a potential slave revolt. Since there hasn’t been a slave revolt, you’d think his service would be pretty forgettable. In fact, he will never forget his service, no matter how much he wants to.

Back in January, when everyone was still talking about Savannah and afraid that something like that was going to happen here, a couple of city gendarmes came to the barracks accompanied by an emaciated, terrified-looking slave woman. This woman reported that there was a revolt being planned in the slave quarters of the LaLaurie mansion on Rue Royale, they had weapons, and someone had to go there and stop them right now. The gendarmes figured they’d need some backup for this one. They didn’t even have time to obtain permission from the mansion’s owner, Dr. Leonard LaLaurie, who claimed to be able to treat hunchbacks and was out arranging a shipment of drugs from Virginia.

Beauregard, who had never seen any real action before, figured he was ready for anything as he led the charge to the mansion, shouldering the door open as soon as someone answered it. When he glanced in the kitchen and saw the cook chained to the stove, he wrote it off as a case of harsh discipline, and he assumed the gauntness and heavy scarring of the other slaves was due to unusual cruelty and parsimoniousness on the part of the LaLauries. Like anyone who grows up in a place where slavery is widespread, he’d gotten used to a certain background-noise level of horror… but it didn’t prepare him for the slave quarters, which were basically a Hieronymus Bosch painting made out of people.

There was an old woman with an open head wound, somehow still alive. There was a bedridden man whose arms and legs had been stretched as if on a rack, to the point where they no longer functioned. There were women hanging from the ceiling, alive but tied up, with their limbs forced into positions that a professional contortionist would have had a hard time duplicating. There was a man chained to the wall, with an iron collar around his neck lined with spikes on the inside, trying to keep awake for as long as possible so as not to cut himself.

Suspicion immediately fell on Dr. LaLaurie—some of the things that had been done to the slaves looked vaguely like some sort of medical experiments, and he didn’t help his case when he insisted that what went on in his house was his own business. But as the authorities interviewed the slaves, they learned that the perpetrator was his wife Delphine.

That made it worse. Delphine LaLaurie was a beautiful and popular socialite who’d always seemed perfectly pleasant, and the slaves she brought out in public with her had been in perfect health—she’d even freed a couple. There had been rumors about her for a long time, and she’d been investigated more than once due to rumors of cruelty beyond what the republic’s laws allow. Louisianans have always taken pride in having a legal structure to protect slaves and limit what their masters can do. They might have expected this sort of thing to happen in some backwoods plantation in America, but not on Rue Royale. And as they dug up the garden and found the bodies, it became clear to everyone in the city that their trusted institutions had failed.

And to top it off, Beauregard and his men had the thankless job of guarding this woman-shaped thing through the trial, so that an angry mob didn’t decorate a lamppost with her before the court could enforce its own justice. Her lawyer and son-in-law, Auguste Delassus, tried to make a case that she was insane. It didn’t work. She was found guilty and hanged. The family was busy slinking off in various directions, so the corpse was sold to anatomists—the Edinburgh Phrenological Society bought the head and had it defleshed so they could examine the skull structure and try to work out where the evil bits are.

So at least in one small way, Delphine LaLaurie did boost the local economy.

[1] He did the same thing IOTL when he converted, but for different reasons.
[2] h/t Leonard Cohen
[3] A fruit, originally from West Africa and ITTL imported to Florida via Jamaica, parts of which are toxic when unripe.
[4] Named not after the current queen ITTL, but after Charlotte Harbour, which in turn was named after George III’s wife.
[5] OTL Fort Lauderdale
[6] This makes sense in the context of the Balinese naming system.
[7] IOTL by this time he’d been promoted to lieutenant-general.
[8] Supplying ammunition for pre-1815 artillery pieces are an area where the U.S. still uses traditional weights and measures.
[9] Designers anticipate that as a riverine vessel, the Volonté will be more likely to confront other vessels to fore and aft, and land-based armies to port and starboard.
[10] As IOTL.
[11] Because those who’ve purchased sexual favors in previous years don’t usually turn around and sell them to others at a lower price.
[12] Here's the list:
  1. 1815-18 Jacques Villeré
  2. 1818-21 Bernard de Marigny, Radical
  3. 1821-24 Armand Beauvais, Radical
  4. 1824-27 Jacques Villeré, Conservative
  5. 1827-30 Charles D.J. Bouligny , Conservative
  6. 1830-33 Jean-Baptiste Labatut, Conservative
[13] By my calculations.
[14] IOTL an older brother of P.G.T. Beuaregard.
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Really good run down of the two places, Florida is a really fascinating locale alright, you've done well with its creation. Louisiana seems like it's going to be full of trouble at some point soon, the description of the slaves is rather... yikes. Was it based off a real person?
Florida continues to be fascinating. But I wonder what it will become; lots of ptential paths, which ones will it pick? O|i say ones because after all, rarely is a nation or a state truly of one stripe however broad.

Glad to see Louisiana work to further assert its indepndence from Britain. Shame the driving force is slavery at this point. But we have a glimmer of hope through a nightmare. This Bathory of the Bayou one can hope will light a fire under abolitionism in the Republic; probably too soon for an end ,even on Britain's current model, to be the case, but a boost to the movement. A tragedy to rally around against the injustice.

What is the status of Native people's in the Republic if I may ask? And what is going on in Tejas these days?
What is the status of Native people's in the Republic if I may ask? And what is going on in Tejas these days?

It’s complicated.

The Chacta and Chicacha are full citizens, sending representatives to the Assembly and their brightest children to school in New Orleans. The Chacta dominate Guérisseurs, where they own most of the good land and the old clan governments act as a sort of combination shadow government, farmers’ grange and force for advocacy of their interests. Amocheles Tabie (OTL’s Mushulatubbee, whose name seems to have been spelled in a number of different ways) is the parish governor, and most of the parish’s delegates to the Assembly are Chacta. The Chicacha are trying occupy the same position in Villeré, but they have maybe a quarter as many people as the Chacta and don’t own as much land. But what land they do own, they can keep. Louisiana’s courts are very good about on this.

Both tribes have had their numbers boosted by a small influx of natives from the United States. These natives are getting treated a lot like immigrants anywhere—expected to assimilate while doing the jobs nobody else wants. But some of them have achieved high positions. Officially, the head of the Catholic Church in western Louisiana is Auxiliary Bishop Stephen Badin, but unofficially, it’s Alexis Menominee, with backing from the elderly Tenskwatawa. This has meant some compromises—the Communion wine in churches where Menominee’s followers worship is only partly fermented.

The métis people of the Sabine (known to the anglophone world as Redbones) are also flourishing, and have settled all along the road to Fort-Keane. They have no tribal government, but since so many of them volunteered for the army, it was simpler to declare them white for legal purposes.

Worst off are the Ichacq, who just lost the war. The lands in Sabine Est and Ichacq still recognized as owned by their various bands are the lands deemed too poor for most purposes. They've been assembling in the town of Nialville (OTL Beaumont, TX) to develop the sort of tribal government the Chacta and Chicacha have.

Tejas is also complicated. I’ll get into it more in the post about New Spain. For now, all I’ll say is…

There's a third Hidden Trail.
Interlude: December 23, 1834 (5)
New Spain and Tehuantepec
Agustín de Iturbide has been dead for two years now. The first prime minister of New Spain, the father-in-law of Prince-Viceroy Francisco and grandfather of his children, the man who designed the flag of New Spain… was executed as a traitor.

It hurt. Well, obviously it caused Iturbide some pain, since New Spain favors the garrote for executions, a much slower way out than the guillotine or a properly-done formal hanging. But everyone was left unhappy. Francisco, along with Prime Minister Valentín Gómez Farías, proclaimed it a day of mourning throughout New Spain. Even liberals and federalists were left feeling more sorrow than anger, and conservatives and unitarians—those that weren’t too close to Iturbide and didn’t have to flee to Madrid or Lima—went around in black for months. But he was killed to send a message—no matter who you are or whose backing you think you have, this is what happens when you try to overthrow the government. That’s a good precedent to set, even if it means occasionally having to sentence somebody you like to die with a gradually tightening leather strap around his neck.

Unfortunately, not all the precedents they’ve set are good. Very few army units took part in Iturbide’s coup, and the rest either supported the government in exile or stood aside, but they exacted a price for this. Any military intervention outside New Spain’s borders, even at the behest of the mother country, must pass a vote by the top generals to be acted on. So must any change in the Army’s budget greater than five percent. In other words, civilian control of the military has been compromised.

But New Spain's army is certainly no longer subject to commands from Madrid. And New Spain has its own constitution, and its own legislature and judiciary whose laws and rulings hold sway within its borders. The government in Madrid wanted Iturbide to remain true master while Francisco held onto his ceremonial role, and that didn’t happen. Now, it’s becoming more liberal even as Spain itself turns toward conservatism. Even the name “New Spain” is falling out of favor. Young people are speaking of it as “Anahuac” and are referring to the capital not as Ciudad de México, but just plain México. So you may be wondering—in what sense is this still a part of the Spanish Empire?

Mostly in its economy and foreign policy. It still serves as a supplier of raw materials and a market for Spanish goods, and if it can no longer be counted on to wage war on Spain’s enemies, it at the very least will not ally with them.

But these too are being compromised. Thanks to the role played by Zavala’s government in defeating Iturbide’s coup, Farías’ government regards Tehuantepec as a loyal ally. King Carlos regards it as an unfortunate accident. Tehuantepec itself continues, selling rope and cocoa beans for whatever price they can get.

And not only is New Spain developing its own olive groves and vineyards, but Farías wants it to industrialize, especially in the area of railroads, textiles, steam engines, guns and ammunition. This point Madrid won’t compromise on—industry in Spain is having a rough enough start, and they need New Spain buying their textiles and manufactured goods rather than making its own. As for weapons, Spain looked at the Austro-Italian War and decided it was time to modernize the army, and (when they get the money) the navy. But even equipping the army with revolvers is expensive. One way to offset the expense of buying a lot of new guns, of course, is to sell the old ones. This is where an empire comes in handy. So New Spain is getting a lot of guns… just not the latest model.

And there’s another problem. The border with Tehuantepec is loosely guarded, and Tehuantepec has low tariffs with the U.S. and France. So if you’re a rich man in Mexico and you’d like to buy, say, one of those new thimmoniers for your wife, you can take a trip to Veracruz, buy the machine[1] and take it back. Even if you end up having to bribe a customs official, it’s still cheaper than buying the machine in Tampico. And the same thing is true of many other manufactured goods, which doesn’t create much incentive for industry in New Spain.

But the one thing everyone agrees on is that New Spain needs railroads. Iturbide’s coup discredited the unitarian cause, making it seem like a bad idea to put too much power and importance in any once place. (That’s one reason young people are calling this “Anahuac,” not “Mexico.”) But if this is to become a federal state, then railroads will be needed more than ever to allow the various provinces to come to one another’s aid quickly.

The army, with its newfound clout, firmly agrees—without railroads, this viceroyalty cannot possibly defend its northern frontier. It can’t even rule it—once you get north of the Tropic of Cancer, you start running into people who were never all that pleased that the royalists won, and further north are native tribes who neither know nor care that King Carlos and Prince-Viceroy Francisco claim dominion over them. More ominously, there are stories out of Tejas that American immigrants are already settling land in the northeast, near Arkansaw and Mississippi. But again, with so little investment capital this is a bad time to begin a big project.

Even so, Farías’ government is doing what it can and making the most of the opportunities that present themselves. New Spain is starting to get immigrants from Spain itself—Castilians who don’t like the way things are going in Madrid—from Ireland, and a few Czechs from the Austrian Empire. There are quite a few people who want to immigrate to a Catholic-majority country, but not one as theocratic as the Most Holy Viceroyalty of South America.

Farías is taking advantage of this to try to speed development of Tejas before somebody else does, building Fuerto Castellano north of the Old San Antonio Road beyond the town itself [2], and Fuerto San Patricio even further north[3]. This has basically meant war with the Comanches, but that is a cause the Army can get behind. Settlers are starting to come up the road as far as Nacogdoches, mostly on the north side.

Why mostly on the north? Because south of that road, stretching all the way over the northwest border of Louisiana, is the huge forest known as the Selva Conchate or the Forêt des Conchates[4], a sprawling tangle of dense subtropical woodland as impenetrable as any forest on Earth… which is to say, not completely impenetrable. Some people have already come through it, and those people are black.

Yes, there is a third Hidden Trail, and white abolitionists weren’t involved in the making of this one. It runs through the woods and bayous of southern Louisiana, then up the Sabine and over the border through the Conchate into New Spain, where slavery is not legal.

Farías and Francisco weren’t too bothered when they heard about this. True, these people don’t speak Spanish, but neither do the Irish or Czechs. The important thing, from the capital’s point of view, is that coming from Louisiana, they’re at least nominally Catholic—it’s not their fault there’s no churches in the Conchate. And, yes, they’re black—but there’s less than a thousand of them, living in little villages they hacked out of the northern Conchate, and as escapees they’re self-selected for cunning and enterprise.

And if those slave-happy Americans were to come for them, they would most certainly fight.

Central America and the Caribbean
Carlos learned a lot from governing the Viceroyalty of South America, especially about Spain’s relationship with its colonies. He still thinks of Central America, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the rest as cash cows that exist to enrich Spain, but the thing about cows is, it’s not enough to fence them in—you’ve also got to keep them healthy and well-fed. Investing a little more in these places will strengthen their economies and increase revenue.

For example, the highlands in the province of Costa Rica grow some of the finest coffee in the world, and this would bring in a lot of money if they could get more of it to market. The problem is that the best Atlantic ports are on the north coast of Honduras, and the roads in between are a bit of an issue. Improving them will not only increase trade, but bind the Central American provinces together.

In better times, this would be paid for by loans, on the understanding that the profits from increased trade would cover the interest. Carlos can’t get loans like that now—not for this—but he thinks he has a brilliant way to get a lot of the work done cheap. In the Viceroyalty there was a thing called the mita, a tax on native peoples that was paid in labor, and he used it to great effect there. Time to introduce it to Central America. What could go wrong?

In Cuba, Captain General José Antonio Saco has crushed the rebellion. The Cuban aristocracy has reluctantly accepted his rule—the alternative is running for the hills and becoming a guerrilla, and it’s kind of hard to do that and bring your slaves along. Now comes the hard part—putting the Black Codes into effect. It’s (comparatively) easy to pass laws, harder to enforce them, and hardest of all to enforce laws that were always on the books but never taken seriously… especially when hardly anyone not directly in your pay is really on your side.

To the extent that life on Cuban sugarcane plantations is becoming longer and less hellish, it’s not so much because of any reforms from Havana as because—with the transatlantic slave trade reduced to a trickle—if you work a slave to death you might not be able to replace him. The word “him” is a deliberate choice there. There’s still a severe gender imbalance among the slaves, and it’s causing the aristocracy to worry about where the next generation of slaves is going to come from. In other words, Cuba needs women—and again, thanks to the Royal Navy it’s much harder to haul them over from Africa.

But there is another source. East of the Central American province of Nicaragua is a British protectorate, labeled on maps as “the Mosquito Coast.” (For some reason, it doesn’t draw a lot of tourists.) Until recently, this kingdom sometimes kidnapped natives from other tribes and sold them to Jamaica as slaves. But the British crackdown on the slave trade and emancipation within the Empire ended that revenue stream… for a while. Now it’s started up again, and this time the Miskito are attacking native villages in Honduras and Nicaragua, killing the men and boys and stealing the women and girls.

This isn’t supposed to be happening. King Robert Charles Frederic officially abolished slavery within the Miskito Kingdom a year after emancipation passed in Parliament[5]. But the Miskito Kingdom is really more of a tribal confederation than a unified polity, and many of those tribes figure what the king doesn’t know won’t hurt him. As for the ships carrying the slaves, they’re the notoriously hard-to-catch Baltimore clippers, crewed by hardened Middle Passage slavers that find it very amusing to protect themselves by sailing under British colors. To summarize, the native peoples of Central America are about to be asked to accept a form of part-time slavery on behalf of a government which is failing to stop their enemies from killing them and stealing their women… and those enemies are supposed to be under the control of an allied nation.

Looking at the British territories—Jamaica, the Bahamas and other islands, British Honduras—it seems like nobody’s very happy. The planters are convinced that emancipation will be the ruin of the West Indies, but it’s clear Queen Charlotte has made up her mind and they know better than to rebel—if it didn’t work in Cuba, it won’t work anywhere. As for the slaves, they and their advocates are still trying to send messages to a distracted London to speed things up some more. They’re doing this because telling someone the exact day and hour on which they will be free, and sticking to that timetable, is very much a gesture of control.

That timetable has already been changed for the sooner—current plans call for a final end to slavery on June 30, 1836. Partly this is because of activism by Sam Sharpe and others, and partly it’s because the planters are irritating Whitehall by dragging their feet on things like improving working conditions and providing better food, clothing and medicine for their “apprentices.” Every time the issue comes up, they plead poverty, and with the economy in general cratering and the price of sugar fallen in particular, who can prove them wrong?

A lot of people in Louisiana and the American South are watching events in the West Indies. Mostly they’re rooting for injuries, hoping for something terrible to happen that will prove slavery cannot be safely abolished in any place where it dominates. But some are watching in a different spirit, looking for a sign that it really is possible to disassemble the peculiar institution without turning into Haiti.

Speaking of Haiti, with the Spanish gone there is no one to challenge Jean-Pierre Boyar’s rule over the whole island of Hispaniola… and, since he isn’t open to democratic reforms, that means he has all the problems of ruling. He’s redistributed just enough land to his veterans, and to former Spanish slaves on Santo Domingo, that everybody’s more or less content at the moment—although the thousands of Dominicans leaving for New Spain or Gran Colombia might disagree. The biggest problem is that Haiti just doesn’t have much of anything that Britain or Spain can’t get from their own tropical possessions. He’s having to do business with the old colonial master France, which is a double humiliation as it means competing with Pays-Crou in the sugar market. Much of the country has reverted to subsistence farming.

But the thing about subsistence farmers is, at least you know they’re eating. And after that long, terrible war, things don’t seem so bad right now.

[1] Tehuantepec has its own money, named the cacao after the old Maya tradition of using cocoa beans for currency, but most places in Veracruz will take Spanish, British, French or American money.
[2] Fuerto Castellano is on the OTL site of Austin, Texas.
[3] On the OTL site of Dallas.
[4] IOTL it’s called the Big Thicket.
[5] As IOTL.
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And not only is New Spain developing its own olive groves and vineyards, but Farías wants it to industrialize, especially in the area of railroads, textiles, steam engines, guns and ammunition. This point Madrid won’t compromise on—industry in Spain is having a rough enough start, and they need New Spain buying their textiles and manufactured goods rather than making its own.
Sounds like Spain proper couldn't do much if Farias started making moves towards industrialization anyway, given how practically independent New Spain is.

Seems like things are going just OK in Haiti. Future very uncertain.
Interlude: December 23, 1834 (6)
South America
Gran Colombia has seen the passing of a giant. Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte-Andrade y Blanco (see, he even had a giant name) died of tuberculosis on February 1.[1] The eulogy by President Jose Tadeo Monagas was translated and printed in newspapers from Buenos Aires to Stockholm.

The nation Bolívar leaves behind is in a similar position to the United States—threatened at sea, and on land to north and south, by its former colonial master. The difference is they’re worried that they might actually be conquered. At the very least, they could be blockaded and forced back onto their own resources, and they have a lot less to work with than the United States. Which means things like textile mills are as much a part of national defense as gunsmiths.

Minister of the Interior—and likely successor to Monagas—José Ignacio de Márquez has a plan. The economy right now is dominated by planters, and what they’re producing is a reliable source of cash. Some of that cash can go to Bogotá to be invested in factories in interior cities, which are less subject to attack. Some of it can go into railroad-building—Colombia has coal, iron ore, and plenty of cheap lumber. All they need is the know-how, which means the third thing to spend this money on is schools.

But all this is going to have to be paid for with taxes, not tariffs. Everything the planters grow is also grown somewhere else. Putting big tariffs on their sugar and coffee[2] would just price it out of the market. They don’t even have a monopoly on coca leaf—and even if they did, the biggest single buyer of coca leaf is Stabler & Sons, a company chartered in an allied nation Colombia already has trade agreements with. And with the state of the world economy, the profits that these taxes are coming out of are not much to begin with. So developing Gran Colombia is going to be a long, slow uphill struggle—but this is an Andean country. They know about struggling uphill.

The three colonies to the east aren’t independent, and so don’t have the problems of trying to maintain independence. British Guiana, like the Caribbean, is trying to adapt to the apprenticeship system and the end of slavery. This colony has its own recent history of slave uprisings in 1822 and 1829, both of them small and relatively nonviolent as slave revolts go.[3] In the latter case, one of Queen Charlotte’s first acts—once she’d heard about it—was to pardon all rebels except those who had personally committed murder, which was good news at least for the ones who hadn’t already been executed.

Another decision was to promote Sir John Gladstone[4], an old ally of George Canning who’s technically a Tory but hasn’t been too fond of either party since the Caroline affair. Both rebellions began on his estates, not so much because he was particularly cruel as because he owned so much of the colony that the odds weren’t in his favor. And in both of them, Sir John urged clemency for the defeated rebels. To be honest, he only did this to make himself look good to London society. A classic absentee landlord, he’s never set foot in a single one of the plantations he owns and he cherishes his ignorance of their management, preferring to trust the word of his overseers that they’re being governed with kindness and Christian principles. He just doesn’t care that much.

But no good deed goes unpunished, no matter what ulterior motives may have prompted it. The government took him at his word and figured that a man who urged clemency for rebellious slaves would be the perfect governor for a Guiana where slavery was ending, which is how he got the job. And just to brighten his day, when he got to Georgetown he found another Gladstone already waiting for him—Jack Gladstone, a former slave on one of his plantations (hence the surname) and a leader in the 1822 rebellion, one of those who he’d urged clemency for. Jack was sent to St. Lucia, but has since been pardoned and released, has returned, and has become one of the leading advocates for the soon-to-be-ex-slave population of Guiana.

To the east is the Dutch colony of Suriname, which has some of the same problems as Cuba—slave ships still sometimes manage to sneak past Cayenne and up the coast to Paramaribo, but not very often. And while communities of runaway slaves can be found everywhere from the United States to Brazil, in Suriname the Maroons are a power in their own right. The colonial government has signed treaties with them, and sometimes even pays them tribute to keep them from raiding. What do you do with a colony that has so many people who refuse to be governed by you?

Import some more. What was the Sulu Sultanate is now a Dutch possession, and those who resist the conquest are taken and shipped here in chains—although in slightly less horrible conditions than those in real slave ships—along with Acehnese pirates whenever they are captured alive. The Dutch are quick to emphasize that this is not slavery or slave trafficking, it’s prison labor for convicted criminals (everyone still fighting for an independent Sulu is a pirate, dontchaknow) followed by indentured servitude, not so different from what the British themselves are doing in Australia. This excuse is enough to keep the Royal Navy off their sterns. And don’t feel too bad for the captured pirates—many of them were slave-takers themselves.

In Cayenne, former governor Sir Neil Campbell has been replaced by the 40-year-old George Stephen, fresh from London. Some say that the fact that Stephen has been granted a colonial governorship proves that Queen Charlotte has forgiven him for his minor role in the D’Issy Commission and his siding against the Queenites in the Caroline affair. Others say the fact that it’s the governorship of Cayenne proves the opposite.

When Stephen got to Cayenne, he found that one of Campbell’s pet projects was already underway. The former governor felt that Cayenne’s timber industry had a lot of potential, but the colony was so lightly populated there weren’t a lot of people to cut trees and haul them. Inspired by the successful introduction of water buffaloes to Florida, he decided to try something bigger—importing elephants and elephant handlers from Asia. This is the sort of thing that takes a while to orchestrate, but once there are teams of elephants established in the back country, they’ll be breeding like… elephants. Don’t expect them to overrun the continent any time soon.

Now that Carlos is back in Madrid, the Most Holy Viceroyalty of South America has another viceroy—and as it happens, this one is also a Prince-Viceroy. Don Sebastián Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza, a cousin of the royal family and Carlos loyalist[5] who was given the title Infante of Spain in 1824,[6] has come to Lima to rule in the name of God and King Carlos, just barely in that order.

The Infante Sebastián was 21 when he got this job—and, like Auckland in Canada, he’s inherited an existing power structure that he’s more inclined to reinforce than mess with. It’s been described as theocratic, and it is, in the sense that—to a much greater degree than in other majority-Catholic countries—the guiding force in society is the Catholic Church, and particularly the conservative elements within the church that dominate here. But being an archbishop or a cardinal is already a full-time job, so the Viceroyalty depends on a cadre of lay officials who’ve adapted to the general tone of things. The three most powerful of these are Treasury Minister Casimiro Olañeta, who among other things is in charge of the mita, Interior Minister Diego Portales, and War Minister Jerónimo Valdés, who is already planning the next war.

But that war can’t happen just yet. The slowdown in trade has affected the economy here as elsewhere, and they have the same problem as New Spain—they’re not self-sufficient, and nobody in Madrid wants them to be. And the mita, which Carlos thinks is such a roaring success, has its drawbacks. Every minute a native man spends helping build roads and bridges through the Andes, he isn’t growing cash crops, mining silver or helping grow the crops to feed his people. Landowners and mine bosses are starting to complain[7], especially when their workers leave for the mita and never come back at all. In the Andes, where cliffs are high and paths are narrow, a moment’s carelessness or a little bad luck is all it takes. Olañeta and Portales are in disagreement on this point— Olañeta thinks Carlos overused the mita and it should be dialed back a bit, while Portales thinks the status quo is perfectly fine. Sebastián is listening to Olañeta at the moment, just because he’s the one counting the money.

Two thing that aren’t problems are guns and gunpowder—like New Spain, they’re buying Spain’s old guns cheap, and those are plenty good enough to fight any war on this continent. And the Viceroyalty has charcoal, sulfur, and (thanks to its epic guano deposits) more saltpeter than anybody has any idea what to do with.

Entre Rios has also seen a change in leadership at the top. Earlier this year, Juan Lavalle, president and effective dictator, was wounded during a failed coup attempt. The coup was defeated, but the wound turned septic and Lavalle died. He was very good at making sure none of his subordinates in the army trusted each other or accumulated too much power, so they found a fairly popular naval war hero and installed him in office. Which is how Entre Rios came to have the Irish-born William Brown as president. He’s in the process of planning elections to restore civilian, democratic rule.

In the same way that people who think of Louisiana mostly think of New Orleans, people who think of Entre Rios mostly think of Buenos Aires. But even more than Louisiana, Entre Rios has a rich agricultural hinterland, which they call Mesopotamia. This is another place that’s drawing immigrants from Spain and Central Europe to produce grain, beef and flax for the world market. These are not the most lucrative products, but they’re always needed.

Unlike Louisiana, Entre Rios is an ally of Britain, not a protectorate, and it shows. Tariffs are low for everybody—whether you’re British, French, American, Italian, Russian, Egyptian or whatever, if you came all this way to do business, they want to make it easy for you to spend money here. And as with New Spain and Tehuantepec, when Brazilians want to avoid tariffs on manufactured goods, here’s where they go.

Entre Rios is affecting Brazil in other ways. What Brazil calls the Cisplatine Province has never been too happy about being annexed, and all the more so now that Entre Rios is weathering the bad times better than Brazil. Slaveholders are the only people in the province with any loyalty to Brazil, and only because there is no slavery in Entre Rios. What there is in Entre Rios is a lot of people who went there to flee Brazilian rule and would support an effort to retake the province. President Brown isn’t planning to do this—nothing seems more likely to turn Entre Rios into a British protectorate than getting entangled in a war with a much larger nation.

This much larger nation has much larger problems. Its sugar industry has the same problem as Cuba’s—not enough slaves to replace those who die, so plantation owners and overseers have to figure out how to make the ones they’ve got last longer. But that’s just the beginning. Last year Pedro, like Carlos before him, left his South American realm to become king of an Iberian kingdom. The difference is that Brazil is an independent nation, not even in personal union with its former colonial master. To accept the crown of Portugal, Pedro had to lay down the crown of Brazil. His plan is to remain in Lisbon and pass the crown down to his oldest daughter, Maria, who just turned twelve, and for his oldest son, also named Pedro, to take the throne of Brazil. That will sort out everything and finalize the independence of the two countries.

But Pedro Junior is fifteen[8]. He’s finally returned from London and is completing his education in Rio, but it will be two and a half years before he reaches the age of majority and becomes emperor. In theory, a regency council is exercising authority on his behalf—but this particular regency council doesn’t really have that kind of power. Right now the only people in charge of Brazil are the General Assembly, which isn’t set up to govern the whole country by itself. For example, senatorial elections only choose the three most popular candidates for the office—the emperor must choose one of these three to be senator. The regency council doesn’t have this power, so senators who die or retire aren’t being replaced.

The result is a prolonged interregnum, where nobody’s really in charge and disputes never get settled. As early as last year there were already several small rebellions in the provinces over charges of local electoral fraud that no one in Rio had the authority to investigate. Throughout Brazil, there was a single thought: June 10, 1837. That’s all. If we can just get to that one date without the whole country dissolving into chaos, we’ll have Emperor Pedro II and everything will be okay. They were seriously considering lowering the age of majority so the boy could take charge right away… and then he just had to go and open his mouth.

You see, Prince Pedro spent his formative years getting an education at London and Oxford, and one of his early influences (some say his first crush) was Queen Charlotte. So no sooner had he returned, in August of this year, then he stood up in front of the General Assembly and announced his fervent opposition to the institution of slavery and his intention to do everything in his power to abolish it forever.

Since then, rebellion has broken out in the northeast, Minas Gerais and the province of Rio de Janeiro itself. The latter two are especially worrying—the first is the province where the gold comes from, and the second of course puts the capital at risk. The resulting state of civil war is doing almost as much to undermine slavery as the emperor himself ever could. Slaves are fleeing deeper into the interior, founding new quilombos[9] in Goiás, Pará and beyond. This is bringing them into contact with indigenous people, some of whom are so isolated that this is the first time they’re finding out Brazil is even a thing. Sometimes these natives prove friendly, and form alliances with their local quilombos. Other times, not so much. In effect, Brazil now has a second civil war going on that it doesn’t even know about. Things will get even more complicated next month in Salvador, when the Malê decide to take action towards their own freedom, rebelling against the rebellion.

Argentina seems to have a lot of problems, but it really only has two. Their nation’s founding idea is its rebellion against tyranny, whether that of Madrid or that of Buenos Aires. And since Buenos Aires spent so long under a dictatorship, they feel pretty vindicated.

You can overthrow tyranny, but you can’t overthrow geography. The settlers in the north and west still depend on a working port at Bahía Blanca, and on local governments maintaining the roads through Santa Fe, Córdoba and San Luis, but the central government in Tucumán can only encourage these things, not command them.

The second problem is that from the point of view of international traders, Bahía Blanca’s motto might as well be “like Buenos Aires, only farther away and with less stuff.” Trade was slow, money in short supply and growth limited even before the slowdown in the economy. This year, Argentina’s provinces have started defaulting on their loans from the Second Bank of the United States.

Which is good. The rest of the world needed something to laugh about.

[1] IOTL he died at the end of 1830.
[2] As IOTL, sugar is the larger export at this point.
[3] IOTL there was one in 1823, which also had a rather low body count.
[4] IOTL and ITTL the father of William Ewart Gladstone
[5] He supported Carlos in OTL’s Carlist Wars.
[6] As IOTL.
[7] So are the populations from which these workers are drawn, but nobody else is listening yet.
[8] TTL’s Pedro was born more or less in place of OTL’s Maria.
[9] Communities of runaway slaves.
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Sounds like slavery is on its way out, but not entirely quietly. Poor Brazil.

Interesting, remind me what led to Entre Rios becoming independent of Argentina? They seem to be doing quite well.

is "Tucumán" San Miguel de Tucumán? Seems like a geographically questionable choice of capitol city.

When Stephen got to Cayenne, he found that one of Campbell’s pet projects was already underway. The former governor felt that Cayenne’s timber industry had a lot of potential, but the colony was so lightly populated there weren’t a lot of people to cut trees and haul them. Inspired by the successful introduction of water buffaloes to Florida, he decided to try something bigger—importing elephants and elephant handlers from Asia. This is the sort of thing that takes a while to orchestrate, but once there are teams of elephants established in the back country, they’ll be breeding like… elephants. Don’t expect them to overrun the continent any time soon.
Because Escobar's hippos weren't chaos enough. But please explain something: how the hell do you transport live Indian elephants across two oceans in the age of wooden ships and iron men?
Things will get even more complicated next month in Salvador, when the Malê decide to take action towards their own freedom, rebelling against the rebellion.
Ah, the Malê! (I still don't know how to pronounce that...) Jonathan Edelstein's timeline really put that obscure slave revolt on the map. While I doubt they'll get up to adventures as wild that timeline, it does sound like they'll be rather more influential than OTL.
Which is good. The rest of the world needed something to laugh about.
Why do I think something horrible is about to happen?
Interesting, remind me what led to Entre Rios becoming independent of Argentina? They seem to be doing quite well.

The split was over whether Argentina's government should be centralized or decentralized. Argentina fought over this more than once IOTL.

is "Tucumán" San Miguel de Tucumán? Seems like a geographically questionable choice of capitol city.

Yes. They were trying to find the anti-Buenos Aires, some place that would never become the center of gravity for the whole country. More than one legislator has quietly regretted this choice on his way to and from the location.

Because Escobar's hippos weren't chaos enough. But please explain something: how the hell do you transport live Indian elephants across two oceans in the age of wooden ships and iron men?
One at a time, before they're full-grown, with many stops along the way to restock fodder, much shoveling out of manure and much cursing of the fact that the world's largest land mammal has just about the world's least efficient digestive system. (The males especially can't travel full-grown. With a voyage that long, an adult male would at some point go into musth and start trying to stomp on everybody in sight.)

Like the clearing of the Great Raft, this is a multi-decade project. A cost-benefit analysis would probably show that it's more efficient to send enough humans to haul an equivalent weight of timber, if there were enough people willing to go to Cayenne.
Yes. They were trying to find the anti-Buenos Aires, some place that would never become the center of gravity for the whole country. More than one legislator has quietly regretted this choice on his way to and from the location.
Hehe I can imagine, some parts of the country are over 1000 km away. Railroad travel will fix that somewhat, but that's probably a few decades off.

One at a time, before they're full-grown, with many stops along the way to restock fodder, much shoveling out of manure and much cursing of the fact that the world's largest land mammal has just about the world's least efficient digestive system. (The males especially can't travel full-grown. With a voyage that long, an adult male would at some point go into musth and start trying to stomp on everybody in sight.)
OK thanks. So the elephants are trained from childhood with basically no interaction with wild adults? Curious what that may result in. Well, certainly will help for using them as work animals. Any plans to try breeding them in Guyana proper?