The Dead Skunk

Quids Pro Quo? (4)
Thank you for the answer. Fascinating to see how this strange state is developing as its own nation and how it affects its neighbors in the States.

How do the Free states regard it these days? Or New Spain for that matter?

Is there a drive to further assert independence from the British Empire or is there a pervasive feeling that what they have got is the best they can get for the foreseeable future?

Do they have an official policy regarding slaves that escape from the USA and end up in the Republic; or vice versa?
Abolitionists in the Free states are really unimpressed with British abolitionists for not trying to abolish slavery in Louisiana. Their attitude is, "Stop pretending that's an independent nation and just tell them what to do." New Spain is fairly cordial toward Louisiana, and since they're not formally independent themselves they have no room to talk about Louisiana's situation, but they aren't so cordial as to return runaway slaves. Hacking their way into the Selva Conchate to catch people who don't want to be caught is not something they'd do even for a friend. One or two slaves from Louisiana have stowed away on boats and managed to go undiscovered until they reach the free states and help from abolitionists, but for the most part, Louisiana and the U.S. return each others' runaway slaves. That's why escapees from Louisiana usually don't go due north, but west and northwest into the toughest forest north of the tropics.

There are Louisianans who seek to assert independence from Britain, but more in the sense of cultural independence. There's still that sense of being caught between the Yankee devil and the master of the deep blue sea.

And now…


September 26, 1836
Westminster

Spain’s ambassador to the Court of St. James was Francisco Javier de Istúriz y Montero. Palmerston suspected the man could easily perform the duties of a higher office, and knew it, but he was a little too liberal in his politics to be trusted by the king of Spain.

“The fighting at sea has been inconclusive,” said the ambassador. “In January we won a victory in Iligan Bay, but we could not follow it up because we were too busy putting paid to the garays[1] that came to prey on wounded ships from both sides. And that has been the story of the war—our navies must form such large convoys for fear of each other that neither side can fight piracy… which according to the Dutch was the point of the war in the first place.

“When we last heard from Luzon, we held the city of Manila itself, the peninsula of Bataan to the west, and the whole Bicol Peninsula here in the southeast. The rest of the island was… contested. On Mindanao, the Dutch had taken Zamboanga—here in the west—and Sultan Iskander of Maguindanao[2], here, had betrayed us and allied with the Dutch.” Odds were, the ambassador was trying to cultivate a reputation for honesty here, since everything he was saying could be confirmed by the Foreign Office.

“Did the sultan offer any reason for this betrayal?”

“He said it was ‘in solidarity with the faithful of Morocco.’ I doubt he cares very much about the faithful on the other side of the world. More likely Amsterdam offered him a better deal.”

Or a more convincing threat, thought Palmerston. It seemed likely to him that the Dutch were going to win this war, simply because they were slightly less strapped for cash than the Spaniards. Their only problem had been a shortage of manpower, and they’d solved that by recruiting mercenaries from West Africa.[3] And this Iskander would not want his sultanate to go the way of Sulu if Spain could not offer protection.

“I realize, Minister, that it is a matter of some indifference to you who controls Mindanao. But consider that if, God forbid, this so-called ‘Republic of Luzon’ were to make good its independence, it might become a haven for pirates. French commerce, your own opium trade—they’d have their choice of targets. It might even become a French ally… or at least another welcome port for them.”

Palmerston gave a little nod that was carefully calibrated to convey understanding of the point without any implicit promise. The great goal of British policy in Europe was to allow no one power, and especially not France, to dominate the continent. By rights, that should also have been the goal of Spain and the Netherlands, both of which (unlike Britain) had to fear invasion and occupation by France, having suffered it in the last war. And yet they were at war with each other over territory neither of them fully controlled.

No matter. We can still repair the situation… just so long as nothing else goes wrong.


A popular witticism among historians, applied to the Russian invasion of eastern Thrace in 1836, is that it represented “a failure of intelligence in both senses of the term.” It was, but not the way most people think. The Tsar had spies among the Greek and Slavic population of Bosnia-Rumelia, which kept him appraised of both military activity and the general mood of the population—or at least the Orthodox parts of it. They knew that Sultan Husein had seized the country by sneak attack and could appeal to no authority beyond his own loyal soldiers. They knew he had built modern fortifications outside Constantinople, to prevent anyone from doing to him what he had done to the Ottomans. They also knew that as of early 1836, he had not once left the city since capturing it. It must have seemed a reasonable inference that, holding such a strong position in a potentially rebellious country, he dared not set foot outside it lest some ambitious subordinate take control of it behind his back.

Thus, with a single blow—the amphibious landing of an army of 30,000 under the command of General Valerian Madatov on the eastern coast of Thrace—Russia could bisect the peninsula on which Constantinople stood and cut Husein off from the rest of Bosnia-Rumelia. Even if Serbia was too preoccupied by civil war to invade, Greece surely would, and Greeks and Slavs throughout the little empire would rise against it. Russia would support these rebels with arms and soldiers.

Britain would oppose this, of course, as would France and Italy. Any prolonged war would surely drag them in, eager to prevent Russia from becoming a naval force in the Mediterranean. That was why the plan was to invade in September. Over the course of the next few months, the Lodos winds would complicate efforts to sail large ships up the narrow, bending throat of the Dardanelles. France and Italy had many ships that could furl their sails and steam through, but the Tsar did not believe the British would allow them to take point in such an important naval mission. This would delay any naval intervention in the Black Sea until spring.

And by then, it would be too late. The “Gradascevician Empire” would have gone the way of its glorious predecessor, its authority collapsed and incapable of being restored. The only way for authority to emerge again would be in a form pleasing to the Tsar, who explained his ideas for such a form in conversations with his foreign minister. Bulgaria would be a kingdom under some Russian prince (perhaps Madatov himself), providing Russia with a landward link to the expanded and grateful nations of Serbia and Greece. Constantinople and the peninsula of Gallipoli would be Russian-ruled exclaves, giving them access to the Mediterranean. As for the Powers, what could they do in the face of this fait accompli but shake their fists eastward in impotent fury?

That was the plan. And while there was an intelligence failure involved, it was not a failure of either information or military acumen; it was a structural failure. The information gathered by the Tsar’s spies passed through the Foreign Office in Moscow, where it was brought to the attention of the Tsar, who in turn shared it with the army. Given that there were few railroads and no telegraphs in this part of the world, this meant that the army would be acting on information that was months out of date. Even as Madatov was preparing to land at Karaburun, the Tsar was receiving the news that would throw all his plans into derangement.

Sultan Husein was not in Constantinople. He had left the city in early August with his family, his harem, and the bulk of his army, and was currently in the mountain town of Dereköy. Although his loyalists still held the capital, the truth was that the Queen of Cities was under the occupation of a far more merciless enemy than Madatov—cholera. Husein was able to quickly rally his forces and pin Madatov against the Constantinople defenses.

Despite this, Madatov succeeded in his planned mission of occupying a stretch of the peninsula from Karaburun to Büyükçekmece[4] on the Sea of Marmara. But he could not take the city, and now he was surrounded by Husein’s forces on both sides. His own health was failing, although it is unclear whether this was the result of cholera or a pre-existing illness. By spring, the Russian field force would need a new commander,[5] and (in the manner of most pre-modern armies) would be losing more soldiers to disease than to enemy fire.

To make matters worse, those same Lodos winds got an early start this year. The landing was planned for September 27, but poor wind conditions delayed it for a day, allowing Bosnia-Rumelia’s Black Sea fleet (such as it was) to escape and launch irregular attacks on the ships Russia sent to supply their forces.

Meanwhile, this unprovoked attack on what was technically an independent state was having the expected effect in the diplomatic world. Egypt was first, of course, but France, Italy, and the United Kingdom had all independently declared war on Russia before the year was out. What was intended as a lightning-fast decapitation was already on its way to becoming the largest European conflict since the Second Thirty Years’ War…

Robert W. Derek, Great Blunders of World History

[1] Locally-built Filipino warships, often used by pirates.
[2] A small sultanate on the west coast of Mindanao.
[3] The Dutch did this IOTL as well.
[4] Turkish names should be considered as transliterated from TTL’s romanization system, which I haven’t invented. The same goes for names in Pinyin.
[5] IOTL, Madatov died of lung disease in 1829.
 
So, Russia going "There's no way this could go wrong!" Only for everything to go wrong. An earlier Crimean War with the odds going even worse for Russia in terms of foes... Yeah, this won't end well.
 
Well, here's to an early Crimea and Europe falling down the trash chute
leonardo dicaprio gatsby GIF
 
Quids Pro Quo? (5)
I finally finished Locksmith's War. I'm giving it one last read-through before I send it to the publisher.
Happy Halloween!



The history of third-party movements in the U.S. offers far more cautionary tales than success stories. The pattern is always the same—Major Party A’s positions are more popular than those of Major Party B, but Minor Party A1 is similar enough to Party A (if a bit more radical) that some people who might otherwise vote for Party A choose instead to vote for Party A1. Party B achieves a plurality, leaving Party A, Party A1, and a majority of voters unhappy. And so, we are invariably told, the Moral of the Story is that the disaffected must either endure the lesser of two evils, or risk suffering the greater of them.

But we can read these warnings another way. If two political factions are allied (either within a single party or as separate parties) and the stronger faction takes advantage of the problem outlined above to insist on always getting its own way at the expense of the weaker faction, unable or unwilling to make concessions on any issue, that weaker faction may conclude that there is no further reason to continue the partnership—that they might just as well be defeated by the opposition as by their own allies.

One early example would be the alliance between the DRP and Populist House delegations in 1835 and early ’36. Speaker of the House Daniel Webster allowed Populist members to chair five committees—Post Office and Post Roads, Expenditures in the War Department, Indian Affairs, Militia and (crucially) Manufactures. He allowed Populists to put forward bills that allowed free use of the National Road for one year and directed the Bank to offer relief to farmers and shopkeepers facing bankruptcy. But of course, neither Webster nor Adams could make any promises about the Senate. The wily senior senator from Kentucky used his position as Senate majority leader to ensure that none of these bills would ever make it to Sergeant’s desk.

In the halls of Congress he knew so well, Clay won every battle, but in the process he lost the war. Solomon Southwick (now running the Populist Party since Joseph Ritner was preoccupied with his duties as governor of Pennsylvania) lamented in a letter to Ritner that “Like the lion in the old fable of the hunting party, the Dead Roses have divided our gains into equal portions only to take both portions for themselves,” and that “When first our party was organized, we chose to wait to offer candidates for the presidency until we knew whether the DRP could be persuaded to assist the suffering and destitute. I do not think we need wait until 1840 for an answer to that question. Nor is it clear that a Tertium Quid in the Oval Office would be markedly worse than a Dead Rose for anyone who is not a slave.”

However, as Southwick began the work that would consume the remainder of his life[1], he recalled the other reason why he and Ritner had considered holding off on offering a candidate for the presidency in 1836—the Populists (still a very new party) had only one willing candidate who had sufficient experience to credibly be considered a potential president. (The Reform Party in the South was in a worse position, having no candidate at all.) The Populists’ man was Marcus Morton, a former governor of Massachusetts who had become disillusioned with the DRP. Morton was more than willing to run, but he needed a running mate.

In late 1835, Southwick wrote to William Lloyd Garrison, proposing a political alliance between the Populist and Liberation Parties for the next election: “Our two parties represent the only remaining consistent political opposition to slavery in the United States. Would it not be better for us to join forces?” He offered to allow the Liberation Party to choose a running mate for the Populist candidate.

Of course, there was a difference between the two parties. To the Populists, abolition was one bright star in a constellation of good ideas that guided their journey. To the Liberationists, it was the sun—everything else faded into invisibility in its presence.

That Christmas, the letters flew back and forth among the intellectual leaders of the Liberation Party. The young attorney Wendell Phillips[2] considered the alliance an excellent idea, not to gain any political advantage but so that the Liberationist candidate could speak to the Populists and “kindle a flame in their hearts, raising them from lukewarm Laodiceans to fiery zealots.” A slightly older Liberationist attorney, Salmon P. Chase, cautioned that “should the Tertium Quids prevail (a prospect which, since ’34, we must no longer consider unthinkable) the cause of freedom would be hindered rather than helped, and the emancipation of the bondmen delayed for many years. It is not in our power to prevent this, but we should by no means help to bring it about.”

What settled the issue was a chain of events beginning with Benjamin Tappan’s announcement, on February 5, 1836, that he would not seek a second term as vice president. Although in public, both Sergeant and Tappan insisted that they had nothing but warm regards for each other and that Tappan simply wished to return to private practice, in private Benjamin confided the truth to his younger brothers, Arthur and Lewis Tappan: the president had never forgiven him for his blunder in disclosing the names of Canal Commission members to the public, and had allowed him to serve out his term and resign only to spare him the ignominy of a public sacking. This stated reason, of course, had little to do with slavery, and we can only speculate as to whether it predisposed the younger Tappans to be more hostile to the Sergeant administration and the DRP in general. But they were both far more vocal abolitionists than their older brother, and important men within the Liberation Party.

Sergeant’s unlucky streak continued. He needed a replacement for Tappan on the DRP ticket, but none of his Cabinet officials wished to change their powerful positions for a position that would have almost no power unless the president died. He chose Maryland Senator Joseph Kent, an old champion of the canal industry. Two weeks later, Kent went to sleep in his bed, and never woke up again.[3] Out of a sense of duty to the party, Nathaniel Claiborne resigned his seat in Congress to accept the position.

To the Liberationists, this was the last straw. Four years ago the president himself had been a slaveholder, but abolitionists believed they had pulled the DRP a fair distance in their direction with the anti-slavery Sergeant in the presidency. Now, it seemed all their work had been undone. If the brother of Arthur and Lewis Tappan could be replaced by a Virginia planter and slaveholder, what difference was there between the Democratic-Republicans and the Tertium Quids?

Caucusing in late March, the Liberation Party agreed to Southwick’s plan. Their chosen candidate was John Rankin, a minister and teacher who had never held elective office, but who (unlike most of the Liberationists) was at least old enough to be eligible for the job. This of course entirely defeated the Populists’ other purpose of finding a running mate comparable in qualifications to Morton, but by now they were committed…


The results from Virginia were the first indicators of what had happened. In a state that had once almost defined the American political establishment, and one where the Populists’ alliance with the Liberation Party conferred no advantage at all, the results for the presidential election were as follows:


Berrien 26,395
Morton 2,915
Sergeant 24,667


In the House elections, the DRP won six seats, the Reform Party won two, and the Quids won the rest.

In Maryland, the results were recounted several times:


Berrien 22,761
Morton 2,644
Sergeant 22,672


As in ’34, the congressional delegation was split 5-3 between the Quids and the DRP. Delaware gave its presidential vote and its congressional seat to the Quids.

Thanks to the railroads, news from the north came almost as quickly to D.C. To no one’s surprise, despite substantial losses to Morton Sergeant still carried every state from Pennsylvania and New Jersey up to Maine, giving him 129 of the 146 electoral votes he needed. It was even less surprising when the Carolinas went for Berrien.

The votes in Michigan and Ohio were decided by the two-year-old court decision State of Ohio v. Michigan Territory, which ceded the Miami Strip from Ohio to Michigan. Although it was Supreme Court justices appointed by previous presidents who made the decision, Sergeant received the credit. That, as every Michigander schoolchild knows, is why the state capital[4] is named after him—and why he received the newest state’s three electoral votes.

But in addition to receiving the credit, Sergeant also received the blame. Anger towards the government, in addition to the rising popularity of the Populists among small farmers facing ruin or the threat of ruin, cost him enough votes in Ohio to turn the state and its nineteen electoral votes over to Berrien.

With Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Berrien pulled ahead of Sergeant, 133 to 132. But neither had a majority yet, and there were five states to go—Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansaw. Berrien, of course, won Mississippi and Arkansaw. Morton won his only victory in Missouri, a state where the bankruptcy and ruin of the Hiemal Period was particularly severe, and the fury of the people fell on Nicholas Biddle, the Second Bank, and the political establishment in general, to the point where the incumbent president came in third place. Missouri also saw both its House members—a Dead Rose and a Quid—replaced by a Populist and a Reformist:


Berrien 6,019
Morton 6,098
Sergeant 5,907


Meanwhile, in Indiana, Sergeant barely won, despite the growing strength of the Populists:

Berrien 25,092
Morton 23,006
Sergeant 25,680


Berrien now had 142 votes to Sergeant’s 141, but he was four short of a majority.

It all came down to Illinois and its five electoral votes. Illinois, where the Populists had grown almost as strong as in Missouri and constituted a major party in their own right. And, after many, many recounts—recounts that stretched on into January—this was the final result:


Berrien 11,440
Morton 10,807
Sergeant 11,399


DS election 1836.png


Berrien’s margin of victory there was even narrower than his margin in Maryland. If twenty-one voters had moved from Berrien’s column to Sergeant’s, the extraordinarily unlucky seventh president of the United States would have won a second term, and who knows how different a place the world would be?

That isn’t even the most interesting possibility. Illinois was a free state, but not, alas, one with a great deal of sympathy toward the abolitionist cause. It’s quite likely that the alliance with the Liberation Party hurt the Populists more than it helped them. If Morton had settled for whoever the Populists could put forward as a running mate instead of Rankin, it probably would have had little effect on the outcome elsewhere—but he might well have won Illinois (and perhaps also Indiana), thereby depriving Berrien and Sergeant of a majority.

The election would then have gone into the House of Representatives, where each state delegation counted as one vote. The outgoing 24th Congress would have made this decision, which would have given Berrien eleven votes (Alabama, Arkansaw, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) and Sergeant eleven votes (Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont). Missouri (with one Dead Rose representative and one Quid representative) and New Jersey (three Dead Roses, two Quids, one Populist) would have been split, and unable to come to a decision. Worse, they might have come to opposite decisions, leaving Berrien and Sergeant still tied. And while all this was happening, if the Secotan Incident occurred on schedule, there would have been a powerful impetus to put together some sort of government—but whose?

Things would have become even less predictable if the decision dragged into March, when the new Congress was to be sworn in. Both the Dead Roses and the Quids had lost support—in the 25th Congress, the Quids now had ninety-five delegates and the Dead Roses had ninety-one. The Populists now had thirty-eight delegates, the new Reform Party had sixteen, and the Liberationists still had Stevens and Sumner (as well as the fiery but voteless John Brown). In this scenario, Berrien would have been down to ten delegation votes and Sergeant to eight. At that point, everything would have depended on what the third-party congressmen chose to do. (Whatever else happened, there would have been an Acting President—Nathaniel Herbert Claiborne, who would have been easily confirmed by the outgoing Senate. We can only speculate as to how he would have responded to the events of 1837 while waiting to see who he would be ceding the office to.)

But in the history we know, Berrien won, if only by a little. Thanks to twenty-one votes by twenty-one voters, twenty-one years almost to the day after John Randolph of Roanoke had stormed out of Gadsby’s Tavern in protest, the United States of America inaugurated its first and last Tertium Quid president.

-Andrea Fessler, Ten Elections that Changed America


[1] Solomon Southwick died in November of 1839 IOTL, but in October 1836 ITTL.
[2] IOTL his plan for freeing the slaves (according to his contribution to the foreword to Frederick Douglass’ book) was for New England to secede from the Union, then “proclaim our welcome to the slave so loudly, that the tones shall reach every hut within the Carolinas, and make the damaged-hearted bondman leap up on the thought of old Massachusetts.” Practicality was not his thing.
[3] He died in 1837 IOTL.
[4] OTL Jackson, Michigan.
 
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Oh, an update here is always a pleasure.

So the unbroken reign of the Dead Roses has ended. So is Berrien ruling the country now, or Calhoun?

This won't be pretty, the DRP barely lost and they are not accustomed to losing. And the Abolitionist Alliance has their worst case scenario of the TQ coming to power.

But what will the Quids do now? And what can they do? Do they control Congress as well? Has Berrien been expanded upon? Sounds like it won't go very well as it seems the Quids have peaked.
 
I'm alarmed by the fact of a TQ President, but I'm also concerned as to what the Secotan incident will be. (I also can't help but wonder - how many of those Morton votes, especially out west, are former Quids either alienated from their increasingly active support for slavery or searching for the most effective way to say "fuck all y'all"?)

What does the Senate look like? Does it still have a Dead Rose majority, and if so, how solid is that?
 
"The Road to the Troubles" book went to 1840. So it looks like the Troubles start in four years.

I have two guesses. So either the Quids hold on and that triggers anti-government action from the Abolitionists and others. Or the Quids lose and we get some variation on the American Civil War some two decades early.

Hmm, on that vein; I am guessing tensions are just going to grow and the next election will be seen by both sides as the last chance to 'settle things civilly'.

What ever happened with the Cherokee?
 
Its been teased there will be war between the USA and Louisiana, maybe the Quids will try and use Britain being distracted with Russia to wage war against New Orleans and Florida? A way to unite the country they figure and for their support base to gain new lands for slavery.

I wonder what the status of American settlers in Tejas is presently?
 
Its been teased there will be war between the USA and Louisiana, maybe the Quids will try and use Britain being distracted with Russia to wage war against New Orleans and Florida? A way to unite the country they figure and for their support base to gain new lands for slavery.

Considering it's said that Berrien is the first and last TQ President, something like that probably isn't going to end well at all.

An up and down election here with an unpleasant result. With the UK distracted with Russia, could lead to unpleasantness as well. Good work on the map too.
 
"The Road to the Troubles" book went to 1840. So it looks like the Troubles start in four years.

I have two guesses. So either the Quids hold on and that triggers anti-government action from the Abolitionists and others. Or the Quids lose and we get some variation on the American Civil War some two decades early.

Hmm, on that vein; I am guessing tensions are just going to grow and the next election will be seen by both sides as the last chance to 'settle things civilly'.

What ever happened with the Cherokee?
Or perhaps the 1840 election has different winners according to different people, like the 2020 election but with more shooting.
 
I am guessing that America is going to war with Britain soon. Also I wonder if Canada's population is any higher in this TL considering the Owenites and the fact Canada has a little bit more premium land. Did the freed slaves of Patriots still end up mostly in Sierra Leone or are they still in Nova Scotia?
 
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I am guessing instead of states seeding we are going to see militias fighting over politics. Perhaps slaver attacks on freesoilers, abolitionists, freeman, Kyantine, and Qaukers while those groups support slave escapes and rebellions. Wonder what the Cherokee are doing. Guessing they are still in the east but marginalized by White society.
 
Considering it's said that Berrien is the first and last TQ President, something like that probably isn't going to end well at all.
We know that he's the last TQ President of the United States to be inaugurated. Some loopholes I could see:
  • TQ could change its name, or be displaced by other pro-slavery parties.
  • The United States could be dissolved, or see serious constitutional reform.
  • Other Presidents could serve without being officially inaugurated, i.e. via coup. (This is a stretch.)
  • Other TQ Presidents could be elected but not inaugurated, i.e. via pre-inauguration assassination.
 
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