The Falcon Cannot Hear: The Second American Civil War 1937-1944

Not open for further replies.
This my first TL outside of the ASB or Writer's Forums, also my first TL that I outlined before beginning to write. I was seized by the idea, but I also wanted to match the plausibility standards of After 1900. I am of course open to any criticisms that you guys feel it necessary to voice.

The sources I used;

The Glory and the Dream by William Manchester (particularly in the pre-POD parts)
The Great Depression by David A. Shannon
Hard Times by Studs Terkel

And of course I also used Wikipedia, because this is
Prologue- 1929

In September 1929 the United States of America was at the top its game. Europe, devastated by the First World War, was still climbing out of revolutionary turmoil of the late ‘Teens and early Twenties. National economies worldwide were wracked by uncertainty and instability, feeding simmering unrest. But in America business leaders spoke of the New Era, of the map to a New El Dorado that would allow for an ever-expanding economy, full employment, and the elimination of poverty. They scoffed at the communists in Russia with their state planned economy, America was proof that capitalism worked. The country had no enemies, Great Britain- the world’s only superpower- was a staunch ally and Lloyd’s of London offered 500-to-1 odds against any invasion of the United States. The general mood was one of optimism, complacency, and comfort. Yet within a decade America would be broken against itself, foreign troops would march down its boulevards and half-a-million Americans would die in the worst genocide to be witnessed by the New World since the annihilation of its native peoples.

A New York parts factory in 1928, at the time American industry led the world.

How could this happen? The seeds of destruction did not come from abroad, but from within the nation. As Abraham Lincoln said in 1838 “if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher”. It was the false underpinnings of the New Era that brought the house of cards down.

In the aftermath of the World War the techniques of mass production combined to increase the efficiency of per man-hour by over 40%. This enormous output of goods clearly required a commensurate increase in purchasing power- that is to say higher wages. But over the 1920’s income failed to keep pace with production. In the golden year of 1929 Brookings economists calculated that to supply the barest necessities a family would need an income of $2,000 a year- more than what 60% of American families were earning. The general mood of the time however, was such that overproduction was no problem, the sense was that “a good salesman can sell anything.” This meant that customers of limited means were encouraged to buy products anyhow via a massive overextension of their credit. As zealous commercial travelers sold anything and
everything to people who lacked the means to pay for it, the rich (and many who weren’t rich) speculated overwhelmingly in stocks. Arthur A. Robertson watched aghast as investors bought $500,000 of stock with only $500 down. For eight or ten dollars the smart investor could get one hundred dollars worth of stock on margin. As a consequence the slightest shake-up became a calamity as people lacked the money to cover their investments.

Then on October 29, 1929 it came time to pay the piper.


A mob outside the New York Stock Exchange on October, 29, 1929.

The bottom fell out of the market and stock prices plunged, going down to no more than a few percent of their former value. In one day alone the New York Stock Exchange lost between eight and nine billion dollars. That afternoon a group of New York bankers succeeded in temporarily halting the plunge, but confidence had already leaked out of the market. Five days later the panic began again and this time there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. “There has been a little distress selling on the Stock Exchange,” Thomas Lamont, Secretary of Commerce, commented in a truly remarkable display of understatement, “but conditions are still sound.” He was whistling in the dark, with few interruptions stocks would continue to fall for the next eight years.


Thomas Lamont on the cover of Time Magazine, November 1929.

Honey-combed by millions of little loans to consumers, the economy went into a downward spiral. To protect investments prices had to be maintained, as a consequence sales fell, so costs were cut by laying off employees. The unemployed could not buy the goods of other industries, therefore sales dropped further. Lower sales led to more layoffs which further shrank purchasing power, until farmers were pauperized by the poverty of industrial workers, who in turn were pauperized by the poverty of farmers. “Neither has the money to buy the product of the other,” a witness testified before congress, explaining the vicious cycle. “Hence we have overproduction and under consumption at the same time and in the same country.”

And the United States took its first hesitant steps down the road to civil war.
Most interesting. It would be interesting to see what this does to WWII. And I'm sure you'll make a more plausible TL than the Kaiserreich folks did. :)
Really liked the first update, I will definitely follow.

Thank you.:)

I agree. Looks really good.


Looks interesting, Second US civil war scenarios are always fun. Keep it up!

I'll try not to disappoint.:)

Most interesting. It would be interesting to see what this does to WWII. And I'm sure you'll make a more plausible TL than the Kaiserreich folks did. :)

Oh, World War II will definitely be involved.;)
I've long had ideas bouncing around of a complete collapse of America during this time. I look forward to this, and wonder if any of my ideas will appear.
It probably won't end well for the Western Allies. I don't think the Axis will win, but Stalin pissing in the Rhine seems likely.

I don't want to give anything away.;)

I see, it has some similarities to my scenario but not a whole lot. Huey Long will be involved, I'll say that much.

I've long had ideas bouncing around of a complete collapse of America during this time. I look forward to this, and wonder if any of my ideas will appear.

You'll have to let me know, I'm sure there'll be some overlap.
Very very interesting, for sure. Consider me subscribed. I also wonder what the ripple effects would be in Canada, Mexico, and Newfoundland (at the time a separate Dominion - well, in OTL, until the Commission of Government and the controversial referenda in 1949 that led to it becoming a Canadian province).
Not open for further replies.