The Stars at Night: A Texas Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Sicarius, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Even though the tin says a Texas Timeline, other countries are unfortunately required to contextualize (contexastualize?) the goings-ons of the Republic. And so we start a side-narrative looking into the affairs of its neighbor to the North, exploring the buildup to and aftermath of the Mexican War.

    Part Eight
    Feet of Clay

    Henry Clay was elected to the Presidency during a tumultuous period of American history. The United States had not even truly begun to incorporate the territory of the Louisiana Purchase when President Clay settled the ownership of the smaller, but still significant, Oregon Territory. Any new acquisition of territory was contentious because of the Missouri Compromise, which had helped keep order between the slave and free states since its passage in 1820. The most important term of the Compromise was that, barring the state of Missouri, slavery would be prohibited above the parallel 36°30' north. But throughout the 40s several new free states had been admitted, with more to come in both the Louisiana and Oregon territories, all without a growth of slave states sufficient to maintain parity. And now the Iowa territory was knocking on statehood's door. The South had grown restless. Though many still eyed Mexico’s northernmost territories, especially California, there was as of yet no clear path to their acquisition. By the time the rest of the Louisiana Purchase states were admitted, free states would easily outnumber slave states, even before considering the Oregon Territory.

    Clay began his term during this era of heightened tension, and immediately set out to shape a solution to mollify the restive slave states. However, it was difficult to find a position that in any real way constituted a compromise. There simply was no territory to carve new states out of below the compromise line. A new Fugitive Slave Act was proposed, but was insufficient to soothe the South. It was Mississippi Senator Robert J. Walker who first noted there was territory below the compromise line - Indian Territory.

    [​IMG]
    "Who haven't we harassed enough? INDIANS!"

    “Upon the south, the line of division is bounded by the great southwestern Indian territory. This is one of the most salubrious and fertile portions of this continent; it is a great cotton growing region, admirably adapted by soil and climate for the products of the south. It ought speedily to become a state of the American Union; the Indian treaties will constitute no obstacle any more than precisely similar treaties did in the past; for their lands, valueless to them, now for sale, but which, sold with their consent and for their benefit, would make them a most wealthy and prosperous people; and their consent, on these terms, would be most cheerfully given. This territory contains double the area of the state of Indiana, and, if necessary, an adequate portion of the western and more elevated part could be set apart exclusively for these tribes, and the eastern and larger portion be formed into a state, and its lands sold for the benefit of these tribes, thus greatly promoting all their interests..."
    -Floor Speech of Senator Walker of Mississippi, 1846

    Senator Walker’s idea gained traction amongst his Congressional colleagues, and later from a source that might have been unexpected - the Indians themselves. Specifically, the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole) who at this point controlled the vast majority of the Indian Territory, and many of whom themselves owned slaves. Ambassadors from these tribes spoke privately to Southern Congressmen about their adherence to the peculiar institution and the cultural traits they had adopted from their original homes in the American South (artfully failing to bring up how they had been expelled from those homes). These tribes not only wanted to ensure that they were not again expelled from their lands, but also desired the creation of a state that they would dominate, and which would have the benefit of protection from the Southern states due to the slavery issue. Before long, a consensus had begun to form - the entire Indian Territory would be admitted as a state (in order to placate the Northerners, who didn’t want to allow the largely empty territory to be eventually made into two slave states) at the same time as Iowa, the new Fugitive Slave Act would be passed, and there would be no Congressional challenge to the Missouri Compromise line. Many in his own party attacked Clay as weak for granting the South concessions in return for otherwise maintaining the status quo, but the President held down the furor with private reassurances that soon new free states would be admitted, more than balancing out the new slave state, and eventually making it safe to repeal to new Fugitive Slave Act. Thus it was that in late 1846 the United States flag added its 28th and 29th stars. The name for the new state was suggested to Senator Walker by a young aide named George Willing, a self-professed expert in Indian languages. The ambassadors of the Five Civilized Tribes were nonplussed to find their new state named after a word they had never heard of, but were unwilling to make a fuss. Indians and Americans both were on hand for the official flag raising, and a new name entered the lexicons of all assembled: Idaho!

    But soon, another name would distract the nation from their new state: Cassius, an unlettered slave whose lawsuit would overturn the fragile balance of free/slave state power...

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    ♫ Twenty nine pretty fine United States ♫
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
  2. AtriumCarceris Banned

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    Perhaps I missed some border clarification in the past, but why is the Indian Territory panhandle even mentioned in a US context? That part of Indian Territory shouldn't be "Indian Territory" since it's part of Texas.
     
  3. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    WHOOPS that stuck about from an old draft, thanks.

    EDIT: This is the real reason I include maps in so many posts, otherwise I forget what the hell I'm talking about. Prepare for the fury of the Texian-Afghan border war!
     
  4. Darth_Kiryan The Númenorean Sith

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    idaho, eh? interesting.

    Indian territory a state, as well. And early too. Interesting.
     
  5. herricks If you know what I mean

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    have Texas purchase the Indian Territory
     
  6. FDW Banned

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    Well this is a fun TL, consider me subscribed.
     
  7. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    it's funny because that's exactly how the state of idaho OTL was named.

    "Idaho is an indian word"

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, sure..."

    "Umm... Okay!"

    Native Americans scratch their heads in confusion
     
  8. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

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    London, UK
    Just read this but its looks great, you've got the tone of MacDonald Fraser spot on.
     
  9. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Part Nine
    Cassius, Clay

    Cassius [1] was the slave of a man named Joseph Morgan. Morgan inherited Cassius from his brother, a somewhat successful trader in South Carolina. A less successful man, Joseph Morgan took Cassius with him across the country, engaging in various moneymaking schemes. These travels included trips through several free states and territories. In 1844, after being leased for a significant amount of time to a third party while Morgan was out of state, Cassius sued, claiming to be a citizen of Indiana, a state which Morgan had taken him into multiple times. Cassius (through his abolitionist lawyers) claimed that he was freed simply by having been taken into territory where slavery was Congressionally prohibited, let alone by being a citizen of a free state. Due to the multistate nature of the case, it wound its way through the federal courts over the next several years, eventually ending up, in late 1847, in front of America’s highest judicial body. [2]

    The Supreme Court in these days was ruled over by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the first Catholic to sit on the Court, and a hideous hunchback [3]. The phlegmatic Taney was not exactly what one would call soft on the slavery issue. Already pretty hardline, he was pushed even further in this case by the active dissent of Justice John McLean, “The Politician of the Supreme Court” [4].

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    Roger Taney was first admitted to the Supreme Court when found outside the building, pounding on the door yelling "Sanctuary!" while being chased by a torch-wielding mob. Probably.

    When Taney’s ruling came down, it was not good news for Cassius [5]. More than that, Taney’s ruling was actually quite broad, upsetting the entire national consensus on slavery that had so recently been shored up. Taney held that:

    • Africans were never meant to be citizens of the United States, and could not be.
    • Freeing slaves brought into federal territories based on Federal law was a violation of Due Process, and thus unconstitutional.
    • Congress cannot ban slavery in the territories.

    In a few pages, Taney had undone the Missouri Compromise and destroyed all of President Clay’s recent work. The South was overjoyed. The North was horrified. There were calls for Taney’s impeachment from the more charitable abolitionists. From the less charitable, death threats. [6]

    Henry Clay’s Presidency was sent into a tailspin. Southerners no longer felt they needed to seek his favor, since they had now achieved the goal they had only dreamed of. Northern politicians, many of whom Clay had personally assured Idaho would be the last slave state, were furious. And both sides could see that Clay was almost certainly mortally wounded with respect to the election of 1848, less than a year away. Indeed, Clay nearly failed in securing the Whig Party candidacy, only succeeding due to his control over party leaders and the fact that no one wanted to step into the hot seat. On the Democratic side, Senator Lewis Cass seized the nomination. Cass was the architect of the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, which stated territories should be able to vote on whether they would be slave or free states.

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    Lewis Cass, seen here rummaging in his waistcoat for food.

    The election would have been brutal if it hadn’t been such an easy victory for Cass. Clay was already irredemably loathed in the South, but many in the North felt he was either weak, inept, or even a crypto-slavery supporter. Cass experienced a minor party split when the anti-slavery faction defected to the Free Soil Party, led by tiny Dutchman and former Democratic President Martin van Buren. However, this only legitimized van Buren, who ultimately took more votes from disaffected Whigs than Democrats. Cass was content to talk Popular Sovereignty, which, when combined with his Michigan origin, made him seem a palatable moderate. The South thought they knew what Popular Sovereignty really meant, though: An all-you-can-enslave buffet of new slave states.

    Clay campaigned little, sometimes mentioning vague ideas of a Constitutional amendment dealing with the slavery issues, but the President knew such an amendment would have little chance of success. Cass, meanwhile, had seen his views ratified by the Supreme Court, and had a bold vision that seemed to be on the upswing. Clay finished his term quietly, shepherding Wisconsin in as the Union’s 30th state. When November came, Cass and Vice-Presidential candidate John Quitman cruised to a comfortable victory.

    [1] Like many slaves at the time, without a last name.
    [2] The People’s Court
    [3] To my knowledge, unconnected facts.
    [4] McLean supported, at various times, Jackson Democrats, Anti-Jackson Democrats, the Anti-Masons, and now the Whigs, and was often discussed as a Whig Presidential candidate, because obviously from that record he's a pretty trustworthy guy, right?
    [5] Surprise! The slave didn’t win in front of the Supreme Court in the 1840s. What’s next, Indians getting screwed over?
    [6] Playing to Taney's natural fear of torch-wielding mobs.
     
  10. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    President Cass... hmmm.

    interesting, but wouldn't Taney (you said he was Catholic) be under fire from the Catholic Church, who was very anti-slavery at the time IIRC?

    And how does his ruling affect the africans granted citizenship in the North?
     
  11. Space Oddity That One Guy. You Know Who I Mean.

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    It didn't affect his ruling IOTL.

    And let me say--great timeline.
     
  12. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    As far as states are concerned, blacks can be citizens. As far as the federal government is concerned, states saying blacks are citizens doesn't mean squat. It's a troublesome dynamic that highlights the national schizophrenia on the subject.

    And despite Taney's personal objections to slavery (he freed all his own slaves), he was always firmly committed to "states rights". As early as the Jackson administration he was writing opinions that blacks could never be citizens, and that South Carolina could exclude free blacks from their state. He also thought slavery was an awful thing, and that it dragged the whole country down. He was a complicated dude.
     
  13. Xnyrax Master of the Hidden Disciples

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    'Sho 'nuff. Nice timeline, by the way.
     
  14. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

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    Thank you everyone for all the nice comments!
     
  15. Geekhis Khan I'm Not Dead Yet...

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    Great stuff as always, Sic!
     
  16. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

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    Keep this up, love the irreverence with which you write.
     
  17. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Part Ten
    Oh Yes It's Ladies' Night

    “It really would have been way better for Cass if he had just died in 1852. Or not ran for reelection, that’s less extreme I guess. Right? Can I get another one of these? Bartender? Yes? Hi. This please. And another … appletini? Whatever -tini that is, for my lady friend here, thanks.

    Because, right, in 1852 Lewis Cass was the shit. His whole Popular Sovereignty thing was all over the place, people are going into the territories and setting up towns named Casston or whatever left and right, and then you get the Mexican War and America loves wars. We are all about that shit. And then we win the hell out of it, shut Texas in, it’s all good. If he had quit in 1852, he would be on the dollar bill right now. Imagine John Quitman being President in 1853, he would have had a stroke. Or whoever, I don’t know if Quitman could have swung the nomination. That would be a good … have I ever told you about alternate history? Like, what if the South had … well, anyway. It’s all steampunk and dragons in alternate history these days, it’s horrible. Vampires and shit. ANYWAY.

    The bummer for Cass was, everything he did made total sense. When California offered to join the Union, but only if admitted as a state, what was he going to do? No one wanted another missed opportunity like Texas, let ALONE one that would shut off the US from most of the Pacific Coast. That’s where it all starts to go wrong for Cass. I mean, they couldn’t even get it in normally, they had to do a joint resolution. And mostly Whigs supported that. A giant new free state dominating the west was not exactly on most Democrats’ wish list. But I mean honestly, it was the best case scenario for them, what did they want, it to split up into a whole shitload of states and bring in even more new Senators? Who knows. But yeah they were pissed, Quitman nearly lost his mind, that had to be the most awkward President / Vice President team ever from that point. For Cass anyway, I don’t think Quitman gave a fuck what Cass thought.

    So when 1854 rolls around and suddenly this new giant free state is in the Union, Cass tries to cover his ass with the Kansas-Nebraska thing. The Southern delegation at least ate that up. Cass was still really strong on the Popular Sovereignty front, and it warmed the cockles of the Southern heart to see that Kansas might be a slave state in writing, even if they knew it all along. Footnote: What the fuck is a cockle?

    Anyway, he plays up the Kansas thing big time, which works really well until SURPRISE it’s a huge bloodbath clusterfuck and now he’s hung his name on this giant disaster. And then he reacts to that terribly. Really, Cass’s second term is all about having to react, where in the first time he was so successful because he could be so proactive.

    So yeah. I mean, that’s probably more than you need to know for your final tomorrow. But it’s good to get some use out of the ol’ history degree. Because it’s sure not happening in the job market! Ha ha … haaaa. Eh. But hey! If you want to go back to your dorm, we could do a little more studying, and … no? Are you sure? Really? Well, okay, I guess I’ll … yeah! Yeah, I’ll see you later I guess. Yeah. Bye!

    Bartender! Hey! Give me more of this. Little more. Little more. Okay, you know the score here, just leave the bottle. Hey, you know where the word ‘booze’ actually comes from? Well, in the election of 1840...”
     
  18. Geekhis Khan I'm Not Dead Yet...

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    ROFLMAO...funiest AH TL update EVER!! :D

    I can hear the slur.
     
  19. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Atlanta, GA
    California joins the Union, President Cass gets in trouble, and why being a history nerd never got anyone laid all rolled up in one update!

    NICE!:D
     
  20. AtriumCarceris Banned

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    Is that cockle question a real question?