The Stars at Night: A Texas Timeline

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

  1. Huehuecoyotl Reinar es Agridulce

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    All at once the funniest, wittiest, and most original timeline I've seen in this forum for a good while. Keep it up. :D
     
  2. FDW Banned

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    San Francisco
    I swear I love this TL.
     
  3. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Part Eleven
    No Place Like Home

    The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 didn’t really tell anyone anything they didn’t already know. It created the titular territories, opened them up to settlement under the theory of Popular Sovereignty, and officially abolished the Missouri Compromise. Everyone knew this was going down anyway. But seeing something set down in black and white makes it more real to people, and the passage of the bill was the impetus behind most of the ensuing events. It drove a stake into the heart of the Whigs, their party basically suffering a national nervous breakdown over the issue. As roving Whig Senate hopeful Abraham Lincoln said at the time, “I think I am a Whig, but others say there are no Whigs.” Inspiring stuff, I wonder how that campaign is going to work out [1].

    It also inspired a wave of settlers from slave states to move in on the new Kansas territory. For awhile, everything was looking great for the Democrats, and therefore great for Lewis Cass. But the inrush of Southern colonists wasn’t just noticed by a pleased President. Cranky Congregationalist Henry Ward Beecher began passing the plate for some truly Christ-like purchases: rifles! The rifles were shipped west in crates marked BIBLES [2], into the waiting hands of New Englanders who had been mobilized by various colonization societies.

    The Southern and Northern efforts created an echo chamber effect, where each side’s actions caused the other side to react, while both sides claimed increasingly absurd amounts of their enemies were days away from plowing into the state. On both sides of the Mason-Dixon, crowds quivering in anger listened to tales of how thirty, forty, fifty thousand of their opposite numbers were at this very moment setting up in shop in Kansas, establishing settlements with insulting names [3] [4], etc.

    Shockingly for a territory now packed with angry, armed illiterates, the situation escalated. In November, pro-slave “Border Ruffians” flooded into Kansas and stole the election of the territory’s Congressional delegate, and then again for the elections to the territorial legislature. The Free Soil crowd was furious at this abbrogation of democracy [5], and set up their own legislature in Topeka to counter the Ruffian legislature in Pawnee. They each drafted a constitution (the Topeka and Pawnee Constitutions, respectively) and began to pass laws. President Cass, welcoming the opportunity to further rebuild his post-California credibility with the more radical wing of his party, promptly declared the Topeka government to be in rebellion. This was less severe than it sounds; Cass was hardly going to have them all shot. It was more or less understood that this was a fait acompli, and the Topeka government would now have no choice but to peacefully fade away. This might have actually happened (though I doubt it), if not for the first outbreaks of actual violence.

    A Free Soiler and a Border Ruffian walk into a bar. Despite bars being the most conducive place for calm and reasonable discussion of political issues, things went south quickly. By the end of the fracas, the Ruffian is dead, shot by the Free Soiler. Outrage percolated rapdily through the pro-Slavery community, and soon a mass of Ruffians and neighboring Missourans (led by a local sheriff, no less) were headed towards Lawrence. They were beaten there by one man, who was somehow far more dangerous than an angry mob: John Brown.

    [​IMG]
    This guy doesn’t look too scary. He looks like Kermit the Frog.



    [​IMG]
    HOLY SHIT

    John Brown was a radical abolitionist who advocated ending the Peculiar Institution through armed force. He came equipped with little besides a few rifles, some cutlasses, some similarly-minded sons, and a family sized helping of murderous zeal for liberty. Brown rallied the people of Lawrence to arm themselves and prepare for battle, as the Ruffian mob - now over 1,000 strong - themselves raided a Federal armory. On December 1st, the Ruffian force entered Topeka. Though the Topekan force was too insufficiently armed and undermanned to seal the entire town, they had constructed barricades and blocked themselves off inside buildings, from which they would pop out and fire before retreating. Brutal house to house fighting ensued for two days, before the Ruffians set the town ablaze, killing many and driving the rest away.

    As 1856 opened, the nation was horrified by the violence, and the political world paralyzed with indecision. Both sides were screaming for federal troops to quell the fighting, but they disagreed on which side was the one that needed quelling. The furor only increased when news began to trickle in that John Brown had escaped, and was slaughtering pro-slavery settler families.

    Tension from the Kansas crisis permeated Washington. Perhaps the high tempers go some way to explain the tragedy of May 22. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner had made a speech criticizing fellow Senator Andrew Butler. When this news got back to Preston Brooks, Senator from South Carolina and relative of Sen. Butler, he was unhappy with the situation. But being a Southern gentleman, Brooks understood how best to express his emotions. Therefore, in a mostly empty Senate chamber, Brooks snuck up behind the seated Sumner and beat him about the head with a cane until he collapsed in a pool of blood. After getting around South Carolina Rep. Laurence M. Keitt, who had covered the legislators with a pistol while Brooks battered Sumner, sympathetic Senators attempted to provide aid to their fallen collegue. But it was too late - Charles Sumner was dead.

    [1] Poorly.
    [2] They were all out of boxes marked IRONY.
    [3] Massuckusetts
    [4] Cass Hole
    [5] “Furious!” they said, kicking their rifles under the bed, hoping you wouldn’t notice.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2011
  4. Plumber جعل أميركا أكبر مرة أخرى

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    北京
    I smell an earlier Civil War.
    Keep it coming!
     
  5. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Atlanta, GA
    I love it when congress gets dirty like that. Let the Battle of Congress begin!:cool:
     
  6. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    For some reason it won't let me edit the first post anymore! :(
     
  7. Space Oddity That One Guy. You Know Who I Mean.

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    There's a time limit. It's... annoying.
     
  8. octaviuz Monarchist & Social Democrat

    Joined:
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    Nieuw Amsterdam
    I love this, you thoughtfully make it easy to distinguish fact from fiction. Only the factual bits are improbably outrageous.
     
  9. Geekhis Khan I'm Not Dead Yet...

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    "Oh my God...he killed Chalie!"

    "You bastard!"

    I'm sure it'll all end peacefully and amicably with a return to national discourse. :D
     
  10. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Part Twelve
    Cruel Sumner

    Preston Brooks was soon taken into police custody. Keitt was as well, though he was soon released, claiming that he had only acted to prevent a greater fracas from breaking out. The District of Columbia was still very much a Southern town, and despite the fact that a murder had been committed, the authorities were sympathetic to the perpetrators. Northerners were furious. Public calls for Brooks’s expulsion from the Senate, trial, and execution [1] were common. Though the South could hardly praise murder, there was a strong sense that Sumner had it coming.

    In a different vein [2], John Brown responded to the incident (or more likely, used it for justification) by capturing a dozen Ruffian soldiers who had been harassing Free Soil settlers. Brown and his men summarily executed their prisoners. The Kansas crisis grew increasingly violent, under the blatantly one-sided rule of acting governor Daniel Woodson. In the Battle of Osawatomie, Brown and his men were driven back by a numerically superior Ruffian force, and retreated to Topeka. One of Brown’s sons was killed in the retreat. As the Ruffian force gathered steam, attacking Free Soil settlements with increasing vigor, settlers began to stream into the city as well, for safety. Despite the growing number of armed Ruffians, also headed towards Topeka, Governor Woodson did nothing to stem the violence.

    Thus it was in late September that Ruffian forces once again entered Topeka, only just recovering from its previous burning. Despite the recent destruction, the town was actually quite bustling, filled with those who had fled the previous conflict, new settlers, refugees, and Free Soil partisans. They were also significantly better armed, as new shipments of Beecher’s Bibles had poured in, sponsored by funds raised in the wake of the early violence and the Sumner killing.

    Once again, Topeka was engulfed in violence. Over the course of three days, hundreds on both sides were killed, and the city was again burned to the ground, killing many more. Both sides claimed to have avoided whatever violence they could, blaming their enemies and the fire [3].

    If a positive can be found in so much bloodshed, the Second Battle of Topeka was the last major incident of violence in the crisis. Both sides seemed shocked by how bad things had gotten, and the partisan bands either withdrew or disbanded. Aiding this was that President Cass finally dispatched a massive force of Federal troops to secure the territory, in preparation for a referendum that would finally, legally decide the slavery issue. A move that needed to be made, though many claimed that Cass was only acting because the election of 1856 was fast approaching.

    And if you thought the infighting in Kansas was bad, you should see what’s happening in the Democratic party...

    [1] Not always in that order.
    [2] The jugular, with a cutlass.
    [3] It wasn’t super convincing to blame a fire that you yourself started, in the Ruffian case, though some did go so far as to claim the Free Soilers set it to frame the pro-slavery forces. At least they didn’t claim the fire was an abolitionist and started itself.
     
  11. Arachnid Arachnid once more.

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    Location:
    London, UK
    Yet another great update, how are things in Texas?
     
  12. Geekhis Khan I'm Not Dead Yet...

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    "Oh that wacky John Brown!"

    Interesting...are the Ruffians winning Kansas ITTL? Slave Kansas?!? :eek:
     
  13. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Atlanta, GA
    I too am curious as to the goings ons in Tejas. Is it fully tri-lingual yet? (Spanish, French, and Amurrcan)
     
  14. Nicomacheus Member, Sociedad Thrasybulo

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    This...is...hilarious [gasping for breath]. Write more, quickly, please!

    From a relative power projection standpoint, I understand why the US gets as much of the SW as they did. However, do they have real access to the territory? With Texas's greater NW holdings, the main passes over the Rockies seem like they might be further North. Getting troops, settlers, administrators to this area is probably going to require going through Texas or California (which means around the Horn). And this is the part of Mexico and the US that was most lawless OTL.
     
  15. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    We'll return to Texas pretty soon. It may seem meandering, but events in the US will have big effects on Texas down the road. I hope these are just as enjoyable as the Texas bits, though!
    All very true! American eyes were a bit bigger than their stomachs. And if it was lawless OTL, imagine how it will be under a weak and distant 'foreign' occupation.

    And now on with the show!

    Part Thirteen
    Election 1856

    After two terms, President Cass was bound by tradition not to run again. Which was a convenient excuse, he thought, as he sat in his office. Because what madman would want to take over this disaster? Well…

    [​IMG]
    This guy. [1]

    Vice President John Quitman was fully prepared to move into the Executive office. The fiery Mississippian knew exactly what had caused all the problems in Kansas: A soft hand with all those Negroes and Abolitionist bastards! Rebels and antichrists, the lot! Quitman had been denouncing Cass with increasing furor since the California annexation, with only a brief period of respite during the early days after the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It had reached a fever pitch lately, in the buildup to the August Democratic National Convention in Baltimore. The Convention was split along obvious lines - the fire-eaters, radicals on the issue of slavery and mostly Southerners, versus the moderates or Unionists, who were still pro-slavery and in favor of Popular Sovereignty, but were more inclined towards compromise. These were more often Northernern “doughfaces”, ie Northerners with Southern sympathies. Candidates included Quitman, Conservative Hunker [2] and former New York Senator Daniel S. Dickinson, Cass ally and Popular Sovereignty architect Stephen A. Douglas, Mexican War hero and former New Hampshire Senator and Governor Franklin Pierce, and a crowd of lesser knowns.

    As one might expect, the convention was contentious. Despite their doughface tendencies, many Southerners were reluctant to nominate Northerners like Pierce or Dickinson. Their most recent non-Southern, supposedly Southern supporting candidate was Cass, and they all saw how that turned out. Douglas’s credentials had been harmed by supporting Popular Sovereignty even when the people voted against slavery, and by his association with Cass and support for many of the President’s policies. Quitman was pretty out there. He kept talking about the need to defend the South’s “natural rights” “at any cost”, and had made some ominous remarks about how nice it might be to have Cuba as a state, whether Spain was selling or not.

    The Southern delegates wanted a platform which was in favor of the expansion of slavery, called for the installation of a slave-state government in Kansas, and which affirmed the rights of slaveholders in all US Territories. Despite the vigor and volume of the pro-slavery side, the Democrats still had their share of moderates and Northerners. The platform was voted down. In response, Quitman, supported by the even more radical William Yancey and other fire-eaters, walked out. Unlike Yancey, who was genuinely furious, Quitman’s actions were a political move - he hoped to gather enough support to cow the moderate faction, and show the party could not operate, let alone win, without the Southerners. And that meant they needed John Quitman.

    Stephen Douglas did not need John Quitman. The Little Giant [3] had taken a lot of shit from the Vice President in general over the last few years, but during the convention it had risen to intolerable levels. He was used to being insulted in the rough-and-tumble world of 19th century politics, but being called a traitor to his face by his fellow Democratic hopeful was too much right now. Douglas’s faction put forward a motion to continue to the nominations. The motion passed.

    The voting was confusing. Some candidates were still torn about leaving, whether because of Southern sympathies or concerns about excluding a large part of the party from voting. Franklin Pierce, who may have emerged as a compromise candidate, vacillated during the crucial early voting period, and began to slip on later ballots. Many of Pierce’s Northern supporters switched to the Dickinson camp. Over the next 25 ballots, there was no great movement. Pierce gradually slipped off the ballot entirely, although remarkably still held some votes even after wandering out of the convention. Douglas continued to hold the lead, with Dickinson in second. But over the next dozen ballots, Treasury Secretary James Guthrie climbed to a very close third. Soon he slipped into a very tenuous second. Many supported Guthrie because they didn’t like Douglas, and Dickinson appeared increasingly unable to seal the deal. Guthrie was from the South, but not too far South. He was a slave owner, but not a wild eyed fire-eater. He was tied to the Cass administration, but not too closely, and his actions at the Treasury were seen in a very favorable light. On the 53rd ballot there was quite a suprise: Dickinson’s voters almost unanimously bolted for Guthrie, barely pushing him over the required two-thirds majority line. Soon, Dickinson was selected without incident as the party’s Vice Presidential candidate. The Democratic Party had their ticket.

    [​IMG]
    The jowls of a winner.

    OR DID THEY?! The Southern and Doughface delegates had set up camp in a nearby hotel dining room, where they sipped milk punch and discussed straw hats, slave beating, and the latest in plantation architecture [4]. Quitman was the man of the hour, having led the charge away from the tyranny of the Yankees, who were bound to come crawling back any second. As the hours dragged on and the punch flowed, their spirits began to dampen. Eventually a Pierce delegate dropped in to inform the gathering that balloting had begun, but the convention was hopelessly deadlocked. A deadlock that could only be broken by JOHN QUITMAN! HURRAH! Resolving to let the bastards sweat it out a while longer before swooping in to seize the nomination (assuming he could count on the support of all present at the hotel, as well as former Pierce delegates and the Guthrie voters, and steal Dickinson’s position as the anti-Douglas), Quitman kicked back for a while longer, returning to the enjoyable activity of having William Yancey tell him how great he was.

    Just as the delegation prepared to leave, the observer they had dispatched to monitor the proceedings burst in with the news: The convention had nominated Guthrie. It was over. Shock and disbelief rocked the gathering. Glasses were thrown. Hats were stomped upon. William Yancey nearly lost his damn mind, while Quitman stood white with rage. Finally, one delegate yelled out something other than profanity: The convention was illegitimate! A minority had seized control and hijacked the Democratic Party! This wasn’t exactly true, since the Southern delegation was the one that left, and was indeed the numerical minority, but this was no time for facts. Others called for their own convention, right here, right now. Some were less enthusiastic. The convention had actually nominated a Southern slave holder. Despite his Cass association, he seemed pretty legit. But peer pressure is a powerful force, and fists even more so, and with William Yancey physically barring the door they yielded to the former in order to avoid the latter. [5]

    Although other candidates were present, it was a foregone conclusion that Quitman was the nominee. He had led the walkout, he was a hair-raising speaker supported by many of the most prominent fire-eaters, and he was after all the Vice President. His record, as far as this crowd was concerned, was unimpeachable. A voice vote confirmed what everyone already knew, and Romulus Saunders, a back-woodsy partisan who had held almost every position available in his native North Carolina, was selected as Vice President. With all hope for compromise dashed, the race was on.

    [1] Separated at birth!? http://i54.tinypic.com/24cb13r.jpg

    [2] “Hunkers” being the faction of the New York Democratic Party who wanted to minimize the slavery issue, in favor of concentrating on other issues. Further, Dickinson was the leader of the “Hard” faction of the group, which was strongly against reconciling with the more radical “Barnburner” faction of New York Democrats, the anti-slavery, anti-corporate faction associated with the van Buren family and the now-defunct Free Soil Party. In conclusion, Daniel Dickinson was a Hard Hunk.

    [3] Douglas’s nickname. Due to his height, not any role in the 1994 Rick Morranis / Ed O’Neill joint.

    [4] Fall ‘56’s Hot New Pillar: Isn’t it Ionic?

    [5] It might seem that William Yancey was an insane Quitman partisan. Perhaps so, but there is also significant evidence that he was part of a faction, along with William Porcher Miles and Robert Rhett, which hoped to spark Southern secession through splitting the Democratic party, casting some questions on the honesty of his Quitman support.
     
  16. Space Oddity That One Guy. You Know Who I Mean.

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    Well, while it's too soon to be sure, it looks like the Whigs might just survive ITTL. Largely by being the only party left standing--or at least in a tottering position that's a reasonable facsimile of standing.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2011
  17. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Atlanta, GA
    damn, partisan politics like no other. could this lead to a triparty system, or will the whigs come out victorious
     
  18. Space Oddity That One Guy. You Know Who I Mean.

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2010
    It depends. If--and it seems damn likely at this point--the Conscience Whigs take this chance to get control of the party, you'll see the Whigs moving into the Northern party niche the Republicans wound up filling. If they do that, then the Whigs are going to watch in amazement as they reverse a twenty-year history of failure--punctuated with brief moments of near-success--to become the dominant party in American politics. If on the other hand, they blunder about, debate impotently, and basically make a mess of things--and this being the Whigs, we can never rule that out--then prepare to watch the Conscience and Cotton Whigs take advantage of the Democratic Party split--by splitting themselves, resulting in a four-party clusterfuck (pardon my french) that could go anywhere.

    That stated, it doesn't look like there's a Republican Party to siphon up what remains of the Whig organization, and that gives them a hell of a better chance then they had OTL, no matter how bad a shape they're in.
     
  19. Hobelhouse The Cyberpunk Future is Now

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2006
    Location:
    Chicago
    Great timeline. As a native Texan, seeing an independent Texas always makes me feel a little bit warm inside.

    I'm wondering what happens with the Civil War. If the CSA loses (which is likely... the Union has 3x their men and industry), I'm betting a flood of ex-Confederates wash over the border. In which case the US-Texas relationship will become.... interesting.

    What's the state of Texan-British relations? I remember reading somewhere that Texas tried to woo them like France.

    The US taking all that territory in the SW with Texas in the way strikes me as rather inconvenient for them.
     
  20. Errnge I'm back, bitches

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    Sep 20, 2010
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    Atlanta, GA
    i agree. Texas would be like the Wild West, except more wild and without any US Marshals to stop them!

    Texas Rangers on the other hand...:cool: