Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Sicarius, Mar 23, 2011.
Definately one of the Best TLs here. I just wish you would update more.
Hopefully after the end of this semester I'll have more free time!
The hiatus is over! Now for an oven-fresh installment, as we rapidly approach the wrap-up of this American detour (maybe???).
The Whig party had been having a tough time of it. Of the two Presidents they’d manage to get elected, one had died almost immediately and the other was widely considered a failure. These days, the party was having trouble maintaining the illusion that they were a unified national organization. People like Abraham Lincoln had stopped philosophizing about the nature of the Whig Party, and had instead largely jumped ship to other groups, licking their chops on the sidelines and waiting for the Whigs to collapse. The Whig Convention of 1856 was considered by many to be a wake, but there was nevertheless a significant and active group which felt the Whigs were the only hope for national unity. They’d pulled off compromises before, and felt they could do it again. Ultimately, Whig Senator from New York Hamilton Fish seized the nomination. A former governor and current Senator, Fish had the credentials, and in a speech to the convention he worked to distance himself from his already moderate position on slavery, saying that the nation should focus on other issues and come to a rational compromise that would satisfy all sides. We’ll see.
More like Hamliton Dish, am I right ladies? No? Nobody? Fine.
Many people felt the Whigs had no chance at all, or wanted a more fiercely anti-slavery party, or wanted an avenue to express a more generalized, anti-Catholic racism than Democrats were focused on. These people washed up in a variety of parties, from the American (Know-Nothing) to the surviving bits of the Liberty Party, and beyond. But there was really only one other party that had hopes of fronting a serious national campaign: The Freedom Party. After the Free Soil Party fell apart following the election of 1852, many of its members came together to form a sucessor party. With the controversies that sprang up from the Mexican War and the Kansas crisis, the Freedom Party was able to capitalize on radicalized Whigs and Democrats who could no longer abide their own parties. Freedonian  sniping of members of other parties had led to a somewhat acrimonious relationship with the Democrats and Whigs.
The Freedom Party convention, the party’s first, was equally acrimonious. The candidates ranged from anti-slavery radical and poet John Greenleaf Whittier to recently de-Whigged Abraham Lincoln to William Seward to John van Buren to Justice John McLean, who probably just wanted one more political party to pay attention to him. There were others besides, of varying levels of seriousness and sanity.
The wrangling was tough. McLean was hurt by a whisper campaign about his age and fitness for campaigning, let alone office. Comparisons to William Henry Harrison were rife. John van Buren’s father, tiny former President Martin van Buren, had once been the Free Soil candidate for President. John himself had once gambled away his mistress in a card game . As you can imagine, that wasn’t particularly helpful. Despite his lyrical and inspiring speeches against slavery , Whittier was not taken especially seriously. He had only even attempted to gain political office once, a failure that led to the first of two nervous breakdowns. While respected as a behind the scenes operator, there were worries about his abilities as a campaigner and ability to handle the stress.
Lady Luck is a cruel mistress. John van Buren was cruel to mistresses.
So it came down to a shooting match between Lincoln and Seward . Despite his longtime opposition to things like the war with Mexico and the expansion of slavery, Lincoln had not held political office for some time, and lacked the prominence (and outspoken anti-slavery) of sitting Senator Seward. Seward locked in sufficient support after only a few ballots, and with the nomination of James Speed as Vice President, the chessboard was finally stocked with all the pieces for Election 1856 .
William Seward, or "William C-Word" as his opponents called him. I imagine.
 From a term first proposed by Samuel Mitchill in 1803 as an alternate term for citizens of the United States.
 Whittier was both figuratively and literally colorblind.
 Only figuratively, not literally. This wasn’t the Democratic convention or anything.
 Unfortunately, Salmon Chase was still consolidating his position as the first Freedonian governor of Ohio, depriving us of the epic battle of SALMON VS. FISH.
So the Freedom Party has replaced the Republican Party. Interesting.
What's going on in Texas these days?
Yeah, the Freedonians are basically the Republicans, but knowledge of the Texian party called Republicans, and that party's pro-slavery, pro-France, and very light anti-US positions, combined with some tenuous ties to the Southern Democrats, made them go with a different name. It's also a bit wilder than the early Republicans, doesn't have as good a relationship with the Whigs, and of course lacks Fremont.
President Edward Burleson has presided over a mostly quiet few years in office, focusing primarily on the ongoing wars against the Indians. Burleson isn't hugely motivated by ideology, so he's content to deal mostly with military matters. But within the now dominant Republican Party, there are some divisions growing on the matters of immigration - partially the number of Germans moving in, but also against the French, who have all kinds of benefits stemming from the Franco-Texian treaty. After the next part, the last of the US for now, we'll see about Texian matters in more depth.
 Likely not realizing that the "Republic of Fredonia" was also the first attempt by whites to create an independent state in Texas.
Just wanted to say that I've read through part 10 and great timeline. I did a WI with a similar POD a while back---keep it up!
FREEDOM! And IRONY!
Which makes it very likely that as opposed to the Republican Party, the Freedom Party is going to share the fate of most of the earlier anti-slavery parties--a few elections where it looks like The Next Big Thing, followed by a collapse--unless it manages to take the Presidency this time out.
Either way--let the Four Party Clusterfuck BEGIN!
This was hilarious, love the humour, love the history and love the...uhh, other cool story stuff that makes your story good... that was very articulate, AOB!
Can't wait for the next part, and just wanna tell you, good job!
This is quite brilliant. Keep up the great work.
Finally read the whole thing. I'm glad somebody did a TL on this, since almost nobody responded to my thread(https://www.alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=187079). Keep it up!
Another good update, I love the style of your writing.
Okay! Finally! Very busy couple of weeks. After this I think we'll bounce around a lot, catching us up on Texas and the fallout from this installment.
Election 1856 had four major candidates, and a host of smaller ones, leading to a fractured race. The two Democratic candidates spent much of their time attacking one another or slandering Hamilton Fish for his wishy-washy position. Seward was equally wishy (though slightly less washy?), and mostly worked to distance himself from his own prior positions on slavery, and to seem more moderate. Which largely served to anger his own party, but since most anti-slavery groups had dissolved and largely been absorbed into the Freedom Party, they didn’t have much to work with otherwise, since Seward being the only even lukewarm abolitionist. His strategy, then, was to go after people who weren’t radical abolitionists, those being a demographic too small to carry him to a win alone.
Between Henry Clay's administration and Fish’s former stance on slavery, the South was not enthusiastic about the Whigs. And the North wasn’t much looking for compromise either, though it was slightly more friendly territory. There was also something of a feedback loop: lots of people thought the Whigs were done for, and therefore sided with either Guthrie or Seward, which made more people think the Whigs couldn’t win, etc. etc. The party, which had always struggled to maintain a national, not sectional, character was now losing both sides.
While a four-way race in name, in many states the competition varied from three to one real candidate(s). There was no question that the deep South would vote for Quitman, though Guthrie performed solidly as well. New England was a lock for Seward, while the lower Northern states were torn between Whigs, Freedonians, and to a lesser extent Guthrie's Democrats. The border states were between the Democrats and Whigs.
The campaign was somewhat typical of the time - none of the candidates ‘took the stump’ or went on tour. Local party bosses pulled much of the weight (which further hurt the Whigs, suffering something of an enthusiasm gap at the local level), there were marches, there were mocking songs, there were counter-songs , you know how it goes. Things were altogether pretty normal, until October.
Late that month, a Washington jury found Preston Brooks not guilty. His attorney argued that Brooks’s honor had been so grievously insulted that he had gone mad with rage, and played up the response of the other Senators to make it seem as if there had been a near riot. Paper-thin, but the Southern sympathetic jury ate it up anyway.
The country went nuts. The South, accepting the trial reasoning, let loose a huge rush of pent-up “hero” worship. Preston Brooks received thousands of letters, and dozens of replacement canes . Though Brooks had been expelled from the Senate when indicted, he now vowed to run again. The North went equally insane, in the opposite direction. There were near riots in border states, and the campaign marches took on a much more militant tone. Formerly wary Freedonians closed rank around Seward. In some states, like New York, it served to radicalize many who may have otherwise voted for Fish. In Pennsylvania, many were uncomfortable with the Freedonian fervor. In Virginia, Quitman lost voters to those afraid a radical on either side would lead to a hard choice between union or secession.
It was in this polarized state that the nation rolled into November, and Election Day. Many speculated that the election would be too split, and end up in the House, where the Southern states could rally around a candidate and shut out the North. Then a funny thing happened...
 Like Glee. With slavery.
 Replacing the one he beat a man to death with.
HA! KNEW IT! IT'S GOING TO THE HOUSE!*
Great to have this back, Sicarius.
*At least, assuming those are the voting results... And that I didn't misread you, and that in fact you have an even more epic twist planned...
149 is actually the exact number you need to win, in a 296 EV election
Ahh. My mistake... the percentages threw me off. (Curse you, decimal point majorities! Curse you!) So, it looks like the Civil War has a healthy chance of starting four years early.
O damn! loved the glee comment, made me smile after a long day/nights work.
just realized how peculiarly shaped the united states is with Texas practically jutting up into the middle of it. if texas ever went to war with the USA, they could potentially bisect the nation
Texas would get creamed in any war with the US but the real stand out thing for me is how big Texas was at this stage and how far North it stretched.
so when will this be updated again?
it was kinda my favorite new TL
Seconded, this has to be one of my favorite TLs on here!
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