TLIAPOT: America in the Century of Blood


The twentieth century had seen many things occurred within its hundred years. The fall of the empires of Europe as they went through a titanic war on their home continent and beyond, the rise of the Commonwealth as it replaced the British Empire, the resurgence of China as a world power and many others as well. Along with that were almost countless scientific and social advances that would have made living at the end of the century unrecognisable to those who lived at the start.

But perhaps one of the longest running and most influential of the political aspect of the century was what is now becoming known as the 'Century of Blood'. The title is somewhat dramatic as, despite the name, the collapse of order in the United States and the conflicts that followed didn't last for an entire century and even most conflicts themselves were limited to one particular region. These were still harrowing times for many Americans however, the uncertainty that came from a once mighty nation splitting into several have produced many scars across the continent that last until this day.

The fall and rebirth of the United States of America is a tale that has its many heroes and villains. Some saw the chaos and tried to make sense of it, others attempted to take advantage of it. The following collection of biographies will discuss these individuals who helped shape and change the course of American history for an entire century.

Going from the event which would directly lead to the break down of America to the first President to be elected once it was reunited, these collected essays will take a snapshot of one particular individual every four years. Starting from 1916, highlighting the event which kickstarted the Century of Blood, one person will be looked at during the year America would have had an election. These twenty-six individuals were the ones who helped create, shape and end the Century of Blood, although they were not the only ones.

As America is now a reunified, albeit smaller, nation, its past wounds can hopefully heal under a new political system and philosophies that flourished during the chaos. The United States of America now have a chance to reclaim what it has lost with a great potential future ahead of it. To understand its future though, we must first look at the past and those individuals who shaped it.

We start in 1916 and look to one of the most shocking terrorist attacks in the modern era. An event which would live in infamy and only be the start of the bloodshed to follow.
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New timeline, what dis?
Basically showing twenty-six profiles over a century of an alternate history over America that charts the country's fall and rebirth over 100 years.

Any familiar faces?
Some. We have a few of the old suspects, various names that have cropped up in alternate history with one or two verging on clichés and several others that are incredibly obscure to the extent I don't think they've appeared in alternate history before.

This going to be sticking religiously to plausibility?
Not really. At least, it won't be physically impossible for any of these things to happen, but will be a bit wonky on plausibility itself and more than a fair bit of handwaving. Just thought this should be clear before going onwards.

Open to criticisms/suggestions to improve?
As always.

Anything else?
A thank you to @frustrated progressive for his suggestions on one of the entries to help me with it.

As ever, hope everyone enjoys.
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Emma Goldman

A photo of Emma Goldman taken days before the attack on the State of the Union Address. The badge with the number on it and its meaning has been debated among historians and the public for decades, although it's largely believed to have been a way for the mole to identify all of them.
In 1916, Emma Goldman decapitated the American government. The conspiracy and its aftermath, which would be the main instigator of America's 'century of blood' was born from Goldman's growing frustrations over decades of frustrated political and social reform and her own personal harassment at the hands of the US government. What she did was something that came from a person who had been pushed their entire life and became determined to push back.

Having emigrated to the United States as a teenager, Goldman had become radicalised over the years upon seeing the poverty suffered by many fellow immigrants and workers. She soon became a believer in anarchism, seeing that as the best way to end the suffering of the lower classes in America. During this period, she met and fell in love with Alexander Berkman, both he and Goldman coming to believe in 'propaganda of the deed', acts of violence meant to inspire the masses to revolt against their capitalist masters.

Goldman and Berkman would look to act upon this idea when, in 1893, a strike against a steel plant in Pennsylvania gave them a target. Henry Clay Frick of the Carnegie Steel Company had acted to break the strike by any means he could. Believing him to be the idea person to strike at to inspire the masses, Berkman agreed for Goldman to aid him how she could, helping with making him a bomb to use against Frick. This bomb was used to successfully assassinate the businessman, Berkman being arrested, Goldman being caught soon after.

Much to Berman and Goldman's disappointment, the masses didn't try to rise up after the assassination and both were instead condemned in the harshest terms, even by fellow anarchists. Berkman was given a death sentence for actually being the one to kill Frick while Goldman, for being an accessory, was given twenty years in prison. Berkman died with Goldman not even being allowed to see him before his execution, further embittering her.

Over the next twenty years, Goldman became more radicalised in prison, believing that the biggest mistake her and Berkman had made was aiming too low. For a real uprising to happen, she believed that something even more drastic had to be done. Outside of prison, the assassination had brought about harsh penalties against anarchists and the elite in Washington and business dug their heels in even further over any kind of reform. Anarchists were pushed further and further underground while other ideologies such as socialism also came under fire from the government.

When Goldman was finally released in 1913, she was a much more bitter and radical person than when she entered. Having few opportunities ahead of her, she decided to strike at the very government she blamed for the problems of herself and others. She was not alone in this and silently gathered a small group of allies to do something about it. It so happened that one of their number that corresponded with them worked as a member of security at the House of Representatives. With the President looking to rally support for his foreign policy with the first spoken speech to both Houses of Congress since Jefferson. The Balkans War and Irish Civil War were both ongoing during this point in time and the uncertainty of the time caused the President to act accordingly.

Seeing this as a chance to act, Goldman and her band of followers made plans. She taught five other anarchists about bomb making while also aiding them gather weapons in their attack. Being the mastermind behind it, Goldman's body was too worn down from her years in prison to take an active role in it. On the day of the attack itself, she waited in her home in New York, waiting for any news that would come out.

The attack succeeded beyond even the anarchist's wildest hopes. Having been armed with revolvers and a bomb each, the group was allowed in by their mole, having also been given uniforms that allowed them to blend in up until they reached the Chamber the speech was being made in. Starting with their bombs, the anarchists caused utter chaos within seconds as the the blast from several explosions littered the front of the chamber. Several shots followed as the anarchists tried killing as many as they could before security finally managed to rally. Three of the group were killed as they tried to escape in the confusion, the remainder gunned down in the streets of Washington as the police were called in to help pursue them.

With their deaths, the investigation began immediately with the assassins being identified, the hotel they had stayed at uncovering anarchist literature as well as letters from Emma Goldman herself. Authorities in New York were quick to track her down, but instead found that she had already killed herself, leaving behind a letter outlining her motivations behind her actions and hopes that this would be the turning point in American history. In one way, she was right. The event, which would become known as the Capitol Massacre, would change the USA forever.

Fifty-eight Congressmen and Senators were killed in the attack, as well as the President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and President pro tempore of the Senate. The decapitation of so many high ranking government officials caused a horrific shock to go through every level of American society. A backlash occurred against Anarchism and every other ideology that criticised the government that dwarfed all that came before it. Goldman and her group had failed in kick starting a revolution, but they had sent a wave of hysterical panic over America that would only increase over the next few years.

Emma Goldman had seen the worst the American establishment had to offer and had fought against it in increasingly radical ways throughout her lifetime. The loss of her liberty and her love contributed greatly to her mindset when she decided to attack the government in a way that would leave it so badly damaged. Once the news of the attack was known, she committed suicide, denying even the slightest chance of retribution for her actions.

There has been long running debates in historical and political circles, even in local bars throughout the country, as to whether or not Goldman was justified in any of her actions. With the debate getting quite violent, it still hasn't been resolved. What cannot be denied however, is that the Capitol Massacre was the event which would lead directly to the Century of Blood. No matter what her motivations were, Goldman had caused the collapse of a nation and millions would suffer for it over the coming decades.
So Robert Lansing is now Acting President?
Not quite. Due to the POD, the position of some politicians and so on have been switched around a bit. It'll be one of the more familiar faces in the next update.

I'm interested.
This has definitely piqued my interest... consider myself subscribed
Thanks, hope you continue to enjoy.

Interesting: a more violent Emma Goldman causing the decapitation of the US government would make the Centralia Massacre looks like a pacifist meeting.
It's rather hard for me to take that event seriously when the write up has the word 'wobblies' every other sentence. A rather interesting event though, thanks for bringing it up.
William Jennings Bryan

An official picture released of Bryan in 1920. Note how it was adjusted to cover some of his ageing and the injuries he suffered during the Capitol Massacre. Such photographs and other propaganda became more common as Bryan's time as President wore on.
n 1920, William Jennings Bryan dealt a death blow to American democracy. Having been thrust into the role of President in the aftermath of the Capitol Massacre, the mental and physical scars Bryan had gained from the event would shape his Presidency for the worse as he took on more and more power, much to the country's growing dissatisfaction and woe.

Bryan had been Secretary of State at the time of the Capitol Massacre, although he had been on the verge of resigning. He had been offered the position as a concession to the few remaining populists in the Democratic Party, his name still standing out to many as people saw him as one of the few remaining major political figures pushing for reform. He had tried pushing for populist measures during his years in government, but it became apparent over the years that the government was unwilling to make any moves in that direction. Attending the State of the Union Address had supposed to have been one of his last few official acts before resigning the next year. Instead, he would ascend to the Presidency because of the events that occurred.

Having witnessed the slaughter of men in front of him had left Bryan deeply effected by the carnage. He had also suffered physical injuries from some shrapnel that had scarred the side of his face and embedded in his shoulder. Having survived such an attack and being propelled him to the Presidency made Bryan's religious beliefs twist into believing he had been spared by God to help save the nation.

The threat of anarchism and other such ideologies had provided a major groundswell of support to censoring those who followed them and the Political Reliability Act was born. Far-left groups were deliberately targeted with those who were noted speakers and figures in ideologies such as anarchism and socialism being lumped together and persecuted. Mass arrests followed the passage of the Act in early 1917, along with the rise of censorship and more power being passed onto the Executive as Bryan put on greater pressure to have a secure, Godly, America. Following the Political Reliability Act came the Emergency Powers Act, which granted Bryan increased political powers at the expense of political and civil rights, including the ability to suspend elections should there remain 'a clear and present danger to the American republic'. While accepted by the majority of the public in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, their existence would become increasingly controversial and hated as time went by.

That isn't to say that he lost sight of his initial, progressive, ideals and in fact took various measures to see them come to light. However, this push towards newly progressive measures, when coupled with the accumulation of power in the executive branch, saw the growth of direct criticism against Bryan. Whatever support Bryan could have gained from left-wing elements in the country was drained as he attacked anyone who had a whiff of socialism about them. He also lost support from those who opposed his progressive measures and the country became bogged down with its business seemingly blocked on the local level in numerous places.

Honestly believing that his was his way to bring the country back to the path of righteousness and prosperity, Bryan kept pushing through further legislation while setting up the Federal Investigation Bureau to hunt down any potential threats to the American government and oppressing other political philosophies. As he did this, Bryan's popularity started to wane as his oppressive tendencies greatly effected how the working classes saw him.

It was due to this that an assassination attempt happened in January of 1920. As he toured the north-east in order to drum up support for his political measures, Bryan was shot from the crowd, the bullet glancing off one of his ribs. Believing that providence had once more spared him, the religious fervour Bryan placed into his political works went even further. With people believing that the country was under siege by a full scale anarchist conspiracy, Bryan, supported by many elements in the government and military, ordered a suspension of elections until the problem could be torn out root and branch under the powers given to him by the Emergency Powers Act.

The order, while supported by those who feared the threat of Anarchism, saw an outpouring of protest against this move. Although some protests were allowed, the army was called in at several points to help stamp down on outbursts that threatened to get out of hand and Bryan helped ease over matters by promising that it would be only a temporary measure and that elections would resume for the Presidency in 1924 while other elections would take place for Congress and the Senate. While this helped mollify the protests a good deal and dealt with the worst of the dissent, the Emergency Powers Act was still in place, still putting more and more control in the hands of the executive branch of government.

Using the time available to him, Bryan put more and more resources into the F.I.B. and turned it into his own private organisation, answerable only to the office of the President. In effect, it became America's secret police organisation that helped to gut opposition organisations. Over the next four years, the F.I.B. became a tool of oppression as Bryan looked to secure his role as President to continue his 'Godly' mission. The actions of the F.I.B. were insidious and would prove to be disastrous for the US in later years. For the time being though, the organisation helped quash opposition effectively.

Many modern psychologists have looked these actions through the lens of various potential problems that Bryan could have been going through, making him make increasingly irrational decisions. PTSD, paranoia, survivor's guilt, messianic complex and numerous others mental issues have been attributed to Bryan over this time period, with many trying to explain what he did through the years as a result of his trauma. Whatever effects they may have had, Bryan honestly believed that his government had become holy and those that sought to destroy it weren't just wrong, but potentially evil.

Bryan's administration was, at its heart, a complete mess as he had the power and support to keep control of the government, but lacked the ability to use its power effectively. Using the Capitol Massacre as a weapon against opponents, as well as the attempt on his life, Bryan and the F.I.B. managed to create an atmosphere where leftist anti-government philosophies were persecuted while 'respectable' opposition that showed loyalty to the American government was allowed, regardless of what form it took.

With the suspension of the Presidential election in 1920, Bryan moved to a full take over of the country with opposition made by politicians either given some fig leafs or quickly stamped out as the F.I.B. being used as attack dogs. This move not only helped kill American democracy, but also helped to drive the wedge deep into American that would split it apart. With resistance and delays rising at various levels against his measures, the American government became moribund and stifled. If not for the fact the economy was doing well throughout his time as President, it is likely that outright resistance from the populace would have broken out much sooner.

While the vast majority were apathetic or even mildly supportive of the government in its measures against Anarchists and other revolutionary movements, as well as appreciating Bryan's attempts to 'do something' for them, other elements were growing in power as they tried to steer a different path. Those that had been driven underground only found their voices being heard through other means and although visible opposition had been crushed, 1924's suspended election saw many come to think revolutionary talk had a point and began to listen to it. Even if they could not speak out against the government, they would now work against it as best they could.

William Jennings Bryan had been thrust into office after a deeply traumatising event where he saw men being butchered in front of him. The psychological effects, along with his increasing religious convictions, led him to believe that his path was truly righteous. By rooting out the Anarchists and other left-wing philosophies, he believed that he was doing the work of God and defending America. Suspending the election after an attempted assassination was the logical end of this for him. He had survived that after all, God must have chosen him to carry on His work.

In his pursuit of enemies though, Bryan failed to notice the real ones working against him by using the system to further their own interests. Even as the F.I.B. was used to attack those directly opposing the government, those who found themselves stifled due to the grabbing of power by the executive branch sought other means to take power for themselves. Regional blocks grew throughout the 1920's, States looking to circumvent Bryan's directives in one form or another.

As much as he tried to save the States, Bryan's actions would serve only to bring their downfall. The decision to suspend elections, one that turned permanent, proved to many that they would have to take action on their own to get what they wanted. Historians may debate Bryan's motivations and actions, but the outcome was the same. The death of the United States of America.
You know a TL is dark when William Jennings Bryan became an elections-suspending, secret police-managing dictator.

And the secessions and the Second Civil War which will happens seems to be only the start of the dark times.
You know a TL is dark when William Jennings Bryan became an elections-suspending, secret police-managing dictator.

And the secessions and the Second Civil War which will happens seems to be only the start of the dark times.
A mixture of the trauma that came from the Capitol Massacre and the belief that God had chosen him to right the situation. One of those times where he honestly did have good intentions, but we all know which road is paved with those...
Oh boy. This is gonna get interesting.
Did WWI happen ITTL so far?
Nope, there were problems in the Balkans, but the powers managed to bring themselves back from the brink. That's not to say there won't be a conflict in the future, but Europe won't burn... yet.
Hiram Wesley Evans

Picture taken of Evans during a Klan rally in 1924. It was during this time-frame that Evans began to develop the Klan's links with the governments of the Southern states, using discontent at the suspended elections to build up support in the region.

In 1924, Hiram Wesley Evans helped plant the seeds that would lead to the rebirth of the Confederate States of America. At this time, the country was managing to move along under the Bryan Administration, but there was simmering discontent underneath the surface. The American South was no stranger to it as it had a mixed reaction to Bryan's initiatives. Although his pursuit of a Godly America and stamping down on radical left ideologies was welcomed by many quarters, his suspension of Presidential elections and Progressive measures also outraged those same people.

Into this situation, the Ku Klux Klan gained great prominence. An organisation dedicated to nativism, white supremacism and fighting the evils of Anarchism, it was something Bryan himself could live with, if not like. Having launched an internal coup against the previous leader of the organisation, Evans looked to push the Klan as a political organisation, he was one of the first to use the Capitol Massacre as a way to prove the evils of immigration and Anarchism, claiming that the Klan could be a bulwark against such things.

With the Capitol Massacre and subsequent propaganda put out by the Bryan Administration that made many fear that Anarchists were preparing for a bloody revolution, the membership of the Klan grew throughout the early 1920's to over five million in 1924. It was a country-wide organisation that resonated with a lot of people in the South and Midwest. With such a mass behind him, Evans' thoughts soon turned to the political situation in the US and how it could benefit the Klan itself.

1924 saw Bryan renege on his promise to hold an election for the Presidency, citing the supposed Anarchist threat. Outrage was widespread, but actual violence against the government was muted as some had come to accept this state of affairs, others supported the President and the F.I.B. had been able to gut any potential opposition from a variety of fronts. A large percentage of people had come to accept that Bryan was going to be President and was doing his best to defend the people from the threat of revolution.

Amid the different extremes of apathy and outrage, Evans tried to steer a course that would be best for the Klan. The group itself had managed to avoid targetting by the F.I.B. due to its emphasis on Americanism and its strong anti-Communist and Anarchist credentials. The fact that Evans had also worked greatly on widening the Klan's political cover by supporting various politicians in the South. Integrating with the political elite in the region gave Evans access to further resources as well as being able to find out what local Governors and Senators thought of the situation.

While many were supportive of the oppressive measures against left-wing ideologies, Bryan's suspension of the Presidential elections had caused many to hate the man with a passion. Old memories of Dixie were reignited, but many politicians were fearful of trying that again, especially as the F.I.B. had tabs on such individuals across the country. Evans realised that there was a gap that the Klan could fill and chose to do so.

In October of 1924, Evans visited many Southern governors, under the pretext of discussing the Klan aiding in the funding of various schools. Instead, the true matter of each meeting was what to do about the Bryan Administration. Open rebellion wasn't on the table, there wasn't the ability to do that and many feared it would only strengthen Bryan's position in the atmosphere of open paranoia he had created. Instead, a more insidious method was agreed upon, especially in the light of the Klan's investment in schools and education throughout the South.

In essence, the Ku Klux Klan became a propaganda machine for the Lost Cause Myth. Its recruitment, rallies and educational material put great emphasis on the 'righteousness' of the Southern cause in the Civil War. Much was made of how noble, Christian and racially pure the South was in comparison to other regions in the US, directly linking the immigrants and ethnic minorities there to whatever evils they claimed plagued society. It was a move that saw Evans seeing his own ideology being placed on a pedestal, not realising that those he thought were his staunch allies were seeing him more as a useful pawn.

The propaganda being put out wasn't anything that hadn't been seen before, but the sheer scale of the Klan's memberships and its resources allowed its message to be spread throughout every segment of society. Books were published, schools were established with a skewed view of history in general and even children's societies like the Scouts were created as a part of the Klan to further the indoctrination. Nothing was ever spoken about the Bryan Administration, but the true message was written strong, the South would be better off on its own.

Integrating himself in with many local forces in the South as he did this, Evans further brought the Klan into the mainstream with respectable figures of the South soon either becoming Klan members, or seeing them favourably enough to turn a blind eye to several of their more illegal activities. As the Klan grew, so did oppression and vigilante attacks against black people, the racism that the Klan embraced showing itself in the blood spilled. The south-east in particular saw Jim Crow becoming even more rigid than before and many Klan members attacked black people without fear of any kind of reprisal.

Such was the Klan's power that they were able to hush up the suicide of a woman raped and assaulted by one of its leading members in Indiana. Realising what a close shave the incident was though, Evans redoubled his efforts to make the Klan politically secure, supporting various politicians in the south and beyond. As the 1920's went on, the Klan became a major political machine in the south and helped secure the positions of many politicians. All the while, the federal government became even more moribund as Bryan's health started to fail and the high ranking members of his Administration tried to make sure the succession would pass as smoothly as possible.

By the time America began to fall apart, Evans had managed to fill the American South with propaganda giving the region its own national identity. This helped their support to only grow, especially in light of the economic downturn that took place at the start of the 1930's. The government had managed to keep its power on the promise of safety and prosperity, once those factors started to wane, people became more outspoken against the government, turning to protest and outright revolt as the oppressive measures were believed to no longer be justified and that the government had to go.

In the South, such feelings were mixed with the romanticism of the Civil War and how the CSA had been fighting for its liberty. The feeling that the south should rise again was strong throughout the region and pushed heavily by the KKK. As the country broke apart, a new Confederacy was declared in Richmond once more, the new nation leading the way in pulling away from the United States of America. The new Confederacy saw its old borders rise once more, except in Texas, which had pulled away on its own path and the state of Louisiana, whose local political strongman had managed to defy the Klan at every turn and turn the state into his own fiefdom.

All this was to the delight of Evans, who would help forge an entirely new nation based off the structure of the old. A white supremacist nation whose very foundation was the belief in the superiority of a white, Christian, race, the new Confederate States of America were shaped by Evans' ideology to a good degree, although others soon made their voices known. As much as Evans wanted to take full credit and as much power as he could in this new nation, others worked to sideline in order to secure power themselves. The government that formed in the South after the downfall of the former United States was saw heavily gerrymandered elections that saw more traditional political machines favoured over the working class sponsored Klan politicians.

Frustrated by this, Evans found himself trapped in a nation that he had helped create, yet was utterly powerless in it. Betrayed, he would retire from his leadership role in the Klan, embittered over what had happened and was reportedly spitefully satisfied when the Confederacy floundered in its attempt to retain control Mississippi in the late 30's. He would go onto die a bitter man, trapped in the country which was his child and had ultimately rejected him.

The meetings in 1924 were the crucial start of the Ku Klux Klan becoming the cultural touchstone of the new Confederate States of America. Evans achieved his dream of a Klan that was a potent, political force, but had failed to realise that others saw it merely as a tool. Used and discarded, he would retire and die with the betrayal leaving him angry and bitter at those who had tricked him in such a way. The Klan itself would settle into a 'community focused' role, providing a sort of organisation for the middle and working classes that would organise events and celebrating the Confederacy's heritage. Its darker side would remain and the rebirth of the Confederacy would see the rights of black people fall even further, leading to the Mississippi Crisis and the Border Conflict that would follow.

Evans' creation had rejected him and neutered the very organisation he had used to help birth it. He had helped kill America, yet personally didn't profit from it. Instead, he had inadvertently created an elite that would guide the Confederacy for the next six decades. However, the same glorification of the past that had created the reborn Confederated States of America would later lead to its destructive downfall.
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