Where Bullets Land

Where Bullets Land

Chapter I: Mad Man Behind the Colonnade

The seed that killed the Democratic Party was planted by the pistol of a mad man, Richard Lawrence. Born in England in 1801, he and his family immigrated to the state of Virginia during the War of Impressment, where it is said that he had a completely normal childhood. [1] But on the morning of January 30th, 1835 he would cement his own legacy as a deranged assassin, and set the Democratic Party on a track of infamy and self-destruction. President Andrew Jackson was attending the funeral of congressman Warren R. Davis at the Capitol building in Washington D.C. As he left the funeral, Lawrence emerged from behind a pillar, pulled out his pistol and fired a point-blank shot into the back of the President. [2] The President collapsed forward to the ground as a nearby Navy Lieutenant, Thomas Gedney, charged at Lawrence, who pulled out a second pistol and fired it at Gedney, killing the Navy Lieutenant. Before the assassin could escape, Congressman Davy Crockett tackled him to the ground and kept him subdued until a policeman was able to arrive and arrest him. President Jackson was quickly taken from the scene to a nearby hospital, but by then it was too late. His lung had been punctured, and died within hours.

The subsequent trial was the biggest in the nation’s history up to that point. Jackson’s supporters initially suspected a political motivation for the attack, many pointing to Mississippi Senator George Poindexter, whom it was revealed during the trial had hired Lawrence to paint his home in D.C. As the trial continued the true extent of Lawrence’s mental feebleness was revealed, believing he was King Richard III, and that President Jackson was preventing him from collecting money owed to him by the American Colonies. Despite Lawrence’s evident insanity, the prosecutor, Francis Scott Key, sought the harshest punishment possible… death. Had the attempt on the President’s life failed, he may have gotten off with a plea of insanity. But because his bullets found their marks inside the torsos of a President and a Navy Lieutenant, he was found guilty on one count of first degree murder, and one count of second degree murder. He was sentenced to death by hanging in June of 1835.

Political drama was occurring before the Trial even began. With Andrew Jackson being the first President to not serve out the full term he was elected to, the issue of succession had not yet been determined. The Succession Act of 1792 had made arrangements if both the Presidency and Vice Presidency were vacant, but not if just the Presidency was open. Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the U.S. constitution said that the powers and duties of the President would devolve to the Vice President, but it was not clear if the office itself was inherited. Vice President Van Buren took initiative and sent a message to Jackson’s cabinet about his plans to assume the presidency, and located the recently appointed Associate Justice James Wayne, who administered the oath of office. This move initially sparked outrage in the Senate, which was controlled by the anti-Jacksonians, who argued that Van Buren could only be considered Acting-President. They butted heads with the House of Representatives, which was controlled by the Democrats at the time, who recognized Van Buren’s ascendency. Although numerous controversies erupted around this issue, by the time the trial of Richard Lawrence had started, the 24th congress had replaced the 23rd, at which time both houses were controlled by the Democrats, who gladly recognized Van Buren’s Presidency, but this was just the beginnings of Van Buren’s troubles in office.

From, The Rise and Fall of the Democratic Party, by Jonathan Alberts (1990, William & Marry Press) [3]

[1] ITTL, the war of 1812 is sometimes referred to as the “War of Impressment” by American scholars.

[2] This is the PoD. IOTL both pistols misfired.

[3] One of many fictional texts that will serve as the narrative format of TTL

I’ve done timelines in the past with this PoD before, and a chunk of this timeline will be reusing elements from those, but I’m treating this timeline as being a completely separate one because there are going to be significant changes in how things progress. For the U.S., the changes from my older timeline “A Long and Flowing Whig,” will become more prevalent after the American Civil War. Before then, though, there will be quite a few changes that, although not changing the trajectory of the timeline until after the civil war, will have big ramifications for certain Characters (A very different fate for Abraham Lincoln).

There will be a rather large change ITTL from ALFW in another theater, Europe. Either in the Next chapter, or a few down the line, I will be giving the second PoD for this timeline that will set Europe down a different path from both OTL and ALFW. Because these changes, at least in my eyes, are so significant, I’ve decided to dedicate this Timeline as something completely new, rather than the umpteenth attempted rewrite of an older one.
I have not read your previous works, so this is all new to me. I await to see what more you may do ITTL.

Chapter II: The Machine Infernale

“Until the last minute Giuseppe continued to fiddle with and tweak the custom volley gun he and his conspirators had ordered. He couldn’t leave anything to chance because if this didn’t work they wouldn’t get another. In fact, they wouldn’t get a second chance even if it did. 25 barrels tied together, pointing out a third floor window on the Boulevard du Temple toward the street below. The waiting was killing him. The apartment he was staying in had extra parts, as well as radical literature scattered around.

At last, an open topped carriage came around the corner and he saw them, King Louis Philippe, and his sons; the Dukes of Orleans and Nemours, and Prince de Joinville, followed by a large number of staff and senior officers. The streets were crowded with people, both civilians and national guard. Just as the carriage passed in front of his window he fired the contraption. All the barrels lit up with fire, filling the apartment with smoke. [1] Down on the street below dozens of people were suddenly on the ground, along with King Louis Philippe and his sons slumped over the sides of the carriage. One of the National Guard officers pointed to the smoke billowing from the window, and ordered his men to fire. Another group of National Guardsmen stormed the building, breaking down doors looking for the room where the shots came from. When they found the room from where the shots had been fired, they found the assassin dead on the floor, with a hole in his face, and chunks of his brain scattered behind him. It was determined that he had been killed by one of the National Guardsmen who fired through the window on the streets below.

The King and his sons were rushed away to the nearest hospital, but for most it was too late. Louis Philippe, and his sons Francois and Louis were dead. The only survivor was the King’s eldest son, Ferdinand Philippe, who was in critical condition. [2] With the king dead, and his heir apparent unconscious, Paris was in Chaos. The National Guard sought to keep the city under control, and temporarily put the city under martial law.

No one knew who was behind the attack. The Orlean’s Dynasty has only come to the throne 5 years earlier, leaving them relatively weak, and with plenty of groups who would want power for themselves. Some suspected the Bourbon Legitimists attempting to restore Charles X, or possibly his son Louis Antoine (whom some recognized as Louis XIX), or Charles X’s grandson Henri (who some recognized as Henri V). Some suspected the Bonapartists looking to install one of the remaining Bonapartes to the throne. Beyond monarchists it was suspected that it was the Republicans who attempted to kill off the royal family, and it was these suspicions that proved correct.

When authorities investigated the room the assailant had been renting they discovered pamphlets and news papers from republican organizations, such as the Society of the Rights of Man (SRM). One of the newspapers found amongst the documents was one reporting on the assassination of U.S. President Andrew Jackson back in January of that year. While the heir apparent was unconscious, much of the power of state was being exercised by the Prime Minister, Victor de Broglie, and under his order the police and National Guard arrested as many members of the SRM as they could find in Paris. They managed to round up most of the leadership, but many of the lower ranked members managed to evade capture, some with the aid of National Guard members who were sympathetic to the Republicans themselves. After interrogating the arrested SRM members, as well as employees and other guests of the apartment house the attacked had been orchestrated from, and two living co-conspirators who knew of the plan directly; a Saddler named Pierre Morey, and a chief of the SRM, Theodore Pepin. The two were tried in the fall of 1835, where ended up exposing more radical groups with plans of regicide across Paris and the whole of France, which resulted in more arrests and trials. Morey and Pepin would be executed by Guillotine in December of 1835.

After several days in critical care Ferdinand Philippe was able to move again, but he would struggle with a limp for the rest of his life. The Duke of Orleans would officially be crowned King Philippe VII on August 19th, 3 weeks after his father’s death. Ascending to the throne at 25, he was the first son to indisputably inherit the throne from his father since Louis XIV. He was young, unmarried, and had the whole of Europe’s attention, waiting to see how the newest monarch would resolve France’s mounting domestic and international issues.”

From, A History of Post-Revolutionary France, by Emmanuel Macron (2010, Paris Nanterre University)

[1] IOTL not all the barrels fired.

[2] IOTL none of the royal family was killed.