Thursday, May 26, 2016

Alt History Scenario #21: What if Abraham Lincoln Wasn't Assassinated?

Five days after General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate States of America surrendered at the Appomattox Court House, President Abraham Lincoln was convinced by his wife Mary Todd to attend Ford's Theatre to watch the popular Our American Cousin, a British comedy. Unbeknownst to Lincoln, a plot was afoot by Confederate sympathizers, lead by actor John Wilkes Booth, to kill the President, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward, crippling the Union at the moment of victory, and hopefully convincing the Confederates to rise up again.

Booth himself went after Lincoln, but Lincoln's bodyguard, standing inside the door to private box was hit as Booth opened it. In the commotion that followed, Lincoln turned around in time to see the would-be assassin. Booth tried to shoot his pistol at Lincoln, but the President managed to leap out of the way. Lincoln's guest in the box, Major Henry Rathbone and the guard managed to subdue Booth as Lincoln rose up. The audience and actors below looked up to see the President standing, and he gave the immortal words to the silent crowd: "Worry not for me. The show must go on."

I honestly have no idea what Lincoln would have said. Something motivational most likely.
Although Lincoln survived his attack, Secretary Seward was not as lucky. Recovering from a carriage accident from a few days before in his Washington home, the bed ridden Seward was attacked by Lewis Powell, using a knife to strike Seward after gaining admittance into the home claiming to be delivering medicine from the doctor, and overpowering Seward's son. Despite the jaw splint used to repair Seward's injuries from the accident, Powell's knife sliced open Seward's jugular vein, and within moments Seward was drowning in his own blood and he choked to death.

Andrew Johnson, on the other hand, escaped unscathed, as the assassin got cold feet and drank the night away.

The news the next morning of the attempt on Lincoln's life, and the death of Seward, shocked Washington, and quickly the nation. Radical Republicans in Congress immediately blamed a secret plot of the dying Confederacy, and advocated for even harsher Reconstruction, including removing Second and First amendment rights on anyone in the South, and to burn every plantation and cotton bale as punishment. However, Lincoln wasn't going to be pushed by the Radicals, instead advocating for a "rebuilding of the United States, and not strangling half of it." Lincoln's eulogy at Seward's funeral was used to calm the nation, saying that he held no ill will against those that believed they were doing right. It wouldn't save John Wilkes Booth or Lewis Powell however, as they would be tried for attempted murder and murder, and sentenced to hanging.

Hanging: the old fashioned way to say that you really don't like someone.

By the middle of May, Lincoln gave what would be called the "Richmond Address." Just over a month after the end of the war, Lincoln traveled to the former capital of the Confederacy, and gave an outline of his plan for Reconstruction. In return for Negro enfranchisement, 10% of the male voters of a state signing an oath to the US, and passing the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments within a year of being re-established with a state government, states that had been in rebellion against the US government could be readmitted into the union, and would be given large grants by the federal government to rebuild the war torn areas and to modernize the economy, as well as a paid emancipation for all slaves in territory that remained in the union (and a fractional payment in areas where the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect).

This was a dangerous gamble: Radical Republicans wanted a military occupation of the South until all vestiges of the Confederacy were destroyed and didn't want to give a single cent to those that owned slaves, while Democrats and the Southern Elite were horrified of granting blacks the right to vote. But Lincoln, knowing that he was at least giving something to both sides, held the line. After the 1866 House Elections gave a slight minority to moderate Republicans and Democrats that were willing to support Lincoln's plan, the appropriate legislation was passed. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were passed in 1865, 1868 and 1869 respectfully, and the reconstruction of the US continued apace.

Lincoln left office in 1869, considered a hero in the north, and a worthy opponent in the south. However, his efforts at Reconstruction and dealing with both those that thought he was going to far, and those that said he wasn't going far enough, along with the pressures of the war, left him mentally and physically drained and exhausted, and he died in Chicago in 1873 after a long illness. General Ulysses S. Grant, with the help of the black vote in the south, easily won the 1868 election for President on a platform of continuing Lincoln's Reconstruction policies, and Republicans would be in the White House until 1884, and dominate Congress until 1896.

Though, 2016? I have no idea...

However, organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, along with the so-called "Jim Crow" Laws, seemed designed to undo all the work that was done. The later issue was dealt with when the Federal Government took the State of Georgia to court over several of the quickly passed laws in 1868, and in 1871 the Supreme Court, dominated by Republicans, ruled the laws unconstitutional in light of the newly passed amendments. Radical Republicans also strengthened the "Freedman's Bureau," under Senator Charles Sumner, giving it the power to give medical aid and physical protection in the face of the KKK, especially after newspapers in the north printed sensationalist headlines of the atrocities caused by the "men in white." The US Army under General Sherman was also instrumental in protecting African-Americans, intervening in the Nashville Riots to keep blacks and white separated and from lynchings. The Freedman's Bureau, which also helped poor whites and veterans of the Civil War besides African Americans, was later to become the foundation of the Department of Labor, Education and Health in the US.

By 1875, Reconstruction had done it's job. While racism was still prevalent and the KKK continued to be a thorn in the side of the US government and those states that supported and even tried to woo the support of the enfranchised blacks, slavery was gone, the South had been extensively modernized with new factories, railroads, and mechanized agriculture, and peace in North America was assured. However, the influx of cheap labor in both the north and south, and the rise of capitalism, lead to another major issue, the rise of Socialism in the US. A coalition of poor black laborers in the south, impoverished immigrants in the north, and struggling farmers in the west, in the face of high prices of consumer goods, low wages in factories, racism and expensive education and healthcare, and quickly became the Socialist Party of the US, and become a major third party in the government and challenged the status quo. But it wouldn't be until after the First Great War that the US was dragged in by Republican President Teddy Roosevelt in 1910 and the anger at the casualties and expense, and the Great Depression in the 1920s and 30s, that the Socialist Party would claim the White House and build a newly social-democratic state in the US.

This would most likely still apply though.

Notes: The US Civil War is a topic I don't usually talk about, mostly due to my admitted lack of knowledge in the area. However, I was always fascinated about what would happen if Lincoln was in charge of Reconstruction, which I think would meant that the US would go in a more moderate, less racist and possibly more socialist by the 1930s.

But what do you think? What would have happened had Lincoln dodged the bullet at Ford's Theatre? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

AltHistory Scenario #20: What if the Battle of Gallipoli Succeeds?

Welcome to (Alt)History Inc blog post #50! In the past ten months, and with over 8,500 pageviews from all over the world to show for it, I've done my best to provide some new alternate history scenarios to the internet to enjoy, and though I have been slacking a bit as I work on other stuff, I still plan to continue to write for (Alt)History Inc and continue providing entertainment and information!

And now on to today's Alternate History scenario:

In 1915, the Allies were in a tenuous position. German troops had occupied almost all of Belgium, advanced deep into France before finally being halted at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914, and inflicted disproportionate defeats on the Russian war machine, and advanced deep into Poland. British and French battles to try to reclaim the initiative in the west bogged down into trench warfare, while the corrupt and inefficient Russian Empire was only taking half-hearted steps fix their position. However, Russia's big problem was the difficulty in supply from their Allies. The only year-round port they owned was in the Black Sea, which was now closed off thanks to the Ottoman Empire's entry into the war on the side of Germany.

And it was all because of these two ships, the Goeben and Breslau. They're story is another AltHistory scenario in the making.... 
British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill proposed a daring plan: land an amphibious force at the Dardanelles, march to Constantinople, and not only open a trade route to their beleaguered ally, but also to force the Ottoman's out of the war, possibly leading to a collapse of the German and Austrian position in Europe.

Plans were drawn up, but the original plan to just use the Royal Navy and French fleet, mostly battleships and minesweepers to allow the fleets to simply sail to Constantinople were delayed and a major landing force was added as well. This was to counter one of the biggest foreseen problems: mobile Ottoman artillery batteries couldn't be destroyed by bombardment, but could attack the minesweepers. So if an infantry force could, at the very least, pin down or destroy the artillery, then the battleships could destroy the fortresses to allow the army to pass.

With the plans drawn up by April, and troops in place in the 81,000 strong Mediterranean Expeditionary Force under General Sir Ian Hamilton (namely Australian and New Zealand troops of the ANZAC Corps, but also British and French units that could be spared from the Western front), the invasion of Gallipoli began on April 3. While the troopships and landing craft had difficulties in landing the initial troops, often times miles from where they were supposed to land, the battleships were able to suppress the weakened and surprised Ottoman troops, and by April 8, the Allies were marching over the Gallipoli Peninsula on to their target of Constantinople, and the fleet, unhampered by artillery, was able to destroy the forts and remove mines from the area to allow the ships to pass to the Sea of Marmara. Efforts by the Ottomans to either stop the invading force or the warships was haphazard and ill-coordinated and planned. Allied forces were mostly slowed by the lack of easy transportation and lack of supplies, but by the beginning of May, the first scouts reported that they saw the Queen of Cities in the horizon.

No, it's actually Byzantium!
The Ottoman's were in total and complete disarray. As the news of the British, French, Australian and New Zealand forces approaching Constantinople reached the city, panic set in. Disillusioned by the war and the defeat by the superior western powers caused riots and protests in the city, along with Arabian revolts in Palestine and Mesopotamia, despite the official censorship of the news. In the face of the revolts and mutinies by troops, Sultan Mehmed V, his court and advisers such as Enver Pasha, along with thousands of inhabitants fled the city to Anatolia, leaving the Ottoman's leaderless. As the Allies arrived outside of the city, some 50,000 strong, with a fleet of 20 battleships, the military governor surrendered the city.

The fall of the "Old Man of Europe" reverberated throughout Europe. With the Suez Canal secure, Indian, Australian and New Zealand troops and supplies could now reach France and England with no issues. Supplies quickly began to flow to Russia, allowing the Industrial powers of England and France to supply Russian armies. While leadership and tactics were still woefully inadequate, new artillery, rifles, ammunition and food, and investment in railroads and roads to transport the new supplies, bolstered the Russian Empire, giving Czar Nicholas II a new lease on life. At the same time, with only a small force in Turkey and surprise at the quick collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies were unable to influence the creation of new states in the Middle East as they had been planning. Turkey, under Mehmed V's brother Mehmed VI, established the Kingdom of Turkey at Ankara, renouncing the Ottoman Empire and laying claim only to Anatolia and offering to negotiate peace with the Allies on behalf of the Ottoman Emprie, which France and Britain accepted. The rest of the Arabian territories declared all forms of kingdoms and republics and monarchies, leading to a long, multi-factional civil war that would last until 1924. The allies at the moment had little choice but to ignore the fighting and wasn't able to influence the outcome as much as they wanted.

So... basically like IRL, right?
Germany, now with only Austria-Hungary as an ally, quickly felt the pressure of a reinvigorated Russia. While German troops under Hindenburg and Ludendorff were able to keep pushing east, the cost continued to go up, and it wasn't clear if they really knew where to go that would knock out the exceedingly vast and hostile Russia. But pressure on the west forced the Germans to shift more troops west to try to resist that attack, but also gave General Erich von Falkenhayn the push to attack the French fortress of Verdun to try to distract French attention, which began in October 1915. However, the hasty attack, the lack of artillery and reserve troops, and faltering morale of the German troops resulted in a failure, and his sacking in February and replacement by Ludendorff.

But it wasn't enough. Austria-Hungary cracked under the pressure of the Russian armies, and Germany was forced to rescue their ally, stretching their already thinly spread troops further. Attempts to bring Bulgaria and Romania into the war on the Central Powers side fizzled out with the defeat of Turkey, with Romania entering on the Allies side soon after Italy had done the same. The failure of Verdun, and a massively successful British and French offensive at the Somme and General Bussilov in Russia crushing the Austro-Hungarian armies lead to Kaiser Wilhelm II suing the Allies for peace. Wilhelm II then abdicated the throne to his son, who became Wilhelm III.

The Treaty of Windsor signed in 1917 that followed was a lot more lenient than expected. Germany gave up Alsace-Lorraine and their navy and had to pay reparations, but no attempt was made to limit the German army. Austria-Hungary collapsed before a peace treaty could be negotiated, but the attempts by German Austrians to unite with the German Empire were kiboshed by the Allies. But new nations like Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and a multitude of other small nations sprung up from the corpse of the Hapsburg Empire.

Poor, poor Austria-Hungary. Hundred's of years of marriage and (mostly failed) wars, and all you got out of it was a footnote in an alternate history article. This time.

With peace restored, efforts to prevent another major war began in earnest. Germany was the first, announcing they were cutting down the size of their standing army, which Britain and France quickly followed suit. Russia, however, was hesitant to cut down the army, as they feared massive unemployment and unrest. Instead, Czar Nicholas II began to say that the brave Russian armies were denied their right to destroy Germany and Austria by Britain, and began to rearm and modernize with the help of the French even more than before the war. Britain, stunned at the ingratitude of the massive efforts, including taking Constantinople, that the Allies had to undertake to save Russia. A long "Cold War" began in Europe, with Britain now allying with Germany to confront their new enemies in Russia and France. Elected Prime Minister in 1925 on his war record, including the successful Gallipoli Campaign, Winston Churchill began to push for a strong force to stand up to a re-surging Russia, but his bellicose stance lead to Churchill being forced out of office by 1931 as the Great Depression struck the world.

The Middle East, on the other hand, continued to be racked by wars as the various small states, such as the Sultanate of Mesopotamia, the Kingdom of Palestine, and the Republic of Syria, fought over vast stretches of desert, especially once oil was found. The Kingdom of Turkey, after receiving Constantinople in the aftermath of the war to keep it out of Russian or British hands, began to play a middle power between the rival Great Powers, receiving massive aid in rebuilding their nation and turning it into a secular, wealthy and prosperous constitutional monarchy on the lines of Great Britain.

But what do you think? What would have happened had the Allies captured the Dardanelles and Gallipoli? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.

Monday, May 2, 2016

AltHistory Scenario #19: What if the French Colonized America?

Alright, so the title is going to confuse some people, because they know that they did colonize parts of it, namely New France (aka, modern day Quebec, the area called "just a few acres of snow," and the reason why French is one of two national languages of Canada and everyone bends over backwards to make sure they won't leave...), but they were evicted by the British in 1759. Other areas like Louisiana and different Caribbean islands also have a significant French background.

No, what I mean is, what if the area we know today as the Thirteen Colonies, the ancestors of the modern United States, was a French dominion?

Couldn't make these jokes now, could you 'MURICA?


Note: For the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to name most of the towns after their IRL name, with a few exceptions that will be noted.

Point of Divergence

This one is pretty easy: Samuel de Champlain, when he set out to colonize areas of North America for the King of France, landed not in the St. Lawrence River, but further south, closer to modern day Boston in 1608. This settlement grew slowly, serving mostly as a trading hub for the few farmers who settled outside it's walls, as well as a trading post with the nearby natives, though not with the furs they originally anticipated. Eventually more towns would sprout up up and down the coast, the most prominent being Acadia in Nova Scotia, which was founded before Boston.

Immediate Outcomes

Over the next 100 years, further European colonies began to sprout along the coast of North America. The Dutch still settled around New York, and other small colonies by nations like Sweden also were started. But like our history, the colonization of North America was mostly done by the French and the British.

So... flip the blue and the red around, and this map should be just about good. I think.
The French, with their colony in Acadia, Boston, and further south along the coast, as well as outposts in Newfoundland, held a huge tract of land mostly focused on the Eastern seaboard, and later on around New Orleans and up along the Mississippi River. The British, on the other hand, focused on the north: what would have been OTL Quebec is mostly British, with settlements at Montreal and Quebec City, and stretching down to the Niagara Peninsula.

The colonies, and the nations that controlled them, were very different. One way the colonizing of the America's was explained in regards to those Natives that were already there: The Spanish exterminated and enslaved, the British scorned and neglected, and the French embraced and welcomed. This approach, along with some other parallels with our history, would remain. The British focused more on settling the land. Besides the bigger towns, many smaller towns also sprouted up along both sides of the St. Lawrence River, serving local farmers, a growing merchant and artisan class, and the fur traders. Whereas the French in OTL had about 60,000 settlers and inhabitants in Quebec by 1750, the British would have had many times more, say closer to 250,000. But like OTL, the British colonists wanted more land, and they pushed south and west, coming into constant conflict with the Indians and the French.

The Governor of New France participating in a ceremonial dance. Imagine a British guy doing this.
The French, with their colonies on the seaboard, were more focused on trading with the natives. However, the richness of the land, and the growth of crops like tobacco to sell back to the homeland and food stuffs like corn to support a growing population, lead to more settlers going to New France ATL. However, unlike the British, the natives got along a lot better with the French, to the point that the French aided the Iroquois and other tribes resisting the English, and gently pushing them to set up their own confederacies, kingdoms, and nations to better withstand the English expansion. Intermarriage was also a huge factor, with many single Frenchmen marrying native women, leading to the growth of the Metis. With more room (or, at least, less frigid, more hospitable room), more settlers, and more Metis, New France ATL would have close to 500,000 people, which would have been half of what the Thirteen Colonies OTL would have had in the 1750s. Louisiana, similar to OTL Louisiana Territory, would have have thousands more people, but mostly focused on the trading and supporting native alliances.

Other colonies, like New Amsterdam and New Sweden, would most likely trundle along, or be sold/captured by the other colonial powers in the course of European Wars. So, to simplify this article, I'm going to just say that by 1750, only the French and English were in North America (minus the Spaniards holding Florida and most of the land from California to Texas with Mexico).

This would have a huge impact on the future. Whereas the history of European colonization in North America from about 1650s until 1763 was a story of the huge, but sparsely populated New France loosing ground in war after war to the more populous, land hungry British settlers, in this TL, the roles would be almost flipped. Almost. The French, with all their land and less intensive colonization, but larger population and alliances with the natives would be able to hold back the British, and confine them to the St. Lawrence River basin. Wars between the French and British in the 17-18th centuries would be pretty much confined to limiting the expansion of each other, and then eventually a balance of power.

Just hang in there... Turkey! Push your bayonet up more!

This would also have some bigger issues. Without one colonial power dominating the continent, the need for support from the homeland for defence would mean that independence fights like the American Revolution would be not only unfeasible, but unpopular with the majority of the colonialists. I'm also unsure that, despite the distance and taxes, that the citizens of New France would be willing to leave the Kingdom. If anything New France would already have a large amount of autonomy, and would be willing to live like they were. The British would still try to gain more land, and they might thanks to victories in Europe, but it's hard to see how they would be able to drive all of the French out of North America unless the British focused only on North America, which seems very unlikely. If the Quebec colonists did try to rebel and form their own country, what's to stop New France from occupying Quebec as well? Or, at the very least, relegate it to a second-class position to New France.

So without a decisive victory in a French and Indian War like OTL, and with the New French holding a slightly stronger position along with their autonomy, I'd think the colonies of Britain, France and Spain would continue along as they were. Maybe in each war the borders shift a bit, but nothing massive. About the only thing that I'd see breaking New France from the motherland would be a financial crisis that came from the American Revolution, or wars in Europe, that would lead New France to question their relationship with the homeland. But it would most likely be a demand to have a representation in the Estates General, or official autonomy or responsible government, or go so far as to give a son of the King of France the title of King of New France. But this wouldn't happen for a very, very long time.

They are busy, busy people.

This also means that the French Revolution would be delayed, if it happens at all. It was the expenses of the American Revolution, along with the failure of the French and Indian/Seven Years War that was one of the major catalysts of the calling of the Estates General in 1789. So the 18th century Balance of Powers would most likely continue until such a revolution did occur, in France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy... who knows where?

So that's where I will leave this article. About 1800, with the colonies of New France and British Quebec not going anywhere. Maybe someday in the future I will try to write a full fledged story, and make a nice map to go with it. Or maybe even try to a New French Revolution. Or just let us keep powdered wigs and massive poofy dresses right until the present.

But what do you think? What would have happened if the French colonized OTL's Thirteen Colonies? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at tbguy1992@gmail.com, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.