A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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April 13

In 1295, the first known translated copy of Sun Tzu's military treatise Art of War was brought into Europe by the Italian Explorer Marco Polo. And as the perverse fates would have it he returned from China to find his home city of Venice at war with the Republic of Genoa.

Marco Polo brings back the Art of WarAlthough the Asian philosophy styles were somewhat alien to the Venetians Generals, they quickly gained acceptance when they helped them win a battle by a big and decisive margin. And while some of Tzu's ideas were less than startling to students of De Re Militari (written around the same time by the late Latin writer Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus about Roman warfare and military principles as a presentation of methods and practices in use during the height of Rome's power), others, such as the strategic use of deception and in particular spying, took the contemporary military leaders of Europe in a radically new direction.

Translated copies of the other Chinese classics of war were also obtained. The inevitable consequence of the infusion of this new aggressive-minded, strategic doctrine was that Europe entered its very own period of warring states. And of course this era of heightened aggression mirrored the conditions under which the seven Chinese military classics had been written during the sixth century BC. Within two centuries the Republic of Florence would add further refinements and variations under the innovative leadership of "the Prince" Niccoló Machiavelli, an unscrupulous individual who shared many of Tzu's characteristics.

The period of warring states eventually ran its own violent course. By 1972, when inscribed bamboo slips of the treatise were accidentally discovered in the Yinque Mountain, Linyi, Shandong, mankind had entered a long period of peaceful restraint. If it was a warning sign about the lost art of war, then it was too subtle for human leaders because a decade later, the Earth was under attack from war-like alien species.

As the American Civil War looked to be coming to an end, famed actor and Southerner John Wilkes Booth determined that he must do something to help the cause. He had sworn to his concerned mother that he would not join as a soldier, yet he wrote her, "I have begun to deem myself a coward and to despise my own existence". While he would not go back on his word, he decided that the war could be fought with civilian hands in a more untraditional fashion. He began a conspiracy with fellow sympathizers to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln in March of 1865. The plans to kidnap Lincoln had all gone awry due to poor intelligence, and, upon hearing a speech by Lincoln encouraging the extension of the vote to freed slaves, Booth decided to go all out.

April 14, 1865 - Booth Conspiracy brings Night of TerrorBooth wrote in his diary that "something decisive and great must be done". Not only would he assassinate the president, but his coconspirators would kill the vice-president and secretary of state as well, decapitating the government. On Good Friday, picking up his mail from his box at Ford's Theater, he happened to learn from the owner's brother that the president and General Ulysses S Grant would be attending Our American Cousin that night.

Booth called his the band of assassins together and ordered Alabaman Lewis Powell, just days shy of his twenty-first birthday, to kill Secretary of State William Seward. Powell refused, saying he had only volunteered for kidnapping. Booth began a long and passionate speech, noting the horrors of war that the Union had performed upon the South and the duty of vengeance for them. Powell conceded, and the other conspirators were fired up by Booth's rhetoric. George Atzerodt, a German immigrant who had settled in Maryland as a child, was to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson. Fellow Marylander David Herold would act as guide for Powell and then manage the escape after the quartet reached the rendezvous outside of Washington, D.C.

The assassinations were performed with intensity and efficiency. Powell and Herold went to the Seward residence just after 10 PM, knocking as casually as a messenger. Powell talked his way past the butler, claiming to have medicine for Seward, who had recently been treated after a carriage crash. Seward's son Frederick tried to stop him, and Powell leaped forward with his Bowie knife, stabbing Frederick deeply in the chest. Frederick's sister Fanny opened the door to complain of the noise disturbing their father and found Powell in a sudden bloodlust. Powell shoved her aside and stormed into the room, drawing his revolver to shoot Seward as he lay in bed. He meticulously shot the other patrons in the room, Seward's nurse Sergeant George F. Robinson and his other son Augustus. On the way out of the house, Powell found Herold scuffling with a legitimate late-night messenger. Powell killed the messenger, and the two escaped Washington with Herold at the lead.

Before the assassinations, Atzerodt had rented a room at the Kirkwood Hotel, Johnson's residence while the vice-president was in Washington. Atzerodt was tempted to spend the evening in the bar but, as he lived precisely one floor above, determined to wait until 10:15, listening for the Johnson's movement. When the prescribed time arrived, he walked calmly downstairs and knocked on the door. Johnson himself answered, and Atzerodt stabbed him with his knife. He then fled, leaving the knife where it had struck the vice-president.

Booth was the only hiccup in the evening as his intelligence once again had proved faulty. Due to Mrs. Grant's dislike of the First Lady, the Lincolns had gone to the theater with Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris. Nonetheless, Booth struck at 10:25, giving a card to the usher, who showed him to the presidential box. Booth barricaded the outer door to the box and waited for the cue "sockdologizing" to act: the roar of laughter from the crowd covered up the sound of his derringer's shot. Major Rathbone jumped to stop Booth from escaping, but Booth planted his knife firmly into Rathbone's arm before leaping from the box to the stage. One of his spurs became caught, making him land off-balance. Always the performer, Booth cried out "Sic semper tyrannus!" to the 1,700 people in the crowd and fought his way through the chaos to his horse.

The assassins met successfully at their rendezvous and fled into Maryland. Herold guided them in the night, going on even as Booth refused to stop for treatment to his leg after the fall. They crossed the river into Virginia and disappeared.

The Union was filled with despair over the lost leaders and anger that the assassins had escaped. Any connections to the conspirators were arrested and thoroughly interrogated, leading to the execution of Mary Surratt, the owner of the boarding house where many of the conspiracy meetings had taken place. Many called the execution unfair, but the North howled for blood. The new government, largely Radical Republicans under Lafayette Foster, treated the South as an area of military occupation rather than states in reconstruction. Freedman laws and punishments for former Confederates were enforced by Federal troops, who themselves turned corrupt with power.

While many Southerners initially despised Booth and his men for their cowardly actions, they came to hate the North further. Secret societies such as the Ku Klux Klan began guerrilla raids prompted by Booth, who became a wandering speaker whose left-legged limp became a trademark and a clandestine sign for fellow rebels. The violence earned more ire from the North, who began relocating criminals to camps in the Dakotas. As the South burned, many Southerners fled, ex-Confederates to Latin America or South Africa and Freedmen to the North or to protected cities where soldiers stood guard against routine attacks and arson. The violence turned generational with deadly bombings and costly sabotage lasting well into the twentieth century until purges and propaganda during the World War finally ended the Southern revolt.

In 2013, on this day former Leader of the Conservative Party Margaret Thatcher died. She was eighty-seven years old.

Passing of Margaret Thatcher By Ed & Scott PalterOriginally a research chemist before becoming a barrister, Thatcher was elected Member of Parliament for Finchley in 1959. Edward Heath appointed her Secretary of State for Education and Science in his 1970 government. In 1975, Thatcher defeated Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election to become Leader of the Opposition and became the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom. She was unlucky to have missed out on the Premiership, because of her Party's narrow defeat at the polls in the 1979 general election.

But the credibility of her leadership was undermined by a crisis in the South Atlantic. When the Argentine Junta sent invading troops to a little known British dependency that Argentina claimed to be their own (the Malvinas), Thatcher called upon Prime Minister Michael Foot to immediately dispatch a task force and reclaim the Islands for Great Britain. But her suggested appeal to President Reagan for military support was mistaken. Having refused to accept American nuclear missiles on British bases as part of the Cold War escalation, Foot was certainly no particular friend of the US Government. However Reagan and Foot quickly established a common interest because the Argentine Junta was secretly running arms to the Contra Rebels in Nicaragua. Any attempt to prevent the Argentinian occupation of the Malvinas would terminate this gun-running activity [1].

Not knowing this, Thatcher derided Foot for seeking a peaceful, multi-lateral resolution in the United Nations. Take unaware by the Contra gun running, she was surprised when the parties arrived at an economically viable alternative - a buy out of relocation for sovereignty under which Islanders were suitably compensated. This was part funded by the Americans who continued the covert support into Nicaragua until the fall of the Sandinistas. And meanwhile, that summer, England won the Football World Cup in Spain and nearly everyone forget all about it. It wasn't the kind of flag-waving patriotism Margaret Thatcher had in mind, and she was forced to resign after a landslide defeat at the 1983 general election.

April 13, 1657, not even a decade after the Parliamentarians of England convicted their king of treason in trial and executed Charles I by beheading, a new crown was offered to Oliver Cromwell, the man who had third signed the previous king's death warrant. The English had fought for years in a brutal Civil War that killed nearly 100,000 over the question of kingship. Even as the hated Charles I was beheaded, clergyman Phillip Henry wrote the crowd gave a cry "as I never heard before and desire I may never hear again". England wanted a king.

Oliver Cromwell Recommends Henry for the CrownIn all but name, and he had another Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell had become the new king of England. Cromwell spent the early years of his life as a moderately successful member of the gentry in Cambridgeshire. During his thirties, Cromwell underwent a radical religious conversion and dedicated himself as a Congregationalist Puritan, outspoken and willing to fight for his beliefs of individuality under God. He was elected to Parliament in the tumultuous years in the 1640s, soon joining the Roundheads as the Civil War began.

Cromwell flourished in the war. His unbreakable nerve and daring spirit led to his nickname as "Old Ironsides". He raised his own cavalry troop on silver captured from Cambridge colleges intended to arrive in support of the king and expanded his troop into a regiment in the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester. The war dragged on, and Cromwell came into conflict with his superiors, demanding more personal investment into the war. Manchester accused Cromwell of taking on "men of low birth," to which Cromwell replied, "I would rather have a plain russet-coated captain who knows what he fights for and loves what he knows than that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else". Cromwell's ideals contributed to the New Model Army of 1645, of which he became the second-in-command.

In 1647, the Scots surrendered King Charles to the Parliamentary forces in exchange for ransom and in hopes of establishing a Presbyterian system. Cromwell refused to give up hard-won religious freedoms for a new hierarchy and instead began consulting directly with the captive king to establish a constitutional monarchy. While Cromwell managed to create a satisfactory Head of Proposals, others in the army did not think it went far enough, and the mission stalled until Charles' escape that November, which incited the Scots into another wave of Civil War. Cromwell and the New Model Army crushed the invasions and resulting uprisings. The king sought to return to negotiations, but the Army refused and eliminated sympathetic members of parliament until it was clear the king would be executed.

The new Rump Parliament led to the smaller ruling council that brought on the Commonwealth while the Royalists attempted to rally in Ireland, calling upon Catholic sympathies. Cromwell was dispatched to Ireland, where he put down the insurrection ruthlessly and efficiently. While his death tolls were perhaps lower than larger invasions in the history of Ireland, he would forever gain notoriety as a murderous brute. His second son, Henry, became entwined with Ireland as major-general and later lord-deputy of the green isle, where he became popular for fairness between the Irish and the English settlers.

Cromwell's power grew until he was promoted as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, establishing a powerful executive position managed by a constitution. He sought to rebuild England and heal its many fractures in both body and soul. When Parliament became bent on radical ideals of republicanism, he dismissed them to avoid political strife over debating bills. Cromwell also liberalized the religious orders of England, allowing for local parishes and even informally granting Menasseh Ben Israel's request to overturn the 1290 law expelling Jews from the country. Due to his popularity, the reformed Parliament invited him to become king under a new constitution in the Humble Petition and Advice.

Cromwell became tortured over the idea. He saw the great chance of healing, bringing philosophical royalists together with Cromwell's allies on the more republican side. Yet, he had dedicated a decade of his life to eliminating the crown and establishing a new, fairer system. He consulted with his sons, as they would suddenly become princes in line for the throne. The eldest, Richard, had not fought in the Civil War and was only partially invested in politics. Henry, who had once suggested himself that Oliver become king, warned his father not to take the throne as it was a place of ill power.

Henry's advice caused Oliver to reevaluate his position, which he had determined as a "policeman" for the nation, guiding it through executive power based on his moral standings. Without another man of such convictions, Cromwell questioned his legacy. Finally, in a speech on April 13, seven weeks after being offered the crown, Cromwell announced that he refused to become king, though he understood why the stability of a hereditary kingship was so important. To that end, he suggested his son Henry become king and that he himself remain as a weakened Lord Protector until his time to be replaced by election.

The split of power shocked Parliament but proved to be a compromise. Cromwellians were pleased to retain their leader and his executive office, Royalists were proud to have a hereditary line once again, and republicans enjoyed reinforced rights of Parliament for taxation and law under a king few knew. Henry was shocked as well and attempted to refuse, but his father would not let him and recalled his son from Ireland. Henry conceded and was crowned June 26, 1657. Anti-royalists were thrilled by the idea of a humble king, while the royalists admired how dedicated Henry was to his office as Henry IX.

Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, spending the last year dedicating himself to cementing his son's position despite increasing illness. Cromwell was replaced by election, which was applauded by men such as the governor of Scotland George Monck for its smoothness and clarity. Lord Protectors would serve as long as they maintained leadership and could be ousted by bills overseen by the king. Henry died in 1674, succeeded by his son Henry X, who reigned until 1711 and was succeeded in turn by Thomas I until 1748.

During the term of Oliver I, who came to the throne at the age of six, Parliament took the opportunity to expand its powers widely, largely eclipsing the king. As Oliver came of age, he displayed his great-great-grandfather's strength and served valiantly in the Seven Years' War. He turned his popularity into political power, spurring the disenfranchised in charterless towns such as Manchester and those in the colonies to demand voting power. The issue threatened to spark another civil war as insurrections broke out in the American colonies, but ultimately in 1783 Oliver would win out and stack Parliament in his favor with thousands of new voters. Oliver continued to rule until 1821, overseeing the defeat of the French Empire and establishing England as the greatest naval and colonial power in the world.

Oliver I's only surviving child was Elizabeth II (Elizabeth-Oliveria), whom he refused to allow to marry unless his son-in-law took the surname Cromwell to continue the line.

In 1873, on this day the thirtieth President of the United States John W. Davis was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

John W. Davis
30th US President
by Ed & Scott Palter
After graduating from law school, he joined his father in practice in Clarksburg. John J. Davis was a famous regional politician in his own right, being a delegate in the General Assembly, attending the Wheeling Convention and after the northwestern portion of Virginia brokeway in 1863 he was elected to the new state's House of Delegates and later to the United States House of Representatives.

Son John W. followed in his father's footsteps by representing West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1911 to 1913, where he was one of the authors of the Clayton Act. Davis also served as one of the managers in the successful impeachment trial of Judge Robert W. Archbald. He served as U.S. Solicitor General from 1913 to 1918 and as ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1918 to 1921. As Solicitor General, he successfully argued in Guinn v. United States for the illegality of Oklahoma's "grandfather law". Davis was an outsider for the Democratic nomination for President in 1920 and it was this candidature that placed him in the box seat for his successful run in 1924.

Of course Davis would never have gained the Presidency if it were not for the Tea Pot Scandal implicating the First Lady and opening the door to the broader issue of corruption that ultimately destroyed the Harding White House.

In 1980, on this day the anti-Communist insurgency in Afghanistan gained a significant strategic victory with the capture of the government airbase at Bagram.

Afghan DebacleUp until then the airbase had been a major component of the Kabul regime's war to crush the insurgents; its capture dealt a heavy blow to that campaign and would later be cited by post-Cold War historians as an early link in the chain of events that led to the Marxist dictatorship's collapse just six months later. The rebels' capture of the Bagram airbase was aided by disaffected Afghan regular army troops who'd gotten fed up with their low pay and the repressive nature of their government; these men would later join their new allies in repulsing an attempt by government forces to retake the base. A new installment in Necessary EvilTwo days after this failed offensive was turned back, the Afghan army's chief of staff was fired.

The Marxist regime in Kabul immediately petitioned the Soviets for the immediate deployment of massive contingents of Red Army combat soldiers to Afghanistan to shore up the crumbling Afghan regular army. But with the Soviet Union mired deep in its own internal political crisis, Moscow could only spare 10,000 troops -- and even this small force would be hastily withdrawn when food riots erupted in Kiev and Minsk in June of 1980 and pushed the USSR one step closer to the brink of anarchy. The withdrawal soured Afghan-Russian relations in the final years of Communist rule in Moscow and seriously damaged the Red Army's reputation as a fighting force.


Interestingly, some of the same Soviet troops who served in the 10,000-man Red Army contingent briefly deployed to Afghanistan would later join the anti-Communist rebellion that broke out in Russia in the fall of 1980.

In 1743, on this day Sir Thomas Jefferson was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson was serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses when, in 1775, he was called upon by the Second Continental Congress to draft a letter to King George III that sought to reconcile the colonies with their mother country.

Sir Thomas JeffersonThe petition stated that the colonies did not wish to revolt, but simply sought the right to fair taxation and trading rights. The petition reached London in mid-August, and, combined with the news of the battles of Lexington and Concord, convinced the King that the Americans were determined to achieve equal rights, by any means necessary. The King quickly appointed a joint British-American commission to solve the problem of American sovereignty, and in September of 1776 the commission signed an agreement which was soon ratified by the King and Parliament. The main points of the agreement were that:

1. Americans would be taxed at the same rate as British citizens, but that the collected taxes would only be used in America.

2. The Thirteen Colonies were allowed to seat representatives in Parliament, three from each colony, and that the representatives would have full voting rights on all issues pertaining to the Colonies. Also, the Continental Congress would be recognized and expanded as the official representative body of the Colonies.

3. The Thirteen Colonies would be formed into a new dominion, the Confederation of New Britain, and that a Viceroy (always an American) would be appointed to serve much as a Prime Minister.

The agreement took effect on January 1st, 1778, and although denounced by a number of hard-liners (notably Samuel Adams in Boston), the vast majority of Americans supported the agreement, officially known as the Colonial Representation Act. Sir Benjamin Franklin served as the first Viceroy, unfortunately for only three years until his death in December 1790. Sir Thomas Jefferson served as the third Viceroy, from 1807 until 1819. Upon his retirement, he focused on furthering higher education in Virginia, establishing the University of Virginia in 1825. He died on July 4, 1826, a few hours ahead of John Adams, the Royal Governor of Massachusetts.

In 1961, US President John F. Kennedy cancelled the Bays of Pigs Operation after Radio Moscow broadcast an English-language newscast predicting the invasion "in a plot hatched by the CIA" using paid "criminals" within a week.

Stand-downUS Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara dispatched a stand-down order to the bases in Guatemala, Panama and South Floride where "Brigade 2506" had been posed to launch their counter-revolutionary insurgency just four days later. Insensed, the majority of the fifteen hundred U.S.-trained Cuban exiles returned to the Miami area where they would soon create a virulent hot-bed of anti-Kennedy resentment.

Having fought in the Great Patriotic War, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dismissed Kennedy as a rich playboy who had avoided serious military service. And Soviet Intelligence indicated that the closest Kennedy had come to a physical encounter with Adolf Hitler was the sharing of the sexual favours of the Danish Journalist Ingrid Arvad.

Already planning to exploiting the foreign policy inexperience of the new American President, Khrushchev now redoubled his resolve to press the United States after sensing this unmistakeable sign of weakness as well. And Khrushchev had no plans to create a superpower showdown off the cost of Florida when the city of Berlin offered so much more leverage.

The events of Kennedy's first one hundred days in office would resonate disasterously through the nineteen sixties. Long after Kennedy himself was assassinated in Miami campaigning for re-election.

In 1873, an armed revolt by former Confederates at Colfax on this day forced US President Ulysses S. Grant to acknowledge the growing power of the southern insurgency by declaring a State of Emergency in Louisiana.

Colfax MassacreAfter a bitterly contested gubernatorial election that highlighted the power of forces still threatening to tear apart the Union, both candidates had quickly declared themselves winners. Unwilling to wait for a Republican federal judge in New Orleans to declare Republican William P. Kellogg the victor, White Democrats had moved quickly to put their man John McEnery in office. Seeking to regain power, officially or unofficially, Whites armed with rifles and a small cannon overpowered freedmen and state militia at the Great Parish Court House.

In an event which would repeat itself in a horrifying cycle of violence throughout the South, White Republican officeholders were not attacked but at least 105 African Americans were killed after they surrendered. Visiting U.S. Marshalls would made the grisly discovery of twenty bodies thrown into the Red River, and a further twenty which had been secretly buried.

In 1657, on this day Oliver Cromwell was proclaimed the King of England despite his earlier doctrinal objection to the office "I would not seek to set up that which Providence hath destroyed and laid in the dust, and I would not build Jericho again".

Oliver I (1657-1658) was the founder of the current Royal House of Britain & that of the Royal House of America, until that nation became a Republic in 1964 due to a constitutional crisis.

Although Oliver had a short reign as King, he had been all that but in name since the end of the First English Civil War in 1649, when the then current King Charles I (Stuart) was executed. From there, with the full support of the Parliamentary New Model Army, he defeated Stuart Loyalist uprisings in both Ireland & Scotland.

The Royal House of Cromwell, Part 1 Oliver I (1657-1658) by David AtwellFrom there, Oliver lead the English to victory over the Dutch in 1654 which ensured that the Royal Navy would dominate the seas until the Twentieth Century. In the process of victory, Oliver rejected an offer of the Crown but accepted the position of Protector in 1653. Later in 1657, he was once again offered the Crown, & after much debate from colleagues & friends, decided that a "Puritan gentleman, of humble origins, may indeed make a very good & Godly English King for the good graces of all Englishmen".

"I would not seek to set up that which Providence hath destroyed and laid in the dust, and I would not build Jericho again".Throughout the period of Protectorship & Kingship, other than the various conflicts which Britain found herself in, Oliver established probably the more important legacy Britain, & later America, would come to cherish: a nationwide education system. The Puritans placed great importance on education in both religious & secular matters. Thus by the time of Oliver's death, every village, town & city in Britain had some kind of school of one type or another ensuring that, by the turn of the century, about 80% of the population were literate.

Oliver's claim to the throne, unlike the Stuart's, was in reality based upon the power of the military. Although this was never stated anywhere, the Cromwell Dynasty would have never survived its first year, let alone a long history on the Throne of Britain, without Oliver's control of the New Model Army. In order to gather a legitimate claim to the Throne, however, several writers at the time, & needless to say many ever since, argued that the Cromwells were actually descended from the ancient Welsh Powys Royal Household, which thus fulfilled an old prophesy whereby a descendant of this ancient Royal House would one day become king of Britain & establish a long line of successors. The Cromwells have ever since accepted this claim & used it to justify their Dynasty. Needless to say, the Cromwell Royal Household has always enjoyed overwhelming Welsh support.

In 1964, on this day Nation of Islam representatives Malcolm Little and Louis Farrakhan departed JFK Airport, New York for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia via Cairo. Hajj Part 1 Little and Farrakhan Arrested by Eric Oppen
Upon arrival at Jeddah, Saudi authorities separated and isolated Little and Farrakhan from the group of pilgrims. The pretext for the arrests was the open preaching of the Nation of Islam doctrine, combined with irregularities in their visa entry caused by their inability to speak Arabic and possession of United States passports. Really at issue of course was the unorthodoxy of their Islamic faith and in reality their lives were in deadly danger. In fact the US Government had advised the authorities that the pair were in the Kingdom with the express intention of fermenting trouble for the House of Saud. Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal placed his signature on execution orders for the two Americans. That news reached the ears of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group was dedicated to the credo "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope".
The Brotherhood had been an illegal organization, tolerated to varying degrees, since 1954 when it was convicted of the attempt to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser, head of the Egyptian government. Supreme Guide Hassan al Hodeiby had no intention of rescuing Farrakhan, whose fate was already sealed. However, in Little, there was an opportunity to further radicalise a natural radical; his criminal past and harsh childhood would be the bitter soil in which the Brotherhood would plant a fresh seed.
Word was sent to 'get to' Little in gaol. Perhaps on his return to the United States, Agent Little could play a full role in the long-term goal of re-establishing the Sharia, by using "physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system"
To be continued..

In 2013, on this day the former Mayor of Cleveland Seth Chase Taft died at his home in Pepper Pike after a recent fall. He was ninety years old.

Playing NiceHe was the grandson of President William H. Taft and son of former Cincinnati mayor Charles Phelps.

He was also the nephew of U.S. Senator Robert Taft. After his own unsuccessful race for the Ohio Senate in 1962, he ran for the office of the mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1967 (pictured, left), beating Democratic candidate Carl B. Stokes (pictured, right) who was seeking to become the first African American mayor of a major city. In that race, Taft refused to resort to race-based politics during that election, fearing it would tear the city apart. Stokes and his family later praised Taft for his integrity and honesty.

But of course what he will be remembered for most is the iconic photo of Taft and Stokes wearing Royal Blue & White hockey shirts, holding the Stanley Cup up high during the Baron's victory parade in 1968.

In 1915, of the 197 Americans aboard RMS Titanic, 128 lost their lives. U-20 Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger was condemned in the Allied press as a war criminal. There was massive outrage in Britain and America. The British felt the Americans had to declare war on Germany. America steers clear of Great WarU.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, fearing the US would declare war, resigned from the Cabinet in protest; however, President Woodrow Wilson still did not want the country to get involved in a European dispute because the American population (many of whom were German-American) did not want to be involved in a war. Instead of declaring war, he sent a formal protest to Germany. Wilson was bitterly criticised in Britain as a coward. Although unrestricted submarine warfare continued at a varying pace into the summer, on August 19 U-24 sank the White Star liner Arabic, with the loss of 44 passengers and crew. Three of the dead were Americans, and President Wilson angrily protested through German diplomatic channels. On August 27, the Kaiser imposed severe restrictions on U-boats attacks against large passenger vessels. On September 18, 1915, he called off unrestricted submarine warfare completely.

In 1961, on this day the New York City parks department unveiled its choice for the design of the monument to the victims of the Jamaica Bay hurricane.

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In 1941, on this day Soviet bombers leveled parts of Warsaw in the first of the so-called "fire raids" against German-held cities in Poland.                              

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In 1941, although it had been a nominal ally of the German Underground, Japan abandons this stance when a small group of Japanese civilians are murdered by the G.U. in Berlin. They sign a treaty with the Greater Zionist Resistance, and promise to resist the racist aims of the G.U.

On this day in 1983, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson defeated the team of Paul Jones & Stan Hansen in a tournament final to win the previously vacant NWA world tag team championship. That same day in Minneapolis, former NWA tag champ Bad News Allen signed a contract to join the AWA.

 - "Bad News" Allen
"Bad News" Allen

On this day in 1975, Stephen King completed his final draft of Jerusalem's Lot.

 - Stephen King
Stephen King

On this date in 1986, 'The X-Files' made its American TV debut on Boston's PBS affiliate WGBH.

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In 1987, President Gary Hart formally announces that he will be a candidate for re-election.

Political pundits observe that if, as is widely expected, Hart wins in 1988, by the time he leaves office in January of 1993 the Democrats will have held the White House for sixteen years, after having failed to win more than two elections in a row since the Roosevelt-Truman period which ended with Eisenhower's ascendency forty years earlier.

 - Gary Hart
Gary Hart

On this day in 1912, the author of the anonymous letter linking the Titanic fire to German spies came forward to British authorities and was whisked to a safe house in Wales for his own protection.

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In 1812, after years of disputation between white settlers west of the Tennessee River and North Carolina's colonial government in Raleigh, the North Carolina land claims beyond the river are granted a royal charter as the Crown Colony of Tennessee. Parliament and Prince-Regent George are persuaded to grant the charter as an efficiency measure, allowing a separate administration to be established for lands awkwardly far removed from the administration in Raleigh. Under the charter's terms, a company of British troops is dispatched to the small settlement of Coxeboro to aid in maintaining order and protecting against the area's savages.' The troops will establish a fort named for the town.

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In 1972, the Universal Postal Union decided to recognize the Republic of China as the only legitimate Chinese representative. This effectively expelled the People's Republic of China administering Taiwan and was vigorously protested by the exiled leaders on the island, including Mao Tse-tung and Chou Enlai. From Beijing, Chiang Kai-shek welcomed the decision; after the Kuomintang had defeated the Community insurgency, it was ridiculous for global institutions to maintain a two Chinas policy.
In 1838, 8th President of the United States Martin Van Buren convened an emergency meeting in the White House. Van Buren summoned all of his administrative experience from his previous appointments as 10th United States Secretary of State & 8th Vice President of the United States to put over his point with the maximum gravitas. 'Gentleman, speaking from my many years in office ' he began ' I can tell you with complete candour that unless we act now, we face the prospect of a civil war right here in the United States. Secessionist pressures in the Southern States are threatening to dissolve the Union. And the rallying point will be this unconscionable extermination of the red Indian!'. Gasps of dismay were heard from prominent members of his cabinet. 'Yes its true!' said Van Buren slamming his fist against the table dramatically.
In 1998, Central European Imperial spies are brought to England and placed at the command of Prime Minister Oliver Pembroke. The Illuminati in Switzerland rejoice at this first move in suborning the legitimate government of England - after centuries of trying, they feel that they finally have the British right where they want them. Merl Myrddin, Arthur Pendrake's chief advisor and a former Illuminati himself, finds out about the British government's unexpected help and tells Arthur that this must become public knowledge quickly. He prepares the evidence he has and they arrange for a rally the next day.
In 1891, the Farmers Council in Topeka informs former President Grover Cleveland that they cannot agree to his request that they surrender control of Kansas back to the former government. 'This is the worst possible decision you could make,' Cleveland tells them. 'We disagree,' Jerry 'Sockless' Simpson tells him. They issue a call for all able-bodied men of the state to stand ready to defend their homes against 'the unjust attack by the false president, Benjamin Harrison.'
In 2005, in the wake of the Claw withdrawal, and the absence of many key figures afterwards, such as the Vice-President, America chooses to hold a special election. U.S. Representative Carl Worthington calls it the 'first free election in decades' in America.
In 1915, Captain Michael Smith of the Harlequin, his ship packed with Q'Barian refugees, is given orders directly from the Security Council of the Congress of Nations to proceed to Pluto, post-haste. He directs his helm to spare no effort getting his ship there.
In 1992, South Africa and Egypt sign a non-aggression pact. President Terreblanche of South Africa is planning to send forces north, and doesn't want Egypt's powerful army interfering with his plans; the Egyptians plan to take a small bite out of the nations that South Africa leaves behind.
In 1990, the Soviet States of America officially admits responsibility for the Logan Massacre. During the Great War, American troops from Alaska had penetrated into Canada and taken a large number of prisoners near the town of Logan in the Yukon Territory. Rather than keep these prisoners, the Soviet troops killed them, almost 1000 people. The admission included a formal apology to the Canadian government from Comrade President Ann Richards.
In 1952, Mikhail von Heflin and Velma Porter seek out the advice of an old wise woman in Kenya. They have freed an ancestor of the Baron's, and wish to trap her again. The wise woman says, 'Look to the stars; when they are right, you shall have your answer.' The couple had been hoping for help that was a little less cryptic.
In 1941, although it had been a nominal ally of the German Underground, Japan abandons this stance when a small group of Japanese civilians are murdered by the G.U. in Berlin. They sign a treaty with the Greater Zionist Resistance, and promise to resist the racist aims of the G.U.
In 1970, America suffers its first casualties in space as the Apollo 13 mission explodes. A ruptured oxygen tank blew a hole in the side of the small spacecraft, sucking out all of the air, killing the three astronauts in moments. All of America mourned, and President Nixon vowed 'their sacrifice gives us greater resolve to expand our efforts on the moon.' NASA's funding tripled after the disaster, and the lunar program was able to place a small base on the moon by the end of the decade.
In 2689 AUC, the Greek rebel Metaxas declares himself dictator of Greece. With a popular following, he is able to hold off Rome's legions for almost a year before the Republic is finally able to bring him down.
In 1919, British General Reginald Dyer single-handedly loses India for the British Empire when he ignites a nation-wide upheaval by massacring almost 400 peaceful demonstrators in Amritsar. The British were unable to keep control of the country after the massive population rose up almost as one to throw them out after this bloody day, and declared India independent in the next few months.
In 1852, Frank Woolworth was born in Rodman, New York. He pioneered the concept of low-cost thrift stores in New York, but his businesses failed one after another, scaring away others who might have followed in his footsteps.
In 1896, the announcement that gold has been discovered in Alaska is greeted less than enthusiastically by Americans who have been burned by one gold-rush rumor after another. So few people actually go to Alaska for the gold that its vast reserves remain untapped until the 1950's.


April 12

In 1866, on this day the incomparable socialist revolutionary Aleksandr Ilyich Ulyanov was born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russian Empire.

Architect of the Second The First of MarchAs the main ideologist of the terror group and the chemist who prepared the bombs "Sacha" was the architect of the Second The First of March, that being the assassination of Alexander III of Russia on the sixth anniversary of his father's murder. Previously a model student at St. Petersburg University he won a gold metal for his zoological study of annelid worms. But some months after the tragic death of his own father he pawned it to buy dynamite and with five other students he formed the Terrorist Section of the Nardnaya Volya (People's Will) Party. Their core political doctrine was the acknowledgement of the working class as a nucleus of the Socialist Party, the party program affirmed the revolutionary intelligentsia's initiative in fighting with autocracy; terror was seen as a means of struggle.

Although suspected by the police, he and his fellow gang members threw bombs into the Imperial carriage in the Nevsky Prospekt knowing that the Tsar always visited churches that day to pay tribute to his assassinated father. Captured by Imperial Police, he was thrown into jail where he shared a cell with co-conspirator Bronisław Piłsudski. On the night of May 7th, they silently made their escape, their jailors only finding a cryptic warning note in the deserted cell "We are encouraged to develop our intellectual powers, but we are not allowed to use them for benefit of the people". Once on the outside, they acted on that imperative making a bold attempt to change the Russian Empire forever.

In 1961, when Yuri Gagarin left earth's atmosphere it was the pinnacle of human achievement, a mortal man had entered a realm hitherto beholden to the gods. It was also a blow to American pride, and just over a month later John F. Kennedy announce an ambitious program to restore that pride: The US would put a man on the moon within a decade.

Cosmonaut Leonov reporting from the moonFor several years it seemed that it would be a one horse race. However behind the scenes Sergei Korolyov, the Soviet Union's mysterious "Chief Designer", had already started work on designs for manned flights to other planets. By the time the Soviet Union officially announced plans in 1964 the OKB-1 design bureau headed by Korolyov had already created a heavy rocket capable of reaching beyond the low Earth orbit used by the Vostok program.

The impetuous Khrushchev had actually instituted two programmes, one for moon orbits and one for the actual moon landing, each headed by it's own designer. After Brezhnev had taken over power the moon program was streamlined and Korolyov made head of the entire program. And although two separate tracks were maintained for the orbits and the landing Korolyov's leadership unified the efforts.

In early 1967 when both the Americans and Soviets were gearing up for the actual moonflights disaster struck in both camps. In january a simulated launch sequence for the American Apollo project went disastrously wrong and a fire broke out killing the astronauts. And in April the parachute failed to open on a Soyuz vehicle as it returned to earth. The crash killed the cosmonauts, which included Vladimir Komarov who commanded one of the two teams selected for the moon landing.

The unmanned orbit of the moon in May of that year went ahead as scheduled, but the manned orbit was delayed until August of that year as the teams were restructured and the Soyuz crash investigated. The success of the manned orbit, and the earlier success of landing a Luna-9 capsule on the moon's surface gave the Soviets the confidence to push on with their effort. The Soviets also, erroneously, believed that the US would attempt a landing in 1968 so it would be vital to maintain the intended schedule.

After several unmanned flights of the Soyuz-7 vehicle the first manned launch was performed in April 1968. And in June the two-man crew launched an unmanned landing vehicle from lunar orbit. The moon landing was given the go-ahead and crews were prepared for the mission, the first crew would be cosmonauts Leonov Makarov and a reserve crew of Popovich and Voronov would be on standby.

It was a tense time for all involved, especially for Korolyov who was aware that an Apollo launch was scheduled for October. If all went according to plan the Soyuz-7 would be in lunar orbit in september, narrowly beating out the Americans (in fact the Apollo launch was a test flight, the Americans would not attempt a landing on the moon until the next year). The September launch did go ahead and on the 25th the landing module separated from the Soyuz7 command module and headed for the moon.

After a seemingly interminable period of radio silence a message finally came through "Cosmonaut Leonov reporting from the surface of the moon.".. Words that would immediately be spread across the globe. Leonov dedicated his mission to Yuri Gagarin the space pioneer who had died earlier that year.

In 1945, while resting at his private retreat of the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, to renew his energies before the UN Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in the coming weeks, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced, "I have a terrific pain in the back of my head". The president went quiet and his body convulsed. The others in the room hurried to his side and tended to him until doctors arrived. Due to strain from his many years of political work and high cholesterol combined with a predisposition to the same congestive heart failure that ended his father's life, Roosevelt suffered a terrible, but not debilitating, stroke.

April 12, 1945 - FDR Suffers Minor StrokeThe president's health had been troubled for some time. Rumors about illness circulated widely during the 1944 election, but the press seemed to steer clear of the issue, potentially due to orders from the Office of Censorship that had also kept reporters off the battlefields as the war dragged on. His doctor ordered bed-rest, but Roosevelt took it upon himself to exercise more regularly, even though his bout with polio left him confined to a wheelchair and steel braces. This time, he lost much of the use of his left arm, but was fortunate to keep his abilities in speech.

As with his previous illness, Roosevelt soldiered on. News of the stroke was controlled by the White House, simply stating that he still suffered from the affects of fatigue. He managed to be in San Francisco for the organization of the United Nations, a term he had created from the Allies who signed the Atlantic Charter in 1942. While the papers stated he was in attendance, he spent nearly all of his time behind closed doors with only a few select meetings.

Through tenacity, Roosevelt continued to work as president. Upon the collapse of Nazi power in Europe, Roosevelt gave a radio address to Americans pronouncing Victory Day, though others such as Vice-President Harry S Truman became the faces seen in photos and movie reels. Roosevelt saw out the end of the war, skillfully defending the use of atomic weapons to end the war with Japan early, though there were some who said that the declaration of war by the Soviet Union was what had truly brought Japan to surrender unconditionally.

Roosevelt, who had long trusted Stalin, had begun to doubt his trustworthiness as the war began to come to a close and the Soviets' plans to set up puppet governments began to show. Churchill had long warned Roosevelt about Stalin, seeing him as at-best a necessary evil until Hitler was destroyed, and soon warned of an Iron Curtain behind which Stalin plotted. Britain edged Churchill out of office in 1945, looking to break cleanly from the troubled days of the war. Roosevelt pressed on and, though his widespread popularity, managed to keep the nation voting Democrat while the Republicans cried for change.

Roosevelt promised change and continued to campaign for his Second Bill of Rights, completing the work he felt he had begun with the social measures of the New Deal. Echoing the measures of the first Bill of Rights, Roosevelt argued that the right of "pursuit of happiness" had not yet been fulfilled. Gradually, programs came into play to employment in CCC-style grants and organizations, housing, education, and medical care. With enough Democrats in Congress, he was able to push through legislation blocking the powers of big business and monopolies, reversing many of the anti-labor policies that had been in place due to necessity of production during the war.

Abroad, Roosevelt kept up pressure on Stalin and refused to allow Communism to spread. While many of the soldiers from WWII returned home, much of the materiel and provisions were shifted to the KMT forces of the Republic of China, finally squashing Mao's armies in 1947. It became painfully clear that the Soviets would not remove themselves as the Americans, British, and French were doing. Roosevelt began to threaten use of atomic weapons, which outmatched anything the Russians had in their arsenal. Stalin tested Roosevelt again and again with false deadlines and empty promises until the tension burst in 1948 in Berlin over Soviet restrictions over passage to Berlin. Through the UN (which Soviets increasingly called a "puppet of the West"), Roosevelt demanded Stalin pull Soviet troops out of all occupied areas by that fall. Stalin refused, so Roosevelt began a bombing campaign targeting the Soviet military.

Republicans noted that the bombing began shortly before the election and accused Roosevelt of starting another war so he could maintain control of the White House as well as flat-out tyranny. Roosevelt replied that he was doing what he felt best and would understand if the American public trusted him. In the narrowest election of his career, Roosevelt won yet another unprecedented fifth term in 1948. As in 1944, much of the campaigning was done vicariously.

War with the Soviets finally drove them back to the borders of Russia in 1949, which was when Stalin announced the USSR had successfully developed its own atomic bomb in Kazakhstan. An uneasy armistice began even though much of Europe had been liberated. Preparations were made for peace talks, but the travel to a neutral summit proved too taxing for FDR, who died before he could meet Stalin face-to-face again. The war was never officially declared over, leaving a huge demilitarized "Iron Curtain" surrounding the Soviet border.

In 1743, on this day on Ferry Farm, King George County, Virginia, Augustine Washington died age forty-nine. His son George inherited the former Strother property and its slaves, but instead of joining the landed gentry and becoming a planter and slaveholder, he accepted Admiral Vernon's invitation to enroll in the Royal Navy.
This post is an article from the Midshipman George Washington thread.

Midshipman George Washington #1His Uncle Joseph Ball strongly disapproved of his nephew's career choice in a letter to his sister Mary dated 19th May 1747 he wrote ~

"I understand that you are advised and have some thoughts of putting your son George to sea. I think he had better be put apprentice to a tinker, for a common sailor before the mast has by no means the common liberty of the subject; for they will press him from a ship where he has fifty shillings a month and make him take twenty-three, and cut and slash and use him like a negro, or rather like a dog. And, as to any considerable preferment in the navy, it is not to be expected, as there are always so many gaping for it here who have interest, and he has none. And if he should get to be master of a Virginia ship, (which it is very difficult to do,) a planter that has three or four hundred acres of land and three or four slaves, if he be industrious, may live more comfortably, and leave his family in better bread, than such a master of a ship can .. He must not be too hasty to be rich, but go on gently and with patience, as things will naturally go. This method, without aiming at being a fine gentleman before his time, will carry a man more comfortably and surely through the world than going to sea, unless it be a great chance indeed. I pray God keep you and yours".
~ Your loving brother, Joseph Ball.

The rank of midshipman was procured for him on board a British ship of war, and his trunk and clothes were sent on board. But when he came to take leave of his mother, she wept bitterly, and told him she felt her heart would break if he left her (pictured). Mounting his horse, George rode to the ship intending to take his trunk ashore. But destiny intervened and instead he heard the "call of his sea", stepped on board to begin a glorious career in the Royal Navy.

In 1777, on this day the eleventh President of the United States, Henry Clay, Sr. (pictured) was born in Hanover County, Virginia. His father owned more than twenty-two slaves, making him part of the planter class.

Henry Clay, Sr.
11th US President
Although he received no formal legal education he "read the law" by working and studying with George Wythe, Chancellor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and a mentor to Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall, among others. His most notable client was former Vice President Aaron Burr who was indicted for planning an expedition into Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi River. Although he and his legal partner John Allen successfully defended Burr, Jefferson later convinced Clay that US District Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daviess had been right in his charges. Clay was so upset that many years later, when he met Burr again, Clay refused to shake his hand. That pivotal event would have a strange resonance with events that were still forty years into the future.

He moved to Kentucky, and was elected to serve in the General Assembly and later the Senate entering the upper House three months before he reached the constitutionally required age of thirty. In the summer of 1811, Clay was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was chosen Speaker of the House on the first day of his first session, something never done before or since. Following a long and varied career in the US Senate, he was nominated by the Whigs against James K. Polk, the Democratic candidate.

In one of the closest contests in Presidential history, he won the General election only because of a tragic accident that forced third party candidate James Birney to withdraw from the race. Nevertheless, Clay considered the outcome to be a judgement on US territorial expansion and entered the White House determined to prevent the annexation of Texas or indeed California. British and French investors took a similiar view, and pumped money into both Republics and by the end of the decade, it was becoming possible to imagine two economically viable nations arising in the West. By the time that Clay died in June, 1852 further secessionist pressures were building in the south, and the only question was whether it would be three Americas or four.

It is 1683, and the Turkish army under Grand Vizier Mustafa Pasha is advancing through Europe to expand the Ottoman empire. Having reached Austria, they are laying siege to Vienna. Its emissaries are desperately begging the other European leaders for help, only to be rejected.

Vienna Vanquished
by Jackie Rose
England, France and Spain felt sure they were too far west for a Turkish invasion. But Poland, of course, was much closer to Turkey, and therefore in more danger. As a devout Christian, King Jan III Sobieski of Poland refuses to stand by as another religion dominates the continent. He leads his Hussars to save the city, but the Turks prove too strong for them, the Polish king is killed during the desperate battle, the Turks advance through Europe and it is too late for the other countries to prepare for war. As a result, the Turks dominate Europe to this day as part of their Ottoman empire.

In 1945, the sad, single term Presidency of Bill Douglas which began on this day was born in a smear that ended in a debacle.

The sad, single term presidency of Bill DouglasFDR had sent two names to the Chicago convention in 1944 - he would take either Truman or Douglas in place of the discredited Wallace. Douglas's liberal backers solved the problem by leaking supposed police reports showing that rather than being associated with the Pendergast machine but clean, Truman had in fact been a bag man for the mobbed up KC Democrats. It was a lie. Truman had been put up to keep an exurban office in friendly hands but was himself clean [the same could not be said of his friends and associates]. However with liberal prodding the Chicago papers ran with the story long enough to sink him at the convention. Needless to say he never forgave Douglas or the liberals, remaining a persistent critic from his Senate seat.

A new article by Scott PalterThe US public may not have realized that in reelecting FDR in 1944 they were electing a walking corpse but the key players in the Democratic party were quite aware. Labor and the liberals knew they could work with Douglas. The urban bosses and Dixie had preferred Truman. When Douglas's presidency turned sour this split would manifest itself. Douglas offered milder terms to Japan at Potsdam breaking with FDR's Unconditional Surrender. He was still not mild enough to get the Japanese militarists to face reality. It took two atom bombs for them to see the light. Dougals's liberal supporters never fully forgave him for using those weapons. Wallace from his perch in the Commerce Department led the critics.

The postwar demobilization and conversion to civilian production was a debacle. The unions ran wild with the country repeatedly paralyzed by strikes. Truman called for decisive presidential action, especially against the railroad strike. Douglas would not break with the unions. Inflation skyrocketed and the piecemeal removal of controls made matters worse. Douglas's attempts to keep Lend Lease going took a good part of the blame for the mess. The UK was bankrupt and Europe and Japan were starving. So the need was there but the American public begrudged the expense. The war was over and they wanted to forget the world existed.

Douglas's policy towards Communism exacerbated matters. Trying to avoid a break with the Democratic Party's left, Douglas abandoned Chiang, accepted partitions of Iran and Norway, allowed the Soviets to force Turkey to part with territory and bases and watched Greece torn apart by civil war. He kept trying to find a way to work with his old left allies internally and refused to accept that many Americans regarded domestic Communists as traitors.

This crystallized in the 1946 elections. Douglas campaigned for his party on conciliation with the Soviets, an end to segregation and extension on the New Deal. The Republicans captured both houses of Congress and a host of state legislatures. Most of the south walked out of the party to form independent state Democratic parties dedicated to segregation and white supremacy. The victorious Republican slogan was ?had enough'.

Faced with a heavily Republican Congress Douglas was forced to make some compromises. He was forced to break with the Soviets. The Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe was launched. Chiang was supported on Taiwan. Greece was partitioned and the rump of Turkey was given large scale US aid although the Soviet bases at Gallipoli remained. A German Federal Republic was formed out of the allied occupation zones in Germany and Austria but at the price of giving up the allied sectors of Berlin and Vienna. Macarthur was replaced in Japan by Collins and the semi-New Deal experiments were ended. Instead Japan was rebuilt as a bulwark against Soviet power. Several million Korean refugees fled there when Kim destroyed South Korea [Douglas had evacuated the US occupation force rather than sully his hands dealing with the authoritarian and unpleasant Rhee regime]. Douglas also danced on Palestine. The UN proved unable to approve either partition or an extension of the British mandate so the British withdrew and the place descended into chaos out of which an Israeli state was born with little international recognition beyond the Soviet Block.

Domestically the high points of the new Congress were an anti-lynching bill [which in turn required a large force of US marshals to enforce] and Douglas's desegregation of the armed forces. The cost of these advances were major race riots in several dozen cities as the white public rebelled against being pushed and the newly empowered blacks pushed back. The Taft-Hartley Act was met by another round of massive strikes, these overtly political. Douglas sealed his political fate by always siding with the unions.

The 1948 election was an anti-climax. Despite all the coddling, Wallace ran for President anyway. Strom Thurmond ran a regional states rights campaign in Dixie. Douglas and Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota ran as avid New Dealers but the public had had enough. Thurmond carried 14 southern and border states. Dewey carried the rest with 50 percent of the vote. The icing on the cake came two weeks before the election when Stalin's armies marched into Belgrade to bring Yugoslavia back into the Soviet orbit. Exposed as impotent at home and abroad, Douglas went off into retirement leaving the Democratic Party to wish they had chosen Truman.

In 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference effectively forfeited control of the civil rights campaign with Martin Luther King's refusal to violate the injunction of racist police commissioner Eugene "Bull" Conner by leading a march in Birmingham, Alabama.

MLK loses the Battle of BirminghamDespite his depiction in the press as an American Gandhi, many of his youthful admirers doubted whether in fact MLK had the resolve to "break the back of segregation all over the nation". This perception had begun with his refusal to join the May 1961 Freedom Rides, and cemented by leaving jail with a bond following the unsuccessful mass protests in Albany, Georgia which MLK himself dismissed as "Our protest was so vague that we got nothing, and the people were left very depressed and in despair".

The problem was that the bondsman had refused to furnish bail, and the SCLC lacked the funds to release their own protestors. King was informed that "We need a lot of money. We need it now. You are the only one who has the contacts to get it. If you go to jail, we are lost. The battle of Birmingham is lost". MLK took the advice. And so the pressure that had been successfully applied to white and business community leaders by the sit-ins was allowed to dissapate. King had lost the Battle of Birmingham. Just a few hours after King announced his decision at the Garston Hotel, he received the wholley unexpected news that the entertainer Harry Bellafonte had raised sufficient funds to cover the bond payments, but by then, it was too late.

The leadership of the civil rights campaign would soon pass to more radical figures, one of whom had spent a great deal of time in jail himself. That man was Malcolm X.

In 1861, on this day the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter forced the US Congress to dismiss President James Buchanan's administration less than one month after resuming office.

Pilot of the StormThe scenario that the legislative arm of government might need to fire the executive had not been foreseen by the Founding Fathers, who instead of crowning George Washington, had proclaimed that the US Constitution was King. But the decision to place their trust in a sacred, but rigid and unbending rule of law had proven as dangerous as reliance on a monarch because it required flexible intepretation by a strong-willed Chief Magistrate. And the trouble was, a weak succession of Presidents since Andrew Jackson had exposed major flaws in the American system of government.

By the mid 1850s the country was heading for Civil War, unchecked by the bold and imaginative leaders that might preserve the Union. And so Walter Bagehot was invited from England, a man of letters widely considered to be the leading expert on constitutional matters of the day. Bagehot's committee proposed a series of jaw-dropping recommendations, but the central proposal was undisputed. Because America's fixed term system surely did embed apathy in the body politic. And the scenario foreseen by Bagehot, a national crisis in which a "pilot of the calm" would need to be quickly replaced by a "pilot of the storm" arrived soon enough.

In 1861, the Army of North Virginia seized the armoury at Harper's Ferry, pausing only briefly to pay respects at the graveside of Robert E. Lee, the late Brevet Colonel of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry. Had murderous abolitionist John Brown not shot him dead during the infamous raid two years before, Lee himself might well have been in command the Confederate Forces, leading a conventional invasion of the North in his own audacious style.

Unrelenting WarFortunately for the Southern States, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (pictured) was in charge, a uniquely gifted officer who did not believe that the heroic acceptance of battlefield casaulties would force a decision. Instead, Jackson's strategy of "Unrelenting War" was to bypass Union armies and strike at Northern weaknesses, its undefended factories, farms and railroads. His genius was to realise that the Confederacy, with only a third of the population, and eleventh percent of the national infrastructure, needed to fight an unconventional war if it was to prevail, by breaking the back of Northern morale.

"to [make the North] understand what it will cost them to hold the South in the Union at the bayonet's point"CSA President Jefferson Davis preferred a defensive approach, foolishly believing that Great Britain or France would intervene to guarantee the supply of cotton for their mills. However the European Nations were carrying heavy stocks of cotton, and he had been forced to reconsider Jackson's assertion that the North might be forced "to understand what it will cost them to hold the South in the Union at the bayonet's point". That difference of opinion had cost Davis the Southern leadership, and his successor, Albert Sidney Johnson authorised the new policy of "unrelenting war".

And so the Army of North Virginia headed north, intent on seizing the major rail-heads at Baltimore and Philadelphia. Such an assault was of great surprise to US President Abraham Lincoln, whose chief fear was that Jackson would seize Washington. By deploying his forces to protect the capitol, he unwillingly allowed Jackson to strike at the North's supply and communications.

In 2002, the CIA informs President Gore that it believes al-Zawahiri is now in northern Pakistan, possibly under the protection of dissident elements of that country's military and secret police.

Bin Laden Lives by Eric LippsWhen the President asks what can be done to root him out, he is told that a covert operation within Pakistan is the best available option, but that it may take time, since the terrorist leader's exact location is not known.

A reluctant Gore authorizes such an operation, which will be codenamed Operation Mountain Strike.

On this day in 1959, the St. Louis Hawks stunned the Oilers by coming back from a twenty-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Houston in overtime 120-114 in the third game of the 1959 NBA Western Division finals; the Hawks went on to win the series three games to two, sending the Oilers home without a title for the second straight year.

 - St. Louis Hawks
St. Louis Hawks

In 1985, the body of Dmitri Kaprinsky, alias D.B. Cooper, was turned over to the Soviet embassy in Washington for burial back in Kaprinsky's native Ukraine.                  

 - D.B. Cooper
D.B. Cooper


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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.