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

August 31

In 1939, in a false flag operation a small group of SS operatives led by Sturmbannführer Alfred Naujocks seized the Gleiwitz radio station and broadcast an appeal in the name of the Polish government in exile.

Gleiwitz incident throws Western Allies into confusionUnder a secret protocol laid down in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Soviet forces had invaded on 17 September and were on the verge of gaining full control of the country. Repulsion of this exclusively Soviet-led action had not been fully anticipated by the Polish-British Common Defense Pact which was signed on 25 August as an annex to the Franco-Polish Military Alliance. In this accord, Britain committed itself to the defence of Poland, guaranteeing to preserve Polish independence. Somewhat disingenuously the Nazi Government had used that accord to justify their own lack of response to the Soviet aggression, a ploy which appeared to re-open the possibility of a tripartite anti-Communist alliance.

Although the British Government had war gamed such a scenario indeed were focused on a retaliatory strike on the Baku oilfields, the Western Allies had not jointly planned for war with the Soviet Union and therefore the continent was deadlocked in a state of "Phony War". The conundrum for Paris and London was that should the Western Allies succeed in restraining the Nazis from acting on the Gleiwitz incident and invading Poland from the West, then they would simply be sanctioning Soviet occupation. Since there was almost no prospect of restoring the sovereignty of the Second Polish Republic, it was of course a lose-lose situation, but there was an even deeper game afoot than Hitler's cynical attempt to form an anti-communist alliance. Because Marshall Stalin was planning to use Nazi Germany as a proxy (the "Icebreaker") to defeat the West. He surely knew this master plan was on track when President Roosevelt offered a Lend-Lease programme to give secretly aid to the Soviet Union should he agree to join with the Western Allies in a co-ordinated, pre-emptive attack on Nazi Germany.

In 2013, on this day Sir David Paradine Frost, OBE had a heart attack and died aboard the MS Queen Elizabeth, a Cunard Line cruise ship where he had been engaged as a Speaker. Seventy-four years old, he had enjoyed a five decade career as a celebrated English journalist, comedian, writer, media personality and television host.

Passing of David FrostAfter graduating from Cambridge University, Frost rose to prominence in the UK when he was chosen to host the satirical programme That Was the Week That Was in 1962. His success on this show led to work as a host on US television. He became known for his television interviews with senior political figures, among them The Reagan Interviews with former United States President Ronald Reagan in 1977, which were later adapted into a stage play and film both starred Michael Sheen as Frost.

Criticized for "cheque book journalism", Frost paid Reagan to evaluate the impeachment minutiae two years after his resignation (ironically, also for disputed spending, but in Reagan's case for secretly authorizing covert funding of the Vietnam Conflict. For this crime, the liaison officer General Westmoreland was facing jail time). The interviews were conducted in a relatively anonymous setting with the seat of government as a suitable backdrop - the Watergate Hotel Complex in Washington, D.C.

In 1485, the Battle of Bosworth Field was fought on this day (by the current style Gregorian calendar) near the small market town and civil parish of the same name in Leicestershire, England.

Habsburg EnglandAt a critical point, King Richard III of England settled the issue at a stroke by driving through to Henry Tudor and killing him. Victory was ephemeral, Sir William Stanley (acting at the behest of his brother, Thomas Lord Thomas Lord Stanley) attacked from the rear, so that Richard was surrounded and killed.

The War of the Roses had reached an unexpected decision - a Habsburg England - gifting the throne to the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian I, King of the Romans.

In 161 AD, on this day Faustina the Younger, the wife of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (pictured), gave birth to twin brothers, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus.

Birth of Emperor Titus AureliusTheir accession as senior and junior emperors was the first time in Roman history that a son had succeeded his father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79. But of course the key difference was that this time around both co-rulers were "born in the purple". This proved vital, because it became increasingly clear that the younger twin was a flawed individual quite undeserving of his birth name Commodus, which means "obliging". Because he was anything but, a self-serving individual who required constant correction from his elder brother.

And fortunately for Rome, Titus survived a near death experience aged only four. He ruled alongside his brother and proved the better ruler, leaving his lazy and possibly mad twin to indulge his penchants for parties and gladiator fights.

In 1862, Thomas Jackson had done it again. The Union army was beaten fairly and squarely. Robert E. Lee's strategy had once again been proven victorious by sending Jackson's "Foot Cavalry" on a wide outflanking march, around John Pope's Union Army of Virginia, and had, along with Longstreet's attack, annihilated it more or less entirely.
This thread continues from Action Jackson -1862: Stonewall's Foot Cavalry Wins The Day

The Union Strikes Back by David AtwellEven the Union Capital, Washington DC, came under threat from Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, not to mention its actual occupation after a five hour long battle.

It was in this light, then, that all Union forces, especially those of George McClellan's Army of the Potomac, reacted in trying to retake the Union capital from Rebel control. Nothing was certain and fear gripped the Union as to what was Lee's next move. More to the point, deep down no Union general, nor soldier for that matter, thought that they could defeat Lee. And as a result the American Civil War could soon come to an end in favour of the Rebs.A Chapter from Hancock 1862

Lincoln, though, having regained his composure, after fleeing Washington in rather indigent fashion, immediately sacked McClellan, as commanding general of the Army of the Potomac, and replaced him with Ambrose Burnside who was, at the time, consider a highly capable general and possibly just the man who could push Lee out of Washington and all the way back to Richmond. Given the fact that the Army of Northern Virginia was much weakened, by its assault upon the Union capital, this was seen as a distinct possibility.

Lee, meanwhile, was well aware of the dangers, especially in the light that his old warhorse, James Longstreet, had been wounded during the attack on Washington's defences. Thankfully Longstreet's wound was not life threatening, and he was able to convalesce in one of Washington's many fine dwellings, though he was never far from Lee if required. Having said that, the Army of Northern Virginia was down to around 35 000 able soldiers at the beginning of September 1962. This alone made Lee think that the capture of Washington was not worth the price of victory.
Read the whole story of Hancock 1862 - the Union Strikes Back on the Changing the Times web site.

By 1888, life had been rough for Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols. She was daughter of locksmith Edward Walker, never wealthy but never starving.

Lady of the Night Lauded for Defeat of AttackerShe married William Nichols, a printer's machinist, in 1864, and the couple had five children before falling out. Familial arguments blurred the truth of the matter (whether William had had an affair or whether Polly had deserted him), but by 1881, Polly was living practically on the streets. She had lived with her father before an argument drove them apart, dwelt in a workhouse after being arrested for sleeping in Trafalgar Square, and left a position as a servant while stealing clothes. Much of her life was spent deep in alcoholism, which had driven Polly to prostitution for survival.

On the night in question, Polly had earned well more the fourpence needed for a bed for the night, but had spent the money on alcohol. Returning to the streets, she was met by her roommate Nelly Holland, who, detecting an eerie something in the greenish Whitechapel air, warned her to be careful. Usually Polly would disregard the warning as a pleasantry, but tonight it gave her pause.

Sometime about three o'clock in the morning, Polly was approached by a man she described as "a right gentleman" who called from his carriage. They went to Buck's Row, where the man suddenly pulled a knife. Polly, having been on guard, saw the man and pulled back. Being old, he missed her by far, and Polly attacked him with her fingernails, slaps, and punches. The carriage driver gave a yelp, the old man pleaded with groans, and Polly escaped into the night.

She hid until dawn in various alcoves around London before finally returning to her lodging house, still penniless. Nelly greeted her, and the two discussed Polly's night. With such closeness to death, Polly had reexamined her life, which she found suddenly very lacking. Her story would be picked up by newspapers on what was to become a month of slow news. Giving up alcohol, she returned to the workhouse, later taking a job as a housekeeper and eventually reuniting with her husband.

Also on this day, famed physician Sir William Gull died of stroke. He had battled the disease for a year with several attacks, and this seemed the worse with a seizure that produced bruises and scratches where he must have thrown himself against the headboard of his bed. The acclaimed physician was known for his research in paraplegia, anorexia nervosa, and kidney disease. In 1871, he had served as Physician Ordinary to the Prince of Wales, saving the future king through care during a particularly nasty case of typhoid fever.

In 1888, the first victim of the hideous murderer known as Jack the ripper is found in the Whitechapel area of London. Mary Ann Nichols, who had turned to a life of prostitution in her youth, was found cut to pieces on Buck's Row.

"His vorpal blade went snicker-snack"Her murder was followed by several others, and then the killings stopped for several years. The murders remained unsolved for many years until the killer published, of all things, a children's book in which he wrote a cryptic confession of his dark deeds.

Thomas Wyndham, a detective at Scotland Yard with a fondness for puzzles and cryptograms, was reading the edition of Alice In Wonderland known as Nursery Alice to his daughter when a passage on the page seemed to leap out at him; he rearranged the words and it turned into a confession of ominous portent.

He and a colleague paid a visit to author Charles Dodgson, and after hours of questioning, the author broke down and confessed everything, also implicating his friend, Thomas Bayne, a colleague from Oxford. The sensational capture of the elusive Jacks stunned the world of children's literature, and Dodgson's work was pulled from publication; it is read today only by criminal pathologists seeking insight into the twisted mind of this terrible murderer.

On this day in 2014, Jerry Bruckheimer's movie adaptation of his classic TV crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigations officially became the first theatrical release in motion picture history to reach the 1 trillion USD mark at the box office.

 - Jerry Bruckenheimer
Jerry Bruckenheimer

On this day in 1970, Charles Barkley joined the Colts team in his hometown`s Pop Warner football league.

 - Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley
In 1959, Gari Lynn Taylor was born in Houston, Texas, the last child of the Reverend W.D. and Peggy Taylor. A heart attack brought the reverend to an end when Gari Lynn was 2, and she grew up without a father figure. Some critics have speculated that this tragedy is what forged the strength of character that Ms. Taylor showed in her journalism and opinion writing, and the self-reliance she learned from her childhood stood her in good stead when she began her own publishing company, Slap Upside The Head, Inc. Today, Ms. Taylor's advice books on everything from child-rearing to alternative energy sources routinely top the bestseller lists, and she is a regular fixture on talk shows, famous for her earthy, home-spun wisdom.
In 1985, a Los Angeles mob takes justice into its own hands as they attack and kill Richard Ramirez, an Angelino suspected of being the Night Stalker murderer/rapist. Ramirez, who shouted at the crowd that Satan would avenge him, was proven guilty of the crime by fingerprints he left on the scene of one of his grisly murders.
In 1888, the first of a series of murders in London's seedy Whitechapel district occurs; Mary Ann Nichols, a lady of the evening, is found in pieces on Buck's Row. Although the crimes were never solved then, the murderer, Jack the Ripper as he was known, was later revealed to be none other than children's author Charles Dodgson, who wrote under the pen name of Lewis Carroll.
In 1998, Titanic became the most expensive failure in Hollywood history when distributors gave up on it and stopped trying to sell it to theaters. It had cost over $200 million to make, and had brought in a little under $38 million. After this disaster, director James Cameron found it hard to get a job again.
In 1994, after 39 years of violent resistance, the Irish People's Army renounced armed conflict against the United Kingdom. The withdrawal of support by the Soviet States of America had left the terrorists without appreciable sources of funding.
In 1945, Pascal-Edison's electric cars finally get a competitor - British Motor Works produces the Apollo, an electric car which recharges its power cells with solar power. It sells fairly well in the U.K., but does extremely well in warmer climes, such as the American Southwest and the Arabian peninsula.
In 1914, at the end of August the German army is standing at the Gates of Antwerp, Belgium and is rapidly closing in on the capital of Paris, France.
In 1959, Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Stars set a Town Ball record by striking out 18 hitters.

August 30

In 1982, on this day at Beirut dock PLO Leader Yasser Arafat was fatally wounded by a stray bullet as he boarded a boat for Tunisia.

LBJ Tapes Part 3: End Game in BeirutAlthough the shooting was blamed on a rogue Israeli soldier the IDF insisted that this was actually not the case as they had radio-ed a "no order" when advised that a sniper had a clear view of Arafat. In point of fact it was the result of a bitter power struggle at the top of the Fatah organization.

A Multi-National Force (MNF) of American, French and Italian troops had been deployed in Lebanon for peace-keeping purposes. Although their role was intended to stop the country sliding into Civil War, the Western alignment to Phalange Party Leader Bachir Gemayel had enraged Muslim groups. Nevertheless it was US Special Envoy Philip Habib that had negotiated the PLO evacuation from Beirut; he had also been directly involved in more strategic conversations about a future Palestinian settlement.

During the course of the next six months both the MNF Barracks and also the US Embassy were miraculously spared by last minute warnings. These warnings originated from Ali Hassan Salameh, known as "The Red Prince" by Mossad. Via a back channel established by the CIA's Station Chief in Beirut, Robert C. Ames, Salameh had been secretly brokering peace negotiations with Arafat at the time when he was assassinated. Habib and others therefore were forced to surmise that Arafat's elimination was intended to avert the striking of a US-PLO grand bargain. Nevertheless, the avoidance of major US casualties had left the door open to the resumption of talks if a similar-minded leader was to replace him, an outcome that was by no means certain.

In 1836, the city of Fannin was founded by two real estate entrepreneurs Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen. It would eventually become the capital city of the Republic of Texas.An installment of the Republic of Texas thread.

Founding of the Texan Capital City of FanninThe name was carefully chosen in memory of the indefatigable defender of Texan independence. As the commanding officer of Fort Goliad Colonel James Fannin (and nearly all his 344 men) were executed as Texian rebels under the orders of Santa Anna. It was not a tragedy that befell the Alamo where the defenders had withdrawn after destroying the old mission as instructed by the Commander in Chief of the Texian Army Sam Houston.

Nevertheless the falling reputation of Sam Houston [1] was sharply in contrast with the still heroic near legendary status of Fannin. Because anti-Jackson forces rightly feared that his naked pro-Unionism would compromise the future independence of the Republic of Texas.

In 1918, on this day the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was assassinated outside a Moscow factory called the "Hammer and Sickle" by Feiga Khaimovna Roytblat-Kaplan, a secret agent of the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) movement.
This article is an installment of Protocols of the Elders of Zion a thread originated by Robbie Taylor.

The Kaplan IncidentOccurring on the very same day as the assassination of Moisei Uritsky the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs in the Northern Region and head of the Cheka in Petrograd, Moisei Uritsky, the "Kaplan Incident" signified a dramatic intensification in the Civil War. Because the co-occurrence forced the Cheka to investigate evidence linking the two events, leading to the discovery that an actual Jewish conspiracy was being formented in the Russian SFSR.

The founder of the GZR was Astrid Pflaume, a neo-Nazi from 1968 who was sent back through time to create the enemy they had always imagined. The deformation of the Soviet State, and the growth of a more powerful German New Reich were encouraging signs of eventual success.

But the plotter's mission to assure Adolf Hitler's victory was to backfire spectacularly. Because an infinitely more frightening anti-semitic demagogue would arise from the cauldron of the Russian Civil War, the utterly insane Baltic German Baron Ungern-Sternberg (pictured).
Part one of the novel can be downloaded here and continues as a thread on this site.

In 1862, the news of the annihilation of the Union Army of Virginia did not reach Washington until the next morning

Aftermath by David AtwellLincoln was in deep shock and was incapable of making any decisions until the following day. By then it was far too late. Washington was basically void of defenders save for a 10 000 manned garrison. More to the point, Lee knew this. Having had several victories, seemingly against great odds, taking and occupying Washington appeared to be the next logical step to him. And it was seen as the next step which may see an end to the Civil War albeit risky. Convinced, however, that McClellan would not try to conduct a similar stunt on Richmond, Lee decided to take the gamble.

It now, though, became a race of the ignorant. Lee had no idea, that on the day he would march on Washington with 50 000 or so troops, McClellan's 53 000 troops were embarking on ships sailing their way to Washington. Furthermore, McClellan had not yet been informed of the fate of Pope's Union army, whilst Lee had not been informed yet of McClellan's evacuation. Had Lee known this, Washington would never have been occupied, as Lee would have feared that he may have soon been surrounded and forced to surrender with his entire army.The Final Chapter from Action Jackson 1862

As it was, it was not to be. Although the Washington defences were impressive, they were only manned by 10 000 troops, none of whom had seen combat, which ensured Washington fell to the Confederates after a long five hour battle. Mind the Confederates did not gain victory easy. Instead, by achieving their victory, over the Washington garrison, an horrendous casualty figure of 12 000 dead and wounded was accomplished, not to mention the deaths of several veteran generals. Even Longstreet was not immune to bullets, and suffered a gunshot to his body, although he was to fully recover after a few months of rest.

McClellan, though, was eventually warned of the situation in Washington and soon made plans to land his Army of the Potomac elsewhere, after a rather perilous journey up the Chesapeake, to the relative safe harbour of Baltimore. Here McClellan planned to continue the war by retaking Washington at the first opportunity. This, though, was something McClellan would never be given the chance to achieve. Lincoln, having escaped Washington prior to its occupation, now dismissed McClellan from the Army. Whilst US reinforcements soon flooded into Baltimore and the surrounding regions of Washington, in an effort to contain the Confederate success, Lincoln looked towards someone else to command the US Army in the Eastern Theatre. Alas Lincoln would choose one Ambrose Burnside.
Read the whole story of Action Jackson 1862 - Stonewall's Foot Cavalry Wins The Day on the Changing the Times web site.
This thread will continue with Hancock -1862.

In 1893, on this day thirteenth Confederate President Huey Pierce Long Jr.was born in Winnfield, Louisiana.

Huey P. Long
13th Confederate President
March 4, 1933 - September 9, 1935
Huey Pierce Long Jr. (actor pictured in the movie "Kingsmen") was a the thirteenth president of the Confederate States of America. From one of the largest political families to ever be seen in either of the Americas, he rose to prominence as a lawyer defending the "little man" from the abuses of corporate monopolies in Texas and Louisiana, the chief of which was Standard Oil Company.

A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory WikiaA Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. As president Long created the Share Our Wealth program in 1932, with the motto "Every Man a King," proposing new wealth redistribution measures in the form of a net asset tax on corporations and individuals to curb the poverty and crime resulting from the Great Depression. To stimulate the economy, Long advocated federal spending on public works, public education, old age pensions and other social programs. He was an ardent critic of the Federal Reserve System's policies to reduce lending. Charismatic and immensely popular for his social reform programs and willingness to take forceful action, Long was accused by his opponents of dictatorial tendencies in his hands-on control of the federal government.

At the height of his popularity, Long was shot on September 8, 1935, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge. He died two days later at the age of 42. It is unclear whether he was assassinated, or accidentally killed by bodyguards who believed an assassination attempt was in progress. His last words were reportedly, "God, don't let me die, I have so much left to do".

Presidency - 1933 to 1935

In 1932, Long parlayed his popularity in Louisiana into a national campaign for president of the CS. The 1929 crash of the New York Stock Market had caused the US to go into a deep recession, and the economies of Canada and the Confederacy followed suit. Long had begun pushing for policy of radical redistribution of the wealth of millionaires that made any income over a million dollars a year the property of the government. Since there were not many millionaires, and hardly anyone who had a personal income anywhere near that, his "Share the Wealth" campaign made him incredibly popular.

It was no surprise to the citizens of Louisiana when Long announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Confederacy. It was not to be easy, however, because the opponent in the Democratic primaries was John N. Garner, speaker of the House and thirty-year veteran politician. But using the national media proved as easy as using Louisiana media, and the Long political machine had its fingers in every level of state and federal government. In the end, Garner chose to accept the Vice Presidential nomination. Both men agreed that the economic policies of President Hugo Black were not getting the nation out of the deepening recession. As usual, a win in the primaries was as good as a win in November and the Long-Garner ticket won handily. On taking office, Long was only 39 years old. Garner, on the other hand, turned 66 two weeks after the election.

When he took office in 1933, though, Long found Congress to be resistant to his grand economic plan. Most who had been there for any time knew that the wealth of the richest ten percent of the country is what kept them in office. Economists argued that the wealthy were the ones who actually hired people, providing a built in "share the wealth" program. But he continued to push these policies, vetoing every bill that came to his desk that he felt was "friendly" to the wealthy. As a result, the recession in the Confederacy slipped into a depression.

In November of 1933, Long and some of his cabinet met for a retreat and conference on Jekyll Island, Georgia. A young German immigrant had won an audience with them with word as to the conditions in his homeland. That man was a physicist by the name of Albert Einstein, who had become famous with his theories on the nature of gravity and its relationship with light. Long went back to Richmond profoundly affected by the developing situation in Europe. Einstein sought the relative obscurity as a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The war would have to wait, but Long began an active campaign to build the standing army, and to an extent the navy, forseeing the rise of hostilities.

While in Richmond, Long pushed federal controls on Standard Oil and other monopolies he had fought as a lawyer and a politician for over a decade. Such controls, though, cost jobs in not only the oil industry but also in many of the supporting industries as well. This began to make the very popular president enemies among the very rich and the unemployed. In his campaigning in the 1934 Congressional elections, he made more enemies among the established party leaders as he tried to get "new blood" into politics. Threats were made against his life, and even organizations arose to actively seek his impeachment on spurious charges.

In July of 1935, federal agents in Baton Rouge, where Long had served as governor, uncovered evidence that a conspiracy had been uncovered to assasinate him on his visit to the state later in the year. Immediately appointing a commission to investigate the alleged involvement of several Louisiana politicians, Long went ahead with his plans. As it turned out, though, he had made other enemies as well. On September 9, 1935, he was felled by two shots from a disgruntled politician in the state house in Baton Rouge. His Secret Service detail immediately opened fire on the assailant, Carl Weiss, in a barrage of gunfire not seen since the wild west gun battles. Weiss died on the spot, but Long lived until the next day, after an operation in a local hospital failed to save his life.

By 1689, the Tsardom of Russia stood as a massive Eurasian power first organized during the reign of the Khans. Ivan the Terrible had transformed the tributary of the falling Mongolian empire into a new kingdom for the Rus with his coronation in 1547.

Tsarina Sophia Assassinates Young Peter Since that time, Russia continued to expand in all directions, stretching west through Siberia to the Pacific Coast. The latest of these gains had been made by moving into the Amur Valley in Manchuria, causing conflict with the Chinese to the south.

Conflict bubbled in the Russian nobility as well. In 1676, Tsar Alexis had died, leaving the ill Feodor III as tsar until his own death in shortly thereafter in 1682. Ivan V, the next son in line for the throne, was also ill both in mind and body. Seeing problems of continual poor rule, the nobles in their Duma put forth as tsar ten-year-old Peter, a son from Alexis' second marriage. Though ratified by the people, Sophia Alekseyevna, a daughter of Alexis, led a coup by the Streltsy, the elites of the military. Through murder and intrigue, she placed herself as regent and the young Ivan and Peter as co-tsars.

Sophia ruled the country well, carrying out successful campaigns against Turkey, signing an eternal peace agreement with Poland, and working with China on peace agreements in the east. In 1689, however, Peter had come of age, and in the summer he began his plans to take power. She hoped to use the Streltsy to overthrow Peter, but many of them had deserted her camp and taken up with the young prince as he fortified himself in the Troitsky monastery. She invited Peter to join her at the Kremlin, but he refused and demanded execution and exile of her highest advisers.

It did not seem that she could win a civil war, and Peter was remaining resolute against her intrigue, so Sophia decided on one of politics' oldest tactics: assassination. Stalling for time, she and Peter debated through couriers for weeks until finally she was able to coax his guard weak enough for an assassin to strike. Peter was stabbed with poison blades and, though the assassin was quickly killed by his guards, died after a week of fever. Without their leader, the wayward Streltsy deserted again, and a few policing battles secured power for Sophia.

She proclaimed herself tsarina, co-ruler of Russia with Ivan V, who was weakening by the year and died in 1696. Ruling alone, Sophia worked to keep the Russian army politically strong against the nobles, with whom she had several squabbles as she delivered rights to peasants. Infighting kept Sophia busy maintaining her control over the vast tsardom.

As the Great Northern War (1700-1721) broke out, Sophia would see her power come to an end. Charles XII of Sweden had swept through Denmark and Poland and even liberated Ukraine. She brought the full might of her armies down on the Swede, but the technologically superior Scandinavians and their allies outmatched any number of Russian soldiers. As Charles approached Moscow, the nobles would finally overthrow Sophia, who died shortly thereafter in a convent. Charles' terms were hard but fair to the nobles, and Russia found itself formed up as part of the growing Swedish Empire.

With their massive force, the Swedes came to dominate Europe with their allies in Prussia, even overthrowing the growing power of the British in the War of Austrian Succession and, more importantly, the Seven Years' War. Seizing many of Britain's colonies, the Swedish Empire would find itself overstretched by the 1770s and unable to halt the American Revolution against the Swedish governors installed. With its absolute monarchy weakened, Sweden would find itself caught up in the surge of revolutions in Europe over the 1790s following the French. Sweden would hold to its empire with concessions made to the Riksdag parliament, but counter-revolutionary forces would tear the country apart.

In the Napoleonic Wars, the French defeated the Swedes and broke up their empire. For the first time in a century, the Russians were free and welcomed Napoleon as a great liberator. He established a puppet government among the boyar nobles and helped modernize Russia as he did with the German and Italian states. Nationalism would follow the Napoleonic era, and Russia would be instrumental in Germany's defeat in World War I (1914-1917), despite an attempted communist coup against the king and Duma. In World War II, Germany would give Russia its own defeat as the government crumbled in the face of Hitler's overwhelming army.

Fortunately, and thanks largely to the American A-bomb, Hitler would be defeated in 1947. Russia, like China and other countries demolished in the surge of the Third Reich, would undergo a series of civil wars until the US-sponsored Russian Republic came to power in the mid-1970s. Russia joined the growing politico-economic unit known as the European Union in 2010 in hopes of building up its lagging trade and industry.

In 2004, George W. Bush received the presidential nomination at the Republican Party Convention held on this day at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Conspiciously absent from the convention floor was Richard B. Cheney, the outgoing Vice President. Ironically, Cheney's non-selection was entirely due to a bitter dispute over Article II (Executive Power) of the US Constitution, drafted in 1787 by none other than James Madison himself - the "Father of the Consitution".

Cheney UnboundConsidering himself to be accountable only to history, Cheney had adopted a "relentless" approach to the restoration of the executive powers of the Presidency, having watched Congress sharply diminish them during his first tenure in the White House in the mid nineteen seventies. Many felt that these powers had already been rolled back during the Reagan years when the legacy of Watergate and Presidential abuse of powers had begun to retreat in the popular memory. And yet the "Global War on Terror" (or "GeeTer" as Cheney called it) provided an opportunity to diminish the powers of Congressional oversight even further. Cheney seized the opportunity, going so far as to seek extralegal means to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency, ironically the very same tactic adopted by his former patron, Richard M. Nixon. Jack Goldsmith, the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, would later describe these experiences in his famous book called "The Terror Presidency".

"If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands" ~ threat from David Addington, Cheney's Legal Counsel to Jack GoldsmithBy late 2003 the Department of Justice started to threaten withholding their counter-signature from the rolling forty-five day order necessary to authorize the continuation surveillance programme. When Acting Attorney General John Comey refused to counter-sign in March 2004, Cheney adopted a series of intimidatory tactics, most shockingly ordering Andrew Card and Albert Gonzalez to visit his critically ill boss John Ashcroft in hospital to gain his signature instead. Unfazed, Cheney illegally replaced Comey's signature with Gonzalez on the executive order not even bothering to inform the President of the legal dispute in the Administration. A mirror image of the "Saturday Night Massacre" now occurred, when Richard Nixon ordered the executive dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20, 1973 during the Watergate scandal. The entire top management of the Department of Justice resigned in protest en masse, an outcome George W. Bush was only able to reverse by agreeing to drop Cheney from the 2004 ticket.

In 1964, on this day J. Edgar Hoover (pictured) studied an intelligence assessment of the impact of Malcolm Little's activities since his return from the Hajj.

The Central Intelligence Agency had advised the immigration authorities at Jeddah that Malcolm Little and Louis Farrakhan were in the Kingdom with the express intention of fermenting trouble for the House of Saud. Farrakhan was executed, and Little released. Due (so Little claimed at least) to the presentation of an orthordox Islamic book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam along with his visa.
Hajj Part 5 - Any Means Necessary by Eric OppenIn reality, agents of the Muslim Brotherhood had urged leniency upon Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal.
A radicalised Malcolm Little had returned to the United States to conduct orthodox conversions, resulting in his explusion from the Nation of Islam. According to the intelligence assessment on Hoover's desk, Little's life was in deadly danger and he had pledged to defend his family" by any means necessary". The CIA had (so they thought) well placed agents within Little's new organisation, Muslim Mosques, Inc. However their intelligence was faulty.
In fact the main threat to Little's life came not from the Nation of Islam, but from agents of Supreme Guide Hassan al Hodeiby who believed Little had double-crossed him.
It had become very apparent to al Hodeiby that Little had absolutely no intention of re-establishing the Sharia by using" physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the Jahili system". In point of fact, Little had tried hard to explain to the Muslim Brotherhood that getting full on Sharia law in the US just plain old wasn't on, but no one was listening.
To be continued..

In 1951, on this day China's capital, Beijing, was hit by food riots that left half the city in ruins. At the height of the violence Chinese dictator Mao Zedong vanished, never to be seen or heard from again.

 - Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Cuban President

On this day in 1971, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was lynched in Havana by anti-government mobs angered over his regime's failure to prevent the China virus from reaching Cuba.

Cuban President - Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

On this day in 1944, Soviet troops entered the ruins of Warsaw.


In 1963, Kwame Nkrumah, founder and first president of the modern Ghanaian state delivered a historic breakthrough for the troubled people of New Africa in their centennial year.

During the War of the States, the North had refused to enlist African Americans soldiers. Whites had been ejected from from the South after devastating epidemics had destroyed the Confederacy.

Pres. Ghana
Pres. Ghana - Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

After the founding of New Africa, African Americans found that their only common language was the oppressor's English. Some refuse to speak until a better tongue was found. A true visionary, Nkrumah was much more than an African anti-colonial leader. He was also one with a dream of a united Africa which would not drift into neo-colonialism. The people of New Africa understood that unity around the English medium was the key to Ghana's success in nation building, a necessary step given the hundreds of languages of West Africa.

Silent no more, New Africa strode forward into its second century with renewed confidence, taking is place amongst the nations.

In 1946, former US Vice President John Nance Garner coined the term 'Day of Infamy' when he delivered his Sinews of Peace speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fast approaching, and debate raged in the United States about Truman's falsehood in describing the cities as military bases, chosen to minimise civilian casualties.

"Britain was in the wrong Union. Rather than the European Union, a group hostile to Britain and the English language, Britain belonged in the American Union, on the road to worldwide English-Speaking Union. " ~ Expansionist Party of the United States


On this day in 1953, NATO announced it would support any US military action taken in response to the Tienanmen Square massacre and Georgi Malenkov's threats of war.  

 - Georgi Malenkov
Georgi Malenkov
In 1918, Comrade Nikolai Illich Ulyanov, better known to the world as Lenin, is shot and killed by a fellow revolutionary as he speaks to workers in a factory in Moscow. With the death of the Bolshevik leader, chaos erupts among the revolutionary factions; Trotsky's forces fought Stalin's in the streets of Moscow as the summer ended, and Trotsky emerged victorious from the struggle as winter seized Russia. Stalin was forced into exile, while Trotsky tried to turn his starving, impoverished nation, beset on all sides by white governments eager to restore the monarchy, back into a world power. Although he was harsh at first, Trotsky truly believed in socialism, and enacted reforms across Russia that benefited the working class of the nation. He also believed that the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' should fade away sooner rather than later, and once the civil unease was quelled in 1927, called for elections across the huge nation. People who had never voted for anything before in their lives now were able to choose the leaders of Russia, albeit from a somewhat limited slate of candidates. The Russian Soviet State's first Prime Minister was Trotsky himself, who served 1 term of 5 years, and then was succeeded by a non-Bolshevik, Pyotr Nyetchev of the Socialist Reformation Union. Stalin even attempted to run for Prime Minister when he was pardoned from his exile in 1945, but his power base in Russia by that time had dwindled to nothing.

On this day in 1914, RMS Titanic captain William Murdoch resigned his position to volunteer for active service in the Royal Navy two days after Great Britain declared war on Germany.

In 1806, the Louisiana War finally ends with French capitulation. Louisiana will be annexed by Britain and subsequently reorganized into three separate colonies. The small American exile community in New Orleans flees, the Adamses to Cuba, others to France and Mexico.

The war has been ruinously costly for France. Dissatisfaction with Louis XVI is spreading not only among the common people but, ominously, among the wealthy, the Church and the military. The nation's bankers bemoan the 'bankrupting' of France by an ongoing financial crisis caused by the king's reckless spending. The Church regards the loss of Louisiana as a sign of divine displeasure with the dissipations of the Bourbon court; Cardinal Louis-Joseph de Laval-Montmorency has been particularly outspoken, claiming that Louis was 'given a warning by Our Lord' in the form of the near-revolution of 1789 and 'cannot count on God to preserve him forever' if he does not change his ways. The generals, meanwhile, are particularly offended at what they consider Louis's 'blundering,' which they believe is responsible for the French defeat.
In 1970, with their ratings in the basement, The Brady Bunch was cancelled by ABC. The series about a widower and widow blending their families together simply had no appeal to America in the middle of the Hippie era and had failed to draw an audience.
In 1682, William Penn set forth from England to found a colony in the Americas. Unfortunately, his ship was lost in a storm with all hands. In his memory, land he had been given was named Pennsburg.
In 723 AUC, the combined forces of Egypt and the legions under the command of Marc Antony spell defeat for Octavian of Rome as they battle at Alexandria. Marc Antony, with his defeat of Octavian and the Senate, names himself Dictator of Rome. Although her forces are responsible for his victory, he ignores Cleopatra after this success, and she breaks diplomatic relations with the Empire; Egypt turns into a dangerously hostile neighbor to Rome.
In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, was in a horrific car crash after paparazzi harassing her forced her driver to speed into a tunnel in Paris at a dangerously high speed. Her companion, Dodi Fayed, was killed, and the Princess lost her leg. She won millions in the lawsuit against the news organizations that employed the paparazzi.
In 1984, John Lennon raises a quarter million dollars in a charity auction of Pete Best memorabilia. The collection he had been saving since their days in Hamburg together brings in $257,650, in addition to promoting Lennon's book about Best, I Want To Tell You.
In 1968, the American Bund nominates George Rockwell as its candidate for the presidency of the United States. He runs against Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond, winning handily. After this election, the Semitic-African Resistance movement abandons its stance of working for peaceful solutions and begins armed resistance to the Bund.
In 1935, in an attempt to win a few electoral votes in the elections coming up, Socialist President Franklin Roosevelt passes the Wealth Tax Act, which taxes wealthy people and businesses at 25% of their total profits or income. The business community cries that this measure will break them, but there is little sympathy among the working class for them, so the measure remains in effect even after Roosevelt is voted out in 1936.
In 1797, the mother of the science fiction genre, Mary Shelley, was born in London, England. Her novels Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, Icarus, and The Seed of Cain brought into the world of literature the ideas of robots/cloning, space travel and genetic modification, respectively.
In 723 AUC, Cleopatra of Egypt was defeated in battle by Octavian of Rome, and taken back to the great city in chains. A Roman general, Lucidius Maximus, was placed on the throne of Egypt, and a legion was left behind to ensure Egyptian cooperation in the empire.
In 2003, on this day the compendium 'A Collection of Political Counterfactuals' was published. Simon Burns' masterful sequel 'What if Sirhan Sirhan had missed?' was a keynote contribution, considering the scenario where Robert Kennedy had served as U.S. president from 1969. The essence of Burns' masterpiece is the competition of mysterious forces in Los Angeles. Two green pinpricks are amongst the ocean of eyes who watch the Kennedy's car arrive at the Ambassador Hotel. The presidential candidate enters a service area to greet supporters working in the hotel's kitchen. As he enters a crowded kitchen passage way, he notices a young man with a t-shirt banner which declares Snake Eyes watching you. Kennedy instinctively ducks, and the assassins bullets thud into the kitchen wall as the 24-year Palestinian assassin is bundled to the ground by security guards. The novel ends with RFK speaking to Neil Armstrong in the Sea of Tranquillity as his brother's goal 'to send a man to the moon in this decade' is achieved.

August 29

In 1526, on this day a glorious victory at the Battle of Mohács ensured that King Louis II fended off the Ottoman invasion and maintained the grip of the Jagiellon dynasty (coat of arms pictured) on the throne of Hungary and Bohemia.

Famous Hungarian Victory at the Battle of MohácsThe death of absolutist king Matthias Corvinus had thrown the nation into an acute crisis. And although the Hungarians had long opposed Ottoman expansion in southeastern Europe, the fall of Nándorfehérvár and Szabács meant that most of the southern part of the country was left indefensible.

When Louise II rejected peace offers from Suleiman I an Ottoman expedition advanced up the Danube River. Suleiman could not believe that this small, "suicidal" army was all that once powerful country could muster against him, but he underestimated the ruthless expediency of Louise II who broke with chivalry1 by ordering the attack as the Ottoman troops struggled through marshy terrain. Suleiman I was killed in the confusion, and the result was the end of Ottoman aspirations for occupying Hungarian territory.

In 1936, on this day the twenty-seventh President of the Confederate States John Sidney McCain III was born in the Federal District of Richmond, Virginia.

John S. McCain III
27th Confederate President
March 4, 2011 - present
As the senior Confederate States Senator from Arizona, he was the Constitutionist nominee for president in the 2010, winning against a tight race against Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas who had sought to become the third straight president from that state.

McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the Confederate States Navy, graduating from the C.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Nicaraguan War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 CSS Louis A. Johnson fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Managua, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the Nicaraguan Contra. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations. A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory Wikia

After returning to the C.S. McCain eventually followed his father, who had died in 1981, into the Admiralty of the Navy. He became Secretary of the Navy under President Al Gore in 1999 after an impressive career leading the Caribbean fleet in keeping peace from Trinidad to Texas. In 2002, he resigned to fill a Senate seat upon the death of a long time senator. With his resignation, he also retired from the Navy. After just two years, as a senator, he began a duel campaign for re-election and the nomination for CS president with the Constitution party.

After losing the nomination to Mike Huckabee in 2004, he went on to win re-election in Arizona for the seat he would have vacated as a successful nominee. He worked with the Huckabee administration admirably, leading to a successful campaign in 2009 to replace vice president Inglis, the presumed candidate. With a campaign that sought to reach across ideological boundaries, McCain was able to succeed in unseating the "heir apparent" to the presidency, leading to a victory over Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat 24 years his junior, who was trying to become the third president in a row from Arkansas.
The whole alternate biography is available Althistory Wiki.

In 1862, as an indication as to the strength of the Union, especially at the time, even with the disaster having endured by the Army of the Potomac, a new Union army, the Army of Virginia, had been organised during McClellan's slow march up the Peninsular.

Second Manassas by David AtwellFormed from a mix of new recruits and divisions stripped from McClellan's original plans for his campaign on Richmond, it numbered 77 000 troops by the time it took its first steps on its march towards Richmond. Lincoln, although not having complete faith in its commander, General John Pope, nevertheless did not originally envisaged the Army of Virginia to do anything other than defend the Union capital. But now, with the Army of the Potomac under siege, and Pope declaring he shall be victorious, Lincoln had few choices other than allow Pope to attack, hoping that Richmond may indeed fall, whilst the Confederate army was busy with the trapped Army of the Potomac.

Lee, however, saw it coming, thanks mostly to Union newspapers reporting the boasts of General Pope. Consequentially, by late July 1862, a mere three weeks after the Seven Days Battles, Lee had started slipping out divisions, from around the battlelines surrounding Harrison's Landing, back to positions covering Richmond from a northern approach. Still, not everything went to plan as Pope actually managed to get a step on Lee's preparations by moving earlier than Lee predicted. Consequentially, a number of skirmishes commenced, between Jackson's units, now organised under the banner of CSA II Corps, which culminated at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on 9 August. Although it was a Confederate victory, it was far from a convincing one as evident by, even though the Union retreated, Jackson was in no position to pursue.A Chapter from Action Jackson 1862

Mind, it was not that Lee wanted Jackson to pursue the Union force at this point in time, as Lee had no idea whether McCellan, with a still a sizeable force of some 53 000 troops, would take advantage of the moves by Pope, break out of the Harrison's Landing parameter, and once more march on Richmond. As a result, Lee kept Longstreet's newly organised CSA I Corps in place, for as long as possible, until he was convinced McClellan was content to remain in place. This meant, though, that Jackson, with only 24 000 troops, had to face off an army three times his number. Lee, in other words, was playing for time.

Time, however, was more so running out for Pope rather than for Lee, as Lee had finally decided to leave a small force behind under Magruder, watching McClellan, whilst moving the great bulk of Longstreet's Corps north to join up with Jackson. Meanwhile, and unbeknown to Lee, McClellan had actually organised an evacuation to take place not much later around 30 August. Still that did not now matter to Lee, as countering Pope was his main objective.

Alas for Pope, he would help Lee in his own defeat at the Battle of Second Manassas. Having rapidly advanced south initially, after the Battle of Cedar Mountain, he became overly cautious akin to McClellan. This may have seemed prudent at the time, considering the recent fate of the Army of the Potomac, but in this case it ensured Lee was given the precious time he needed to get his plans developed and put into motion. So once again, with a Union army holding their positions, waiting for a frontal attack, Lee simply moved around its right flank and attacked where Pope never expected him to do so. At first the Confederate plans seemed to be working, but then Pope, for all his faults, more or less realised the danger: or to put it more accurately, it should be said, some of his subordinates realised the danger but Pope eventually listened. Thus, having dug in along the Rappahannock expecting a frontal assault, a long series of mobile battles instead resulted, on the Union's right flank, as the Union Army of Virginia commenced a retreat in a race to get to Manassas Junction before the Confederates.

Alas for the Union Army of Virginia, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia would not let them get away that easy. Instead a huge battle took place at Manassas, which would dwarf the first one that took place there just over a year before. Although the Confederates were outnumbered, as they only had about 55 000 soldiers against 77 000 Union troops, on this particular occasion it mattered not, for on the day of battle, 29 August 1862, the Union positions were haphazard, poorly organised, and several units were still arriving on the battlefield. Meanwhile the Confederates had fully deployed and overlapped both flanks of the Union battleline.

Thus when the Confederates attacked at around 10 AM, even though the Union centre managed to repulse the morning attacks, it was a completely different story on the flanks. In both instances, the Union was in trouble from the start. Jackson's attacks, though, were soon stopped by stubborn Union resistance around the Stone House, but Longstreet's attacks on the other flank simply drove the few Union defenders into a panic. This panic was soon turned into a total rout as Stuart's cavalry got involved with the attack. Within a hour, Longstreet's Corps, lead by Kemper's division, had swung around behind the Union centre, and were soon attacking the rear of the Union positions at the Stone House. In doing so, the vast majority of the Union Army of Virginia, including its commanding general, had been surrounded. They would not last out the day.
Read the whole story of Action Jackson 1862 - Stonewall's Foot Cavalry Wins The Day on the Changing the Times web site

In 1936, the 43rd President of the United States John Sidney McCain was born at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain, Jr. (1911-1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (b. 1912).

President John McCain
January 2001 to January 2009
The presidency of John McCain is likely to prove as great a favorite of popular historians as that of Theodore Roosevelt. Like Roosevelt, his presidency was prefaced by a heroic earlier life. Like Roosevelt, McCain was renowned, if not precisely for his wit, then for a reliably dramatic and articulate temper. Both presidents, throughout their careers, were keenly interested in administrative structures per se. However, while these presidents were unusually knowledgeable about foreign and military issues, the circumstances of McCain's administration gave him far greater opportunity to work in these areas; indeed, McCain has been called "Theodore Roosevelt with Woodrow Wilson's problems".

A new story by John ReillyContemporary political commentators have sometimes suggested McCain would not have received the Republican nomination in 2000, had it not been for the publication at a critical time in the primary election process of an old scandal involving his principal opponent. (The irony is that the information was Democratic opposition research intended for the general election but apparently leaked early to the press by accident.) Though no serious misbehavior was involved, the issue managed to depress his opponent's appeal in the early southern primaries. McCain's bid thus survived until the nominating process moved to the Midwest and Mountain states, where he enjoyed greater natural advantages. Still, the delegate vote at the Republican Convention that year was the closest in living memory. The nomination would have gone differently if a single state delegation had been on the other side. The general election, in contrast, was a popular vote and Electoral College landslide for the Republicans.

Several reasons have been adduced to explain this result. The candidates seemed to differ only in degree except on social issues; these were muted in the election. However, the Democratic nominee was generally regarded as a continuation of the prior Administration, which had fallen under an ethical cloud. In any case, the popular dissatisfaction with the Democrats did not extend to Congress; McCain's party actually lost control of the Senate by a single seat.

The McCain Administration was the first since that of Richard Nixon to focus from the outset primarily on foreign affairs. These president's early efforts did not invariably appear to improve matters. In his first meeting in Paris with the heads of the NATO countries, for instance, President McCain publicly engaged in a multilingual shouting match with President Jacques Chirac about who was more serious about controlling carbon emissions. Russian-American relations went from frosty to arctic after the first meeting between President McCain and President Vladimir Putin, when McCain made his notorious "evil ice dwarf" comment to reporters on the flight home.

On some critical issues, the Administration does not seem to have been very well served by the terrorism experts retained from the prior Administration. These officials pushed their own pet projects and gave advice that almost invariably turned out to be misdirections. In any case, though the Administration came into office with a raft of proposed reforms for health care, education, infrastructure, and so on, these were shelved until the second term by the events of September 11: even the small, temporary, stimulative tax reduction that the Congress had enacted to deal with a mild recession was revoked to help pay for the subsequent unplanned military expenditures.

The president was in Washington at the time of the attacks in 2001. He was widely criticized for foolhardiness in rejecting Secret Service advice to leave the city, but his extemporaneous address from the Oval Office that evening has been classed as model of modern rhetoric. His national security team quickly determined that the base for the attacks was in Afghanistan: the existing regime and the terrorist leadership it had been hosting had been removed by the end of the year. This by no means ended the war, since Islamist factions quickly regrouped across the Pakistani border and instituted a cult of the martyrdom of their former leaders. Nonetheless, the speed and the success of the invasion bought the president the prestige to go ahead six months later with a decapitating raid against the Baathist regime in Iraq. There followed a systematic peace-keeping and nation-building program on which the president was accused of lavishing more attention than on the government of the United States.

The president was also criticized for confining the legal justification for the Iraq invasion to the UN resolutions of 1990 and 1991. His public case for the war was a set of sophisticated variations on the theme that the Baathist regime had never complied with the terms of the ceasefire of 1991 and could not be trusted to do so after the UN restrictions were removed. The president coined a phrase, "field of peace," to describe what he was trying to "generate" in the Middle East. The concept was widely ridiculed, until the post-Iraq-invasion revelation by Libya of its enormous WMD programs and the new willingness of Iran to talk. These developments, and the fact that the nation-building strategy enabled the beginning of substantial troop reductions by the spring of 2004, silenced whatever criticism remained about the justification and conduct of the war.

Emboldened by the personal popularity which these successes accorded him, President McCain made one of the most daring moves in American political history: he ran for reelection as an independent. To some extent, this move was forced on him: the Republican Party had broken up. The president politely accepted the nomination of the convention with the greatest claim to institutional continuity, but he appeared on most ballots as the nominee of the "Rally for the Republic," essentially a privately organized network of publicists, financial backers, and key constituency groups. The disintegration of the parties at the national level was a foreseeable instance of the general trend toward "disintermediation" between producers and consumers in all areas of life. In 2004, his principal opponent in the general election was still a "Democrat," though the nature of that group had changed profoundly since 1992. Thereafter, the movement toward increasingly personalized politics seemed irresistible.

The Administration's predilection for comprehensive, systematic treatment of domestic issues had mixed results. The new strategy of replacing employer-provided health insurance with privately owned policies had the primary effect of imposing a paperwork burden on the population comparable to that imposed by the (unreformed) federal tax code. There might have been a political crisis, had not the legalization of pharmaceutical imports caused a temporary but noticeable decrease in costs.

President's McCain's chief domestic accomplishment was technical and procedural: the Tax Efficiency and Reform Act of 2005. This comprehensive tax-code reform lowered the top marginal individual tax rate to 28%, as well as abolishing the Alternative Minimum Tax; the reform paid for these features by abolishing almost all the deductions in the existing code. The reform was revenue neutral. Small federal budget surpluses had begun to reappear in 2004, the maintenance of which became the Administration's chief fiscal priority. The reform of the Social Security system disappeared as an issue during the McCain Administration: experience showed that the projected insolvency point for the system retreated by a year for every year the budget balanced or showed a surplus.

Other enthusiasms of President McCain proved less happy. His insistence on a complicated campaign-finance scheme alienated the ad hoc majority in Congress on which he relied for support. The measure was of doubtful constitutionality, and the Administration was probably saved an embarrassment when it failed.

The Administration was not so lucky with an immigration measure that, in effect, granted provisional legal status to everyone in the United States, and this without first ensuring that the federal government had physical control of the borders. The immigration enforcement agencies had to stand down at the borders (including airports) and internally; the chance of apprehending someone whom it might have been proper to detain under the new rules was too small to justify the expense of acting. The immigration bureaucracy was deluged with millions of applications in the space of a few weeks and soon ceased functioning at all. Visas to the United States became unobtainable. Meanwhile, television images showed a steady passage of persons crossing the borders, as well as the appearance of new, impromptu municipalities at the edges of cities and sometimes in public parks. For the most part, these settlements were not, as was incorrectly reported at the time, "colonies" of new immigrants, but associations of longterm undocumented persons who took advantage of the relaxed enforcement regime to move from cramped and often dangerous accommodations. There were notable outbreaks of civil disorder in several places.

The episode lasted a month. The emergency was ended when the president was prevailed upon to invoke the emergency power granted to him in the immigration bill to regulate immigration in extraordinary circumstances. No permanent harm was done, but the country was badly shaken. The president's speech of apology, in which he took responsibility for the bill and pledged to restore order, was almost unprecedented and highly effective.

One of the ironies of the McCain Administration was that a man so interested in bureaucratic order enhanced his reputation chiefly through his ability to handle unpredictable disasters. The submersion of New Orleans may not, perhaps, quite count as "unpredictable": few such events have ever been foretold with so much expert specificity so long beforehand. Nonetheless, the event occurred on McCain's watch, and he understood the importance of what was happening as soon as it was certain the hurricane would make landfall near the city. He ordered his disaster managers and, more important, the Secretary of Defense to the city to monitor events. Before the lower parts of the city were completely flooded, he had invoked questionable but legally colorable authority to use the federal military as rescue forces and police. Perhaps the most famous scene of his presidency occurred the next day when he visited the city, personally "fired" the mayor, and ordered the detention of the entire city police force. His later refusal to sign any reconstruction legislation that applied outside the highland areas of the city remains controversial.

President McCain is remembered for many other things, from his directive to NASA after the Columbia disaster to build an Earth-to-LEO manned spacecraft within a year to the creation of the League of Democracies. He is not always remembered with universal fondness. Nonetheless, his paradoxical presidency did not have the dispiriting effect that several other administrations of the past 50 years had had. His many opponents loved to hate him; his even more numerous admirers were frequently exasperated but never bored. A rare national consensus prevailed as he left office: the Republic had not been altogether badly served.

By 1833, slavery had existed in the British Empire long before it could have been called an empire, but the sun seemed to set it as the nineteenth century grew prosperous. Abolitionists had worked for years to end the practice by lobbying Parliament, and a formal Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1823 with such members as William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, and Elizabeth Pease. Pitted against them were the wealthy plantation owners of the empire whose fortunes were based on cheap labor.

Parliament Passes Slaves' Rights ActAnother force against the abolitionists was simple inertia. Slavery had worked for so long that, while it may have been deplorable, that was simply the way things were. Many noted the question of what to do with thousands of newly freed, unemployed, uneducated former slaves. The status quo continued so, until 1831 when a planned peaceful strike of Baptist slaves broke out into violent revolt in Jamaica, put down ten days later with hundreds dead in what became known as the Baptist War.

After the rebellion, an inquiry was sent to investigate, and the brutality of the planters became known. While the abolitionists used the information to push forward their agenda, businessmen became concerned. They had lost the slave trade in 1807, but to lose all slaves would be a major financial hit. When it became suspected that even the East India Company may suffer, money acted. Through politicking and outright bribery, the years of work of the Anti-Slavery Society were absconded and twisted into a new ideal: governing the rights of slaves.

Before the abolitionists could effectively rebut it, the Slaves' Rights Act was passed in 1833. The institution of slavery was thus legally protected, and slaves were deemed a kind of lifetime apprentice. Mistreatment of slaves was made stiffly illegal with fines and even jail-time, but runaway slaves were also to be arrested and fined what little money they had. A new office of civil servant was created as Slave Inspectors (which became well paid and often relations of large slave owners). Also key to the act was the point that slave may only be bought or sold with a writ of permission from the slave. While not reigniting the slave trade, this did open legal grounds for the transport and sale of slaves.

Abolitionists decried the act as "a feeble bandage on a festering wound", and Thomas Clarkson was quoted as saying that he was "happy Wilberforce did not live to see this day". Still, the law improved conditions for slaves, and many were sold their freedom. Even with fewer slaves per capita, slavery continued. Reinventing themselves, many abolitionists began to use the "writ of permission" as note that the slaves must be able to write effectively, and thus schooling must be provided for all slaves, especially the young. When it was upheld in the courts, many abolitionists became educators for the slaves.

With furthered education, the slaves of the British Empire became arguably more politically significant than the uneducated masses in the large cities of the Industrial Revolution. Following the reports of David Livingstone in the 1860s about the Arab slave trade, a new push for slaves' rights began and was furthered by the Emancipation Proclamation in America during its Civil War. A long discourse in Parliament began, and slavery was abolished in 1873. Newly freed, many slaves used their education to better their position: opening businesses, buying land, and employing other former slaves as workers in factories.

Toward the twentieth century, the centers of manufacturing shifted toward former plantations. Throughout the British Empire, factories sprung up beside fields, transforming towns to cities. Seaside cities solved their energy needs with offshore drilling for oil and "wave generators," a machine capable of turning tidal motion to electricity, invented by Freedman John Stanwite of Jamaica. The Caribbean became known as South Manchester for its manufactures, though the nickname was only economically apt as its was a collection of light industry instead of heavy machines. The colonies swiftly began to move away from Britain as a "motherland".

With the World War ending in 1918, Ireland led the colonies in searching for freedom. With a marginal downturn in the world economy over the course of the 1930s in the World Depression, political pressure forced the British Empire to evolve into a commonwealth of republics. Socialism would strike many of the former French and Spanish colonies as preferable following the example of Stalinist Russia, but the political tug-of-war between the capitalist west and the USSR could hardly be called a war, even a cold one. Instead, widespread commercialism would dominate the world by the beginning of the twenty-first century.

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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.