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December 29

In 1170, on this day Bishop Thomas Becket was arrested in Canterbury Cathedral.

Bishop Thomas Becket Arrested After a career of working tightly together as Chancellor and King, upon Becket's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry II of England, the two discovered a rift that drove them to be bitter enemies. They had once been close; Henry even placed his son in Becket's household for his education. Henry sought control of his lands, both through Church and State. When Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury died, Henry took it as an opportunity to establish a trusted ally in one of the most powerful positions in the English Church.

Thomas Becket had grown from a fortunate position and constant guest in lordly houses, learning to ride and joust and receiving an excellent legal and canonical education. Upon his installation as archbishop, however, Becket shed his glamorous secular life and became something of an ascetic, even reportedly wearing the penitent hair shirt under his priestly robes. He immediately worked to strengthen the position of the Church, retaking lost land, disallowing Henry from collecting offerings, and excommunicating a royal tenant-in-chief after he refused to acknowledge Becket's appointment of a clerk. The political rift split wide when Henry called a meeting with the Church heads to discuss canonical customs, and Becket led the bishops in refusing to attend.

Henry pulled his son from Becket's house and lifted Becket's many honors, and the diplomatic war erupted with Henry attempting to win favor of the bishops while Becket called on international support from Louis VII. Henry won as the bishops, even Becket, agreed to the customs of the Constitutions of Claredon, and then Becket broke favor by attempting to leave for France without permission. Becket fled into exile for six years. The Pope finally intervened, and Becket returned while many of his excommunications were absolved.

Only a few months later, Becket began a new round of excommunications as Henry's son had been crowned junior-king by the Bishop of York, which was the right of the Bishop of Canterbury. Upon hearing the news, Henry said from his sickbed, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four knights took his words as an order and hurried to Canterbury. Placing their weapons under a tree, they entered the cathedral and demanded Becket return with them to see the king. He refused, turned to run, and tripped over his vestments. The knights apprehended Becket and brought him back to Winchester.

Henry had Becket imprisoned and was found guilty of disobeying customs in trial in 1171. Becket was placed into a monastic cell, and, in 1173, Henry's sons Henry the Younger and Richard rebelled against him in hopes of achieving their inheritances early (as well as at the mentoring of Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine). Becket escaped and worked his way into Henry the Younger's court. While the young brothers were strong in France with their mother's lands, they did not have the guile to manage England, and Becket gave them the advice and subterfuge they needed to undercut their father's support. The initial rebellion in 1173 had been met with failure, but 1174 won the rebellion for the brothers. They treated Becket literally as a godsend, and he was restored to Canterbury with great new powers.

Henry II went into forced retirement, and Henry the Younger (now III) went about repairing his father's strained relations with the other Catholic kingdoms, especially France. Richard (called "The Lionhearted") went on crusade to the Holy Land, liberating Cyprus and staying with his armies while Henry III ruled politically. Much of England's social power, however, went into the hands of Becket, who set up his nation as a new stronghold and even persuaded Prince John to become Bishop of Canterbury upon Becket's death in 1189.

The Church continued its firm ecclesiastical position in England as kings and bishops continued to vie for legal power, as did the many barons of the kingdom, though the former two kept the latter in place. One hundred years later, the two would grow even closer as Edward I would be sainted, much like the French St. Louis (King Louis IX). The Church would be instrumental sources of power for Richard III in the Rebellion of 1484. England remained a strong Catholic nation, acting against the Protestant armies of other northern Europe kings. In the 1700s, bids for religious freedom would deprive England of its colonies in North America as well as the Protestant lands of Scotland.

December 14

In 1939, with the Union and the Confederacy on the verge of entering World War Two on different sides, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released the explosively controversial movie Tomorrow is just another day. Even the title was sufficiently provocative, igniting a furious debate about multi-racial aspirations for equal citizenship, despite African-American's conspicious absence from the film (white actors and actresses were "blacked up").

Tomorrow is Just Another DayBased on Margaret Mitchell's romantic novel of the same name, the story presents an unabashedly positive image of the South during the War of the States Rights.

"Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave"Mitchell herself acknowledged her inspiration from Thomas Dixon's famous novel "The Clansman" which was the basis of the film "The Birth of a Nation". In a letter to Dixon, Mitchell wrote in 1937: "I was practically raised on your books, and love them very much".

Of course within five short years of the films release, events would overtake the Confederacy which was dissolved at the climax of World War Two. A sharply revisionist account of the same story was presented in 1991 by Alexandra Ripley in the novel "Scarlett" and adapted into a television mini-series in 1994. Fifty years later, tensions were still visible, and the mini-series ommited scenes of Atlanta being burnt down in 1945, and, so it was rumoured, a suggestion to re-title the program "Gone with the Wind".

December 11

In 1960, on this day President John F. Kennedy's administration was almost ended before it could begin as a mentally disturbed ex-postal worker named Richard Pavlick tried to kill the President-elect with a suicide bomb attack on Kennedy's Palm Beach vacation house.

A Shock To The System Part 1 by Chris OakleyAn alert Secret Service agent saved the President-elect's life by shooting out the front tires of Pavlick's car just as Pavlick was starting his attack; the former postman lost control of his vehicle and inadvertantly set off his bomb prematurely, vaporizing himself in the explosion. Kennedy survived the blast shaken but unhurt; the Secret Service agent was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and released that evening.

Realizing America could have been thrust into political crisis if Pavlick's assassination plot had succeeded, Kennedy met with Vice President-elect Lyndon Johnson the next day to begin brainstorming ideas on how to avert such a grim scenario in the future. The result of their discussions was the 1961 Presidential Security and Emergency Succession Act, which would be enacted and signed into law during Kennedy's first 100 days in office. In addition to further clarifying existing procedures for choosing a successor to the President in the event of an untimely death, the act created new safeguards to fill unexpected vacancies if either the President-elect or Vice President-elect died before their election could be certified by the Electoral College; last but not least, the act increased Secret Service protection for Presidents and presidential candidates.

December 3

In 1776, after the devastation of New Jersey by British troops unchecked by rebel General George Washington, the Continental Congress voted to surrender to the British. They could no longer withstand the horrors that the redcoats were subjecting the colonies to, and decided that it was time to spare their fellow countrymen from further British atrocities. Many rebels headed west to escape British justice, and continued to harass the colonies for years after.

Stroke of GeniusThe Patriots had been undone by time because much of the Continental Army's stores and baggage had already been moved across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania. But unfortunately for the the British troops had pursuing Washington's beleaguered forces across the river before they could burn their boats. The British strategy of chasing Washington across New Jersey, rather than capturing his entire army in Manhattan had been a stroke of genius.

November 28

In 2012, in a worldwide scandal that has made l'affaire Petraeus look like an episode of The Donna Reed Show, Benjamin Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton have run off together.

The Hillary and Bibi AffairThis has brought Israel and Gaza together in mass outrage .. starting with a joint resolution denouncing the notorious couple. This scandal could have been the first time that Israelis and Palestinians have gotten together since the Pope recently offered to administer Jerusalem, and both sides answered. "Thanks but no thanks".

"But how could I help it?" Netanyahu demanded, from their hiding place at The Sandals honeymoon resort, where reporters tracked them down holding hands and walking along the beach. "We spent so many hours alone together, everyone should have known this might happen".

Hillary's comment was, "This will pay Bill back for Monica Lewinsky. Anyway, since Bill cannot run again, Bibi is the now the cutest national leader around, except perhaps for Obama, and we all know what a good family man HE is".

November 22

In 1963, on this day out-going Lyndon Baines Johnson, President of the Confederate States of America, (pictured, left) is assassinated in Dallas whilst travelling in a presidential limousine along a designated motorcade route.

Gerry Shannon's "Johnson Assassinated by Union Sympathizer"Johnson had been doing a tour of his home state to drum up support for the policies of his Democratic-Republican party; and unite it's warring factions within the Texas state. The shooting occurred at approximately 12:30PM in the Dealey Plaza area of downtown Dallas. A chief suspect soon emerges: Lee Harvey Oswald, a US sympathizer who had previously defected to the Union after receiving a dishonourable discharge from the Confederate Army. Oswald would later claim at his trial - and right up to his execution - he was being set-up as the perfect "patsy" for Johnson's murder, because of his outspoken beliefs on civil rights and affirmative action.

However, Oswald's argument would prove ironic with hindsight. Since being sworn in six years before, Johnson had pursued several progressive policies in relation to civil rights for African-Americans during his administration. It would be his Vice-President and successor, John Connolly, who would succeed in convincing the Confederate Congress at Richmond to pass a historic Civil Rights bill in 1964.

November 15

In 1315, an army under the command of Duke Leopold I of Austria narrowly survived a Swiss ambush in the Morgarten Pass.

Ambush at the Morgarten PassThe architect of the clandestine attack was Werner Stauffacher. He had mobilized a a Swiss Confederation force of 1,500 infantry archers to regain their local autonomy within the Habsburg Empire.

The dispute had arisen despite the Swiss holding imperial letters of guarantee signed by former Emperors. And after a raid on the Habsburg-protected monastery of Einsiedeln, Duke Leopold I had set out to crush the rebellious Confederates. And his ultimate victory was the end of hopes to restore the Old Swiss Confederacy.

November 12

In 1921, two years after the Confederacy sought to regain the so-called "occupied territories" at Versailles, the Great Powers conducted further round table talks at the Washington Naval Conference. This time around the goal was to defuse the naval arms race that was threatening the fragile world peace that had existed since the end of the Great War.

Washington Naval Conference by Michael N. Ryan & EdIn reality, relations between the United States and Britain had been at boiling point even before the Trent Affair. And ever since the scuttling of the Reichsmarine at the Scapa Flow, tension had escalated sharply. Matters had worsened in Paris, with the British advocating the return of the "occupied territories" to the CSA as part of a comprehensive peace settlement.

Both navies had been rebuilding at a frightening rate, and the new sixteen inch guns that were being fitted on battleships would soon be upgraded to eighteen. Worse still, Japan, France and Italy had now joined the arms race too. The Union insisted upon a formula for a larger allocation of capital ships because of her commitments in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

As if that demand wasn't offensive enough, the Americans also took the opportunity to break the naval codes of the Japanese delegation led by Admiral Yamamoto (pictured). It was a bad mistake that would bring the Japanese strongly into the British camp. And when the British offered the Japanese shared usage of the new super-modern fortified port at Singapore, the Union would wake up to some grave new security threats in the Pacific theatre.

October 26

In 1947, on this day the fortieth Governor of Illinois Hillary Rodham was born at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago.

Governor ClintonUnfortunately her co-presidency with husband Bill Clinton was mired by scandal. Following his resignation over the Monica Lewinsky Affair, the Clinton's parted and she obtained a divorce in 1999. Hillary restored her maiden name and moved back to Chicago.

The timing was expedient because she narrowly met the three year residency qualification for her 2002 gubernatorial run against Rod Blagojevich. However her political future would be more affected by a struggle with another Democratic Illinoisan a self-styled "skinny guy with a funny name" called Barack Hussein Obama. He would ultimately frustrate her plucky attempt to become the first Madam President.

October 25

In 1147, on this day German crusaders under Conrad III managed to fight off Mesud I's army of Seljuk Turks at the Second Battle of Dorylaeum.

Crusader Victory at the Second Battle of DorylaeumRunning short of provisions, the Germans had been forced to stop there and his army of twenty thousand men were attacked by forces loyal to the Sultanate of Rum.

The narrow-fought victory enabled the Second Crusade to continue after linking up with a force led by Louis VII of France (the armies of the two kings had marched separately across Europe, and planned to converge after crossing Byzantine territory into Anatolia).

October 22

In 1734 O.S., on this day American pioneer, explorer, frontiersman, wealthy land speculator and third President of the United States Daniel Boone was born in Oley Valley, Pennsylvania.

Daniel Boone
Third US President
by Ed and Jeff Provine
In 1775 Boone blazed his Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina and Tennessee into Kentucky despite resistance from American Indian tribes such as the Shawnee. There he founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than two hundred thousand European people migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.

During the Revolutionary War he was captured by Shawnee warriors who adopted him into their tribe. Later, he left the Indians and returned to Boonesborough in order to help defend the European settlements in Kentucky/Virginia. Following the war, Boone initially worked as a surveyor and merchant before accumulating vast wealth through lucrative Kentucky land speculation.

In 1800, he ran successfully for the Presidency narrowly beating the incumbent John Adams. He entered Office with the high hope that he would blaze a new trail, bringing the country together by addressing the Indian Question.

October 8

In 1940, to guarantee the Axis Alliance's unrestricted access to oil fields and refineries in Ploesti, a nominally Italian-led Axis invasion force occupied the Kingdom of Romania, thereby violating the declaration of neutrality that had been issued by King Carol II. A continuation of the earlier post Tinos Elli Torpedoing Saves the Axis.

1812, Redux - Moscow as StalingradNeedless to say this thrust by a multi-national force comprising Italian, Hungarian and German troops rang alarm bells in Moscow where spies had informed Stalin that Mussolini was planning his own attack on Greece (this was actually true, he had only been dissuaded by the promise of a leading role in the Romanian invasion). In response, Stalin secretly made his own plans to reserve a contingent of the Russian Air Force that could deliver a devastating bombing raid on Ploesti.

Stalin was right to anticipate that a joint attack on Romania signalled the possibility a similar strike on the Rodina. Because Hitler had talked Mussolini out of his invasion of Greece the Axis Forces were far better placed to launch Operation Barbarossa. But in hindsight through, it hardly mattered because the Operation was delayed by incomplete logistical arrangements and an unusually wet winter that kept rivers at full flood until late spring (ironically, some of these same issues would have deleteriously affected Mussolini's planned strike on Greece).

And so the stage was set. Through a combination of good fortunes and Russian Command confusion Axis forces entered Moscow. But of course their pre-emptive strike on the Russian Air Force had failed to destroy Stalin's contingency force of bombers. Not only did this unexpected strike on Ploesti give the Axis Powers a catastrophic oil supply problem, but the fighting inside Moscow turned into a bloody cauldron of street-to-street combat. Ultimately the Russians could have continued the war without their capital, but because it was a national rail hub Stalin had decided to stand and fight. To sustain the Patriot War and get the most from the Red Army, he knew it would have to be 1812 all over again.

October 2

In 1995, on this day US citizens officially learnt of the existence of a new federal facility when President Bill Clinton announced that it was in the paramount interest of open government for contested information about Area 51 to be revealed to the public.

Area 51The long-expected revelation had become increasingly inevitable since the opening of a private legal challenge from seven labourers who had been harmed by open-pit burning of toxic chemicals. Allegedly investigations by the Environmental Crimes Project (ECP) at George Washington University had determined that the Department of Defense had acted negligently. Also the Environmental Protection Agency had failed to enforce compliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery (RC&R) Act.

The resistence of US District Judge Philip Pro had melted away when attorney Jonathan Turley of ECP threatened to subpoena a senior Russian embassy official and several former Soviet Intelligence officer who could confirm the identity of the base. On September 2nd, Judge Pro ruled that owing to the specific demands of the RC&R Act, the government must within one month either make the EPA report public or seek a presidential exemption.Turley hailed the ruling saying it showed that "national security claims do not trump domestic laws .. government can lo longer have nameless, faceless bases".

The farcical reality was shatteringly disappointing. The US Government did indeed have UFOs housed at nearby Groom Lake. Nine in fact. But because scientists had been ordered to operate in a condition of utmost secrecy, any prospect of a breakthrough had been stiffled and they had hopelessly failed to back-engineer the spacecraft. Worse, after an armed confrontation at the Lake in 1979, joint research with Extraterrestrial Biological Entities (EBEs) had ceased. Ten years later an obscure scientist named Bob Lazar had absconded with the remaining supply of Element 115 which was necessary to propel the vehicles. Lazar, a pyrotechnic freak, had exploded the material at one of his annual Desert Storm Parties before becoming the victim of a mysterious hit and run shooting on a Las Vegas Highway.

September 20

In 1575, Queen Elizabeth of England sits upon the throne in her new Palace of London, celebrating the end of the great city's reconstruction.

Aztec Invasion of Elizabethen EnglandAlthough the work of recovering from the Aztec invasion has been difficult, Elizabeth's steadfast determination that London should rise again kept the population focused on their central goal, and the rebuilt London bore few scars from that time. Only the memorial Tower of the Sun evidenced the darkness within all Londoners hearts towards the North American empire.

The queen uses the occasion to host ambassadors from France and Spain, as the three countries have become close allies, and she discusses with them the possibility of a punitive expedition against Mectezuma. Although eager for vengeance against the Aztec emperor, they all come to the conclusion that they would suffer from the same disadvantage that he did during the occupation - supply lines too long to support an invasion force. They do decide to collaborate in sending a small band of colonists to live with the Iroquois, who live far to the north of the Aztecs. If an alliance could be made with them, perhaps revenge could be had, after all.

September 13

In 1914, in a secret meeting in Washington, D.C., Sir Roger Casement, an Irishman and former British diplomat, met with Franz von Papen, a German military attaché, to discuss the possibility of aid in an Irish rebellion against British rule.

Germany Agrees to Aid Irish Independence Casement had worked as a clerk and consul among British diplomacy in Africa, witnessing the Boer War and performing investigations on human rights in the Belgian Congo and Peru. The horrors he saw of imperialism changed him forever, causing him to work against the notion of empire. In 1911, he was knighted for his international work, and he subsequently resigned for "health reasons". Two years later, he helped found Irish National Volunteers, aimed at drumming up support for Irish independence.

Casement sought support for the Germans to free Irish prisoners of war and to form up an Irish Brigade to fight against the British. Papen, however, had been thinking. The initial push of the Germans toward France had ended, and a series of attempts at flanking were beginning. If neither army flanked the other, ultimately running to the sea, battle lines would be drawn up and the Western Front could be nothing more than a stalemate. If Germany were to win this war quickly and with minimal loss, they would have to fight in places other than France.

While sending troops to Ireland directly was questionable, Papen vowed to send armaments and officers to train a growing Irish Revolutionary army. In November, Berlin announced, "Should the fortunes of this great war, that was not of Germany?s seeking, ever bring in its course German troops to the shores of Ireland, they would land there, not as an army of invaders to pillage and destroy, but as the forces of a government that is inspired by good-will towards a country and a people for whom Germany desires only national prosperity and national freedom". Casement returned to Ireland and worked diligently toward the Irish plan of an uprising during Easter of 1916.

At Papen's suggestion, the German Chief of Staff von Falkenhayn elected to invest armaments and soldiers into campaigns to interrupt British and French empires. In February of 1915, India erupted in rebellion, though many of the early ringleaders were caught and executed. Singapore, Afghanistan, and numerous French colonies followed. On April 24, 1916, Dublin declared independence, and Irish soldiers armed with German rifles and trained by German officers, began the Irish Civil War. London was petrified, extremely short on men to cover all of the revolts and watching its empire crumble. In 1917, Russia collapsed and dropped from the war; many in Parliament suggested Britain do the same before they lost everything.

However, also in 1917, the Germans had pushed too far with diplomatic warfare. The Zimmerman Telegram to Mexico offering aid if it were to go to war with the United States, should the US enter the war, roused the neutral Americans into action. They offered up thousands of fresh troops, and 1918 would prove a miserable year of defeat for Germany on the battlefield. In November, an armistice was called. The subsequent Treaty of Versailles attempted to sort out the convoluted state of the world.

Germany was reduced and punished for its actions, stripped of colonies and made to pay enormous reparations. Austria and the Ottoman Empires were split up by their people groups into "Balkanized" countries. Despite being the winners on paper, both Britain and France found that they could not quell their uprisings. Many cried for the freed-up armies to move to the colonies, but as war-weariness and dogged economies dragged through the 1920s, the last of the European empires called quits. Britain and France formed commonwealths with their few loyal colonies and gave independence to the others. Civil wars erupted and continued for years throughout South America, Africa, and Asia as well as in Ireland, which was diplomatically separated between North and South in 1928.

The United States, seemingly the only "winner" of the World War, returned to neutrality and economic abundance as it gave resources for Europe to rebuild over the 1930s. Fascism, strong government tied to renewed Nationalism, grew in the wake of the shattering of empire. New bids for domination from Japan, Germany, and Russia would launch another World War in 1946 with the invasion of Scandinavia after Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland had already been dominated.

September 9

In 2008, a twenty-five year journey through tragedy and suffering finally ended on a high note of personal triumph for Benezir Bhutto's husband, the so-called "Black Widower" Asif Ali Zardari (pictured) who assumed office on this day as the first President of the newly independent state of Sindhistan.

The War on Terror Plus, Part 1 ~ The Triumph of the Black WidowerResponding to criticism that she had married below her station, Prime Minister Bhutto had separated her personal and professional lives by indicating that "[Asif] will not be involved in my political career at all, and I have no intention of visiting his cement works in Karachi". Zardari himself recognised the even greater gulf in their leadership abilities with the Pakistani proverb that "The camel only finds out that there is something taller than him when he comes beneath a mountain".

Zarari served in his wife's cabinet as the Minister of Investment; accused of bribery and corruption he was unfairly labelled "Mr Ten Percent". And by the time Bhutto returned from exile in October 2007, Zardari had been incarcerated at Karachi Central Prison for eleven and a half of the previous eighteen years. Badly tortured, her husband had collected a sickle-like scar on his tongue, a slashing wound by his jugular vein and severe back injuries from being repeatedly struck by a rifle butt.

When Bhutto's family and supporters buried her, Sindhis chanted, "We don't need Pakistan! We don't need Pakistan!".And that political violence was hardly exceptional - the country that Bhutto returned to was already teetering on the edge of the abyss. Because American actions in Afghanistan had forced the Taliban to regroup over the border in Pakistan. Even worse was to follow. On 27th December, Bhutto herself was assassinated.

Pakistan burned for days with the the worst rioting occurring in the couple's home province of Sindh.

When Bhutto's family and supporters buried her, Sindhis chanted, "We don't need Pakistan! We don't need Pakistan!". And this nationalist sentiment was clear from Bhutto's handwritten will "I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead my people in the interim period until you [the Sindhis] and he decide what is best. I say this because he is a man of courage and honour. He spent 11 1/2 years in prison without bending despite torture. He has the political stature to keep our people united".

At one of the most volatile and dangerous moments in the country's history, Zardari led a Sindhi revolt, pushing Pakistan over the brink and into the abyss of dissolution. Sixty years after he had founded the "Fortress of Islam", Mohammed Jinnah's national dream for Pakistan ended in a most frightful nightmare.

September 8

In 1938, on this day the forty-second president of the United States Samuel Augustus ("Sam") Nunn, Jr. was born in Macon, Georgia. Having succeeded the two one-term Presidencies of Gary Hart and Jack Kemp, his eight years in office might have restored a degree of stability to the White House. But he attempted to use this opportunity to push through a bold programme of change and both of his signature pieces of legislation faced hostile opposition from an unlikely alliance of political forces.
An article from the No Chappaquiddick by Eric Lipps in which EMK's car only almost went off that bridge on July 18, 1969.

Sam Nunn's Rough and Tumble Two-Term PresidencyWhen he defeated incumbent Jack Kemp in the 1992 U.S. presidential election observers marvelled at how far Kemp's fortunes had fallen since the end of the Gulf War, when he had a 91 percent approval rating and seemed likely to win re-election in a landslide. Another disappointed candidate was Bill Clinton; at the DNC Convention he and his wife Hillary had watched from the gallery as Nunn delivered his acceptance speech. Bombarded by charges of extramarital affairs and corrupt business dealings during his own campaign, the Arkansas governor had seen his chances of winning the nomination wither. The accusations would continue long after the convention, helping to ensure his defeat in his home state's 1994 gubernatorial election. But to the amazement of almost everyone, the Clintons' marriage would survive.

Once in office, Nunn put Vice President Bill Bradley in charge of healthcare reform. But opposition quickly mounted and Conservatives declared the Bradley plan bureaucratic, dictating to Americans which doctors they could and could not see, essentially placing the medical profession under federal control. Nevertheless, Bradley's healthcare working group released its report, which called for the establishment of a so-called "single-payer" national health care system, AmeriCare, loosely modelled on that of Canada. The program was intended to cover everyone not already eligible for care under either Medicaid or Medicare. Reaction was immediate, and, from the GOP, bitterly hostile. The Bradley group's plan was denounced as "socialist medicine" before anyone among its critics had read anything but a thumbnail summary of it.

Two years later President Nunn submitted a proposed bill to Congress which would establish an "Internal Defense Administration" aimed at preventing terrorist attacks within the United States. Republicans and conservative Democrats, joined by some liberals, opposed this idea, which some complained amounted to the creation of an "American Gestapo". Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho, who had startled even some conservatives by suggesting that the federal government had "invited" such a response by way of its controversial actions against the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas a year earlier, would be particularly outspoken - but she would have unlikely allies among civil libertarians from the President's own party. Nunn defended his idea fiercely, pointing to such incidents as the recent assault on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the failed bombing of the World trade Center in 1993 as evidence of the need for a domestic anti-terrorist force.

Almost inevitably the Bill was defeated in the Senate. Among the loudest voices against it had been former President Edward M. Kennedy and among the idea's defenders, the most forceful had been Tennessee Senator Albert Gore. The split between Kennedy and Gore on this issue strained what had been a friendly relationship between the former President and the Senator. Ex-President Kennedy had been quietly favouring a Gore run for the presidency in 2000, but would grow cooler on the idea following this episode.

September 6
In 1968, guitar god Eric Clapton lent his talented strings to the song Casting My Spell on Pete Best's album Mr. Maestro. Clapton's recreation of the song on tour with Best created some of the most electric moments in modern music, and made the Maestro tour the most highly-touted Best tour of all.

September 3

In 1658, Oliver Cromwell Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland dies in Whitehall aged fifty-nine.

The Passing of General IronsidesHe was buried with great ceremony, with an elaborate funeral based on that of James I, at Westminster Abbey. Nevertheless England had become disillusioned with puritan rule by the time Richard succeeded his father, and Parliament was already abolished.

This vacuum of power enabled Charles II to restore the Monarchy by force. With French military support, he invaded England after Cromwell's death and recalled Parliament on his terms because Richard Cromwell did not have had enough support to retain control of the country under these circumstances.

Authors note: The consequence of a stronger monarchy would mean that James II is probably not deposed in 1688. As a result, there is no Anglo-Dutch union (for want of a better term) and the Bank of England is not founded in 1694 (the idea was borrowed from the Dutch). Lacking the advanced financial system enjoyed by the Dutch, Great Britain is defeated in the Seven Years War of 1756-63 because she cannot raise enough capital to defeat the French and Spanish (the Public Debt is not an option without a central bank).

After this fiasco, a bankrupt Britain goes the same way as revolutionary France and violently dismantles the Monarchy and Aristocracy. But don't expect the British to then export their new revolutionary ideals to the continent, Napoleon style. They don't have the manpower or the influence on the continent that France enjoyed. So I believe that England, and subsequently Great Britain were successful because of the balance achieved between the Crown and Parliament. A stronger monarchy would have been detrimental to Great Britain's development.

September 2

On this day in 1983, Charles Barkley officially enrolled at the University of Alabama.

 - Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley

September 1

In 1980, the first of five episodes of the blockbuster American television miniseries Anjin Miura was broadcast by NBC.

Anjin MiuraThe screen play was based upon the novel of the same name by the Australian-born British (later naturalized American) novelist James Clavell itself based upon the adventures of English navigator William Adams.

Set in the year 1600 Adams is the pilot of the Miura a vessel which is wrecked along the coast of Feudal Japan. This disaster brings him into conflict with Portuguese and the Jesuits who are pursuing their own strategies for opening (read "exploiting") Japan. He and his crew are put on trial as pirates using a Jesuit priest to interpret for them. But when they lose the trial, Adams attacks at the Jesuit, rips off his crucifix, and stamps it into the dust to show the daimyo (Lord) that the priest is his enemy.

Respected as the Anjin Miura (the pilot of Miura) for subsequently saving the life of the daimyo, he soon discovers to his horror that a Portuguese "Black Ship" is taking vast profits from the silk trade back to Europe. Having recognized that the Europeans in Japan are filthy, vulgar, and ignorant by comparison, he gains the permission of the daimyo to intercept and then sink the "Black Ship" and in so doing terminates the cause of the internal conflict in Feudal Japan. However the joy of his return to England is overshadowed by his separation from his lover, Mariko (pictured).

August 31

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.

August 15

In 1940, the Italian submarine Delfino sunk the Greek light cruiser Elli in the port of Tinos Cyclades.

Tinos Elli Torpedoing Saves the AxisOf itself such a provocative strike on the Royal Hellenic Navy could well have sparked war however matters were made far worse by the timing of the attack. Because the explosion of the ship's operating boiler killed hundreds of pilgrims who had arrived to celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin1.

When Hitler and Mussolini met for urgent consultations what quickly emerged was a combination of petty jealousies and a conflict of priorities that threatened the very future of the Axis Alliance. Desperately needing to get a series of misadventures in Africa behind him, Il Duce sought an easy victory over the Greeks. However the Fuehrer was secretly preparing his own thrust, an all-out attack on the Soviet Union that was grandly named Operation Barbarossa. Therefore he could not run the risk of a messy involvement of his military resources in supporting his weaker allies should the Italians find themselves in trouble.

Fortunately a breakthrough emerged in the form of a proposal for a joint, but nominally Italian-led, invasion of Romania, a country of strategic interest to Mussolini (the Germans had been planning to occupy Romania to secure access to oil supplies). In hindsight through, it hardly mattered because Operation Barbarossa was delayed by incomplete logistical arrangements and an unusually wet winter that kept rivers at full flood until late spring.

August 14

In 1945, on this day the unconditional surrender of Japan was prevented by the actions of the officers of the 2nd Brigade Imperial Guard and the Staff Office of the Ministry of War who occupied the Tokyo Imperial Palace and placed the Emperor under house arrest.

The Kyūjū IncidentA meeting of the Supreme Council for the Direction of War had agreed to accept the Potsdam Declaration. The act of unconditionally surrender was imminent; all that was required was the instrument: the writing of an official communiqué to be sent by the Japanese envoy of Switzerland and Sweden.

But after the proceedings, some Army officers for protection of the sovereign decided that a coup d'état was needed instead. They managed to persuade the Eastern District Army and the high command of the Imperial Japanese Army to move forward with the action and in the event, the communiqué was written but never sent.

With the Emperor in protective custody, a rather different set of words were drafted which would form the basis of an alternate speech declaring Japan's intention to fight down to the last man, woman and child. That is, unless a counter-coup could be pulled off to prevent the broadcast from ever happening..

August 7

In 2025, shortly after the unmanned spaceship Icarus touched down in the Sea of Tranquility millions of Americans watched an act of open defiance in mounting horror as the snarling Chimpanzee astronaut Caesar snapped in half the United States Flagpole that had been planted by Neil Armstrong.

Monkey MashupIn the wake of the Challenger and Columbia disasters manned spaceflight had abruptly ceased because twenty-first century mankind was unwilling to accept the risks of the baby boomers. But the development of a serum for brain cell development by San Francisco scientist Will Rodman opened the door to a new form of slavery which would have profoundly shocked those children of the Civil Rights era.

Because the application of the serum was not only a cure for Alzheimer's Disaster - brain cell repair process also offered a means to biologically uplift sentient species. By the end of the second decade of the twenty first century, NASA was in the advanced stage of testing spacecraft controlled by a chimpanzee making an unmanned return to the moon possible.

The real problem was highlighted in the Presidential Commission which investigated the Challenger disaster, the willingness of NASA managers to understate technical risks in order to maintain funding. And even before the launch, Caesar had begun to exhibit disturbing signs of aggression that should have led to a cancellation of the Icarus flight.

August 4

In 1792, on this day the former British General John Burgoyne died in self-imposed exile in the State of Jefferson. He was seventy years old.

For Want of a Nail, ReduxA veteran of the Seven Years War, he masterminded an audacious plan to defeat the Continental Army. Three British Armies converged upon New York from different angles, and at Saratoga, the war was essentially won.

Concessionists seized control of the Continental Congress and sued for peace. Patriots headed South to form the State of Jefferson. But Washington and his generals were put on trial. Convicted traitors, they were hung, drawn and quartered, and it was this brutal execution of an honourable man that forced Burgoyne to quit the British Empire in disgust.

July 22

On this day in 1947, an interfaith religious service was held in Roswell, New Mexico to pray for the victims and survivors of the July 6th asteroid strike. The service included Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, and First Nations clerics from all parts of the world; among those present that day were evangelist Billy Graham and Polish Catholic clergyman Karol Wotyjla, the future Pope John Paul II.


July 18

In 1988, in a dreadful speech which lasted for so long that some delegates began booing to get him to finish, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton placed Jesse Jackson's name in nomination at the Democratic Party Convention on this day in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sitting on Someone's ShouldersTexas State Treasurer Ann Richards made a more lasting impression by comparing the origins of Jackson, "a nobody who had no daddy" with his likely adversary in November, Vice President Bush who "was born with a silver foot in his mouth". For surely his "testament to the struggles of those who have gone before" was truly an American story every bit as epic as George Washington's victory at Trenton.

And yet Jackson really seized the moment for the Rainbow Coalition by boldly welcoming "the sons and daughters of slavemasters and the sons and daughters of slaves, sitting together around a common table , to decide the direction of our party and our country". The nomination was dedicated to the mother of the civil rights movement Rosa Parks, and former President Jimmy Carter for his unwavering commitment to peace in the world.

These words would find refresh resonance some two years later, when President Jackson would find a peaceful resolution to the Persian Gulf Crisis through dialogue with Saddam Hussein. That remarkable achievement would open the way to negotiations between Israel and Palestine to discuss the status of Jerusalem, "a small village that became the birthplace for three great religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam". By then, George Bush was in the grandfather business, and Ann Richards the Governor of Texas, having consigned Bush's playboy son to a crushing defeat in the gubernatorial election.

July 13

In 1935, on this day the forty-first president of the United States Jack French Kemp was born in Los Angeles, California.
An article from the No Chappaquiddick by Eric Lipps in which EMK's car only almost went off that bridge on July 18, 1969.

The Rise and Fall of President Jack KempHe emerged as the front-running GOP candidate just as Gary Hart's Presidency imploded over the Donna Rice Scandal. And even without this lucky break 1988 would have been a very promising year for the Republicans because the White House had been occupied by Democratic Party members for twelve years.

However despite (or perhaps because of) this golden opportunity supporters of several other candidates, especially the Reverend Pat Robertson, demanded concessions regarding the party's platform. Fortunately, Kemp succeeded in bringing the party together at the Republican national convention in New Orleans. He offered the candidacy for Vice Presidency to Senator Phil Gramm who was considered "acceptable" to both mainstream conservative Republicans and the so-called Christian Right, whose members tended to distrust Kemp. And the GOP platform year showed the influence of the Reverend Robertson and his followers: it pledges renewed fealty to family values, opposition to abortion, and support for a constitutional amendment to "legalize prayer in the schools of this nation". In addition, outspoken Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, influenced by Dr. Edward Teller, has pushed through a plank demanding of a massive increase in funding for the Office of Strategic Defense to develop technologies which will "render nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete".

In November he defeated the Democrat challenger Richard Gephardt. The election was a roller-coaster, with President Gary Hart, once considered likely to win re-election in a walk, instead forced to drop out of the race after the embarrassment of the Donna Rice episode, Gephardt emerging seemingly from nowhere to capture the Democratic nomination in the President's place, and the Republicans jolted by the surprisingly powerful candidacy of television preacher Pat Robertson.

In office he navigated a series of internationl crises including the Gulf War and the Gorbachev Putsch. But his domestic policy failures (particularly the reversion to the gold standard) cost him his re-election attempt in 1992 where he was beaten by Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. Observers marvelled at how far Kemp's fortunes had fallen since the end of the Gulf War, when he had a 91 percent approval rating and seemed likely to win re-election in a landslide. But the writing had been on the wall when Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey announced his forthcoming candidacy. He praised the President for his victory in the Gulf, but expressed the view that Kemp's economic program was a "well-intentioned disaster in the making" (Bradley would later became Nunn's running mate(.

And sure enough one of his campaign setbacks was a nasty October surprise which exposed the failure of his signature legislation, the Urban Empowerment Act. A federal report tracking the progress of the "urban enterprise zones" set up in a number of cities since passage was leaked to the media. The report noted some successes, but documents that removing "oppressive" taxes and regulation did not seem to be enough inducement in most cases for outside businesses to come into the UEZ's, which generally have serious non-economic problems, such as high crime rates and the absence of what it calls a "commercial culture".

In 1994, the ex-President would run for the U.S. Senate, defeating three-term incumbent Daniel Patrick Moynihan in one of the closest senatorial races in U.S. history. He was re-elected in 2000 and again in 2006. He passed away in 2009. His spokeswoman Bona Park said he died at his home in Washington. Political colleagues of both parties paid tribute to him, with fellow ex-President Edward M. Kennedy, himself diagnosed with terminal cancer, calling him "one of the nation's most distinguished public servants". Former President John McCain said: "Jack will be remembered for his significant contributions to the Reagan revolution and his steadfast dedication to conservative principles during his long and distinguished career in public service". His greatest legacy may stem from his years as a congressman from Buffalo, especially 1978, when his argument for sharp tax cuts to promote economic growth became Republican party policy, which has endured to this day.

July 7

In 53 BC, the reputation of Gaius Julius Cæsar was destroyed by revelations of huge debtedness to the late Publius Licinius Crassus, strongly indicating that his Roman Legions had been dispatched to Parthia simply to avoid payment.

The debts of Julius Caesar by Eric OppenRome was humiliated by defeat at the Battle of Carrhae, made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles. Plutarch recorded that the Parthians found the Roman prisoner of war that resembled Crassus the most, dressed him as a woman and paraded him through Parthia for all to see.

June 28
In 1491, future Pope Henry VIII of the Holy British Empire is born. Henry was the most tolerant Pope towards the Protestants in history; some wags even called him the 'Protestant Pope'.

June 15

In 2010, on this day President Bobby Jindal revoked the deep-water drilling licenses that the Republic of Louisiana had granted to the Royal British Petroleum Company for the period 2001 through 2013.

PowerlessThe huge offshore oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20th April had created an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. But the trouble was that the financial resources of the independent maritime American states were dwarfed by the Royal British Petroleum Company. And their British executives were less than willing to pay compensation, estimated at $20 billion and thus representing circa one year's turnover for the company. In fact the $69 million dollars spent so far by the Republic of Louisiana was directly comparable to the $50m spent on marketing by the Royal British Petroleum Company. And whilst the company focused on technical issues like how to ensure Internet Search Engines ranked their corporate web site first on deepwater keyword searches, the Republic's invoice for $69m was sitting unpaid in their accounting office in London.

The International Community had responded, with over thirteen donor countries offering assistance. Unfortunately, financial, but not technological support was on offer. Because the solution to the problem required the rapid deployment of the most advanced technology available to mankind. And that could only come from one place, the rump United States landlocked on the Eastern Seaboard and therefore largely unaffected by the crisis.

Accordingly, the President of the Republic of Florida Charles Crist had written a letter to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell requesting safe passage for Lieutenant General Robert L. Van Antwerp and his US Army Corps of Engineers. Fearing a creeping loss of territorial integrity akin to the oil now leaking onto the shores of the Gulf States, the desire for Manifest Destiny began to enter the souls of many Americans for the first time in over two centuries.

June 7

In 1945, on this day the third Crystal Palace was destroyed by agents of the British Government-in-Exile leaving in ruins both Albert Speer's cast-iron and glass building and more importantly the Fuhrer's Plans for a Great Exhibition to showcase the wonders of his New Europa.

Operation ThunderdomeThe original construction in Hyde Park and its larger replacement at Sydenham were built for the Great Exhibition and Festival of Empires respectively. On 30 November 1936 a small office fire almost destroyed the building but for the timely intervention of the Penge fire brigade who immediately dispatched eighty-nine fire engines and over four hundred firemen. Nevertheless four years later, the Luftwaffe completed the task by flattening the construction during the Battle of Britain.

After the Nazis had occupied Great Britain, Albert Speer proposed the design of a new building to be opened by King Edward VIII. Initially disinterested in an emotional act of reconciliation, Hitler was taken with the idea of a new Great Exhibition that would showcase not the technologies of the British Empire, but rather the wonders of his New Europa.

Enraged by the concept, and alarmed that such an icon would open the door to popular acceptance of Nazi overlordship, Churchill dispatched Commander James Bond (pictured - real name, Ian Fleming) on a do-or-die mission to destroy the building before the exhibition could open.

June 6
In 1944, the desperate push by the Allies to invade Europe and end Hitler's control of the continent is begun at Calais, France, under the command of General George Patton. Despite Patton's brilliant leadership, the Allies are defeated, and Nazi control of the continent is solidified.

June 3

In 1540, on this day De Soto Discovers Gold North of Florida. Conquistador Hernando de Soto had been born to a poverty-stricken area of Spain and left to seek his fortune, which he did in the New World. He sailed to Panama in 1514 and accompanied Pizarro on the expedition to conquer the Inca in 1532.

De Soto Discovers Gold North of FloridaDe Soto, who had proven himself as an able, cunning, and ruthless commander, returned to Spain in 1534 with vast wealth from his share of the plunder. He married and petitioned the king to return to the New World as governor of Guatemala so he could explore further into the Pacific Ocean, but Charles V awarded him Cuba instead with an order to colonize Florida to the north. Ponce de Leon had discovered the vast lands to the north in 1521, but attempts colonize up the coast over the next decade had all failed due to disease, lack of supplies, and hostile natives.

In 1539, de Soto put together a 600-man expedition with ample provisions and livestock for an ongoing expedition to discover gold. He studied the stories of Cabeza de Vaca, one of the four survivors of the ill-fated Narváez expedition into North America in 1527, which suffered endless attacks from natives, shipwreck, enslavement, and finally fame among natives for healing techniques. Upon their arrival in Florida, the de Soto expedition came upon Juan Ortiz, who had been dispatched years before to find the lost Narváez and was captured by locals. De Soto took on Ortiz as a guide and friend to local Indians, which served the expedition much more smoothly than the natives Narváez had captured and forced to be guides, resulting in them leading his men in circles through the roughest territories possible with ample ground for ambushes.

After months of exploring up the Florida peninsula, the expedition wintered in Anhaica, the greatest city of the Apalachee people, whom Narváez had been falsely told were wealthy with gold. Rumors now said there was gold "toward the sun's rising". They traveled inland through the spring, northeasterly across a number of rivers and through several realms of native peoples. Finally among the Cofitachequi, they met "The Lady of the Cofitachequi", their queen. She treated the well armed men kindly with gifts of pearls, food, and, at last, gold. Rather than being native gold, however, the men recognized the items as Spanish, most likely abandoned from the nearby failed settlement by Lucas Vézquez de Ayllón that lasted only three months in 1526. Disturbed by the bad luck with gold, the expedition departed, bringing the Lady with them as an involuntary escort as they came through the lands of the Joara, what she considered her western province. There they found the "Chelaque", who were described in the later annuals translated by Londoner Richard Hakluyt, as eating "roots and herbs, which they seek in the fields, and upon wild beasts, which they kill with their bows and arrows, and are a very gentle people. All of them go naked and are very lean". The civilization was rudimentary at best, "the poorest country of maize that was seen in Florida". De Soto wanted to go further into the mountains and rest his horses there, but he determined to rest first using supplies ransomed for the Lady. During the month-lost rest, many of his soldiers searched ahead for gold, while at least one stayed and taught agricultural techniques to the locals.

During a plowing session using a horse, which the natives had never seen before, they struck a large yellow rock. The natives worked to free it and throw it away, but the conquistador recognized it as a 17-pound gold nugget. De Soto was shocked by the find, as were the natives, who had never considered the inedible metal worth anything. He immediately built a fort and dispatched men back to Cuba for reinforcements. Meanwhile, de Soto and the bulk of his force captured the Lady of the Cofitachequi again and seized her kingdom. The Spanish built a settlement at the mouth of the Santee River called Port Carlos (for Charles V) as well as another farther inland, where mining of the placer deposits of gold began. Other deposits of gold were discovered in the region, spurring a gold rush to the area. A short-lived war broke out with King Tuscaloosa in the west, but the area was quickly depopulated of natives due to disease from the Columbian Exchange.

De Soto's gold fields proved to be shallower than he hoped, but the Spanish presence in Florida was affirmed. Plantations grew up as planters experimented with what grew best, eventually settling on tobacco as a cash crop. With the seventeenth century, the English began to block the spread of Spanish influence with colonies in Virginia and Plymouth, eventually assigning a border along the James River. The French challenged Spanish control over the Mississippi River and dominated much of Canada until the Seven Years' War caused Britain to annex Canada and force France to give the Louisiana to the Spanish, dividing North America between the Spanish and British Empires.

Due to heavy taxation following the war, Enlightenment ideals caused many in the American Colonies to call for resistance and even independence. However, with a strong Spanish bastion just to the south, the outcry never spread beyond the Boston Insurrection. Instead, the American Union would gain marginal self-rule, which would be successfully tested with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. The expansive state of Florida, meanwhile, would undergo a bloody fifteen year war of independence from Spain.

June 2

In 1941, U.S. intelligence officials began noticing a shift in personnel deployments by the Imperial Japanese Navy within Japan's home islands.


Large numbers of men were being gradually transferred from Hokkaido to Kyushu and southern Honshu; although information about the precise timing and quantity of these transfers was sketchy, what data was available suggested Tokyo was beginning to prepare for possible future attacks on U.S. and British bases in the Pacific.

June 1

In 1855, on this day Filibusterer William Walker, at the recommendation of his associate, professional confidence man Parker H. French, determined to turn on his supporters and go for the "bigger con" by enticing millionaire shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt into supporting an American presence in Nicaragua.

William Walker Switches FundersWalker was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1824. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at fourteen, spent his teenage years traveling in Europe and studying medicine, and completed his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania at nineteen. He turned to law, practicing in Louisiana for a time before moving on to journalism and heading to California. There, he began his dream of "filibustering", creating new colonies for the United States out of the Latin American countries, as had been seen with Texas a generation before. Walker's first attempt was the Republic of Sonora, conquered from the western part of Mexico in 1853, but he was soon chased out by the Mexican Army. Back in California, he was arrested for breaking the Neutrality Act of 1794 (designed to halt privateering against France) but was acquitted and hailed as a conquering hero.

Meanwhile, war had broken out in Nicaragua. The ruling Legitimists held conservatively to power even though the more democratic Liberals had made great leaps in popularity. The Liberal president, Francisco Castellón, invited Walker to march on the Legitimists with their capital at Granada. Walker was careful not to break laws this time, signing a contract as a "colonist" and not acting through American power, which he confirmed through notification to the Federal attorney's office in San Francisco. Walker and a band of fifty-eight calling themselves the "American Phalanx" sailed from San Francisco through stormy weather, landing at Realejo, Nicaragua, where he was reinforced by hundreds more volunteers, many local and others foreigners who wished for adventure.

To fund the expedition, Walker had been given 20,000 dollars by Charles Morgan and Cornelius Garrison of the Accessory Transit Company, which they had bought out from under legendary businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt while he vacationed in Europe with his family. Vanderbilt's company had made tremendous amounts of money by controlling the key trade route to California during the Gold Rush by winning an overland contract with the Nicaraguan government. In exchange for this money, Walker would find a technicality to tear up the old contract and deliver a new contract to a new company owned by Morgan and Garrison. When Vanderbilt had heard of Morgan and Garrison's manipulations of stock and company rule, he sent them a telegram in 1853 reading, "Gentlemen: You have undertaken to cheat me. I won't sue you, for the law is too slow. I'll ruin you. Yours truly, Cornelius Vanderbilt".

Vanderbilt had crushed enemies before and was currently running the Collins Line shipping business into bankruptcy despite government subsidies. Walker had been put into contact with Garrison through close friend Edmund Randolph, but French suggested he side with the businessman with deeper pockets. Upon seizing the Legitimist capital on October 13, Walker sent a telegram to Vanderbilt volunteering a charter for a Nicaraguan Canal, a project Vanderbilt had dreamed of for years since George Law had already achieved a stagecoach route across Panama. Vanderbilt, who had been planning to demolish American government support for Walker through his influence, instead showed his support to President Franklin Pierce.

Walker, meanwhile, had made significant enemies in Central America. His diplomatic gestures to the surrounding countries had been successfully construed as preludes to further conquest. President Juan Rafael Mora of Costa Rica declared war upon Walker and called up allies among Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and disenfranchised conservative Nicaraguans. Walker dispatched a preemptive invasion of Costa Rica, but was rebuffed and faced counter-invasion. The Allied Armies of Central America marched on Nicaragua, looking to end Vanderbilt's hopes of a canal. The businessman refused to be defeated and funded mercenaries while Walker invited reinforcements from across the American South. Despite a cholera outbreak, Walker's soldiers managed to hold Granada under siege until it was relieved and the 4,000-strong Allied army broken.

The war gave excellent pretense for further expansion, allowing Walker to march legally on each Costa Rica, then El Salvador, and finally Honduras. British Honduras (present-day Belize) was Walker's next thought of conquest, but Vanderbilt refused to fund such an expedition as it would spark war with Britain, who was already suspicious of such American activities in Central America after the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty forbade expansion there. Instead, Walker returned to his presidency in Granada and spearheaded Vanderbilt's Canal, making extensive use of prisoner labor. Walker died in 1874 after chronic bouts with malaria.

Upon the failure of the South to secede in the American Civil War, many wealthy Southerners fled to Walker's Great Granada, although Vanderbilt had encouraged Walker to maintain abolition when he suggested repealing it in 1856 and neutrality in the war, which proved the most money-making beyond the Union blockade. Vanderbilt became fixated with his canal, and routine visits to the harsh climate in the construction zone led to his death in 1867, one year before his wife. In the latter nineteenth century, renewed imperialism would make Granada American territory, along with Cuba, San Juan, and numerous Pacific islands. Armed revolutions plagued the region and drained American military resources until decolonization followed World War II.

May 30

In 1806, on this day the proud and volatile former militia leader, senator and representative of Tennessee Andrew Jackson was fatally wounded in a duel at Harrison's Mills on Red River in Logan, Kentucky.

Death of Old Hickory"Old Hickory" had called for the duel after his wife Rachel was slandered as a bigamist by the lawyer Charles Dickinson, who was referring to a legal error in the divorce from her first husband in 1791. The allegation was made with reasonable justification: Jackson and his wife Rachel Donelson first married in 1792, however they had to remarry two years later when Rachel discovered that she was still legally married to her first husband.

Harrison's Mills was one of several duels Jackson was said to have participated in during his lifetime, the majority of which were allegedly called in defense of his wife's honor. However, this time he met his match because Dickinson was a master of firearms, regarded as one of the best pistol shots in the area.

Ed. & Eric LippsIn accordance with dueling custom, the two stood twenty-four feet apart, with pistols pointed downward. After the signal, Dickinson fired first, grazing Jackson's breastbone and breaking some of his ribs. Jackson maintained his stance and fired back, fatally wounding his opponent. Only later would it become clear that Jackson had also suffered critical injuries.

Rachel died a widow in 1829 in a United States that Jackson had he lived would barely recognise. As a fearless militia leader, doubtless his skills - and anger - might have been better directed at defending his nation, rather than his wife's honour, by fighting the invading army of British North America just six years after his tragic death.

May 4

In 1883, on this day the ill-fated leader of Fascist China Wang Ching-wei (pronounced Wang Jing-wei) was born in Sanshui City, Guangdong.

A Toast to Jingwei, ill-fated leader of Fascist ChinaA broadly popular hero originally sympathetic to the Chinese Communists, he was even supported by the Soviet Union, but then he began to move decisively to the right wing during the third decade of the twentieth century. A close associate of Sun Yat-sen for the last twenty years of Sun's life, somehow he managed to win a political struggle with his close comrade-in-arms Chiang Kai-shek for control over their political party, the Kuomintang (KMT). Unfortunately for Sun's heirs (who really needed both men ideally working together) the consequence of this bitter rivalry was to deprive the KMT of a master strategist who could muster and then lead a successful Northern Expedition against the Warlords. As a result, the KMT were unable to unite China and Wang was forced to accept the diminished role of leading a Southern Kuomintang government from Nanjing.

Yet as Wang had hoped, the situation quickly began to transform over the next decade. Because the weakened regime had only light KMT forces deployed on the Manchurian-Chinese border, the Japanese Empire, not threatened, decided that it could trust the Fengtien warlords to protect their own citizens in Manchuria. With the Japanese military off the mainland yet another member of the Axis, Nazi Germany, decided to show great interest in the Nanjing Government (diplomatic visit as pictured). The Western Allies feared that he would become a Nazi Puppet, but because Wang was mortally wounded in an assassination attempt in 1939, it is rather difficult to predict what course of action he might have taken following the outbreak of the Second World War.

Author's Note: In reality he lost the power struggle yet remained inside the Kuomintang, continuing to have disagreements with Chiang until Japan invaded China in 1937, after which he accepted an invitation from the Japanese Empire to form a Japanese-supported collaborationist government in Nanjing. Wang served as the head of state for this Japanese puppet government until he died, shortly before the end of World War II. His collaboration with the Japanese has often been considered treason against China. Many of his senior followers who lived to see the end of the war were executed. Wang was buried in Nanjing near the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, in an elaborately constructed tomb. Soon after Japan's defeat, the Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-shek moved its capital back to Nanjing, destroyed Wang's tomb, and burned the body. Today the site is commemorated with a small pavilion that notes Wang as a traitor.

In 2010, the Cowboy movie genre was transformed with the movie premiere of the retro blaxploitation blockbuster "The Doc" starring the new King of Cool, African American actor Barry Obama.

Big F*#cking DealSeven years had passed since the release of the last great movie, Cowboy Dick Cheney's final film "The Bush Brothers Ride Again".

"The Doc" arrives in town with imaginative plans to dispense medicine to the people of Jackson, Wyoming.

But it does not take long for resistance to be demonstrated by the townsfolk as the movie zooms in on the whites-only Cowboy image.

And in an early sign that his good intentions will be distrusted, the bigoted Sherrif Joe Biden dismissed "The Doc" with the barbed complement that he is "the first articulate, bright and clean black doctor" in Wyoming.

But at the climax of the movie, "The Doc" saves the Sherrif's life, forcing Biden to reluctantly admit his medicine is a "Big F*#cking Deal".
Watch Joe Biden's Gaffe

April 16

In 1912, on-board the British Steamship SS Californian at a quarter after midnight, twenty-year old Cyril Furmstone Evans became the first wireless telegraphy operator in history to receive an SOS signal transmitted in Morse Code.

Rescued by Modern TechnologyThe distress call originated from the White Star Line passenger ship the RMS Titantic, which had struck an iceberg, tearing a gaping hole long enough to flood five of the water-tight compartments below the waterline. Despite the seeming wonders of modern technology, the stricken vessel was in fact so close that officers of the Californian could see the lights on-board the ship.

Evans had also reported three large icebergs fifteen miles (24 km) north of the course the Titanic was heading. But he was rudely rebuffed by the wireless operator of the Titanic, Jack Phillips, who was sending private messages to the wireless relay station at Cape Race. And Captain Edward J. Smith was so eager to make the maiden crossing in record time that he was sailing at 22 knots in the iceberg-strewn seas off the Newfoundland coast.

Fortunately for the White Star Line, the close proximity of the two ships enabled a successful rescue mission to be mounted. Later it emerged that the Titanic was only carrying enough lifeboards for less than half the passengers. And so most contemporary observers simply noted further evidence of mankind's growing supremacy in the eternal struggle with the forces of nature.

April 14

In 1471, due to a timely command decision made by John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford the Lancastrians under the Earl of Warwick somehow managed to prevail at the Battle of Barnet. The historical significance of this event was that the Yorkist attempt to restore Edward IV had ended in failure, and the so-called "Cousins War" was finally brought to a bloody end.

Oxford saves the Lancastrians at the Battle of BarnetFought in a heavy mist, on Easter Sunday a misalignment of the opposing armies meant that all became confusion. This is because the fog on the day of the battle meant that the lines overlapped, enabling Gloucester to outflank the Lancaster Left, while the Lancastrians under Oxford did so on the Yorkist Left, routing Clarence and Hastings. Fortunately, Oxford realized that due to the collapse of both sides left wing the whole line had turned ninety degrees, and returned on Edwards flank.

The victory was a personal triumph for the great Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick The King Maker. Formerly a key figure in the Yorkist cause, Warwick had defected to the Lancastrians over disagreements about Edward's nepotism, secret marriage, and foreign policy. Leading a Lancastrian army, the Earl defeated his former allies, forcing Edward to flee to Burgundy. At Barnet, the deposed monarch perished, unable to effect his own restoration (like Henry Bolingbrook seventy years earlier, he had returned to "merely" reclaim his dukedom).

In 1942, a mass prisoner break out from Her Majesty's Prison Shepton Mallet included the embarrassing loss of many items of irreplaceable cultural history that had been temporarily stored for safety on behalf of the Public Record Office.

The Breakout from Shepton MalletPurely by coincidence, at almost the same time as it took its first British military prisoners, the Prison also took into protective storage many important historical documents including Magna Carta, the Domesday Book, the logbooks of HMS Victory the Olive Branch Petition (1775), dispatches from the Battle of Waterloo, and the "scrap of paper" signed by Hitler and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at the Munich Conference of September 1938. In all, about three hundred tons of records were transported to Shepton Mallet. Some documents, but not the Domesday Book, were due to be moved out of Shepton Mallet on 5 July 1942 due to concern at the concentration of important items being held in one place, especially with German bombs falling on Bath and Bristol.

The escapees were a combination of German Prisoners of War and Allied Servicemen facing court martial. Although these individuals were probably aware that the documents probably had some intrinsic value, the realization did not fully sink in until the German officers recognized the "scrap of paper". Needless to say, the theft of this document was even more embarrassing for the British Government than the gullibility in making an agreement with the Fuehrer. However what was more important was the Magna Carta, because it represents Britain's unwritten constitution, a principle of rule of law that had been uninterrupted in Britain and America for eight centuries. Consequently its loss would seem a symbolic defeat of plural democracy to the Fascist powers. It was for these reasons of sustaining national morale that the British Government absolutely had to recover the documents.

In 1865, after bodyguard John Parker sneaked out of the Ford Theatre "for a drink" his partner in crime the vampire John Wilkes Booth seized the opportunity to enter the President's box and sink his undead fangs into Mr Lincoln's defenceless throat.

Abraham Lincoln, VampireThe President was taken across the street to Petersen House where he expired and then began to turn.

For Mary Todd Lincoln, it was the terrifying realisation of her husband's recent nightmare in which he had heard people sobbing in the White House. In his dream, he got up and wandered through the house, seeing no one but continuing to hear "people who were grieving as though their hearts would break". He finally came upon a room where a funeral scene was taking place surrounded by armed guards. When he demanded to know what was going on, one of the guards told him that the president had been murdered. Lincoln recounted that he woke up upon hearing a loud "burst of grief" from the crowd.

The night at the theatre was too much for Mrs Lincoln and she was eventually committed to an asylum in Batavia, Illinois.

In 1972, the controversial state visit to Ottawa to negotiate America's release from the hated Dieffenbaker Plan began with an assassination attempt that left the life of the thirty-seventh President of the United States Richard M. Nixon hanging in the balance.

Victim of his own successNixon had come to power in the 1964 election with large tracts of the country devastated by nuclear war. And his weak predecessors had agreed a recovery plan under which the Canadian Government had claimed territory possessed by the United States to rehabilitate that land "back to a standard of civilization". Now running for a third term of office, the prospects for national recovery were very much brighter. A victim of his own success, he had created the opportunity for his opponent George Wallace to set out a radically different vision under which the United States would simply abrogate the Dieffenbaker Plan restoring the 1818 borders as set down by the Rush-Bagot Treaty. With this popular measure, Wallace was hoping to become the first Democrat elected to office since Kennedy in 1960.

The would-be assassin Arthur Herman Bremer had travelled up from Wisconsin with a self-made promise to "to do SOMETHING BOLD AND DRAMATIC, FORCEFUL & DYNAMIC, A STATEMENT of my manhood for the world to see". But Canadian security had prevented him taking a shot on target, that was until Nixon unwisely decided to leave the window of the Presidential limonsine open as he was departing from a set-piece speech.

Events now took their own course. It was widely expected that negotiations would be suspended and Nixon would, at best, serve out the remaining months of his second term. However, this decision would hang upon more than medical opinion. Because the GOP wanted Nelson Rockefeller to take over the helm rather than Vice President Agnew.
This post is an installation of Raymond Speer's Dieffenbaker Plan thread.

In 1746, on this day the incomparable Highland rebel Flora MacDonald (pictured) and her Clan reinforcements arrived in Nairn just in time for the commencement of the Jacobite Council of War.

Hard Woman, Reboot #2
by Ed & Richard Roper
The MacDonalds were shocked to learn that Charles Edward Stuart had decided to personally command his forces having taken the advice of his adjutant general, Secretary O'Sullivan to stage a defensive action at Drummossie Moor. This treacherous stretch of open moorland (enclosed between the walled Culloden enclosures to the North and the walls of Culloden Park to the South) was highly advantageous to the Duke of Cumberland with the marshy and uneven ground making the famed Highland charge somewhat more difficult. Lord George Murray "did not like the ground" and other senior officers argued for a guerrilla campaign, but Charles Edward Stuart stubbornly refused to change his mind.

As a compromise, and at Murray's suggestion, the Jacobites repeated the success of Prestonpans by carrying out a night attack on the government encampment. In support of Perth, Charles Edward Stuart brought up the second line. Flora MacDonald wisely proposed an early afternoon departure to ensure the timely arrival of the Jacobite forces.

The Night Attack at Nairn was a glorious victory made possible by the arrival of the MacDonalds. And the Duke of Cumberland on the occasion of his twenty-fith birthday was forced to flees on his horse not quite in his birth suit, but inappropriately dressed only in his nightshirt. This disgrace would be later recalled in the world famous song "Hey Billie Cumberland are y'waulkin' yet, and are your drums a beatin' yet?".

The defeat created a larger problem for the Hanoverians who had been forced to use predominantly lowland and mercenary troops in order to suppress the Highland Uprising because the Regular Army was fully occupied in Belgium. And so the decision point for London was whether to gift the War of the Austrian Succession to Louis XV or to run the risk that the Jacobite Army could make it to London and force a restoration of the Stuart monarchy.
This article is a reversal of the Jackie Rose story Hard Man which focuses on Captain Francis O'Neill.

In 1917, on this day Lenin's sealed train Locomotive Hk1 #293 was intercepted by a unit of the Czech Legion evacuating northwards to the Baltic Ports via Finlyandsky Rail.

White Knights intercept Bolshevik Virus
By Ed, Jackie Speel and Scott Palter
Formed in August 1914 by orders of the Russian General Staff, the Czech Company (as it was originally known) was intended to be a small intelligence-gathering unit that recruited Czechs and Slovaks who had settled in Russia before the war. However, the capture by the Russian army of an estimated 250,000 Czech and Slovak soldiers from the Austro-Hungarian army created a manpower pool that Czech émigré politicians wanted to use as the nucleus of a future Czechoslovak army.

But by 1917 the front was deteriorating fast and some rogue units were keener to build that future Czechoslovak army now rather than remained trapped in Russia. In short, they wanted to go home by evacuating north before the Baltic ports could be seized by the advancing German forces.

As fate would have it, the unit that intercepted Locomotive Hk1 #293 was a cadre of the original intelligence specialists, and being high on alert for agent provacateurs, their suspicions were immediately raised. An extensive search of the train revealed a sealed carriage which contained a political scientist whose long journey from Geneva could only have been permitted and funded by the Imperial German Government. Just like Trotsky's arrest by British immigration officers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, it was the huge sums of cash that betrayed the ultimate purpose of their mission - wrecking funds to undermine and sabotage the Policy of the Provisional Government to continue Russian participation in the Great War. Both the British and Czech officers were single-minded in purpose, and would not allow the agent provateurs to proceed in their journey. But the Czechs were on a fast schedule and so they executed him by the railroad sidings.

In 2007, on this day US President Larry Sweetgrass confirmed the destruction of the fifty-first state in his daily vodcast streamed by Google live from the Oval Office.
Robbie Taylor's novel "Warp" is available on Lulu

MoongoogleFollowing years of planning by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), replicas of historic assets had been transported by Lunar ark in order to preserve humanity's culture in the event of a civilization stopping asteroid impact with Earth. But the plans had failed to anticipate the risk of Mlosh alien pirates pulling off an asset-stripping raid.

The President confirmed that a repeat mission was planned for the Fall, when additional security forces would mobilize under the command of Lieutenant S.D. Bob "Snake" Plissken.

In 1865, driven incandescent with fury over his role in coercing the Deep Southern States back into the Union, the fire-eater John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the presidential box at Ford's theatre in Washington and shot Jefferson Davis at point blank range.

Revenge of the Fire-Eaters
Co-written with Scott Palter
Convinced by the mythos is that no true gentleman could submit to being forced to do something without loss of honor, Dixie Fire Eaters had been forced to watch the US Navy blockade their coast. And even with "help" (smuggling) from Georgia and North Carolina, South Carolina's economy had been strangled into submission.

As a result, the Deep Southern States that seceded in the winter of 1860/1 (when it looked like Lincoln might take office) were coerced back into the Union. But only after Jefferson Davis had fully exploited his considerable network of contacts to manipulate the secessionists into reluctant re-admittance.

And for that betrayal, Davis now lay seriously injured in a boarding house on 10th Street..To be continued

In 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant could not remember ever being so bored in his entire life. He looked to his left and saw that the President was laughing, Mrs. Lincoln, also laughing, was clinging to his arm. What did the President see in this play, he wondered? As far as he could tell the plot of Our American Cousin concerned an awkward young man, who would not have lasted five minutes on any of his battlefields, meeting his English relatives.

A Night at the TheaterGrant was seated in the theatre box in with Mrs. Lincoln to his left and his own wife, Julia, to his right. Julia had barely spoken to him since he had told her they would be attending the theatre with the Lincoln's that night.

A new story by Charles R. Testrake"What do you mean we will be attending the theatre with the Lincoln's tonight?" Julia said.

"My dear, the President insisted," said Grant.

"I will not socialize with that woman," said Julia. "Not after what happened at City Point. Don't you remember?"

Grant did remember. A month earlier he had invited the President to visit his army while on campaign in Virginia. The President accepted the invitation, and was accompanied by his wife.

On the second day of the visit, Grant personally escorted the President, by horseback, to an Army review at the encampment of General Edward Ord. Julia and Mrs. Lincoln followed behind them by wagon, under the care of one of Grant's officers. The men arrived first, and the President immediately ordered the review to begin. Grant mildly protested, suggesting that they wait for the arrival of the ladies. The President would have none of it, saying that it was unfair to the soldiers who had already been waiting for several hours.

When Julia and Mrs. Lincoln finally did arrive, the review was well underway. Mrs. Lincoln then noticed the wife of General Ord riding near her husband.

"What does this woman mean by riding by the side of the President and ahead of me?" said Mrs. Lincoln. "Does she suppose that he wants her by the side of him?"

Upon spotting the newly arrived ladies, Mrs. Ord excused herself to join them. When she reached the reviewing stand, she was met with violent tongue lashing by the First Lady. Mrs. Ord broke into tears. Julia came to the defense of her friend, suggesting that this was merely a misunderstanding. Mrs. Lincoln then shifted her venom onto Julia.

"I suppose you think you'll get to the White House yourself, don't you?" said Mrs. Lincoln.

"I am quite satisfied with my present position," said Julia. "It is far greater than I had ever expected to attain".

"Oh! You had better take if you can get it," responded Mrs. Lincoln. "Tis very nice".

For rest of that day, Mrs. Lincoln continued her diatribe to the great annoyance of everyone in the presidential entourage. The President responded to this situation by simply ignoring it. The following morning he told Grant that Mrs. Lincoln was ill and thus could not join them that day. She did not rejoin the party for several more days.

"We are not going tonight," said Julia.

"My dear we are going," said Grant. "Now go select a dress to wear".

"We are not going," retorted Julia angrily. "You are the general who just won the war. Stand up to him!"

"He is the President of the United States and my commanding officer," said Grant. "We are going to the theatre with the Lincoln's and that is the end of this discussion".

Throughout the evening, Mrs. Lincoln had been a model of civility, complimenting Julia on numerous occasions. Julia for her part had been polite but reserved. She did not seem to be enjoying the play either. The Lincoln's, on the other hand, were having the time of their lives.

"What will Mrs. Grant think of my hanging on to you so?" Grant overheard Mrs. Lincoln whisper to her husband.

"She won't think anything about it," replied the President.

"Don't know the manners of good society, eh?" said the actor of stage. "Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!" The audience erupted into laughter. Grant turned his head to see that the Lincoln's were in hysterics. Then out of the corner of his left eye he saw a well dressed man with a mustache. He was standing behind the President. The man raised his right arm. He had a pistol.

Grant sprung to his feet, his left arm braced to the back of Mrs. Lincoln's chair as he propelled himself forward. He did even notice that his actions had pushed Mrs. Lincoln to the floor. He reached the assassin and gripped his right arm; diverting the aim of the pistol. It fired, but the billet disappeared over the heads of the crowd below.

Grant attempted to take the pistol from the man's hand. Suddenly he felt the air being sucked from his body. He released his grip from the assassin, and tried to take in a breath, but no air would enter his lungs. He looked down and saw a knife being pulled from his stomach. He had been stabbed. He felt the blood gushing from his body. It was soaking his dress uniform. Grant stumble backwards in a daze, spinning around. He was chocking. He forced himself to cough and vast amounts of blood protruded from his mouth, entangling in his whiskers. He turned around. The assassin was advancing on the President.

President Abraham Lincoln could not remember the last time he had enjoyed a play so much. It made him laugh. During the last four years there had not been much to laugh about. Even Mary seemed to be enjoying the play. She had laughed just as much as he did.

Lincoln was relieved that Mary was not in one of her black moods that evening. He knew they could strike at anytime and without warning. Winters were always a bad time; especially since the death of their son Willie. Yet it was now spring. There was a new hope in the air. The war was at last, almost over.

Lincoln looked to his right, and saw that General Grant had a glazed look in his eyes, and that Mrs. Grant was yawning. They had not laughed once this entire evening. They had made a most unsatisfactory theater party. Lincoln now regretted having forced Grant into accepting his invitation those so many hours before.

The cabinet meeting started promptly at eleven in the morning. Everyone was present except for Secretary of State William Seward, who was recovering from a near fatal riding accident; and Secretary of War Edward Stanton, who was late. Stanton's tardiness mildly annoyed Lincoln, but he kept it to himself.

"Has there been any news from General Sherman?" asked Lincoln.

"No, Mr. President," said Grant. "At least none when I left the War Department".

Lincoln had been hoping for a wire from General William Sherman that would announce the surrender of General Joseph Johnston, the commanding officer of the last major Confederate Army still in the field.

"Well, perhaps Stanton will have some news when he arrives," said Lincoln. In a mood generosity, he decided to stall for a few more minutes and give his Secretary of War a little more time. "I had a dream last night".

"What kind of dream was it?" asked Gideon Wells, the Secretary of the Navy.

"It relates to your element, Mr. Wells, the water," said Lincoln. "I seem to be in some indescribable vessel, and I was moving with great rapidity toward an indefinite shore. I have had this dream before".

"What do you think it means?" asked Wells.

"I had this dream preceding Sumter, and Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Stone River, Vicksburg, and Wilmington," said Lincoln. "It could mean victory is upon on us".

"Stone River was certainly no victory," said Grant. "Nor can I think of any great results following it".

"Quite true, General," said Lincoln. "But I had this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging from the past, have great news very soon. I think it must be from Sherman. My thoughts are in that direction".

A mood of melancholy had descended across the cabinet room. Lincoln felt embarrassed. Why had he told them of his dream? He was relieved when the door opened and Stanton walked in.

"My apologies, Mr. President," said Stanton. "I was hoping to bring news from General Sherman, but there was none".

"It is quite all right Stanton," said Lincoln. "Sit down".

Over the next three hours, the cabinet discussed various proposals for the reconstruction of the South. Sitting in his father's place was Assistant Secretary of State Frederick Seward, who proposed a detailed plan aimed at restoring the commerce of the South. Seward concluded his presentation by stating that; "The United States Government should resume the business of the South and that at the same time, it should take care that the constitutional rights of private citizens are not molested or impeded".

Lincoln was quite enthusiastic about this plan. "We must reanimate the southern states," he said. "I am immensely relieved though that Congress is not currently in session".

"Will you bring them back?" asked Seward.

"Of course not!" said Lincoln. The cabinet members erupted into laughter. Lincoln then turned to Stanton, and asked him to give his presentation.

Unlike the younger Seward, Stanton was completely reliant upon his notes. Only twice did he even lift his head from the stack of papers before him. The majority of his presentation dealt with the reestablishment of southern state governments and the re-exertion of federal authority.

Wells protested Stanton's plan stating that it was "in conflict with the principles of self-government".

Stanton countered, "I realize that this matter needs more study, but I was asked by the President to draw these plans for this meeting. I have done my best".

"And we thank you," said Lincoln. He thought Stanton's plan was too harsh, but he did not want to criticize it at this time. There were elements of the plan which would be useful in conjunction with Seward's plan; although Stanton's idea of merging the state governments of Virginia and North Carolina was ridiculous.

"I suggest that each member of the cabinet take copies of the various proposals for further study," said Lincoln. He felt it was time to end the meeting. "If there is nothing else then, we will meet again on Monday". Lincoln rose to his feet, following immediately by every member of his cabinet, whom stood in unison. Lincoln was touched by the gesture. They never used to do that he thought. He had finally earned their respect. "Thank you, gentlemen," Lincoln said.

As the cabinet members slowly departed the room, Lincoln noticed Grant was lingering behind talking to Stanton. Grant was not a member of Lincoln's cabinet, but the President felt it prudent to invite him to the meeting. Although the next election was over three years away, Lincoln considered it extremely likely that Grant was going to be his successor. Lincoln had no intentions of running for a third term.

Lincoln waited for Stanton to depart and then he approached Grant.

"Thank you for coming General," said Lincoln.

"Well thank you for inviting me, Mr. President, it was most interesting".

"How do you think we should deal with reconstruction?" asked Lincoln.

"That is a political matter Sir," said Grant. "It would not be appropriate for me to comment".

"Yes," said Lincoln. "But whatever we decide, you will be the one responsible for carrying it out. So what do you think?"

"Mr. President," said Grant. "The harsher your policies, the more difficult my task will be".

Lincoln nodded. Grant was already the politician. He looked forward to grooming him further.

"Thank you General," said Lincoln. "Mrs. Lincoln and I look forward to yourself and Mrs. Grant attending the theater with us this evening".

"Yes Sir!" said Grant. He looked distressed. "I am afraid we have to decline Mr. President. I promised my wife that we would leave on the evening train for Burlington". Grant paused. "To see our children!"

Lincoln knew that Grant was lying. While he was sure that the Grant's would go to Burlington that was not the reason they were declining his invitation. He knew the reason was Mary. They simple did not want to socialize with her, especially after what had happened at City Point. He could not blame them. Social decorum dictated that he should feign regret, and suggest that they go another time. Then Lincoln thought about the scene that would play out when he told Mother that Grant's had declined their invitation. He just did not have the energy to deal with one of Mother's tantrums that day. He decided to force Grant's hand.

"I am so sorry, General," said Lincoln. "It has already been announced to the newspapers".

"Sir?" said Grant.

"Yes, you see," said Lincoln. "My secretary is a very enthusiastic young man, and he sent out the press release this morning. So as you can see it would disappoint so many people if you and Mrs. Grant did not attend".

"Sir, we have not seen our children in months," protested Grant.

"Fortunately General," responded Lincoln. "There is another train leaving for Burlington tomorrow morning, and my secretary will make sure he reserves you and Mrs. Grant a first class compartment on it".

Grant said nothing for several seconds and then replied; "Well in that case Mr. President, my wife and I would be delighted to attend the theater with you and Mrs. Lincoln.

"What will Mrs. Grant think of my hanging on to you so?" asked Mary.

"She won't think anything about it," replied Lincoln.

"Don't know the manners of good society, eh?" said the actor of stage. "Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!"

Lincoln laughed. He laughed harder than he had ever laughed in his entire life. Tears began to form in his eyes from the laughter. He had never been so happy.

Mary was laughing too, as she tugged ever harder onto his left arm. Lincoln turned his head to look at her, and at that moment, he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Then her chair tipped over and she fell to the floor.

"Mother!" he yelled. Then he was startled by the sound of a gunshot from behind him. He instinctively lowered his head. Lincoln cowered in fear for several seconds as he heard sounds of a struggle. Taking a deep breath, he raised his head. He saw Grant stumbling backwards. Lincoln rose to his feet and noticed a well dressed man with a mustache, who looked oddly familiar. The man was holding a knife in his left hand, which was dripping in blood. There was also a pistol on the floor near his right ankle. The man transferred the bloody knife to his right hand and advanced on Lincoln.

At that instant, Lincoln understood the meaning of his dream. This knife yielding man was his indescribable vessel. His imminent death was the indefinite shore. He closed his eyes. This was the will of God he told himself. He felt no fear.

Grant stealthily came up from behind the assassin. He grabbed his right wrist, trying to free the knife. The assassin's left arm elbowed Grant's stomach wound. Grant cried out in immense pain and let go out the assassin. The assassin turned around stabbed him in the heart. Grant could feel the knife slashing though his rib cage. The pain was intense and all consuming. Every fiber of his being wanted to scream out in agony, but his lungs could not produce the necessary air. Blood soaked his dress uniform.

"The South shall rise again," said the assassin. His eyes were wide and bloodshot. Grant had never seen so much hatred in a man's face. He had to kill this man.

Summoning all the strength that was left in his body, Grant grabbed hold of the assassin with both arms and pu ed him back. Both men hit the railing. Grant's tight hold on the assassin loosened. The assassin tried to throw a right hook to Grant's head, but Grant dodged the punch. The assassin lost his balance, his chest hitting the railing. Grant clutched the assassin's waist and he flipped him over the side. The assassin screamed as he fell to the stage. He landed on his head and was then quiet.

Grant collapsed onto the railing. He looked down upon his defeated foe. The knife was still in his chest. He pulled it out. There was no pain.

"General!" he heard President say.

Shortly before his death in 1901, a reporter asked Lincoln to recount the events of John Wilkes Booth's 1865 assassination attempt. Lincoln stared at the young man and said, "I don't know!"

Indeed Lincoln was never entirely sure about exactly what happened that night. One minute he was waiting to die and the next was standing over a blooded General Grant, the assassin nowhere in sight. It was as if time had bended around that moment.

"General!" said Lincoln. Grant raised his head and looked at him. Lincoln took the General in his arms.

"Mr. President," said Grant. He slumped over in Lincoln's arms and closed his eyes.

"General!" Lincoln screamed. He shook him violently. "General!" Grant did not response. "No!" whimpered Lincoln. "No!" Lincoln began to cry.

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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.