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

Editor's Postbag Items
December 31

In 509 BC, the last King of Rome Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was overthrown by a group of noblemen led by Lucius Junius Brutus.

Birth of Greco-Roman Democracy
By Ed, John Dailey and Mike McIlvain
He made several unsuccessful attempts at retaking the throne - the Tarquinian conspiracy, the war with Veii and Tarquinii and finally the war between Rome and Clusium.

Constitutional change took even longer than the overthrow of the monarchy. Because plebeian tribunes made their own, also unsuccessful, power-play for a governing council. Instead, a series of reforms were passed that implemented an adapted form of Greek democracy with large juries at the apex of the governance model. This of course triggered a further convergence of Greco-Roman influence.

In 1999, on this day an amazing discovery was made by a US expeditionary team operating at the summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey.
An installment from the Miracles thread.

Fourth MiracleThe wreckage of Noah's Ark had been located by a satellite. But amongst the debris, the American scientists discovered the skeletal remains of humans, animals and Nephilim, the giants who inhabited Canaan according to Numbers 13:33.

The mission was immediately upgraded from top secret to ultra secret. Because the US Government intended to reverse engineer the DNA in order to construct the super-soldier of the future. Ironically, the first deployment would be in Iraq, within close proximity of the location of the Garden of Eden.

In 1720, on this day the Jacobite Pretender Charles Edward Stuart was born in the Palazzo Muti, Rome.
This article is a reversal of the Jackie Rose story Hard Man which focuses on Captain Francis O'Neill

Happy Endings Part 17
Hard Woman saves the Forty-Five Rebellion
Aged twenty-five he launched a bold attempt to restore the House of Stuart. Because in 1745 a five thousand man Jacobite army landed at Moidart in the Outer Hebrides. But of course it took a woman to save the forty-five rebellion from abject failure - the incomparable Highland rebel Flora MacDonald.

Hopes had built up rather quickly; at the Battle of Prestonpans they had soundly defeated the only government army in Scotland. But their hapless commander General John Cope would soon be replaced by the murderous Duke of Cumberland and the mood in the camp would drastically change. In despair the Young Pretender had left the still undefeated Jacobite Army in the hands of his trusted companion, Captain Francis O'Neill. Planning to flee Scotland forever, the Prince sought the incomparable Highland rebel Flora MacDonald for her assistance only to discover that the MacDonalds were secretly sympathetic with the Jacobite cause. She convinced the Prince to rejoin the Jacobite Army by promising to organize reinforcements from her own Clan. With fresh resolve, he inspired the "forty-five" rebels with a fiery new leadership that turned the tables on the Hanoverians.
The full novel is available for download at the Extasy Books web site.

In 1548, on this day an extraordinary meeting of the Privy Council ordered the imprisonment of the vice-treasurer of the Bristol Mint, Sir William Sharington.

Baron of Sudeley
By Ed and Jacquelyn Friedlander
But they had caught the monkey and not the organ-grinder. Because via the word of an informant, the Lord Protector Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset had received a second-hand intelligence report that led him to suspect the possible involvement of his scheming brother, Thomas Seymour the Baron of Sudeley (who was currently serving as the Lord High Admiral). However, he was hesitant to openly accuse his brother at a Council meeting. Because their relationship had soured as Edward had received the more senior position as a result of their sister Anne's marriage to King Henry VIII in 1536. But Edward fatally misjudged the extent of Thomas jealous resentment, not able to believe that he had stumbled across the final stages of a dastardly act of high treason.

Sharington had indeed been debasing the currency and also fiddling the books for some time. When these acts of malfeasance were discovered by Thomas Seymour, he extorted monies from the Bristol mint. Initially these were small sums which he redirected to the eleven-year old King Edward VI who had childishly complained of receiving inadequate pocket money from the Lord Protector Edward Seymour. But events during the latter half of 1548 had forced the Baron to accelerate (and also expand) his plans to replace his brother Edward as Lord Protector. As a result, he was forced to extort much larger sums that he would use to finance an overthrow of the entire government.

In 1543, Thomas had developed a romantic interest in the widow Catherine Parr, but had been sent away from the Court by the jealous Henry VIII who then married her himself. After the King's death, Thomas secretly married Catherine, and this wedding gave him guardianship of the teenage Lady Elizabeth. At their Chelsea home, an inappropriate relationship developed with the forty-year old Thomas assuming the role of master.

The increasing likelihood of Sharington's arrest (and the discovery of his complicity in the corruption at Bristol Mint) forced Thomas Seymour to think bigger. He now decided that his interests were best served by installing Elizabeth as monarch as well as replacing his brother as Lord Protector. On the night of 16 January, Thomas broke into the Royal apartments at Hampton Court Palace and shot the King. The ruthlessness of this act of regicide set the tone for Elizabeth's rule, because Thomas Seymour had set his sights even higher - the mastery of Europe.

In 1880, on this day the sixteenth President of the Confederate States George Catlett Marshall, Jr. was born in Lexington, Virginia.

George Marshall
16th Confederate President
March 4, 1952 - 1958
He was a Confederate Army officer, former Secretary of State, under President Byrnes and the last Whig Party candidate to be elected president before the party broke up.

As President, Marshall kept up the pressure on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, made nuclear weapons a higher defense priority, began the Interstate Highway System and saw the start of the Confederate Civil Rights Movement.

At a time when the majority of the Whig party had grown more fiscally and socially conservative, Marshall was a Leeian Whig who gained support from moderates of both the Democrat and Whig party's. A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory WikiaHis push for an Interstate Highway System and his passing of the Confederate Civil Rights Act of 1955 were both popular with Liberals; however, these acts would eventually lead to a complete political realignment, with Conservatives from both the Whig and Democratic party's breaking away to form the Confederalist Party, while the remaining Democrats would eventually reshape themselves into the Liberal Party.
The whole alternate biography is available Althistory Wiki.



December 30

In AD 1, warned of the impending massacre of the innocents, Joseph and his wife Mary took flight to Egypt with the baby Jesus.
An installment from the Miracles thread.

The Second MiracleBut they are captured and casually executed by Herod's soldiers. The orphaned infant was then passed to the Roman trooper Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pantera [1]. His orders were to update the detailed records required by the Roman Client King Herod. Because he wanted to make absolutely sure that the baby king did not slip through the net, grow up to become a rival and supplant him.

But instead an angel spoke to Pantera and he fled with the child. His fellow officers only uncovered his absence because of a mysterious note he had left on the child register - Pantera wrote that something had been missing in this harsh world, but finally, it had been fulfilled [2].

Little is known of the fate Pantera although his tombstone was found in Bingerbrück, Germany in 1859. But the coming of Jesus to Western Europe was a different matter altogether, it was quite simply the greatest story ever told.

In 1853, on this day the American ambassador to Mexico James Gadsden purchased a thirty thousand square-mile area of land south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande. It was then ratified, with changes, by the US Senate on April 25, 1854, and signed by President Franklin Pierce, with final approval action taken by Mexico on June 8, 1854. The "Gadsen Purchase" was the last major territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States.

Gadsden PurchaseThe treaty also included a significant provision [1] which allowed the U.S. to build a transoceanic canal across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This narrow strip of land was of strategic interest being the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean but also an area excluded from the Gadsden Purchase (it comprised the part of Mexico lying between the ninety-fourth and ninety-sixth meridians west longitude).

However a survey of the interior found two hundred kilometres of valleys and hills requiring massive and extremely expensive excavations. It took an incredible feat of engineering to complete the Canal, but a positive side effect was the creation of a zone of employment that vastly upgraded the Mexican economy. Because as the Confederacy extended its influence into South America, the Union was forced to look to the South-West for expansion. Ironically, the biggest advocate of the canal franchise had been Secretary of War Jefferson Davis who later served as the inaugural President of the Confederate States.

Addendum by Jeff Provine: Because of the international importance of the canal, the Confederacy fortified the supporting harbors against Union assault. Upon the European expedition to reclaim owed money led by France that resulted in the seizure of Mexico, the Confederacy and France became diplomatically entangled, leading to the recognition of the rebel states by France. The British and Spanish, who had given up the expedition after France showed its imperialistic ideals, remained neutral in the American Civil War. The combined French and Confederate fleets prevented a total blockade by the Union, but France found its armies eventually outweighed in Mexico. In 1868, France's empire ended in Mexico, and the Confederacy finally capitulated to an ailing Abraham Lincoln, who was relieved of the presidency in the Republican-won election. Confederate holdouts fled to Tehuantepec, where they mingled with Mexicans sympathetic to France. Soon a new revolution began with the declaration of independence of Tehuantepec upon the completion of the canal, but an international force quickly occupied the canal and contributed to re-establishing Mexican control with heavy influence from the United States and Britain.

In 1499, on this day future Queen of England Mary Boleyn was born in Blickling Hall, the family seat in Norfolk. But she grew up at Hever Castle, Kent alongside her less famous siblings Thomas and Anne (the wife of Percy of Northumberland).
An installment from the Happy Endings thread

Happy Endings Part 15
Henry VIII's Second Wife: Mary Boleyn
Because the Tudors was locked in conflict with elements the nobility, her origin amongst the "new men" of self-acquired wealth played well in the Royal court. Accordingly she was sent to the French court in the household of the queen, Henry VIII's younger sister Mary Tudor who was betrothed to King Louis XII.

A blond, blue-eyed, curvy beauty that was the era's belle idéale, she was greatly desired by the Valois monarch's son François I. However in 1515 Louis died, and the Tudor Household was recalled to England. And François's loss was King Henry VIII's gain. They remained happily married until her tragic death age just forty-three, having two children Henry and Catherine. Surely there was some irony in this choice of names, because of course the Pope refused to grant Henry a divorce for Catherine of Aragon, and their relationship caused a schism in the English Church that lasts until today. But then you can't have everything..

In 1936, instead of opting to build the Joffre class carriers the Marine nationale (French Navy) decides to save time and money by modernizing the experimental "throughdeck" aviation cruiser Béarn into a purpose-built operational aircraft carrier.

Flugzeugträger Part 14:
French Aircraft Carrier Béearn modernized
She was originally designed in 1914 as a Normandie-class battleship;. But as a result of the refit she's given a new, oil fired powerplant far superior to her original one (obsolete when it was installed), torpedo protection, and her flight deck is redesigned along with the elevators to accommodate modern aircraft. Three years later the ship is relaunched with an enhanced capability of 28-31 knots, and carrying 35-40 aircraft.

At the outbreak of war, France's only aircraft carrier decides to join up with the Free French Navy...
This article is a post from the Flugzeugträger thread in which Adolf Hitler had committed more resources to Plan Z.

In 1896, on this day the life of Filipino patriot José Rizal was spared by the firing squad of sympathetic indigenous soldiers at Fort Santiago who turned their weapons on the backup force of regular Spanish Army troops standing ready to shoot the executioners should they fail to obey orders.

Part 1 of 3: José Rizal Escapes the Firing SquadHe escaped, but the patriot cause soon took the oddest of turns because only two years later the hated Colonial Overlords ceded the islands to American Imperialists. Following the payment of the $20m in compensation set down in the Treaty of Paris, Teddy Roosevelt replaced Queen-Regent Maria Cristina of Spain as principal hate figure of the patriots.

But of course this contextual change in the Colonial era presented few doctrinal problems for Rizal who immediately refocused on the task of preventing the Philippines from becoming a territory of the United States. And his amazing escape from death turned him away from reform towards a new militancy. Alongside Emilio Aguinaldo, he soon became a vital figure in maintaining the survival of the fledgling Philippine Republic. They are only partially successful; instead of a Colony, the Philippines becomes a protectorate that gains full independence during the 1920s.
This blog is an article from the Neutral Philippine thread conceived by Ed, Mike McIlvain and Scott Palter.

In 1942, on this day Subhas Chandra Bose raised the flag of Indian independence at Calcutta.

Quit India, Part #2
Return of the Leaping Tiger, by Ed & Scott Palter
An unstoppable Japanese drive through Burma had made the occupation of the former Imperial Capital possible, if not quite inevitable due to logistical constraints and rivalry in the Imperial Japanese Army. And even though the rebel Indian National Army (INA) never completed their "March to Delhi", the fatal blow to British prestige had been struck. Because the Axis partition of the Raj would forever change the destiny of the Indian subcontinent. One that even Bose himself could never have imagined.

Of course the Fall of Calcutta transformed the fates of all engaged parties. After the fatal heart attack of Winston Churchill on 26th December 1941, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden had wisely re-focused the Government on sustainable war objectives that would not bankcrupt the home nation. A younger, less sentimental man than Churchill, he had no interest in British punching above its weight for a few short years only to become as impoverished as a defeated nation. Whereas Churchill had sought to ensure that the British Empire be "preserved for a few more generations in all its splendour", a phrase that surely excluded the famine in Bengal. And so Eden now downgraded the Far Eastern Campaign to a lower priority (with a restated future-proof objective of the defence of Australia and New Zealand). He called for the Allies to concentrate resources in Western Europe and North Africa, bringing forward an amphibious invasion of Normandy to 1943. And this decision would usher in the Fall of Vichy France, which ironically was one of the two Axis Puppet Governments that promised to send ambassadors to Calcutta.

But of course the largest consequence would be for the India people themselves. The door to this dramatically altered future had been opened by the revocation of a single, faulty command decision: to bypass the heavily defended town of Kohima. This encirclement forced the British commander Field Marshal William Slim to abandon the strategic towns of Dimapur and Imphal. The British withdrawal to positions on the western bank of the river Brahmaputra abandoned a huge area of Eastern Indian that would eventually become the territory of the two Muslim successor states.

This altered reality forced the imprisoned leadership of the Indian National Congress to suspend the non-violence campaign. And because they never actually endorsed an armed rebellion, Nehru and Gandhi unwittingly placed more power in the hands of the iconic figure of Bose, and also strengthened the arm of the Muslim separatists led by Jinnah. In short, sub-contintental belligerence received a welcome shot in the arm, which despite the widespread perception otherwise, had always been present throughout two centuries of British occupation.

Of course the headquartering of the Azad Hind government in Calcutta was fleeting. As the Japanese War Effort started to collapse, Bose was forced to retreat to Burma and face a horrible moment of truth. However his willingness to peacefully disband the INA saved him from being hung from a British noose. By mutual agreement, he withdrew to Port Blair, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean.

But five years later, he was recalled by an Indian Government unable to resist an invasion from its northern Muslim neighbour. Ironically, the man who had done most to integrate the ethnicities in the INA was being asked to rescue the Hindu successor state from destruction. Finally, he would complete his March to Delhi.

In 1947, in the singular event that began the conflict that would become known as World War III, King Michael of Romania gave an international appeal to stop the Soviet takeover of his country.

King Michael Calls for AidThe closing days of World War II saw the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe swallowing up Poland, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and East Germany. While the West had agreed to occupy until stability and then withdraw, the Soviets looked to stay and expand their power. Beyond occupation, the Soviets pressed remaining countries to join them by preying on them politically. In 1947, Hungary, having already abolished its monarchy, conducted a plebiscite manipulated by Soviets to bring about the People's Republic of Hungary. The same year, it looked as if Romania would be the next to fall.

King Michael was unnerved by Soviet clout, but he had seen enough suffering from his people and gradually gave way in March 1945 when he appointed a government dominated by Soviet sympathizers. In 1947, he traveled to London to attend the wedding of his cousins Princess Elizabeth and Philip. There, rumors circulated that he did not wish to return to Romania, though Michael refused any offers of asylum. Seeing his plight, Winston Churchill encouraged Michael with, "above all things, a King must be courageous".

Michael returned to Romania and immediately felt the pressures of Soviet take-over. But, he was the same Michael that, at a mere 26 years old, had rallied with the pro-Allied leaders of Romania and overthrown the Nazi camp's stranglehold. The coup had invited in the Soviets, and now it was time for Michael to rebel again. He found his capitalist supporters, locked down the palace, and, on December 30, sent out by radio and telegram an appeal to the United Nations and individual governments of the United States, Britain, France, and others for support against what he called an invasion from the roots.

The diplomatic gamble would pay off as Stalinists overreacted. Prime Minister Groza had threatened to murder 1,000 students who had been arrested for speaking out against the Soviet Union. The massacre began and rallied the Romanian people against Soviet supporters. Declaring a state of unrest, the Prime Minister called for Soviet military aid, and an invasion began that sparked action from Western nations in early 1948. Dwight Eisenhower, again Supreme Commander in Europe, led his generals in the heaviest fighting in eastern Germany, then joining up with the Polish Resistance and sparking revolutions in the rest of the Eastern Bloc. Romania itself would be filled with guerrilla warfare against a vastly superior force until Allied tanks led the liberation of Bucharest in 1949. Michael, who had been spirited out of the country just after the Soviet invasion, returned from his government-in-exile in London shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, Italy invaded the Julian March in 1948, which was ceded by Yugoslavia, and Tito sued for a separate peace. Mao Zedong in China was defeated by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army, who made certain that Communism was stamped out in the East. Socialist upstarts in India had been put down by Britain's agreement of independence, though French Indochina would see much bloodshed before native Vietnamese were given self-rule.

The Allies pressed into Russia through liberating Ukraine. From experience, they knew Stalin would never give up, despite the use of atomic weapons on his bases. The Cold War portion continued as the stalemated Allies waited until Stalin was finally assassinated and Moscow fell into civil war. Russia was Balkanized, and the exhausted Allies fell into retirement, letting loose their colonies over the '50s and '60s and settling into a new era of capitalistic rule under the American superpower.



December 29

In AD 1, on this day Herod the Great (pictured) entered the town of Bethlehem at the head of a column of heavily armed troops.
An installment from the Miracles thread.

The First MiracleThe magi from the east had travelled to Judea in search of the newborn king of the Jews, having "seen his star in the east". The King, Herod the Great, directed them to Bethlehem, and asked them to let him know who this king was when they found him. They found Jesus and honored him [1], before returning to Herod as promised.

Set upon a ruthless act of infant homicide from the outset, Herod firmly intended to eliminate his rival. But as he was bathed by the holy light of the Star of Bethlehem, God's voice spoke gentle words of peace to him. He fell upon his knees with hot tears of joy racing down his cheeks, before rising to enter the stable and honour the Lord. Because something had been missing in this harsh world, but finally, it had been fulfilled [1].

In 1808, on this day the sixteenth Vice President of the United States Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Andrew Johnson
16th Vice President of the United States
March 4th, 1865 - March 5, 1868
When the Southern states seceded, Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Greeneville in East Tennessee. As a Unionist, he was the only Southern senator not to quit his post upon secession. He became the most prominent War Democrat from the South and supported Lincoln's military policies during the American Civil War of 1861-1865.

In 1862, Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of occupied Tennessee, where he was energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion and beginning the transition to Reconstruction.

A post from the Two Americas Timline on Alt WikiaJohnson was nominated as the vice presidential candidate in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He and Lincoln were elected in November 1864 and inaugurated on March 4, 1865. Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865.

In an attempt to bring peace to the region the United Kingdom and France intervened in the civil war during early 1866. On August 8 the Union and the Confederacy agreed to a ceasefire. The states of Missouri and Kentucky retained U.S. troops, and are claimed by both sides. The Confederacy kept troops in parts of Maryland and New Jersey, though not claiming them.

Being from Tennessee, Johnson was a "foreigner" in the white house after the cease fire. Factions from both the CS and the US attempted to remove him from office. After an attempt on his life by a disgruntled Tennessan on November 21, 1867, Johnson remained out of sight for months.

His lack of activity, though, did not keep his enemies in the US Senate from accusing him of being soft on the CS. This was trumped up as treason, and articles of impeachment were drawn up. As Congress debated, but before the House was able to impeach him, Johnson resigned the office, leaving Washington on March 5, 1868 for retirement in Maine.

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 28

In 1947, on this day Victor Emmanuel III of Italy died at the Quirinal Palace, the official royal residence located on the highest of the seven hills of Rome. He was seventy-eight years old and had reigned since 1900 [1], a volatile and turbulent period of European History that had seen the wide-spread dissolution of monarchies across the continent.

House of Savoy Redeemed by Ed & Scott PalterDue to the political and economic instability of Europe between the wars, he was reluctantly forced to appoint a nationalist government. But he compounded the error by linking the fate of the House of Savoy to the Junta that took Italy to war in 1938 [2].

Four years later, the Allies took another fateful decision, to proceed with Operation Giant [3]. Ignoring the pleadings of his mother, Prince Umberto stayed with the Rome Garrison to restore the honour of the House of Savoy. And despite his tragic death (he was not yet forty) he had indeed assured that the Royal House of Savoy would emerge from the war with some shreds of prestige that would allow them to continue their reign. Of course the Western Allies were keen to put in place a bulwark against Communism, and in Italy (like Japan) saw the intrinsic value of continuity of a Head of State in a defeated nation that they need to convert to a Cold war ally.

In 1694, on this day joint Sovereign of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Queen Mary II made a miraculous recovery from smallpox.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

Queen Mary II survives the poxWhen King Billy fell victim to "the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat" [1] in July 1702, his wife Mary took over the responsibilities of governing the kingdom for good - a role she had actually filled since 1690, with dwindling success and support, both from parliament and the English population. Besides a strict adherence to Protestant morals unheard of since the days of Cromwell, she had estranged almost all of her subjects by inexplicable personnel decision - leaving England without capable leaders at the outbreak of the War of Spanish Succession.

After continuous military failures on the continent, Queen Mary II decided to leave her late husband's Grand Alliance and withdrew England from the war in 1702, spending the countries military resources to quell various rebellions and leaving the door open for the landing of James II's son James Francis in Torbay with no opposition from the Royal Navy but almost full support from the Tories. James was not willing to renounce his Catholic faith, but granted the largest possible religious freedom for England, Scotland and Ireland. Queen Mary II was forced to resign, establishing James III as the next Catholic Stuart monarch on the English throne, facing not only the coming Protestant uprisings but the united Bourbon France and Spain.

In 1825, on this day Kentuckian Hero General James Wilkinson died in Frankfort, the capital of the Independent Commonwealth that he had fought so hard to establish. He was sixty-eight years old.

General Wilkinson passes awayAnd yet the catalist of that nationhood was not the implausible Yankee myth of a shadowy Spanish Conspiracy, but rather the failure to achieve statehood under the old Articles of Confederation.

Wilkinson's contribution was to persuade Spanish Governor Esteban Rodríguez Miró to grant the exclusive rights to trade on the Mississippi River (previously, the Union had those rights but paid a hefty tariff) [1]. Free navigation opened the door to outright independence, as it allowed Wilkinson and his supporters to argue forcefully against admittance to the Union under the new constitution.

As a result, the dream of westward expansion was checked even before General Washington took office as Union President. Ironically, under different circumstances, Washington might even have appointed Wilkinson as Commanding General of the United States Army but fate had decided that they would be peers and perhaps rivals.

In 1856, on this day 28th President of the United States, Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia.

"Open Covenants, Openly Arrived At"
Co-written with Jeff Provine
A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913. Running against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Socialist Party of America candidate Eugene V. Debs, and former President Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.

During his second term a conspiracy to prevent the ratification of the Covenant of the League of Nations was foiled in the nick of time when First Lady Edith Wilson prevented the White House physician Dr. Cary Grayson from adminstering a stroke-inducing poison to her husband Woodrow Wilson.

A coast-to-coast public speaking tour in support of the League had over-exerted the President. He collapsed from exhaustion in Pueblo, Colorado on September 25th and was forced to return to the White House for medical attention.

Almost overwhelmed by the force of opposition, Wilson was fully aware that the list of Grayson's possible conspirators was endless including inter alia:

  • Theodore Roosevelt who as President had negotiated secret treaties to open Pacific trade routes that had not only sold out Korea to Japan but abrogated the first of Wilson's fourteen points ("Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view").
    Radical differences of opinion over America's future had turned to personal acrimony when Wilson refused to authorise TR to lead his ageing Rough Riders to Flanders.
  • William Jennings Bryan who as Secretary of State was humiliated by his career-ruining decision to resign in protest over Wilson's response to the sinking of the Lusitania, a position which left him politically isolated.
  • Robert M. La Follette, Sr. a prominent Senator who was strongly opposed to American involvement in World War I and who promoted defense of freedom of speech during wartime. Teddy Roosevelt called him a "skunk who should be hanged" when he opposed the arming of American merchant ships; one of his colleagues in the Senate said he was "a better German than the head of the German parliament" when he opposed the Wilson Administration's request for a declaration of war in 1917.
Refusing to waste further energy on investigating the conspiracy, Wilson devised a fresh strategy to sell the League to America and the rest, as they say, is alternate history..

In 1948, following stunning victories at the Battles of Bir 'Asluj and 'Auja, Israeli Defence Forces from the Negev and 8th brigades enter the Sinai at night capturing Umm Katef and Abu Ageila.

Zionist Dystopia
Greater Israel Captures the Suez Canal
The Egyptian expeditionary force in Palestine was encircled at the decisive Battle of Rafahand and by early January the war is over.

The architect of Operation Horev was the brilliant IDF Southern Commander Yigal Allon (pictured). His personal triumph succeeded in trapping the Egyptian Army in the Gaza Strip. Against very long odds, this remarkable feats of arms had assured the creation of a viable State of Israel.

And Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was bequeathed not only a Jewish State that included as its capital the disputed City of Jerusalem, but unexpectedly, the glittering economic prize of the Suez Canal. The Jewel in the Crown of the Kingdom of David.

In 1826, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the recent (coincidental) passing of principal author Thomas Jefferson, Chief Justice John Marshall announced a minor change to the Presidential swearing-in ceremony.

Jefferson Bible
by Ed & Jeff Provine
Henceforth, Presidents would be required to place their left hand on the Jefferson Bible during the oath of office (although Article Two of the US Constitution placed specific requirements on the wording of the oath, the choice of Bible was not mandated).

Formally known as the "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth", the twenty-six page document was extracted from the doctrine of Jesus during 1819. Sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects (as well as perceived misinterpretations Jefferson believed had been added by the Four Evangelists) were removed, the end result being a compiled (but not edited) statement of the principles of pure deism.

Across Catholic Europe, Marshall's announcement was widely considered an endorsement of sacrilege. But in Washington, these Old World opinions were rejected in order to nurture the Jeffersonian dream of a nation of libertarian Gentleman Farmers.

In 1612, on this day the Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Galileo Galilei discovered a new planet. Known as the "Father of Modern Astronomy," "Father of Modern Physics," and "Father of Modern Science," Galileo led mankind in a great many discoveries, even that there were more planets to the cosmos than the five that had been charted since ancient times.

Galileo Discovers a New Planet While principally supported by patrons, he also had side-incomes from improving compasses and building telescopes. It was with his telescopes that Galileo would discern many secrets of the universe.

In January of 1610, Galileo discovered the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, the first solid description of a celestial object orbiting another. He at first took them for stars, but careful calculation proved that they were, in fact, moons like our own. It called into question the Aristotelian geocentric cosmos that has always been accepted, even with the understanding of a round Earth. That September, he discovered the phases of the planet Venus, which would fully discredit Aristotle and launch a new design by astronomical Tycho Brahe with a fixed Earth being orbited by the Sun, around which Mercury and Venus orbited.

Galileo became a celebrity around Europe and received many graces in Rome, especially from the Catholic Church who applauded his study of the wonders of Creation. Galileo, however, had opinions outside of the Church-recognized Tychonic system and pushed for recognition of a heliocentric universe. He searched for a way to prove the theory and constantly studied the skies.

In late 1612, Galileo came across another celestial object he took as a dim fixed star. A month later, he observed it again, and the star came to fascinate him. Over coming months, he watched it carefully, seeing it move ever so slightly that he could not be certain of his instruments. After some time, it became obvious that the star was moving in retrograde, meaning it had to be a planet like Mars or Jupiter. While Galileo felt certain that was the cause, his principles of observational science forced him to note that it may also have been a comet.

He busied himself with studies of sunspots and lunar mountains, but the strange "star" haunted him. Swallowing his pride, he took to the German Johannes Kepler's suggestion of a convex lens as the eyepiece rather than Galileo's concave one. The viewer suffered an inverted image, but the improved image astounded Galileo. During their correspondence on light refraction, Kelper was also able to convince Galileo of the lunar cause of tides, something Galileo always found fictitious as the tides were supposedly due to the movement of the Earth.

As Galileo was coming to appreciate the works of other scientists in his age and being baffled by what he would later recognize as the rings of Saturn, he wrote of new humility in letters to his daughter Virginia, now Sister Maria Celeste. Still, he felt that science must be kept pure, and he approached Rome in defense of Copernican ideals. Galileo was ordered by Cardinal Bellarmine and the Inquisition not to hold or defend heliocentrism. Admitting that without solid proof both were guesses, Galileo decided to treat the Sun-centered universe as a hypothesis, just as he would hold the Earth-centered one.

In 1619, Galileo came into a long discussion with Father Orazio Grassi of the Jesuit Collegio Romano about the nature of comets. While he felt great frustration with what he saw as incorrect science, Galileo methodically and politely arranged the discussion until finally admitting the planet he had been charting for nearly seven years. The Jesuits were shocked at the news, and Galileo conceded that the universe was much deeper than he had imagined, even accepting that comets were more distant than the moon.

Astronomers checked on Galileo's planet, and confirmation came from various astounded sources. Rome again applauded the great Galileo, who named the planet Uranus after Saturn's father. Riding his fame, Pope Urban VIII asked Galileo to write a discussion of heliocentrism, which he did in 1632's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. The book stands as a model for fair and objective science to this day, ending with the conclusion that, excepting to fly up into the sky and look down on Earth's foundations (if any), the question would be solved by discerning parallax of the fixed stars in the sky as Earth rotated around the Sun.

Such a feat would require a telescope of incredible magnitude and precision, and astronomers would quest for another century to find one. In the meantime, yet another planet would be discovered, this one closer than Galileo's Uranus. English astronomer John Flamsteed would dub it "Nox" in 1690.

In 1856, on this day the tenth President of the Confederate States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia.

Woodrow Wilson
10th Confederate President
March 4, 1915 - March 4, 1921
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 - February 3, 1924) was the 10th President of the Confederate States. A leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, he served as President of the University of Virginia from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of Virginia from 1911 to 1913. In a surprisingly close race against Constitution Party candidate Oscar Wilder Underwood. Wilson was elected as a Democrat in 1914.

A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory WikiaWilson persuaded a Democratic Congress to pass the Federal Reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission, the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Farm Loan Act and a progressive income tax in the Revenue Act of 1917, as he saw the inevitability of the Confederacy entering into the hostilities in Europe. Though much of his election campaign around the slogan "he will keep us out of the war," CS neutrality was challenged in early 1917 when the German government proposed to Mexico a military alliance in a war against the CS, and began unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking without warning every American merchant ship -- both Union and Confederate - its submarines could find. Wilson in April 1917 asked Congress to declare war.

He focused on diplomacy and financial considerations, leaving the waging of the war primarily in the hands of the Army. On the home front in 1917, he began the first draft since the war for Confederate independence, raised billions in war funding through Liberty Bonds, set up the War Industries Board, promoted labor union growth, supervised agriculture and food production through the Lever Act, took over control of the railroads, enacted the first federal drug prohibition, and suppressed anti-war movements. Though national women's suffrage was already achieved in the U.S., Wilson was unable to persuade Congress to consider a similar amendment to the C.S. constitution.

In the late stages of the war, Wilson took personal control of negotiations with Germany, including the armistice. He issued his Fourteen Points, his view of a post-war world that could avoid another terrible conflict. He went to Paris in 1919 to create the League of Nations and shape the Treaty of Versailles, with special attention on creating new nations out of defunct empires. Largely for his efforts to form the League, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1919, during the bitter fight with the Constitutionist-controlled Senate over the C.S. joining the League of Nations, Wilson collapsed with a debilitating stroke. He refused to compromise, effectively destroying any chance for ratification. The League of Nations was established anyway, but the Confederate States never joined. Wilson's idealistic internationalism, now referred to as "Wilsonianism", called for the Confederate States to enter the world arena to fight for democracy.

While "making Europe safe for democracy," back home Wilson's administration was occupying much of the Caribbean in attempts to put democratically minded leaders in unstable areas. Decisions made in Nicaragua, for instance, would lead to Communism - which arose as an indirect result of the "Great War" in Europe - getting a stronghold in the western hemisphere. The stress of the peace process worsened the president's health, and he spent several months out of the public eye after his stroke. He was assisted by his second wife through this tough time.

After leaving office, Wilson retired to his home in Richmond, where he died on February 3, 1924. In his six years he had lead the Confederate States onto the world scene as a powerhouse militarily and economically. Though the CSA had not become a member of the League of Nations, he died knowing that his nation had made a difference in the world.

In 1832, in order to dissuade his hot-headed, rebellious comrades from prematurely seceding from the Union, John C. Calhoun (pictured) resigned the Vice Presidency and returned post-haste to his home State of South Carolina on this day. Of course his own position was a matter of timing rather than principle. Because from Washington he could clearly see that there was insufficient support from neighborough states to create the Southern Confederacy that he hoped to head as First President.
.. continued from Part 1

Forcing Charleston Harbour, 1833 Crisis
Part 2 by Ed., Eric Lipps & Scott Palter
His arrival was none to soon. Because unbeknown to the Vice President, agents provocateurs of Her Majesty's Government had been stirring up some real trouble in South Carolina for the previous month. Because he was shocked to be presented with medals emblazened with "John C. Calhoun, First President of the Southern Confederacy".

Those medals had been manufactured in London under orders from the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Marquis Richard Wellesley. Worse, the Royal Navy vessels upon which the medals were transported had just forced upon Charleston Harbour. The USS Natchez would soon arrive upon the scene. Dispatched by US President Andrew Jackson for the purpose of seizing by force the federal tarrifs by South Carolinians, this vessel would soon become entangled in the first shots of the 1833 Anglo-American War. And the matter of South Carolina's nullification of those federal tarrifs became, rather rapidly, something of a non-issue.

In 1986, Lord Stockton, the former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, died peacefully on this day aged 92. Members of his family were by his bedside at Birch Grove House, at Horsted Keynes, East Sussex, when he died at 1820 GMT following a short illness.Supermac Dies

Tributes began flooding in for the former Conservative leader nicknamed 'Super Mac'. The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said his death left a void in politics which could not be filled. Fellow former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath described Lord Stockton as one of the most creative minds in British politics.

Count Nikolai Tolstoi said Supermac would always been remembered fondly by the Cossack nation of Russia, referring of course to his decision at Lienz, Austria not to repatriate troops to the Soviet Union where they would face imprisonment and death.

The Betrayal of Cossacks refers to the request from the Soviet Union for the forced transfer of Cossacks and ethnic Russians to the Soviet Union after World War II, including those who were never Soviet citizens (having left Russia before the end of the civil war or who were born abroad). Ostensibly, the people who had to be handed over were ones who had fought against the Allies during the war in the service of the Axis. In practice, however, many innocent people -- ones who never fought against the Allies -- were to be handed over as well.

The Cossacks who fought against the Allies saw their service not as treason to the motherland, but as an episode in the Russian Revolution of 1917, part of the ongoing struggle against Moscow and Communism. This relatively little known event, as well as other events that are results of Yalta, is referred to by Nikolai Tolstoy as 'The Secret Betrayal' because of its lack of exposure in the Western hemisphere. The most recognized of these events was that which took place in Lienz, Austria. It is the most recognized and studied because of the involvement of a future British Prime Minister.

The British arrived in Lienz, where over 2,700 Cossacks resided, on 28 May 1945. They arrived to tell the Cossacks that they were invited to an important British conference with British officials and would return to Lienz by 6 o'clock that evening. Some Cossacks began to worry but were assured by the British that everything would be fine. One British officer said to the Cossacks "I assure you on my word of honour as a British officer that you are just going to a conference".

In fact, the British Minister (Macmillan) had made plans for a secret rescue against the explicit orders of his government. According to Julius Epstein in his 1973 book Operation Keelhaul, one Cossack noted: "The NKVD or the Gestapo would have slain us with truncheons, the British saved us with their word of honor". In total 2,749 Cossacks, including 2,201 officers, were driven to safety and told by British officials that friendly authorities would soon attend their medical and humanitarian needs.



December 27

In 1657, the Flushing Remonstrance was signed by a group of English citizens who were affronted by persecution of Quakers and the religious policies of Director-General of Neiuw Netherland Peter Stuyvesant. Since his arrival ten years earlier, he had governed with a relentless, authoritarian confidence generally tending toward the good, but exhibiting a myopic understanding of the more delicate issue of religious tolerance. An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Flushing RemonstranceFrom the outset Stuyvesant had told the colonists, "I shall govern you as a father his children". He closed the brothels, enforced rigid observance of Sunday, and prohibited the sale of liquor and firearms to the Indians. He established standards for housing and taverns, developed a market, and took steps toward founding a public school. In spite of Stuyvesant's reforms, the frontier folks resented his silver-legged dictatorial style. When they tried to complain, he dismissed them, saying, "We derive our authority from God and the West India Company, not from the pleasure of a few ignorant subjects".

And so religious persecution would continue unabated for seven years until the future of the colony was threatened by a border dispute with Great Britain. But events further away would open the door to religious freedom because Neiuw Netherland achieved independence in 1798, after the "old" Netherlands were overrun by the French. Philip Schuyler, the last Director-General of the colony, became the first Prime Minister of the independent Republic. And Flushing Remonstrance would eventually become the precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. It was an unbreakable bond between the two nations that would develop into an alliance when Neiuw Nederlanders backed Americans in their struggle against the Kaiser's Germany.

On-board USS Yorktown President-elect George Smathers thanked the crew of Apollo 8 for "saving 1968" [1]. The broadcasting of the most watched television program ever was then capped off by a confident assurance from CBS Evening News anchor Arnold Zenker that the mission's success was a major step toward landing a man on the Moon before the end of the sixties.
An article from the Arnold Zenker Reports thread.


Apollo 8 Saves 1968Achieved during a volatile and turbulent period in the Republic's history, John F. Kennedy narrow focus on a strategic objective had paid off. Because in spite of Communist advances in Cuba and Vietnam, also Civil Rights disturbances at home, American had managed to recover its technological leadership in the Cold War. The Democratic Party could therefore claim a measure success for its decade-long stewardship of the country.

It was smiles on faces but for one embittered individual - "Mr Space". Ironically the Apollo 8 splashdown paid no dividends to Lyndon Baines Johnson who had been removed from the 1964 ticket due to corruption charges. As a U.S. Senator he had tirelessly used his influence to assure passage of the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the civilian space agency NASA. And soon after taking office as Vice President , he had the honour of filling Kennedy's role as Chairman of the National Aeronautics Space Council. Sent to prison for his illegal activities with Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker, Uncle Arnold had joked "All the way with LBJ".

In 1861, Lord Palmerston declared war on the United States six weeks after the tragic loss of the RMS Trent. The French Government followed suit only hours later.

Trent Affair Leads to War, ReduxThe casus belli was the sinking of the British mail packet en route from Cuba to France. Onboard were two Confederate diplomats, James Mason and John Slidell, envoys bound for Great Britain and France to press the Confederacy's case for diplomatic recognition and financial support for the Confederacy in the name of King Cotton.

The Federal Government considered Mason and Slidell to be contraband dispatching the screw frigate the USS San Jacinto to frustrate the mission. Under mysterious circumstances the RMS Trent sank on November 8th with all hands lost. Union Captain Charles Wilkes strenuously denied that the tragedy was the result of combat engagement, an incredulous explanation that fell on deaf ears in Richmond, London and Paris. The respective Governments attempted to agree damages but on both sides public opinion was too strong to ignore. However it was later discovered that the disaster had been caused by a boiler room fire [1] which sunk her within a matter of hours.

In 1922, on this day the Japanese aircraft carrier Hōshō ("phoenix in flight") became the first purpose built aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the world. Her aircraft group participated in the Shanghai Incident in 1932 and in the opening stages of the Sino-Japanese War in late 1937.

Flugzeugträger Part 13:
Commissioning of Hōshō
The small size of the ship and her assigned airgroups (usually around 15 aircraft) limited the effectiveness of her contributions to combat operations. As a result, the carrier was placed in reserve after her return to Japan from China and she became a training carrier in 1939.

During World War II, Hōshō participated in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 in a secondary role. The narrow Japanese victory was assured by the support of the German double aircraft carrier group that had been stranded in the Far East at the outbreak of war.
This article is a post from the Flugzeugträger thread in which Adolf Hitler had committed more resources to Plan Z.

In 1979, on this day an unmarked private jet was given special authorization to land at the Mehrabad International Airport.

Presley ends American Malaise Part #1The sole passenger on-board was the born again Christian Elvis Aaron Presley. He was requesting permission to join the hostages held in the American Embassy in Tehran.

Just two years before, he had been suffering the American condition in microcosm, an energy crisis and a deepening malaise. Certainly his resuscitation on the bathroom floor was the lowest moment of life, but recognizing that truth he had been able to seek the support he needed to end his cycle of drug abuse.

Two years later, his medical problems were even more acute and he had only months to live. He decided to seize that final opportunity to make another lasting imprint upon the American psyche.

In 1917, on this day Emperor Karl I abdicated the throne of the Habsburg Monarchy, heralding the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy.
Article continues from Part #2.

The Last Chance for Peace #3 By Steven FisherDomestic turmoil in Austria-Hungary had been steadily increasing ever since the signing of the Treaty of Berlin on August 2. The devastating Austrian defeat in the Third Balkan war, and the harsh terms given to it by the Russians, had greatly increased peoples dissatisfaction with the government. This, combined with a faltering Austro-Hungarian economy had turned people against the Habsburg Monarchy.

An unusually harsh winter, combined with the already existing economic deprivation, finally lit the tinderbox of revolution. On December 19, people took to the streets of Vienna, calling for an end to the Monarchy. The army and police were sent to stop them, but to the governments horror, some army units and policemen began siding with the rebels. The riots quickly spread from Vienna to the other parts of the Empire. Clashes began between protesters and army troops. But defecting troops managed to turn the tide in favor of the protestors, since many in the army blame the current government for getting them into a losing war, and having them fight for nothing. A loyalist Army group moving to attempt to rescue the King from his palace in Vienna is defeated in heavy street fighting.

Finally, the Republican forces break into the palace in Vienna, and force Karl I to abdicate the Habsburg throne. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is dissolved, with Austria and Hungary both breaking off and forming the Austrian Federation and the Republic of Hungary. Ethnic minorities in both nations attempt to break off and form their own nations, such as the Czechs in Austria, but their attempts fail. The Austrians are more compromising, and form a federation within which the Czechs have some autonomy.

The peace was not to last though. On January 2, 1918, the Italians announce the annexation of Trentino, and march troops into the region. International condemnation of the move does occur, but the Italians brush it off by saying that they are taking this action to protect the Italaians living in the region, who they claim are suffering oppression from the Austrian authorities. The Austrians vehemently oppose this act, but cannot do anyhting, as their people are unwilling to fight a war.

Their inability to prevent the annexation of Trentino would spell the end of the Austrian government. On May 19, the Austrian military coups the government, establishing a German backed military dicatorship under Conrad Von Hotzendorf. It heralds the beginning of the poalrization around the powers of Russia and Germany, a situation that will inflame tensions between the two nations, and be a cause of World War 1 in 1921.
The whole thread is available at the Alt History Wikia.

In 1530, on this day the Lost Expedition of Francisco Pizarro y Gonzalez left Panama.

Pizarro's Lost Expedition Leaves PanamaFor hundreds of years, no one was quite certain what happened to the hundreds of men under the command of Francisco Pizarro y Gonzalez. Pizarro (pictured) seemed an apt commander and loyal Spaniard, but many theories have arisen about failures in battle, overwhelming armies of Punians, or the Spanish going native and joining the Inca's court to deliver them with firearms and horses. After much contention, the truth has gradually been assembled by historians piecing together Spanish chronicles with legend recorded by the Incan Nation.

The initial biographical information about Pizarro is clear beyond his questioned birth date. A somewhat distant relative of Cortes, conqueror of the Aztecs, Pizarro sailed to the New World along with Governor Nicolas de Ovando and some 2,500 colonists. He traveled with Balboa on the explorer's trek across Panama and was one of the first Europeans to see the Pacific Ocean. His loyalty to Spain was displayed as Pizarro later arrested Balboa for his trial and execution. In good position with the government and spurred by stories of Cort?s' success conquering the Aztecs, Pizarro made company with the priest Hernando de Luque and the soldier Diego de Almagro to explore south and conquer the great wealth of an empire rumored to be there.

Their first expedition went out in 1524, but it quickly returned due to harsh weather, failing supplies, and battles with natives. 1526 saw another attempt, this one twice the size of the first and sailing much farther south. While Pizarro explored jungles, a ship sailed on past the equator and captured a native raft loaded with trade goods of pots, textiles, and, most importantly, gold and jewels. They explored further, but they found new hostilities in a land recently conquered by the Inca and decided to turn back. Pizarro stayed with thirteen men and awaited more provisions. A ship arrived to evacuate them, but Pizarro and his comrades pushed on in exploration, eventually coming across friendly natives at Tumbes and continued south. Finding irrefutable proof of the wealth of the empire to the south (as well as discovering llamas), the explorers returned to Panama to prepare for a third expedition.

The governor refused to allow it, so Pizarro sailed for Spain and returned with the Queen's signature on the Capitulaci?n de Toledo approving conquest. Pizarro left that December of 1530 and sent back further treasure to Almagro, who was gathering more recruits. Almagro would leave to join him, as would conquistador Hernando de Soto, the only man to return from the expedition. De Soto came back to Panama three years later, sunburned and sporting numerous battle scars, and told vague stories of the Inca attacking and overwhelming the conquistadors without provocation. Others assumed he escaped from a military defeat before reaching the Inca or leaving the expedition once it had changed allegiance to Atahualpa. While his word was debated, de Soto encouraged Spain not to waste human life by sending explorers south again.

From Incan records, it is told that the emperor Atahualpa, newly secured to the throne by defeating his brother Huascar, feared what white-skinned interlopers might do. He gathered survivors of the Battle of Puna and anyone with knowledge about the Spanish while Pizarro was away. Studying their tactics and the tales of conquest in the north, he determined that they were hardly demigods, clearly mortal though greatly powerful. When they appeared at his city of Cajamarca, Atahualpa invited them to feast and then killed the Spaniards in a great ambush, calling out, "My lands shall be no man's tributary!" It is suspected that de Soto was sent back to Panama as a warning to the Spanish.

With conquest out of the question, the Spanish largely turned east and north, securing the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as well as moving around Portuguese land in Brazil to Argentina. Trade with Europe would build with the Inca, first in secret as the smallpox plague swept through the empire and then marginally promoted by Atahualpa's descendant Tupac. It is with Tupac that Francis Drake would make a treaty during his circumnavigation of the Earth in 1578. Trade blossomed, exchanging gold and exotic flora for weapons and manufactured goods, eventually turning the west coast of South America into an economic dependency under English influence as had been seen in parts of India and East Asia.

In 2005, Samuel David Moore finally spoke about his relationship with David Prater.
Both American Soul and Rhythm & Blues (R&B) singers were members of the soul vocal duo Sam & Dave. They recorded and performed together from 1961 through 1981; Sam Moore was the tenor (higher) vocalist and Dave Prater was the baritone/tenor (lower) vocalist. Click to watch the duo perfoming "Hold On, I'm Coming" live in 1967.

Sam Forgives DaveAlong with 'Wicked' Wilson Pickett the leaders of the second tier of Atlantic/Stax's mighty '60s soul roster (first division: Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding), the team of Sam Moore and Dave Prater produced some of the sweatiest, grittiest soul music ever waxed.

Nicknamed "Double Dynamite", "The Sultans of Sweat", and "The Dynamic Duo" for their sweaty, gritty, gospel-infused performances, Sam & Dave were one of the greatest live acts of the 1960s. Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager, said "I think Sam and Dave will probably stand the test of time as being the best live act that there ever was. Those guys were absolutely unbelievable. Every night they were awesome". An October 1968 Time article reads: "Of all the R & B cats, nobody steams up a place like Sam & Dave ... weaving and dancing (while singing!), they gyrate through enough acrobatics to wear out more than 100 costumes per year". Click to watch the duo performing "Soul Man" live in 1967. Both were also serious drug addicts.

An increasingly volatile personal relationship between the two performers, Sam reached a breaking point in their personal relationship in 1968. After Dave shot his soon-to-be second wife in 1970, Sam told Dave "I'll sing with you, but I shall never speak to you again".

Dave was killed in a freak car accident in 1988, in which his body shot into a tree, severing his head from his torso. Later, Sam stated that " He didn't think of Dave, didn't think of him at all ".

In his Christmas broadcast, he admitted this was a mistake. Their sweatiest, grittiest soul music was the result of their harsh life experiences, and now, as an old man, finally he could find it in his heart to forgive him.



December 26

In 1886, on this day 23rd President of the United States John Alexander "Blackjack" Logan (pictured) died aged sixty.

Death of President LoganHe served in the Mexican-American War and was a general in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman and senator and was an successful candidate for Vice President of the United States with Solomon Foot in the election of 1884.

But he had served for only nine months since the demise of President Foot who as the President pro tempore of the Senate had closed-out the disgraced Chester A. Arthur's term with out a VP but had then chosen Logan at the 1864 Convention.

Logan's own brief tenure was the shaky conclusion to a series of truncated Presidencies from James A. Garfield (assassination after 200 days), Chester A. Arthur (resignation after three years), Solomon Foot (death after three years) and finally Logan (death after six months). The unsteadiness of the succession over six years demonstrated that a Constitutional Amendment was clearly needed to require a sitting President to nominate a VP following his own ascension to that post.

In 1996, in one of his final executive actions, President Paul Tsongas authorized the early release of Daniel Ellsberg.

Ellsberg ReleasedTsongas died just three weeks later and his successor Bill Clinton was in office when Ellsberg actually left prison.

A consultant at the Pentagon, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for treason. Ellsberg had been caught trying to peddle classified papers to various news organizations through a fortuitous tip from his psychiatrist. President Nixon said, "Filthy traitors aren't welcome in our America".
Note - This article is a continuation of Robbie Taylor's post 31 July 1974: Ellsberg sentenced as explained by Michel Vuijlsteke on the The Annotated Today in Alternate History web site.

In 1893, on this day Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist and Marxist political philosopher Mao Zedong was born in Shaoshan in South-Central China.

Birth of Mao ZedongHis life-long struggle with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was a textbook example of how seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent, a binary concept that is deeply rooted in Taoist philosophy (pictured). Because as Chiang's nationalist forces expanded to possess the greater whole, they also triggered a counter-reaction inside a dynamic system. And the end result was inevitably bipolar in nature.

Having overcome the Warlords, the Kuomintang (KMT) launched a series of extermination campaigns that drove the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) out of the urban areas and into the countryside. Mao then rose to power by commanding a Long March to the Soviet border. But the Japanese invasion of Manchuria created a strategic pause putting the conflict into a state of suspension for a decade. And yet the CCP might even have won this Civil War if the KMT had not managed to hang on until the Korean War, a moment of truth that demonstrated that the West simply could not afford to lose China.

The perceived wisdom of Chiang in abandoning the territory north of the Great War might well have saved his regime, but the long-term consequence was the creation of two systems of government separated by a ready-made Iron Curtain. The People's Republic of China (PRC) was then ruled by Mao from the north-eastern city of Changchun right up until his mysterious death in 1966. The mixed results of his application of Marxist thought was then transformed by his successor, the "Great Helmsman" Deng Xiaoping. Over the next twenty-five years, his dynamic leadership would see the economy move in a great leap forward. He re-energized the Communist model at a decisive moment in history when the West appeared to be entering a period of ascendancy. Instead the KMT would stubbornly refuse to embrace democratic reform until it was forced upon them by the Tianenmen Square Student Protests of 1989.

In 1941, on this day British Prime Minister Winston Churchill suffered a fatal heart attack.

Quit India, Part #1
The Death of Churchill
But a few hours before, Churchill had addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress, asking of Germany and Japan, "What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?". Click to watch the address to Joint Session Of Congress

That evening as a guest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House, Churchill rose to open a window sash, and experienced a tremour from his heart through his left arm.

In public, he had seemed to epitomize the bulldog fighting spirit but in private, the strain was taking its toll. And that strain had become intolerable since the events of 10th December. The killer blow was unwittingly delivered by telephone to Churchill's bedside by Sir Dudley Pound, the First Sea Lord - so distressed that the Prime Minister had great difficulty to discerning his message.

Pound: Prime Minister, I have to report to you that the Indomitable, Prince of Wales and the Repulse have been sunk by the Japanese - we think by aircraft. [a trusted friend of Churchill, British Admiral] Tom Phillips is drowned.
Churchill: Are you sure it's true?
Pound: There is no doubt at all.

"In all the war, I never received a more direct shock... As I turned over and twisted in bed the full horror of the news sank in upon me. There were no British or American ships in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific except the American survivors of Pearl Harbor, who were hastening back to California. Over all this vast expanse of waters Japan was supreme, and we everywhere were weak and naked".

The news of Churchill's death would have profound implications for Mohandas K. Gandhi, who ironically enough had been described by the Prime Minister as a half-naked fakir. By December of 1941, the view of the Indian National Congress had changed sharply - British would probably not lose the war. Unable to rely upon the Axis Powers to force the British to "Quit India" Gandhi devised a new proposal. Click to watch the video. Whilst British forces might remain in India, their Government should depart. The key opponent of this proposal was now dead; Churchill had denied that the Atlantic Charter principle that the "right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live" applied to (his words and those of the Daily Mail) "the darker races". In a final act of irony, the successful defence of India would build a new multi-faith nation, subduing the calls for a breakaway Muslim state.

In 2010, on this day bad-boy actor Charlie Sheen blamed a medical reaction to a cocktail of drugs and alcohol he consumed over the festive season as the cause of a shooting incident in which he accidentally gunned down a white haired, bearded man in a red costume as he emerged from the chimney on the set of "Two And A Half Men - A Christmas Special".

Charlie Sheen kills Father ChristmasA spokesman for CBS said that the homicide would not prevent Sheen from continuing to play the part of hedonistic bachelor, jingle/children's song writer Charles Francis "Charlie" Harper on the Top 20 program.

A minority of television viewers continue to question whether the free-wheeler presents an appropriate role model to his divorced brother Alan's growing son, Jake both of whom co-habit his beach-front house. Or whether the show is simply a parody of the continuing breakdown of American society.

In 1776, on this day General Washington's Continental Army suffered a disaster at Trenton in New Jersey.

Washington's Disaster at Trenton After successes in 1775 in Lexington, Massachusetts Colony, and the taking of Fort Ticonderoga in New York, 1776 was a bleary year for the American Revolutionists. Their Continental Congress struggled to find money and support while the Continental Army faced a string of defeats across New York and New Jersey. Knowing that the cause was nearly lost, Commander-in-Chief General George Washington made a last-ditch effort at attacking Hessian soldiers already in winter quarters across the Delaware River at Trenton.

Colonel Johann Rall, a 56-year-old veteran with ample experience in battle as a mercenary, was to be placed in command at Trenton reluctantly by his superior Carl von Donop. Rall was loud, did not understand English, and, though he was known to fight well, did not thrive in the between-battle times of war. He avoided work and was lax on the discipline of his troops, inspiring little confidence. Donop, however, came down with a bitter cold and decided not to march with his soldiers rooting out New Jersey militia. He sent Rall instead, who fiercely pursued the rebels, scarcely stopping in Mount Holly as they pursued Samuel Griffin and his men.

In Trenton, despite his illness, Donop was vigorous in his orders for the men. He followed suggestions by his engineers at fortifying the town and ensured round-the-clock posts for guards despite the horrible weather. On the night of the 25th, rain turned to sleet, and guards were shocked to see initial American skirmishers on the morning of the 26th. Donop called out his men, and Washington was forced to attack the defended high ground. The Americans broke, and Donop took up pursuit, capturing Washington and many of his cannon. Few soldiers returned to ranks, the rest disappearing into the New Jersey wilderness.

With the harsh blow at Trenton, much of the fervor for independence died over the winter and into the spring. Horatio Gates succeeded Washington as Commander-in-Chief and led strong defenses against British General Burgoyne's campaign to separate New England from the rest of the colonies. On October 7, 1777, defeat at Saratoga sounded the death knell for the Revolutionary War. Gates claimed he could easily have won with more men, but the support for actual war was waning. It stood as the last major battle in the north, though backwoods rebels would string out the war for years with harrying attacks and withdraws laden with ambushes. The Southern Colonies would also cause continual frustration for the British Army, but the taking of Charleston on May 12, 1780, would end major battles there as well, but hardly the fighting. Nathanael Greene, Commander-in-Chief after Gates, carried his famous motto, "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again".

While the rebels continued to drag on the war, the question fell to Parliament of what to do with those they had captured. Washington had been shipped to London soon after Trenton and stripped of his land, though the government could not see fit to execute him and create a martyr like General Benedict Arnold, who had died leading his men in a charge at Saratoga. Offers were made to return him to status quo ante bellum, but the general refused. He, like his countrymen, simply refused to give up. Washington remained a prisoner for the duration of the war, though many others such as John Hancock, Thomas Paine, and Samuel Adams would be publicly hanged as treasonous instigators.

Gradually, the American leadership would destroy itself through infighting and abandonment. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin would attempt to create a government-in-exile in Paris, but they simply became novelties at the French Court. Their writings and arguments would contribute to the French Revolution that would happen some years later. The Americans, meanwhile, slipped farther and farther west, and, in 1785, the Colonies came back under firm control.

Worn out politically, diplomatically, and economically by what seemed to become a war of attrition, Britain came under its own revolutions in the 1790s. King George III was blamed for the long-lasting and, being deemed unfit for the throne by act of Parliament, was removed. Britain again became a parliamentary republic, and Washington was sent back to Virginia to live out the rest of his life as a poor, though admired, man.

In 1836, on this day at the City of London Police Station the thieving accountant Bob Cratchit was charged with embezzling funds from his employers, Ebeneezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley.

But Fifteen BobIn the local business community, Cratchit was generally considered to be a near-impoverished clerk who received a pittance from the miserly business partners for copying letters by hand in an underheated "dismal little cell" or "a sort of tank" which was his miserable place of work. Perceived as a member of the "little people" he clothed himself in a tattered white comforter since he could not afford a coat.

Feeling pity that his employee's weekly salary of "but fifteen bob" was insufficient to feed his family a proper Christmas dinner, Mr Scrooge visited the clerk's home to deliver a prize turkey - however he was shocked to discover the Cratchit Family already enjoying a sumptous banquet. Puzzled, he investigated further, only to discover that "Tiny Tim" was in fact an adopted child falsely claiming invalidity welfare benefit to supplement the money being taken by his father from his munificient employers. Bah, humbug!

This disturbing experience motivated Mr Scrooge to campaign as a Member of Parliament for the City of London Constituency, the position from which he would be chosen to represent the Crown during the American Civil War.

In 1966, following a severe attack of malaria Nhamodzenyika Mugabe died in Ghana. He was just three years old, the first and only son of Robert Gabriel and Sally Francesca (Hayfron) Mugabe (they had lost a child in pregnancy in 1963). With her husband in prison, Sally was left to bear the emotional burden of the loss alone - confidential papers show that she later suffered a mental breakdown while living in London.The Love that made Robert Mugabe a democrat

A fateful moment now arrived in Zimbabwean politics, revealed in full for the first time in Mugabe - Birth of a Democrat: From desperate fugitive to Rainbow leader (© Economist, 2008)1.

The author, Heidi Holland, a South African author and journalist was brought up in Zimbabwe. She first met Mr Mugabe in 1975, when a friend brought him to her house for a secret dinner as he was about to commence negotiations with the Rhodesian Government. Mr Mugabe had spent the previous decade in a Rhodesian jail for a subversive speech he made in 1963. The polite and considerate fugitive telephoned the next day to inquire about her toddler. During the meeting Mr Mugabe described two events that changed his life forever. With the perspective of hindsight, it is now possible to see how easily himself and the South African dictator Nelson Mandela could have switched the contrasting roles of demon and angel in southern african politics.

The two events occured in Salisbury and London three years apart. At issue was the expediency of British Foreign Policy. Relenting to pressure from the international community, Prime Minister Ian Smith reversed his decision and allowed Mugabe to travel to Ghana to attend his son's funeral.

There is no doubt that Sally Mugabe's support for her husband helped sustain him during his time as a prisoner in Salisbury. But, in 1970, while still locked up, Mugabe discovered his wife's immigration status was at risk and that the British government was planning to throw her out of the country because her visa had expired. A letter from Robert Mugabe to Prime Minister Harold Wilson was responded to in the positive. The letters showed that Mugabe was prepared to plead with the British authorities for his wife's citizenship.

In his letter, Mugabe had told Wilson of the effect the death of his son had had on his wife, explaining that: "My wife, whose health has never been satisfactory since the loss of our son in 1966, is at present suffering serious emotional upset as a result of the decision by the Home Office. Surely then, the fact of my detention is enough suffering for her already. As I stated in my letter to Mr Callaghan, the reason my wife decided to work for the year (September 1969-June 1970) was to enable her to earn a little money for herself until October when she should enter university to do a degree in Household Science. The Home Office decision wrecks even this wholesome plan".

Later he asked Wilson to reconsider the decision to refuse Sally permission to stay in Britain by politely explaining that his wife had a right to British citizenship because of their marriage, 'under Christian rites', in 1961. He added that it was 'sheer force of circumstance' that meant his wife had had to use a Ghanaian passport to enter Britain, proclaiming, 'She is first and foremost a Rhodesian citizen.'

Mr Mugabe explained that, "When I and other nationalist leaders decided in 1963 to return from our temporary exile in Tanganyika, I could not bring my wife, who had just given birth to our late son, back with me as she was liable for imprisonment for a political offence she is alleged to have committed... I therefore decided to take my wife to Ghana, where she was to remain with her parents until our son was about four... When our son died in December 1966 the whole purpose of her stay no longer existed so I arranged that she should go to Britain for her studies".

"Since the British government asserts that it has legally assumed administrative authority for Rhodesia,' he added, 'then it must place at the disposal of those who come under that authority, as my wife and I do, the procedures it considers valid for the acquisition of nationality as British Rhodesians... More than that, sir, I hold that the British government owes definite moral responsibility not only to persons in my circumstances but their wives and dependents as well... Am I to conclude that merely by virtue of the technicality of her possessing a Ghanaian passport, my wife's Rhodesian citizenship by virtue of her being married to me must cease? Has she ceased being my wife merely because she... cannot produce Rhodesian papers in support of her being Rhodesian?"

The British Government did take moral responsibility and the result was the 1975 agreement in the Governor's lodge at Salisbury. During his first month in office, Mr Mugabe summoned Smith to Government House and Smith was surprised to be greeted with a warm handshake and a broad smile. At that meeting, Mugabe told Smith he was acutely aware that he had inherited from his old adversaries, the whites, a jewel of a country, and he praised its superb infrastructure, its efficient modern economy, and promised to keep it that way. Smith, completely disarmed, rushed home in a state of excitement, and, over lunch, told his wife, Janet, that perhaps he had been wrong about a black government being incapable of running his beloved Rhodesia. As he told Graham Boynton years later: "Here's this chap, and he was speaking like a sophisticated, balanced, sensible man. I thought: if he practises what he preaches, then it will be fine. And it was fine. 2"



December 25

In 1941, the Battle of Chusan ended on the same day that Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrived at Pearl Harbor to assume command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The Japanese occupation begun exactly a century after the small fortified Island had become a British Crown Colony.

The Fall of ChusanThe Prime Minister Lord Palmerston (pictured) had instructed Chief Superintendent of Trade, Charles Elliot and his cousin Rear Admiral George Elliot to occupy one of the Chusan islands, to present a letter from himself to a Chinese official for the Emperor, then to proceed to the Gulf of Bohai for a treaty, and if the Chinese resisted, blockade the key ports of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. He demanded a territorial base for trade so that British merchants "may not be subject to the arbitrary caprice either of the Government of Peking, or its local Authorities at the Sea-Ports of the Empire". However at the Convention of Chuenpee the Elliots were offered an exchange of Chusan for Hong Kong, a potentially valuable base for the British trading community in Canton.

But they declined the exchange and the cession was formally ratified in the Treaty of Nanking, which forced Qishan the Viceroy of Liangguang to cede Chusan "in perpetuity" to Britain. This result from the First Opium War had actually been sought by the earlier mission by George Macartney but his refusal to kowtow to an empty chair occupied by an edict from the Qianlong Emperor was one of the reasons why Britain had failure to secure "a small unfortified island near Chusan".

The other reason was that the Chinese desired self-sufficiency seeing no need for European goods and services. By the middle of the twentieth century the Japanese had developed a similiar respect for their economic sovereignty deciding it was far easier to sieze the lightly garrisoned European colonies than open a conflict with China. Instead, the Chinese became partners in the formation of a Greater Asian Prosperity Sphere. Meanwhile Western Europe was under the shadow of Fascist rule, forcing Australia and New Zealand to turn to America for security. Given the geography it was always likely that the United States would sutain interest in the Far East. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour, she was at the centre of a sequence of actions that ultimately would place the centre of the world economy in the Pacific-Rim.

On 12th of Tevet, 3761, Zechariah's cousin Yeshua was born in Galilee. He had Elijah's spirit, and turned many to the Lord.
An installment from the Miracles thread.

Third MiracleBut the truth of their birth stories was withheld from them by their foster parents. Only years later while serving as a Rabbi did Zechariah finally discover that his mother Elizabeth had pleaded with his dumb-struck father to name him John - but to no avail, even though he had lost his voice because he questioned the will of Jehovah. The angel had said "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time" (Luke 1:19-20).

But as a result, when he did proclaim the arrival of the Messiah he did so from within the very heart of the Orthodox Jewish community. And took his rightful place amongst the Great Prophets of the Tanakh.

In DCCLIV A.U.C., on this day the great Jewish Rabbi Yeshua was born in Galilee.

The Birth of YeshuaThroughout the brief tenure of his ministry he benefitted from religious freedoms granted by the Eastern Roman Empire to the provincial citizens of Iudaea, summarised by his simple truth "Pay Alexandria what is due to Alexandria, pay God what is due to God".

Because after their dramatic victory at the Battle of Actium, co-rulers Marc Anthony and Cleopatra had loosened the tight Roman grip on the Eastern Mediterranean region. Their largely benign governance philosophy was based on the Greek, Egyptian, Persian, and Asian idea of allowing local economies and religion to flourish.

But Yeshua had an even bigger and bolder strategic vision, of a "Kingdom of Heaven" which his follower Saul encourage hime to take to Rome, where he was crucified in DCCLXXXVI A.U.C.

In 1915, on this day the Kaiser demanded an armistice after a second Christmas Truce took hold in the trenches. The words of Chief of Staff Hulmuth von Moltke from 1914 rang in the Kaiser's ears, "Your Majesty, this war cannot be won".

Second Christmas Truce Takes Hold Wilhelm II had initially rejected the view of Moltke and fired him, but as 1915 dragged on, it became possible that the German fate was sealed. There were new developments such as air warfare and poison gas, leading to whole new aspects of battle. A further innovation was mass-propaganda, and the Kaiser decided this may be the method to come out ahead in an unwinnable war.

In 1914, the soldiers in the field began what was to be known as the Christmas Truce. On Christmas Eve, the German troops decorated their trenches and sang carols. The English troops, who recognized many of the tunes from their own carols, joined in singing. The artillery bombardments on both sides ended for the night, allowing soldiers to collect their dead, and joint services were held honoring the fallen on both sides. Once-enemies approached each other across the "No Man's Land", exchanging gifts, sharing food, and engaging in games of football. Commanders on both ends reacted with disgust at the fraternization, but the unofficial truce lasted until after New Years' Eve in many places along the lines.

The cases of fraternization had continued despite the horrors of war by attrition. A German unit attempted a truce over Easter, but were warned away by their British opponents. Later that November, units from Saxony and Liverpool successfully fraternized. The soldiers in the trenches obviously did not care for the war; the Kaiser merely had to convince them to take a stand against it. While the Allied command issued orders against fraternization that upcoming Christmas, German orders encouraged the possibility and handed out gifts to exchange (including reasons for the war to be ended). Despite the orders, the soldiers in the trenches met and joined again in their small feasts and games of football. The Allied commanders erupted at the news and began court martial proceedings for hundreds, possibly thousands. Rebellion broke out among the ranks. Wilhelm was urged to attack while the Allies were weak, but he intended to win the war rather than a few battles before the Allies had propaganda material to regroup.

Seizing the diplomatic initiative and ensuring that word of the Christmas Truce spread past censorship, Wilhelm capitalized on the friendly spirits among the common soldiers. He demanded an armistice in the West, which the Allies agreed only along with an armistice in the East. Talks began, and the politicians finally conceded under pressure from the soldiers and their families. Lists of demands were drawn up, and, for each point, games of football and other athletic events would decide the victor. While troops remained in station during an armistice, Germany hosted the 1916 Olympics in Berlin that summer as it had planned to do before the war. Fighting for honor as well as diplomatic success, athletes built value with gold, silver, and bronze medals to be used in agreements during what would be a precursor to the League of Nations.

The notion was considered ludicrous by many, but war weariness kept naysayers from the majority opinion. Germany did not fair as well as the Allied nations, and most of the world expected the Kaiser to turn against his own idea and restart the war. To their surprise, he did not and ordered the removal of troops from France and Belgium as part of the agreement, though he kept Alsace-Lorraine. Reparations were traded, and war was formally outlawed in 1918.

Europe celebrated the War to End All Wars, though the name was hardly apt. Wars went underground, constantly fed by international espionage, support for uprisings (such as the Russian Civil War that would eventually stomp out notions of communism), and sabotage of other nations' teams. Tempers flared over each scandal, but war did not come back to the world stage until Ireland's fight for independence in 1928 was found to be supported overtly by the Germans. The Irish Revolt exploded outside of British borders with a Royal Navy blockade of Germany to cease supplies. The Germans countered with an invasion of Belgium to secure new ports, and Europe was swallowed up in the Second World War.

In 1863, President Hannibal Hamlin confirmed the Declaration of Emancipation that General John C. Fremont had proclaimed in Tennessee when he had occupied that State earlier in the year.

Crucifixion Day Part 6 by Raymond SpeerFrom the start of the war, which Fremont spent stationed in Missouri, that general had realized that the institution of slavery was the motivation of secession and the engine that worked the economy of the South. Accordingly, Fremont had abolished slavery In Missouri.

Hannibal Hamlin, a convinced Abolitionist from childhood and the possessoor of a dark complexion that gossips attributed to some Negro ancestors, had been told by his Attorney General that Fremont's liberation policy would alienate the border states and drive them all into the Confederacy.

"If our loss of the capitol city has not doomed us," Hamlin told his advisor, "I doubt that adding Missouri to the free states will substantially worsen our condition". The Attorney General, an appointee of the dead Lincoln, resigned and Fremont's move was approved.

In the summer of 1863, Fremont lead the Army of Missouri east and conquered Kentucky and Tennessee that season. In keeping with his program in Missouri, Fremont refused to let slavery continue in areas controlled by the Union, and Fremont's action roused discontent at Montauk Point, Long Island, New York, where the US Congress met by right in December 1863. A resolution that criticized Fremont was voted down in each House, and a counterdraft (praising the move) was passed through the support of President Hamlin.

The buildings at Montauk Point were raw and crude owing to their hurried construction. With no attendents from the Cotton South or Border States among the members of that Congress, a bill to relocate the capitol from Washington DC to Montauk was passed by both Houses, and money was appropriated for more buildings.

Thaddeus Stevens, the Speaker of the House, met with the President on a yacht offshore Nantucket Island when Hamlin signed the decree that approved Fremont's second emanicipation program. "Mr. Speaker, when Congress is as far sighted as General Fremont, it will pass laws that will tear the guts out of the Confederacy".

In 1776, during a howling nor-easter Colonel Johann Rall and his Hessian mercenaries repelled a bold American attack on Trenton that left Commander George Washington and many of his troops from the decimated Continental Army dead or dying in the freezing Delaware River on this bitterest of Christmas Days.

One-way trip across the Delaware RiverSince the heady days of the summer, Washington had lost ninety percent of his command and had already admitted both to his diary and in confidence to his colleagues that "I think the game is pretty near up".

And yet his successors would carry the germ of an idea that Washington had conceived on the eve of Battle. That concept was a breakthrough in organisational planning for irregular forces, that "a people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove". In effect, Washington had blended the best ideas of the American revolution with the War of Independence. His advocacy of open councils in a proletariat army was his gift to the future, a Union of Socialist Republics in America that would have been unimaginable to Washington as a member of the landed gentry.

Sharing his dead comrade's "full persuasion of the Justice of our cause" Thomas Paine returned to Great Britain after the so-called "black times of '76". The War of Independence might have ended in defeat, at least for now, but the Revolution had not, and Paine would ensure that it spread across the fertile ground of his homeland, Great Britain itself.

In 1999, Hideko Cardinal Tokugawa of Kyoto presided over a Christmas celebration of nearly one million Japanese Catholics.

Kirishitani by Eric LippsChristianity had been introduced into Japan in the sixteenth century. The shogun Oda Nobunaga (pictured), in particular, had embraced the new faith, both for the technologies its missionaries brought with them, which included firearms, and as a political tool against Buddhism. Although Nobunaga never converted to Christianity, he allowed Christians to proselytize and permitted the construction of the first Catholic church in Kyoto in 1576, on the site of the present Watanabe Cathedral.

After his death, some powerful Japanese came to view Christianity not as beneficial but as a threat to the state, and pressed for its restriction or even outright banning. Among them would be Toyotomi Hideyoshi, responsible for the Feb. 5, 1597 massacre of twenty-seven Christians at Nagasaki and a vocal proponent of laws restricting not only Christianity but all contact with the West. Support for such "seclusion laws" remained limited, however, and although some restrictions were imposed beginning in 1614, the Nobunaga Shogunate would lift them four decades later under Oda's great-grandson Toyo Nobunaga. By the end of the Nobunaga shogunate in the late nineteenth century, there would be twenty million Christians in the island nation. At the close of the twentieth, the number would have risen to forty million.

In 1991, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was executed in front of a Soviet Army firing squad in Red Square this morning, according to the USSR's Interior Ministry. Gorbachev had been arrested on August 18th of this year for crimes against the Soviet Union, including undermining the Soviet economy and giving military secrets to the West. Soviet President Gennady Yanayev used the occasion to reassure the Soviet people that the Communist Party (CPSU) remained firmly in control, and the damage caused by Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika programs would be swiftly rectified.

Gorbachev Executed in Red Square on Christmas Day A story by Andrew Beane This ended a series of high-profile executions, starting on August 21st with the assassination of Boris Yeltsin, then the newly elected President of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. Yeltsin had been arrested on August 17th after his return from a trip to Kazakhstan, though he had yet to be charged with a specific crime. Yeltsin's assassin was an unidentified man that shot himself before he could be subdued.

Efforts to remove Gorbachev from power and restore the nation to its once-mighty status began in December of 1990, when members of Gorbachev's government quietly conspired to create the need for the declaration of a state of emergency in the USSR. The State Committee of the State of Emergency, headed by Yanayev and seven other former members of Gorbachev's administration, seized upon the instability caused by the slow break-up of the union and ordered the arrest of Gorbachev and other "western conspirators". At the height of the crisis, the Soviet Army invaded and recaptured the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania).

American President George Bush condemned the execution, saying that Gorbachev had been the greatest hope for peace between the USSR and the West, and that the dead leader would live on "the hearts and minds of the people who so long had to strive for their God-given rights". Deng Xiaoping, leader of the Peoples' Republic of China, applauded the "halt of the USSR's capitulation to the West," and expressed hope that Moscow would follow China's example of "market socialism".

In 1977, legendary silent-film star Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Hollywood. He was 88.

Death of ChaplinIn 1952, following a visit to his native country, the British-born actor had been barred from re-entering the U.S. due to his left-wing political associations. Popular outcry forced the U.S. government to relent, and Chaplin returned to Hollywood on December 6 of that year. Like other actors whose politics resulted in their blacklisting, he would eventually return to films; he would make a brief appearance as a mute servant in the movie version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Forum alongside the former blacklistee Zero Mostel. In his last years, however, he would become increasingly reclusive, avoiding contact even with family members.



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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.