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

January 7

After alternating six times between Catholic and Protestant wives, with ensuing religious uproar each time, Henry VIII divorced Katherine Parr and announced that this time he was going to marry a nice Jewish girl.

The Seventh Wife of Henry VIIIOf course, Jews had been legally driven out of England...and many Christians believed that the Jews had killed Jesus...but King Hal was used to making his own rules. In this case, he announced that the exile did not apply to the Queen, and that it had been revealed to him that the Romans killed Jesus...especially the ancestors of those Italian Catholics who were always denouncing him anyway. (The second pronouncement, by the way, would be repeated by Catholic Popes about 300 years later, but without the death penalty for disagreeing.)

Anyone who differed with him about these matters would be burned alive, like everyone else who questioned him about anything. In turn, the Jewish rabbis, in their Arabic refuge, agreed that His Majesty would not have to undergo circumcision, and that they themselves would be glad to find a suitable candidate for his bride, who would practice her faith only in private.

After a brief correspondence on the topic, they recommended one Florence of Arabia. She met all of his requirements, as being a virgin, fluent in English and a skilled nurse...this last being the qualification that had kept Katherine Parr alive. Florence also looked like the young Elizabeth Taylor when she played Rebecca the Jewess in "Ivanhoe", as Holbein's portrait proved to his royal patron. In addition, she agreed not to try to win converts...just as long as no one called her a Jewish Princess.

While the announcement took the English people by surprise, they secretly agreed that it might be a good idea, since no one was going to face martyrdom by arguing for or against the Jewish religion, the way they had battled over the Catholic v. Protestant thing. Some, of course, feared that the King had gone mad, but they had said that before.

And so Florence was escorted into the royal palace by an entourage of English maids-in-waiting, including the King's two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Charmed by her beauty, modesty and knowledge, he declared that this was indeed a rose without a thorn. In turn she nursed him faithfully, treating all his many ailments with chicken soup.

As for Bloody Mary, she was so fond of her new stepmother that when she took the throne, she conceded that she would not burn any Jews alive, although those Protestants were still fair game.

In 1789, America's first presidential election was held under the newly formed United States Constitution (it was actually the ninth presidential election of the newly declared independent people of the Americas). Voters cast ballots to choose state electors; only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. As expected, George Washington won the election and was sworn into office on April 30, 1789. An article from the Single Term POTUS thread.

The Single Term Presidency takes Shape
By Ed, Jeff Provine, Terri Kimbrel & Tracy Johnson
The old Articles of Confederation had proven inadequate for the peacetime American states, which needed to be bound together by a stronger federal force. The old legislative body, built on ideals of independence wary of too much central power, had eight presidents primarily as signatories and no power to tax. One of the presidents, John Hancock, never even entered New York City (the nation's capital at the time) during his term of office. Each president served a one-year term.

The Philadelphia Convention ushered in changes with Washington as Presiding Officer, much loved for his success in the Revolutionary War. "The Man who unites all hearts" had been called the "Father of his Country" long before the United States even existed. There were some who wished Washington to be crowned King; when Benjamin Franklin bequeathed his crab-tree walking stick he noted, "If it were a sceptre, he has merited it and would become it". Washington, however, had been doing his own thinking at Philadelphia and, not for the first time, came up with a unique solution that reflected his "lead from the front" style of unified strong-willed command. By agreeing to take an elected executive office, he knowingly created a precedent that would define the distant future of the Republic, and he wanted to ensure a balance of power by promoting a one-term limit of office into Article II of the Constitution.

Washington's term was largely transitory with only quiet problems until the end as the Whiskey Rebellion began fighting against tax on brews often used for extra cash for farmers. Washington wrote that he considered staying on as Vice-President, but feared that doing so would weaken the position of the next president, John Adams. Instead, Adams took advice from the increasing political strength of Alexander Hamilton, who encouraged a strong military response. The Rebellion was crushed, but the Federalist Party was soon seen as villains, prompting the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1796. Jefferson would turn away from Washington's warnings of giving wide berth to issues in Europe, granting loans to Republican France in what became known as the Francophile Affair, undoing many of the ideals from the Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1792. The Democratic-Republicans maintained power with the election of Aaron Burr in 1800 at the expense of the Jeffersonian faction. The more moderate George Clinton was next in 1804. Jeffersonians came back in 1808 with James Madison, riding the wishes of warhawks and expansionists with eyes on Canada.

If Washington had prevented the rise of an Imperial Presidency, he had of course been mindful of the role of Commander-in-Chief. This matter became a pressing issue during the War of 1812 when there was some disagreement about whether President Madison should be permitted to seek a second term to maintain order in the military for a war that had turned against the US. In the event, he did not and the precedent remained firmly in place. The unifying DeWitt Clinton answered the challenge in 1816, bringing into the fold remains of the Federalist Party.

Wars in the nineteenth century remained thankfully short, but America's participation in the First World War nearly caused a collapse. During the 1940s, the country was effectively ruled by George Marshall as a Ludendorff-style Quartermaster General. His transition to General Eisenhower was seamless, but real problems began to emerge after the Fall of Havana in 1959. As the Cold War dragged on, the military-industrial complex came to run the country in all but name, with General Curtis Le May ruling as figurehead to a shadowy dictatorship for the United States with seemingly infinite money and influence to fix elections.

Washington was of course not to blame, he had after all, repeatedly spoken out against entanglement in overseas conflicts. Nor could he be reasonably expected to anticipate doomsday weapons being sighted just ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Conspiracy theorists and political analysts suggest the weapons were allowed to stay as an eternal threat from a foreign power the US really had no need to fear, but these are whispers rarely published in the US without the author disappearing.

In 1937, the Government of Neiu Nederlands was unrepresented at the wedding of Dutch Princess Juliana because of a dispute caused by the German bridegroom's membership of the Nazi Party. An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Dutch Courage Part 2But of course diplomatic relations had been tense ever since President Theodoor van Rosevelt insisted that Dutch Queen Wilhelmina extradite Kaiser Wilhelm II, a big stick to prevent the rise of a future generation of dictators. His fifth cousin Franklin was the current office holder in New Amsterdam and he took a particularly distasteful view of the developing events in the mother country. He spoke out when a refugee camp for German Jews fleeing the Nazi regime was relocated because Queen Wilhelmina felt the planned location was "too close" to her summer residence.

Fiercely monarchical, Wilhelmina was actually more interested in preserving her own royal authority than conniving with the Germans. And so it proved because four years later the British Destroyer HMS Hereward rescued the Dutch Royal Family from the invading Germans. In London, Queen Wilhelmina attempted to set up a Dutch government in exile but Prime Minister, Dirk Jan de Geer opened negotiations with Germany for a separate peace. de Geer was absolutely convinced that the Allies would not win and Wilhelmina attempted to have him removed from office by a minister, Pieter Gerbrandy. This showdown with democratic institutions was a long-time coming because the Queen had dominated Dutch Governments throughout the 1930s and now was inextricably linked to their absolute failure to protect national sovereignty.

The actions of the fractured Dutch Government was the last straw for the Neiu Nederlanders. Within months, FDR was travelling to Washington to show his agreement. If the US went to war, the American Dutch would bravely join them.

In 1536, on this day Catherine of Aragon beloved wife to King Arthur II of England died at the Palace of Westminister. She was fifty years old.

Happy Endings 14a
"A True and Loving Husband"
Due to the English ancestry she inherited from her mother Queen Isabella I of Castile, she actually had a stronger legitimate claim to the English throne than King Henry VII. And therefore, from an early age she was considered a suitable wife for Henry's first born son Arthur because the union validated the House of Tudor in the eyes of European royalty and also strengthened the Tudor claim to the English throne via Catherine of Aragon's ancestry.

Against the odds, this political union was a case of love at first sight when the couple first met on 4 November, 1501 at Dogmersfield in Hampshire. Arthur wrote to his parents-in-law that he would be "a true and loving husband" and told his parents that he was immensely happy to "behold the face of his lovely bride". Ten days later, on 14 November, they were married at Old St. Paul's Cathedral.

Arthur and Catherine were crowned King and Queen of England in 1509, making England a vibrant Tudor monarchy for a new century, protected by an unbreakable bond with their Catholic allies in Spain.

In 1800, twelfth Vice President of the United States Millard Fillmore was born in a log cabin in Moravia, Cayuga County, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Birth of VP FillmoreHis career in politics began when he was only twenty-eight. He served on the New York State assembly for three years. He had strong Whig leanings, and would be elected as a Whig politician to the 23rd, 25th, and 27th Congress. He served in the US House of Representatives from 1832-1843. After an unsuccessful candidacy for Governor of New York he became the New York State Comptroller.

Millard Fillmore was considered an excellent check to Taylor. He was a northerner, and opposed to slavery. Yet despite his public comments on slavery as an evil, he angered the Whig party, particularly in the North, by supporting the Compromise of 1850, which would keep the balance between slave states and non-slave states equal.

He came within a gasp of the Presidency during that year when a White House chef by the name of Cletus Earl Hargrove tried to poison Zachary Taylor. Instead of this conspiratorial succession, he served out his single term. Meanwhile President Taylor introduced his Slow Freedom Initiative at the beginning of his second term in 1853.

After he left the Vice Presidency, he was involved in the foundation of the University of Buffalo. He died by stroke in 1874, at the age of 74.

In 1943, on this day Serbian inventor Nichola Teslai died in Manhattan aged eighty-six.

Nichola Tesla passes awayForty-six years before he renegotiated a ten-year pause on payment with the near-bankrupt power company Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing company who provided his generators to their electrification program.

Having immigrated to the United States in 1884 with little more than a letter of introduction in his pocket, he would change the world with his inventive genius. He had worked in France with the Continental Edison Company, and now in America, he worked with Edison himself to improve the great American inventor's direct current generators. Tesla believed he was promised $50,000 if he could solve inefficiencies, which he did, but Edison assured him that the agreement was merely a joke, and the Serbian was paid $18 a week. Another argument over money would cause Tesla to quit and venture out on his own.

Tesla Electric Lighting & Manufacture allowed him to work on his own projects such as X-ray research, radio transmission, and inventing the "Tesla coil", but money was difficult to come by. His major development was pushing his "alternating current" generator, which allowed for long-distance transmission of electricity far more efficiently than Edison's DC. Tesla joined forces with the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing company, providing his generators to their electrification program.

Competition between Westinghouse and Edison erupted in what is often called the "War of the Currents". While AC was logically the superior technology, Edison would not give up his monopoly of having short-range power plants on every block. Each company launched enormous public relations and advertising campaigns, the most famous being Edison's display of the dangers of alternating current by electrocuting an elephant. Eventually, AC would win out, but the cost of the war would be disastrous. Edison had other companies to fall back on, but Westinghouse was ruined.

In 1897, Westinghouse met with Tesla to tell him of his company's financial problems. Tesla, who had always appreciated Westinghouse's faith in his ideas about alternating current and Niagara Falls, sat back in his chair to ponder how to offer help. His royalties on each kilowatt generated was costing Westinghouse a fortune, and he could give great aid to his friend if he were to waive them. Instead of tearing up his contract outright, Tesla offered a ten-year pause on payment. Westinghouse was delighted to take the deal.

The next decade were lean years for Tesla. He set up his laboratory at Colorado Springs, investigating the ionosphere and inventing his Teslascope. In 1900, he began a radio-transmission tower at Wardenclyffe to achieve trans-Atlantic contact, but his time and money was consumed in an ever-escalating legal battle with Guglielmo Marconi, the showman who had absconded many of Tesla's radio patents. By 1907, Tesla was nearly bankrupt, but Westinghouse came through with his promise of the return of Tesla's overdue patents. Armed with extra funds, Tesla was able to achieve legal victory with Marconi handing over patents and back-payment. Eventually the two would be rectified when they received a joint Nobel Prize in 1909. Marconi would take over Tesla's public operations, working out an agreement that would allow both to profit in the growing radio technology.

Tesla, meanwhile, would return to his well funded laboratories. As World War I approached, Tesla, Westinghouse, and Marconi would present new weapon ideas to the US Army. Radio-controlled torpedoes, RADAR, and a "peace ray" that used teleforce to destroy any incoming airplanes all came into development by America's introduction to the war in 1917. By the end of the war, the US Army was beginning experiments with ion-propelled electrically-based planes that would be the short-range jets of the 1930s. Long-range broadcast would allow the public air travel of the 1950s to surge, eclipsing trains worldwide with cigar-shaped flying ships.

In the 1920s, Tesla would turn his attention to field theory. After much work, on his 81st birthday, Tesla announced his "dynamic theory of gravity". The theory would override much of the work of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which would prove to be a mathematical illusion more than hard physics. While the science was established early, it would not be until the 1960s that effectively engineered gravity-drives would propel American astronauts to the Moon and, in 1986, to Mars.

Tesla would die January 7, 1943, over a year after his Tesla ray would prove defensive capabilities in the Battle of Pearl Harbor by destroying the second and third waves of Japanese attackers. The world would mourn its greatest inventor.

In 1980, CIA Director George H. W. Bush presents President Rockefeller with an updated plan for the rescue of the Tehran embassy hostages. The operation is dubbed Operation Eagle Talon.

The President remains apprehensive about the scheme. However, as the hostage situation has dragged on, the national mood has begun to turn ugly as the public increasingly wonders why superpower America seems powerless to act against third-world Iran.

Operation Eagle Talon Approved article written by by Eric LippsRockefeller signs off on the Bush plan, but warns that if it fails, the U.S. may have no choice but to go to war. "Even the Nazis didn't dare kidnap our diplomats as the Iranians have done," he observes. "If we allow the Iranians to do it, we risk losing face all over the world".

Bush assures him such fears are groundless. "We have the means to make this work," he insists. "All we need is the will".
This article is set in the Ford Kill timeline in which Nelson Rockefeller assumes the Presidency in 1975.

In 1796, on this day Her Majesty Charlotte Augusta Hanover the future monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was born in Carlton House.

Birth of Queen CharlotteAt the age of twenty she married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She bore him a son eighteen months later after a difficult childbirth. As the next generation of the House of Hanover, this family unit would ascend to the throne at a time when the monarchy was at a particularly low ebb. Fortunately for the Hanovers the ascension arrived sooner than expected. Charlotte became Queen of United Kingdom in 1830 upon the death of her father.

Nicknamed "the first gentleman of England" for his charm and culture, King George IV had suffered from terrible relations with his father and wife, and his dissolute way of life earned him the contempt of the people and dimmed the prestige of the monarchy. Taxpayers were angry at his wasteful spending in time of war. He did not provide national leadership in time of crisis, nor a role model for his people. His ministers found his behaviour selfish, unreliable, and irresponsible. At all times he was much under the influence of favourites.
This post is a variant of Robbie Taylor's Birth of English Democracy article in which Irish anarchists blow up Westminster Abbey and assassinate Queen Victoria.

In 1861, on this day the Congressman from Alabama William L. Yancey (pictured) called for a Confederate States of Washington.

Yancey Calls for a Confederate States of Washington Secessionism had been a discussed point off and on throughout the first century of the United States of America. South Carolina repeatedly made its threats to secede and even questioned the power of the Federal government in the Nullification Crisis, which was effectively settled by counter-threats of military action by President Jackson. The issue of slavery (specifically its expansion into territories) drove a deep divide between the North and South, which already had significant economic and social segregation. John C. Calhoun, the nearly ubiquitous senator from South Carolina, spoke out against the Compromise of 1850 to no avail. Earlier, Calhoun had led the charge to unify Southern interests against the increasingly anti-slave North, laying the foundation for real secession in his "Address of the Southern Delegates in Congress, to Their Constituents" as it outlined Constitutional violations against the South by the North. Great fears were raised about forced emancipation and Southern subjugation, and the election of Abraham Lincoln seemed to justify all those fears.

Calhoun died in 1850, shortly after the Compromise, but by then he had many followers, including William L. Yancey, Congressman from Alabama. Yancey had initially opposed Calhoun's radicalism, though years of following politics as editor of the Cahaba Southern Democrat had won him to Calhoun's side on the matter of Northern aggression. Abolitionism leaped forward politically as 1852 had seen one of the biggest turns for anti-slavery with the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The importance of public relations weighed upon him, and he had fought back with sharp editorials. Alabama prepared to host a convention due to the election of a Republican, and Yancey began to ponder how he might stir cooperationists (Southerners who only wished to secede if the rest of the South were to do so). While devising methods of verbally whipping them for their fearfulness, it occurred to him that he needed not persuade the South that secession was right, but the North.

From his platform as a leading member of the convention, Yancey pronounced a speech steeped in the rhetoric that would still be familiar in the North: the War of Independence. He spoke of great Southerners Thomas Jefferson, who had outlined the reasons for leaving the mother country, and James Madison, who had been architect of a Constitution the North had repeatedly stepped over. Most of all, he spoke of General George Washington, first to serve his country in war and in peace and was truly a Cincinnatus who wanted to return to the peace of his plantation. Rather than calling upon the name of "some Italian", Yancey proclaimed that theirs would be a nation dubbed "The Confederate States of Washington". The name sounded initially hokey, but Yancey's silver tongue smoothed its wrinkles, and the CSW was born.

The Civil War would be hard times for the South, and Yancey was dispatched as a diplomat to Britain in search of aid. The British would proclaim neutrality despite victory at Bull Run and Yancey's best efforts (even attempting to counteract his many appeals to the Revolution against them). He decided eventually that the issue of slavery, which was the key issue to inspire separation in the first place, was holding back international support. Since building up foreign relations for the South seemed impossible, Yancey instead turned to devalue the North. He spent his return voyage to the CSW working on huge new campaigns of propaganda, including writing a novel with his aides to combat the spirit of Uncle Tom. While the resulting Southern Heart was hardly a classic of literature, it was packed with outrageous violence performed by Yankee soldiers and uppity slaves upon the charming and courageous young farmers, George and Martha Dix. The drivel piqued the interest of the masses, and Yancey used his position as Senator from Alabama to route a good deal of the Congress's money into spreading it through the North.

The propaganda war took a sharp turn. With the powerful reminders of Washington and the South's efforts in the Revolution sprinkled throughout the book (especially in comparing their burned out farm to Valley Forge and in the final speech where George speaks of his grandfather standing tall at Yorktown over the invading Redcoats, comparing them with Yankee blue), the North seized the opportunity of counter-propaganda by erasing much of the South's early influence on the United States. The American Revolution became a very unpopular topic for discussion, and the story of George Washington chopping down his father's cherry tree emphasized the general's young cowardice at staying silent. Abraham Lincoln often commented that the lies of war were unbecoming of any American and referred directly to the Revolution in his Address at Gettysburg. The ill-received speech would be blamed for his failure at reelection in 1864.

Despite the efforts of the South, the North's industrial and population base won out, and the war ended in 1865. Bad sentiments stood as Reconstruction began, and the assassination of President McClellan only made things worse. Southern Heart had been declared treasonous material with hundreds of book burnings during the occupation, and history books became edited to highlight the efforts of John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Benjamin Franklin as well as the fiascoes of Southern politics such as the near-loss of Madison's War and the Nullification Crisis. After a return to stability in the later nineteenth century, the myths of George Washington would be supported primarily by the Klan and other begrudging Southerners. Following improvements through the WPA in the Great Depression and World War II's resurrection of the South, Washington and his Revolutionary counterparts would come into marginal recognition in the history textbooks, but few counted him among the best presidents as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ulysses Grant routinely topped the national polls.

In 1983, after observing the creation of a geo-engineered cloud, the 39th President of the United States James Earl Carter announced that the next stage in Project QUARTZ would be the official re-generation of the "Thunder" State of Nevada into a weather experimentation-zone.

Project QuartzThe event was a further setback for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) whose past achievements had been eclipsed by the success of the Golden Institute for Energy.

Because ever since he had defeated his Republican opponent Ronald Reagan in the 1980 presidential election, Carter had poured money and resources into geo-engineering rather than into space programs. Based in Colarado, the Institute was equipped with virtually unlimited funding to make the United States the most energy-rich nation on the planet, its scientific and technical advancements were rapid and often groundbreaking.

Of course the accelerated change of priorities during his second term was of little surprise to shrewd observers of the "Georgia Giant". Because just six months after the completion of the eleventh manned mission to the moon, the 1973 energy crisis forced the United States to evaluate alternative sources of power. Once in office, Carter had created the United States Department of Energy and vigourously set about pursuing his environmentally-friendly policy. And so Apollo 17 became the final moon landing.

To be truthful Carter himself might well have been derailed by foreign policy crisis, but he was extremely fortunate to have just pulled off Operation Credible Sport a second rescue attempt using modified Lockheed C-130 Hercules to airlift the Iranian hostages.

Had that mission failed, then surely Reagan would never have authorised domestic experiments like the conversion of Nevada into giant lightning-field. Neither would scientists have been given the funding to develop delivery systems for the high altitude release of silver iodide-filled balloons. The result of those early experiments was the very tall lightning conductors in the Nevada desert which were discharging electricity up to the magnitude of 774 mega-joules and being harnessed and made available to consumers. Because under a Reagan Presidency, money and resources might very well been wasted on cowboyish military adventures in the Middle East.

And so instead of fighting over the world's oil supplies, by the time Carter left office, the city of Las Vegas had enthusiastically embraced the new weather system. Lightning rod-trailer parks known as "Lightning Bingo" were being set up by people hoping to make a fortune through electricity to power the latest generation of automobiles now driving across Nevada.
To be continued..

In 1861, on this day the United States Senator from Mississippi, Jefferson Davis (pictured) was arrested in Washington attempting to purchase one thousand rifles from the manufacturer Eli Whitney. Davis' position in the Senate was mostly nominal, he had been preaching secession away from Washington for much of his term of office, and there was little doubt that he intended to resign his seat and ship the rifles back to Mississipi for the widely anticipated "War of the States".

Jefferson Davis ArrestedIn fact, the two gentleman had a long-standing relationship. Just before the Mexican War the Whitney plant began to use steel for gun barrels, and Jefferson Davis, then Colonel of the Mississippi Rifles, declared that the new guns were "the best rifles which had ever been issued to any regiment in the world". Later, when Davis became Secretary of War, he issued to the regular army the same weapon.

Yet attempts to fill southern ordinances were foundering, and badly. The United States Army Ordinance Office in Washington had wisely refused to sell five thousand guns from its Baton Rouge arsenal to the State of Mississipi. And Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb, and Secretary of War John B. Floyd had resigned; both politicians refusing to use their office to overtly assist the arming of the South.

On this day in 1945, Adolf Hitler shot Hermann Fegelein, brother-in-law of Hitler's mistress Eva Braun, on dubious charges that Fegelein had been secretly collaborating with the Allied armies. This incident would turn out to be the moment when Hermann Goering finally made up his mind to remove Hitler as chancellor once and for all.

 - Hermann Fegelein
Hermann Fegelein
In 1779, American revolutionary Samuel Adams writes "the revolution sleeps not, but is dead", in a letter to his friend, James Warren, who had joined the Canadian nationalists. Since the election of the accommodationist John Jay to the presidency of the Continental Congress, revolutionary fortunes had dimmed in America, and Adams was soon on his way to Canada as well.
In 902, after a couple of days of consultation with Merlin, Atticus, wizard of lightning, leaves the legendary wizard's castle to journey to his next destination, the witch Rhonwen, mistress of the sea, on the coast of Wales. Meanwhile, the forces of the Christian zealot Lebuin march into Wales.
In 1969, a cat appears inside a time machine in the lab of Faisal Yassin and Wilhelm Schoemann. They had just begun training the cat to press a button when it saw a light so that they could make it activate its own return trip. The cat was healthy and unharmed, if a bit perturbed at what it had just seen while time-traveling. Yassin and Schoemann activate the light that is the cat?s cue, and it presses the button that sends it forward in time. The pair of scientists break out champagne to celebrate their most successful test to date.
In 1959, the Soviet States of America formally recognizes the new government of Fulgencio Batista, a revolutionary who had just assumed power in the island nation of Cuba. Although the Cuban people had been an ally and member of the Community of Trade for over half a century, Batista reveals his reactionary stripes shortly after assuming power, and by 1961, the S.S.A. has severed all ties with him.
In 1785, adventurers Jean-Pierre Blanchard of France and John Jeffries of the British Massachussetts Commonwealth become the first men to ride a human-made spacecraft to the moon. After nearly crashing into the lunar surface, the pair brush death again on the way back when their craft nearly sinks into the English Channel. They had borrowed heavily from Mlosh ships in their design, but ended up with a uniquely human craft that was hailed the world over as humanity?s first true spaceship.
After(cont.) ~ Jake looked over at Steph and Kevin walking back into the living room from the kitchen with a little pang in his heart. It felt strange to see Steph with another man, even though he knew it would happen someday. No more alimony payments, he thought; millionaire's wives didn't need money from Army sergeants. He shook it off and stood up to talk to the rest of the group.
'OK, you ready to go shoppin', Bradley?' Kevin nodded. 'The rest of y'all be ready to hit the road when we get back. Day's gonna be long enough as is; don't need to slow it down any more.'
Kevin smirked. 'Is that one of the phrases they teach you in sergeant school?'
'Just get your butt in the jeep,' Jake said, irritated. While he was hugging Joan and George, he saw Kevin and Steph hug a little more closely than they should have, and almost kiss; their faces were inches apart, and he could see that they both wanted to. Weird. It was definitely weird. 'All right, Bradley, let's move with a purpose.'
'I remember that from basic,' Kevin said, putting a little hustle in his step.
Janice touched Jake's arm as he walked by to the front door. 'Get a good one, OK? I like to ride in comfort.'
'You got it,' he said, and their hands brushed against each other briefly as he turned away. That was a little weird, too. He didn't know what he was starting to feel towards her, but she felt something back, he could tell. When they were both outside in the jeep, Jake turned to Kevin and said, 'Strange days, ain't they, Bradley?'
'Sarge, that's one hell of an understatement.'
Jake fired up the jeep and backed quickly out of Kevin's driveway and headed back to the main road. 'Where we goin' first?'
'Hit the highway and turn south. There's a dealership should be able to give us an SUV just a couple miles down the road.'
'All right.' They drove in the chill morning air for a minute before Jake said, 'So, Bradley, how do you feel about my wife?'
'Your ex-wife, sir,' Kevin said, quickly.
'Yeah, that's how I thought you felt.' He chuckled. 'Hell, don't worry, Bradley, I don't think I'm jealous. But, you better be good to her and those kids, or I'm gonna have to hurt you.'
Kevin blinked and tried to process what had just been said. 'I haven't even asked her for a date, yet.'
'Just be thinkin' about my size twelves up your butt if you mistreat any of 'em.'
'Thanks, sarge. That really helps clarify my feelings.'
'Always here to help, Bradley. Always.'
Just to change the subject from something that would provoke physical violence, Kevin asked, 'Why do you think they did it?'
Jake shrugged. 'Maybe they felt this was their last shot. Bush is on his way out since losin' to Kerry, Democrats are on their way back in, some uncomfortable questions are gonna be asked about the last four years ? they wanted to stop all that. I mean, we ain't found no nukes in Iraq.'
'We're still looking,' Kevin said, defensively.
'There ain't none,' Jake said. 'If he'd had any, he woulda used 'em against us. Same thing goes for biological weapons. It's not like Saddam's got any kinda morals keeping him from doing that. Nah, they knew he didn't have any way to stop us, he was sittin' on all kinds of oil; he was easy pickins. So, they pull people away from the country where the guy that really attacked us is sittin', and go off on a wild goose chase that just happens to make them and their friends some money. If I was them, don't know if I'd want anybody lookin' into that, either?'
Kevin frowned. 'Who's them?' He looked at the highway and pointed an exit out. 'Turn off there.' Jake nodded. 'I mean, I hear all you liberals talking about these conspiracies, but it's not like Bush is part of this one. Who's at the top of this?'
'I dunno. Maybe you should ask Janice when we get back.'
'Yeah, that'll be a fun conversation.'
'We'll have time to kill on the drive to Crawford.' Jake saw the dealership on the feeder road and pulled into it.
In 1935, Benito Mussolini and French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval sign the Italo-French agreements, the first of the treaties binding the allied powers comprising the social democracies of France, Germany and Italy prior to their declaration of war on fascist Anglo-America.
In 4675, Khmer rebel Pol Pot was captured by Imperial Chinese forces as he fled with his band of thugs into the jungles of southeast Asia. Pol had been attempting to overthrow the Imperial Khmer Governor and return the land to its ancient kingdom. This separatist plot died with him.
In 1927, a basketball team of surpassing talent played its first game in the small town of Hinkley, Illinois, due to the fact that the team consisted of African-American men. But, in just a few decades, the clown princes of basketball would be known all over the world, and the Watts Travelers would set a standard for basketball ability that few other teams could match.
In 1912, wholesome family cartoonist Charles Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey. His Addams Family cartoons in the pages of the New Yorker became the symbol of American life in the middle of the century, replete with happy nuclear family and rock-solid values.
In 1536, former consort to the King, Catherine of Aragon, dies in London. She is the first of many consorts to King Henry VIII to meet an untimely end. Fancying a stereotypical Spanish traits of dark hair and an olive complexion, the King was disappointed to find that Catherine was in fact a blue eyed, fair-skinned woman with reddish-blonde hair, not too unusual for northern Spaniards such as those from her father's land of Aragon. Furthermore, Catherine herself was part English, through her English great-grandmother, Catherine of Lancaster.
In 1601, the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereaux, overthrew Queen Elizabeth in a nearly bloodless coup. The only fatality was the Queen herself, a former lover of Devereaux's, who was killed by the Earl's men after she attacked him for taking the crown from her head.
In 1989, Taiwan mourns the death of Hirohito, Emperor of Japan during World War II. Alongside his unlikely ally Chiang Kai-shek, the combined gold and foreign reserves of China and Japan were used by the two renegades to successfully launch the first Asian Tiger in the 1950s.
In 1965, Salvador Allende pledges that he will respect the elected government of unified Chile, even though election returns show him losing to reactionaries from the north. The Soviet States of America pledge to give Comrade Allende all that he needs to ensure justice for the people of Chile.

January 6

In 1882, on this day Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and briefly caretaker President Samuel Taliaferro ("Sam") Rayburn was born in Kingston, TN, becoming (after Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson) only the third chief magistrate from the Volunteer State. Twenty-four days later Franklin D. Roosevelt was born, a fact noted by the news media while Roosevelt was President and Rayburn was Speaker.

Birth of Caretaker President Sam RayburnHe was a Democratic lawmaker who served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives until a double tragedy propelled him unexpectedly into the Oval Office at the advanced age of seventy-eight. Because Vice President Nixon was murdered by an angry during a trip through Caracas, Venezuela and Eisenhower suffered a fatal heart attack before he could appoint a successor. These events would throw the 1960 GOP nomination to Nelson Rockefeller who chose Illinois Sentator Everett McKinley Dirksen to shore up the conservative base.

However the immediate problem was that Rayburn was a member of the Democratic Party who had assumed office to replace a Republican administration. Recognizing this, he staged a press conference, explained to the people what had happened and also his plan to have the House elect a Republican Speaker and then resign. He died on November 16, 1961, his leadership greatly admired by both political parties.

In 1367, the necromancer King of England Richard of Bordeaux was born on this day.

King of the White HartHe was the younger son of Edward, the Black Prince, and Joan of Kent ("The Fair Maid of Kent"). Edward, heir to the throne of England, had distinguished himself as a military commander in the early phases of the Hundred Years' War, particularly in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. However the Black Prince never ascended to throne due to a sickness he contracted fighting in Europe.

After Richard succeeded his grandfather, Edward III, he turned to alchemy to create a more pious ideal of kingship. But he lost his way and began to experiment with sulphur and mercury in order to boost his life force.

Finally he was confronted by nobles such as Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, Earl of Northumberland in collusion with Louis, Duke of Orléans. But he had grown too powerful to overthrow, and while they waited sentencing in the Tower of London, they surely knew that his reign of evil had only just begun.

In 1919, on this day America's only three-term President Theodore Roosevelt died in Oyster Bay, New York. He was sixty years old.

Three-term President Roosevelt passes awayHe became the longest-serving president in the nation's history. But inevitably, his final election victory in 1912 was a matter of controversy and high drama. He was nominated for the presidency by the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party. "This bull moose shall roar his way back into the White House," he said in his acceptance speech.

The Progressives campaigned vigorously for him, but he seemed to be a long shot until October 12th. An insane gentleman by the name of William Shrenk attempted to assassinate him, declaring that "Any man looking for a third term ought to be shot". Schrenk missed Roosevelt, but the attempt transformed the former president into something akin to a martyr for the progressive cause.

People flocked to his speeches in the fall, and in November, he narrowly edged out the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, to win what was actually only his second full term in the White House. Perhaps Roosevelt's greatest legacy was the rise of the Progressive Party and the diminishment of the Republicans. Although old money himself, Roosevelt's Progressives supported the rights of unions, as well as several reigns on big businesses and trusts during his time in the White House. In 1916, although the Progressives wished to nominate him again, he declined and supported instead his Vice-President, Hiram Johnson, who barely won the office after a campaign blitz from the old Bull Moose lifted his fortunes.

In 1066, on this day Harold Godwinson was crowned King of England.

Battle of Hastings begins the Anglo-Norman War The English Crown had been tossed into the air, and three would-be kings fought to catch it. Edward the Confessor had no son to take over the throne, which meant that less legitimate bids for the throne could now be heard.

Harold Godwinson, the primary landowner in England, had the best claim to the throne; he was proclaimed as such upon Edward's death and accepted by the people. William, Duke of Normandy, claimed that Harold had sworn upon holy relics to support him after being sent as an emissary from Edward in years past to judge William as a successor. Harold denied the claim, but it was enough to give William the blessing of the Church. King Harald III of Norway also made a bid, saying that the crown belonged to him because of an agreement with old King Harthacnut in the 1040s. It was the weakest of the bids, but he was supported by Harold's brother Tostig. He had already added Denmark to his realms, and England would make another powerful Nordic nation.

After a summer of staving off William's fleet with an army on the Isle of Wight, Harold retired toward London just in time to learn of Harald's invasion. He made a forced march and met Harald's army at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, which had long been Viking soil. Before the battle, Harold bravely, though covertly, rode up to Harald and his brother Tostig, offering an earldom if Tostig would turn on the Norwegian. Tostig asked what would be given to Harald, and the rider, King Harold himself, replied, "Six feet of ground or as much more as he needs, as he is taller than most men". The battle ensued, and Harold won victory, killing both Tostig and Harald.

With the Norwegian army destroyed, Harold turned back south to face the fleet of William, who had invaded as quickly as he had the chance. The Norman had some 7000 men in his army, powerful knights and mercenaries. Harold had a similar number, primarily ax men, and the advantage of defense. Harold fortified a ridge at Hastings and readied their defensive shield wall, which stopped the onslaught of Norman arrows, even those from the cutting edge technology known as crossbows.

The Norman infantry charged uphill, and the English fought back, throwing rocks and javelins. Unwounded by the barrage of arrows, the English held firm and drove the Normans back. Harold's men, including his two surviving brothers, began pursuit. In the confusion, William fell, but his triumphant stand and tossing his helmet rallied his soldiers to counter-attack. Harold's brothers were slain, and the Normans charged with additional arrow barraged. William aimed directly for Harold, who realized that he alone was the English heir to the throne with his brothers gone. Norway had been deprived of its king in battle, and now England might, too.

Calling for a last desperate defense, Harold began the retreat. The rearguard took heavy casualties from the Norman knights, who took up pursuit until they were caught on steep ground in the night and were slaughtered in ambush at the Malfosse or "Bad Ditch". The Normans had won the battle, but Harold and the English were still a force. Morale sank, but Harold reminded his men that they had lost to Harald at Fulford and then smashed him at Stamford Bridge. He who had bravely rode up alone to face Harald would lead them to victory no matter how many battles it took.

William pressed, sending Harold from Sussex back to London, but the campaign season ended as winter came on. The Normans took losses from dysentery, with even William himself falling ill, but fresh troops arrived from across the English Channel. Harold called up reinforcements himself, attempting to unite the English in defense, but many nobles held that the dispute was a family matter between Harold and William. Some nobles politicked with Normandy over the winter and became supporters of William.

In spring, war resumed in what many called William's War or the Anglo-Norman War. Harold had the home-field advantage while William had international support from the Church's blessing. The armies checked one another, devastating southern England and at one point even driving Harold as far as Chester. Finally, in 1072, Harold drove William from England back across the Channel.

The war had been won, but it had crippled England. Normandy survived with enormous debts, but whole towns of England had been put to the torch. While they would rebuild and grow in strength, they would be outpaced by their Celtic neighbors to the north with the rise of Robert the Bruce in 1306. His brother Edward became king of Ireland in 1316, affirming his position in 1318 by handily defeating an army of Irish lords backed by the English at the Battle of Faughart. In later wars with the English, the Bruce would add Wales to their holdings and eventually merge the clans under one crown in the Gaelic Union.

The English were pushed farther and farther southeast until they were something of a republican city-state around London ruled by their Parliament.

In 1853, on this day the President-elect of the United States Franklin Pierce (pictured) and his family were crushed to death when the train car that they had boarded in Boston was derailed and then rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts.

Tragic Death of Franklin PierceIn his place, William Rufus King was sworn in as President on March 4th. Problem was, King was dying of tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease just six weeks later, so that the presidency fell to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, David Rice Atchison.

Just four years before, he had served as President for a single day. Because on Saturday, March 3, 1849, outgoing President James Polk's term had expired, but incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath and put the ceremony off until Monday, March 5 -- which meant nobody was President on Sunday, at least officially.

He did not undertake any presidential duties, but claimed to have taken a nap whilst serving as 12th president of the United States. But unlike that temporary ceremonial fill-in function, the succession after the deaths of Pierce and King was fundamentally differently. Because Atchison was a pro-slavery expansionist who was brought to power at a pivotal moment in the nation's history.

In 1895, on this day Hawaii returned to Home Rule. Since the unification of the Hawaiian Islands by Kamehameha I in 1810, the royal house had controlled the Pacific nation with gradually decreasing power over the nineteenth century.

Hawaii Returns to Home Rule Initially, the kings and queens were unquestionable, but the plagues that ravaged the populace also devastated the dynasty, leaving legislatures to elect the next king. Influence from Europe and, especially, the United States increased, especially after the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 in which the two became close trade partners. In 1887, after a vicious election campaign in 1873 in which rioters were put down by foreign armies, King David Kalakaua was forced to sign the "Bayonet Constitution" greatly limiting the power of the monarch. Rather than shifting the power into the hands of the people, the constitution placed it firmly into the hands of the wealthy planters and politicians.

Queen Lili'uokalani (pictured) came to power in 1891 upon the death of David Kalakaua and set about regaining power. Her main end was to revoke the Constitution of 1887 and entail her own. Fearful of losing power, the wealthy (primarily white businessmen) formed a Committee of Safety and overthrew the queen in 1893. During the military overthrow, US Minister to Hawaii John Stevens ordered Marines into action supporting the coup from anchor in Pearl Harbor, which had been leased by the United States Navy only six years before.

Outrage both international and local would be voiced, but none enough to force the planter-led Sanford Dole's Provisional Government out of power. The Blount Report of 1893 and 1894 Morgan Report from the U.S. Senate showed distaste for the illegal use of Marines, but the petitions of Hawaiians were not enough to undo the action. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland made clear that he supported the imprisoned Queen Lili'uokalani and refused the continual petition for annexation. The new US Minister to Hawaii, Albert Willis, used rumors and the Japanese, American, and British naval ships in harbor as an elaborate hoax to show the public's distaste for Dole's government, but Dole refused to give up power. The government reformed itself into the Republic of Hawaii, awaiting a day when a favorable administration would allow the islands to become United States Territory.

While the rest of the world stood by with wrinkled noses, local Hawaiians were organizing to retaliate. Led by men such as former Head of the Royal Guard Sam Nowlein and Robert Wilcox, who had studied military action in Italian academies in a royal program ended with the 1887 Constitution, the Royalists collected troops among the poor and disenfranchised and armed with them weapons smuggled from San Francisco. On January 6, 1895, Republican police searched the Royalist weapons cache in the home of John Bertleman on Waikiki Beach. Shots broke out, and Royalists surrounded the house, capturing all six of the policemen. Knowing that rumors had turned to reality, Wilcox led the charge that night to attack government buildings while Nowlein rescued the queen from her palace and declared her power returned at 11:59 so that not one more day would be spent under the tyranny of oligarchy.

The Royalists numbered only 500, but they acted with speed and surprise that enabled them to capture Dole and several other government leaders before the Republican Army had time to react. Riots broke out in the plantations in 'Ewa, and Hawaiians hurried out into the streets to show their support for either government. In the chaos, Minister Albert Willis refused to let American or other foreign powers intervene, and, by January 9, the Republic was crushed.

Lili'uokalani rewrote her constitution and led court proceedings stripping Dole and his minions of their properties as well as freeing any indentured workers imported from Asia from their contracts. Representation was granted to the naturalized Asians who had lost their votes in 1887. A special thanks was given to Willis, and Wilcox, now made a duke to match his nickname of "Iron Duke," was named Minister to the United States, meeting with the later President McKinley, whose expansionism Wilcox stifled. Pearl Harbor remained leased by the United States but was not expanded until World War II.

In December of 1941, another expansionistic force would be seen as the Empire of Japan attacked the American base at Midway without warning, leading to a bloody battle even before war was declared. The Hawaiians, close to the United States but with a large Japanese population, declared neutrality. Staying out of the war proved impossible, and King Kamehameha Lane opened his islands for Allied aid while cracking down on any suspicion among Japanese citizens.

The war would prove an economic boom for Hawaii, which would lead to a harsh crash in the 1950s, prompting a coup by anti-royal socialists, mainly of Japanese descent. The CIA funded and armed several counter-revolutions, destroying stability. A new Republic of Hawaii came with a successful revolution in 1989, and a golden age from tourism lasted as developers in the late '90s and early '00s. The Global Credit Crisis struck Hawaii particularly hard, devastating the islands' economy comparable to, though worse than, Iceland.

In 1837, Congress returns from its Christmas recess with the presidency still undecided following the death of James Madison the previous June.

Union in Turmoil by Eric LippsTennessean Andrew Jackson (pictured) remains in place as acting President and is favored to win the office in his own right, but faces a strong continuing challenge from South Carolina's John Calhoun.

Regional hostilities are mounting: both Tennessee and South Carolina have each threatened secession if its favorite son is not elected, and are lobbying neighbor states for support. A number of newspapers have editorialized harshly against Congress's having chosen to go on vacation without finishing the job of choosing a new lifetime chief executive.

There is growing public dissatisfaction, as well, with the fact that the electorate which chooses the Congress which, in turn, picks the President is limited by laws in every state to a small minority of wealthy white male landowners. Acting President Jackson shrewdly exploits this resentment, telling newspapers that if elected he will work to broaden the suffrage to non-landholders. (He says nothing about extending it to women, and certainly nothing about granting it to nonwhites).

In England, there are suggestions that the United States' disarray offers an opportunity for some sort of military action, perhaps to seize territory along the U.S./Canadian border. Also discussed is the use of agents-provocateurs to deepen America's sectional divides, with the aim of promoting an actual breakup of the Union into two or three smaller, weaker nations. Even at this late date there are influential Britishers who dream of reabsorbing some or all of "the Colonies" into the British Empire, and such people see encouraging secession as a means toward that goal.
This article is a part of the Life Term thread. In this scenario, we explore the consequences of a 1787 agreement at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, in which a President-for-life clause is inserted into the text.

In 2001, Minnesota's Paul Wellstone (the "Senator from the Left") joined with the Congressional Black Caucus in challenging the electoral votes of Florida for Governor George Bush (having toyed with his own presidential candidacy, ultimately he had declined to join the race and endorsed Bill Bradley instead).

An Empty Gesture produces a bipartisan White HouseAlthough twenty Democratic congressmen, mainly members of the Congressional Black Caucus, formally objected to the awarding of Florida's 25 electoral votes to Bush, it initially appeared that not one of the fifty Democratic senators would join in the objection, as required by an 1887 law governing the counting of the electoral vote. Among those Democrats who refused to sign an objection to according Florida's electoral votes to Bush were such prominent liberals as Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Florida senators, Robert Graham and Bill Nelson, and the newly sworn-in senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Most declined to discuss their action and many did not attend the joint session. But one leading Democrat, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, dismissed the protest by the black caucus as an empty gesture, saying, "It was a very good point they made", and then adding, "It's over with". Apart from, it wasn't over because Wellstone's action threw the presidential election into the House of Representatives, where bitter partisan wrangling ended with the governor elected president, but Democrat Joe Lieberman elected vice-president by the Senate. This unusual situation, decried by both sides at first, produced a bipartisan White House that truly does unite, not divide.

In 2008, the "Paul is dead " hoax was turned on its head when Heather Mills revealed that her former husband was after all an impostor.

Paul is dead hoaxThe supposed death of Paul McCartney, a member of the Beatles, was the subject of a rumour that began circulating in October 1969. Proponents of the theory had claimed that McCartney died in a car crash in late 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike before the recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The supposed 'clues' are given throughout the post-1966 Beatles material in the form of peculiar album covers, possible symbolism in strange lyrics, and backmasking.

The rumour started when radio DJ Russ Gibb received a call from a listener who claimed that McCartney had died and the Beatles (namely John Lennon) had sprinkled clues throughout the Beatles' albums for fans to pick up on. The rumour quickly died down in 1970 after McCartney revealed himself to be alive on the cover of Newsweek magazine. However, some theorists had continued to maintain that Paul is dead and the Paul McCartney who played with Wings and in the Super Bowl is the same lookalike who played with the Beatles after Revolver.

In 1777, American rebel General George Washington establishes a winter headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, and uses the winter to correspond with the nascent Canadian nationalists. Although unable to resupply or reinforce Washington's forces, the nationalists do provide a home for Washington when the American Revolution is defeated and he is forced to flee to the north.
In 1066, Bishop Harold Godwineson assumes the papacy of the Holy British Empire under a cloud of illegitimacy. Bishops from the Norwegian and Norman churches both pressed a claim on the Holy See, and soon plunged the Holy Land into a war that brought Pope Harold down.
In 1958, Comrade President Joel Rosenberg, in a gesture of conciliation to the European powers, reduced American troops levels by 300,000 to about 3 million. The Soviet States had maintained a large standing army since the Great Patriotic War, and Comrade Rosenberg was mainly trimming soldiers that were no longer necessary to American security. Still, the move was seen as a part of a larger overture towards peace by the S.S.A.
In 1942, with the ongoing war in Eurasia bleeding over into the western hemisphere, President Alf Landon commits the United States to buying tens of thousands of new aircraft, guns, tanks and ships. Both the Greater Zionist Resistance and the German Underground have had representatives pleading for aid from the U.S., but the official policy of America towards the war in Eurasia has been neutrality.

In 2002, intensive aerial bombardment of Taliban military bases begins.

Bombing of sites identified as Al Qaeda camps is intensified. Additional U.S. troops enter Afghanistan. Unlike their predecessors, they are under explicit orders to consider the Afghan military an enemy force and not to wait until fired upon to attack.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

At a meeting of the National Security Council, President Gore discusses U.S. military and political options. He is advised that once Kabul is captured, which is considered to be a matter of weeks at the most, he must move quickly to establish a new government purged of Taliban and pro-Taliban elements.

Conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly, on his syndicated radio show, condemns the Afghan intervention as "a pathetic effort on the part of a weakling Whiten House to look tough on terrorists like the ones who took down Flight 93 on his watch". Echoing a comparison making the rounds on the Web, O'Reilly accuses the President of 'wagging the dog,' a reference to a popular movie in which a beleaguered administration starts a war to divert attention from its problems.

After(cont.) ~ Kevin stepped into his shower and felt the hot water pour over him, washing away the dirt of the last two days. He soaped up his hair and scrubbed at his skin, feeling better with each inch of flesh he wiped the stink off of. When he was done, he picked his fluffiest towel to dry off with, and felt the good fabric soak up the water from his body as he rubbed it vigorously across himself.
Since he lived alone, he would normally just walk around naked, but he wrapped the towel around himself now, and walked through his bedroom to his closet to choose some clothes. He needed something comfortable, but durable ? rescue missions were hell on your clothes, at least according to the movies. His own military experience hadn't prepared him for anything more dangerous than dealing with a dedicated hacker.
He chose some weathered jeans, a blue shirt to match, and his one pair of boots that he saved for dancing. Even though they weren't very comfortable, they were durable; that one woman at the Halloween dance had kept stepping on his feet...
The smile slipped from his face as he tried to harden himself. He felt like he needed to put a game face on, get ready for what was probably going to be a one-way mission. He dressed, picked a good jacket from his small collection, then went back into the living room.
They were watching cartoons.
He shook his head to try to clear it of the cognitive dissonance. He started thinking he had been right when he called them nutjobs earlier ? they were about to start fighting some sort of governmental coup, and here they were, watching cartoons. He walked over to the kitchen and pulled out a beer.
'Hey, you clean up good,' a voice said behind him.
Kevin turned around to see Steph standing there, smiling at him. 'Thanks.' He smiled weakly back at her, but didn't really feel any mirth.
She walked over and rubbed his arm. It was a surprisingly comforting gesture, he found. 'Hey, don't worry. You're the good guys; you'll be OK.'
'Maybe I shoulda put on my white hat.'
'If you think it'd help...' Now, they both smiled, sincerely. She was very cute - Kevin could definitely tell what Jake had seen in her.
'So, uhm, Steph, are you seein' anybody?' He didn't know what made that come out, but she didn't look very surprised.
'Not right now,' she said, dipping her head down and looking at his chest. 'Datin's not that easy with a couple of kids. You askin'?'
'Yeah, I guess so. I mean, if Jake won't shoot me because of it.'
'Pff, Jake don't care. 'Sides, he's got the hots for that Janice chick.'
'Really?' That took Kevin completely by surprise.
'Yeah, he was always into that conspiracy crap. I'm surprised he didn't join the Nation of Islam. He toned it down when we were married, but he'd love to get with somebody who'd let him let it all out again.'
'Well, she's definitely the one for him, then.'

In 1807, French 'First Citizen' Napoleon Bonaparte announces the creation of a new national police, the Surete Nationale.

The new agency will quickly acquire a fearsome reputation as a political secret police force.

In 1889, Mikhail von Heflin boards the Swan Lady, a passenger boat traveling south on the Mississippi. During his voyage on this ship, he becomes embroiled in a minor mystery, and is suspected of a murder he didn't commit. His solving of this case does nothing to endear him to the other passengers, and he exits the boat while it is still far from his destination.
In 870, Moors across Espagne celebrated their victory over the Christian infidels. The city of Alhambra was strewn with flowers and Caliph Boabdil gave all Moors of the land a holiday to honor Allah's blessing on this day.
In 1971, the courts-martial of over a dozen officers responsible for both participating in and covering up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam begin. When the horrific details of that day's bloody deeds are revealed, two officers are sentenced to life in prison, and the others are convicted of lesser charges, serving a few years before being dishonorably discharged. Although the dead could not be brought back, the alacrity with which America punished those responsible for this war crime did elicit respect around the world.
In 1955, comic genius Rowan Atkinson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. Atkinson's rubbery face made him a natural for humor, and his creation of the Black Adder series in 1983 propelled him to international stardom. The series following an unscrupulous Englishman through several reincarnations was renewed six times and then made into 4 blockbuster films that cemented Atkinson's reputation as the late twentieth century's foremost comic talent.
In 1777, American rebel General George Washington establishes a winter headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, and uses the winter to correspond with the nascent Canadian nationalists. Although unable to resupply or reinforce Washington's forces, the nationalists do provide a home for Washington when the American Revolution is defeated and he is forced to flee to the north.
In 4579, Lebanese author Khalil Gibran was born. In his youth, he traveled to the court at the Forbidden City and spoke to Emperor Chengzu of a new philosophy, blending the ancient religion of Islam with the more modern and robust Buddhism practiced by most of the world. Although Chengzu didn't follow this path, he allowed Khalil to continue his writings, which did win many converts.
In 1412, Jehanne Darc was born in Domremy, in old France. Insane from birth, the young woman actually managed to convince French scholars that she was hearing God tell her to take command of an army to defeat the Burgundian, pro-English forces in Orleans. The inexperienced commander was killed, and the Burgundians installed in power after their English allies brought in reinforcements for them.

January 5

In 1757, on this day as King Louis XV left his daughter's apartments after a familial visit, madman Robert Damiens sprung from the dark with a pistol.

Louis XV Assassinated Fired it at point-blank range, the bullet tore into the king's torso between his ribs, causing unstoppable bleeding that killed the king before midnight. The king's guard set upon Damiens and spared his life only to be found guilty of regicide (the first even attempted in France in 140 years) and drawn and quartered.

Damiens' attack was the outcome of years of propaganda against the royal. He had worked a servant of the Parliamente of Paris, who constantly criticized the king, especially as his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, came increasingly into influence. She was an emblem of Rococo, the outrageous style of the day that flooded palaces with ostentatious glamor. While the court of Louis XV was not particularly spendthrift, their lifestyles seemed as such to the rest of France. The nation had been drawn into war with Prussia and Great Britain, and again Madame de Pompadour was seen as the instigator with her bickering with Frederick II of Prussia and ideals of militarism. Damiens seemed only to act as the will of the people.

Almost instantly after the death of the king, the French changed their opinions and mourned the loss of someone great. Pompadour was taken out of the public light as Louis XVI was crowned and set to work to bring France triumphantly out of the unpopular war. The Duc de Richelieu managed a successful invasion of Hanover that summer, first overwhelming the Army of Observation and then defeating the English Duke of Cumberland's forces at the Battle of Hastenbeck and taking Hanover on August 11. On August 21, Richelieu begrudgingly agreed to Cumberland's armistice, though he felt he could invade further into the Germanies and challenge Prussia. The King of Denmark offered to broker peace, which France agreed to do, seeing that a long war would lose them their colonies and their only hope was seizing European bargaining chips at great cost. Britain made considerable demands, leaving France with only Quebec and Louisiana in North America and taking much of their holdings in Africa and India. Still, it was seen in Paris as a bad war for the time as Louis XVI needed to become settled.

Taking in support from the aristocracy of the Parliamente (to whom he granted civil authority in exchange for monetary advances, setting the stage for ending autocracy), Louis began reforming his army and, especially, his navy. The preempted war would eventually spark again, this time as Frederick II attempted an invasion of Sweden upon the death of Elizabeth of Russia in 1762 and the ascension of pro-Prussian Peter III. Russia planned conquest of Finland while Prussia hoped to push Sweden into something of a military vassal. England, Spain, and Austria joined with France against them, and the revitalized French army crushed Frederick's forces as Peter was overthrown by his wife Catherine (soon to be called "the Great"). France established significant international clout by the time of Louis XVI's death in 1765 due to tuberculosis, which also ravaged the court. Eleven-year-old Louis XVII came to the throne, advised by the Parliamente, which by reform gained a house of popularly elected representatives. Under him, France launched a new age of imperialism, establishing a sphere of influence in southeast Asia in Vietnam and Cambodia as well as numerous islands throughout the Pacific. War over Australia would drive the French and English against one another again in a long series of naval campaigns that would prove ultimately inconsequential other than producing maritime technology and significant monetary drain.

The nineteenth century would continue with moderate social reforms and on-again, off-again warfare between England and France. Balance maintained the European kings until the Industrial Revolution spawned an uprising of anarchists that would put an end to royalty in brutal fashion.

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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.