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

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January 18

In 1871, towards the end of the Austrian-Franco-Prussian War Franz Josef Habsburg was proclaimed the first German Emperor Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Henceforth the empire is known as the Second Reich to Germans even though the Austrian hegemony established a multi-ethnic imperium stretching from Hamburg to Sarajevo. Because the thousand year future of the Imperial House of Habsburg had taken a change of direction after the hard fought victory at Königgrätz which stymied the Prussian attempt to force the unification of Germany on their own terms. And instead of the Hohenzollerns, it would be the Habsburgs who won out, establishing the new Kaiserreich, a Germanic monarchist system, ruled from Vienna with a central european system of thinking.

Franz Josef Habsburg proclaimed Emperor of the GermansHe ruled for almost forty-six years to be succeeded by his twenty-nine year old grand-nephew Karl. Tragically, Karl died five years later and was succeeded by Otto von Habsburg who lived to the ripe old age of ninety-eight. During the transition from Franz Josef to Karl to Otto, nationalist pressures were threatening to rip the Slavic part of the Empire apart. The resolution of this so-called "Southern Question" would completely dominate the early decades of Otto's long rule.

A sign of the coming was the assassination of Franz Josef's nominal heir Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo in August 1914. Although the Habsburg brought the Black Hand Gang to justice, by overriding Serbian sovereignty (they insisted on sending detectives across the border) they had inadvertently de-stabilised the entire region.

In 1877, on this day the Electoral Count presented to the US Congress a revised proposal for the resolution of the disputed twenty votes that would decide whether Samuel Tilden or Rutherford B. Hayes would occupy the White House.

The Making of a PresidentDemocrats had carried most of the South, as well as New York, Indiana, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The popular vote also favored Tilden, but Republicans realized that if they held the three un-redeemed southern states together with some of the western states, they would emerge with an electoral college majority.

However the composition of the Electoral Commission strongly favoured the Republican Candidate, an outcome considered unacceptable to General George B. McClellan, a Democrat challenger in the 1864 election. In New York he set about raising a private army that would march on Washington DC to force Hayes to accept defeat. An installment from the American_Heroes thread

In 1688, Lionel Sackville English political leader and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was born on this day.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

Irish King of the RoadsDirk writes - Today is the 325th birthday of Lionel Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset, the "Irish King of the Roads".

While the first part of his life took its course relatively uneventful, a chance meeting, allegedly in a Dublin house of ill repute with the great Irish orator James Grattan and young Henry Flood changed Dorset's policy during his second term as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland entirely.

While Catholic emancipation was out of the question in the 1750s, Dorset managed to get an exemption from the Navigation Act of 1663, virtually granting Ireland the same commercial rights and privileges Scotland had since the Union, making Irish built vessels "English Bottoms" as well.

The steadily increasing trade with the American colonies and the West Indies made harbours like Sligo, Galway and especially Cork and Wexford natural ports of call, were the infrastructure behind not in a rather medieval state. Until the end of his second and during his third Lieutenancy in the 1760s, Dorset was responsible for the construction of the "Auld Triangle", the three great roads connecting the Irish West and South with Dublin with funds collected by the great Anglo-Irish landholders by means of persuasion, promise and sheer blackmailing.

The tax exemption and possibilities of direct shipping from Irish ports also gave a meteoric rise to local wool production and the establishment of a new breed of sheep called the "mamat" within a generation, making most of the Emerald Island a rather prosperous place by the end of the 18th century. Famines like the one in 1740/41 seemed to be a thing of the past. An entirely new Irish self-consciousness was born as well, marking the starting positions for negotiations and finally the Civil War of 1798.

In 1940, on this day the second phase of the Winter War commenced with the Soviet invasion of Norway, a move which had been predicted by the Danish ambassador to London, Count Eduard Reventlow.

Pact of SteelWith German intentions as yet undeclared the Western Allies gained no benefit whatsover from this prescient warning. Unable to strategically anticipate the next moves in the theatre, they were forced into committing significant military resources to the defence of Scandinavia before the mission could be fully scoped.

What was clear however was that the German point of strategic interest was Narvik, the railway head from which Swedish iron ore mined at Kiruna and Malmberget was brought to the sea. And therefore the decision was taken to concentrate combined services forces on a strike at Narvik. Whether this bold initiative would create conflict in the Nazi-Soviet Pact, or force the two great powers into an integrated alliance, only time would tell. But in any case the allied strategy of neutralising enemy resources had been fixed right at the beginning of the war with the fateful decision to bomb Azerbaijan's oil fields.
This article is part of our Resource War thread.

In 1671, on this day the pirate Admiral Henry Morgan captured Panama's Gold.

Henry Morgan Captures Panama's Gold A broken steering rig changed the fortunes of pirate Admiral Henry Morgan, who may very well have been hanged for his famous, and infamous, marauding. As the feared Morgan charged up the Chagres River with some fourteen hundred privateers, the people and government of Panama rushed their gold and silver into a treasure ship that they would hide at anchor in the Gulf of Panama, open to the Pacific instead of Morgan's fleet on the Caribbean. Even if the Welshman managed to take the city, their treasure would be safe. So went the plan until the tiller broke under the weight of attempting to steer the heavily loaded ship out of harbor. It ran aground only hours before Morgan's men were spotted appraoching. The Spaniards rushed out to fight him off, but were ambushed by gunfire and flanked by additional pirates from the trees around them, handing the city and the massive treasure to Morgan.

It was the crowning moment of an already illustrious career in piracy. Morgan had come to the Caribbean as a young man, settling in Jamaica, which was newly won from Spain and defended by Buccaneers at the invitation of the governor. Officially, war between Spain and England ended in 1660 with the restoration of King Charles II, but the governors of Jamaica, both Lord Windsor (who would lead plundering expeditions himself) and Sir Thomas Modyford continued to issue letters of marque to maintain a presence of English strength in the Caribbean, primarily at the expense of the Spanish.

Morgan became an expert pirate attacking ships and settlements with valor that raised him through the ranks. He served in Myngs's fleet and joined in the expeditions capturing Granada, Providence, and many others. In 1667, Morgan was given his own command and captured Puerto Principe. Seeing that their meager plunder could not cover the pirate crews' debts, Morgan went on to capture Porto Bello, capturing a total treasure and ransom worth nearly a quarter of a million pieces of eight (approaching $7,000,000 in 2010 currency). He continued raiding Cuba for some time as a privateer, then turned to Panama, where he would capture the wealthiest city in New Spain with its gold and silver already loaded.

Unbeknownst to Morgan, this last raid had been made after the 1670 signing of the Treaty of Madrid, which exchanged territorial recognitions and promised peace between Spain and England, meaning that his capture of Panama City had been performed as a pirate. Blissfully ignorant, Morgan and his captains loaded the treasure into their own ships and returned to Jamaica. Once in Port Royal, Morgan was arrested for piracy and sent to England along with the king's share of the massive captured wealth. In London, Morgan could prove in court that he was unaware of the treaty, which put King Charles in a troubling position: to keep the treasure, he would have to violate his treaty with Spain. War raged with the Dutch due to a secret treaty with France, and Charles was short on money after the patriotism of the Second Anglo-Dutch War had ended badly some five years before. His goal of making his nephew William of Orange the stadtholder of the Netherlands had already progressed with Holland and Zeeland conceding, and William had refused to be made a sovereign, so only potential war with France (who had not yet paid the promised 300,000 pounds for Dunkirk) was keeping England in war. As the Quadruple Alliance formed around the Dutch against France and Sweden in 1673, Charles took it as an opportunity to gain forgiveness from Spain and volunteered to switch sides in the war. Spain's Charles II agreed, and England suddenly turned to opposing French conquest of the Netherlands in the Quintuple Alliance.

Morgan, who had been acquitted, was knighted in 1674 and sent back to the Caribbean to ?root out the French" from wherever he could. Gathering pirates from friendly ports as well as former enemies from Spanish colonies who admired his victories, Admiral Morgan captured New Orleans in 1666 and, after being rebuffed from Haiti, sailed down the Antilles overtaking islands such as St. Martin, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Grenada. War ended in 1678, and Louis XIV gave up his claims to warm-water ports in the Americas with the exceptions of Haiti and Martinique. France would refocus on building its empire closer to home and coming to dominate the Mediterranean as Spanish influence waned over the eighteenth century.

Morgan tried his hand at politics as the first governor of English Louisiana, governing fairly though drunkenly until his retirement in 1684, following a lengthy decline in his health culminating in his death in 1688 of dropsy.

In 1919, the first day of the Great Power negotiations in the Salle de l'Horloge at the French Foreign Ministry ran into immediate trouble with the Union and the Confederacy sharply disagreeing over territory and self-determination, the very same disputes that had raged at the conclusion of the American Civil War.

Hampton Roads, Redux by Michael N. Ryan, David Atwell & EdBecause at that same stage at Hampton Roads, the Union was expected to press the South to accept the loss of the States of Delaware, Maryland and Missouri. Instead, not only had Washington demanded that East Tennessee, North and West Virginia join the Union as new Northern States, but they wanted a few West North Carolina counties too because they had strong Unionist populations there. Somewhat disingenuously, Washington had also let Southern delegates discover that the White House had resisted calls for Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama plus parts of the Carolinas coastline.

Almost sixty years later, the Confederate delegates on the Quai d'Orsay in Paris sensed the same victor's logic in French Plans to dismember the German Reich. Then, like now, the net result of acquiescence to those requests for more than the "occupied territories" would be to make the defeated nation ungovernable. Because the Western Allies demands represented a barely disguised attempt to prevent future conflict by cutting the country in half, making sure the economy would no longer be viable.

And thus the Confederates objected on principle to the French demands using the same language they had forcefully articulated at Hampton Roads in rejecting the Union's outline proposals. Due to the insistence of her British allies, under the final settlement the CSA "only" lost the "occupied territories" comprising a northern strip in Virginia, Western Virginia, plus the northern half of Arkansas and also parts of the coastline of the Carolinas and the Southern tip of Florida which the Union had occupied as part of their amphibious operations. And the Confederates were banking on her old allies pressing the same logic at Versailles.

In 2011, the fifty-year old threat by President John F. Kennedy to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds"

took a dramatic step towards realisation on this day in the Supreme Court of the United States with the presentation of legal arguments in Kennedy versus the Central Intelligence Agency.
Final Insurance

The origination of the case was the publication of Conspiracies, Cover-ups & Crimes by Jonathan Vankin (© 1996):

"As early as 1952, the CIA was discussing how knock off key guys and make it look like natural causes, declassified CIA memos have revealed. Heart attacks and cancer are preferred methods. CIA director William Casey developed a brain tumour just as he was supposed to make public his knowledge of the Iran-Contra Affair. Nelson Rockefeller suffered a heart attack in flagrante delecto with his secretary. Two assassination plots against Gerald Ford would have made Rockefeller president, but they both failed. Once Rocky was no longer useful, he turned up dead.

Suicides are also popular, as are one-car accidents. Kennedy haters have no trouble envisioning a heavy-handed Kennedy-engineered conspiracy behind Chappaquidick and the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Other theorists take the same anomalous facts - unusual dents in the car, time lapses in Ted Kennedy's memory - to mean that Kennedy and Kopechne were victims: he drugged, she murdered. Chappaquick was final insurance that a Kennedy brother would not be president".

The release of the so-called Pentagon Papers II during the first year of the the Obama Administration declassified a large number of CIA memos from the period 1969 - 1988. Fresh evidence of malfeasance emerged not only to link the Agency to Chappaquidick, but also to draw suspicious paralells between William Casey and Ted Kennedy's brain tumours.

Shortly afterwards, the junior United States Senator from New York, Caroline Kennedy - herself a law graduate from Columbia Law School - announced her intention to pursue litigation on behalf of the Kennedy family. Another graduate of Columbia, President Barack Obama signalled his commitment to limit Agency activity to the terms of its 1947 Charter in line with the recommendations of the Church Committee, Rockefeller Commission and Pike Committee.

In 1852, on this day Jefferson Davis (pictured), a relatively unknown politician from Mississippi declares his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States of America.

President Jeff Davis
March 4th 1853-March 4th 1861
July:

Democrats anticipating a loss in the general election and have no consensus on who their candidate should be. The five major candidates end up being Jefferson Davis,Lewis Cass, James Buchanan, William Marcy, and Stephen Douglas. All have some support. Throughout the balloting, numerous favorite son candidates receive a few votes. On the 49th ballot the convention finally nominates, as a compromise candidate, the virtually unknown Jefferson Davis of Mississippi. Even though Davis has little experience. Senator Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire is tapped for Vice President.

A new article from Althistory WikiaSeptember:

The Whigs' platform is almost indistinguishable from that of the Democrats, reducing the campaign to a contest between the personalities of the two candidates. The lack of clear-cut issues between the two parties helps drive voter turnout down to its lowest level since 1836. The decline is further exacerbated by Scott's anti-slavery reputation, which decimates the Southern Whig vote at the same time as the pro-slavery Whig platform undermines the Northern Whig vote. Finally, Scott's status as a war hero is somewhat offset by the fact that Davis was himself a Mexican-American War Hero.

October:

Shortly before the election Union party candidate Daniel Webster dies, causing many Union state parties to remove their slates of electors. The Union ticket does appear on the ballot in Georgia and Massachusetts however.

November:

When America goes to the polls Davis wins in a landslide, Scott wins only the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

March 4, 1853:

Jefferson Davis is sworn in as the 14th president of the United States of America.Davis hails an era of peace and prosperity at home and urges a vigorous assertion of US interests in its foreign relations. "The policy of my Administration," said the new president "is to solve the domestic problems of our nation at home and protect our interests abroad".

On this day in 1973 1973 MLB's five-man arbitration panel ruled in favor of Curt Flood in a salary dispute between Flood and the Washington Senators, the team Flood had been playing for since the Supreme Court struck down MLB's reserve clause.

 - Curt Flood
Curt Flood

On this day in 1945, Dr. Joseph Tiso, head of the Nazi-controlled Slovak puppet state, committed suicide in Bratislava just as Slovak anti-fascist guerrillas were storming his headquarters.

Doctor
Doctor - Joseph Tiso
Joseph Tiso
After(cont.) ~
Eli and Kevin were making as much noise as a herd of cattle, but Janice was surprisingly quiet. Jake was grateful for that, at least. He was tempted to split the two other men off and have them provide a distraction while he and Janice snuck into the ranch house. Instead, he kept them all together, and when they were spotted by one of the guards, he shot first.
The lucky shot took the man down, clutching at his throat. Jake motioned them all forward, saying, 'They had to have heard that. Let's move, people.'
True enough, the loud crack brought the other guard looking for his friend. Eli shot him three times, even though the first hit was enough to take him down. 'Save those bullets,' Jake hissed at him. He ran up to the nearest window and shot it. The bullet made a dent, but didn't crack the glass. 'Bullet-proof. Great.' He ran to the front door, followed by his three comrades, and shot the lock twice. He and Eli barreled into it, bursting it open, and were immediately shot at by two armed men inside.
Eli's left arm spurted blood, and he cried out in pain. Janice's gun banged once, and one of the guards fell. Jake and Kevin shot at the other man, and he also fell. Kevin pulled off one of the men's ties and used it as a tourniquet to stop Eli's bleeding. 'Go,' he yelled at Jake and Janice, and they took off into the house, opening doors and ducking in long enough to make sure that there was no one there.
'This place is deserted,' Janice said. 'What if they've already taken him away?'
'Then, we're screwed.' Jake broke open a door that hid a set of stairs, and ducked backward as a gunshot cracked in front of him. He fired back and dodged to the side of the door.
Janice dropped to the floor and crawled over to the opening. She bobbed her head in front of the stairwell to get a quick look at what was at the bottom and saw a single man looking up. She pulled her head back and said to Jake, 'You go high, I'll go low,' then reached her gun around to fire at the man from the floor. Jake fired from his standing position.
One of them hit, because the man fell. Jake yelled out, 'Anybody still down there, give up now. This thing is done.'
A very familiar voice said, 'I'll be happy to, soon's you undo my handcuffs.'

In 1837, the Constitutional Reform Party established. The party's platform calls for a new constitutional convention to rectify what it considers 'insuperable difficulties with the current system of government.' Among its proposals are extension of voting rights to all native-born white men, popular election of senators, and a specific provision that if an initial vote in Congress fails to produce a clear winner in a presidential vote, the Senate will immediately take charge, rather than waiting for the House to run through as many ballots as it chooses first.

 - US Congress
US Congress

In 1991, President Jack Kemp pleads with the Israelis not to retaliate for the Iraqi Scud missile attack of the previous day, explaining that he fears that their doing so will blow up the fragile alliance he has made with other Gulf nations against Iraq. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agrees, but warns the President that if there are further attacks he will not answer for the consequences.

US President
US President - Jack Kemp
Jack Kemp

In 1972, Dmitri Kaprinsky, alias D.B. Cooper, was convicted on charges of espionage and conspiracy to commit hijacking. He would later be sentenced to life in prison.

 -

In 1980, Ronald W. Reagan, former governor of California, announces he will seek the Republican nomination for president, challenging President Nelson A. Rockefeller. It is Reagan's third try for the White House, following a 'dry run' effort in 1968 which ended after two months and his much stronger challenge to Rockefeller in the 1976 GOP primaries. At the press conference he calls to announce his candidacy, Reagan asserts that the Iran crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which has resulted in the overthrow of its government and the installation in Kabul of a puppet regime under Babrak Karmal, indicates the need for 'a stronger hand at the helm of the ship of state.'

 -

In 1991, the 'Mother of all Battles' began as Operation Desert Storm was launched.

Gulf War Allies send hundreds of planes on bombing raids into Iraq yet Saddam Hussein remained defiant. Warnings about weapons of mass destruction and alien technology buried deep in Iraq go unheeded.

That was just crazy talk, surely?

 -

The American, British, French, Saudi and Kuwaiti aircraft took off at 2330 GMT. Their bombs were aimed at military and strategic targets, including an oil refinery and Baghdad airport. At least 400 raids took place. Latest reports indicated that Allied aircraft suffered unexpected resistance.

US Defence Secretary, Dick Cheney, said the operation appeared to have encountered difficulties. Two hours after the raids began, President George Bush made a televised address. He said the military objectives were clear - force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait and restore the legitimate government.

In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein remained defiant. He said the 'Mother of all Battles had begun'. He urged the Iraqi people to 'stand up to evil'.

In 2005, President Al Gore addressed the nation for the last time in office, apologising to the American people for his own '911' failures. Specifically he refered to the oversight and execution of Executive Order 13015, which established the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security of 1996. Often called the Gore Commission in recognition that Gore was the chairman, that work group operated for six months, from August 1996 until February of 1997, when it issued its final report. Gore's commission were mandated to provide to the President 'a strategy designed to improve aviation safety and security'.

According to the 911 Commission Report (page 344):

The Gore Commission's Report, having thoroughly canvassed available expertise in and outside of government, did not mention suicide hijackings or the use of aircraft as weapons.
In 2005, Jeanna Best and Dave Lange begin noticing the three-fingered 'claw' gesture on a lot of news shows; they begin to think they've stumbled onto a weird cult. That day, they are both visited by someone from saveearth.net who asks them to come to another meeting. Reluctantly, they both agree. When they see each other at the meeting, they start wondering what they've gotten themselves into.
In 1985, The Soviet States of America breaks from the World Court at The Hague over a case involving their support of communist rebels in Andorra. The Spanish government accused America of supplying the Andorran rebels with mines and other illegal armaments. With no clear defense, the Soviet States withdrew before the judgment.
In 1889, the Thompson family is visited by their ancestor, Mikhail von Heflin. He has come specifically to see their newborn boy Willard, and convince them that it would be unwise to leave the Hill Country for Beaumont, as they have been planning. He is successful, and spends the next two years with the family, watching over young Willard as he grows.
In 1943, the German Underground establishes the death camp of Treblinka in Poland. It becomes the final destination for the most famous captives of the G.U. and its public executions are used to rally the G.U.'s supporters and intimidate its enemies. While some of the more bloodthirsty within the Underground's ranks celebrate it, virtually the entire world condemns and fears it.
In 1776, rebel Joseph Habersham of the so-called 'Provincial Congress attempts to place Georgia's royal governor, James Wright, under arrest. Wright, however, escapes to the nearest British garrison and returns with a huge force to squash Habersham and his 'Council of Safety.'
In 1644, a Mlosh scout ship is seen over the Boston colony in Massachusetts. It is thought to be an angel coming down from Heaven by the colonists, and many of them dropped to their knees in supplication to it. The Mlosh scouts observed the British colonists for some time, learning their language in order to prepare the Mlosh who would follow them almost a century later.
In 1486, a year after wresting control from Pope Richard III's cold, dead hands, Pope Henry VII wed his cousin Elizabeth of York, uniting the feuding Plantagenet line of clergy. There was some question about the wedding, as Elizabeth's brothers Edward and Richard were more than likely murdered by him to clear his ascension to the Papacy of the Holy British Empire. In her diaries, Elizabeth seems to detest both Henry and the life of a papal consort, but remains loyal to Pope Henry until her death.
In 1000 Post-Creation, when the Creator calls upon His angels to stand against Gabriel, Lucifer begs Him for mercy for Emmanuel. When the Creator says that someone must be punished for this transgression, Lucifer offers himself up to appease the Creator. 'My rebellion planted the seed for theirs,' he says. 'Let my punishment absorb your anger.' Reluctantly, the Creator agrees to Lucifer's bargain, and Gabriel lays down arms as Lucifer takes Emmanuel's place in the Abyss.
In 2093, the United Nations Commission for the Survival of Life on Earth (UNCSLE) abandons the practice of cryopreserving endangered species for future generations. Energies are re-directed at ensuring that there will be future generations at all.
In 1947, en route to Reykjavik, Iceland Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King asks the Head of the British Government in Exile if he intends to accept the Nazi surrender terms . 'I would rather run with wolves' says Lord Halifax somewhat elliptically.
In 1995, hundreds of people were feared dead and thousands injured after a powerful earthquake struck Japan at dawn. Worst hit was the port of Kobe, a city of 1.5 million. Whole buildings, apartment blocks and an elevated highway collapsed killing at least 200 people and injuring some 13,000. Osaka and the ancient city of Kyoto were also severely damaged. The earthquake measured 7.2 magnitude and was the biggest to hit Japan for 47 years. It struck at 0546 local time just as commuters were starting their journey into work. The event occured exactly a year after a similiar earthquake in Los Angeles. Fifty years after the Tunguska Impact Event, the embedded singularity was still creating havoc for the Earth's tectonic plates. The planet continued to convulse with asymetric shocks lead many to fear for a Millennial apocalypse.
In 1991, in Kuwait & Iraq, Operation Desert Fly centred upon a dual military application of the pioneering work of Seth Brundle. US Ground Forces were teleported into strategic battle points. And the Iraqi Presidential Guard were decimated by soldier flies. President George Bush spoke of the 'end of history' as the world's only hyper-power appeared set for global domnation.
In 1991, Israel joined the Gulf War after Iraq attacks Tel Aviv and Haifa with Scud missiles. It was the first time Tel Aviv has been hit in the history of the Israel-Arab conflict. Saddam Husssein had succeeded in provoking the Israel leadership both through these bombings, and also by establishing linkage between Kuwait and Palestinian nationhood.
In 1781, Thomas Gainsborough completed his masterpiece The Two Georges, depicting King George III and General George Washington's historic agreement which established the British North American Union. The Sons of Liberty considered Washington a turncoat. Two hundred and fifteen years later they would succeeed in snatching this symbol of national unity just before the arrival of King Charles III's visit to the State capital of Victoria.

In 1977, Gary Gilmore, the convicted murderer, was executed on this day by firing squad in the Utah state prison in Salt Lake City. It was the first execution to have been carried out in the United States for almost 10 years. Gilmore, 36, was sentenced to death for the murder in 1976 of a motel clerk in Provo, Utah. An appeals court in Denver overturned a restraining order on the execution in the early hours of this morning. In his closing words, one of the judges emphasised that Mr Gilmore should take responsibility for insisting that his own execution go ahead.

 -

The death penalty had been controversially reinstated in the United States in 1976 and Gilmore was the first prisoner to be executed under the new law. Gilmore fought the justice system to ensure he would be executed quickly - had already spent 18 of his last 21 years in jail.

It soon became clear that Gilmore had cheated death to engineer his own release. Two people received Gilmore's corneas within hours of his death. Utah medical staff were unable to explain this phenomenom, instead recommending fast-track treatment. They both responded positively, with the same form of words - 'Lets do it'.

In 12-8-1-11-16, the sailors of Ouezteca met the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Captain Quetchook of the Imperial Navy, the first westerner to see the Hawai'ians, entered into a treaty with King Kalaniopuu for exclusive trade, and made himself a wealthy man from the agricultural bounty of the island kingdom.
In 1977, NASA complete the impact analysis for the delay Space Shuttle program. Columbia (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-102) would be the first spaceworthy space shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet, and its first mission, STS-1, was reprogrammed for quarter two, 1981. Trouble was SkyLab had entered a dangerous orbit. If no further action was taken, SkyLab would re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime in 1979 and almost certainly break up on entry. The plan works and SkyLab is shifted into a higher orbit. But the 1982 mission from the Shuttle is a disaster and the Soviet Union has to rescue the American astronauts. Their success sets a precedent that was established with Apollo-Soyuz, and the the two nations merge their Space programs.
In 1601, a Royal Proclamation was issued and a Lubeck merchant, Caspar van Senden, licensed to remove all 'negroes and blackamoores' from Great Britain. There was a fear that the Africans might be taking jobs away from English citizens and also a concern that they were 'infidels'.
In 1971, South Dakotan Senator George McGovern, a hero of World War II, began his campaign for the presidency as the candidate of peace. Using his background as a bomber pilot, McGovern argued that Vietnam represented no strategic value to the United States, and should be free to determine their own future. A nation sick of the war agrees with him, and he defeated Richard Nixon in a landslide.
In 1971, British spacecraft Marie Celeste prepared to re-enter the atmosphere after mechanical failures had been fixed. Or patched up, really. They really had to do something about this quality control problem for next time. The ill-fated Apollo 13 mission had been too much trouble, it really had.
in the Dreamtime , the pale ones came, as Anansi had foretold. Many seasons passed in torment at their hands, but the people were strong, and the lost ones in the sky were waiting for them. Anansi gave them strength, and his web gave them escape when it was needed.


January 17

In 1706, on this day America's first president, Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts Bay. This article is part of the American Heroes thread.

Birth of President FranklinHe was a major figure in the American Enlightenment before joining the patriot cause. Matched only by George Washington amongst the Founding Fathers, he was the universal choice when the General declined the Presidency [1].

And yet his term of office ended in bitter acrimony. Because in February 1790 he gave his full public support to Congressional petitions submitted by Quakers and also the Pennsylvania Abolition Society [2]. Consideration of a National Emancipation Plan was demanded, but the abolitionists were out-foxed by that master of parliamentary procedure James Madison. He ensured that the Committee Report was revised by the House, creating a legislative precedent making it unconstitutional to "attempt to manumit them [the eighteen-year moratorium on Congressional action to abolish slavery] at any time". In his diary an unhappy General Washington noted that "the slave issue has [been] put to rest but will soon awake" [3].

Franklin was of course fully aware that the Philadelphia Agreement had taken the power to abolish slavery out of the hands of the Northern States until at least 1808 when the slave trade itself was expected to end. Nevertheless he knew that the institution of slavery was incompatible with the principle of liberty established by the revolution, and therefore the possiblity of secession from Deep South States was an acceptable risk for the infant Republic. Private letters later revealed that he was absolutely convinced that Georgia and South Carolina were bluffing.

His death therefore opened up a whole series of debates. Obviously the need to move the ownership of legislative precedent into a much stronger Supreme Court, perhaps the need for the Churches to own the issue of slavery as a sin requiring national purging. But instead his "Farewell Address" he characteristically took the higher ground, calling for Presidential Leadership on the issue up until 1808 when the moratorium on the slave trade would expire. This was viewed in the Deep South as a warning of the possible creation of a North Atlantic Confederacy which would exclude slave-owning states at a minimum Georgia and South Carolina.

In 1893, Republican Presidential Nominee Governor Rutherford Birchard (B) Hayes passed away in Fremont, Ohio. He was seventy years old.

Passing of Governor HayesAs an attorney in Ohio, he became city solicitor of Cincinnati from 1858 to 1861. When the Civil War began, he left a fledgling political career to join the Union Army as an officer. Hayes was wounded five times, most seriously at the Battle of South Mountain; he earned a reputation for bravery in combat and was promoted to the rank of major general. After the war, he served in the U.S. Congress from 1865 to 1867 as a Republican. Hayes left Congress to run for Governor of Ohio and was elected to two consecutive terms, from 1868 to 1872, and then to a third term, from 1876 to 1877.

He narrowly lost the general election. Samuel Jones Tilden was awarded the presidency of the United States by an 8-7 vote of an electoral commission established to resolve the disputed 1876 election. Tilden won after the defection of a single Republican commission member forced the commission to evenly divide the disputed electoral votes of three Southern states rather than, as the other Republican members had wanted, awarding them all to GOP contender Hayes. Had the dissident member voted with his fellow Republicans, Hayes would have won, by 185 electoral votes to Tilden's 184.

The "back-room" character of this decision lent force to a movement to abolish the Electoral College, and in 1901, the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would do exactly that, establishing direct election of the president. Ironically, U.S. senators would not be directly elected until the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913; until that time, they would continue to be chosen by state legislatures.

In 2011, on this day Apple, Inc.'s Board of Directors approved a third medical leave of absence requested by Steve Jobs.

The Baton is PassedTim Cook the professional head of Worldwide Sales and Operations had served as Apple CEO for two months in 2004, when Jobs was recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer. In 2009, Cook again served as Apple CEO for several months while Jobs took a leave of absence for a liver transplant.

Therefore it was something of a major surprise when it was announced that the new CEO would be Jonathan ("Jony") Ive the forty-three year old Senior Vice President of Design and Cook would continue to run the day-to-day operations as COO. Jobs had always considered Ive to be his "spiritual partner at Apple," while Fortune magazine stated in 2010 that Ive's designs have "set the course not just for Apple but for design more broadly".

In 1972, on this day Herr Tony Weaver, Community Relations Manager of Volkswagen of America handed over the latest model to the Smithsonian Institution.

The American Bund on the MoveThe award symbolized three decades of industrial integration, with the Peoples Car cruising the autobahns of the American Bund.

However the event was ruined by members of the Semitic-African Resistance who revealed that like much of the Nazi Empire, the VW was an ephemeral aryan myth. Because Ferdinand Porsche ripped off the vehicle design from the the Tatra Factory in Czechoslavakia during the pre-Nazi era of the 1930s.

In 2001, on this day outgoing US President Albert Gore, Jr. issued a formal apology to the descendants of Captain Meriwether Lewis.

Meriwether Lewis Defeats Muggers, Redux By Ed, Scott Palter and Jeff ProvineOn the night of 11th October, 1809 he rested at the "Grinder's Stand", an inn on the Natchez Trace, seventy miles south-west of Nashville, Tennessee. But after leaving dinner, he retired only to be savagely attacked in his bedroom. He managed to drive off the unidentified muggers, but immediately discovered that they had made off with the journals that he was carrying to Washington, D.C. for publication.

Of course not long after his death in 1846, the "secret journals of Capt. Lewis" appeared. This narrative of the Lewis and Clark Expedition described the Corps of Discovery finding giants, the fountain of youth, and a tribe of "nearly white, blue-eyed" Indians descended from Prince Madoc of Wales.

Clearly at odds with the known facts, this account was of course a naked challenge to westward expansion. Conspiracy theorists suggested that the muggers were agents sent by the Federal Government to cover-up the truth of advanced indigenous civilization predating Columbus, but mainstream historians [1] suggested that too many people had traveled westward with Lewis and Clark for such revelations to be concealed.

In 1912, suffering from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold, members of Roald Amundsen's expedition were saved from certain death by Robert Falcon Scott's "Terra Nova" scientific mission.

British Scientists save Norwegian ExplorersThe Britons had been collecting meteorological data all the way to the pole when they found the Norwegians.

Paying tribute to the heroic age of Antarctic Exploration, both Governments also heralded the rescue as the embodiment of the growing sense of internationalism that was shaping the twentieth century.

In 1961, during his "Farewell Address," President and former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, as well as first Supreme Commander of NATO, Dwight D. Eisenhower confirmed that his administration had done its part in limiting what he called the "military-industrial complex".

Eisenhower Confirms Restrictions of a Military-Industrial ComplexIn the 1950s, the United States was in the midst of an ongoing arms-race with the Soviet Union that had continued to maintain unprecedented levels of troop mobilization despite the end of the Second World War. Fear of the spread of Communism fueled government contracts for new and better technology, giving birth to supersonic jet engines and even an artificial satellite in orbit of the Earth. However, during his administration, Eisenhower became concerned over the amount of public funds and interest tied into simply maintaining readiness for a war against Communists who, in Russia, were under collective leadership since the death of Stalin in 1953 and, in China, suffered under accidental famine from ill-planned agricultural Five-Year Plans. The Korean War had shown that conventional warfare mixed with modern politics to create a stalemate, and Eisenhower decided to keep the stalemate overt with America's readied nuclear arsenal capable of Mutually-Assured Destruction.

Citing examples from the 1956 work by sociologist C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, Eisenhower's new policy turned to limiting the abilities of lobbyists in "The Higher Circles" who had direct influence and adding new levels of visibility to policy-creation as well as methods of direct review and polling upon budgetary issues. Numerous figures said that the policy was watering-down the leadership of America in tough times as Khruschev seized power in the USSR, but those such as Senator Robert Taft loudly questioned the ethics of those he considered fearmongers and warhawks. The FBI gained a new office investigating potential illicit lobbying, and numerous contracts between the government and large businesses were allowed to run out. The military gradually began to downscale, and research was limited to grants to universities only with direct proof of public benefit. Proposals, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which would largely guide civilian space efforts, were kept to what was pertinent given the defense of the United States.

In Eisenhower's last speech, he commented on having cleaned house in Washington and limited the possibility of special interests to dominate Congress under the table. Many believed that if anyone but the highest-ranking general in American history to become president since Washington had tried to decrease military-industrial spending, it would have blown up in his face. Ike's successor, John F. Kennedy, continued the regulation of Washington spending, preferring to use politics rather than numbers to maintain diplomacy. The standoff in the Cuban Missile Crisis proved that MAD was enough to limit Soviet threats to the United States. Some called for a Space Race after the Russians had put Sputnik into orbit as part of the festivities of the International Geophysical Year, but Kennedy noted that American missions to space would be the realm of private enterprise, much like the settling of the West.

As the twentieth century continued, the Domino Theory proved true with Soviet and Chinese power extending through Central and Southeast Asia, respectively. However, within a generation, the USSR had overextend itself with uprisings in Iran and Afghanistan as well as in old Eastern European trouble spots of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Local resistance drained the authority of Moscow, which would collapse in the late 1980s, while China transformed itself with experimental limited capitalism and made acquaintance with the United States during the Nixon era.

By the end of the twentieth century, the world had changed drastically to what many considered a Pax Americana. There were certainly threats, primarily through terrorism, but international policing agencies as well as FBI were tasked with finding and capturing the nation's enemies. Meanwhile, everyday Americans continued improved lives as private funding took up where public funding had left off. As of the year 2000, radio systems are able to incorporate "mobile" phones as long as they were tied to a power source, such as a car. Personal computers have come into many homes, and many technologists predict a network of integration (or "Internet") in the coming decades, though the investment required would be staggering. Meanwhile, rocket-launching companies have established a number of satellites in orbit to study weather and relay communications, while others hope for a manned mission to the Moon, although it would need to prove to be economically viable.

In 1981, on this day the Patriotic Liberation Movement (PLM) achieved its first major strategic victory in its uprising against the Communist regime in Russia.

Second Soviet Civil War Part 2In a surprise late-night attack, rebel forces blew up a critical section on the Trans-Siberian Railway, seriously disrupting the flow of supplies to government troops defending the port city of Vladivostok. With bad weather grounding Soviet air force transport planes, government forces defending the city had few if any alternatives for getting food and munitions; within a matter of hours PLM forces had broken through the Red Army lines, and by 6:30 AM the next morning PLM troops had taken full control of Vladivostok with help from local civilians sympathetic to their cause. Three Red Army divisions were subsequently dispatched to retake the city from the rebels, but the offensive collapsed in the face of heavy PLM resistance -- in fact, one of the three divisions was completely wiped out and the other two were forced to withdraw after taking severe losses.

A new post from the Necessary Evil Thread by Chris OakleyDespite the Chernenko regime's best efforts to hide the truth about Vladivostok, word of the Red Army's defeat there filtered to the Russian public via Voice of America's Russian-language broadcast service, seriously undermining the CPSU's prestige both at home and abroad. As the Russian civil war went on Vladivostok would become a rallying point for the PLM and its supporters in their struggle to overthrow the Communists; by 1983 it had also become the PLM's central base of operations and would remain so until 1987, when the victorious PLM leadership relocated to Moscow to assume control of the Russian government in the wake of the Communist dictatorship's collapse.

In 1463, on this day Frederick the Wise, Holy Roman Emperor was born in Torgau, Saxony.

Birth of Frederick the Wise, Holy Roman EmperorAfter the death of Archduke of Austria, King of the Romans, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I in January of 1519, many of his titles went directly by inheritance to his Habsburg grandson Charles V. The title emperor, however, would be given by decision of the seven elector-princes of the Germans, Albert of Mainz; Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads of Trier; Hermann of Wied of Cologne; Frederick III of Saxony; Joachim I of Brandenburg; Louis V, Elector Palatine; and Louis II Jagiellon, King of Bohemia. Charles was most obvious choice as brother-in-law to Louis of Bohemia, but others were nervous about too much power being placed in one man's hands. Along with his grandfather's titles, Charles had also recently inherited the title "King of Spain", which he ruled alongside his mother, Joanna the Mad of Castile.

Francis I of France also wished to hold the powerful title, rejoining lands that had all once been Carolingian. Francis and Charles were bitter rivals since a French victory at the Battle of Marignano the year before brought the twenty-one-year-old Francis to the forefront of European politics. The two began a bribing war for votes, which made some electors all the more nervous.

The suggestion of eliminating outside influence arose, and Frederick II of Saxony (called "the Wise") was offered the election. The task would be monumental and place him at the forefront of politics among much wealthier and more powerful figures, but Frederick determined it to be the right path and agreed. To the dismay of Francis and Charles both, Frederick was elected.

Problems quickly arose in the empire. The knights of Rhineland rebelled, using Protestant rhetoric to rally their people against the growing "new money" as Feudalism began to break down. Frederick met with the knights and created the Diet of the Germans to address issues. The Diet was proven successful as the communistic Peasants' War was put down and undercut by expanding religious freedom to the growing factions of Protestants. Germany became a powerful center to the new Europe, but would eventually be torn apart into its smaller kingdoms due to religious strife.

In 1991, on this day the general offensive codenamed Operation Desert Storm was launched with a massive air campaign; during the first mission at 2:38 A.M eight AH-64 Apache helicopters, and two MH-53 Pave Low helicopters destroyed enemy radar sites near the border at 2:38 A.M.

War in the GulfAt 2:43 A.M. two EF-111 Ravens with terrain following radar led 22 F-15E Strike Eagles against H-2 and H-3 airfields. Minutes later one of the EF-111 crews - Captain James Denton and Captain Brent Brandon - destroyed a Dassault Mirage F-1, when their low altitude maneuvering led the F-1 into the ground. At 3 A.M., ten F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers under the protection of a three-ship formation of EF-111s bombed the enemy capital.

In a statement of supreme confidence bordering perhaps on arrogance, George H.W. Bush would appear for a press conference on his Crawford Ranch to announce that the first mission of the Gulf War had "run on rails" The President's enemies viewed this "grandstanding statement" as a cynical attempt to justify his Government's authorization of the use of military force. Worse, a deliberate attempt to shift the focus of the conflict away from the struggle for control of vital oil supplies. Click to watch Operation Desert Storm: Bush Announces Ground War

The seeds of the conflict were sown when the Republic of Texas was created from part of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas as a result of the Texas Revolution. Mexico was in turmoil as leaders attempted to determine an optimal form of government. In early 1835, as the Mexican government transitioned from a federalist model to centralism, wary colonists in Texas began forming Committees of Correspondence and Safety. A central committee in San Felipe de Austin coordinated their activities. In the Mexican interior, several states revolted against the new centralist policies. The Texas Revolution officially began on October 2, 1835 in the Battle of Gonzales. Although the Texians originally fought for the reinstatement of the Constitution of 1824, by 1836 the aim of the war had changed. The Convention of 1836 declared independence on March 2, 1836 and officially formed the Republic of Texas.

On February 28, 1845, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that would authorize the United States to annex the Republic of Texas. On March 1, U.S. President John Tyler signed the bill. The legislation set the date for annexation for December 29 of the same year. Faced with imminent American annexation of Texas, Charles Elliot and Alphonse de Saligny, the British and French ministers to Texas, were dispatched to Mexico City by their governments. Meeting together with Mexico's foreign secretary, they signed a "Diplomatic Act" in which Mexico recognize an independent Texas, with boundaries that would be determined with French and British mediation. Texas President Anson Jones forwarded both offers to a specially elected convention meeting at Austin, and the Mexican proposal was accepted with only one dissenting vote.

During the American Civil War, Texans fought upon both sides of the conflict. Despite the tensions this created in the young nation, Texas remained a border-line viable state right up until the discovery of oil. Then on January 10, 1901, a well at Spindletop struck oil ("came in"). At 100,000 barrels (16,000 m3) of oil a day, the gusher tripled oil production overnight in North America. Tension with Texas' northern neighbour became acute during the late twentieth century and by 1991, the Gulf War of Mexico was widely anticipated.

In 1861, the so-called "Crittenden Compromise" is narrowly passed by the U.S. Congress, averting the threatened secession of slaveholding southern states.

The Crittenden Compromise by Eric LippsThe Compromise, proposed by Kentucky Sen. John J. Crittenden (pictured) the previous December, is highly controversial. In its original form, it included several constitutional amendments which effectively locked in slavery forever where it then existed, made all laws in free states which interfered with the Fugitive Act or similar legislation unconstitutional, forbade Congress from interfering in the interstate slave trade or from abridging slavery in areas under federal control within a slave state, and extended the Mason-Dixon Line at 36o30' across the continent to the Pacific. Slavery was to be forever legal below that line. Only this last provision and the prohibition against federal encroachment on slavery in slave-state territory under federal control have survived, in effect cutting North America in two sections, slaveholding and non-slaveholding, and leaving the issue of fugitive slaves an open source of contention.

Also abandoned, despite furious lobbying by southern congressmen, was the provision that the Compromise could not be overturned by any constitutional amendment adopted thereafter. A nasty floor fight in the Senate over this issue nearly sank the Compromise, which was rescued only when Crittenden and Mississippi's Jefferson Davis came to an agreement that the Compromise could be altered or ended by constitutional amendment but not by any federal law or resolution.

Outgoing President James Buchanan welcomes "this peaceful resolution of the trouble between the sections of this country, which might otherwise have had to be tried by force of arms". Others warn that the issue has not been settled, and that Buchanan's trial by arms has merely been postponed. Among them is President-elect Abraham Lincoln, who declares, "A nation cannot forever endure half-slave and half-free". Lincoln's statement sets the stage for what will be a turbulent presidency.

In 2006, the U.S. National Archives noted that today marks the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth (January 17, 1706-April 17, 1790). During his life, Franklin had many careers including service as a diplomat, a printer, a writer, an inventor, a scientist, a lawmaker, and a postmaster, among others. In his later years he became vocal as an abolitionist and in 1787 began to serve as President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. The Society was originally formed April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, as The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage; it was reorganized in 1784 and again in 1787, and then incorporated by the state of Pennsylvania in 1789. The Society not only advocated the abolition of slavery, but made efforts to integrate freed slaves into American society.The End of the Silence
Franklin did not publicly speak out against slavery until very late in his life. As a young man he owned slaves, and he carried advertisements for the sale of slaves in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. At the same time, however, he published numerous Quaker pamphlets against slavery and condemned the practice of slavery in his private correspondence. It was after the ratification of the United States Constitution that he became an outspoken opponent of slavery. In 1789 he wrote and published several essays supporting the abolition of slavery and his last public act was to send to Congress a petition on behalf of the Society asking for the abolition of slavery and an end to the slave trade. The petition, signed on February 3, 1790, asked the first Congress, then meeting in New York City, to 'devise means for removing the Inconsistency from the Character of the American People,' and to 'promote mercy and justice toward this distressed Race.'

The petition was introduced to the House on February 12 and to the Senate on February 15, 1790. Joseph J. Ellis observed in his essay 'The End of the Silence' (published in the Founding Fathers, Random House, 2000) that the advocacy of James Madison was crucial in the ultimate success of the petition.

"If Franklin's great gift was an uncanny knack of levitating above political camps, operating at an altitude that permitted him to view the essential patterns and then comment with great irony and wit on the behaviour of those groveling about on the ground, Madison's speciality was just the opposite. He lived in the details and worked his magic in the context of the moment, mobilizing those forces on the ground more adroitly and with a more deft tactical proficiency than anyone else. Taken together, he and Franklin made a nearly unbeatable team. Fortunately, for the Union, in 1790 they were on the same side [Madison agreed with Franklin that slavery was an abrogation of the principles of the American revolution].

Madison's position on slavery was clear. He found the blatantly proslavery arguments 'shamefully indecent and described his colleagues from South Carolina and Georgia as 'intemperate beyond all example and even all decorum. Like most of his fellow Virginians, he wanted it known that he preferred an early end to the slave trade and regarded the institution of slavery 'a deep-rooted abuse'. He claimed to be genuinely embarrased by at the stridently proslavery rhetoric of the delegates from the Deep South and much more comfortable on the high moral ground of his northern friends".

On April 17, 1790, just two months later, Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84. Emancipation was fully implemented during Madison's tenure at the White House from 1809 to 1817, ironically just after the expiry of the 1808 restriction imposed at the Constitutional Conference in 1787.



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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.