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 22

A turbulent decade of political shootings climaxed with the brutal assassination of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev after a twenty-one year old army deserter called Victor Ilyin fired fourteen rounds of ammunition into his Zil limousine.

The assassination of Leonid BrezhnevThe tragedy actually spurred on positive change - it was a mirror image of the Kennedy assassination which had eliminated a transformative political leader. Because the truth was that Brezhnev had been overseeing a period of stagnation which been started by sharp reversals suffered under his predecessor Nikita Khrushchev. Of course even under Stalin the Soviet System had been constrained by its resources and technology, and yet repeated mis-steps such as those in China and Cuba had demonstrated a decision-making vacuum in the Politburo.

In short then, Brezhnev's death created a welcome opportunity for a much-needed recovery of Soviet fortunes. And from Mao's death in 1976 until his own demise four years later, his successor Alexei Kosygin worked hard to restore relations with China. Unfortunately by then, an altogether more complex crisis had emerged in Afghanistan which gave the United States an opportunity to arm militants and destabilize the entire southern Soviet border zone.

In 1973, on this day the forty-fifth President of the Republic of Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson died in Stonewall, the census-designated place he had represented as a Nationalist Party Candidate for three decades. He served as President during the critical period December 9th 1962-December 9th 1965.

Death of Texan President Johnson (N-Stonewall)As a young man he enrolled in the Future Leaders of America programme, an expense bursary for gifted young leaders to serve in the armed forces of the Union and the Republic of Texas, and for their talented officers to serve with the Confederates. However despite FLoA his bitter experience of the un-coordinated American commands during World War forced him further into the arms of the Nationalist Party established by Mireabeau Lamar in 1843.

Neverthless at his personal invitation, Union President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas in November 1963. The last minute arrest of lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald narrowly avoided an assassination attempt. At the press conference, Johnson built some important bridges with the Union with his memorable off-hand comment "Mr President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you" [2]. Twenty years later, Union Presidential Candidate Edward M. Kennedy would reflect upon this event during his "Dream that Never Dies" speech in which he called for the re-establishment of a contiguous United States [1].
This article is part of the Two Americas thread

In 1918, on this day a prominent member of the Bolshevik Central Committee the Georgian "man of steel" Joseph Vissarionovich Jughashvili (pictured) was assassinated by British agent Oswald Rayner and the same members of the British Secret Intelligence Service that murdered Grigory Rasputin thirteen months before.

Stalin AssassinatedBoth strikes had been called by service head Mansfield Cumming (better known to co-workers as "C") to keep Russian Forces engaged in the Great War.

During 1916, the Tsar had been acting as Commander-in-Chief. Away from the Russian Capital, British Government feared that in his absence Rasputin would appeal to the Tsarina's German ancestry to call a truce. Thirteen months later, the Tsar had abdicated and the Bolsheviks had negotiated such a truce, leading to the prospect of the Western Allies facing the full brunt of the German Armies. By 1918, the resumption of hostilities required the displacement of the Bolsheviks in favour of the Socialist Revolutions. Even before Stalin was dead, advanced plans to assassinate both Lenin and Trotskey were being organized by Rayner.

In 1991, on this day Iraqi Dictator Saddam Husseini caught Coalition Forces by complete surprise when his Special Forces launched a wave of mobile Scud Missiles at the North African bases of the Anglo-French Project Hermes space program.

Aux Etoiles!
A teaser by Ed & Chris Oakley
Due to complex long-standing interests in the Middle East, and a history of independent thinking, the French Government had steadfastly refused to provide Ground Forces to support the US-led alliance. And yet after much persuasion, George Bush had finally convinced François Mitterand to participate in the Coalition of the Willing. Because of the advanced capabilities of her Space Platforms, France was able to assist the Allies with satellite surveillance of Scud missile deployments deep in the Iraqi desert.

Unfortunately for the West, those satellites had been launched from bases in the former French colony of Algeria. And when Iraq struck back with an anti-imperialist blow that resonated on the "Arab Street", he created a dangerous rupture at the heart of the Christian-Islamic alliance against Saddam's rule. More of a propaganda blow rather than a potent military strike, the operation would create huge problems at a key moment when Operation Desert Storm was "running on rails".
You can read read all parts of Chris Oakley's timeline at Aux Etoiles! at Changing the Times Magazine.

In 1973, on this day at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, Secret Service agents found Lyndon Baines Johnson dead in his bed with a telephone in his hand. The thirty-fifth President of the United States had been trying to call for help after suffering a massive heart attack brought on by years of heavy smoking, poor diet, and extreme stress.

Disgraced President Johnson diesA Southern Democrat, he served as a United States Representative from Texas, from 1937-1949 and as United States Senator from 1949-1961, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. After campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1960, Johnson was asked by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate for the 1960 presidential election.

But fate intervened and Johnson himself succeeded to the White House after the assassination of the President-elect on Palm Beach, Florida on December 11, 1960. Once in the Oval Office, he immediately cancelled a covert operation to attack Fidel Castro with a light force of Cuban Rebels. With hindsight he would come to bitterly regret this decision. Because within two years, he would be fighting impeachment charges when it was discovered that the USSR had used the strategic pause to introduce nuclear weapons onto the island.

In 1972, whilst campaigning for the forthcoming Iowa Caucus, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was shot dead in Des Moinesa by lone gun-woman Mary Jo Kopechne.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Whisperings of a scandal soon begin to emerge with the revelation that Koppechne had served as a "boiler girl" on Robert Kennedy's campaign in 1968. Even though he captivated the electorate, he had mis-timed his run, launching his candidacy too late to pick up the nomination. He followed up a gracious speech at the Convention in Chicago, returning to Martha's Vineyard to throw a party for his campaign staff.

Dejected by his brother's defeat, Ted had been drinking heavily all day, and shortly before midnight, snuck out of the party with Kopechne in order to have sex on the beach. At high speed he took a wrong turn onto a narrow bridge and crashed the vehicle into Poucha Pond. Even though the vehicle was capsized, he was able to rescue his unconscious companion. Jogging back to the Cottage, he fetched his cousin Joseph Gargan and party co-host Paul Markham who convinced Kopechne to keep quiet about the matter.

In 1995, on this day a civilian and seventeen soldiers were killed by two Palestinian suicide bombers in the Beit Lid massacre at Netanya, Central Israel.

Rabin SurvivesPersuaded against his better judgement by the emphaticatically delivered advice of his Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reluctantly proceeded with his schedule, conducting a planned visit to the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. This fateful decision placed Rabin in mortal danger, threatening the very future of his "Peace Now" movement.

Because not all of the visitors at Yad Vashem were directly engaged in the business of commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet Army. A former Hesder student and Orthodox far-right law student at Bar-Ilan University, Yigal Amir (pictured) was absolutely convinced that Rabin was a traitor that had betrayed Zionist principles by offering the Palestinians "Land for Peace".

Yet Amir's assassination attempt ended in failure and the Prime Minister survived to conduct the Final Status Negotiations (known as Oslo III Accords) that Rabin would eventually sign in 1999. Because under interrogation, the "patsy" exposed a right-wing conspiracy. "When I tell the whole truth, the entire system will collapse. I know enough to destroy this country" said Amir. And that shocking truth was a plot by government forces loyal to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (himself a Nobel Peace Prize winner) to force a return to the "Iron Fist" policy.

In 2013, on this day the overwhelming majority of the thirteen million citizens of Ontario celebrated the glorious bicentennial of joining the Union.Remember the Raisin!

Because on February 22nd 1810, the American politician Henry Clay declared that "the conquest of Canada is in our power. I trust I shall not be deemed presumptive when I state that I verily believe that the militia of Kentucky are alone competent to place Montreal and Upper Canada at our feet".

Almost three years later, a combined force of European, Canadian and five hundred Indians under the command of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh were decisively beaten at the Battle of Frenchtown, along the River Raisin. The phrase Remember the Raisin became a rallying cry for the brave Kentucky militiamen who had liberated Ontario from Upper Canada just as Clay had predicted.

Half way around the world, Napoleon's army were fleeing Russia, and some of the pressure was off Great Britain. For the decision by the Little Corporal to fight a war on two fronts resulted not only in the secession of Ontario to the British North American Union, but also the realisation of Shawnee aspirations for a native confederacy.

In Pierre Berton's Invasion of Canada (1812-3), the author explains two centuries of peace by wisely noting that "the creation of an Indian State north of the Ohio acted as a buffer zone between the two of the European States on the North American Continent making future wars unattractive".

In 2008, actor Heath Ledger (pictured) barely manages to survive a dangerous drug overdose at his SoHo-based apartment in Manhattan. Gotham Dawn by Gerry Shannon

That afternoon, Ledger had been found by his housekeeper in bed in a semi-conscious state and with a burning fever, and she then hurriedly dialled 911. The emergency room team who treated the actor found his condition was a result of an abuse of his precription medications that were for treating his headaches and his insomnia. (The actor often talked to his friends of his difficulties with sleeping).

During his recovery, Ledger released a statement warning his fans of not being properly informed as to the dangers of drugs - both legal and otherwise. It was this experience that would have the usually reclusive Ledger become a prominent anti-drugs activist in the intervening decades, often lobbying the US Senate for tougher measures and togrant greater powers to law enforcement agencies.

Nearly a year later to the day, he would be nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the super-villain, the Joker, in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Ledger's subsequent win was unique for a starring role in a big-budget genre production. He would reprise his role in the 2011 sequel, Gotham Dawn, which would briefly reunite him with his Brokeback Mountain co-star, Jake Gyllenhaal as the Riddler during the film's climax that sees a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum.

US President

On this day in 2001, President Colin Powell signed an executive order establishing the National Counterterrorism Command (NCC), an umbrella network designed to enable US law enforcement and military agencies to share information and co-ordinate strategies for combatting terrorism both at home and abroad.

US President - Colin Powell
Colin Powell

On this day in 2009, the US Senate voted unanimously to confirm former C-in-C of US forces in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus as Secretary of Defense.                                            

C-in-C - David Petraeus
David Petraeus

In 1972, Soviet agent Dmitri Kaprinsky, alias D.B. Cooper, was sentenced to life in prison for espionage and attempted hijacking.


In 1963, as expected after the results of the previous day's vote on impeaching President Kennedy, the House votes to impeach Earl Warren. As was true in the case of JFK, the impeachment resolution against Warren passes by a bare majority. In the Senate, there is uproar. The House votes mean the Senate will be called on to conduct trials of both the President and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Even some conservative senators consider the House's actions reckless, especially since it is believed to be unlikely that the two-thirds' majority vote for conviction can be obtained in either case.


That consideration spurs some right-wing senators to begin researching whether the two-thirds requirement can be circumvented. Some argue that it applies only to the presidency, and that therefore Chief Justice Warren should be removable by a simple majority vote. Their opponents counter by quoting the Constitution's language in Article I, Section 2, stating that in case of impeachment 'no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.'

In 1000 Post-Creation, Lucifer rages in Heaven.
In 2005, Jeanna Best, coming in to work a Saturday at the law firm she is employed at in Austin, Texas, notices her boss, Jack Armstrong, using the 'claw'. Suddenly frightened, she tells him that she has taken ill and goes to her friend Dave Lange's apartment, where it takes a few drinks to calm her nerves. The two of them are now utterly convinced that they have stumbled onto something real - and dangerous.
In 1985, President Ralph Shephard begins his first full day in office. His first task is to assert control over the Congress; although members of his Constitutionalist Party form the largest bloc in both houses, they don't command an outright majority, so he makes overtures to several Republicans who lean in his direction, convincing them to join his party.
In 1918, the Provincial Parliament of Manitoba, Canada, directed its film censor board to ban all dramas and allow only comedies to be shown in movie theaters. After the Great War, the town fathers decided that dramas made everyone too serious.
In 1905, Russian communists, with the support of the communistic American government, attempt to overthrow the Russian Tsar and replace him with a socialist democratic government. Unfortunately, the Oprichnina crushed them before they could gain any popular support, and the Tsar's suppression afterwards kept the Russian people under his yoke for decades.
In 1901, Her Holiness, Pope Victoria, died in her Scottish residence. Pope Victoria, at first a strong-willed leader of the Holy British Empire, waned in her later years after the death of her consort, Albert. Victoria wore the Shoes of the Fisherman longer than any other Pope, and during her papacy, the Empire grew to enormous heights.
In 1878, the anti-Mlosh terrorist known as The Lone Bomber is caught by North American Confederation officials in the Pacific Northwest. Although great care was taken in his apprehension, several officers died during the search of his house when they triggered hidden explosives. The Bomber, Theodore Morris, is convicted of a dozen murder counts and sentenced to life in prison, without possibility of parole.
In 1183, Velma Porter and Mikhail von Heflin, having walked many miles around the island, are convinced that they are no longer in the Bermuda of their own time period. Although immortal, they are both somewhat reluctant to just wait out the problem, and so they make the decision to build another boat and head back towards the rift they came out of.
In 902, with their temporary truce over, the wizards of Wales leave Rhonwen's fortress. Although she complains bitterly that they are not going to stay to help her repair the damage, she is most upset at losing the companionship of her fellow wise ones. She approaches Atticus, wizard of lightning, and broaches the possibility of a Welsh Wizard's Council.
In 1946, the Central Intelligence Group, precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, was established by President Truman after advisors from the Bilderberger Group and the Bavarian [REST OF POST CLASSIFIED FOR NATIONAL SECURITY REASONS]
In 1973, on this day Lyndon B. Johnson died after suffering the third and final heart attack in his lifetime. Unfit for office for two weeks due to suffering from acute chest pains, the closing days of Johnson's Presidency had ended in acrimony. Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been sworn in for a single day according to the US Constitution, with President-elect Richard M Nixon arguing that his Government-in-transition should take office a day early.
In 1561, Sir Francis Bacon was born in London. Since he was a notable political figure, he initially hid his play-writing hobby from other nobles by using an actor named William Shakespeare as a front. After the wide-spread acceptance of his work, he came out openly and took credit for his work. This made a pauper of Shakespeare, who spent the rest of his days plotting revenge against Sir Francis.

January 21

In 1813, on this day in Savannah, Georgia the "Great Pathfinder" John Charles Frémont was born more than two thousand miles away from the then Mexican Province of California which he would later serve with ignominious distinction as the Golden Bear Republic's inaugural President.

John Frémont
1st President of California
March 4, 1846 - 1849
The causal event was the declaration of an independent Republic in Alta California by a group of American settlers in Sonoma. At the outset of this so-called "Bear Flag Revolt" he was hand picked by the US President and Secretary of State who provided him with verbal orders to conceal their direct involvement in the Revolt. It was a poor choice, because they believed him to be a suitably daring officer when in fact he would be better described as "over-bold". Worse, it was mistake because, Frémont was a maverick, a loose cannon who could not be trusted to operate at arms length under any form of meaningful control.

Appointed lieutenant colonel he formed the grandiose-sounding California Battalion from his survey crew and also local volunteers. It was partly a bluff to fool Mexico into overestimating the size of his forces, but it was also a de facto self-appointment as theatre commander and liberator.

Insofar as he could be said to follow the instruction of others, Frémont then broadly adhered to the orders of Commodore Robert F. Stockton by leading a military expedition of three hundred men in the capture of Santa Barbara. A few days later he led his men southeast toward Los Angeles, accepting the surrender of the leader Andres Pico.

Unknown to Frémont and the Bear Flag supporters, war had already been formally declared but the news did not reach California until early July. Ironically the name of the frigate carrying the declaration was the USS Savannah which shared the name of the town of Frémont's birth in Georgia. Already over-zealous, the coincidence fired the imagination of the young officer who know decided he was the de jure leader of the the Bear Flag supporters.

Meanwhile his window of opportunity was beginning to shut. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny had orders from the U.S. president and secretary of war to relieve Frémont and serve as governor. Fate played Frémont a hand. Unwilling to withdraw from the south-west, Mexico refused to cede the territory to the United States, instead accepting compensation from Great Britain who then set up an quasi-independent Republic/British protectorate headed by Frémont.

It was a bad choice, because Frémont was a "show-boater" who was temperamentally unfit to govern. Disregarding the advice of the British military attache, he allowed himself to be provoked by events stage managed in southern Texas which provided the US with a fresh pretext for intervention. It would be his successor, and former Commander, Robert F. Stockton who would have to fend off the United States' second and more determined attempt to seize the territory.

Historians portray Frémont as controversial, impetuous, and contradictory. Some scholars regard him as a military hero of significant accomplishment, while others view him as a failure who repeatedly defeated his own best purposes. The keys to Frémont's character and personality may lie in his illegitimate birth, ambitious drive for success, self-justification, and passive-aggressive behavior perhaps the three attributes best used to describe the new nation that he had founded.

In a, move that surprised the world, the United Nations has announced that is is turning all of Jerusalem over to the Disney Corporation. "Everyone is happy all the time in any Disney theme park", proclaimed Abbas and Netanyahu, as they returned from their state visit to Walt Disney World. "And we both want our people to be happy, too".

The Happiest City on EarthFlanked by Mickey Mouse in an Israel Defense Force uniform and Minnie wearing a burka, the leaders explained, "As we all know, the possession of Jerusalem has been a major roadblock to the two-state solution that both sides have been seeking for so long. We have both rejected the Vatican's offer to supervise the Holy City, but who could refuse a proposal to make the Holy City into the Happiest City on Earth?"

With typical Disney efficiency, the attractions are scheduled to open within a month, starting with "Great Moments with Isaac and Ishmael", "Pirates of the Mediterranean", and "It's a Small Continent". Aladdin and Jasmine will be on hand to personally welcome visitors to the Dome of the Rock, while Timon the Jewish meercat will greet guests at the Western Wall, along with his friends Pumbaa the Wart Hog and Simba the Lion King of Judah.

The only possible problem is that admission is expected to cost 10,000 shekles and drachma a day.

In 1867, on this day a male Habsburg heir was finally born to Maximilian I of Mexico and his wife the Empress Consort Charlotte of Belgium. Inevitably the previously childless royal couple turned their attentions to the future, becoming more cautious in their decision-making as they set about building a lasting dynasty. An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Dutch Courage Part 7Maxine was thus the nephew of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I although his father's kingship was entirely due to the intervention of a benefactor - Napoleon III who had sought to establish French rule of Mexico. Against the odds their Second Mexican Empire lasted long after the collapse of the House of Bonaparte. And their continued existence into the second decade of the twentieth century was mainly sustained by the colonial ambitions of the Austro-Hungarian empire (Maximilian himself having been an officer in the Austrian Navy).

Until the Summer of 1915, the American mini-states avoided direct entry into the Great War and therefore Mexico although an Austro-Hungarian client state was technically a non-belligerent power. But then came the outraged backlash to the sinking of the Lusitania a passenger ship which had been shuttling between the bustling ports of Nieuw Amsterdam and Liverpool. Anger towards the Central Powers ran deep. Nieuw Nederlander President Theodore Rosevelt made his fateful visit to Washington to join forces with the United States. And their joint declaration of war also brought the battlefield of conflict to the Americas when they chose to offer military support to an anti-Habsburg Republican populist. A chap by the name of Pancho Villa.

In 1994, while driving to the airport in Damascus, Basil al-Assad, the eldest son of the President of Syria was critically injured in a car accident that slowly drained him of his health and finally took his life during the "Arab Spring".

Physician, Heal ThyselfOnly thirty-one years of age, the true extent of the injuries had not been fully revealed by the time his father passed away on June 10th, 2000. Nevertheless Hafiz al-Assad had taken the precaution of interjecting his hardass younger brother Maher into the Syrian power structure. A decade later, he was already running the government in all but name, and when his elder brother finally died he made his move.

Meanwhile their second brother, Bashar had fulfilled his father's dream of becoming a doctor. After graduating with a medical degree from Damascus University in 1988, he worked briefly as an army doctor before moving to England in 1992 for postgraduate studies in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital in London. During this time, he also married Asma Akhas, a Syrian raised in London.

His brothers struggled to play the dangerous and delicate game of high politics, sometimes funding terrorists in Lebanon, at other times, permitting the United States to send terror suspects to Syrian prisons for interrogation and torture. Bashar managed to remain out of this madness, and his own involvement in high politics was limited to a lobbying role in London's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

However Maher's ascendancy, combined with the Arab Spring, changed everything. As a middle-aged academic returning to Syria for his elder brother's funeral, he was secretly contacted by Arab Spring activists. Acting on behalf of Sunni opposition figures, they explained that they wanted him as their front man for a new, interim administration that could manage a smooth transition and head-off the revolutionary potential of the new youthquake.

In 2000, suppose that Rehnquist's back pain became so severe that, due to surgery or narcotics, he was temporarily unable to fulfill his duties as Chief Justice?

William Rehnquist suffers crippling back pain in December 2000Blogging is probably going to be light today, so I'll pose a hypothetical question that may never be answered.

First, we know that the late William Rehnquist, the former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, did suffer from severe back pain for much of his career. Suppose that during the month of December 2000, Rehnquist's back pain became so severe that, due to surgery or narcotics, he was temporarily unable to fulfill his duties as Chief Justice.

On December 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide manual recount of all ballots cast in the Presidential election held the month before. The Florida recount, according to some, might have taken months to complete and certify. President Bill Clinton was scheduled to leave office on January 20, 2001.

An article from Popehat: A Group Complaint about Law, Liberty, and LeisureOn December 12, 2000, the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recount, handing an effective victory along with Florida's electoral votes to George W. Bush in the still controversial case of Bush v. Gore. The case was decided by a vote of 5 to 4, with Rehnquist in the majority.

Now, if any Justice in the majority, let's say Rehnquist, had been unable to decide the case for any reason, the vote would be 4 to 4, leaving the lower (Florida Supreme) Court's decision standing. The recount would go on. Let's say until March.

Which leads to another question: Who would be President on January 21, 2001?

You are armed with a copy of the United States Constitution, the most authoritative document which purports to answer this question. And I'll submit that its answer is not at all clear. You may use any school of legal reasoning to decide this question. You will receive extra credit for explaining your answer in detail, whether by reference to text, history, statute, or case law (assuming that, unlike me, you can find an applicable statute or case)..

In 1793, on this day King Louis XVI of France was sent into exile.

Louis XVI Sent into Exile After giving military and monetary aid to the young republic in the Americas to humiliate her ancient enemy Britain, France would find herself upturned by revolution. Louis XVI had initially hoped that French troops could seize the United States after its war, but, in 1789, economic crisis brought famine, and the storming of the Bastille signaled an uprising as had not been seen in Europe for centuries. The elected National Assembly ruled alongside Louis in a constitutional monarchy that ate away at absolutist authority. That October, a mob of angry women marched on Versailles and joined with others to bring the royal family to the Tuileries in Paris where they would be held to higher accountability.

Louis and Marie Antoinette attempted to escape in 1791, but they were brought back and viewed with great suspicion by the people. A year later, the Brunswick Manifesto promised vengeance from Austria and Prussia if the king's family were harmed, which only furthered the poplar suspicion. It seemed now that the king not only cared little for his people, but was also willing to deal with foreign strength against them, as great an insult as the use of Hessian mercenaries in the Americas during their revolution. On August 13, Louis was officially arrested, and a month later the National Assembly abolished the monarchy and declared a republic.

While the king waited and war raged on the German and Italian borders, the revolutionaries forged themselves into factions competing for similar, though unique, goals. Question of creating a permanent constitutional monarchy may have been answered with the discovery of the armoire de fer hidden in the king's rooms, but the iron chest believed to be holding the secret documents of ministers' double-agendas was destroyed in a sudden fire.

Nonetheless, loud cries for trial on grounds of treason brought Louis to trial before a special Convention. A body of 721 deputies heard the cases and word of crimes against the state by the king, but the resulting vote was indecisive. The king was thought to have been invaluable as a hostage, but it was evident that the threats to his safety were raising the tempers of the crowns of Europe. After French victory at the Battle of Valmy, the Prussian and Austrian armies had retreated out of France, but they would certainly return as the spring campaigning season came. Finally the decision was made to use the king as a pawn in a bid for peace. It was an unpopular notion to many in the National Assembly, but the fiery writings and loud cries of the masses demanded peace.

Ambassadors were sent to Prussia, and discussions went into the new year. At last Brunswick spoke out over the Bourbons and assured peace with the French Republic provided that the royals were made safe. They agreed that he could be sent to a neutral court, and his relatives in Spain volunteered to host him along with a contingent of French guards who would make certain Louis would not be used as the banner for royalists to rally. By this point, it was obvious to those close to Louis that he was unfit for rule, devastated by depression and poor nutrition into an indecisive mumbler.

Peace came to France on February 1, 1793, while the other countries worked to put down their own republican insurrections. Demands of constitutions were met across Europe, ending the age of autocratic rule that had been best illustrated by France's own Louis XIV. The security and return to prosperity allowed France to quiet its extremists and organize its army into an effective force rather than the desperate mass-conscription that had been anticipated to fight off the hordes of Europe.

France came to notable stability as the eighteenth century dawned. Its colonies enjoyed great liberalization and became leaders in the abolition movement. Not all were happy, however, and the colony of Corsica rebelled in 1803 under native who had been trained in Paris as an artillery commander. After a decade of cunning ambushes, Corsica was granted independence in 1813. The revolutionary leader Napoleon Bonaparte would set himself up as king while the French looked on and laughed to themselves about those foolish enough to give up republican freedom for tyranny.

In 2010, on this day Brian Montopoli wrote this article in CBS News ~ John Edwards' admission that he fathered a child out of wedlock with videographer Rielle Hunter may not have shocked the world - Edwards had already admitted an affair with Hunter - but it does raise an interesting question: What if Edwards had won the presidency?

The Impeachment of John EdwardsCBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield notes that the timing of the scandal makes that unlikely - Edwards admitted the affair back in August of 2008, before the election, and the admission would have done serious damage to the candidate had he still been in the race.

"Had he been nominated, he either would have been forced off the ticket or would have staggered to November," said Greenfield. "Either way, I think, Democrats would have lost".

Still, had Edwards somehow overcome the scandal and won the presidency, it's interesting to think about the potential fallout from today's admission. Edwards consistently and adamantly claimed that he was not the child's father, even going so far as to invite a paternity test. That, we now know, was a lie. Edwards said in his statement that "it was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me".

Greenfield suggests Edwards would likely have been forced to resign the presidency over the admission. He adds that he would only be impeached, however, if campaign finance laws had been broken.

That may well have happened: Hunter's firm was paid more than $100,000 in connection with her work on the Edwards campaign, including about $14,000 that may have been attributed to a "furniture purchase". But it is not clear that Edwards technically broke the law.

As for the continuing interest in Edwards himself, CBS News Chief Political Consultant Marc Ambinder says that the reason the story "transcends the scandal press, and the reason why it remains so fascinating, is because there was a good chance - not a great chance, but a good chance, that this man could have been elected president".

"A man who lied to his staff, who was self-deluded, who had an unbelievable ego, who was reckless," says Ambinder. "Character matters; interpersonal conflict drives politics, but to anyone who blames the media for being too intrusive, all one needs to do is look back at the failure of the legitimate press to cover the rumors. And I can tell you - these rumors - we heard them".

Asked about an Edwards presidency, Ambinder compares Edwards to Bill Clinton, who was able to overcome at least one affair of his own.

"Bill Clinton was able to mostly compartmentalize his sexual indiscretions," he says. "Given the evidence we have, Edwards was much more openly reckless, and his ability to separate his personal pathologies from his professional responsibilities is questionable".

An interesting side note: Ambinder reports that Edwards' requestion to go to Haiti to help with relief efforts was "met with silence" by the White House, though Edwards went to the country anyway.

In 1981, on this day a Air Force VC-137 Stratoliner exploded in a ball of flame shortly after landing at the Rhein-Main Air Base in West Germany. But "Freedom One" was no ordinary commercial aircraft; onboard were the fifty-two American hostages who had been held at the Iranian Embassy for the last 444 days.

Iranian Hostage Crisis on steroidsAlso amongst the long list of fatalities was none other than the thirty-eighth President of the United States, Gerry Ford. Because incoming President Edward M. Kennedy had sent him as an emissary in order to welcome the hostages back into US custody.

Kennedy's predecessor was also a secondary victim of the crisis, albeit an electoral one. The right-wing of the Republican Party put Ford under acute pressure to take action. Protestors in Washington were calling for all Iranians to be expelled from the United States. And so Ford had unwisely authorised two ill-fated mission to rescue the hostages, Operation Eagle Claw and shortly before the election, Operation Credible Sport.

The first attempt, launched at the nadir of the crisis, ended in confusion and embarrassment in the desert due to mechanical problems with the helicopters. And the for the second, which used C130 Hercules transport planes modified with ricket assisted take-off and landing was an unmitigated disaster of the first magnititude. The personal bitterness caused by that second desperate attempt had been so acute, that the hostage-takers had decided to draw Ford into crisis at an even more personal level; in fact, they planned to kill him.
Click to watch documentary.

Back in Washigton, outgoing CIA Director George HW Bush (who sponsored both operations) was in the business of bringing to justice the criminals who had booby-trapped "Freedom One". And finding out precisely how the hostage-takers found out that Kennedy planned to send Ford to meet the hostages in Germany. High on the list of suspects was an Iranian student by the name of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In 2010, Hugo Chavez accused the United States of accidentally inducing a powerful earthquake off the shore of Haiti as part of its clandestine and increasingly desperate attempts to reduce the temperature of the Earth's core. The accusations gained further credence when less than a fortnight later, John S. McCain unveiled a $4tn federal budget under which the US deficit would spiral to a record $1.75tn.

Letting off SteamOver $250bn of funds earmarked for sending US astronauts back to the Moon had already been diverted to the HAARP facility located in Gakuna, Alaska, a project being personally overseen by Vice President Sarah Palin.

After receiving the nomination from the Republican Party, McCain had been informed that neutrinos from a massive solar flare were acting as microwave radiation, causing the temperature of the Earth's core to increase rapidly. Demanding "straight talk" from American geologists, a bold plan was presented, to trigger earthquakes in an attempt to let off steam from the Earth's core. At the heart of the project was a HAARP, an ionospheric research facility jointly funded by the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, capable of initiating anything, from earthquakes to rain, to draught.

In 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, AKA Vladimir Lenin, died in Moscow.

Ulyanov had been in prison since his arrest for his role in the failed 1917 attempt by the so-called 'Bolshevik,' or 'Majority,' faction to seize control of the Duma, the parliament established following the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II that February. The Bolshevik leader had been arrested July 3, along with Lev Bronstein (AKA Leon Trotsky) and tried for treason; he had escaped execution only because the Duma had outlawed the death penalty in March 1917.

 - Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin

On this day in 1969, the Apollo 4 flight crew performed the first translunar orbital docking manuver in the history of space exploration.

Following the completion of this maneouvre the Apollo 4 astronauts received a congratulatory phone call from US president Richard Nixon, who'd been sworn into office the previous day.


In 1985, Gary Hart of Colorado is sworn in as the fortieth president of the United States, succeeding President Edward M. Kennedy.

The inauguration, which ordinarily would have taken place on the 20th, has been delayed according to longstanding tradition against holding the ceremony on a Sunday.

 - Gary Hart
Gary Hart

In 1980, Massachusetts senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy announces he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

Reaction is divided. Many liberals welcome Kennedy's entry into the race. With the Tehran embassy still occupied by Iranian militants, Kennedy's supporters are quick to point out that he had opposed the Rockefeller administration's decision to allow the exiled Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. for medical treatment, which is widely seen as having precipitated the embassy siege.


Conservatives, however, respond with a mixture of anger and contempt, accusing Sen. Kennedy of 'feeling entitled' to the presidency. Moreover, the subject of the Chappaquiddick incident of 1969, in which Kennedy was involved in a car accident in which a woman died, is immediately raised.

In 1963, after two and a half weeks of angry debate in the House of Representatives, Rep. Williams' bill of impeachment against President Kennedy is voted on. The bill passes, 219-216, despite furious lobbying by moderate and liberal congressmen and by Vice-President Johnson. The Vice-President fears that if he becomes president in the wake of Kennedy's removal via impeachment, he will be a political captive of Congress.


Anticipating that he will run for the presidency in 1968, he prefers to come to the office as at least Congress's equal. Flushed with success, the House's conservative bloc prepares to vote on Chief Justice Warren's impeachment the following day.

In 1969, Astrid Pflaume gave her first report about her operation to the neo-Nazis financing her. Although she had only been gone 4 days by their time, she has been in the field for 5 years. She is surly during the debriefing, more to used to giving commands now than obeying them. Wilhelm Schoemann begins to suspect that her heart is no longer on their side.

In 1977, Massachusetts senator Edward Moore Kennedy is sworn in at noon as the 39th President of the United States of America.

Media coverage features numerous sentimental retrospectives on the 'Camelot' days of Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, whose assassination in 1963 remains a national trauma. There are plenty of critics of the incoming president, however: he is despised on the Republican right for his liberal views, and has even been criticized by the Catholic Church, of which he is a member, for his support of the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down legal bans on abortion.


In 1953, conservative Republicans hail McCarthy's attack on Eisenhower, whom they have distrusted all along as a representative of their party's "Eastern establishment".

Before the week is out, there will be talk of running the Senator against the General in the 1956 GOP primaries.

Eisenhower - US President
US President
In 2005, Jeanna Best and Dave Lange, after a couple of days of observing people's use of their hands, get together at his apartment and compare notes. They have both become decidedly paranoid, because they have actually witnessed the 'claw-like' behavior that they had been warned about in the Save Earth meeting. Best plaintively asks, 'What's going on?'
In 2001, the breakaway soviets of the northwest, the People's Republic of America, invade the California Soviet and occupy San Francisco. They hold the northern portion of the soviet until the Soviet States of America cut them off by invading Washington Soviet, forcing the P.R.A. to withdraw their troops in order to defend their own territory.
In 1985, conservative activist Ralph Shephard begins his first term of office. He had delayed his swearing in until the 21st because he refused to conduct state business on a Sunday. In his inaugural speech, he promised to end the dishonor that had gripped the nation since the loss of the Vietnam War, declaring, 'A year of great decisions is approaching. A historical task of unique dimensions has been entrusted to us by the Creator which we are obliged to carry out.'
In 1862, British police arrest a man in Marbury for trafficking in explosives illegally. During interrogation, it is revealed that he is the source for most of the conventional explosives that have been used by the Human League. This is both good news and bad news for the British authorities; the good news is that they have cut off that supply of explosives to the terrorists. The bad news is that they move up to more powerful weapons from there.
In 1183, Velma Porter and Mikhail von Heflin emerge from the swirling rip in the time/space continuum of the coast of Bermuda. They manage to swim to the shore, but both quickly realize that they are no longer in 2008. 'That's the last time I let you plan our vacation,' Porter tells von Heflin. They begin walking inland from the coast to see if there is any civilization on the island.
In 1077, the Tuscan Bishop Hildebrand begged forgiveness of Pope William I for his heresy in challenging the Pope's directive that all clergy in the Holy British Empire should be approved by him. Bishop Hildebrand continued to defy Pope William, even declaring himself the Pope once, until His Holiness had him arrested and executed by the Papal Guard.
In 902, Lebuin's Christian forces, now down to less than a hundred, break down the defenses of Rhonwen's fortress by the sea and storm into the castle. Their numbers are further reduced by deadly traps inside the fortress that have been devised by the wizards of Wales, and the pitiful handful that manage to stumble out of the keep alive are driven off by the combined forces of Merlin's dragon and Atticus' golem. Lebuin vows to return with a stronger force and destroy the wizards.
In 1000 Post-Creation, Gabriel takes the human woman Eve again, and one of his female angelic cohort, Lilith, takes the male, Adam. The Creator sends His arch-angel Michael down to them to punish this further transgression, and Michael casts Gabriel and Lilith down to the Abyss. Lucifer, angered at their willful disregard for his sacrifice, leaves the Abyss and, with all the might he has been given by Yahweh, seals the opening to the lake of fire, trapping Gabriel and Lilith there.

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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.