In 1911, it was grim irony that the wreck of the "Nimrod" was discovered drifting in the pack ice on Ernest Shackleton's birthday by his old rival Roald Amundsen.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.
Amundsen discovers the NimrodDirk Puehl writes - "Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road. There is always another one walking beside you. Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded. I do not know whether a man or a woman. - But who is that on the other side of you?" (T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land")
Since Amundsen was a Norwegian citizen and not subject to the gagging orders imposed by British Home Secretary Winston Churchill and the Admiralty, at least some of the quite disturbing news of Amundsen's discovery leaked out, but were mainly covered by rather dubious elements of the international press and Amundsen, fearing for his reputation as a scientist, refused to comment on his discovery in public until his death in 1928 and the mystery of Shackleton's death and the fate of the "Nimrod" were soon overshadowed by the outbreak of the Great War.
Fact is that Amundsen alerted the sealing steamer "Aurora" to make contact with British authorities who send the Port Stanley-based cruiser HMS "Glasgow" to investigate. Alerted by wireless, London decided to create virtually a restricted area in Antarctica by dispatching a whole squadron of cruisers under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock. Cradock's first action was to seize Amundsen's logs and records and send him on his way in the "Fram". Protests of the Norwegian and German government were officially ignored. The little-known "Nimrod" protocol, passed during the London Conference of 1912, finally ended similar international irritations and made Antarctica the "no-go area" it was until the late 1950s, the naval blockade, joined by the United States, Japan and France, was in place until 1936.
It has been 73 years, since the Crucifixion, and the Israelites have launched an unsuccessful rebellion to defend the Temple in Jerusalem. The survivors have fled to Masada, but soon the Romans are close to conquering them, too. The defenders are about to commit mass suicide .. when Jesus appears to them, carrying what seems to be a large iron egg.
Who would Jesus bomb?During his lifetime, he did his best to warn his fellow Jews against a suicidal resistance, as he explains ... but it is obviously too late for that message now. Of course, he will not kill the Romans or anyone else .. but he will make sure that the defenders do not feel compelled to kill themselves.
So now he warns them to fall on the ground and cover their heads .. but when they hear a clap of incredible thunder, some glance up to see a giant cloud in the shape of a mushroom.
The Romans have also heard the blast and seen the cloud. While none of them were harmed, they were all awed enough to flee. The Masada survivors were able to keep their refuge, and their descendants are there to this day, constantly thanking the Good Rabbi Joshua for the help he gave them .. and agreeing that his actions were very good indeed.
In 1536, physician and alchemist Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, apparently succeeds in synthesizing gold from lead and other base elements.
When word of his discovery leaks out and his efforts are duplicated, panic sweeps Europe at the prospect of a financial collapse. Particularly hard-hit is Spain, which had been levering its expropriating of Aztec and Inca precious metals to increase its political power. With alchemical gold far cheaper to produce than natural gold is to mine and refine and impossible to tell from the natural product by sixteenth-century methods, the bottom drops out of the gold market.Curse of Paracelsus
by Eric LippsChurch condemnation of alchemy is greatly strengthened, leading to a wave of arrests and executions by the Inquisition, including the death of Paracelsus himself in 1539. The fledgling science of chemistry is placed under ecclesiastical supervision; thereafter, only priests will be permitted to carry out research in the field. The Church's prohibition of alchemy, however, does not prohibit Spain from using alchemical gold--and later, alchemical silver--to undermine the economies of its political enemies. England's Henry VIII, for example, is forced from his throne after defying Rome by divorcing his wife Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. In the "starving time" which followed the Papacy's authorization of economic warfare, Henry sees his country's currency turn worthless. Finally, his brother-in-law King James IV of Scotland attacks and defeats Henry's remaining supporters, and is crowned King of England in Henry's place. Henry is shut up in the Tower of London, where he will die in 1547.
The economic chaos in Europe will slow exploitation of the New World; the first English settlement, at Roanoke Island, will not be established until 1651. Also delayed will be scientific progress, as direct Church control spreads from chemistry to all fields. The one exception is in chemistry, where the Vatican supports a research program aimed at developing alchemy and at eventually finding a way to distinguish alchemical products from their natural counterparts. The result is an "arms race" between alchemical synthesis and chemical analysis which will not end until 1887, when Bishop Ernest Rutherford demonstrates the use of spectroscopy to distinguish infallibly between alchemical gold and natural gold. As Rutherford shows, and as had long been accepted by alchemists, alchemical gold has not really been transmuted; instead, it is a chemical amalgam whose properties mimic those of the natural metal almost exactly. The same is soon demonstrated for other products of alchemical "transmutation".
In 1696, on this day at Turnham Green a gang of plotters armed with blunderbusses, musquetoons and well sharpened swords ambushed the King as he returned from a hunting party in Richmond.
Barclays Plot SucceedsThe absence of the main English fleet in the Mediterranean enabled Jacobite agents such as Sir George Barclay to push for an invasion of England by French troops. However the French demanded an English rising as the first step, and this precondition required the assassination of William.
The overthrow of the Williamite Regime led to the restoration of the House of Stuart. Only eight years old at the time, James Francis Edward (the former Prince of Wales) eventually succeeded as King James III after a period of regency. Ironically, it was his birth that had triggered the Glorious Revolution by removing William's wife Mary from the line of direct succession.
In 1839, in a sharp escalation of the Northeast Boundary Dispute with the Canadian Province of New Brunswick, the Maine Legislature authorized Major General Isaac Hodsdon to lead one thousand additional militiamen to augment the forces deployed on the upper Aroostook River,a pocket of territorial ambiguity that the governments of England and America both claiming it as its own (by the end of the Revolutionary War, most of the area was yet unmapped and unexplored).
by Ed & Andrew BeaneAs a consequence of the closing of the Second Bank of the United States, the State had created a special census to identify eligible recipients for a refund. But when the New Brunswick colonial-provincial authorities discovered that an official from Maine (Penobscot County Census Representative Greeley) was offering money to settlers in the upper Aroostook River territory, they issued a warranty for his arrest. In response Governor Robert Dunlap of Maine issued a general order announcing that a foreign power had invaded Maine.
This regional friction might have been dissolved through local mediation but American public opinion had been enraged by the Caroline Incident that strained relations between the United States and Britain. Nevertheless, President Martin Van Buren sent Brigadier General Winfield Scott to work out a compromise. But by the time that he arrived in the northeast, British redcoats had massacred the militia and both countries stood on the brink of war.
In 1945, on this day the Wehrmacht counter-attack the Soviet forces advancing on Berlin. "Operation Solstice" (also known as Unternehmen Husarenritt or the "Stargard tank battle") is the last German offensive on the Eastern Front.
Operation Solstice #1
By Steven FisherThe command change had been brought about two days earlier, during a Fuhrer conference. Originally, Treuer Himmler had been in command of the Army Group that Guderian had assembled to launch the attack. However, a fierce argument between Hitler, who favored Himmler, and Guderian, who favored his protege Wenck. Hitler raged against Guderian, who remained adamant in his resolve to have Wenck manage the attack. Finally, Hitler had a flash of intelligence that was not too common these days, Hitler realized that Guderian was really proposing Wenck as a way for him to secretly control his planned offensive. With a glimmer in his eye, he said to Guderian, "If you are so sure that Treuer Himmler is incapable of commanding this attack you propose, then perhaps you should command the attack yourself".
Guderian was surprised by this, but he saw that this was his chance to ensure the success of this offensive. He accepted Hitlers offer, with the condition that the general on the scene would be Wenck, while Guderian would be in overall command, therefore preventing Wenck from being preoccupied with the Fuhrer Conferences. Hitler agreed to this, and Wenck immediately departed to Pomerania to prepare for the offensive that would begin two days later.
Guderian had marshaled six Panzer divisions under the newly reconstituted 6th Army, and the 11th SS Army. Opposing them were only infantry divisions, who were on strategic pause while waiting for their supply lines to catch up. But the most of the German Panzer Divisions were not above 2/3rds strength, and none were equipped with the King Tiger tank.Guderian's plan was to strike hard and gain as much ground as they could before Zhukov could organize an effective attack.
The initial attack got off to a stunning start. Zhukovs forces yhad been on alert for a German attack, but the alert had been going for multiple days, and the forces facing the Germans were falling into a lulled state of security. this allowed the Germans to penetrate the Russian front quickly. Zhukov was determined to not be intimidated by this offensive, and refused to withdraw in the face of Guderian's attacks. However, the Panzers of the 6th Army rolled forward as Rossokovski tried to realign his forces to counter the Germans.
The offensive would end with a stunning German sucess. Zhukov would be forced to launch a desperate counterattack to prevent the dissolution of the Russian position on the west bank of the Oder. It would see some sucess, but spring rains would cripple his efforts to crush the weaker German forces. The Soviets would be forced to take a strategic pause, postponing their drive on Berlin for over a month while they cleaned up their flanks.
Hitler would demand Guderian launch another offensive to drive the Soviets over the Oder, but Guderian realized that the Wehrmatch was spent, and didn't have any offensives left in it. His refusal, and other arguments such as the continued occupation of Courland, resulted in Guderians dismissal. Guderian would leave Germany and surrender to the American General Patton, who was racing his tanks toward Berlin (in violation of direct orders from Eisenhower and Marshall).
Patton would arrive in Berlin, and the Nazi's would be crushed between the vicegrips of the Americans and the Soviets, who met with the Soviets controlling 2/3rds of Berlin, and the Americans controlling a land route to Berlin.
The whole thread is available at the Operation Solstice.
In 1898, shortly after nine o'clock in the evening, a group of men were caught attempting to sneak aboard the USS Maine while it rested in Havana Harbor, defending American interests during the Cuban insurrection.
Would-be Saboteurs Caught aboard USS MAINEThe five men were carrying with them explosives and were believed to have been headed toward the storage of the ship's powder charges for its six-inch and ten-inch guns. The discovery had been nearly happenstance as one man coughed too loudly and the crew on patrol thought to double-check.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe men were separated and questioned, and each gave wildly different stories. Crewmen leaked the investigation, and rumors exploded into news. Fueled by yellow journalism, the men were believed to be saboteurs from Spain, attempting to knock America out of its defensive position with Cuba; or, Cubans hoping to spark a war between the United States and Spain; or, mercenaries hired by the U.S. government to blow up their own ship and instigate a war that would bring in a wealth of captured territory for a new empire. Some even said that they had been hired by newspapermen Hearst or Pulitzer to precipitate a reason to sell more papers, but these rumors did not appear in print.
The whole of America rose up in anger over the ordeal, but there was no consensus on how to act. Some demanded war with Spain, others demanded war with the Cuban revolutionaries that America had previously supported, and still others demanded the Maine to leave Havana and the US wash its hands of the whole matter. President McKinley weighed his options carefully and finally decided to bring the diplomatic ordeal with Spain to an end as quickly as possible. He dispatched orders to Admiral Dewey in Hong Kong to sail toward the Philippines (also fighting for its independence) in case anything got out of order. Congress and the President worked together to create a reasonable ultimatum for Spain, ignoring many of Republican Senator Redfield Proctor's demands for war. The Spanish government weighed its options and finally decided to concede in Cuba and the Philippines.
In exchange for a massive gift of "dollar diplomacy" (to be paid back by bonds from the new Cuban and Filipino governments), Spain would grant its colonies their independence. America, meanwhile, would gain valuable coaling stations and naval bases. The Pil?n-Woodward Treaty that summer ironed out the diplomatic details, and the cries for war were silenced. Several Americans, such as Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, spoke out that the nation had not acted valiantly enough, but for the most part the populace had come to ease with international relations. Other imperial-minded Americans called for expansion into the Pacific rather than merely opening markets, such as conquering the Philippines rather than holding content with bases at Manila and Luzon. Letters from Sanford Dole the newly formed Republic of Hawaii offered the islands to McKinely.
Hawaii would become the new battleground as many politicians and businessmen hoped to support it as a new territory. However, the American Anti-Imperialist League formed around such famous members as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Samuel Gompers, and Senator George Boutwell. Their collective clout broke up the imperialist calls prominent in the press, and America returned to a sense of dollar diplomacy as McKinely refused Dole's offer. Hawaii would later be returned to the Hawaiian Royal family, and it retains close political ties to the United States to this day.
The divided Republican Party in 1900 would result in the narrow election of President William Jennings Bryan and Vice-President Dewey, heralded as the man who won the Philippines its independence without firing a single shot. Dewey received a great deal of political criticism for his comment that "Our next war will be with Germany," which was proven correct some eighteen years later.
"Remember the Maine!" became a popular cry among Navy security as they patrolled in the early twentieth century. A policy of stringent observance of any possible attack became the norm, which proved effective in the detection of the Japanese carrier fleet approaching the base at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
In 1942, in OTL Singapore fell on February 15 (see the Fall of Singapore). Yamashita's Japanese were nearly out of supply but by grit and bluff kept fighting until the Empire troops came apart. Even then as the Japanese later admitted had the British counterattacked they might well have driven the Japanese off the island. It was a classic case of one side with the will to victory versus another side who were defeated in their minds before the fighting began.
Singapore as Tobruk by Scott PalterThe double headed Allied problem was a total incomprehension by the Commonwealth forces of the Japanese style of warfare and the inept British commander, Arthur Percival (see Arthur Percival). Now there is no way white imperials were going to take Chinese advice on how to beat Japanese. The Chinese may not have had enough good units and supply to heed their own advice but had the basic concept of how to beat Japanese infiltration tactics down correctly. You forted up and let the Japanese run around your rear until they ran out of supply [which happened fairly quickly as they were essentially light infantry]. You then exterminated them.
So we will take the incomprehension of Japanese style warfare as a given. It took the US into early 43 to grasp this. It took the Empire under Slim about a year longer. However there was no reason Percival himself could not have been replaced. I will have Wavell give Singapore to Slim (see Middle East Campaign). Have Percival replaced before the retreat to Johore when it was clear he had lost Malaya to a numerically inferior force. A competent British commander beats Yamashita at Singapore and probably retakes at least southern Johore (see Geography) . Yamashita may have had air superiority and some tanks but he was essentially out of ammunition and nearly out of fuel.
So now the fun begins. The repulse at Singapore will slow down the Burma Campaign (see Conquest of Burma). Even a delay of a week gets the 17th Indian Division back across the Sittang River which in turn gives Alexander time to mount a defense of Rangoon.
Now there is no way the Commonwealth actually holds the Singapore-Sumatra complex. Japanese naval-air strength is too great. However launching the second strike at Singapore, taking longer to finish Sumatra and taking much longer to take Rangoon and from there Upper Burma mean the six carriers of the main Japanese Combined Fleet are not available for the Coral Sea, Midway or the Ceylon Raid. They are tied up making sure these operations come off well. The Japanese forward base on Guadalcanal is never built and no thrust is made to Port Mosby from Buna in New Guinea. The South and Southwest Pacific Campaigns as we know them never happen. The Japanese fleet is too strong and the Allied fleets are too weak.
So the New Guinea and Solomons theaters are scenes of land based air duels and commando raids but not a major combat sector for either side. The big sea battles come in early 1944 when the US Essex class is ready. The knock on effect of this is to enhance the North African campaign. The Allies were abysmally short of shipping and landing craft. Neither the Solomons nor New Guinea used all that many divisions but both were hogs of various types of shipping because of distance and because the lack of ports facilities meant local commanders would use them as floating warehouses. The ships that aren't going to the Pacific can help Ike do his logistic buildup faster in Algeria in the winter of 42-43. Tunis probably falls 45-60 days sooner.
In turn the extra amphibious lift means when Sicily deadlocks Ike has the sea lift to land a corps in the Italian toe to trap the Germans in Sicily. This in turn means a somewhat faster advance to what became the Gustav Line (see Salerno Landings) is also an easier landing. Note that this does not crack the Gustav Line any faster. The mix of terrain and German operational superiority preclude this. Essentially it took the massive Allied numerical and air superiority of the spring-summer of 1944 to break the Gustav and take Rome.
The big changes come in 1944. US is only supporting one Pacific campaign [Central Pacific to the Marianas]. That in turn is happening probably in fourth quarter instead of third [sea battles will be needed to attrit the Japanese Fleet]. This means that the two landings in France can happen at the same time instead of spaced apart by 2 months [the same shortage of landing craft in OTL]. This makes Normandy less bloody but the battle for France more so. With Sixth Army Group coming up the Rhone Valley Hitler's stand and die in Normandy gets ended much sooner but that leaves more good German troops to fight river line by river line across France and the Benelux. This hurts allied manpower [both Anglo powers were quite short of front line replacements by 1944 although the US is less bad off because the Pacific is using fewer ground troops] but helps the logistics [a somewhat slower advance means more of a chance to build railroads instead of relying purely on the Red Ball Express (see Red Ball Express).
In OTL we kept falsely believing we were almost at the point of a German collapse from mid-September of 1944 till the Ardennes in December. Here we know we are in a hard fight and are surprised when the German armies essentially implode in late January of 45. Hitler probably wastes the panzers he lost in the Ardennes in OTL relieving Budapest and then is left desperate from Stalin blows away the Vistula line. The German War ends two months early [although in about the same positions - that was almost baked in by a combination of geography and the predetermined occupation zones].
That still leaves the Pacific War. With the nukes still a maybe [the Trinity test is still in the future here] and Japan with some semblance of a battle fleet there is a possibility for negotiations. Given the fantasy world the Japanese higher military commanders lived in possibility is as far as one can go. The civilians wanted to quit after Saipan, ( see Battle of Saipan) , in OTL. Fear of a coup and / or murder of the civilian cabinet members delayed things for a year. However there is a chance for Japan to get a more limited occupation and be left with the Kuriles and Taiwan.
In 1920, on this day "Sleepy" Bill Burns died of gunshot wounds sustained four days earlier in an ambush outside a Manhattan speakeasy; he thus became one of the earliest and most notorious casualties of America's Prohibition-era gang wars.
The Death of "Sleepy" Bill BurnsShortly after Burns' death, a letter he'd written prior to the ambush arrived at the offices of the New York City U.S. district attorney.
Burn's had described at length Arnold Rothstein's role in the long-defunct plot to fix the 1919 World Series.
"I told them I had the hundred thousand dollars to handle the throwing of the World Series. I also told them that I had the names of the men who were going to finance it.That letter would subsequently lead to Rothstein's arrest and indictment on racketeering charges.
Rothstein would be sentenced to consecutive ten-year prison terms for his crimes and die of a stroke just after beginning the second of those terms.
In 2009, for counterinsurgency specialists General David Howell Petraeus and Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis the unfolding of the Year Zero scenario was as puzzling as it was frightening.Petraeus' Knot to Untie, Part 5 - Secret Websites, Coded Messages
We didn't know where it [Year Zero] was going, said Petraeus.
We had no idea of the scope. That was the most frightening element of the conspiracy - not knowing what would come next. Debates at U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas raged as to whether it had anything to do with Philip K. Dick or the Bible, how it compared with Children of Men or V for Vendetta, and why the Year Zero Web sites kept referring to something called the Presence, which appeared to be a giant hand reaching down from the sky. It was like, bang-bang-bang - there were so many things happening at once, Petraus said. It was one gigantic burst of insurgency. ~ Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games, by Frank Rose
The story will continue in Part Six ..
In 1898, an explosion occurred on-board a 6682-ton second-class pre-dreadnought battleship in the Havana Harbour, Cuba. The USS Maine, an Armored Cruiser #1 had been sent from Key West, Florida, to Cuba, to protect American interests during a time of local insurrection and civil disturbances.
Casus Belli The explosion was a precipitating cause of the Spanish-American War that began in April 1898 and which used the rallying cry, Remember the Maine!, To hell with Spain! The episode focused national attention on the crisis in Cuba but was not cited by the William McKinley administration as a casus belli, though it was cited by some who were already inclined to go to war with Spain over their perceived atrocities and loss of control in Cuba.
The cause of the explosion that sank the ship remains an unsolved mystery. However, only one explanation fits the facts. The Assiti Shards event theory proposed by scientist Eric Flint has been accepted by the majority of contemporary historians. A spacial/cosmic disturbance caused the Spain of 1960 (with Portugal) to be swapped holus-bolus for Spain on the day of the Maine's explosion. The Spaniards rickety old ships were upgraded to the Spanish fleet of 1960 which was more than able to deal with the 1898-era US Navy. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders going up against T-26s, Me-109s and all the panoply of twentieth-century combat taught TR a healthy lesson in humility.
In 2009, fulfilling a key campaign promise, US President Hilary Rodham arrived in Richmond, Virginia for re-unification talks with Confederate President Al Gore.
Unfinished BusinessDuring the election, Rodham had seized upon the theme of unfinished business in former President Bush's last State of the Nation address. It was a bold step that had carried her to the White House, and the restless ghost of Abraham Lincoln.
That Lincoln had a precognitive dream about the dissolution is well documented. He related the dream to his close friend, Ward Hill Lamon:
About ten days ago, I retired very late. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room. No living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds met me as I passed alone. I was puzzled and alarmed.
Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room. Before me was a catafalque on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng or people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. "Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers. "The Union," was his answer. ~ Paranormal Phenomena.
On this day in 1945, Allied troops began their occupation of Germany; the vanquished former Reich was divided into four occupation zones, the largest of which was under Soviet control (pictured) and encompassed most of Germany's eastern half.
The zone divisions were meant to be temporary pending a final conference to settle the question of the country's postwar political future, but ideological differences between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union hardened those divisions and Germany would spend the next four decades split into separate nations.
From his cell at the now Allied-controlled Spandau Prison in Berlin, Adolf Hitler raged against the partition of Germany and called on his fellow Germans to rise up in revolt against the occupation forces. But few of them were willing to his rhetoric anymore; many of them actually accused the ex-Führer of leading their homeland to ruin. One prominent German, former Leipzig mayor Carl Gordeler, openly advocated Hitler's execution.
In 2002, with U.S. and allied forces approaching Kabul Taliban forces flee the Afghan capital under cover of darkness after sunset.
In 2008, In an interview about the making of her own sequel, Lost in Civilization, (the follow-up to her 2004 romantic drama, Lost In Translation), writer and director Sofia Coppola recalls she was to reprise her critically-malinged role as Mary Corleone in the last Godfather film: "I had died in Part III... but for Part IV, my father had this idea for me to appear in a dream sequence of Vincent [played by Andy Garcia]".
However, the daughter of famous filmmaker Francis Coppola was reluctant to play the character again that earned her such noterity by audiences in The Godfather Part III: "Dad tried his best to change my mind, but I said no. He still used my portrait in several scenes. But I don't think me or the film suffered from Mary's absence".
In 1963, the Senate votes to acquit President John Fitzgerald Kennedy of the charges for which he was impeached.
To Kennedy's satisfaction, there is not even a simple majority for conviction, let alone the two-thirds vote required to remove him from office. A major factor in the defeat of his impeachment is behind-the-scenes lobbying by Vice-President Johnson, who is able to twist a number of arms. Contrary to the hopes of defenders of Chief Justice Earl Warren, however, the acquittal of Kennedy does not slow the drive for Warren's removal. If anything, Warren's foes in the Senate grow more insistent than ever.
In 1933, a constitutional crisis ensues when President-elect Franklin Roosevelt is shot to death by an Italian-American bricklayer who objected to another plutocrat gaining control of America's government. Although it seemed obvious to most that Vice-President-elect John Garner was next in line to take over the White House in May, Republican President Herbert Hoover maintained that the constitution was unclear on this point, and asked the Supreme Court to decide who should follow. Although most on the court believed privately that the constitution was, in fact, quite clear on this point, they punted the question to Congress. The House of Representatives, given the duty of electing the president if the general election was unclear, took up the question of whether to elevate their former Speaker, Garner, or to continue Hoover's presidency. Although Garner felt confident that he would win among his old colleagues, it turned out that 'Cactus Jack' had rubbed more than a few of them the wrong way; they voted Hoover back into office. An enraged electorate was made even more radical by this action, and the elections of 1934 saw a huge turnover in Congress - virtually everyone who had voted against Garner and was up for reelection was defeated and replaced by a Garner supporter. Hoover was rendered impotent by the loss of Congress, and was very nearly impeached. He managed to negotiate his way to 1936 still in the office, and John Garner was swept into office in 1936 by a near-unanimous landslide, winning every single state in the general presidential election.
In 1942, Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered his defeated Japanese forces to British General Arthur Percival as the siege of Singapore is lifted. In London, Minister of Defence Winston Churchill congratulated British Prime Minister David Lloyd George on his foresight in ordering the fortification of the land approaches to the city during the previous year. At eighty, the Welsh Wizard still demonstrates the vigilance that caused the British nation to turn to him once again following the Battle of France.
In 2003, negotiations break down between the People's Republic of America and the Soviet States of America. Soviet troops move across the border into Idaho and Washington, and resistance fighters in the breakaway soviets attempt to slow them down.
In 1953, the New Reich captures the port city of Singapore in China. The Chinese are becoming increasingly desperate in their effort to hold back the onslaught of the German forces, but the Germans, armed with weaponry from neo-Nazis in the future, are unstoppable.
In 1952, Velma Porter and Mikhail von Heflin are joined in the ceremony of blood, and Miss Porter has her first glimpse into the world as von Heflin sees it. She is driven temporarily mad by the experience, but is nursed through it by the Baron.
In 1904, the invasion fleet of Q'B'Ton'ra, at least the remains of it, take up position just outside the earth system's Oort cloud. The conquerors of the Mlosh homeworld offer a trade of their prisoners held back on the Mlosh homeworld for the Q'Bar, as he calls his people, held on earth. Delighted that their people are still alive, the Congress of Nations agrees to the prisoner transfer.
In 1945, rescue workers looked for survivors in the rubble of Dresden which closely resembled the surface of the moon. A forty-five year old man Edgar Derby was found holding a teapot. German solders concluded this had been stolen as a momento of his incarceration at nearby Slaughterhouse-Five. The previous night, 800 RAF Bomber Command planes let loose 650,000 incendiaries and 8,000lb of high explosives and hundreds of 4,000lb bombs in two waves of attack. They faced very little anti-aircraft fire, even though the city was reported to be a vital command centre for the German defence against Soviet forces approaching from the east. As soon as one part of the city was alight, the bombers went for another until the whole of Dresden was ablaze.
In 1898, Spanish troops catch a small band of men about to sneak aboard the U.S.S. Maine in Puerto de Habana, Cuba. They are carrying enough explosives to sink the battleship, which might have provoked America into war with Spain. The nationality of the men is never determined, although they speak with heavy German accents.
In 1564, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. An astronomer of great note in his youth, he gave up the profession after accusations of heresy were leveled against him because of certain findings he had made. He was arrested in 1616 for speaking to some students about the possibility of the earth moving around the sun rather than vice versa. When he refused to recant this belief, he was burned at the stake as a witch.
In Hellenic Year 3362, Socrates flees Athens, confirming his guilt to all citizens. He lives the remainder of his life in shameful exile in Thrace, and his work and students no longer commanded respect among the elite in Athenian society. Even today, he is an obscure philosopher of that great era in Hellenic history.
In 1950, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China signed a mutual defense treaty as World Communism continued to gain an unstoppable momentum. By the time that Douglas MacArthur was inaugurated in 1953, the Cold War was effectively lost. The reversal of these facts on the ground required Brass Hat to reconquer the world all over again, a feat of arms he attempted in the Dropshot War of 1957.
In 1965, the far-left government of Canadian Prime Minister Dominic 'Moonchild' Montclair adopts the leaf of the cannibis sativa as the national symbol for the nation's flag. An obviously oblivious Queen Elizabeth attends the flag-raising to hoots and hollers from hippies gathered for the occasion. Canada becomes known as the front line of the drug war as Montclair's government and a sympathetic parliament enact the most liberal drug laws in the western world. Although denounced by Great Britain and the United States, drug abuse actually declines in Canada during this period, even though casual drug use increases slightly.
In 634, an Asian team of the Speaker's Line assembles their Dragon, a kite that is capable of carrying two full-grown men and is almost fully controllable from within. They manage to glide the Dragon to a height of several hundred feet and manage to return to the ground safely. There is rejoicing throughout the Speaker's Line as word of this success spreads through their ranks.
In 1933, in Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara shot President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died of his wounds on March 6. John Nance Garner ascended to the Presidency, famously described by Alistair Cook as the last public man linking America of the Civil War and America of the nuclear age. Cooke was referring to the fact that Garner was born in 1868, the son of a former Confederate cavalry trooper. His unique understanding of American history enabled Cactus Jack to steer the isolationist nation clear of the tragedy of the Second Great War.
In 2000, Indian Point II nuclear power plant in New York State vented a huge amount of radioactive steam when an ageing steam generator failed. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) initially reported that no radioactive material was released but were forced to retract this statement when ten of thousands of people died on the eastern seaboard. On February 16th the NRC stated The event...resulted in an initial primary-to-secondary leak of reactor coolant of approximately 50,000 gallons per minute and required an Alert declaration (the second level of emergency action in the NRC-required emergency response plan.
In 1941, on this day the 42nd President of the United States Paul Efthemios Tsongas was born in Lowell, Massachusetts.
An abbreviated version of President Tsongas on Althist web site.
Birth of President TsongasFollowing the New Hampshire primary, Clinton was unable to match Tsongas's fundraising. Paul Tsongas later went to win most of the Super Tuesday primaries. Clinton did go on to win delegate contests in Delaware, Maryland, Arizona, Washington, Utah, and Massachusetts, but his campaign never recovered from Tsongas's early victory; Tsongas won the primaries of most of the more populous and delegate-rich states as well.
Eventually, Clinton pulled out of the race and endorsed Tsongas. However, a number of the Clinton delegates continued to support the Governor, and voted for Clinton at the convention. The roll call yielded 289 votes for Clinton, placing him in third place, behind Tsongas and former California governor Jerry Brown. In a move that can only be described as brilliant, Tsongas picked this same Clinton to be his running mate at the convention and they branded themselves "The Comeback Kids" .. Tsongas for surviving his cancer and Clinton for surviving his scandals. Despite Tsongas being portrayed as "Dukakis number two" and concerns about his cancer reoccurring, they went on to pull a squeaker out against President Bush, winning 296 electoral votes to President Bush's 242 and with 51% of the vote to Bush's 48% of the vote.
In 1400, on this day deposed monarch Richard of Bordeaux escaped from Pontefract Castle where he had been imprisoned by the usurper Henry of Bolingbroke.
Richard of Bordeaux makes his bold escapeHe had almost been restored by the Earls during the Epiphany Rising. Realizing that he could not permit Richard to live, Henry decided to murder him. But Richard had made the very same realization and wisely chose to make his escape.
He fled north to Stirling Castle calling for his eleven year old wife Isabella of Valois. With French support, they set about recovering the throne.
In 2010, on this day at the XXI Olympic Winter Games, Vice President Joe Biden and his future boss Governor Mitt Romney watched the women's ice hockey preliminary game between United States and China at the UBC Thunderbird Arena in Vancouver, Canada.
An article from the Deadlocked 2012 Election thread.
Deadlocked Election prevents America going over Fiscal Cliff Part 4Because within three years, a historic tie in the 2012 General Election would see Romney elected president and Joe Biden re-elected vice-president. Under the US constitution, if the electoral college ends in a tie the election is sent to the House of Representatives. And as this was currently Republican-controlled, Romney was chosen. But under the same clause, the Democrat-led Senate had chosen the incumbent vice-president - Joe Biden. And Paul Ryan was forced to accept the consolation prize of Secretary of the Treasury.
However when it became clear that a bipartisan deal had failed to materialize, Biden became tempted to undermine Romney at every turn.  By the mid-terms, there was even speculation that Ryan would replace Biden, although the US Constitution holds no provision for such a succession.
In 1915, on this day the First Conference of the Zimmerwald Movement was opened in London, England.
An article from the Comrade Arnold Hiller cross-over thread.
The Rise and Fall of Comrade Arnold Hiller
Part 2Among the many individuals and organizations present was twenty-six year Comrade Arnold Hiller. Like Karl Marx, he was a German Émigré to London and even though he hardly had the same breadth of historical perspective, it was apparently clear to him that matters had gone awry.
Because according to Marxist thought, Internationalism was the answer, and worker's republics the historically inevitable outcome of any attempt by Capitalist Governments to prosecute a common European conflict. But instead the workers had not united, rather they had picked up arms and marched off to war to fight each other as their bourgeois masters had demanded.
Needless to say, it was all rather discouraging. And not much later, the whole Second International broke up. But as events were to transpired, Communist Revolution would succeed in Russia, a country which according to Marxist thought, had not even passed through the necessary period of industrialization. And then revolution moved West, to Germany itself...
In 1891, on this day former Union President William Tecumseh Sherman died in New York City. He was seventy-one.
Passing of President ShermanDuring the 1876 campaign he was a reluctant candidate, but had finally been persuaded to run by his friend and fellow commander in the War of the States, General George H. Thomas, who warned that the U.S. had become dangerously politically unstable in the decade following Southern secession and needed "a strong hand in these times of trial". Sherman was one of the few prominent Union commanders to escape disgrace in defeat, despite having been involved in the debacle of April 6-7, 1862 at Shiloh, Tennessee. Badly wounded in the Confederate assault on the 6th, he was unable to function effectively the next day, when what might have been an orderly Union retreat turned into a full-scale rout. Historians would later identify Shiloh as a crucial turning-point in the war, but it would be Sherman's junior, Hiram Ulysses Grant - more commonly known as Ulysses S. Grant - who would take the bulk of the blame for the disaster.
Grant's reputation would never recover, and after the war he would prove unsuccessful in private life, slowly sinking into alcoholism. By contrast, Sherman would find powerful patrons among wealthy businessmen who, surviving the postwar financial panic and the disgrace of the Republican Party, would organize the Union Party in 1873. But until the 1876 presidential race, Sherman had resisted entering politics; not only did he find the field appalling for its corruption, but in addition he feared the commingling of military and civilian authority a presidential general might produce in a humiliated United States desperate for a strong authority figure. "Rome begged Caesar to become its emperor, and he obliged her, and that was the end of the republic," he observed. "I have no wish to play a similar role in these United States".
And yet in the end he did, swayed by Thomas's warning that if he did not there was no one else who could prevent the civil unrest plaguing the beaten nation from exploding into full-scale insurrection. "Better to take what measures need be taken now," Thomas had written in a letter to Sherman, "than wait, and hope someone else does what I am confident you will do as president while there is still time". Addressing Sherman's fears of "the end of the republic," Thomas wrote, "These United States have already been disunited in part, by the late war; if things proceed as they are going, our Union may be shattered altogether".
On Nov. 7, 1876, Sherman would become the first candidate from the Union Party to be elected U.S. president, easily defeating Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, who carried only his home state. Tilden would be the last Democratic nominee; already near ruin due to charge of treason hung on it because of the large number of Southern Democrats and Northern so-called "Copperheads" who had supported the Confederate cause and what many saw as its excessive willingness to accept the verdict of the war and deal with the newly-independent CSA on friendly terms, the Democratic Party would splinter after the Tilden debacle; in the 1880s, most of its former membership would join the new People's Party, a rural-based party favoring high tariffs, nationalization of the railroads and bimetallism, the use of silver as well as gold as currency. The Populists would remain largely opposed to the burgeoning urbanization and industrialization of the United States well into the twentieth century, and would win no presidential elections until the upset victory of Massachusetts governor Eugene R. Foss in 1912. Perhaps not coincidentally, Foss would win as the leader of the party's emerging pro-urban wing, which argued for making common cause between agricultural and industrial interests.
In office, Sherman would struggle with the legacy of Southern secession. Only five years before his run, California had tried to break away in its ill-fated second Bear Flag Rebellion (the first, in 1846, had been against Mexico), and separatist sentiment continued to run high in that state and elsewhere, particularly as the economy struggled to right itself. Some of the measures the Sherman administration would take would be viewed as extreme, and anger against, for example, the use of the military to "maintain order" in particularly rebellious areas and the employment of private detective agencies as de facto secret police ferreting out dissent would play a role in Sherman"s defeat for renomination in 1880. During his term,. however, the foundations were laid for the later recovery which by the 1890s would produce the prosperous period known as the Gilded Age.
In 1915, on this day Gottlieb von Jagow the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the German Empire sent a telegram to Washington protesting the illegal naval blockade imposed by Great Britain in blatant contravention of international law.
Killing Two BirdsAlthough little support existed for the Kaiser, the US Congress was increasingly critical of Great Britain for ruthlessly pursuing her own narrow policy of national interest. Threatened by the German development of modest colonial aspirations, a naval arms race had developed and by 1914 the two great powers were at each others throats for no good reason at all.
Privately, American politicians were already saying that the British mindset has scarcely changed since 1776. Matters might have been otherwise, but for a crucial decision at the outset of the conflict.
Quite clearly not a neutral, Belgium had forts on the German (but not French) border also holding a long-standing agreement with Britain and France that guaranteed her sovereign territory. But to the huge disappointment of the Allied Powers, the Belgian Government had followed the lead of Luxemberg in permitting the German Army to pass through their territory en route to the invasion of France. And the German Government had honoured her commitment to recompensate Belgian for any damages or victuals caused along the way.
Britain now committed a real atrocity of her own attempting to starve Germany into defeat by declaring that food itself was contraband. This objective was to be achieved by the ruthless expedient of mining the North Sea so that even neutral ships would travel in peril. And some of those neutral ships were vessels of the Royal Navy who in contravention of the "misuse of neutral flags" protocols were decorating their own ships with the flags of neutral countries to shield them from attack. The author of these dastardly plans was of course the arch-imperialist, Winston Churchill.
The telegram of 1915 was of course little more than a diplomatic maneourve of zero military significance. Change would only come three months later when the Royal Navy made the catastrophic error of accidentally sinking the Lusitania.
In 1779, in one of his last discoveries in a monumental career, James Cook set foot upon a small atoll in the northern Pacific that he dubbed "Bligh Island" after a junior officer on the expedition, though it would ultimately be renamed "Midway".
James Cook Makes Landfall at Midway The small island was nearly missed as the flagship HMS Resolution had cracked its foremast, which a full break would have prompted a return to the recently discovered Sandwich Islands for repairs. Instead, Cook set forth continually northwest, pressing again to discover the elusive Northwest Passage. Again, the Bering Strait proved impassable, and he begrudgingly ordered a return to London for his crews on the verge of mutiny. They sailed past Nippon, attempting trade but being shooed by the Sakoku policy, and successfully traded with the Chinese, Javanese, and Africans around the Cape of Good Hope.
A new story by Jeff ProvineUpon his return up the Thames, Cook was lauded as a hero. His was an impressive climb from being the second child of a farm laborer in northern Yorkshire. Cook had become an apprentice in the merchant navy as a young man and learned the skills of navigation that would make him famous. During the arms race leading to the Seven Years' War, Cook volunteered for the Royal Navy and served as Mate aboard HMS Eagle. After successful battles with the French, Cook continued to climb the ranks and was sent to the New World, where his skills in navigation proved also to include cartography. Recognized for his maps of the Saint Lawrence River and Newfoundland, Cook was given a position by the Royal Society to command an expedition to the Pacific for charting the transit of Venus across the Sun in 1766. Along with his astronomical records, Cook would also explore New Zealand and put Britain into contact with the Aborigines of Terra Australis. Cook lost several crewmen to native diseases such as malaria but not a single one to scurvy. His techniques of scurvy prevention would become a model for ships throughout the Navy.
Arriving back to much acclaim in 1771, he left again in 1772 to explore more of the South Pacific. Although what would become known as Australia was located, many members of the Royal Society believed a much larger (and wealthier) continent must lie even further south. Cook explored nearly reached Antarctica, but he turned north again for need of supplies. Instead of a great continent, he discovered numerous small islands in Polynesia such as Easter Island, New Caledonia, and Vanuatu as well as explorations in the southern Atlantic. Again hailed as a hero upon his return in 1775, he set out to explore the North Pacific the next year. There he would discover the Sandwich Islands, explore much of the northwest coast of North America, and travel north through the Bering Strait. When they came upon a twelve foot wall of ice across the whole horizon, the expedition was forced to turn south with the Northwest Passage proven a myth. They explored the eastern coast of Russia before wintering in the Sandwiches, where they had once been welcomed and Cook practically venerated as the god Lono. As the festival season of Lono had now passed, however, the Hawaiians were increasingly hostile, and Cook left, deciding even not to return despite his damaged foremast.
Cook pursued a Northwest Passage across Russia, but the Arctic proved too icy for wooden ships. He returned to London in 1780, finding the world turned upside-down by the riotous Americans. After serving for three years as admiral until the end of the war, Cook retired from his life at sea and set upon a new life's project to restore Britain's glory. The American revolt had left them without a great deal of wealth and possibilities for westward expansion, but the whole of the Pacific lay beyond practically unconquered. While Captain Arthur Phillip led the colonization of Australia, Cook campaigned for small outposts on every island available, conquering the sea lanes for Britain. Using his own fortune from the sales of his popular journals, he funded missionaries, farmers, and merchants alike to form small colonies that would meet with varying luck.
As the Industrial Revolution took hold, however, each of these colonies suddenly sprang to life as coaling stations. Needed by the Royal Navy as well as the vast merchant fleet of Britain, the Pacific colonies became key bases and transformed international trade. Tahiti, which would later be contested by the French, became a key British station. Gradually, native populations that were devastated by plagues would come under British rule and become colonies themselves, such as the Royal House of Hawaiians, who would be taken in as part of British aristocracy.
In the Second World War, the powerful Japanese Navy would sweep out over the British Pacific, conquering millions of square miles as the stretched Royal Navy struggled to fight back. The Japanese sneak-attack at Luzon in the Philippines would bring the United States into the war, and intensive island-hopping campaigns would go for years as dug-in Japanese were rooted out by Allied Marines. After the war, Britain would decolonize many of the islands into the Commonwealth, while others such as Hawaii and Tahiti would gain independence.
In 1880, on this day the fourth President of the Confederate States of America, Pierre G.T. Beauregard of Louisiana was sworn into office in Montgomery, Alabama, on the elevated porch of the Alabama capitol building. The second president, Ruffin, had died of natural causes, but the other presidents (Davis and Longstreet) were there to see Beauregard be sworn into office by Chief Justice Judah Benjamin.
Gettysburg Prayer Part Seven by Raymond SpeerMuch of the argument in Confederate politics came from President Beauregard's insistance on a lottery run by the central government and sold in all CSA states. Uniformly, the rival Ctizens Party abhorred the notion that the central government would profit by gambling, and Virginia Senator John B. Gordon said that he and the men who fought for the South would prefer to be camping in a forest than relaxing in a hospital funded by gambling. The Readjusters passed their lottery proposal in the House that they dominated,but the Citizens used their CS Senate majority to stop dead the lottery.
More serious were state laws that the Citizens were enthusiastic for that curtailed the rights of Negroes. The South Carolina and Texas laws forbid Negroes to be lawyers, or doctors, or dentists and the South Carolinians restricted Negro teachers to Negro pupils only. Such laws were claimed to be a matter of the public's safety, though Readjusters noted early and often that there was no study that showed Negroes got into trouble by entering the law or medicine.
In the new State of Arizona, professional restrictions were rejected automatically, and the laws did not pass the legislatures of MS, AL, GA, TN due to Readjuster opposition. The State of Virginia, though usually aligned with the Citizens Party, did go contrary to the advice of their CS Senator, J.B. Gordon . and restored by a vote of the legislature suffrage for Negroes of thirty years oof age (while whites could vote at 21).
Beauregard got congressional approval to add the chief of the Soldier's and Sailor's Support Services to his Cabinet, and brought about an uproar in Richmond when he named Booker T. Washington to that post. The first Negro in the Cabinet was confirmed with a bare minimum of CS Senators "advising and consenting" to his selection, and many observers were surprised that Beauregard had chosen Washington, even though the Negro had performed excellently in raising a school for young Blacks in Tuskegee, Alabama.
The president had been worried that Citizens Party inclinations like alcohol prohibition and gambling bans were speading in Negro communities and thought that a favor to Booker Washington might act against that influence.
Up North, James Garfield held control of the Republican Party in 1880 and thwarted an attempt by ex-President Grant to be nominated for a third term. Congressman Garfield was elected President of the United States but lived only 200 days as President. Shot by a deranged office seeker, Garfield died 6 days after a bullet went into his back, and Vice President Chester Allan Arthur was sworn in as US President. (At Arthur's request, which had been confidentially relayed to Beauregard, there was no appearence by the CS President at Arthur's swearing in, as Arthur was loathe to give an support to conspiracy theories about a Rebel role in Guiteau's shooting.)
Far, far away in California, George Armstrong Custer, senior US general alive in the 1880s after Sherman and Sheridan died in a railcar accident, met and liked William Randolph Hearst. Blessed with the railroad and mining fortunes bequested him by his father, young Hearst threw his considerable weight behind the aging General, who still had presidential ambitions.
Following the death by natural causes of Benito Juarez, Mexico had passed into the possession of generals, who had again despoiled their land by separately seeking supreme power for themselves. Diaz died in a battle at the end of 1882 and Hearst had carried stories that California was threatened by the tyrant d'jour, the Governor of Baja California.
Chester Alan Arthur, we knoow from reading his confidential notes to his aides, was very skeptical of danger being present in the long desert pennisula at California's southern base. Aware of his weakness over the opposing wings of his Republican Party and mindful of the resolution passed by the Sacramento legislature warning of a "savage army" getting ready to penetrate southern California, Arthur sent an order to Custer authorizing a peace keeping misson to Baja.
In four months in 1883, General George Custer had marched from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas, conquering Baja California with 15,000 men and two battles. Over at Richmond, Virginia, and in Texas and Arizona, both Confederate Parties had decided that the USA would not be allowed to seize Baja California, though there was no sane reason why the USA would be mightier because California was larger.
On orders of President Beauregard, backed not by a declaration of war but by a resolution in both Houses of the Confederate Congress, the Army of Further Arizona was assembled and sent to Baja with the co-operation of the local Mexicans. In amphibious landings at Santa Rosalina and Loreto, CS General Frederick Benteen brought serious war to the peninsula.
Hearst's propagandists speedily revised their theories as to why the War was necessary to include a proposal that the Confederacy was planning to open annex all of Mexico on word that the United States had given up on Baja. At the same time, the Confederacy and the British and French media which was against the US grab for power reported that the North hoped the War would lead to the destruction of the CS. Inside of a month of the AFA's victories at Loreto, both sides hurried more cannon fodder to the previous quiet province.
Not until March of 1885 did the Two Powers agree to end their fighting.Thirty five thousand Union soldiers had fought thirty thousand CSA soldiers in Baja California. English Cemetaries contained ten thousand Union men and seven thousand Confederates, indicating a tendency among the Southerners to use their men to "charge and die"" in fighting the foe. The good news was that, in spite of ceaseless worry about the War getting wider distribution from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the peace had been maintained along the main borders between the belligerants.
Also importantly, Senator Gordon of Virginia, who had once gone so far as to recommend the expulsion of Negroes from the regular Army had been greatly impressed by the performance and enthusiasm of the South's Negro troops. After the Baja California War, the Citizen Party went along with benefits and pensions for the Negro soldiers and sailors who needed it, though they still stymied plans for a nation wide lottery contest every month.
In 2010, Baroness Tonge (pictured), the former opposition frontbencher and spokeswoman for health, has not responded to press reports that her two attackers have branded her face with Nazi swastikas.
Fork Tonge by Stan BrinLady Tonge was removed from her position last week for suggesting that Israeli physicians working in Haiti following last months earthquake, used to opportunity to harvest organs for sale.
"She appears to require a face transplant," a hospital worker said. Lady Tonge is currently in hospital recovering from a massive beating, administered by at least two men. She described them as resembling the actors Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt, neither of whom is Jewish. According to the Mail, she may never walk again.
In 1866, the second Philadelphia Convention opened on this day under the Chairmanship of Walter Bagehot.
Second Philadelphia ConventionLess than a century before, another English journalist, Thomas Paine had stood at the apex of American political thought. But unlike Paine, Bagehot had never crossed the Atlantic, and perhaps this remoteness provided the broad perspective that enabled him to discern the constitutional issues that lay behind the outbreak of the American Civil War. "It is impossible", he wrote in 1861, "not to observe that the whole mischief has been, not caused but painfully exacerbated by the unfortunate mixture of flexibility and inflexibility in the United States Constitution".
America's stability had depended upon a voluntary union of the states. This was no longer true by the time Andrew Jackson left office. The result was a string of ineffectual Presidencies, because in the absence of broad agreement on issues of which the Constitution was largely silent, notably secession, the Chief Magistrate was simply unable to wield the kind of extra-legal authority envisaged by James Madison et al at the Philadelphia Convention. Quite simply, a sacred document and an unhereditary substitute for an uncrowned king was not a strong enough framework for the US Government.
That was the theory at least, a luxury Bagehot enjoyed whilst he wrote "The English Constitution" in 1865. And then he received the historic invitation from President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1876, Elisha Gray files with the U.S. Patent Office a "Caveat" announcing his intention to file for a patent within three months, for "the art of transmitting vocal sounds or conversations telegraphically through an electric circuit", the working apparatus of which would become known as the "telephone", although the word appears nowhere in Gray's filing.
Controversial Invention of the Telephone
Two hours later, lawyer Marcellus Bailey, representing rival inventor Alexander Graham Bell, arrives to file for a patent on an essentially identical device. The dueling claims will result in an epic lawsuit involving Gray, Bell and Edison - who will provide a key technological innovation which will make the telephone practical for long-distance communication - along with telegraph titan Western Union, which in 1877 will attempt to buy out both Gray and Bell, as well as making a royalty arrangement with Edison.
On Nov. 10, 1879, on the strength of his two hours' priority and the fact that at the time Bell filed he could not provide a working device (which would have been an automatic disqualifier for a patent prior to 1870), Elisha Gray will win his lawsuit. The fledgling Bell Telephone Company will be forced to give up its equipment and subscribers, essentially going out of business. The defeat of Bell will mark an era of communications dominance for Western union and its increasingly important subsidiary Gray Telephonics (later Gray Communications) which will endure until the telecommunications colossus is broken up in the 1980s. By then, Western Union's original business of telegraphy will be a mere appendage of the company, which will be formally disbanded at last in 2005.
In 1961, on this day the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan hosted a special Valentine's Day banquet for firemen, police officers, and emergency services personnel who'd been involved in the post-Jamaica Bay Hurricane recovery effort. This banquet would become an annual event at the hotel over the next three and a half decades.
On this day in 1983, in a 2-out of-3 falls bout aptly nicknamed the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre", "Psycho" Tommy Rich defeated "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka to retain the WWF world heavyweight title.
But what truly made the night memorable was Rich's actions after the match was over: he piledrived Snuka twice on the concrete floor outside the ring and spat on him in front of horrified fans at ringside.
In 1415, Pope Henry V commissions a host of poets to compose a series of love notes to Catherine of Valois, in order to woo her into agreeing to become his Papal Consort. After the success of the poems, it became a standard practice in the Holy British Empire to compose poetry for a loved one on St. Valentine's Day.
In 1952, Mikhail von Heflin and Velma Porter, alone in Carl Thompson's house since he is hospitalized, discover more than companionship for each other. Porter has fallen in love with the Baron, and von Heflin more than returns the emotion. He prepares to join her to him eternally, in the ritual blood-exchange he was taught in his youth.
In 1847, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachussetts, thinks up a unique way to celebrate the romantic holiday of St. Valentine's Day. She constructs heart-shaped cards and decorations of red scrap and sells them from her college apartment. Most people whom she approaches to buy this feel that this cheapens the holiday, and she never manages to make a going concern of it.
In 1167 AUC, the Lupercalia Festival is finally made a separate holiday from the festival celebrating the founding of Rome. This festival of ritual matchmaking, popular for hundreds of years, was certainly the highlight of the 2-day celebration at the ides of February, and most Romans felt that it deserved separation from the more staid founding ceremony.
In 1965, the Soviet States of America bans the unofficial Valentines Day holiday. Comrade Representative O'Hare of Chicago, in her statement calling for the ban, said, 'No other holiday so cheapens the idea of romantic love, or saps the will to fight of our comrades in the street, as this so-called Valentines Day.'
On February 14, 2003, a group of high ranking Iraqi generals, fearing the disastrous effects of U:S. invasion stage a coup. They know that Sadam as a sentimental guy would be distracted at big party for his family. The succeed in killing their President and his sons. The new junta is composed of Sunni Baathists, but they extend the hand of friendship to the world community and invite weapons inspectors. What would the last half of a decade have brought to Iraq ?
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.