In 1812, on this day Jeremiah Jones Colbath later nineteenth President of the United States Henry Wilson was born in Farmington, New Hampshire.
Birth of President Henry WilsonBefore and during the American Civil War, he was a leading Republican, and a strong opponent of slavery. He devoted his energies to the destruction of the "Slave Power" - the faction of slave owners and their political allies which anti-slavery Americans saw as dominating the country.
He was considered a "Radical Republican". After the Civil War, he supported the Radical program for Reconstruction. in 1872, he was elected Vice President.
By an act of chance, his running mate Ulysses S. Grant had been absent from the Ford Theatre when Abraham Lincoln was shot. But fate caught up with him and within months of taking office, he was assassinated himself. But tragically Wilson would not have very long to implement his own ideas, suffering from a series of strokes prior to his own death in 1875.
It is 1933, and the newly-elected President Franklin Roosevelt is planning to fight the Great Depression with the New Deal.
FDR goes over the Fiscal CliffThe problem is .. not all of Congress is fighting on his side. The Democrats enthusiastically endorse his programs to get Americans working again, even at the taxpayers' expense ... while most Republicans refuse to let the taxes be raised.
With chances for a recovery dimming every day, many Americans turn, in their desperation, to extremist programs imported from abroad. The American Nazi "brown shirts" and American Communist "red shirts" are soon fighting in the streets, both sure that they are America's only hope.
In addition to the New Deal, the newspapers soon coin another phrase .. the Fiscal Cliff. And everyone knows that the country is rapidly falling to the bottom. An installment from the Happy Endings thread.
In 1883, the break-up of the Alfianello meteorite in the earth's atmosphere might well have prevented an extinction level event from occurring but by showering the globe with petroleum-eating bacteria the further development of human civilization was indefinitely arrested.
SteampunkedAcross the world drilling engineers immediately observed the degenerative chemical change that was triggered as soon as oil was pumped out of the ground. But it would take many years for chemists to understand fully the cause of the reaction triggered by the airborne micro-organisms.
Unable to synthesize the materials needed to air-proof containers, by the turn of the twentieth century, scientists feared that human technology was trapped in a chicken-and-egg causality dilemma. And as geniuses such as Nichola Tesla and Albert Einstein desperately searched for a work-around solution, fiction writers such as H.G. Wells looked to the skies for a breakthrough. These dreamers imagined deliverance coming from out of space, this time in the form of friendly aliens. As events turned out, both the geniuses and the thinkers would be proven right. And absolutely wrong simply because no one could have predicted that alien space bat guano would provide a rich, sustainable alternative energy source.
In 1804, on this day the American Raid on Tripoli failed. In the early days of the new United States, the nation struggled to establish itself with global credibility. Many assumed that Britain would eventually reabsorb its colonies, while France had even anticipated conquering the colonies after they were weakened by separation from Britain.
American Raid on Tripoli FailsOne of the keys to achieving recognition internationally was establishing a navy to protect American interests abroad, but for the first few decades, the Unites States struggled. After the creation of the Continental Navy in 1775, Benedict Arnold's fleet of hastily built ships was wiped out in the Battle of Valcour Island but was strategically successful with slowing down the British support to the Army on land. Except for the legendary stand by John Paul Jones, the early US depended upon privateers and, most significantly, the navy of the French. While allies for a time, the US refused to pay debts to Republican France on money borrowed from the Crown, and France began to prey on American merchants at sea in the Quasi-War. The US had newly restarted its Navy after defunding it from 1785-94, first building six frigates to battle the Barbary Pirates, who had ended the Portuguese blockade holding them within the Mediterranean after Portugal was weakened with the French Revolutionary Wars.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe Quasi-War had given the American Navy a handful of notable victories and ended with the Convention of 1800 with French recognition of the Americans' rights at sea, but piracy from the Barbary Coast continued. While America again scaled down its navy to six ships in 1800 as the Federalists left office, the Pasha of Tripoli demanded $225,000 tribute from the incoming President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson refused, and the Pasha declared war by cutting down the flag of the US Consulate. Congress did not officially return the declaration, but they did grant Jefferson powers to give defensive commands to Americans at sea. An attempt was made to blockade Tripoli, but it was largely unsuccessful aside from the morale-boosting victory of the USS Enterprise over the Tripoli. Commodore Edward Preble established short blockades and launched attacks against the Berbers with varying success until the USS Philadelphia ran aground in Tripoli's harbor and was captured intact in October of 1803.
Tripolitans took the Americans prisoner and turned Philadelphia into another shore battery to keep Americans at sea. After nightfall on February 16, 1804, a team of US Marines under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur (pictured) sneaked into harbor with a captured Tripolitan ship, attempting to float close enough to the Philadelphia to storm her. Unfortunately, their position was deemed suspicious, and the Tripolitans opened fire at point blank range, decimating the Americans and killing Lt. Decatur. Humbled, the Americans returned to heir blockade. Washington fell into a political quagmire with some suggesting America pay a tribute while others called for a simple withdrawal, and Jefferson's plans of reinforcement under Commodore Samuel Barron were put on hold. On his own, Preble grew more daring in his attacks, even launching a fire ship into the Tripolitan fleet, but most actions proved unsuccessful. It was not until the overland attack on Derne by mercenaries and 100 Marines under William Eaton, formal consul to Tunis, through the desert that the Americans gained an upper hand.
Preble saw his opportunity to press for victory, and he reinvested his sailors into further Marines to press the overland attack. Eaton had with him Hamet Karamanli, the Pasha's ousted brother who had claim to Tripoli's throne, and Preble encouraged him to march quickly for the capital. Coordinating with naval attacks learned from British assaults, the Americans swept into the city and took it on June 10, 1805. Many felt that Yussif Karamanli had attempted to make peace and the hungry-for-victory Americans had quashed him, but Jefferson and Congress were satisfied that the problem of pirates had been resolved in what became known as the Barbary War.
Naval problems continued with Britain as the Royal Navy pressed captured Americans into service and even seized the USS Chesapeake in 1807 after Captain James Barron refused an illegal search. This, along with US expansionism, led to the War of 1812 with Britain, which saw another wave of American struggles at sea. One of the most disastrous was the American attempt to run the blockade at New London, Connecticut, in 1813, which led to the capture of three ships, including the Macedonian, which the US had captured from the British only the year before. By the end of the war, Americans had had enough of naval battle and decided to focus on a transport fleet for a wider number of Marines.
These Marines would be instrumental in the cleanup of pirates in the Caribbean in the 1820s. Many of the estimated 3000 ships captured there were taken by privateers, and so the Marines dealt with them in a similar manner as Tripoli: attacking primarily on land while supported at sea and using large numbers of local mercenaries. The strategy was successful, and brought American imperial influence southward, making a number of newly liberated states from Spain into virtual American colonies. The Mexican War saw another use of the transport fleet as 12,000 soldiers invaded Veracruz and captured Mexico City, with the resulting treaty giving the US its Southwest quarter.
While having strong diplomatic measures close to home, the US did not participate in much foreign activity, such as the 1862 Opening of Japan by British forces newly victorious from the Second Opium War in China.
In 1292, during his return toward Europe after extensive travels across Asia and fantastic adventures among the court of Kublai Khan, famed explorer Marco Polo stopped with the Khan's wedding party in the port of Singapore to resupply.
Marco Polo Meets a Flores ManIt was here that he caught his first sight, possibly the first sight for any European, of the intelligent ape that would later be named the "Flores Homem" or "Flower People" by Portuguese merchants. At that point in their history, the creatures were kept mainly as pets and taught tricks.
A new story by Jeff ProvineIn further centuries, the three-and-a-half-foot-tall Flower People would come under increasing notice by slavers and anthropologists. The apes held obvious intelligence with their abilities to make and use simple tools, though hardly enough to rival a developed human. They lived in caves and primitive shelters, understanding but not mastering fire. As the Age of Enlightenment gave way to an end for slavery among humans, a new sense of slavery came over the world in widely breeding what would become known as Homo floresiensis. Their island was gradually depopulated of natives, but the Flower People came to be found on every continent working manual labor in plantations, mines, shops, and even private homes.
While reformers called for fair treatment of the Flower People, no one could argue that they were equal to humans. They were incapable of language beyond rudimentary nouns or descriptions, and their lack of understanding of any abstract concept made the idea of paying them for work a moot point. The Industrial Revolution gave a boom to even more need for Flower People performing simple mechanical tasks in factories, and World War I would see thousands of the short "men" gunned down as they ran as suicide-bombers against enemy trenches.
In the latter twentieth century, millions of Flower People still serve as slaves around the globe, though they are increasingly unpopular in industrialized nations. The legal questions of what to do with a subset of man in a world working to rid itself of racism and even speciesism proves agonizing for the modern mind.
On this day in 1971, the Apollo program began its final lunar mission with the launch of Apollo 10
On this day in 1949, Xavier March joined the harbor patrol division of the Wilhelmshaven police.
On this day in 1946, Xavier March was hospitalized with tuberculosis; he would spend more than a year confined to a Munich hospital, during which time he met his future wife Klara Eckart.
In 2002, with the Afghan capital in enemy hands, Taliban and Al Qaeda forces begin attempting to regroup, planning on concentrating their remaining forces in the Tora Bora cave complex on the Pakistani border.
In 1988, Richard Gephardt, riding his surprise win in Iowa, beats President Gary Hart in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The Hart campaign does its best to play down the significance of his back-to-back defeats, but privately, Hart's advisers warn that he is in danger of becoming another Lyndon Johnson, defeated for renomination. Polls indicate that the continuing stigma of the Donna Rice episode is one reason many primary voters have turned away from him.
In 1953, U.S. President Strom Thurmond declares the Eurasion Union is merely a weapon of aggressive war for the New Reich. It is hard to disagree with, and Fuehrer Adolf Hitler of the New Reich shoots back, Of course it is a weapon. Our people face many obstacles in the world, and obstacles do not exist to be surrendered to, but only to be broken.
In 1952, Velma Porter regains her sanity as Mikhail von Heflin keeps her anchored in this world. Now, you and I will share eternity, the Baron tells her. Overjoyed, she pledges herself to him for as long as their love lasts; sadly, it is not as long as either of them expect.
In 1904, a Q'Bar ship meets a prison ship from the Congress of Nations carrying the Q'Bar held prisoner by the C.N. After a tense docking, the Mlosh and humans aboard the Q'Bar ship head onto the C.N. ship while the Q'Bar rejoin their people. No apparently hostile moves are made by either side, and the exchange concludes peacefully.
In 2009, with an appropriate sense of history the long awaited re-unification talks finally began in Richmond, Virginia.
In a powerful opening speach, CS President Al Gore masterfully connected the unfinished business of former President Bush's last State of the Nation address with the "unfinished work" of Lincoln's Gettysburg address ~ "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced".
Startled, Hilary Rodham accidentally knocked over a glass of mineral water. Gore remarked that the US President looked like she had seen a ghost. Joked, shall we say, because the Confederate delegation was fully aware that Rodham had seized upon the dissolution as a populist issue to seize the White House. But in fact, the restless ghost of Abraham Lincoln was the primary reason for Rodham's arrival in the Confederate capital.
"It's well known how Lincoln anguished over the horrors of the Civil War. His spirit may have continued worrying long after his death. Calvin Coolidge's wife reported seeing on several occasions the ghost of Lincoln standing with his hands clasped behind his back, at a window in the Oval Office, staring out in deep contemplation toward the bloody battlefields across the Pototmac. Lincoln's ghost seems to have been most active during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, perhaps because they were both in power at times of great war for the United States. During their 13-year occupancy of the White House, the Roosevelts used the former Lincoln bedroom as a study for Eleanor, the first lady. Although she never claimed to have seen Lincoln's spirit, Eleanor spoke of the sense of someone watching her as she worked in the room. She believed Lincoln was there with her". ~ Paranormal Phenomena.
In 1600, Giordano Bruno was released from the Inquisition's custody after a long discussion with the Pope. Bruno's work flirted with an almost atheistic view of the universe. Pope Clement VIII met with a mysterious end after this meeting, and Bruno fled Europe for the Americas to escape the reach of the Inquisition.
In 2003, Washington soviet surrenders to the Soviet States of America, leaving Idaho as the sole remaining remnant of the People's Republic of America. In desperation, the soviet's leaders attempt to reconvene the peace talks with Washington, D.C., but they are rebuffed since the S.S.A. feels that victory is imminent.
In 301, Abu Dja'far Mohammed Djarir al-Tabari, historian of the early days of Islam, is called to the embrace of Allah at the age of 83. His powerful stories of Mohammed and the first faithful are credited with converting most of the pagan lands surrounding the holy land, and giving Islam its first great writer.
In 1959, Cuban Prime Minister Miro Cardona has his rival, Fidel Castro, deposed from his position as commander of the armed forces, in an effort to maintain power against the more radical elements in the Cuban revolution. Castro and his supporters temporarily take up arms against Cardona, but was convinced to reconcile with Prime Minister Cardona by his old ally and friend, Ernesto Guevara. Castro entered the Cuban parliament as a representative of his home region, the Oriente province, and became an outspoken check on the moderate wing of the revolution as they pushed democracy forward in Cuba. Prime Minister Cardona stepped down in 1965, and Castro began the first of his 7 campaigns for the office, all losing. He has been quite effective in Parliament, though, pushing universal health care and disaster recovery programs that are the envy of the developing world.
In 1951, the Soviet Union's leader, Joseph Stalin, announces that his country will enter the war in Korea in support of the northern Communists, in an effort to balance what he calls the 'warmongers' of the west. The attack splits the United Nations, crushing the hopes of those who wanted to use the world body as a forum for ending wars, rather than starting them. Soviet troops in North Korea soon overwhelm the meager forces that the UN had in place there, and the United States responds to the escalation by throwing in almost a half-million troops. The war then spills beyond Korea's borders when British troops invade the Chinese mainland, and by 1952, all of east Asia is embroiled in the conflict. China urges the Soviets to use nuclear weapons, but Stalin resists - he wants territory, and feels that irradiated territory is useless to him. Similarly, President Truman of the United States resists calls to 'nuke the commies' from the right-wingers in his own ranks. Although in public he supports his decision to use atomic bombs against the Japanese, in private he has vowed never to use such weapons again. The war drags on for 11 years until the two sides finally realize that neither can win, and declare a truce in 1961. Privately, President Johnson of America and Premier Khrushchev of the Soviet Union promise that the proxy wars between their two countries are over.
In 1000, millenialists capture the Vatican in Rome and assassinate Pope Silvester II. Their leader, Budo de Stella, crowns himself Pope and decrees that all who oppose him oppose Christ; he claims to be the risen savior. Over the next three decades, the Catholic Church is wracked by religious war as the millenialists fight those who consider de Stella the Anti-Christ.
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.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.