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

February 17

In 1982, doctors in a California hospital save the life of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

Lost in Time: the making of Blade Runner 2 - the Phantom TwinHe had been strongly advised to immediately check-in after complaining of failing eyesight to his therapist. Traumatized by the childhood death of his twin sister Jane he had been extremely reluctant to do so, but he had a compelling reason to live that overcame his fatalism. Luckily a build-up of cranial fluid pressure in his brain was relieved by an emergency procedure which gifted him a further five years of precious life.

This narrow escape from death was highly fortuitous for his die-hard fans because the movie Blade Runner was released only three months later. The cinematic detail was incredible but much like his original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the sheer brilliance of the concept was initially wasted on the undiscerning audience. Technically classified as a bomb, the film grossed only £27.5m against a budget of £28m. And lead actor Harrison Ford and director Ridley Scott had constantly argued throughout the shooting of the movie (Ford claimed that he had hated making the movie). Had the author of died back in March, he would most likely have been turning in his grave.

Fortunately though he was alive and having got the extra lease of life that his anti-hero Roy Batty craved he realized that the movie was over-sophisticated for the mass market, in particular, the voice over and ambiguous ending were the two primary artistic failings. Unless he could write a movie sequel for the big screen, it seemed that his rightful place amongst the greatest authors of the genre would be (in the words of Roy Batty) "lost in time like tears in the rain". And so he set about writing a made-for-movie classic, a re-envisioned work of the imagination that would bring Ford and Scott back to the film set to make the block-buster classic that would claim his place as the undisputed master of the milieu. And by revisiting the recurrent motif of the "phantom twin" in his books he finally found closure on his own personal tragedy.

Authors Note: in reality he did not check-in to hospital and the next day, he was found unconscious on the floor of his Santa Ana, California home, having suffered a stroke. In the hospital, he suffered another stroke, after which his brain activity ceased. Five days later, on March 2, 1982, he was disconnected from life support and died. The so-called artistic flaws were corrected in the 1992 director's cut which transformed the movie into a cult classic. After his death, Dick's father, Joseph, took his son's ashes to Fort Morgan, Colorado, where they were buried next to his twin sister Jane, whose tombstone had been inscribed with both their names when she died 53 years earlier.

In 364, on this day in Dadastana the Emperor Flavius Jovianus (Jovian) was pulled from his tent choking on the poisonous fumes of a charcoal fire.

Emperor Jovian rescued from near deathOf modest intellect but imposing physique, he previously served primicerius domesticorum as the Commander of the Imperial Guard, he had only ruled for four months since the death of Julian the Apostate when the Praetorian Praefect Sallustius declined the Purple due to his advanced age.

Jovian then continued the retreat begun by Julian and, continually harassed by the Persians, succeeded in reaching the banks of the Tigris. There, deep inside Sassanid territory, he was forced to sue for a peace treaty on humiliating terms. In exchange for his safety, he agreed to withdraw from the five Roman provinces conquered by Galerius in 298, east of the Tigris, that Diocletian had annexed, and to allow the Persians to occupy the fortresses of Nisibis, Castra Maurorum and Singara. The Romans also surrendered their interests in the Kingdom of Armenia to the Persians. The Christian king of Armenia, Arsaces II (Arshak II), was to stay neutral in future conflicts between the two empires and was forced to cede part of his kingdom to Shapur. The treaty was widely seen as a disgrace and Jovian rapidly lost popularity.

After arriving at Antioch, Jovian decided to rush to Constantinople to consolidate his political position there. While en route, an attempt was made on his life halfway between Ancyra and Nicaea. And of course in Constantinople, he would face further plots from the Constantinian dynasty.

In 1801, on the 36th ballot the U.S. House of Representatives elected Aaron Burr, Jr. as President and Thomas Jefferson as Vice President, resolving an electoral tie in the U.S. presidential election.

The Remarkable Three-Term Presidency of Aaron Burr, Part 1A lot of time and trouble could have been saved by a "faithless" elector from Burr's native New York who had caste his two votes for Aaron Burr hoping to ensure his victory that way. But because this violated the then regulations and after several objections and negotiations his second vote was awarded to Thomas Jefferson. Had this faithless elector withdrawn his second vote for Jefferson then Burr would have won the election by one vote. But instead the Electoral College had been deadlocked on a 73-73 tie. And the issue had been passed to Congress for resolution.

And although Jefferson's revolutionary plans for the Federal Government had been set aside, the real consequence of the Burr victory was in US foreign policy. Because Burr immediately set about breaking Louisiana away from the Spanish Government, and then adopted a surprising flexible response to the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair in 1807 that would shape his remarkable three-term Presidency.
To be continued..

In 1801, in a shocking turn, Aaron Burr was elected as the third President of the United States instead of Democratic-Republican Party leader and former vice-president Thomas Jefferson.

Burr Confirmed Third President of the United StatesThe election was expected to be a monumental one as the Federalists, who had reigned in American politics since the days of Washington, had become exhausted in public opinion during the term of second president John Adams. When Washington had resigned rather than seeking a third term in 1796, the two parties had fought a bitter campaign with Adams narrowly winning. They favored centralization of power and improved terms with Britain, but taxation in the Quasi-War with France as well as the unpopularity of the Alien and Sedition Acts drove voter-support toward the Republicans. Further, the Federalists became divided between Adams' legal mindedness and the belief of Alexander Hamilton's "High Federalists" that a heavy hand was needed for a strong America.

Jefferson and his second-in-command, James Madison, knew a victory could be had, but they needed to win support in the Federalist North, especially the powerful state of New York where Hamilton dominated. There, they asked for political aid from Aaron Burr. Burr had an illustrious career: a grandson of famous evangelist Jonathan Edwards, service to the Continental Army during the Quebec Campaign and winter at Valley Forge with later command as Lieutenant Colonel (where he systemized his famed "shaming" punishment), and political experience as a member of the New York State Assembly, New York State Attorney General, and United States Senator. When Jefferson asked him to aid in the election of 1800, Burr leaped onto a number of campaign strategies, including boosting the Tammany Society from a social club into a political machine and founding the Bank of Manhattan in 1799.

During the election itself, both sides worked to ensure winning the maximum number of votes in whatever manner possible. Popular election was replaced with electors chosen by the state legislature in Georgia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Virginia removed its practice of election by district to voting as a whole, ironically removing some of the Jeffersonian ideal of de-centralization to assure it would be seen on the national level. Further plans took place among the electors themselves. At the time of election, each elector put forth two votes, and the one with highest vote became president while the runner-up became vice-president. The Federalists put into effect a plan where one elector would vote for John Jay, thus establishing a firm choice for Adams as president with Pinckney as vice-president. The Democratic-Republicans intended to make a similar action, but the plan never materialized.

When Burr caught wind of the idea, however, he determined to use it. Anthony Lispenard, a New York faithless elector had determined to vote for Burr twice, and Burr suggested he simply cast his second vote for someone else, thus giving Burr a head start if he and Jefferson did, in fact, otherwise tie. The gamble paid off as Lispenard voted for Madison in secret ballot, giving Burr the election with 73 votes and Jefferson again serving as vice-president with 72. Jefferson was furious, and the matter arose of the improper form of the Georgia ballot results with demand for a recount. The decision was finally put to rest when the Supreme Court received the proper documentation from the Georgia electors, and Chief Justice John Marshall (himself in office for only 17 days) proclaimed Aaron Burr rightful president.

Burr's term in office started by clearing the Federalist acts, clarifying election issues with the Twelfth Amendment, and the landmark Marbury v. Madison, in which the Marshall court established the principle of Judicial Review. Also in 1803, Burr presided over the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, doubling the size of the United States and opening huge areas to settlement beyond Ohio. Burr, however, felt that war with Spain was eminent, and he was glad to have established the US Military Academy at West Point, NY. Under the authorities granted by Congress to fight the Barbary War, Burr greatly expanded his Navy and especially Marines and refused the first offer of treaty on payment of $60,000 to protect American shipping. He also worked to ensure his re-election, winning over much of Jefferson and Madison's camp while diminishing the waning power of Hamilton with use of his own Sedition Act. Burr was reelected with a begrudged Madison as his new vice-president.

In early 1808, war began with Spain, guaranteeing Burr an unprecedented third term as commander-in-chief during a crisis. Although there were tensions with Britain or France to defend American neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars, Burr had picked a fight with Spain after ordering American troops into Florida in pursuit of Seminoles who had attacked Florida. The Spanish homeland was in disarray as Napoleon worked to conquer his former ally, and American victory came easily. Burr expanded westward in 1810 as Baton Rogue requested US protection. Britain, meanwhile, was in a difficult position of to defend its ally at home or abroad, and finally peace was brought about in 1812 as part of Burr's campaigning for a fourth election with the Treaty of Veracruz, which defended American ships abroad as well as seizing the Spanish territories of Florida as well as Tejas. While land-hungry settlers applauded, the expansion would cause violent turmoil over the question of the expansion of slavery only twenty years later.

Many believed that Burr's continued naval build-up despite the treaty would become a push to conquer British colonies in the Caribbean, and calls of conspiracy arose. Burr's plans were upset by the election of fellow New Yorker DeWitt Clinton under a reformed moderate Federalist party. Politics forced Burr into retirement, and he lived out his days as one of the most famous and infamous early American presidents.

In 2011, Ken Loach's Searching For Albert had its U.S. premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles; the screening was attended by a host of VIPs including Platoon director Oliver Stone and Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly; in a rare moment of accord for the political antagonists, both men gave high marks to Albert for its accuracy and intensity in portraying the British presence in Vietnam.

Searching For Albert
Part 6
President Barack Obama and his staff had much the same reaction two days later when Loach screened the movie at the White House at Obama's invitation. Obama's praise of Albert as "an eloquent portrait of war's devastation" helped boost the movie's ticket sales in its first weeks of U.S. theatrical release.

In Obama's first TV interview following the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the president mentioned that he had seen Albert again just hours before giving the green light for the Navy SEAL Team Six raid which killed bin Laden.

In 1801, on this day in the House of Representatives, Thomas Jefferson's bid for the Presidency ended in disgrace with the shocking revelation that he had bargained with the opposition Federalist party for electoral votes; instead, his rival in the Democratic-Republican Party Aaron Burr was elected on the thirty-sixth ballot.

Tie BreakerMembers of the Electoral College could only vote for President; each elector could vote for two candidates, and the Vice President was the person who received the second largest number of votes during the election.

The Republicans had planned for one of the electors to abstain from casting his second vote for Aaron Burr, which would have led to Jefferson receiving one electoral vote more than Burr. The plan, however, was bungled, resulting in a tied electoral vote between Jefferson and Burr.

Ed. & Eric LippsThis problem with the new union's electoral system forced the issue into the House of Representatives where the Federalists still had some power to decide the election.

A length debate ensued in which Alexander Hamilton sought to convince his party that Jefferson would be a lesser political evil than Burr and that such scandal within the electoral process would undermine the still-young regime. At first, Burr's refusal to remove himself from consideration was criticised as ungentlemanly. At least until Jefferson's own shameful behaviour came to light.

In 2009, on this day André Juneau, the Head of the National Battlefields Commission of Canada confirmed that the re-enactment of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham would proceed during the summer despite security concerns that the mock battle could turn into a modern-day conflict. The federal body, which is responsible for the Plains site outside the fortified walls of Quebec City, had investigated threats from sovereigntists that a commemorative recreation of the 1759 battle would no longer welcome on the original battlefield site. Two thousand enthusiasts from around the world - including fifty aboriginal re-enactors from North America - were expected in Quebec for an event likely to generate c$30 million in tourism revenue.
Watch the Canadian People's History

Mock Battle of the Plains of Abraham goes ahead despite security fearsCriticizing the event as a slap in the face for Quebecers of French ancestry, the two sovereignist groups Parti Québécois and Bloc Québécois threatened violents acts to mark the anniversary. Sylvain Rocheleau, a spokesperson for Le Réseau du résistance du Québécois, said he was surprised the event had not been cancelled. "We were a bit surprised that they confirmed the event given the fear of violent acts," said Rocheleau. He said any threats of violence or confrontation came from a small minority of the overall movement against the re-enactment.

"The sovereigntists view it [the Siege of Quebec] as a humiliating defeat".The population of Upper Canada were not the only people to object to the event, and the probability of relocating the event in the United States was remote in the extreme. Because General James Wolfe is almost universally viewed as a war criminal throughout North America. In "Wolfe's Manifesto" the General pledged "If, by accident in the river, by the enemy's resistance, by sickness or slaughter in the army, or, from any other cause, we find that Quebec is not likely to fall into our hands (persevering however to the last moment), I propose to set the town on fire with shells, to destroy the harvest, houses and cattle, both above and below, to send off as many Canadians as possible to Europe and to leave famine and desolation behind me. But we must teach these scoundrels to make war in a more gentleman like manner".

Twenty years later, Wolfe would use the same ruthless tactics against another set of "scoundrels" known as George Washington's Continental Army..

In 2009, on this day in Washington, D.C. President John S. McCain met a key campaign pledge for his first one hundred days in office by announcing a package of measures to fast-track the Reversion of the Federal District of Sitka back into the State of Alaska.

Cui bonoHe also kept a secret promise to a powerful ally. Because the former Mayor of Wasilla and Lieutenant Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin would serve as Special Administrator. This political appointment was of course a consolation prize for her electoral failure in the 2006 Governorship election. And a group of people that would be decidedly out of place at a pangeant also had reason for cheer. For Blackwater Worldwide were awarded a multi-million dollar No Bid outsourced contract to protect Palin, who would be America's most senior official in the region, charged with overseeing the transition.

This major constitutional change would take effect on 1st January 2010, seventy1 years after the implemention of the Slattery Report (the Problem of Alaskan Development) which recommended the provision of land in Alaska for the temporary refugee settlement of European Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.

Because the Legislators in the US Congress succeeded in significantly reducing the number of Jews killed by Hitler, little blame could be attached to their failure to consider fully the problem of granting territory with the intention of taking it back at a future date. This was now McCain's problem, further complicated by the fact that Jewish industry had succeeded spectacularly in solving the problem of Alaskan Development. In 1977, the World Fair was held in Sitka, and the Jewish mini-state was firmly placed on the map. Fom this point forward, economic growth had accelerated at an unprecedented rate.

Yet there was an asymmetric shock to consider. Invading Arab armies had crushed the Jewish State in Palestine at birth in 1948. Consequently it was simply inevitable that the reversion would create a wave of profound disappointment at the Jew's temporary right to their own nation-state being withdrawn albeit by their former patrons. And anger too that their hard-won success would be stolen by the Americans who they now despised on the principle of familiarity breeding contempt. Yet the land itself was claimed rightly by the indigenous first nation, Tlingit Alaska Natives.

Now McCain wanted the Alaskan economic tiger for himself, to fire the growth of the recession-hit US economy. The Administration understood fully that this three-way territorial dispute posed a major cost of sales threat to their plans to cash in on the success of Sitka. And Palin had insisted that she receive the same level of personal security that Bush's envoy, Jerry Bremer had received in Iraq.

Set once again at the centre of memorable events2, Blackwater Worldwide CEO Erik Prince would be required to deliver the goods, big-time. And of course on a highly lucrative basis. Not only would Blackwater Guards be paid $900 per day each, but fortunately they had been required to swear an oath of allegiance3 to the United States since September 2005. Even the Chilean commandos, trained by Augusto Pinochet's murderous regime that had only been recently withdrawn from Iraq at the insistence of President Jalal Talabani.
This article is a part of the Sitka thread.

In 1945, seeking an early decision in the Pacific Campaign, the Allies deployed their super-weapon, causing widespread fires and chaos on the Japanese Home Islands.

Space BatsAt night bomb-laded flying bats were released from the Enola Gay, a B-29 USAAF bomber. They dispersed widely. At dawn the bats hid in buildings and shortly thereafter built-in timers ignited the bombs. President Roosevelt approved the plan after Dental surgeon Lytle S. Adams submitted the innovation to the White House in January, 1942. Adams was recruited to research and obtain a suitable supply from four caves in Texas which are occupied by several million bats.

On the sixtieth anniversary of the attack, the surviving members of the Enola Gay crew - Gen Paul Tibbets, Theodore J "Dutch" Van Kirk (the navigator) and Morris R Jeppson (weapon test officer) said: "The use of the bat-laden bombs was a necessary moment in history. We have no regrets". Gen Tibbets added: "Thousands of former soldiers and military family members have expressed a particularly touching and personal gratitude suggesting that they might not be alive today had it been necessary to resort to an invasion of the Japanese home islands to end the fighting".

In 1801, in only the fourth presidential election for the young American nation, Thomas Jefferson, President John Adams and Senator Aaron Burr find themselves in a three-way tie for the leadership of the small country.

Revolution of 1800Ballot after ballot was cast indecisively in the House of Representatives, leading only to more rancor and entrenchment among those who wanted one of their candidates to come out on top. Thomas Jefferson urged Senator Burr, who had ostensibly been running with him to become Vice-President, to drop out and throw his supporters to the Virginian. The senator, seeing himself this close to power, balked, and campaigned vigorously for the top office.

In the end, his congressional relationships carried the day, and he won the presidency, with Jefferson serving, yet again, as Vice-President. The enmity between the two men over this incident spilled out into legislation as Jefferson, in his post as President of the Senate, blocked many of Burr's initiatives out of spite. A new article by Robbie TaylorIn 1803, this proved to be too much for Burr to take any longer, and he challenged Jefferson to a duel. Jefferson, the better shot of the two, emerged victorious, and assumed the office of President as Burr died on the field of honor. This caused an uproar in the dead president's home state of New York, which sent its militia to the capitol to seize President Jefferson. They were met by Virginia's soldiers, and a civil war erupted between the northern supporters of President Burr and the southern partisans who backed Jefferson. Great Britain, seeing the chance to reclaim their old colonies, jumped in on the side of the north, which then annihilated the southern states. Massachusetts alone of the northern states resisted the British reconquest of the states, but it was overwhelmed, too. In 1812, all of the colonies were placed under a royal vice-regent, and welcomed back into the United Kingdom.

On this day in 1945, Franklin Roosevelt left Washington for what would be his final trip abroad as President of the United States to meet with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at the Russian Crimea resort town of Yalta for discussions regarding Germany's political future and the timetable for the Soviet Union's entry into the war with Japan.


Less than two months after the Yalta summit Roosevelt would be dead, leaving his successor and former vice-president Harry S. Truman to oversee the final stages of the war in the Pacific.

In 2002, the last Al Qaeda forces escape the city of Jalalabad as U.S. and allied forces approach the city. They head for the Tora Bora region, to join their comrades already there.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

On this day in 1976, Stephen King completed his first draft of Rose Red.

 - Rose Red
Rose Red
In 1953, Democratic Congressman Philip J. Philbin, first elected in 1942, creates a minor sensation when he announces his intention to bolt his party and become a Republican. 'I no longer feel that the Democratic Party represents the people of the United States,' he proclaims. 'Therefore, I shall no longer represent the Democratic Party in Congress but shall seek to represent the people of my district as a member of the Republican Party.' Reaction is immediate, with the Boston Globe editorially denouncing Philbin's move as 'self-serving' while the Worcester Telegram praises it.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon, bowing to pressure from his conservative allies in Congress, cancels his planned trip to China. The insulting move pushes China closer to the U.S.S.R. and provokes a feeling of hostility towards the U.S. for a generation.
In 1952, Carl Thompson returns home from the hospital to find Velma Porter and Mikhail von Heflin in a delicate position in his home. Thompson, having just become involved in his family's paranormal history, asks them to leave; he just wants to return to his old, normal life. 'That will never happen again', the Baron tells him. 'Your children will see to that.' Thompson, who is not even married yet, begins to dread his destiny.
In 1947, the Voice of America radio station begins broadcasting into the reactionary, counter-revolutionary monarchies of Europe. The Soviet States of America established the program to give their comrades trapped under the thumb of these oppressive dictatorships hope and strength in the struggle.
In 1933, Temperance supporters in the U.S. Senate manage to defeat the Blain Act, keeping alcohol prohibited in the country. In spite of prohibition's obvious failure, the Temperance leaders preach that it would send the wrong message to America's youth to legalize something so dangerous as alcohol.
In 1801, the fledgling United States of America becomes decidedly less united as tensions over the close vote for the presidency break out into violence. The House of Representatives is unable to decide which candidate is the winner, and the supporters of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams take the matter into the street. Ultimately, the country breaks apart, with some states returning to British rule and others simply dissolving into anarchy.
In 1673, Jean Baptiste Poquelin, a French aristocrat who made a small name for himself as a peasant's advocate to both King Louis XIII and Louis XIV, died in Paris. The gregarious Poquelin was a favorite of the people, and much mourned by the peasantry; thousands of them attended the funeral. The aristocracy remembered him mainly for a few plays that he had written under an assumed name, but none of these plays survived the French Revolution.
In 1568, Pope Elizabeth I, leader of the Holy British Empire and all of Christendom, launches a holy war by refusing to pay the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire a tribute to allow her ships to sail freely into the eastern Mediterranean. In the great clash between Christianity and Islam, the Ottomans are forced to retreat, and the Pope wins a great victory for her country and her faith.

In 2009, the second day of re-unification talks in Richmond, Virginia concluded with a state banquet.

It was safe to say that the process of reconciliation had certain boundaries. US President Hillary Rodham's ex-husband, the CS Vice President Bill Clinton attended. His second wife Gennifer Flowers did not.

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton - CS Vice President
CS Vice President
In 47,368 BCE, Swikolay, great-granddaughter of Telka the Speaker and the true driving force behind keeping the Speaker's dream alive, died in Africa. Her clan, gathered together to mourn, vowed to keep doing whatever was necessary to complete their goal of touching the sky.

February 16

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.

Unhappy Ending
FDR goes over the Fiscal Cliff
The 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.

The 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.

In 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.

Detective - Xavier March
Xavier March

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.

Detective - Xavier March
Xavier March

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.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore

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.

 - Richard Gephardt
Richard Gephardt
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.
Al Gore

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".

Al Gore - CS President
CS President

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.

February 15

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 Lipps
Church 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 1845, on this day 27th President of the United States Elihu Root was born in Clinton, New York.

Birth of President Elihu RootHe served as the Secretary of War (1899-1904) under two presidents, as well as Secretary of State (1905-1909) under President Theodore Roosevelt. But he became TR's preferred successor only after William H. Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court. Ironically,it would be Root as President that appointed Taft Supreme Court Justice in 1910.

Just like Taft, he was never that keen on the Presidency to begin with, and so Root readily agreed to TR's plan for a ground-breaking Third Term. Needless to say, this monumental decision for a sitting President to step out of the race under a private agreement with his predecessor did not sit well with Republican Party elite, but Root's withdrawal made it something of a fait accompli. Nevertheless the party machinery prevailed upon Philander Knox to challenge TR for the nomination. And if democratic processes were not operating as usual then fate took a hand because TR was assassinated by a saloon keeper named John Flammang Schrank in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This happened on October 14th, after his re-election seemed certain and indeed too late to remove his name from the ballot paper.

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).

Aroostook War
by Ed & Andrew Beane
As 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 Fisher
The 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.

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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.