In 1920, on this day, Edward Donald Slovik was born to a Polish-American family in Detroit, Michigan. During the liberation of France, he held the rank of Private in Company G of the 109th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 28th Infantry Division.
Unfit for DutyConvicted of a series of minor offences, his criminal record made him classified as unfit for duty in the U.S. military (4-F). But shortly after his first wedding anniversary, he was reclassified as fit for duty (1-A) and subsequently drafted by the Army. While en route to his assigned unit, Slovik and a friend he met during basic training at Camp Wolters in Texas, Private John Tankey, took cover during an artillery attack and became separated from their replacement detachment. This was the point at which Slovik later stated he found he "wasn't cut out for combat".
The 28th Division was scheduled to begin an attack in the Hurtgen Forest. The coming attack was common knowledge in the unit, and casualty rates were expected to be very high, as the prolonged combat in the area had been unusually grueling. The Germans were determined to hold, and terrain and weather reduced the usual American advantages in armor and air support to almost nothing. A small minority of soldiers (less than 0.5%) indicated they preferred to be imprisoned rather than remain in combat, and the rates of desertion and other crimes had begun to rise. Slovik was charged with desertion to avoid hazardous duty and tried by court martial on 11 November 1944.
Found guilty and sentence to death, he was the first US soldier since the Civil War to face execution for desertion. Supreme Allied commander General Eisenhower confirmed the execution order on 23 December, noting that it was necessary to discourage further desertions. But the reaction from the ranks was overwhelmingly negative, and in the interests of morale he was forced to commute the sentence to re-assignment to a non-combat division. After the war, he was encouraged by his wife Antoinette to correspond with a number of former servicemen, including Kurt Vonnegut and of course his former colleague John Tankey. And ultimately it was their political activities during the latter phase of the Korean war that ultimately derailed Eisenhower's "I Like Ike" Presidential Campaign in 1952 under dishonourable circumstances . And so it goes .
In 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, Alexander Stephens was inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America.
Inauguration of POTCS Alexander H. StephensIt was a surprising turn for the long-time Congressional Representative who was chosen as President for the provisional government of the Confederate States of America to hold office until formal elections could be held. The constitutional convention meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, had been expected to choose Jefferson Davis, who had twice served as senator from Mississippi as well as being the Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce. However, it became clear that Davis would rather serve his country as a general, and so Stephens was chosen, as he was also a moderate, instead of fiery secessionists Howell Cobb and Robert Toombs. While Toombs had called for war almost immediately (his farewell speech to the US Senate had included, "as one man would meet you upon the border with the sword in one hand and the torch in the other"), Stephens was slow to raise arms. Earlier in the convention that elected him, he campaigned against secession and detailed the American political system with the Republicans holding a minority in Congress and, even if any laws were to be passed around them, the Supreme Court would continue the status quo, as it had in its 7-2 decision in the Dred Scott case four years before.
A new story by Jeff ProvineGeorgia native Stephens had always seemed to best understand the mechanics behind the obvious. Despite growing up poor, benefactors had paid for his education, and he passed the Georgia bar at age 24 after graduating at the top of his class. He was routinely ill, even from childhood, but he was a masterful lawyer who, in his 34 years of practice, never had a client charged with a capital crime meet the death penalty. As he became wealthy and established himself with land and slaves, he returned the generosity he had been given by opening his own home to the homeless and paying for more than one hundred students' educations. Even though he was constantly thin from illness, he earned the nickname "The Strongest Man in the South" from his intelligence and craftiness. Stephens went on to Washington as a Representative as a Whig, Unionist, and finally Democrat. His self-described "greatest glory of my life" would be the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the House by use of rare point of order, thus bringing popular sovereignty to the territory despite the Missouri Compromise limiting slavery to the South.
After the election of 1860 gave Lincoln the White House, Stephens was sent as a delegate to the convention judging the question of secession. Stephens opposed it, arguing that the South bide its time, but was eventually convinced on the grounds of the North not abiding by the Fugitive Slave Law. As one of his first acts in the presidency, Stephens gave his impromptu "Cornerstone Speech" in Savannah describing the new constitution the convention had written, clarifying its differences from that of the United States. While Lincoln referred to the famous line "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence, Stephens replied, "Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas" and called slavery a "natural and moral condition". Stephens also outlined economic independence rather than the Federalism of the North, stating, "If Charleston harbor needs improvement, let the commerce of Charleston bear the burden. If the mouth of the Savannah river has to be cleared out, let the sea-going navigation which is benefited by it, bear the burden".
Finally, Stephens also noted the significance of Fort Sumter, which would prove the first issue of his presidency. Lincoln, only a month into his own presidency, ordered a relief expedition after skillfully dodging any agreements with the South that would have served as a political recognition of the CSA instead of considering it a rogue government. He notified South Carolina's Governor Pickens of a delivery of "provisions only", and Pickens turned to General P.G.T. Beauregard, who relayed the information to Stephens. While his cabinet (interestingly, though, not Secretary of State Robert Toombs) called for an attack to clear out the fort, Stephens ordered the CSA to stand down, and Lincoln achieved his goal of feeding Sumter. Stephens was declared "yellow" by many, but the political tide turned back to favor the South a month later when the heavy-handed actions of Union General Lyon in the West attacked parading Missouri State Militia called up by secessionist Governor Claiborne "Fox" Jackson.
While not enough to swing Virginia's support to the South, Yankees were increasingly perceived as brutes, tarnishing Lincoln's image, who sent additional troops to Missouri and Kansas, resulting in secession by Arkansas. Guerilla fighting continued, but it was never enough to make a full move against the South without seeming the aggressor. The quasi-war dragged on for years until Lincoln lost his bid at reelection in 1864, and President Horace Greeley was elected by Copperheads to end the war.
Stephens retired the presidency after his single term (as per the CSA constitution) in 1867 as a hero who had "waited out the Union" and became governor of Georgia, confirming the supremacy of the states. The Confederacy continued on its states' rights, later seeing the secession of the Republic of Texas in 1874 (who later had a number of military disputes with both the US and CS as the West became settled). Attempts were made to add Caribbean and Middle American states to the Confederacy, but each turned into either military blunders or economic burdens. By the 1890s, the South was seen as economically and culturally stunted compared to the great wealth and strength of the industrialized North. A movement began around the turn of the century to rejoin the Union, but many on both sides would refuse. President Theodore Roosevelt's 1907 Goodwill Tour proved for naught after it brought international attention to the deplorable poverty of newly freed Africans and entrenched the crippling conservatism of the nation.
In 1637, on this day a Dutch Convoy defeated Spain off Lizard Point.
Dutch Convoy Defeats Spain off Lizard PointThe Dutch War of Independence had dragged on for some seventy years after the lowland provinces began their attempt to break away from Spain. There were numerous reasons for the rebellion, including cultural and religious differences exacerbated by the birth of Protestantism, political ideals, and, perhaps most importantly, the growth of the Dutch economy. While Spain had made tremendous wealth by conquering the lands of the Aztecs, Inca, and others, Dutch merchants prospered greatly from the increasing maritime trade. This income fueled Dutch desires for independence as well as giving it the ability to hire, train, and outfit some of the greatest soldiers Europe had seen.In 1637, the Dutch economy was soaring. Spanish embargoes had limited Dutch trade for some time, but victories at sea lifting river blockades in 1629 came alongside the timely end of the Polish-Swedish War, which opened the Baltic to safe trading once again. When the Franco-Spanish War erupted in 1635, Spanish Flanders lost its southern trade and instead had to pay hefty tariffs for a route through the north. Along the same time, demand for supplies for the Thirty Years' War in Germany gave an enormous market, easily fed by the victories of the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company, which gave the Dutch extensive colonies, including vast sugar plantations in newly conquered regions of Brazil. This massive influx of money led to speculation, including the projects of draining land in Holland and famous spikes in luxury goods such as tulips.
A new story by Jeff ProvineThe economy of the small nation depended upon trade at sea, which was readily targeted by the Spanish navy. Miguel de Horna, new commander of the Dunkirk squadron as his predecessor was captured and died of illness, was fresh from the capture of a merchant ship when his fleet came upon a convoy of 28 Dutch and 16 English merchant ships escorted by six Dutch men-of-war off Lizard Point, Great Britain's most southerly tip. Horna's fleet of six galleons and two frigates descended upon the Dutch, whose warships lined up to fight closely while artillery from the armed merchantmen gave support. Three of Horna's ships, including his own flagship, assaulted the Dutch flagship, which was crippled early in the battle. Whether through accident or desperation not to be captured, the Dutch flagship was set aflame. Explosions riddled the Spanish ships when the fire reached the magazine, injuring Horna and turning the tide of battle. The remaining Dutch were able to disengage and make safely for port while the Spanish were forced to limp home for repairs.
The Battle off Lizard Point was said to wreck Horna's nerves. He continued to harass Dutch shipping, though rarely again fighting closely enough to capture prize ships. Two years exactly after his fateful defeat off Lizard Point in 1639, Horna was due to leave Dunkirk and join Admiral Antonio de Oquendo's fleet, but he was pinned by the Dutch blockade under Admiral Maarten Tromp. Horna sailed close to the shore, using batteries from shore as cover. Tromp pursued and came into the shallow waters where the vice-flagship had lost its steerage and run aground. Though he was able to capture the ship, it limited the Dutch maneuvers, and the rest of the Spanish fleet escaped with fair damage.
That October, the fleet under Oquendo was set to escort a series of neutral English transports bringing fresh troops to relieve Dunkirk. Tromp arrived with over one hundred ships to block them, and the Battle of the Downs began. Tromp dispatched several squadrons on tasks of preventing escapes to the north or south and interference by the English populace (gathered to watch the battle) and attacked directly with his three remaining squadrons, using principally fire ships against the large, ungainly Spanish warships. Horna and his seven ships were placed as the vanguard due to their familiarity with the Channel, and Oquendo had already experienced a battle with Tromp that September. Horna's slow hand recommended defensive tactics, and Oquendo had learned a lesson from his humiliation from bravado at the battle on September 16. The battle raged tightly with the Spanish troops meant for Dunkirk used to keep away the grapples of fire ships until a fog fell. Unable to use their artillery, the Dutch were drawn in close, and the Spanish swarmed them. With Tromp imprisoned, the Dutch fleet was in disarray, and the Spanish managed to escape the blockade.
While the war was largely over with Spain increasingly caught up in battles inside Germany and an uprising in Portugal, the Dutch were unable to confirm themselves as masters of the sea. The Republic affirmed its independence in 1648 with the Peace of Munster, and the economy gradually switched to peacetime. However, without maritime laurels to rest on, the Dutch found themselves needing to maintain their navy as protection from privateers. Although losing out in North America to the English, the Dutch would become the principle force in the Pacific, maintaining Formosa despite Chinese attack and expanding their East Indies colonies to include New Holland and New Zeeland.
In 1796, on this day the "Great Apostate" John Bell was born in Nashville, Tennessee. Due to the acute sectional tensions and complex political processes of the bitterly contested 1860 election, he would be voted the sixteenth President of the United States by the Electoral College.
Rise of the "Great Apostate" by David TennerBy that transformative year he was fully established as a highly experienced and balanced national politician, serving in the United States Congress in both the House of Representatives and Senate as well as receiving appointments as House Speaker and Secretary of State for War.
Bell had actually run as a member of the Constitutional Unionist Party, but was originally a Democrat that had become a Whig after falling out with Andrew Jackson. And even though he was a wealthy slaveholder, he was by no means a zealot for slavery expansionism. In fact he was the only Southerner to have opposed the Kansas-Nebraska bill as well as the Lecompton Constitution. As late as 1856, he would refer to slavery as an "accidental and enforced blemish".
Clearly a potential compromise candidate, his road to the White House opened when the Republicans realised that they just could not get a majority of delegations in the House. They actually controlled fifteen delegations, their chances of getting the remaining two necessary were probelmatic, probably involving winning over one Illinois Douglasite and unseating a narrowly elected Breckinridge-Lane man from Oregon - they could theoretically, if united, elect Bell in combination with Bell's own supporters ("Americans", "Oppositionists" etc.) and perhaps a few Douglas Democrats.
And the other factor of course was the mutual hatred in the Democrat Party. The Buchanan and Douglas wings of the Democratic party was so great that probably either candidate would prefer Bell to a rival "Democrat".
In 1861, on this day in Richmond, Virginia, Jefferson Finis Davis officially began his term of office as the first President of the Confederate States.
Jefferson F. Davis
1st Confederate President
February 18, 1961 - March 4, 1867Jefferson Davis was a graduate of West Point Military Academy (class of 1828) and a veteran of the US Army. He would serve in the US House of Representatives, resign to fight in the Mexican-American War, and then return to Washington as a Senator. He was Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. When his home state of Mississippi seceded from the Union in January of 1861, Davis resigned only to be appointed and then elected the first president of the Confederate States of America.
A new article from the "Two Americas" thread on Althistory WikiaEarly Life
Born the tenth child of Samuel E. Davis and Jane Cook on June 3, 1808, young Jefferson was only a toddler when three of his older brothers fought in the Battle for New Orleans under General Jackson in 1812. He would go on to a career in the army himself, though, graduating from West Point in 1828. As a young soldier, though, he would not see battle.
Part OneWhile serving under General Zachary Taylor he would meet and fall in love with Sarah Knox Taylor. Since the general did not approve of the relationship, Davis resigned from the army (not having yet seen battle) and married Sarah. The two would contract malaria in Louisiana. Sarah died of the disease only three months after the wedding.
After eight years as a recluse, Davis emerged from obscurity to enter politics, becoming the Representative of the at large district of Mississippi. He served almost two terms, during which he met and married Varina Howell of Nachez. They were to have six children, only one of which would present him with grandchildren. He resigned his seat in Washington to fight in the Mexican-American War. After Davis had been injured in the Battle of Buena Vista, President James Polk offered him a post over a militia brigade. Davis refused on constitutional grounds, believing that such a post was the state governor's to confer. It was that governor, in fact that returned him to political office.
Senator from Mississippi
The governor of Mississippi appointed Davis to fill a vacancy in 1846, and the legislature of Mississippi elected him to the seat in January of 1847. He rose in the ranks, and was appointed chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs in 1849. However, he resigned his Senate seat to run for governor of Mississippi, losing by only 999 votes.
His political career was not over, however, for his campaigning for Franklin Pierce earned him the post of Secretary of War under that one-term president. At the end of those four years, in 1856, he won election once again as Senator from Mississippi. During this term, he was a voice of reason against talk of secession coming from other southern politicians. However, when Mississippi seceded from the union in January of 1861, he resigned and returned to Mississippi where the governor commissioned him to be a major general in the Mississippi army.
Alt Biopic continues
In 1874, James Longstreet of Georgia became the third President of the Confederate States, taking his oath of office on the elevated porch of the Alabama Capitol building in Montgomery, the same place where his predecessors in office, Jefferson Davis and Edmund Ruffin, had been inaugurated.
Gettysburg Prayer Part Five by Raymond SpeerDuring the war, Longstreet had been a corps commander in the Army of Northern Virginia, third in command behind Lee and Jackson. President Davis had promoted him to be the chief of the Confederate Army following the demobilization, but President Ruffin had removed him from that post and installed Jubal Early in it.
Retiring from active service, Longstreet alleged that there was a move afoot to unlawfully deny Negroes their earned veteran's benefits. "If Early will do it to a crippled Negro, is there any reason for a crippled white man to expect better?" asked Longstreet rhetorically. "I want every veteran of our Armiies secure in the knowledge that his country will provide for him in spite of his injury".
Both President Ruffin and General Early expressed great respect and sympathy for veterans of both colors, but the incumbents said the central government did not have the money to open a nation wide chain of"soldiers and sailors" homes for injured vets. Those who disagreed rallied behind Longstreet's bid for president in 1873.
James Longstreet associated himself with his fellow Confederate General William "Billy" Mahone, who organized the Readjuster Party in opposition to Ruffin's people, the Citizens Party. Mahone said that the only motivation of a politician should be to readjust things so that public affairs worked better. "We want government that costs less and does more," said Mahone, who endorsed Negro candidates on all levels.
The first National Convention of a Confederate political party was held in New Orleans by the Readjusters. James Longstreet was nominated on the first ballot and Edmund Kirby Smith was chosen as the vice presidential nominee.
Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia had served President Ruffin as his Secretary of State, and received his chief's endorsement as the presidential candidate for the Citizens Party. Hunter's running mate was Stephen Mallory, who had served with distinction as Navy Secretary to both Davis and Ruffin.
Longstreet complained during the campaign about the naval appropriations which Hunter and Mallory sought from Congress, arguing that money ought be raised for the care and comfort of "amputee heroes and widows and orphans". The Citizens Party retaliated with accusations that Longstreet had been surly and argumentative in his contacts with Lee and Jackson, and one of Lee's clerks even said that Longstreet's poor attitude had forced Lee and Jackson to consider removing him from his corps command on the second day of Gettysburg.
More substantly, the Readjuster Party wanted a law to be passed by the central government to assure Negro voting rights in every State. The Citizens Party backed denial of the ballot on voters who could not prove lteracy, and said voting rights were best left to the States.
The Longstreet- Kirby Smith ticket took 47.6 percent of the popular votes and Hunter-Mallory registered at 45.3 percent of the popular votes. (For the first time, Virginia cast its electoral vote for the loser. Once again, the South Carolina legislature --- and not the people --- decided where SC's electoral votes went, and they would go to Hunter.) Longstreet won the race.
Longstreet's long time friend, Ulysses Grant, had won the 1868 US presidential election from incumbent president George McClellan. On assuming office as CS president, Longstreet made a visit of good will to Washington DC, that was the basis of a week of circuses, fireworks, parades and balls.
By terms of the Davis-McClellan Agreement, the Confederacy had no rights to block or bar or in any way hinder the flow of trade down the Mississippi River. Moreover, the river was patrolled by US ironclads that reported to the federal forces encamped at Vicksburg, MS. President Ruffin and his Secretary of State, Hunter, had long bellyached about the River Rights that the United States insisted on. President Longstreet signed a note with US Grant acknowledging those River Rights and the US ownership of their fortified capitol, Washington DC., as well as the US ownership of West Virginia.
For the Union, there was a recognition that the lower half of the Southwest territory between Texas and Calfornia was the Confederate territory of Arizona, and the northern half was the Union territory of New Mexico. There would be no military buildup on either side of that new border.
With the end of slavery in the South, given the Greatest Christmas Present which cancelled the peculiar institution, Negroes were free to choose new lives, and many of them went west to Arizona. In Longstreet's last year of office, Arizona joined the Confederacy with a population that was 55% Negro and 10% Hispanic. Of a Congressional delegation of four, two Congressmen were Negro, one CS Senator was Negro and the other Senator was Hispanic.
As early as 1872, Horace Greeley had suggested that the two American Governments consider Reunion as the implementation of the Gettysburg Prayer had removed the chief cause of the 1860 breach, the matter of slavery. Greeley had run for president against Grant and lost and died soon afterwards.
When Longstreet came to office, Abraham Lincoln set about to systematically organize a ReUnion effort between the United States and the Confederate States. By the end of the second year of the ReUnion League's business, it reported 50,000 members in the USA and 20 thousand members in the CSA.
President George B. McClellan, seeking appropriations for defensive fortifications, had passed on the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire and by 1868, Russia had sold Alaska to Britain, which added the province to Canada. When the dictator of Santo Domingo, the eastern segment of Hispanola just across from Hayti, offered to sell the country to the USA, US Grant was determined not to let that opportunity pass.
Outrage was heard in both Houses of the Confederate Congress. The Citizens Party had majorities in both Houses and denounced the"acquisition of territory by the United States" that could "further impair Confederate trade or autonomy". Grant was warned by Longstreet of the agitation that the annexation of Santo Domingo was causing in the South. but Grant ignored the pleas of his old friend. The Santo Domingo Purchase passed the US Congress but only after a crowd of at least 100,000 came from the capitol's Confederate neighbors and protested against the Union's expansion.
Abraham Lincoln wrote in his newspaper column that the South's victory in the War of Secession had rebounded in favor the Reublican Party. "Had the South been re united with the North by battlefield brutality, Governor Tilden the Democrat would now have all the Southern States backing him in the 1876 election, and his victory over the Republicans might appear probable. Instead, Rutherford Hayes has remained in the lead throughout the contest, and is expected to win the presidency next week". As assumed by all, Hayes won a respectable victory over Tilden, even though Tilden won New York's electoral votes
In 1868, in Montgomery, Alabama, the second president of the Confederate States of America, Edmund Ruffin of Virginia, was sworn into office. As a favor to Alabama congress members who were slow in accepting Richmond as the capitol, the incoming president agreed to be sworn into office in the same place that his predecessor, Jefferson Davis, entered office.
Gettysburg Prayer Part Four by Raymond SpeerDavis had spent a year as Provisional President and his six year term as president was so counted from 1861 to 1867. Besides seeing the Confederacy survive a cruel war, Davis had delivered the Gettysburg Prayer of July 31, 1863, and,more challenging, had managed the Big Christmas Present of 1865 which emancipated all slaves in the CSA.
Jefferson Davis had encouraged Robert E. Lee to run for the presidency, but Lee politely but stubbornly refused the honor. Notably, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson volunterred for the race and conducted it on a "Christian" platform of full civil rights for all Confederates. Popular both for his faith in God and his skills as a General, Jackson was a strong candidate for the office.
As ex- US President Lincoln noted on a tour of the South that election year, General Jackson's expression of God's will made Negroes eligible for entry in public schools and churches, brought them into juries and witness podiums, and gave them full contractual rights. "There are men counted as Abolitionists in the North who are not as definite or assertive as General Jackson is on the question of Negro rights".
"Frankly, I find it unbelievable that a population so adverse to Negro personal rights in 1860 are so favorable to the idea in 1867," wrote Lincoln. Lincoln and his wife (blamed by many for the scandal which wrecked Lincoln's support when he may have been on the verge of victory) were recognized and welcomed courteously at all places. "Perhaps my defeat in the late War makes me seem pleasent but ineffectual".
The more conservative candidate was Edmund Ruffin, a famous journalist and advisor on the agriculture and economy of the South. Though not in any office, the Virginian traveled thousands of miles encouraging the establishment of the CSA. At Fort Sumter, Ruffin was given the honor of firing the first cannon ball at the fort and the Yankee flag.
When Lee kept on refusing to run, Ruffin got the support of white conservatives. General Jackson said he welcomed Edmund Ruffin's competition and that he expected Ruffin to compete for the Negro vote.
Jackson carried the Negro vote of the so-called Black Belt while Ruffin won the Border States votes. Jackson accepted his defeat with ease, having acquired 47% of the popular vote.
Over the next six years, President Ruffin vetoed public education bills and organizations that would use public money to build private businesses. He reopened the Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute to serve as West Points for young soldiers of the Confederacy. Ruffin also stationed soldiers on the edge of the Rio Grande, incomfortable with the aid and comfort the United States was promising President Juarez's rival.
"I love this country," said the president. "There is no better place on earth. I wish to celebrate the remainder of my life with my family, in my gardens, until the Good Lord calls me home".
After leaving office in a Montgomery ceremony in 1874 in which James Longstreet of Georgia became the third president of the CSA, Ruffin wrote up a three book sheet of memoirs, only one of which concerned his residency, Ruffin died of a heart condition in 1878.
In 1976, on this day James "Jimmy" Earl Carter Carter, Jr. of the Democratic-Republican party, and former governor of Georgia, is sworn in as the President of the Confederate States of America.
CSA President Jimmy Carter turns the page of Southern History by Gerry ShannonIn his inaugural speech, Carter repeats a sentiment from earlier speeches he made as governor in 1971: "The time of racial segregation is over, and racial discrimination has no place in the future of the Confederacy".
Many observers, both white and black, in both the Confederacy and neighbouring United States, hail Carter's remarks. Not only is Carter the first holder of the office to condemn racism in an inaugural speech, it is clear rebuke of the policies of his much-disliked predecessor, firm segregationist George Wallace.
In 1546, Martin Luther (pictured), leader of the heretical "Protestant movement", died.
Death of a HereticLuther had been excommunicated from the One True Church and arrested as an enemy of the state following his confrontation with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the 1521 Diet of Worms. Particularly obnoxious to the Church was his assertion that only the Bible, and not the pope, is infallible in matters of religion, and that all baptized Christians form a universal priesthood.
The former monk was fortunate to have been arrested and tried when he was. It would have been all too easy for him to have been condemned to death, or to a lengthy term in one of the abominable prisons of the period. However, the progressive-minded Pope Leo X directed that instead he be confined under house arrest for life. He died in the city of Wittenberg, confined to a monastic cell, surrounded by the symbols of a religious community from which he had been forever excluded. His body would be buried in unhallowed ground, prompting local peasants to concoct legends of him rising after death as a demon.
The movement itself was not so easily destroyed. Others picked up where Luther had been forced to leave off. However, his punishment slowed the spread of his doctrines, allowing the church to mount an effective defense - ironically, by adopting as its own many of the ideas and reforms first championed by Luther. In the opinion of some historians, this course of action averted what could have been the first true schism within the Church since the rise of eastern so-called Orthodoxy centuries earlier.
Today, of course, the church has lost a great deal of its political power. It can no longer decree the removal of a nation's ruler, as it did successfully with the impudent Henry VIII of England. Nevertheless, its influence lingers, even in secular America, where on January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama, following tradition, was sworn into office in penitent's robes by Theodore Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C.
The case of America is instructive. Founded in considerable measure by religious dissidents and minorities, it has been somewhat of an outlier within the Church's empire on Earth, allowing far more religious liberty than was (or is) common in Europe. Nevertheless, it remains within the fold, if at the edges. The American Church has been a vocal opponent of Marxist apostasy, for example, and Americans attend mass with a frequency priests on the other side of the Atlantic can only envy. The Cross and Stripes flies over a nation both deeply devout and fiercely jealous of its political independence, insisting on a lay presidency with the single exception of the tragically truncated term of Father John Fitzgerald Kennedy - and even the martyred Father Kennedy was required to set aside his clerical title to placate both Church and state. (It was restored by papal decree following his death in Dallas at the hands of atheist fanatic Lee Harvey Oswald.)
In 1953, Gestapo, or state police, of the New Reich arrest a small band of pacifists known as the White Rose. They were non-Jewish allies of the old Greater Zionist Resistance who had been agitating for a return to the democratic rule the G.Z.R. had imposed on most of Europe. The capture, and subsequent execution, of most of their leadership in Bonn gave pause to many other peace movements in Eurasia.
In 2003, troops of the Soviet States of America capture Couer d'Alene, Idaho, in spite of heavy resistance from People's Republic die-hards. The last few rebels disappear into the mountains of Idaho, effectively ending the brief civil war in the Pacific Northwest. Although they have made a few attacks on civilians since the end of the war, the People's Republic of America officially dissolved on this day.
In 1904, the Congress of Nations tells Q'B'Ton'ra that his fleet will either leave the Oort cloud and return to the Mlosh homeworld, or it will be destroyed. The Q'Bar leader acquiesces, but warns the C.N., 'You will not face as simple a battle should you choose to fight me in my home system; never return to my world.'
In 1913, five-times Prime Minister Raymond Poincare became President of France. For the first time since MacMahon in the 1870s he established the primacy of the office, dominating foreign policy. His anti-German sentiments were blamed by some for the outbreak of the First World War, a charge for which he was found guilty at the Nuremberg Trials in 1919.
In 1967, peace activist and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer dies at his home in Princeton, New Jersey. During World War II, Oppenheimer had been charged with creating a so-called atomic bomb by the U.S. government, but the project he headed in Los Alamos, New Mexico never produced a working weapon. Some felt that Oppenheimer sabotaged the project, but there was never any evidence of this; the war ended with victory for the U.S. and its allies, anyway, in 1946.
In 1913, French artists Marcel Duchamp unveiled the much-anticipated painting Nude Descending A Staircase at an exhibition in New York City. Moralist groups who had come prepared to protest took a look at the painting, utterly failed to see any nudity, and left, along with those expecting a somewhat more prurient display.
In 12-10-18-10-0, a laborer's movement begins among the northeastern territories of the Oueztecan Empire. Although brutally suppressed at times, the Warriors of Toil grows across the entire empire until it is finally recognized in 12-13-2-10-10 as a sanctioned imperial organization, and allowed to help workers.
In 1678, English satirist John Bunyan publishes his novel The Pilgrim's Progress, a rollicking and often risque tale of a young Christian facing sins aplenty for the first time. It was banned by many churches, but enjoyed brisk sales due to its titillating subject matter.
In 1516, Sister Mary Tudor, first female Pope of the Holy British Empire, is born in Greenwich, England. Although her time in the shoes of the fisherman was short, she paved the way for her far more successful sister, Pope Elizabeth I.
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.
A new story by Jeff ProvineJefferson 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 6President 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.
On this day in 1976, Stephen King completed his first draft of 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.
|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.
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.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.