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April 19

In 1865, following the Night of Terror brought by the Booth Conspiracy Abraham Lincoln summoned the US Congress into session on this the first Monday after Easter.

Booth Conspiracy brings Night of Terror, Part 2 by Ed, Allen W. McDonnell & Jeff ProvineIn a solemn address he paid his dutiful respects to the two dead national leaders, Vice-President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Also his gratitude to the military policeman who had intercepted John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theatre.

Having reflected on the events of April 14th, and after holding several rounds of intense discussions with the Cabinet, Lincoln had developed a robust set of proposals that would safeguard the Federal Government from a re-occurrence of such a future conspiracy. Accordingly, he was asking for a Constitutional Amendment that would make the post of Vice President equal to those of the Cabinet, a person appointed by the President to serve at his pleasure as the President of the Senate (the official title of the Vice President).

The Amendment easily passes the joint session of Congress by the necessary margin and was also passed quickly by the States of the Union making it part of the Constitution. From the election of 1868 onward people only elect the President, the Vice President and Cabinet Secretaries are appointed by the President with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. However in his auto-biography, Lincoln would reveal that an even more far-reaching proposal that was considered - the President to also appoint a new position, President of the House [1] as a second Vice President.

By 1647, things looked quite bleak for the settlements of the Dutch West India Company's settlements in North America. New Amsterdam, the company's most important trade centre, was lost to the English in 1665 and it was a bold stroke that the Dutch naval captain Jurriaen Aernoutsz captured the French settlements of Acadia along the Kennebec River during the Franco-Dutch War of 1674.
This post was written by Dirk Puehl the highly recommended author of #onthisday #history Google+ posts.

The Foundation of Nieuw Zwolle and the Republic of New HollandNaming the place New Holland, Aernoutsz appointed a governor and went to the Dutch West Indies to find willing colonists for the WIC's latest acquisition. Returning with a shipload of them, the experienced skipper managed to slip behind three English men-of-war out of Boston who tried to intercept him and land in what was to become the capital Nieuw Zwolle at the mouth of the Kennebec in Penobscot Bay. This day, April 19th 1674, marks the actual beginning of New Holland.

Settling various differences with His Majesty's Colony of Massachusetts and the English, Aernoutsz and his new governor Cornelius van Steenwyk pushed northwards towards New France and the St Lawrence River valley. Without resources to speak of from the mother country, Aernoutsz rose above himself in diplomatic skill, managed to form an alliance with Massachusetts' governor Josiah Winslow and the Iroquois Confederation and his colony of New Holland and captured Montreal in 1678 and Quebec early in 1679.

Teeth-gnashing, the French had to accept a major loss of their New France territory with the Treaty of Nijmegen. The Dutch Republic was with one stroke one of the players in the round of North American colonial powers again.

Grown rich on the fur trade, New Holland participated actively in the War of the Spanish Succession and gained the French territory of New Brunswick under the Treaty of Utrecht and the Seven Years' War saw them expand to the Eastern shores of the Great Lakes.

The relationship between the New Hollanders and the English in Rupert's Land on the Hudson Bay and the East Coast was never easy and took a while to heal after the colony joined the mother country in declaring war on the British during the American War of Independence, ending with a territorial status quo of the colonies after the Peace of Paris in 1783.

New Holland almost faced Civil War, when Napoleon occupied the Netherlands in 1795 between the pro-Napoleonic faction and the Onafhankelijkheid party who wanted their own, independent North American Republic. The later President of the Republic of New Holland, Willem van Steenwyk, a descendant of Cornelius, won the relatively bloodless conflict and the country was proclaimed a republic on June 21st 1796 in Nieuw Zwolle.
An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

In response to unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, American President Woodrow Wilson delivered on April 18, 1916, an ultimatum that continued attack on American ships would provoke war. The next day, Neiu Nederlander President Theodoor van Rosevelt traveled to Washington to show his agreement. If the US went to war, the American Dutch would bravely join them.
An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

Neiu Nederlanders back AmericansThe two nations had grown up alongside one another as Europeans colonized North America. The English threatened to eliminate the Dutch from their holdings of New Amsterdam when four frigates occupied the harbor. Director-General Peter Stuyvesant, after considering ceding the land in hopes of retaking it, decided to head off a Second Anglo-Dutch War and refused. After firing on the city, the frigates were rebuffed and returned to England empty-handed.

Since that time, New Amsterdam quickly expanded. Jews ousted from Brazil as Portugal retook Dutch conquests flooded into the city, and immigrants from all over the world were accepted. The economy flourished as pelts were harvested from the upper Hudson and established shipping. When the twin states of New England and Great Virginia declared independence from Britain, the Dutch granted support first financially and then through its impressive navy. When Napoleon conquered the Netherlands in Europe, Neiu Nederlands announced its own independence.

Relations between Neiu Nederlanders and Americans were amicable. They were particularly close with New England due to ties in shipping and manufacturing, although relations were at times strained while the United States to the south determining water rights of Lake Erie. When New England broke off trade with the US over slavery, the Nederlanders maintained a lucrative neutrality. The sudden surge of trade brought about a new golden age, which led to a great deal of corruption that responded in a powerful Progressive Movement, headed by the young Theodoor van Rosevelt.

Rosevelt was part of the wealthy and politically influential family that had begun with Claes Maartenszen van Rosevelt, who purchased a large farm on Manhattan Island that would translate into enormous wealth as the city grew. Theodoor was born in 1858 and struggled through his childhood suffering from asthma. He overcame the disease by determination and exercise with seeming limitless energy, features that would define his life. After his education, Theodoor traveled extensively to the American West as well as Dutch holdings in the Caribbean and South America. He returned and entered civil service, soon becoming Director of the Navy where he built a canal through Panama and led the Great White Fleet on its tour around the world. By 1910, he was elected President.

When war erupted in Europe, Rosevelt hoped to join quickly and use the impressive New Dutch fleet, but business was too good trading through the neutral Netherlands. Despite his extensive campaigning, it wasn't until the Americans threatened Germany that he finally gained the agreement of shipping interests who disapproved of attacks by uboats. In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare resumed, and a joint declaration of war was announced. Thanks to Rosevelt's anticipation, New Dutch troops joined the front almost immediately.

Since 1949, with independence the status of New Guinea had been a bone of contention between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Shortly before the independence the Dutch government had unilaterally decided that New (West) Guinea would remain Dutch even after the official recognition of Indonesian independence.

War in New GuineaIn the decade that followed Indonesian president Sukarno would repeatedly call for annexation of New Guinea, and in 1958 the tensions started to boil over. A more conservative Dutch government, backed by guarantees from American minister of Foreign affairs John Foster Dulles, started reinforcing the Dutch military presence and created a law that would allow Dutch soldiers to be stationed overseas.

The Indonesian government also upped the stakes, parachutists were landed on New Guinea and leaflets dropped. Although direct confrontation was avoided for now the Indonesian military was clearly flexing it's muscles.

The first combat action happened in january 1962, when three Indonesian motor torpedo boats loaded with infiltrators were intercepted by the Dutch navy. One MTB was sunk by a Dutch frigate another ran aground and the third was damaged by Dutch fire. In the intervening years Indonesia had gotten closer to the Soviet Union and the Soviets started sending troops to Indonesia started sending alongside the weapons that were already being sold to that country.

The Dutch government decided to up it's military presence in the region with extra soldiers and an anti-aircraft battalion to bolsters it's . While tensions mount the US tries to pressure both parties into a diplomatic solution, but in early august negotiations break down as Indonesia demands the transfer of New Guinea on 1 january of the next year.

On 15 August the invasion fleet takes to the sea, and a Soviet submarines slips into the harbour while 5 others take up position to block any seagoing vessel entering or exiting the waters around New Guinea.

Although the Dutch forces were in a state of readiness the attack still takes them by surprise. The fuel tanks in Mankovari harbour go up in flames, followed shortly by the frigate anchored there, in the chaos the Soviet submarine escapes unnoticed.

One of the other two frigates is badly damaged by a torpedo attack as it sails to Mankovari and barely manages to limp into port.

The third frigate attempts to intercept the Indonesian invasion fleet, but is itself intercepted by the Soviet submarines and turned back. Meanwhile thousands of Indonesian and Soviet soldiers start disembarking.

Although US president John F. Kennedy sharply denounces the Indonesian actions no military aid will be forthcoming, and any mention of the Soviet forces is studiously avoided. With the Americans tied up in Vietnam the Dutch soldiers conduct a valiant but vain defence of the Island. Within two weeks the main Dutch positions have all been taken and the threat of Soviet submarines is preventing reinforcements. Even the Dutch aircraft carrier Karel Doorman which has hastily steamed towards the East is kept at bay by the submarine threat.

Back in the Netherlands the government unilaterally declares a ceasefire as it's last act before resigning. Although Indonesia now holds all of New Guinea it will take months before this is officially recognized, the parliamentary elections fail to create a stable coalition. It is not until 19 april 1963 that a peace agreement is signed, and even then the agreement is little more than a recognition of the status quo in exchange for repatriation of all Dutch prisoners of war.

In 1913, on this day Imperial police arrested dozens of subversive intellectuals gathered at the Café Central, a notorious coffeehouse in the Old Town of Vienna.

The Arrests at the Central Cafe, Part 1In the struggle, an innocent member of the Viennese intellectual scene was killed. This was the famous Austrian neurologist Dr Sigmund Freud, who had the misfortune that evening of wandering across from his favourite haunt, the Café Landtmann on the Ring.

Drawn together into custody were an assorted group of trouble individuals including Josip Broz, Leon Bronstein, Adolf Schicklegruber and Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. Of various ethnicities drawn together by the brutalizing experience of senseless murder, the inner core of a revolutionary ring was formed. Upon their release, they set about ending the polyglot rule of the Habsburg's and their dastardly suppression of multi-nationalities across Europe.

The events had been triggered by the expiry of Emperor Franz Joseph (pictured) who had ruled since the revolution of 1848. The crackdown ordered by his successor Franz Ferdinand would cause a second, much more bloody overthrow that would end centuries of Habsburg rule.

In 1917, on this day the Russian Marxist theorist and German Agent Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (codename Lenin) died of a heart attack about upon by the rejection of his call for an immediate socialist revolution (his "April Theses") by the Petrograd Soviet.

Death of LeninWritten on the train from Geneva and based upon his early theory of imperialism, the theses was more radical than virtually anything Lenin's fellow revolutionaries had heard. And just four weeks after the fall of tsarism, his thought process was completely out of context as a result of his isolation from mainstream political doctrine. Only later was the discovery made of an insidious German plot to force Russia out of the Great War.

To Lenin's huge disappointment, resistance was overwhelming. Pravda's editorial board refused to print it on the pretext of a mechanical breakdown in its printing press. And a meeting of the Bolshevik Central Committee on April 6 passed a negative resolution on them. Just twenty-four hours before his heart attack the Petrograd Committee had overwhelmingly voted the manifesto, two voting in favor, thirteen against, with one abstention.

However Lenin's death was not the end of the germ of communism that the Imperial German Government had placed in the sealed train from Switzerland. After the war, his political heir Leon Trotsky left Russia heading Westwards. He would later become a Political Commissar in the Sparticist Government in Berlin. In 1940, he would be sent to Geneva where the League of Nations was debating St Petersburg's request for military assistance to defend Republican Russia's territorial integrity from German Communist aggression.

In 1721, on this day the first Vice President of the United States Roger Sherman was born in Newton, Massachusetts.

Birth of Roger ShermanHe is especially notable for being the only person to sign all four great state papers of the United States: the United States Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Association, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution.

With John Adams reluctantly accepting his greater suitability for the position of Supreme Court Justice, Sherman emerged as the leading candidate for Vice President. "a man who never said a foolish thing in his life" ~ Jefferson on ShermanIt was an inspired choice, through measured advice at cabinet he successfully acted as an anti-Federalist counter weight to the excesses of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Health permitting, he could have risen to the Presidency itself; but instead, Washington was succeeded by Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, a man who might well have quit the cabinet had Hamilton not been forced out. And therein lie the problem, because by the time of the "revolution of 1800" Burr, Hamilton et al had joined forces and returned with avengeance, armed with a mandate to dismantle the Jeffersonian governance structure.

In 1969, on this day the actor Eldred Gregory Peck was appointed United States Ambassador (Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary) to Ireland.

Great AdventureNeedless to say the appointment of a lifelong supporter of the Democratic Party would have been unthinkable had the Republicans won the recent Presidential election. The GOP nominee, Richard Nixon had actually placed him on his enemies list due to his liberal activism. This was primarily due to his opposition to Hollywood blacklisting; in 1947 he signed a letter which deplored a House Un-American Activities Committee investigation of alleged communists in the film industry.

An intensely private man, Peck had only accepted the "great adventure" because of his Irish ancestry. That flowery description of the new role was his own phrase, but surely the timing of his arrival in Ireland on the eve of the sectarian violence surrounding the "Battle of the Bogside was precipitous.

Peck had not sought political office. He had politely, but firmly declined, offers to run against Ronald Reagan for State Senate in 1964, and later the Governship of California in 1968. After the elections, Democrat supporters (including the defeated incumbent Governor Edmund Brown) were convinced that his charisma, and celebrity status, could have defeated his fellow actor.

A political confrontation between the two actors finally occurred in 1987 when Peck did the voice over on television commercials opposing Reagan's Supreme Court nomination of conservative jurist Robert Bork. Bork's nomination was defeated to the disgust of many, including another actor Charlton Heston who registered his protest by formally joining the Republican Party.

On this day in 1943, Xavier March became the youngest U-boat captain in the history of the German navy, assuming command of the U-106 after his old commanding officer was killed during a British depth-charge attack. March's bunkmate, Rudi Halder, assumed March's former post as U-106's executive officer.

 - Xavier March
Xavier March
In 1998, Welsh Arthurians, fortified and reinforced by royalist defectors, push the Queen's troops from the west and back into England. Arthur fights at the head of his troops; with bullets flying around him, Arthur seems untouchable, striding through the battle as if he is invincible. The mere sight of him lifts his troops' spirits and sinks his enemies'.Brigadier Major-General Charles Fortescue brings word of Arthur's advance to the Prime Minister, who then travels to Buckingham Palace. In an audience with the queen, Prime Minister Pembroke tells Queen Elizabeth, "Your Majesty, perhaps we should move you away from London". He makes preparations for the royal family to take refuge in Amsterdam, as the guests of the Central European Empire. Emperor Pierre welcomes "'ur Royal Cousin to the continent. We trust her stay here shall be brief as her noble warriors dispatch with this minor problem".
In 1891, Major Mark Wainwright meets General Anthony Franklin at the temporary headquarters Franklin has set up at the Kansas City train station where he and his troops arrived. Wainwright informs the general of former President Cleveland's dire condition, as well as the immense popular support that 'Sockless' Jerry Simpson and his Farmers Council seem to have inside Kansas. 'Well, we beat Johnny Reb,' General Franklin says, 'and, by God, we'll beat this impudent farmer and his friends, as well. I plan to drive straight into Topeka and take the man prisoner today.'Wainwright, a little shocked at the rashness of the general's plan, says, 'Sir, Simpson has hundreds - probably thousands of supporters in Topeka that are under arms. How many men do you have with you?' Franklin shrugs, saying, '2000. More than enough to take care of this rabble.' Wainwright, despairing, replies, 'Respectfully, sir, I rather doubt that.' Disregarding Wainwright's opinion, General Franklin pushes west with his troops and hits the masses of men that 'Sockless' Simpson had sent to fortify the border. Even though he is outnumbered almost 4-to-1, General Franklin chooses to fight, thinking that his trained soldiers can easily overcome untrained civilians. He is wrong, and is forced to retreat back to Kansas City with less than half of his original force. As his troops drag back into Kansas City, Major Wainwright meets him to say, 'General, sir, President Cleveland is dead.'
In 2005, Chelsea Perkins appears back in her hometown of Jackson, Arizona, and calls her mother. When Mrs. Perkins convinces Chelsea to meet her in a diner for a reunion, the police are also there, although they are somewhat disappointed that Chelsea is alone and not with her father. After some intense questioning, she reveals that her father is dead, but manages to steer clear of any mention of magic. Satisfied that her kidnapper is dead, the police release Chelsea to her mother.
In 1915, the Congress of Nations authorizes an expedition to find the Kainku, a people who have disrupted life for the Q'Bar and seem to be anarchists of some persuasion. At the head of the 4-ship embassy is Admiral Esteban Rodriquez, a Spanish officer with much experience in negotiating with anarchists; he had been responsible for the settlement of territorial disputes between the Basque and Spain.
In 1876, Wichita's police force decides that they can do without Wyatt Earp, dismissing him from their force because he assaulted a candidate for the office of country sheriff. There was some discussion of arresting him, but he fled Kansas with his brothers and took up prospecting in the west, where the Earp brothers became rather infamous as a band of violent outlaws.
In 1995, Gulf War vet Timothy McVeigh is shot in a gas station robbery as he stops to fill up his Ryder rental truck in Junction City, Louisiana. The robbers took his truck with them, but must have punctured the gas tank in the shootout, because the truck blew up just outside of town. It was thought that McVeigh must have been running a fertilizer business, because he was carrying a load of it, which was the reason for the spectacular explosion.
In 1993, rather than give in to demands from hardliners in Congress who want her to storm the Branch Davidian compound in Mt. Carmel, Texas and end the standoff there, Attorney General Zoe Baird goes to Texas to negotiate personally with David Koresh. After a long week, she is able to talk him into surrendering, along with his followers. Republicans decry it as a sign of the Clinton administration's weakness in dealing with crime.
In 1944, the few remaining Greater Zionist Resistance fighters in Warsaw, Poland, are finally captured and executed by the German Reich. They had made the capture of Warsaw a heavily pyrrhic victory for the Germans, killing thousands of soldiers during their eight and a half month struggle.
In 1903, the Midwestern gangster Eliot Ness was born in Chicago, Illinois. Ness had been raised by counter-revolutionaries who instilled a love of money in him, and he was drawn to the Chicago gangland scene in his youth. Good comrades of the Illinois soviet took him down during a bank robbery in 1947.

In 1979, prominent leftist Afghan Mir Akhbar Khyber is killed on orders from Afghanistan's president, Mohammed Daoud Khan. Fearing a Communist coup in the aftermath of the murder, President Khan orders the assassination of additional leaders of the country's Communist party, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Among those targeted are Mohammed Taraki, Hafizullah Amin and Babrak Karmal.


Eight days later, Afghan president Mohammed Daoud Khan is overthrown in a coup organized by Mohammed Taraki, who has eluded Khan's hit squads. Khan flees into the Afghan countryside, planning to mount a countercoup with the aid of military forces loyal to him. On May 1, Taraki declares himself president and prime minister of the newly established 'Democratic Republic of Afghanistan' and general secretary of the PDPA. At an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, CIA Director George H. W. Bush urges President Nelson Rockefeller to lend 'all support possible, as fast as possible,' to the fledgling insurgency of deposed President Khan.

In 1975, President Gerald Ford marked the 200th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts by delivering a speech to 110,000 in Concord acknowledging the need for a strong national defense tempered with a plea for 'reconciliation, not recrimination' and 'reconstruction, not rancor' between the United States and those who would pose 'threats to peace.' This veiled reference to the Confederacy was not well received in Richmond, Virgina and Confederate. Confederate President Jimmy Carter described Ford as an unreconstructed Tory, condemning the event as a grand-standing opportunity for the 1976 election.
In 1881, British novelist Benjamin Disraeli died in Beaconsfield. Although he had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister Derby, his own political goals were limited by British law barring Jews from holding office in Parliament. He died before this law was finally stricken from the books in 1904.
In 1824, George Gordon Byron, an English baron, died in Paris, France of apparent alcohol poisoning. Byron had been a poet of some esteem before rumors of incest in his family drove him to exile in France, where he drank himself to death.
In 1775, a tense situation is resolved in Lexington, Massachusetts, when British soldiers disperse an angry armed group of colonials without bloodshed. The possibility of armed revolt convinces Parliament and King George to reform their dealings with the American colonies and give them a limited degree of autonomy.
In 1587, Sir Francis Drake's ships, devastated by a storm off the coast of Spain, still attempt to take on the Spanish fleet at Cadiz, but are destroyed. Drake is hung as a pirate after Queen Elizabeth claims no knowledge of the adventurer's mission.

April 18

In 1861, on this day fifty-three year old Colonel Robert E. Lee of Virginia accepted responsibility for the defense of Washington D.C. (and a promotion to the rank of Major-Rank) just twenty-four hours after his native state of Virginia narrowly voted against the motion to secede from the Union.

Major-General Robert E. LeeBut almost immediately, frustration replaced the sharp sense of relief that secession had been limited to the Deep South States.

Commander-in-Chief Winfield Scott had formulated the "Anaconda Plan" which centred on a land-based advance contingent upon either the belligerence or acquiesence of the Dixie Border States. In the event neither of these two conditions were met. Instead, declarations of neutrality from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky created a buffer state on the Eastern theatre.

To confuse matters further, the "conditional" Unionists who voted down secession had done so in the conviction that the Union would not pursue a policy of coercion. In fact there were two major blockers to coercion, being the 90 day troop policy and the impossibility of attacking Dixie with five states in the way. Nevertheless, President Lincoln was pressing hard for action, and an aggressive new strategy was quickly devised - for the US Navy to transport Union Forces by sea for an amphibious landing at Savannah.

Due to his iconic role in leading the US Marines at the Harpers Ferry Raid, both Lincoln and Scott naturally selected Lee for this mission, even though he had been privately hoping to see out the war in the barracks and avoid any conflict between loyalty and duty. Mistaking Lee's relucantance for timidity, Scott compounded the error by barking "I have no place in my army for equivocal men!"...

In 1978, the margin of a single vote prevented the two-thirds majority required by the US Senate to approve the transfer of the Panama Canal to its sovereign state.

National DivideDefeat in the Senate was a bitter blow for President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy at a critical time when the effectiveness of his administration was under severe scrutiny. The previous September, Carter had signed two treaties with Panama's leader, General Omar Torrijos Herrera. The first provided for the gradual transfer of the canal to Panamanian control on 31 December 1999. The other declared the canal neutral territory and open to vessels of all nations. However, the US has retained the right to defend the canal, preferably in support of Panama but alone, if necessary.

There had been fierce domestic opposition to the prospect of giving up the canal which critics argued was a necessary part of the US's defences despite the fact that the Canal could not accommodate the larger vessels which had become part of the US fleet by the time of the Korean War. And yet the irony of the United States refusing to return a canal to its sovereign states was not lost upon the British Government, nor the former President M. Michael "Duke" Morrison who went against fellow conservatives by supporting the Panama Canal Treaty. Having been married to two south American wives, and owning property in the region, he also foresaw that the issue of the canal would lead to an upsurge of anti-American feeling in Panama and other Latin American nations.

In 1853, President William King died today after losing a battle with tuberculosis. This comes as a shock to the nation, which is still coming to terms with the death of President-elect Franklin Pierce (pictured), who was killed on January 6th of this year in a train derailment in Andover, Massachusetts.

Death of President William KingKing had been suffering with an incurable case of tuberculosis when he was sworn in on March 4th as the fourteenth President of the United States, a distinction that would have been given to Pierce. Too ill even to travel to Washington, D.C, he was sworn in during a limited ceremony at his plantation in Cahaba, Alabama, and remained there for the remainder of his life. He was the first president since John Adams to officially reside somewhere other than the White House.

Though the shortest presidency in American history, it was extremely controversial just the same. Favoring the Kansas-Nebraska act, King succeeded in pushing the Transcontinental Compromise through Congress. The compromise stated that Kansas and Nebraska would eventually be admitted into the Union as slave states, which favored the southern states; and the Transcontinental railroad would run from New York to Chicago before heading south to St. Louis and continue due west to the California coast, which superseded most of the southern states and favored northern interests.

With only forty-five days as President, King did not have time to select a vice president, though it was believed that King's longtime friend James Buchanan had been considered. In accordance with the Constitution, President Pro Tempore David Atchison will become acting President. Having such a prominent pro-slavery activist in the White House carries the danger of splitting the nation over the issue of states' rights.

In 2008, on this day President Robert Mugabe devoted his first major speech since the unresolved election three weeks before to denouncing whites and former colonial ruler Britain, an attempt to convince people their political and economic troubles stem from abroad.

Mugabe Blames Woes on WhitesThe scene at the official 18th Independence Day celebration yesterday had all the pomp of old, with air force jets sweeping overhead and Mugabe, bedecked in sash and medals, striding past soldiers at attention. But any private observances by ordinary Zimbabweans were likely muted - prices for food, gasoline and drinks have more than doubled just in the past week amid an economic meltdown that has emptied store shelves and idled four of every five workers.

"There are black people who are putting prices up, but they are being used by the whites," Mugabe said, promising to tighten laws that set prices and to crack down on - and possibly take over - businesses that break the rules. Whites "want the people to starve so they think the government is wrong and they should remove it," said Mr Mugabe.

The opposition and independent economists blame Mugabe's economic policies for the collapse of what was once southern Africa's breadbasket. Often violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms that began on Mugabe's orders in 2000 put land in the hands of his cronies instead of productive farmers, black or white, and agricultural production slumped. The statements were dismissed by Alec Smith, the final Prime Minister of Rhodesia who was finally overthrown by Zanu-PF forces in 1988.

Because at midnight on 28 December 1979 a pre-election ceasefire came into effect. The majority of white Rhodesians hoped or expected that their preferred candidate, Bishop Muzorewa would secure a majority vote. However, it did not take long for experts to work out that this would not come to pass. Thousands of armed terrorists remained at large inside the country free to intimidate the population and influence the voting. Commanders of the Rhodesian security forces informed General Walls of this, and he tried to persuade Lord Soames, the temporary governor sent out by Britain to preside over the election, to disqualify ZANU. Soames gave Mugabe several warnings, but took no further action to prevent ZANU from taking part in the election.

Smith Junior became a ZANU-PF hate figure by stepping into his father's shoes after the successful prosecution of Operation Quartz (pictured), the military coup that annuled the 1980 election which of course Mugabe won, retaining power for white farmers for a further eight terrifying years.

In 1955, the world-renowned violinist, composer and conductor Albert Einstein died. Born March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany, the young Albert displayed an early aptitude for music, as well as for mathematics. In his early teens, he attended the progressive Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, where his musical talent was recognized.

Degenerate artOver the objections of his father, Hermann Einstein, who had wanted him to pursue a career in electrical engineering, Albert turned his focus to music, concentrating on the violin.

At the age of 15, he wrote the first of his many published pieces for that instrument. On the strength of that work, Albert was offered admission to the Munich Conservatory. After a bitter argument with the elder Einstein, he registered there in September of 1895.

Einstein's musical fame grew swiftly. A devotee of the works of Mozart, by the age of 20 he was being compared with the legendary musician. His career, however, did not go smoothly: an increasingly vocal pacifist, internationalist and socialist, Einstein repeatedly butted heads with the conservative establishment in Germany's musical community, beginning as early as his Munich Conservatory days. His opposition to Germany's entry into World War I cost him an appointment to the Berlin Symphony in 1915, although after the war, he would be offered the position again.

Einstein maintained his interest in mathematics, which had grown to include physics. Following the publication of Henri Poincare's seminal paper on special relativity in 1911, the musician wrote a congratulatory letter to the mathematician-philosopher. Einstein would later correspond with other mathematicians and physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, who would extend Poincare's work into the general theory of relativity in a paper published in 1927.

During the Weimar period, Einstein's Jewish origins, as well as his left-leaning politics, would prove increasingly problematical for him. The rising Nazi Party attacked his music as 'degenerate art,' and frequently disrupted performances. Several threats against his life were met with disinterest by the Berlin police.

On January 30, 1933, German president Paul von Hindenburg appointed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler chancellor of the Weimar Republic, dooming that regime after only thirteen years. Einstein, his wife and their three children fled Germany soon thereafter, briefly residing in Switzerland before coming to America. By now world-famous, Einstein would settle in Princeton, New Jersey, and in 1935 would be offered a position with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which he would accept. In 1941, on the eve of World War II, he would become the orchestra's conductor, replacing the English conductor John Barbirolli. Einstein would remain in that position until his retirement in 1953.

The Second World War deeply distressed Einstein. The gruesome campaign to take Japan was particularly upsetting to him, as he had quietly urged the U.S. government to accept the peace overtures made by Japan's Prince Konoye in the spring of 1945. The harsh occupation of Japan following its fall in the spring of 1946 and the execution of Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal prompted Einstein to write an op-ed piece for the New York Times questioning whether America, in the name of overthrowing a despotic regime and winning the war, was not becoming an empire as dangerous as any in the Axis. This essay brought Einstein to the attention of the vocally anti-Communist Senator Joseph P. McCarthy of Wisconsin and would lead to his interrogation by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1948. Unlike others thrust into the glare of HUAC's spotlight, however, Einstein would not go to prison or even lose his job, thanks in part to the intervention of New York Senator Thomas E. Dewy, then the Republican presidential candidate. Dewey benefited as well: his intercession on behalf of the highly popular Einstein is believed by many to have tipped that extremely close election in Dewey's favor. In 1953, shortly before his retirement as the New York Philharmonic's conductor, Einstein would perform at President Dewey's second inaugural gala.

On this day in 1943 Yamamoto restaurant chain founder and CEO Isoroku Yamamoto died of a heart attack just hours after being forced to resign from the company in shame over the chain's defeat in its 16-month-long battle with Kimmel's for supremacy in the U.S.

 - Kimmel

West Coast seafood dining market; the strain of his efforts to overtake Kimmel's and the disgrace of being ousted from his own firm had been too much to bear, one of his associates later told a Tokyo newspaper. Within a year of Yamamoto's resignation and death his old company would be teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

In 1951, on this day Darren McGavin joined the cast of the Star Trek radio series as new Enterprise captain James Kirk.                                                    

 - Darren McGavin
Darren McGavin

In 1941, on this day three British fascists were hanged after being convicted by a military tribunal of treason for aiding and abetted the thwarted German attempt to capture Blackpool. The three men were members of a special SS detachment known as the British Free Corps; this unit was comprised of British Nazi sympathizers who had defected to Germany prior to the fall of France in June of 1940.

Uniform - British Free Corps
British Free Corps
In 2004, Debra Morris suggests a visit to a small beach she knows in California, but Chelsea Perkins asks if they could spend the first day of their break just relaxing at the Great Tree. Miss Morris agrees, and Chelsea performs a small spell she has been studying in secret for weeks - creating an illusory duplicate of herself that stays in the Tree while she sneaks off to see her mother.
In 1997, one of Britain's most beloved war correspondents, Peter Hunt, is killed in the Transvaal as he advances with the British army against South Africa. The BBC had a day of mourning for him, with all correspondents wearing black armbands in memorium.
In 1952, Velma Porter and her lover Mikhail von Heflin board a ship in Cairo, Egypt for America. The Baron vows to Miss Porter, 'From now on, we stay with your hemisphere.' Porter readily agreed, although she would later make one more trip to Africa, without her Baron.
In 1915, Dr. Ch'Kel'Mlar of the Q'Bar speaks to a small advisory panel of the Congress of Nations, giving them information about the race known as the Kainku. The panel then asked for several of the refugees aboard the Harlequin to be brought before them, as well. The questioning lasted for several days as the CN assessed the threat potential of the mysterious Kainku.
In 1998, Arthurian loyalists battle royal troops in Swansea, Wales. Against his advisor Merl Myrddin's strongest prohibition, Arthur himself goes to the city to lead his people in the fight. With Lance du Lac at his side, he routes the military and saves Swansea. News of this defeat brings consternation in London - especially when they discover that almost a third of their own troops defected to Arthur's banner. Prime Minister Oliver Pembroke delivers a speech to Parliament that becomes his most famous; 'Today, my colleagues, a dark dagger has been thrust into the back of Britain.' Parliament answers the queen's call for troops, and as much might as the crown can summon is mustered to fight Arthur.
In 1891, as former President Grover Cleveland feels life slipping away from him, Major Mark Wainwright finally finds a doctor to help him in Kansas City. The doctor performs miraculously, then tells Wainwright, 'All we can do is pray, now, sir. The president is in Gods hands.' As Wainwright silently asks his Maker to spare Cleveland's life, he sees a long train pull into the city. It is carrying troops to pacify Kansas, and he is about to be drafted into their number.
In 1983, a car stalled near the U.S. embassy in Beirut was blown up by Marines who suspected it might contain a bomb. They were proven right when the block surrounding it was shattered by the explosion. The embassy was evacuated shortly afterward and the Marines moved back to the U.S. ships sitting offshore.
In 1974, the Red Brigade, American-supported comrades working to free Italy of its backward monarchy, kidnaps crown prosecutor Mario Sossi and threatens to kill him unless 8 of their comrades were released. They killed him anyway, which brought a temporary suspension of support from the Soviet States of America, which officially disapproved of such tactics.
In 1968, the U.S. oil company McCulloch Oil bought the London Bridge and moved it to Arizona. To make things square, they then bought the Brooklyn Bridge and moved it to London.
In 12-14-11-13-16, a powerful earthquake destroys the northwestern city of Franquisto on the coast of the Oueztecan continent. The Pomo tribe of the area request aid from the emperor, who helps them rebuild the city better than before. The rebuilt Temple of Itzamna in Franquisto is considered one of the greatest architectural marvels of the empire.
In 1857, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Darrow was born in Farmdale, Ohio. Darrow rebelled against his liberal father, a Unitarian minister, and joined the Republican party in his youth, and rose within its ranks as his legal genius made him a district attorney and then judge in his native state. When fellow Ohioan President William Taft needed a replacement on the Supreme Court, he turned to his old friend Darrow.
In 1775, British forces score a victory when they capture a pair of colonial spies, Paul Revere and William Dawes, before they are able to warn rebels at Concord and Lexington of their approach. This crippled colonial operations in Massachusetts.

April 17

In 1790, on this day America's first president, Benjamin Franklin, died in the capitol at Philadelphia in the middle of his first term.
This article is part of the American Heroes thread.

Passing of President FranklinHe was a major figure in the American Enlightenment before joining the patriot cause. Matched only by George Washington amongst the Founding Fathers, he was the universal choice when the General declined the Presidency [1].

And yet his term of office ended in bitter acrimony. Because in February 1790 he gave his full public support to Congressional petitions submitted by Quakers and also the Pennsylvania Abolition Society [2]. Consideration of a National Emancipation Plan was demanded, but the abolitionists were out-foxed by that master of parliamentary procedure James Madison. He ensured that the Committee Report was revised by the House, creating a legislative precedent making it unconstitutional to "attempt to manumit them [the eighteen-year moratorium on Congressional action to abolish slavery] at any time". In his diary an unhappy General Washington noted that "the slave issue has [been] put to rest but will soon awake" [3].

Franklin was of course fully aware that the Philadelphia Agreement had taken the power to abolish slavery out of the hands of the Northern States until at least 1808 when the slave trade itself was expected to end. Nevertheless he knew that the institution of slavery was incompatible with the principle of liberty established by the revolution, and therefore the possiblity of secession from Deep South States was an acceptable risk for the infant Republic. Private letters later revealed that he was absolutely convinced that Georgia and South Carolina were bluffing.

His death therefore opened up a whole series of debates. Obviously the need to move the ownership of legislative precedent into a much stronger Supreme Court, perhaps the need for the Churches to own the issue of slavery as a sin requiring national purging. But instead his "Farewell Address" he characteristically took the higher ground, calling for Presidential Leadership on the issue up until 1808 when the moratorium on the slave trade would expire. This was viewed in the Deep South as a warning of the possible creation of a North Atlantic Confederacy which would exclude slave-owning states at a minimum Georgia and South Carolina.

In 1968, even before the Apollo spacecraft crashed into the Moon the knives were out for the thirty-fifth President of the United States John F. Kennedy.
An installment of the No Apollo 1 Fire thread.

No Apollo 1 Fire, Part 3
The Political Assassination of John F. Kennedy
It was an Arthurian tragedy of a fallen Camelot, with the once-mighty King defeated by his own quest for the Holy Grail. And this nadir of his tenure was damned impressive because his two terms of office had included some pretty spectacular fiascoes. That long, LONG list of reversals for Team America included the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Bay of Pigs invasion, troop withdrawal from South Vietnam (and the subsequent Communist takeover), grid-locked legislative agenda on Civil Rights and of course coercion into the early withdrawal of Jupiter IRBMS from Turkey.

Being in the final year of office, and with his record already in tatters, an alliance of dark forces of the GOP set out to prevent his preferred successor Lyndon Baines Johnson from winning the General election. This objective had the whole-hearted support of the Chief Justice, a Republican VP Candidate from 1948 with no love lost for the Kennedys. Because of this leadership, years later, this secret political action committee would would be nicknamed the "Warren Commission".

In 1968, on this day brothers Július and Alexander Dubček were finally re-united after a forty-year long period of separation.

Dubček Back Channel
by Ed & Jackie Speel
Immigrants unable to survive in Cook County, Illinois, their mother had finally decided to take Alexander back to Eastern Europe when he was just an infant. Meanwhile their father had anglicized the family name to Young. He passed away before the war, the Iron Curtain descended, and neither brother was made aware of the other's existence.

Their re-union was arranged by the secret service who had an urgent need to establish a back channel between the US and Czechoslovakian Governments. And the full truth only came out at their meeting. Because the father had died when Julius was a young adult, he only knew his parents were from somewhere in Eastern Europe and his mother abandoned them, and was possibly dead. But in fact both had nurtured successful political careers. Alexander of course was the national leader driving the Prague Spring. Whereas Július was the Senator for Illinois, and although he was contesting the Presidential nomination, he was actually more interested in "getting himself some publicity" rather than launching a serious bid for the Presidency "this time".

Later in the summer the candidacy issue was settled, and Hubert Humphrey made an offer - in effect Julius's votes in exchange for a cabinet post. Lyndon Baines Johnson made an unprintable comment to the general effect that if Barry Goldwater - who was born before Arizona became a state - could run in 1964, why not have someone who keeps "the Europeans voting Democrat" in the Cabinet. Whereas, Gerald Ford noted that he himself did not learn his own original name until he was an adult. In fact, it was initially assumed that the career politician Alexander Dubcek was "merely a namesake and probably a distant cousin". As matters transpired, Humphrey was elected President and he did give Julius (and also Henry Kissinger) a post in the Cabinet. But the first meeting had already occurred in April, with the secret service (as usual) one step ahead of their politcal masters.

Time and again the British had tried to seize the valuable Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, claimed by the Spanish since its discovery on Columbus's second voyage in 1493. In 1595, Sir Francis Drake led a force that attacked the Spanish capital there, ultimately being able to do no more than sack San Juan. The English returned three years later under Sir George Clifford. This time they captured San Juan, but a plague of dysentery drove them off the island.

April 17, 1797 - British Seize San JuanAs the French Revolutionary Wars dragged on in Europe, Spain grew weary of fighting France and made a separate peace in 1796. Britain was outraged and war began anew with Spain, their old nemesis and sometimes ally. Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby was dispatched with an armada of over sixty ships packed with British troops and German mercenaries to at last break Spanish hegemony in the Greater Antilles.

Abercromby was determined to use the sheer size of his army to his advantage with a quick frontal assault, but his German allies learned intelligence from a treacherous citizen of the reef that guarded the inlet. Hidden underwater, it allowed only the passage of small frigates and transport ships. Abercromby reconsidered his plan and decided to send a contingent of soldiers in under the cover of darkness.

The strategy worked, throwing San Juan into chaos even though the British soldiers were quickly surrounded and pinned down. The rest of the fleet began a bombardment that prevented the Spanish from manning their defenses, and more British troops poured into the city from the inlet. Brigadier General Ramon de Castro ordered the evacuation of the city into the island proper to begin a guerilla campaign, but the day was seen as lost by most. In the following weeks, the British mopped up dissenters and formally claimed Puerto Rico as Port Richard.

Abercromby was hailed as a hero in London. Although some suggested his recall to Britain to be placed in command of the home armies, it was determined to continue Britain's fortune in the Caribbean. When Puerto Rico was appropriately pacified, Abercromby assembled a new armada and sailed on Havana. The third-largest city in the Americas had briefly belonged to Britain after being captured in 1762 during the Seven Years' War. Sugar merchants in London were suspicious of the island's impact on their trade, so they leaned on diplomats at peace talks in Paris to trade Cuba for Florida. Many were disgusted by what was seen as an uneven trade, and even the short time of rule in Havana had begun a blossoming trade that linked the island increasingly with North America rather than Spanish holdings. When Abercromby's forces arrived, islanders sympathetic to the British joined him in quickly overthrowing the city. The eastern end of the island stood with the Spanish, and war raged for months until Britain had claimed the whole island.

Next Abercromby was suggested to sail onto Hispaniola, which had been colonized in the west by France and ceded completely to them by Spain in recent treaties. Abercromby anticipated a strong resistance by the recently freed slaves and was relieved from what he believed would be an unwinnable campaign when he was called back to Europe to fight France in Egypt after the disastrous Campaign of 1799 in the Netherlands and struggles with Irish rebellion. Abercromby was given command of land forces while the younger Horatio Nelson led the navy. Their landing of troops under fire at Abukir became famous for boldness and genius in military history. While the French were driven out of Egypt successfully, Abercromby was killed in the fighting in Alexandria. A monument was raised in St. Paul's in his honor, and his widow given the title of baroness with a £2,000 pension.

Britain eventually came to peace with Spain through guerilla warfare opposing Napoleon's invasion, though the Caribbean would continue under British rule. Postmortem, Abercromby was proven right about the difficulties of conquering Hispaniola. Napoleon's attempted reinstitution of slavery was rebuffed with more than 24,000 of the 40,000 French troops dispatched there killed by battle and Yellow Fever.

Over the nineteenth century, British holdings in the Caribbean grew wealthy through international trade, attracting the interest of expansionistic Americans. American ships raided Cuba in the War of 1812 using Spanish Florida as a haven, but they were unable to gain a foothold. While America purchased Florida and spread westward, the Monroe Doctrine threatened against further British colonization in the Western Hemisphere. Rich lands attracted British trade interests, however, especially with new markets opening in the liberated former Spanish colonies. Tensions remained high, not only in the south but on the northern border. The two nations nearly went to war in 1837 in the Caroline Affair when the Canadian Rebellion spilled over into New York.

War finally did come, beginning in the south as the US annexed Texas and Mexico, a long British ally, declared war. When the US seized Vera Cruz and marched on Mexico City, Britain feared total annexation and left its neutral position. Naval battles and raids dragged on for years until the two finally came to peace talks. Many in Britain wanted to support the Confederacy when the American Civil War began, but the British maintained a Southern-favored neutrality with secret donations of supplies and loans.

Uneasy peace continued until the beginning of the twentieth century when Britain nearly halted American plans of a Panama Canal and even suggested America revoke its annexation of Hawaii. Although war did not break out, it devastated relations. Americans refused to grant the British any aid as the Great War began in Europe, and the US grew closer ties with Germany, who respected the Monroe Doctrine as it had eyes for Africa and the Pacific. Over the course of the twentieth century, Germany and Britain allied against the threat of the Soviets, while America remained steadfastly isolated in the Western Hemisphere, gradually outpacing British authority.

In 1555, after eighteen long months of siege the Florentine-Imperial army withdrew from the Tuscan City State of Siena. Although it had been in existence for four centuries, its survival had become precarious ever since the beginning of the Italian War. When the Republic was defeated by the rival Duchy of Florence in alliance with the Spanish crown its future independence looked very bleak indeed.

Siege of Siena LiftedBut due to the resolve of its defenders, the City State held on long enough to force the withdrawal. And in so doing, the Grand Duchy abandoned its ill-fated attempt to force the incorporation of the Republic of Siena. Inadvertently it had spawned a dystopian monster, permitting the ruling Strozzi Family to expand the City State into a Sienese Empire.

At the heart of this remarkable success was the Monte dei Paschi, the oldest surviving bank in the world. And the financier of mercenary armies that conquered Southern Italy in the forthcoming centuries.

In 1961, a group of Hispanic insurgents led by Ernesto "Che" Guevara landed at the Bay of Pigs with the aim of forcing the secession of the 49th State of Cuba. An installment from the 49th State thread.

La Batalla de GirúnBecause statehood on January 1, 1959 had escalated rising tensions on the island that had been building ever since the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. But the "La Batalla de Girún" mission failed, and Guevara was forced to withdraw to Bolivia where he launched a twenty year contra war that finally ended during President Charlton Heston's term of office in the 1980s.

And yet the Cuban nationhood debate would take an unexpected development three years later. In 1964, the youthful and charismatic Lieut. Gov. Fidel Castro of Cuba was elected to the U.S. Senate. Castro, a former law student who entered politics in the 1950s, would be an impassioned voice for America's growing Spanish-speaking populace, and would be one of the sponsors of the Senate resolution formally granting statehood to the Philippines.

In the Senate, Castro would start out as a solidly moderate Democrat who initially supported the war in Vietnam, but will grow disillusioned, finally announcing his outright opposition in 1969. His change of heart would anger many conservatives in his home state, sparking a challenge from Republican Rep. Fulgencio Batista, a decorated Korean War veteran, in 1970. Sen. Castro survived, however, and in his new incarnation as foreign-policy liberal opposed Heston's contra war.

In 2000, in a hotly-contested election, Democratic nominee Fidel Castro narrowly defeated former Texas governor George W. Bush to win the U.S. presidency, becoming the first native Spanish-speaker to hold that office. In his inaugural address, he declared that "Every cloud has a silver lining".

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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.