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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

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October 17

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter, signalling his own commitment to the cause of civil and human rights, vetoes a bill to restore Confederate President Jefferson Davis' U.S. citizenship.

The disputed citizenship of Jeff DavisFrom 1861 to its collapse in 1865, Davis took charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to defeat the larger, more powerful and better organized Union. His diplomatic efforts failed to gain recognition from any foreign country. At home he paid little attention to the collapsing Confederate economy; the government printed more and more paper money to cover the war's expenses, leading to runaway inflation.

After Davis was captured in 1865, he was accused of treason but was not tried and was released after two years. While not disgraced, Davis had been displaced in white Southern affection after the war by his leading general, Robert E. Lee. Nevertheless, many Southerners empathized with his defiance, refusal to accept defeat, and resistance to Reconstruction. Over time, admiration for his pride and ideals made him a Civil War hero to many Southerners, and his legacy became part of the foundation of the postwar New South. Davis wrote a memoir entitled The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, which he completed in 1881 and which also helped to restore his reputation. By the late 1880s, he began to encourage reconciliation, telling Southerners to be loyal to the Union.

Although it causes many conservative Democrats to bolt to the Republican Party, Carter says that, "This man stood against America and all that America stands for. His treason killed hundreds of thousands of our citizens, and I, for one, will not support his legacy".

In 2013, on this fateful day the Federal Government defaulted and either the Mongolian tögrög or Rai stones looked set to become the world's reserve currency.

Federal Government DefaultsA resolution had seemed achievable twenty-four hours earlier, but then Senator Ted Cruz had immolated himself in front of the US Congress. It was a dramatic gesture that triggered a protest march of Tea Party supporters dressed as the Ratonhnhaké:ton figure from Assassin's Creed.

Protests continued inside the House of Representatives when stenographer Dianne Reidy went to the Speaker's Chair while the vote was in progress and declared:

He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here is this is not one nation under God. It never was. The constitution would not have been written by freemasons. They go against God. You cannot serve two masters.
TV channels were jammed across America with sound bites from former leaders, for example President Eisenhower warning that "We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security". Following these dramatic gestures, a number of Congress switched their votes. And the focus moved on to preventing the USG from going bankrupt, rather than the smaller issue of the default.

In 1448, John Hunyadi leads the Hungarian-Wallachian army to triumphant victory at the Second Battle of Kosovo. A compressed version of The Purpose Mantle published on the Alt History Wikia.

Ottoman Reversal at Kosovo FieldThis great defeat to the Ottoman State was caused by the sudden assassination of Murad II and his son Mehmet II. Notwithstanding this setback, the Eastern Roman Empire is finished by the the Ottoman Advance.

As a result of Kosoovo, the city of Constantinople remains undefiled and so does the Ancient Tradition in it. Within twenty years the Eastern Empire is gone, and what's left is Constantinople and a few surrounding territories. This state of affairs is recognized by the Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos who releases his his Imperial dignities and creates the "Byzantine Kingdom" Instead, using however much of the previous System elements.

In 1933, the Nazi Party finally imploded nine months after Gustav Streseman destroyed their credibility at the disastrous State election result in Lippe-Detmold. continues from Part 3.

The Plot Against Germany 4"Club Foot" Joey Goebbels led a stage walkout of the entire left wing in the SA and also the Nazi Trade Unions into a newly formed Socialist German Workers' Party. It remained unclear whether Adolf Hitler would lead the rump or create new, ultra right-wing National German Workers' Party.

Of course the party re-organization was a matter of little immediate relevance because Chancellor von Papen was being retained in office not by the will of the voters but by an Emergency Presidential Decree. However, the ageing President Hindenburg was growing so weak that he was no longer able to even lift his military baton.

When Hindenburg finally passed away a year later, von Papen's mandate disappeared and he once again had to return to democratic processes to secure a mandate. However reluctant he might have been to work with the extremist National German Workers' Party his hand was forced because Ernst Thalmänn's Communist Party had surged passed him in the polls again and if necessary were prepared to sign an electoral pact with Goebbels and his Socialist German Workers' Party. But of course the most pressing threat was the Soviet Forces which were threatening to invade Eastern Germany. Communist rule in Germany appeared certain, the only question was whether the country would be governed from puppets in Red Star Berlin, or directly from Moscow. To be continued

In 1346, on this day David II, King of Scotland signed the Peace of Neville's Cross with his English counterpart Edward III.

Peace of Neville's CrossThe previous month, Philip VI of France had responded to the Scottish monarch's plea to invade England. Ten thousand men were despatched under a plan that would see the French Army land at Carlisle and march across country to meet the Scots West of Durham. But owing to a navigation error they landed at Glasgow instead, and thinking they're in England embark on a wave of looting, pillage and rape which leaves the city burnt to the ground.

Outraged by this atrocity, over the next few months the Scots and English quickly settle their differences and agree a union of the crowns with Edward III as king and David II as vice-king and declare war on France.

In 1806, on this day the Haitian rebel leader Dessalines survived an assassination attempt. The nation of Haiti had undergone a brutal past. Its natives had been wiped out by plagues brought by the Spanish, and its primary colonists had been pirates, specifically on the nearby island of Tortuga.

Dessalines Survives Assassination Attempt In 1664, the French West India Company formally claimed the western side of Hispaniola and established a lasting colony. Plantations grew up and prospered from the blood and sweat of African slaves.

When the French Revolution broke out, revolution spread to Haiti as well. Freed black men claimed rights as citizens, and war spread as planters, supported by the British, tried to keep power from the mulattoes. While the slaves gained their freedom amidst the battles, war with France arose as Napoleon moved to reconquer Haiti and rule eastern Hispaniola directly. Much of Napoleon's expedition was destroyed by disease, and the vicomte de Rochambeau fought brutal tactics of tit-for-tat atrocities with the rebel leader Dessalines until the final Battle of Vertiéres in 1803 led to French surrender.

Dessalines continued to maintain power after the war from republican ideals and even proclaimed himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti on October 6, 1804. He went about a pogrom of massacre on the whites of the island early in his rule. Planters and the white upper class fled or faced brutal execution, leaving behind the class of gens de couleur, wealthy, darker skinned freed men, as the higher class of the island. While many called for republican reform, Dessalines held his power and imposed a system of tyranny, practical slavery, to keep the sugar and coffee plantations running to pay for the new government.

Conspiracies began to rise up against Dessalines. He had served the country well, but now he had grown consumed by his power. Henri Christophe, a military subordinate to Dessalines, began a revolt in the north with his own autocracy while gens de couleur leader Alexandre Pétion worked to champion democracy in the south. On October 17, 1806, Dessalines began the march out of Port-au-Prince where he had been containing the ideals of Pétion to put down by force the rebellion of Christophe. An ambush sprung around him, but Dessalines managed to dodge assassins' bullets, rally his men, and route the assailants.

The march to the north crushed Pétion's rebellion. While he exacted victory, Dessalines pondered how it could be that his beloved Haitians would rise up against him in an attempt of assassination. He was a hard man of sharp discipline, but that had been what allowed the defeat of Rochambeau in the fight for independence. He demanded a great deal from his people, but government was expensive, and an economy crippled without forced workers would reduce the island to poverty and anarchy.

Dessalines returned to Port-au-Prince with a parade in his honor. He met with Pétion (whom he would later execute as a member of conspiracy) and took a good deal of republican advice. Launching into a new propaganda campaign, Dessalines related to the people how hard work was necessary and vowed to ensure that payment returned to the people. The elected bureaucracy expanded to meet needs of food, clean water, housing, and health, and taxes could be paid in cash or by "voluntary" work on the state plantations. Meanwhile, Dessalines worked to fix the fear and anger of the people upon differing targets, which had worked well against the French and later all whites. He turned against the Spanish Empire, then against the "terror" of the Dominicans to the east. Later invasion would unify the island once again in 1822.

The emperor died in 1827 and was succeeded by Jean Pierre Boyer, Emperor Jean I, who would rule until his overthrow in 1843. While many hoped for a return to the liberal ideals of the revolution, the rule of the state had become ingrained over generations. Strong government held the island, working to keep Santo Domingo united under Haiti and forcing internal improvements through construction projects and public factories. For centuries to come, the island of Hispaniola would be viewed at times as a model of stability and productivity for Latin America while at other times a tropical Orwellian police state.

In 1859, a fierce firefight on the US Border between the Harper's Ferry Raiders and a company of Confederate Marines commanded by Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee brought the "two Americas" to the brink of war, perhaps as the abolitionist John Brown had intended all along.

The RaidSeventy years before, the thirteen states had been part of a single Confederation. But at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Northern Federalists had advocated an entirely different form of government. And the delegates failure to agree led to the formation of that breakway Union which was to subsequently become known as the United States of America.

If the overarching principle of disagreement was States Rights, then the burning issue itself was surely the institution of slavery. And therefore the unrestricted movement of both slaves and abolitionists raised demands for stricter border controls which of course re-opened the door on the whole contentious issue.

We can never know whether John Brown actually planned to seize weapons from the armoury and to arm a slave uprising, or whether his flight to the North was simply a spur of the moment decision. But within twelve months, a regional politician in Kentucky would use the Raid to make the case for a Re-united States of America. His name was Abraham Lincoln.

In 1940, on this day the originator of the super-hero concept, Philip Wylie sued the creators of Superman Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for plagiariasm. Wylie's own Man God was known as "The Gladiator" and had been published a decade before in 1930.

The GladiatorThe plot similiarities were of course blatantly undeniable; a father who creates a son that can jump buildings, herculean strength, growing up in a small farming town, tendency to lift up automobiles, an artic fortress and most tellingly of all, a meek attitude for their public personae.

The result of the protracted legal battle with Siegel and Shuster would have tremendous implications for the whole mileau, in a very real sense the plagiarism case became a battle for the soul of the comic book. The cheap pulp trash of superman would be forced to give way to the metaphysical reflection which was the essence of Wylie's genius. The only remaining copy of the withdrawn superman comic would appear on Hollis Mason's shelf in one panel of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' "Watchmen", perhaps suggesting that the Watchmen Universe was set in a timelime where Wylie did not pursue legal action.

Richard Donner's 1978 movie would feature Christopher Reeve as "The Gladiator" possessing incredible gifts but simply unable to find his place in the world. In the tragic climax, the superhero is struck by lightning whilst asking questions of God, echoeing Wylie's own religious doubts.

In 2008, today saw the nationwide release of the film biopic Al, directed by Oliver Stone.

Starring Alec Baldwin as Al Gore, the 43rd President of the United States; the film details the first few years of Gore's presidency and his rise in popularity following 9/11 and the the War in Afghanisatan which eventually saw the capture of Al-Queda chief Osama Bin-Laden, not to mention his later clashes in Congress when he introduces measures to halt global warming.
Oliver Stone's movie Al is releasedIt also flashbacks to Gore's early years in Harvard and his service in Vietnam. Though Stone has made films featuring other presidential figures such as Edward Kennedy and Richard Nixon in "Teddy" and "Nixon" respectively, his latest biopic is seen as far more controversial. Stone admits in press interviews, "I really wanted to get underneath the skin of this guy, and see how he has come to be recognized as someone who is one of our greatest ever Presidents - people will be surprised at how harsh it sometimes is; I think definitely the forces inside him that resulted in certain decisions for Afghanistan and the world were there long before 9/11".

In 1961, Khrushchev informs President Kennedy that he has decided to drop his insistence on concluding a treaty with East and West Germany by the end of the year.
With the crisis apparently defused, the U.S. troops moved to Berlin earlier will return to their prior stations.
Russian Roulette by Eric Lipps
A tentative agreement on a formula for a negotiated settlement regarding access right and recognition of the boundaries of the two Germanies will be reached on November 9.

It will not be enough to satisfy Kennedy's critics, who will continue to accuse the President of weakness in dealing with the Soviets. Kennedy's position is not helped by the fact that the Berlin wall remains in place.

Neither, however, is that of Premier Khrushchev. Hard-liners within the Politburo are furious with him for, as they see it, caving in to Kennedy on the treaty issue. Elements of the Soviet Communist Party and the Red Army begin scheming to overthrow Khrushchev and replace him with someone more to their liking who will 'stand up to the American imperialists.'

On this day in 1971, BBC News, making one of its final broadcasts before it went off the air forever, announced that Prime Minister Ted Heath had died of a stroke the previous night.

 -

The stress of trying to hold his country and government together in the face of the China virus pandemic had been too much for him to take; his death would in turn shatter Great Britain as a country by opening a political vacuum that proved impossible to fill as the pandemic decimated what was left of the British political elite. By early November London and Manchester would become ghost towns as their last human inhabitants either succumbed to the virus or fled to the countryside in a desperate last-ditch effort to avoid being infected.

Also on this day in 1971 Islamic extremists assassinated Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy in Tripoli. Khadafy was one of a half-dozen Middle East heads of state to become casualties of the China virus pandemic and its resulting erosion of human civilization; Egyptian president Anwar Sadat died of the virus two weeks before Khadafy's assassination, and within month after Khadafy died King Hussein of Jordan would be lynched by angry mobs who blamed him for an outbreak of the virus in Amman. By early 1972 the leaders of Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia would all be overthrown and the Shah of Iran would commit suicide.

On this day in 2010, Cuban president Raul Castro declared that his country stood firmly behind Venezuela in Hugo Chavez's showdown with the McCain Administration over Guyana.

Raul Castro
Raul Castro - Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez
Obergruppenfuhrer

On this day in 1944, Allied forces in Germany took Dortmund and reached the outskirts of Munster.

During the fall of Dortmund a senior SS officer, Obergruppenfuhrer und General der Waffen-SS Felix Steiner was captured by American advance troops.

Obergruppenfuhrer - Felix Steiner
Felix Steiner
Soviet Premier

On this day in 1941, Soviet ruler Ivan Konev declared victory in the Second Battle of Kursk.

Soviet Premier - Ivan Konev
Ivan Konev
In 888, Tomas de Torquemada launched his Inquisatores, bent on bringing Espagne back to the infidel Christians. His torturers killed many of the faithful Muslim peasants in their limpieza de sangre (cleanliness of blood) movement. They were finally halted when Torquemada was executed in 904; Allah is merciful.


October 16

In 1854, Irish revolutionary hero Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland.

Feasting with PanthersThroughout his short life, he fought the reactionary forces of the United Kingdom and worked to secure the freedom of Ireland from its oppressors. He is mainly responsible for the fiery writings that drove Irish-Americans to support the Irish People's Army with their dollars and with their political influence. The Soviet States (then United States) of America joined the cry of their comrades across the sea in fighting for the freedom of the Irish people due in large part to Wilde's writing.

He was executed by the crown for a laundry list of mostly bogus crimes in 1900, including debt, homosexuality, sedition, murder and rape; but his spirit lives on.

In 1793, former Queen of France Marie Antoinette was pardoned by the revolutionary committee controlling France. An article from our Happy Endings thread.

Happy Endings 36:
The pardon of Marie Antoinette
The debate as to her fate was the central question of the National Convention after Louis's death. There were those who had been advocating her death for some time, while some had the idea of exchanging her for French prisoners of war or for a ransom from the Holy Roman Emperor. Thomas Paine advocated exile to America. Starting in April, however, a Committee of Public Safety was formed, and men such as Jacques H&eeacute;bert were beginning to call for Antoinette's trial; by the end of May, the Girondins had been chased out of power and arrested. Other calls were made to "retrain" the Dauphin, to make him more pliant to revolutionary ideas. This was carried out when the eight-year-old boy Louis Charles was separated from Antoinette on 3 July, and given to the care of a cobbler. On 1 August, she herself was taken out of the Tower and entered into the Conciergerie as Prisoner No. 280. Despite various attempts to get her out, such as the Carnation Plot in September, Marie Antoinette refused when the plots for her escape were brought to her attention.

Fortunately, her sentence was lessoned because it is discovered that she is pregnant; since her husband, King Louis, had been executed some 9 months prior, she confessed that she has been having an affair with her guard in order to secure better treatment. On her release, she is married to the guard, and lives the rest of her life in mild seclusion in Paris.

In 1834, from his location on the south bank of the River Thames, the celebrated English painter J.M.W. Turner sketched the burning Houses of Parliament.

Burning of the Houses of ParliamentThe summer had been unusually hot [1] and the Thames and many of its urban tributaries were overflowing with sewage. Consequently, the warm weather had encouraged bacteria to thrive and the resulting smell was so overwhelming that it affected the work of the House of Commons. Countermeasures had even included draping curtains soaked in chloride of lime.

It was hoped that heavy rain might finally ended the heat and humidity of summer and close-off the immediate crisis of the "Great Stink". But when the temperature rose further, matters became intolerable and members considered relocated upstream to Hampton Court and the law courts were evacuated to Oxford and St Albans.

A House of Commons select committee was appointed to report on the Stink and recommend how to end the problem. But the wider consideration of the fire hazard entered the deliberations, and it was decided to abandon the premises. And two months later, the buildings were burnt to the ground. This disaster presented an opportunity for new thinking, to build a forum for London (later known as the Metropolitan Board of Works) based upon an amphitheatre that could adequately seat all members [2]. But instead the development of the first local government entity for London away from the permanent national seat in Hampton Court would have long-term implications for the devolution of power. Because the assembly would be built upon the old site of the Palace of Westminster on the north bank of the Thames. The implications of this location came into sharp contest with the failed attempt to close the Greater London Council in the early 1980s [3].

In 456 AD, on this day Emperor Avitus was extremely fortunate to retain the mastery of the Western Roman Empire by securing Visigoth assistance to defeat Magister militum Ricimer at Piacenza.

Visigoth Relief at PiacenzaIt was a remarkable turnaround because the imperial position had become untenable - after a failed campaign, the Vandals had blockaded Rome. But fortunately for Avitus, King Theodoric had recently returned from his own campaign in Spain [1] and agreed to provide Visigoth reinforcements that saved the City.

A representative of a Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he opposed the reduction of the Western Roman Empire to Italy alone, both politically and from the administrative point of view. For this reason, as Emperor he introduced several Gallic senators in the Imperial administration; this policy, however, was opposed by both the Senatorial aristocracy and by the people of Rome, which had suffered because of the Vandalic sack of the city in 455.

In 1886, leading political officer of the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) David Grün (David Green) was born on this day in Płońsk, Congress Poland.

Cast a Giant ShadowFollowing the assassination of Astrid Pflaume in 1935, he emerged as the de facto leader of the GZR. Under the iron-like grip of his leadership the movement grew even stronger, giving the neo-Nazis little choice but to begin shuttling weapons of the future into the past. And within a decade, the tide had turned and the Zionists were fighting for their lives in a strip of land in Free Poland. Tragically, it was a far cry from his trademark greeting "Next year, in Jerusalem!".

In the Free World, Green was perhaps most famous for the iconic images (pictured) of him serving as a pragmatic mentor to the former United States Army colonel David Daniel "Mickey" Marcus who disobeyed orders from President Lindbergh to assist the GZR during this calamitous period. When he perished in the fall of Warsaw, Green personally wrote the letter of commiserations to his wife in New York City, noting "Emma, he was the best man we had". But against the odds, Green himself survived until December 1973, living to the ripe old age of 87 in Lower East Side New York, not far from the home of the Marcuses.
Part one of the novel can be downloaded here and continues as a thread on this site.

In 1758, on this day the fourth US Attorney General Noah Webster, Jr. was born in West Hartford to an established Yankee family; his father, Noah Sr. was a descendant of Connecticut Governor John Webster; his mother Mercy (née Steele) was a descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Alexander's CourtDuring the American Revolutionary War his studies were interrupted and he served in the Connecticut Militia while reading Law at Yale College. After graduation, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and continued his legal studies under the mentorship of the future Senator and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth. He also adopted a strong political vision in this period of his life.

Although he had married well and joined the elite in Hartford, he did not have much money. But in 1793, his fortunes changed when Alexander Hamilton lent him $1500 to move to New York City to edit the leading Federalist Party newspaper. When Hamilton assumed the Presidency, he naturally chose Webster to succeed Charles Lee as Attorney General. After he leaving office, he would win his mentor's seat and serve for many years as US Senator from Connecticut.

In 1859, on this day a group of raiders led by the Northern abolitionist John Brown seized the coastal fortification located in Charleston Harbor sending the Federal soldiers away in small boats.

Siege of Fort SumterWith merchant shipping diverting to safer ports, the immediate lost of commerce forced the South Carolina Militia to launch a strike on Federal Property that would be viewed as an Act of War by US President Matthew C. Perry.

In fact the complete surprise achieved by the raiders was due to Allan Pinkerton's tight control of operational security. Brought into Brown's confidence as security enforcer, he had soon discovered that the original plan to seize the arsenal at Harper's Ferry had been compromised such that it was unlikely they would achieve their goal of arming freemen and slaves to create a general servile insurrection.

In 1781, on this day seven thousand British soldiers and German Mercenaries under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis pulled off a miraculous escape from the siege of Yorktown by crossing the York River to Gloucester Point where the American line was thinly held.

The World Turned Upside Down The following day the British Commander-in-Chief in North America Sir Henry Ciinton dispatched a reinforced fleet and seven thousand troops from New York. Ordered to the relief of Yorktown, Admiral Graves set off far too late to prevent a British surrender. Because Cornwallis had been besieged by a double concentration of forces comprising George Washington's Continental Army and the French Fleet which was in firm control of the bay.

And when Cornwallis discovered that Clinton had belatedly sent the reinforcements he had requested, he ordered his troops to return to Yorktown and attempt to pull off a remarkable countersiege that might force a decision in the campaign. Because Washington's force of nine thousand Americans and six thousand French troops were numerically outnumbered by the British and Germans. According to Cornwallis' calculations, it might be just enough to turn the world up-side down...

In 37 AD, the Roman Emperor Gaius died on this day. According to historian Philo of Alexandria, only months into his rule, young Emperor Gaius became ill with a terrible fever. The populace of Rome was driven to public mourning at the dark news of their beloved new emperor. After years of heavy taxes and harsh discipline under Tiberius, the young Gaius had been a breath of fresh air.

Emperor Gaius DiesAs soon as he was named emperor, he freed many of Tiberius's captives accused of treason, gave bonuses to the military, and began reforms throughout the empire. He was friendly with his family, such as keeping his oaf uncle Claudius around him despite the man's clear deformities. Gaius even adopted his former co-heir and grandson of Tiberius, Gemellus, as his own son.

Gaius had picked up the nickname "Caligula" from his youth following his father in the German campaigns. He had been given a miniature uniform complete with armor, and the much-amused troops called him "Little Boots". As he had come to adulthood, he had shed the nickname, and only those most disrespectful toward the emperor used it. Instead, the people loved their emperor. When word of his illness spread, people waited patiently every morning outside the palace gate for news. Each day, a black flag was hung to show that he had not yet recovered. Temples were flooded with sacrifices, and well-wishers picketed the palace holding signs that read, "Gods, take my life for his!"

Shortly before his death, Gaius proclaimed his sister Drusilla (with whom there were horrid rumors of incest, but surely only rumors) as heir. When he succumbed to the fever, Drusilla herself announced to the people and proclaimed a week of mourning. Temples were closed, the Senate would not meet, and market days were canceled. During this time, Drusilla worked to secure her position. Rome had never had an empress or queen, and when the Senate reconvened, there would be much intrigue against her. Instead, she pushed political maneuvering so that she would step aside from direct rule (though inheriting great wealth), which would set up Gemellus as emperor. The grandson of Tiberius was much lauded, though few knew anything about him. He had been kept distant from the rest of the highly political family; his coming of age ceremony had not even been celebrated until he turned 18, four years after it should have. Gemellus was not much used to attention and fell on the support of many advisers. They pulled his attention in many different directions, and it was Drusilla who kept him most in power. Upon her death of fever, like her brother, in the spring of 38, Gemellus became something of a rubber stamp.

The weak emperor led a push from the Senate for a return to the Republic. Seneca, one of their leaders, conducted a plan where Gemellus cut back on the payment of soldiers while Senate bills began to grant bonuses. With the army's loyalty changed to the Senate, the senators began to strip his powers, breaking the rule of imperator into the many offices it had been before Julius and Augustus had collected them. Taxes notoriously increased to pay for the growing bureaucracy, causing people to wish again for the rule of the lost Gaius, which caused Gemellus to make a sudden push to retake power. The political maneuver failed, and Gemellus was stripped of his final title, the family name Caesar, and made senator in a bill to reestablish rule by many.

With its focus of power upon internal affairs, the empire began to disintegrate. Britons remained independent when many in Rome felt a single campaign could take hold of the whole island. Conquered German barbarians from the north declared an end to their tribute, and the Senate debated the issue to death. War in the east allowed the Parthians to march into Roman Syria, which finally spurred action from the General Titus, son of General Vespasian who had helped defend the border from Briton raids. After years of fighting, Titus made great demands on the Roman coffers if he were to win this war, and the Senate instead opted to sue for peace. Armenia was granted to the Parthians, and Titus set about building forts in the east to protect Asia Minor as well as the Judaeans, who had held close to Rome in fear of Parthian invasion. Over the next few generations, the Jews would rebel as well, winning their freedom and reestablishing Judaean kings.

Rome would decline, breaking off piecemeal as a province became unprofitable with defense outgrowing taxes and income. Germans expanded through Europe, as did the Huns, and later Arabs arising from the Middle East. When the German horde began to encroach into Italy itself, the Romans turned back to their old system of dictators in time of troubles, electing the famous Constantine to defend the city. Constantine would manage to secure the oldest provinces, but much of the rest of the empire had already fallen. Instead, he consolidated and fortified Italy, which would remain a united force through the Middle Ages. Because of his fanatical support of Christianity, it would be dubbed the "Holy Roman Empire".

In 1979, on this day disgraced ex-KGB chief Yuri Andropov died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 65. Since being sacked five years earlier in the aftermath of the Harold Wilson assassination, he had fallen into a steady, irreversible mental and physical decline; the post-mortem autopsy on Andropov turned up substantial amounts of alcohol in his system, confirming long-held suspicions that he had been drinking illicit home-brewed vodka on a daily basis for most of the time he was confined at the Siberian labor camp to which he'd been exiled since his dismissal as KGB chairman.

The demise of a disgraced spychiefAlthough manufacturing bootleg liquor had officially been prohibited in Soviet labor camps for decades, unofficially Andropov's jailers had long since turned a blind eye to his drinking.

A new installment in Necessary EvilVery little mention of Andropov's death was made in the state-controlled Soviet media, but it got considerable press coverage in the West-- particularly in the United States, where veteran CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite called it "a potential turning point in the history of Russia". Cronkite was more accurate than he realized; even as arrangements were being made for Andropov's funeral, the ideological disputes that had been roiling the CPSU's upper echelons behind closed doors in the five years since the Soviet intel network in Great Britain collapsed were reaching heights not seen in Russia since the Trotsky-Stalin struggle for the right to succeed Vladimir Lenin as CPSU leader following Lenin's death in 1924. And outside the Kremlin walls, a political reform movement whose ranks included nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov and agriculture official Mikhail Gorbachev was gaining traction among the increasingly discontented Soviet masses.


The repercussions of the CPSU's internal crisis weren't confined to the Soviet Union's borders; in Cuba, Fidel Castro grumbed about deep cuts in Soviet aid to Havana, while in Afghanistan a largely Islamic insurgency was threatening the survival of the Soviet-backed Marxist regime in Kabul. Two of the USSR's foremost Warsaw Pact allies, East Germany and Hungary, were sufficiently concerned about what was going on in the Kremlin that they were contemplating an action which under other circumstances would have been unthinkable: pulling out of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Moscow. Last but not least, a nervous Chinese government had placed its Siberian border defenses on full alert, understandably worried the turmoil racking its Soviet neighbor might sooner or later spill over onto China's own soil.

In 1943, from Liechtenstein where he was receiving the protection of the Third Reich, Pope Pius XII issued an offer to the Western Allies to serve as a peace mediator in forthcoming negotiations.

Save the Pope!The text of the declaration made it clear that Stalin rather than Hitler was the enemy of the Church, emphasising that the Holy Pontiff was understandably keen to prevent Europe falling into the hands of the Soviets after an Axis Defeat. There was some logic to this position, because Rome itself was now in the hands of the Communists who had seized power when Marshall Badoglio and King Victor Immanual III had fled the city following the ouster of Mussolini.

A rather different story emerged after the war. Soldiers of the 8th Division of the SS Florian Geyer Cavalary had launched a night attack on the Vatican disguised in Italian uniforms. Troops of Herman Göring's panzer division had then surged into the Vatican to "rescue" the Pope. Various documents had also been seized, enabling the Füehrer to establish leverage over the Pope. One of those documents would cause the Vatican much trouble long after both Hitler and Stalin were both dead.

In 1859, on this day a company of US Marines intercepted a hijacked Baltimore & Ohio train in West Virginia. Onboard was a stolen cache of weapons which had been seized from the United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry by a band of murderous abolitionists. Their leader, "Captain" John Brown (pictured, left) advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end slavery, having led the infamous Pottawatomie Massacre at "Bleeding Kansas".

All Change on the Baltimore & Ohio ExpressDuring the fierce fire fight that ensued, Brown and his two sons Owen and Oliver were all killed.

Modern history would malign the anti-hero of Harper's Ferry as a demented dreamer, a special category of terrorists reserved for the likes of Timothy McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden. Because an African-American baggage handler on the train named Hayward Shepherd had confronted the raiders but was rescued by the timely intervention of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry (pictured, right).

The brave rescue of a freed slave made Lee a national hero, and the award of a Badge of Military Merit doubtless influenced his later decision to accept the command of Union forces during the brief War of the States in 1861-2.

In his memoirs, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged that Lee's style of audacious military leadership had saved the lives of a great many peace-loving Americans. Because at Bull Run, Lee forced an early, decisive battlefield victory over the Confederate Army in northern Virginia by appointing a like-minded subordinate who seized the armoury at Harper's Ferry.

In 2001, on this day Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) was rushed to Walter Reed Hospital after a letter he had opened was found to have contained anthrax spores.

Anthrax kills Daschle by Eric LippsEmergency treatment failed to stem the development of the disease, and on Oct. 23, 2001, Daschle died. The tragedy exacerbated partisan tensions in Washington, D.C., already high despite calls for unity from leaders of both parties in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The situation was not helped when it developed that several other senators, all Democrats, had apparently been targeted as well, though the quick lockdown of twelve Senate offices apparently prevented the anthrax letters addressed to them from reaching their intended victims.

Interparty paranoia would hobble efforts to enact antiterrorist legislation and would put President George W. Bush on the defensive. When in October 2003 he sought authority for military action against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, that division would lead to the defeat of the war powers resolution he had asked for.

In 1962, on Tuesday Morning, October 16 the group later to be known as "Ex Comm" (the Executive Committe of the National Security Council) met in the Cabinet Room at the White House.Second Cuban Fiasco, Part Two
Robert F. Kennedy recalled "At 11.45 .. a formal presentation was made by the Central Intelligence Agency to a number of high officals of the government. Photographs were shown to us. Experts arrived with their charts and their pointers and told us this if we looked carefully, we could see there was a missile base being constructed in a field near San Cristobal, Cuba.

I, for one, had to take their word for it. I examined the pictures carefully, and what I saw appeared to be no more than the clearing of a field for a farm or the basement of a house .. this was the same reaction of virtually everyone at the meeting, including President Kennedy.

I passed a note to the President: "I now know how Tojo felt when he was planning Pearl Harbour". ~ Thirteen Days - A Memoir of the Second Cuban Fiasco by former Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy (1969)

"In San Cristobel, America saw a vast conspiracy against itself". ~ Foreword to the Memoir by former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara

"Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John McCone released reports from agents within Cuba indicating the presence of missiles in September 1962. Most of the reports were false, we heard later in a post mortem study. The air strikes were ordered on the basis of misinformation, there were no Soviet missiles in Cuba". ~ Foreword to the Memoir by John F. Kennedy, former US President.

Continued from Part One.

In 1946, on this day ten war criminals of the Second World War, condemned in the Nuremberg trials are hanged.

An immense debtThe eleventh criminal, a First World War flying ace, escapes the hangman's noose by obtaining cyanide which had likely been hidden among his personal effects when they were confiscated by the Army.

In 2005, a former Army private claimed he gave medicine hidden inside a gift fountain pen from a German woman the private had met and flirted with. The pen was used for a two sentence suicide note "I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier. In spite of all that happened at Hamburg, bombing proved a relatively humane method". Signed Arthur Travers Harris, RAF Bomber Command.

By the reckoning of the German historian Jörg Friedrich around 600,000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, including 76,000 German children. "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, most of medieval origin, you do something to the cultural identity of a people". he said.

In 1951, the political tensions which had been mounting in Spain since the Bellus-Zyra disater reached the boiling point when Francisco Franco was assassinated at a Falangist youth rally in Cadiz.

 - General Franco
General Franco

The dictator was shot and killed by one of his own bodyguards, who in turn died at the hands of a lynch mob of enraged Franco loyalists; within a week of the assassination pro-Falangist and anti-Falangist militias would be skirmishing with each other as Spain was plunged into civil war for the second time in fifteen years.

This day also marked a tragic postscript to the Watts riots in Los Angeles as National Guard patrols in South Central LA found the body of budding actress Marilyn Monroe in the rubble of an abandonded grocery; Monroe, who had made her cinematic debut the previous year with the drama All About Eve, was reported missing after she didn't return home from a volunteering stint at a Red Cross station in the heart of the Watts district. A post-mortem coroner's exam concluded -- and investigation by LAPD detectives confirmed --that Monroe had died while defending herself against a pack of looters. Two weeks after her body was discovered, her suspected killers were arrested in East L.A. on an unrelated charge.

On this day in 1969, Apollo 6 successfully carried out the second lunar landing in the history of the American space program.

 -

On this day in 1941, the Wehrmacht defenses at Kursk collapsed as Red Army cavalry punched through the left flank of the German lines; future military historians would define this moment as the crucial turning point in the Second Battle of Kursk.

Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff - Franz Halder
Franz Halder

Hitler blamed then-German army chief of staff Franz Halder for the collapse and sacked him even though Hitler had repeatedly overruled Halder's strategic recommendations for averting that collapse.

ExComm Meeting

On this day in 1962, a group of White House advisors known as the Executive Committee -- "ExComm" for short -- met with President John F. Kennedy to debrief him on some disquieting news regarding the Soviet presence in Cuba.

Reconnaissance flights over the island had confirmed the presence on Cuban soil not only of Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range nuclear missiles but also of an invasion force numbering close to 100,000 troops.

ExComm Meeting - In Cabinet Office
In Cabinet Office

Both the troop presence and the missile bases constituted a direct violation of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's pledge not to place any offensive weapons in Cuba. A few days later, the CIA would obtain information suggesting that the invasion force's intended landing site was somewhere along the southern tip of Florida.

On this day in 1982, Rocky Johnson & Pedro Morales finally won the WWF world tag team belts from Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito at a WWF live card in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Mr. Saito
Mr. Saito  - Pedro Morales
Pedro Morales
In 1941, on the worst day of the panic in Moscow, an Air Force officer saw Stalin sitting at his desk asking himself again and again, 'What shall we do? What shall we do?' Two days later, the Soviet leader went to the station where his special train was waiting.
In 1914, Belgium leaves the peace talks.
In 1978, Cardinals at the Vatican chose the first non-Italian Pope for more than 400 years. Catholics around the world have been astonished by the choice of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the Archbishop of Krakow. Few people had suggested him as a possible successor to John Paul I, who died last month after just 33 days in office. He is barely known outside his native Poland. After two days and eight votes, the result of the final, conclusive vote giving a two-thirds majority plus one to the Polish bishop was signalled with a plume of white smoke above the roof of the Sistine Chapel, in accordance with ancient tradition. The new Pope, who will be known as John Paul II, is also the youngest this century, at 58 years old. His papacy was cut brutally short in 1981, when a Turkish fanatic, Mehmet al-Agca, shot and seriously wounded him in St Peter's Square.
In 1967, as part of the Stop the Draft Week protests are forming part of a nationwide initiative organised by a group calling itself 'the Resistance'. Rallies across America have taken place in 30 US cities, from Boston to Atlanta, to protest against the continuing war in Vietnam. In Oakland, California, at least 40 anti-war protesters, including the folk singer Joan Baez, were killed when the National Guard storm a sit-in at a military induction centre. As many as 250 demonstrators had gathered to try and prevent conscripts from entering the building when the arrests were made. Detractors of President Barry Goldwater indicated that his draconian measures were in great danger of converging the anti-war and civil rights movement into a popular front.
In 1991, Suzanne Gratia becomes a hero to the NRA and many other like-minded citizens when she guns down a deranged man who had driven his pickup into the restaurant when Gratia and her family were eating. Gratia had taken her pistol with her into the restaurant concealed in his purse; Gratia's heroism led to the repeal of concealed handgun laws in Texas, since her actions were technically illegal at the time.
In 2000, Mel Carnahan, governor of Missouri and candidate for the U.S. Senate, narrowly survived a plane crash while campaigning. Carnahan was knocked out of action long enough for his opponent, Senator John Ashcroft, to gain a crucial advantage and win re-election. It was a bittersweet night for Republicans, though; while they retained control of the Senate, Vice-President Al Gore won election to the Presidency with over 50 million votes, the most votes a Democratic candidate had ever received.
In 1964, Soviet leader Georgy Melenkov is ousted by Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin. The harsh Stalinist rule of Melenkov had pushed the Soviet Union to the brink of another revolution, which Brezhnev and Kosygin were unwilling to allow. Over the next few years, The two worked out an arrangement where Brezhnev controlled foreign matters and Kosygin controlled domestic. This lasted until Brezhnev's death in 1981, when Kosygin briefly assumed full control of the Soviet Union until his death the following year.
In 1951, the future Reverend Richard Penniman recorded the gospel tune, How Great Thou Art at a studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Penniman had been tempted to join a rock and roll band, ironically enough, before choosing the path of the Lord in his music. He was later instrumental in getting rock and roll banned in California.
In 1946, blonde sexpot Suzanne Mahoney of Charlie's Angels fame was born in San Bruno, California. Mahoney played the blonde member of the trio, Jill Munroe, and used the part to promote her modeling career. After leaving the series in the 4 season, she studied drama and made a name for herself in later life in such gripping family dramas as The Burning Bed.
In 1758, Nouh Webstir, grate reformir uv thee Eenglish laingwige, wuz born in Hartfird, Koneticut.


October 15

In 1066, on this day the Anglo-Saxon Ruling Council known as the Witenagemot proclaimed Edgar the Ætheling King of England.

Edgar the AEtheling proclaimed King of EnglandBut the establishment of his rule was soon threatened by the late Harold's brother Wulfnoth Godwinson who having escaped from France [1] would decamp near London and begin to assemble his own forces of arms.

Nevertheless it was something of an unpleasant shock for the quarrelling English when the real threat emerge - an invasion by the exiled elder brother Sweyn Godwinson who had just gotten rid of his major Scandinavian rival Harold Hardrade.

And so Edgar and Wulfnoth joined forces and marked north to confront their elder brother. Neither of them would return alive, but during the short interregnum Edgar had conceived a child that would transform the fortunes of the House of Wessex and the young English nation.

In 1915, on this day an incomparable commander of the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) Icchak Jaziernicky was born in the predominantly Jewish village of Ruzhany in the Russian Empire.

A Thorn that Stabs
An installment from "Elders of the Protocols of Zion"
He was the son of Perla and Shlomo the co-owners of a leather factory. Tragically, both of his parents died during the Holocaust. His father was stoned to death just outside his birthplace by Poles who had been his childhood friends, after he had escaped from a German train transporting Jews to the death camps. His mother and a sister died in the camps and another sister was shot dead.

After studying at a Hebrew high school network in Bialystok, and while he was still as a youth, he joined the Greater Zionist Resistance (GZR) movement. He later adopted as his surname the name he used on a forged underground identity card, Shamir meaning a thorn that stabs.

The GZR had recently lost their inspirational leader Astrid Pflaume and the conventional war with the New Reich was going very badly indeed. Shamir could see that to win, the GZR needed to fundamentally change the nature of the struggle, and he forced the organization to accept a primary strategy of terrorism instead of all-out battlefield confrontation which the Zionists could never win. To prove his point, he used high explosives to devasting effect, blowing up the Polish foreign minister, a lousy anti-semite called Beck. And then six months later, the greatest prize of all, detonating a bomb that blew up a trestle underneath a train carrying Adolf Hitler.

Unbeknown to the GZR, the neo-Nazis from 1968 had actually steered the crazed Führer away from the levers of power. But the elevation of Herr Garbitch, Reichsmarshal Goering caused endless problems that set the New Reich back years.

Against the odds he died peacefully in his bed at the ripe old age of ninety-six.
All of Robbie Taylor's novels are available for download at Amazon.

In 1581, just when it appeared that science and magic were set to diverge, the English arch-conjuror John Dee (pictured) invented the scrying mirror.

Breakthrough in MortlakeHaving turned towards the supernatural as a means to acquire knowledge, he had sought to contact angels through the use of a "scryer" or crystal-gazer which would act as an intermediary between Dee and the angels. Despite the initial skepticism in Catholic quarters, the device was convincingly demonstrated to the crowned heads of Europe.

And despite the fact that it was later destroyed by religious authorities, the scientific students of crystallmancy have subsequently determined that although images do not actually appear in the crystal itself, the featureless interior of the stone facilitates the crystal-gazer in clearing his/her mind of distractions so that future truths or events will become known to them. Right until his death in 1609, Dee maintained that the communication itself was conducted in the Enochian Language, a claim which appeared to be supported by his contribution to the enciphered Book of Soyga and of course the Voynich Manuscript.
To be continued in this thread.

In 1981, on this day the Nobel Peace Prize was posthumously awarded to Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley the chief advocate of the "One Love" healing in the community programme that rescued Great Britain's inner cities from the widespread ethnic violence that Enoch Powell had incorrectly predicted in his apocalyptic "Rivers of Blood" speech. Click to listen to Bob Marley & the Wailers

One LoveBecause of his mixed racial ancestry, he suffered prejudice as a youth and indeed faced questions about his own ethnic identity throughout his short life. His father Norval Sinclair Marley was a caucasian-Jamaican of English descent. A captain in the Royal Marines, as well as a plantation overseer, he married Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican then eighteen years old.

Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them before dying of a heart attack when Bob was only ten years old. Plunged into poverty, he almost starved to death in Trenchtown but for the charity of Tarter's household kitchen. His fortunes improved moderately, and as a young man, he managed to board a vessel bound for London, arriving at a dangerous time when British public opinion had turned against unchecked immigration from the Commonwealth.

The first wave of Jamaican immigrants had actually set sail on the Empire Windrush in 1948 as a result of an advertisement appearing in a Jamaican newspaper offering cheap transport for anybody who wanted to come and work in the UK. Onboard were Jamaican RAF pilots who numbered amongst "The Few" having fought bravely in the Battle of Britain when it looked like a sudden influx of German immigrants was very much on the cards. But by the time Bob Marley arrived in London twenty year later, this warm gratitude had dissipated, and right-wing mainstream politicians such as Enoch Powell were talking seriously about large-scale population displacements in a manner not entirely dissimiliar from the would-be Nazi assailants of 1940.

Only weeks later, the England Cricket Selectors picked Basil D'Oliveira. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, he was classified as "coloured" under the apartheid regime, and hence barred from first-class cricket. South African prime minister BJ Vorster had already made it clear that D'Oliveira's inclusion was not acceptable and despite many negotiations the tour of South Africa was cancelled. In a suitable reposte to both Powell and Vorster, four white South African cricketers (Eddie Barlow, Mike Proctor, Graham Pollock and Barry Richards) joined the great West Indian batsman Gary Sobers in conducting a rebel "Rest of the World" tour of England, demonstrating that they had absolutely no issue in sharing a dressing room with a black man.

This sporting development led to a new breakthough in which Bob Marley organized diverse community football matches, initially throughout London and Birmingham (pictured). It was the spark of his "One Love" community programme that would transform the nation into the enlightened modern multiracial society that we enjoy today.

Taken from us at the young age of just thirty six, it was typical of Marley that for a man given every reason to nurture racial hatred, he left this world with nothing but love and peace.

In 1950, despite the prediction of an easy victory without Chinese intervention given at their Wake Island Conference, U.S. President Harry S. Truman rejected General Douglas MacArthur's brilliant but reckless plans for a conclusive invasion of North Korea.

Wide AwakeThe stunning success of the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter had turned into a rout and very soon UN Forces had reached the 38th paralell, effectively liberating South Korea. Truman now faced a ruthless executive decision. His calculations were based on opinion polls which revealed that 65 percent of Americans favoured US intervention and yet 57 percent also believed that World War Three had begun.

To avoid an escalation in the Far East, Truman had wisely described the intervention as a "police action" in stark contrast to South Korean President Rhee's pre-war belligerent ambition to "march north" and unify the Koreas by force of arms.

"I'll handle the political affairs" ~ Harry TrumanHis doctrine of containment policy in fact required Truman to halt the invasion at the 38th paralell. Hawks seized on this order as a strategic setback pointing to the President's other failures notably "losing China" and "allowing" Soviet spies to steal atomic secrets. MacArthur did not need much support to fuel a firestorm of criticism from anti-communists who saw containment policy as a formula for defeat. A cartoon (pictured) by John Chase caricatured him as commander-in-chief, not qualified to wear MacArthur's hat.

Within two years, Truman would be out of office and asian perimeter defence was no longer his concern. But his adversaries Stalin, Mao and Kim were, and they absolutely refused to accept the existence of a garrisoned client state. Their thoughts now turned to Mao's original idea, to force Chiang Kai-shek out of Taiwan before forcing a decision in Korea.



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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.