In 1880, Jewish-Zionist political activist, theorist and general Ze'ev ("Wolf") Jabotinsky was born Vladimir Yevgenyevich Zhabotinsky on this day in Odessa, Russian Empire.
Jabotinsky's Jewish Army Even before the Second World War broke out, a group of Zionists led by Jabotinsky foresaw the upcoming Holocaust of the Jews. His followers were known as the Revisionists and they proposed practical solutions to fight Hitler but one stands out: a Jewish army on the European continent trained by what would be known as the Allies.
Jabotinsky could have recruited over 250,000 men and had he done so, the Jews could have protected themselves. But the Jewish establishment would not allow him to save Europe's Jews in the manner of his choosing, for example the the World Zionist Organization's chairman, Chaim Weizmann, dismissed his earlier evacuation plan. When Britain and France vote to not support a Jewish army, and America claims its intention to remain clear of any political dealings in Europe, the followers decide to do it on their own.
Moving to Palestine they trained mainly in infantry tactics, although a small air force and armoured forces are created.
In 1898, resistance fighters on the Spanish island of Puerto Rico kill 45 American soldiers attempting to pacify the island.
The pacification of Puerto RicoAlthough Spain has formally ceded the island to the U.S. in order to end the Spanish-American War, Puerto Ricans continue to fight for another 2 years before finally being conquered by the U.S.
In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship and since 1948 have elected their own governor. In 1952 the Constitution of Puerto Rico was adopted and ratified by the electorate. But in paralell, the island becomes a hotbed of anti-American sedition, raising assassins who bomb the Congress and kill President Truman in their quest for freedom.
In 1939, fascist counter-revolutionary Lee Harvey Oswald was born in the Soviet of Texas, in Fort Worth. His father Robert, Sr. died of a heart attack two months prior to Lee's birth.
Birth of Comrade OswaldIn spite of spending part of his youth in the People's Marine Corps, Oswald was seduced by capitalist reactionaries and their influence caused him to assassinate Comrade President Joel Rosenberg in 1962. All available evidence points to him being a lone gunman, but many on the lunatic fringe of society believe he was part of a larger conspiracy.
In 1796, the incomparable First Lady Ann Caroline Buchanan nee Coleman was born on this day in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Undervalued in her lifetime, she nevertheless played a vital role in preventing her husband from bowing to "Southern Fire-eaters" who were intent upon pushing the country towards Civil War.
Happy Endings 27
Birth of Ann Caroline ColemanAlone among her husband's advisors, she proposed a cautious approach to Kansas Statehood ultimately convincing Buchanan to disregard the Lecompton Constitution.
In so doing, he found a powerful ally in Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. They found a compromise in "popular sovereignty" that united the Democrat Party, enabling Douglas to run as Buchanan's Vice President in the 1860 election under a single banner.
Of course matters might have come to a head even earlier if Coleman had not urged Buchanan to intervene in the controversial Dred Scott case. He prevailed upon the Supreme Court, ensuring that a narrow decision prevented the specific circumstances of Scott's case could render the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional. Such a path, like the later crisis in Kansas, could have split the party and perhaps put the country on the road to Civil War.
In 1081, on this day the Normans of southern Italy under Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria were defeated at the gates of Dyrrhachium, the Byzantine capital of Illyria.
Byzantine Victory at the Battle of DyrrhachiumFollowing the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy and Saracen Sicily, the Byzantine emperor, Michael VII Doukas had betrothed his son to Guiscard's daughter. But when Michael was deposed, Robert took this as an excuse to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081.
His army laid siege to Dyrrhachium, but his fleet was defeated by the Venetians. On October 18, the Normans engaged a Byzantine army under Alexius I Comnenus outside Dyrrhachium. The battle began with the Byzantine right wing routing the Norman left wing, which broke and fled. This introduced an unexpected new danger of separation because Varangian mercenaries launched an ill-disciplined pursuit of the fleeing Normans, but fortunately Commanders Alexius I Comnenus and George Palaeologus were able to rein them in and restore order to the Byzantine Army.
In 1919, on this day Pierre Elliott Trudeau was born in Montreal, Quebec.
Trudeaumania LiteHis predecessor Lester B. Pearson brought him into the centre of Federal Government to serve as a "Wise Man" during the development of the Quebec Crisis. But he did far more than participate in the national debate, he used his base in Montreal to seize control of the Liberal Party and emerged as a controversial, charismatic leader, inspiring "Trudeaumania". He served as the fifteen Prime Minister of Canada for eleven years until he met his nemesis at the ballot box.
Because by the later seventies, a formidable rival appeared in the form of Peter Lougheed. As the Premier of Alberta, he was hugely reluctant to leave regional politics, but was persuaded by the party base to enter the race and succeed Robert Stanfield when he stood down in 1976. Gifted with charisma, he had become regional leader in 1967, going on to win a majority government in 1971, ending 36 years of unbroken Socred rule in the province. And as the national leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party he won a landslide victory at the 1979 election, and Trudeau's career came to an abrupt end. Because within a year, Quebec voted for secession and Trudeaumania became a distant memory.
In 1956, on this day British Prime Minister Anthony Eden was informed that Hungarian Premier Imre Nagy had secretly request refuge at Harmincad utca 6, the address of the British Embassy in Budapest.
Conjoined Crisis Part 1
Imre Nagy requests refugeAs the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary, he was locked in a power struggle with the Kremlin, and it appeared that his determined opposition to Soviet-imposed policies had ended in failure. He might have expected a sympathetic hearing from the British Government, but there was a major problem that he knew absolutely nothing about. That was that the British Government had secretly signed an agreement with France and Israeli to imminently seize the Suez Canal, and if necessary, eject the troublesome Egyptian President Abdul Gamel Nasser from power.
Therefore, Eden was suddently presented with both a threat, and also an opportunity. Should he assist Nagy, then of course he would be openly accused of the basest of hypocrisy, because his own regime-changing imperial belligerence would appeare so similiar to the Soviets. Because a non-response was itself inconceivable, members of the secret service were pressing him to make the most of this situation by opening negotiations with the Soviets, essentially to betray Nagy in exchange for non-interference in Egpyt. This deal was sweetened as a spheres of influence paradigm, Middle East vs Central Europe and initially, Eden seemed quite opened to such a suggestion.
An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.
In 1941, on this day fortunes in the decade-long Great Patriotic War unexpectedly swung in favour of the armed Russian Partisans when a Luftwaffe Heinkel bomber operating east of Moscow scored a direct hit on the special train carrying the hopelessly incompetent Soviet leadership out of the abandoned capital.
Tipping PointThree days before the expectation that the Wehrmacht would enter the city had thrown the Capital into panic. By then not only had Stalin himself been forced to accept the view of the Muscovite population, but he had been infected by their panic, sitting at his desk in the Kremlin asking himself again and again, "What shall we do? What shall we do?".
Even though the war with Germany was no surprise to Stalin, he had no answer to this rhetorical question. Instead he signalled that all was lost by boarding a special train two days later, surely a cruel metaphor of the reversal of Soviet fortune. And a contrasting mirror image of the triumphant arrival in St Peterberg, which Stalin himself acknowledged with his bitter parting words, "Lenin left us a great legacy, and we have f*cked it up".
In contrast, as the Wehrmacht occupied the major urban centres east of the Volga, Hitler was triumphant, having every reason to believe that he had defeated the Soviet Union. Although the Red Army had ceased to offer any centralised organized resistance, in the mountains of the North Caucasus and the forests of Russia, Belorussia and the Ukraine, armed partisan groups soon began to form. By the following summer the Wehrmacht would be fighting a vicious guerrilla war against a new and insiduous enemy which roamed across the terrifying vastness of German-Occupied Russia.
In 1912, on this day Serbia refuses to yield in Albania. With the growth of nationalism in the course of the nineteenth century, ancient empires began to split along the seams of peoples that had been stitched together by rule of force for centuries.
Serbia Refuses to Yield in Albania The Holy Roman Empire had disintegrated, much of it becoming reborn as the German Empire. Italy reunited after some 1500 years since the Romans. Later, in the Balkans, the various peoples of the mountainous peninsula began to erupt against centuries-long Ottoman domination.
"Nations like Romania and Serbia had successfully broken away from the Ottomans, while the neighboring empire of the Austrian-Hungarians had pushed administration upon Bosnia-Herzegovina to bring it to a more European rule. Bulgaria stood ready to unite the Bulgars under their Tsar Ferdinand, having set up a state of their own in 1878.
The "Great Powers" of Europe, the dominant empires in the world, scanned the political situation and waiting for opportunities to conduct influence toward their goals. Russia stood ready to expand into a pan-Slavic rule, uniting the Balkans under their sphere and gaining significant ports. Austria-Hungary wanted to keep the balance with the Ottomans, using them as a pendulum to guide Serbian nationalism away from imperial lands. Germany and France both wanted influence in the eastern Mediterranean, the former with the Ottomans as a puppet state and the latter with political control in the Levant.
Modernist thought struck the Ottoman Empire at home with the Young Turk movement pushing a new constitution in 1908. Struggles between Bulgarian/Greek freedom fighters and the Ottoman army in Macedonia had continued since 1904, but now was the time for action. Bulgaria named its tsar, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Italy began the path for victory in the Italo-Turkish War in 1911, gaining much of the Ottoman Mediterranean territories.
In 1912, war would spread like plague through Eastern Europe. With the Turks falling to Italian forces, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro rose up as the Balkan League. Austria-Hungary was uncomfortable at seeing their counterpart begin to fall and hoped to reign in the battles by declaring an ultimatum against Serbian troops that had pushed south into Albania. The Serbs reportedly "spat" at the ultimatum and continued their liberation and division of Balkan territory among the League.
German Kaiser Wilhelm II had vowed support to Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and, with such imperial clout, the Austrians joined the Balkan War against the League. In response, the Russians excitedly went to war in support of the League they had helped establish. France and Britain both took up neutral positions despite France's longtime alliance with Russia and Britain's not-so-secret unease at any Russian expansion, which had been seen in the Crimean War only decades before.
In the German Imperial War Council of December 8, it was realized that the fitness of the German army was not what the Kaiser had hoped, and victory would not be quick. The Austrians found themselves simply holding fronts against Russia and the Balkan League. While the first two years of war were grim, Germany and Austria arose in 1914 with a huge military push through Poland. Russians pursued scorched earth, but the speed of the German army checked their age-old tactic. Hundreds of thousands of Russians would die as the Germans marched toward Moscow before the Czar called for armistice.
In the south, Austria found itself stretched and finally broken. The empire collapsed into anarchy that even anti-Serbian sentiment could not resolve. At the Treaty of London in 1917, a new eastern Europe was drawn up. Many new nations stood independent: Albania, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Belorussia, and Lithuania. Much weakened, Russia erupted into civil war between Communist and Tsarist factions that lasted until foreign Allied troops settled the matter in the favor of the Tsar in 1919, with the new independent nation of Ukraine being founded. The Ottoman Empire, too, would succumb to the rash of revolution through the 1920s that were said to be akin to those of the 1790s and 1840s. Nationalism broke up the empire, which caused the Great Powers to grab influence in the Middle East where they could.
The twentieth century would see effective reform of the imperial system, guaranteeing more social rights, but the overall rule of monarchs balancing one another continued. Some said that the settling of the Eastern Question saved the kings of Europe, but many historians scoff at the idea of a war so vicious that it would cause the end of constitutional monarchy as Europe's inherent political system.
In 1963, on this day at the sixtieth International Olympic Committee Session in Baden-Baden, West Germany, Detroit finished ahead of bids from Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Lyon to host the Games of the XIX Olympiad.
Watch The Detroit You've Never Met on Youtube
Blind PigsThe contrived image of a multi-ethnic metropolis of brotherhood was shattered by the deadliest and most destructive riots in American history occurring less than twelve months before the opening ceremony was scheduled to begin.
The precipitating event began on the corner of 12th and Clairmount streets when police raided an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a "blind pig" in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967. The violence escalated immediately as the police initiated confrontations with patrons and also observers.
The African American State Senator Coleman A. Young arrived in the city's Near West Side hoping to reduce tensions on both sides by serving as an arbitrator. Suggested by Stéphane DumasMeanwhile, higher authorities had already disregarded peaceful solutions and determined that force was required. Accordingly, Governor George Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in the Army.
The tragic result was forty-three dead (including Coleman A. Young), 467 injured, over 7200 arrests, and more than 2000 buildings destroyed. The riot was prominently featured in the news media, with live television coverage, extensive newspaper reporting, and extensive stories in Time and Life magazines.
In 2009, on this day a tense seventy-hour hostage situation in the Canadian capital city ended with the bloody climax predicted by the residents of Toronto.
The War on Terror Plus, Part 5 - "Dalton Day" CrisisWith the provincial government's expenditure running over $22bn over budget, Premier Dalton McGinty had been forced to introduce the unpaid public sector worker days that had been the subject of intense controversty for many years. These "Dalton Days" had fuelled an unprecedent strike of public sector workers, leaving government facilities in a state of absolute chaos. And during the third Dalton Day, terrorists had seized key buildings, taking terrorists and threatening to explode a radiological dirty-bomb.
Elements of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command utilised robot technology that had been field-tested in the wilds of Kandahar province and seen mostly recently in action after a "nuclear suitcase" incident in Downtown Toronto.
Trade Unionists supported the pacifist view that it was the country's very involvement in the "Global War on Terror" that invited these attacks into Canadian soil. The extent to which Canada has expanded overseas military operations in recent year is evident from the greatest deployment of reserve forces since World War II. A further expansion in "homeland security and defence" funding is considered certain due to the new threats from Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear weapons combined with the political leadership's desire to gain the respect due to a "middle power" with aggressive moves in the North Pole.
The belligerence of Canadian Foreign Policy is in sharp contrast to the broad sweep of national history. During the middle years of the twentieth century, enlightened politicians such as Lester B. Pearson marginalised British imperialism during the Suez Crisis and also foiled the attempt to grant independence to White Rhodesia. Ironically, it seems likely that during a period of alignment with the new Western imperialists, Canada might weaken ties with the United Kingdom by leaving the Commonweath and declaring a Republic.
In 2009, on this day US President John S. McCain awarded a $1bn no-bid contract to the private military company Blackwater Worldwide.Dropping in to Darfur
Doubts had been raised by members of the US Congress that Blackwater employees actually were "loyal Americans" and not mercenaries in the employ of a foreign government; in fact, hard evidence had emerged of Chilean soldiers fighting in Iraq, formerly trained by Augustus Pinochet's murderous regime. Nevertheless, the President had received sufficient confidence from assurances provided by founder and sole owner, Mr Erik. D Prince following Controversy and criticism of the 100,000 privately managed, armed security contractors working in Iraq.
Speaking at Lafayette Park, across from the White House McCain put a positive spin on the announcement. America, said McCain, had a long tradition of hiring private military contractors to achieve national security. Pointing to the inscription under the statue of Wilhelm von Steuben, the President recounted how the Prussian General trained George Washington's troops at Valley Forge, Pa.:
"He gave military training and discipline to the citizen soldiers who achieved the independence of the United States".
Vice Chairman and former CIA Counterterroism Chief J. (Joseph) Cofer Black had acted in a key brokerage role to secure the no-bid contract - using his rolodex of government contacts to convince the Administration that only Blackwater had the necessary resources for the operation they had in mind. In March 2006 Black allegedly suggested at an international conference in Amman, Jordan, that Blackwater USA was ready to move towards providing security professionals up to brigade size for humanitarian efforts and low intensity conflicts. It would appear that Mr Prince would now need to deliver on some of his earlier rhetoric about creating a private battalion that could be dropped into a trouble spot anywhere around the world (Darfur was expressly mentioned by Mr Prince).
In reality, American involvement in Darfur had been likely ever since the group "Human Rights First" claimed that over 90% of the light weapons currently being imported by Sudan and used in the conflict were from China. Likely became inevitable with the emergence of further evidence of the Sudanese government's murder of civilians to actually facilitate the extraction of oil. The U.S.-funded Civilian Protection Monitoring Team, which investigated attacks in southern Sudan during 2008 concluded that "as the Government of Sudan sought to clear the way for oil exploration and to create a cordon sanitaire around the oil fields, vast tracts of the Western Upper Nile Region in southern Sudan became the focus of extensive military operations".
Ironically, the announcement concluded a six year period of demonstration against Western Governments who stood accused of blind-folding (pictured) themselves to the human tragedies resulting from the War in Darfur.
On this day in 1951, Francis Urquhart officially filed nomination papers to run for the U.S. Senate in the 1952 Congressional elections.
In 1960, on this day the New York Rangers and a squad of NCAA all-stars held a special exhibition game at Madison Square Garden to raise funds for the families of NYPD officers killed or injured in the Jamaica Bay hurricane; the Rangers won 4-2.
The game was not only a valuable fund-raising tool but also a welcome profit boost for the Garden, which had seen its business cut in half as a result of the storm.
|New York Rangers|
In 1940, on this day the Red Army presented Joseph Stalin with contingency plans for an invasion of German-occupied territory in eastern Europe; it was hoped that the campaign could be started by mid-May of 1941 at the latest.
Since the Nazi defeat at Blackpool, Stalin had become increasingly convinced the Third Reich would eventually collapse and the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact would prove more of a liability than an asset as far as Moscow was concerned.
On this day in 1962, under the guise of training for hurricane relief efforts, units of Florida National Guard were mobilized to support regular US Army troops in defending southern Florida against a possible Soviet invasion.
|In Cabinet Office|
On this day in 1970, the Dallas Cowboys improved to 5-0 with a 54-13 blowout of the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis.
In 4501, actor Min-Hau is born in the Nanking province of the Empire. He is noted for his many portrayals of western barbarians in his work; in fact, in his most controversial play, Sons of the Setting Sun, Min-Hau actually had westerners on stage with him, although none were allowed speaking roles.
In 1926, Charles 'Chuck' Berry is born in St. Louis, Missouri. He is often considered one of the founding fathers of the 'rock and roll' musical style that was such a fad in the 1950's, but like his musical genre, his popularity proved ephemeral, and today is unknown outside of musical academia.
In 1931, Thomas Edison dies. His electrical inventions such as the Eddie, Maggie and electric car revolutionized America and gave it the tools with which to spring forth into the 20th century as the greatest inventive power ever known on earth. President Herbert Hoover called him the greatest American since Thomas Jefferson at his funeral in New Jersey.
In 1926, photographer Charles Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Berry shattered the preconceptions of 1950's America with his stark, black-and-white portraits of life among African-Americans during the period. His pictures and their popularization are often credited with spurring the conscience of the government enough to do something about African-American poverty.
In 2553 AUC, slavery is officially outlawed within the borders of the Roman Republic. The move is hailed as a progressive step forward by liberals within the Republic, but many conservatives feel they are giving upa part of their culture extending back thousands of years. The former slaves tend to side with the liberals.
In 1620, Francis Bacon is tried for witchcraft again, after many witnesses see him at a secret rite in the woods outside of London. All the witnesses disappear before the trial begins, and he is freed.
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.
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.
On this day in 1941, Soviet ruler Ivan Konev declared victory in the Second Battle of Kursk.
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.
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 AntoinetteThe 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  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 . 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 .
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  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.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.