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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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November 24

In 1921, on this day thirty-four year old pretender Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen was finally crowned King Károly of Hungary at the Sándor Palace in Budapest.

Karl von Habsburg, King of HungaryHe had in fact made several determined efforts at a restoration ever since his forced abdication from the dual monarchies of Austria-Hungary in 1918 (in his first reign he had adopted the Germanic moniker King Charles IV of Hungary). But the main obstacle was Hungary's regent, Miklós Horthy (the last admiral of the Austro-Hungarian Navy)who had refused to support him. During the autumn, had had intended to formally nullify the Pragmatic Sanction, an act that effectively dethroned the Habsburgs.

However when Horthy died in late October 1921 [1], Hungarians finally turned to him for a measure of stability. As events turned out, it was a good choice, because the Habsburg had the necessary gravitas to stand up to the rise of Hitler.

In 1227, on this day the Duke Swietopelk II of Pomerelia attempted to kill his arch rival, the High Duke of Poland and Prince of Sandomierz, Leszek the White (pictured).

Leszek the White SurvivesThe clumsy assassination attempt took place during a diet of the Polish Piast dukes at Gasawa. It was a direct result of Leszek having attempted to force the Pomeranian duke to submit to his authority.

Swietopelk had planned to declare himself independent from Polish vassalship. But instead of have to face his young son Bolesław, he would need to confront the fury of the surviving Leszek.

It is 1965, and on their return from a disastrous USO concert in Saigon, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys candidly told music journalists "this is the worst tour that I've ever been on" [1]. An article from our Happy Endings thread.

Happy Endings 45:
Hoist up the John B Sail
An acute embarrassment of course yet it also represented a withdrawal opportunity for the Kennedy Administration that had unwisely chosen to maintain Eisenhower-era military advisors in South Vietnam.

With no meaningful support from her European allies (only Australia had made a positive commitment), and the Saigon Government continuing to be notoriously unhelpful and corrupt, JFK was unwilling to defend the country down to the last American. Acting upon the public outcry, he terminated the mission. Significantly, he made it clear that he considered the conflict a civil war rather than a Cold War flashpoint and therefore outside the scope of the "containment of Communism" strategy being pursued by the US Government.

In 1784, on this day celebrated two-term President of the United States Zachary Taylor was born in Barboursville, Virginia.

Birth of President Zachary TaylorHis term of office was very nearly truncated by an unexpected event in 1850. Having smelled something funny in his dinner, he decided to throw it away rather than eat it. He complained to the White House kitchen, and the chef, upset that his cooking might be unacceptable, was somewhat surprised to find the dish he prepared still sitting on a counter.

The staff immediately searched the mansion and found Cletus Earl Hargrove, a Kentuckian like the president, who had slipped poison into the president's food in retaliation against Taylor's anti-slavery stance. Hargrove, terrified at being caught, named four co-conspirators, one of whom was a southern senator.

The resulting trial on assassination charges rocked the nation, and made Taylor a revered figure even in the south. Abolitionists used the trial to advance their agenda, and President Taylor introduced his Slow Freedom Initiative at the beginning of his second term in 1853. Under the terms of the initiative, all those born to slaves after the passage of the act would be free Americans; their parents would be freed once the free children reached the age of 18 years.

A new article by Robbie TaylorAlthough many Freedmen and abolitionists thought this was far too long a process, the south grudgingly accepted it as a way to hold onto a dying institution for a few more years. The last living American slave, Nathan Thomason of Cold Pork, Alabama, was given his freedom by presidential decree in 1937 at the age of 85 - he had been born the year before the SFI, and had never had children. He died shortly afterwards, but one of his cousins said, "At least he didn't have to die bound to that dastardly Thomason blackguard".

Following the passing of this dark chapter in American history, the country moved forward fairly united. Although racism against African-Americans was still quite strong in some pockets of the country, the long process of the SFI had made most Americans take a hard look at themselves and question why they had ever thought that one race of people should hold another captive. African-American Congressman Malcolm Little of Michigan proposed a national holiday to honor President Taylor in 1961, and the motion passed almost unanimously.

In 1963, on this day Dallas nightclub operator Jack Ruby shot dead forty-three year old Homicide Detective James R. Leavelle as he escorted Lee Harvey Oswald through the basement of Police Headquarters.

Poor Dump Cop #2 By Ed and Jackie SpeelJust like his fellow Officer J.D. Tippit, Jim was a Second World War Veteran - he was on-board the USS Whitney during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This courage under fire was displayed on national television when, handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald, he stepped in front of the former U.S. Marine to take the bullet that would cost this honourable man his life.

The Warren Commission would establish two key facts, one a bizarre coincidence, and the other a profound truth that undeniably highlighted the extent to which America had changed since the war.

Oswald had asked the Dallas Police to fetch him a sweater before he entered the drafty basement. They had refused, and Ruby had been rushed into a distant shot that might have been on target had he been given but a few more minutes to get closer to Oswald. Instead, Leavelle pitied the shivering former serviceman, hardly failing to notice the fresh bruise above his eye, doubtless the result of a beating during the Police interrogation.

But Leavelle's sense of honour for a fellow serviceman was misplaced. The suspect he was protecting was not the man apprehended on East 10th Street in Oak Cliff, a fact made clear in the official report of the arresting officer Tippit. This man was Lee Oswald, the second of two double agents involved in the shooting of President Kennedy. And Ruby had been ordered by his Mafia bosses to shoot the rogue CIA agent (Lee Oswald) so that he could be re-substituted with the patsy Lee Oswald, restoring the credibility stolen by Tippit's report. But Leavelle had ruined the cover-up and now journalists were standing over his dying body calling him a "Poor Dumb Cop".

In 1947, on this day the Hollywood Ten were exonerated thanks to the intervention of Charlie Chaplin.

Hollywood Ten Exonerated thanks to Charlie ChaplinIn the days of the post-war conservatism, the House Un-American Activities Committee stepped up its investigations of the suspected Communist threat to the United States. Created in 1938, the committee served the same purpose as several before it, such as under Overman in 1918 and Fish in 1930. Special committees had worked to investigate fascist or socialist plots in the 1930s and early '40s, and Congress finally voted to create a standing committee for the HUAC at the close of WWII. They had considered investigating the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, but instead focused on communism as a more direct threat to the US Constitution.

After two years, hearings began to investigate communism in Hollywood. The West Coast city was a powerful player in American society, feeding media to the populace that may subvert the Constitutional government. Certain films such as Song of Russia and Mission to Moscow were obviously pro-Soviet, but they had been created in the time Russians were needed to combat Hitler. Now Congress readied to clean out the communists as the Cold War would turn former allies into potentially dangerous enemies.

Accusations of Hollywood had not been uncommon already. For years, J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI had kept files on actors, directors, and writers. Charles Chaplin, a native of London, was a particular target, especially in 1942 after Chaplin had pressed publically for opening a second front in Europe. While the front did open with the invasions of Italy and France in 1944, Chaplin was considered something of a warmonger despite his 1940 film The Great Dictator lampooning Hitler and his regime.

Hollywood weights such as Walt Disney and president of the Screen Actors Guild Ronald Reagan testified that there was in fact a communist threat in Hollywood. Other Hollywood leaders such as Humphrey Bogart and John Huston organized the Committee for the First Amendment to resist government crackdown. From a list of alleged members of the Communist Party was created, and ten screenwriters and directors refused to answer questions as to their membership in the Party (an illegal activity at the time), citing their rights under the First Amendment for assembly and free speech.

While the Screen Actors Guild voted to allow officers only if they took pledges against communism, the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a citation of the "Hollywood Ten" under contempt for Congress. In the speeches leading to the vote, Charlie Chaplin, who had flown to Washington specially, was asked to speak. Several congressmen groaned and the word "clown" was heard, but Chaplin firmly took his place and began his speech with, "I am not an American. But, I am not Un-American. I know what Americans stand for, and I have seen it make great victory in Europe against a terrible enemy. To let the outstretched hand of America tighten back into a fist at this time would create a land of fear and anger when what Americans truly want is peace and prosperity". Quoting the United States Constitution and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Chaplin railed the notion that judging a person by thought and not action went against Jeffersonian principles that had founded the nation. He concluded by reiterating, "I am not an American, but I support Americans. It is up to the vote of this House to decide whether their America is true to its name".

The vote for citation would fail only slightly, 180 to 183. December 3, MPAA president Eric Johnson and a collection of film makers would issue a press release from the Waldorf Hotel stating that Hollywood would not take collective business actions against the ten suspected men. While some might be fired or hired on the principles of free market employment, a "blacklist" would be unthinkable. The Red Scare of the '40s would die back, though the Communist Party would not make any great gains in the conservative Greatest Generation.

Some, such as J. Edgar Hoover, would continue to investigate anti-American activity, discovering the espionage of Alger Hiss. While Hoover would have great success, he would go too far in his bitterness against Chaplin. In 1952, while Chaplin was in London to attend the premiere of his film Limelight, Hoover would attempt to revoke Chaplin's re-entry permit. The Immigration and Naturalization Service would erupt in scandal that would end with Hoover's forced resignation in 1953. Chaplin would return to America and gain citizenship in 1961 at age 72.

In 1980, on this day the political unrest that had been simmering within the USSR for months finally exploded into outright civil war as a group calling itself the Patriotic Liberation Movement(PLM) launched a series of attacks on CPSU buildings in Kiev, Gorky, and Minsk.

Second Soviet Civil WarIn his initial public comments on the uprising, Soviet premier Konstantin Chernenko (pictured) denounced the PLM as "criminals" and "traitors" and vowed the insurrection would be swiftly crushed. He would be dead wrong on that score, however; the Russian civil war would go on to last over six and a half years, during which time the Warsaw Pact alliance would break up while Soviet-backed Marxist regimes and guerrilla factions in Africa and Latin America would tumble like bowling pins. In fact, by the time the last remnants of the Red Army surrendered to the rebels in June of 1987, there would only be five nations left in the entire world still under Communist rule-- and that number would drop to four with the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1989.

A new installment in the Necessary Evil threadWithout Soviet money and arms to prop them up, the Kremlin's allies found themselves either toppled by armed revolt or forced to abdicate in the face of widespread protests from non-Communist dissident movements. The most violent of these upheavals came in 1985, when Ethiopian dictator Haile Menigstu was assassinated just as his country faced the worst famine in its history; the most dramatic instance of non-violent change happened a year later when Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega quietly resigned after negotiating a cease-fire with anti-Communist insurgents in his own country and arranging for free elections to choose a new government for Nicaragua.


During the same time that the Russian civil war was raging, Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha died suddenly of heart failure, plunging that country into a political crisis which would last into the early 1990s; in Romania, Marxist ruler Nicolae Ceaucescu would be overthrown and subsequently executed in one of the bloodiest coups eastern Europe had seen in a generation. Moscow's staunchest allies in the Middle East, Iraq and Syria, would turn to China for military and economic assistance as Soviet power gradually weakened and then collapsed.

In 1963, on this day nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, accused assassin of President Richard M. Nixon, inside a Dallas police station.

Oswald murdered in Dallas
An article by Eric Lipps
President Nixon, who had won office in 1960 after successfully contesting the presidential election results in Illinois and Texas, had apparently been targeted in response to his having authorized the U.S. military to support anti-Communist Cuban exiles in an invasion of their home island aimed at overthrowing its left-wing president, Fidel Castro, who himself had seized power in 1959 after overthrowing the regime of Gen. Fulgencio Batista.

Investigators would subsequently identify Oswald as the head (and apparently sole member) of the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee," loudly opposed to the continuing U.S. occupation of the island in support of the returned Batista. Nixon had been in Dallas on a political tour aimed at strengthening his political support there in anticipation of the 1964 election, in which favorite son Lyndon Johnson was widely expected to be the Democratic nominee; Nixon had believed that Johnson would attempt to stoke resentment over the ballot challenge which had resulted in his home state's electors being awarded to the Republican candidate.

President Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., who had been sworn into office aboard Air Force One shortly after Nixon's assassination on November 22, responded to the news of Oswald's murder by vowing to "get to the bottom of this, no matter what it takes". Privately, the new president is furious with the Dallas police and the FBI for allowing Oswald to be shot in custody, foreclosing all chance of interrogating him and learning whether, as Lodge fears, Castro or the Soviets masterminded Nixon's murder.

In 1963, club owner Jack Ruby throws a celebratory bash at his club, The Carousel, for Lee Harvey Oswald - due to the ex-marine's successful efforts in saving the life of President John F. Kennedy from an attempted assasination in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, two days before. Local Hero by Gerry Shannon
Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, the clearly-bemused Oswald clearly did not know what to make of his newfound celebrity status, "I'm very flattered of the party Mr. Ruby is throwing.. but I don't know what my wife Marina would make of me being around all these strippers".

In 1963, an attempt is made on the life of alleged-Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, as he is transported from the Dallas police headquarters to the state prison.

Oswald Survives by Gerry ShannonAs Oswald is moved through the carpark basement and into the crowd of reports, club owner Jack Ruby steps forward with a Colt Cobra .38 and attempts to shoot him.

However, the intervention of several quick-thinking reporters and officers prevent this - and a mob pins Ruby to the ground and prevent him from firing a single shot while Oswald is rushed to the waiting car.

When in custody, Ruby would deny he was part of any plot to 'silence' Oswald, initally saying, "... that god-damned commie owned me his full tab at my club. I wasn't going to let Kennedy's killer get away with that". though he would later change his reasons to being he wanted to spare Jackie Kennedy the humiliation of attending Oswald's trial. That evening, and at his later trial, Oswald vehemenently denied he ever went near Ruby's club, The Carousel or that had ever encountered the onetime Mafia associate.

In 1971, would-be hijacker D.B. Cooper was arrested by FBI agents just minutes before he was scheduled to board a Northwest Airlines flight from Portland to Seattle. Pacific Northwest Hijack FoiledEarlier that day, the agency's Portland office had received an anonymous tip about the hijacking plot from a tourist who said he overheard Cooper talking on a payphone to someone identified only as 'Raoul'.

In 1936, Washington Press Release-Nov 24 1936 ~ Former Governor and Senator of Louisiana, Huey "Kingfisher" Long was officially confirmed elected as President of the United States today.

Kingfish Takes Charge
An article by Mr Z
With the public tired of the dying "New Deal" of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the exuberant Republican candidate took charge immidately, controversly naming Herbert Hoover Secretary of Commerce, promising a more successful way of getting out of the Depression. The Kingfish was reportedly heard to have offered FDR a job as Secretary of Navy, which FDR turned down with fury, stating he 'wasn't going to scrounge to take a handout from that "fish of a man".

President-Elect Long, who had dodged a assassination attack in September of 1935, longly suspected of foul play by rival democrats, promised to follow through with his promise of sharing the wealth. Some in congress were disturbed with his threats at congress that included dissolution, but the general public in a recent poll supported the "closing of congress" if they refused President Long's reforms, which include the taking of wealth from the rich.

"I'm hear because the people wanted me here. Not the corporations, not the trusts, certainly not the banks, but the people. If congress doesn't want to see what the people and me want, then by goodness I dont see the point of'm. I'm here to fight for what the people want: Equality, Happiness, and Freedom from Poverty. The wealthy have for far too long taken the big part of the pie that is America, and it's my aim to take that pie from thier fat faces and give it back to the farmers, the factory workers, and the average U.S. Man!"

President Long is said to be reportedly thinking of signing a "gentleman's agreement" between the U.S. and the German government, giving the U.S. a 'trading partner with a bright future and a strong leader...unlike our current trading partners, [the Germans] have remade themselves and are set for future success".

In 1956, the Montreal Alouettes dashed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' hopes for a fourth consecutive Grey Cup championship, beating the Bombers 51-42 in the 44th annual Grey Cup title game. Ironically kicker Bud Korchak, whose overtime field goal in the '53 Grey Cup had launched the Bomber dynasty, was the man who would win the day for Montreal, hitting back-to-back field goals later in the third quarter to spark an offensive surge that buried Winnipeg; he would later be named the game's MVP.

 - Montreal Alouettes
Montreal Alouettes

The Montreal victory marked the end of the Blue Bombers' reign as the CFL's top franchse; the following season they would lose four of their first five games and miss the playoffs completely. Bud Korchak would subsequent take his talents to America, where he would play a major role in the Balitmore Colts' historic OT win against the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL championship game.

On this day in 1941, Soviet combat forces in Japan wiped out the last pockets of Imperial Army resistance on Hokkaido and started crossing over to the neighboring island of Honshu.

 - Red Army insignia
Red Army insignia

On this day in 1959, Sandy Koufax scored his 1500th NBA career point in a Celtics win over the Minneapolis Lakers.

 - Sandy Koufax
Sandy Koufax

On this day in 1944, Allied troops entered Bremerhaven. That same day, the Japanese ambassador in Berlin committed suicide.                                                                                    

 -

On this day in 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was remanded to the custody of a Texas psychiatric hospital pending determination of his fitness to stand trial on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

 - Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald

In 1954, the day before Thanksgiving, NASA makes a third attempt at launching its 'Minimum Orbital Unmanned Satellite of Earth,' with a St. Christopher's medal welded to the rocket's hull for luck. This time, the liftoff is successful; the satellite, dubbed (perhaps inevitably) Mickey, reaches orbit, and will circle the earth every ninety minutes for over three days before splashing down in the Pacific.

Soviet Premier
Soviet Premier - Nikita Khruschev
Nikita Khruschev

Its beeping radio signal will be picked up around the world. In the Soviet Union, Communist Party chief Nikita Khrushchev is furious that the U.S. has upstaged his country. He demands that Soviet rocket experts 'immediately' duplicate and then surpass the American feat.

Tom Cruise

In 2007, (KP International) Tom Cruise's reps were reportedly angry about the release of photos of the actor looking bald and fat during filming for his role in the upcoming comedy, Tropic Thunder.

'Mr Cruise's private appearance was supposed to be a secret for his fans worldwide. [Paparazzi] have ruined what should have been an upsetting discovery for moviegoers,' read a statement from the actor's reps, World Entertainment News Network reported. Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Nick Nolte and Matthew McConaughey star in the film, which is expected to hit theatres next summer.

Tom Cruise - Old and Fat
Old and Fat
In 1766, amongst the Catskill Mountains lived Dame Van Winkle, her morose husband Rip, their two children and dog named 'Wolf'. They were getting on with their lives in peace, albeit for the wife's hot temper, frustrated by her husband's inactivity. Dame had dreams, bigger dreams. So did America.
In 1940, U.S. President-elect Charles Lindburgh fulfilled a campaign promise by arriving in Great Britain to meet with Prime Minister Oswald Mosley and King Edward VIII. The alignment of fascist powers in the two Axis countries is of great concern to the social democracies of Central Europe and thoughts in the Weimar Republic turn to a proportionate response such as expelling Great Britain from the League of Nations.
In 1946, the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Following the rapid conclusion of Operation Downfall, the Soviet Union's advancement onto the home islands had been limited to Hokkaid? where the Democratic People's Republic of Japan was declared the following year. From the capital city of Sapporo, North Japan as it was known glared with unrelenting hatred upon its capitalist southern neighbour, leading to the the bitterest of the proxy conflicts that traumatised South-east Asia during the Cold War.
In 1963, irrepressible physical evidence from the second-floor lunch-room of the Texas School Book Depository on Elm Street forces a decision. Trouble is numerous witnesses including a motorcycle policeman & Mr. Truly saw the Patsy in the lunchroom with a Coca-Cola bottle as the shots were fired. Describing his appearance as proof of being cornered red handed, even Police Chief Jesse Curry and District Attorney Wade are struggling to sound convincing. Snake eyes calls in the hit on Oswald, and several more hits on some witnesses. And then some more hits. He feels a little more confident after taking some action.
In 1963, on this day at the garage to the Dallas Police Headquarters deep sleeper Soviet agent Jacob Rubenstein shot and killed the switched 'Oswald' with a Colt Cobra .38. His KGB training was impeccable, Ruby had impersonated a newspaper reporter and was at the police station on the night of November 22 to find out how to gain access to 'Oswald'. Agents acting under the orders of George HW Bush had indiscreetly 'permitted' access. Of course Bush himself was only troubled by how to dispose of the other five Oswald doubles he had on his hands, those included the actual assassin and also the man who killed officer J.D. Tippett.
In 1947, brilliantly underrated voice and character actor Bill Schultz was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Besides providing the voice for a legion of video game and cartoon characters, Schultz also played a memorable recurring character in Bob Wesley's Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the 'Howling Mad' Murdock character on The A-Team.
In 1963, journalist Dan Rather receives a knock on his apart door. He opens it to find nobody there. However, on the step is a small box containing a Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Camera. Engraved on the base of the camera is the name Abraham Zapruder.
In 1887, Erich von Manstein was born on this day in Berlin, served the German military as a lifelong professional soldier. In 1955 von Manstein commanded German troops from the League of Nations who occupied the American South, brought about by black calls for intervention to end racist violence. He was murdered by agents acting for Richard Nixon, architect of the brilliant Southern Strategy to terminate the League of Nations mandate.
In 1887, Erich von Manstein was born on this day in Berlin. During World War II he served as commander-in-chief in the East (Oberbefehlshaber Ost). Credited with defeating the Soviet Union, Von Manstein convinced Hitler of the need for a new overall strategy on the Eastern Front, advocating an elastic, mobile defense.


November 23

In 1981, on this fateful day US President Ronald Reagan signed the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 that ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to recruit and support Contra rebels in their civil war against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Reagan signs NSDD-17In an ironic abuse of power a covert operation that was expressly prohibited by the US Congress was to be overseen by a former Congressman, Vice President George H.W. Bush. However he was unaware that the rebels were only nominally joined together as a whole organized unit. Because of this loosely knit command structure some factions were carrying out many human rights violations that were systematically committed as an element of their overall warfare strategy. That chilling fact only emerged when three American nuns were brutally murdered on live television.

Happening just ahead of the mid-terms, the timing of "Irangate" scandal could not have been worse and Bush was forced to resign in public disgrace. Reagan himself was only saved from impeachment by a negotiated deal that saw Howard Baker take over as Vice President. He was charged with a powerful brief to purge the hawks from the White House thereby undermining Reagan's whole Cold War strategy.

In 1499, on this day Perkin Warbeck the impostor claiming to be Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York was drawn on a hurdle from the Tower to Tyburn, London, where he read out a confession and then hanged.

Execution of Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of YorkBy ordering the execution of this Yorkist pretender, Henry VII had spared England the agonies of Civil War. And nothing in his treatment of similarly minded rebels such as John of Lincoln or even the mis-fortunate Sir William Stanley had suggested anything else could come of Warbeck's two landings in England.

After his capture at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire, the King had declared that Warbeck was in fact a Fleming born in Tournai around 1474. He was "paraded through the streets on horseback amid much hooting and derision of the citizens" and then imprisoned first at Glastonbury and later the Tower of London alongside Edward, Earl of Warwick (the two tried to escape earlier in the year). But during this imprisonment, Henry had begun to have his own doubts that perhaps Warbeck was after all one of the two "Princes in the Tower". Certainly he resembled Edward IV in appearance. And this doubt had settled into absolute certainty with the discovery of Richard III's secret diary [1], the living proof which ironically had settled his fate.

It is 1933, the Great Depression is ravaging Germany, and World War I reparations payments are making it even worse. With both the Bolsheviks and National Socialists fighting for power, the Kaiser's eldest son Frederick Wilhelm decides it's time to return from the family's exile in Holland. An article from our Happy Endings thread.

Happy Endings 44:
Big Stick Redux
Determined to avenge his father, he stirs up violent anger against America, with his impassioned speeches. In this atmosphere, upstarts like Adolf Hitler are brushed aside, along with his attacks on the Jews.

As a patriotic German, Albert Einstein offers to direct the construction of an atomic bomb. Fortunately for his nation's enemies, an American scientist named J. Robert Oppenheimer is doing the same thing. The result is a stalemate, based on mutual hatred and contempt.

The new Kaiser Frederick Wilhelm is in a good position to allay his country's fears of this powerful foe. One of the most telling incidents takes place at a young girls' reception line, where one of them bursts into tears when her turn comes to kiss the Kaiser's hand.

"Why are you weeping?" he asks. "Because I fear that America will hang you and kill us al1!" Anna wails. With a kindly smile, he answers, "You need not fear America as long as Germany is strong, my dear Miss Frank.

In 1804, on this day Franklin Pierce (pictured) was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

Birth of Franklin PierceHe was a Democrat and a "doughface" (a Northerner with Southern sympathies)who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army. His private law practice in his home state, New Hampshire, was so successful that he was offered several important positions, which he turned down. Later, he was nominated as the party's candidate for president on the 49th ballot at the 1852 Democratic National Convention.

But tragedy struck on the 6th January, 1853 when the President-elect and his family were crushed to death when the train car that they had boarded in Boston was derailed and then rolled down an embankment near Andover, Massachusetts.

In his place, William Rufus King was sworn in as President on March 4th. Problem was, King was dying of tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease just six weeks later, so that the presidency fell to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, David Rice Atchison.

Just four years before, he had served as President for a single day. Because on Saturday, March 3, 1849, outgoing President James Polk's term had expired, but incoming President Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath and put the ceremony off until Monday, March 5 -- which meant nobody was President on Sunday, at least officially.

He did not undertake any presidential duties, but claimed to have taken a nap whilst serving as 12th president of the United States. But unlike that temporary ceremonial fill-in function, the succession after the deaths of Pierce and King was fundamentally different. Because Atchison was a pro-slavery expansionist who was brought to power at a pivotal moment in the nation's history.

In 1963, with evening news programs closely monitoring Mrs Kennedy's precarious medical condition at the Parkland Hospital in Dallas, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) abruptly cancelled the showing of Episode One of Dr Who, a ground-breaking - if somewhat incongruous - science fiction television programme.

An Unearthly ChildFilmed in black and white the decidedly creepy William Hartnell played a thousand year old humanoid time lord who travels the galaxy in a sentient time-travelling space ship known as the TARDIS (acronym: Time and Relative Dimension in Space). An odd mixture of the past, present and the future, "An Unearthly Child" was an unpromising and disappointing start to the series. Hartnell's portrayal was too frightening for prime time television and yet the decision to rule out bug-eye monsters ran in quite the opposite direction.

Unfortunately for the series, certain key elements were locked in the transitional nature of that era making a relaunch rather difficult. Although the blue police boxes had been a feature of the British high street since the 1930s, they were already being removed, and Hartnell was a mature actor enjoying his final hurrah on television. He died in 1975 although the missing episodes were rediscovered when the BBC moved to Manchester in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

In 1992, the first smartphone appeared in public on this day when IBM debuted a prototype device code named "Angler" at the COMDEX computer and technology trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. As fate would have it, amongst the excited members of the crowd was a twenty-five year old English consultant. His name was Jonathan Paul "Jony" Ive [1].

Debut of the IBM SimonHe immediately grasped that in concept it potential was huge. Feature rich with a 4.5 inch B&W 160x293 LCD touch screen display that worked with apps to help make our everyday lives easier, but it was a massive device with a battery guzzling design and a low powered 16MHz processor.

Plans to market the IBM Simon Personal Communicator resulted in an $899 two-year contract with BellSouth, available in fifteen states. But a transformative event then occurred with the appointment of Jony as the new tech lead. He had left his native England with dreams of joining Apple's Industrial Design team, but the lure of IBM's R&D budget combined with the demonstration at Comdex encouraged him to join Big Blue instead.

In 1963, in a televised national press conference on this day Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry announced that the overnight interrogation of the "grassy knoll shooter" James Earl Files had provided a warm lead to the identity of the mysterious "Depository Man".

Depository Man
By Ed and Jackie Speel
One of the first U.S. covert combat troops sent into Laos in 1959, he had been court-martialed at Ft. Meade, Maryland for killing two of his own men. He then became involved in private intelligence work after his release from the military.

In the late fall of 1961 he was offered an assignment to serve as a weapons aide to the mafia hitman Charles Nicoletti, an associate of Sam Giancana. Two years later, both men stayed at the Lamplighter Motel in Mesquite, Dallas where they met with a "controller" called David Atlee Phillips.

Phillips involvement signalled a change in the mob's plan to assassinate Kennedy, a task that would not be performed by Nicoletti as originally envisaged, but instead by two operatives under his supervision. Files and a former US marine Lee Harvey Oswald spent five days on an empty field test firing the weapons and calibrating the scopes that were to be used on President Kennedy.

Oswald had been employed as an order filler at the Texas Book Depository only weeks before, and of course the Dallas Police Department had very quickly made the connection when cross referencing the staff list with potential marksmen. However, further connections began to emerge, because both Oswald and Files were linked to the covert CIA headquarters in Miami. This might well have been an accidental cross over of previous engagements rather than evidence of a wider conspiracy involving the Mob and rogue elements of the Agency, and it was precisely this burning question that the Warren Committee was ordered to answer.

In 1789, fearing that the United States had abandoned all traces of its Republican values during his long absence in Revolutionary France, Thomas Jefferson returned to Virginia to find Alexander Hamilton the master of King George Washington's Government.

Rebuilding WorksAs the American Ambassador to France, Jefferson had witnessed the excesses of the last days of the Bourbon Kings. In a letter to his secretary William Short he noted that "Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is. I have expressed to you my sentiments, because they are really those of 99 in an hundred of our citizens". In the final months in Paris, Jefferson also witnessed those change unfolding as France entered a period of radical social and political upheaval.

Retiring to Charlottesville, Jefferson withdrew from public life in order to focus on the task of rebuilding Monticello. A delegation led by Benjamin Franklin and James Madison arrived, hoping to convince Jefferson that his architecture skills were required on a grander scale, to rebuild the nation in the image of the republican government that they had always imagined.

And Alexander Hamilton was forced to advise the King that the man who had penned the Declaration of Independence now posed a threat to the Federalist unity of the new nation. That Jefferson had gone native in Europe and become an American Oliver Cromwell.

In 534 BC, Thespis insulted the Gods. Since the dawn of language, and perhaps before with simple hand gestures, mankind had performed the art of storytelling. Great hunts, tragic tales of lovers, and, most importantly, the epics of the gods all served as material to be related to one another and the younger generations for entertainment and moral instruction.

Thespis Insults the Gods Storytelling among the ancient Greeks evolved out of the chanting of priests to become a more secular chorus, telling the tales of great men and gods, especially Dionysus, the patron of the art.

According to ancient manuscripts studied by modern historians, some 2500 years ago, a creative Greek by the name of Thespis of Icaria attempted to introduce "acting" to western civilization. Rather than singing from the chorus or as a solo storyteller, Thespis stepped alone in the amphitheater and sang from behind a mask as if he were Dionysus himself. The audience was struck, unsure quite what to think until an elder from the front stood and called, "Blasphemer!"

Thespis was obviously not Dionysus, and portraying himself to be an avatar of a god was a strict crime of sacrilege. He was taken before the Athenean court, given fair trial, and exiled from the city for fear that the gods would instigate a plague or bad fortune in a city allowing such arrogance. Thespis disappears from history, and acting would forever be a distasteful action among the European peoples.

Storytelling, however, flourished. During the republic and empire of Rome, satyr songs would give long, satirical descriptions of modern life in rich verse. Bards and monks relating the story of the Passion delighted audiences throughout the Middle Ages. As Europeans began to explore and colonize other peoples, they encountered new types of storytelling such as the shadow play of Japan and the body-language of dance among Southeast Asian and Polynesian peoples, many of which would find their places among European theater. Other arts, such as Japanese kabuki and African mask-dances would be frowned upon as barbaric and arrogant lies where "actors" portrayed themselves as true people or even spirits.

It would not be until the invention of the motion-picture camera that acting would return to the view of the western world. Originally, the camera was used to capture important events such as the funeral march of royalty or shocking images like staged train crashes. Through the work of French and later German "directors", a new style of voyeurism would be shown as people invisibly watched the lives of others. Reality films would gradually fade as "fakies", scripted and acted fictional accounts would be recorded and shown. Initially as scandalous as the acting of Thespis, counter-culture would embrace the stories, and its significance would eventually gain some recognition among the populace at large along the same lines of modern dance and lyric-less poetry.

Even in today's forward-thinking times, fakies are viewed as morally questionable, not necessarily evil, but not as genuine of an entertainment as a well told story.

In 1623, on this day Edward Blount and William and Isaac Jaggard published the collection of "Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies" which modern scholars commonly refer to as the "First Folio".

First FolioTo alert the reader to the real identity of the playwright, the cover artist Martin Droeshout had portrayed an incongruous-looking fellow with a mask-line down his face, wearing a back-to-front doublet with two right-eyes (pictured, below). Writing three centuries later, Sir George Greenwood would remark "I can never understand how any unprejudiced person, with a sense of humor, can look upon [the print] without being tempted to irreverent laughter".

Born in 1564, Gulielmus Shakspere was an illiterate son of a butcher who never attended school (his father simply placed an X on his birth certificate). Neither his wife Anne Hathaway, nor any of his three children could read or write either. In London, the only written records bearing the name "Willemus Shackspere" are unpaid debts dating from 1595. Two years later, he moved to Straford Upon Avon, four days of hard horse-riding from the capital, where he died in April 1616. Six versions of his signature remain in print, three of which appear on his will. No other diaries, letters or manuscripts have ever been found.

"Shakes-speare, we must be silent in our praise, cause our encomimums will but blast thy bays" ~ Wit's RecreationSimply ludicrous of course to imagine that such a man could pen forty plays, add three thousand words to the English vocabulary, or even demonstrate an insider's view of the English court from such a distance. That the greatest mystery surrounded the "soul of our age" (Doctor Jonson's term) was his real identity, was according to Charles Dickens, both "a fine comfort" and "a great mystery". "I tremble every day lest something should come out".

But come out it did, finally, exactly four hundred years later with the discovery of letters from John Clayton, the debtor from the 1595 bills. During the passage of those four centuries, over sixty individuals had been identified as the real Bard. But the mystery was finally revealed, because Clayton had left instructions for his letters to be opened in 1995.

That the Bard really was Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark was something of an anti-climax. His identify was an open secret in court, and yet his satirical potrayal of the ruling classes required some form of subterfuge in order for his playwriting to continue. And so the courtier John Clayton bought the identity of Shakespeare and then paid for his relocation to Stratford.

In 1814, by suffering a fatal heart attack on this day in Washington D.C., Elbridge Thomas Gerry becoming the first President of the United States to die in office.

Elbridge T. Gerry
5th President of the United States
March 4, 1813 - November 23, 1814
Elbridge Thomas Gerry (July 17, 1744 - November 23, 1814) was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was elected as the fifth President of the United States, after the rather shocking decision by James Madison not to seek a second term. Defeating Dewitt Clinton by the narrow margin of 25 electoral votes, he served from March 4, 1813 until his death a year and a half later. He was also the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980.

A new article from Althistory WikiaGerry was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of three men who refused to sign the Constitution because it did not then include a Bill of Rights. Gerry later became Governor of Massachusetts. He is most famous for being the namesake of gerrymandering, a process by which electoral districts are drawn with the aim of aiding the party in power.

Early life

Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the third of twelve children, he was a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied to be a doctor, attending there from age fourteen. He worked in his father's shipping business and came to prominence over his opposition to commerce taxes. He was elected to the General Court of the province of Massachusetts in May 1772 on an anti-British platform.

Career

Gerry was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. He also served from 1783 to September 1785 and was married in 1786 to Ann Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy New York merchant, 21 years his junior. In 1787 he attended the United States Constitutional Convention and was one of the delegates voting against the new constitution (joining George Mason and Peyton Randolph in not signing it). He was elected to the U.S. House under the new national government, and served in Congress from 1789 to 1793.

He surprised his friends by becoming a strong supporter of the new government, and so vigorously supported Alexander Hamilton's reports on public credit, including the assumption of state debts, and supported Hamilton's new Bank of the United States, that he was considered a leading champion by the Federalists. He did not stand for reelection in 1792. He was a presidential elector for John Adams in the 1796 election, and was appointed by Adams to the critical delegation to France that was humiliated by the French in the XYZ Affair. He stayed in France after his two colleagues returned, and Federalists accused him of supporting the French. He returned in October 1798, and switched his affiliation to Democratic-Republican party in 1800.

He was the unsuccessful Democratic-Republican nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1800, 1801, 1802 and 1803. In 1810 he was finally elected Governor of Massachusetts as a Democratic-Republican. He was re-elected in 1811 but defeated in 1812 over his support for the redistricting bill that created the word gerrymander. He ran for president against DeWitt Clinton, narrowly defeating him by 25 electoral votes. He died in office in Washington, D.C. and is buried there in the Congressional Cemetery.

In 2009, on this day American officials confirmed for the first time that the ruling Ba'ath Party had indeed detonated a nuclear device a week before, citing radioactive debris found in air samples collected in the Western desert of Iraq. Out of the Box

The office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a statement: "Analysis of air samples collected on Nov. 19, 2009, detected radioactive debris which confirms that the Government of Iraq conducted an underground nuclear explosion in the vicinity of Akashat on Nov. 16, 2009". The day after the blast, the Pentagon dispatched Air Force planes with special radiation detectors into international air space near the Syrian border.

The great nation of Iraq joined India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea as the fifth sovereign state to posses their own nuclear weapons program outside the signatory list of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In a televised stand-up address from the Oval Office, forty-fourth US President Joseph I. Lieberman confirmed to the American people that Saddam Hussein was "now out of the strategic box and able to threaten Iraq's neighbors".

The fifteen year policy pursued by three successive Democratic Presidential administrations had been most effectively articulated by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Wingate University on March 25, 1997. In her keynote speech American Leadership for the 21st Century: Doing What's Right and Smart for America's Future, Albright stated "Today, as a result of American diplomatic and military leadership from Administrations of both parties, our citizens are safer than at any time in memory. Russian warheads no longer target our homes, and nuclear weapons have been removed from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan. North Korea's nuclear weapons program has been frozen and will be dismantled.Iraq's Saddam Hussein remains trapped in a strategic box, unable to threaten Iraq's neighbors--or us".

Multilateral efforts would continue through diplomatix channels, said Lieberman, as America leveraged the prestige of her global leadership to find a peaceful solution to the crisis with friends and allies. Substantive dialogue would be pursued with the governments of France and Russia, who many Americans blamed - quiet wrongly in the President's view - for breaking the international consensus on Iraq in the late 1990s.

Lieberman expressed confidence that the UN Security Council could develop a common strategy that encouraged Iraq to dismantle her nuclear weapons program, easing tension in the Middle East.

On this day in 1941, Soviet-backed Communist partisans in Korea began a guerrilla uprising against Japanese occupation authorities.                                                                    

 - Red Army insignia
Red Army insignia
Detective

On this day in 1944, U-106 captain Xavier March was captured by a British naval patrol off Iceland and incarcerated at a POW camp in Scotland, where he would spend the final months of the Second World War. During his incarceration he would make the acquaintance of the man who would later become his police partner, Max Jaeger.

Detective - Xavier March
Xavier March

On this day in 1962, CIA agents in Cuba reported to the agency's station chief in Mexico City that they'd uncovered evidence rogue Cuban secret police had orchestrated Lee Harvey Oswald's death to conceal possible ties between Oswald and the late Fidel Castro's brother Raul, who since Fidel's death had fallen under growing suspicion of having played a part in Fidel's assassination.

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http://www.todayinah.co.uk/support_images/oswald.jpg

On this day in 1972, the Cowboys improved to 7-4 for the 1972 NFL season with a 27-10 Thanksgiving Day win over the San Francisco 49ers.

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In 2001, CIA covert-ops teams enter Afghanistan and fan out in search of Al Qaeda operatives and sympathizers in 'Operation Kipling.'

They are guided by aerial and orbital photography which appears to identify possible Al Qaeda bases.

 - Al Gore
Al Gore
In 1963, on this day the KGB made a startling discovery. As planned Soviet double Alek had assassinated President Kennedy before he could win the Cold War for America. Alek was impersonating the former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald after a switch in Minsk during 1959. Yet the picture emerging from the American south-west was incredible; their discrete plot had been hijacked by the CIA with the planting of faked evidence. Oswald had been switched again by the CIA. The KGB quickly activated deep sleeper agent Jacob Rubenstein. The switched 'Oswald' must be eliminated by 'Ruby' before he confessed to being a Soviet agent. If he did, America could justify a first strike from their vastly larger nuclear armoury, and win the Cold War without Kennedy!
In 1963, fifty-eight year old Abraham Zapruder died in Dallas, Texas of repository failure. A change of management was announced at the diseased's offices in the Dal-Tex Building, off Dealey Plaza and directly across the street east of the Texas School Book Depository. The manufacture of women's clothing would resume in early December, after an appropriate period of mourning for President Kennedy. In the meantime, staff were not required for work, however anyone that had seen Mr Zapruder's Bell & Howell movie camera should contact the new manager, Mr Jacob Rubenstein, as a matter of urgency, as the Zapruders were distressed not to have copies of a recent family event.
In 1970, physicist Roy Kendall of the University of Nevada went public with information he had stolen from the secret military base at Groom Lake, Nevada. In a live interview with Walter Cronkite of CBS News, Kendall maintained that alien technology was being back-engineered at Groom Lake; unfortunately, as soon as he said that, armed men broke into the studio, shot him dead, and fatally wounded Cronkite. His evidence was never seen, and the government maintained that Kendall and Cronkite had been slain by gamblers Kendall was attempting to pay off with a lucrative hoax.
In 1947, two Bedouin shepherds contacted Jerusalem's Hebrew University with news that they had discovered a cache of scrolls in Qumran. Translated, the documents told of a gigantic hoax played on the people of Rome, whereby the Essene sect of Judaism convinced the Romans that a savior named Jesus had arrived in the world, and would absolve them of all sins. The texts were bought for an astronomical figure by the Roman Catholic Church, and immediately suppressed.
In 618, Alfonso the Wise, Caliph of Castile and Leon, was born with Allah's blessing in Toledo, Espagne. He was among the first few generations in his country to accept the teachings of the Prophet, and established great schools of learning during his reign, some of which still teach to this day.


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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.