A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
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

July 24

In 1862, on this day Nieuw-Nederland President Martin Van Buren died in his native city of new Amsterdam.

Death of Nieuw-Nederland President Martin Van BurenBilingual in English and Dutch, he was the first head of the mini-state to be born after New England and Great Virginia declared independence from Britain. And in office, he was drawn into their conflict when New England broke off trade over slavery.

Fortunately, the Nederlanders maintained a lucrative neutrality. The sudden surge of trade brought about a new golden age which led to a great deal of corruption that responded in a powerful Progressive Movement, headed by the young Theodoor van Rosevelt. In some of his more indiscreet moments, he blamed many of these inherited problems on "Martin Van Ruin".
An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.

In 1862, two-term US President Martin Van Buren died on this day in Kinderhook, New York. He was seventy-nine years old.

Death of Two-Term US President Martin Van BurenHe served two, non-consecutive terms as the eighth (1837-1841) tenth (1845-1849) President of the United States (he beat Democrat rival James K Polk to the nomination). And before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President (1833-1837) and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson (1829-1831).

Van Buren was a key organizer of the Democratic Party, a dominant figure in the Second Party System, and the first president not of British or Irish descent-his family was Dutch. He was the first president to be born a United States citizen, his predecessors having been born British subjects before the American Revolution. He is also the only president not to have spoken English as his first language, having grown up speaking Dutch, and the first president from New York.

In 1900, Zelda Sayre was born on this day in Montgomery, Alabama. An American novelist and the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, she had her husband committed to a mental hospital in 1930. It was a shocking but somehow suitable ending to the Roaring Twenties.

Happy Endings Part 9b
Birth of Zelda Sayre
The Fitzgeralds had been the very essence of the Jazz Age, which Scott had immortalized in now-classic novels like This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby. He had, in fact, termed his wife "the first American flapper".

But now he had decided to commit her to the hospital. Having overheard his intentions during a phone call to his friend Ernest Hemingway while all three are living in Paris, she knew she must strike first. Selling her jewels to pay the required two doctors to testify against her husband, she also used all the charm she acquired as a Southern belle back in Montgomery, Alabama to win them to her side.

That included her helpless weeping over her poor husband's plight .. backed up by the photos she secretly took of his attacks of fury, that included throwing chandeliers. She manages to be away from home when the ambulance comes, leaving her with no need to answer his wild charges that she is the crazy one.

But she still had one danger to overcome. During that fatal phone call, Hemingway assured her husband that "She is a bitch and she is crazy". Now she had to prove that neither charge was true, in case Hemingway used his own growing influence as a popular author to turn those charges against her.

So she hurried to Ernest's side, turning on the charm and the tears once more. He cannot resist putting his arms around her as she wept on his shoulder, and soon they were joined in a much more intimate embrace. It leads to his divorcing his second wife Pauline and making Zelda into Mrs. Hemingway.

The happy couple is still married when he dies of natural causes 30 years later, leaving her with his rich stock of literary royalties, along with their luxurious Florida and Cuba homes. An article from the Happy Endings series.

In 1783, Simón Bolívar, Spanish conquistadore, was born in Caracas, Venezuela. The greatest of Spain's colonial generals, he crushed rebellions throughout Latin America.

Birth of General BolivarToward the end of the seventeenth century, copper exploitation became so prominent in Venezuela that it became known as Cobre Caracas ("Caracas copper"). Many of the mines became the property of the Bolívar family. Bolívar's grandfather, Juan de Bolívar y Martínez de Villegas, paid 22,000 ducats to the monastery at Santa Maria de Montserrat in 1728 for a title of nobility that had been granted by the king, Philip V of Spain, for its maintenance.

The crown issued the patent of nobility, and Bolívar's older brother, Juan Vicente became the Marquós de San Luis and Vizconde de Cocorote. Naturally, when the independence moving got started in Venezuela, the Bolívar were able to use the family's immense wealth to help finance the crown's anti-revolutionary efforts.

In 1969, aboard the recovery ship USS Hornet, U.S. President Hubert H. Humphrey welcomed home the triumphant crew of Apollo 11, the first men to land on the moon.

President Humphrey welcomes home Apollo 11It might easily have been someone else. The presidential election of 1968 had been a fractious affair, with riots disrupting the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the unsuccessful attempt on third-party candidate Gov. George Corley Wallace by escaped mental patient Arthur Bremer. The Alabaman survived the encounter with only minor injuries, instantly becoming a hero to many on the right despite having said that if the bitterly divisive Vietnam War then in progress could not be won within ninety days of his assuming office he would call for an immediate U.S. withdrawal. (Conservatives hearing those words interpreted them, as did many liberals, as a signal that a President Wallace would use nuclear weapons to force an end to the Southeast Asian conflict.) Wallace had hoped to win enough votes to force the election into the House of Representatives and then extract concessions on racial issues in exchange for throwing his support to either Humphrey or Nixon; instead, he managed to draw just enough votes from Republicans and conservative Democrats to make Humphrey the clear winner, though the Minnesotan fell just short of a popular-vote majority.

Humphrey's victory was arguably critical to the future of the space program. A strong supporter of Apollo, he would push back against efforts, including some by influential figures in his own party, including fellow North Star Stater Sen. Walter Mondale, to terminate the program and forget its ambitious follow-on initiatives in order to free up money for social programs. By contrast, Richard Nixon was known to regard the Apollo program as an extravagance which would have outlived its usefulness once the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the race to put a man on the moon. The fact that the lunar-landing project was so closely tied in the public mind to Nixon's personal nemesis John F. Kennedy would surely not have helped its prospects had the Californian been elected to the White House. As things were, the program continued as planned through Apollo XX, laying the groundwork for the establishment of Tranquillity Base in 1980.

In 626 AD, the besieged City of Constantinople fell to a host of eighty thousand Avars bent on removing all Romano-Byzantine Imperial rule over Europe.

Constantinople Falls to the AvarsAn invading army sent by the Avar Khaganate was reinforced by large numbers of allied Slavs and the Sassanid Persians at Chalcedon, a nearby location on the mouth of the Bosphorus. From this peninsular bridgehead the Byzantine Capital was of course acutely vulnerable to attack.

But the fall of the City was in large part due to misfortune. Because two crushing setbacks befell the Byzantine defenders: the failure of their Greek Fire to subdue the Persian Navy, and the irreplacable loss of their iconic general, Heraclius and his brother Theodore during the recent campaign in Mesopotamia.

Nevertheless, early assaults by "the heathens" had been repelled because the defenders were fired up by the religious zeal of the Patriarch. But food shortages soon took their toll and ultimately the City was starved into submission. Because rioting began soon after the rations of the Imperial Guards were cut and the cost of bread raised from 3 to 8 folles.

Accompanied by the fall of Carthage and the conquest of Spain, Europe was being strangled into encirclement. Invading forces raced through southern Europe pausing only to burn the Greco-Roman literature that might have revived a future generation. With the bulwark of Constantinople removed, responsibility for the defence of a shrunken Europe had passed to the Franks.

In 1980, disregarding the unduly cautious legal advice of his attorney Gerry Davis, operating system guru Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc. (DRI) took a snap business decision and signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) presented by the impatient IBM lead negotiator Jack Sams.

CP/M licensed for IBM PCsWith that routine formality out of the way, the IBM representatives visibly relaxed, and the historic meeting at Pacific Grove progressed into substantive discussions. The conclusion was an agreement to license CP/M-86 for the IBM PC, but it was a done deal after Tom Rolander demonstrated DRI's brilliant multi-tasking operating system.

Until the NDA was signed, the IBM representatives had been unwilling to reveal their plans. Because their one-year accelerated product-to-market plan ("Project Chess") was dependent upon the taking of a strategic decision to drop their first choice Motorola chip. This judgement was central to the negotiations because DRI's MP/M-86 already worked on the second choice Intel 16-bit model (the operating system had actually been developed two years before).

Inevitably, the most sensitive aspect of the negotation was commercial. Because IBM opened bidding with a ludicrous offer of the one-off payment of $250,000 unaware that CP/M was generating annualised sales of $6m. Eventually, they settled on the scalar formula that would make Rowlander and Kildall (pictured) fabulously wealthy, a royalty price of $10 per license. After this business was concluded, three quite startling facts emerged.

  • Kildall and Rowlander had been scheduled to fly to meet with a CP/M distributor. Fortunately, the meeting had been cancelled because Kildall's wife Dororthy was notoriously hesitant to sign NDAs without her husband present.
  • DRI was scheduled to meet with representatives of IBM's competitor, Hewlett Packard that very afternoon.
  • IBM had made the lazy assumption that a company in Seattle owned CP/M. Amazingly, Jack Sams and his colleague Pat Harrington had even contacted a couple of "long-hairs" who had been reluctantly forced to admit they did not own the operating system and instead referred the IBM-ers to DRI.

In 1588, on this day a fleet of 130 Spanish naval vessels, dispatched from Lisbon three days earlier to rendezvous with the Duke of Parma's 300-ship flotilla in advance of a planned Spanish invasion of England, met with disaster when it ran into a massive storm that savaged it with torrential rains and hurricane-force winds. 123 of the 130 vessels in the Lisbon squadron were lost in storm, which subsequently turned north and inflicted substantial losses on the Duke of Parma's fleet-- less than a third of the Duke's 300 ships would survive the ordeal.

The Armada Storm by Chris OakleyThe loss of so many warships constituted a catastrophic blow to King Philip II's hopes for a successful conquest of England; it also left Spain vulnerable to foreign invasion and internal unrest. By 1596 an anti-Spanish rebellion in the Netherlands had succeeded in gaining Dutch independence and Spanish Protestants had risen against the largely Catholic monarchy in Madrid; by the early 1600s a pro-British government had been installed in power in Portugal (previously under Philip's rule along with Spain) and British troops had occupied much of southern Spain. The British occupation forces would remain there until the mid-1650s.

Handicapped by the wounds inflicted on its maritime power by what modern historians now call "the Armada storm", Spain would be left in the dust as France took over her former position as Britain's chief rival for supremacy in Europe and colonial territory elsewhere. Not until the late 18th century would the Spanish even begin to regain a semblance of their former power, and by then Britain and France had effectively locked Spain out of most of the New World.

In 1945, on this day at the Potsdam Conference, Truman told Stalin that the United States "had a new weapon of unusual destructive force". Stalin responded that was he was glad to hear it and hoped the Americans would make "good use of it against the Japanese".

Wave of the FutureIn fact Truman's were advisers were urging him to use the bomb on Japan, pointed out that its employment would avoid an invasion saving the lives of up to two million American troops.

And at Posdam the moral dilemma had finally become a point of decision with the receipt of a coded telegram from Secretary of War Henry Stimson ~ "Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Professor Leech pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted"..

Winston Churchill recorded the moment in his diary ~ "I was perhaps five yards away, and I watched with the closest attention the momentous talk. I knew what the President was going to do. What was vital to measure was its effect on Stalin. I can see it all as if it were yesterday. He seemed to be delighted. A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the whole Japanese war! What a bit of luck! This was my impression at the moment, and I was sure that he had no idea of the significance of what he was being told. Evidently in his immense toils and stresses the bomb had played no part. If he had the slightest idea of the revolution in world affairs which was in progress his reactions would have been obvious. Nothing would have been easier than for him to say, "Thank you so much for telling me about your new bomb. I of course have no technical knowledge. May I send my expert in these sciences to see your expert tomorrow morning?" But his face remained gay and genial and the talk between these two potentates soon came to an end. As we were waiting for our cars I found myself near Truman. "How did it go?" I asked. "He never asked a question," he replied. I was certain therefore that at that date Stalin had no special knowledge of [Project Seal] the vast process of research upon which the United States and Britain had been engaged for so long..". (in fact records released after the Soviet Premier's death prove Stalin was aware of the underwater explosions triggering mini-tidal waves at Whangaparaoa in 1944 and 1945).

Because "Project Seal", the top-secret experiments off the coast of Auckland had enabled Professor Thomas Leech to perfect the tidal wave bomb. Disappointingly four thousand test explosions over a seven-month period had only generated minor tsunamis. Yet the addition of a nuclear charge provided the opportunity to created huge amounts of damage to coastal cities. And Truman favoured this tsunami bomb to an atomic doomsday weapon, clearly seeing the opportunity for a powerful demonstration inflicting industrial damage without an enormous loss of civilian life.

To ensure that the strike was not mistaken for an act of nature, Truman issued an urgent plea to Japan to surrender before detonating the tsunami bomb which he described as ~ "harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East... We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the sea, the like of which has never been seen on this earth".

This final ultimatum was ignored and so on Monday, August 6, 1945 under the instruction of Leech the US Navy laid a pattern of underwater volcanic explosives to create a tsunami that would devastate the Tokyo Bay area. And bring the War in the Pacific to an abrupt close.

In 1946, Absaroka is admitted to the United States, becoming the forty-ninth state of the Union.Absaroka joins the Union by Eric Lipps

The new state is the first since the admission of West Virginia during the Civil War to be carved from the territory of an existing state - in this case, portions of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana along the Absaroka Mountain Range, a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains.

During the Depression, a movement to establish a new state took shape under the leadership of A.R. Swickard of Sheridan, Wyoming. Enthusiasm for the idea grew as residents disenchanted with what they believed was inadequate representation of their interests by their states' congressional delegations came to believe they would be better served by congressmen and senators elected to serve their region's shared interests, which they argued were distinct from those of the existing states.

During World War II, Swickard succeeded in winning support for his idea from influential businessmen, who in turn lobbied Congress and the state legislatures in Cheyenne, Pierre and Helena on "Absaroka"'s behalf.

By late 1945, support for the new state's admission was growing among the region's states for permitting the cession of land to form the new state, and resolutions of approval were submitted to Congress by the legislatures of all three affected states in early '46.

By prior agreement, Swickard's own home town of Sheridan is to be established as the new state's capital, while Swickard himself will become acting governor. He is to run for formal election to the governorship in the fall elections, which will also choose Absaroka's congressional contingent.

US Champion

On this day in 1983, the Rick Steamboat-Roddy Piper war reached its explosive climax as the former tag team partners slugged it out for the NWA world heavyweight championship at the third annual Great American Bash.

US Champion - Rick Steamboat
Rick Steamboat

It was one of the longest and bloodiest title matches ever seen at an NWA pay-per-view event, with the referee twice nearly calling a double disqualification before Steamboat finally won by submission by applying a Boston crab on Piper at the 43:37 mark. This would turn out to be Piper's final NWA appearance: after spending more than two months recuperating from the injuries he sustained in the title bout against Steamboat, he got involved in a serious contract dispute with the NWA's top executives and was soon let go by the company. Following his release from the NWA Piper signed on with the WWF, making his official debut with that federation at the second annual Royal Rumble in January of 1984 and quickly establishing himself as the heir to Tommy Rich's mantle of chief nemesis to reigning WWF world heavyweight champion Terry "Hulk" Hogan.

On the undercard of the Piper-Steamboat match at the Great American Bash an up-and-coming tag team known as the Road Warriors stunned fans around the world by winning the NWA world tag team titles from Ric Flair and Arn Anderson; hailing from one of the rougher sections of Chicago and managed by fellow Chicago native Paul Ellering, the Warriors(a.k.a. the Legion of Doom) would go to make wrestling history again by being the only duo to hold the NWA and AWA tag team belts simultaneously and achieving a unique trifecta by winning the WWF tag team titles in the early '90s.

On this day in 1968, the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia declared their independence from the Soviet Union and formed a three-state alliance.          


On this day in 1944, Adolf Hitler was buried in Munich in the most grandiose funeral of the Nazi era in Germany. During his eulogy for Hitler, Reich Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels lashed out at the entire Wehrmacht general staff in a tirade vitriolic even by Goebbels' own infamous standards; he accused them of being, as he put it, "silent accomplices in the Fuhrer's murder".

 - Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels

In 1949, on this day Michael Anthony Richards is born in Culver City, California.

A popular stand-up comedian and sometimes actor, Richards and his unique brand of physical comedy would become famous by way of his dual sitcom roles as wacky neighbour Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld (1989 - 1998) and bumbling private investigator Vic Nardozza on The Michael Richards Show (2000 - 2005). Between both these shows, Richards would win eight Emmy awards. He later reprised his role as Kramer on the four feature film spin-offs The Seinfeld Movie (2007), The Senfeld Sequel (2009), The Seinfeld Threequel (2010) and The End of the Seinfeld Trilogy (2012).

 - Michael Richards Show
Michael Richards Show

In 1837, Sir Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke demonstrate the first successful electric telegraph, transmitting a short message along five miles of wire strung between Euston and Camden Town in England.

Others have been working on similar systems, including the colonial American inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. Wheatstone and Cooke's demonstration, however, will win them priority in receiving a royal patent on this device.

 - Transmitter

In America, Morse will turn his attention to what others see as an impractical extension of the telegraph: the "telephone" a device capable of transmitting the human voice over a wire.

The competition between Wheatstone and Cooke in England and Morse and others in Britain's American colonies is a sign of the growing industrial and scientific power of the colonies since the decision by the Crown and Parliament during the Napoleonic period to end its earlier practice of stifling American industry to maintain a captive market for British manufactures. That policy, which had been profitable in the eighteenth century, had hobbled the colonies' ability to provide the mother country with arms during the years of conflict with the French Empire, nearly enabling Bonaparte to win.

Alternate Historian's PG13 Warning: I have a story today that has very adult language, situations and themes, so I'm not posting it on the main page, but linking to it here: Rats Geocities. You've been warned.
In 1940, UK War Leader Winston Churchill delivers a radio broadcast in which he confirmined the worst - Germany has been able to establish a beachhead in Southern England. All that stands between Hitler and the Conquest of the British Isles is the remnants of Dunkirk; 500 field pieces, 200 tanks of all ages and the evacuated troops. It was time 'to do or die' said Churchill.
In 1783, Simon Bolivar, Spanish conquistadore, was born in Caracas, Venezuela. The greatest of Spain's colonial generals, he crushed rebellions throughout Latin America.
In 1974, in a little-understood case, the Nixon administration seeks and receives a judgment from the Supreme Court that, if the administration has records and audiotapes subpoenaed, it may exert Executive Privilege to keep them secret. No one is quite sure why the administration did this.
In 1969, the Hollywood studio produces the last part of the moon landing hoax, and the capsule with the 3 Apollo astronauts is dropped into the ocean. Many of the crewmen are then killed by the government to cover up the hoax; this action is what prompts so many of the remaining crew to make copies of the hoax film, and to speak out about what they did.
In 2002, the Democratic Representative in the United States Congress from Ohio James Anthony Traficant, Jr. was the subject of federal investigation. Allegations of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering, and forcing his aides to perform chores at his farm in Ohio and on his houseboat in Washington, D.C. were found to be true. Recognized for his iconoclastic flamboyance, Majority Leader Teddy Kennedy paid a gushing tribute to Traficant on the 'Tonight Show' for 'keeping it gangsta'.

In 1967, during an official state visit to the North American Union, French President Charles de Gaulle declares to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: Vive le Quebec libre! (Long live free Quebec!). The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the British government and many English North Americans.

Salems Lot

In 1969, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts sat up, the sheet falling from his chest and Joseph Gargan (Kennedy's cousin) saw the incisor marks upon his throat as the neckbrace fell away.

Teddy smiled, and his canines and incisors were white and sharp. The smile itself was a mere flexing of the muscles around the mouth; it never touched the eyes. They retained their original dead blackness.

Salems Lot -

Kennedy said very clearly, 'Look at me..

Gargan looked. Yes, the eyes were uttterly blank. But very deep. You could almost see little silver cameos of yourself in those eyes, drowning sweetly, making the world seem unimportant, making fears seem unimportant-

He stepped backward and cried out, 'No! No!' And held the crucifix out. ~'The Emperor of Ice Cream'

In 1929, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, renouncing war as an instrument of foreign policy, went into effect. The pact was named after the American secretary of state Frank B. Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand, who drafted the framework agreement. It was first signed in Paris on August 27, 1928 by most leading world powers, ushering in a new era of peace of prosperity.
In 1967, during an official state visit to New France on the pretext of attending Expo 67, British Prime Minister Enoch Powell declared to a crowd of over 100,000 in Toronto 'Long live free Ontario!'. The statement, interpreted as support for independence, delighted many Torontonians but angered the French government and many Francophone North Americans.

July 23

In 1885, on this day disgraced US President Ulysses S. Grant died in Wilton, New York. Although his reputation had been tarnished by corruption, it was to little avail because he died with his family income in an even more parlous state. A variant of Eric Lipps' Republic of Nicaragua unveiles the Walker Monument article.

Little Lamented Passing of the Galena TannerA leading architect of the Union victory, he then made the mistake of allowing his personal prestige to be exploited by hero image manipulators. And ultimately, he was drawn into a defeat more dreadful than any of the bloody battles he fought against the Confederacy. By the time he left the Oval Office, conservative white Southerners had regained control of Southern state governments and Democrats had taken control of the federal House of Representatives. Worst of all, he was forced to watch as his Reconstruction policies were being undone.

During his second term his Administration was beset by accusations of avarice and corruption, but it was one particular scandal that sealed his fate. At issue was the recovery of $500 million worth of Lost Confederate Gold. Depending upon the truth of various reports, this was either in the hands of the Union Generals charged with the investigation, or the hateful former Confederate General William Walker and his co-hort slave-owners lording over the rebel Republic of Nicaragua. However the Vanderbilt Scandal revealed that Union Generals had secretly been given shares in the Nicaragua Canal Franchise by American businessmen in exchange for their silence. In short, they had conspired to establish a cabal of oligarchs that directly profiteered from the hard-won surrender that Grant himself had received at Appomattox Court House. Because the Union Generals were Grant's brother officers, it was nigh on impossible for him to distance himself from this kleptocracy.

In 1883, the incomparable Anglo-Irish General Alan Francis Brooke was born on this day in Bagnéres-de-Bigorre, France to a prominent Anglo-Irish family from West Ulster with a long military tradition. He was the seventh and youngest child of Sir Victor Brooke, 3rd Baronet, of Colebrooke, Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Ireland, and the former Alice Bellingham, second daughter of Sir Alan Bellingham, 3rd Baronet, of Castle Bellingham in County Louth. Brooke was educated in Pau, France, where he lived until the age of 16. Thanks to his upbringing in the country he became a fluent French speaker.

Birth of General Alan Brooke, SHAEFAlready one of Britain's foremost Generals, he rose to prominence in the Battle of France by anticipating the Belgium Collapse and in so doing saving the British Expeditionary Force. He then replaced Edmund Ironside as the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) [1], partly because Churchill found it easier to work with Brooke than his rival John Dill.

In fact Brooke had an unseen ability to filter the impulsiveness of Churchill whose health declined sharply after his heart attack in the White House during Christmas 1941. With Churchill as little more than a figurehead and making an increasing use of doubles, he was given the opportunity to shape the overall war strategy. As opposed to Churchill's "let's hit them at any given opportunity" or the US initially overly self-confident "let's invade right now". It was through this system of thinking that Brooke conceived the idea of arming Vichy France.

Although John Dill had clashed with Churchill, he had formed excellence relationships on the Combined Staffs in the US. In tandem, Dill and Brooke developed a Europe first approach that would enable Roosevelt to disengage US ground troops at the end of the war. Under the top secret plan Britain was to arm Vichy troops and link up with them in an Allied landing at Bordeaux and La Rochelle (at the time Britain had no official military links with Vichy and its forces were fighting Petain's troops in Madagascar). And Brooke would receive the appointment of Commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in order to build a European-led post-war security structure, in fact was the natural choice after Eisenhower resigned over the Kay Summersby affair when he insisted upon divorcing his wife Mamie against the advice of Washington.

In 1952, General Muhammad Naguib leads the Free Officers Movement (formed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real power behind the coup) in overthrowing King Farouk of Egypt. As a result, four years later, the country was divided into two nations, the Egyptian Republic and the Sudan and the UN-takeover of the canal as international territory.

Egypt Formally DividedWhile ruling its own ancient empires for millennia, Egypt became a prize in modern times that rarely had its own independence. Centuries of rule by the Ottomans ended with occupation by the French under Napoleon in 1798. Muhammad Ali seized power upon the departure of the French, creating a sultanate with British backing still nominally under the banner of the Ottomans. European influence continued and increased as the French-constructed Suez Canal was completed in 1869, making Egypt a nexus of world commerce. Britain began a new occupation of Egypt in 1882, though growing opposition from the populace caused them to establish a sultanate under Hussein Kamel in 1914. In 1922, the British ended Egypt's protectorate status, though British troops remained, and Fuad I declared himself king.

After the Second World War, the empires of Europe were exhausted, and a new era of Post-Colonialism came upon regions of the world that had been ruled for years by faraway governments. Egypt was particularly eager to rid itself of British involvement and a royal family whose government was considered impossibly corrupt. Soviet and American propaganda contributed to the feelings of the Egyptians, who had already begun to form a society known as the Free Officers aimed at ending dominance by elites and establishing democracy. They came under command of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who coordinated and recruited key men within the military and bureaucracy. Defeat in the 1948 war with Israel firmly set the nation against the British-friendly royals, and action began to overthrow King Farouk I.

In 1952, resistance fighters known as the fedayeen attacked British points of strength, particularly at the Suez Canal, where violent measures and strikes had been carried out for years. The British pursued a group of fedayeen to a police station in Ismailia, where the police refused to cooperate with British demanding the attackers be turned over. A firefight ensued, and fifty Egyptian police were killed along with a hundred wounded. Free Officers instigated riots that became the internationally notorious Cairo Fires. King Farouk ended the government and attempted to install a series of prime ministers who could alleviate the turmoil, but the end had come. General Muhammad Naguib, the face of the Free Officers Movement, announced a coup as Nasser's allies took control of communication and transport hubs. The king fled to Italy, and the government was placed in the hands of the Revolutionary Command Council with Naguib as chairman and Nasser as vice-chairman.

The RCC quickly began reforms on land ownership, ending the power of former royals. Land reform seized property from anyone white as well as anyone Jewish, Greek, or Coptic. Naguib envisioned a fast transition to civilian government, but other RCC members such as Nasser were more comfortable with military rule during the turbulent times as political parties (which became banned) could challenge their control. Nasser began to chafe under Naguib's conservatism and expanded his own powers. Naguib gradually became a puppet holding executive offices and was forced to carry out RCC mandates despite his own voice being ignored. Finally Naguib began to call for support from the banned political parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wafd, who had served as a liberalizing faction in the past decades.

Nasser responded by having his allies in the military arrest Naguib in February of 1954. Following the announcement, however, protests rose up from the people so much that Naguib was released and reinstated. Even as Naguib came back into his position, Nasser moved to make himself prime minister and strip the office of commander of the army from Naguib, whom Nasser accused of aspiring to become dictator. Defying the majority of RCC opinion, Naguib determined to denounce Nasser publically and called for immediate elections to a constitutional convention, riding the wave of anti-Nasser sentiment from his unlawful arrest.

Much of the army was still loyal to Nasser, but Naguib had been an influential commander and, using what was left of his command, relieved many of Nasser's allies. The populace reaffirmed his demand for elections with demonstrations, and Nasser could not muster enough support to stop the movement. Having cut out much of Nasser's support, Naguib reappointed Nasser as a representative to Europe to push for British withdrawal from the Suez Canal. Nasser refused to leave Egypt and determined to continue RCC government while Naguib pressed for elections with his own staff. Fighting ensued and spread to become the Egyptian Civil War. Nasser's forces held the north while Naguib, half-Sudanese himself, controlled the south. Britain and France eagerly moved to aid Naguib, while Nasser, who eventually sought to nationalize the Suez Canal, gained aid from the Soviet bloc. The war dragged on to a standstill, much as had been seen in Korea between the American-aided south and Chinese-aided north. Sinai and the Suez Canal were occupied by Israel, whose armies devastated any forces sent by Nasser to retake it.

In 1956, UN resolutions affirmed the separation of Egypt into the Egyptian Republic and the Sudan and the UN-takeover of the canal as international territory, which was demanded by US President Eisenhower. Ideas of pan-Arabism had been shattered along with the Arab League, and instead the Cold War carved up the region into clear Soviet-leaning and West-leaning nations. Revolutions were suppressed by dominant parties while funding from economic patron countries allowed for development within the nations and pacification of despondent peoples. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, much of the foreign political influence diminished while the price of oil remained low through the 1990s and early 2000s. Global development increased demand for oil, creating a new era of wealth for the region.

In 1745, on this day the twenty-five year Stuart pretender "Bonnie Prince Charlie" stepped ashore at Moidart in the Outer Hebrides, his tiny invasion force disembarked and the second Jacobite rebellion began in earnest.

The Forty-Five BeginsThe audacious Jacobite plan was to gather both momentum and support as they marched south to link up with an invading French army. And fortune was on their side from the outset. One hundred miles off Lizard Point in Cornwall, the Doutelle and Elisabeth had been intercepted by the 64-gun warship HMS Lion. But because the Admiralty was unsure of Charles' planned landing the Royal Naval Officers had mistakenly assumed that the two French ships were bound for North America.

The Jacobite standard was raised by a gathering of Highland clansmen at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands. Victories then followed at Prestonpans near Edinburgh and then across the border at Carlisle. By December, the Jacobite Army had reached the east midlands town of Derby, just one hundred miles from the capital city of London. By the time that they crossed the Swarkestone Bridge on December 6th, British divisions were finally being recalled from Flanders, but the Hanoverian Royal Family had already made up their own minds. Because George II was already packing his bags and planning to flee to the Continent. Incredibly, many of Charles' commanders wanted to quit as well. They had chosen this historic moment to call for a retreat back to to Scotland, but fortunately the Young Pretender chose to ignore them and the rest is history.

In 2004, on this day a new era of multi-faith brotherhood was ushered in by Prime Minister Mr Recep Tayip Ergogan who symbolically re-opened the Stari Most (Old Bridge) at Mostar (pictured), a project funded by his Government of Turkey in order to sponsor nation-building in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Nation BuildersThe Ragusan Bridge over the River Neretva was torn down by the invading Turks in 1467. A new construction was built in 1566 by an Ottoman Engineer called Hayreddin who was at that time architect-in-chief to Suleiman the Magnificent. The result was admired by everybody for its beauty and technical perfection, surviving many wars for centuries.

Christians and Muslims could freely move between the markets and mosques of the city. "Yes, it is our bridge too". ~ Croatian Vice-MayorAt least until the madness of 1992/3. Because after two days of shelling, on 9 November 1993 an artillery unit from the Croatian side of the city finally brought down the old bridge. Croatian vice-mayor of the city Mr Tomic admitted "For a long time afterwards, the Croats said - it was their [the Muslims] bridge, so what do we care? Now they are beginning to realise. Yes, it is our bridge too.".

Ten years later the Croats agreed with the Muslims, it was time to rebuild the bridge. The Turkish President Mr Ahmet Necdet Sezer flew into Mostar to promise Turkish money, a generous offer that was warmly received in the open-handed manner in which it was given. As the great man once said, something was missing in this harsh world, and that was love...

In 1897, on this day the Serbian inventor Nichola Teslai renegotiated a ten-year pause on payment with the near-bankrupt power company Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing company who provided his generators to their electrification program.

Tesla Renegotiates his Contract Having immigrated to the United States in 1884 with little more than a letter of introduction in his pocket, Serbian Nikola Tesla would change the world with his inventive genius. He had worked in France with the Continental Edison Company, and now in America, he worked with Edison himself to improve the great American inventor's direct current generators. Tesla believed he was promised $50,000 if he could solve inefficiencies, which he did, but Edison assured him that the agreement was merely a joke, and the Serbian was paid $18 a week. Another argument over money would cause Tesla to quit and venture out on his own.

Tesla Electric Lighting & Manufacture allowed him to work on his own projects such as X-ray research, radio transmission, and inventing the "Tesla coil", but money was difficult to come by. His major development was pushing his "alternating current" generator, which allowed for long-distance transmission of electricity far more efficiently than Edison's DC. Tesla joined forces with the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing company, providing his generators to their electrification program.

Competition between Westinghouse and Edison erupted in what is often called the "War of the Currents". While AC was logically the superior technology, Edison would not give up his monopoly of having short-range power plants on every block. Each company launched enormous public relations and advertising campaigns, the most famous being Edison's display of the dangers of alternating current by electrocuting an elephant. Eventually, AC would win out, but the cost of the war would be disastrous. Edison had other companies to fall back on, but Westinghouse was ruined.

In 1897, Westinghouse met with Tesla to tell him of his company's financial problems. Tesla, who had always appreciated Westinghouse's faith in his ideas about alternating current and Niagara Falls, sat back in his chair to ponder how to offer help. His royalties on each kilowatt generated was costing Westinghouse a fortune, and he could give great aid to his friend if he were to waive them. Instead of tearing up his contract outright, Tesla offered a ten-year pause on payment. Westinghouse was delighted to take the deal.

The next decade were lean years for Tesla. He set up his laboratory at Colorado Springs, investigating the ionosphere and inventing his Teslascope. In 1900, he began a radio-transmission tower at Wardenclyffe to achieve trans-Atlantic contact, but his time and money was consumed in an ever-escalating legal battle with Guglielmo Marconi, the showman who had absconded many of Tesla's radio patents. By 1907, Tesla was nearly bankrupt, but Westinghouse came through with his promise of the return of Tesla's overdue patents. Armed with extra funds, Tesla was able to achieve legal victory with Marconi handing over patents and back-payment. Eventually the two would be rectified when they received a joint Nobel Prize in 1909. Marconi would take over Tesla's public operations, working out an agreement that would allow both to profit in the growing radio technology.

Tesla, meanwhile, would return to his well funded laboratories. As World War I approached, Tesla, Westinghouse, and Marconi would present new weapon ideas to the US Army. Radio-controlled torpedoes, RADAR, and a "peace ray" that used teleforce to destroy any incoming airplanes all came into development by America's introduction to the war in 1917. By the end of the war, the US Army was beginning experiments with ion-propelled electrically-based planes that would be the short-range jets of the 1930s. Long-range broadcast would allow the public air travel of the 1950s to surge, eclipsing trains worldwide with cigar-shaped flying ships.

In the 1920s, Tesla would turn his attention to field theory. After much work, on his 81st birthday, Tesla announced his "dynamic theory of gravity". The theory would override much of the work of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which would prove to be a mathematical illusion more than hard physics. While the science was established early, it would not be until the 1960s that effectively engineered gravity-drives would propel American astronauts to the Moon and, in 1986, to Mars.

Tesla would die January 7, 1943, over a year after his Tesla ray would prove defensive capabilities in the Battle of Pearl Harbor by destroying the second and third waves of Japanese attackers. The world would mourn its greatest inventor.

In 1861, amidst the chaotic evacuation of the US Government from Washington City on this day, US President Abraham Lincoln was shot dead by a deranged stage actor, John Wilkes Booth (pictured).

Crucifixion DayChaos had ensued the moment that defeated Union forces returned from the Battle of Bull Run. Because in the first (and last) major land battle of the American Civil War, General Irvin McDowell's Union forces had been routed at Manassas Junction.

"We have whipped them! They ran like sheep! Give me 5,000 fresh men and I will be in Washington City tomorrow!" ~ "Stonewall" JacksonWorse was to come. Fast on the heels of the defeated Union Army of Northeastern Virginia was an advance force of five thousand Confederate troops led by "Stonewall" Jackson, considered by many to be the architect of the victory at Bull Run. By mid afternoon, a battery of rifled guns had been established on Arlington Heights, and the first elements of the Army of North Virginia were crossing the Long Bridge.

It was a far cry from the high hopes of US Congressmen who had taken up the cry of: "On to Richmond!". Because the only one of them who actually made it there, Alfred Ely of New York, did so as a prisoner.

In 5923, of this Christian Mundane Era the following notice was published in Wuttermberg ~ with due regard to the sworn testimony of God-fearing citizens, in accordance with the Lord's holy scripture, the semite Let there be lightAlbert Einstein sentenced with cum fossa et furca to be executed by drowning-pit and gallows on the morrow morning. Found guilty of advocating heretical science by magistrates of this good parish of Ulm.
Persuant to Holy Scripture, Genesis 1 (The Beginning) Verses 3-4 refers ~
And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night". And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.
On this day of our Lord, 5863 C.M.U. Not the potter, but the potter's clay. Amen.

In 1972, on this day Walter Cronkite departed CBS News with the final words "Ladies and gentlemen, for the last ten years, I've had the honor of giving you the day's news and events, some of the world's greatest triumphs and worst tragedies. I have always tried to present the news in a way that you - the American people - can relate to. But now I have been asked to serve in a far more important role. I have been asked by Senator George McGovern to step in as his Vice-Presidential candidate for the upcoming election, and I have decided to accept. Although I may seem to be an unusual choice, I will do my utmost for the ticket. This will be my last broadcast as CBS Evening News anchor. Again, it has been an honor. Thank you, and good night".

Balanced Ticket by Zach TimmonsIn what has come to be regarded as one of the biggest political bombshells in US history, one week prior to the newscast, McGovern, tanking in the polls due to the Eagleton fiasco, had (almost as a joke) put forward the idea of asking Cronkite, the "most trusted man in America", to be his VP candidate. Cronkite heard about it through various contacts and called McGovern to see if he was serious; when McGovern responded that he was, Cronkite allegedly said, "When do I report?".

"The most trusted man in America". Rumors had been swirling around Washington and the Democratic and GOP election headquarters; within minutes of Cronkite's announcement, the White House issues a press release denouncing the move as a "gimmick" and ridiculing Cronkite's total lack of political experience. Privately, though, Nixon is very worried; his entire strategy against McGovern had been to hammer him as a radical left-winger. The addition of the highly-respected establishment figure Cronkite to the Democratic ticket makes this a very dicey plan.

On this day in 1969, the crew of Apollo 5 returned to Earth from their historic lunar mission; that same day Charles 'Pete' Conrad was named as mission commander for the Apollo 6 lunar mission, set to take place in October of 1969.

Astronaut - Charles Conrad
Charles Conrad

On this day in 2007, Magical Trevor filmed his second TV commercial, this time touting the joys of chocolate.


In 2014, on this day Jerry Bruckheimer's big-screen movie version of his hit crime TV series CSI officially tied Lord of the Rings: Return of the King for second place on the all-time international movie box office hit list. It would pass King two days later and by early August would be overtaking Titanic for the top spot on that list just as it had broken Titanic's US box office record during the 4th of July weekend.

 - Jerry Bruckenheimer
Jerry Bruckenheimer
In 1998, scientists at Miskatonic University announce the cloning of 50 frogs. Panic breaks out at the press conference when several of the 'frogs' break free and begin eating the reporters.
In 14, the armies of the faithful take control of the Holy Land from the pagan Byzantines. The only sorrow marring the joy of the faithful was that Muhammed had ascended to Heaven and had not stayed to see his people retake their ancient home.
In 1997, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein dies of throat cancer. After Saddam's rather lavish funeral, forces loyal to the army stage a coup against Saddams sons, the Baathist regime is over. The Iraqi military establishes a junta to govern the country. Sadaam successors jockey for position but in 2003 they have to work together to avoid a U.S. invasion.
In 1977, octogenarian Chiang Kai-shek sought refuge on the island of Formosa for the second time. This time there would be no return to the mainland, and also, he had not been able to steel the gold and foreign currency reserves of the Chinese nation again.
In 1946, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast to the nation following the Irgun bombing of the previous day.

Ninety people were killed when arch terrorist Menachem Begin destroyed the headquarters of the British civil and military administration at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister said that the perpetrators of this heinous command would be brought to justice and the British Mandate in Palestine would continue. Churchill meant it when he said he would not preside over the end of the British Empire.
In 1969, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts was lying on the bed, he opened his eyes. They glittered for just a moment in the moonlight, silver rimmed with red. They were as blank as washed blackboards. There was no human thought or feeling in them. The eyes are the windows of the soul, Wordsworth had said. If so, these windows looked in on an empty room. ~'The Emperor of Ice Cream'
In 1840, the Dominion of New Britain is created by the Act of Union. This Anglophone pocket of North America would the refuge of the fleeing British Royal Family in 1940. Head of the British Government in Exile Winston Churchill called this traumatic period 'the British Empire and Commonwealth's darkest hour'.
In 1914, Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia allowing the Austrians to find out who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When Serbia accepts their demands tension with Austria-Hungary subsides.
In 1883, Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO was born on this day in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, France. As the professional head of the British Army, Brooke quarrrelled bitterly with Minister of War Winston Churchill over the defence of Norway in 1940. Eight weeks later, both Brooke and Churchill resigned over Lord Halifax's Carthaginian peace settlement with Adolf Hitler.
In 1864, Brigadier-General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer CB was born on this day. He bravely resisted pressure from Lieutenant Governor of Punjab Michael O'Dwyer to open fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children at Amritsar (or Jallianwala Bagh) in 1919. In a telegram to Mr Montagu, Secretary of State (India) Dyer wrote - 'For me Amritsar is not the battle-field of France. I am a military man and I will go straight.' Years later, Punjabi separatist Udham Singh travelled to the UK and assassinated Dyer in a in a daring and audicious revenge attack.

July 22

In 1923, American soldier and politician Robert Joseph Dole was born on this day in the small city of Russell, Kansas.

Birth of Mr. RepublicanCritically wounded in World War Two, he recovered to launch a national political career, representing Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996 and in the House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969. In the 1976 presidential election, Dole was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President and incumbent President Gerald Ford's running mate. In the presidential election of 1996, Dole was the Republican nominee for President, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent President Bill Clinton.

Ultimately his "bridge to the past" and "last mission of the greatest generation" failed to catch on but two events brought him unexpectedly close to the finishing line. John Tower's confirmation as Secretary of Defence resulted in Dick Cheney becoming the Speaker of the House. Although he was equally conservative in outlook like alternative candidates such as Newt Gingrich, Cheney was careful to avoid a budgetary confrontation with the White House that would backfire on the Republicans. Secondly the Lewinsky Affair mysteriously broke during the election bringing Jesse Jackson into the Democrat Primaries and taking Clinton all the way to the convention. These events made the 1996 one of the most unpredictable ones in history.

Author's Note: in reality in the 1976 presidential election, Dole was the Republican Party nominee for Vice President and incumbent President Gerald Ford's running mate. In the presidential election of 1996, Dole was the Republican nominee for President, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent President Bill Clinton.

In 1456, fulfilling his sworn oath to eat his dinner that evening in the fallen fortress city of Belgrade, Sultan Mehmet II expressed admiration for his vanquished foe, John Hunyadi, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary "Although he was my enemy I feel grief over his death, because the world has never seen such a man".

Doom bell rings for Western EuropeThis was high praise indeed coming from the conqueror of Constantinople. Had Hunyadi or his redoubtable son Matthias Corvinus held out Christendom might have been saved, but instead the Sultan now possessed the keys to Western Europe. In fact the Ottoman Empire would continue its expansion with the capture of Vienna in 1529, a situation that was not reversed until what some historians call the Great Crusade of 1683.

Author's Note: The siege eventually escalated into a major battle, during which Hunyadi led a sudden counterattack that overran the Ottoman camp, ultimately compelling the wounded Sultan Mehmed II to lift the siege and retreat. The battle had significant consequences, as it stabilized the southern frontiers of the Kingdom of Hungary for more than half a century and thus considerably delayed the expansion of the Ottoman Empire.

The Pope celebrated the victory as well, and he previously ordered all Catholic kingdoms to pray for the victory of the defenders of Belgrade. This led to the noon bell ritual that is still undertaken in Catholic and old Protestant churches to this day.

Since 2011, the date 22 July, when Christian forces led by John Hunyadi and John of Capistrano defeated the Ottoman Turks besieging Belgrade in 1456, has been a national memorial day in Hungary

In 1923, on this day future Republican Presidential Nominee Robert Joseph ("Bob") Dole was born in Russell, Kansas. Despite a fine public speaking career in the Senate, he floundered badly on presentation with a series of mis-steps throughout the 1984 race. This campaign failure enabled the Democratic Party to occupy the White House for a further four years after Ted Kennedy's two terms of office. An article from the No Chappaquiddick by Eric Lipps in which EMK's car only almost went off that bridge on July 18, 1969.

Bob Dole gifts the '84 race to Gary HartThe first of two scheduled debates between the presidential contenders was held on October 7th. Focused on domestic policy, Dole asserted the need to "rein in the growth of entitlement programs", which he asserts are "sapping the initiative of Americans" and which he blamed for rising inflation, now at 9 percent annually, and for continuing federal deficits, which have run between $30 billion and $50 billion a year since 1981.

Departing briefly from the agreed-on restrictions on the debate's scope, Democratic candidate Gary Hart noted that the ongoing Iran-Iraq war had contributed to a substantial rise in the price of oil, which he asserted was the most important factor in the growth of the federal deficit. An angry Dole accused him of trying to shift the blame for deficits away from a Democratic administration, and demanded that moderator Barbara Walters of ABC rebuked Hart for "breaking the rules of debate we both agreed on in advance".. Walters admonished Hart, who avoids references to foreign affairs for the remainder of the debate. However, Dole's harsh response to his opponent's words hurt the Republican candidate with the TV audience, to whom he comes across as hot-tempered.

In the second presidential debate on October 21st, Democratic candidate Gary Hart returned to the idea that recent federal deficits and high inflation were largely the products of the ongoing Gulf war. His opponent Robert Dole responded testily: "If that's so, Senator, why hasn't your party taken more aggressive steps to end that war? Why is President Kennedy sitting on his hands while ordinary Americans find it more and more difficult to make ends meet, and why should we believe you'd do any better?". Commentators generally agreed that Dole had won this debate on points. Once again, however, his hostile tone costs him with the national audience.

The Republican national convention opened at the Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas on August 20th. Three days later, Dole received the party's nomination for president. In his acceptance speech, he announced he has chosen New York Rep. Jack Kemp as his running-mate. Dole's choice of Kemp was more strategic than based on personal chemistry between the two men. As a Midwesterner, Dole believed he needs Kemp as a connection to the GOP's wealthy "Eastern establishment". The choice, however, alienates the party's Western wing, which had been pushing for Bush. On November 7th Senator Gary Hart was elected President, defeating Republican opponent Senator Robert Dole of Kansas. Unbeknown to Gart, the seeds of his own destruction had been sown and he would be defeated by Kemp four years later.

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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.