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

August 27

In 1896, brilliant scientist and inventor Léon Theremin was born Lev Sergeyevich Termen into a family of French Huguenot and German ancestry in Saint Petersburg in the Russian Empire.

Birth of Leon Theremin: Father of the ThingOne of his many acoustic inventions was an early electronic musical instrument that could be controlled without physical contact. And as fate would have it, one of the many enthusiastic amateur players of this incredible device was the notorious Bolshevik Revolutionary called Lenin. Of course Lenin had some considerable free leisure time on his hands, because he had been forced underground after his arrival at the Finland Station in April 1917. Along with Trotsky, he had secretly met with Theremin and the conversation took the oddest of turns.

Two years later Alexander Kerensky and his ministers were invited to the Paris Peace Talks. Of course their presence was expected to be little more than a courtesy as the Four Great Powers intended to frame the final agreement. Nevertheless, they were consulted by the Imperialist architects, and those very revealing discussions were transmitted to the Bolshevik leadership by an ingeniously remote-powered eavesdropping device known as "The Thing" that had also been developed by Theremin. Needless to say, when the cynical nature of the secret discussions were revealed to working class militants in Saint Petersburg the city rose in uproar. Shortly after the establishment of a Soviet Government, Theremin took his musical instrument to the United States. He continued to conduct espionage operations for the Soviet Union until his exposure when Whittaker Chambers was turned in 1948.

In 1664, on this day the Dutch defenders of Fort Amsterdam received first reports that the English invasion fleet had sunk in a storm. An article from the American Heroes thread.

Relief in the Big OrangeThe capital of the New Netherlands had miraculously survived. And to celebrate victory in the Third Anglo-Dutch War ten years later, the defense was renamed Fort Willem Hendrick (pictured) in honor of the Dutch leader who was Stadtholder and Prince of Orange. And New Amsterdam was renamed New Orange.

Due to the peaceful manner in which the region was later,transitioned to the United States, Dutch-American relationship remained warm. As a result, three hundred years later, the ten-lane elevated highway stretching from the East River to the Hudson River, connecting the Holland Tunnel on the west side to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges to the east was named the Willem Hendrick Expressway [1].

In 1809, on this day 17th President of the United States Hannibal Hamlin was born to Anna (née Livermore) and Cyrus Hamlin in Paris, Maine. He was a descendant in the sixth generation of English colonist James Hamlin, who had settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1639. Hamlin was a great nephew of U.S. Senator Samuel Livermore II of New Hampshire,and a grandson of Stephen Emery, Maine's Attorney General in 1839-1840.

Birth of President HamlinPrior to his election as Vice President in 1860, Hamlin served in the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, and, briefly, as the 26th Governor of Maine. And with Abraham Lincoln in ill health, as Acting President he planned and executed the Union response to the secession of Maryland. Federal Troops were sent into Washington, Allegany, Garrett and Frederick counties to support a Western State's retrocession into the Union with Hagerstown as State Capital. Weeks later, Lincoln was dead and his policies had unraveled; Hamlin was forced to relocate the Federal Capital to Philadelphia.

The vengeful Booth struck four years later after the US Government had returned to Washington City. After mortally wounding Hamlin, he leaped gracefully onto the stage of Ford's Theater, landing uninjured while announcing to the audience, "Sic semper tyrannis!" During the chaos, he made his escape out the back door, adding, "The South is avenged!".

Federal troops poured into southern Maryland in pursuit, and a $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to his capture. They followed his trail to Virginia, where Booth was spotted on April 26 in the tobacco barn of farmer Richard H. Garrett. After a brief shootout with intelligence officers under Everton Conger, Booth again escaped on horseback while his accomplices were captured.

Booth fled deep into Virginia, disappearing forever. Many cases of "Booth-fever" would lead to numerous captures of innocent men, and it was believed that Booth was able to escape out of the newly reunited country or out west, living among miners and ranchers who had never heard of his fame. Because of his acting abilities, there would be a great deal of theories about where he could have ended up. Other theories suggested he died attempting to ford rivers under the cover of darkness while still others hold that enraged Southerners, whether white or black, killed him on sight and did not leave enough remains to identify.

One year later, in Columbus, Georgia, the Ladies Memorial Association determined that a day should be set aside for remembrance of the Southern dead in the Civil War. Elizabeth Ellis chose the day April 26, referring to General Johnston's surrender, but soon Booth's disappearance came to mind. After proper review the Association determined the memorial would be held for all dead, including a special commemoration of President Hamlin. Flowers were placed on graves both Confederate and Union while a wreath was dispatched to Illinois. Booth ironically contributed to great healing between the two halves of the American nation.

In 1941, Japanese Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye meets with President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States in order to improve relations between the two countries in light of Japan's war with China.

Konoye meets FDRKonoye, who hated the European fascists that his country had allied itself with, sought to divert American attention from his country to Europe; he knew that Roosevelt also hated the fascists, and was quite willing to be moved in that direction, if Konoye could assure him that American interests in the Pacific would not be compromised by Japan.

The Prime Minister was eager to grant such guarantees, and returned to Japan with a peace agreement that relieved a great deal of pressure from the island nation. Although the military was unhappy with this deal, they saw the advantage of not having to fight American forces in addition to the allies of China that they were currently struggling against. They called off a secret plan to attack Hawaii and other Pacific American possessions in the winter, and instead focused on the Chinese mainland and the nations of Oceania.

In 1975, in accordance with his heartfelt wishes, Generalissimo and former ROC President Chiang Kai-shek was buried in his native Fenghua, a county-level city in the north of Zhejiang province, mainland China [1]. It was the final leg of a historic journey from Taipei, the Taiwanese capital city that he had ruled in exile for twenty-nine years.

The Tragedy at Wuhan Part 2Due to his ancient rivalry with Chairman Mao (pictured together) these funeral arrangements would have been unthinkable prior to The Tragedy at Wuhan. However the pace of development and reform had moved ahead at an incredible speed under his dynamic successor, Deng Xiaoping.

Following on from the official state visit from President Nixon, Chiang was invited to visit Deng's Beijing. It was a city transformed, no longer did a smiling but nevertheless demagogic portrait hang menacingly over the Forbidden City. Instead, change and transformation were in the air. And in this positive atmosphere, the representatives of White and Red China agreed to a collaborative partnership that would bring Taiwanese finance and technology into mainland development [2].

If it was a legacy that the ageing Generalissimo could be proud of then surely few could begrudge his request to be buried in his native Fenghua where the incredible story of his life had been almost ninety years before. It was an epic saga of lifelong struggle for an ideal. And in the finest traditions of Chinese literature it ended fittingly on a high note of supreme achievement. Because as China re-emerged as a regional superpower, the photograph of two ancient rivals finally became a new icon of this unexpected but nevertheless welcome partnership. Two great helmsmen, staring out into an exhilarating future.

In 1324 BC, on this day Hittite prince Zannanza narrowly survived a bandit attack before safely crossing the border into Upper Egypt.

Zannanza, Pharaoh of EgyptHis father Suppiluliuma I, king of the Hittites had reluctantly agreed to Egyptian Queen Dakhamunzu's offer of marriage to one of his sons. Widowed, and without an heir, she had appealed to him in writing "My husband has died and I have no son. They say about you that you have many sons. You might give me one of your sons to become my husband. I would not wish to take one of my subjects as a husband .. I am afraid".

Of course Zannanza was to discover that the Queen was not just isolated, she had very specific reasons for her fear, because the bandit attack had been organized by the same devil's that murdered her husband Tutankhamun. But the conspirators bid for power was counterproductive, because inadvertently their actions would lead to the creation of a powerful unified Hittite/Egyptian Empire. And soon after the conspirators were crushed, a common enemy emerged that required the concentrated forces of both nations. They were the so-called Peoples of the Sea, a confederacy of seafaring raiders who sailed around the eastern Mediterranean, causing political unrest, who ultimately attempted (unsuccessfully) to seize control of Egyptian territory.

In 1979, on this day English republicans bombed the Shadow V the thirty-four foot long lobster-potting and tuna fishing boat owned by the private citizen Louis Battenberg (formerly His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg) near the castle in Mullaghmore, County Sligo where he had lived in internal exile for six decades.

Shadow V
By Ed, Scott Palter & Jeff Provine
Along with their Russian and German cousins in the Royal Houses of Romanov and Hohenzollern, the Great War forced the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas Family off the throne.

At the outbreak of war, his father had been forced to step down as First Sea Lord by the Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. The harsh injustice of this brutal decision drove young "Dickie" to tears of rage. But despite being a "blue-eyed German" himself, "Dickie" served in the Royal Navy during the early part of the war, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Jutland. As a result, of this valour, and due to the goodwill that he had established with the local community, he was permitted to reside in internal exile in County Sligo. And when Southern Ireland received its independence, he found himself located twelve miles south of the British border, a private citizen of the new state of Eire.

By the second half of the twentieth century, post-imperial Britain was in absolute decline and sinking fast. Monarchists dreamt of a restoration which might lift the nation out of chaos. But such a step could only be possible if the socially awkward young Prince Charles was supported by his mentor and favourite Uncle. And that was why Republicans decided that he had to die.

By 1941, war in the Pacific had been brewing for years. During the 1930s, Japanese influence into China had increased to all-out war in 1937 and domination of Manchuria. With the fall of France in 1940, Japan stationed troops in French Indochina.

Roosevelt Agrees to Summit with KonoeGermany's invasion of Russia in 1941 placed Japan in a precarious position: Hitler pressured them to attack north to the Soviet Union, which would have been an easy front; French Indochina stood ready for full occupation with Vichy troops occupied in Europe. Far to the east, the United States rested like a sleeping giant.

Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe was desperate to prevent war with America. Roosevelt routinely demanded removal of Japanese troops from China, which was an impossible agreement since the army and navy had suffered too much to give up conquests. On July 28, 1941, Japan commenced its occupation of French Indochina, and the United States retaliated by freezing Japanese assets and, more importantly, leading Britain and the Dutch East Indies in an oil embargo. Without foreign oil, Japan was stuck; within two years, the entirety of oil stockpiles would be depleted. The military had not anticipated such a rash move by the Americans, and Konoe made a last-ditch effort: a personal summit. He sent notice to Roosevelt that he would soon be arriving in Washington in hope FDR would meet him.

It was a diplomatic gamble, but Konoe's risk-taking paid off. The summit was rushed in preparation, and, on September 5, the Japanese Prime Minister was welcomed to the White House. The talks were primarily a standstill; Roosevelt made demands that Japan leave China and stop its military expansion to the south, something that Konoe could not do. While the meeting essentially gained nothing, Konoe did learn one important point: much of the American public did not want to engage in another "European" war, so the United States would never be the one to strike first.

Under the Tripartite Pact signed among Germany, Italy, and Japan in 1940, the three had agreed to join forces if an unnamed force (the United States) came into the war against them. While, militarily, an immediate strike against the small American Pacific fleet would be advantageous, it could prove costly in the long run. Konoe reported to the other Tripartite nations that the United States must never be assaulted. They could not risk a repeat of even the slightest negative PR move like the sinking of the Lusitania in the first World War.

With pressure from Hitler, the Japanese would begin their plans for war against the Soviet Union. They assured him that, without oil, they would be unable to put their armies into the field effectively. Defeat in 1939 at Khalkhin Gol also showed that Japanese ground forces were not adequate against Soviet heavy tanks, so they focused on devising a defensive war with long-reaching strikes by aircraft. However, as Operation Barbarossa became a logistical quagmire, it was obvious that Hitler had bitten off more than Germany could chew.

The Emperor did not want to be on the losing side of a war with the Soviet Union, but Konoe and his ministers could not break the Tripartite Pact. Instead, they bought time, assuring Hitler that their army would be ready for combat in the summer. On June 28, 1942, Japan launched attacks toward Soviet oil fields north of Manchuria simultaneous with Germany's operation Case Blue. Stalin let the east lose ground with only minor defensive measures, pressing most of his might into the defense of Moscow and the west. Even with two fronts, by the middle of 1943, Russia halted the tide of advance and began to push back.

Japan fell to maintaining position and working with its air force (arguably the best in the world after years of buildup) to spy on troop movements and pin down Russian reserves before they could reach the front. Germany's war with Britain had come to a standstill with Hitler giving up North Africa but holding the Mediterranean. The manpower and materiel did not seem available for an amphibious invasion of Europe until at least 1945 despite the fact that the Blitz had long passed. Instead, they fought Germany's navy while Stalin began to eat away at the back of Hitler's European fortress.

Finally, the end came for Germany with the British landing at Normandy under Operation Overlord in March of 1945. By that time, Stalin was pressing into Germany itself, and the Third Reich faced collapse. On August 14, 1945, the remainders of Hitler's government (Hitler himself had disappeared, presumed dead in his bunker via suicide) sued for peace. Stalin then joined with Britain in pressing toward the east where Japan had stood unquestioned for years. Seeing the vicious defeat of allies, Emperor Hirohito offered terms for peace, but Stalin would not accept anything less than what had been declared at Potsdam: disarmament, reduction of empire, and partial occupation.

Prime Minister Konoe, who had been in and out of power over the course of the war, approached American President Thomas Dewey for mediation. Dewey agreed, but Stalin and Prime Minister Clement Attlee did not agree to ceasefire until concessions had been made. While battles still roared in Siberia, Mongolia, China, and French Indochina, talks began. When the dust cleared, Japan would maintain Korea as a protectorate, but they would lose all other imperial gains and face limitations on armed forces.

The United States, now economically on its feet with its profitable Lend-Lease program, suddenly faced a world with vaporizing empires and Soviet dominance over almost all of Europe and Asia. Renewed military buildup began through the 1950s, and America found itself trailing distantly behind Russia in missile technology and space development. In 1962, Russia moved ICBMs to its ally Cuba and refused to recognize American requests that they be removed. The successful invasion at Playa Giron and subsequent seizing of those missiles began the Soviet-American War that would last until 1968 with Russian troops marching into Chicago, where the relocated American government had sat after the Bombing of Washington.

In 1789, on this day the de facto government of Revolutionary France, the National Constituent Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen, a statement of enlightenment principles co-authored by the Marquis de Lafayette and the Virginian émigreé radical Tom Jefferson.

Pursuit of LibertyThirteen years before, Jefferson had penned the United States Declaration of Independence. But a paragraph indicting Britain's role in the slave trade was deleted from the final version creating a contradiction between the claim that "all men are created equal" and the existence of American slavery. "If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature", English abolitionist Thomas Day wrote in a 1776 letter, "it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves".

"Rather it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated"Jefferson agreed, quitting Virginia to enjoy Parisian Society with his common law mixed race wife, Sally Hemings. They were soon to discover that the French were prosecuting their own revolution with a great deal more extremism, too much for Jefferson's own "personal taste for disorder and violence". Still, his vision for a French revolutionary occupation of England might yet rescue his former colleagues, because if there was one overarching principle Jefferson really believed in, it was that both revolutions were connected by the common pursuit of Liberty. It was a concept that Jefferson had brow-beaten Lafayette into codifying into the Declaration.

In 1806, the compromised reality of the American Revolution was thrown into sharp contrast - whilst President James Monroe's High Representative William Pinkney conducted negotiations in London to renew the Jay Treaty, his predecessor, the "philantropic cock" Thomas Jefferson was across the English Channel enjoying Parisian Society with his common law mixed race wife, Sally Hemings.

Philanthropic Cock by Ed, Scott Palter, Raymond Speer and Eric LippsUnderstanding that the infant republic needed at least two decades of peace in order to survive, George Washington had risked his reputation as a patriot by approving the original ten-year treaty with Great Britain. Now, more important than a simple renewal was the need to resolve differences over the issue of impressment of American sailors from US ships and neutral trading rights. Because in acquiesing to American independence, it was now clear that Great Britain's cynical ploy was to give away the cake whilst keeping the cream.

Agreement seemed possible if not likely, because the British Prime Minister Lord Grenville and his "Ministry of All the Talents" believed that the US Navy was partly manned by British deserters who were desperately needed to fight Napoleon. Accordingly, Grenville ordered Lord Holland and Lord Auckland to cut a deal with Pinkney. Trouble was, that whilst President James Monroe approved the treaty, the US Senate rejected it, and the result was the War of 1812.

The political crisis created by the Senates rejection might of course been avoided had Thomas Jefferson served a second term, because he would never have approved the treaty in the first place. However he had claimed to be exhausted by the complexities of the Louisiana Purchase and the misbehavior of Aaron Burr.

In reality, Jefferson was hugely frustrated with the development of the American revolution which had become a more of a worldly struggle for survival than the building of the egalitarian society that he had dreamt of. In fact, the American Revolution had stopped, and there was little to interest a mental giant in business as usual.

Of course Jefferson's frustration had begun at the very outset. Not only had his bold anti-slavery statement been disgracefully removed from the Declaration of Independence, he had resigned from Washington's government to spend more time with Hemings, and later faced the scandal of this affair in the mainstream press during his political comeback.

But in a larger sense, Jefferson wanted the American Revolution to have the transformative energy of its French equivalent. Having served as a diplomat in Paris, he had experienced the freedom of living with Hemings in a way not possible in the States. Soon after Monroe's inauguration, Jefferson and Hemings sold up Montecello, freed his slaves and left America forever.

Without knowing it, Jefferson had started the African-American Revolution which ironically, was a transformative process more attuned to his own thinking.

In 1861, President Hannibal Hamlin was opposed by prominent business interests when he attempted to revive the District of Columbia on Manhattan island. By the end of his second year in office, Hamlin was resident at Montauk Point, Long Island, where a Seaside White House was available to him and his family, as was a double domed capital, larger and more spacious than the one left behind in Washington D.C.

Crucifixion Day Part 3 by Raymond SpeerMeanwhile, Richmond remained the capital of the Confederacy, but that organization was disintegrating while unchallenged by the USA. Georgia and Mississippi sanctioned the disintegration of the infantry units that had been raised by those states upon the expiration of their 60 day enlistment periods. Virginia was more responsible (well aware of the Grand Army of the Republic that the Yankees had training in Pennsylvania), but was straining its own resources by putting forth the defense for the Confederacy's eastern seaboard. And sales had not been good for Confederate bonds, though the documents were being marketed freely in Europe.

The Post-Skedaddle phase of the War Between the American States began in the Nevada territory, where a convention hall of orators in Virginia City announced that Nevada was joining the Confederacy. That was in the last week of November 1862 and a rival Union government in Carson City was established by a company of cavalry the next month. By the beginning of 1862, Nevadan settlers were fighting among themselves over which side would get the mineral wealth of the territory.

Both Jefferson Davis and Hannibal Hamlin appointed proxies in Nevada, and contacted their respective Congresses for appropriations to send an overwhelming force to conquer Nevada beyond dispute. Of necessity, each side made ready their home defense forces back east.

As those events transpired, Brigham Young in Salt Lake City organized his people, ordering a prepared defense force to resist outside domination "from either side". In London, with the advent of the Nevada Crisis, maps are consulted concerning the American southwest lands and the settlements thereon.

In 2006, Housing Minister Barack Hussein Obama II visited Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. "You are all my brothers and sisters," Mr Obama told crowds of excited residents who craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the Minister (pictured). The Barack Obama Story, Part 4 - The Audacity of Hope

"Everybody in Kenya needs the same opportunities to go to school, to start businesses, to have enough to eat, to have decent clothes," he said over a loudspeaker.

At least six hundred thousand people, many without jobs or legal title to the land they inhabited had been given fresh hope for a brighter future. Thw Minister's Community Action Policies had helped set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization.

Unquestionably, his most significant contribution was in organizing finance for the program. Sponsorship funding had been obtained from sources as diverse as the Chicago Bulls, Irish Rock Band U2 to the United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

Obama was creating an international profile that would propel him to the position of UN Secretary General in 2014, and a dramatic confrontation with the forty-fourth President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Westie"

On this day in 1968, the Vietnam War ended with the signing of a cease-fire pact between North and South Vietnam. The withdrawal of remaining foreign troops from Vietnamese soil would begin two days later.

"Westie" - Pulls Out
Pulls Out
Flag of

In 1951, on this day Syria officially declared war on Israel.

Flag of - Syria
Syria

In 1960, on this day the US Treasury Department published a sobering report on the economic impact of the Jamaica Bay hurricane; the report estimated that it would take at least 4-6 months for metropolitan New York to recover from the storm and the stock market would be in decline for 6-8 weeks.

 - Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel
In 1943, on this day the U.S. naval destroyer escort Eldridge was commissioned by the Navy for Project Rainbow.

In a military application of Albert Einstein?s unified field theory, the destroyer escort was fitted with powerful generator equipment, designed to distort electromagnetic radiation and gravity, rendering the ship invisible to radar. On or before October 28 1943 USS Eldridge was rendered invisible to human observers for a brief period of time. Upon her return, she left a very visible tear in the fabric of the Universe. The observers reported a thermal distortion much like the running of gas out of a pipe, or hot air rising off the desert. By the time President Truman arrived for a personal viewing on October 30th, there were some seriously worried people on the Project.

That included Albert Einstein, who offer absolutely no guarantees to the President that the tear could be fixed up.
US Athlete

In 1935, American athlete Jesse Owens commented on the decision by United States Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage to withdraw the participation of the American athletics from the Games of the XI Olympiad in Archona, capital city of the Dominion of Draka.

With Owens expected to win up to four gold medals, a tinge of bitterness could reasonably be expected from most human beings.

US Athlete - Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens

It is widely repeated that Chief Justice von Shrakenburg 'snubbed' Jesse Owens and his achievements. Brundage believed that politics had no place in sport; von Shrakenberg feared sport would define politics by debunking the Draka assertion of white supremacy. Owens said, "I think journalists showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in the Dominion of the Draka". One can only wonder if his tongue had crept into his cheek before making this memorable statement.

On this day in 1969, serial killer Jay Sebring resurfaced after nearly a week in hiding and shot a homeless drifter.

Unbeknownst to Sebring or his victim, a tourist in a motel across the street from the site of the shooting managed to capture the murder on his home movie camera; the footage was turned over to the LAPD the next morning, giving investigators a crucial break in their efforts to solve the Manson/Tate/Polanski/LaBianca murders and the August 21st motorcycle cop shooting.

 - Jay Sebring
Jay Sebring
In 1947, actor Herbert Streicher was born in the Bronx. Despite appearing in some films of questionable morals in his youth, Streicher went on to a great comic career, starring in such films as M*A*S*H and Love & Death before landing the role of Jack on the hit TV series Three's Company.
In 1937, George E.T. Eyston, driving Pascal-Edison's Indra electric car, sets a world land-speed record of 347.18 miles per hour. While the Indra is not an automobile for sale to the public, Pascal-Edison's electric car sales soar by association with the Indra.
In 2145, philosopher/scientist K'ung-Fu-Tzu was born in China. Master K'ung defined the role of benevolent monarch that the Chinese Emperor should aspire to be; as his philosophies were studied and followed by the nobility, they also adopted his patronage of the sciences, especially after the Shen Dynasty declared its goal of mastery of the sky.
In 1979, on this day Interim Prime Minister Louis Mountbatten was assassinated by terrorists who planted a bomb in his boat at Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland. Mountbatten was hated by the Labour Movement because of his plot to overthrow Harold Wilson. It was widely believe that the action was carried out by socialist sympathisers who were horrified that the British establishment had returned from Empire to enslave their own people.
In 1962, on this day the Mariner 2 was launched to Venus. On the way it measured for the first time the solar wind, a constant stream of charged particles flowing outwards from the Sun. It also measured interplanetary dust, which turned out to be more scarce than predicted. And something else was discovered which the Mariner 2 was not simply designed to report. The spacecraft is now defunct in a heliocentric orbit, where it is bristles with a virulent space plague.
In 1908, on this day Lyndon B. Johnson was born at Stonewall, Texas. Due to heavy smoking and lifelong stress, Johnson suffered acute coronary problems, leading to three heart attacks - the final and fatal infarction in his last fortnight of the Presidency. Vice President Hubert Humphrey had been sworn in for a single day according to the US Constitution, with President-elect Richard M Nixon arguing that his Government-in-transition should take office a day early.
In 1908, on this day the regicide Lyndon B. Johnson was born at Stonewall, Texas. Only a third and final heart attack in 1973 prevented this most traitorous of Vice Presidents from facing justice. 'Hey, hey LBJ, how many Kennedy's did you kill today' was the youth chant after unmistakeable evidence emerged of his complicity in the Sirhan-Sirhan affair.
In 1908, on this day Lyndon B. Johnson was born at Stonewall, Texas. A career politician of uncredited worth, Johnson used his network in the house to force through President Kennedy's legislative program througout the 1960s. He also gave not a few politicians 'the treatment' when his charm failed.
In 1943, on this day the U.S. naval destroyer escort Eldridge was commissioned by the Navy for Project Rainbow. In a military application of Albert Einstein's unified field theory, the destroyer escort was fitted with powerful generator equipment, designed to distort electromagnetic radiation and gravity, rendering the ship invisible to radar. On or before October 28 1943 USS Eldridge was rendered invisible to human observers for a brief period of time. Upon her return, she left a very visible tear in the fabric of the Universe. The observers reported a thermal distortion much like the running of gas out of a pipe, or hot air rising off the desert. By the time President Truman arrived for a personal viewing on October 30th, there were some seriously worried people on the Project. That included Albert Einstein, who offer absolutely no guarantees to the President that the tear could be fixed up.
In 1979, on this day Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC died and entered Valhalla. Mountbatten bungled the partition of India in which 10 million people died, yet was the suprising choice for Interim Prime Minister during the 1976 military coup in Britain. Mountbatten was assassinated by the Provisional English Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his boat at Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.


August 26

Because his brother Edward IV had withheld the restoration of the vast Bohun inheritance for so long, the newly crowned Richard III wasted no time in doing so, not even awaiting Parliamentary approval for fear that it would enrage his chief ally Henry Stafford, 2nd Duke of Buckingham.

26th August, 1483 - Bohun inheritance restored to the Duke of BuckinghamLoyalty payment was due because prior to his ascension, he had needed Buckingham to dispatch the rightful heir to the throne who had reigned for the eighty-six days since his father's death. This was Edward V who was lodged with his brother Richard of Shrewsbury in the Tower of London.

Both of the "Little Princes" were under the protection of their Uncle Richard. To a certain extent he fulfilled this obligation; when accused of murdering his nephews he charged the Duke of Buckingham with bloody murder.

In 1978, on this day Italian Cardinal Albino Luciani, 65, was elevated to the papacy as John Paul.

The glorious thirty year papacy of John PaulThough in sickbed for weeks with a highly mysterious ailment, following just a month of being pope, he made a "miraculous" recovery. Though perceived as an intellectual lightweight and "out-of-his-league" by critics in his first month of his papacy, his brush with death (due to circumstances never fully explained) changed such perceptions. He was one of the longest-serving popes in modern history, dying at the ripe old age of 93, in 2006. He outlived the man he had mistakenly predicted would be pope some day, the conservative Pole, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla.

John Paul was a hugely popular pope with the masses; unpretentious, and a moderate in terms of theology. There was great consternation among conservative elements in the Church when the pope allowed for certain types and uses of contraception. The public cheered him for allowing the Italian police authorities access to information related to the Vatican Bank and its murky relations to the Banco Ambrosiano, data which led to the huge scandal that rocked the Italian government and financial elites for a decade (and led to the disgracing of a media magnate, Berlusconi, for his attempts to protect friends with biased reporting in all his media outlets.)

John Paul was far from popular with many conservative Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, such as President Ronald Reagan; the pope's improving of Church ties to the Soviet Union, and dismissal of many pro-US clergy, seemed to conservatives to be prolonging the Cold War and strengthening the USSR's diplomatic position on the global stage. When John Paul made a public pronouncement against the installation of US Pershing II missiles in West Europe, US and Vatican relations soured for decades (though the US is rumored to have stealthily installed them anyway). The Holy Father's stance towards the Russians was seen as lacking in moral clarity vis a vis which side in the Cold War was more committed to true human freedom - it was 'moral equivocationism', in the words of then Vice President George H.W. Bush, in 1983. The pope was given high marks by most Balkan experts across the political spectrum for his calming, 'non-partisan' pronouncements regarding the possible breakup of Yugoslavia after Marshal Tito's death in 1980 (a breakup which never occurred, ethnic aspirations being assuaged with strongly autonomous ethnic republics that remained within a loose federation.) However, John Paul was criticized for not speaking out against a robust yet ostensibly 'humanitarian' Soviet intervention in 1987 that prevented land-grabbing, 'score-settling', or population-removal attempts, albeit with a marked favoring of the Orthodox Serb (fellow Slav) brethren of the Russians. (This intervention continues to this day; the Russians accuse the US of arming Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, and Kosovo Albanian independence movements that wage armed struggle against the Soviet 'peacekeepers'.)

Though the dream of many neoconservatives, in the successive two-term Reagan, Bush, and Dole administrations, of regime change in Moscow has yet to be realized (as of 2006), most liberals dismiss any conservative carping about the significance of John Paul's "not standing up to the Communists". Many liberals either believe in the moral equivalency promulgated by John Paul, or at least the non-confrontational approach he took toward the Soviets, or feel that the political importance of the Vatican in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries was highly exaggerated by the neocons.

In 1969, former President Kennedy, New Orleans Attourney General Jim Garrison and other notable advocates welcomed home Lee Harvey Oswald at Miami International Airport.

PatsyFollowing on the back of the Apollo Moon Landing, it was a second stunning political "win" for the newly elected Humphrey Administration. Within Washington, D.C. it was better understood that the release of the former US marine was attributable to five and half years of delicate advocacy and diplomacy.

His incarceration was an injustice that two Democrat Administrations fought to overturn, aided more recently by the rise of a more moderate government in Cuba. And in so doing the Democrats had managed to avoid the apocalyptic super-power confrontation sought by rogue Soviet agents who were embittered by the humiliating outcome of the Missiles crisis.

Arrested and charged with the assassination of Fidel Castro, compelling evidence soon emerged to shed doubt about his role as a lone gunman. Armed only with a surplus Italian Army rifle, and not being a particularly skilled marksman, it seemed unlikely that he had managed to pull off the assassination in Havana. Instead, many suspected that he was merely a "patsy" for anti-Casto Cubans who wanted to draw the United States into a conflict that would see the overthrow of the Communist regime. But the inside story was that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the suspected victim of brain washing by rogue Soviet agents who had also planted evidence of a trail from his Marine base in Japan to US, Russia, Mexico and finally Cuba. And in November 1963, having been drugged and smuggled into Havana, he was programmed into carrying a set of curtain roads into Revolution Square.

In 1723, on this day the "father of microbiology" Antonie van Leeuwenhoek died in Delft, Dutch Republic. He was ninety year old.

Leeuwenhoek BlindedHe was born in Delft in the Netherlands, the baby seemed well enough: he cried, he reacted to his mother, he ate and grew. As little Antonie grew, his family came upon troubled times. Two of his sisters and his father died, and Antonie suffered a terrible fever that would blind him by his sixth birthday. The boy recovered, but he now faced a terrible handicap.

In 1640, Leeuwenhoek's mother remarried, and he was sent to a monastery in Germany that cared for the blind. While unable to read, Leeuwenhoek would be taught songs and oral passages from the Bible by the monks. He was considered the brightest of the children in the care of the monks, and they came to give him special privileges. Sometime when Leeuwenhoek was about sixteen, he was with a scribe who told him about the illuminations in the book he read to Leeuwenhoek and offered him to touch the gilt and thick medieval paints. Leeuwenhoek's later letters described the sensation of feeling images as almost as if he could see again with his mind's eye.

When he became sixteen, the monks encouraged Leeuwenhoek to pursue a trade beyond simple manual labor. He considered several options before becoming a draper, being able to measure by a grooved ruler he carved himself, having the monks check its accuracies for him. When his skills were approved, he moved home to Delft and secured an apprenticeship with a cloth merchant. While he worked, he considered his system of grooves and the illuminations, and, by 1653, he developed a method of "writing by texture".

Leeuwenhoek worked in business until he had built enough capital to set himself up as a teacher. He did not know Latin, and he had never attended university, but his drive to develop a written alphabet for the blind pushed him. Over the course of months and perfected over years, he built a set of mirrored letters. His method of writing was to etch each backward to be used as a mold. He experimented with systems of carving wood and pouring wax, but the wax was prone to melt under the warmth and pressure of fingers. Lead proved too soft, and tin plates warped. Finally he settled upon glass, and the glass books he produced became the first written code for the blind.

Leeuwenhoek's school attracted the attention of parents of blind children among the growing middle class of the early Enlightenment, and he soon found himself with no shortage of students. His methods spread across Europe and were translated to match the alphabets of French, English, and German. Only two of his original glass books are known to survive due to breakage and the glass being worn down by generations of fingertips. In place of glass, Leeuwenhoek experimented later with typesetting machines into plates of alloys, adding mechanical engineering and metallurgy to his life's impressive list of feats.

His contributions to science are held among the greatest of the Enlightened Age. Along with the creation of calculus, natural law, and principles of physics. It would not be until the Industrial Revolution that discoveries in biology and anatomy would catch up with the science of microbiology founded in part by Charles Darwin, whose theory of the sexual reproduction of microorganisms would cause scandal among the Victorian world, though later contribute to Sir Alexander Fleming's germ theory.

In 1444, although they exposed the weakness of pike formations against artillery, the outnumbered forces of the Swiss Confederacy were able to safely withdraw from Basel to the small hospital of St. Jakob having earned the huge satisfaction of inflicting a brutal assault upon the invading French army.

Old Swiss Confederacy punish French at St. JakobBut the stoic expression of Swiss military bravery backfired spectacularly because the celebrated French Knight Burkhard VII Münch then rode to court to deliver a report that enraged Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor. His sponsor, Charles VII of France was more philosophical because he had only acted upon the appeal to occupy his unruly Armagnac troops. Nevertheless, the prestige and honour of both monarchs had been seriously impugned, and they were forced to gather overwhelming force of men and artilley for a bolder mission. To relieve the besieged city of Zürich and also inflict a crushing blow upon Berne, the Swiss canton which had contributed the small army.

In 1278, on this day a Bohemian army led by the Přemyslid king Ottokar II (pictured) survived a late ambush from Imperial-Hungarian forces to win the decisive Battle on the Marchfeld fought at Dürnkrut and Jedenspeigen.

Přemyslid Dynasty seize Central EuropeThe Holy Roman Empire had been in acute crisis ever since the deposition of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen by Pope Innocent IV. Several nobles were elected as Rex Romanorum (King of the Romans) and Emperor-to-be. But despite the formation of an alliance with King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, the German king Rudolph I of Habsburg was unable to install his own dynasty as a replacement for the now defunct Royal House of Hohenstaufen. Because his dishonourable ambush was anticipated by Ottokar, who lead a remaining reserve contingent into the rearguard of troops led von Kapellen, Rudolph's field commander. And so he would be known to history simply as a "poor count" from Swabian Habsburg Castle. Instead, it would be Ottokar, the Iron and Golden King, who would be declared Rex Romanorum and his dynasty that would dominate Central Europe through to the twentieth century.

In 1820, on this day the future Prince consort of the United Kingdom Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel (pictured) born at Schloss Rosenau in the Saxon duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld to a family connected to many of Europe's ruling monarchs.
This post is an article from the Good Old Willie thread.

Good Old Willie #5At the age of twenty he married his first cousin, Queen Victoria, with whom he would ultimately have nine children. At first, Albert felt constrained by his position as consort, which did not confer any power or duties upon him. Over time he adopted many public causes, such as educational reform and a worldwide abolition of slavery, and took on the responsibilities of running the Queen's household, estates and office. He was heavily involved with the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Albert aided in the development of Britain's constitutional monarchy by persuading his wife to show less partisanship in her dealings with Parliament-although he actively disagreed with the interventionist foreign policy pursued during Lord Palmerston's tenure as Foreign Secretary.

But it was the Trent Affair that finally allowed the Prince Albert to emerge from his shadowy position as a foreign figurehead. When the forcible removal of Confederate envoys from a British ship by Union forces threatened war between the United States and Britain, Albert intervened to soften the British diplomatic response. More remarkably, he was at this time gravely ill, having been desperately unwell for two years. Although his physician William Jenner had diagnosed typhoid fever but it finally began to clear up by December of 1861. It would remain a cold, solemn Christmas, but, by spring, Albert would be well among the living.

A decade later, his diplomatic skills would be brought to the fore again during the break-up of the North German Confederation. Not only would he expedite the Hohenzollern flight to England during a naval clash in the North Sea with the Russian Navy, but he would also rise to the putative leadership of the independent German States. And as he increasingly assumed the role of elder statesman, he became a mentor to his eldest grandson, Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht Hohenzollern. By 1897, he was long dead and Britain and France went to war over the Fashoda Crisis. Two years later, Wilhelm Hohenzollern would be crowned King of England. He would need every ounce of his grandfather's diplomatic skills to navigate the ship of state through uncertain waters. And perhaps even seek a restoration of the Prussian monarchy.

In 1768, on this day Sally Fairfax and prominent members of the Loyalist Community bade farewall to George Washington as he boarded the HMS Endeavour and set sail for the south Pacific Ocean under the command of Captain James Cook (pictured).
This post is an article from the Midshipman George Washington thread.

Midshipman George Washington #5As the Second in Command of the combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition, Washington had been briefed that the mission objective was to sail to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun. This was to occur on 3-4 June 1769; however Cook had also been provided with secret instructions that he was to open after the solar event.

But when Cook died on Tahiti, the instructions were passed to Washington who was ordered to seek evidence of the "unknown southern land" postulated Terra Australis Incognita. Not only did he discover the Gold Coast, but he also claimed the vast continent in the name of King George III.

As a result of this stunning achievement, he was quickly promoted in the Royal Navy becoming an exception to the normal limitations imposed upon colonial advancement. A decade later, he faced the altogether more difficult task of retaining a continent for the monarch. But instead his defeat at Chesakpeake Bay would lead directly to the surrender at Yorktown which effectively ended the American War of Independence. If there was a positive in this outcome then it was that he now had a great deal of time on his hands to live happily ever after with the widow Sally Fairfax.

In 1346, on this day the urgent need to re-configure the out-dated crossbow and knight combination was demonstrated by the narrow margin of the hard-fought French victory at the Battle of Crécy.

Battle of CrécyPhilip VI of France's much larger force of thirty-five thousand men massively outnumbered an Anglo-Welsh army of fifteen thousand men. And yet the superiority of Anglo-Welsh weapons and tactics brought a decision that was close to call.

But on the day, a favourable turn in the weather, the maneuverability of the French knights and an exceptional performance from the Genoese crossbowmen prevented Edward III of England from pulling off what would have been a stunning victory.

In addition to the required tactical update, Philip VI ordered a development of French armour that could withstand a storm of longbow arrows.

In 1071, on this day Byzantine control of Anatolia and Armenia seem to be assured by the decisive defeat of the Seljuq Turks at the Battle of Manzikert.

Byzantine victory at the Battle of ManzikertThe brunt of the battle was borne by the professional soldiers from the eastern and western tagmata, as large numbers of the mercenaries and Anatolian levies fled early and survived the battle. The army therefore consisted of five thousand professional Roman troops from the western provinces and the same number from the eastern provinces; five hundred Frankish and Norman mercenaries under Roussel de Bailleul; some Turkic (Uz and Pecheneg) and Bulgarian mercenaries; infantry under the duke of Antioch; a contingent of Georgian and Armenian troops; and some (but not all) of the Varangian Guard, to total around forty to seventy thousand men.

That number did not include the scoundrel Andronikos Doukas, the co-regent and a direct rival to the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. He was relieved of the reserve guard command shortly before the battle commenced. Another potentially fatal mistep was also narrowly avoided by recalling General Joseph Tarchaneiotes. He had been ordered to take some of the Roman troops and Varangians and accompany the Pechenegs and Franks to Khliat. This idiotic misjudgement would have split the forces in half and in all probability would have led to catastrophe.

But in the event, the result was a tremendous victory for the Emperor who reinforced Byzantine prestige further with the capture of the commander of the opposing forces, the Sultan of Seljuq dynasty Alp Arslan (great-grandson of Seljuk, the eponymous founder of the dynasty). That prestige did not last very long.

On the long and difficult march back through Asia minor, furious resentment and indignation amongst his troops finalled exploded over an incident with his luxurious baggage train. Diogenes was assassinated by the Frankish mercenaries who he had angered en route when he confronted them about their plundering. The decision not to dismiss them had ensured full troop strength for the battle, but ultimately led to his downfall anyway.

In 1946, on this day the 4,700 men, 13 ships, and multiple aircraft carriers of Task Force 68 departed from Norfolk, Virginia on a mission to end the Second World War by destroying the Secret Nazi Base in New Swabia, Antarctica.

Battle of AntarcticaUS Navy Secretary James Forrestal had personally supervised the assembly of this huge amphibious naval force, but for the mission itself, the principal leadership figure was Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr. who had been given operational command of the Carrier Group.

Forrestal had determined that Byrd was uniquely qualified to succeed in his assigned role in "Operation High Jump". He had already led three missions to Antartica but this would be the first that was funded by the Federal Government. Also, in the 1938 he had travelled to Hamburg where he was invited to participate in the 1938/1939 German "Neuschwabenland" Antarctic Expedition which he been forced to decline with great regret.

And yet the mission itself was uniquely challenging. On the 19th February, 1947 six R4-D planes took off from the carrier "Phillipine Sea" but only five returned. The sixth returned some seven hours later, after Byrd met with the Fuhrer. No details of that meeting have ever emerged, apart from a fragment from Byrd's Missing Diary ~ "There comes a time when the rationality of men must fade into insignificance and one must accept the inevitability of the Truth! I am not at liberty to disclose the following documentation at this writing ...perhaps it shall never see the light of public scrutiny, but I must do my duty and record here for all to read one day. In a world of greed and exploitation of certain of mankind can no longer suppress that which is truth". This article is taken from the NaziUFO thread.

In 2009, on this day Mark Obama Ndesandjo published "From Nairobi To Shenzhen" a diarised account of the twelve month search for the notorious head of the al-Qaeda terrorist network his half brother, Barack Hussein Obama.
Watch the Mark Obama Interview

From Nairobi To ShenzhenThe origin of the world's most radical Islamic terrorist really began in the Menteng neighborhood of Jakarta where Barack and his mother moved after their father returned to Kenya.

Ironically, while he was being educated in a radical Muslim school Barack Obama, Snr was fathering younger son Mark with Ruth Nidesand the daughter of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants.

The explosive climax of the book is a clandestine meeting in an Indian restaurant. Before his arrest by undercover CIA agents, Barack learns the terrible truth, that the absent father that he dreamt of for so many years was in fact a brutal wife-abuser that terrorized the childhood of his half-brothers Mark and David.

In 2010, on this day Don Keko wrote ~ What if Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential Election?

What if Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential Election?The Democratic Party overwhelmingly supported Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky Affair. The president changed the terms of debate from abuse of power and obstruction of justice to "Sexual McCarthyism".

Independents bought into this line of reasoning helping Clinton escape removal from office. By November 2000, many of those independents changed their minds and decided to punish Vice President Al Gore's Presidential Campaign. Democratic support for Bill Clinton during the impeachment crisis cost the party the White House in 2000. In an alternate universe, a Gore Presidency eliminated the excesses of the Bush and Obama years, but experienced the same problems.

A reblogged article written by Don KekoAt the beginning of the impeachment crisis, many Democrats considered abandoning President Clinton. If a key Democrat or two called for the president's resignation, Clinton might have been forced to resign or been removed by the U.S. Senate in 1999. In an alternate scenario, Clinton's removal elevated Al Gore to the presidency. Continuous change is an anathema to American voters. So, those same voters refused to change presidents twice within two years. With the bubble economy continuing to appear strong, only Gore could beat Gore. President Gore earns 55% of the popular vote winning the presidency in his own right.

Gore's election represented a departure from the Clinton Era and a slight change in political and social history. Gore governed more ideologically than Clinton. However, the Republican Congress blocked the president's initiatives. The resulting gridlock eliminated the possibility of any major policy breakthroughs such as a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit or Obamacare. This conflict helped keep the budget deficit under control, but it did not mean a balanced budget.

Despite the fiscal discipline, a mild recession struck in early 2001 leading to deficit spending. The economy received another shock on September 11, 2001. Nineteen Islamic terrorists hijacked passenger airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Passengers took down a third plane en route for Washington D.C. In response, the United States fired cruise missiles into empty El Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and placed the mastermind Osama bin Laden on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. Several months later, the United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban government. The Taliban and El Qaeda fled to the hills. President Gore declared victory and ended combat operations.

Despite the apparent victory in Aghanistan, the Middle East remained a problem. Iran continued to support terrorism and marched toward a nuclear weapon. President Gore recommended sanctions, but received little help from the international community. Meanwhile, Iran's neighbor moved toward international acceptance. Saddam Hussein remained an annoyance, but the Gore Administration decided to cultivate a relationship with the dictator as opposed to removing the regime.

By 2004, Gore enjoyed few successes. He handled the 911 crisis well and overthrew the Taliban. The mild recession that followed him into office ended. However, he scored few domestic successes as he fought the Republican Congress. In the general election, Gore defeated Republican Nominee John McCain. McCain ran a poor campaign and voters were loathe to fire the commander-in-chief with a war in Afghanistan. Despite Gore's narrow re-election, the Republicans maintain control of Congress.

After securing re-election, Gore moved to reform social security and health care. The resulting firestorm hampered his administration. Gore's luck changed for the worse when Hurricane Katrina extinguished the social security controversy. In late August 2005, the hurricane destroyed New Orleans leaving the city underwater. Gore declared an emergency, but the federal government responded slowly. The lack of state response accentuated the federal tardiness. Even though the state and local governments were ultimately responsible for the poor first response, voters blamed Gore.

Katrina was not the only storm Gore faced in his second term. The president worried about a second Vietnam in Afghanistan. The country's reputation as the empire's graveyard terrified Gore. In 2004, he began a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops. By 2006, the Taliban began a resurgence. Gore decided to respond with drone and special forces attacks. This strategy proved spotty at best. By 2008, the Taliban conquered Afghanistan undercutting America's earlier efforts.

Gore faced a third storm accompanying Katrina and Afghanistan. In late 2008, the economy collapsed. The housing market and derivatives trading precipitated a major recession. Voters blamed Gore and took their anger out on Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The Republicans captured the White House for the first time since 1988 behind former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

The Democratic Party did not abandon Bill Clinton. As a result, Al Gore never became president. Had he won the presidency, there would not have been so-called health care reform, prescription drug benefit, high deficits, an Obama Presidency, or a Democratic Congress. However, the 911 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and Afghanistan would have all combined to undercut his presidency. Sometimes changing horses does not make a difference.

By 1501, an enormous block of marble nicknamed "The Giant" and "David" had sat unused for some thirty-five years. Agostino di Duccio had been given the block to sculpt into a massive portrayal of the biblical David in 1464, but the death of his master Donatello in 1466 had interrupted the project.

Da Vinci Agrees to Sculpt David Rossellino had been commissioned to continue, but his contract had been terminated. Until 1501, the block sat in the church workshop, cataloged as a certain figure of marble called David, badly blocked out and supine".

Leonardo da Vinci was consulted to work on the marble, but he initially declined. Times had been rough for the Renaissance man: he had fled French troops in Milan the year before and spent the interim in Venice working as a military architect before arriving in Florence. In the meantime, the invading French had used "Gran Cavallo", his massive clay model of a horse (larger even than Donatello's), as a practice target. He was currently working on a cartoon of the Virgin while living at a monastery, and he doubted he could take on the extra work.

When Leonardo heard that the contract was going to go to the young upstart Michelangelo (who had recently completed the much applauded Piet?), he changed his mind. Michelangelo had insulted him years ago by implying that Leonardo was incapable of casting Gran Cavallo, which, worse, proved true as the bronze promised for the statue was taken to be used for cannon to defend Milan. Leonardo interrupted Michelangelo's contract, offering to do the work for little more than room and board. After a week and a half of the two artists bickering, Leonardo finally blurted, "He might give you a sculpture that can stand, but I'll give you one that can sing!"

Michelangelo scoffed, but the Operai, the commission for overseeing the works of the Duomo, were impressed. They had heard of Leonardo's many inventions and weapons, so they decided to give the man a chance. Leonardo had originally meant the singing to be figurative, but now he was stuck in a contract that would prove to revolutionize the Renaissance world.

Leonardo buried himself in a study of automatons. Stories of Greek, Egyptian, and Chinese machines that looked like men gave precedence but no real mechanical inspiration. The Arab Al-Jazari three hundred years before had built an emulation of a four-piece band that played on a boat as well as a robotic servant for washing guests' hands. Leonardo himself had sketched a series of gears to emulate sitting up and moving arms and legs just a few years before as part of his work with the Vitruvian Man. The impossible task gradually seemed doable.

His first task was to plan the singing David, making countless sketches in a variety of positions, finally planning the David to have his face toward Heaven while stroking a lyre. While assistants carved the marble, Leonardo studied music boxes and the human voice, creating a series of leather tubes powered by a hidden bellows and recorded positions of flaps on metal discs. Tiny levers and tubes would run through hollowed holes in the marble. The final statue (finished in 1507) was unable to produce recognizable words, but his humming was described as "angelic" by all who saw it. David's arm moved on a rotating gear, striking three notes on the carefully crafted enormous lyre that rested in his hands.

The robotic David astounded Florence, spreading Leonardo's fame throughout Europe. King Louis XII brought Leonardo to court, ordering as many moving statues as the artist could produce until his death in 1519. His workshop continued his work afterward, and multiple workshops sprang up emulating their techniques. A fury for automatons ran through Europe, leading to the Clockwork Revolution of the seventeenth century when labor-saving devices were routinely created by out-of-work artists and architects. Self-rising buckets from wells, continually pounding hammers powered by hot air in blacksmiths' forges, and the sewing machine changed life as the Enlightenment blossomed. With the adoption of steam power in the early 1700s, factories began to usher in the Industrial Revolution.

Michelangelo, meanwhile, returned to Rome after creating a bust of Mona, wife of the wealthy Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, noted for its cryptic frown, almost as if frozen in a sigh. In Rome, he worked mainly on tombstones for the wealthy and powerful while his rival Raphael painted the well received, but not revolutionary, ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

In 1861, just four weeks after the chaotic evacuation from Washington City the Union mustered sufficient organisation to reseat the National Government upon the island of Manhattan which became the new Federal District under an emergency cessation by the New York State Legislature.

Crucifixion Day Part 2 by Ed, Stan Brin & Eric LippsThe Union received an immediate setback to its national authority when a few days later the District of Columbia signed an act of retrocession returning the territory to the State of Maryland.

Whilst his murdered predecessor had grappled with the retention of Federal Property in the Confederate States, for President Hannibal Hamlin the game had moved on from Fort Sumter and at a pace. Because George Washington's capital was in the hands of the Confederate troops who had crushed Union Forces at the Battle of Bull Run.

In 2009, family members announced the death of former President Edward M. Kennedy. According to their statement, President Kennedy passed away shortly before midnight on Tuesday, August 25. He had been battling brain cancer since being diagnosed with the disease in May of 2008.

End of the Road at Chappaquddick by Eric LippsKennedy was the last of the four sons of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., the controversial multimillionaire who had served as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in the 1930s. The eldest brother, Joseph Jr., died in 1944 while on a World War II bombing mission. He was followed by John F. Kennedy, who after entering politics in 1946 served as U.S. representative, senator and finally President of the United States before being assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963, and by Robert F. Kennedy, who as a senator from New York ran for president until his own murder on June 5, 1968, just after his victory in the California Democratic primary. Robert Kennedy's death left Edward, commonly known as "Ted," as the last male survivor of his generation of the Kennedy family.

In 1972, Sen. Kennedy ran for president and won the Democratic nomination before being defeated by incumbent President Richard M. Nixon. Following the disgrace and resignation of both Nixon and his first vice-president Spiro T. Agnew, however, Kennedy ran again and once more won the Democratic nomination. As in 1972, he chose Washington Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson as his running mate. It was in some ways an odd match, for Jackson was considerably more conservative than Kennedy on many issues, but where it had failed in 1972 against Nixon, the Kennedy-Jackson ticket prevailed in 1976 over the Watergate-shadowed Gerald R. Ford and his VP choice, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York.

Kennedy would comment to several biographers on the role of sheer luck in his rise to the White House. On June 18, 1972, he had been returning from a party on Chappaquiddick Island in Martha's Vineyard, an intoxicated Kennedy had narrowly avoided a fatal accident when his car almost plunged off a bridge. Had the vehicle actually gone over, Kennedy noted, it was likely that either he, his female passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, or both would have died. Even if he had survived, the President suggested, the death of Kopechne might have permanently tarnished him, making his election to the presidency impossible. Instead, he said, the event helped persuade him to seek help with his growing dependency on alcohol, which had worsened after the death of his brother Robert the year before. His struggle with alcohol would inspire his founding, with his first wife Joan, of the Kennedy Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in 1988.

President Kennedy won reelection in 1980, narrowly defeating former California governor Ronald Reagan. Barely two months after his second inaugural, however, he was shot and seriously wounded by former mental patient John Hinckley, who had attempted to assassinate him to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become infatuated. Vice-President Jackson was briefly named acting president under the Twenty-fifth Amendment -- the first time this had been done -- until it was clear Kennedy would be able to return to his duties.

In 1983, Vice-President Jackson himself would die, of an aortic aneurysm, forcing President Kennedy to seek a replacement. He selected Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas, who would serve until Kennedy left office in January 1989.

As President, Kennedy would champion a number of causes, including health care reform, education and the environment, resulting in, among other things, the passage in 1984 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Pricing Act empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. He would also face a number of crises, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His decision to selectively support the secular elements of the anti-Soviet mujaheddin would anger U.S. conservatives, already bitter at his decision in 1979 not to permit the deposed Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. For treatment for lymphoma, and would be opposed even by his own CIA director, Stansfield Turner. Kennedy's critics favored the Islamic fundamentalist factions, which they felt were more strongly anti-Communist. Also enraged would be many of those fundamentalists, including a Saudi expatriate named Osama bin Laden, who would go on to form the terrorist network known as Al Qaeda. In 1993 and again in 2001, this group attempted spectacular attacks against the U.S. The first attack, involving a powerful car bomb parked in the basement of the World Trade Center, did limited damage to the Trade Towers, resulting in six deaths; the second would be thwarted altogether after then-President John McCain responded forcefully to warnings that Al Qaeda was planning another strike against the United States.

After leaving the White House, President Kennedy would continue to advocate for his favorite causes, though his support would prove insufficient to overcome GOP opposition to the Nunn Administration's 1993 AmeriCare proposal for national health coverage.

He is survived by his second wife Victoria, two grown sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and United States Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island, two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin, and a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.

In 1944, on this day the French First Army entered Paris with an assorted cortege of jeeps, half-trucks and old Citreon tractions avante led by the open car that General Charles de Gaulle insisted on using. Red Coronation Day in Paris

Preparing to declare himself the President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic in an appropriately symbolic setting, de Gaulle reached Notre-Dame Cathedral after a brief stop in front of Hotel de Ville.

For the rebuilding of French prestige, the General had demanded to lead the liberating army on Coronation Day downplaying the role of his British and Americans allies in a characteristic statement ~

"I was there of course to greet the American division passing through Paris on their way further combat, but I had in no sense asked for their help".

The General soon learnt that the Belgian Government in Exile had permitted Americans forces to liberate Brussels. Astounded by their anglo-saxon arrogance, he responded by immediately despatching General Leclerc's Free French 2nd Armoured Division to Strasbourg. Because de Gaulle quite rightly believed that the British and Americans would not leave continental Europe until they were kicked out. Events would prove this was to be the case although under a rather different set of circumstances.

Yet in his haste to re-establish an autonomous French identity, the General had overplayed his own hand. In fact, the entire Allied command structure had fatally miscalculated the sentiment in liberated Europe. As recounted by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins in Is Paris Burning?, de Gaulle described the scene at Notre-Dame as follows ~

"It was immediately apparent to me that this was one of those contagious shooting matches which high feelings sometimes sets off in over-excited troops on the occasion of some fortuitous or provoked incident. Nothing could be more important for me not yield to the panic of the crowd".

In Crusade in Europe, General Eisenhower later confirmed that de Gaulle refusal of American reinforcements to secure Paris cost the General his life. And within days, Eisenhower would be forced to backtrack himself, ordering an American Division to confront a new Paris Commune. All across north west Europe, the pattern would repeat itself as Operation Overlord proved both a military success and a political failure - Allied Forces were powerless to prevent European Cities being seized by Communists.

In 1503, following his death a week before, Pope Alexander VI was succeeded by his son Cesare Borgia who had used the Armies of the Church to establish his own principality in central Italy. The Mask
At the coronation on this day, French and Spanish allies were shocked to find Borgia trying to hide a syphilis ravaged face.
Niccolo Machiavelli was inspired to write the Mask, a thesis on the manipulation of political power for its own ends. Two episodes were particularly impressive to Machiavelli: the method by which Borgia pacified the Romagna, which Machiavelli describes in chapter VII, and Borgia's assassination of his captains on New Year's Eve of 1503 in Senigallia.
As Machiavelli noted in the introduction, for Borgia it was simply a case of "Aut Caesar aut nihil (either Caesar or nothing)".

On this day in 1944, Allied reconnaissance planes flying over the shrinking Nazi occupation zone inside Belgium spotted massive troop and tank formations gathering east of the recently liberated port of Antwerp for what Allied supreme commander General Dwight Eisenhower and his senior staff rightly suspected was an impending multi-front assault on Allied defenses around the city.

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On this day in 1953, Winston Churchill, then in his second tenure as British prime minister, said that Great Britain would support the Eisenhower administration wholeheartedly in any action it sought to take in response to the Tienanmen Square massacre two days earlier.

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Battle of

In 1914, on this day the Russians 2nd Army defeated the Germans in the Battle of Tannenberg, a decisive engagement which resulted in the almost complete destruction of the German 8th Army.

Inside of three weeks, the Russian Commanders of the 1st and 2nd Armies, Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf would enter Berlin. Such was their triumph that the Generals settled the bitter personal feud that had existed since they fought at the train station at Mukden in 1905.

Battle of - Tannenberg
Tannenberg
In 1914, the Russian First and Second Armies led by Generals Alexander Samsonov and Paul von Rennenkampf defeated a much smaller force of German troops at the Battle of Tannenberg. Despite the tactical brilliance of Colonel Max Hoffmann, the new High Command consisting of Hindenburgh and Ludendorff arrived too late to prevent the destruction of German Corps on the Eastern Front. The march on Berlin was relentless, and it would appear that nothing could now stop the Russian Steamroller.


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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.