Editor says, for subscription users please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Disqus or Google Plus. History runs along a different line in Today In Alternate History, a site which chronicles "important events in history that never occurred today". Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter of the United States forges a peace treaty between two implacable enemies, Egypt and Israel.
Historic Signing of Camp David AccordsWith the signing of the accords at the White House, Israel exchanges the Sinai Peninsula for an alliance with the Egyptian people. Although the treaty is denounced by more radical Muslim nations, Egypt is ready to give up the useless struggles with Israel that they have been through over the last three decades.
President Carter then goes to work on the issue of the Palestinians within Israel's occupied territories, and in 1979 comes up with a plan for two nations within a single border, in which local governments are chosen without reference to the nation they belong to, and Palestinians and Israelis live side by side. Derided as a Utopian fantasy at first, it gains more respect after Carter wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work the previous year, and Yassir Arafat, leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, says that he will support the initiative. That November, when there are troubles around the American embassy in Iran, Arafat and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat step in to defuse the situation and keep the Americans in the Teheran embassy safe. The American people, grateful for this assistance, put great pressure on Israel to agree to the Two-State Solution, and in July of 1980, the lands of Israel and Palestine begin history anew. President Carter, having accomplished the minor miracle of peace in the Middle East, is reelected by an almost 2-to-1 majority in the 1980 elections, and uses his second term to promote anti-poverty measures in America and around the world. He left office with more good will worldwide than any president since Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1996, on this day 38th President of the United States Spiro Theodore Agnew died in Berlin, Maryland. He was seventy-seven years old.
Passing of Disgraced President AgnewHe was driven from office during the first year of his tenure. Under investigation both for his possible role in offenses relating to the June 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate Hotel and for alleged bribery and kickbacks dating from his time as governor of Maryland, gave a rambling speech defending himself which was most memorable for his assurance that "I am not a crook. The President of the United States is not a crook".
Agnew had succeeded to the presidency upon the unexpected death of President Richard M. Nixon from an aortic aneurysm on January 24, just days after Nixon had been sworn in for a second term after winning a landslide victory over Democrat George S. McGovern in the 1972 presidential election.
"I am not a crook. The President of the United States is not a crook".Later, some would argue Nixon had been the luckier one. The Watergate investigation would turn up extensive evidence of presidential misconduct, which would certainly have put him at risk of impeachment. His death in effect left Agnew holding the bag for those misdeeds. But it would be the revelations emerging from Maryland which would prove more damaging, ultimately not only forcing Agnew from office but making him the first U.S. President ever sentenced to prison. Although the prison sentence was suspended, ex-President Agnew would be fined $10,000 and would live out the remainder of his life as a political pariah, shunned even by Republican conservatives who had once looked to him to speak for them.
In 1462, on this day the royal and municipal armed forces of Piotr Dunin's Polish Army were decisively beated by the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Świecino.
Teutonic Knights triumph at the Battle of ŚwiecinoThe victorious commanders Fritz Raweneck and Kaspar Nostyc had led a force of two thousand seven hundred mercenaries gathered from the nearby castles Mewe (Gniew), Stargard (Starogard Gdański), Nowe, Skarszewy and Kiszewy.
Raweneck also had the supply chain (tabors), cannons and up to thirteen hundred auxiliary infantry of Pomeranian peasants, used mainly for fortification works. He took the brutal command decision to order the tabors to lead the charge, absorbing the very heavy fire from crossbows of the Polish infantry. Teuton units then savaged the Polish heavy cavalry under Pawel Jasieński and the battle was won.
In 2009, Christopher Orlet wrote ~ for decades, Western intellectuals have judged him the Good Marxist. His assassination by Joseph Stalin's agents was further proof -- if further proofs were needed -- of his honorable intentions. If only Leon Trotsky, rather than Stalin, had emerged as Vladimir Lenin's successor, how differently the history of the Soviet Union, indeed, the whole history of communism, might have read.
Blood Brother: If Trotsky had succeeded Lenin written by Christopher OrletHOW MIGHT HISTORY have looked had Trotsky succeeded Lenin?
"If ever Trotsky had been the paramount leader instead of Stalin, the risks of a bloodbath in Europe would have been drastically increased", writes Robert Service, for the simple reason that Trotsky, a believer in permanent revolution, would have taken more risks than Stalin in encouraging revolution in Germany and elsewhere. (While we are playing What If, former Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens has pointed out that Trotsky's German revolution would have preempted the Nazis coming to power, and thus not only World War II?, but the Holocaust as well).
Judging from his past deeds, Trotsky would have continued to act with savage ruthlessness, that meant forcing peasants onto collectivized farms -- as he vowed to do -- or ordering the execution of dissidents, crushing the Kronstadt worker and sailor rebellion in 1921 (they demanded, among other rights, freedom of speech and the press), or creating a system of hostage taking during the civil war -- all of which he did do.
The reason so many Western intellectuals, right and left, fell -- and continue to fall -- for Trotsky is they were charmed by his charisma, his intellect, and his literary skills ("His autobiography is magical to read," Service admits), as well as fooled by his obscurantism. What's more, they were desperate for any Soviet alternative to Stalin.
The idea that a humane communism could have come out of Trotskyism is pure romanticism, Service says. Yet, Trotskyites maintain even today that the tragedy of Soviet history lay in Trotsky's failure to win the battle of succession for leadership of the Soviet Union. Service's biography will not convince them otherwise. But for those with an open mind, Trotsky: A Biography shows that in the end, Stalin and Trotsky were blood brothers. Blood being the operative word.
This shortened article is an abbreviated form of the longer essay
In 1176, on this day in the mountain passes of Phrygia, the Army of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos recovered from an ambush at the hands of the Seljuk Turks. This spectacular victory enabled the Byzantine Empire to recover the interior of Anatolia which it had lost after the Battle of Manzikert a century before.
Miracle at MyriokephalonFor much of that time, a long peace with the Sultanate of Rûm had enabled the Empire to concentrate on the Western theatre, defeating Hungary and imposing Byzantine control over all the Balkans. Meanwhile the strongest Muslim ruler in Syria, Saladin was more concerned with Egypt and Palestine than the border territory.
The hard won victory at Myriokephalon created a strategic pause in which the Empire could consider its future natural borders more holistically. And a new possibility soon began to take shape in the minds of the Byzantine Leadership: to abandon Anatolia altogether and perhaps shift the Empire Westwards, relocating Constantinople out of Asia and back into Europe.
In 1995, the highly successful animated series Garfield and Friends had run the majority of its course and would ultimately be approved for seven seasons.
Calvin & Hobbes Animated Series Premiers On the lookout for something new on the CBS Saturday morning lineup, producers approached Bill Waterson, creator of the acclaimed Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Waterson was wrapping up his series, saying, "It's always better to leave the party early". Despite the cries from newspapers and readers alike, he refused the risk of running his creation into the ground.
While he had anticipated retiring to paint, the idea of a cartoon fascinated him. Waterson had always admired the artistry of animation, saying in a 1989 interview with The Comics Journal, "If you look at the old cartoons by Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, you'll see that there are a lot of things single drawings just can't do. Animators can get away with incredible distortion and exaggeration". Since he had won his freedom on Sunday comics pages with his sabbatical in 1991, he decided he could use this as a chance to experiment artistically again.
A new post by Jeff ProvineCalvin & Hobbes would end its newspaper run on December 31, 1995, and fans eagerly awaited the first episode of the animated series the next September as kids went back to school. After months of hangups working with Waterson's perfectionism and him being reportedly "very scared" to choose voice actors, the show aired to critical acclaim. Waterson's writing and initial sketches combined with new flexibility and background music to bring Calvin alive. Sequences of riding wagons and sleds down hills were applauded, as were the leaps in computer technology to incorporate the backgrounds Waterson imagined. Subject matter and Calvin's famous intelligence merited the series the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Animated Program twice, beating out the incumbent Animaniacs.
Despite the success of the series, Waterson would stand by his principles in licensing. Producers were furious that they could not capitalize on the audience with Hobbes dolls, G.R.O.S.S. memorabilia, or action figures of Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Man, and other personae of Calvin's creation. After only two seasons, the show would be cut off to be replaced by a cheaper, wholly educational lineup.
Waterson headed into retirement and refused to answer any questions about a possible Calvin & Hobbes film.
In 1859, on this day Joshua Abraham Norton began his reign as Emperor out of necessity to cure problems that had plagued the young nation during its republic. Norton himself was English, born in London and spending most of his life in South Africa before coming to San Francisco as a businessman.
Norton Proclaims Himself Emperor of these United States In a deal gone wrong where a dealer had misled him on the quality of his rice and the justice system denied his rights during his lawsuit to void his contract, leaving Norton financially destroyed in 1858 at age 39. He left the city in self-imposed exile, returning with his political dream in 1859.
The United States surely had its troubles if a hard working man such as Norton could be destroyed, and the system had to be fixed. He delivered a notice to the newspapers stating, "At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton... declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S". On February 1, representatives of each state were to meet him at the Music Hall in San Francisco "and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist".
Several editors published the notice as humorous, and a few newspapers back East picked it up as well. On October 12, he released another notice, dissolving the United States Congress in stating that the "universal suffrage, as now existing through the Union, is abused; that fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled to by paying his pro rata of the expense of Government". While Congress did not immediately disband, the notion of reform was picked up by several Midwesterners who had also been overtaxed and under-supported by the government. Though voted as a lark, the state legislature of Indiana decided to send James Herriman, a businessman who was going to San Francisco anyway, as representative. Upon word that Norton had been taken semi-seriously, South Carolina sent a delegation of representatives, hoping that their political maneuver would show the Union that they could do as they pleased under states' rights.
More states for various reasons began plans to send representatives to San Francisco. Proposals of every kind were put on the ballot for elections, and, by November, eighteen states planned to attend. The idea spread that it would be a kind of convention, perhaps even ground to discuss an end to the slavery question as well as trade and tariff disputes. In January, Norton released an edict to "hereby Order and Direct Major-General Scott, the Command-in-Chief of our Armies, immediately upon receipt of this, our Decree, to proceed with a suitable force and clear the Halls of Congress". Winfield Scott did not move the Army, nor did he make action to arrest the Emperor on grounds of treason.
At the 1860 February San Francisco Convention, Mayor Henry F. Teschemacher gave Norton permission to use the Music Hall, impressed with the publicity and income San Francisco was having with the arrival of politics and journalists. Presiding over the convention, Norton addressed each issue tirelessly, repeatedly overturning calls for recess. Economic, judicial, domestic, and international policies were closely examined, appropriated into committee, and then voted upon under the emperor's direction. By the end of the month, newspapers began to address Norton as "emperor" not out of humor but genuine honor from his efforts to support the common man. The convention ended with the writing of a Constitution, which, like the previous US Constitution, required ratification by two-thirds of the states.
The Constitution was largely ignored by the political powers that were, holding their own elections in later 1860 with Abraham Lincoln winning the office of presidency. The South went up in arms over the North's perceived aggression, and talk of secession began. Norton sent another edict, saying that there was no need for a War Between the States over matters of a derelict Congress. States simply needed to appoint representatives to his National Parliament as described in his Constitution. He ended with a reminder General Scott that he was overdue in his elimination of Congress. This time, Scott gave the notice more thought, finally approaching Lincoln, who refused to give up Republicanism to a tyrant.
The South began to send delegates, as did California, formally turning away from the government in Washington. More states followed, and, in April, South Carolina fired upon Union troops at Fort Sumter. Upon hearing the news, Norton immediately called for the arrest of the men who had tried to begin a war. Forgiveness was begged, and Norton called Lincoln and his increasingly illegal government to meet with him in San Francisco before things grew worse. Lincoln, willing to try anything to avoid a bloody war and the separation of the states, agreed to go. After a month-long conference, Norton persuaded Lincoln to surrender Washington and join the National Parliament.
Although there would be uprisings in various parts of the country, Norton would be swift in controlling issues and meeting with rebel commanders, usually persuading them to join him in the new empire. With a civil war avoided, the problems of slavery were solved by Norton's program of freeing skilled slaves with financial compensation to their former masters and installing mandated education programs to free yet more. Education, as well as simple steadfastness in what was right, cured many of the racial ills of the US. During the anti-Chinese riots of the 1870s, Norton stepped around his bodyguards and placed himself between the rioters and their intended victims, bowing his head and reciting the Lord's Prayer until the embarrassed rioters fled or formally apologized. Rumors stated that he planned to marry Queen Victoria of Britain, but Norton never seemed to find the time with such activities as personal inspections of the city's cable car system.
Much of Norton's reign was spent on improvements, such as the suspension bridge between Oakland and San Francisco as well as the long-term project of a tunnel under the bay. While San Francisco was given special consideration as the new capital, numerous projects were carried out throughout the country, like the transcontinental railroad completed in 1864. Late in his reign, Norton turned to international diplomacy, as he had when he had become Protector of Mexico in using the US Army to fight imperialistic advances on Mexico from France. In 1871, Norton called for an Assembly of Nations to meet and discuss issues in a convention he would preside. By 1877, the Assembly of Nations was a continuous facility that would soon outlaw the use of war in diplomacy.
Emperor Norton died in 1880 on his way to give a charity lecture at the California Academy of Sciences. Norton had not appointed a successor, instead leaving a detailed will for power to return to the hands of the Parliament, but forever banning political parties and an unbalanced budget (except in the case of military emergency). Thirty thousand San Franciscans attended his funeral, and the country remained in mourning for a month, though many can say that we are still in mourning of the lost Emperor. His legacy has even continued internationally, such as the Assembly of Nations' diffusing of the Sarajevo Affair in which the assassination of the Archduke may well have led to war.
In 1787, on this day the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of both the Union and the federal government was adopted by the Constitutional Convention and later ratified at a local level in the name of "We, the States".
A future-proofed US ConstitutionThe leader of the Virginia delegatation, Patrick Henry had originally refused to attend the Federal Convention, planning to use the power of his rhetoric to defeat the Constitution when it was later presented at the State Ratifying Convention. Persuaded to attend, he convinced the other delegates that the draft preamble smacked of consolidated government rather than confederation. "We, the People" was both improper and illegal because "the people had no right to enter into leagues, alliances or confederations. States and foreign powers are the only proper agents for his kind of government".
Evidence of the success of Henry's gambit soon followed. The Governor of New York, George Clinton issued a "Neutrality Proclamation" after President George Washington had done so at a federal level. And the heads of both Clinton and Henry' would be sculptured at Mount Rushmore, symbolizing their critical involvement in the protection of States Rights at the birth of the Republic.
In 1777, on this day in upstate New York, loyalist forces under the command of General George Washington triumphed at the Battle of Saratoga. And the revolt against the bicameral American Parliament led by the turncoat Benedict Arnold effectively ended with the crushing of his republican army.
Republican Revolt crushed at SaratogaAlong with many of his peers, Washington had fought in the Seven Years War. And at the climax, the cash-strapped British Government had wisely reinforced the "historic rights of Englishmen" by offering representation alongside the necessary taxation to refill her Majesty's Coffers.
Arnold however had fallen under the influence of Thomas Paine, an extremist who argued that nothing less than full independence was due to Americans. Bizarrely, Paine was an atheist who used religious metaphors to express his republican view that "Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens ... It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set foot for the promotion of idolatry".
In 1806, Aaron Burr is accused of conspiring to steal Louisiana Purchase lands away from the United States and crown himself a king or emperor in a new country, or to declare an illegal war against Spanish possessions in Mexico for the same purpose.
Louisiana Theft by Guest Historian Eric Lipps
There is more than a little truth to the accusations. Politically ruined in the United States following his fatal duel with President Alexander Hamilton in 1804, Burr has grown increasingly alienated from the young republic.
It does not help, either, that Thomas Jefferson is now President: Burr is still bitter over the manner in which Hamilton kept his eventual slayer from gaining even the vice-presidency in 1800 by urging electors to vote for the Virginian over him if they could not support Hamilton himself. In the two years since the duel, he has persuaded himself that he deserves to rule, and he is tempted by the prospect of leading a second revolution.
In 2004, the crew of the ELS-1 desperately adapt their forward guns to fire the disruption beam that Dr. Emilio Carrera used against the Elders in Washington as they see particle beams fired at them from the earth. In the nick of time, the disruptor beam is fired, and the particle beams are dissipated. Now, the captain of the ELS-1 is ready to dictate some terms of his own. "To the aliens currently causing so much trouble on earth," he broadcasts on the Elder frequency, "get off my planet".
In 2002, the NASA administrator visits the White House to speak with the two hairy men that paid the unexpected visit on President Bush two days before. He wants the two men to come with him to Andrews Air Force base, but the men are reluctant to come near the Air force for some reason. He finally convinces them that nothing will happen, and they spend the rest of the day at Andrews.
In 1951, a devastating tropical storm ravaged Mexico City, killing half a million people. The storm was a consequence of the climate changes wrought by the Bellus-Zyra disaster.
|City of Palaces|
On this day in 1944, the Western Allies launched Operation Toadstool, an airborne offensive aimed at liberating Belgium and Luxembourg from Nazi occupation.
In 1960, on this day the Jewish-American women's philanthropic organization Hadassah started a fundraising drive to collect money to help New York's Jewish community rebuild synagogues that had been wrecked by the Jamaica Bay hurricane.
On this day in 1972, the Dallas Cowboys opened the 1972 season and their quest to regain the Super Bowl championship with a 28-6 thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles at the Cotton Bowl.
On this day in 1941, with Wehrmacht and SS divisions less than 40 miles from the outskirts of Moscow, Adolf Hitler inexplicably ordered a halt to the German advance in Russia. This would turn out to be as great a tactical mistake for the Third Reich on the Eastern Front as the four-day suspension of ground operations near Dunkirk in June 1940 had been on the Western Front.
On this day in 1981, 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair beat Tommy Rich at a live NWA card in Charleston, South Carolina to win his first NWA world title. However, the new champion had little time to celebrate; moments after the match ended Rich, driven to a psychotic rage by bitterness over the defeat and by the stress of his war with Terry Funk, went ballistic and attacked Flair with a trash can, touching off a post-match brawl that ended only with the intervention of arena security.
In 1798, inventor Robert Fulton demonstrates a primitive submarine, the Nautilus, modeled on Thomas Bushnell's Revolutionary War-era creation, the Turtle. Fulton's vessel carries sail for surface propulsion and is driven by a hand-cranked screw propeller while submerged. It carries a primitive explosive device called a 'torpedo' as its only armament.
In 12-12-13-11-10, Oriquetcho, a priest of knowledge in the Oueztecan Empire, begins work on his theory of the origin of species; his controversial teaching that species evolved naturally is met with disfavor from the powerful priestly class in the Empire, but time and further experimentation bear his theories out.
In 4697, Captain Wu arrives back in the home solar system, and has to slow down. When he orders his ships to slow, the Y'T'T'li overtake and pass them, and continue into the inner solar system. Wu frantically sends word to earth's defenses, telling them that these metal men must not be allowed to land on humanity's home world.
In 1967, the Doors, scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, are asked by a censor to tone down the somewhat drug-laced lyrics of some of their hit songs. When Jim Morrison tells the censor to perform a biologically impossible act on himself, the censor forbids their appearance on the show, incensing both the band and Ed Sullivan, who until this point had been somewhat friendly towards censorship. His work against censorship over the next few years loosens television up to the point where the Doors are considered quite mild in comparison.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter's greatest accomplishment, peace in the Middle East, takes its first steps as Egypt and Israel sign a peace accord at Camp David. After Carter's reelection in 1980, he is able to bring Lebanon, Syria, Jordon, and his greatest victory, Saudi Arabia, into the accord, as well. The creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel occurs after he leaves office, but his continued presence as a mediator made it possible. His Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for this monumental task was considered long overdue.
In 1923, gospel singer Hiram Williams was born in Mount Olive West, Alabama. While his youth was somewhat misspent, he turned to the Lord in 1943 when he was nearly killed in Italy during World War II. He wrote and sang such beautiful songs as I Saw The Light and Are You Building A Temple In Heaven.
In 1656, the state of Massachusetts enacts several laws to contain the violent Quaker cult due to the murders committed by recent Quaker immigrants Ann Austin and Mary Fisher. The Catholic government of the state declared anyone belonging to the sect a heretic, subject to execution. When I was accepting this job I did it with all sincerity, he said, 'believing that somebody has to do the job and if somebody has to do it, why not me.'
In 1787, the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shatters as northern delegates are unwilling to enshrine slavery in a document about freedom, and southern delegates will agree to nothing less. The north forms its own small nation in the coming years, while the southern states, unable to agree on a common government even among themselves, are gobbled up by Spain and France.
In 1899, Samantha Williams-Hurst of the United Kingdom was elevated to the office of First Minister of the Congress of Nations, following the assassination of former First Minister Tiri'Kema. Her first act is to eulogize her predecessor; her second is to mobilize all the police forces available to the C.N. to find the killers.
The prefect of the province of Judaea Pontius Pilate was unjustly recalled to Rome for having the mis-fortunate timing of harshly suppressing a Samaritan uprising that had arrived just after the death of Tiberius. And learning that the new Roman emperor Caligula meant to execute him Pilate seized the throne for himself.
4th of Tishrei, 3806 - Simon Peter Recognised by CaesarDespite serving much longer and more ably than his predecessors he had offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects leading to harsh criticism from Philo and Josephus. And so when he learnt that the troublesome Nazarene sect was spreading out of Judaea, he did not hesitate to expunge their leadership.
Author's Note: in authoring this article we have re-purposed content from Biography.com which notes the circumstances surrounding Pontius Pilate's death in circa 39 A.D. are something of a mystery and a source of contention. According to some traditions, the Roman emperor Caligula ordered Pontius Pilate to death by execution or suicide. By other accounts, Pontius Pilate was sent into exile and committed suicide of his own accord.
In 1824, the demise of Louis XVIII triggered a series of events that led inexorably to the War of French Succession.
Passing of Louis XVIII of FranceHis authority had been challenged by ultra nationalists throughout the ten years of his rule that had begun with the Bourbon Restoration. And naturally upon his death, Ultras quickly sought to install his brother, Charles, Count of Artois in favour of his liberal-minded forty-three year son Louis XIX.
Ironically, this action triggered a royalist backlash. The late King's wife Marie Josephine Louise de Savoy Princess of Sardinia and Piedmont turned to Charles Felix the King of Sardinia for military assistance, while the Comte d' Artois turned to his relations in Austria. Ferdinand IV of Spain also became directly involved; his paternal grandfather and Louis XIX's maternal grandmother were brother and sister. In a further escalation, Comte d' Artois obtained the support of Prussia. And before a Concert of Europe could be formed, the European Monarchies were already on the march.
In 1701, on this day the Roman Catholic monarch, James Stuart, King of Ireland died in his official residence at Dublin Castle.
The Great PretenderHe was succeeded by his thirteen year old son James Francis Edward Stuart who also became the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England and Scotland. And just six months later, the usurper William of Orange was killed by a Velvet Coated Assassin, thrown from his favourite horse Sorrel when he stumbled into a mole's burrow at Windsor Park. This misfortune brought his sister-in-law and cousin Anne Stuart to the throne, because William's wife, and her sister, Mary II had died in 1694.
Anne's turbulent rule lasted but a dozen years, and upon her death, George I, Elector of Hanover looked set to inherit the British Crown pursuant to the Act of Settlement 1701. It was then that her half-brother James Francis Edward Stuart made his dramatic bid for power.
In 1988, the United States announced it would resume full diplomatic relations with Cuba in January, ending a break of more than 28 years between Washington and Havana; with the Soviet Union having dissolved and economic assistance negotiations with France having been stalled since 1986, there was considerable sentiment on both ends of the Florida Straits in favor of resuming formal U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties.
Elián González SurfacesWhile the announcement drew vehement protests from Florida's Cuban exile communuity, most other Americans welcomed the end of the U.S.-Cuba estrangement. One sector of American society was especially happy with the decision -- the re-opening of Cuba's borders paved the way for Major League Baseball to bring a huge new influx of Cuban players into the United States, and that influx would have a dramatic impact on MLB pennant races in the next two-plus decades.
The newly restored bonds between the United States and Cuba would be further solidified in 1999 when a joint U.S.-Cuban naval search & rescue mission retrieved the survivors of a shipwreck; one of those survivors, a six-year-old boy named Elián González (pictured), would later grow up to become a pivotal figure in the movement to end one-party rule in Cuba.
In 1920, a little after noon, while crowds of businessmen were leaving their offices for lunch all along Wall Street, an unassuming horse and wagon exploded just outside the Morgan Building. Later analysis proved the bomb to be set with a timer and loaded with iron weights as shrapnel. Thirty-eight people were killed and hundreds more injured.
Bomb Blast in New York Sparks War on Terror The attack was a tragedy, but the overall desire was to return to "business as usual". With a bombing so close to the stock exchange, leaders were fearful of a panic, and so the damage was cleaned overnight. The board of governors for the stock exchange opened on the 17th without a problem. Rumors circulated that the explosion had been an accident. Soon, however, the Bureau of Investigation released flyers discovered in a nearby post office box with the cryptic message, "Remember. We will not tolerate any longer. Free the political prisoners or it will be death for all of you. American Anarchist Fighters!"
As the investigation continued quietly, people assumed it may have been an attack in reaction to the Sacco and Vanzetti, who had been arrested for murder in Massachusetts. People rallied behind the market in face of these "reds", and the celebration for Constitution Day continued at the same spot. Despite police surveillance, a package bomb exploded from a garbage bin, killing an additional seven. In Boston at the Farmer's Market, Washington, D.C., outside the Capitol, and San Francisco near the Mint, similar explosions followed.
The press seized the news, and the populace began to demand action. Wilson's term in office was nearly over, and the extremely ill president did not seem able to confront the issue of safety. Quoting the Washington Post, presidential hopeful Warren G. Harding said, "This is an 'act of war', and if it's war they want, it's war they'll get!" His words were dangerous in a world so soon after the Great War, but the gamble paid off, and he was elected in the largest majority since Washington. Immediately, Harding and his cabinet set upon establishing Security for Our Homeland. To prevent further plots, security checkpoints were set up at all train stations with passengers and baggage checked as well as bags being searched at important facilities such as museums, libraries, and public offices. Immigration came into heavy suspicion, especially as alcohol was run across the Canadian border, prompting many to call for a wall to be built.
Investigations pointed to Galleanists conducting the plot. All known accomplices were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and spirited to federal penitentiaries. The leader, Luigi Galleani (pictured), had been deported to Italy, where he had been further exiled to an island and watched by government officials. Harding demanded that Galleani return for trial on conspiracy to commit murder. When the Italian government did not move quickly enough, he sent Marines to collect the anarchist personally. Foreign reporters described the action as an "invasion", but Harding refused to acknowledge that he had done anything beyond justice.
As his term progressed, Harding approached the League of Nations with evidence (which many critics said was scant at best) that the Bolsheviks of Russia had been responsible and were preparing more "actions of mass destruction". He encouraged other nations to redouble their support in the Russian Civil War, but if they refused, America would "do it alone". The Russian War, as it was called but never officially since Congress did not declare war, simply funded the American Expeditionary Force for Freedom. Many suspected Harding's administration of corruption, but most vocal opinions were drowned out by cries of patriotism.
Through the 1920s, the sense of panic would gradually subside in America while the war in Russia continued in a dogged fight against urban and guerrilla warfare. Many would call for a withdrawal of American soldiers by letting the Russian Republican Army defend the country itself, but neither Harding, Coolidge, nor Hoover fulfilled the promise to establish a timetable. The economy made a swift downturn in 1929, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 began the steady withdraw. America was ready for a time of isolationism, but the world dragged them back to action as the 1940s began the Second World War. Hitler's Fascists stormed Russia in 1941, citing the same principles of security Harding had and conquering it within a matter of months. Though over a million German troops would be caught up in the bloody occupation of Russia, further Germans would storm the beaches of Britain. Faced with overwhelming odds, the Allies would fight at tremendous losses until the tide of the war changed with the Atomic Bomb.
Beleaguered, economically depressed, and bringing up a generation calling for renewed isolationism, America would spend the rest of the twentieth century as something of an unwilling patron, constantly at guard for another attack by terror in a post-colonial world.
In 1914, two Russian armies (1st and 2nd) smashed the German 8th Army at the Battle of Allenstein, thus realizing the worst fears of the German General Staff - a stalemate in the West, and a Slavic steamroller in the East.
Battle of Allenstein by Zach TimmonsAlthough the French had been pressing the Russians to speed up their mobilization in order to take pressure off of the Allies on the Western Front, the Russians stuck doggedly to their pre-war schedules, with the 1st Army advancing east from Vilnius, and the 2nd Army marching north from Warsaw, with their objective being either to destroy the German army or drive it into the defenses of Königsberg, rendering it useless. The 8th Army had no intention of fighting, however; their orders were to fall back towards the Vistula River, in order to avoid being flanked and wiped out.
After a defeat at the battle of Gumbinnen, the commander of the 8th, General von Prittwitz ordered the retreat; however either through miscommunication or deliberate inaction by their commander, his I Corps never fell back, and was annihilated at the Battle of Insterburg, with the remnants retreating into Königsberg. This, combined with a drive around the German right flank by the 2nd Army, enabled a brilliant pincer move by the Russians at Allenstein, leaving almost the whole of East Prussia defenseless. The German 9th Army raced east as a stopgap; this, combined with reinforcements from the Western Front, allowed the Germans to hold the line of the Vistula.
Along with the decisive victory in the battle of Lemberg, Russian morale soared, and although the Eastern Front would essentially remain on the Vistula-Carpathian line until the war's end in 1917, Russians wholeheartedly supported the conflict. A move by Germany late in the war to foment political unrest in Russia failed badly when their agent, V.I. Ulyanov, received little support and was quickly arrested and executed on arrival. At the Treaty of Krakow in 1918, Germany and Austria-Hungary were forced to cede large sections of their Polish territories, which the Russians used to create an independent Polish buffer state. By war's end, Russia's industrial base was one of the largest in the world, and it only continued to grow; by the time of the outbreak of the 2nd Russo-Japanese War it had surpassed the United States for industrial supremacy.
In 1919, the American Legion was founded. The patriotic organization would play a crucial role in the so-called "Red Scare" of 1919-20, operating as a quasi-official arm of the U.S. government with the approval of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and conducting raids, often violent in nature, against suspected "subversive" individuals and groups.
Birth of the American Legion by Eric LippsThrough the 1920s. the Legion would swell in size and power. After the stock-market crash of October 1929, however, it would come into its own as the armed wing of a new right-wing party, the American Party. In 1932, in a bitterly contested three-way race, American Party candidate Ralph T. O'Neill, an admirer of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, would win the U.S. presidency, defeating both the discredited Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover and his Democratic challenger, New York's Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the Electoral College.
President O'Neill would emulate many of the policies of Mussolini, including his regime's official persecution of Jews, whom O'Neill considered "un-American". In 1935, he would join with Mussolini, Germany's Adolf Hitler, and Japan's Hideki Tojo in forming the so-called "Anti-Comintern Pact". This alliance would prove decisive when, in 1939, Soviet Russia invaded Poland, claiming a need for a buffer against invasion. The Second World War which followed would end in the fall of 1941 with Pact tanks rolling through the rubble of Moscow.
By then, President O'Neill, who had been re-elected in 1936 and, citing "wartime emergency", had suspended the 1940 election, had effectively negated the U.S. Constitution. Dissent was officially illegal, and government critics risked deportation to "correction camps" in Alaska and the Florida Everglades. The Legion's original patriotism had morphed into something much darker which cast a shadow not only over the former "land of the free" but over the rest of the world as well.
In 2001, President Gore praises Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Ashaikh (Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulama) for his formal response to the downing of Flight 93. Respect by Eric Lipps
Delivered the previous day, al-Ashaikh's statement was a blistering condemnation of the attack: "Hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood constitute a form of injustice that can not be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts. "
"In these words," the President says, "we hear the answer to those who say that Islam is always and forever an enemy to the West, always and forever a religion of violence. Shocked as we are at the cruel act committed against defenseless people on September 11, we must remember these words when we are tempted to blame all Muslims for the acts of fanatics. " Gore is excoriated by conservative critics in America and in Israel for his "naive" view of Islam in the wake of the Flight 93 attack. His words are much better received, ironically, in Saudi Arabia, home of the leader of Al Qaeda, where his praise for a highly respected religious figure is appreciated.
In 2009, (UPI-London) published the following feature article dated Sept. 16 ~ Scottish Villages to be Abandoned in Wake of Millipede Invasion. Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced today that the villages of Droman, Balchrick and Blairmore will be abandoned at least temporarily following the failure of efforts to thwart the invasion of resident's homes by swarms of millipedes.Black Millipede strikes by Eric LippsThe failure of insecticides, barriers and even a wartime-style blackout (millipedes are attracted by light) to stop the insect incursions has left locals desperate for a solution. National authorities are said to be considering a range of solutions, from introducing insectivorous animals known to prey on them to the mass spraying of he affected communities with caustic chemicals to, as a last resort, "dusting" the affected area with highly radioactive isotopes.
Scottish Villages to be Abandoned in Wake of Millipede InvasionThe chemical and radiological options are opposed by the local villagers because contamination would render the area uninhabitable for humans for many years and would sterilise the soil, ruining it for agriculture even after the contaminants themselves decayed to harmlessness or were removed. Residents fear their communities might become permanent ghost towns, as was the fate of many towns and even some cities surrounding the former Soviet Union's nuclear facility at Chernobyl following the 1986 disaster there.
A government spokesman announced that residents will be provided with temporary housing at government expense, and that if it proves impossible to render their homes fit for them to return, compensation will be provided to allow them to purchase new residences elsewhere. A fund for this purpose is to be established by order of Parliament. The intended size of this fund was not revealed. Some citizens' groups warn that the government's offer should be viewed with caution; they point to the unhappy outcome of a similar disaster relief effort in the United States following the devastation of New Orleans and other communities by Hurricane Katrina several years ago.
In 2001, Emperor Hirohito visited New York City to pay his respects to the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks.
This visit reciprocated a similar journey former US President Bill Clinton had made to Japan six years earlier following the Tokyo subway gas attack.
On this day in 1919, American League president Ban Johnson announced that if the White Sox and Tigers were still tied for first in the AL standings at the end of the regular season, a special one-game playoff would be held in Chicago on October 2nd to break the tie.
Chicago's mayor, anticipating a White Sox victory, declared October 3rd a civic holiday; Detroit's mayor did likewise in expectation of a Tigers win.
|Ban Johnson |
On this day in 1944, Allied troops in Italy occupied the tiny enclave of the Republic of San Marino.
In 1788, New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify the new U.S. Constitution, placing it into effect. Congress schedules the presidential election for the first Tuesday in November. President of the Congress Cyrus Griffin will serve as acting president until the first Constitutional president is sworn in, which is expected to be sometime in the first week in March (Congress has not specified an exact date) to allow time for the new administration to be assembled and for its members to travel to New York, which is serving as a temporary capital.
It is generally expected that George Washington will be chosen president. That expectation proves true, as Washington receives a unanimous vote in the electoral college. Under the lifetime tenure provision of the Constitution, he will remain in office until his deaath in 1799.
In 1970, a demonstration against the Vietnam War and in favor of emergency aid to North Vietnam at Ohio State University's main campus in Columbus, Ohio swells to several thousand people. After several incidents in which demonstrators yell obscenities at campus and local police called in to "maintain order", Columbus's mayor Maynard E. Sensenbrenner calls for the assistance of the National Guard.
The following day, tensions at OSU-Columbus escalate when, just prior to the arrival of National Guard troops requested by Mayor Sensenbrenner, the campus Reserve Officer Training Corps erupts in flames. Attempts to put out the blaze are hampered by demonstrators, who throw rocks and bottles at police and firemen trying to extinguish it. When the Guard troops arrive, they set up headquarters on campus and make numerous arrests, employing tear gas and bayonets on the crowd. One student is injured by a bayonet.
Three days later, with demonstrators and National Guard troops still facing off on the OSU-Columbus campus, Guard troops read the assembled protesters a formal order to disperse or face arrest. When the protesters do not back down, the Guard troops advance on them. The student demonstrators retreat until they find themselves boxed in by a chain-link fence, at which point some of them begin moving forward, attempting to get out of the cul-de-sac. Several Guardsmen, apparently interpreting the students' forward motion as the start of an attack, fire their weapons into the crowd.
Chaos ensues. The crowd surges forward as the demonstrators, many of whom now fear they have been herded into a trap to be shot down en masse, try to break out. The opposing Guardsmen, none of whom have been trained in riot control, panic and begin firing indiscriminately. Eight students are killed and several dozen injured; of the slain, two are found to have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than active participants in the protest. Two Guardsmen are also killed, one apparently by fire from another Guardsman's rifle, and several others are hurt.
The violence changes the political dynamic within the U.S. antiwar movement, escalating the importance of the Southeast Asian conflict, which until then had most often taken a back seat to the much closer war in Cuba.
On this day in 1917, former RMS Titanic lookout Frederick Fleet committed suicide in Manchester, England. Fleet, riddled with guilt because he was convinced he was responsible for the ocean liner's sinking by a German U-boat, had lapsed into alcoholism after the ship was sunk; he blew his brains out with a .38 revolver.
In 1810, political dissidents in Mexico proclaim the colony's independence from Spain.
Armed conflict immediately erupts between the would-be independentistas and royalist forces loyal to Madrid. It is subsequently learned that expatriate American colonials, among them James Madison and Aaron Burr, have played an active role in encouraging the independence movement. This discovery will lead Britain to offer aid to Spain in suppressing the rebellion.
In 1914, Prime minister Herbert Henry Asquith of Great Britain and Ireland orders secret back channel talks with the Germans to be started.
In 1524, Tomas de Torquemada, High Inquisitor, is approached by a man dressed entirely in red while meeting with the Pope. This man claims to have possession of Torquemada's soul, and in full view of many priests, bishops, cardinals and His Holiness, is dragged by the man in red into a flaming hole that appears in the floor.
In 1968, attempting to show his lighter side to the voters, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon appears on the comedy-variety show Laugh-In, voicing their stock line, 'Sock it to me.' After he loses the election, Nixon decides to leave politics. His fun with the Laugh-In crowd leads him to pursue television production, and he produces several hit series in the 70's, such as Charlie's Angels and M*A*S*H.
In 1956, mercurial actor Phil Rourke, Jr. was born in Schenectady, New York. At times more a brawler than an actor, Rourke thrilled audiences in such films as An Officer And A Gentleman, Angel Heart, and The Pope Of Greenwich Village, which earned him an Oscar nomination. In 1991, Rourke became a professional boxer; six months into his new 'career', he was knocked into a coma, and died shortly thereafter.
In 1940, Communist Representative Bill Munro of Texas became the Speaker of the House. He held this position until he retired from his seat in 1962 to teach at the University of Texas. Comrade Munro was responsible for Texas' leading role in electronics, space travel and computers.
In 1920, Enrico Caruso recorded his first album for Edison Records, Thomas Edison's record company. Edison himself had negotiated the deal which brought Caruso in, because of the enormous prestige the greatest singer in the world could give to his company. Unfortunately, Caruso's first record with Edison was also his last, as he died a few days later.
In 904, the infidel Tomas de Torquemada, murderer of hundreds of faithful Muslims, was put to the death by Caliph Faris bin Yusuph in Cordoba. Torquemada had been the leader of a handful of Christian extremists who had terrorized the Spanish peasants for years, attempting to turn them from the true faith to his false one.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.