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Decades of Darkness #12: Winter of Discontent

5 December 1812

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg,

Russian Empire

St. Petersburg in winter struck John Quincy Adams as a poor place to hold negotiations. At the best of times, the city would still be far from the capitals of the main parties. As it was now, the city was cut off from most news by the tyranny of distance and winter. But this was where Tsar Alexander resided, and thus where the negotiations were held. At least the Russians knew how to heat buildings properly – inside the palace was always hot, regardless of the winter chill outside.

Adams supposed he would have been happier still if he had been given much involvement with the negotiations. But the United States’ main commissioners were Albert Gallatin and Henry Clay. Theoretically, Adams was meant to be included, but he had found himself being shuffled ignominiously to one side. It seemed that Gallatin and Clay – and by extension, President Madison – didn’t trust him.

Which meant that Adams had been given only limited involvement in the negotiations. The issues were many: the independence of New England (although that was assured, in practice); the status of New York and New Jersey; British claims on Detroit and New York; the relationship with Tecumseh and his Indian Confederation; West Florida’s admission; and indeed the entire Louisiana Purchase. Not to mention matters of trade, especially navigation rights on the Mississippi, an indemnity, and other issues.

And the negotiations certainly seemed to be taking a long time, especially since New England had inveigled itself into them. Tsar Alexander was meant to be mediating, but in practice he spent most of his time handling the French invasion. Adams had only seen the Tsar once since he formally welcomed the commissioners. If the discussions reached a deadlock, he expected the Tsar would intervene personally, but otherwise he seemed content simply that they were talking. And they were certainly talking... and talking... and talking, despite the strict instructions from Madison not to formally treat with the representatives from New England. All contact with them was directed through the British or the Russian officials – and Adams had found himself being relegated largely to organising such communication.

“No doubt Madison wants the negotiations to take a while,” Adams said, as he drummed his fingers on his desk, studying yet another written proposal from the New Englanders, officially written to the Tsar. It had, of course, been passed on to Adams without comment from the Tsar. The letter amounted to a statement that all of New York State belonged to New England. The United States still controlled part of that state, and were loathe to lose it.

But regardless of the issue of New York, Adams knew that the negotiations were being deliberately prolonged, especially the delay in giving any kind of formal recognition of New England’s independence. That could hardly be avoided forever, but it had to be kept away until after the electoral college had met, to give Madison the best chance for re-election. Adams was unsure whether Madison would be re-elected or not – another problem with winter in St. Petersburg – but he knew that the chances would be better during an ongoing war than if Madison was forced to concede a humiliating peace.

A peace which, Adams admitted to himself, would leave him with a question of his own: was his loyalty to the United States greater than his loyalty to Massachusetts? With all his heart, he wanted Massachussetts to stay in the Union, but it was going to leave. There was no questioning New England’s independence at this point, only how large it would be upon its independence.

The war certainly had not stopped because of the negotiations – both sides wanted to gain maximum advantage. At last report, Jackson had fought the invaders to a draw in New Jersey and both sides had retreated to winter quarters, while the Indians were still on the warpath in the West.

“So, can I remain loyal to Massachusetts, in a New England run by Federalists and beholden to the same British who we so recently overthrew, and who now support the savages in the frontier?” Adams asked himself. His only other choice was exile to a United States which would be even more dominated by Virginians. Neither choice was palatable, but he knew he would have to make it soon.

Sighing to himself, Adams bent over his desk and started to write a noncommittal reply to New England’s latest note.


Extracts from the private journal of General Peter Buell Porter [1]

Dated 18 January 1813

So, it comes to this, that Mr. Madison has been returned as President of the United States of America. For this we are meant to be glad, that we have not seen the electors choose a President who would be even more lax and ill-prepared in his pursuit of this war than Mr. Madison has been. And so this would be true, that we should be glad that some of the other men who placed themselves before the nation have been rejected.

But does this mean that we should be thankful for the election of Mr. Madison? I, for one, think not. For Mr. Madison has shown himself to be incapable of following good advice. Two years ago I advised him and Congress that the time was not yet ripe for war with Britain, [2] but they let themselves be carried away by fear. New England would not have struck first against us, and spending time to develop our army would have been a better choice.

And this gave us a war which every man now has realised that we can no longer win, merely hope not to lose too much ground. For even Mr. Madison saw that, and had to grant negotiations, aided by the only country in the world which seems to be our friend, the Russian Empire. What a strange and curious thing it is, that the only friend of our republic is the one among the civilized nations whose form of government is most alien to ours!

Still, this election has raised grave questions about our United States. For how could we in justice hold an election for a President who is to be appointed by the entire nation, when so many of the members of that nation refuse to take part? This becomes a question of law, and of the need for a reinterpretation of the Constitution, which never considered such a crisis, or indeed many other matters which have recently befallen our nation. For no proper provision was made of the death of the President in office either, nor of the Vice-President, nor of the office which his successor should hold. This is a question which our nation should urgently consider, once this tragic war is ended.

Certainly, the present solution which was adopted is most unsatisfactory. Indeed, I would be tempted to say that it was alien to the spirit of democracy. For my own state of New York to be most unfairly excluded from the presidential elections, even those districts which remain loyal to the United States and which are protected by its armies, is a violation of the principles on which our new nation was founded. It is perhaps fortunate that the recent admission of Louisiana [3] and West Florida provided enough electoral votes so that Mr. Madison could claim that he had a majority of the whole nation, even when the absent states were included. Otherwise, the damage to our institutions might be much graver, but even this presents us with a system in urgent need of repair.

Whether this system can be repaired is, however, a vexatious question. I must confess to myself a sentiment I would never express in Congress or to any but my closest friends: I see no hope for the restoration of New England. For while some of the people there desire restoration to the Union, more do not, having been angered by the United States’ conduct of this war. In this they are misguided – the death of Senator King was a tragic accident, nothing more – but I understand their distrust. One day soon, I suspect I must ask myself where I will stand, in the United States or in New England.


[1] Peter B. Porter was prominent during the lead-up to the Second War of Independence, as a “War Hawk” and supporter of the frontier development, which developed in him a firm hatred of the British. During the war, he led volunteers around Buffalo and the Niagara frontier against the British, distinguishing himself reasonably well, and preventing any major incursions into Buffalo from British North America. But like so many others, he was handed a poisonous choice on the conclusion of the war, whether to abandon his home and go to the United States, or remain in a New York which was to become part of New England, thus living in the land of his recent enemies.

[2] In OTL, Porter supported war with Britain but thought that the declaration of war should be delayed, even in 1812, on the grounds that the defenses were not yet ready. Here, the crisis of secession meant that war broke out earlier despite his objections.

[3] Louisiana was admitted as a state in October 31, 1812 in this TL, giving it enough time to participate in the presidential elections of that year. This is later than it was admitted in OTL (April 30), and Louisiana is now a smaller state. Baton Rogue and the surrounding areas are part of the state of West Florida (indeed, Baton Rogue is the capital of that state). Louisiana now has its capital at New Orleans. It’s still admitted, though, because the USA has a desire to add more stars to the flag, to make up for those that are being lost.


Decades of Darkness #13: Breaking The Union

March 17, 1813

Dear Mr. Strong,

I hope that this letter finds you in the good health that you have displayed throughout our conversations. The three-fold discussions between the representatives of the United Kingdom, New England and the United States, while they may not have progressed at a pace to suit all parties, were nonetheless held in good conduct as long as you were present, and your absence is a misfortune which I hope to remedy.

Since you have decided to avoid being present in person, leaving the negotiations to your compatriot Mr. Lowell, I must write you this way. I hope that you will hold this letter in confidence.

Let me begin by stating what is a plainly self-evident truth, but one which must be acknowledged: the Republic of New England, and more importantly the United Kingdom, holds the upper hand in these polite discussions. This is a fact that I do not deny. Nonetheless, the conduct of these negotiations in your absence has been most unsatisfactory to myself and the other representatives of the United States. We are being left no room to bargain; our most recent conversations have been conducted as little more than a list of demands read to us, with no negotiation involved. In such a position, how can the United States seek anything but continued war?

I submit to you, Mr. Strong, that a prolonged war is in none of our nations’ interests. The United States have already conceded much to avoid that. Under President Madison’s direction, we have recognised the independence of the five states of New England. Their separation from the Union is assured, no matter what other arrangements are made during the course of our negotiations. But to prolong this war when negotiating over other matters merely means more shedding of blood and expending of treasure. Even more assuredly, sir, as you yourself have commented in the past, it will lead to long-lasted hatred between the United States of America on the one hand, and the New England states on the other. Such a situation is surely as distressing to you as I find it myself.

I ask you to consider for a moment, sir, matters as they appear from the perspective of a representative of the United States of America. We have been asked, first of all, to allow the sacred Union to be torn in two by the departure of the New England States. This we have accepted, despite our misgivings. But since then, we face only ceaseless demands. We are asked to surrender the entirety of the states of New York and New Jersey, despite our continued successful defence of part of both states, and the wishes of the people therein. We are asked to abandon most of our Territories in the Northwest, to be partitioned between Britain and the Indians. We are being asked to relinquish two further States from the Union, both Louisiana and West Florida, and also the rest of the territory we purchased from France. As if the territorial demands were not enough, we are also being asked to pay an indemnity for this war, which I as Secretary to the Treasury know that we will not pay for no gain. Given such a set of demands, sir, do you find it at all surprising that we favour returning to war rather than persisting in negotiations which offer us no scope for negotiation?

I would ask, sir, that you return to the negotiations, and urge your compatriot Mr. Lowell, and exert your influence over the British representatives, that we can arrange a more equitable peace.

I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Albert Gallatin


5 April 1813

Winter Palace, St. Petersburg

Russian Empire

“At least they’ve finally decided to show some room to negotiate,” Albert Gallatin said.

“There was always scope for negotiation,” Henry Clay replied, with a wry smile on his lips. “They were just getting their own back. We spun out the negotiations until the President was re-elected, so they responded by making unconscionable demands.”

“They’re going to get most of those demands, too,” Gallatin muttered.

“Most, yes, but not all, by any means,” Clay said. He wished that the United States had proved stronger, especially on the high seas, but now was not the time to worry about that. They had to make peace for now, salvaging as much as they could, then he could oversee the building of a strong army and navy. He had advocated that even before the war, and it was doubly important now. When the United States and Britain next tangled – as they inevitably would – then there would be a different result.

“It might as well be all,” Gallatin said. “New York State is gone, at the very least.”

“Inevitable, alas,” Clay said. “The only part of that state which we still hold is the northwest, after all. The British would claim that anyway. Better it go to New England than King George.”

“I suppose so,” Gallatin said. His nod held obvious reluctance. “But much of the northwest is going to King George, and more to the Indians.”

“Tecumseh is a noble man, even if he is a savage,” Clay said. “But don’t trouble yourself with the Indian Confederation. We’ve made treaties with Indians before. They’ve never lasted.” He shrugged. “Just be thankful for General Wilkinson. Without him, we might have to concede land in the southwest. That would be more troublesome.”

“We may have to give up the most important land down there: two states.”

“I doubt that,” Clay said. “If we concede matters elsewhere, they’ll be more willing to give in there. We’ll come to some arrangement there, and in the other matters of the frontiers, I’m sure.”

“You’re forgetting the most important part of all, New Jersey,” Gallatin said. “That’s not in any frontier.”

“I haven’t forgotten it,” Clay said. He just didn’t know what to do about it. Yielding New Jersey to the Yankees would give them altogether too much weight. When next it came time to discuss matters with the New Englanders, he wanted the United States to be in a position of unassailable strength. “It is the issue where we have to tread most carefully.” From what he could gather, the northern part of the state, and part of the south, favoured joining New England, while the rest wanted to remain with the Union. Did that mean they should partition New Jersey, with a separate chunk of New England in the south?

A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. A moment later, Count Capo d’Istria, who these days seemed more and more to be the Russian foreign minister, strode into the room, accompanied by an interpreter. The Count had always used an interpreter during their discussions, despite Clay’s suspicions that the Count understood English. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, the Count said, “The Tsar is displeased with the slow process of negotiations. He wants things ended quickly. He calls both of you, together, to meet with him and the other commissioners.”

Clay smiled. “Tell him we will be there soon.” So, the Tsar had finally bestirred himself from his other diplomatic commitments. With the Russian ruler working for peace, Clay suspected they would receive a much more favourable deal than otherwise.


Excerpts from the Treaty of St. Petersburg

Originally published in “The Second American Revolution: The Birth of New England”

(C) 1948 by Richard Irving

Boston University Press

Boston: New England

Article 4.

The United States recognise the independence of the Republic of New England, comprising the States of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York and New Jersey, and associated dependencies.

Article 5.

The United States recognise the sovereignty of the Indian Confederation, comprising parts of the former Territories of Michigan and Indiana, and associated lands, subject to negotiation of the precise boundaries of these lands. The United States agree to dismantle forts within these territories.

Article 6

The city of Detroit, and the surrounding counties, and the remainder of the former Territories of Michigan and Indiana, is ceded to the United Kingdom and the Republic of New England, which shall hold joint sovereignty over it.

Article 7

The United States agree to purchase from the Kingdom of Spain the lands comprising the former so-called Louisiana Purchase and West Florida, at a price to be agreed between those two nations, subject to mediation by Tsar Alexander I if such negotiations are unsuccessful.


Decades of Darkness #14: Falling Through The Cracks

5 September 1813

The Winter Palace, St Petersburg,

Russian Empire

“Please do convey my deepest sympathies to your President when you return to Washington,” Count Capo d’Istria said, through his interpreter.

The Count’s tone sounded appropriately sympathetic even before his translator spoke, but his words offer John Quincy Adams scant comfort. Adams also doubted their sincerity. Why would the Russian Empire feel any need for sympathy? The Tsar had gained everything he wanted through the negotiations: Britain was now concentrating on fighting Napoleon, and the Russians had obtained favourable trading terms with both Britain and the United States, and would probably gain the same with New England. Not to mention increased personal prestige for the Tsar, for bringing an end to war on at least one side of the Atlantic.

“I shall do so,” Adams replied. “And please convey my best wishes to the Tsar.” Even if Alexander I had been motivated by self-interest, he had at least tried to give the United States some concessions. The “purchase” of Louisiana and West Florida had been the Tsar’s idea, along with forgoing an indemnity as a result.

The Count gave him a sly look. “And once you’ve delivered that message, will you remain in Washington?”

That look pained Adams. Was the Count gloating, as Adams had to watch his nation tear itself in half? Still, there was only one answer Adams could give. “No, I’ll be returning to Massachusetts.” That state was still his home, even if it was now part of another country. Besides, few in the United States would trust him if he remained there. “I hope to work to bring New England close to the United States.”

Maybe he could even press for reunification, but that was probably doomed. But if he could keep the two nations close, that would be better. New England and Britain would not stay friends forever, Adams was sure of that. Too many areas remained to quarrel over. Commerce, the fishing rights of the Grand Bank and the disputed border of the District of Maine were three issues which sprang quickly to mind.

The Count said, “May your endeavours find success there.” He gave Adams the same charming smile which he had used to such good effect as a mediator. “Much as other armies are making progress against the French.”

Adams nodded. The French Empire was crumbling, which Adams felt glad over, even if Napoleon was the main enemy of the British. Some British lord had won a significant victory at Vitoria in Spain. “Do you think—”. He stopped as an overdressed Russian army officer strode into the room. The officer had a brief, excited colloquy with the Count in Russian.

The interpreter punched a fist into the air in celebration.

“What’s happened?” Adams asked.

The Count snapped something at the interpreter, who translated quickly. “Napoleon has been defeated in battle!”

Adams felt his eyes widen. “How?” The French Emperor had been nearly invincible in the field. Even though his Russian campaign had ended in frozen disaster, he had not been defeated in battle throughout it.

“His armies were mauled near Dresden, and Napoleon retreated from the battlefield,” the over-dressed officer said, through the interpreter.

“Well, well, well,” Adams murmured. This certainly made events in Europe more confused, but for the time being, it was no longer his problem. Since Madison had recalled him to Washington – no doubt to be replaced by someone deemed more worthy – he had other things to concern himself with. Still... “May it be the first of many defeats.”

When that was translated, the three Russians shouted down each other. Adams had to wait while they sorted themselves out and sent for vodka. They made him repeat that sentiment as a toast, and it was one he was glad to make. For a while, as the vodka filled him, he was able to forget about the troubles across the Atlantic.


6 September 1813

New York City, New York

Republic of New England

New York City: the greatest port in North America.

New York City: which should have been part of the United States.

New York City: still the base for the Continental Army and several detachments of British troops, even if many of them were returning to Europe now that peace had returned.

New York City: not a place Pinckney enjoyed being, but one he had had to visit, even as he now watched the city’s buildings shrink into the distance. Most of the U.S. citizens who were leaving this state were taking ship through New York, and Pinckney was among them.

At least I’m better off than most, he thought. Pinckney had a home state to return to; many of those leaving New York had been forced to abandon their homes.

One such man stood beside him: General Peter B. Porter. He had lost his home, and indeed his home state, despite his best efforts. Now that they were leaving together, Porter did his best to hold a brave face, but his bitterness still showed through.

“Where do you plan to go from here?” Pinckney asked.

Porter shrugged. “Some other frontier. Somewhere without the British.”

“That doesn’t leave anywhere near here,” Pinckney said. The British were all along the frontier, and down further south. They were still in New Jersey, where their naval landings at Atlantic City in support of the secessionists had finally swung the balance in that state. Andrew Jackson had done his best, but he could not be everywhere at once.

Porter said, “West, or southwest. Tennessee, or maybe Louisiana. The Indians are tamed down there.”

Pinckney nodded. Being further from the Canadas meant that the British could offer those Indians little support. General Wilkinson had turned himself into a hero in the west, by all reports. “No Indian Confederation down there,” he said, and regretted it the instant the words were out of his mouth.

Porter uttered a profanity about Madison’s eternal prospects which Pinckney affected not to hear. The New Yorker – former New Yorker, Pinckney supposed – added, “A hundred thousand American citizens making way for a handful of savages?”

Pinckney sighed. There was so much truth there. Some of those Americans would move to the parts of Indiana and Illinois Territories which remained in U.S. control. Some of them might stay and become British. But there would be a lot of them dispossessed, and a lot of them would be angry. Where would they go? What would they do?

Porter said, “You mark my words, there’ll be a reckoning for that.”

“Against the British, you mean?” Pinckney asked.

“Them, in time,” Porter said. “But for now, against Madison, for dragging us into this war in the first place.”

Pinckney that Porter showed remarkably selective memory. He had been one of the War Hawks who urged Madison to declare war with Britain, even if he had been less vocal than Clay or Calhoun or Skipwith. “What grounds are there for articles of impeachment?” Pinckney asked. He could certainly see none.

“If throwing away American territory isn’t a high crime, I don’t know what is,” Porter said. “I certainly know which way I’ll vote.”

Pinckney suspected that Porter would be excluded from voting. He might theoretically still be a Congressman, but Madison’s supporters would no doubt argue that he should be excluded, since the state he represented was no longer part of the Union. Either way, though, the next session of Congress would be likely to be full of incidents.


Decades of Darkness #15: The Great Debate

Something slightly different this time...


“Madison was the worst President the United States has ever had”

Excerpts from a sponsored debate held at the University of Pennsylvania on 27 June 1949

Opening Remarks For The Affirmative

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. I’m glad to see such a wonderful turnout, some twelve hundred people. It’s reassuring to see so many people thought it worth showing to hear me remind them why Madison was the worst President we’ve ever had.

Certainly, most of you would know that already. Of the twenty-seven men who our great nation has chosen to become their president, Madison’s name stands as one of the few failures. Who else has presided over the loss of so much American territory? The first time Madison was elected, seventeen states voted. At his next election – and one he had to manipulate to win – there were only fourteen states, and two of those were ones shoved in by Madison to help his dubious chances of winning. And he then lost another two states after that!

Madison deserves the blame for other failures too, of course. Remember Washington D.C., back in the days when it was our capital? That got burned twice before we finally abandoned it. The second time it got burned... well, we all know about that already. It was a mistake, but at least it was the result of a decisive battle.

But the first time? The British might as well have just strolled into Washington. They only left because their soldiers had orders not to occupy any territory down here. Madison should have seen that the city was better defended. Indeed, he should have ensured that the entire country was defended.

And in that, ladies and gentlemen, lies the most fundamental reason why Madison deserves our scorn. His judgement. There have been other presidents who we barely remember, because they were nonentities. They might have made mistakes at times. Some, perhaps, might even have had worse judgement than Madison. But at least they knew their own limits. They didn’t get into situations where they relied on their ability to make good decisions. Madison, however, had the singular talent of being wrong at exactly the right times.

The Embargo Act would be excellent for making the British listen to us, he thought.

He was wrong.

The secessionist voices coming out of New England were just hotheads mouthing off, he thought.

He was wrong.

The American army and navy were ready for war, he thought.

He was wrong.

Even on the smaller matters, Madison’s judgement was horrible. If the decision had been left to him, West Florida would never have been admitted as a state - because he feared that it would anger the British. It didn’t, and when we went to war, even though we lost, we kept West Florida to become the great state that it now is.

But if you want further proof of Madison’s incompetence, you need only think about the verdict of history. Consider this: most of our early Presidents earned the privilege of having states named for them. I know our moderator, Ms. Brooks here – who’s doing such an admirable job, by the way – well, she hails from the great state of Washington. And do we have people here tonight from Jefferson State? Excellent. And Wilkinson State? Glad to see you could make it all that way. I’ll bet we have some from Jackson State, too. Magnificent. Now, folks, is there anyone here who hails from the state of Madison?

I didn’t think so.

That, ladies and gentleman, is why Madison was the worst President the United States has ever had.

Opening Remarks For The Negative

I’d like to begin my remarks by asking the members of this audience a question.

When we walked into this hall, is there anyone who didn’t salute the flag?

Of course you did. Of course we all did.

Look at that flag, ladies and gentleman. If there’s anyone in this hall who doesn’t already recognise it, then you need much stronger glasses. But look at it, all the same. Seventy-seven stars on that flag now, representing the seventy-seven states. And seven stripes, to represent the seven founding colonies which remained loyal.

That much, I’m sure you already know. But do you know who standardised the design for that flag?

Not many people remember that, these days. But I can tell you.

James Madison.

Yes, the flag which we all revere, the flag under which the United States has become the greatest nation the world has ever seen, was implemented by James Madison.

Is that the action of the worst President that this country has ever seen?

I think not.

And you will have already heard the speaker for the affirmative tell you about Madison’s failures. But no-one disputes the fact that Madison made mistakes. We all make mistakes. Madison was unfortunate to be placed in a time of great crisis – a crisis of his predecessor’s making, not his own – and that means that his mistakes are more easily noticed. But it doesn’t make him the worst president.

Let me put this situation into context. It is reported that when Madison first heard about New England’s secession, he remarked “five stars have fallen from the flag, and two more are slipping”. Those two states slipped, sure enough. But when Madison was first elected, there were seventeen stars on the flag. When he finished his second term of office on March 3, 1817, there were... seventeen stars on the flag.

And if you want to talk about Madison’s judgement, it’s unfair to concentrate only on the times he got it wrong. No-one’s disputing that he made mistakes. But he got some things right, too. He got some things very right. He implemented some valuable reforms. Most importantly, he gave us the Fourteenth Amendment. That is what has bound us together ever since. Before that, secession was legal. Anyone who wanted could walk out of the United States. The New England states were first, but who else might have followed. This great state of Pennsylvania, where we now stand, might have left without that amendment. If he could keep Pennsylvania in the United States, then Madison can hardly be the worst president our country has ever seen.

Rebuttal: Case for the Affirmative

So, there were seventeen stars on the flag when Madison left office? How much better would it have been to have twenty-four stars on the flag when he left office, as there should have been. If he hadn’t bungled the handling of New England’s secession, those states would still be with us today. Seven states! That is far and away the worst reversal the United States has ever suffered.

As for these so-called “good things” which Madison has done, what kind of reformer would ignore the real problems facing the United States? If he had been that good, he would have had the repeal of the slave anti-importation act during his presidency, instead of leaving it to his successors. Or he could have formalised the rules for indenture, or any of the other decisions that made the United States the great nation it is today.

Madison’s “achievements” were minor, but his failures are clear for all to see. He bungled everything he touched, and when some good things happened during his tenure in office, they were the work of others. The impeachment of Madison should have succeeded. It came close, and if it had gone ahead, we would have a much different United States than today. And a much better one, too. Madison was, and likely will always remain, the worst president the United States has ever had.

Rebuttal: Case for the Negative

The New England states would be with us, if Madison wasn’t elected? That, ladies and gentleman, is a statement I cannot credit. We need only look at the country the Yankees have built for themselves today. They are far too different from us. They do not even understand the importance of maintaining proper rules of property. Even if Madison had somehow kept them from seceding – which would have been near-impossible, since at that time the British Empire was the greatest nation in the world – then they would have left soon enough. So this so-called “failure” was merely the inevitable striking while Madison happened to be in office. If there had been a different president in office, the result would have been similar.

To be sure, Madison made mistakes. But he did many good things during his time in office, too. He could have done much worse. He can hardly be considered our worst president.


Decades of Darkness #16: The Butterfly’s Wings

Extracts from “Napoleon Bonaparte: The First French Tyrant”

By Malcolm Davis III

Baton Rogue, West Florida

United States of America

(c) 1947 Conrad Publishing Company: Baton Rogue. Used with permission.

Chapter 24: The 1813 Campaign

The disastrous invasion of Russia had shown the nations of Europe that Napoleon’s days were numbered. The only question which remained to be answered was how long his final defeat would take. With Austria, Russia, Prussia and Britain and other minor powers united against him in the Sixth Coalition, and with barely 100,000 of the once half-million strong Grande Armee surviving the retreat [1], it seemed unlikely that Napoleon could survive for very long at all...

The defeat at Dresden – actually more of a draw than anything else, but which the Allies loudly proclaimed a crushing victory – appeared, for a time, to be the snowball that started an avalanche. Most of Napoleon’s remaining German allies deserted him, including Bavaria.

Yet despite this loss, Napoleon showed again and again that he still had tactical genius. He defeated the allies again at Kulm and Katzbach. That was enough to persuade the allies to revert to their earlier strategy of fighting only Napoleon’s marshals, avoiding battle with the Tyrant himself. After a series of defeats of the French marshals, the largest clash of the Napoleonic Wars was fought at Leipzig... [2]

The sheer number of forces arrayed against Napoleon meant that his defeat was virtually assured. The French fought a valiant defence, holding off the Allies for four days, and eventually extricating themselves and fleeing across the Rhine, but the important fact was that the French had been evicted from German soil. The remainder of the wars would now be fought in France...

Chapter 32: The 1815 Campaign

Waterloo, on the face of it, appeared to be a victory for Napoleon. The Anglo-Dutch forces under Wellington were broken and departed from the field. While the Duke had given a better account of himself against Napoleon than most of his predecessors – especially when so badly outnumbered – it appeared that once again, the Emperor would prove victorious... [3] And thus, he uttered his famous words, “J’ai retourné” [4]

But he had forgotten about Blucher. And when the Prussian armies caught Napoleon, they became, in the words of Duke Wellington, “the hammer who broke him against our anvil”. The regrouped Anglo-Dutch armies were able to hold him, and Napoleon was decisively defeated. From that moment on, “Waterloo” entered the popular lexicon for a premature proclamation of victory...


Extracts taken from “The Compleat Textbook Series: Modern European History”

By J. Edward Fowler (Principal Author)

Sydney, Kingdom of Australia.

(c) 1948 Eagle Publishing Company: Sydney. Used with permission.

The Congress of Vienna

[Events marked with an asterisk (*) are different from the OTL outcomes of the Congress of Vienna.]

*1 December 1814 – *9 July 1815

The “Congress of Vienna” is a misnomer, in that the delegates never met in sessions; the discussions took place informally amongst the Great Powers (Russia, Britain, Austria, Prussia and, later, France) whilst the myriad delegates from the lesser nations were mostly left to attend the festivities arranged by the Austrian Emperor.

The Congress, in general, adopted a policy of returning to status quo ante bellum, and not providing either great rewards or great punishments to any of the powers. It focused on returning monarchs to their thrones – or to a different throne if another fundament already occupied that particular throne.

The main outcomes of the Congress of Vienna were as follows:


- received the majority of the Polish-speaking lands, as the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in personal union with the Russian Emperor Alexander I.

- maintained possession of Bessarabia (from the Ottoman Empire)

- kept possession of Finland (from Sweden)


- received many Italian possessions: Illyria (Trieste, Carinthia and Carniola), Milan and Lombardy, Venetia, and Cattaro.

- in the German-speaking lands, obtained Tyrol and Salzburg.

- retained eastern Galicia (except for Krakow)


- gained Malta

- gained Heligoland

- obtained Mauritius and Santa Lucia from France, *but returned Tobago.

- obtained Ceylon and the Cape from the Dutch

- *returned Trinidad to Spain [5]

- *kept Saint-Pierre and Miquelon from France


- obtained considerable parts of the German-speaking lands, including *Saxony, the Grand Duchy of Berg, part of Westphalia, *territory on the Rhine between Julich and Cologne, *parts of Hessen and Hessen Kassel, and Pomerania. [6]

- was confirmed in its territory from previous partitions of the Polish-speaking lands, included Posen and the cities of Thorn and Danzig


- Were organised into a German Confederation to replace the Holy Roman Empire. The old German states were consolidated from more than 300 to *39, [7] with a Diet at Frankfurt. The member states retained independence in their internal affairs, but were forbidden from declaring war on each other, and foreign adventures required the Confederation’s approval. Most of the German minor powers were completely part of the Confederation, but the Flemish-speaking parts of the Austrian Netherlands were outside it (along with large parts of Prussia and Austria, the two Great Powers).

- Hanover was elevated to a kingdom and was granted Hildesheim and East Frisia.

- Bavaria was granted the Palatinate and *the Rhineland up to the new border of Nassau.

- Nassau *lost its Right Bank territories and *received compensatory territories in the Rhineland between Bavaria and Cologne (which became part of Prussia)

- Hessen and Heseen Kessel *lost their northern and eastern territories (to Prussia) and were compensated with a partition of the Right Bank territories of Nassau

- The Netherlands became a kingdom under the House of Orange, and were granted the Austrian Netherlands, the *Grand Duchy of Luxembourg [8], and the *Rhineland up to the Prussian border. Luxembourg and the Netherlands proper functioned as two member states in the German Confederation.


- Ferdinand IV was confirmed as King of the Two Sicilies

- The Empress Marie Louise received Guastella, Parma and Piacenza for life

- The Kingdom of Sardinia was awarded Genoa

- Modena was granted to the Archduke Francois d’Este

- Tuscany became a Grand Duchy under Ferdinand (Austrian Emperor Francis’s uncle)


- Denmark was granted Schleswig-Holstein, as separate states in personal union.

- Sweden lost Finland, but was granted Norway and *retained Guadeloupe. [9]


- Confirmed within the borders of the Second Treaty of Paris, with minor variations

- Received Martinique and the Isle of Bourbon from Britain

- Received French Guiana from Portugal

- Confirmed as retaining the formal papal legation of Avignon


- Confirmed in its neutrality by the major European powers

- Received 3 additional cantons (Geneva, Wallis and Neuchatel)


[1] In this TL, Napoleon accepted Marshal Davout’s advice to take a different route on the retreat from Moscow, avoiding already-plundered Smolensk. The result was still a massive disaster for France, but more of the army survived.

[2] This battle was fought later in the year than in OTL, but given the strategic position of the city, it still seems reasonable to me that, despite the different details of the campaign, that a battle would be fought at Leipzig.

[3] Napoleon ignored the rain here and attacked earlier in the day. It was enough to gain a (temporary) victory over Wellington.

[4] This is meant to be French for “I have returned.” (Shades of Douglas “MacArthur” Bonaparte here).

[5] Mostly out of guilt for forcing the Spanish to give up West Florida, the British allow them to retain Trinidad. Since they no longer have Trinidad, they also judge Tobago is not worth having, and return it to France.

[6] Due to more money spent in the Americas, and the defeat of Wellington, British influence at the Congress was reduced. This meant that the Prussians got much less of the Rhineland: the rest was divvied up between Nassau, Bavaria and the Netherlands. The Prussians got Saxony instead. The reduction of British influence also meant that the Congress did not adopt an official resolution condemning the slave trade, although the French did agree to do what they could to reduce it, and Spain and Portugal to begin steps in that direction.

[7] This is the same number of member states as in OTL, but the members are different: there is no longer a Kingdom of Saxony, and the Netherlands have been included.

[8] While the Netherlands also received the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in OTL, it was a separate state in personal union. With the enlarged role of the Netherlands within TTL’s German Confederation, there was no need to make Luxembourg a separate state, and it became part of the United Netherlands.

[9] Since the French retained Tobago, the Swedes were permitted to keep Guadeloupe.


Decades of Darkness #17: In The Aftermath Of War

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by the West Florida Legislature on 10 December 1813, the tenth state to do so, and went into force on 4 March 1814.

If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by the West Florida Legislature on 9 December 1815, the tenth state to do so, and went into force on 4 March 1816.

Section 1:

The Constitution of the United States is hereby acknowledged to be a permanent union. No ordinance of secession, which shall be passed by any individual State, shall be permitted under this Constitution.

Section 2:

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 1, if a state shall desire to secede from the United States, that State may submit a motion of secession to its Legislature. If such a motion is ratified by three-fifths of the members of each of the Houses of that State's Legislature, or by three-fifths of a convention called by the Legislature to debate the motion, then the motion shall be submitted to the Congress of the United States. If the motion of secession is passed by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Congress, then that motion shall become law.


The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by the West Florida Legislature on 9 December 1815, the tenth state to do so, and went into force on 4 March 1816. [1]

Section 1.

In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate from among the members of the Senate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.

If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring from among the members of the Senate, who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified. [2]


The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: [3]

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.


The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by the Illinois Legislature on 9 December 1817, the tenth state to do so, and went into force on 1 January 1818.

Section 4:

The Constitution of the United States being the supreme law of this nation, and the Congress of the United States being the legislative branch, Congress shall have authority to: [4]

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the several States. The disposition of taxes, duties, imposts and excises may be varied from this uniform arrangement in Territories and in other possessions which the United States may acquire which have not yet been granted Territorial status;

To establish post offices and post roads, and any other roads, canals or other methods of transport which the Congress shall deem to benefit the United States, or the several states, or its commerce thereof;


Selected Important Dates in North American History:1810-1820

Taken from “The Compleat Textbook Series: Early American History”

By J. Edward Fowler (Principal Author)

Sydney, Kingdom of Australia.

(c) 1948 Eagle Publishing Company: Sydney. Used with permission

1 January 1811: West Florida admitted as the 18th state (later reclassified as the 11th state). West Florida is a slave state.

20 April 1812: Death of Vice-President George Clinton.

31 October 1812: Louisiana enters the Union as the 19th state (later reclassified as the 12th state). Louisiana is a slave state.

27 July 1813: Treaty of St Petersburg ratified by the U.S. Senate, officially ending the Second War of Independence. [5] Concurrent with this treaty, New York and New Jersey become states in New England (the 6th and 7th, respectively).

Displaced settlers from the northern lands move south, into Missouri Territory, what remains of Indiana and Illinois Territories, and into the “Old Southwest”. More settlers move into the southern areas from the rest of the United States, including many of those frontiersmen displaced from New York and other Unionists fleeing the New England states. Many of those displaced from New York settle in Pennsylvania; displaced New Jerseyans congregate in Delaware.

12 December 1813: Attempted impeachment of President Madison fails in the House of Representatives: Clay and Calhoun are instrumental in defeating the motion.

1 June 1814: President Pickering authorises the new design of the New England flag: A red Cross of St George on a white field, with a blue canton and white stars representing the states. [6]

4 March 1815: De Witt Clinton (New York) inaugurated as second President of the Republic of New England. Chauncey Goodrich (Connecticut) inaugurated as Vice-President.

6 June 1815: Indiana enters the Union as the 13th state. Indiana is admitted as a free-soil state (free-soil status later repealed).

1 January 1816: Mississippi and Alabama admitted to the United States as the 14th and 15th states, respectively, formed out of the old Mississippi Territory. [7] Both are slave states.

2 January 1816: After holding a national competition for a design, Madison promulgates the new flag of the United States: The flag contains four red and three white stripes (representing the seven remaining founding colonies). It has a blue canton with white stars representing each of the states (15 stars at the time of the flag’s acceptance).

12 June 1816: Illinois admitted to the Union as the 16th state. Illinois is admitted as a free-soil state (free-soil status later repealed).

1 February 1817 Missouri admitted to the Union as the 17th state. Missouri is admitted as a slave state.

4 March 1817: James Wilkinson (Louisiana) inaugurated as 5th President of the United States. James Monroe (Virginia) inaugurated as Vice-President. [8]


[1] Yes, I know this is similar to the wording of the OTL Twenty-Fifth Amendment (and the Twentieth). There are, however, a couple of important differences. It seems logical to me that after having first a President, then a Vice-President die in office, such an amendment would be devised that much sooner.

[2] This amendment also included a Section 4 and Section 5, whose effective wording is identical to that of Sections 3 and 4 of the OTL Twenty-Fifth Amendment. They’ve been omitted here to avoid repetition.

[3] This amendment, which was proposed as part of the original Bill of Rights, took rather a long time to be ratified in OTL (until 1992, to be precise). The reduced number of states saw it ratified earlier here. [9]

[4] This amendment replaced, and added to, Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. I’ve only included those sections which were added or modified.

[5] The legislators would be getting really, really tired of having to meet in Washington every summer.

[6] The earlier, war-time flag of New England was a striped flag with a rattlesnake on it. (Thanks to Ernest Cline for his input on flag designs for New England).

[7] The southern boundaries of these states end at West Florida’s northern border, they have no Gulf Coast. Other boundaries are essentially identical to OTL.

[8] Monroe did not get the same prestige during the War of 1811 as he did during the OTL War of 1812. Wilkinson was popular as a war hero, particularly with his anti-Indian credentials, and thus carried most of the states which were worried about Indians in their boundaries (which was most of the United States).

[9] The other proposed amendment, regarding the number of Representatives, still failed of ratification. [10]

[10] There is no footnote 10.


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