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Decades of Darkness #32: The Descent Begins

Extracts from “Slaves, Serfs and Peons: Indenture in the Industrial Age”

By Michelle Davies

Hobson University

Eden [1], Kingdom of Australia.

(c) 1947 Eagle Publishing Company: Eden. Used with permission

To the contemporary reader, slavery is almost synonymous with the United States of America. Mention the word “slave” to an Australian on the street, and it usually conjures up a vision of a man bending over beneath a whip in a plantation in Mississippi or Cuba, or mining in Sonora or the Californias, or labouring in a steel mill in Virginia or Coahuila. This disguises the fact that even today, there are many forms of indenture within the United States: peonage, debt-bondage and slavery proper, to name but three. It is true that the increasing trend within the United States has been to reduce all of these varying forms of indenture to complete slavery, but nonetheless important distinctions remain...

The growth of slavery within the United States had an interrupted career. Slavery was legal in most states during the colonial era, but was abolished by many of them before or shortly after the First American Revolution. Indeed, many of the remaining slaveholding states viewed slavery as a necessary evil which would “someday” be abolished, although even then their hypocrisy was shown in their refusal to take any sort of steps to actually reduce it. Nonetheless, the change in attitudes toward slavery between, say, an American planter in 1810 and in 1850 is remarkable. In 1810, slavery was typically viewed as a necessary evil. By 1850, in most of the United States, it was seen as the only fit way to run a society. [2] There were notable exceptions to this trend, with some individuals opposing the practice, but their voices became increasingly drowned out in the clamour...

Of the factors which contributed to the increasing indenture rates within the USA, the War of 1833 and its aftermath was perhaps the most significant. The war influenced indenture in two ways, political and economic. The political factors are obvious to even a casual student of history. The increasingly strident anti-slavery rhetoric out of Britain and New England had provided the backdrop to these events, and the war brought them into stark relief. The British habit of seizing slaves as spoils of war and then freeing them did nothing to endear them to the Americans. Nor did the ongoing capture of slaving ships which lead to the nominal re-legalisation of the slave trade even before the end of the war – nominal since few or no slaves could be imported with the Royal Navy blockading most of the U.S. coast. But others have analysed these political factors in great detail (e.g. Kolker, 1937; Bunterschladt, 1941) and there is little need to discuss them further.

The economic contributors to the growth of slavery are, I think, of greater importance. At a fundamental level, the War of 1833 consolidated and accelerated the growth of industrialised slavery. Prior to the war, the use of slaves in manufacturing had been relatively limited, partly due to the restricted number of slaves available, partly from competition from free labour, but mainly because the profitability of slave labour in industry was much lower than the profitability of agriculture, particularly cotton. This meant that the high slave prices for the limited slave population prevented the development of industrial slavery. Slave prices were unlikely to fall due to internal economic causes, since the ruling classes had too much capital invested in their existing slaves, and a reduction of slave prices would have been catastrophic for their investments. Pre-war attempts to reduce the price of slaves (principally by allowing slave importation) had generated considerable debate but had never had any practical chance of success.

However, the War of 1833 had considerable economic fallout. The ongoing raids and blockades caused a (temporary) crash of export-driven agriculture within the United States. From 1834 onwards, exports of agricultural products such as cotton were reduced by 90% along the East Coast states, and by over 50% along most of the Gulf Coast (Richards, 1927). Slave productivity in plantation agriculture – which was then by far the dominant use of indentured labour – was thus drastically reduced as the slaves were left mostly idle, with no opportunity to export their produce.

Yet the collapse of exports also led to increasing demand for internal manufacture. This included general manufactured imports, which could now no longer be obtained from New England and the United Kingdom, but particularly war-related industries and other ongoing construction. This increase in industrial output created a labour shortage, with increased production required but many of the able-bodied workers serving on the frontlines. This labour shortage, combined with the surplus slaves on plantations, led to increasing numbers of slaves being rented to the factory owners who were establishing and expanding their operations in Virginia, the Carolinas and Kentucky.

The demanded for indentured labour continued to increase throughout the war and afterward. While the end of the war temporarily alleviated the labour shortage, the rapid expansion of industry in the key northern areas of the United States – the first parts of the country to industrialise – led to an increased demand for cheap slave labour. Given that many of the existing slaves were returning to plantation agriculture, the obvious response was to import more slaves. The political clout of the northern states, and the growing demand for slaves in the booming southwestern territories – particularly the Texases, Washington, Arkansaw and Missouri – led to the restoration of the slave trade becoming a viable proposition. In the peace negotiations after the war, the importation of “people already in bondage” from Cuba or Brazil had been grudgingly granted, on the basis that U.S. slaveowners tended to be more humane in their treatment of slaves than the others, especially Brazil. (This was true in the 1830s, at least). But the economic realities meant that importing slaves from Africa itself was now the desired option. At first, this involved the transhipment of unfortunate Africans through Cuba, but even this was not enough to satisfy the growing demand for indentured labour.

Certainly, other attempts to alleviate the labour shortage were tried, since not all in the United States favoured an increase of slave labour, especially in the border states. But there were few other options. The United States’ industrialisation was continuing, and indeed received government incentives to allow it to flourish. The war had shown the necessity of industrial production, and the ongoing competition with New England and the British Empire after the war required that it continue. But, naturally, this required additional labour. The only realistic alternative would have been immigration, but the United States received relatively few immigrants. With New England, the United Kingdom and later Canada retreating behind their own customs union with high tariff walls, most of the immigrants from Europe went to these areas, and also to the burgeoning colonies in what was then Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The relative trickle of migrants to the United States meant that voluntary migration was insufficient to match the demand for labour. The only alternative that could be sought was involuntary immigration...


[1] OTL Auckland, New Zealand

[2] Much like the comparable shift in attitudes between 1810 and 1850 in the Southern states of the OTL USA, only more so.


Decades of Darkness #33: The Year Of Revolutions

From The Boston Wanderer

27 January 1946

Lest anyone think that the current spate of revolutions is anything new, they can find something to assuage their minds in our History in Review centre-page spread. This will show them that both successful and unsuccessful revolutions are nothing new.

History in Review: 1834

When most people today are asked about 1834, the usual response is something like “That was the second year of the War of 1833, wasn’t it?” Certainly, this year is most noted for being part of that war. And in that year, the most famous event was surely the burning of the U.S capital, Washington D.C., for the second time. Yes, for those of you who weren’t paying attention to our review last week, the United States was not always ruled from Columbia...

One year, four revolutions. Two successes, two failures. But even the failed revolutions had major importance. Without the abortive Pennsylvanian revolution, New England might have been conquered by the USA over a century ago...


Excerpts from “John Brown: Father of The Velvet Underground”

A biography written by Josiah A. Quigley,

(c) 1947 Taylor Press

Brigham: Nephi Free State

The self-styled “Third American Revolution” was a dismal failure. Despite the gallant actions of John Brown, and the support of his fellow abolitionists such as Elijah Pennypacker, the entire secession effort was doomed before it began. Quite simply, there was never enough popular support for a successful revolution. A bare majority of the Pennsylvania Legislature had approved a call to petition Congress for secession, as was permitted under the U.S. Constitution, but this legal avenue was swept away by the risings under Brown and Pennypacker.

Quite simply, Brown failed to gauge correctly the public mood. He may have been correct in his belief that the majority of Pennsylvanians opposed slavery, but he was sadly mistaken into translating that belief into a false assumption that they would rise up against the United States. Relatively few Pennsylvanians were interested in being labelled as traitors and secessionists. Indeed, Governor Joseph Ritner – himself a vocal opponent of slavery – signed the instrument of secession, but he was reported to have done so only with the mob already baying at the door. But the fierce opposition to secession can be judged from the speed with which the western counties of Pennsylvania counter-seceded back to the USA, and the former Pennsylvania lieutenant governor became Governor George Wolf of Westylvania...

And thus, from the broad perspective, it can well be asked what the Pennsylvanian Rebellion achieved. For Pennsylvania, it gained very little. Within a few months, even the most pro-secessionist counties had been reconquered. John Brown lingered on for a while with the Velvet Underground, but this never amounted to more than a fringe movement. For Governor Joseph Ritner, it nearly cost him his life and it did cost him his career, as he lived out the rest of his life in exile in New England. And it ensured that any talk of secession in the United States, even legal secession, was condemned as treason. So, of course, was abolitionism.

Indeed, the main benefits of the Pennsylvania Rebellion were for New England, not Pennsylvania. The “Third American Revolution” has been cited as a frequent turning point by fools, U.S. patriots and “alternate historians” – these often being the same person – as a major historical turning point, with arguments such as “the United States would have conquered New England, if not for the treachery of Pennsylvania”. Naturally, such arguments do not hold up. The United States’ war objective was never to conquer New England, merely the Michigan Country and parts of New Jersey and New York. And while the rebellion did force the United States to withdraw from most of its early conquests, leaving them holding only the key border forts along the Lowell-Gallatin Line, it did not mean much. Britain was always going to give its full aid to New England once the other distractions were dealt with, and thus a complete conquest of New England was never a realistic option.

In short, the Pennsylvanian Rebellion was a noble but doomed attempt to free the Pennsylvanians from the moral corruption and incipient ideology of Matthism [1] which was soon to engulf the United States. But it came too late. If Pennsylvania had seceded during the Second American Revolution, they would have been freed. But they lingered too long. Even in the 1830s, the United States, while not yet capable of forcing a decisive victory against New England and her allies, was able to hold onto any reluctant parts of her own territory. All the Rebellion achieved was to add another state to the United States, and to give John Brown the opportunity to lead a long, but futile, resistance.


From The Boston Wanderer

27 January 1946

By “George Stringe” [2]

“The French change governments more often than Australians change mistresses.” -- Attributed to Clement Churchill

As revolutions go, the French Revolution of 1834 was relatively bloodless. Charles X found out he was sitting on a rather slippery throne, and the only grip he could find was that of the British blockade closing on the French economy. The December Monarchy replaced the Restored Monarchy which had replaced the First French Empire which had replaced the First Republic which had replaced the Old Bourbon Dynasty which had replaced the Valois Dynasty. And the December Monarchy would in turn be replaced by the Second Republic, which would in turn be replaced by the Second French Empire, and so on, and so on, et cetera, et cetera. You get the idea.

The French had thus changed governments, again. It’s doubtful whether anyone on the mainland of Europe even noticed. The British noticed long enough to sign a peace with France – as they had a habit of doing every five years or so, and then changing their minds – give back most of the French colonies they had captured that year, and call it a draw. The Americans noticed, of course, since they now had no allies in their little war, and they were rather unhappy about that. But then, Americans are never happy except when they’re unhappy, and thus they should have been really happy. And that’s about it for the December Revolution, really.


Excerpts from “Misfits of History”

(c) 1947 by Emily Vasquez

Cline Publishing Company

Habana, West Cuba: United States of America

Chapter 6. Belgium: A Nation That Never Was

The non-existent nation of Belgium is another of the misfits of history. The region has been dominated by many cultures, having been Celtic, Roman, Germanic, French, Dutch, Spanish, Austrian, and Dutch (again) over the centuries leading up to its formation. The name has ancient roots, but was only considered the name of a nation, rather than a region, for two brief periods during the attempted Belgian Revolutions...

There were two attempted Belgian Revolutions. The first, abortive revolution took place in 1830, inspired by various French-nationalists, but fell apart after receiving little support from France. The second, much more serious revolution broke out in 1834. For a time the self-proclaimed Republic of Belgium [3] occupied a considerable stretch of territory, including Luxembourg and much of the southern Netherlands. However, William I did not permit his nation to break apart so easily. Despite the protests of Britain and France, both of whom were too busy with their own war to do much, the German Confederation marshalled its forces to suppress the revolt. Prussia and Austria both sent substantial armed forces, eager to stop the spread of republicanism, and the other members of the German Confederation sent symbolic contributions of troops.

Thus, the Second Belgian Revolution came to a bitter end. It might have been much worse for the revolutionaries – William I is said to have been keen to deliver strong punishment – but the German Diet intervened. Their troops had been committed to support the Netherlands throne, not to be used as executioners. Belgium was removed from the map of Europe after its brief appearance, but its long-term effects were important in both the Netherlands and the other German powers...


From “The New Oxford Historical Dictionary”

(c) 1949 New Oxford University,

Liverpool [Melbourne], Kingdom of Australia

Used with permission.

DE ITURBIDE, Agustin (1783-1835). Emperor of Mexico (1822-1835). De Iturbide had a spectacular military career, first fighting for the royalists and later against them, during the Mexican War of Independence. After Mexico received its independence, he was proclaimed as the first Emperor of Mexico. His reign was initially precarious, but bolstered by nationalistic feeling after the European invasions (1823-1825). As Emperor Agustin, he ruled over Mexico for twelve years of peace, before General Santa Anna and others instigated the Mexican Revolution of 1834. During the civil war which followed, imperial forces suffered a series of defeats. De Iturbide abdicated in 1835, and attempted to flee the country for refuge in the United States, but was betrayed and executed.


[1] TTL equivalent to Social Darwinism. See DoD #29, footnote 1.

[2] The pseudonym adopted by a virulent satirist who corresponded with a variety of newspapers and other publications. Real name unknown.

[3] Internal Belgian (and Dutch) politics have changed considerably from OTL during the 1810s-1830s, mostly due to the inclusion of some German-speaking areas in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. One effect of these changes was a greater distrust of monarchy than in OTL, and thus Belgium was initially proclaimed as a republic. It probably would have become a constitutional monarchy soon if it had survived, however.


Decades of Darkness #34: Peace or Pieces?

25 June 1835

Federal House,

Hartford, Connecticut

Republic of New England

Since his inauguration, President Oakley had taken to keeping a large map hanging on the wall opposite his desk. The map showed New England, the Canadas, and most of the United States, except for their Texan acquisitions which no-one had yet recognised, but which in practical terms had become a fait accompli since the Mexican Revolution.

The map depicted known American forces in blue, British-Canadian forces in red, and New England forces in green. Major battles were depicted in black. While the map was probably inaccurate, it showed the general tide of events. Black pins dominated the entire arc of the map between Lake Ontario and New Jersey. The war there remained indeterminate, with the U.S. forces back in Buffalo after the short-lived Pennsylvanian rebellion. The northwestern theatre showed a wide range of battles. The U.S. still held most of the land, but was unable to consolidate its control with the British controlling the Great Lakes. And the eastern seaboard of the United States showed a series of black dots from Baltimore to Ballington. [1]

“But where does all this end?” Oakley asked himself. The war had gone on for more than two years, with an eternal list of battles, men dead and maimed, and with no sign of stopping. Even with the French abandoning the war, and with the British starting to send across more troops with Ireland mostly quelled, the United States would not give up. And they had both more men than New England and the willingness to use them.

“What does the United States want from this war?” Oakley asked himself. The United States kept on fighting even though it was clear that they would never conquer New England, or even a large part of it. It seemed that, most of all, what the United States wanted from this war was a way not to lose. They had never forgotten the War of 1811, and one of the main reasons they had started this war was to avenge that defeat. They would never give up until they had something which they could present as a victory.

“Maybe we could give them that,” Oakley said, in sudden understanding. Not the crushing victory which the United States craved, but something which they could still present as a successful outcome of the war.

Oakley turned his gaze back to the map. It still showed the old borders of the Indian Confederation, running in a line roughly halfway between the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Ohio. The Indian Confederation was gone – no-one doubted that much. Conceding that would be a simple part of any peace negotiations... yet it still left open the question of who would have all that land afterwards. The United States wanted all of it, but to concede it to them would be disastrous. And the United States could not be given any of the Michigan Country, no matter how much they craved it. “But would it be possible to concede some of the Indian lands to them?” Maybe, just maybe, that would be enough to secure peace.


17 September 1835

Stockholm, Kingdom of Sweden

Visiting Stockholm took U.S. Secretary of State Henry Clay back more than twenty years, to the last time he had tried to secure peace between the United States, Britain, and New England. At least Stockholm’s weather was better than St Petersburg, even if the negotiations dragged onto winter as he feared they might. There were more promising signs this time than in the last negotiation. Then, the United States had been keen on prolonging them. And both sides had continued major battles while the diplomats tried to talk, which had made achieving peace much more difficult. This time, at least, President Jackson had given orders for major military actions to stop, which left both sides encamped on their borders with raids and skirmishes.

Clay felt grateful that both sides had finally arranged a venue where they could negotiate with a mediator they trusted. The search had been a difficult one. France had been ruled out due to its involvement in the war; the German powers had lost credibility with the British due to their intervention in the revolts within the Netherlands; and Russia, the old mediator, was still engrossed in its war with the Turks. Spain would have been Clay’s ideal choice in most circumstances, but that nation remained bogged down in its own civil war. Sweden was just about the only candidate left.

“Think we can win peace here?” Clay asked, turning to his fellow emissary, David Crockett.

“If the British want it,” Crockett said, with an offhand shrug.

“New England--”

“Doesn’t count for anything,” Crockett said. “If the British packed up and left North America today, we could dictate whatever terms we wanted to the Yankee Rebels tomorrow. Worry about the British, and let the Yankees worry about themselves.”

Clay nodded. “And let the Yankees worry about the Swedes, too. They are--” He stopped speaking abruptly, and gestured across the dock. “I do believe that’s Harrison Otis.”

Crockett looked blank.

“One of the emissaries at the last treaty, although Strong and Lowell did most of the negotiating. Why would President Oakley send such an old man to Stockholm?”

Crockett said, “To get him away from Hartford, perhaps?”

Clay said. “Perhaps. Would you like to meet him?” King Karl XIV was meant to mediate the formal negotiations, but Clay saw no harm in meeting Otis beforehand. He recalled that Otis had always been much more pleasant than his counterparts, especially John Lowell.

When Crockett nodded, Clay led the way over to Otis. After the usual round of polite introductions and insincere good wishes, Clay said, “What do you think of Sweden so far?”

Otis said, “I should have expected you Americans to wrangle having a slaveholding country host the negotiations.” [2]

Clay said, “Where else would you have us go? Denmark refused. The only other civilised nation left is Portugal, and they keep more slaves than Sweden. Unless you want to try submitting our mediation to the Son of Heaven in China, perhaps.”

Otis grimaced. “Point taken.” He still didn’t sound very happy about it, though.

Clay said, “But I do expect the Swedish King to help us in our search for peace.”

Otis studied him for a moment, then said, “You genuinely mean that.”

“Of course,” Clay said. “I thought this war foolish from the start. Too much blood has been shed to little gain. I would rather we make peace, and go back to hating each other across the border instead of hating each other for crossing the border.”

“Well said!” Otis exclaimed. “I think, sir, that these negotiations will go well indeed.” He thrust out his hand.

Clay shook it, but he could not help noticing that Crockett looked less than happy in the background. It looked as if Crockett knew something about President Jackson’s wishes which had not been passed on to Clay. That would not be the first time Jackson had done so. Clay silently wished that this time, peace would be easier to find than his last negotiations.


28 November 1835

Mr President Andrew Jackson.


It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that the Stockholm negotiations proceed at a most dilatory pace, and that our talks have come close to breaking down on several occasions. A great many issues remain outstanding, and I shall enumerate only the most salient ones for your consideration.

Firstly, the status of the former Indian Confederation lands remains uncertain. Both Britain and New England claim large parts of those lands. The New Englanders have shown some small willingness to concede a shift of boundaries along the Illinois and Indiana borders, but they continue to demand that the United States abandon all claim to most of those lands. The same uncertainty remains for our extreme northern border with Upper Canada, which dispute still remains unsettled from the time of the last war.

Secondly, the city of Detroit, and the northwestern corner of Ohio which was conceded to the British during the last war, continues to be a severe impediment to peace. As per your instructions, I have attempted to gain it for the United States, but I am unhopeful of our success in doing so.

Thirdly, both Britain and New England continue to insist upon their right to interfere in our own domestic affairs. They demand that we repeal our legislation to trade in Negro slaves, and insist on their own right to capture any ship suspected of transporting slaves. To show some flexibility in the negotiations, we have indicated that only trafficking of persons already in bondage is legal under American law, and thus that the prevention of trafficking of slaves from Africa itself will be a matter of no concern to us. Yet the British continue to insist that this is insufficient, and that all transport of slaves should cease. The British and New Englanders have also shown no regard for our own concern about fugitive slaves who have fled the United States, and refuse to include any provisions either for returning said slaves or for compensation to their lawful owners.

Some matters have fortunately become settled, however. New England has agreed to grant recognition to our acquisition of Texas and Coahuila, and convinced Britain to do likewise, in exchange for our agreeing to withdraw from Buffalo and our other gains in New York. Absent major military success along the New England border, I suspect that we shall have to renounce our claims to any of these former lands of the United States. We await your instructions on how best to proceed on this and the above matters.

If I may be permitted an afterword, sir, I would mention an issue which has been of concern here in Sweden. Some of the Stockholm traders have expressed great displeasure over the continued depredations of pirates within the Caribbean. This is also a matter of concern to our own commerce in this area. I believe that we could acquire much goodwill throughout Europe if we were to rid the Caribbean of these pirates, once the war is concluded [3]. It would also have benefits to our commerce and in rebuilding our navy.

I remain, sir, your obedient servant,

Henry Clay


From The Stirling Daily Mirror [4]

18 December 1946

Headline: The Daily Mirror Circulation Reaches 1,000,000!

On This Day: Today, one hundred and eleven years ago, in Stockholm, Sweden, negotiations broke down for peace between Britain, New England and the United States. Which, at the time, also meant that the Australian colonies were at war with the United States. The War of 1833 had been raging for two and a half years, but although both sides wanted peace, neither was willing to concede to the others’ demands for lands and over slavery. The various powers reluctantly returned to the battlefield...


[1] OTL Miami.

[2] Due to a different outcome of the Congress of Vienna, Sweden ended up with Guadeloupe. Outright abolition there proved too difficult, so the Swedish government is currently negotiating a program of gradual emancipation. The expense has delayed it considerably, however, as has the profitability of the sugar exports.

[3] The U.S. Navy has not yet created a West India Squadron in this TL, and thus pirates remain a menace in the Caribbean. (The British have made some attempts to eradicate them, but it has not been a major priority).

[4] Stirling is OTL Perth, named in TTL for Captain James Stirling who explored the Swan River and founded the colony. It was not originally named for him, but was rechristened after his death.


Decades of Darkness #35: The Piece Of The Board

Extracts from “Stars and Stripes Redundant: The War of 1833”

(c) 1947 William H. King,

Hooper & Son Publishing Company.

Detroit: New England

1836: The War Without Battles

The breakdown of the Stockholm negotiations initiated the beginning of one of the stranger phases of nineteenth-century warfare: a war without major combat. Both sides had returned only reluctantly to the battlefield. It was as if they did not want war, but did not want peace either...

While there were a great number of skirmishes and naval raids throughout the first half of 1836, neither side brought themselves to a decisive battle. The United States sent probing armies into New York and New Jersey, but avoided pitched battle and withdrew when their supply lines were threatened. The Great Lakes theatre formed a series of small engagements without notable battles, as both sides manouevred far from their lines of supply.

For, fundamentally, both sides were tired by the war. The United States had definitely suffered the most: its agricultural industries had been devastated, and increased manufacturing made up only part of the shortfall. But New England and British North America suffered not much less, and even the United Kingdom was bearing an increasingly high cost for the war. Both sides also tended to avoid major combat since a decisive defeat would cause problems when next they returned to the negotiating table, as everyone expected they would.

Two events served to change the “War Without Battles”, or the “Cold War”, as it was called in the USA. The first was the Canadian Rebellion, the second was President Jackson’s decision to seek a third term...


Excerpt from “Among The Ravens: The War of 1833 and its Historical Context”

(c) 1946 by Martin van Buren VI

Boston University Press

Boston: New England

Chapter 17: The Canadian Rebellions

The Canadian Rebellion, or rather Rebellions, had no realistic chance of seizing Canada. Despite the near-simultaneous uprisings in both Upper and Lower Canada, and the substantial pro-American sentiment in parts of Upper Canada, neither rebellion had enough popular support to threaten a direct change of government. It certainly caused much consternation in Britain, and is believed to have been a contributor to the election of a Whig government, with calls for reform both within Great Britain and in the colonies, particularly Ireland and British North America. And, indeed, the reforms would be conducted after the war.

In the short-term, however, the Rebellion caused much internal confusion, but no more. The split in the Family Compact between Beverly Robinson and the Protestants on one hand, and the Catholics under Greenfield and MacDonnell on the other, added to the dispute. Not surprisingly, the Catholics had never been in favour of the Halifax Pact, given what was then staunch anti-Catholicism in New England, and they found much common cause with the patriotes in Lower Canada. But while the would-be revolutionaries had a certain amount of sympathy for the United States, and wanted the war to end quickly, they had no desire to become part of the USA, and thus the Rebellion had little impact on the military course of the war. However, it did give the United States renewed hope to keep fighting, a sentiment which had been fading since the Battle of Washington...


17 July 1836

Fredericksburg, Virginia

United States of America

“A third term?” Senator Hugh White, President pro tempore of the Senate, asked. “Is Jackson insane?”

That last question was, in fact, one that Henry Clay had asked himself many times over the years. President Jackson had often seemed like a man whose grasp of reality was purely accidental. And yet, he was the President, and despite the bungling which this war had produced, remained a popular President. “He wants to stand. We cannot change that.”

White said, “The question is, what should we tell the convention in a few months?”

Clay shrugged. “Long live President Jackson, perhaps.”

“That sounds ominously close to the truth,” White replied. “The Patriots speak of “King” Jackson. If he seeks a third term, we could well end up with President Hayne. Do you want that?”

Clay said, “It may not be that bad. Jackson can already claim to have added a star to the flag. Especially if we keep repeating his promise to resign once the threat of war is over.”

White said, “Then he will find a new war afterwards, even if we make peace. Whatever will keep him in office.”

And you out of office, Clay mentally added. White had always seen himself as the natural heir to Jackson. He badly wanted the Democratic nomination for himself. As did Clay, come to that, but politics had taught him the importance of biding his time. There would be other elections, and he did not want to be remembered as the man who had tried to unseat Jackson. “Jackson will not budge,” Clay said. “It would be best for the Democratic Party if we supported him, I think.”

And then we pray that Jackson gets himself re-elected, Clay thought. He did not know how that would turn out. In peacetime, any politician who sought a third term would have been lucky to escape being merely laughed at. But wartime was another matter altogether. Jackson still looked as if he was winning – well, not losing – the war. Would that be enough?


Excerpt from “Among The Ravens: The War of 1833 and its Historical Context”

(c) 1946 by Martin van Buren VI

Boston University Press

Boston: New England

Chapter 19: The Battle of New Orleans

For all the much-celebrated repeating of the Battle of New Orleans, especially among American historians, it was a battle which could easily have gone to either side. If the British commander Lieutenant General Harry Smith had been a little more careful in staging an assault, if the First Texan Volunteer Cavalry under Travis had taken longer to arrive, or if the bullet which felled General Coffee had gone a few metres to the left and killed the then-Colonel Jefferson Davis instead, then the course of the war might have been quite different.

As events turned out, of course, the battle became noted as a major American victory. In purely military terms, it was only a marginal victory to the USA. The British retired from the field and returned to transports. They could certainly have continued the battle. But it had become clear that the U.S. forces regrouped around Jefferson Davis, who hastily adopted the brevet rank of Brigadier General even if this was not precisely in line with military formality, it became clear that these forces would not be easily displaced... and thus the British withdrew. The plan for a cheap end to the war by strangling U.S. commerce flowing through the Mississippi was put on hold.

And, as with all such events, there were several unintended consequences. The demonstration that the war was winnable probably swayed enough votes to President Jackson to gain him a small but decisive advantage, and in turn a large majority of the electoral votes. It also made a national hero of Jefferson Davis, whose brevet rank was quickly confirmed...

Chapter 20: The Negotiating Table: Round Two

The re-election of President Jackson, surprisingly, was quickly followed by a return to negotiations. The U.S. Army’s push into New Jersey in late December was halted, and that seemed to be enough for Jackson. The war was now put on hold again as both sides returned to negotiations, this time under the auspices of Dom Pedro, Emperor of Brazil and King of Portugal...


Decades of Darkness #36: God Save The King, Because No-One Else Will

17 August 1837,

Buckingham Palace, [1]

London, England

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland, and First Lord of the Treasury, had known several moments of trepidation since he had been asked by King William to form a government. Most of those had been over the seemingly-eternal struggle on the North American continent. That was mostly over these days, with British and allied forces making ground on most of the major fronts, but now he had a new challenge. A new king had taken the crown of the United Kingdom. A king whose character was uncertain, but who might be less inclined to accept the reform agenda which the late King William had promised that he would help Lansdowne implement once the war was resolved. [2]

Lansdowne was ushered in to meet King Edward VII for his first private audience [3]. His first glance confirmed that he was dealing with a monarch who would be a handful. The young king – Edward had barely passed his eighteenth birthday – had abandoned any pretence of sitting on a throne, and had placed himself behind an impressively large oak desk, with a stack of papers to one side. Here, it seemed, was a monarch who wanted to rule, not merely officiate. That could mean trouble; probably not on the same scale as George III, but trouble nonetheless.

Still, he had to admit that Edward VII looked like the part of a monarch. Dressed in a white shirt with a blue sash, and a simple but elegant overcoat, he resembled his late uncle. His clothing, in fact, was quite reminiscent. No doubt deliberately.

“Ah, Lord Lansdowne. Welcome, welcome,” the king said, and gestured to a chair. “Sit down, please.”

A most unusual form of royal protocol, Lansdowne thought. But then the king no doubt wanted to put him on edge. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” Lansdowne said.

The king turned to the top-most document on his desk. “I have here the proposed peace treaty with the United States of America. It seems to be quite favourable to British interests – and those of the New Englanders,” Edward added dismissively. “The proposed border is just as we would wish it, even beyond the Great Lakes.”

“Yes, sire. The Americans have been willing to concede much, claiming only the southern portions of Tecumseh’s old lands. And wanting recognition for their Mexican gains, but that was easily granted.”

The king said, “So, why have we not yet signed a treaty and put an end to this war?”

Lansdowne had to stop himself taking a deep breath. Sure enough, the new king was going to be an upstart. Young, and looking to make his mark on the world, if Lansdowne judged him right. “Viscount Palmerston [4] has been in close communication with our envoys in Lisbon. He reports that the problem is extra clauses which the United States wants added to the treaty.”

The king frowned. “Clauses pertaining to slave-trafficking and holding of Negroes in bondage, no doubt.”

“In exchange for generosity over the border, they want protection for their right to import slaves from other slaveholding nations, the end to the seizure of their ships which practice that abominable trade in human misery, and the return of any of their slaves who escape to our North American possessions.”

The king said, “All harsh clauses, especially the last. But is refusing to concede them worth returning to the battlefield? It was concern over this issue – and New England’s border, which is now settled – which stopped us making peace in Stockholm two years past. If we refuse this, shall we face another two years of expensive war?”

Phrased that way, Lansdowne did not know how to answer the question. Slavery was an abomination against mankind, he had always thought, and the practice still lingered within the Empire. That would be attended to once the war was over... but it still left many more men in bondage. “We want to stop them trafficking in slaves.”

“And so we can – between Africa and the New World. But we still allow, within limits, the trade to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Brazil. At least the Americans do not want to bring in more slaves from Africa. And they claim that their slaves are treated more humanely than those in the other countries.”

“That is definitely true of Brazil,” Lansdowne conceded, reluctantly. “But we encourage them to do more... and slavery must be stopped.”

“So it shall be, in time,” the king said. “But the war needs to be stopped now.”

Lansdowne was quiet for a long moment. He could refuse the king’s request, and resign from government. But if he did that, then the Tories would be back in authority again, and that would set the course of reform back by another generation. If not worse. “It shall be, then,” Lansdowne said.

As he left the audience, Lansdowne decided that the parlimentary reform act he had in mind would have to have some strict limits on the power of the monarch. Edward VII had to be stopped before he could do further damage. But in the meantime, he had to prepare instructions to be sent to Lisbon, so that peace could finally be declared.


1 October 1837

San Antonio, Texas-Coahuila Territory

United States of America

General Peter Buell Porter had tasted the bitterness of defeat once before in his life, when the United States had been torn in half and the New York he had loved in his youth had been thrust into an unnatural union with New England and, in practical terms, with the British. But this time the only bitterness in his mouth was from the mescal he was drinking, and this was being drunk in celebration.

“To peace and to victory,” Porter said, and his compatriots raised their glasses in salute. The victory was less complete than he had hoped for, with most of the Old Northwest going back to the British and to their Yankee cats-paws. But the Indian Confederation had been broken, some of its lands regained, and now the United States stretched to the Rio Grande and beyond.

“We have a new frontier,” Porter murmured. In his youth, the northwest of New York had been the frontier, and he and his fellow Americans had expanded into the emptiness. That frontier had been cut off. But now, as he looked west and south, he realised that there was a new frontier. A large, empty land to the west, stretching all the way to the Pacific. And to the south there was an inferior race who had already shown that they could be defeated by a handful of American patriots. What would happen if the United States sent a complete army into Mexico?


[1] This had just become the London residence of the House of Brunswick, as it was in OTL. It was much less magnificent than today.

[2] There has as yet been no Reform Act in Britain, and thus the monarch has somewhat more power than in OTL, although not, realistically, all that much.

[3] The child who in OTL would have been Queen Victoria was born male in TTL, and has a distinctly different character.

[4] The Foreign Secretary in TTL as well as OTL, although he started later in the role in TTL.

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