This is my attempt at a Southern Civil War victory timeline. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
This Southern victory scenario will try to illustrate the massive changes around the world from this huge change in history. Most timelines on this subject simply have the two republics survive in their original form up until the modern day. That will not be the case in this timeline. How would the North and South handle the world wars? How would they handle the Great Depression, if one occurred? Do slavery and segregation ever die out in the Confederacy? Only one thing's for certain: the American people will never be brothers again.
Points of Divergence
The South could not have won the Civil War based on a single point of divergence. It would have had to be a trend of luck favoring the South, and a few large blunders not happening. To start, the South does not invade Kentucky early in the war. This keeps Kentucky favorable to the South. Secondly, General Albert Sidney Johnston was not killed at the Battle of Shiloh. He was still seriously wounded and was unable to return to the battlefield until 1864. However, his survival kept Southern morale higher than it was in OTL. Special Order 191 is never left behind and found by Union forces. The early successes of the Confederacy led to Britain and France seriously considering joining the war on the South's side. Britain eventually decided against it, in part due to having their own cotton production in India, but France wanted a strong ally in America. France sent their ships to break up parts of the US blockade around the South, allowing vital supplies to finally flow in and out of the Confederacy. Later on, Stonewall Jackson was not accidentally killed by Confederate forces, meaning he was present to finish the war. This resulted in a victory at the Battle of Gettysburg (a different battle than the one in OTL, but similar in scale) and a final victory at the Battle of Alexandria in April 1865. This victory destroyed the Union's main force and also their hopes for a victory.The Treaty of Alexandria officially ended the war. In it, the US agreed to recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Confederate States. The CS would not include the border states of Kentucky or Missouri, having never effectively controlled either. The South agreed to let West Virginia remain in the Union in exchange for the Arizona Territory (the Southern part of the New Mexico territory) and the area that would later become Oklahoma. The treaty also stipulated that there would be free movement and immigration of citizens between the two nations at least until 1900, and free trade until 1880. The Southern negotiators tried to include a provision in the treaty that would allow any US state to join the Confederacy at any time over the next 30 years, but that was one thing the North wouldn't budge on. Either way, the South had finally won its independence.
Southern Jubilation, Northern Depression (1865-70)
As the end of the war was reported in newspapers across the land, the reaction was starkly different in the now divided halves of America. The South went into a celebratory uproar, the likes of which had never been seen on American soil. For weeks returning soldiers celebrated with their families, reminiscing about the successful war effort and thinking about the bright future of their new nation. War leaders, like General Robert E. Lee, toured the nation and were received by raucous crowds. President Jefferson Davis went on a speaking tour of every state.
Davis was now heralded with the generals as a national hero, but he was not without his critics. His own Vice President Alexander H. Stephens led his opposition. The anti-administration politicians had decried Davis's war strategies of imposing a draft and suspending several essential rights. Now they were silent as the President's means had proven successful, but there were more political battles to come over the remainder of his term.
The mood in the North was the complete opposite of that of the South. Surviving soldiers returned home and wondered what they had been fighting for. Why hadn't the government just let the South secede, saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the process? Grieving families who lost sons and husbands were left with the same question. Universally, the Republican government was blamed both for starting the war in the first place and being so incompetent that they couldn't beat a ragtag group of rebels. Abraham Lincoln became the face of the new disgraced United States, and was nearly universally hated. He had won a narrow reelection in 1864, but the Republicans saw no prospects for success in the future.
The 1866 congressional elections saw massive losses for the Republicans. The Democrats gained seats not because of their actual popularity, but because they were the only true opposition to the Republicans. As far as actual policy goes, the Republicans pledged to outlaw slavery in the US and repair the damage done by the war. The Democrats simply pledged to return the country to normalcy and to foster amicable relations with their now-independent Southern brothers. The Democrats' plan sounded much better to the exhausted public. People wanted to be done with the whole slavery business and wanted no part in any plans to further fight the South. Most of all, they wanted to return to their pre-war lives.
The Confederate Government finished fully setting itself up in 1866. The first Confederate Supreme Court justices were appointed in this year by President Davis. The initial court was made up of five justices, and this would end up being the number for a long time. The first justices were Chief Justice Asa Biggs of North Carolina, Henry R. Jackson of Georgia, West H. Humphreys of Tennessee, James D. Halyburton of Virginia, and William G. Jones of Alabama.
The Supreme Court itself was a matter of debate in the CS - many politicians felt that there should be no Supreme Court at all, and that the state judges should hold all of the authority. Davis believed in a powerful Supreme Court, which put him in conflict with the anti-administration representatives in Congress. The Confederacy had been envisioned as a nation with no political parties, and for the moment that remained the case. However, just like the early US, the South would eventually find out that parties are an inevitability when it comes to running a republic.
The 1867 Presidential election was far from contested, however. Davis was satisfactory to most Southerners and was greatly celebrated on his way out. Much of the public and its politicians petitioned war hero Robert E. Lee to run, and in early 1867 he announced that he would, indeed, seek the presidency. Lee was unsure who to pick as his running mate. He sought the advice of Davis, who recommended his Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin. Lee accepted this recommendation.
No one dared to run against the extremely popular general, and he won a unanimous victory to become the Confederacy's second president. He made no promises of great change in his inauguration speech. He simply pledged to continue the prosperous years of the post-war CS.
The 1868 United States Presidential election would also not be highly contested, but for a different reason. The Democrats were very confident in their ability to win, and so their nomination was very sought after. It was thought that the 1868 Democratic nomination was a free ticket to the presidency. There was some internal strife between radical and conservative Democrats, but the nomination was fairly straightforward: on the 5th ballot, George H. Pendleton of Ohio was named as the Democratic candidate for president. Augustus C. Dodge of Iowa was nominated for vice president.
The discouraged Republicans hoped to find a candidate who could repair the party's image and re-energize the Republican base. This was not an easy task. Anyone directly associated with the war effort (including generals) or with the Lincoln administration were immediately ruled out. There was a brief push to nominate a moderate Democrat, such as the recently converted Salmon P. Chase, but that idea was soon thrown out. It was eventually decided that compromise wasn't the way to go. The Republicans had to stick to their guns and aggressively push their reforms if they wanted to survive as a party, and it was felt that Benjamin Wade of Ohio was best for this job. He was nominated on the 1st ballot. Reuben E. Fenton of New York was nominated for vice president.
Despite the Republicans throwing their entire weight behind Wade's campaign, the Democrats dominated as expected. Pendleton won the electoral vote 201 to 36. The Democrats increased their already large lead in both houses of Congress. This led to politicians leaving the doomed Republican Party en masse. Many joined the Democrats, while others became independents or simply retired from politics altogether. The 1870 midterm election would be the last election the Republicans would ever contest.
Mexican-Confederate War (1870-73)
In early 1870, President Lee of the Confederacy received a plea for help from the nation's closest ally: France. French forces in Mexico had spent the last five or so years fighting to preserve the Second Mexican Empire against republican forces. Now, the situation was desperate and defeat appeared certain. In addition, France had plans to declare war on Prussia and needed every one of their troops back in France. They decided to ask a favor from their new American ally, in the hopes that the experienced army of the South would be able to turn the tide back in Emperor Maximilian's favor. To sweeten the deal, France offered control of the northern Mexican states if the Confederacy was able to keep the Emperor in power.
In truth, the Confederates had already been considering their own, independent invasion of Mexico. They wanted more land to expand slavery into, and a port on the Pacific. The only thing stopping President Lee from declaring war was France's steadfast support of the monarchist Mexican regime. Now, the Confederates had the green light to invade and take the land they wanted. It didn't take long for Lee to accept France's offer. Thus began the Mexican-Confederate War.
The war declaration was somewhat unexpected but well received among the public. Southerners were looking to prove that the Confederacy was a powerful independent nation, and not just a rebel splinter group from the US. From the start, it was also a nostalgic reunion for veterans of the Southern Independence War. It was not universally liked, however. There were plenty of people that didn't want the CS to get involved in offensive wars on foreign soil. Had they not just fought for independence against a foreign occupier? As the war went on, Lee also enacted many of the policies that had caused politicians to oppose Davis years earlier.
Despite any qualms of some politicians, the war was very successful to start. The Southern soldiers were among the first in the world to be fully experienced in modern warfare, and they steamrolled the republican armies in Northern Mexico. Stonewall Jackson led the war effort, and within four months the Confederates had reached the Pacific Coast of Baja California. They then began moving South, hoping to save monarchist forces from the advancing republicans. By September they had nearly reached Mexico City, but then something unexpected happened: French Emperor Napoleon III was captured by the Germans. This caused a new French Republic to be formed.
The CS was unsure how to proceed. Would the new French republican government uphold the agreement made by Napoleon III? A telegram was sent to Paris asking how the Confederacy should proceed; the French replied that they were now indifferent as far as the fate of Mexico went. President Lee was left with a big decision. Many in the South called for the war to continue until Mexico was completely conquered and then could be annexed wholly into the Confederacy. Many others called for an immediate end to the war, as the war goals had already been accomplished. They also argued that the entirety of Mexico was much too large for the young CS to rule. After much deliberation, Lee decided to end the war. He signed a peace treaty with the republican forces that would give the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California to the Confederacy. After a threat of invasion, the monarchist government also signed onto this treaty. The war in Mexico did not end when the Confederate troops left. In fact, it was greatly prolonged and did not end until a republican victory in 1877. For generations after, Mexicans blamed the CS for the permanent destabilization of their country.The new war heroes returned home to huge ovations. The new Mexican states were soon organized into three Confederate territories: Tamaulipas (containing the old states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila), Sonora (containing Chihuahua and Sonora), and Baja California. There were no plans of granting statehood to any of this area until a large number of slaveholding Southerners was settled in the new territories.
Up North, the United States was on the road to recovery. The economy took a minor upswing as the Democrats passed legislation that they hoped would bring America back from the dead. The issue of civil rights for blacks was ignored, as many people saw it as inconsequential now that the South was gone. In reality, blacks still faced several rights restrictions in many states, even if slavery was slowly dying out in the Southern border states. Their outlook was grim with no national party devoted to securing their freedom.
The Republican Party was effectively defunct by early 1871, with no more than a few hundred members. Two new parties were formed to fill the void: the American Party and the National Party. The American Party was not related to the American (Know Nothing) Party of the 1850's, and its agenda was focused mostly on the economical side of America. The party advocated higher tariffs and protectionism as their main issues. The National Party had no real driving issue and served as a blanket party for all the Republicans that hadn't joined the Democrats or the American Party. They officially supported outlawing slavery with a constitutional amendment, but they didn't make that issue the foundation of their party. They also had a pronounced nativist element that wanted stronger controls on immigration.
President Pendleton easily won the 1872 Democratic nomination along with Vice President Dodge. With no organized national opposition besides the fledgling new parties, the Democrats were expected to cruise to another easy victory. Neither the American Party nor the National Party expected to win in 1872, they just wanted to get their message out. The National Party nominated James G. Blaine of Maine for president and Joseph Roswell Hawley of Connecticut for vice president. The American Party nominated Henry Wilson of Massachusetts for president and Oliver P. Morton of Indiana for vice president.
The young parties did better than expected, winning a combined three states. Wilson and Blaine both won their home states, and Blaine also won Kansas. Still, Pendleton largely dominated otherwise and came away with a large majority of 259 electoral votes. At his inauguration, Pendleton promised to continue reviving the US economy and to warm relations with the South in time for the 1876 US bicentennial.
One year later, the Confederacy prepared for its own presidential election. President Robert E. Lee was still widely loved by the public, heralded for victories in two important wars. His successor was obvious; General Stonewall Jackson was extremely popular for his role in leading the Mexican-Confederate War and had already been endorsed by the outgoing president. This would, however, be the first presidential election in Confederate history with more than one major candidate. Former Vice President and current senator Alexander H. Stephens announced that he would also be running. He never ran directly against Jackson. He simply presented himself as an alternative to the warrior presidents that had, in his opinion, brought the Confederacy away from its heart of being a decentralized agricultural state. Both Davis and Lee had expanded the federal government's power in their respective wars, and Stephens wanted to put a stop to it. Stephens chose Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia as his running mate. Jackson chose the charismatic Senator Albert G. Brown of Mississippi as his candidate for vice president.
Jackson never really had a chance at losing, but Stephens was still able to capture three states (Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina). By an electoral count of 90 to 38, Thomas Jackson became the CS's third president. Stephens congratulated his opponent and pledged to support the "will of the Southern people." The non-partisan spirit of the South appeared to be alive and well, but, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Jackson would end up being the last non-partisan president of the Confederacy.
A Brief Moment of Unity (1873-76)
The next few years would be a time of reconciliation between North and South, but this warm in relations would also anger many people in each country.
Before this could happen, though, there was a major issue to be addressed. The South's victory in their war of independence prevented the North from outlawing slavery, but it did nothing to stop the escape of slaves up North. In fact, organizations like the Underground Railroad were stronger and more effective than ever. President Lee had tried to solve the problem through increasing military patrols on the border, and one of President Jackson's first acts was to increase the amount of patrols even further. None of it was very effective- the border was long and impossible to seal completely.
Every Southerner had their own idea on how to capture the escaped slaves. Some proposed embargoing the North until the US government agreed to return escaped slaves to the Confederacy. Others, including Vice President Brown, advocated going to war again in order to force a return of the slaves (and in order to capture Kentucky and Missouri). Jackson, however, realized that both of those methods would be ineffective. Cutting off trade to the US would undoubtedly hurt the South more than the North, and a war against the Union was probably unwinnable with France in such a disorganized state. In any case, massive losses would be sustained in any such military action. The president eventually decided to just ask the US to do something about the escaping slaves. He knew that there was desire in the ruling Democratic Party to warm relations with the South, and that Pendleton had made it a promise of his campaign. He also knew that there was a large amount of Northerners who didn't want any more slaves in their country. Kentucky's state government had already enacted its own law that sent escaped slaves back to the Confederacy.
Jackson promptly sent a letter to his Northern counterpart, and President Pendleton immediately seemed open to the idea. It only took a few more letters before a deal was struck: Pendleton would propose a strong fugitive slave law to Congress, and Jackson agreed to visit the US for the nation's 100th anniversary celebrations in 1876. Pendleton believed, perhaps mistakenly, that the American public would be happy to put the Civil War behind them and celebrate as brothers with their Southern neighbors. The bill was officially put forth in April 1874 and was passed in 1875 after much debate. Reaction was very mixed, even among Democrats. Democrats in border states were almost universally happy with the plan, as they didn't like the massive amounts of slaves passing through their states every single day. Democrats in the Northern states had truly mixed reactions. Politicians from the American and National Parties were almost all appalled by the bill- they thought that the country would no longer have to cater to the South after the war.
In the South, President Jackson heralded the bill as a great victory for the Confederacy. Most were happy with what had transpired, but some argued that the plan would be ineffective. Many still would have preferred a more aggressive course of action, and others saw the law as an attempt by the North to start re-annexing the South by getting in their good graces. Vice President Brown was especially outraged. The people that were upset by Jackson's cooperation with the North became even more so when he announced his upcoming trek to Washington, DC.
The centennial of American independence from Great Britain was widely celebrated in both the North and South. The meeting between the Confederate and US Presidents was less celebrated. On July 4, 1876, Presidents Pendleton and Jackson appeared publicly together in Washington. The two men had hoped that their countries would accept the meeting and start to move past the war; the reality was that the wounds were still fresh and the meeting greatly hurt a lot of people on both sides. It also had grave political consequences for both leaders. In the US, Pendleton's perceived pandering to the South outraged the American and National Parties and greatly increased their levels of support. In the South, Jackson's decisions were the final straw in the rise of political parties in the Confederacy. Not long after the meeting, prominent politicians Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President Albert G. Brown, Robert M.T. Hunter, and others united to form the Southern Independence Party. This party aimed to return the Confederacy to its roots of strong states' rights, a weak federal government, strong support for slavery, and government for the common man. By 1878, just over half of Congress had joined the new party. The party also shortened its name to the Southern Party in preparation for its first contested presidential election. Jackson's supporters wanted to form their own party in response, but the president convinced them to hold off. He continued to hope that the Southern Party would fail and the nation would return to its non-partisan ways. This naive decision would end up having disastrous results in the 1879 election.
Rise of the Opposition Parties (1876-85)
Despite the president's second term antics, the Democrats still felt they had a strong chance to win the presidential election in 1876. Their nomination was thus highly contested once again. Eventually it was New York's Samuel J. Tilden that won the nomination on the 6th ballot. Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana took the vice presidential nomination.
The National and American Parties had driven bases, but were still not united enough in cause to field a formal ticket. The National Party convention took place two weeks before the American Party's, and once again they nominated James G. Blaine for president. William A. Wheeler was nominated for vice president. The American Party nominated Roscoe Conkling of New York for president. They then decided to also nominate William A. Wheeler for vice president, unifying the Democratic opposition tickets somewhat.
In the end, Tilden was able to win a sound victory. The opposition did better than the last election, but still only had 69 electoral votes combined. Tilden and Hendricks had 218. In his inauguration speech, the new president promised to fight corruption wherever it may lie in government, and to "steadfastly defend American ideals." That last line was widely interpreted as a promise to not do what Pendleton did when it comes to the Confederacy.
Next, it was time for the South to gear up for its first truly contested election ever. The Southern Party decided to endorse one of their founders and foremost leaders, Alexander H. Stephens, for president. Stephens was widely credited for starting the movement and the party associated with it. They knew that their opposition would once again be a prominent general, and so they wanted to nominate a general of their own as Stephens's running mate. Their first choice for this role was P.G.T. Beauregard, who was currently serving as Governor of Louisiana. Beauregard was reluctant, as he still hoped to be endorsed by Jackson and Lee for president. Beauregard began a correspondence that night with Lee, asking if he was at all likely to earn the endorsement of the famous generals. Lee's response the next morning was simple and clear: "No, not likely." With that, Beauregard accepted the Southern Party's nomination.
Two weeks later, Lee and President Jackson met and reached an agreement: they would endorse their old colleague James Longstreet for president. Longstreet chose Arkansas Senator Augustus Hill Garland to be his running mate. Although the Longstreet-Garland ticket branded themselves as "non-partisan," there was a large apparatus of campaign officials that organized their candidacy. In truth, it functioned like a political party in everything but name.
The election was much more fierce than anything else seen in Southern politics up to that point. The candidates themselves refrained from slinging mud at each other, but their supporters did more than their fair share of slandering. Supporters of Longstreet called Stephens unpatriotic, and said he was just in the race to further his own career. Supporters of Stephens said that the South was at risk of turning into a military dictatorship if the line of general-presidents continued. Many began to attack Longstreet's failures in the Southern Independence and Mexican-Confederate Wars, but Stephens stepped in and asked them to stop. He was afraid that Southerners would turn on him if he was seen as attacking the achievements of the past wars.
Longstreet had the support of the military, but Stephens had the support of the common people. Through a sweep of the deep Southern states and Texas, he was able to win with 70 electoral votes to Longstreet's 58. If Stephens had lost a single one of the states he won, he would have lost the election. At his inauguration in 1880, President Stephens promised to return the Confederacy to the common man. He promised to safeguard Southern dignity and to decentralize the federal government. A few months later, the Jackson/Longstreet supporters decided to officially unite under a single banner, forming the Confederate Party. The differences between the parties may have seemed subtle to an outside observer, but they were very pronounced to Southerners. The Southern Party advocated for states' rights and a weak federal government. They fanatically supported slavery, to the point that they would try to artificially prop it up if it ever began to die out naturally. While they didn't want a weak military, they were against drafts and spending too much money on the military in peacetime. The Confederate Party was very pro-military, and most of the former Confederate officers were members. They wanted to keep a strong standing army even in peacetime, to safeguard against unexpected external threats. They supported drafts in times of emergencies. In order to support a strong military, they supported a more centralized federal government with more means of raising revenue (though by Northern standards this vision government would still have been weak). They did not oppose slavery by any means, but they would let it die out naturally over time if such a thing did happen. Geographically, the Southern Party was most popular in the deep South and was based in Georgia. The Confederate Party was most popular in the northern states of the Confederacy and was based in Virginia. Many of the Southern old guard were disappointed by the formation of political parties; Robert E. Lee remarked that "the Golden Days of our Confederacy are quickly leaving us." General and former President Lee would die five months after Stephens' inauguration from a stroke at age 73.
Back up North, the National and American parties finally realized the error of their ways in 1876. By 1879, they had officially merged into the united National American Party. The new party hoped to finally take down the Democratic establishment and take over the White House, but that would not be an easy task with the surging popularity of President Samuel J. Tilden. Tilden had won an unconvincing victory (with 45% of the popular vote) in 1876, but over the next four years he thoroughly managed to shake off the stigma of Pendleton and implement his own reforms in government. He was now probably more popular individually than Pendleton had ever been, but his party still experienced electoral weakness. In any case, Tilden was renominated unanimously by the Democrats.
The National Americans, while now united in a single party, still had internal divisions. They found it hard to agree on a single platform and candidate for 1880. James G. Blaine was seen as the early front runner, but he was not acceptable to many former American Party voters. Eventually, a compromise candidate was sought. That candidate ended up being Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont, one of three Republican senators who had remained in the senate all the way through the Democratic wave of 1866-72. He joined the National Party in 1875, but supported the American Party candidate Roscoe Conkling in 1876. He was the only national politician that was completely acceptable to both sides, and so he won the nomination. Senator William Windom of Minnesota, a former American Party member, was nominated as vice president to balance the ticket geographically.
Once again, the National Americans found it hard to attack Tilden personally. Tilden's administration had been scandal-free, and he had not made a critical mistake to the level of Pendleton's. His own popularity clashed with the Democratic Party's unpopularity; the people still had not forgiven them for "bending the knee" to the South in 1876. The National Americans attacked that reputation instead of attacking the president, while they pushed Edmunds as a strong upholder of Northern beliefs. The Democrats slandered Edmunds as a good-for-nothing obstructionist who offered no constructive ideas of his own.
The election was close until the end. Tilden won by thin margins in the popular and electoral votes, defeating Edmunds by a vote of 159 to 135. New York's 36 electoral votes clearly made the difference, and Tilden won by a large margin in his home state. The National Americans were frustrated at the results and began to feel as the presidency would always elude them.
Confederate President Stephens and his Southern-controlled Congress had been hard at work reversing the policies of the previous three administrations. Stephens signed into law bills outlawing the draft, decreasing the size of the military, strengthening the institution of slavery, supporting settlers in the Mexican territories, and increasing the power of states compared to the federal government. Unfortunately, he was not able to accomplish as much as he desired- his health was rapidly declining. He tried to do his job to his best ability even while being infirm, but eventually it was too much. Alexander H. Stephens died in his sleep on October 14, 1883. Vice President Beauregard was sworn in the next day, becoming the first Confederate vice president to rise to the presidency. Beauregard held many of the Stephens' beliefs, but he simply could not replace the founder of the Southern Party. The Confederate Party won control of the House of Representatives a month after the death of Stephens, and President Beauregard was unable to attain nearly the legislative success that his predecessor did.
US President Tilden was having considerably less success in his second term than his first. With every other part of the Democratic platform implemented in some way over the past 16 years, Tilden tried to pass his own platform of reducing corruption in government. The House of Representatives had swung to the National Americans in the 1880 elections, which meant that this legislation would've been opposed in the first place. However, the president found resistance even in his own party to his suggested reforms. The politicians that had ruled for 20 years were not ready to give up the spoils system, and in this regard Tilden's time as president was a failure. No groundbreaking legislation would be passed over the remainder of Tilden's term, and the party aimed to nominate a more traditional candidate in the next election. Tilden would die in late 1885 after leaving office.
The National Americans looked to pounce on Tilden's unsuccessful second term and finally get one of their candidates in the White House. The first step- nominating a candidate- was the hardest. For many ballots the convention was deadlocked between James G. Blaine, George F. Edmunds, John Sherman, and others. Finally, a dark horse began to gain traction on the 27th ballot- Senator William B. Allison of Iowa. By ballot 31, he was the nominee. Allison was shocked but pleased when he received word of the results. Levi P. Morton of New York was nominated as vice president.
The Democratic nomination of 1884 came at a time of strife within the party. There was a debate going on between those who wanted reform and those who supported the old ways. The eventual compromise was the nomination of Senator Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware for president. He had shown some support for reform in the past, but was not an outright reformist like Tilden. The incumbent president ended up endorsing Bayard. To counter the western appeal of the Republican ticket (headlined by a senator from Iowa), Governor George W. Glick of Kansas was nominated for vice president.
This election was not nearly as close as the previous one; Allison defeated Bayard by a sound margin of 188 to 106. At his inauguration, the new president promised to get to work reversing Democratic policies and "restoring dignity to this country." He was backed by solid majorities in both house of Congress, and set right to work. The first act repealed was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1874. Over the next four years, the party would repeal dozens of laws passed by the Democrats over their two decades of control. They would institute higher tariffs, especially on the Confederacy, and try to secure rights for free blacks. Slavery, mostly extinct anyway in the US, was officially outlawed nationwide in 1886. A voting rights act was passed in 1889. However, as they were not constitutional amendments like in OTL, these changes were not extremely secure for African-Americans in the United States.
However, most of these reforms would not be made with Allison at the helm. Just three months into his term, on June 14, 1885, the new president was shot by insane office seeker Charles J. Guiteau. Guiteau had supported the American faction of the party, which Vice President Levi P. Morton was a part of. Allison died a week later due to his wounds, and Morton became the 20th President of the United States.
Down South, President Beauregard's term had done no favors for the Southern Party. Legislation had stopped being passed as Congress was no longer completely under the Southern Party's control. Beauregard soon gained a reputation as an ineffective leader, much to his chagrin. Beauregard had wanted to run for president in 1885 after Stephens' term was up, but he now found himself limited by the clause in the Confederate Constitution that said presidents were not "re-eligible" for the position. President Beauregard was greatly disappointed that he would only be remembered as Stephens' replacement, and not president in his own right.
In any case, the election of 1885 was fast approaching. Both parties saw a good chance of winning, if they nominated the right candidates. The Southern Party had several men competing for its nomination. Secretary of State Robert M.T. Hunter was an early front runner, although his advanced age (75 years old) led him to withdraw from the race. Other candidates were James Z. George of Mississippi, Zebulon Baird Vance of North Carolina, and Wade Hampton III of South Carolina. Through a series of shrewd political maneuvers, Vance won the nomination. George was selected as the vice presidential candidate in order to balance the ticket with the Deep South.
The Confederate Party nomination was less contested; the clear front runner was Senator Augustus Hill Garland, and he took the nomination on the first ballot. Ever since his vice presidential run in 1879, Garland had been the de facto leader of the party in and outside of Congress. Now he would be the party's first official candidate for president, although James Longstreet's 1879 campaign could be considered the birth of the party. The expansionist John Tyler Morgan of Alabama was nominated for vice president. This would be the first contested election in Confederate history where none of the candidates had a majority military background, though several of the nominees did have military experience.
The campaign was hard fought, though not as nasty as the previous election. Vance tried to distance himself from President Beauregard and instead presented himself as the direct successor to Alexander H. Stephens. Vance fought hard, but Garland had the momentum. He was able to strike the perfect mix of being a Southern patriot while advocating for the expansion of the government/military. The biggest prize in the election was Texas; with the Deep South probably locked up for the Southern Party and the border states locked up for the Confederates, Texas would probably end up being the determining factor.
This election was somehow even closer than in 1879- by way of winning Texas, Garland won with 82 electoral votes to Vance's 77 to become the first president from the Confederate Party. Garland did manage to win more of the popular vote than Stephens. At his inauguration, new President Garland promised to defend the Confederacy from all external threats (thereby promising to expand the military). He also promised to protect states' rights, though Southern Party politicians were suspicious.
Uncertain Times (1885-91)
The election of 1885 divided the Confederacy in a way that had not been seen before. There was a clear regional divide in the results- the border states of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Virginia along with North Carolina voted for the Confederates, while the more southern states voted for the Southern Party. Texas was the only state to break that trend, and even within Texas there was a north/south voter divide. Deep Southerners started to become suspicious that northern Confederates wanted to take their rights and their slaves away. Already, the institution of slavery was rapidly weakening in the border states, and Virginia had debated two anti-slavery bills in its state legislature. At the same time, Confederates from the Deep South rushed into west/Mexican territories in hopes of expanding slavery in these new lands. With tensions ramping up and the 1885 election being as close as possible, some observers even said there was a possibility of civil war.
These tensions would slowly die down over Garland's term, with most Confederates coming around to support the policies of a strong military and expansionism. Strong nationalist overtones fostered in the later 19th Century only served to cover up the fact that there were serious problems growing within the Confederacy that neither the Confederate or Southern Party wanted to acknowledge. The growth of international cotton markets outside the Confederacy was continually lowering the price of cotton. More and more countries chose to get their cotton from the British Empire instead of the slave-powered CS. The dwindling profits of the cotton trade led some plantation owners to seek other cash crops to plant, but no effective replacement was found. Many slave owners in the border states simply sold off their slaves and began new lives in cities or as regular farmers. Instead of fixing the problem, the government chose to ignore it until it caused a major collapse of the CS economy. That will be talked about later.
In the North, President Levi P. Morton worked with his party to reverse years of Democratic policies. His term was mostly successful, but he lacked the energizing properties of a fresh face like William Allison. In addition, corruption was absolutely rampant in his administration. There was a major scandal in every year of his term. None of them traced back directly to him, but Morton was largely seen as responsible for the shady deals taking place. A large well of support for civil service reform arose. The Democratic Party, which had refused to pass any reform during Tilden's second term, quickly changed its tune and started heavily promoting reform efforts. There was a large portion of National Americans who also switched to the side of reform, but the party retained its image of corruption.
The 1888 presidential election was uncertain for both sides. For the most part, the National American Party had delivered on its promises. However, the party's control also brought an unacceptable level of corruption into government. Support for civil service reform had grown greatly over the past four years, and the Democratic Party saw it as an opportunity to regain control of the White House. Their nomination was highly contested by candidates claiming that they had always been in favor of reform- however, this was not true for almost anyone that had served in the era of total Democratic control. One man that had stayed clean of corruption was Representative John G. Carlisle of Kentucky. He was a top candidate going into the election, but Democratic leaders didn't want a Southerner as their nominee. The leaders were afraid that a Southern Democratic nominee would strengthen their image as Confederate sympathizers. Despite these worries, no other candidate was able to honestly claim that they were corruption-free. Carlisle, being the only one who had a record of supporting reform, won the nomination. Daniel W. Voorhees of Indiana was nominated for vice president.
The National Americans also had a high level of competition for their nomination. Morton's image was sullied by his corruption scandals and he was unpopular with the public. He still wanted to be elected president in his own right, and ran for the nomination. Opposing him was Russel A. Alger of Michigan, John Sherman of Ohio, and Walter Q. Gresham of Indiana. Many delegates wanted to support James G. Blaine, but he declined to contest. After 10 highly contested ballots, Morton was defeated and Alger was the nominee. William O'Connell Bradley of Kentucky was nominated for vice president.
In a very close election largely divided by North-South lines, John G. Carlisle became the 21st President of the United States. He defeated Alger 154 electoral votes to 140.
It took until 1890 for civil service reform to finally pass, but pass it did. President Carlisle spent a lot of his term trying to prove that he wasn't in any way a Confederate sympathizer. The anti-Confederate policies passed by the National Americans were left in place and even strengthened. These harsh policies caused a rapid rise in tension with the CS.
Confederate President Garland tried to ignore the aggressive words from Carlisle and the North, but his vice president was advocating for a different approach. Morgan was outraged by the Northern actions and mudslinging and wanted to retaliate, economically or otherwise. Garland did not want to sacrifice his image as a moral and wise president that fostered economic prosperity. He initially convinced Morgan to keep his mouth shut, but that all changed when Morgan began his campaign for president.
John Tyler Morgan had strong beliefs: he believed in expansion, a strong military, and a global Confederate hegemony. He believed that his young nation was not one that should be pushed around. He also believed that the only person that could accomplish his goals was himself. That's why he threw his hat in the ring to be president. It's also why he was nominated so easily. The South was done hiding in its own little agrarian oasis; the people were ready to emerge onto the world stage.
Morgan faced no real opposition in his pursuit of the Confederate Party nomination. John W. Daniel of Virginia, another advocate of expansionism, joined him on the ticket as the vice presidential candidate. The Southern Party had a muddled field of candidates with no clear front runners. Eventually, Governor John Brown Gordon of Georgia stood out enough to take the presidential nomination. Wilkinson Call of Florida was chosen to run for vice president.
With the prosperity of Garland's term combined with the excitement of expansionism, Morgan's victory was a landslide. He became the first president since Robert E. Lee in 1867 to win over 100 electoral votes. He also became the first candidate from the Confederate Party to win states in the Deep South, earning victories in Louisiana, Florida, and his home state of Alabama. At his inauguration he spoke out against the renewed aggression of the North and made it clear that the Confederacy would not be caught off guard by a declaration of war.
Time For War (1891-96)
As Morgan entered the fray and began slinging mud back at the US, President Carlisle felt that he couldn't sit idle. It was now an election year for him and he could not afford to look weak. In a famous speech delivered outside the White House in March 1892, he lambasted the new Confederate president and asked Congress to levy even harsher tariffs on the South. These new trade restrictions passed Congress a month later. In response, President Morgan asked his Congress to put tariffs on all goods imported from the North. Congress was unsure about the constitutionality of such an act, as the Confederate Constitution prohibited "any duties or taxes on importations from foreign nations" in order to promote industry. Since this move was not intended to promote industry, the CS Congress decided that it was within their power to limit trade in this case.
While Carlisle and Morgan took shots at each other, there was an election to be contested. The 1892 National American National Convention saw several legitimate front runners, chief among them being Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Although Harrison was expected to win at first, McKinley was the ultimate victor despite his recent unsuccessful reelection campaign for his House seat. McKinley championed protectionist economic policies and the gold standard. Most importantly, he promised to not declare war on the Confederacy in any case. He said that such a war would be extremely costly for both nations. Some voters, still firmly remembering the horrors and aftermath of the Civil War readily agreed with him. Others, with a deep desire for revenge, sided with Carlisle and wanted a second war.
The contest of wills continued right up until the US election- in fact, the day before was the closest the US and CS came to going to war. Troops had been placed on each border for two months at that point, just waiting for the orders to storm across and begin shooting. Confederate ships were often harassed when in US waters, and vice versa. On October 22nd, 1892, in an attempt to boost his reelection chances one final time, President Carlisle made a two hour long speech that attacked Confederate society, slavery, and the personal character of John Tyler Morgan. He asked for yet another raise in tariffs on the South and told the public to be ready at any moment to go to war. The next day, President Morgan called a special session of the Confederate Congress. When Congress was fully assembled on November 7th, there was only one issue on the agenda- a war declaration against the United States. After a day of debate, the declaration came 3 votes short of passing. Most of the congressmen who voted against the measure wanted to wait and see if Carlisle would be reelected before they made a concrete decision.
Even though it failed to pass, the attempted declaration of war made quite an impact in the US. It dominated every newspaper in the country on the morning of the election. Some papers even falsely reported that the declaration had passed, and that a second Civil War had begun. This near-catastrophe prompted people to truly consider the consequences of another war, and their conclusion was apparent at the ballot box. William McKinley won a firm victory.
In an attempt to save face, Carlisle stood firm and continued to fire verbal shots at the Confederacy. A week after the US election, another vote was held on the declaration of war. This one came 6 votes short of passage. In January, a war declaration was put forward in the US Congress, and this one was defeated soundly. Carlisle left office, McKinley again promised to not go to war, and Morgan moved onto his other militaristic goals. War had been avoided, at least for now.
An economic panic plagued both countries after their tariff war, but it was much worse in the US. There, the Panic of 1893 was a major economic crash that marred McKinley's entire presidency. As the national prosperity continued to go down, President McKinley repeatedly blamed the crash on his predecessor's tariffs and warmongering. While he was right, the people became increasingly sick of his attitude and felt like he was passing the blame instead of doing anything to fix the problem. McKinley noticed the problem and eventually changed his messaging, but by then his popularity was already plummeting.
The Southern economic panic was comparatively minor and only lasted for a year. President Morgan had long held plans of glorious Confederate military conquest, which Congress would never approve in times of economic hardship. Thus, he was forced to wait through the economic depression. He was making preparations, though. Through the entire recession he was trying to frame the Spanish Empire and find a justification to declare war on them for Cuba and their other colonial possessions. He would've just as easily declared war without justification, but the Southern Party-controlled Congress would not cooperate unless there was a tangible reason for war.
The start of the Cuban War of Independence in 1895 created enough justification. The public was heavily in favor of intervention and pressured politicians in both parties to declare war. They relented in March 1895, and the Spanish-Confederate War began.
Morgan began the war with the stated goal of "liberating" Cuba by bringing them into the Confederacy as a state. As the war went on and shifted more to the Confederacy's favor, the war goals shifted to taking all of Spain's colonial possessions in the Caribbean and Pacific, and possibly Africa
Cuban revolutionaries viewed the invading Confederate forces with suspicion, but recognized that a Confederate intervention was their best chance at victory. To get more revolutionaries on his side, Morgan dropped his narrative of admitting Cuba to the Confederacy and instead said he would simply liberate the island under "Confederate protection."
The war went well for the CS. Most of the conflicts, at least the ones that mattered, were fought at sea. The Spanish Navy was outdated and out of shape by 1895, while the Confederates had been building up their navy with new, modern ships since the beginning of President Garland's term. The invasion of Cuba was relatively easy. Alongside the Cuban forces, the Confederates were able to drive the Spanish completely from the island by August. With Cuba liberated, the war focus shifted to Spain's other possessions. Confederate troops were deployed to the Philippines and Puerto Rico. In September 1895, with Spain's fleet in shambles and losses piling up, hostilities were ended and peace negotiations began.
The negotiations were difficult, lasting into early 1896. Spain agreed easily to the CS acquisitions of Puerto Rico and Guam. They were not willing to budge on Cuba or the Philippines. President Morgan also asked the diplomats to push for the acquisition of Spain's Rio Muni colony in Africa. The negotiations almost broke down around Christmas, but eventually it was resolved that the CS would offer $30 million in exchange for Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. Spain had little choice but to accept.
While President Morgan allowed time for the public to celebrate their great victory, he was already making plans for further expansionist wars. He first planned to start a second Mexican-Confederate War, with the primary goal of annexing the Yucatán Peninsula (or taking all of Mexico, depending on the success of the war). After that, he had plans to take the remaining British and French colonial possessions in America, and Panama from Colombia. Preparations for the 2nd Mexican-Confederate War were being made when all of the president's plans were suddenly shattered.
Shock and Rebirth (1896-1909)
For a long time, the United Kingdom had been observing the Confederacy from afar. They nearly intervened in the CSA's initial war of independence against the Union, but they decided against it when France joined instead. Ever since then, the British opinion of the Confederacy had been consistently going down. The U.K. had opposed slavery worldwide since their own abolition of the practice in 1833. Now, they saw the CS becoming increasingly expansionist and considered them to be a real threat against British possessions in the area. In direct retaliation to the Confederacy, the United Kingdom declared a "trade war against slavery" and embargoed every remaining slave power on the planet, including the CS. They were joined by France soon after, and Spain (who carried out the action specifically as an act of revenge). This embargo caused a major crash in the Confederate economy. In truth, the crash was on pace to happen anyway- the declining price of cotton and other cash crops harvested by slaves was a great endangerment to the CSA's agrarian nature- but this action caused all of the Confederates' economic problems to come crashing down on them at once. The Shock of 1896, as it was soon called, also had the unintended effect of prolonging the United States' own economic shock as trade with their Southern neighbor was greatly diminished. That extended recession, in turn, sent the Confederate economy into an even larger spiral.
President Morgan, a president who had solely focused on foreign policy, was unequipped and unprepared to deal with the crisis. He was forced to call off the upcoming conflict with Mexico and had to work with Congress to try and end the recession. The United Kingdom was offering a simple deal- end slavery and the embargo would end. Morgan, and the rest of the South, was much too proud to take that course of action. The president first advocated for a war with the U.K. in order to end the embargo, but he soon realized that he had no popular support for such a war. Faced with a lack of militaristic options, Morgan was out of his element. He decided to instead let Congress figure out the issue and pass legislation to fix it. Legislation, though, would not be enough to fix this issue.
In the US, the panic that began in 1893 and seemed to be lessening by the day was now back in full force. McKinley was out of options, and had become one of the least popular presidents of the 19th Century. Facing a presidential election in 1896, he tried anything he could to fix the economy and win favor with the American people. Nothing worked, and he nearly lost his own party's nomination.
The Democrats, on the other hand, saw the opportunity to return to the oval office yet again. They had carried out a merger with the Populist Party that rose up in the 1892 election and were now ready to propose their own measures to help the populace and end the recession. William Jennings Bryan won the nomination despite hard opposition from gold standard backers and Northeastern Democrats. The young Bryan, only 36 at the time, brought with him a radical new program that called for a silver-backed currency and government aid for poor Western farmers. He was greatly disliked by Eastern businessmen and would have had no chance at victory in the East in a regular election. This election, though, taking place during one of the worst economic downturns in the country's history, gave him a chance to win voters in unconventional places.
The election of 1896 ended up being the closest election in U.S. history. It was so close, in fact, that there wasn't a winner. The final electoral tally was 167 votes for Bryan, and 167 votes for McKinley. If less than 1,000 more votes in Delaware had gone to Bryan, he would have won outright. Instead, the election went to the House of Representatives, which had a National American majority. In presidential contingency elections, however, the House votes by state, with the winner being the candidate that gets the majority of states to vote for them. With the many small western states at his back, Bryan was able to get the votes of Washington, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Indiana, and Delaware. McKinley received the votes of California, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine. With a vote of 17 states to McKinley's 16, William Jennings Bryan became the 23rd President of the United States.
The Northeastern states took Bryan's victory very hard. Small riots broke out in Boston and New York. For the entirety of Bryan's presidency, Northeastern businessmen worked to undermine his policies in every way possible. Bryan worked with a Democratic House of Representatives to pass his policies, but a National American Senate blocked all of his legislation. The gold standard never came close to ending, since even conservative Democrats in Congress opposed silver-backed currency. At the very least, the recession did begin to die down before ending for good in 1900.
In the South, President Morgan and his Congress had completely failed to contain the economic collapse. All across the Confederacy, farmers and laborers were disenfranchised. Plantation owners were forced to shut down and sell their slaves. In some cases, there were no buyers and the slaves were simply set free. White southerners started to join their enslaved counterparts in absolute poverty.
Morgan, once extremely popular for his expansionism, was now despised in many parts of his country. Both parties tried to put forth candidates who could fix the issue and regain the people's confidence, but there was a new force for them to content with. The new People's Agrarian Party (commonly known as the Farmer's Party) was formed in 1896, the first manifestation in the South of the wider populist movement that had already taken root in the North. They nominated Thomas E. Watson of Georgia for president, with James G. Field of Virginia as his running mate.
The Confederate Party knew that they were in a tough spot and unlikely to win the 1897 election. They once again decided to nominate their incumbent vice president, John W. Daniel, for president. As his running mate they nominated Joseph Wheeler of Alabama, a former general who served in the Mexican-Confederate War.
The Southern Party, always strong supporters of slavery, presented a defiant message for their 1897 campaign. Instead of backing down from the Europeans and outlawing slavery, they aimed to boost slavery even further. They proposed the planting of new cash crops and the selling of those crops to more friendly markets. They tried to promote Confederate pride and a defiant spirit in response to "British aggression." The fiery Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina was nominated to promote that cause. Tillman was a vulgar speaker who held strong beliefs and wasn't afraid to share them. A strong supporter of slavery and Confederate nationalism, the Southern Party saw him as the perfect candidate for 1897, even if he was a bit unconventional. Governor Murphy J. Foster of Louisiana was his running mate.
The election was fierce and unregulated. Southerners were faced with three visions on how to fix the country: the Populists, who wanted to upend the entire political system and directly support the people, the Southerners, who wanted to reinforce traditional Southern culture and dig in for a long economic fight, and the Confederates, who wished to maintain the status quo and let the crisis pass by. Desperate voters defended their candidates to near death in some cases. Tillman did not run a traditional campaign by any means and made no effort to be civil to his opponents. In fact, unlike every presidential candidate to precede him, he went out of his way to disparage and insult his two adversaries. Some Southerners were appalled by his behavior, while others were refreshed by a candidate who wasn't afraid to speak his mind. His energetic speaking eventually won him the presidency, by a slim margin. He won 94 electoral votes, 4 more than the 90 needed for a majority. Daniel won 57, and Watson won 28.
Tillman entered office in an nontraditional way, holding his inauguration on a plantation near Richmond rather than at the Confederate Capitol Building. He then made a speech directly to Congress on the second day of his presidency, challenging the politicians to get moving and finally make some real change in the CS. These acts made him immensely popular. He proceeded to cut the military budget, directing the extra funds towards the subsidization of failing plantations. He especially wanted to support slave owners in Cuba and the Mexican territories. The government also bought slaves from bankrupt plantations, either putting them to work for the government or loaning them out to needy farms. For a while, Tillman's efforts seemed to work. Then the money began to run dry, and the country was in an even worse state than before. The situation was made even worse by the full arrival of the boll weevil infestation. Since the 1880's, the bug had been making its way up from Mexico into the rest of the Confederacy. By 1900, it had reached Georgia. The effects of the boll weevil plague began to be felt fully during Tillman's term, destroying the remaining cotton fields in the Deep South and forcing even more plantations to shut down. By the end of Tillman's term, the weight of the situation was apparent: the Confederate economy was failing completely. If rapid and radical changes were not made, the entire country could fall apart at the seems.
The Union, on the other hand, was finally beginning to go upward. By 1898, the economy started to improve, and by 1900 it was at near-normal levels. Although President Bryan had not passed many of his big reforms, he was the president to finally fix the economy (even if it wasn't directly caused by him). The Northeastern voters that had been terrified of his presidency began to calm down. Going into the 1900 election, the public was somewhat eager to see what Bryan would do in a term with normal circumstances.
President Bryan easily won renomination at the Democratic National Convention. The real controversy was in his running mate. Vice President Arthur Sewall was never truly qualified for his job; he was a businessman who had been chosen purely for his appeal to the Northeast. The entire party, progressives and conservatives alike, wanted to see a different man running along Bryan's side in 1900. The progressives were in favor of newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Charles A. Towne of Minnesota. The others were in favor of David B. Hill of New York. As the ballots went on, neither side gained any ground. Unable to agree on anyone else, the convention was forced to renominate Sewall.
The National Americans had a large host of candidates contending for the presidential election. Former President McKinley considered running again, but eventually decided against it due to his continuing unpopularity. The initial front runner was considered to be former Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed. Other candidates included Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana, Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania, and Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio. Quay was soon dismissed due to his image of a kingmaker and corrupt political patron. Reed was considered to be too rough around the edges and too unorthodox to be president. Fairbanks was seen as too inexperienced, entering office as senator only three years prior to the convention. That left Foraker, a former governor and current senator of Ohio. He won nomination on the 4th ballot. Jonathan P. Dolliver of Iowa was nominated for vice president.
The race was neck and neck the entire way. Democratic leaders were unsure if Bryan would be able to win any Northeastern states even after the economic rebound. New York was a particular target for them. A big wrench was thrown in the race when Arthur Sewall died in September. In an instant, the debate on who to run for vice president was reignited. Democratic leadership was forced to meet and tried to select a new candidate who had experience running campaigns. They settled on former senator George Gray of Delaware. Bryan was not too fond of the new choice, but he had to accept it with so little time left in the campaign.
With New York unexpectedly voting Democrat, Bryan was able to win reelection by a fair margin. It appeared that even the radical policies of Bryan could be overlooked if the economy was good, especially if it was good for the first time in seven years. Bryan entered his second term with an eagerness to finally pass some of his reforms. The Senate and House were beginning to warm up to the president as progressives took over the party, and legislation finally seemed to begin moving through Congress. It took only a single bullet to stop the all the progress in its tracks.
Leon Czolgosz became an anarchist during the long economic recession. He believed it was his duty to assassinate a world leader in order to advance the cause of anarchism, and he found that chance as President Bryan was speaking to a crowd of supporters at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. When Bryan moved passed the crowd shaking hands and engaging with the masses, Czolgosz was able to get close enough to hit Bryan in the chest. The bullet missed the president's heart but lodged deep in his flesh. Doctors, unable to find the bullet, left Bryan to recover naturally. He did seem to recover at first, and within two weeks he was able to travel back to Washington. The nation celebrated the miracle. Bryan began getting several illnesses, with each one more serious than the last. When doctors finally realized the cause (a massive infection brewing in Bryan's chest), it was too late. The president died on October 27, 1901, nearly two months after his shooting. Czolgosz, now the perpetrator of a murder, was retried and sentenced to death.
The death of Bryan has wide ranging and long lasting effects on the nation and the Democratic Party. The ascension of the conservative Vice President George Gray would eventually put the conservatives back in charge of the party and force progressives to find a new home. This would provide a boost to the new socialist movements in America, as some of those progressives moved even further left. In the short term, Bryan's death caused a stock market dip that caused many to fear another great economic panic.
As complex as the political situation was in the North, it was even more so in the South. President Tillman had utterly failed to fix the nation's economic problems. He turned extremely bitter and began speaking out against the citizens of the Confederacy, saying they were impatient and unwilling to fight. Two assassination attempts were carried out on Tillman near the end of his term, though both were foiled.
The Confederate Party was trying to find a way to avoid another three way presidential race. They also recognized the popularity of the populist Farmer's Party and wanted to make use of that popularity for their own gain. At first, this led to attempts to absorb the Farmer's Party into the Confederate Party as the Democrats had done up North. While the populists were open to the idea, many of the Confederate Party leaders were not. The Southern Party had always been considered the populist party in the South up until the 1890's. The Confederates were the party of lawyers, bankers, and cities. A merger with the Farmer's Party almost seemed to be a betrayal of their morals. Instead of a merger, then, it was decided that a unity ticket would be set up just for the 1903 election. The Confederate Party would get to nominate the presidential candidate while the Farmer's Party could nominate the vice presidential candidate. Some populists opposed this idea, as they thought they could win the election outright. Party leadership, though, saw this strategy as the best way to achieve long term relevance in Confederate politics. They would end up being correct.
Numerous politicians lined up to seek the Confederate nomination for president. The most notable candidates were James Hay of Virginia, Joseph Blackburn of Arkansas, Charles Allen Culberson of Texas, and James D. Richardson of Tennessee. Richardson was nominated on the 3rd ballot after several minor candidates switched their support to him. The presidential candidate was a well-spoken, educated Freemason who provided a stark contrast to the bluntness of President Tillman. The progressives nominated Thomas E. Watson, their presidential candidate in 1897, for vice president. Over the campaign, the two men blended their differing views into a single campaign promise: they would fix the Confederacy. Richardson pledged to encourage business and investment so that the embargo on farm products would not be so crippling. He made a pledge to put government-held slaves to work in unique ways, building up infrastructure or even working in factories. His biggest promise was that he would negotiate with the European powers and shut down the embargo by the end of his term, without abolishing slavery.
The Southern Party recognized the unpopularity of Tillman and tried to distance themselves as much as possible from his administration. Like the Confederates, they had numerous candidates seeking the nomination and no clear front runners. It was eventually Augustus Octavius Bacon of Georgia who won out. Bacon was basically the complete opposite of Tillman. Most notably, he was a self-described "Anglophile" who wished to negotiate with the British in order to end the ongoing embargo. Tillman decried the new nominee as a traitor and a liar. This would cause a split in the party that endured for the entire campaign.
With a united front and a disjointed opposition, the Confederate-Farmer's ticket won a unanimous victory. The Confederate people were still wary. If they didn't start to see real change, it could mark the start of a total revolution in Southern society.
The new president set out to make rapid changes in an attempt to placate the public. He encouraged Congress to pass laws to encourage growth in industry. He made sure that government-owned slaves would be available at cheap prices for businesses. Slaves that were not otherwise in use were put to work building government projects, such as roads and railroads. President Richardson especially emphasized the building of more railroads across the Mexican Territories. There were problems brewing for the CS even outside of its domestic boundaries. Revolts in Cuba and the Philippines were ongoing, and the president did not want to divert any resources to unnecessary imperialistic goals. Both nations officially gained their independence in 1904, after eight years of Confederate rule. These successful rebellions were followed up by riots by ethnic Mexicans in the Mexican Territories, who were fed up with being treated like second class citizens in their own homeland. They were also slowly becoming a minority in these lands- 40% of the population in Confederate Mexico was estimated to be of white Confederate origins. Not willing to lose the prosperous lands, President Richardson ordered the military to put down the revolts by any means necessary. Over one thousand ethnic Mexicans were estimated to have died in the violence, and thousands more were arrested. The revolt was put down, and another wave of ethnic Mexicans decided to migrate to Mexico.
While Richardson tried to reform the CS, the US was still reeling from the unexpected death of its president. Bryan was much more appreciated in death than he was in life. In the wake of his unexpected absence, the nation and the Democratic Party were left in a state of confusion. Conservatives no longer had anyone to oppose and deride, while progressives had no one to unite behind. The presidency of George Gray led to the conservatives solidly retaking control of the party. Gray was a capable president and was able to heal some of the wounds left by Bryan's passing. He decided to seek election in his own right in 1904, and won his party's nomination easily. William Randolph Hearst, a progressive representative and newspaper publisher from New York, was chosen as the vice presidential nominee.
In response to Gray's conservative mindset and the void left in progressive leadership, one would think that the National Americans would want to take up the mantle and nominate a progressive candidate to stand against the Democrats. That did not happen, as conservative Senator Charles W. Fairbanks won the nomination fairly easily. Robert R. Hitt, a longtime progressive representative from Illinois, won the vice presidential nomination.
Gray was a respected president, but he did not have the popular support that Bryan had. Charles Fairbanks won the presidency by an electoral margin of 217-139. Fairbanks aimed to institute protectionist policies to boost the normalizing economy, including higher tariffs. His presidency would bring a time of economic prosperity not seen in the US since before the Civil War. This success would make him a popular president, and spell a temporary time of dominance for conservative policies over progressive ones.
Progress was now finally being made in the Confederacy, but it was a slow process. Factories began to spring up in cities, with slaves making up almost half of the industrial workforce. While President Richardson focused mainly on the cities, since he thought industrialization was the way of the future, his progressive vice president Thomas E. Watson wanted a more balanced approach. This would cause a rift between the men that was not solved until a very unfortunate incident in 1905.
While Richardson was making progress remaking the CSA, he was not universally supported by the public. There were many who believed that he was actually destroying the nation by cutting its agrarian roots and moving political power to the cities. In that same vein, there was a good amount of extremists who thought that the president wanted to outlaw slavery. It was one of these extremists, a Southern Party member named Micah Sayers, that decided he wouldn't let the Richardson presidency go on any longer. On November 11, 1905, President James D. Richardson was shot point blank in the head and killed instantly.
While the assassin was tried for murder, the nation tried to come to grips with the massive implications of this event. This was the first political assassination in Confederate history. The illusion of a republic peacefully united in purpose was now totally shattered. Perhaps the biggest consequence of the assassination was the change in hands of the presidency- Thomas E. Watson, the leader of the People's Agrarian Party, was now president. The Confederates had run a joint ticket in 1903 in a ploy for political power, and now they found themselves out of power. After allowing some time for national mourning, President Watson immediately set to work on his massive agenda of reform. The hostile Congress didn't allow him to do much right away. He did manage to get legislation passed limiting immigration, including completely banning immigration from Asia. In 1906, he compromised with Congress and was able to admit two new states to the Confederacy: Sequoyah and Oklahoma. Sequoyah was intended to be a state partially run by Native Americans living in Indian Territory, while Oklahoma would serve as a home for the white settlers in the area. The midterm elections of 1907 brought a wave of populists into Congress, which finally gave the president the political power he needed to pass his reforms. If either of the major parties wanted to get anything done, they'd have to compromise with the populists.
In early 1908, Watson proposed his "New Confederacy" Plan, a series of constitutional amendments that would radically change the political face of the CSA. These included proposed amendments to establish the popular election of senators, to set an official bi-metal currency base, to prohibit the private owning of railroads and telegraph lines, and to prohibit national banks. The other part of this plan was a set of amendments nicknamed the "Slave Bill of Rights," which would outline the rights and minimum living standards afforded to slaves. The full package of amendments included the outlawing of extreme and unusual punishments for slaves, a provision that slave families had to be bought and sold as a single unit, a proposal that slaves had to be given ownership of 10% of the crops they harvested, an amendment abolishing the three-fifths rule when counting state populations for representation, and an amendment limiting the amount of slaves a single person could own. Most of the amendments were considered too extreme for the time, but some of them did pass. The First Amendment to the Confederate States Constitution, establishing the popular election of senators, was ratified in March 1909. Three of the slave rights amendments were combined into the Second Amendment to the CS Constitution, which set limits on what punishments were acceptable for slaves, kept families together in most cases, and eliminated the three-fifths rule. President Watson was still unsatisfied with the small number of amendments passed and tried to call a constitutional convention to amend the constitution en masse. This attempt did not have enough popular support to come to fruition.
Besides the amendments, Watson initiated other radical policy proposals. He proposed a graduated income tax on all citizens, a bill which did not come close to passing Congress. He attempted to balance the interests of the cities and the country (while slightly favoring the interests of farmers), and got a law passed which paid reparations to farmers who felt they were unfairly affected by industrialization. For workers in cities, he was nearly able to pass a law that would've created a shorter work week. In 1909, he signed an executive order which mandated that all government-owned slaves would be released after twenty years unless they were bought by a private citizen. This order was later overridden by his successor.
The economic situation of the Confederacy also saw vast improvement during Watson's administration. By 1905, the Spanish government had decided that the economic impact of the embargo on their end was not worth getting revenge on the Confederates for the war. Spain thus ended its embargo in late 1905, and France followed them in 1906 after seeing the complete refusal of the CSA to give into European demands. The United Kingdom maintained their embargo, as it barely affected their economics at all. Still, the opening of trade with two European powers boosted the Confederate economy and began the path back to normalcy. At the end of Watson's term, the economy was at least comparable to how it was before the crash of '96. The presidency of Watson was a massive boost to the popularity of the Farmer's Party, and the populists had a legitimate chance to win reelection on their own in 1909. In 1911, the UK finally decided to ease up on its trade restrictions, as they had bigger concerns brewing in Europe.
This section lists all the major events of this alternate history.
- April 28, 1865 The Southern War of Independence ends with the Treaty of Alexandria. The Confederate States of America wins its independence.
- November 5, 1867 Robert E. Lee wins a unanimous victory in the 1867 CS Presidential election to become the 2nd President of the Confederacy.
- November 3, 1868 Democrat George H. Pendleton defeats Republican Benjamin Wade in the 1868 US presidential election to become the 17th President of the United States.
- January 24, 1870 The Confederate States declares war on revolutionary Mexico after prodding from France.
- September 17, 1870 The Mexican-Confederate War ends as the CS takes six northern Mexican states.
- July 16, 1872 The Republican Party officially disbands. The National Party and American Party are the two major entities that replace it.
- November 5, 1872 George H. Pendleton defeats the American candidate Henry Wilson and the National candidate James G. Blaine in the 1872 US presidential election to win a second term.
- November 4, 1873 Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson defeats Alexander H. Stephens in the 1873 CS presidential election to become the 3rd President of the Confederacy.
- January 29, 1875 The United States Congress passes a second fugitive slave law, making it a legal requirement for citizens to report runaway slaves from the CS and assist in their capture. In return for this favor, CS President Jackson promised to visit the United States for the American centennial in 1876.
- July 4, 1876 Both the United and Confederate States celebrate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. CS President Jackson visits Washington, DC, and appears in public with US President Pendleton. This meeting causes outrage in both American nations and has wide-ranging effects on politics moving forward.
- November 7, 1876 Democrat Samuel J. Tilden defeats American candidate Roscoe Conkling and National candidate James G. Blaine in the 1876 US election to become the 18th President of the US.
- July 28, 1879 The National Party and American Party officially agree to merge into one single political party.
- November 4, 1879 In the first fully contested Confederate presidential election, Southern Party candidate Alexander H. Stephens defeats non-partisan James Longstreet in the 1879 CS presidential election to become the 4th CS President.
- November 2, 1880 President Samuel J. Tilden defeats National American candidate George F. Edmunds in the 1880 US presidential election to win a second term.
- October 14, 1883 Confederate President Alexander H. Stephens dies in his sleep, becoming the first CS president to die in office. Vice President P.G.T. Beauregard becomes the 5th President of the Confederate States.
- November 4, 1884 National American William B. Allison defeats Democrat Thomas F. Bayard in the 1884 US presidential election to become the 19th President of the United States.
- June 14, 1885 President William B. Allison is shot and killed by Charles J. Guiteau. Vice President Levi P. Morton becomes the 20th President of the United States.
- November 3, 1885 Confederate candidate Augustus Hill Garland defeats Southern candidate Zebulon Baird Vance in the 1885 CS presidential election to become the 6th President of the Confederacy.
- November 6, 1888 Democrat John G. Carlisle defeats National American Russell A. Alger in the 1888 US presidential election to become the 21st President of the United States.
- November 3, 1891 Confederate Party candidate John Tyler Morgan defeats Southern Party candidate John Brown Gordon in the 1891 CS presidential election to become the 7th President of the Confederacy.
- November 7, 1892 The Confederate Congress comes 3 votes short of declaring war on the United States.
- November 8, 1892 National American William McKinley defeats President John G. Carlisle to become the 22nd President of the United States.
- March 18, 1895 The Confederate States declares war on Spain, beginning the Spanish-Confederate War.
- January 27, 1896 The Treaty of Paris is signed, ending the Spanish-Confederate War. Spain cedes Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the Confederacy.
- April 16, 1896 The United Kingdom begins a trade embargo on all remaining slave-holding nations in the world. They are soon joined by France and Spain, and the Confederate economy goes into the worst shock in American history. Brazil goes through a similar period of hardship.
- November 3, 1896 Democrat William Jennings Bryan and President William McKinley tie in the 1896 US Presidential Election. Bryan is later elected president by the House of Representatives.
- November 2, 1897 Southern Party candidate Benjamin Tillman defeats Confederate Party candidate John W. Daniel and People's Agrarian Party candidate Thomas Watson in the 1897 CS Presidential Election to become the 8th President of the Confederacy.
- November 6, 1900 President William Jennings Bryan defeats National American candidate Joseph B. Foraker in the 1900 US presidential election to win a second term as president.
- October 27, 1901 President William Jennings Bryan dies of a bullet wound he received from anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Vice President George Gray becomes the 24th President of the United States.
- November 3, 1903 On a coalition ticket with the Farmer's Party, Confederate Party candidate James D. Richardson unanimously defeats Southern Party candidate Augustus Octavius Bacon in the 1903 CS presidential election.
- November 8, 1904 National American candidate Charles W. Fairbanks defeats incumbent President George Gray in the 1904 US presidential election.
- November 11, 1905 Confederate President James D. Richardson is shot and killed by a Southern Party member. Vice President Thomas E. Watson, a member of the People's Agrarian Party, becomes the 10th President of the Confederate States.
- Even though the butterfly effect would almost certainly cause completely different people to rise to positions of prominence in this timeline, I prefer to build my timelines around people that actually existed in OTL. I feel that creating fictional leaders cheapens the overall feel of the timeline.