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 number 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 number 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 numbers 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 National American 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 number 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 number of slaves a single person could own. With the help of his allies in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Sequoyah, a Constitutional Convention was called (the Confederate Constitution does not allow Congress to pass amendments, but requires at least three states to call for a constitutional convention instead). 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. The other amendments were proposed to the convention but were not approved and sent out to the states.
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.
A Brewing Storm (1909-15)
Through what some may describe as an accident, Thomas E. Watson was able to take control of the Confederacy and build up his People's Agrarian Party to be a true political force in the country. Many people had been looking for a revolution to end the Confederacy's long depression, and now it seemed that the revolution had arrived. The progressives were the ones who might lead the CS to a brighter future.
The Confederate Party, which had worked with the progressives just six years prior, were now the main opposing force to the Farmer's Party. An alliance formed out of political necessity now became a fierce rivalry based on greatly differing visions of what the Confederacy should be. The progressives wanted a modern agrarian republic, isolationist but strong on its own turf. The Confederate Party, carrying the heritage of great generals like Lee and Jackson, wanted a proud nation that influenced the world to its own designs. The Southern Party, the previous bearers of the populist flag, had fallen far from the spotlight. Many saw them as irrelevant now that the true progressives had come along. The assassination of a sitting president by one of their fanatic members didn't help their image either. Still, they had their hardcore supporters, still concentrated in the Deep South. These people were mostly reactionaries, yearning for the days of the peaceful Southern republic and resenting the change that the progressives represented.
No coalitions would be formed this time. 1909 would be the first serious three-way race in American history. The People's Agrarian National Convention of 1909 was the biggest in party history, an event attended by influential people from across the land. Hundreds of delegates gathered to vote, but there was no real contest. President Watson was the undisputed leader of the party, and he would choose his own successor. That man would be former Senator and Secretary of State Marion Butler, a progressive from North Carolina. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma would be his running mate.
The Confederate Party was left with the decision of whether to beat the progressives by adopting some of their message or by opposing everything about them. With the nomination of Lee Slater Overman, they chose the latter. Overman had been a close friend of 1885 Southern Party presidential candidate Zebulon Baird Vance. He defected to the Confederate Party in 1901 after Benjamin Tillman's debacle of a presidency. Richmond P. Hobson, a hero of the Spanish-Confederate War, was nominated for vice president.
The Southern Party was in the hardest position of all. Populism had long been at the heart of what they stood for, though it was a different kind of populism than Thomas Watson's brand. They had to decide whether to directly compete with the Farmer's Party for the role of progressive flag-bearer, or nominate a firebrand candidate that would represent only the party's interests. The two front runners for the nomination were Jeff Davis of Arkansas, an aggressive Southern populist in the vein of Benjamin Tillman, and John Sharp Williams, a less progressive choice. Davis's charisma eventually won him the day, despite worries of him bringing back bad memories of Tillman's reign.
Each candidate was able to find a base of support. Overman was popular in the traditional areas of Confederate Party dominance- Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Marion had overwhelming populist support in the Deep South and Oklahoma. Davis was popular in his home state and the bordering states of Louisiana and Mississippi, where he spent much of his time speaking. The big battleground was Texas, where the vote was near-evenly split between the three men. Texas, with its 30 electoral votes, had the power to determine the election. When the results came in, Overman was declared the winner in the Lone Star State with only 36% of the vote. He still did not take the overall victory, though, as none of the candidates earned a majority of the electoral votes. The election was thrown into the still-Confederate dominated House of Representatives, where Overman finally took the victory.
The United States Presidential Election of 1912 was similarly influential and competitive. After a relatively calm period of prosperity under President Fairbanks, the vicious competition between conservatives and progressives again rose to the forefront of national politics. The National American Convention represented the contrast well, with three main candidates up for the presidential nomination. Vice President Robert M. La Follette had expected to have the full support of the progressive National Americans going into the convention. That all changed when Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York announced his candidacy. Roosevelt had managed to win the governorship on his second try after spending a decade in the House of Representatives. Conservative delegates were united behind Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts.
The convention went through 20 deadlocked ballots with no one able to attain a majority. It seemed that there would finally be a breakthrough when Roosevelt and La Follette struck a deal, and La Follette dropped out. Even with this compromise, Roosevelt fell just short of a majority. A telegram from President Fairbanks was enough to secure the nomination for Lodge, which infuriated the progressives on the floor. The Democrats, meanwhile, had a similar contest. John Burke, progressive governor of North Dakota, fought Representative Champ Clark of Missouri for the nomination. Clark was able to attain a majority on the ninth ballot.
The progressive movement had been narrowly defeated once again, and for many progressive politicians it was enough. Roosevelt and La Follette left the convention to start their own, thus forming a new Progressive Party. They invited all progressives, National American or otherwise, to join them. La Follette refused to take the head of the ticket, since he feared that would make the party seem more partisan in favor of the National Americans. Instead, Roosevelt was nominated for president and Governor Burke was offered the vice presidential nomination.
After a tense three-way election, Lodge ended up winning a little more than a majority of the electoral college. An unexpected side note was the success of the Socialist Party, which won 11% of the national popular vote. The new Progressive Party fractured just two years later over the issue of the war in Europe, with former Democrats leaving the party en masse.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated in Serbia. One month later, an Austrian declaration of war would start off one of the most deadly conflicts in human history. President Lodge was strongly in favor of an American entry into the war, thinking that it would win the US a lot more influence internationally. Lodge asked for a declaration of war in November 1914, a measure that failed to pass as the American public was overwhelmingly against joining a war in Europe. This was the issue that broke the Progressive Party, as Teddy Roosevelt's strong pro-war sentiment alienated the anti-war former Democrats in the party. Those progressives either returned to their old party or joined the fledgling Socialist Party, which was also avidly anti-war.
Reports of atrocities in Belgium gradually turned American opinion against the Germans. It was not until the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on May 7 1915 that an American entry into the war become politically viable. On May 15, such a measure was introduced to Congress, with the declaration narrowly passing due in large part to the efforts of Theodore Roosevelt. President Lodge had been quietly preparing a war effort for months, and now mobilization began in earnest as troops began to sail to Europe. For the first time, the United States was embroiled in a European land war.
The Great War (1915-21)
The entry of the United States into World War I alarmed the Confederate public and heightened tensions around the nation. President Overman had an uneventful term, overseeing the CSA as its economy finally returned to normal after the long British embargo. Now he was faced with the reality of a mobilized United States right across the border. Feeling he had little choice, the president immediately ordered a sharp increase in army recruitment and arms production. Overman was also faced with the hard choice of whether to support Germany and its allies with supplies shipments or to strive to remain truly neutral. A meeting with the top Confederate generals confirmed Overman's fears- unless the war in Europe ended much sooner than expected, war with the USA was very likely inevitable. Undercover shipments of supplies began in summer of 1915, with much of the trade being directed through Mexico or other Latin American countries to disguise the Confederacy's involvement.
1915 was also an election year. It was once again a three way race, with Confederates presented a clear choice between three differing approaches to the war. The Southern Party and its candidate, James K. Vardaman, was avidly against any entry to the war except in defense to a foreign attack. The Farmer's Party and its members were divided in their opinions toward warfare, and so the party offered a pragmatic platform that called for war "only if necessary to protect the sovereignty and rights of our nation." They nominated Robert Latham Owen, a part-Cherokee senator from the State of Sequoyah. The Confederates did not explicitly call for an entry to the war, but their message was clear. They nominated Vice President Richmond P. Hobson, a military man and war hero, while calling for any military action necessary to protect the interests of the Confederacy.
Hobson won soundly, with 144 electoral votes compared to 53 for Vardaman and 52 for Owen. The results represented a massive shift in the popular attitude towards war in the country. During and after the War of Independence, the Confederates had a strong military tradition that led to another victory in the Mexican-Confederate War. This attitude gave way to a wave of populism and calls for peace in the late 1870's and early 1880's, before the successful policies of Presidents Garland and Morgan stirred up the public appetite for conquest once again. It seemed that the Confederate military tradition had returned in full force after the Spanish-Confederate War, but the ensuing 15 years of economic collapse and desolation changed the country's course. During that time, most citizens of the CS adopted a pacifist attitude, wanting to focus on getting domestic issues right and making sure people were fed. This was especially reflected when President Richardson let Cuba and the Philippines go free without much fighting. There were those that called for armed retaliation against the European powers that embargoed the CS, such as President Tillman, but such calls became fewer and fewer as the economy sunk even further. Confederate citizens retained this peaceful attitude even after the crisis seemed to pass. There was absolutely no desire to enter World War I when it started, as Confederate citizens widely felt that they had no place in a purely European war. The general feeling slowly changed as the United States became more belligerent, and it made a massive shift when the US actually entered the war. Now, the Confederates became paranoid that a mobilized US might take the opportunity to declare war on an under-prepared CS. There were also warhawks who simply wanted a war in order to gain territory from the United States, specifically the states of Kentucky, Missouri, and New Mexico, as well as Southern California. Benjamin Tillman, now once again a senator, was among the most prominent hawks. The government began to utilize the renewed Confederate war spirit by pumping out propaganda glorifying the past Confederate wars and encouraging citizens to enlist in the army as their valiant ancestors did. Independence War hymns like Southern Soldier and To Arms in Dixie became popular once again as the Confederate army slowly mobilized.
People in the Union saw this new warlike spirit and became convinced that the CS planned to declare war on the US in an unjust conquest of land. US leadership began to think of war with the Confederacy as a very likely outcome, and President Lodge discussed the prospect of declaring war preemptively on the CSA before they could fully prepare. This did not happen, but the president did cut back greatly on the deployment of soldiers in Europe, not wanting the entire US Army to be in Europe if the Confederates did attack. In early 1916, the US began to position large amounts of soldiers on the Confederate border in a deliberate show of force. President Lodge hoped that this would deter Confederate thoughts of an attack, but all it accomplished was making the Confederate populace even more paranoid.
Germany sent a secret telegram in late 1915 that promised the CS a military alliance if they declared war on the United States. President Overman, who was about to leave office in February 1916, decided not to act on this, but did promise that the Confederacy would ally with Germany if the time was right. Yellow journalism in both nations ramped up public desire for war, and now it seemed that the two American nations were on a one-way path towards war. In March 1916, a story leaked to the US media that President Lodge and his cabinet had discussed attacking the Confederacy preemptively. While the government quickly stepped in and threatened any newspaper that would report the story, the news immediately made its way to the South. With wide reports in the country and prominent public leaders now openly calling for a war to "defend the integrity" of the Confederate States, a measure to declare war on the US was introduced to the Confederate Congress. On March 31, 1916, the declaration passed with only a few Southern Party members voting against. For the first time in 50 years, a state of war existed between the Union and Confederacy.
With the advantage of attacking first, the Confederate Army quickly stormed across the border, taking on Union troops who were not yet fully prepared. Within 3 weeks, most of that progress was lost as the Union Army drove them back into the CSA. One place that they were not driven from was Kentucky, which they continued to push into at a consistent pace.
The United States decided to follow the Funston Plan, proposed by General Frederick Funston. This plan of attack would have most of the US forces positioned in the East, with only a cursory force defending the West. The idea was to quickly push into Virginia, take Richmond, and then fight down to Georgia and Alabama to capitulate the CSA. If executed correctly, it was thought the plan could end the war in America by the end of 1917.
The CSA, on the other hand, had a roughly even amount of troops in both the East and West. With some of their main territorial ambitions- New Mexico and Southern California- lying in the West, it was important to control these areas. It was also important to keep Pacific shipping lanes open, as they were a vital source of supply for the CS.
The Funston Plan had overall successful results, though it did not result in the full-on route that the US wanted. They managed to reach the Confederate capital, Richmond, by August. The Battle of Richmond resulted initially in a Confederate victory, but a second attempt in mid-September led to victory for the Union. With the capital already lost, it was beginning to look like the Confederates were simply outmatched. In truth, Confederate leaders had expected that they may not be able to defend the city when considering how close it was to the border. Their main strategy was to hold out long enough for the Germans to win in Europe and then win the war with German reinforcements. Confederate leaders relocated to Birmingham, which would be the temporary capital for the duration of the war.
It was not all bleak for the Confederates. CS forces continued to fare well in Kentucky, controlling almost half of the state by the end of the year. US generals became concerned with the advance, knowing what an embarrassment it would be if the outnumbered CS Army managed to cross the river into Ohio. If the fighting reached the true North, it would be a massive blow to morale for the US people. To counteract the CS advance, troops were pulled from the Virginia campaign and funneled into Kentucky instead. This slowed Union progress along the Atlantic, but they still managed to reach North Carolina by December.
The CS was also doing well in the West, owing to the lesser number of US troops stationed there. At year's end they occupied Southern California up past Los Angeles, and also controlled most of New Mexico. Confederate troops even reached Southern Utah in November.
The war in America was fought differently than the war in Europe. A much longer border made for a much wider front than the one in France, and those open spaces allowed forces to circumvent the endless trench warfare that was happening in Europe. Still, as 1917 went on, the quick advance of both sides began to slow down.
Union troops spent the early part of the year totally focused on driving the Confederates out of Kentucky. To fuel that effort, they diverted troops from all other theaters of the war, including Europe. By summer 1917 all American troops had been recalled from Europe to fight on the home front. This hurt the Entente war effort overall, as the leaving American troops left holes in the line and decreased troop morale as they watched their allies go back home. The war in Europe overall proceeded similarly to OTL, with Germany bogged down in Northern France.
Union morale received a major blow in February 1917, when General Frederick Funston died of a sudden heart attack. Funston had been the leader of the entire war effort, and now that role fell to General John J. Pershing instead. As the US Eastern advanced slowed down, Pershing decided to change the approach. He switched to a plan that resembled the Union effort in the Civil War, focusing on taking the Mississippi and cutting the Confederacy in half.
The war in the West continued to favor the Confederacy throughout 1917. Confederate troops advanced further into California and entered Nevada for the first time, taking control of a young Las Vegas. They almost totally controlled New Mexico by the summer and began advances into Colorado and Kansas. US citizens in the west, especially California, began to feel like the federal government was betraying them and willingly sacrificing them to the Confederates in order to win the war in the East. Protests broke out in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Denver asking the US government to send more troops to protect the people of the West. The government did send small detachments of troops as reinforcements, but not much else. Union leadership believed that they could lose the entire Western half of the country and still not be significantly worse off.
Confederate President Hobson, encouraged by the progress in the West and concerned about the East, decided in fall 1917 to bring around half of the Western CS troops over to the Eastern theater. He ordered the remaining troops in the West to stop advancing and merely hold their positions, as they had accomplished their goals there. This strategy worked at first, but the US began taking advantage of their weakness in 1918.
By the end of 1917, Union troops had advanced into North Carolina and Tennessee. This is when the war began to slow down as the Confederates dug in deep and refused to allow the US to advance any further. Confederate troops had particular success in defending the mountainous highlands of the Appalachians. The Union began to focus almost all of its efforts on taking the Mississippi River, but progress was slow.
At the beginning of the war, the two nations had been fairly balanced in naval power. The US had let its navy go to ruin in the decades after the Civil War, as it had no use for warships. They began a new buildup of ships in the early 1910's and especially once they entered the war. Neither nation gained an upper hand at sea or on the river, though the Union gained more of an advantage as the war went on.
The Russian Revolution started in 1917 and resulted in the abdication and death of Tsar Nicholas II. Discontent and the continuing war led to the rise in power of the Bolsheviks, who called for an immediate end to the war. German advances into Ukraine forced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which forced Russia out of the war and ceded large amounts of land to the Central Powers. The victory on the Eastern Front allowed massive numbers of German troops to reinforce the Western Front. With no additional manpower or help on the way, the situation for the Allies looked increasingly bleak. Germany took its time preparing a massive Summer Offensive to end the war once and for all.
In America, the Union continued advancing in the East and also began to rapidly retake the West. Although they had been largely halted in North Carolina, General Pershing ordered a massive army offensive along the Atlantic Coast, into South Carolina. The US aimed to take over the entire coast down to Florida, severely limiting the Confederate potential for imports and exports. The offensive was semi-successful, but eventually was halted about halfway through South Carolina. With the war effort proceeding slowly and Germany beginning to gain the upper hand in Europe, the United States command became worried that massive reinforcements could be on the way for the CS. Urgency increased as President Lodge and the military command called for a rapid end to the war.
With the decreased numbers of Confederate troops in the Western Theater, the Union began to rapidly retake California and New Mexico. Confederate troops were completely driven out of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado by May, while they only retained a small foothold in Kansas. In fall, US troops entered Arizona and Texas for the first time.
One area where the Confederates had success was Western Arkansas. While Union troops continued to carve out territory along the Mississippi, Confederate troops ran a counter-offensive that retook most of Northern Arkansas and Sequoyah. In October, Confederate troops entered Missouri for the first time since 1916.
Before Germany could bring its troops back from the Eastern Front, the Allies decided that they had no choice but to attack Germany hard before their reinforcements arrived. This led to the Allied Spring Offensive, an attack that was unsuccessful and led to massive Allied losses. Allied morale rapidly plummeted after this failure.
Germany's Summer Offensive, on the other hand, was a resounding success. Demoralized Allied troops were repeatedly beaten back, and German troops advanced at rates that would've seemed ludicrous just two years prior. The Germans paused their offensive in September to allow time for stable supply lines to be set up. Discontent was growing on the home front, but as long as Germany was advancing the people were willing to keep fighting. When Germany resumed their advance, they went on to begin an encirclement of Paris. Fighting was largely halted for the duration of winter, allowing both armies the opportunity to rest. Meanwhile, Italy suffered as the Allies redirected troops to the front in France.
The United States kept a watchful eyes on the events in Europe, and the news became increasingly dire. President Lodge demanded that his generals push into the Confederacy, putting an end to the fighting before peace was signed between Germany and the Allied Powers. These orders led to a series of risky and ultimately fruitless offensives into the Deep South. Union troops bulged into the South and were soundly beaten back every time. The only stable "bulge" was one in Northern Alabama and Georgia, which also helped subdue most of Tennessee. The Confederates held firmly in the mountains even as Union troops marched South around them.
Germany launched another great offensive in the spring of 1919. It did not advance as quickly as the Summer Offensive, but it still advanced. Italy surrendered with the capture of Rome in the summer, while German troops began sieging Paris in September. Realizing that defeat was inevitable, the French surrendered on September 28. The UK was the last remaining European Ally in the war. A great debate sprung up in their country about whether they should sign a ceasefire or continue the war. Despite their successes in Turkey, the British decided that remaining in the war would be a lost cause. On October 10, 1919, the British made peace with Germany, and the war in Europe was over.
The Germans, initially entering the war in defense of its ally, now had the opportunity to reshape Europe in their image. They expanded their territory in the West, annexing Luxembourg and taking land from France and Belgium. Belgium would become a German vassal state, and also gained some territory along the French coast. Austria-Hungary survived the war by the skin of their teeth, and their unrest domestically was far from over. Still, they gained several valuable territories in Italy, Serbia, and Romania. Serbia was cut down to less than half of its previous size, with Bulgaria annexing much of its land to the south. Bulgaria was also given parts of Greece and Romania. The Germans used the land from the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk to create several buffer states that would protect against the Soviet Union. These included Ukraine, Byelorussia (also known as White Ruthenia), Lithuania, Poland, and the United Baltic Duchy. The United Baltic Duchy was a union between Estonia and Latvia that would be ruled in personal union with the Prussian crown and administered by a German prince. In addition, the defeated Romania actually gained land in the form of Bessarabia. The area around the mouth of the Danube would be administered jointly by all the Central Powers. The Ottoman Empire did not gain anything in the way of territory, but their continued existence was victory enough for them. They had been defeated at every turn in the war and were now faced with widespread Arab revolts. To top off the Central Power victory, heavy war indemnities were expected to be payed by France and Italy to the victorious nations.
While all of this was happening, the US invasion of the South had ground to a near-halt. Small advancements were made in North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia, but nothing significant. The only place where large amounts of ground was being gained was the West, where the US had begun to invade into Baja California, Arizona, and Texas. The Confederates managed to carry out a few offenses of their own. They managed to successfully push north into Missouri and also carve out a path to Memphis, attempting to take it back from the Union.
United States command became very worried after the peace in Europe. If Germany sent any significant number of reinforcements, it would be hard to oppose their experienced and battle hardened troops. The US was also experiencing a fair bit of war exhaustion at home, as they entered the war one year before the CS.
It was not a sure thing that Germany would substantially help out the Confederacy, though. Germany had their own problems at home, including rising socialist and democratic movements despite the victory in the war. The Confederacy had never sent troops to Europe, so it wasn't as if Germany owed a great debt to them. They had kept the US out of Europe, though, and they were nominally allied. The Kaiser decided to send a force of one million troops to the CS, as well as two million more if the situation didn't improve in six months. The rest of the German army was demobilized, and most of the 11+ million enlisted Germans were sent home.
With most of the German forces not arriving until early 1920, the end of 1919 saw little change in the front line.
The arrival of German soldiers provided a considerable boost to the Confederate war effort, as expected. It was not an effortless integration, though. German soldiers and commanders were dismissive of the American war and the American way of life. They regarded the war they were now fighting in as inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and they considered the Confederate soldiers with which they fought to be simple and uncivilized. German commanders largely ran their own independent war, not very willing to cooperate and communicate with the Confederate generals.
Despite the disconnect, the combined German and Confederate force began to effectively push back against the US. Most of the renewed Confederate success happened in the east, as the Germans did not send any forces to the Western theater. There, the US kept pushing and took the entire Baja California peninsula as well as much of Sonora.
The Confederates first tried to regain control of Memphis and the Mississippi, an effort which was very successful. By the end of summer, they controlled the Mississippi up to Missouri and began pushing into Union lands. The German-Confederate forces also focused on retaking the Atlantic coast and pushing back up into North Carolina. It was thought that if the Confederates could retake Richmond and most of Virginia, and begin threatening Washington D.C., the United States would opt for a peace.
As the Confederates began successfully fighting back, political strife in the US ramped up for the first time during the war. For most of the war, the American people were united and supportive of the efforts, determined to end the Confederate threat for good. In 1919, limited calls began being made for the war to end, but it still seemed that the US was on its way to victory. Now, as the tide of the war turned, anti-war sentiment massively picked up in the North. The Socialist Party gained popularity, as they were the only notable group that had opposed the war from the beginning. President Lodge became increasingly worried of a socialist electoral wave in 1920. He feared that if a substantial number of socialists entered the federal government, the country might fall into a disunited chaos, lose the war, and eventually fall prey to a full revolution. Lodge was also faced with the decision of whether to run for an unprecedented third term for president. He personally thought that he should remain president in order to ensure continuity of leadership during the closing stages of the war. However, he also knew that he would not be guaranteed the National American nomination, as he had gained many political enemies over the course of the war.
As the war effort continued to look more and more bleak, and as the socialists gained more momentum, Lodge decided that he had to take drastic action in order to prevent a political revolution in the country. On May 30, 1920, he issued an executive order that would postpone the presidential election until after the war. Under this order, he would remain president until then and then immediately resign once a peace was reached.
This unprecedented decision caused widespread outrage from both the Democrats and the Socialists, as well as many National Americans. Lodge's political opponents called him a tyrant who was suspending the election for purely political reasons. Several cases were filed against Lodge, and many seemed to be heading right to the Supreme Court. Realizing that the decision would probably be overturned by the courts anyway, Lodge rescinded his executive order on June 24. The move, later called Lodge's Folly, still had widespread effects. For one, Lodge now had no chance of winning the National American nomination. Secondly, the Socialists used it as evidence that the current government was undemocratic and no longer lived up to the founding principles of the country.
The election came down to National American Warren G. Harding, Democrat James M. Cox, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Harding promised nothing but to "finish the war with honor". He made no promises of either winning the war or surrendering early. Cox took an anti-war position, saying that he would end the war on "reasonable terms" if elected president. Debs, who was running from prison, was fully anti-war. He promised to end the war on the day he became president and then to make sure such a war never occurred again in the United States. Harding won the election by the slimmest of margins, only winning two more electoral votes than he needed for a majority. Debs won two states- Wisconsin and North Dakota- and over 20 percent of the popular vote.
By the end of 1920, momentum was firmly back in the hands of the Confederates. They had recaptured most of North Carolina and Tennessee, were pushing into Missouri, and had control of the Mississippi. The two million more German troops that Kaiser Wilhelm II promised never fully arrived. Instead, a supplementary force of about 700,000 men was sent over. The others refused to be sent to fight in a war on another continent, and Wilhelm did not want to risk a military revolt.
The Confederates, aided by the new German troops, continued to push throughout the winter. The CS was also becoming quite exhausted with the war- the people just wanted peace, even if it meant gaining no territory or even giving some territory away.
The Germans helped organize an American Spring Offensive with the Confederates, taking inspiration from how they won the war in Europe. They planned to march as quickly as possible into Virginia, retaking the state and Richmond. They thought that this would be enough for the US to make peace without conditions.
The war in the West finally reached a stalemate of sorts in this spring. The Confederates managed to regain some of Arizona, while the Union took more of Sonora, but for the most part the front line did not change shape.
The spring offensive seemed to be a success. The Confederates quickly regained Virginia and took Richmond in July, regaining it for the first time in four years. However, the effort was unsustainable. Supply lines had been neglected and Confederate manpower was running low. The US also began to have unexpected success in Missouri and Tennessee, pushing effectively against the German-Confederate lines. By August, they had reentered Alabama and were on the verge of reclaiming Memphis. This offensive was also unstable, however, and the American people wanted peace even more than the Confederates by this point. After a month of few changes, the US finally sued for peace on September 30, 1921.
The United States did not ask for peace with the intention of negotiating. Feeling that they had a slight upper hand, they offered a simple peace deal. They would take only two territories: Baja California and Puerto Rico. Their third condition, though, was a big one: the end of slavery in the CSA.
Confederate President Hobson was immediately opposed to the idea. He was more than willing to give up the territories in exchange for peace, but he was not willing to be known as the president that ended slavery. Before he could decline the offer, however, he was confronted by the German command. The Kaiser had heard of the peace offer and was strongly inclined to accept it. He wanted the war to be completely over so he could recall the soldiers and end the risk of political revolts at home. To him, the end of slavery was not a great loss (and was more of a good thing if anything). When Hobson protested and tried to explain why he could not do it, the Germans were not moved. They wanted the war to be over, and they believed this was the best peace deal they could get. The Germans left Hobson with the strong impression that whether he accepted the peace terms or not, they were going to begin leaving the country. If that happened, it was very possible that the US could begin pushing again and annexing the CSA completely.
Under immense pressure from the Germans, Hobson ordered his diplomats to accept the treaty and sign a ceasefire. On October 7, 1921, the guns fell silent in America. When the treaty was revealed to the public, it caused a very mixed feeling among the public. Some were just relieved to have peace. Some didn't care about slavery at all. Many others, though, were unwilling to give up their sacred institution. Thus began one of the fiercest political debates in Confederate history.
The treaty was immediately introduced to the Confederate Congress. Deliberations quickly became heated, as some politicians fiercely defended slavery and others just wanted peace. In general, the Southern Party was strongly opposed to the treaty while the Confederates were for it, though there were more than a few exceptions. The progressives were divided on the issue. They strongly supported slavery, but they were also mostly anti-war. Their individual members were free to take their own positions.
Protests broke out across the countryside, some in defense of slavery and some advocating for peace at all costs. Some peacemakers rose up and tried to convince people that the end of slavery wouldn't be so bad since it was becoming unprofitable anyway. They pointed out that the country could retain a white-dominated society without holding slaves.
The day of the vote is remembered as one of the great turning points of the Confederacy. The floor of the Senate was somber as the vote took place, a great contrast to the past days of angry debating. There was barely any sound made until the final vote tally was announced: by a few votes, the treaty had passed. Immediately, the pro-slavery senators and observers went into a rage, yelling about how the character of the country had been betrayed and destroyed. Many of those opposed to the treaty walked out of the senate; a few resigned their seats for good. Hobson and his party defended their decision harshly, reminding people that slavery would also have been abolished if the Confederacy was annexed by the US. In their opinion, it was better to do it on their own terms.
In any case, the war was over. Soldiers were sent home and the ceded territories changed hands. The US, understanding the constitutional system of the Confederacy, had allowed for two years for slavery to be officially abolished. If it was not done by then, there would very likely be another war, a war the Confederacy would very likely not win. In the mean time, President Hobson signed an executive order that freed all government-owned slaves. World War I had changed the world, in some ways for the better and in some ways for the worse. Both America and Europe had been ravaged by war, and rebuilding would be a long and hard task. America was slightly better off, since the fighting didn't take place in one general area for the entire war. Still, over two million young American men had died over the course of the war, as well as hundreds of thousands of civilians. Many more than that were permanently wounded and left in poverty. Homes were destroyed and roads were unusable. All of the pain and strife would not go without consequence. This war, with such ambiguous causes, would be the source of widespread political revolutions around the world. America was no exemption.
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.
- November 3, 1908 President Charles W. Fairbanks defeats Democrat William Randolph Hearst in the 1908 US presidential election.
- November 2, 1909 Lee Slater Overman defeats progressive Marion Butler and Southern Party candidate Jeff Davis in the 1909 CS presidential election.
- November 5, 1912 Henry Cabot Lodge defeats three other candidates in the 1912 US presidential election to become the 26th President of the United States.
- May 15, 1915 The United States enters World War I against the Central Powers.
- November 2, 1915 Richmond P. Hobson defeats Southern Party candidate James K. Vardaman and progressive Robert Latham Owen in the 1915 CS presidential election to become the 12th President of the Confederate States.
- March 31, 1916 The Confederate States enters World War I against the Triple Entente and the United States.
- November 7, 1916 Henry Cabot Lodge defeats Democrat Thomas R. Marshall in the 1916 US presidential election.
- October 10, 1919 The United Kingdom makes peace with Germany and its allies, officially ending World War I in Europe with a German victory.
- November 2, 1920 Warren G. Harding defeats Democrat James M. Cox and Socialist Eugene V. Debs in the 1920 US presidential election.
- December 12, 1921 The Confederate States and United States sign the Treaty of Fredericksburg, officially ending World War I with a Central Power victory in Europe and slight United States victory in America. The treaty stipulates the end of slavery in the Confederacy.
- 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.