Alternative History

Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was one of the leaders of the War of Independence, and a tireless proponent of American Unity to his dying day, once famously declaring that he was an American first, and a Virginian second. He was the 2nd and 10th governor of independent Virginia, and the first Consul. A slave-owner, he nevertheless promoted abolition.

In 1797, while Governor of Virginia, he convinced the Congress to call a second Convention, which was no less successful than the first Convention. Understanding that Virginia's western territories were an impediment to American Unity, he attempted, unsuccessfully, to get the legislature of Virginia to renounce Transappalachian territories. They refused to do so, arguably because they had no wish to submerge their sovereignty in a broader Union.

In 1804, he achieved a brief, partial, victory in his quest. On that day, representatives of the states of Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New York formed the Washington Federation, named after Revolutionary War hero George Washington. Under the terms of the Federation, the Districts of Virginia were given co-equal status to the other states, as a counterbalance to Virginian power. The Federation proved unstable, however, particularly as abolitionists in Pennsylvania and New York conflicted with slave-owners in the southern portions. Pennsylvania and New York seceded as the short-lived Yorksylvania Republic in 1807. Virginian legislatures called for war to regain those states, but Jefferson opposed it, declaring that "A Union held together by force is not a Union worth preserving". Without New York and Pennsylvania to counterbalance Virginia, South Carolina and Maryland feared that they would be submerged by Virginian interests and broke away. Virginia and the trans-Appalachian states (Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan) retained the name of the Washington Federation for a short period, but soon the fiction was abandoned, and those states were made Districts once more.

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. His last words are said to have been "America lives on"