Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Post: 16th January, 1979 - The Second Pillar Collapses

On this day Mohammad Reza Pahlavi the Shah of Iran fled Iran with his family and relocated to Egypt. Political unrest had transformed the country into a revolution and shortly thereafter, the monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Having so recently saved Vietnam from Communism, it was a disastrous turn of events for Richard Nixon during what should have been his "victory lap" third term. His Government had been fully committed to the "Twin Pillar" cold-war strategy of supporting Saudi Arabia and Iran in order to control oil supplies in the Middle East. And during his first year as Eisenhower's Vice President, the Iranian oil industry was briefly nationalized under the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh before a US-backed coup d'état deposed Mosaddegh and brought back foreign oil firms.

As a result of this long standing personal entanglement the downward spiral of crisis continued to escalate across the whole region drawing Nixon into the picture as a Satanic bogeyman. Because the Arab masses were enraged that the Shah, a hated autocrat, had arrived in their country with an entourage, acting as if he was still Head of State in Exile and hoping that the US Government would restore him to power after a brief interruption to 2,500 years of continuous monarchy since the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.

With the Egyptian Government quickly losing control of events, Nixon readily agreed to provide sanctuary for the Shah at the American Embassy in Cairo whilst he could arrange some form of extraction. But this secret movement was betrayed, and protesters assembled outside the Embassy Gates, shouting revolutionary slogans. The Iranian Revolutionary Government demanded the return of the Shah to Iran to stand trial for his crimes. When Nixon refused the Embassy was overrun by militants and the whole Temple began to topple.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

April 21, 1914 – Americans Rebuffed at Veracruz

When Francisco Madero began a coup against Porfiro Diaz in 1910, it set off a reaction that spun Mexican government out of control. Madero was assassinated in another coup in 1913 led by General Victoriano Huerta, and the chaos invited numerous others to join with their own violent bids for rule. The United States of America's southern neighbor became destabilized, threatening American interests there. Attempting to stymie the spread of violence, the United States placed a weapons embargo upon Mexico enforced by US warships. This action proved only to aggravate the situation as nine American sailors (who did not speak Spanish) that went ashore in Huerta-held, Constitutionalist-besieged Tampico were arrested by Mexican soldiers (who did not speak English) thinking it was a raid. The fiasco ended US-Mexican diplomacy.

Word of a German arms shipment to Mexico on the SS Ypiranga came to President Woodrow Wilson, who had already asked Congress for authorization to enforce his policy but was now required to act quickly. He gave the order to seize the shipment’s destination, Veracruz, which would stop any chance of delivery. US Marines and Bluejackets from the USS Prairie came ashore and marched unopposed, though they had gathered a crowd of curious spectators.

Around noon, fighting began in the town with a stand at the rail yard, which was the signal for an uprising from around the town that had been organized by Commodore Manuel Azueta. When he had heard of General Victoriano Maass preparing a retreat of the Mexican forces in the face of American Marines, Azueta broke military form to relieve Maass of command and arrest him. The quiet as the Americans had come ashore was a feint, and they found themselves suddenly assaulted by Mexican irregulars armed with Mausers as well as bands of Mexican soldiers leading a general charge.

American Rear Admiral Frank Fletcher organized a relief force and sent it to shore, but the constant Mexican small arms fire made any headway impossible. Finally he resorted to heavy bombardment, covering the retreat of marines and sailors. The bombardment continued until that night, when more American ships and marines from Panama arrived, where the canal project was nearing completion. At dawn, the Americans again attempted to establish a beachhead and were again driven back as the ruined buildings proved even better cover for the defending Mexican forces than empty urban streets. Mexicans celebrated despite a heavy loss of life, including Commodore Azueta’s son Jose, who famously gave a rallying cry while defending the Escuela Naval Militar alongside more than one hundred cadets, “If an American enters my house, I will either kill him or me!”  In the end, the American fleet merely established a blockade, turning the Ypiranga back, and left the city with its wrecked harbor.

The military fiasco quickly became a political one. Latin American countries balked at what they considered an overbearing United States, especially Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia, the “ABC Powers.” A conference was held in Bogota that not only gave a collective voice to the many countries south of the United States but also began to resolve the Mexican Revolution by recognizing Carranza and his Constitutionalists. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine that had encouraged American intervention was declared to be as distrusted as European intrusion. Americans were chased out of many Latin American countries and came to refugee centers in San Diego and New Orleans to start new lives.

Americans were humiliated at their battlefield loss and quickly blamed Wilson, who lost much of his support in Congress. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels attempted to save face by emphasizing the bravery of the soldiers and ordering fifty-six Medals of Honor for the battle (half as many as was presented in the entire Spanish-American War). Marine Major Smedley Butler did not believe he had earned his medal and attempted to refuse it; Daniels returned with an order that he wear it at all public events.

Wilson narrowly lost the 1916 presidential election with voters instead turning to Republican Charles Hughes, who promised to bolster the military preparedness of America. The US Navy worked to defend American lives at sea, and the Army was put into practice chasing Pancho Villa after his raids of the Southwest. With so much nervousness from being weak at home and facing a unified front from the ABC Powers, Hughes discouraged Congress toward war after the release of the Zimmerman Telegraph, which served to expand the gulf that had been built up between the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

After the end of World War I, the United States turned toward European and Pacific markets and avoided expanding trade with Latin American countries outside of Panama. Issues with Japan became increasingly problematic as it expanded into China, where America had established markets. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, it was an opportunity for the United States to use its extensive military, which had continued to expand since 1916, in a decisive early strike against the Japanese naval forces at Okinawa.


In reality, the Mexican army did not participate in the Battle of Veracruz, which was quickly ended in American favor. The ABC Powers hosted the Niagara Falls Peace Conference, easing the diplomatic tension and persuading the United States to return the port that November. The occupation of Veracruz would be one of many in the “Banana Wars” before the Good Neighbor policy was adopted in 1934.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest Post: Communism Kicked out of the Classroom

Eugene Genovese is fired by Rutgers University from Today in Alternate History

September 26, 2012: On this day anti-American academic dissident Eugene Dominic Genovese died in political exile in Montreal, Canada, at the age of eighty-two. Born in Brooklyn, New York he was raised in a working-class ethnic Italian family. Genovese earned his Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in 1953 and his Master of Arts in 1955 and a Ph.D. in history in 1959, both from Columbia University.

Six years later, while teaching at a Rutgers University "teach-in" protest, he stated, "Those of you who know me know that I am a Marxist and a Socialist. Therefore, unlike most of my distinguished colleagues here this morning, I do not fear or regret the impending Viet Cong victory in Vietnam. I welcome it." His was an explosively controversial comment that was widely reported and generated a backlash of criticism. Politicians questioned Genovese's judgment and sensitivity to the responsibility inherent in being a Rutgers professor. But no state laws or university regulations had been broken, and Genovese was supported by fellow faculty members on grounds of academic freedom. 

The dispute was taken to another level of intensity when former Vice President Richard Nixon came out and called for his dismissal. He was supporting Wayne Dumont, a gubernatorial candidate that was challenging Governor Richard J. Hughes, and he decided to use Genovese's statement as a campaign issue. When Rutgers reluctantly fired Genovese, events began to unravel that would affect not only his career but those of Dumont, Hughes and of course Nixon.

Author's Note: In reality, Rutgers President Mason Gross refused to re-examine the university's position, and Dumont lost to Governor Hughes. President Gross' defence of academic freedom was honoured by the American Association of University Professors, who presented him and Rutgers with its Alexander Meiklejohn Award in 1966. Genovese moved to Canada and taught at Sir George Williams University in Montreal (1967-69). In 1968, Genovese signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

We suggest in this ATL he was never able to return to the United States because in OTL he died in Atlanta George as a preeminent historian of the American south. Also to note although active in the Communist youth movement he was expelled "for having zigged when [he] was supposed to zag." He later abandoned the Left and Marxism, and embraced traditionalist conservatism.

Sources - 

 Addendum from Prof. Jeff Provine: With politics proving its control over the classroom, colleges ended as havens for revolutionary thought. Campus practices and even curriculum became subject to oversight driven by tax-dollar-allocation from the Department of Education. Nixon won the 1968 election that fall and, though he ended the war in Vietnam, presided over the mass-arrest at Kent State in 1970 that led to the expulsion of dozens of students for "unlawful assembly" with control exerted not through the government (which would violate the First Amendment) but through bullied administrators.

Friday, July 11, 2014

April 20, 1303 – Sapienza University Leads to Industrial Revolution

After the rediscovery of the Code of Justinian in 1070 established new admiration for law rather than “might makes right,” Europeans began a new focus on studying law, philosophy, and theology to prove who was in the right. The first was founded in Bologna, Italy, where international students hired scholars to teach them how to be protected by (and from) city law. Guilds and kings began their own universities in Italy, France, and England, collections of like-minded individuals where the brightest minds were collected to train and teach. In 1303, concerned that intellectuals were gaining an upper-hand on theology, Pope Boniface VIII founded a university of his own, Sapienza – Universit√† di Roma, the University of Rome for Wisdom. Just before its release, the papal bull was edited to read “for the good of all men,” perhaps in an effort to ensure universal church authority, a point he had battled over with Phillip IV of France and led the king to march on Rome.

In 1431, Pope Eugene IV reorganized and revitalized the university, dividing it into schools for Law, Medicine, Philosophy, and Theology. Upon a review of Boniface’s words, Eugene decided to add a fifth school of Builders that would handle practical matters that affected commoners, primarily improving agriculture. It was a controversial action considered banal by many scholars, but faculty was readily available from the military engineers in the Venetian Wars (1416-1573). The calculating wits that produced war engines were applauded as they approached civilian issues of flood control, land reclamation, and hydropower.

As the school’s reputation improved, it attracted a young Leonardo da Vinci, who would become its first legendary faculty member. Da Vinci, who had apprenticed as an artist, had been disgraced by libel and became determined to found a new life in Rome. He initially applied to the school of medicine to teach from his knowledge of anatomy, but his sense of innovation (such as writing backwards to avoid ink-stains from his left-handedness) brought him to the Builders. Students followed his teaching in earnest, putting thousands of man-hours into inventions that da Vinci himself could have only drawn in his journals. Vincians experimented with submarines in the Tiber, flew parachutes, and drove spring-driven automated carts.

The legacy of da Vinci was largely considered to be charming toys until the attempted sack of Rome in 1527.  Charles V, the Spaniard Holy Roman Emperor, defeated France in battle in Italy but had run out of funds to pay his soldiers. They mutinied and demanded to march on Rome, where Pope Clement VII had previously given his support to France. Only five hundred Swiss Guard stood against the onslaught of some 20,000 mercenaries. The pope called for militia, and “like Archimedes at Syracuse,” the students and faculty of Sapienza brought out engines of war that had only been tested in games: experimental cannons, rotating scythes, collapsible towers, and flame-throwers. Legends stated that legions of automaton warriors marched, but it was just one, which was quickly defeated, although it did leave behind a stunning psychological effect.

Students were able to drive off Charles’ troops and save the city. All of Europe marveled at the applications of science, and other universities swiftly adopted their own schools of engineering. Outside of war, engineers found themselves employed in Sapienza’s original direction of improving the land for mankind in road-building, irrigation, and invention. The implementation of the printing press spread ideas far and wide, especially after the water-powered automated press began delivering thousands of pages each hour. As minds tackled electricity, steam, and chemistry, an industrial revolution swept over Europe. Papal Italy was at the forefront, becoming a thinktank that again won fame in war through technological superiority when armored wagons demolished Gustavus Adolphus’s Swedish invasion of Pomerania in 1630.

The expansion of technology also brought dangerous levels of new knowledge to the public, such as Pisan Galileo Galilei’s theory of a heliocentric Solar System. While the Catholic Church had affirmed its position with the Counter-Reformation on mass-printed pamphlets and manufactured goods, the scientific discovery had a great deal of theological backlash. Scholars at Sapienza studied Galileo’s theory, tested it, and recommended to the pope that it be upheld. With a public relations machine already in place, theologians quickly assembled doctrine to better explain the significance in the delicate mechanics of Creation.

Gradually, the power of kings in Catholic lands gave way to the political, religious, and economic power of the Pope and its many banking and industrial interests. Steam-powered ships from Portuguese and Spanish fleets created a global empire, and Protestants in Northern Europe routinely made alliances to carve out colonies of their own. Catholic colonies sometimes attempted to gain independence from their mother countries like the Protestants, but the risk of excommunication proved too great for nations at large to rebel against the Church’s commonwealth, which came to dominate South America, half of North America, Africa, and much of Asia.


In reality, the Sapienza РUniversità di Roma was founded primarily for the study of theology, and Pope Eugene IV focused on the four schools pertinent to the times. While universities in Italy focused on theology and medicine, universities in Northern Europe turned to arts and sciences, and it was common even in the Late Middle Ages for faculty and students to travel between the two for conferences. Today Sapienza is one of the largest universities in Europe, having over one hundred thousand students, and is listed in the top 3% of learning institutions in the world.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Guest Post: January 1st, 1781 - Pennsylvania Line Mutiny ends the Revolt

A general uprising in the Continental Army began to take shape in the Winter Camp at Jockey Hollow near Morristown in New Jersey. History would simply record that the catalyst was the killing of three officers in a drunken rage, but emotions actually ran far deeper than that, in actual fact it was a revolt-within-a-revolt.

The Commander of the Pennsylvania Line was General Anthony Wayne. His considerable forces comprised eleven regiments of some fifteen hundred men, but the expense of their maintenance was the issue since their conditions were utterly deplorable, as candidly reported in letters exchanged between Wayne and his superior officer, General George Washington, commander of the entire Continental Army. In previous years, both generals had cited corruption and a lack of concern on the part of state governments and the Continental Congress in fostering the poor conditions. But their futile attempts to "manage up" had ended in failure, and on New Year's Day, they lost control and destiny was being taken completely out of their hands. 

After a raucous New Year's Day celebration, soldiers from several regiments had armed themselves and prepared to depart the camp without permission. Officers led the remaining orderly regiments to quell the uprising, but after a few warning shots from the mutineers, the rest of the regiments fell into line with them. Captain Adam Bitting, commander of Company D, 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, was fatally shot by a mutineer who was trying to kill a lieutenant colonel. General Wayne tried to convince the soldiers to return to order peacefully, but he was also killed in the confusion.

Several days later, an emissary from General Sir Henry Clinton, British commander in New York City, arrived with a guide he had acquired in New Jersey. The agent brought a letter from Clinton offering the Pennsylvanians their back pay from British coffers if they gave up the rebel cause. News of these negotiations triggered a further uprising from the "New Jersey Line." Unlike the more conciliatory figure of Wayne, Washington saw a threat to his personal authority and responded with extreme force, executing many of the mutineers. When he was also killed, the game was up. Even before the uprising, the number of Americans under British Command had started to approach the Patriot troop count.
 Addendum by Jeff Provine: By 1783, the "united states" had given up their rebellion outside of a few guerrilla warriors in the South. Britain reconstructed the region, hanging all but a few of the signers of the "Declaration of Independence", which had truly been their own death warrants. Wealthy Patriots were stripped of their merchant fleets and plantations.

The American colonies continued to have troubled days with the British Empire, arguing to maintain slavery and to expand into Indian lands. Britain soon went to war with Napoleon, causing a spur of enthusiasm for the mother country as was seen with the conquest of New Orleans in 1806.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Guest Post: British Permanently Seize Cuba

9th June, 1762 - British Seize Cuba
On this day British forces begin the Siege of Havana and capture the city. 

When the Seven Years' War broke out with Spain plans had been made in Great Britain for such an amphibious attack on Havana. The expedition was under the command of George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, with Vice-Admiral Sir George Pocock as naval commander. This plan also called for Jeffrey Amherst to embark four thousand men from America to join Keppel and to assemble another force of eight thousand men for an attack on Louisiana. Being an important naval base in the Caribbean, this British victory dealt a serious blow to the Spanish navy, but it came at a very high price.

Because so many of her best quality veteran troops had died of yellow fever (irreplaceable losses causing a problem that would later bite during the American War of Independence), the negotiators of the Treaty of Paris were steadfastly unwilling to give up the island. Instead Spanish restrictions on trade, business, land were dropped, the economy boomed, slaves rushed in, and sugar production rocketed. 

In short British cashed in big time and Cuba, although majority Hispanophone, quickly became a prized asset of the Empire. Caribbean planters, local merchants and other members of the middle class profited also from this unspeakable human misery. But with an enlarged West Indian Lobby in Parliament the island elite had also created a beacon of slavery. Of course their negotiating position was every bit as stubborn as their counter-parts had been in Paris. And this insidious development would also have major consequences a century later when America's southern states declared their own independence. For the Book of Proverbs 1:19 says - "Such are the ways of all who get things by hurting others. Their desire for stolen riches takes away their own lives".


In reality Havana was subsequently returned to Spain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris that formally ended the war.

Addendum by Jeff Provine:

In the coming decades, the land-hungry Americans pushed south and west, gobbling up old claims from France to Louisiana and Spain to Florida. The British presence in Cuba was a constant threat with the Empire's naval superiority. The two nations faced all-out war time and again with tempers rarely cooled before "embers" fired up again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

April 19, 1861 – Baltimore Riots Lead to Maryland’s Secession

With four men taken seriously on the ballots of the 1860 election, Abraham Lincoln’s victory sent all those who had voted solidly for Southern Democrat John C. Breckenridge calling for secession. The matter escalated, and Washington sat unsure of what to do in a legally ambiguous situation. When the new Confederate state of South Carolina opened fire on the Union Fort Sumter sitting in their capital’s harbor, civil war officially began. Lincoln now had legal standing to fight on grounds of returning captured Federal property, and he called for 75,000 volunteers to serve. The call was answered widely in the North; Ohio itself produced enough to fill the national quota.

Getting these troops to the front was a serious logistical issue. Foremost in the military’s mind was protecting Washington, D.C., just across the river from Virginia, seceded as of April 17. All around the federal city, Marylanders wondered what would become of their state. The electors had voted for Breckenridge, and folks shared the spirit of the South. They were also seafarers and traders linked to the North, creating a delicate balance that troubled many in what would become known as the Border States. Most of the Western Marylanders had voted for John Bell of the Constitutional Union party, who wanted to keep the nation together under clear terms, but his carried state of Virginia had already given up such a dream. With no way to be certain on how the vote would go, Maryland officials such as Governor Thomas Hicks were hesitant to call for a formal vote.

The military, meanwhile, acted. Union troops were brought down from the North to the rail hub in Baltimore. There, they had to march across town, through streets lined with Confederate sympathizers, to board southwest-bound trains for Washington. On April 19, the 6th Massachusetts began the transition to find the path blocked by protestors. The protestors became violent, throwing stones and shouting at the Northerners to get out of their city. Troops opened fire out of panic, and the protesters charged them. Police began to swarm the area, but even they could not stop the fighting. Somewhere in the crowd, a series of protestors produced guns and returned fire.

The regiment’s commander Colonel Edward F. Jones determined that retreat was no longer an option. He had warned his troops the night before to “pay no attention to the mob.” The civilians had created themselves combatants, so he rallied his troops into formation to return fire. Baltimoreans were leveled, and the mob scrambled to escape. Jones directed the men in fixing bayonets and marching out firmly to their waiting transport to Washington.

With dead scattered in the streets, Marylanders rose up. After the raid on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown, many in the state had formed militias as a precaution against a violent slave revolt. The call went out, and that night the militia seized the railroad bridges leading into the city. Whether they had official authority from Hicks and Balitmore’s Mayor George Brown was kept vague, but they were effective in turning around a trainload of troops. Major General Robert Patterson, commander of the Department of Washington, ordered Brigadier General Benjamin Franklin Butler to secure the state. Militia countered with guerilla warfare, but the Union’s superior arms enabled them to seize the major cities and declare martial law.

During their retreat to Virginia, the politicians who escaped arrest in Maryland voted for secession. Brown was captured and held in Baltimore while Hicks hurried to Washington to plead for peace that proved impossible, as Lincoln would explain that “Union soldiers were neither birds to fly over Maryland, nor moles to burrow under it.” Secession was politically significant, but largely moot as the military filled the void of elected government. Chaos with torn up railroads and cut telegraphs ruled in the countryside while strict regulations kept the cities from turning back into riots.

The Southern cry was to liberate the Marylanders. Virginian Generals Beauregard and Johnston were able to fend off a Union invasion at Bull Run, while Union troops held off two Confederate assaults late that summer. Eventually the stalemate around the Potomac swayed toward the Confederate side as they managed to float an army into southern Maryland. Many in Congress called for the evacuation of Washington, but Lincoln refused to budge, knowing what a political calamity it would be. The city was turned into a fortress and besieged time and again, but its defenses were unable to be cracked. Union General McClellan gained great aplomb for his efforts in drawing Confederate attention away in his Peninsular Campaign.

After years of brutal warfare that depopulated much of Maryland, victories in the West enabled the North to actualize the Anaconda Plan formulated by retiring General Winfield Scott that would choke out Confederate resources. Measures to placate Maryland tested the most effective strategies for occupying the South for Reconstruction as the war came to a close. The use of militias prompted a clear legal definition of “peaceable assembly,” which caused Federal crackdown on fraternities such as the Klan as they grew up. National loyalty was rewarded, and subversion resulted in public humiliation rather than execution to prompt vengeance. Troublemakers found themselves as forced exiles on the Canadian borders. A strong military system invaded the American populace with a continuance of the draft that used young men in civil service. Blurry “American” ideals spawned wide-spread government corruption, but it would be generations before Americans would be willing to speak out against it.


In reality, the rioters limited themselves to cobblestones and bricks for ammunition. The brawl claimed sixteen lives: four soldiers and sixteen Baltimoreans. Maryland did, in fact, vote on secession April 29, and the legislature opposed it 53 to 13. Nonetheless, for the security of the nation, General Butler declared martial law, suspending habeas corpus and ensuring no further votes could be held. In commemoration of the riot, James Ryder Randall, Marylander living in Louisiana, wrote “Maryland, My Maryland,” which would later become the state song despite somewhat shocking lyrics. Union troops also secured the border states of Delaware and Missouri, the latter with more violence.

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