Friday, June 7, 2024

Guest Post: FBI Special Agent Richard Nixon

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History, inspired by the alternatehistory.com TL Special Agent Richard Nixon.

In 1972, Acting FBI Director Clyde Tolson was put in charge of the initial investigation which would eventually lead to the resignation of President Nelson Rockefeller.

Only three weeks had passed since J. Edgar Hoover died in the middle of a presidential election year. Long-time special agents L. Patrick Gray and Richard M. Nixon desperately wanted to succeed Tolson as the permanent director. First, they had to navigate internal politics at the Bureau, Senate nominations, and the wishes of the next president, whether Nelson Rockefeller or someone less predictable should he lose in the fall.

Nixon didn't fancy these long odds and his "dark" sense of paranoia convinced him that he would be overlooked for promotion. He strongly felt a sense of injustice having enjoyed some soaring moments at the epicenter of historic events. During his early years, for example, he was trusted to be put in charge of security for African American opera singer Marian Anderson's concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1939. The late J. Edgar Hoover had bitter remarks about Anderson and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped organized the concert, and said, "There is always trouble where ever these 'civil right' fighters go." The concert of course had no violent incidents. Rather than admitting he was wrong, Hoover praised Nixon for keeping the 75,000 attendees in line. From that special moment of favoritism onward, Nixon remained convinced he was destined to succeed Hoover.

But more than thirty long years past, Hoover's tainted legacy hang heavy. With Shirley Chisholm running as the first African American presidential candidate on an "unbought and unbossed" platform, it would certainly appear to segregationists that "the trouble" was growing. If a silent majority still respected Nixon, then it seemed to many liberals that he was a shadowy figure out of time, considered wholly unsuitable for the coming era. He understood the very narrow path to his dreams, but therein lie the life story of Richard M. Nixon--he needed a game-changer.

All three would-be Hoover successors were aware of Rocky's infidelities (they had also wire-tapped Martin Luther King, Jr., and had compromising records of his affairs). Whereas the indiscretions of FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, et al., had been overlooked to keep national confidence in the Oval Office, Nixon chose to go for this vulnerability for his own selfish purposes. He utterly despised the East Coast establishment as a result of childhood poverty preventing him going to Harvard. Driven by this bitter resentment, he made the fateful calculation to expose Rocky, and form a faustian pact with his Democratic rival, Ted Kennedy.

Ted K was no angel, and this calculated move would badly backfire on Nixon, however, as the reveal causing Rockefeller's scandal was traced back to Nixon, whose own shadowy actions came to the forefront. Reviews of Nixon's own shadowy actions came to the forefront, such as his effective damage-control covering up a 1969 car crash incident in Chippaquiddick for Ted Kennedy. Both men's public images were devastated.

Nixon's 36-year tenure at the Bureau ending in disgrace. In an angry resignation note he would state, "You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last report."

Author's Note:

In reality, Nixon initially hoped to join the FBI after graduating from Duke. He received no response to his letter of application, and learned years later that he had been hired, but his appointment had been canceled at the last minute due to budget cuts.

Provine's Addendum:

After the shocking 1972 election year in which Rockefeller managed to win amid protests and the lowest ever record turn-out, the American public wanted a clean slate for their elected officials. Squeaky-clean Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter (who wouldn't even do an interview for Playboy) won handily in 1976 and again in 1980 over former CIA Director George Bush. A faction of neo-conservative Republicans in 1980 sought to push Ronald Reagan for the election, but his history of divorce became a major issue at the Republican National Convention.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Guest Post: Black Warrior Affair leads to an earlier Spanish-American War

This article first appeared on Today in Alternate History exploring a theme from a number of related articles including WI: America Buys CubaWI: The US acquired Cuba as a Slave State? and WI Cuba acquired by US in 1854?. The point of divergence is that the U.S. Minister to Spain Pierre SoulĂ© maintains the secrecy of his meetings as per the expressed wishes of US Secretary of State William L. Marcy.

May 19, 1854 - 

The acquisition of a Cuban slave state saved the Union from disintegrating into Civil War.

Southern expansionists seized this fleeting opportunity to break a political deadlock with abolitionists. It was a moment perfectly crafted for them by the timing of "Bleeding Kansas" occurring during the presidency of Franklin Pierce, a pro-Southern Democrat. A dystopian vision of a future Civil War, this outbreak of violence centered on the question of whether Kansas, upon gaining statehood, would join the Union as a slave state or a free state.

The situation in Cuba was vastly different than newly settled Kansas: the majority of the population were slaves, an institution that had been part of the island for centuries. In the 1800s, independence attempts were underway to overthrow colonial authorities and Africanize the island. Southerners were apprehensive that events in the Republic of Haiti would repeat in Cuba. They cynically used this fear to turn the tables on Northern abolitionists. In so doing, they brought a fresh problem which had been hotly discussed in relation to Mexico: the assimilation of Catholic-faith, Spanish-speaking citizens. A secondary issue was that Cuban statehood would likely destroy the mainland domestic sugar industry, especially in nearby Florida. A further obstacle was the suspension of the neutrality laws being demanded by the Democratic majority on the foreign relations committee, Senators Mason, Douglas, and Slidell.

The biggest problem was Spain would never sell Cuba as it was its last province of its once great empire in the Americas and much Spanish pride and stability depended on holding Cuba. Disregarding these problems, the Southern expansionists' official rationale for annexing the island was recorded in the Ostend Manifesto. National security was the documented reason "justified in wresting" the island from weak Spanish hands. This was intended to prevent Britain or France from adding to Cuba their Caribbean possessions. Trade and sovereignty became the primary issues when Cuban authorities in Havana seized the steamer Black Warrior on a regular trading route from New York City to Mobile, Alabama. Ironically, or fittingly, cotton was the commodity in dispute with the consignees, Charles Tyng and Co. The larger truth of course was that it was trade and sovereignty were driving a wedge inside the Union.

The voyage of the Black Warrior followed customary practices, but a new factor was the over-zealousness of the recently appointed governor, Juan de la Pezuela. A regressive, conservative figure out of time, he insisted upon imposing the peculiarly Spanish methods of navigation laws in Cuba to American shipping, demanding a cargo manifest that the captain refused, having never been asked it before. Cuban authorities seized the ship in response. While this international dispute was symptomatic of the political conditions at the time, the intransigence of Pezuela and the machinations of Southern expansionists clicked into place to ensure the outbreak of war.

The ultimate American war aim was the control of trade across the Gulf or even Caribbean, but her naval forces were ill-equipped for this task. Pezuela was confident, and American victory was far from assured. War dragged on, but as the tide turned toward newly built American ironclads, Spain became interested in a peaceful settlement before it lost more holdings, perhaps even to the Philippines in the Pacific. Victory satisfied not only doves in Congress but also Southerners feeling their ports more secure with American Cuba. Abolitionists eager for statehood in Minnesota were satisfied in 1858 with the addition of another free state, required for maintaining Congressional parity per the Missouri Compromise crafted by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky in 1820. 

The genius of the Southern expansionists' solution was to be found in their knowledge of the superior strength of the naval forces under Queen Isabella II. As they had correctly anticipated, the Union was forced to build a large navy in order to recover from a series of humiliating defeats. For ease of access from Florida, these new ships were operated from Southern ports and usually were commanded by Southern officers, creating a new military balance across the Mason-Dixon Line. These heavily armed vessels would prevent a Northern army from attacking should Dixie threaten to secede from the Union.

Author's Note:

In reality, while the Black Warrior Affair was resolved peacefully, it fueled the flames of Southern expansionism. Whereas the lack of secrecy surrounding the Ostend Manifesto led to exposure, denunciation, and creation of rallying cry for anti-slavery Northerners. Marcy himself summed this up in a letter to Senator Mason dated July 23, 1854, "To tell you an unwelcome truth, the Nebraska question has sadly shattered our party in all the free states and deprived it of that strength which was needed and could have been much more profitably used for the acquisition of Cuba."

Provine's Addendum (with inspiration from comments by Philip Ebbrell):

The Spanish-American War turned to favor American victories just in time to assure Franklin Pierce his bid for reelection in 1860. Culture shock followed the war with Cuban representatives in Washington, leading to a surge in the xenophobic and populist Know Nothing Party, who rallied for such things as an official national language and defense of religious freedom from alleged "Romanist" conspiracies. Catholic immigrants who had typically voyaged to cities on the northern Atlantic Coast began shifting the immigration pattern to Cuba as local Know Nothings carried out campaigns promoting "American-only" ideas.

The debates in Congress took a sharp turn in 1862 with the French invasion of Mexico. While Emperor Napoleon III had anticipated potential friendship in the United States as partners in recolonizing Latin America, Americans rallied behind the Monroe Doctrine. The US demanded France leave the occupation zone, which was an impossibility for Napoleon since the entire matter had been one of honor due to unpaid debts to begin with. The Franco-American War started soon after, lasting several months until it was obvious that the French Navy could not compete with a modernized American fleet thousands of miles closer to home. Mexico became liberated, yet it felt tremendous influence from the US and its ships massed in the Yucatan Channel. Britain would prove the ultimate winner of these nineteenth century wars in which it did not participate, establishing far-reaching colonies in the Pacific that expanded its political and economic footprint.

War had distracted America at large from the issue of slavery for years more, but peace brought promises of change. After much effort from numerous factions in Congress, a final reform in the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery while also instilling legal groundwork for a racial code that kept much of the same institutions in place. Slaves were freed, but many of them ended up working in "plantation towns" or, in industrialized cities, "factory towns" where the populace lived in rented property and shopped in stores controlled by wealthy land-owners. Racial tensions kept the working class frequently pitted against each other until the Workers Revolution of the early twentieth century.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Guest Post: Roger Mudd Anchors

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History.

The famous Roger Mudd interview undermined the presidential hopes of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1979. Kennedy later accused him of stumping him to boost his chances of succeeding Walter Cronkite as CBS Anchor. In this alternate scenario, Mudd does a 'Perry Mason' on Kennedy with far-reaching changes at CBS over the next 24 years.

March 9, 1981 -

The ageing Evening News anchorman Walter Cronkite was approaching his 65th birthday, the mandatory retirement age at CBS. After 19 years in the seat, he had gained the authority of a religious leader or founding father. Now he would have to make way for one of his younger colleagues, either his fellow Texan Dan Rather, Roger Mudd, or Mike Wallace. At a precipitous moment for the fourth estate, it proved to be an impossible choice to replace the pillar of American broadcast journalism, and so CBS chose both Mudd and Rather.

On the eve of his retirement, Cronkite appeared on The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson. In his farewell statement, he announced, "This is but a transition, a passing of the baton. A great broadcaster and gentleman, Doug Edwards, preceded me in this job, and two others will follow. And that's the way it is: Friday, March 6, 1981. I'll be away on assignment, and Roger Mudd will be sitting in here next week. Good night." The following night, Carson did a comic spoof of his on-air farewell address.

Mudd and Rather combining forces made sense as the credibility threats to instant news coverage were immense. It might well have been the end of an era, but perhaps even more significantly, the beginning of a new one under President Reagan. As the "most trusted man in America," Cronkite had reported events from 1937 onwards, a distant, more innocent time, when the mainstream media was much tamer. Even if he was a throwback to that era, he had been at the very front of a new generation of reporters who held the US government to account. Since Johnson and Nixon, a third transition was underway in which the US government fought back. There was a pause in this power struggle with the fourth estate during the troubled terms of their lackluster successors, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, both of whom experienced low approval rates. However, Cronkite's replacement(s) would have to report on the recently elected Ronald Reagan, a charismatic and articulate former actor who was arguably even more media-savvy than journalists. After two decades of crises in the US government, it was that the wave of popularity would usher in a new dawn for America.


Although Rather had been favored, Mudd was certainly a formidable reporter with a strong personal connection to history and American's lived experiences. He was a direct descendant of the doctor imprisoned for treating Lincoln's assassin. Mudd's first live TV studio interview was with Dorothy Counts, a black teenage girl who had suffered racial harassment at her otherwise all-white high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also anchored the coverage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom for CBS. However, his trajectory really took off after one of the most famous moments in the history of television, the so-called "Roger Mudd Moment." This occurred when he stumped the Democrat candidate Ted Kennedy with the question, "Senator, why do you want to be President?" If this was a low point for the Kennedy family, it was followed by a remarkable moment of solidarity in journalists as Mudd and Rather unexpectedly agreed to co-host the show.

To satiate Rather's ego, he would be prime, promoted to the top-tier position of managing editor. Signing off on his first broadcast, Mudd explained that Rather would be on air the following week, quoting from the Book of Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." This arrangement, while testy in its toughest moments, added an extra weight of credibility and was proven to pass the test of time. Audiences and producers alike were impressed as Mudd insisted Rather stay on air to present the news seven minutes late after a delayed tennis match featuring Stephie Graff.

Mudd's record of hard-hitting interviews contributed in the power struggle with the Bush dynasty, from the 1988 Iran-Contra interview with the then-vice president to the later Abu Ghraib scandal and ultimately Dubya's disputed service record during the Vietnam War. The Bush family would join the Kennedy family in castigating CBS, with Dubya blaming Mudd in particular for stopping his re-election in 2004. Following Mudd's passing in 2021, Rather's summary was customarily monosyllabic. "Courage," was all he said.

Author Note:

In reality, CBS awarded the job to Rather and Mudd chose to leave CBS News and he accepted an offer to join NBC News.

Provine's Addendum:

Commentators at the time and historians alike long debated the outcome of the close 2004 election, whether it was a widespread temperament or a handful of Ohioan voters that sealed the election for Kerry. Either way, many agreed with George W. Bush that the turning point in the campaign stemmed from another "Roger Mudd Moment." The Electoral College was heavily criticized as Kerry did not win the popular election by millions, leading to the 28th Amendment assuring an overall popular election for the presidency.

While largely uneventful through the years of working to disentangle the United States from the Middle East, the Kerry administration proved incredibly unpopular as the national economy fell into steep decline in 2008. Although many Democrats argued that Kerry's recovery plans would have worked given more time, there was no time before the election in November that swept John McCain into office. McCain would return in 2012, narrowly defeating Hillary Clinton. The Democrats returned to the White House in 2016 with the election of Barack Obama, whose longtime service in the Senate had established connections that led to major reforms in healthcare, immigration, and bank regulation. Obama's handling of the 2020 COVID pandemic became widely praised, part of a list of credentials that would win him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Guest Post: Scipio Nasica averts Third Punic War

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History proposed by Eric Oppen.


April 10, 153 BC -

An embassy to Carthage led by Roman statesmen Scipio Nasica negotiated terms of co-existence that averted the outbreak of a Third Punic War. An opponent of further conflict, he had seen for himself the rich opportunity in her growing economy and strength.

In many ways, it was an unexpectedly positive outcome for both rival powers. The mission might well have reached a very different conclusion had Marcus Porcius Cato not drowned during the sea journey. Cato was a veteran of the Punic Wars and contributed to the decisive and important victory of Sena at the Battle of the Metaurus, where Hasdrubal was slain. He had consistently encouraged the Romans to attack Carthage, famously ending every speech in the Forum with "Carthago delenda est" ["Carthage must be destroyed"]. His role in the embassy was likely to prevent any kind of accommodation with the opposing peace faction led by Scipio. Some historians wonder whether Cato's death had been a maritime accident at all, since the outcome was a resilient win for Scipio's perspective.

Institutionally, Carthage's Senate had a powerful caucus that was half-hearted in the pursuit of their wars. The truth was, she was greatly weakened by the Second Punic War and no longer able to threaten Sicily or Sardinia. Her politicians knew that the Roman Republic would continue to expand across the Mediterranean world and an accommodation was necessary to avoid destruction. The cost of their survival would be annexation and slow Romanization offset by the granting of preferential trading privileges.

This long-term peace settlement enabled the economically prosperous commercial city-state to persist in its current form, albeit as a vassal state of Rome. Ultimately, the emergence of a Roman province of Carthage would greatly strengthen the projection of power in North Africa and also in Spain. Long-term benefits would also be seen elsewhere. With Carthaginian naval expertise, Roman trade routes encouraged conquest down the west coast of Africa, establishing ports to trade with, then dominate, the rich gold fields of Ghana. Roman victories in Europe would lead to expansion into Gaul, Germania, Britannia, and then the Balkans. This was before an Eternal Peace was formed with the Persians very much in the collaborative spirit of long-dead Scipio.

Whereas Cato was opposed to the spread of Hellenic culture, Scipio realized that the expansion of the Roman Republic could be boosted by absorbing civilizations such as Greece and Carthage without threatening to destroy the rugged simplicity of the conventional Roman type. In truth, there would be some cultural exchange from annexing Carthage that would make for a different Rome, with Baal Hammon included among the pantheon as a form of Jupiter as well as the issue of child sacrifice. Like their Phoenician ancestors, the Carthaginians offered their children to "pass through the flames" in offering to the fertility gods like Baal for abundant crops. Roman propaganda during the Punic Wars denounced the practice, but a form of it evolved into Roman religion as a method to test the worthiness of children that might otherwise undergo the commonplace Roman practice of exposure.

Author Note:

In reality, the Third Punic War systematically destroyed the city and killed its inhabitants; only on the last day did they take prisoners, 50,000 of them, who were sold into slavery. The conquered Carthaginian territories became the Roman province of Africa, with Utica as its capital. It was a century before the site of Carthage was rebuilt as a Roman city.

Provine's Addendum:

Part of the Pax Aeterna (or so the generations-long treaty with the Parthian Empire was called; Roman armies adventured as far as the Baltic Sea and the Congo River aboard ships in the navy, improved by Carthaginian seamanship) was to maintain a series of buffer states to absorb friction between the two superpowers. Pompey the Great had conquered Syria and Judea in the Third Mithridatic War along with Pontus after Mithridates VI allied with the declining Armenian Empire, which looked to become a client state. Though many in the Senate called to expand ever eastward, a far-thinking faction determined to make the peace with Parthia by ensuring Armenia, Osroene at the headwaters of the Euphrates, and the restored independent kingdom of Judea remained independent. Both sides kept ambassadors at each court, but tradition forbade intrigue beyond trade and favoritism.

Client states along the Silk Road meant another set of middlemen for trade, driving up prices for Romans at home. Gradually the sea route to India through the Red Sea expanded, driven largely by descendants of Carthaginians. Soon Hindu gods would find influence in the Roman pantheon as well.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Guest Post: Churchill's Armed Revolt

This dystopian TL about Churchill's Armed Revolt first appeared on Today in Alternate History, blending related ideas from three scenarios, Robbie Taylor's Mosley's New Party, Chris Oakley's Mosley's Rebellion and Jeff Provine's December 30, 1947 - King Michael Calls for Aid.

 

February 28, 1938 - Mosley Lights the Flame of Civil War

A very disunited United Kingdom was ruled from 10 Downing Street by Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet, with his Black Shirts only in control of the capital city and nearby Home Counties.

Bitterly disappointed by the orthodoxy of the two main parties in British politics, he had founded the New Party. His ranks had swelled with the unemployed as the full effects of the Great Depression hit England. Brought to office by violent unrest, he could not build out his popularity from the base of radical supporters in London. Inevitably, his rise to power only accelerated the cycle of political violence, brought about by frustration that he was unable to implement a Nazi-style program of economic change.

With the rest of the British Isles in open revolt, his Fascist government was dependent upon the shared interests of an unholy alliance of the poor and the Establishment. Articulating false, incompatible promises to "Make Britain Great Again" and yet preserve both the Empire and the Class System, he could only maintain his premiership by making common cause with continental fascists Mussolini of Italy, Franco of Spain, and Hitler of Germany.

Following a disingenuous call for aid to protect King Edward VIII and the Royal Family, anti-Comitern troops from the continent began to slowly arrive in London. Mosley's enemies were horrified and warned of a slow foreign takeover that would never have been logistically possible during wartime. A Third English Civil War began as Churchill led fellow MPs into a rival government, but there was a much bigger picture as both sides had foreseen. Within a few short years, much of Europe from France to Ukraine would be occupied by the jack-booted Fascists as Germany invaded to the east, west, and east again. Local resistance groups broke out across the continent, but nowhere was resistance more fierce than in the north of England and Scotland where irregular forces under Winston Churchill carried on the struggle for freedom in the desperate hope of American salvation.

Unfortunately for Churchill's rebels, the FDR's US government was firmly focused on its own rebuilding program via the New Deal and had even adopted an official policy of strict neutrality. This position of strategic ambiguity logically followed on from George Washington's dictum of disentanglement, the public's desire for peace after the horrors of the Great War, and perhaps a deeper sense that Old Europe had to look after, and pay for, its own security.

Author Note:

In reality, Fascist violence under Mosley's leadership culminated in the Battle of Cable Street, during which anti-fascist demonstrators including trade unionists, communists, anarchists, and British Jews successfully prevented the BUF from marching through London's East End. Mosley was imprisoned in May 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, and the BUF was banned. He was released in 1943 and, politically disgraced by his association with fascism, moved abroad in 1951, spending most of the remainder of his life in Paris and two residences in Ireland.

Provine's Addendum:

The fires of the British Civil War spread quickly throughout its empire. While Mosley had campaigned to strengthen the empire, many of the colonies took the distractions in the mother country as a chance to do whatever they pleased. Canada and Australia faced their own divisions with each side of the debate dispatching troops to the British Isles to fight alongside Churchill or Mosley. Island colonies and those in Africa found themselves without support in funds and materials as they had, leading to many local officials establishing warlord-like systems to maintain order. India, the great jewel of the empire, erupted into revolution. While leaders like Mahatma Gandhi called for peace, the subcontinent soon saw its own factions establishing numerous independent nations while areas with sufficient British influence attempted to maintain control of their own lands.

With Japan extending its empire by occupying former French and Dutch colonies and then invading the eastern USSR as it dragged on in war with Germany in the west, the world was truly at war. Only the Western Hemisphere seemed at peace, but with supply networks interrupted and global economies struggling, even that seemed tenuous.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Guest Post: Sam Houston Saves the Nationality of Texas

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History with input from Charles K. Alexander II, Robbie Taylor, Brian Hartman, Allen W. McDonnell and Jeff Provine.

Feb 1, 1861 -

Delegates at a feisty state convention in Austin, Texas, voted overwhelmingly to secede from the Union. This choice was largely driven by the imperative to protect the institution of slavery as well as a general feeling that Washington had failed to live up to promises of inclusion into the country as part of annexation.

Sovereignty votes were always prone to other political considerations; notably, the US Senate had voted down the original Texas Annexation Treaty not wanting to add a slave-owning state to the Union. This was despite the sponsorship of President John Tyler, who at that stage was not aligned to any political party, having broken with the Whigs. Conversely, this particular vote in 1861 was taken against the fervent wishes of Southern Unionist Governor Sam Houston. He had only allowed the special session of the Texas Legislature to sit after it had become clear that the citizens would likely take matters into their own hands. Ultimately his voice would not be without influence. At least his powerful arguments partially succeeded because Texas would not join the Confederacy or send troops (or even sell horses) to aid its cause. If Houston had saved the nationality of Texas then perhaps it was at the cost of dooming the Cotton South to the inevitable defeat that he had predicted.

Instead, the reconstituted Republic of Texas fortified its borders and waited out the civil war between the States. Tragic events would subsequently validate this prudent choice. With Union gunboats starting to control the Mississippi River, it would have been logistically impossible for Texas to supply the Cotton South. Similarly, the Union naval blockade would prevent exports of Southern cotton via the port at Galveston. The arguments for annexation had been based on these self-evident facts, a weak economy and a tiny, divided standing army that made Texas defenseless. Indeed, from the very beginning, Houston had felt that the newly independent country, lacking hard currency and still facing threats from Mexico, could not survive on its own. He would die two years later still convinced that he was right because the Cotton South was facing early collapse as he had predicted. He, like Union President Abraham Lincoln, would be proven to be quite wrong in their prediction of the eventual outcome of the secession crisis.

The chief reason was that Virginia had led many border states and joined with Texas in a state of neutrality as the Federal government worked to resolve a compromise. Meanwhile, the Cotton South descended into the long and grinding Civil War from Tennessee to Florida and Louisiana. Paramilitary forces conducted bloody guerrilla combat in neutral states such as Missouri, North Carolina, Arkansas, and, especially, Texas turning most of the white populations in those states against the Confederacy. These factors certainly contributed to the early Southern defeat. Meanwhile, Francis Lubbock, the new President of the Republic of Texas, worked feverishly to keep the calm after massacres of German immigrants and rebelling slaves. On a positive end, the "galvanized Yanks" (Confederate POWs who volunteered to serve in forts in the West) solved the issues of Indian raids with a seeming surplus of willing soldiers.

Despite being a root cause of the conflict, the thorny issue of slavery remained unresolved, although perhaps Lincoln was waiting for the right time to issue the Emancipation Declaration. The winner of the 1864 presidential election would certainly have to deal with this matter and also to decide whether to launch a continuation war in order to force readmittance to the union. An invasion of Texas was eminently doable from a military perspective, but the decision boiled down to two overriding political factors: the Union's appetite for a second conflict and the principle of secession, which relied upon legal interpretation of the annexation treaty from 1840. The former Commanding General of the U.S. Army, George McClellan, who had served with distinction during the Mexican-American War, was nominated by the Democrats. He focused his election campaign on plans for the Reconstruction of the Cotton South after the surrender of P.G.T. Beauregard. Ironically, a military man would make a non-military choice.

There was a palpable sense that a change of presidential leadership was necessary to reconstruct the Union because it was Lincoln's election that had triggered the secession crisis, and he had extended the reach of Federal Government (e.g. by illegally suspending habeas corpus). Lincoln looked to the lame-duck precedent of Tyler who dispatched the annexation treaty by courier on his very last day in office to avoid his successor James K. Polk having to face resistance when both of them agreed with the decision. Polk could have recalled the couriers but chose not to. Lincoln therefore decided to issue the Emancipation Declaration on his very last day in office. Other weighty calculations were also in process. Understanding the national sentiment of "He got us into a war but couldn't get us out of it," Texas sued for peace and recognition as an independent nation on the very same day. President McClellan, unwilling to spill more American blood capturing another rebel state, formally recognized the Republic and granted their request for independence. Perhaps the greatest significance of these tumultuous events would be the population movement, with many German descendants leaving for the Union, and other anti-Federals arriving in search of a future outside of Washington's control.

Author's Note:

In reality, Houston was largely neutral, claiming that if Texas were to secede, it should at most revert to its independent status as a republic.

Provine's Addendum:

Perhaps the most famous "Galvanized Yank" of all would be General Robert E. Lee. While Virginia, like other Border States, never formally seceded from the Union, many Virginians sympathized with the Southern cause. Lee's oaths to the United States, however, kept him from accepting Winfield Scott's offer of being the commander of what some felt was a "conquest of the South." Instead, Lee was sent westward, where he recognized the outrageous misconduct of soldiers and failures to meet the conditions of treaties with Native American nations. Rather than appealing to Lincoln, and then McClellan, for resources that were badly needed on the fronts in the East, Lee set about bolstering trading posts, establishing new ones, and encouraging settlers and tribal representatives toward self-sufficiency in crops and locally manufactured goods. His boldest move was protecting bison herds by labeling them an economic good in the territories and thus under federal governance with the Constitution's supremacy in trade. Proper fencing and years of domestic feeding drops contained the herds against their natural instinct to migrate, leaving many of the estimated two million bison still roaming in the Great Sioux Nation reserve.

Note:

A popular story states that Confederate General Robert E. Lee, noticing that Ely S. Parker was an American Indian (specifically, Seneca), remarked, “I am glad to see one real American here.” Parker later recalled, “I shook his hand and said, 'We are all Americans.'”

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Guest Post: President Garner and the Japanese American War 1937-1942

This post first appeared on Today in Alternate History by Allen W. McDonnell.

The side on impact of a drunk driver with the staff car of General Douglas MacArthur on December 7, 1931, put his chauffeur in the hospital and killed the general outright from a broken neck.

The ripple effects of this death were subtle but significant nonetheless.

When the Armaments Board recommended that the US Army adopt the 0.276 caliber Garand rifle as the semi-automatic infantry rifle and the competing 0.276 caliber Pedersen carbine for cavalry and parachute troops, there was now no prohibition from Douglas MacArthur to stifle the innovation. The Armaments board had made their recommendation after several years of testing and a cost analysis that proved the infantry and cavalry armed with the new semi-automatic weapons would be able to carry more ammunition and kill more of the enemy because, not only was the ammunition itself lighter, the weapon chambered to use that ammunition was also lighter and less fatiguing for the soldiers carrying it. In fact, the 0.276 Garand was fitted to carry 10 rounds of ammunition internally while a heavier duty version chambered for the .30-06 ammunition then-used by the Springfield bolt action rifle would not only weigh nearly a pound more, it would also only hold 8 cartridges in its internal magazine. Arguments that the bolt action rifles had a greater range were dismissed by the board as the larger range was only useful for sniper tactics. Infantry battle ranges rarely exceeded 300 yards effective range, and, on those rare occasions when it extended out to 600 yards, the 0.276 caliber had ballistics almost identical to the heavier .30-06. The kind of tactics that employed blocks of infantry standing shoulder-to-shoulder attacking an opposing infantry with plunging fire at 1,000 yards had gone out of style in the 1880's with the universal adoption of breech loading weapons. World War I had proven the futility of such arrangements of men who would be slaughtered en masse by enemy artillery and machine gun fire if such formations were attempted.

The Armaments Board was made up of younger officers who fully grasped that the role of infantry in 1931 was as part of a combined arms force. In the face of enemy artillery and machine guns, the mode of attack was a very loose formation supported by friendly artillery, machine guns, and, in a fully modern arrangement, tanks and aircraft as well. When they made their formal recommendation to the US Army in 1932, it was accepted, but action was slow due to the financial situation of the Army in the midst of the Great Depression. Even with the financial constraints, however, once the decision was made the Army placed a long-term contract with the two manufacturers to purchase 60 Garand and 40 Pedersen 0.276 weapons a month. They also instituted a program to rebuild the vast number of Springfield bolt action .30-06 weapons stored in the Massachusetts arsenal with new chambers and barrels to use the same 0.276 ammunition. For simplicity, the Pedersen version of the ammunition was selected with its thin paraffin coating that sealed the cartridges against moisture while also providing a lubrication effect on both the bullet and brass casing when the cordite ignited, melting it instantly. This not only allowed the shell casing to be ejected easily, it had the side effect of reducing wear on the rifling in the barrel, making it last longer before the barrel had to be replaced.


In mid-1932 when the World War I veterans protested in Washington D.C. as the newspaper labeled 'Bonus Army,' cooler heads prevailed, and a peaceful settlement over pension payments was reached with the government. [OTL the 'Bonus Army' was routed by General MacArthur with six tanks, horse-mounted cavalry and thousands of infantry forcibly removing them from the parks of Washington D.C. With the use of military grade Adamsite vomiting gas and fixed bayonets by the infantry supported by cavalry troops acting to corral the sickened civilians, two WW I veterans died of wounds. A pregnant woman overcome by the vomit gas miscarried with her baby stillborn and a 12-week-old infant also died of chemical poisoning.]

As a negotiated compromise, Congress relented in August and agreed to pay the soldiers of the 'Bonus Army' half of the face value of the bonds immediately and to issue new one-year bonds for the remainder of the face value to be paid in 1933. This peaceful resolution cost the government far less than political costs to Republican President Hoover and Democratically controlled House of Representatives from the OTL action by General MacArthur would have cost them. While the settling of the Bonus Army issues put a positive light on the president, it wasn't enough to win him re-election; the nine states he carried still left FDR with a solid electoral majority and a popular vote win of 52 percent to 47.5 percent with minor candidates soaking up the remainder.

FDR's triumph was short-lived, however, when on February 15, 1933 the president-elect was assassinated by Giuseppe Zangara in Miami, Florida, where he was recuperating from his hard-fought campaign. The unemployed bricklayer was a short man of only 5'1" height and had elbowed his way through the crowd during FDR's speech. When the speech ended around 9:30, the crowd eased back, allowing the determined Zangara to eel his way up to the convertible where FDR sat and fire five shots from his revolver at point-blank range, striking him three times before bystanders wrestled his aim away for the last two shots.

Never before had a president-elect died between the election and taking the oath of office, and, while some attempted to create a constitutional crisis, vice-president-elect James Nance Garner quickly proclaimed that he would take the oath of office as Vice President and then immediately take the oath of office as President on Inauguration Day to satisfy all the technicalities of becoming president on March 4, 1933, just two weeks after the Assassination. In the meantime, President Hoover and Vice President Curtis would serve out their terms until that same date. This satisfied even the most extreme theoretical issues with Garner becoming president; he had been duly elected vice president, and, by accepting that status on inauguration day, he would automatically become president as the office would be vacant when it came time for Herbert Hoover to step down. Some scholars even proposed that the way the offices changed hands was designed for exactly this scenario by the Founding Fathers because the office of Vice President changes hands first, and then the office of President changed hands.

On March 4, 1933, Garner formally accepted the office of Vice President from Curtis; then a minute later, he accepted the office of President from Herbert Hoover, leaving the office of Vice President vacant.

While Garner was not in favor of deficit spending on the large scale by the Federal Government, he was a believer in federal 'investments' in big ticket infrastructure projects. Three of these were of major effect.

The Hoover Dam in Black Canyon was already far along by the time he took office as President, with construction beginning in mid 1931. The dam was completed and put into service by President Garner on September 30, 1935, just four and a quarter years after ground was broken.

The second was the Lockport Hydroelectricity Project. This consisted of deepening and widening the Erie Canal from Lockport, New York, all the way to Lake Erie proper. While that was being done, a large artificial reservoir was dug on the upland side of the Niagara Escarpment north of Lockport, installing pen-stocks to generate power from the fifty-foot difference in water level from the upper and lower canal. The lower canal passed through or over many creeks and several rivers east of Lockport, allowing the additional water to easily drain down slope to Lake Ontario without causing local issues in the process. Most of the added flow proceeded through buried drainage pipes directly to 18 Mile Creek, which flows from Lockport to Olcott, New York, on the coast of Lake Ontario eighteen miles east of the mouth of the Niagara River. Up until this point, 18 Mile Creek had served mostly as the winter diversion flow-way for the Erie Canal water to be drained so that maintenance of the locks and removal of submerged debris could take place with minimal water in the canal bed. Each of the three pen-stocks at Lockport produced 15 MW of electricity and because they passed directly into the diversion channel they could operate all winter even when the sluice gates around the Lockport portion of the canal were closed. The reason the Lockport power project was limited to 45 MW when the Niagara power Queenston-Chippewa set of 10 generators produced 450 MW was directly related to height. While the Lockport plant exploited a 50-foot altitude change, the Queenston-Chippewa generators exploited a 300 -foot altitude change by carrying water 20km down the rim of the Niagara Gorge instead of exploiting just the 160-foot altitude change next to the famous falls themselves.

With the Grand Opening of the new Canadian Fourth Welland Canal in 1932, relatively large ocean-going freighters could now transit up the Saint Lawrence River and visit ports like Chicago, Illinois; Duluth, Minnesota; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Detroit, Michigan; as well as Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio, on Lake Erie. This opportunity to increase trade between the heartland of the USA and the world at large reinforced President Garner's stance that tariffs were bad for business and led him to keep the rates as low as possible in the face of pressure from Congress. In 1935 as an addition to the Lockport Hydroelectricity project President Garner asks Congress to fund the Olcott and Lockport Canal and a new massive ship lock at Lockport in place of the north 'flight of five' to accommodate the largest ocean going freighters which will allow America an independent route from the Canadian Welland Canal. The new 'Laker Locks' will lift ships the same 50 feet as the Erie Canal locks 34-35 but they will be 1,050 feet long, 110 feet wide identical to the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal. This will give access to the four lower lakes to any cargo or other ship that can pass through the Panama canal. The new canal segment from Lockport to Olcott is less than 13 miles as the crow flies, meaning that the construction of the new 'Laker Locks' would be the most time consuming part of the whole process.

Congress approved the new canal-and-lock project the second week of November, 1935, and construction began in May, 1936, completing in July, 1938, with the grand opening on the Fourth of July. While the Erie Canal was a New York State project, the new canal was under the US Army Corps of Engineers all the way from the Lake Erie terminus at Buffalo on one end to Lake Ontario terminus at Olcott on the other. Erie barge traffic was still permitted full access to the system, but the federal government was in charge of maintenance over their portion of the system. The federal government even forced the sale of the Erie locks 34-35 at Lockport so that both sets of locks would be under the care of the Corps of Engineers rather than two competing authorities operating the parallel, but differently sized, lock sets.

With the rise of standing armies in Europe and Asia from 1933 onward, President Garner asked Congress to fund a major expansion of the US Army and Navy in September 1935 so that, in the event of a war, the nation would not need months or years to train and equip the necessary manpower. The near debacle of trying to create a professional army from a standing start in 1917 had effectively delayed useful action in the war for nine months. As part of this expansion and realignment in 1936, George C. Marshall was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to command of all land forces in the Philippine Islands.

The Spanish Civil War and the displays of air power by Germany and Italy in that conflict reinforced the idea that the USA was woefully unprepared in the event of an attack. When the Japanese sank the Panay in China in December, 1937, the US Army had grown from 132,000 officers and enlisted in January, 1935, to 650,000 in December, 1937. This not only went a great distance to reducing unemployment; it created a core of manpower to build upon in the event of an active war breaking out.

When the Japanese sank the river patrol boat Panay on December 12, 1937, the American public were outraged that 'Nipponese' would dare attack an American ship. The fact that the patrol boat had been armed in 1936 with a 1.1" (28mm) air defense gun did provide the small solace that one of the attacking aircraft was shot down in the incident. The Japanese commander who ordered the attack was enraged by the fact that one of his planes was shot down and ordered the attack to continue against the Panay and the three small oil tankers it was escorting, resulting in over a score of deaths and wounding of nearly all survivors. Those who did survive, including two newsreel photographers with their films, were evacuated by a British patrol boat under cover of darkness that night. The newsreel footage was flown by a relay of aircraft back to the continental USA all the way to Washington D.C. within 18 hours of the British rescue.



American cryptographers had broken the Japanese radio code in use at the time and provided proof to the president that the attack had been ordered deliberately from the very beginning. President Garner in turn had a meeting with the Congressional leadership where the newsreel footage was reviewed. The next day, President Garner followed it up with an emergency address to a joint session of Congress where he publicly released the transcripts of the radio orders to attack the Panay and called for a declaration of war with the Empire of Japan.

The joint session of Congress passed the declaration unanimously with several of the members abstaining rather than vote in opposition during the emotionally charged situation. President Garner's speech citing that "December 12th, a date which will live in infamy, the US Asiatic forces were suddenly and deliberately attack by naval air forces of the Empire of Japan" has gone down in history as one of the most powerful speeches by any president. This was of course greatly amplified by the fact that the entire session and speech were broadcast live on radio nationwide and that many news organization recorded the session in its entirety capturing those words for posterity.

With all military arms limitation treaties being placed on hold due to the active war declaration, Congress passed the Two Ocean Navy Act of 1937 the next day, pouring financial resources into the US Navy, which had been modernizing at a slow pace since the close of the Great War in 1918. The newest major ship in the fleet was the carrier Yorktown (CV-5), which only went into full commission two months earlier. As part of the expansion, the Navy was authorized to build eight more copies of the design, bringing the total up to 10 Yorktown class carriers, up from the two initially ordered. The second ship, Enterprise (CV-6), was already under construction and nearly finished. For the battleship fleet, the USS North Carolina was already ordered, as is a second unit, Washington, but battleships of such size and complexity will take two or three years to build. The Navy was authorized to build four additional North Carolina class ships and to work up a design for a larger ship as the follow on project. Given that none of the new battleships would be available for a long time, the Navy was also ordered to take the target ship Utah and training ship Wyoming into drydock for a full rearmament. Under the 1922 Naval Arms Limitation Treaty, the Utah had all of her weapons removed and the Wyoming had half of her main guns removed. Both were back up to their former capabilities in six to nine months, a great deal faster than the new ships readied for service.

In terms of air power, the US Navy and Army each had an air component. Unfortunately for the Navy, funding had been sorely lacking and almost all of their aircraft were biplanes, though the newest ones were very advanced compared to the types used in the Great War. The Army was not overwhelmingly better, though they started switching to monoplane bombers a decade earlier and monoplane fighters four years earlier. They still had large numbers of biplanes used for training aircrews. The most advanced Army aircraft were the P-35 and P-36 monoplane fighters and the B-18 bomber developed from the successful DC-3 civilian aircraft. The B-17 hoped to become the strategic bomber was still in development because of problems that had arisen during testing, but it would likely go into production within a year. In the near term, however, large orders for the proven B-18, P-35 and P-36 are placed to greatly expand the Army Air Corp. The surviving old B-10 and P-6 fighters still made up over half of the Army Air Forces.

For the ground forces of the Army and Marine Corp, things were nearly as grim. The expansion of the prior two years had taught the new recruits the intricacies of the Garand or Pedersen semi-automatic infantry rifles/carbine respectively, but the Garand was not available in large enough numbers to supply the entire expanded Army infantry so half of those new soldiers and nearly all of the National Guard, now federalized, were armed with the older Springfield bolt action rifles the Massachusetts arsenal had rebuilt to fire the new universal 0.276 caliber infantry rounds. Garand and Pedersen weapons would be produced in large numbers now that war had broken out but the Infantry and Marine forces would also be expanding rapidly at the same time necessitating the continued use of the rebuilt bolt action rifles for at least a year, possibly longer.

For their armored elements, they were even worse off. The Army had three partially developed "combat cars," all essentially light tanks fitted with various numbers of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. Sometimes the guns were in turrets that could swivel, while others are in casemate mountings in the hull that allowed them to pivot from 90 to 180 degrees depending on the location. Congress had required in 1920 that all military "tanks" be designed for infantry support and no other purpose, so all American tanks were armed with machine guns, nothing heavier than 0.50 caliber, and the carbines issued to the crew. As an intermediate step, President Garner declared to the Army that 1.1" (28 mm) antiaircraft guns count as infantry support weapons, and the newly ordered tanks were fitted with those units in their turrets. The heavier 28 mm gun gave the tank and effective killing range against unarmored enemy vehicles of 7,000 yards, nearly 7 km. At closer ranges, it could easily penetrate the armor of infantry support tanks, which is designed to stop rifle or machine gun bullets, not heavier shells.

The initial contacts of the Japanese American War of 1937-1940 were naval in nature, mostly by the old S-class submarines with their old Mark-10 torpedoes designed in 1918 based on the experiences of the Great War. Though not long range patrol boats, they were able to refuel at forward bases in the Philippine Islands, Guam, or the Aleutian Islands and conduct attacks on Japanese shipping. The new Fleet class submarines designated Sargo Class were still under construction, but, with war priority, they started being delivered within a few months and with many additional copies beyond the 10 already ordered are part of the Two Ocean Navy Act.

By the end of 1938, the US Navy was at a post-Great War peak with 17 active battleships and another six under construction with a further six undergoing final designs before construction. The Japanese Navy had 10 Battleships operational and four massive new Yamato class just starting construction. They also have half a dozen aircraft carriers to put up against the same number of American ships, but, while their shipyards are building new units, the American shipyards are also doing so at five times the rate. With the opening of the Olcott-Buffalo Canal and its "Laker Locks" at Lockport in the middle, shipyards all around the Great Lakes could join in on the military construction. Canada politely granted a waiver of the "no warships on the Great Lakes" treaty being more interested in maintaining friendly relations with the USA than Japan. This effectively added 35 percent to the shipyard availability for the war effort. When those shipyards in Chicago were focused on merchant vessels in the Panamax class that could just squeeze through the locks, it freed up shipyards on the ocean coasts to work on more warships. Manitowac, Wisconsin, shipyards start turning out large numbers of small naval ships like Destroyers and Frigates while the shipyards in Detroit and Toledo are dedicated to producing Submarines.

President Garner happily took credit for his foresight in pushing for the large ship canal route through New York to the upper lakes, which now redounded as a massive benefit for the war effort.

The Japanese military commander who ordered the attacks on the Panay had believed that the USA would meekly withdraw from its Asian outposts in China. From the point of view of the Japanese military officers corps, the USA was a weak decadent power that lacked the strength of will to fight a war against Japan. They had fallen into the trap of believing their own propagandist rhetoric and discovered that, without being distracted by other factors, the USA was fully capable of producing war material at a rate five to six times as great as all of Japan, including their territories in the Korean Peninsula, Formosa Island, and the vast Manchurian province. Even worse, it turned out that three months of boot camp could turn even the dullest witted farm laborer into a proficient rifleman.

Though the Japanese ran rampant for the first few months of the war advancing rapidly in China and evicting the Americans there only in small numbers, the 8,000 Marines deployed to Guam held out for the entire war, receiving small numbers of reinforcements and vital supplies from the Navy. Though not flashy, they snuck into port under cover of darkness every few weeks to drop off more Marines and supplies. The Japanese submarine force was simply not up to the task of stopping these convoys though they did pick off an occasional ship. The Guam Campaign as it came to be known lasted 23 months before the USA had enough reinforcements on the island to drive out the last of the Japanese invaders.

During those 23 months of grueling combat on Guam, the American and Japanese fleets danced around each other, staying within the air cover provided by its own island airbases. Though the Army had poked fun at the Navy for still using biplane fighters, the F3F-4 by Grumman turned out to be a close match to the three Japanese fighters then in production, one of which was also a biplane. The sturdy Grumman was tough, durable, and highly maneuverable, allowing it to overcome the slight speed advantage of the Japanese A5M 'Claude' monoplane fighters just entering service with the Japanese Navy. For cultural reasons, none of the Japanese planes were heavily armored nor were they equipped with rubber lined "self sealing" fuel tanks. If an American fighter managed to hit the Japanese plane, the aircraft was always damaged, and, if the pilot, engine, or fuel tanks were hit, the plane was almost certainly lost, even if the pilot successfully parachuted away. American culture on the other hand emphasized the value of saving the pilot and his aircraft to fight another day. Fitting new aircraft with rubber lining on their fuel tanks to prevent bullet holes from rapidly emptying them and placing an armor backing in the pilot seat to stop enemy bullets from penetrating easily were seen as simple, common sense improvements.

Even with these disadvantages, however, the Japanese turned out to be tenacious fighters. Their soldiers might be small of stature and poorly fed by American standards, but they were culturally more inclined to fight to the death than to surrender, which was considered to be disgraceful and a shame on the entire family.

In the wider world, the UK and France continued their program of appeasement to Germany ,allowing Hitler to absorb Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Western Poland without putting up a fight. With peace in the west, Hitler turned to fighting the USSR with his invasion in May 1940. The British and French people heaved a sigh of relief, hoping that the two unpleasant regimes would succeed in destroying each other and saving them the trouble. In the interim, however, both France and the UK put forth the effort to modernize and rearm themselves based on their observations of how the German war machine had rolled over Poland in just weeks in 1939 and was in turn rapidly advancing in the USSR in the summer of 1940. Clearly defense against modern aircraft and Panzers would be mandatory for defense of their nations if Germany should defeat the USSR and turn west. As the American military had abundant semi-automatic Garand rifles and Pedersen carbines by 1940, the president is happy to sell the now-surplus bolt action 0.276 caliber Springfield stockpile to the UK and France to aid their rearmament programs. With the Japanese refusing to retreat and necessitating a grueling war of attrition in the Pacific, the USA has no interest in participating directly in European affairs, but selling surplus arms to Great War allies is considered just good business.

With the war still going on, President Garner ran for re-election a second time in 1940 and won in a landslide even larger than that of 1932 setting the three term precedent for presidents from then on in American history. Though at their "high water mark" the Japanese did successful capture half of Guam and several of the Philippine Islands, the well prepared American forces under general Marshall were able to hold out until enough reinforcements arrived to expel them in early 1940. At the same time, the "Clean Sweep" campaign had conducted hundreds of amphibious invasions following an "anaconda" plan of squeezing the Japanese out of their small island garrisons in the central Pacific. The big naval fleet battle off Minami-Tori-shima, called Marcus Island by the Americans, in December 1939 cost the Japanese half of their battleships for the loss of just the USS Pennsylvania and seven destroyers on the American side of the fight. The survivors on both sides needed battle damage repair in the following months.

The last stand of the Japanese Navy came six months later when every available ship sailed to meet the American fleet off Saipan. June 17, 1940, effectively ended the existence of the Japanese surface fleet, sinking the last of their battleships and aircraft carriers. This left them with just a few small destroyers and patrol boats and their remaining submarines to defend themselves from the continuing advance of the American military gobbling up one small island and defeating the garrisons with overwhelming force. In July, the American forces captured the Kurile Islands, leaving the Japanese with just the five home islands and Formosa, plus their forces in Korea, Manchuria, and China. The USA had lost four battleships in the war. Pennsylvania to surface combat that included long range torpedo attacks by the Japanese destroyers at the battle of Marcus Island. New York, Arizona, and Utah fell to attacks by submarines, which sank them on separate occasions over the many months of the war. Early in 1941, the USA conducted a two-pronged invasion taking Formosa in the south and Sakhalin in the north, leaving the four core islands and the mainland yet to fight. The Japanese forces continued to fight nearly to the last man, and the USA was faced with the prospect of massive casualties eradicating the rest of the resistance.

Then, in May 1941, everything shifted. Chiang Kai-shek, head of the Chinese Nationalists, made an offer President Garner was happy to accept. The USA would arm the Chinese army and train it in the use of the semi-automatic weapons on Formosa, which the Chinese called Taiwan. Once they were ready, US Navy would transport the Chinese to the southernmost Japanese home islands of Kyushu and Shikoku in a massive amphibious invasion. Keeping them supplied with military goods while they defeated the Japanese on those two islands would be one priority. This was expected to attrit the Japanese army faster than they could recall troops from the fighting in China. That in turn would cause the Japanese to draw down garrisons on Hokkaido and Honshu to make up for their losses. The USA could then invade Hokkaido in the north, further depleting the Japanese military starting a month after the Chinese forces were deployed. This one-two punch was expected to collapse the Japanese resistance as they would not willingly allow foreign invaders to occupy any of their four core islands and would waste their last strength attempting to evict them.

This seemed to be going well the first day of the invasion of Shikoku on July 5, 1941, right up until the Japanese began shelling the Chinese forces with chemical artillery. The weapons used were mixed barrages of whatever the artillery units had in their local stockpile or could get transported to the lines for use containing vomit gas, tear gas, Chlorine gas, Lewisite gas, or aerosolized Mustard Gas. The first two agents acted to disorient affected personnel, making them easy targets for the Japanese defenders to eliminate, while the latter three agents were deadly to different degrees. Chlorine was strongly attracted to moisture and would attack the eyes, mouth, and nasal passages and any exposed wounds, quickly blinding and then quickly killing the victims if they did not have protective gear. The Lewisite and Mustard were even worse as they would react on contact with skin, breathing passages, and eyes and, if inhaled, would cause serious lung damage usually resulting in a slower more painful death.

The new B-17C bomber was finally in production, and hundreds were already in final flight training for their crews when the Japanese resorted to the gas defenses. It took a week to move the first 300 of these aircraft to forward bases in Okinawa, but, once they were in position, they rained chemical death on the cities of the Japanese homeland without remorse. The Japanese had used chemical weapons throughout the war in China, which had no way to retaliate in kind and only rarely had even simple gas masks to protect themselves. They had resisted using gas against the Americans for three and a half years out of fear of the retaliation they would experience, but when the home islands were invaded they decided to use every option in their defense. The bombers each carried three tons of phosgene bombs in that first attack on Hiroshima Arsenal at midnight. The gas bombs were all set to detonate with their small bursting charge at 200 feet above ground dispersing the clear colorless gas in invisible clouds that sank to the lowest area nearby because they were heavier than air. Unlike many chemical agents, Phosgene in threshold lethal concentrations does not cause immediate death. Its mechanism of action is to bind the proteins in the lung tissue that exchange oxygen from the air into the blood. At minimal doses, it could take nearly a full day for enough lung damage to be done for the victim to perish. The higher the dose, the more rapidly the victim suffocated and, because of the bombing raid, most people were in underground bomb shelters: perfectly placed for the phosgene to sink into place displacing the lighter air molecules. The only telltale odor of the gas is a musty smell that is indistinguishable from the smells in most underground shelters.

Throughout the rest of the war, gas weapons killed an estimated 123,000 civilians, which sounds terrible until compared with the 373,000 killed by conventional bombs and the untold numbers who died of starvation before the Japanese finally surrendered on March 12, 1942.

In Europe, the USSR had shrunk substantially with Germany holding a vast new territory on a meandering line from 40 degrees east in the north to 55 degrees east in the south. Stalin had managed to pull back much of his industry and even a large percentage of industrial workers east of the Ural mountains, but Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, and the Azerbaijan oil fields were all inside the German Occupation zone. Germany was stretched providing garrison troops for its region of control, but the USSR had lost so much manpower that it had no reserves to start any offensives. While there was no formal cease fire agreement, both sides had dug in and stretched a no man's land of landmines, pit traps, barbed wire and actual fencing with guard towers along the static zone. Commandos snuck through on occasion to do damage behind enemy lines, but for the most part both sides were exhausted. Starting in 1940, the Germans had begun laying railroad tracks in their standard gauge, first over the old Russian right of ways by adjusting the existing tracks for German standards and then adding additional trackage to connect nearly every village in eastern Poland and Belarus at a density similar to that in Germany. As time went on, first the Jewish and then the Polish and Belarus civilian populations were forced to relocate eastward, emptying the land for German settlers to move in.

German, British, and French forces had all fully modernized their equipment by mid 1942 with new designs of aircraft, stronger panzers, and bigger navies, but neither the French nor the British were eager to start a war with Germany despite the pleas of Stalin. A tripartite meeting tacitly agreed that the western Europeans would not interfere so long as Germany remained focused to the east. The UK and France having passed through the danger period went back to focusing on their colonial empires.

America having faced Japan with just the assistance of the Chinese had no desire to occupy Japan themselves and gave the four southern main islands along with Formosa/Taiwan and the mainland territories to Chiang Kai-shek, retaining only Sakhalin island with its oil fields for themselves. A quick deal with Stalin for the purchase of the Soviet half of the island in exchange for a few thousand war-surplus aircraft and trucks delivered to Vladivostok made the transfer formally a sale. The USA also retained the Kurile Islands and the hundreds of smaller islands in the Pacific they had taken from Japan by force. Most of these islands have very small native Polynesian populations related to the Hawaiians by culture and language. Tinian and Saipan, next to Guam, were placed under the administration of the American governor of that territory.

Allied strongly with America, Chiang quickly eliminated the remaining Communist Chinese holdouts, executing everyone known or suspected of having a leadership role like Mao. All of the surviving Japanese industrial equipment was shipped to mainland China proper and put to good use rebuilding the country as a modern 1940 industrial powerhouse. The surviving Japanese become a minority population as Chinese are encouraged to move to the islands by Chiang to recreate them as Chinese cultural lands. The Japanese had been attempting to do the same thing in the other direction in Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria and had planned to do it in China as well. Now Chiang reversed the process and made all the islands Chinese, much as the Mongols had attempted centuries earlier. With so many Japanese men of reproductive age having been killed in the war, half of the surviving Japanese women ended up married to Chinese colonists.

Author's Note:

Links that inspired this complex scenario include:

No Retaliation in Kind: Japanese Chemical Warfare Policy in World War II
American Leaders Planned Poison Gas Attack Against Japan
Trials 276 Caliber Garand

Provine's Addendum:

"Cactus Jack" Garner stepped down from the presidency in 1945, handing the office to Charles Lindbergh. Garner would go down in history as one of the nation's greatest presidents, ranking with Washington and Lincoln. His would be the fifth face carved into Mount Rushmore, the first of numerous additions as the American propaganda corps saw fit.

Lindbergh had come back into national attention after stepping out of the limelight to find privacy following the tragic kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh, Jr, in 1932. During the military buildup, the Lindberghs returned from Europe, and Lindbergh himself was commissioned into the Army Air Force by the Secretary of War. Lindbergh was treated as a celebrity, yet he still fought combat missions and gained even more fame. By the end of the war, General Lindbergh was a shoo-in for any office he sought. Garner legendarily selected Lindbergh personally and would have endorsed him in 1940 "if he didn't have a war to win" (suggestions differ on whether the "he" winning the war was Lindbergh or Garner himself).

Many saw Lindbergh's presidency as a new gilded age. Eugenics became mandated curriculum for public schools and even medical schools. Civil rights movements were met with harsh crackdowns and resettlement with many African Americans fleeing to Canada. Although Lindbergh built strong international relations with China and through Latin America, immigration quotas were mandated to very low numbers. Propaganda remained strong with anti-sedition legislation created during the war becoming normalized under the FCC, which, along with the expansive other departments of the increasingly complex federal government, kept the nation in a tight line.

Lindbergh remained in office until 1957, handing the position to the eager young go-getter Richard Nixon.

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