The Grand Consensus: The Longstreet Machine, Reconciliation and the Dawn of the 20th Century in Dixie
"...six states convened the Constitutional Convention of 1883 in Nashville, Tennessee, and Longstreet was at last handed his long-sought victory on his two amendments, and just in time for his triumphant second midterm. The 1st and 2nd Amendments to the Confederate Constitution passed the convention after considerable debate but with healthy margins, and attempts to introduce other amendments were sidelined. The 1st Amendment repealed the provision disallowing nonmilitary internal improvements receive subsidy from the "national legislature," and the 2nd Amendment repealed the provision forbidding protective tariffs, allowing those to be levied along with the extant general tariff at the time set at 15%. Longstreet held a grand parade in Richmond to celebrate the "Nashville Convention" and its successful resolution. Much ignored in friendly press was the agitation by industrial workers in Nashville and nearby towns during the convention, as was generally the case during the early years of the Grand Consensus and its positive, forward-looking nationalism.

Longstreet's supporters triumphed in the midterms that fall, dismissing most opponents of the Democratic machine and helping install a new, younger generation of Senators in the Class 2 elections. By the beginning of the 12th Confederate Congress in 1884, state legislatures had impeached and removed effectively every leftover appointment from the Forrest-Harris years, and used the threat of impeachment as a tool to force every appointment of "the Party" from then on. New constitutions that benefitted the dominant party were passed en masse in the "tide of constitutionalism" that sprung out of the Nashville Convention, extending deep into the 1890s as newer, more modern-minded - and politically restrictive and authoritarian - governing documents were put into place. Gubernatorial terms were generally extended to not be unlimited two-year terms but rather non-renewable at four or five years, similar to the single six-year term of the President, and most state legislatures placed term limits or mandatory retirement ages on judicial officials within their borders as well. The spirit of the time was one of entrenchment of the Democratic elite and updating the adhoc political arrangements sprung out of the War of Secession. This, even more than the decline in paramilitary violence and economic boom times of the 1880s, was the defining feature of the Grand Consensus.

Perhaps the most prominent driver in this movement, from the Democratic Party's "Conservative" faction, was Wade Hampton III, a Senator for South Carolina who had implemented similar reforms in his home state during his gubernatorial term and now with an army of like-minded men from the planter elite who had served in the war and now were ascendant in the Senate drove their home-state parties to do the same in a coordinated approach. Though the three Presidents with whom he would serve concurrently with his Senate terms of 1880-1898 are more well-known in textbooks, after Hampton's taking of the role of Senate President Pro Tempore in 1884, "Old Snowbeard" became the effective "Cardinal of the Confederate Congress," as his less-charming nickname was, or even more ominously, "the Shadow President." The Machine, built out over several years, was now operating at what would eventually come to be seen as its peak capacity, achieving its zenith and apotheosis as the Longstreet Presidency entered its final two years..."

- The Grand Consensus: The Longstreet Machine, Reconciliation and the Dawn of the 20th Century in Dixie
 
Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany
"...Bismarck's introduction of a newer, even more draconian package of Anti-Socialist Laws into the Reichstag and Bundesrat on June 1 outraged Frederick and immediately led to a meeting at the Sanssouci where household staff were alleged to hear Kaiser and Chancellor shouting at one another from behind the office door. Von Bennigsen, for his part, spent most of June aggressively whipping not only "hards" in his own party who might be amenable to defecting to Bismarck's gathering anti-Socialist coalition in the lower house but also smaller-party members, doing everything he could to ameliorate the concerns of the Center Party, going so far as to pledge that the National Liberals would block a German-wide "new Kulturkampf" if such a thing were proposed by a future Chancellor. The fact that von Bennigsen was so openly discussing the idea that there might soon be a new Chancellor as head of the Bundesrat spoke to what was becoming an open secret in what soon came to be known as the "Hot Summer" for its political tensions: that the Kaiser was readying to cashier Bismarck and that their long-running feud had hit a point of no return. From his perch in the upper house, Bismarck had become so alienated from his ostensible Vice Chancellor von Bennigsen that the two men ceased speaking by midsummer. Members of various parties, including socialists now that the original laws had expired on July 1st with no renewal, demonstrated in city streets both for and against the Chancellor, and Bismarck, never a fiery orator so much as a canny operator, gave a well-received and surprisingly fiery address at the annual picnic for veterans of the Unification Wars at the Tiergarten. The Picnic Speech seemed to draw a line in the sand: Bismarck declared angrily, "Shall we allow Leipzig's factories to burn like those of Liege? What do we say the day that Koblenz looks like Charleroi? How many subversives must march in the streets before we say enough?" Frederick was so angered upon hearing that Bismarck had intended to originally deliver the Picnic Speech on the Reichstag floor that he remarked, "Had the old man challenged me as such, he'd have been retired that day." Empress Victoria, for her part, nudged her husband aggressively to sack Bismarck immediately and stop dithering, but Bismarck had left the throne out of his challenge implicitly, focusing his critique on enemies within the body politic, and as he often did, Frederick hesitated.

The irony of course was that Frederick, a firm classical liberal but one married to the ideals of social order, detested socialism and had been appalled by the chaos in Belgium earlier in the year. The relatively moderate Social Democrats of Germany, however, had never agitated at the level of the true radicals of "Red Brussels," where many of the German left's most aggressive members had decamped in self-imposed exile thanks to the 1878 package of Anti-Socialist Laws. Frederick was of the view that a more liberal political structure, particularly a more centralized government in Berlin and a celebration of Germanism, would satisfy many of the agitators; he had even come around to passing an eight-week sickness insurance policy like Bismarck had moved through the Landtag of Prussia across the whole of Germany, despite his earlier skepticism. He saw the laws being proposed to ban Socialism entirely as likely to exacerbate the problem rather than solve it, and anathema to a free and open liberal society. In many ways, his personal antipathy towards the Iron Chancellor but fear of angering the Junkers and military that still loved "the fat old man" left him deadlocked on what action to take; in later years, a British newspaper would quip that Friedrich III was "Hamlet on the Havel" for his indecision and procrastination in taking on the power bloc that directly challenged him.

The crisis came to an early inflection point when the Bundesrat narrowly passed the Anti-Socialist Laws of 1883, which banned meetings of "subversive organizations" for the first time and which was drawn so broadly as to potentially encompass a whole host of other political groups. The package was introduced into the Reichstag by the German Conservative Party, dominated by Bismarck's allies among the Junkers and Prussian military. For many military officers, the new package represented a just revenge, even more so than the original slate, for the murder of Kaiser Wilhelm five years earlier; Waldersee himself spoke at a rally outside the Reichstag in August angrily decrying "those who would spit on the Kaiser's grave in the name of democracy." It was clear even then that Marshal von Moltke had lost control of many of his younger officers, but Friedrich did not want to intervene in "staff matters." Before rafters full of onlookers, von Bennigsen led a raucous debate in the Reichstag over the package and eventually the temperature of the body was read to desire a much softer slate of laws, less strict even than the 1878 versions, but open to negotiation and compromise. On a narrow vote, von Bennigsen's coalition held and defeated the laws as written, with the Liberal leader pleading in his closing remarks as angry protests erupted in the galleries and outside for a new debate to be held. Democracy had, in that moment, arrived in Germany; Bismarck had suffered his first defeat at the hands of a democratically elected body (of course with the open secret of the Kaiser's acquiescence). Friedrich was pilloried in many newspapers and public opinion polarized.

A week later, the Landtag of Bavaria passed a softer Anti-Socialist Law as well as a substantial increase in subsidies for Catholic schools..."


- Frederick and Victoria: Consorts of Germany
 
Europe right now is a pressure cooker. I am curious to see which country will be the first to burst - strike-addled Belgium, declining Britain, or a Germany that has an increasingly agitated ultra-conservative faction? Or perhaps the revolts will come from somewhere else on the continent...
 
Hartington: Britain's First Modern Prime Minister
"...the consignment of Hartington's ministry to a minority government came in tandem with the continued upheavals of the Great Depression, which though by the early 1880s had alleviated somewhat still clutched Britain worse than any other industrial economy. It could be that Britain's remarkable rise to dominance in the global trade system in the first half of the Victorian Age meant it had little left to go - but even there, by modern estimates, GDP per capita shrank throughout the 1870s and grew anemically in the following decade, so that by 1889 the average Briton was only three-quarters as wealthy, adjusted for inflation and population growth, as his father had been twenty years before on the eve of the Panic of 1870. A Liberal government thus split between the Old Whigs, with the Prime Minister their most prominent spokesman, and the ascendant Radicals of Chamberlain, but lacking the ability to press many of its policies without a majority of the Commons, left little recourse for the suffering of many in the cities and even moreso the British countryside.

The Irish Question dominated newspapers, especially as Parnell used his Parliamentary bloc to stymie any act that did not deliver tenancy and land reform and the House of Lords still seemed dead-set on defeating even the mildest approaches to address the issue, but industrial action began to grow in vogue again. With trade unions legalized formally under the First Hartington Ministry and the Home Office of William Harcourt less interested in going to war with the TUC, the labour movement grew exponentially in the 1880s. Though the TUC remained nominally allied with the Radical Liberals and often had overlap with the NLF, there was still a more aggressive splinter that longed for the more violent agitations of the Carnarvon years. As Westminster remained gridlocked between Liberal, Tory and IPP feuds, a newer political force was born in the same year that Karl Marx passed in London - the Social Democratic Federation, [1] founded by Henry Hyndman and Eleanor Marx, daughter of the author of the Communist Manifesto. The SDF would of course be a forerunner of a number of left-wing British parties, but with a weak minority government in power Hyndman's first priority was to identify a way to potentially run candidates under the unequivocal banner of the left, and to achieve the previously unthinkable - placing a socialist in the House of Commons. As often the case with movements of the Left, there were anarchists and syndicalists who disavowed any parliamentarianism whatsoever and wanted to continue to press ahead for socialism by revolution; Friedrich Engels supported such endeavours, undercutting Hyndman early. But with the robustness of the trade union movement growing and some dissatisfaction rising with the incumbent Liberals' relative conservatism in the wake of the transformational 1878-82 government (a conservatism not necessarily the fault of the Cabinet), and Chamberlain looking for ways to undercut the Prime Minister, the ground was never riper for the birth of left-wing electoralism in Britain..."


- Hartington: Britain's First Modern Prime Minister

[1] ITTL Hyndman's SDF isn't quite the incompetent, flailing Judean People's Front vs People's Front of Judea mess it was OTL
 
Europe right now is a pressure cooker. I am curious to see which country will be the first to burst - strike-addled Belgium, declining Britain, or a Germany that has an increasingly agitated ultra-conservative faction? Or perhaps the revolts will come from somewhere else on the continent...

We're about to see!
 
The Lion of Edinburgh: Prince Arthur, the Empire and the Twilight of the Victorian Age
"...Arthur, who in the end made most decisions for the Prince of Wales and his brother, was given permission by his mother to split the boys up in 1883 to have their educations be unique to them. George would continue on in the Navy, and Albert Victor would head to Trinity College, Cambridge. The Naval life suited the more rigorous George much better than cramming for university did the heir, who without his more driven brother around to stimulate and focus him was soon left to his own lazy devices. It pained Arthur tremendously, who loved the two boys as much as his own young children, to see what a "lout and fool, who barely cares to read" the young Prince of Wales had been, and he laid the bulk of the blame on his tutor John Neale Dalton. Nevertheless, 1883 was a positive year for the Duke of Edinburgh; his son Arthur was born that January, and the war scares of 1882 subsided as British and French diplomats traversed the Channel aggressively to avoid a conflagration over a number of points of tension throughout the world. Arthur himself visited Paris for the baptism of the Princess Royal, Marie Eugenie, [1] and was Napoleon IV's most honored guest at the Tuileries for two weeks as both nations resolved to peacefully settle their disputes. Of all the royals, Arthur - always Victoria's favorite - had emerged as the family's most critical and respected representative to both foreign courts and to the British public, especially as his mother withdrew ever further from the public eye..."

- The Lion of Edinburgh: Prince Arthur, the Empire and the Twilight of the Victorian Age


[1] More on this in a future update
 
Hey all. Wanted to gauge a bit who is still reading this, since it’s expanded so much. I have about a million ideas for CdM now stretching into the mid 20th century but there doesn’t seem to be as much engagement with the TL as earlier. Is this something everyone wants to see continue or has it gotten too bogged down/slow paced? Would longer, more thorough updates rather than bite-sized textbook style I’ve been using work better for moving the narrative along?
 
I do enjoy reading this timeline, is one of my favorites! So many details, so many things happening around the whole world... Such an interesting setting, painstakingly built along the years. It feels alive! The bias in some of the sources is funny, too.

And the chapters are not too long. Nor are they too short. They have just the size they need!
 
I don't comment much, but I read every update and I love this timeline, specially how events around the globe connect with each other and make this world come alive.
 
Extract and Exploit: Comprehending Colonial Capitalism
"...Rhodes lived at the leading edge of the coming colonialist economy that would soon dominate Africa, drawing much from the plantation economies of the New World in how he developed his empire in the Cape. 1883 became the year in which everything finally came together for the ambitious young businessman. In the Cape elections that returned Saul Solomon's government, Rhodes was elected as a member of the ruling Liberal Party, which he supported financially both in South Africa and in Britain proper; he consolidated ownership of several rival fruit farms [1] and officially combined Rhodes Farms, Cape Holdings and the Dominion Orchards into a conglomerate which would bear a soon-infamous name - South African Fruits, the predecessor of modern day Saf Holdings Limited, one of the largest and most influential food and agricultural companies in the world. Rhodes boasted that SAF would be "the East India Company of Africa" before long and took great interest in the previous year's successful voyage of the Dunedin from New Zealand, which demonstrated refrigerated ocean shipping. By decade's end SAF controlled not only vast acreages of fruit farms but also processing and distribution in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and soon also Durban, as well as every single refrigerated warehouse in British South Africa. Rhodes' conglomerate came to trade on the London Stock Exchange and enjoyed investors from nearly every Western industrialized country; his substantial vineyards provided the elite of Britain a steady supply of high-quality wines that were not from hated France.

Of course, this being colonial Africa, the rise of SAF in the 1880s was one marked by horrific abuse. Rhodes paid working class immigrants from Europe terribly and used his monopoly power to drive down wages; black agricultural workers, primarily Xhosa, were imported by the thousands to work his plantations in conditions similar to Confederate or Brazilian plantations and earned so little, and with their earnings tied to "company stores" on the estates they worked, that any remittance flow was negligible. Rhodes forbade the use of any language but English on his plantations and so set up schools for evening courses to "civilize" his native workforce, or at least the ones who survived; with SAF's dominant economic position, the "company schools" also served to drive further the cleavage between the Cape Dutch and steady flow of British arriving in the Cape..."

- Extract and Exploit: Comprehending Colonial Capitalism (Cornell University, 2014)


[1] IOTL of course Rhodes made his fortune with De Beers, but with the Kimberley fields held by the the pseudo-feudal Boer Republics, Rhodes finds his fortune in another field - fruit, which he dabbled in quite successfully OTL as well. Here it's the lynchpin of his conglomerate instead.
 
The Scramble for Asia: Colonialism in the Far East in the 19th Century
"...Amédée Courbet and his Tonkin Fleet, led by his flagship Bayard, arrived in Ha Long Bay as the most substantial deployment of French forces to the Far East in decades. The Navy, for now, remained in command of forces in Tonkin, reorganized by Imperial decree as the Tonkin Expeditionary Corps, as Foreign Legion, Marines and even one Army battalion were routed into Indochina, and Courbet had arrived to finish what Riviere had started.

Courbet wasted no time. Within days of arriving, he held a war council at Haiphong where French commanders and a number of allied Vietnamese officials concurred that the formal Vietnamese Court of Hue was aiding the Black Flag Army that had humiliated France at the Paper Bridge. An attack into Tonkin would follow a show of force to coerce Vietnam to sign an armistice by attacking Hue directly - fears of a Chinese response were overruled by Courbet and Jules Harmand, Commission-General of Tonkin, who viewed the attack as an "act of virility" that would cow China into submission [1]. Already in possession of letters from Minister of War Boulanger encouraging him to "use all methods necessary" to dispose of both local and Chinese threats to French hegemony, Courbet drew up French forces in Cochinchina to support his attack on the Perfume River and the Thuan An forts that guarded the approach to Hue, leaving the growing Expeditionary Corps in Haiphon to prepare for a campaign in Tonkin to eviscerate the Black Flags.

The French request to surrender the Thuan An forts was rebuffed, and four hours of bombardment ensued, severely damaging Vietnamese efforts to hold the forts when landings were conducted [2], allowing for a quick clearance of the forts. Vietnamese casualties of dead and wounded were well over 3,000 - for the French, a few dozen. The collapse of their defensive line, which left Hue entirely exposed to capture, quickly moved the Court to sign the Treaty of Hue, recognizing French hegemony over Vietnam and legalizing its occupation of Cochinchina. The Vietnamese Court survived but was now entirely subservient to the French resident-commissioner. As for Tonkin, it was also included in the treaty, with free commerce on the Hong River guaranteed - already a French goal - and now placing the Expeditionary Corps its opportunity to crush the Black Flags and pacify the restive region for good.

The rapid French victories over an insurgent local force in a region already viewed as their sphere was welcomed in most European courts, even in Britain. It was not, however, welcomed in China, contrary to the beliefs of the French mission there. The rapid mobilization of French forces in the region and the defeat of a Chinese Army in Tonkin earlier in the year outraged the Qing Court, especially when France attempted to protest a Korean tribute payment that autumn. [3] In the views of Peking, they now had a belligerent enemy throwing its weight around both on its south and northwest..."


- The Scramble for Asia: Colonialism in the Far East in the 19th Century

[1] Sure Jan
[2] Basically the bombardments start earlier in the day than OTL
[3] And this is where French influence in Korea over the last 15 years starts to be genuinely important
 
Rhodes has become an evil vintner/plantation owner instead of an evil diamond mine owner, while France is sinking more money into East Asian colonial wars rather than wars in Europe. In combination with a gradually more assertive Korea and a Meiji Japan looking hungrily at forming her own imperial empire, and I have a feeling that something will go wrong for France, thus ending the influence of Les Trois for good.
 
Rhodes has become an evil vintner/plantation owner instead of an evil diamond mine owner, while France is sinking more money into East Asian colonial wars rather than wars in Europe. In combination with a gradually more assertive Korea and a Meiji Japan looking hungrily at forming her own imperial empire, and I have a feeling that something will go wrong for France, thus ending the influence of Les Trois for good.

Just can't imagine a scenario where Rhodes *isn't* a repugnant villain, especially since he was born well before the POD (not that I'm being super strict about use of historical vs. fictional persons)
 
Old Bull: Francisco Serrano and Modern Spain
"...though Spain remained economically and militarily behind her European peers despite the stability and security Serrano's government brought, and the new trade ties with Latin American states enhanced Madrid's position, it was nevertheless an age of modernity and innovation in the last Serrano ministry. Most prominently was the invention of the submarine torpedoboat in 1883 by Isaac Peral, [1] a Spanish Naval officer; despite the limitations of the Armada Real (despite Spain having indigenous shipbuilding capabilities many naval states lacked), this innovation would remain a legacy of the Serrano era, particularly thanks to Serrano's encouragement of the project when he was personally briefed on it by Admiral Topete [2]. Peral's electric submarine, despite being only coastal, would debut in sea tests and manage to outmaneuver a cruiser both in night and day drills, and would remain faster and more effective in its late 1880s version than most submarines of other countries even two decades later [3]. Though Serrano would not live to see the submarine's deployment, the use of submarine for coastal defense - and its rumored existence - further enhanced Spain's position in both Europe and in the New World, where in the 1890s and beyond the submarine was deployed most aggressively to defend against other colonial powers, as well as the Philippines where the Peral Class I's successor, the Peral Class II, would actually see combat experience [4]..."

- Old Bull: Francisco Serrano and Modern Spain


[1] A year earlier than OTL
[2] A much more enthusiastic reception than Peral actually received
[3] True to OTL
[4] Flashforward!
 
The Grand Consensus: The Longstreet Machine, Reconciliation and the Dawn of the 20th Century in Dixie
"...for as trade barriers fell - a reduction in tariffs in the United States, particularly those that affected Confederate cotton, combined with a growing replacement of British and French financing with that of Wall Street - the economies of the "brother republics" became more intertwined through the 1880s, coinciding with one of the biggest economic booms in American history and a strong recovery of both the industrial and agricultural sectors in Dixie after the malaise of the preceding decade. Capitalists from New York and Philadelphia stepped off steamboats in Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans to conduct business with prospective partners over lunches and drinks served by slaves without batting an eyelash; though nascent Dixie economic nationalism was only in its infancy regarding "Yankee ownership," for the most part such investment was welcomed. Collection of customs duties in both directions made the patronage jobs in Cincinnati, Alexandria, Evansville, New Orleans and Cairo extremely lucrative; Southern railroads became a hot investment at the New York Stock Exchange thanks to the currency discrepancy. In the year 1883 in particular, more money flowed across the Ohio than in the last ten years combined, and Union investments in the South increased by nearly a quarter per year through the Great Panic. [1]

Southern exports thrived, and even its internal market with cottage industries did well despite being flooded with Northern and European finished goods. Despite an emerging glut in steel thanks to US production, the proximity of the new city of Birmingham, Alabama to mineral deposits made it a new boomtown, as did the cheapness of its slave and free white labor; protective tariffs allowed by the Nashville Amendments would soon insulate Birmingham from the flood of competing product, further enriching the L&N Railroad as well as the Tennessee Company that dominated the coal and iron trade. It was the age of "cotton, coal, and cattle" - the three major industries of the South, consolidating and finally helping empty the Crackervilles of their mobs of poor white unemployed men.

Of course not all was well between North and South or even internally in this age. The "divestment" movement was born in the fall of 1883 as former abolitionists, led by Frederick Douglass, began a campaign starting with the Boston Thanksgiving Conference for Freedmen where Douglass called for a cessation of "purchasing, financing or abetting in the trade of goods or materials in any way touched by the institution of chattel slavery." Boston and Providence newspapers spoke approvingly of divesting of Dixie assets, and over the next several years an offhand comment by Douglass would begin to lead to a new social reform campaign that moved in tandem with the growing labor and temperance movements in the Union. It would be nearly a decade before the divestment campaign would attract Southern attention, by which point it would be one of many factors pointing both nations towards the end of Reconciliation.

But even at this "high water mark" of Reconciliation, there were still tensions. The Confederacy regarded the Caribbean as much its backyard as the US had interests in the Pacific and off Canadian waters, and growing American business presence in the region alarmed and alienated many New Orleans businessmen. To protect domestic producers, the Blaine administration quietly increased tariffs on beef and coal in order to stave off cheap Confederate imports in its Tariff Reform Act of 1883, and such tariffs would be increased twice again by decade's end; the growth of plantation-style cattle ranches in Texas and Florida was said to inspire much of the move, as were reports of slaves being sent into coal mines for the tasks regarded as too dangerous for whites. And further still was discomfort even on Wall Street at how slaves were used as leveraged financial instruments, [2] used as tools to mortgage and lend against, leading even Jay Gould to ask where Confederate investment money was coming from during a meeting in Atlanta..."

- The Grand Consensus: The Longstreet Machine, Reconciliation and the Dawn of the 20th Century in Dixie


[1] This will kick off the beginning of Part V
[2] An innovation that had begun in the antebellum period but which the Civil War ended OTL before it really took off
 
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