Lincoln Lives: How a failed assassination changed the course of a Nation and a newly freed people

Chapter 1: Divine Providence
Hello All! This is my first attempt at writing an alternate history timeline. I have had this ear worm in my head for months and have decided to finally write it down. I'm not much of a writer but I hope I'll be able to convey the vision I have properly. I have a rough outline between 1865 to 1914, not sure if I will go past that point but we'll see. Thanks to all who read it!


Chapter 1: Divine Providence​

April 14, 1865
Ford's Theatre
Washington, DC

"I turned to speak to my fiancé, Clara and saw a man pointing a small pistol at the President. I knew I wouldn't make it in time but jumped up to charge at him anyways, hoping to at least distract him and hope for a miss. Divine Providence intervened, however, as the pistol misfired. The assassin then dropped the pistol and went for a knife. You know the rest, I am just thankful I was able to do my duty and help protect President Lincoln."
- Henry Rathbone, former Union Officer, Consul to Hannover, and retired member of the US House of Representatives
Interview on August 6th, 1926


Henry Rathbone, then Major and later Colonel, gave those remarks in an interview two days before his death, he was survived by his wife and 3 children. He was widely mourned as the hero that saved the President from certain doom. He could not be faulted thinking Divine Providence was involved, for even though the .44 caliber Derringer pistol misfired, it only takes a quick glance at the knife behind its display case in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, to know that Lincoln still could have died that night had Major Rathbone not acted as quickly as he did. John Wilkes Booth, forever infamous for his attempt on Lincoln, would die by a wound when the knife he tried to use was pushed into his stomach while wrestling with the Major for control. He would die of those wounds within the next half hour, quickly bleeding out, though it is stated that Lincoln did call for a doctor to try and save the man.

Many counterfactuals have been written and discussed, both in print and online, regarding what could have happened to the country if Booth had succeeded, thankfully we never have to know. What is certain, is that while John Wilkes Booth lay dying at Lincoln's feet he began to talk and Lincoln (against Rathbone's objections) leaned close to hear the words of a dying man. Rathbone could only hear bits of what was said, as it was barely above a whisper, but whatever it was Lincoln's already gaunt appearance looked even paler and thinner and his expression turned grim. As Lincoln never wrote or spoke of what was said by Booth, we can only speculate based off of Rathbones later recollection, in which he stated;

"I could barely hear anything from him (Booth) but I did hear some words, including "our negroes" and the phrase "there will never be peace while they are here". Then the man died spewing one last insult saying, "If only I had succeeded, I would shouting 'Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis', and you would be the one dying."

Three days later Lincoln would request a joint session of Congress, so that he may speak on his plans regarding reconstruction and what to do with the newly freed negroes. Whatever Booth said, most certainly impacted Lincoln for in the speech he gave on the fifth day after the attempt on his life. Throughout the war he had tried some limited colonization efforts around the Caribbean and even send some freed slaves to Libera, however he decided this was not feasible and stopped the efforts late in the war. He would, however, reverse course and was now against the idea of integrating the former slaves into the society (at least in the Southern US), believing the best course was for as many as possible to either be shipped back to Africa should they desire, or to give them land of their own within the current US borders and he had just the place in mind.

As part of their recompense for rebellion, Texas would not be readmitted without agreeing to Ratify the 13th amendment and to part with territory from the 35th parallel north on the Texas panhandle, giving it to an expanded Indian Territory that Lincoln proposed would then be split into two territories. The left part becoming the Territory of Oklahoma, that would eventually become home to over Two Million freed slaves. While the right half would become the Territory of Sequoyah, run for and by the Five Civilized Tribes. The debate that exploded afterwards was intense, though with the increased presence of Radical Republicans after the 1864 elections passage was essentially assured as they wanted harsh punishment for the South. The debate would drag on until October.

Then on Friday, October 13th, the US Congress passed the Slave Reparation Act of 1865. It was a day since the middle ages in Europe seen as bad luck but now, it is celebrated as an unofficial holiday in Black communities across America. While there were definitely detractors, like Frederick Douglass who initially saw this a a way for white America to push the black man out of what he believed was their country, most agreed it was the best of a bad situation. For even in the North during (and preceding the war) racism was rampant and blacks, while having freedom, were not truly treated as equals to whites. The downside to the resolution is it increased partisan resistance in Texas, with the war not officially being declared over until April of 1866. Of course, Texas was actually still officially in insurrection as they had not yet put together a Congressionally approved state government or state Constitution, Texas would be the last Confederate state re-admitted to the Union in 1870. Sadly, President Lincoln would not live to see a truly reunified United States of America, dying in February of 1870, one month before Texas was re-admitted. One major event that ended 1865 on a positive note was the official ratification of the 13th amendment on December 6th, 1865.

However, that was still several years into the future. In the meantime, while Lincoln and Congress discussed Reconstruction and the resettlement of freed blacks, Lincoln also had a few headaches to deal with on the international front. We will delve into these more in the next chapter, starting with Lincoln's modification of the Monroe Doctrine in how he dealt with the French in Mexico, the British in Honduras (modern day Belize), as well as the problematic filibuster in Nicaragua by William Walker that was, astoundingly, still going on as 1865 was coming to a close. It would only be decades later that the truth behind how he stayed in power could come to light and it would sour US relations with Britain and France for generations.
 
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Vahktang

Donor
Do we have a second ‘trail of tears’ to get all the people to the territory of Oklahoma? Because they currently do not have sufficient provisions, now does the south have enough rail capacity to transport them.
Once there, they will not be properly provisioned or equipped. Do they liberate the equipment of their former masters and take it with them?
There lies problems.
If transportation is successful, Oklahoma will quickly go from territory to statehood, with a good possibility of a permanent Republican stance. This may taint the Republican image, racism being what it is.
 
Do we have a second ‘trail of tears’ to get all the people to the territory of Oklahoma? Because they currently do not have sufficient provisions, now does the south have enough rail capacity to transport them.
Once there, they will not be properly provisioned or equipped. Do they liberate the equipment of their former masters and take it with them?
There lies problems.
If transportation is successful, Oklahoma will quickly go from territory to statehood, with a good possibility of a permanent Republican stance. This may taint the Republican image, racism being what it is.
Good question. Short answer is, this is not an immediate thing. Long answer, It will be a slow move over several years. The same with the ones that will ask be taken back to Africa or to other islands in the Caribbean. In this TL, the Union army (and navy), while shrinking post war, will stay larger and for longer than OTL to ensure a better Reconstruction as well as to assist with moving some of the former slaves to Oklahoma. And to reiterate, the land is being given to them so they have choices on what to do, I dont think it will actually be looked at that poorly since they are basically being given their choice for reparations. Land in Oklahoma or transport to destination of their choice outside continental US.
 

Vahktang

Donor
And to reiterate, the land is being given to them so they have choices on what to do,
Well, here’s a chance for shenanigans.
A people, unused to money, now being property owners.
Hello, cheats, sharps, grifters, con men, etc.
Better put some bite into their deeds. No selling for seven years, no way, no how, no mortgage, no loans based on, etc.
And lots of classes.
 
Well, here’s a chance for shenanigans.
A people, unused to money, now being property owners.
Hello, cheats, sharps, grifters, con men, etc.
Better put some bite into their deeds. No selling for seven years, no way, no how, no mortgage, no loans based on, etc.
And lots of classes.
Not a bad idea, that might be something I can work into a later chapter as kind of a reflection sequence, looking back on the growth of the black community post civil war.
 
Now that's interesting.

Does Sequoyah include former Texan counties, too?
Nope, it's basically the state the was proposed initially before Oklahoma was. I am useless with graphics editing but this is what was originally proposed. Just imagine the western half of Oklahoma now including everything on the Texas panhandle from the 35th parallel up to the original Oklahoma border.

*This image comes from a youtube video by OsiyoTV called "Cherokee Almanac: State of Sequoyah", all rights reserved to them.

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Chapter 2: A European Affair


Chapter 2: A European Affair​


As 1866 dawned upon America, President Lincoln was faced with a dilemma. He had just won a brutal Civil War, leaving untold numbers dead and homeless, both military and civilian. Now, he needed to maintain military support to keep the South in line while beginning Reconstruction and also to help protect slaves on their journey west or on the journey across the seas back to Africa. The Union army had already restored the main east / west lines across the South and are already beginning to slowly transfer freed slaves that have accepted land in Oklahoma via these restored rail connections. Army rations and blankets and other logistics handled by the Military Department of the Southwest under the leadership of Major General Sheridan.

The situation was compounded by flagrant violations of the Monroe Doctrine by Britain and France, especially France with their presence in Mexico. Lincoln, however, was unsure if the country would stomach a war with two powers just to stop them from meddling in Americas, especially since Britain was showing signs of recovery from the Indian Revolt of 1857 and now seemed impossible to defeat, especially if fighting their navy. He also had to deal with a former US citizen, William Walker, now ruling Nicaragua thanks to support from southern slaveholders. The good news with him though, is with the South defeated, his support had dried up and small revolts were beginning to brew. In this environment Lincoln’s brilliance shown through, or arrogance depending upon your point of view. Either way, it would change the shape of Latin America and the Caribbean forever.

President Lincoln requested a meeting with ambassadors from Britain and France to discuss the both the situation in Central America, as well as claims the US had against Great Britain for providing arms and ships to the Confederacy. Lincoln had already pushed for a neutral arbitration on the so called “Alabama Claims”, however, he was hopping to negotiate a settlement as the arbitration case might drag on too long. (Note: The OTL case wasn’t settled until 1872 with the UK found liable). His plan, while successful, infuriated many politicians who believe he betrayed the ideals of the Monroe Doctrine. Most Americans, however, only remember the fact that from these negotiations President Lincoln acquired new land, the largest acquisition since the Mexican-American war, and laid the ground work for the building of the future Nicaraguan Canal, still a vital part of the US economy to present day.

The meetings began in Washington, D.C., with representatives of Britain and France meeting with Lincoln and Secretary Seward. Lincoln, as part of his plan, allowed Emperor Maximilian to send a representative, though he was only allowed to observe, no input was allowed. For several weeks negotiations went on before finally securing an agreement that was approved via response over telegraph from Europe, with permission for their representatives to sign. On February 14th, 1866, the Treaty of Washington was signed, with Senate ratification following quickly on February 16th. The following are some key points that the treaty covered.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain admits assisting the Confederacy and in lieu of a paid settlement, Great Britain agreed to the following.
  • First, they will no longer block the sale of Ruperts land to the United States, allowing the United States to purchase it from the Hudson Bay Company for 2 million Pounds in gold.
  • Second, they agree to furnish a limited number of naval vessels, run by the Royal Navy, to assist with resettlement efforts concerning former slaves, including allowing those that desire to settle in British African colonies like the Gold Coast or South Africa. This is to last for a period of five years from ratification of the Treaty.
  • Third, they agree to recognize Emperor Maximilian as the legitimate ruler of the Mexican Empire.
  • Fourth, they agree to limit all tariffs on trade with the US to no more than ten percent, making the US a favored trade partner
  • Finally, they agree to recognize Nicaragua as a US protectorate.
The French Empire agreed to the following;
  • French troops that are “policing” Mexico are limited to no more than five thousand total.
  • France also agrees to not land troops in any areas designated as non-French territories, those as of 1865, within the Americas without first getting permission from the United States. Should they not obtain such permission, it will be seen as an act of war and trigger and automatic Declaration of War from the United States.
  • They agree to limit all tariffs on trade with the US to no more than ten percent, making the US a favored trade partner
  • France agrees to recognize Nicaragua as a US protectorate.
  • France also admits to having helped the South with some arms and munitions. They agree to pay 3 million dollars US in gold. (This effectively means France helped buy Ruperts land, with one million gold left to help pay US war debt).
The United States agreed to the following;
  • Accepts Emperor Maximilian as the legitimate ruler of the Mexican Empire.
  • The US acknowledges the recently founded colony of British Honduras, that was established in 1862, as a legitimate territory and colony of the United Kingdom within Central America.
  • US agrees that any future canal built in Nicaragua will open to all to use except in the event of war between the US and another nation or nations.
Later historians would speculate on how much tougher Lincoln would have been if he had known the true extent of British and French involvement in the Civil War but they acknowledge that for the information he had at the time, it was a good deal overall.

While the negotiations had been going on, Lincoln had spent the time getting the US Navy and Army ready to deal with William Walker. Once the treaty was ratified, he ordered the forces depart by March 1st, sending the battle tested IX Corps under General John Parke with orders to arrest and subdue William Walker and brought for trial for violating neutrality act of 1794, as well as establish a military government to establish the US protectorate. The corps was originally set to be disbanded but the changes in resettlement policy and the situation in Nicaragua prompted the President to insist on keeping it active and moving veterans from other soon to be disbanded units into it to return it to full strength . By the time General Parke had arrived with the 36,000 men of the IX Corps and began landings on the Gulf Coast side, William Walker had already been taken captive and then transported to Honduras and killed by firing squad. He is buried in Old Trujillo Cemetery, Trujillo, Colón, Honduras. General Parke was able to take care of the largest rebel groups fairly quickly but had small but determined resistance through out the month of June.

On July 16th, 1865, he declared the protectorate of Nicaragua secure and under military jurisdiction. Just twelve days later, the 14th amendment of the US Constitution was ratified, ensuring former slaves were recognized as citizens of the United States with all the rights and privileges that entails. Unknown to General Parke, the US Congress passed an amendment to the Slave Reparation Act of 1865, opening up the new protectorate of Nicaragua to resettlement by former slaves and free blacks. On September 22nd, twenty ships of the Royal Navy arrived; Half the ships contained supplies for the IX Corps as well as a 2nd Lt carrying the news about the legislation Congress passed and orders to General Parke from President Lincoln to work with the civilians from the General Land Office that had been dispatched to handle the record keeping of the lands that were being assigned out. This would be just the first in a wave of former slaves that signed up for their piece of land.

The President also issued an executive order that stated the General Land offices established for the Homestead Act of 1862, provide guidance to the new freed negro land owners to help the learn to understand land ownership, buying and selling crops and basics of taxes. They were to work in tandem with the Freedman's Bureau to assist the former slaves in this regard. Eventually Congress would amend the Slave Reparation Act a third time, this time including language from the Homestead Act that read; “The occupant has to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements. The process has to be complete within seven years.” One further addendum also stated that neither local or state governments could attempt to foreclose on the land until after 10 years AND only after providing guidance on how to avoid foreclosure first. By the time the agreement with Great Britain and its' Royal Navy were up, they had transported over 300,000 former slaves and free blacks to Nicaragua, the US Navy and independent civilian merchants carrying another 300,000 during the same period. One unfortunate note the I would be remiss not to mention is the loss of life by these settlers not used to the tropical environment and its' diseases there that eventually would cost the lives of 1/3 of the settlers. In spite of this tragic loss, the black communities thrived with their new found freedom, private property, and true equal treatment protected under the Military government, first and then the eventual state government, including the right to vote that once organized into a US Territory, the citizens choice to grant universal suffrage, including women, joining the Utah and Wyoming territories as early adopters of allowing women to vote. The Oklahoma territory was inspired by their brethren in Nicaragua and voted for womens' suffrage the following year. (note: per a NY Times article in 1860, the estimated population in the 1860s was just over 300,000 in Nicaragua)

As 1866 came to a close, President Lincoln fell ill, doctors eventually determined he had suffered a mild heart attack but he would recover after resting over the holidays. Later Medical Anthropologists and Researches have speculated this was a sign of Marfan Syndrome which is known to contribute to Aortic dissection and Aneurism and would ultimately contribute to his early death. Due to his condition, it would not be the last time unfortunately. He would need his rest, for while 1866 was quite eventful, 1867 promised even more activity, including securing his place in history as the President to expand the nation by the most when he secured the purchase of Alaska from Russia, dubbed "Lincoln's Folly" or "Lincoln's Icebox". If only they had known how valuable it would turn out to be. The situation in Mexico would also taken an unexpected turn, but that discussion is for the next chapter.


Note: Shout out to "Vahktang" for the idea on providing guidance to the former slaves, I found the land offices from the Homestead Act a perfect vehicle for that, as well as taking language from the Act to guide the instructions to the slaves. I used that idea along with another idea from "Darth_Kiryan" on having them work in tandem with the Freedman's Bureau. Thanks to both of you for the ideas! Also, next post will not be only on 1867, the first two just happened to work out that way.
 
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First, they will no longer block the sale of Ruperts land to the United States, allowing the United States to purchase it from the Hudson Bay Company for 2 million in gold.

As 1866 came to a close, President Lincoln fell ill, doctors eventually determined he had suffered a mild heart attack but he would recover after resting over the holidays. Later Medical Anthropologists and Researches have speculated this was a sign of Marfan Syndrome which is known to contribute to Aortic dissection and Aneurism and would ultimately contribute to his early death. Due to his condition, it would not be the last time unfortunately. He would need his rest, for while 1866 was quite eventful, 1867 promised even more activity, including securing his place in history as the President to expand the nation by the most when he secured the purchase of Alaska from Russia, dubbed "Lincoln's Folly" or "Lincoln's Icebox". If only they had known how valuable it would turn out to be. The situation in Mexico would also taken an unexpected turn, but that discussion is for the next chapter.
Alaska, ok. But why Rupert's Land? British COlumbia seems a bit more feasible if you still have Alaska.
 
Alaska, ok. But why Rupert's Land? British COlumbia seems a bit more feasible if you still have Alaska.
This was based on the real life attempt to acquire it. The US had actually negotiated to purchase both Alaska (during Buchanan Presidency) and Ruperts land after the Civil War. The UK blocked it and instead granted Dominion status to Canada in 1867 and the pushed the HBC to sell it cheaply to Canada to keep it from the US, selling it for 1.5 million dollars to Canada which was less the US had offered. Many in parliament were concerned that the purchase or Ruperts land would eventually lead to so many Americans into British Columbia that they would either rise up and ask to join the US or that the US would just take it one day.
 
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