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

Vahktang

Donor
I will have to say one thing for everyone regarding the Rupert's Land acquisition, and that is simply; nothing is set in stone... muahahaha.
That's right, I still have a twist coming.
Ah, the Ruperts Land Challenge.
I see...more black states.
Not a big surprise, but still.
Anybody else?
 
Wouldn't Democrats fight tooth and nail to keep immigration flowing TTL? Are non-Jewish East Europeans also in that number?
Not really, you would be thinking of Dems today, not back then. In fact, at that time the GOP was the more liberal and reform minded. However, both parties were onboard with restrictions. I can't remember for sure which act it was, but I believe it was one in the early 1880s that once in place led to some of the greatest gains among the african-american community because all the cheap labor from places like Ireland and Eastern Europe was basically cut off, so they had no choice but to pay blacks more to do work, even skilled work that they tried to keep them from.

And yes, non-jewish eastern europeans would be included, I just threw the Jewish label out because I know OTL there was heavy immigration during the latter 19th century from the Pale of Settlement in western Russia (modern Poland, Belarus, etc..). I would advise anyone interested in genealogy aspect of history to watch Finding your Roots on PBS, they do family research on celebs and it's fascinating to see their back stories and where they come from.
 
Not really, you would be thinking of Dems today, not back then.
I meant Southern Democrats and the Planter class that still needs cheap labor in a market with huge turn over rate due to it's harshness. OTL Blacks were quickly replaced with Mexicans through immigration laws when they stopped working in these jobs in the 60s.
 
I meant Southern Democrats and the Planter class that still needs cheap labor in a market with huge turn over rate due to it's harshness. OTL Blacks were quickly replaced with Mexicans through immigration laws when they stopped working in these jobs in the 60s.
Well Mexicans didn't really become a major immigration factor until WW2 thanks to programs designed to bring over laborers to work the farms due to labor shortages for the all the men that went off to war. But I get what your asking and no, as stated the racist views of the day (in spite of also being against black americans) carried the day for both parties in restricting immigration, especially from Asia.
 
This TL is shaping up nicely, just a question though Is Newfoundland a part of the Dominion of Canada?
Thanks! As for your question, no. Like OTL, it is still separate. I believe it didn't join OTL after WW2 and I wanted to keep close that for now, though subject to change.
 
Just a quick update. I was originally planning on an update today but got sidetracked, I expect to have one no later than Friday this week. Simple reason for delay is that as a new member I did not have access to the ASB board before I joined recently and I got caught up in the excellent Telic, OIF and Friends ISOT to 7 December 1941 by @ExScientiaTridens and once I started couldn't stop so I would say sorry but not sorry lol. It's simply too good to stop right now but I will be back with the next update soon. Cheers!
 
Just a quick update. I was originally planning on an update today but got sidetracked, I expect to have one no later than Friday this week. Simple reason for delay is that as a new member I did not have access to the ASB board before I joined recently and I got caught up in the excellent Telic, OIF and Friends ISOT to 7 December 1941 by @ExScientiaTridens and once I started couldn't stop so I would say sorry but not sorry lol. It's simply too good to stop right now but I will be back with the next update soon. Cheers!
Take your time. If you are a new member, I think the standard time for being stuck in an ASB rabbit hole is several weeks. Still discovering more TL's in that section every day after being here for six months.
 

Vahktang

Donor
I find it hard to start a thread with hundreds or thousands of messages on them.
I like to catch them when they start.
I also like it when one I am following gets to the hundred, thousand, etc, Mark.
 
Chapter 4: Depression Strikes

Chapter 4: Depression Strikes​


The dawn of the first term of the 17th President, U.S. Grant, sees an economic boom from all of the post-war construction, especially in railroad construction. A boom that would see over 30,000 miles laid between 1868 and 1873. The former slaves and the freed blacks from pre-war north have begun making great strides within the territories of Oklahoma and Nicaragua. The former slaves were slowly learning how to be competent farmers and land owners thanks to assistance from the free blacks that had better education, as well as the efforts from the Freedman’s Bureau. One notable occurrence was the President sending his aide, General Babcock with a letter of introduction on a fact-finding mission to Santo Domingo, regarding their annexation request that first came in under President Lincoln, this would end up with an unlikely result later in the year. The good feelings that the nation had, slowly pushing past the harshness of the recent troubles (aka the Civil War), were highlighted this year when on the 10th of May, 1869, the Transcontinental railroad was completed, the final spike hammered in by President Grant.

During the spring and summer, things went rather well for the new President and the country as a whole, highlighted by several notable events, below is just a quick summary of a few;
  • April 6th - The American Museum of Natural History founded in New York City. It has since become one of the preeminent museums in the world.
  • May 15th - Led by Susan B. Anthony, a group of women found the National Woman Suffrage Association. This group would eventually help lead to women gaining the right to vote shortly after the 1912 election.
  • June 1st - Had two notable events; first being the founding of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team and seen as the founding of our nation's pastime, baseball. The second event was the official awarding of Thomas Edison's patent that he applied for the year prior, the Electric Vote Recorder.
  • June 15th - John Wesley Hyatt patents the first plastic, Celluloid, in Albany, New York.

From here things carried on well until the end of summer when as Autumn began, the nation was faced with the first Black Friday in its history. When on September 24th, the results of a scandal by a group known as the Gold Ring, led to a crash due to their attempts to manipulate the Gold market. For the week after the Black Friday crash, the stock market dropped 20%. A conspiracy, that due to one of the men, Able Corbin, being married to President Grants sister brought down scorn and charges of corruption in the papers against the President. President Grant would take action along with Secretary of Treasury Boutwell, that would help prevent the crisis from worsening and would lead the economy recovery by late 1870. While we will not go into great details regarding this situation, as that would require a book of its own, we can say that the President was cleared of any wrong doing but it would haunt him the rest of his days. This would, unfortunately, only be the first of issues both economic and of the scandalous nature, that would impact Grants Presidency. During this period, there was one distraction, though whether it was welcome or not is unknown. President Grant’s aide, General Babcock, returned in September with a draft Treaty for Annexation for Santo Domingo. This of course was outside of the scope of his mission, none the less, the treaty included the taking on of some debts (ill-timed with the crash) but it did include a lease agreement regarding Samana Bay, which the Navy wanted as a coaling station. Grant pushed forward and ordered the Secretary of State to create an official treaty with the government of Santo Domingo culminating in a treaty that agreed to the following upon ratification;
  • the United States would annex the Dominican Republic, pay $1,500,000 (equivalent to $26,000,000 in 2020) on the Dominican national debt, offer the Dominican Republic the right to U.S. statehood after 10 years, subject to national vote.
  • The U.S. would rent Samaná Bay at $150,000 per annum for 50 years, paid to the Dominican government (both territorial and later State govt).
  • According to Grant's biographer, Jean Edward Smith, President Grant initially erred by not gaining U.S. public support and by keeping the treaty process secret from the U.S. Senate. Fortunately, this would be overcome by one of former President Lincoln’s last acts, when he wrote an open letter that was published in several national newspapers shortly before his death. The treaty would be voted in in March of 1870.

After this difficult autumn, as the seasons changed and the year was ending there was some positive news in the winter of 1869 and 1870. First, the Wyoming territory followed Nicaragua in the granting of women's suffrage on Dec 10th, 1869. Then a month into the new year, on February 3rd, 1870, the 15th Amendment was officially ratified, ensuring right to vote for those regardless of race, color, or former servitude (i.e., former slaves). Sadly, the euphoria that many Republicans and supporters of the amendment was quickly erased by great sadness when on February 12th, former President Abraham Lincoln died on his birthday, aged 61 years old. He had been in Jerusalem, paying respects and praying at what is known as the “Wailing Wall” or “Western Wall” when he had a heart attack. As mentioned earlier, many now attribute his failing health to Marfan syndrome but also due to his taking of pills to fight depression known as blue mass pills. These pills are known to have had mercury as a primary ingredient and as such, modern doctors believe the former President was slowly poisoning himself. There was a national day of mourning declared once word reached Washington as many grieved for the man who help lead the fight to save the Union. His body first returned to DC, where he would lie in state at the Capitol building for a full week before a train would take him home but first going through over 180 cities and towns, north through NYC and then west to his final resting place in Illinois.

Prior to Lincoln’s death, as mentioned above, he wrote a letter supporting President Grants annexation treaty. This letter was published just days after his death. Prior to this letter, unofficial tallies showed the Senate deadlocked on the treaty. In the several weeks that followed, utilizing the memory of President Lincoln, several Senators were swayed to vote for the treaty as a way to give one last honor to their former leader. So it was, on Marcy 24th, 1870, the treaty was approved and Santo Domingo became a protectorate of the United States. In reality, it was a territory in all but name and would seek statehood as soon as allowed by the treaty. Several key events happened in this year, let us review just a few.
  • Jan 15th, Standard Oil is incorporated. It would be eventually broken up as a monopoly by future President Roosevelt. It would make John D. Rockefeller one of the richest men in US history.
  • Jan 26th, Virginia officially rejoins the Union.
  • Feb 23rd, Mississippi official rejoins the Union as military oversight ends.
  • Mar 30th, Texas officially rejoins the Union. This also finalizes the territorial changes that had expanded Oklahoma at the cost of the Texas panhandle. Though violence would still exist, many land owners there simply began to sell out to free blacks or government agents, not wanting to stay in a black territory
  • Jun 22nd, the federal Department of Justice is created.
  • Jun 28th, Congress creates the first official federal holidays (New Years, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day).
  • Jul 15th, Georgia becomes the last state of the former CSA readmitted to the Union. The CSA is officially recognized as dissolved at this point.

As the calendar transitioned into 1871, the Union was finally whole again. The economy was finally recovering after the Black Friday crash, and the President had followed Lincoln’s footsteps by expanding the nation again with Santo Domingo. However, the expansion of the US territory was about to take a strange twist.

Many people have heard and most likely experienced what is called, “Buyer’s Remorse”. However, as 1871 began, Canada and the United Kingdom were experiencing the opposite, “Seller’s Remorse”. While many Canadians were happy with their new Dominion status, many were also upset and losing so much potential land to the US with the sale of Ruperts land. The “Little Englanders” group that had helped facilitate the change had been all but eliminated from political circles in London and now people in power were hoping to make some changes. These changes would lead to one of the most convoluted treaties and land swaps ever recorded. It would also eventually lay the groundwork for a long depression in the UK. First, let us address the Treaty of Ottawa of 1871. The inner workings of the treaty are simply too confusing to discuss at length here, so we will instead offer a simplified overview.

The treaty was meant to expand the Dominion of Canada and rid the UK of land it deemed not worth the price of ownership and military protection, that being what was known as the Northwestern Territories. Canadian officials convinced the powers that be that the best path forward was to rid themselves of the remaining undeveloped land (not including British Columbia which was still growing) and help Canada expand. This was accomplished by the following agreements in the treaty as follow;
  • Canada would agree to buy all the former Rupert’s Land that the US had acquired east of the 80th West Longitude, almost doubling the size of Canada in one stroke and restoring access to the Hudson Bay and its fisheries. Canada would offer much needed gold, Fifty Thousand in gold in British Pounds.
  • Canada would also include a separate Five Thousand gold purchase for Mansel, Nottingham and Salisbury Islands.
  • The United States would purchase with $500,000 in US Silver, something easily afforded thanks to an abundance of silver in new mines found during the 1860s, all remaining land of the North-West Territory west of Ruperts Land sans British Columbia. This includes all of the Arctic islands and claims between mainland North America and Greenland. The US would settle the claims in the early 20th century as part of a package to acquire the Danish Virgin Islands (aka, the Danish West Indies) but that is for a future discussion.

While the US Senate had many detractors, who did not want to give up land just acquired, the public in general had no real opinion either way, as they were still dealing with the effects of Reconstruction in the South and an industrial boom in the north. The US had not even begun opening land for settlement yet in the part Canada wanted so in the end, the treaty was approved after President Grant pointed out this would connect all of the US continental holdings from Florida in the Southeast to Alaska in the Northwest. The money offered by Canada would also help with the rebuilding of Chicago after the great fire in October. For many, this treaty led many to question how long before BC would be absorbed by the US but fate would have other ideas for them, helped in no small part by US racism against immigrants who helped build the railroads. The Chinese immigrants who came for work and a better life found little to like about the US. Many would leave writings stating that while they did have more freedom the overt hatred toward them was unbearable and eventually led to the Chinese Massacre of 1871, in which a white mob killed 18 immigrants in Chinatown, Los Angeles. The territory of British Columbia, needing to stave off US influence, offered asylum for the Chinese laborers, offering land claims for those that were willing to relocate. While not entirely popular with the British colonists that lived there, they at least tolerated them and ended up being quite useful in facilitating trade between British Hong Kong and British Columbia.

As President Grant ramped up his reelection campaign in 1872, the country was moving forward nicely, completely recovered at this point from the Black Friday crash of ‘69. It would be the last good year for the President. After handily defeating Horace Greeley in November, would go in to 1873 on a high note but would soon come down as the Panic of 1873 kicked in. The Panic is attributed to a change of by the new German Empire that started in 1871, where they decided end minting silver coins, right around the time the US was paying the UK for the land obtained in the Treaty of Ottawa. The US eventually responded to the declining value of silver that this move triggered by passing the Coinage Act of 1873 which changed US silver policy and combined with the German Empires change, led to depressed silver prices. The US was now firmly on the Gold Standard and would remain so well into the 20th century, at least officially. This would be coupled with a stock market crash in NYC on September 18th, further exacerbating what would become known as the Long Depression. Many scholars anticipate the depression would have lasted longer than 3 years for the US had it not been for growth of exports from Nicaragua and Santo Domingo, especially tobacco grown by Cuban expats fleeing the 10-year war against Spain, as well as cacao (aka coco/chocolate), and sugar. Taking steps to more quickly open up new lands in the former Ruperts Land and North-West Territory helped immensely as well. There was one bright note for those fans of cultural history, on October 30th, PT Barnum first opened his Circus. Something generations of American children have grown up visiting since its inception.

Most of the rest of Grants second term was spent fighting the Depression but there were two events of note outside of this. The first was on 10 January 1875, the US approved the Hawaiian reciprocity treaty. The treaty gave favorable trade agreements with US and made Hawai’i a protectorate in all but name. It would of course, later become a state, though the eventual overthrow of the Hawaiian monarch has long stained the history of the US involvement in the islands. The second, and quite frankly more monumental, was on March 31st, 1876, President Grant declared Reconstruction officially over. With the large resettlement of blacks into basically two territories with the remaining population spread-out, largely thanks to the Homestead Act, with NYC and Philadelphia the remaining large settlements. The violence and anti-federal actions in the South had dropped dramatically. Also, on July 4th, 1876, President Grant led national celebrations for the Centennial Anniversary of the birth of the United States.

It is in this environment that we see the election of 1876 unfold. Samuel Tilden would eventually gain the Democratic nomination and was against the greenbacks being printed (they were called due to their color but they were not backed by gold), thinking that old hard currency on the Gold Standard was the way to restore the economy. However, due to President Grants actions, the economy had noticeably recovered by the time the election and Tilden quit arguing against the greenback publicly, which very likely improved his position in the election with farmers who supported the greenback. Not to mention the Species Resumption Act of 1875, essentially saved Tilden from making such arguments, as the act ordered the Treasury to retire the greenbacks from circulation. So it was, that in light of an improving climate and a desire for change from a Grant Administration that had dealt with several economic challenges and Scandals, Samuel Tilden became the 18th President of the United States, winning a close popular vote at 50.9% but a comfortable Electoral College win 203 to 166 against Rutherford B. Hayes. With 1876 coming to a close, the United States now has the first Democrat elected to the White House since just prior to the Civil War, having finally overcome the Long Depression, a depression that would be battled in Britain and France for another 3 years due in no small part to highly protectionist measures that modern economists have attributed the long crisis to.
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There is a sense of hope returning and the birth of titans in Oil and Steel will lead the way to a Gilded Age never seen before in the United States. In the next chapter, we will discuss the Presidency Samuel Tilden and the growing power of Industrialists in the United States. One hundred years had passed since the nation's founding, we now see the beginnings of the next 100 years that would eventually encompass most of the 20th century, now called the American Century.


NOTES: First, President Tilden. That's right, first Presidential change! He won the popular vote by the amount listed in the chapter, I simply gave him the electoral victory. It was even more hotly contested than the 2000 election in OTL. Gonna take some time to see how that unfolds and whether he ends up a one termer like Hayes or not. For the Long Depression, it was considered the worst depression and was once called the Great Depression until the 1929 crash, and there was definitely some lost votes for Tilden among farmers he supported the greenback, by having the economy recover sooner and without the violence in Reconstruction south like OTL, I felt like Tilden would have a greater chance of succeeding. The public in US history IRL typically doesn't like one party dominating the White House for too long so I felt 16 years was time enough to bring forth a Democrat.

As for the Santo Domingo annexation. That is a real event, they really did fear Haiti as mentioned in the last chapter and they actually had less estimated population after their war with Spain than Nicaragua did OTL. This led to their request and the OTL treaty failed with a 28 - 28 tie in the Senate, with many voting against it due to the statehood clause. With Nicaragua being a territory and a growing, successful one at that, it was easier to sway people over, as well as using Lincoln's death. (Gasp! Using a Presidents death to push legislation!? *wink wink LBJ*)

I also alluded to the silver crash with the US paying Britain in silver for the North-West Territory and Arctic islands. Britain and France's exposure to silver did, in fact, lead to a longer depression for them in OTL to 1878/1879 timeframe. As with anything, I try to keep within the realm of historical possibility. So with this, US expansion is done in continental US (or is it...?). Alaska is now connected to the rest of the US and the UK is going to be very unhappy with Canada for convincing them to sell *cough* Yukon gold rush *cough*. As for the large time jumps, well, there were things to discuss but so much was wrapped up in either the Depression or Scandal that I just didn't want to go into it, so jumped ahead. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with President Tilden. Cheers!
 
Interesting, looks like the US is starting to look outside the continental United States for some land to Manifest Destiny. Great update too!
 
Interesting, looks like the US is starting to look outside the continental United States for some land to Manifest Destiny. Great update too!
Thanks! And not looking to far, with the large acquisition in what is modern Canada in OTL, and Santo Domingo, they aren't really looking too much. In this TL, Hawai'i is more for further Asia-Pacific trade and as a place in the future to project power militarily but not necessarily for colonization. This will be seen when the Spanish-American war happens, as I have a change in mind that will probably confuse people but it ties back to the large land purchases that have just happened.
 
Thanks! And not looking to far, with the large acquisition in what is modern Canada in OTL, and Santo Domingo, they aren't really looking too much. In this TL, Hawai'i is more for further Asia-Pacific trade and as a place in the future to project power militarily but not necessarily for colonization. This will be seen when the Spanish-American war happens, as I have a change in mind that will probably confuse people but it ties back to the large land purchases that have just happened.
I see, can't wait for the next update!
 
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