Made a Nation: America and the World after an alt-Trent Affair

For one thing, Joseph E. Johnston was a notorious bullet magnet - Winfield Scott said of him that he was "a great soldier, but he has an unfortunate knack of getting himself shot in nearly every engagement" - so it would be easy to remove him from command in any timeline by just having him get shot at some other battle.

As for Lee, the events of this timeline wouldn't really effect his failed campaign in West Virginia or his defeat at Cheat Mountain - that happened in September 1861 and the diverging point of this timeline occurs in November - and following that he was sent to the Carolina's where he was in charge of overseeing construction of coastal defence until he was returned to Richmond in 1862 to oversee the strategic deployment of troops in Virginia.

With the British at war with the Union and taking the pressure off of the Confederacy, you could perhaps have Lee restored to favour in 1862 with a second, and more successful, campaign in West Virginia, driving the Federals out, disrupting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, threatening to cut the Federal states in two with (at least) the threat of an invasion of Ohio, and diverting Federal troops away from Kentucky and Washington DC, which would allow Joe Johnston's army to overrun the Federal capital and Sidney Johnston/Beauregard/Bragg's army to occupy most of Kentucky.

It would also give the Confederacy more authority in outright refusing to recognize the legitimacy of West Virginia if they occupied it at the War's conclusion.

Also, as a side note, the Confederacy agreeing to give up its claim to Missouri is going to cause unrest because Sterling Price is not going to accept that lying down.

Price initially opposed the Confederacy and secession but when the Federals seized the State Militia at Camp Jackson he took this to be an act of war by the United States against Missouri and took up arms in support of the South, fighting for the liberation of his state.

The Confederacy signing away it's claim to Missouri is likely to be seen by Price as a betrayal of his home state, and I wouldn't be surprised to see hostilities continue there after the war between the North and South had concluded, and Price was charismatic and popular enough a figure to make it a not insignificant, but ultimately futile, act of armed resistance to Federal rule.
Thank you for your interesting and detailed response. I think your take is a highly plausible series of events both for Lee's somewhat less illustrious career and for events in Kentucky and West Virginia. I'm tempted to go back to the first update an add a few extra paragraphs to flesh out the skipped over details of the war based on your ideas.

Absolutely no doubt that there'd be die-hards such as Price on both sides of the border. There's not too many options available for them though. Either they can die in a futile act of resistance, migrate across the border or reluctantly acquiesce.
 
A New Order in Europe
The 1860s and 70s were a time of great change. National identities were in flux, many people and regions having conflicting loyalties which pulled them towards different forms of nationalism, regionalism and political ideology. This was just as true in Europe as it was in North America.

In Germany, nation unification under a liberal system had appeared in reach during the Revolutions of 1848. When the conservative Austrian chancellor Schwarzenberg rejected the idea of German unification in 1849, the Frankfurt Assembly had offered the crown to Frederick William IV, King of Prussia. The King refused to accept what he regarded as a “dog collar with which they wish to lash me to the revolution of 1848.” Hereafter, it was obvious that German unification could come about only through the machinations of either Austria or Prussia.

Austria sought to dominate the German Confederation in order protect its position as a European great power, while Prussia saw itself as the natural leader of Germany. This belief was not unreasonable, as Austria had begun to fall far behind Prussia in economic and military affairs. Even with a far smaller population, Prussia produced twice as much coal and iron ore as Austria. The crisis over Schleswig-Holstein would provide Prussian Minister-President Otto von Bismarck with an opportunity to cement Prussia’s pre-eminence over their Austrian rival.

The two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were autonomous states under the sovereignty of the King of Denmark. Holstein was predominantly populated by Germans, whereas Schleswig had a more mixed German-Danish population. Both were a long running cause célèbre of German nationalism. The crisis arose in March 1863 when King Frederick VII of Denmark announced a unified constitution for Schleswig and Denmark. With Britain distracted by the ongoing war in North America, Bismarck saw an opportunity to embarrass Austria in the eyes of the other German states by acting unilaterally against Denmark. While the Austrians dithered, Prussia mobilised its Army and declared war on Denmark in August 1863, beginning the Prusso-Danish War.

Despite an inconclusive naval engagement at the Battle of Heligoland and receiving military support only from the Kingdom of Hannover, Prussia ultimately defeated the Danes and secured the direct annexation of Schleswig-Holstein. The result of the war dramatically raised the prestige of Prussia, cementing it in the eyes of even of those more partial to Austria as the natural leader of Germany. Austria, on the other hand, was humiliated.

These events set the stage for the War of German Unification in 1866. Prussia’s additional prestige from the war with Denmark proved advantageous, as pressure from German nationalists (even those of a liberal, previously anti-Prussian persuasion) led many rulers otherwise tempted to side with Austria to remain neutral. Most significantly, the neutrality of the Kingdom of Hannover allowed the Prussians to concentrate the great majority of their forces against Austria. Bismarck also concluded an offensive alliance with Italy in April, with Italy wishing to the annex Italian-speaking Austrian territory in Venetia.

Prussia’s preparations for war were dealt a great blow on the 7th May by the sudden assassination of Otto von Bismarck by disillusioned anti-war student Ferdinand Cohen-Blind, who shot the Prussian Minister-President three times with a revolver. Despite this disaster, the slide towards war was already irreversible. Upon the outbreak of the war, Prussia speedily defeated the forces of the Kingdom of Saxony. Four Prussian field armies commanded by Helmuth von Molkte then advanced into Austrian Bohemia. The subsequent Battle of Sadowa decided the war, as von Molkte’s armies completely destroyed the Austrian forces. Austrian commander Ludwig von Benedek was unable to withdraw his forces across the Danube river and was left with no choice but to surrender his army.

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Prussian victory at the Battle of Sadowa, the penultimate battle of the War of German Unification​

This traumatic Austrian defeat led to the conclusion of the war. Whereas Bismarck had reportedly been reluctant to inflict a harsh peace on Austria, King Wilhelm of Prussia and his other ministers had no such compunctions. In a peace mediated by France, Prussia annexed Saxony as well as a few smaller central German states. Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia was separated from Austria and united as a Kingdom of Bohemia-Moravia in personal union with Prussia. Austria was also ejected from the German Confederation and was made to surrender Venetia to Italy. The acquiescence of France to these terms, which amounted to nothing less than a blueprint for German unification under Prussian leadership, was bought with the annexation of Luxembourg and the Bavarian Rhineland, as well as the surrender of the Prussian Saar region.

At this point, the only remaining impediment to full German unification was the particularism of the south German states based on their separate Catholic identity. At some points in history this separate identity had been incredibly strong and seemed an insurmountable barrier to unification, with one Catholic paper observing that there was “a vastly more profound bond between a Catholic German and a Catholic African than between the latter and a German atheist.” Nevertheless, the rise of Prussian prestige discredited these tendencies and liberal nationalists were now in ascendance across southern Germany. The accord between these liberal nationalists and Prussian conservatives in favour of unification, and a belief that with Hannover and Bohemia there could be a balance in any new German state, opened the way for a deeper German integration. This culminated in the 1868 Berlin Conference, which replaced the German Confederation with a new German Federal Empire. King Wilhelm of Prussia assumed the title of Emperor of Germany. This new entity constituted a single economic area, with a central government and unified military forces.

In Austria, which was now excluded from this process of German unification, the defeat in the war shook the very foundations of the state and led to a new constitutional settlement designed to preserve the eclectic remains of the once vast Habsburg domains. The settlement sought to reconcile with the Hungarians by reconstituting the historic Kingdom of Hungary, now the largest part of remaining Empire. In order to prevent the Hungarians from completely dominating the new state structure, self-rule was also established in the Polish-majority Kingdom of Galicia. The compromise of 1867 between the Austrians, Hungarians and Polish Galicians established the Empire of Austria-Hungary-Galicia (which became commonly known as the Triple Monarchy).

Italy had nominally been a victor in the War of German Unification, achieving the long-desired liberation of Venetia from Austrian rule and the final ejection of Austrian influence from the Italian peninsula. This acquisition, however, had been achieved more at the beneficence of Prussia than as a result of Italian military success. Additionally, Italian nationalists were dissatisfied by the failure to annex the remains of the Papal States. Such an annexation would allow the move of the capital of the Italian state to Rome and complete the process of Italian unification (Risorgimento).

French Emperor Napoleon III would continue to frustrate this desire with the stationing of French troops in Rome, a presence he felt compelled to maintain as his regime increasingly relied on the support of political Catholicism. In the long run, this would lead to a deep enmity between Italy and France. For the time being, however, Italy was far too weak to seriously challenge France. Italy was the poorest nation in western Europe, afflicted by parochialism and a strong regional inequity between the north and south of the country. From 1871, Italy was also diplomatically isolated in Europe. France, Germany and the Triple Monarchy had established the League of the Three Emperors. This was a loose alliance built more on a distrustful need to maintain a balance of power than any mutual regard between the signatories.


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The New Order in Europe, 1870​

In Britain, the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston had passed away near the end of 1865, just months after the Treaty of Brussels ended the war in North America that had dominated the end of his long political career. His death at the moment of his greatest triumph, having crippled the rising American threat to Britain’s imperial hegemony, elevated him above all the other British Prime Ministers of the 19th century.

His worldview, dubbed “Palmerstonianism”, would influence both the Liberal and Conservative parties for the next half a century. Palmerstonianism entailed nothing less than a far-reaching vision for British global hegemony. The world would gradually move towards universal progress based upon British cultural norms and leadership. Trade, Christianity, education and constitutionalism would be advanced – with critics of the vision pointing to trade as Britain’s true motivation. Palmerstonianism also held no place for the “recalcitrant elites” of other societies, who were held to be “reliant upon privilege, corruption and superstition.” Shipping magnate Macgregor Laird dubbed Palmerston’s ideas as “the moral power of the 24 pounder.” None of this meant, of course, that Britain sought to conquer the entire world. Much of Britain’s hegemony rested on an “informal empire” of economic and political influence, with most of Latin America and the Confederate States falling into such a category.

This conflict between idealism and pragmatism would plague British politics and Britain’s role as a global power for the foreseeable future. While the independence of the Confederate States and the humbling of the Union cemented Britain’s pre-eminence, there was much soul-searching when it became clear that the result of the war had significantly strengthened the institution of slavery in the western hemisphere.

AN: Essentially, Britain's distraction in North America means Bismarck acts more decisively against Denmark. This in turn means German unification unfolds rather differently. Emperor Napoleon III manipulates the situation for the good of France, and Britain basks in its American triumph for the time being.
 
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That's a very different beginning to Germany. I hope the Bonapartes survive in France. Every TL I've ever seen always sees them get overthrown eventually. It would be nice to see them survive longterm. Great update!
 
Just finished reading a book about all of Great Britain's Prime Ministers up to David Cameron a couple of days ago, and I must admit, I found Palmerston among the most interesting, particularly his infighting with John Russell. I like what you did with him ITTL, elevating him to a more prominent status. I look forward to Gladstone-Disraeli hijinks that came up in OTL after Derby, Russell, and Palmerston left them at the wheel.
 
That's a very different beginning to Germany. I hope the Bonapartes survive in France. Every TL I've ever seen always sees them get overthrown eventually. It would be nice to see them survive longterm. Great update!
True, not many TLs have Napoleon III survive. From that map, the Triple Monarchy kind of looks like the Quadruple Monarchy with Croatia having its own borders within the Empire. And I'm kind of shocked that the Habsburgs still become allies with Germany, given that not only Austria was locked out of the German Confederation but Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia were also taken from the Austrian Empire. My guess is that this version of the League of Three Emperors dissolves when the Triple Monarchy and Germany develop more tension. Without Alsace-Lorraine in German hands, France is a wildcard with two of the two factions.
 
Well written and researched, my compliments. Nitpick though, if Britain declared war, so would the French. Napoleon III was simply waiting for the British declaration of war to join himself.
 
That's a very different beginning to Germany. I hope the Bonapartes survive in France. Every TL I've ever seen always sees them get overthrown eventually. It would be nice to see them survive longterm. Great update!
I don't think I've ever seen a TL with a long-lasting Napoleon III either. For the time being, there's no imminent danger to the Bonapartes without an equivalent to the Franco-Prussian War. However, even without that there was a republican opposition in France so things may change in the future.
Just finished reading a book about all of Great Britain's Prime Ministers up to David Cameron a couple of days ago, and I must admit, I found Palmerston among the most interesting, particularly his infighting with John Russell. I like what you did with him ITTL, elevating him to a more prominent status. I look forward to Gladstone-Disraeli hijinks that came up in OTL after Derby, Russell, and Palmerston left them at the wheel.
I didn't mention it in the update, but as OTL John Russell has succeeded to the premiership after Palmerston's death. Regards to Gladstone and Disraeli, as far as I'm concerned they have in no way been butterflied away so we'll see some of them. I'll have to brush off my book about their various feuds and hijinks.
True, not many TLs have Napoleon III survive. From that map, the Triple Monarchy kind of looks like the Quadruple Monarchy with Croatia having its own borders within the Empire. And I'm kind of shocked that the Habsburgs still become allies with Germany, given that not only Austria was locked out of the German Confederation but Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia were also taken from the Austrian Empire. My guess is that this version of the League of Three Emperors dissolves when the Triple Monarchy and Germany develop more tension. Without Alsace-Lorraine in German hands, France is a wildcard with two of the two factions.
As in OTL, Croatia is a subordinate part of Hungary with some limited autonomy. Dalmatia remains under the administration of the Austrian section of the Empire. Merging these into a 4th kingdom and creating a "Quadruple Monarchy" will be the focus of Croatian politics going forward, but the Hungarians just aren't going to get onboard with that.

The thing to note about Austria here is that their defeat compared to our Austro-Prussian War is much worse. In OTL, after the Battle of Koniggratz the Austrians were able to withdraw their forces across the Danube. Here, the Prussians have an entire extra field army and TTL's Battle of Sadowa is more like a German Cannae. So now they're left humiliated, shorn of territory they've held for centuries, and having alienated practically every other great power they've latched onto the League as a chance for some much needed peace. However, in saying that the League will not last forever, you're very much correct.
I wonder if the US and Confederacy start looking more at European tactics and weaponry.
I imagine so. It will probably be a two-way street as well, with Europeans very much intrigued to decipher the lessons of the history's first industrial war.
Well written and researched, my compliments. Nitpick though, if Britain declared war, so would the French. Napoleon III was simply waiting for the British declaration of war to join himself.
Thank you. :) My impression with regards to France is that they would rather focus on Mexico than actively engage in the war beyond moral and financial support. I'm very much open to discussing this further, however.
 
The British are locked out of Europe. They're going to be dealing with the Russians in their Great Game, a France not seeking allies against Germany and a much stronger German Empire with both being colonial competitors..
 
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I don't think I've ever seen a TL with a long-lasting Napoleon III either. For the time being, there's no imminent danger to the Bonapartes without an equivalent to the Franco-Prussian War. However, even without that there was a republican opposition in France so things may change in the future.
[…]
Thank you. :) My impression with regards to France is that they would rather focus on Mexico than actively engage in the war beyond moral and financial support. I'm very much open to discussing this further, however.
Depends. Has the army been reformed? Their pay was garbage, their organization was useless, there was no status from the military, and maybe the lifers fighting in Algeria had a clue but wrong type of battlefield and wildly different style of combat. Was the Franco-British free trade still passed? That ruined previously strong business support for the government. I am quite fond of the man, I have big plans for him in a timeline, but he’s a mixed bag at best and just terrible up against Bismarck. All he really needs though is to be staying alive ‘till eighteen seventy-four.

Napoléon IV atop peaceful France for the last decade is a big help for norms: Republicans gradually become Radicals and Liberals; marry a Bourbon Infanta, that helps to break up the Orleanist and Legitimist factions with no Henry V progeny. Or it all goes sideways, Napoléon III screws it up at the last minute or IV (by general account a solid young man) gets unlucky.


Napoléon III, in a rare foreign affairs stroke of genius (in the crass realpolitik sense, yes), was the dude constantly bugging the British to join him and stop the USA. I think he’d back the British. The amount of troops committed though is nil or some marines once in a while, the army is all busy in Mexico and Europe. Solid number of ships though, enough to satisfy the British and test out his cool new toys and aim to avoid any real problems with the USA later. But hey, it is Napoléon III we’re talking about, he’s a ditherer who backs out of the deal all the time in the dumbest ways.
 
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Indeed, definite naval commitment from the French. Soldiers, as @Electric Monk says, probably less. Depends though, for prestige purposes Napoleon III might be persuaded to join an Anglo-French military expedition to North America. He can always say he wants to recoup the loans the USA defaulted on in 1783 with no hint of irony that he is using the British to help him do it. 😁
 
Back Up North

1609068130759.png

Anson Burlingame, 19th President of the United States​

The US presidential election of 1860 was a revolution, whereas the 1864 election was a counter-revolution. The election of 1868, on the other hand, was a miracle. Anson Burlingame had pulled off a Republican victory that had seemed impossible just a short time ago. He inherited power in an increasingly fractious country, for the first time uncertain of its destiny and place in the world.

His immediate priority was the very issue which had paved his path to the presidency – the Fugitive Slave Act of 1867. Even with a Democratic controlled Senate, Burlingame was able to secure the repeal of this act as many Democrats were cognisant of the damage the act had done to their party's standing. Burlingame, however, had broader goals than simply the repeal of this one piece of legislation.

While the secession of the South had removed the great majority of slaves and slaveowners from the boundaries of the United States, upon Burlingame’s inauguration slavery was still legal in Missouri, Maryland and Delaware. Despite efforts during the war to abolish or restrict slavery in these states and the fact that in the latter two states free blacks now outnumbered their enslaved compatriots, no action had been taken. The Vallandigham administration had taken no action out of concern that doing so would cause unrest in states where loyalties were still divided, and also out of a reluctance to contribute further to the “social problem” of free blacks.

Burlingame thought differently, and resolved to secure “the complete abolition of slavery in the United States by constitutional amendment, so help me God.” This was easier said than done. Congressional Democrats refused to cooperate with Burlingame without precondition. Senator George H. Pendleton of Ohio attempted to secure a compromise amendment which would simultaneously abolish slavery and permanently disbar black people from American citizenship. Even had Burlingame been inclined to accept such a deal, the Republicans in the House of Representatives would have refused to accept it. The question of the United States’ remaining slaves was therefore mired in legislative deadlock.

One significant step taken by Burlingame was to permanently move the US capital to Philadelphia, cementing a change made out of military necessity during the war. The District of Columbia was absorbed by the state of Maryland. It is unknown what else he could have achieved with more time in office, for Anson Burlingame died quite suddenly in January 1870. He was succeeded by his Vice President Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania, who became the 20th President of the United States.

The Curtin presidency would become embroiled by the rising issue of religious and political sectarianism. This was brought into sharp focus by the devastating New York Riots of July 1870. Conditions in New York City had been declining steadily for years, with many tens of thousands living in abysmal conditions – “dank, dark and miserable basements.” The city’s politics were riven with religious strife. In an overwhelmingly Protestant nation, New York was roughly 50% Catholic with large immigrant populations. In addition, the Tammany Hall political organisation under the leadership of William M. Tweed dominated the city with Irish Catholic support.

The riots were precipitated by the commemorations of the Battle of the Boyne (which preserved Protestant rule in Ireland in 1690) held by the city’s branch of the Protestant organisation known as the Order of Orange. The Police, backed by Tweed, had initially sought to forbid the march but had been forced to back down. The New York Tribune had charged that “the Irish, under the leadership of Mr. William M. Tweed, had taken possession of the City and State.” On the day of the march, over five thousand Protestant militia participated. Despite advocates of restraint on the part of Church leaders, they were confronted by large militias of local Catholics. The so-called “Battle of Manhattan” killed over 300 people.

The aftermath of this was a total breakdown of order and an explosion of pent-up hatred between New York City’s various social groups. Large portions of the city burned in sectarian confrontations, and the city’s population of free black citizens was also targeted by the Irish mobs in a reflection of the worsening enmity between those two groups in the years since the war. The city’s Colored Orphan Asylum was utterly destroyed. Only after 4 days and over 2,500 deaths was some semblance of order restored with the arrival of federal troops. The reports of the violence shocked the nation.

Besides completely destroying relations between the factions of New York City’s society for the foreseeable future, the consequence of the riots which was of the most immediate importance was the radicalising effect it had upon the Republican Party. There had long been a strain of Republican politics tied to Protestantism and nativism, even if this was not predominant. In this wake of the New York riots, this began to change with the rise of the “Christian Amendment” movement.

After the war, one widespread strain of thought had blamed the defeat upon God’s displeasure with Northern sins. The adherents of this belief denounced the toleration of slavery and the absence of God in the Constitution as collective sins. From this arose a movement to amend the constitution to explicitly define the United States as a Christian, and specifically Protestant, nation. One supporter of the movement stated that “Our nation is Christian – the Constitution is unchristian.”

It was largely discomfort with the new predominance of nativism in the Republican Party which led President Curtin to defect to the Democrats in 1871, effectively changing the hands of power over the federal government without an election. This quixotic decision effectively conceded the Republican Party to an alliance of radicals and nativists.

William Tecumseh Sherman had served with distinction in the western theatre during the war under Ulysses Grant. The origin of Sherman’s middle name is the early 19th century Native American leader Tecumseh, which it brutally ironic given Sherman’s ultimate fate. After the end of the war, Sherman had struggled for a time with depression before ultimately deciding to remain in the reduced post-war army. In early 1872, he found his himself commanding the 25th Infantry Regiment, one of the few regiments of black soldiers in the post-war era which had been re-established during Burlingame’s presidency to keep order in the western territories. The Lakota referred to these soldiers as “black Wasichu”, literally meaning black white men.

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Troops of the 25th Infantry Regiment sometime before the Battle of Bighorn Lake​

The regiment was frequently subject to discriminatory treatment from the US Army’s leadership due to its racial composition, being forced to frequently put up with substandard equipment. It was partly for this reason that Sherman and his entire regiment of 700 men would meet a gruesome end in July 1872 at the Battle of Bighorn Lake in the southern portion of Montana Territory. They were defeated and massacred by a Cheyenne-Lakota warband under the tribal leader known as Morning Star.

The events at Bighorn Lake further discredited Curtin and Republicans would relentlessly blame him for the disaster. The Republican presidential nominee was Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts, whose membership in the short-lived nativist American Party in the 1850s and support from Radical Republicans made him the ideal candidate to unite these two factions. His running mate was Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy of Kansas, who had strong radical credentials.

President Curtin was able to secure the Democratic nomination, with Allen G. Thurman of Ohio as his running mate. Curtin’s campaign ignored the question of slavery and black civil rights. He drew strong support from Catholic leaders, both due to opposition to Republican nativism and the fact that shorn of the South, the Catholic Church was in some ways the nation’s most conservative institution. Curtin opposed the gold standard, a “golden straightjacket” which he supposed would devastate the west and subordinate the nation to British financiers.

He also sought to appeal to those impacted by the rise of wage labour. Whereas at one time wage labour had usually been a temporary state, regarded by Abraham Lincoln as signifying “either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune”, structural changes in the economy had led to the rise of permanent wage labour. This was said to be “as much a servile labor regime as slavery or serfdom.”

Despite this, he was ultimately defeated in a landslide. The Banks/Pomeroy ticket even narrowly won Missouri, reflecting slavery’s decline in that state. Curtin won only the other two slaveholding states of Maryland and Delaware.

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United States presidential election, 1872
Nathaniel P. Banks (R-MA)/Samuel C. Pomeroy (R-KS) – 3,014,712 – 243 electoral votes
Andrew G. Curtin (D-PA)/Allen G. Thurman (D-OH) – 1,724,364 – 11 electoral votes
 
I've basically finished the next bit about Canada, and I'll post that soon. After that I'll take a short break from writing this.
The British are locked out of Europe. They're going to be dealing with the Russians in their Great Game, a France not seeking allies against Germany and a much stronger German Empire with both being colonial competitors..
Britain's diplomatic situation is perhaps not as bad as it appears here. None of three great powers of the League are set against Britain, in fact rather the opposite. At this point Britain just isn't looking to form alliances in Europe, and that won't change unless they start to see one of the powers as a threat.
Depends. Has the army been reformed? Their pay was garbage, their organization was useless, there was no status from the military, and maybe the lifers fighting in Algeria had a clue but wrong type of battlefield and wildly different style of combat. Was the Franco-British free trade still passed? That ruined previously strong business support for the government. I am quite fond of the man, I have big plans for him in a timeline, but he’s a mixed bag at best and just terrible up against Bismarck. All he really needs though is to be staying alive ‘till eighteen seventy-four.

Napoléon IV atop peaceful France for the last decade is a big help for norms: Republicans gradually become Radicals and Liberals; marry a Bourbon Infanta, that helps to break up the Orleanist and Legitimist factions with no Henry V progeny. Or it all goes sideways, Napoléon III screws it up at the last minute or IV (by general account a solid young man) gets unlucky.


Napoléon III, in a rare foreign affairs stroke of genius (in the crass realpolitik sense, yes), was the dude constantly bugging the British to join him and stop the USA. I think he’d back the British. The amount of troops committed though is nil or some marines once in a while, the army is all busy in Mexico and Europe. Solid number of ships though, enough to satisfy the British and test out his cool new toys and aim to avoid any real problems with the USA later. But hey, it is Napoléon III we’re talking about, he’s a ditherer who backs out of the deal all the time in the dumbest ways.
Indeed, definite naval commitment from the French. Soldiers, as @Electric Monk says, probably less. Depends though, for prestige purposes Napoleon III might be persuaded to join an Anglo-French military expedition to North America. He can always say he wants to recoup the loans the USA defaulted on in 1783 with no hint of irony that he is using the British to help him do it. 😁
I'm a little out of my depth here, I've only done a little bit of research on the Second French Empire and that was mostly just to make the bit about German unification make sense. I'll have to read into things a bit more before going into any detail. I think I recall what you're saying about the free trade agreement, and I can't see why any of the events so far would have butterflied it away.

I'll consider going back to a bit more French involvement in the war, albeit not very much because I agree with the interpretation of a dithering Napoleon III. One thing that hasn't been covered yet, but will be in 2-3 updates time, is that the Monroe Doctrine has now basically collapsed. Will Napoleon III be satisfied with just his success in Mexico? I personally think not.
 
Just finished reading a book about all of Great Britain's Prime Ministers up to David Cameron a couple of days ago, and I must admit, I found Palmerston among the most interesting, particularly his infighting with John Russell. I like what you did with him ITTL, elevating him to a more prominent status. I look forward to Gladstone-Disraeli hijinks that came up in OTL after Derby, Russell, and Palmerston left them at the wheel.
Palmerston one of my political heroes.
 
And Further North
Across the northern border of the United States in the late 1860s were the disparate colonies and possessions of British North America. Upon the outbreak of war with the United States in 1861, all of these colonies had been suddenly thrust onto the frontlines of the conflict. While with British support they had all ultimately been able to eject the Americans either by force or at the peace negotiations in Brussels, and New Brunswick had even annexed a small amount of territory, the war had inflicted immense damage. The Province of Canada in the Great Lakes region had been particularly devastated by the fighting.

Even in the 1850s the various colonies had achieved some level of self-government and were beginning to explore their own ambitions and place in the world. The war made it obvious that a greater integration of British North America was necessary, but the exact form this would take was very much undecided. There were great differences between the Province of Canada (which was composed of the mostly English-speaking Protestant Upper Canada and the mostly French Catholic Lower Canada) and the Maritime colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

The Maritimes were orientated culturally and commercially towards Britain, with few links to “the Canadas” and the region around the Great Lakes. The activities of the Irish-American Fenian movement in Canada during the war, and suspicions about the disloyalty of the French-Canadians stemming from the 1862 Montreal Draft Riots, also fed a great reluctance towards an all-encompassing Canadian unification in the Maritime colonies. Perhaps most importantly, whereas whisky was the universal drink of the Canadas, the Maritimes were more partial to rum.

For all these reasons, the Maritime colonies (excluding Newfoundland, which opted to remain under direct British rule for the time being) formed the United Maritime Provinces in 1866 after negotiations held at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The federation of the Maritime colonies threw the future of the Province of Canada and other British possessions in North America into doubt.

The politics of the Province of Canada had long been prone to a certain level of instability, and the social tensions unleashed by the war did not improve matters. For one thing, the over 200,000 Irish in the Province by 1860 meant that the Orange and Green (Protestant and Catholic) sides of Irish life and politics had been exported to Canada. Sectarian fracas were far from unknown, with axe handles being the weapon of choice. In Upper Canada, there was deep dissatisfaction with the current constitutional arrangement, which gave equal representation to Upper and Lower Canada despite Upper Canada’s greater population.

The predominately Protestant Reform Party was particularly vocal in calling for a new political arrangement, led by Scottish Presbyterian immigrant George Brown. This desire for change, and a resentment of perceived French Catholic disloyalty during the war, elevated Brown to the position of one of the province’s Joint Premiers in 1866. Conservative John A. MacDonald was ejected from office. Brown had an increasingly poor relationship with the conservative “blue party” leader Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau, the Joint Premier representing Lower Canada. The tension in their relationship, and the relationship between their constituents, would explode as a consequence of events further to the west in 1869.

The largest single part of British North America at the time was Rupert’s Land, which was governed by the semi-political Hudson Bay Company. In the Red River region of Rupert’s Land, tensions between newly arriving colonists and the local Metis people were about to explode. The Metis were a mixed European-Native ethnic group. In the winter and spring they would live on river-lot farms in the French style, and in the summer and autumn they would hunt for buffalo. There were English-speaking and Protestant subgroups of Metis, but their name would become synonymous with the French Catholic Metis who revolted against the Company under the leadership of Louis Riel in 1869.

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Louis Riel and his followers, 1869​

Riel and his men seized Upper Fort Garry, the main centre of the Hudson Bay Company in the Red River region. The leader of the local Anglo settlers, Thomas Scott, was killed during the rebellion. Riel’s actions were perceived as little better than savagery in Upper Canada, whereas in Lower Canada the population was sympathetic to him largely on account of their common heritage. The murder of a group of Metis in Toronto who were travelling to negotiate with Governor-General Viscount Monck inflamed tensions in the province to breaking point.

It was at this point that the increasingly concerned British government of William Gladstone, in power since his landslide electoral victory of 1868, stepped in. The Earl Granville, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, was dispatched to North America in an unprecedented effort to leverage the prestige of the British government to bring some kind of order to the Canadas. The result was the Ottawa Conference of 1870.

The Ottawa Conference led to the confederation of Britain’s North American possessions (besides the Maritimes and Newfoundland) as the Kingdom of Canada. The political structure of the new state was a compromise that satisfied no one and a recipe for political disfunction. The new kingdom was a federal state. Upper Canada became the province of Ontario, and Lower Canada the province of Quebec. Most of the West was partitioned between British Columbia and the newly created province of Manitoba, which was dominated by the Metis. Both of these provinces had small settled populations and would struggle to administer the great swathes of territory they had been granted.

The Kingdom of Canada’s federal legislature consisted of a House of Commons with representation proportional to the population of the four provinces, but the legislature’s upper house was a powerful Provincial Council modelled on the US Senate. Each province was entitled to 3 representatives, giving equal power to the predominantly Anglo-Protestant provinces (Ontario and British Columbia) and the French-Catholic ones (Quebec and Manitoba). This political structure aided the “French Manitoba” movement, which sponsored migration from Quebec to bolster French-Catholic dominance. The movement would be aided by the increasing nativist turn of the United States, which removed the possibility of migration there for most French-Canadians.

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George Brown and Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau, the somewhat reluctant founding fathers of the Kingdom of Canada​

George Brown became the new nation’s first Prime Minister under the Liberal Party, with his rival Narcisse-Fortunat Belleau’s Conservative Party in opposition. Both sought to appeal to opposition groups in one another’s home provinces, Brown to the anti-clerical rouges faction in Quebec and Belleau to Irish Catholics in Ontario, but ultimately the state structure would lead to increased deadlock and tension. The popularity of the Orange Order exploded in Ontario, expanding upon the 900 lodges it already had in 1870.
 
Map of North America, 1870
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North America after the formation of Canada, 1870
Some notes on previous two chapters:
  • NYC really did see a pretty bad sectarian riot in 1870, but ITTL things are much worse. There were no Draft Riots in 1863 due to the lack of Irish "off the boats" for the previous 2 years and an increased willingness to fight in a war against Britain as opposed to just the South. Here we have all the tensions due to living conditions, local political power, religious differences and racial strife unleashed in one bloody disturbance. Some of the details about the Christian Amendment movement are also OTL, just their importance had been amplified.
  • Far from driving a new sense of national unity, the war leaves Canadian society deeply fractured. Even in OTL, the confederation of the Maritimes with the Canadas into a single state seemed pretty unlikely for a long time and was a close-run thing. Here, the Maritimes see the Canadas as a bit of a mess and far too damaged to seriously contemplate confederation with them. Additionally, John MacDonald deserves a lot of credit for making Canadian Confederation a success, and ITTL greater dissatisfaction towards his amity with French-Canadians means he's booted from office due to their perceived disloyalty/lack of enthusiasm during the war.
 
Tokugawa Consolidation pt. 1
Since the sixteenth century, the Tokugawa Shoguns had been at the top of a feudal power structure and the effective rulers of the Japanese archipelago. The daimyos, the local magnates and feudal lords, exercised power in their local domains on the Shogun’s behalf. The Emperor and the imperial house had been reduced to a near-powerless figurehead, a quasi-religious institution dominated by a never-ending series of complicated and timeless rituals. By the mid-19th century Japan had also become increasingly isolated from the outside world, eschewing trade and interaction except in the most tightly controlled circumstances.

The Dutch maintained a miniscule and carefully monitored trading post in the southern city of Nagasaki. Many of the Dutch traders and diplomats who had served there speculated that the only reason the Shoguns permitted the station was as a source of information about the outside world. Christian missionary work was strictly forbidden, and had been since 16th century Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi had expelled the Jesuits as a threat to the social order, declaring Japan to be the "land of the gods.” Stranded Japanese sailors and fishermen who were rescued by foreigners were often treated with great suspicion as possible sources of foreign influence upon returning home. Japan’s small remaining Christian community was one of the most persecuted on Earth, and an allegation of conversion to Christianity was often sufficient to ruin a career or even lead to torture and execution.

Throughout the 1840s and 50s Japanese leaders became increasingly concerned with the ever closer and more frequent encroachment of western imperialism in Asia. Encounters with Russian traders and settlers in the northernmost Japanese islands became more common, and there was great shock and consternation at accounts of China’s humiliation in the First Opium War. One samurai intellectual later noted that “the English barbarians were invading the Ch’ing empire… I, greatly lamenting the events of the time, submitted a plan in a memorial.”

The whole system of isolation abruptly collapsed as a result of the American expedition led by Commodore Perry in 1853. The motivations of the expedition, which none could have anticipated to become such a seminal part of history, were fairly trivial. The Americans sought to protect the interests of their whalers who routinely frequented the Pacific. Reports of Japanese mistreatment of shipwrecked sailors had fired great public indignation. So it was that when Perry entered Edo Bay with four ships mounting sixty-one guns, that the Japanese reluctantly acceded to his demands and Japan’s long era of national isolation had come to an end.

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Expedition of Commodore Perry to Japan, 1853​

By 1860, the consequences of Perry’s expedition had brought Japan to a crossroads between feudalism and modernity. That the old order was on the verge of collapse was obvious to all. What the future had in store was far less so. There was great ferment against the increased influence and presence of all things foreign – traders, advisers, ideas and technology. Events in far away North America, which were of little interest or comprehension even to educated Japanese, created the conditions for this dissatisfaction to become rebellion. The outbreak of war with the United States led to a dearth of British (and to a lesser extent, French) naval assets in the Far East. When an English merchant was murdered in 1862, there was no retaliatory action. When in 1863, the daimyo of the Chōshū domain ordered the shelling of foreign ships in the Straits of Shimonoseki, only the Dutch were able to mount a largely perfunctory response.

This lack of action by the foreigners embolden the Chōshū, who initiated the Great Rebellion against the authority of the Shogun in mid-1864. Many other daimyo of a similar anti-foreign persuasion joined, perhaps most notably the powerful Satsuma on the southern island of Kyushu. Other daimyo turned against the Chōshū, regarding their rebellion as hasty and the Chōshū themselves as a possible threat. The Tosa domain, whose daimyo had previously flirted with the idea of an anti-Shogunate alliance, ultimately reaffirmed their loyalty. Many were also mollified by the success of the Shogun’s envoys in London, where the distracted British had conceded a 5 year delay in the opening of Edo, Osaka, Kobe, and Niigata to foreign trade.

The Great Rebellion set southern Japan on fire, as the forces of the rebelling daimyo clashed with loyalists. The rebels reached the apogee of their success towards the end of 1865 with the capture of Kyoto, the traditional seat of the Emperors of Japan. There they declared the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the restoration of the power of the imperial throne under the Emperor Kōmei. The Shogunate, however, was not so easily defeated. Their seat in the city of Edo remained unconquered, and their loyalists still controlled most of central and northern Japan. Additionally, the end of the war in North America led to a resurgence in the presence of the western powers, who universally backed the Shogun against the anti-foreign southern rebels.

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Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the first Shogun of the modern era​

In 1866 the Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi died, and his successor Tokugawa Yoshinobu would prove to be a dynamic and reformist leader. He accepted the support of the foreigners, with a French military mission having particular success in modernising the Shogunate’s army and establishing a small but effective naval force. This new model military would inflict several key defeats on the rebels over the course of 1866-67, retaking the imperial seat in Kyoto and ejecting the rebels from the main island of Honshu. Over the course of 1868, the Shogunate isolated and defeated the rebellion’s final redoubt on Kyushu, cementing the Shogun's status as the ultimate source of power in Japan. The discredited imperial house, now after the death of Kōmei under his son the Emperor Meiji, was once more firmly subordinated to the political power of the Shogun. Tokugawa Yoshinobu would embark on a program of far-reaching reform and modernisation, subsequently dubbed the "Tokugawa Consolidation", to bring Japan into the modern era.

AN: This is perhaps not my best work, but I wanted to try and dig into the key events that happened in the 1860s and think about what impact the British distraction in those key years would have. In this case, the more I read the more I thought the impact was rather a lot. The lack of bite to the foreigner's bark leads the pro-imperial daimyo to overplay their hand, the Shogunate is less discredited by a more conciliatory British government and by the time the westerners are paying significant attention to Japan again the Shogun is the only real option to support. The Meiji Restoration therefore becomes... the Tokugawa Consolidation.
 
Tokugawa Shogunate was doomed because the Emperor's authority was combined with a powerful rebels.
When the emperor sided with the rebels at Toba-Fushimi, their morale collapsed and the Loyalists were limited to the Tohoku region.
Had they not worked together, survival would not have been impossible.
Therefore, it would be necessary to avoid the rebels from taking over Kyoto.
 
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