280. Loose ends #1
“Save money. Look for where you can buy products cheaper or wholesale. Make a shopping list in advance and buy only what's on the list.”
John Davison Rockefeller
“Money doesn't smell, but they evaporate.”
Stanislav Jerzy Lec
“The highest achievements of economic thought occur during periods of economic decline.”
“Before buying anything, people should ask themselves three questions. First, do I need this thing? The second one - do I really want to buy it? Thirdly, can I do without her? Otherwise, everything they buy becomes garbage.”
“Me and my cousin Francis have the coinciding interests….”
Emperor Charles V 
US - Mexico
President of the US Ulysses S. Grant and President of Mexico Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada y Corral
had surprisingly coinciding interests. Both of them needed to do something to improve their popularity.
Grant’s presidency recently suffered a number of the setbacks:
- The Southern Democrats just defeated an attempt to establish a free trade treaty with the Kingdom of Hawaii, which would incorporate Pacific islands' sugar industry into the United States' economic sphere hurting the interests of the domestic sugar and rice producers. 
- The Indians massacred George Armstrong Custer and 268 of his men at the Battle of the Little Big Horn and while the public was demanding a revenge, Grant castigated Custer in the press, saying "I regard Custer's massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary—wholly unnecessary."
- There were continued corruption scandals during his presidency, some of them involving his close relatives.
- Last but not least, The Coinage Act of 1873 had been blamed for the Panic of 1873, ongoing depression, high unemployment, massive bankruptcies (and probably the bad weather as well). The Republicans had been losing the Southern states, farmers and workers and majority in the House (and made public the problems in the federal administration). In general, financial crisis heavily hurt the farmers with a resulting drop of the grain production and exports revenue.
So he obviously needed to do something, which was going to be popular on a big scale.
In Mexico President Lerdo de Tejada also had numerous problems:
- He needed to keep his supporters …er… enthusiastic and this required all types of “carrots”.
- He needed to eliminate the regional caudillos by military force and this required money.
- Lerdo de Tejada continued projects initiated by Juarez, most visibly the construction of railways. And this required a lot of money. Especially taking into an account that he (rather wisely) was refusing to let the US companies into this business and the Mexican railroad company died trying.
- He wanted, contrary to the Mexican constitution, to follow footsteps of his predecessor and get reelected and for this he needed a lot of money to buy support because the idea was not popular.
Well, fortunately for the sides involved, each of them had something to offer and Grant’s Secretary of State Hamilton Fish
was quite good in figuring out opportunities even if the affairs with annexation of the Dominican Republic and “treaty” with Hawaii failed.
Negotiations between the US and Mexico started discretely and soon enough it became clear that a mutual consent is not a problem: Grant was ready to buy and de Tejada to sell the mostly empty  lands on the Mexican North. The questions on both sides were just how much and for how much? After a little bit of a healthy bargaining the agreement, called Fish Purchase,
was achieved. Mexican territories North of 39° 5' N (North of Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and Carson City) and from here to the East the 120th meridian West to 36° N are going to be sold to the US for $8,000,000 in gold .
In Northern California the timber industry was an immediate hit. The logging companies that quickly arose believed that there was not only a great demand for lumber, but that California had a plentiful and untapped supply. Indeed, two major factors influenced the rapid rise of California's timber industry: an abundance of forest lands and the belief that such forests contained an inexhaustible supply of lumber. "Growing on both slopes of the Sierra between elevations of 3,000 and 8,000 feet, reaching heights over 150 feet and diameters of between ten and fifteen feet, sugar pine comprised 15 percent of the timber stand in California outside the redwood region."
The Pacific Coast, however, had the greatest resource - the old-growth redwood forests. A single old-growth redwood "yielded between 40,000 and 100,000 board feet of lumber" (
one board foot is one foot square and one inch thick.) A single redwood could provide enough lumber for a large structure - such as a church or hotel. And redwood was resilient - it resisted rot, decay, and fire as well as insect infestation.
Logging redwoods was difficult and dangerous. Loggers and their tools were inadequate to deal with the giant trees. They were too large for ordinary saws and too heavy and large for easy transportation. Transporting logs to mills depended upon animals and abundant water. The procedure was slow and expensive, as well as limited with weather conditions. Loggers could only cut redwoods that grew within about 2,000 feet of a riverbank so that they could flow to a mill.
“In these mills, as in the woods, one is quickly impressed with the fact that the work is not the easiest in the world, nor the most desirable to a 'thin-skinned' person. The incessant din of machinery, the flying belts and pulleys, the endless chains, the rattle and jar, the escape of steam, not to mention the inclines and chutes and other contrivances which seem to be ever waiting to swallow up the unwary, must make it a perfect pandemonium and place of fear and dread.”
To deal with these issues the short railroad lines were built to transport logs from the forest to the mill, steam engines were installed in lumber mills to replace waterwheels. Laborers were recruited both from within the United States and various regions of the world. Relatively high wages, especially in the redwoods, attracted both European and Chinese immigrants. By the early 1880s there were over 300 sawmills and 20 years later, more than a third of the old growth forest was gone. In some areas deforestation reached the level which forced the sawmills to close down.
Effect of the Coinage Act of 1873 was not limited to the US. The general demonetization and cheapening of silver caused the Latin Monetary Union
in 1873 to suspend the conversion of silver to coins. The Union included: France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Peru, Columbia, and Venezuela. Germany switched to gold even earlier. As a result, the silver mining industry in and near Carson city (“Comstock Lode”) was on a verge of a bankruptcy and was not considered as a serious factor during the Fish Purchase.
However, soon enough things started looking better because there were “nuances”: there was a huge market, which was not giving a blip about the bimetallism, gold standard and all other “barbaric” inventions and wanted all its trade to be conducted in the silver coins. It was China and actually the whole East Asia. Prior to 1873 the usual practice for the US-China trade was to get silver from Carson City (mining was done by the American company) transport it to the US and mint silver coins. These coins had been bought by the American and foreign merchants trading with China. Now the mint was closed but a need in coinage remained. Mexican government helped the mining company to get out of the bankruptcy by buying a big part of its shares at a very low price. The mint was established in Carson city and from now on a part of the minted species had been transported to San Francisco to be bought by the merchant ships making stop there before sailing further to the Asian markets. Part of the coins was sold across the border to the American merchants and part was used on a domestic market: of course, the paper money had been pushed down the peoples throats but gold and silver remained money of preference and most of the Mexican peasants were not rich enough to operate in gold.
Unfortunately (for him), President Lerdo de Tejada did not have too much time to reap the benefits of what turned to be an interesting financial schema. The same year he was ousted by a coup of another Mexican liberal (“liberal” was a party affiliation, not some certain set of the principles), general Porfirio Diaz over the unconstitutional attempt to get re-elected. There was a short civil war between porfiristas
in the Battle of Tecoac
in which both sides came close to winning but Diaz got the reinforcements (the fighting did not end after this battle but the strategic winner was obvious). Tejada had no choice but to surrender the presidency and Díaz entered Puebla in November. As a result of the plan's victory Supreme Court President José María Iglesias
was appointed interim president until new elections could be held in Mexico City
. As the only candidate, General Porfirio Díaz assumed the presidency on 12 May 1877. Being an intelligent person he amended the constitutional re-election clause by adding "Except after a period of four years". His 1st presidency was 1877-1880 and the 2nd started, according to the amendment, in 1884. Well, it lasted for much longer than 4 years…
To his credit, King Amadeo I of Spain had enough nerve to remain on the throne for the whole 3 years. His reign started with the assassination of General Juan Prim
, his chief supporter. Amadeo then had to deal with difficult situations, with unstable Spanish politics, republican conspiracies, Carlist
, interparty disputes, fugitive governments and assassination attempts. Amadeo could count on the support of only the Progressive Party
. The progressives divided into monarchists and constitutionalists, which worsened the country's instability, and in 1872 a violent outburst of interparty conflicts hit a peak.
Actually, designation of the Spanish parties seems to be more complicated. The extreme royalists ended up being Carlists. Others defended a nation based on the Cortes and the King. These subsequently became known as moderate or doctrinarian liberals (between 1834 and 1875), and then as conservatives (1876-1923). Finally, a small but highly active group supported the idea of national sovereignty based exclusively on the Spanish people. A more moderate version of the French Jacobeans, these went down in history first as exaltados or extreme radicals (1820-1823), then as progressives (1823-1869), and finally as constitutionalists (1870-1880) and fusionist liberals (1881-1923).
There was a Carlist uprising
in the Basque
regions, and republican uprisings later occurred in cities across the country. The artillery corps of the army went on strike  , and the government instructed Amadeo to discipline them. Then there was an assassination attempt: he was repeatedly shot at in Vía Avenal. The royal carriage was struck by several revolver
bullets. The horses were wounded, but its occupants escaped unhurt.  Eventually Amadeo gave up, officially declared that the Spanish people are ungovernable and abdicated.
Between February 1873 and 29 December 1874 Spain was a Republic. It was proclaimed 11 February 1873 by the National Assembly by 258 votes to 32 against. This republic advocated new theories that shaped the immediate future: federalism, socialism and cantonalism. Within the very short period of its existence the republic had 4 presidents Estanislao Figueras, Francisco Pi y Margall, Nicolás Salmerón and Emilio Castelar. In parallel there were ongoing Third Carlist War, Ten Years War
(uprising in Cuba) and Cantonal Rebellion
(by the "intransigent" federal Republicans, who wanted to establish immediately the Federal Republic from the bottom-up without waiting for the Constituent Cortes
to draft and approve the new Federal Constitution). Finally, on 29 December 1874 in Sagunto
, General Arsenio Martínez Campos
came out in favor of the restoration to the throne of the Bourbon monarchy in the personage of Don Alfonso de Borbón, son of Isabel II. The government of Sagasta (who was a president since 3 September) did not oppose this announcement, permitting the restoration of the monarchy.
The new king, Alfonso XII, started well: he defeated the Carlists and achieved stability based on the existence of two political formations that represented the majority of the electorate: the Conservative Party led by Cánovas, supported by the court and latifundista aristocracy, landowners and people of independent means, and Sagasta's Liberal Party, whose members included people from the professional and middle classes, as well as merchants and industrialists. The Constitution of 1876 guaranteed that liberal and conservative prime ministers would succeed each other ending thus the troubles.
During the period 1850-1890 Sweden witnessed a veritable explosion in its export sector, with agricultural crops, wood and steel being the three dominating categories. Important institutional changes in this period included the abolishment of most tariffs and other barriers to free trade in the 1850s and the introduction of the gold standard in 1873, linking the Swedish krona at a fixed parity to gold. These institutional changes helped the expansion of free trade. During this period Sweden's investment quota (investments/GDP) went from 5% to 10%, called take off. During this period modern economic growth, with yearly GDP growth of around 2% made its advent in Sweden. Large infrastructural investments were made during this period, mainly in the expanding rail road network, which was financed in part by the government and in part by private enterprises.
In 1870s Denmark was doing quite well. Being a predominantly agricultural country it was steadily shifting from grain exports to exports of animal products, mainly butter and bacon. Proposals to impose tariffs on grain, and later on cattle and butter, were turned down by Danish farmers. The majority seems to have realized the advantages accruing from the free imports of cheap animal feed during the ongoing process of transition from vegetable to animal production, at a time when the prices of animal products did not decline as much as grain prices. The dominant middle-sized farm was inefficient for wheat but had its comparative advantage in intensive animal farming with the given technology. The newly invented steam-driven continuous cream separator skimmed more cream from a kilo of milk than conventional methods and had the further advantage of allowing transported milk brought together from a number of suppliers to be skimmed. The Danish dairy industry captured increasing percentage of the rapidly expanding British butter-import market, establishing a reputation for consistent quality that was reflected in high prices. Furthermore, the cooperatives played an active role in persuading the dairy farmers to expand production from summer to year-round dairying. The costs of intensive feeding during the wintertime were more than made up for by a winter price premium.
There was, of course, an additional factor contributing to Denmark’s well-being and general strategic importance: Kiel Canal was finally finished.
Since 1863 Greece had as its king George I of the Danish Glücksburg family.
The realities of politics remained much as before, with numerous elections and even more frequent changes of administration as politicians formed short-lived coalitions, jockeying for power in the disproportionately large parliament. In 1875 a decisive step was taken toward political modernization when King George acknowledged that he would entrust the government to the political leader that demonstrated the confidence of a majority of the deputies in parliament. During the last quarter of the 19th century the kaleidoscopic coalitions of earlier years gave way to a two-party system
in which power alternated
between two men: Kharílaos Trikoúpis
and Theódoros Dhiliyiánnis
. Trikoúpis represented the modernizing, Westernizing trend in politics, and Dhiliyiánnis was a political boss in the traditional mold with no real program other than overturning the reforms of his archrival. Believing the modernization of the political system
and economic development to be the essential preconditions of territorial expansion, Trikoúpis struggled to establish Greece’s credit in international markets and encouraged the country
to industrialize. He also promoted such infrastructural projects as road building, railway construction, and building of the Corinth
Such measures, however, in addition to Trikoúpis’s parallel efforts to modernize the country’s armed forces, required funding, and the increased taxation they entailed proved an easy target for a populist demagogue
such as Dhiliyiánnis. Dhiliyiánnis became increasingly popular by advocating an aggressive policy toward the Ottoman Empire.
From its beginning, the Italian Nationalist Movement had dreamed about Italy joining the World Powers. Not that there were any practical foundations for such a dream but why not? In the North, extensive industrialization and the building of a modern infrastructure was well underway, the Alpine railway lines were either completed or under construction to connect Italy to the French, German and Austrian rail systems and two south-going coastal lines were also completed.
Northern Italian agriculture was modernized, as well, bringing larger profits, underpinned by powerful co-operatives. Of course, the South did not experience the same kind of development in any of the above-mentioned areas (actually, situation in the agriculture was steadily deterriorating) but who cared? It was a part of the united
Italy and this was pretty much the only purpose of its existence. Italian PM, Agostino Depretis, was running administration that was despotic and corrupt even by the Italian standards and, being a true liberal,
managed to control the South by banning public meetings, placing "dangerous" individuals in internal exile on remote penal islands across Italy and adopting militarist policies. His political idea called Trasformismo
(transformism) in theory
meant that a cabinet is going to be formed by the moderate capable politicians from a non-partisan perspective. In practice
pressured districts to vote for his candidates if they wished to gain favourable concessions from Depretis when in power. So everything was under control and the only thing missing to propel Italy into the rank of a Great Power was an absence of the colonies. The united Italy must be like the Roman Empire, at least as far as the newly-born the Italian imperialists were concerned.
Italy first attempted to gain colonies by entering a variety of failed negotiations with other world powers to make colonial concessions. Another approach by Italy was to investigate uncolonized, undeveloped lands by sending missionaries to them. The most promising and realistic lands for colonization were parts of Africa. In 1870 the Bay of Assab
on the Red Sea coast was purchased from the local Sultan by the Rubattino shipping company acting on the behalf of the Italian government thus making it the first Italian colony. Though Tunisia would have been a preferable target because of its close proximity to Italy, the threat of reaction by the French made the attempt too dangerous to pursue and a small piece of a relatively worthless land squeezed between the French-controlled territories looked as a secure start of a planned grandiose colonial adventure.
 End of the sentence: “… he wants Milan and so do I.”
 In OTL the bill was pushed through with the following annexation of the Hawaii.
 Well, there were, of course, Indians, but they do not count.
 In OTL Alaska was sold for $7,200,000 and it was a remote waste land. Here there are territories bordering the US, allowing more access to the Pacific, and providing some opportunities for timber industry and agriculture. Well, of course, a big part of the purchased territory was a desert but at least it was not a frozen one.
 I wonder what exactly this means.
 This is easy: judging by the description, there were numerous assassins to be so there must
be a crowd of the onlookers. And this means that they were pestering the assassins with the advices on how to aim properly and sarcastic remarks about their obvious ineptitude. In situation like that, unless one has the nerves of steel, it is almost impossible to hit a target.