Prologue: "The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today"
The Tarnished Age: An Alternate History of the Gilded Age

Prologue:

An Epilogue
"If only our dear Hawkins family could have known the lessons we have learned today. The beautiful Laura Hawkins would have been much helped if she’d known that the levers of power in Washington are not so much bought by beauty but rather by money. Oh, how handedly she could have used just a wee bit of that “railroad ingenious”, that is to say cold hard gold, in the pursuit of her goals. Or perhaps, had she merely been taught the magic word, which in Washington of course refers not to “please” nor “thanks” but of course to the term “riot” which seems able to evoke just as much power as the prior two, she could have seen immediate legislative action. So too would any land-speculators have gained to known that one need neither survey nor even improve land to acquire it anymore, rather the surest purchase of land in these United States is gained via a federal subsidy or better yet a federal partnership.

As authors, and as citizens, we also wish to apologize to the reader, not just for the lack of foresight in events of the novel but also in such lack of foresight as is shown in the title. Originally published under the title “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”, we would now, as more enlightened citizens, wish to revise that title to “A Tarnished Age”. We believe this to be more applicable as it would appear the layer of gold, we had previously ascribed onto the age was no more than lacquer. We were correct in identifying the layer of base metal beneath, in identifying the rampant corruption, the inequity and insolvency of the current moral and social system, to this we seek no revision. As previously stated, our issue lies merely in the idea at all that this was to be a Golden Age of any sort, a naivety only possible in the early days of 1873, and that was quickly proven wrong by the events of 1873 and 1877. Sadly, our publishers do not see the importance of a mass recall and republishing for the sake of “the advancement of the citizenry’s knowledge”
though perhaps this could be changed via the careful application of the aforementioned railroad ingenious.

And as such, this epilogue will have to suffice."


-Mark Twain in his 1880 Edition of “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”
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Welcome to the Tarnished Age, a story of America from 1876 and beyond.
Many people have perhaps forgotten the events of the 1876 Election, one of the closest and most disputed in American history. Tilden is one of five individuals to win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College, an Electoral College he lost by exactly one vote. Yet despite this closeness, unlike the other well known close call elections, I cannot seem to find any timeline where the PoD is Tilden's victory. Perhaps this is because of the view that not much would change, a view I will quote from the thread WI: Tilden Presidency:

Basically, the choice in 1876 is between a Reconstruction-ending, single-term-favoring, "sound money" Republican who advocates civil service reform but probably can do little to actually bring it about and...a Reconstruction-ending, single-term-favoring, "sound money" Democrat who advocates civil service reform but probably can do little to actually bring it about.
Perhaps this would indeed be the case but, in my opinion, there is still something to explore here.
Would there truly be no difference if America had elected an entirely different man and different party in the place of Hayes and the Republicans? Are there perhaps butterflies not considered and minor details we are glossing over? There is only one way to answer that question and to begin to do so we will have to visit the inauguration of the 19th President of the United States, Samuel Tilden.


 
Chapter I: Tilden Inaugurated

Chapter I:
“TILDEN INAUGURATED; SOUTH REJOICES AND NATION UNITED”

Henry Grady was not normally one to be consumed by crowds. It was against his spirit to let himself be swept up in such affairs, both as a gentleman and as an orator. He understood quite well that to allow oneself to be carried into a crowd’s fervor was to allow oneself to be carried, to lose control, a disastrous mistake as a speaker or thinking man.

But on a day like this, even Grady found it difficult not to join the jubilee all about him. A similar mood had been in the air when the news of President Tilden’s victory had hit his hometown of Atlanta, setting the city "alight" with celebration. After weeks of fearing a Republican victory, of another 4 years of brutal occupation (though even Grady knew that Hayes hardly had a grip on anything much less an iron grip), the South would be able to rejoice with the news of a Democratic president, they’d elected their president. He recalled how, as the news came in, many of the freshly recruited soldiers were already turning in. He remembered how some of the soldiers, particularly those with Southern heritage, would join the celebrations, perhaps even march in the parades alongside men who just days before would have been arrested as felons.

Time was weird in that way. In a matter of days, those who once only dared planned and acted while cloaked in shadows, or at the very least whilst under white cloaks, were now emboldened to come out and parade with those same soldiers who had once so loyally kept them in the dark. If one had turned back the clock to a matter of years ago, they’d have also seen the devastation those soldiers were capable of. In a matter of days, or at least so everyone in the nation expected, then President Tilden would turn back the policy of three administrations before him, would end a decade of resentment and anger. In a matter of eight years perhaps, if Grady would have his way, President Tilden could turn the South from the rural outreaches of a modern nation, plagued with a Fabian war and an internal division, into a modern province of an American nation, ripe with industry and enterprise. But that was to be a long ways away, for now, Grady turned his attention to the events in the Capital City.

Grady was amongst a crowd of people who had surged into the Capital for the purposes of hearing Tilden’s address to the nation. Many came expecting to hear of how Tilden would rebuild the White House, rebuild the government in its entirety, not just after years of corruption, but, in truth, from years of, exempting the apparently impeachable offense that was a Johnson presidency, Republican dominance. Many Southerners had come to hear the legal announcement of the end of Reconstruction, hoping that Tilden would truly be their man and would announce that within hours troops would be on rail cars home. There were even a great deal of foreign merchants, chiefly British, hoping to hear more news on the promised reduction of tariffs that a Democratic presidency would bring. Perhaps more shockingly, there were those present from the West, hopeful to hear the promises of a new President and one who had gained a surprising amount of favor in the West, despite not winning any of the Western states. And of course, as there always were, there were those here with their niche platforms and radical pamphlets that hoped maybe just a sentence would allow them to project their programs unto the new President. Grady was not so naïve as not to realize that his own, only just now maturing, idea of the New South could be termed just such a program.

Also taking the oath of office would be the Vice President, William Allen of Ohio, whom many credit with helping Tilden win the state in the election and thus ensuring his victory. Republicans had of course attacked him as a “Copperhead”, a “traitor”, and a downright “fool” but none of those attacks seemed to stick in the vital state of the Old Northwest. If one was to believe some of the more ardent supporters of the Democratic cause, Allen had also won the ticket Indiana and Pennsylvania, states that would have swung to Tilden they claimed, if not for the intervention of the Republican voting fraud. Grady was learned and aware enough to recognize the irony of accusing the Republicans of voter fraud and intimidation, but he was not going to put that knowledge anywhere in his paper of course.

Regardless of how he won, Tilden had most assuredly won, and if one was to look at the crowds one would assume with an absolutely drastic margin of the popular vote. By some counts, Tilden had been the most popular Democratic candidate since Andrew Jackson. A fact that Grady knew well already just by the cheers and hollers of the convention hall when it was announced that Tilden would lead the ticket. It was a fact that Grady understood quite well when he heard the massive uproar from the crowd when Tilden began to emerge from the mob of supporters and confidants and take the stand. Now President Tilden took the stand and spoke:

Fellow-Citizens:

About to undertake the arduous duties that I have been appointed to perform by the choice of a free people, I avail myself of this customary and solemn occasion to express the gratitude which their confidence inspires and to acknowledge the accountability which my situation enjoins. While the magnitude of their interests convinces me that no thanks can be adequate to the honor they have conferred, it admonishes me that the best return I can make is the zealous dedication of my humble abilities to their service and their good.


Upon hearing Tilden’s first words, Grady immediately wrote down a note:

“Tilden: The New Jackson or the New Johnson”.
 
Chapter II: The Beginnings of the Great Strike of 1877

Chapter II:
Who is Hewitt?

There was very little reason anyone thought such a meeting was necessary but Abram Hewitt, as the new Secretary of the Interior, recognized that he would be required to attend. And so, he now found himself walking across the nation’s capital in order to get to a meeting to advise his friend and now President, Samuel Tilden. It was in moments like these, in a humid and tropical July, that men like Abram Hewitt of New York wondered how Alexander Hamilton ever thought it wise to situate the nation’s capital in a swamp.

But regardless of the temperature, Hewitt persevered, and perspired, onward. To keep his mind off the oppressive air, he occupied himself with recounting the events that had led him here. Now, Hewitt understood that if one had inquired to his fellow cabinet members about why Hewitt was attending this meeting, they would not take it to mean what the subject and occupation of the meeting was nor would they take it to mean why had Tilden bothered to call counsel over such a matter. Almost certainly they’d have taken it to mean, why was a freshman Representative, a relative unknown within most circles, to be allowed to sit in the President’s administration at all?

Many, particularly disenchanted Liberal Republicans, had found it a sort of ironic continuation of Grantism. They figured that Tilden had chosen to reward Hewitt for his role as Chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, a role in which Hewitt heavily pushed for Tilden to be nominated and helped manage his campaign, with a minor cabinet position. This would have made sense, he conceded, but he knew it not to be the truth. Hewitt knew while this apparent irony would have made a brilliant theatric move, it did truly go against the Tilden he knew, a man devoted to reform and merit. Tilden was not a Tammany politician in the masque of a reformist but rather a reformist who often had to wear the mask of politician. And, if Hewitt was being entirely honest, he also understood that there were far more prominent and powerful supporters that Tilden would have chosen over him if that were his reason for appointing him in the first place.

Those who thought themselves Washington insiders had estimated that Hewitt’s connection to the Cooper family, whose patriarch was the prominent Greenback, and former Presidential candidate, Peter Cooper, was meant to help tie the Cooper family into the administration. This would, by their estimate, serve to placate some of the Greenbacks into supporting the administration in coming elections. This too was tenuous though as anyone upon reflection would realize internal family connections would not have driven any appreciable faction of Greenbacks into the party, only monetary reform would do that.

In truth, Hewitt did not know why he was appointed. If he had to guess, it was because he was a friend, and if Tilden needed anything, he needed a friend in a very divided party and country. Hewitt then turned his attention to the subject matter of the meeting itself and to why it was being called.

The subject was easy enough to understand. Around a week and a half ago, a great clot had formed in the industrial arteries of the nation as a mass of railroadmen went on strike against wage decreases. In West Virginia, workers simply walked off the job and, upon hearing news of strike breakers, returned to seize the train yards and prevent any further commerce. Similar news was now to be heard from Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and a litany of other states. Across the country, cities were falling into tumultuous riot, or at least so the news reported, as strikers took to the streets and took to the trainyards to block those who attempt to end the strike. Included amongst those attempting to break the strikes were local and State Guard groups who were, in many states, being called out in order to put down the great revolt. But, in numerous cities, from Baltimore to Buffalo, these forces were being turned back, or worse still would choose not to partake in the necessary actions to procure law and order, sometimes even joining the strikers. Numerous state governors and railroad officials then turned, recognizing that further action would be needed, to the federal government to call out troops in order to ensure the continued commerce of this nation and the triumph of civil order. But this had been days ago, and the President had yet to take action or make statement. The strike, which had begun according to most reports on the 14th of July, raged onward, showed no signs of stopping on this day, the 24th, nor any after it based on the fervor and frenzy of the workers. If anything, in cities like Pittsburgh and St. Louis, it looked as those the riotous strike may soon even turn its grasp, like the mobs of France once had, from mere chaos to incendiary revolution. And so, as the days of industrial halt crawled on, the entire nation had to wonder, why had Tilden not yet acted?

There were a great many theories here too from those who did not know Tilden nor the situation adequately or even at all. Many Republicans supposed, for instance, that Tilden feared using force here would legitimize the use of force in the South for the purposes of Reconstruction, something that would be a great burden for the Democratic party and its Southern supporters. But anyone who knew Tilden would know he thought nothing of the Reconstruction question and would not have been so forced by it to do something he would not otherwise, particularly as most Southern Congressman were in full support of the West Virginia governor. Some Southern Democrats on the other hand, argued that some element of Congress or his cabinet must have formed some faction to block action. This too Hewitt knew to be false. In fact, just days prior he’d read an account of a statement by Secretary of War, General McClellan, arguing that protesters and strikers would be best put to rout by a “whiff of grapeshot”. Hewitt supposed that, somehow, only he had come upon the true answer. The truth was, quite simply, the very fact had made Tilden so appealing, the same fact that allowed Hewitt to know he was not the product of Jacksonian bargaining, is the same fact that made Tilden so cautious. Tilden did not wish to look like a corrupt or bribable lap dog of the railroad corporations, over vigilance for the railroads could have, after all, led to charges of a corrupt bargain, particularly as Tilden did have some prior personal and financial connection to some of these railroads. Thus, he had balked at acting too rapidly, but this had allowed for the strike to become something much more. Tilden may have saved himself charges of inducement and obedience by the railroads, but now opened himself up to charges of weakness and indecision.

And so, with all of this in mind, Hewitt walked up the steps of the federal building in which the meeting was intended to take place. As he walked, he was approached by a man who he later understood to be a railroad agent who pressed him to:

“Take the counsel of good industrial men and of enterprising spirits into mind”​

To which Hewitt is said to have responded:

“I take only two things into mind when I confer with the President, the actions of Providence and the prosperity of the Nation, if your fine businessmen find themselves in accordance with either, then they should find me a stalwart advocate.”​
 
This timeline is masterfully written and though just in it's beginning stages, I am utterly enjoying it. You've really painted the viewpoint characters with real depth and I love how we have yet to see things from Tilden's point of view. It's just others commenting on him and his actions, which turn him into a bit of a cipher.

Congratulations and I can't wait for more!!!
 
Chapter III: The Beginnings of the End of the Great Strike

Chapter III:
Turncoats in Turner Hall

They all sat in stunned silence. The air was heavy upon them. The Missouri heat and humidity alone would have made the room unbearable, but, as chemistry was quickly figuring out at the time, the addition of pressure to the problem rarely makes such things better. The room had the weight of a hundred trains bearing down upon them and the air was dense as steel.

Who could speak up? What was there to say? Was there anything that would save them in this moment? Below them, in the streets and soon entering the building there was a swell of striking workers, the men who just two days prior had sworn themselves to this Committee, these were the people’s militia, and they were looking to become the people’s army. This had after all been the promise of the speakers at many of the rallies. The Party and the Committee told the workers of St. Louis that they’d been stockpiling weapons and that, if they would have it, the workers could arm themselves and declare the commune here and now. If the workers would have it, they could drive the forces of capital out of the city and perhaps, unlike their Parisian brethren, out of the nation. And the workers had. They’d declared the Commune of St. Louis, the forces of wealth fled like vermin across the river, and yet no arms were forthcoming, and within a day the worker’s demanded to know why.

The Executive Committee knew why quite well. There were no guns. They weren’t going to tell the people that though. They had orators in the streets telling how the people need simply wait for the revolution to be kicked off in cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore, telling them that to enter revolution alone would be to make the mistake of the Parisians. When those cities began to fall on July 28th, St. Louis stood alone, it was, it would seem, them vs all the forces of wealth in America. And yet the workers were undeterred. They had been rallied by chants of “Bread or Death” and shocking for all involved, they seemed to mean it. The Committee had never expected to get this far. But how were they to explain that to the crowds below?

The Executive Committee had seen itself quickly outpaced by the strike itself. Though initially quite revolutionary, most of the men in the room recognized that an all-out attack against the city would have only gotten them slaughtered, and so they waited. But the people were unwilling to wait. Soon they’d found new leaders. Radical men, often ex-soldiers, who built the city into a maze of barricades and bottlenecked alleys. Somehow, a small group, now calling themselves’ the Workers’ Guard, had found enough weapons to equip a militia. Supposedly, in some warehouse or factory, the group had an old Confederate cannon stashed away. But, if the city was going to defend itself, if the strikers were to defend their city a la the Communards, they’d need many more weapons, and thus came the group to Turner Hall.

What the Executive Committee did not realize was that the workers already knew full well that there were no arms. They’d been informed by former Committee member and now Communard, Harry Allen. Allen, alongside a veteran of the Chicago Strikes, Albert Parsons, had been the key leaders in the formation of the Workers’ Guard and had quickly become the new leaders of the Commune, quickly circumventing the impotent Committee. The workers outside were merely the partisans of the Workers’ Guard who would soon arrive to arrest the men in the room as “counter-revolutionary protectors of property”. A charge the Committee was quite perfectly about to hang on their own necks without even knowing it.

One committee member, Judge William Kase, proposed as a final action of the Committee before its dissolution to draft a manifesto and by their mutual pledge, hopefully draw the strikers to support it as well. The drafted manifesto was in many ways a repetition of the platform of the Workingman’s Party (some parts being purposefully drafted from the platform in a time saving effort) but it contained one damning phrase:

“For the purpose of mutual peace and in order to secure guarantees of reciprocal respect, the Executive Committee pledges to oppose the crimes on life and property.”​

The manifesto completed, all members took a pledge to defend it, signing their names upon the document in an act of unity intended not to represent their true will (many of these men would have happily died on the Paris Barricades) but rather an attempt to avoid the coming bloodshed they all feared. Instead, all they’d represented was their guilt.

As Guards entered the room, the Committee members presented themselves, believing that they’d be allowed to speak to and reason with the crowd of men. They were instead met by a resolute vanguard of militiamen and arrested. They were to be put on trial that very day. Their supporters, which shockingly still included a sizable majority of the strikers, particularly those in the middle class, went home rather than show out to the large show trial. At the trial, Allen provided a grand prosecution, ending on the self-tied noose that was the manifesto. But Allen recognized that a defense would be in order (lest he be accused of despotism), and so he allowed a short speech. Judge Kase was, as one of the most legally experienced men, chosen to serve in defense. Kase spoke simply, choosing rather than present a defense to a jury of revolutionary soldiers to present an indictment:

“Within days, perhaps within hours, the US Army, all her Marshalls, the State Guard, and all the Pinkertons money can acquire will be marching on this city. They will march with impunity not only because you men will make yourselves a menace but because there will be no great unified body to oppose them. You have chosen to fracture us and in so doing you have damned us all. Of Parsons I would suspect such treason, he was after all a known Confederate traitor. But you Allen? You ought to be ashamed.”​

The entire committee was summarily hanged at 4 PM on July 31st. By 10 AM, August 1st, US troops would be marching across the bridge into the city. And so, as the last noose dropped, the clock began to tick, until all the men present at the trial would be shot or hanged themselves.
 
Is this otl?

Kinda, in 1877, St. Louis was one of the largest strike zones. Much of the information about the General Strike in St. Louis can be found on Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1877_St._Louis_general_strike). Not mentioned on the Wikipedia page as much is just how radical the St. Louis Strike did get, if I recall correctly there was a quite short lived commune formed in St. Louis and the issue of weapons is based off actual events. So, yes, in general, all of this is based off of OTL events. But there are some changes made. Chiefly, because Tilden was hesitant to call out troops (in this TL the calling of federal troops is delayed by a few days), the city has a lot more time to fortify and radicalize, thus a proper Commune complete with barricades is formed. There are also some more minor changes like Albert Parsons sneaking out of Chicago into St. Louis and the formation of a Vanguard Faction within the Workingman's Party.
 
Chapter IV: The End of the Great Strike

Chapter IV:
Let Us Stop this Mindless Violence

It had been thirty years since he had been appointed to the city. Fifteen more since he had entered the priesthood, and yet he had never seen anything like this. He had seen his city wrought by conflict, he had seen it torn apart by the Civil War, and then shaken yet again by the attempts to further destabilize the unity afterward. Yet, he had brought his city out of that fire, he had ensured that at least the Catholic community would remain whole. The Civil War however had been an external force acting upon his flock to attempt to tear them apart, not, like these riots had been, a force internal. Like sin, it is not the external forces one need fear, but rather the internal. It is rarely the sins of others that destroys one’s soul, it is the sins of the self.

To use the term destroyed here, at least by the Archbishops estimate, was not hyperbolic. It had been the most destructive event in the city. Yes, the fights that broke out in the city streets had caused strife, but it rarely caused the sorts of bloodshed he’d seen over the past few days as troops swept through the city. Over three hundred men and women were dead, a great many of them from his own community. Men and women, he’d known as loyal and devout Catholics, as mothers and fathers, as members of the community, gunned down, a good number of them unarmed. It was not merely the destruction of lives however; vast sections of the city lay in ruins. Weeks later it would emerge that direct orders from Washington had ordered the troops to be cautious and minimize their own causalities. Fear of street to street urban combat thus led the commanders in the field to shell the city, particularly the lower-class working neighborhoods, rather than send their troops in to clear it. Though the Church properties remained mostly intact, the areas around them, and their parishes often were not.

The Archbishop also did not use this term as the Chicago journalists had, aloof and detached. They would either decry the “destruction of the working men and women of the city” or praise the “destruction of the communist menace”, but not a one of them had truly seen the destruction themselves. He had seen the huddled mass of parishioners in his Cathedral, he had seen the desperate defense put up by worker’s militias, he had felt the tremble of the guns, he had seen the destruction. It was a destruction that moved him. It made him consider what the Lord intended. It had made him consider resigning his position and pressing for his friend and Coadjutor Patrick John Ryan to take his post. But he knew deep down he was not to resign; he knew precisely what he had to do.

Whilst the destruction may have shaken the Archbishop, it did not move him as it had other men. He was not to be moved like other Bishops into liberationism nor social Catholicism. He may have found the destruction unnerving, but he did not find the men blameless. Though he found the fates of many of his fellow worshipers sad, he found it that they had chosen to turn to violence to secure their ends. He had always opposed violence of all sorts and this would be no exception.

Thus, it was that within weeks of the so called “St. Louis Commune”, Archbishop Kenrick would be preaching against the “excesses of laborism”. His preaching, though intended to solidify the city, to return his community to a sense of community, would, predictably, backfire. A group of Catholic Germans within the cities German Section would begin spreading their own views of Social Catholicism within Socialism. The cities authorities on the other hand only continued to mistrust the Catholic officials as they began to further associate Catholicism with the same immigrant communities, they associated socialism with. He preached a message of unity and yet found only echoes of conflict.

The Archbishop would not be easily deterred however, instead he took his message to the theological circles. Even here, the Archbishop was opposed, chiefly by the East Coast clergy, who often defended Catholic labor unions and thus opposed a voice like that of the Archbishop. Kenrick had believed that working within these circles, he could make this the message of the American Catholic community, but as had become a pattern in his life, he merely found himself further opposed. Soon, unbeknownst to him, the Archbishop of Baltimore would be lobbying the Papal offices for his removal from St. Louis.

But all of that lay in the future from the day that the Archbishop passed through the streets offering prayers and aid to those who survived. It was a long way away from his offers to help feed those women who now found themselves widows. The Archbishop did not occupy himself with the question of right and wrong as he made the sign of the cross over the massed dead. He did not question who the men he consecrated were, he merely knew they had once lived. Soon though, this question would return.

The city itself lay in silence. Those laborers who had escaped the violence, even those who had pledged “bread or death”, now found themselves merely happy to be alive. The soldiers who had expected a brutal occupation found themselves merely tolerated, not praised as heroes (at least not in the working-class neighborhoods) but not disdained and derided as militias in other towns had been. The entire city was too shocked to do anything. It, like the Archbishop, was trapped in a state of mourning. It had to take its time to count its dead and to rebuild its homes. Even once that was done, the city would still find itself in a solemn silence. Politicians and clergymen alike would pride themselves on having quelled the most violent labor insurrection in American history and having restored the order perfectly status quo. But it wouldn’t be status quo at all, the politicians knew it, the soldiers knew it, and most of all, the workers and inhabitants of the city knew it. They all knew that though there may be silence they would all have to return the most important question of all…
 
Chapter V: What is to be Done?

Chapter V
What Is to Be Done?

He walked down 5th Street with the brisk pace of a young man and yet the gait of a soldier. His energy was in part owed to the fact that he was going to meet a busy man, a man that he considered himself lucky to not just have as a mentor but also as a friend, Carl Schurz. His energy was also in part to the brilliant sales he had just heard of for his first article on the events of the past month, which had become quite popular in the local German community, particularly amongst the German labor groups. Upon seeing his friend exit the newspaper office, he sped up in order to meet him.

“Herr Schurz! How are you today?”​

Schurz turned to greet him, though not bearing the energetic youth of the man in front of him, Schurz’s face betrayed a mental astuteness just as strong.

“I am quite well. I have heard news of your recent sales, in fact, it is just that article which I wish to discuss with you.”

“You’ve read it?”

“Yes, and I must say I find it quite alarming. Your article seems to embrace the worst tendencies of some of the newcomers of our country. If I did not know you better, I would put this paper as the work of some socialist firebrand, maybe even a provocateur, certainly not a respectable man like yourself”​

He was quite taken aback by the response of his mentor, he had, after all, written the article in the exact spirit of revolutionary equality and freedom of 1848, a year that Schurz, to his knowledge, had known quite well as a revolutionary of his own. He considered a retort but instead, perhaps owing to his respect of the man, chose a more deferential tact, mixing in some humor in order to cut the now tense mood.

“At least it attracted sales right?”

“That it most certainly did. With this sort of talk and popularity, you’ll find yourself in jail in no time. It is precisely this kind of writing that makes the people of this country question the “American” nature of men like you and me. This is the sort of writing that just weeks ago put men on barricades and that sort of thing will not go unnoticed.”​

He found himself now reeling for a response. A man noted for his extraordinary, if jilted, charisma now found himself almost stuttering. Never had he been so put down, he had been attacked and belittled, but nothing stung worse than the chiding of a man of such importance to him. This sting was only redoubled by the fact that Schurz’s chosen flaw in the article was just the value he thought he’d captured, Americanism. He saw himself not as an ardent Communist but an American in the tradition of Jefferson and a German in the tradition of 1848. He had, in his mind, written a defense of the common man and a defense of the farmer and laborer being given their due. But now he found himself unsure. Schurz soon continued despite a response.

“My boy, I didn’t mean to offend you if I did. I should say, the article was brilliantly written and shows that you are indeed capable of great things. It would not shock me at all if I found out you were to be the most powerful reporter in all America. It wouldn’t even shock me to learn you were to serve in the Senate yourself. I must warn now however that it is imperative to put such thoughts out of your mind. Might I ask, who turned you onto such thought in the first place?”​

Happy to hear the change in tone, “the boy” eagerly returned to the conversation just as they began crossing the street.

“I cannot say any one man changed my thought but if I had to put a name to it I suppose it would be Herr Brockmeyer, he had long spoken of the power of importance of the wisdom in Hegel and as such I thought I would acquire my own copies of his works. I found them in all honest unreadable. It did not surprise me in the slightest upon reading that it seemed Herr Brockmeyer was the only one to understand what he meant. But a friend put me onto the works of students of Hegel, men like Marx and Bauer. And before you go alight with talks of anarchism and revolutionaries, I must say that I disagreed with not just a little of their works, however, there is much for even a man as wise as you to gain out of reading them.”

“Was it Boernstein who put you on Marx?”

“No, it was not, though I believe they may have been associates.”

“I will offer you this advice, do not listen to men like Boernstein or his type. Do not listen to the Marxists or the Communists. I understand you wish to be involved in politics?”

“I am involved in politics…”

“I meant truly involved, someone privy to true power.”

“Yes, I do hope to be.”

“Then you should pull that article from publication immediately else the only support you’ll gain is the noose around your neck.”​

Though this too was said with a joking tone, he could tell that Schurz only said it half-jokingly and thus rather than laugh he merely responded.

“I understand”

“Very good. I again apologize for my tone with you. You are, as I said, a very smart man. You will, no doubt, find great success in the industry and, if you do truly wish it, in politics. Now that I am finally settling back into the community, I hope that you will be able to help me and perhaps soon, take up a position of some importance at the Post. I speak so severely with you merely because I would grieve for a man as bright and capable as yourself to be swept up into these sorts of passions. As they say: These violent delights have violent ends.”

“Thank you, Herr Schurz.”​

He thanked his friend and the two sat down to eat an unremarkable dinner, the conversation of revolution and Communism now transitioning into the more familiar small talk that tended to engage the German community. They would drink their beers and discuss newspaper sales, mutual friends, and most importantly the rumors and gossip of the German community. Yet his mind could not leave the discussions they had on the way there. Though Schurz seemed to toss him in the same lot as the Workers’ Militias, he had never seen himself that way. His words, though impassioned and enflamed, only defended the lot of the common man. He had stated that, though the violence was regrettable, the strikers demands could not and should not be ignored. The right of a laborer to his fair wages and livelihood were his right. If it took standing up in strike to get those rights, so be it. These were, to him, American values, he had come to America as a land where anyone could succeed. Immigrants like he and Schurz could succeed and so to, in the tradition of America, could any other man who was willing to put the work in. Why then ought the railroad worker toil for nought? It had not helped that according to his own reports, the wages of the workers were not naturally depressed but held low by aristocratic oligopolies, by men who should not have existed in the idealized “yeomen republic”. He understood quite well the words of his friend, and perhaps in a different world, in a world where he had not seen such bloodshed in his own city, perhaps in a world where he was more blind to ambition, he would have never published the article at all. Even now he wished he could obey his friend, he wished he could see where he would go if he used his populist rhetoric merely to further the papers rather than the people themselves, but he couldn’t. He returned that evening, after bidding farewell to his friend, to his office and began drawing up an outline for a new article, nay a full essay. He toyed with a fair few titles. “The American Hegelians”. “The Jeffersonian”. But soon he settled unto the question that had been grasping the city for weeks:

“What is To Be Done”​

His essay would not only attempt to construct a coherent ideology but would defend it against any criticism opponents could levy, using Schurz’s comments as a framework for just that. Underneath the title he put his name:

“József Pulitzer”​

As he began writing the essay though, something clicked. His influence and voice would be permanently limited to the German Quarter if he wrote under such an obviously foreign name, particularly with his English abilities. And...his mind did continue to drift back to the noose comment of just that evening and as such he scratched his own name out. He thus settled on a pseudonym, drawing upon his work in the mule stables, he gave himself as American a name that he could still claim was his (and yet also could claim wasn’t) and wrote:

“What is To Be Done by Joey Hostler”​
 
This should be the last update on the Great Strike of 1877. Didn't mean to use so many of the initial updates devoted to this single event but seeing as it is relatively important I figured it was warranted.
 
Chapter VI: American Indian Policy under Tilden

Chapter VI:
Little Napoleon

He understood quite well both the sincerity of and extremely oddness of the opening sentence of the letter he had just opened:

“I write to you because you are a man of extraordinary merit and skill, this fact once had you court martialed, it will now see you reinstated.”​

The letter continued in kind and praising prose, noting that he was a capable commander, a worthy protégé of the author himself, and a trusted soldier. Fitz John Porter had always known that General McClellan had taken to him personally, but he had not known that this personal relationship, and strategic similarity, would lead to his return to grace in 1877. Both he and McClellan were careful men. His court martial had been in disobedience to an order to he believed would endanger the whole army at the Second Battle of Bull Run. His command, like McClellan’s, was characterized by brilliant defense battles and tactics, but a failure of offensive follow up and follow through. It was for this caution and foresight that McClellan chose Porter for a position that was wholly unexpected, but this could only be so because he did not know of the internal machinations of the US Government.

McClellan did not just have machinations, at least not according to his enemies, but rather had performed a bloodless coup within the West. The Office of Indian Affairs had been, in the earlier part of the year, transferred into his War Department, giving him relative control of Indian policy and with this control of a not insignificant portion of Western lands. As Secretary of War, McClellan was able to make micromanaged decisions in regard to the military and American military policy. McClellan therefore set out with a variety of goals. First, he was going to ensure the legacy of the Army of the Potomac was reexamined, specifically, as was often noted in the press, in order to vindicate its actions in the early war. This would, in turn, trickle into military teachings which turned towards defensive caution. Second, he was never going to have another Battle of Little Bighorn, an event which still singed American Indian policy, and as such was going to ensure that any and all battles fought by his men would not just be victories but slaughters if need be. Finally, McClellan read a new political role into his office, citing the platform of the party:

“Reform is necessary to put a stop to the profligate waste of public lands and their diversion from actual settlers by the party in power”​

As a justification for the stripping of Indian lands and the gradual dismantling of the reservation system to be replaced with Indian (and white) yeoman allotments. Though none of this was stated directly to Porter directly in the letter, it was all alluded to. His own service was to be re-evaluated, as McClellan believed anyone with “any military acumen” would see how Porter had saved lives and the battle. More importantly, Porter was to serve as the liaison of McClellan in the West, ensuring that battles undertaken were done so cautiously as well as fighting any railroad men who may attempt to profit by these wars. Therefore, he was appointed to serve as McClellan’s personal Undersecretary in the West, a position that allowed him to wield the same power as McClellan in McClellan’s name.

It was in this position that Porter therefore found himself at Fort Benton in September of 1877, received a brief memo from Colonel Miles informing him that the Nez Perche, who had been fleeing north to Canada for several weeks, had been spotted nearby and that he would intercept them on their way to the border, near the Bear Paw Mountains. Porter quickly shot back a memo informing the Colonel that he was to wait for artillery from Fort Benton alongside more men to bolster his forces to reinforce him before he moved upon the Nez Perche. Miles’s next memo was particularly brief:

“I wish to inform you of the current situation. My men, some of the best equipped and trained in the West, are now, upon my writing this not your receiving it, ready to march. The opponent, a retreating force, is composed in the great majority of civilians and the ill. I therefore intend to ask if this order to delay given by McClellan’s clerk was misunderstood or misdirected”​

Porter therefore decided it was best to go to Fort Keogh and have some words with the officer in charge lest he misunderstand the intent. Colonel Miles was, after a not so polite conversation with Porter, prepared to wait a few days for artillery. By the time the artillery arrived, the Nez Perche had safely found retreat into Canada. Those who had not were ordered by Porter to be led by gunpoint toward the border, though no soldier ever directed them into Canada, the Nez Perche were effectively exiled, and their lands distributed to white settlers. Some local press made a great deal of the fact that

“The once esteemed ‘Little Napoleon’ had been spooked by an army on the run”​

But the story never filtered up to the national media. Porter and his patron in Washington had learned a valuable lesson, Western affairs, so long as they were handled relatively smoothly and quietly would rarely make national news. Porter returned to Fort Benton and began work on the document later titled “Division, Deportation, and Destitution”:

“The first policy of an officer in these territories ought to be one of Division. Tribal Country, far too long protected and allowed to stagnate under previous administrations, ought to be opened to settlers, not at auction but at lottery, in order to ensure fair and just distribution of soil and work unto the workers and yeoman of America…Whensoever it is possible, this act will be made easier by the dispersion of the Indian from their land, either into exile or into assimilation unto the settling class. By this action, lands will be opened up, and those Indians that remain will be taught useful arts such as farmwork and handiwork. When this is not possible, the Indian will be put into destitution, their reservations cut off and their men, if necessary, put to the bullet to secure submission. It is by these acts and these acts alone that America can rid itself of the failed experiment of a “nation within a nation”, hitherto called the Reservation System, that has allowed a race of uncivilized brutes to remain a menace to our farmers and herdsman and wide swathes of lands to languish unplowed.”​
 
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