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Thread: The Better Angels of Our Nature

  1. #1

    The Better Angels of Our Nature

    "The events of 1866, for all that there were no armies on the field, were as much a revolution as the half decade before....The Civil War was the bloodiest war in American history, but it was the crucible for a new America. For once you have given a man a rifle and told him to fight, told him he can fight, he will not accept a return to servitude, by whatever words the condition is described."
    -W. E. B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction

    "We have had our 1776; now we shall have our 1787."
    -Frederick Douglass

    "As an exhausted nation surveyed its fields of triumph and despair, Lincoln felt likewise and did likewise. The work was, after all, half done; the nation was still half torn asunder, bleeding. And Lincoln knew, or would know shortly, that the bleeding was not yet over."
    -Erin Fodor, introduction, America's Second Revolution

    America in 1865 was a nation of contrasts--the industrializing coasts and the agrarian plains and west, and half of that still 'Indian Country'; a nation of white and black with their relations far from settled; a nation of north and south which, Appomatox or not, was still bitterly divided; and a Congress only marginally less fractious. The Union Party, never really a party in its own right, was spintering back into Republicans and The Democracy, and each of those had their wings. The Radicals had been steadily gaining ground, and the Wade-Davis Bill, vetoed once, would surely return soon under another name.

    Even the Presidency shared the division, with Andrew Johnson, War Democrat, as Vice President. It is one of history's great mysteries what he might have done as president, for it was nearly he who succeeded Lincoln on April 7, 1865. He, unlike Lincoln, had a personal detestation of the southern aristocracy; and likewise the poor whites of the south might have not been so hostile to Reconstruction had it come from 'one of their own' rather than an Ohioan.
    -Erin Fodor, America's Second Revolution
    Last edited by nathankell; 12-06-2007 at 17:39.

  2. #2
    Colonel Dr. Gonzo's Avatar

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    ooh I like... keep going

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    AARlander
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    I don't think I've seen an introduction to an alternate history on these forums handled so well and succinctly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by anonymous4401
    I don't think I've seen an introduction to an alternate history on these forums handled so well and succinctly.
    Are you suggesting meandering for thirty pages in overly detailed pre-game fluff followed swiftly and abruptly by abandonment is not succinct?

  5. #5
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    Yes, and I stand firmly by that statement! Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders!
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  6. #6
    Thank you all very kindly. That's high praise indeed, coming from /you/ folks.

    Some Notes:
    The game is VIP: R, with some ACW and Reconstruction events modded/added by yours truly. While I started the game in 1836, what has transpired previously is of little account and closely follows real history, with a few differences I will allude to in time, though some of the differences are below the level of the game, or are abstracted in the game. For that matter the point of divergence itself--points, perhaps, because I'm being rather optimistic in its knock-on effects--is also from before the narrative begins.

    Also, I did my math wrong. The above now reads April 7, as it always did.
    -----------
    "...and so I came to be in Washington that fateful April. The month began well--how could it not, following the surrender of Lee?--with the surrender of Johnston in North Carolina. The President was looking noticeably less drawn when I saw him on the sixth, and invited me to come to the theater with him the next evening," Nast wrote to a friend. As a cordial acquaintance of Lincoln, Nast too was in the theatre the night of the seventh, and his first-hand account is well known.
    Albert Pinte, And Not This Man?, Thomas Nast and Reconstruction


    Peace died and peace was born on April 7th. The bullet that killed Mary Lincoln killed much charity, the knife the spilled Andrew Johnson's blood spilled much forgiveness. But likewise, so dastardly the former, so brazen the latter, they brought many back from the abyss. And so while the Twin Martyrs of the Seventh radicalized in the North, the influence of that event on the South was more mixed. Chivalry, so often the cause of destruction before and after the war, for once provided a service.
    April Seventh: Essays on the Booth Plot


    The first thing I knew of it, I heard a scuffle. That was not unusual, the theater was a busy place. The scuffle got louder; and then the gunshot! All eyes looked to the box. Someone shouted "The President!" Perhaps it was I. But shortly we learned that it was not Abraham Lincoln, but Mary Todd, who had been dealt the foul blow by Booth. Grant had noticed someone arriving at the box, and had gone to look; his accosting Booth moved the aim. Grant was wounded himself in the struggle...
    Thomas Nast, article, Harper's Weekly, 1865


    I first heard the news on April 12; and I hastened to write to General Grant expressing my outrage and condemnation, and adding the same from the men. It was a wretched end to an honorable struggle. It was not the first time I was forced to reconsider my certainties, and it would not be the last.
    James Longstreet, From Manassas to Appomattox and Beyond
    Last edited by nathankell; 12-06-2007 at 18:22.

  7. #7
    President of the Council Jape's Avatar
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    Nice, so will you be keepng this style up or are just teasing us with juicy tit bits?

  8. #8
    AARlander
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    I like this style a lot! A vengeful Lincoln and a vengeful Reconstruction opens up a lot of possibilities. It might even be that the South is never fully reintegrated into the Union, and neither are Southerners, leading to an insurgency that lasts for decades and is possibly exploited by the enemies of the United States in the future.
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  9. #9
    I had indeed originally thought to segue into more narrative form (drawing extensively on Professor Fodor) but find myself enjoying the different voices. So I'll probably be staying with this mix for a good time. In addition, it lets me mention events earlier and later than "now."

    anonymous4401: Regarding vengeance, that would indeed make an interesting story, but not this one; per the title I aim towards a more permament and quick Reconstruction than the hundred years of our history. Though of course, in time, I'm not sure but some will argue this -is- more vengeful than what occurred; but then that raises the question to whom.

    That said, for that story, you might look at Harry Turtledove's short "Must and Shall", precisely on that note; though in my opinion his portrayal of Hamlin is a travesty (the man opposed capital punishment, for goodness sake!).
    --
    I should also make clear that unless I mention otherwise, -all- the quotes are faked. For those people whom I make up this is obviously not an issue, but to the shades of orators and writers past (and those living whose names I play with[fn1]) I do apologize for putting words in their mouths; but I do hope to be not too far off the mark in doing so.

    [fn1] Please feel free to mention it if you think you recognize such a mangled name.
    -------
    "Mr. Lincoln, a man already stooped by sadness, is now woven tighter with melancholy. Byron might have written 'He walks in sadness, like the night.'"
    -John M. Hay, diary, April 1865

    The 19th USCT was in Washington at the time, and its commander wasted no time in posting detachments at the various government buildings and residences. Stanton nearly immediately affirmed the orders, and the hunt for the assassins Atzerodt, Powell, and Herold began. Since then the 19th Regiment has had 'April Seventh' alongside 'Victory at the Crater' and 'Richmond' on its standard.
    -The 19th US Colored Troops and the 19th US Infantry Regiment 'Crater-Walkers', A History

    Of the trial let us say only that justice was served. Now let us see it served to the South, to our long-suffering friends, and our foes alike!
    -'Bluff' Ben Wade R-OH, President Pro-Tem of the Senate; floor speach, May 1865

    "I recently spoke with Wendell [Phillips] & he agrees now is the time to press forward," Ben Wade wrote his old compatriot Henry Winter Davis. "Despite your absence our position in the House is much strengthened; our majority in the Senate is slim--I do not bother to speak of those d---d copperheads who would vote against us anyway--but this has galvanized some of our weaker-kneed 'friends.'" Wade was referring to the two-vote majority in his own caucus that had rammed through his own election as president pro-tempore, narrowly beating out Lafayette Foster, thanks in no small part to Phillips's silver-tongued efforts. The latter, while he would hold no office for years yet, was a powerful figure, whose eloquence outside the congressional chambers was matched only by Sumner's within, and of course later Ingersoll. However, those opposed to Wade and the radicals--what Lincoln's secretary referred to as the Jacobin Club, and Lincoln himself had been known to quip about--were by no means vanquished. Fessenden, already an enemy of Wade, would continue to be a thorn in his side, and Lyman Trumbull had begun his shift to conservativism; but for the moment there was more unity than there had been in months if not years.
    -Erin Fodor, America's Second Revolution
    -------
    Prominent Figures of Reconstruction, 1st page, from America's Second Revolution's center pictures section:

    Abraham Lincoln / Benjamin F. Wade / Frederick Douglass



    Ulysses S. Grant / Wendell Phillips / Charles Sumner



    William Pitt Fessenden / Lyman Trumbull / James Longstreet

    (EDIT: Fixed pictures)
    Last edited by nathankell; 13-06-2007 at 01:10.

  10. #10
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    "Must and Shall" was what I had in mind!
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  11. #11
    Grief-stricken as he was, Lincoln still had to execute the responsibilities of his office--and he was not unfamiliar with grief. Nicolay and Hay in their History recall him more prone than ever to periods of silence and introspection, but he continued to discharge the duties of the presidency. He mentioned often, when people gave their condolences, that he "was not the only one to have lost" a spouse in the war....His relations with all factions in congress were in the main calmer than times past, but differences could not be smothered even by grief or temperance in the face of it....Lincoln continued to call for at least partial black suffrage, mollifying some of his critics to the left--even Wade occassionally had a kind word to say of him--but also reconciliation with the great mass of Southern yeomanry, "forced to fight by fear skillfully manipulated, led by an aristocracy of the lash that did not share the cost of war." He would spend the next months traveling the south, building the base of a coalition that he would not see victorious.
    -Erin Fodor, America's Second Revolution


    As the result of the measures instituted by the Executive, with the view of inducing a resumption of the functions of the States comprehended in the inquiry of the Senate, the people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, have reorganized their respective State governments, and "are yielding obedience to the laws and government of the United States," with more willingness and greater promptitude than...could reasonably have been anticipated....In Florida and Texas the people are making commendable progress in restoring their State governments....[However] there is another class of people here...who are still in the swearing mood....They are "not conquered, only overpowered."...They have a rope ready for this and that Union man when the Yankee bayonets are gone....They will let the Negro know what freedom is, only let the Yankee soldiers be withdrawn....The negroes complain that these same "gallant young men" make a practice of robbing them of such trifles as knives, tobacco, combs, &c. If any resistance is made, death is pretty sure to be the result; or if the poor negro is so unfortunate as to appear to recognize his persecutors, he can then expect nothing less. Negroes are often shot, as it appears, just out of wanton cruelty, for no reason at all that any one can imagine.
    -Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South

    Pictures, 2nd page

    Thomas Nast, self-portrait / his most famous cartoon, "FRANCHISE: And not this man?"
    Last edited by nathankell; 13-06-2007 at 17:49. Reason: typo patrol

  12. #12
    "As a general rule, much of the plain old democracy is with us, while nearly all the old, exclusive silk—stocking whiggery is against us," Lincoln said in 1858, and after the war the great man returned to this theme....with peace, the Union Party had fractured, but Lincoln tried to rebuild something like it.
    -Pamphlet A Short History of the People's Party

    "...but he is so d---d slow!"
    -Ben Wade, June 1865

    A master politician, Lincoln immediately set about employing the foremost political weapon of the nineteenth century: patronage....His Arkansas Plan was pocketed rather like the Wade-Davis bill of two years past, once he saw that the lately confederate states were reconstituting themselves more or less as they were, with little change in the status of blacks than semantics. No one can know what he might finally have settled on--it is true he was at heart something of a conservative, and often ridiculed by the radicals for slowness; but equally he was progressively radicalized by the war and its aftermath....The country was never to know.
    -John McFesson, The Lengthy End of the Civil War
    Last edited by nathankell; 13-06-2007 at 18:41.

  13. #13
    Four million of persons have just been freed from a condition of dependence, wholly unacquainted with business transactions, kept systematically in ignorance of all their rights and of the common elements of education, without which none of any race are competent to earn an honest living, to guard against the frauds which will always be practiced on the ignorant, or to judge of the most judicious manner of applying their labor....They must necessarily, therefore, be the servants and victims of others, unless they are made in some measure independent of their wiser neighbors. The guardianship of the Freedmen’s Bureau, that benevolent institution, cannot be expected long to protect them. It encounters the hostility of the old slaveholders...because it deprives these dethroned tyrants of the luxury of despotism....Withdraw that protection and leave them a prey to the legislation and treatment of their former masters, and the evidence already furnished shows that they will soon become extinct, or driven to defend themselves by civil war. Withhold from them all their rights, and leave them destitute of the means of earning a livelihood, the victims of the hatred or cupidity of the rebels whom they helped to conquer, and it seems probable that the war of races might ensue....I doubt not that hundreds of thousands would annually be deposited in secret, unknown graves. Such is already the course of their rebel murderers; and it is done with impunity....Make them independent of their old masters, so that they may not be compelled to work for them upon unfair terms, which can only be done by giving them a small tract of land to cultivate for themselves, and you remove all this danger. You also elevate the character of the freedman. Nothing is so likely to make a man a good citizen as to make him a freeholder. Nothing will so multiply the productions of the South as to divide it into small farms. Nothing will make men so industrious and moral as to let them feel that they are above want and are the owners of the soil which they till. It will also be of service to the white inhabitants. They will have constantly among them industrious laborers, anxious to work for fair wages. How is it possible for them to cultivate their lands if these people were expelled? If Moses should lead or drive them into exile, or carry out the absurd idea of colonizing them, the South would become a barren waste.
    -Thaddeus Stevens, R-PA, Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, floor speech
    (From Furman University: Thaddeus Stevens Papers On-Line)


    The first great question of Reconstruction was what, if anything, to do regarding the economic situation in the south, of both specifically the freedmen and in general. Thaddeus Stevens had long called for confiscation, with support from a small but growing number of other radicals; they realized that without an economic footing, the freedmen would have little influence politically and little protection from vengeful ex-rebels; these grounds Stevens explicitly raised in his speech in May of 1865 introducing H. R. 16 (later, the Stevens Bill). Lincoln had opposed confiscation in the past, and would continue, in the main, to do so, not least on constitutional grounds. For the Stevens Bill to pass, it needed a more radicalized Congress--and nation; and an at least arguable legal foundation--and more compliant Supreme Court.
    -Erin Fodor, America's Second Revolution


    Lincoln, true to the promise of his second inuagural, began his effort at reconciliation, and among that were pardons. While he promised charity for all, his pardons were at least as targeted as his patronage appointments, contingent on political considerations and Schurz's report. First to recieve them were the remains of the old Constitutional Union Party, and those moderate union men who had nonetheless gone with their states; thence came the soldiers of the various Confederate armies, less those involved in, or suspected of, atrocities, and the civilians in need of pardons less, in the main, those of prominence. Pardons for the generals, politicians, and prominent individuals of the ex-rebel states he made more directly contigent on rehabilitation...
    -John McFesson, The Lengthy End of the Civil War
    -----
    Thaddeus Stevens:
    Last edited by nathankell; 15-06-2007 at 23:28.

  14. #14
    President of the Council Jape's Avatar
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    Great stuff, the layout is really something fresh to read!

  15. #15
    Khan of the Crimea Hajji Giray I's Avatar
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    Wow, this is exceptionally well-thought-out and well-researched, and a neat twist on the historical story! Am enjoying the style very much
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  16. #16
    Thank you both very much.
    Indeed I'm having considerable fun with the form myself, and my hope was indeed that leaving the reader to fill in between the quotes would, not just be a fresh approach (thought it indeed considerably borrows the approach of someone's AAR here, though alas I can't recall whom, who had a number of history book quotes as a way to do the narrative), but also pull the reader in, make the reader involved.
    So, consider that an invitation to speculate on those unmentioned or alluded parts--you might be wrong, you might be right, I might steal it.
    ----
    A question. I've been considering a 'spoiler post' mentioning the minor variations from OTL, for that period of time before the major variations kick in (And the POD for that matter). Is anyone interested? Or, if I can't find a way to spolier-tag it, would it break immersion? (or above speculation)

    Regarding well-researched, alas I beg to differ, or at least bargain down to 'indifferent but hopeful'. The decision to write this was quite spur-of-the-moment (while the idea behind it was certainly not, admittedly; but beginning more as "How To Get A Good Supreme Court", and long enough ago that my memory is not fresh). Thus what references I have are, other than the internet, in memory only, and most specifically the biography of Wade I meant to read I never got to (whose author, suitably transmorgrified, will no doubt appear when that person in particular requires a biography). So I will shortly be conscripting names--or, pleading butterfly effect, making them up. But then at least in regards the latter I am more or less of that school of thought anyway (and thus had some twinge at using DuBois).
    Plus it is rather difficult to place words in the mouths of those one respects, a hidden danger I did not first see when eschewing a more narrative form. So I balance the twinge at using unbutterflied language, with using actual language...

    So that said I hope not to dissappoint if I attempt to leave unnamed some--well, be honest, as many as I can--figures in the 'window' of, say, until the turn of the century (by which point I should think more-or-less made up names would be at least as likely as any existing, famous names). Supreme Court justices--other than certain obvious ones--especially, those being quite personally and politically motivated, and a horror to contemplate naming.

  17. #17
    I have heard it said that money is no inducement which will make a negro work. It is certain that many of them, immediately after emancipation, had but a crude conception of the value of money and the uses it can be put to....[But] whenever they are at liberty to choose between wages...and a share in the crop, they will choose the former and work better. Many cases of negroes engaged in little industrial pursuits came to my notice, in which they showed considerable aptness not only for gaining money, but also for saving and judiciously employing it.
    -Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South


    It is nonsense to talk so much about plans for getting the negroes to work. They do now and always have done, all the physical labor of the south, and if treated as they should be by their government, (which is so anxious to be magnanimous to the white people of this country, who never did work and never will,) they will continue to do so. Who are the workmen in these fields? Who are hauling the cotton to market, driving hacks and drays in the cities, repairing streets and railroads, cutting timber, and in every place raising the hum of industry? The freedmen, not the rebel soldiery. The southern white men, true to their instincts and training, are going to Mexico or Brazil, or talk of importing labor in the shape of Coolies, Irishmen--anything--anything to avoid work, any way to keep from putting their own shoulders to the wheel.
    -Col. Samuel Thomas to Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South


    Grady, objectionable as he was in other matters, ably characterized and popularized the New South, and that New South was--and it must have stung him terribly--partly financed by the Stevens Bill. But the New South--the industrial south--began before the war, in fits and starts, with the occasional small mill and factory in this city or that. Or, more often, the movement of Federal arsenals there or their creation, a process much quickened during the end of the Buchanan administration. Industrialization expanded during the war, the Confederacy starting a number of small industries across the south. Shortly after the war a Federal survey was needed, and part of Schurz's mission was to report upon southern industry. For strategic industries, his report found that the small arms factory in Richmond was burnt per Confederate orders on their retreat from the capital, but the naval yard in Norfolk was nearly undamaged, and ironically the explosives works on the outskirts of Richmond survived. The armament factory in Raleigh survived the war, as well as explosives works in Tallahassee, the fertilizer plant in Houston, and the ammunition works in Charleston and Mobile. Lumber mills in Fayetteville and Austin were "still quite operational...and a considerable source of employment," and there was a clothes factory in New Orleans, captured early in the war. It was fed before that, and after the end of the war, by fabric mills in Charleston and Montgomery. "All industry in Atlanta had been burnt," but excepting those who enlisted and were casualties the workers had survived. Lastly the furniture industry in north-east Texas, "despite Unionist discontent, and various suppressive massacres"--especially Gainesville, home to a fair portion of it--did manage to survive the war. The first post-war developement was also underway, Schurz found: shipbuilding on the easter shore of the Mississippi, which during the war had provided some of the Confederacy's river ironclads and timberclads, was "beginning to move towards and concentrate in" Biloxi, but retooling and repairs would take a year before it would be a serious source of employment. So there was a base to start from; and Congress would soon build upon it, beyond Clay's wildest dreams of government aid for industry.
    -Mark & Carol Goati, Reconstruction: An Economic History




    Henry W. Grady / Carl Schurz

  18. #18
    Any thoughts re: a background post?

    Now, on with the show:
    ---------
    I hold that the negro is not, and never ought to be, a citizen of the United States. I hold that this government was made on the white basis, by white men, for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever, and should be administered by white men and none others....On this basis the Union was formed ; on this basis the Union must stand, if it stand at all....A State, being a sovereign body, can, of course, make whatever change in its Constitution and laws it pleases in relation to its citizenship. It can, if it so choose, elevate negroes to equality with whites, but only within its own boundaries. It cannot compel any other State to make negroes citizens, and least of all can it force negro sovereignty to become a constituent element of the Government of the Union....But should [one state] attempt to force her new miscegenation principles upon any other State, that State would have the right to resist these embraces of negro sovereignty at the point of the bayonet. Or should this State...get hold of the Federal Government, and attempt to force negro sovereignly into that general agency for the States, every State, that so pleased, would have the clear right to take up arms to defend itself from this offensive and revolutionary heresy of negro sovereignty.
    -Article White Supremacy and Negro Subordination in "The Old Guard" / Volume 3, Issue 5, May 1865 (or here)


    I do not think that the white inhabitants of South Carolina, if left to themselves, are yet prepared to carry out the spirit of the emancipation proclamation....in order to [do so], and [procure] the organization of really free labor in good faith, it appears to me necessary that the military, or some other authority derived from the national government, should retain a supervisory control over the civil affairs in this State until the next season's crops are harvested and secured....Loyalty in South Carolina...is not the golden fruit of conviction, but the stern and unpromising result of necessity, arising from unsuccessful insurrection....The whites hope and expect to recover the preponderating influence which they have lost by the war, and which has been temporarily replaced by the military authority throughout the State....
    -Maj. Gen. Q. A. Gillmore, Dept. of South Carolina, to Carl Schurz, Report on the Condition of the South


    The first major flaring of violence came on May 3rd, in the very hotbed of secession itself, Columbia. Confederate veterans, many of them officers, who under generous surrender terms had kept their arms, quickly struck back at "uppity" freedmen and -women in that black-majority state. Across the state some six thousand men took up arms, and the rebellion would burn until the end of the month. Prompt action by Federal forces secured most blacks against the violence of that mob, and eventually suppressed the revolt with only minor casualties, but by the end some two thousand blacks lay dead, and the great majority of the rebels too killed or wounded. South Carolina would continue to simmer, and the first calls came for a black militia, locally and in congress.
    -John McFesson, The Lengthy End of the Civil War


    The question of what to do with Confederate veterans was a vexing one. No one, least of all their opponents, would deny their effectiveness as soldiers; and to have, armed, a sullen, in fair measure jobless, and quite angry population return home, often to devestation, and most of all with convenient and unarmed targets for their displeasure--the freedmen--surrounding them, was a dangerous thing indeed. Lincoln understood that political persuasion could only go so far; he decided upon a solution that characteristically served a number of ends: to employ those veterans in the rebuilding of the southern economy. He first faced the ire of the Radicals, who felt disinclined to fund repairing the fruits of treason. With the rise of the Stevens Bill a source of funding acceptable to the Radicals was found (though conversely it was not acceptable to Lincoln), and the Radicals were in the main persuaded that such developement would be at least as helpful to the freedmen as anyone else, both for their economic betterment and the effect that would have on the balance of power, and that it would lead to a less desperate, less idle, and less bitter white south, less inclined, they hoped, to casual violence and oppression. It was a plan that could perhaps only have been proposed by Lincoln, in its familiar roping of justice to expediency and vice versa; but it was also a plan that would require, because of the Stevens Bill, a different president to enact.
    -Mark & Carol Goati, Reconstruction: An Economic History

  19. #19
    Warmonger Extraordinaire Kordo's Avatar
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    Amazing work so far! I truly enjoy this unique style of writing. While it makes the story slightly more fractured, the different perspectives are very interesting.
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  20. #20
    President of the Council Jape's Avatar
    Darkest HourEuropa Universalis III: In NomineVictoria 2Victoria II: A House DividedVictoria II: Heart of Darkness

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    Great as usual, South Carolina looks fit to become a Victorian Bosnia if the "Veteran Associations" keep strong and/or Black Militias form

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