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Thread: Of Laws, Not Men: A New England AAR

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    The One and Only BBB BigBadBob's Avatar
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    He's back!

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    I can't wait to see this start.
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    Cheers BBB, its good to be back. I'll get posting later today - sorry for the 'teaser' I was going to post yesterday but I had to catch a train.

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    Prologue I: The Embargo Crisis


    Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America


    On 22nd December 1807, President Thomas Jefferson signed the Embargo Act, barring British and French merchant ships from engaging in trade with the United States. For over a decade, war between the two European powers had affected American trade in the form of illegal seizures and impressments of civilian ships and seamen. The Act was controversial to say the least. Many states, particularly in the north-east, saw it as a Federal dictat, ignoring commercial reality in the name of being seen to act by the American people. Indeed not only was Jefferson going against the limited government ideology his Democratic-Republican party was founded upon, but it soon proved a financially disastrous move for the United States. The Royal Navy continued to flout American neutrality, while both British and French merchants simply shifted their attention to the hungry South American market. New England and New York businessmen ignored the Act in order to avoid financial ruin, operating illicit shipping lanes, or simply moving goods through British North America to be exported.


    By January 1809, as Jefferson sat out his last months in office, pressure from the north-eastern states for repeal of the Embargo Act was becoming intolerable. The President had spent over a year hounded by his Federalist opponents, and indeed a strong anti-embargo faction within the Democratic-Republican party itself. Weak and frail, on 6th January, Jefferson collapsed in the Oval Office from a fatal heart attack, age 65, the first United States president to die while in office. Historians have since debated whether Jefferson intended to repeal the embargo before his second term was up due to its unpopularity and economic repercussions. Regardless, Vice-President George Clinton, his brief successor, and President-elect James Madison were ardent supporters of the Act. Clinton in particular proved a rock of pro-embargo sentiment in his native New York, fighting the moderate Non-Intercourse Bill proposed as its replacement.


    Following his inauguration, Madison continued the struggle, uniting the southern states around the advantages the Act gave to domestic industry and nationalistic defiance of the old tyrant, George III. In the north meanwhile, federal troops were being used to crackdown on smuggling operations, only enflaming the geographic divide. In October 1809, the Massachusetts legislature issued a call for a regional convention to discuss the crisis. The Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont state governments all sent delegates to Hartford for the talks. New York was notable by its absence, due to the pro-Madison governor Daniel D. Tompkins overruling a receptive state legislature. The discussions proved an airing of grievances long held by the north-eastern states, with regards to southern strength in Congress and the domination of Virginia in particular, from which Washington, Jefferson and Madison had all hailed. Noticeable even at this stage were the radicals led by Timothy Pickering and John Lowell, who proved a strong minority in favour of secession from the Union.


    Chaired by Senator George Cabot of Massachusetts, the moderates won out and by January 1810, the gathering had produced the Hartford Report. A brief document, it intended to inform the President and Congress of New England’s grievances and suggested reforms to the Constitution which included limiting federal power over trade, limiting presidential terms, and banning consecutive presidential candidates from the same state, in order to break the “Virginian stranglehold”, as Lowell put it. The Report, far from calming the crisis greatly angered Madison and the Democratic-Republican diehards in Congress, who saw its proposals as a fundamental attack on the foundations of the Union. The national press was soon filled with partisan attacks from both sides, enflaming public opinion. In March, a delegation from the north, led by the Federalist kingpin Harrison Otis and John Lowell, visited Washington in an effort to reach a compromise. However talks quickly collapsed as it became apparent Madison considered the Report to be bordering on treasonous and revealed a revised edition of the Non-Intercourse Bill was being put through Congress which maintained the Embargo Act in all but name.


    On the return of the Otis-Lowell Mission to New England, events quickly spiralled out of control. Massachusetts issued an ordnance pardoning all smugglers operating against the Embargo Act, and was soon followed by Connecticut and Rhode Island. In April, state militias across the region barred federal soldiers from interfering with such illicit trade, while many New Englanders serving in the U.S. military resigned their commissions and returned to their home states. By early May, the secessionists had dramatically gained ground and all five signatory states of the Hartford Report sent delegates to Boston for a second convention. After several weeks of intense debate, a provisional constitution was laid out and on 10th June 1810, the Massachusetts legislature become the first state to vote in favour of secession, in turn becoming the first member of the Commonwealth of New England. Over the next few weeks, the rest followed, with Vermont being the final state to ratify the Boston Convention by a slim margin on 14th July.


    Secession not only shocked Madison and Congress but caused unrest in the Mid-Atlantic states. New Jersey and Delaware had both suffered under the Embargo Act to varying degrees, with vocal minorities allied to the north-east since 1807. Boston caused divisions and unrest, with militant Federalists calling on their home states to join the Commonwealth in the name of “free trade and liberty”, leading to public violence requiring federal intervention. In New York, feelings were less clear. Perhaps the state most sympathetic to New England’s grievances, regardless even New York’s Federalist legislature proved unwilling to support the secession. Instead, Albany, anticipating military action, declared neutrality, mustering its militia to defend the state’s borders from both sides. Such fears were quickly validated, as word reached the White House in late July that Otis was crossing the Atlantic to seek recognition from Spencer Perceval’s government in London. Furious, President Madison announced the north-east in a state of armed rebellion on 1st August. The Was of Northern Secession was about to begin.

  5. #5
    This is great. The Secessionists better secure either New York's allegiance or European recognition and support, though, or they're going to have a real rough time. The rest of the Union has a pretty big manpower advantage over New England as it stands. Good luck!
    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do." - Oscar Gamble

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    Prologue II: The War of Northern Secession


    James Madison, 4th President of the United States of America


    The outbreak of the Northern Rebellion, as the contemporary Unionist press dubbed the upheaval, was met with anger but little surprise. Since the defeat of John Adams in the 1800 presidential elections, it seemed General Washington’s warning of political and geographic partisanship had slowly come true in the form of a Virginian populist regime opposed by an embittered Federalist minority. While the secession angered many in the southern states, the concept of state sovereignty was a crucial part of Democratic-Republican ideology and President Madison’s mobilisation of federal troops caused consternation in some quarters. The new Commonwealth government, headed provisionally by Timothy Pickering, claimed independence as a legal right laid down by the U.S Constitution. However the rump Congress sitting in Washington D.C agreed with the President’s view that the Boston Convention was the act of special interests in the form of New England bankers and merchants with ties to British financial power. Diehards led by John C. Calhoun went further and claimed the Rebellion was a Westminster-hatched plot, designed to divide and destroy the United States for the benefit of the British Empire.


    Regardless, the second half of 1810 proved anti-climactic. New York neutrality and fear of provoking Britain into war caused Madison to be cautious, offering to establish a commission to look over Yankee grievances. This was quickly followed by news Westminster had agreed to exchange ambassadors with Boston, prompting a war hawk landslide in the November elections. Calhoun and his ally Henry Clay, now in control of Congress, pushed through aggressive measures. West Florida, legally a territory of Britain’s ally Spain, was accepted as the Union’s newest state in December, overriding Madison’s veto. The navy was ordered to be alert for British ships operating within American waters, including those of the Commonwealth, effectively denying Boston’s sovereignty. The March following, Congress reconvened to learn federal troops had been massacred at Tippecanoe by Tecumseh’s Indian warriors. Blame was soon laid at Britain’s feet, as survivors claimed large numbers of muskets had been smuggled into the Indiana Territory via the Great Lakes. Although little evidence could be gathered, Madison and Congress were quickly whipped into a frenzy and on 18th March 1811, the United States declared war on Britain and ‘her agents’ operating in the north-eastern states.


    By June sporadic fighting had broken out in Upper Canada and between ships along the Atlantic seaboard. Across Rhode Island, upstate New York and eastern Pennsylvania, the respective authorities struggled to maintain order between secessionists and unionists. In September, New York’s unionist Governor, Daniel Tompkins was becoming increasingly isolated. The state’s leading Federalists, Lieutenant-Governor DeWitt Clinton, Senator Rufus King and Aaron Burr, after communication with Boston, back a motion for secession in the state legislature. After months of unrest, an ever deteriorating state of trade and the Democratic-Republican monopoly in Washington only tightening, the moderates finally threw their lot in with the Commonwealth. Tompkins refused to pass the motion and requested federal troops to enter the state to secure the peace. Alone but legitimate, the triumvirate struggled to organise rebellious forces against the Governor as American soldiers entered Albany in October. As Burr and Clinton fled into New England, King stayed at his home. The Senator publicly resisted arrest by soldiers on 3rd October, as a crowd gathered to watch. A stronghold of New England sympathy, the Albany citizens booed the Union troops and pelted them with missiles. Then a shot was fired. Whether from the crowd or the troops it may never be known but soon dozens of muskets were being discharged in the narrow city streets, leaving two soldiers, three civilians, and crucially, Senator King, dead.


    The ‘Albany Massacre’ swung the overwhelming majority of New York opinion behind the Secession. Clinton established a government-in-exile, consisting of the majority of the state legislature who had recently fled across the Hudson. Meanwhile Tompkins was widely vilified as the puppet of a military tyranny, with many New Yorkers seeing their property inspected and seized by the advancing Union forces, armed citizens began to resist. The newly raised Army of the Commonwealth by comparison were hailed as liberators. General Pinckney’s men watched York burn in Upper Canada, while their comrades were repulsed at Manchester and Pittsfield, and New York City rioted. By 1812, Hudson Bay was firmly in New England’s control, thanks to the Royal Navy, while upstate New York had become a quagmire. Captain Perry’s defeat on Lake Erie in March crippled the U.S. northern offensive‘s supply lines, forcing Pinckney to retreat into Pennsylvania. The only ray of light for the Union came in the form of General Andrew Jackson, who had repulsed the Anglo-Commonwealth invasion into New Jersey with consummate ease at the Battle of New Brunswick.


    By August however, President Madison was forced to flee Washington D.C in the face of a British amphibious assault. As the White House burned, the Unionist cause had reached its lowest ebb. In September, now residing in Fredericksburg, Virginia for precautions, Madison received word from John Quincy Adams, the U.S. ambassador to Russia. Tsar Alexander had offered to mediate a peace, believing Britain’s involvement a needless sideshow to the ongoing war against Napoleon. With word arriving that the Royal Navy planned to target New Orleans, Madison relented. However the President and his supporters had no intention of armistice before the election in November. Despite his unpopularity with the public, he maintained a powerful base led by Henry Clay within the Democratic-Republican Party itself. With the Federalists now synonymous with treason, and the war almost certain to end in defeat, there was also the reality that few others were capable, or even willing, to take on the position in 1812. As such Albert Gallatin led the Union’s delegation in St. Petersburg through drawn out and claustrophobic negotiations in the depths of a fierce Russian winter.


    Following Madison’s all but unopposed re-election and a surprise victory from General James Wilkinson at Baton Rouge in January, the Unionists were in a far more talkative mood. Similarly, Napoleon’s reverses in Spain and Russia over the new year had made the Tsar even more adamant that Britain’s focus needed to be in Europe, and he intervened personally to ensure a speedy resolution. Baton Rouge and New Brunswick ensured Britain accepted West Florida, Louisiana and New Jersey all remained within the Union. In turn Washington was willing to recognise the Commonwealth, including New York, as a sovereign nation. The final stage was Westminster’s renunciation of impressment against American seamen, and the abolition of the Embargo Act. On 6th February 1813, the Treaty of St. Petersburg was signed by all parties. The Commonwealth of New England was free.


    The Burning of the Capitol, September 1812

  7. #7
    An awesome introduction. I'm hooked, and I'll be watching this develop

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    President Pro Tempore Jape's Avatar
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    Kroisistan: You're not wrong there. Population and military quality are two things that dominated this game.

    Anjwalker: Thank you. Hopefully I'll get the third and final prologue up tomorrow and then I'm away for a few days, then we can get stuck in.

  9. #9
    Good stuff so far, will this mean the USA is slave dominated from now on?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jape View Post
    Kroisistan: You're not wrong there. Population and military quality are two things that dominated this game.
    Looks like the Commonwealth got lucky and got both NY and Great Britain! That puts it in a very good position. I'm looking forward to reading more of this, especially a proper New England Constitutional Convention. The Secessionists will probably oppose a Commerce Power as strong as in the current US Constitution, which could be a massive butterfly for the nation's development. I'm also excited for the US Civil War (if it even still occurs). Many opportunities for the Commonwealth.
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    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    I am from New England, so I am looking forward to seeing where you go with this.
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    Another New Englander here. Looks interesting, but there's one problem:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jape View Post
    Captain Perry’s defeat on Lake Erie in March crippled the U.S. northern offensive‘s supply lines, forcing Pinckney to retreat into Pennsylvania.
    Oliver Hazard Perry was from Rhode Island. Wouldn't he have fought and won the Battle of Lake Erie for the Commonwealth in this timeline?

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    Field Marshal Nathan Madien's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bossman Zero View Post
    Oliver Hazard Perry was from Rhode Island. Wouldn't he have fought and won the Battle of Lake Erie for the Commonwealth in this timeline?
    Maybe he defected?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathan Madien View Post
    Maybe he defected?
    Or perhaps more appropriately, didn't defect since he was a member of the US Navy
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    niceeeeeeeeeee! following!
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  16. #16
    I'm intrigued. Are there going to be any major long-term goals besides security for this new state?

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    doesn't NE get an event chain involving Ctuhlu?
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  18. #18
    Very interesting! looking forward to more.

  19. #19
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    Sandino: Bit more complicated than that but Yankee secession does tip the balance in the Slave Power's direction. Also West Florida, effectively the Gulf Coast from Baton Rouge to Tallahassee, has given them two more seats in the Senate. I'll try to go into that more as we go along.

    Kroisistan: TBH, I took New York mainly to give the Commonwealth a better fighting chance, while British ties will prove to have some drawbacks. On constitutional alternate history, I'll try to throw some stuff in but I'm dare say I'm up on the subject enough to satisfy your needs - I had to look up the Commerce Power online after I saw your post

    Nathan Madien: Well glad to have you on board.

    Bossman Zero: Ah good spot but it was intentional. Perry like many Rhode Islanders and a significant minority of Yankees in the US military overall, stayed loyal to Washington. Post-war there is something of a population exchange as different groups enter and exit the Commonwealth. John Adams and his son John Quincy have both remained loyal, as has Perry's brother Matthew, but he was captured at the start of the Secession by rebellious crewmen while at anchor in Connecticut so didn't participate in the war.

    Estonianzulu, Nathan Madien: Bingo

    cavebear3000: Thank you

    alhoward: Great power status, dominate Industry in the Americas (and the world if I'm lucky), who knows - I'm tenuously putting list of politicians together to try and roleplay through. Oh and not get swallowed by the United States!

    cavebear3000 (2): Why yes it does! It'll get a mention don't worry.

    thunderbird2099: Thank you

    ----------------

    Right. Been away a few days, sadly I was only home for a few hours on the 6th, so sleep took priority. Third prologue up tonight at some point, then on with the show, thanks for the responses so far.

    Jape

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    Prologue III: The Parting of Ways


    Timothy Pickering, 1st President of the Commonwealth of New England


    “Hurrah New England!” came the cry, as the news arrived in Boston of the St. Petersburg Treaty. President Pickering received a fifteen minute ovation from the Commonwealth Congress as bells rang out across the world’s newest nation in celebration. In the Canadas the news too was met with enthusiasm, where Bishop John Strachan praised the Loyalist militias for their repulsion of the American invasion. Ironically in Britain, who had contributed most to the war effort, the news was met with little excitement outside of Parliament, as the public focused on Wellington’s march through Spain and the fall of Napoleon. In the United States, there were surprisingly mixed emotions. Generals Wilkinson and Jackson had repulsed the British from Louisiana and New Jersey respectively, the Navy had provided a few upset victories on the high seas, and Westminster had agreed to end impressment; to many it had been a well fought war.


    The loss of New England however, the cradle of the 1776 Revolution, could not be ignored. The impeachment of President Madison was called in some quarters, necessitating a battle in both Houses of Congress by his allies Calhoun and Clay to defeat the motion. Thousands of committed Unionists fled the new nation to uncertain futures, while many Federalists, fearful of the ‘Virginian dynasty’ only growing in strength in turn left the USA for New England. By the time Madison left office in 1817 the six secessionist states had been replaced by new ones in the west[1] allowing the federal flag to remain unchanged. Incredibly unpopular, Madison’s nomination of James Monroe would doom his chances of the attainting the presidency. William Crawford led the Anti-Madisonian faction to victory in an all Democratic-Republican election, the Federalists now completely dead as US political force. Crawford would nonetheless continue Madison‘s pacific policy to the Commonwealth. Known as “The Acceptance” it would colour popular feeling in the Union for decades, as Washington focused its attention westwards.


    In New England meanwhile, the years following independence would prove a boom time, known as the “The Era of Good Feelings”. While the United States suffered several economic panics during the late 1810s and the 1820s, the Commonwealth would blossom as the centre of the Industrial Revolution in the Americas. Men like Francis Lowell and Daniel Day would establish the New England textile industry, powered by water mills and eventually steam. Canals and the Western Hemisphere’s first railroads spread across the nation during the period. Boston and New York welcomed thousands of immigrants who moved into the mills, providing cheap labour for new industries. The universities of Harvard, Miskatonic[2] and Yale began their steady rise to international renown. Treaties with Britain regulated fishing rights off Newfoundland coast and saw the new state of Maine gain land in Easton, while the Commonwealth Navy dedicated its first frigates to Anti-Slavery Patrols off the African coast. Encouraged by the mixed race entrepreneur Paul Cuffee[3], the New England Colonisation Society was established in 1815 in order to help black freemen ’return’ to Africa. Working with fraternal organisations in Britain and the United States, the Society was soon funding the settlement of thousands of former slaves, primarily around the British protectorate of Freetown on the West African coast[4].



    Politically, the Era proved one of stability. The new constitution of New England limited presidents to a single six year term and barred the same state from providing consecutive candidates, a clear reaction to the problem of the Virginian dynasty. Ironically though, just as the Democratic-Republicans came to hegemony in the US following the Secession, their former Federalist rivals enjoyed the same success in the Commonwealth. President Pickering, technically appointed in 1810 by the provisional government refused to run in 1816 despite popular support. Instead Governor DeWitt Clinton, instigator of New York’s defection to the Commonwealth, was nominated by the party and swept the Electoral College, becoming the second of four successive Federalist presidents. Governing on policies of industrialisation, central banking and liberalism, the Era of Good Feelings established New England’s self-image as the true heir to 1776; a modern republic of free men, descended from the Pilgrim Fathers, as opposed to the vast pastoral empire built on slavery and conquest that the United States was coming to be to be seen as in Yankee eyes. ‘So we part’, Pickering had written in 1813, ‘heirs of Greece; one of Athens, and one of Sparta. I only pray our brotherhood will forestall a repeat of their history’.


    [1] West Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri
    [2] Establishing Arkham on the map, and Miskatonic University as a research bonus is a genuine option for New England in Vicky 2. Frankly if it wasn't I'd probably have made it myself.
    [3] A Quaker abolitionist shipwright of African and Native American extraction who made his fortune in New England in the early 1800s, he was crucial to ensuring the various freemen colonies of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Maryland got off the ground.
    [4] The American Colonisation Society was primarily started up by liberal slave owners from the Upper South, however Cuffee and his abolitionist chums were their inspiration, and mainly worked in tandem with British efforts in Sierra Leone.

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