Monday, April 25, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Settlement of Jefferson

Work on Scorpions in a Bottle continues, in spite of delays occasioned by another bout of vertigo. Today's section carries on the story of the State of Jefferson from the Wilderness Walk. I had to do some actual research for this bit on conditions in Spanish Texas in the 1780s. Fortunately, now that I live in a college town, I have access to the stacks at Penn State's Pattee Library.

* * *

The land the American exiles had chosen as their new home, although sparsely populated, was not an ungoverned wilderness. In the century before the Rebellion, Spanish authorities in Mexico City had become concerned about encroachment from French Louisiana, and had made various attempts to establish missions among the local Indians of Tejas. For the most part, these missionary efforts were unsuccessful. When the French ceded Louisiana to Spain in 1762, the need to maintain a settled presence in Tejas had receded, and most of the Spanish settlers had been concentrated around the new provincial capital of San Antonio, though there were also important settlements at Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga and Nacogdoches. The arrival of some 2,000 American exiles in 1782 effectively doubled the settled population of Tejas.

Given the traditional Spanish hostility to Protestantism, Governor Cabello’s willingness to allow the exiles to settle in his province may seem puzzling. However, it must be remembered that a majority of the arrivals were either French Catholics or high church Anglicans from Virginia and the Carolinas. Hamilton records that Father de Gray requested a dispensation from Cabello for the Americans, emphasizing the cruel treatment they had endured at the hands of the British. It is likely that Cabello was swayed by the palpable hatred most of the exiles exhibited towards the British; he was clearly hoping they would serve as a barrier to British expansion into Mexico (as indeed they ultimately did). [1]

Greene and the settlement’s other leaders made a concerted effort to earn Cabello’s trust. A number of the American settlers converted to Catholicism, most notably James Monroe. Greene sent a letter on Cabello’s behalf to Charles Carroll in Maryland, informing him that Catholic colonists would be welcomed in the new settlement, where they would enjoy complete religious liberty and Cabello’s personal protection. The result was a steady stream of new Catholic settlers from the Thirteen Colonies, as well as from Quebec and Nova Scotia.

The arrival of the American exiles proved opportune in one respect. For some time, the Spanish authorities in Tejas had been growing concerned about the depredations committed by the nomadic Apaches, which had been ongoing for decades. Brigadier Teodoro de Croix, the Commandant General of New Spain’s frontier provinces, had determined that war against the Apaches would be necessary. The arrival of the American exiles, many of them veterans of the North American Rebellion, provided Croix with just the force he was looking for. For his part, Greene saw Croix’s proposed war as an opportunity to prove the value of the new settlers to the Spanish administration. In the spring of 1784, Hamilton led a force of 300 American settlers to serve as auxiliaries in Croix’s Apache War. The war was a success; those Apaches who survived were conquered by the Comanche. [2]

The new settlement, which soon gained the name Jefferson, proved attractive to other Americans. As might be expected, many were former rebels who had been reluctant to take part in the initial hazardous overland trek, but were eager to leave British rule and live among friends where their republican sympathies were welcomed. More surprisingly, some were Loyalists who were unhappy with the final settlement that had been worked out between the British government and the reconciliationists, and who refused to live under the resulting Britannic Design. The settlement also attracted European idealists of various stripes, most notably Albert Gallatin of Geneva. By far, though, the most numerous emigrants were neither rebel nor Loyalist, but were simply land-hungry North American settlers, often younger sons of Southern plantation owners. The latter tended to appear at Henrytown with their own Negro slaves, intent on establishing their own slave plantations in the new settlement.

The appearance of the new Southern slaveowners reignited the issue of slavery in the new settlement. Most of the slaves who had been brought on the original Wilderness Walk had either escaped during and after the journey, or been freed by their masters after the establishment of Jefferson. Hamilton and James Madison spoke out in favor of abolishing slavery altogether. Many Jeffersonians, though, regarded Negroes as inherently inferior and incapable of participating in the new society being established along the Trinity River. They favored maintaining the institution of slavery. As more settlers arrived from the Southern Confederation, this attitude became the majority sentiment in Jefferson. [3]

News of the American settlement in Tejas soon found its way to King Charles III in Spain. Initially, Charles approved of the new settlement, particularly after accounts of the Apache War reached him. However, he became disturbed by the settlement’s quick growth. By 1786, the American population of Tejas had surpassed 10,000, far outnumbering the province’s Spanish population. With the threat posed by the Apaches gone, the settlement was also growing beyond its original grant in the Trinity valley, spreading west to the Brazos and Colorado Rivers, and approaching San Antonio itself. The king issued a proclamation forbidding further entry into Tejas by North Americans. [4]

By the time the new proclamation reached Tejas, Cabello had departed to take up his new appointment as Viceroy of Peru. His successor was Rafael Martinez Pacheco, an overbearing man with a long, troubled history in Tejas. Matters might have reached the breaking point then had not Greene taken advantage of the new governor’s cupidity. A series of bribes persuaded Martinez Pacheco to look the other way while shiploads of new settlers continued to arrive from Charleston and Norfolk. [5] By the time Governor Martinez Pacheco was relieved of his post in 1790, the Jefferson settlement had grown to 20,000 inhabitants (including 4,000 Negro slaves). By then, royal scrutiny of the new settlement had ended. Charles III died in December 1788, and was succeeded by his less-capable son, Charles IV. Charles preferred to leave the administration of the government to a succession of first ministers. Martinez Pacheco’s successor, Lt. Col. Manuel Muñoz, was an elderly man in poor health who was unable to govern Tejas effectively. Between them, King Charles and Govenor Muñoz allowed the Jeffersonians operate with total autonomy. The Jeffersonians took advantage of this benign neglect to craft a new instrument of government for themselves.
1. Nicholas Oldro. Cabello y Robles and the Jeffersonians (Jefferson City, 2010).

2. Bruce Silcox. The Apache War of 1784 (Mexico City, 1932).

3. Baldwin Collier. The Lost Opportunity: Slavery in Jefferson City, 1782-1795 (New York, 1948).

4. Christopher Halling. King Charles III of Spain: An Enlightened Despot (London, 1971), pp. 416-17.

5. Russell Guerrero. The State of Jefferson: 1782-1820 (Jefferson City, 2008), pp. 188-91.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Hudson Campaign

It's time to do a little backtracking with Scorpions in a Bottle. I began my account of the Hudson Campaign in media res, as it were, with Burgoyne facing disaster in October 1777, just before the timeline's point-of-divergence. The present section is the prequel, showing Burgoyne setting out from Canada in high spirits and certain of victory. With this section done, the third chapter of Scorpions, "The Rebellion Ends", is now complete.

* * *

As the year 1777 dawned, the North ministry found itself facing unexpected difficulties. The campaign in America, initially completely successful, had ended in disappointment. Instead of capturing Philadelphia, and thus ending the Rebellion, Lord North and his ministers heard of the setbacks in Trenton and Princeton. It was recognized that a simple show of force would be insufficient to put down the Rebellion. It would be necessary to employ as much military strategy as a comparable engagement with a European power would merit.

Fortunately for Lord North, the hour had brought forth the man. General John Burgoyne had returned to London several months before the evacuation of Boston, and so was able to bring firsthand knowledge of conditions in America to the North ministry, along with a first-rate military intelligence to analyze the situation and recommend a course of action. Burgoyne recognized that the Americans’ greatest strength, the vast extent of the area under their control, could also be their greatest weakness. Provided that sufficient forces could be brought to bear, the thinly-settled territory could easily be split asunder, and the centers of the Rebellion isolated from each other. Once this was done, the rebellious areas could be overcome piecemeal.

The optimal strategy, as Burgoyne well understood, was to build on the army’s strengths. The strong positions in Canada and New York City provided a ready-made platform from which to seal New England off from the remaining colonies. Burgoyne himself would lead one army south from Quebec, while a second traveled east from the Iroquois country, and Howe led a third north up the Hudson from New York. All three armies would meet at Albany, securing control of New York province and leaving New England isolated. This plan was approved by Lord Germain, and Burgoyne sailed to Canada to take command of an army of some 7,000 men, including regiments of Hessian soldiers, French Canadian militia, and Indian auxiliaries. [1]

General Howe, who had remained in America, also initially favored a pincer attack on Albany, but by the spring of 1777 he had decided instead to carry out an amphibious attack on Philadelphia, leaving Clinton in command of a small force in New York City with orders not to leave the vicinity of the city. Although Lord Germain sent Howe a letter saying he expected Howe to move up the Hudson, Howe chose to regard this as a suggestion rather than an order, and proceeded with his attack on Philadelphia. In June 1777, as Burgoyne was moving his army south down Lake Champlain, Howe was preparing to embark his troops for the move on Philadelphia. Howe finally set sail on July 23, making landfall at the head of Chesapeake Bay on August 24.

Burgoyne was aided by a leadership dispute among the Americans. General Horatio Gates sought command of the Northern Department for himself, and he spent much of 1777 intriguing to replace General Philip Schuyler. The two traded command of the area several times, depriving the rebel forces of consistent leadership. During his periods of command, Gates’ natural indolence left the rebels unprepared in spite of their knowledge of Burgoyne’s impending attack. In late June Burgoyne’s forces easily drove the rebels out of Fort Ticonderoga, at the south end of Lake Champlain.

Once Burgoyne began moving south from Lake Champlain, he found that he had run out of easy victories. For the next four weeks, his men faced a grueling struggle to advance though a wilderness festooned with rebel booby-traps. A detachment of Hessian soldiers was repulsed on a foraging expedition to Bennington, New Hampshire on August 14, losing several hundred men. Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger’s force, moving east down the Mohawk Valley, was halted at Fort Stanwix and forced to turn back. By September, Burgoyne’s provisions were dwindling, and most of his Indian allies had deserted him.

Had Burgoyne continued to face General Schuyler, all might have been lost. Fortunately, the capture of Fort Ticonderoga allowed Gates to regain command of the rebel army, and once again his indolence proved vital to Burgoyne’s success. After taking command of the rebels, Gates was content to rely on his predecessor’s preparations. They were sufficient to halt Burgoyne, but not to defeat him. [2] An attack by Burgoyne on September 12 ended in stalemate for the two opposing armies. As was often the case in the Hudson campaign, Burgoyne’s chief strength was the weakness of his enemies: a quarrel between Gates and General Benedict Arnold deprived the rebel commander of his most energetic and able subordinate. For the next three weeks, Burgoyne dug in and prepared to receive a rebel counterattack. It was only gradually that Burgoyne realized that Gates had no intention of launching his own attack, and was content to sit and wait at Saratoga while Burgoyne’s army slowly melted away. Burgoyne on October 7 chose to launch another attack on the rebel positions. Had he faced only Gates, the attack would almost certainly have succeeded in dislodging the rebels. Unfortunately for Burgoyne, Arnold had chosen to remain with the rebel army in spite of his quarrel with Gates, and his quick thinking and daring leadership allowed the rebels to repulse Burgoyne’s advance, and even threatened to drive the British army from its fortified redoubts. It was only nightfall, and Arnold’s incapacitation after being wounded in the leg, that prevented a complete rout. [3]

1. Wesley Van Luvender. The Military Thought and Action of John Burgoyne (New York, 1944), pp. 117-23.

2. Robert Sidney. Horatio Gates: The Man Who Lost the Rebellion (New York, 1970), pp. 45-59.

3. Bamford Parkes. Benedict Arnold: The Rebel Genius (New York, 1965), pp. 210-22.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TOP SECRET: It's on for Cleveland!

Those of you who are also on the Soros payroll will doubtless have already received the following instructions with your monthly stipend. However, due to my status within the Organization as a Low-Level Information Source, I have been tasked with disseminating the details of Operation American Splendor to our allies within the New World Order:


1 April 2016

In order to further our long-term goal to eradicate the world's sovereign nations, particularly the United States of America, and establish a One World Government, the following operation (code name AMERICAN SPLENDOR) has been advanced to ACTIVE STATUS. This is a PRIORITY ALPHA operation, meaning that all Organization members not engaged in ALPHA PLUS or higher activities are required to suspend activity and devote all resources to AMERICAN SPLENDOR.

The object of AMERICAN SPLENDOR is to disrupt the Republican National Convention being held in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio from July 18 to 21. This will allow our agents within the Republican National Committee to suspend the convention and appoint former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nominee.

Members of the Organization and allied organizations within the NEW WORLD ORDER taking part in AMERICAN SPLENDOR will take up positions outside the Quicken Loans Arena starting at 8:00 am on the morning of July 18, 2016. Those taking part in AMERICAN SPLENDOR will assume the appearance of gun rights activists protesting the banning of firearms within the Quicken Loans Arena. AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants should carry hand-lettered signs with pro-gun messages (see APPENDIX A for sample sign texts). AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants should also carry loaded firearms, including pistols, machine pistols, single-shot rifles, and semi-automatic rifles. Any Organization members lacking firearms can purchase them at sporting goods stores and gun shops. Members who have criminal records that would prevent them from purchasing weapons at retail outlets that carry out background checks can instead purchase weapons at gun shows (see APPENDIX B for list of gun shows being held between 1 April and 30 June 2016).
AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants should attempt to engage actual pro-gun activists present outside the Quicken Loans Arena to persuade them that the gun ban within the arena is unconstitutional and should be ignored. On the evening of July 19, while the roll call of the states is taking place, AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants and as many actual pro-gun activists as can be persuaded should attempt to storm the Quicken Loans Arena and take up positions on and around the convention floor. AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants will then open fire on convention delegates and members of conservative media outlets (see APPENDIX C for list of approved conservative media targets).

After five minutes of sustained gunfire, AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants will divest themselves of all firearms and pro-gun possessions and assume the identities of convention delegates. While law-enforcement personnel are arresting remaining actual pro-gun activists, AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants will exit the Quicken Loans Arena along with surviving convention delegates, then make their way to pre-arranged rendezvous points in downtown Cleveland hotels (see APPENDIX D for list of rendezvous points). At rendezvous points, AMERICAN SPLENDOR participants will be provided with temporary identity kits and transportation out of Cleveland.

In a separate communication, the Soros Organization has outlined preparations for selected friendly media outlets to respond to Operation American Splendor with calls for a national state of emergency, a ban on pro-gun organizations, and mass arrests of pro-gun activists. The Organization will also be activating a sleeper agent in California to eliminate radio host Alex Jones, who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to detect and expose dozens of previous false-flag operations aimed at eliminating private gun ownership and American sovereignty.

Remember, folks, this is all top secret information. If details of Operation American Splendor become widely known among conservative activists and media outlets, the attempt to disrupt the RNC and make Governor Romney the Republican presidential nominee could suffer complete failure. So, mum's the word!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Greene Expedition

The latest section of Scorpions in a Bottle follows the former American rebels as they make the dangerous trek from Virginia to Spanish Texas that would later be immortalized as the Wilderness Walk. This section follows on from the account of the Loyalist reaction of 1778-79.

* * *

The southern expedition was more successful. Under the command of Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island, this expedition gathered near Williamsburg in the spring of 1780, intending to travel overland to the province of Tejas in New Spain. Three quarters of its members were from the Southern colonies, and included a number of slaveowners who brought their Negro slaves with them. This led to some friction with members from the northern colonies, who believed that the overland route would be dangerous enough without the added difficulty of keeping watch on hundreds of slaves to prevent their escape en route. Governor Bland attempted to persuade General Clinton to forbid the Greene expedition to remove any Negro slaves from the colonies -- not out of humanitarianism, but for fear that the expedition’s slaves would escape their control and join Marion’s raiders in the western hills. Despite these efforts, the Greene expedition included roughly 500 slaves, along with some 3,000 to 4,000 white colonists. [1]

Greene’s reasons for taking the more difficult overland route, rather than sailing to New Orleans or the mouth of the San Antonio River, were twofold. Firstly, he intended to augment the expedition’s numbers by traveling through the Southern colonies and recruiting disaffected former rebels. Secondly, he hoped to blaze a trail through the wilderness that would allow later settlers to follow him to the new settlement. The first aim proved successful: uncertainty concerning the numbers of the Greene expedition are due mainly to colonists who joined after the departure from Williamsburg, who may have numbered anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 people. The second aim was, on the whole, a failure. The difficulties encountered by Greene’s expedition made the overland route unpopular, and practically all colonial emigration to Tejas after 1782 arrived via ship.

Greene’s original plan would have seen the expedition travel by road from Williamsburg to St. Augustine, Florida before traveling west along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to New Orleans. However, news of the British government’s decision to cede Florida to Spain forced the expedition’s leaders to revise their plans on the fly, and the decision was made in July to strike west into North Carolina. The expedition reached Kings Mountain, South Carolina, and paused to reorganize, before continuing west. However, by September a combination of unfamiliar terrain and skirmishes with the local Indian tribes made it clear that they would be unable to reach the Gulf Coast by winter, and the expedition turned back to winter in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Setting forth again in April 1781, the Greene expedition was able to travel west after engaging Indian guides among the Cherokee. The expedition struck the Mississippi River in August, then traveled downstream to Baton Rouge, which they reached in early September. The journey was difficult, and almost half the people on the expedition had either turned back, or died from disease. Baton Rouge had been under Spanish rule since the North ministry ceded the Floridas in 1780, and most members of the expedition wanted to settle there permanently. Had they done so, the subsequent history of the North American continent would have been very different. However, the arrival in November of a second party of 800 former rebels, who had traveled by ship from Charles Town, South Carolina, convinced the surviving members of the Greene expedition to press on to Spanish Tejas in the spring. [2]

During their stay in Baton Rouge, the leaders of the Greene expedition came into contact with the Acadians, French settlers from Nova Scotia who had been forced from their homes during and after the Seven Years’ War. Many Acadians feared (presciently, as it proved) that the aggressive, land-hungry British colonists would soon expand into Spanish Louisiana, and they looked with interest on the expedition’s plans to establish a new settlement in Tejas. As a result, when the Greene expedition resumed its journey in April 1782, it was accompanied by some 200 Acadians and other Francophone residents of Louisiana.

For decades, French settlers in Louisiana had engaged in illegal smuggling with Spanish colonists in Tejas. These contacts between French and Spanish colonists proved fortunate for the new arrivals, since it allowed them to establish friendly relations with the Spanish settlers upon their arrival in Tejas in the summer of 1782. Particular assistance was provided by Father Jean Baptistee de Gray, an Acadian priest who had been expelled from Nova Scotia during the Seven Years’ War. With de Gray’s assistance, the exiled Americans were granted permission by Governor Domingo Cabello y Robles to establish several settlements on the Trinity River, including Jefferson City, Arnold, and Henrytown, the latter a port at the mouth of the Trinity River. The Acadians established a separate settlement called Lafayette near the Spanish settlement of Nacogdoches. By November 1782, the new settlements had been well-established, and the American exiles set to work creating a new society in a strange land. [3]

1. In his account of the Greene expedition, Hamilton claimed that the Negro slaves were never meant to be transported to the new settlement, but were supposed to be sold en route to help finance the journey. Farewell to Change, p. 117.

2. Richard Bennett. The First Group: Pioneers in the Wilderness (Mexico City, 1933).

3. Rafael Coronado. 1782: The Founding of Jefferson (Jefferson City, 1982).

Saturday, March 5, 2016

1860 squared

Republican insiders are desperate to keep Donald Trump from becoming their presidential nominee. At the moment, their efforts are focused on keeping Trump from winning an outright majority of delegates. If they succeed, that would put us in the fabled realm of the "brokered convention", where behind-the-scenes dealmaking would allow the Republicans to deny Trump the nomination and award it instead to a mutually agreeable compromise candidate. The model is the 1920 Republican convention, which was deadlocked among several candidates until Warren G. Harding emerged as an acceptable compromise candidate, receiving the nomination.

The trouble with the "brokered convention" scenario is that it doesn't always work. The most notorious example is the 1860 Democratic Convention. In 1860 the slavery issue haunted American politics like a vast, scary, haunty thing. It had already broken up the Whig Party, and now it was the Democrats' turn. At their convention in Charleston in April, proslavery Southern Democrats were adamantly opposed to the frontrunner, Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas, and they successfully blocked his nomination. However, the proslavery faction were not strong enough to put forward a candidate of their own, and neither side could agree on a compromise candidate. After 57 ballots, the convention adjourned without nominating a candidate.

Six weeks later, the Democrats convened again in Baltimore. This time, the proslavery delegates walked out, and the remaining delegates nominated Douglas. The proslavery delegates held their own convention, where they nominated Vice-President John Breckenridge. Thus, there were two different Democratic candidates, splitting the vote and allowing the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln, to win the general election.

Now the Republican establishment is faced with not one, but two outsider insurgent candidates, Trump and Texas Senator Ted "Backpfeifengesicht" Cruz, both of whom are running ahead of their own preferred candidate, Florida Senator Marco "Empty Suit" Rubio. Neither Trump nor Cruz is likely to back down and support an establishment candidate, or each other for that matter. So the Republicans may well find themselves facing their own deadlocked convention.

If we see a repeat of 1860, we could be looking at not two, but three subsequent "rump" conventions. The regular convention reconvenes in Cleveland in August after the Rules Committee has rejiggered the eligibility requirements to ensure a Rubio nomination. Both Trump and Cruz boycott the Cleveland convention and hold their own conventions. The Make America Great Again convention meets in Las Vegas and nominates a Trump-Christie ticket; the Trust in God convention meets in Houston and nominates a Cruz-Huckabee ticket; and the regular convention in Cleveland nominates a Rubio-Kasich ticket.

The result is chaos on an epic scale. Which candidate ends up on which state ballot? It'll be up to each state's Secretary of State whether to put one, two, or all three Republicans on the general election ballot. If Trump isn't on, say, the Pennsylvania ballot, then a lot of Trump supporters will stay home on election day, which would be very bad news for downticket Republicans, especially for incumbent U.S. Senator Pat Toomey's re-election. Multiply that by 50, and you get a nightmare scenario for the Republicans. Losing to Hillary Clinton would be the least of their problems; they might well lose control of both houses of Congress and more state legislative seats than you can shake a short vulgarian finger at.

I'm not saying this is what's going to happen, but I do believe that it might happen, if the Republicans get their "brokered" convention.

Be careful what you wish for.

Sobel Wiki: And Close the Door

This month's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the Conservative Party, one of the two original major parties in the Confederation of North America.

In our own history, British politics in the 19th century was dominated by two parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, both the product of mergers of earlier parties. This has led to the use of "conservative" and "liberal" to describe the dominant political ideologies of modern developed nations. This also influenced the development of political parties in British Commonwealth nations. For instance, when Canada was confederated in 1867, the names and ideologies of the British parties were adopted by Canadian politicians.

Thus, when Sobel described the formation of political parties in the C.N.A. in the early 19th century, they were called the Conservatives and the Liberals. This is actually an anachronism: the name Conservative wasn't adopted in the U.K. until 1834, and Liberal wasn't adopted until 1859. It may be that the names came into use in the Sobel Timeline Britain around the same time as they did in the C.N.A. Sobel mentions a Liberal government in Britain falling in 1835 and being replaced by a Reform-Conservative coalition. It appears that the economic shock of the late 1830s disrupted British politics to the point where these names fell out of use, and the older names Whig and Tory were revived. British politics in the Sobel Timeline was still dominated by the Whig and Tory Parties in the 20th century.

As for the C.N.A.'s Conservative Party, it and its rival Liberal Party appear as separate confederation-level parties in the 1810s and 1820s, during the period of the First Britannic Design, when the C.N.A. is a loose collection of semi-autonomous British dominions. The same economic shock that disrupts the British party system in the late 1830s unleashes various forms of chaos on the confederations of North America. It is in response to this chaos that the North American parties lead the push for political centralization that results in the Second Britannic Design of 1842.

Under the first forty years of the Second Design, the Conservatives and Liberals take turns controlling the new national government, both becoming corrupt. The corrupt equilibrium is upset in the late 1860s when the Conservatives push through electoral reforms expanding the franchise and reapportioning Grand Council seats. The reforms are meant to solidify Conservative rule, but they end up allowing a populist third party, the People's Coalition, to appear and flourish. The Coalition's gains come, ironically, at the expense of the Conservatives -- by 1883 the Coalition has displaced the Conservative Party as the official opposition, and by 1893 the Conservatives have ceased to play a role in national politics. By 1903 the party has dwindled to the point where it can no longer nominate a candidate for governor-general, and it effectively shuts down.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Schrödinger's vulgarian

Aficionados of quantum mechanics will be familiar with the paradox of Schrödinger's cat, which was posed by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. Since one version of quantum mechanics holds that different outcomes of a quantum event exist simultaneously until the event is observed from outside, Schrödinger pointed out that a cat in a box whose life depended on such a quantum event would be simultaneously alive and dead, until somebody opened up the box and looked inside.

Now consider Donald J. Trump, short-fingered vulgarian and Republican presidential candidate. Trump has been leading polls among Republican voters for the last six months, has won the last three Republican primary contests, and currently has 82 pledged delegates to his name, more than all the other Republican candidates combined. As Trump's chances of winning the Republican primary increase, two possible futures are coming into existence, depending on whether or not he wins the general election in November.

In the Trump-wins outcome, he is remaking the GOP into a right-wing populist party along the lines of Marine Le Pen's National Front and Geert Wilders' Party for Freedom. In this outcome, Trump is a transformative figure, the Franklin Roosevelt of the Right, harnessing the widespread xenophobia of the American electorate to creat a national-populist majority, and altering the contours of the American political system.

In the Trump-loses outcome, he is destroying the GOP by pandering to an extremist xenophobic minority. In this outcome, Trump's extremism leaves downticket Republicans with the equally unattractive choices of either embracing his radical xenophobia, or trying to distance themselves from it, either of which would alienate an important Republican voting bloc and risk handing hundreds of Federal, state, and local elections to the Democrats.

Eight months out from the general election, it's impossible to know which outcome to expect when Trump faces off against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Will Trump end up steamrolling Clinton as he has all of his Republican opponents, or will his tactic of out-crazying his opponents fail against a candidate who doesn't have to be crazy to win votes? One can make a case for both outcomes, and we won't know for certain until November 8 rolls around and the nation actually votes.

In the meantime, Trump the Transformer and Trump the Destroyer co-exist in the person of the blustering candidate. Only time will tell which one we're currently watching.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle

Those of you who are not long-time readers of the Johnny Pez blog may be wondering: "What is this Scorpions in a Bottle of which you speak?

Basically, it's a project I embarked on some time ago to write a sequel to Robert Sobel's classic work of alternate history, For Want of a Nail ... Sobel wrote his book back in 1971, and the alternate timeline he created ends there. I felt that there was a crying need to extend Sobel's timeline to the early 21st century, so that's what I'm doing.

"But Johnny," you may be saying, "you can't write a continuation of someone else's work just like that. It's under copyright. You'd need permission from Sobel's estate." True. That's why I contacted Sobel's estate and secured their permission. I am fully authorized to write and publish a sequel, which I have tentatively decided to call Scorpions in a Bottle, which was Sobel's original title for his book. Having accomplished this, only two obstacles remain before me: actually writing it, and finding an actual publisher.

The writing is ongoing, and I've posted written sections of Scorpions in a Bottle on this blog. This particular post will serve as a sort of running tally of what bits I've written so far, and an outline of what remains to be done.

Here's what I've done so far (with links, because blog):

Prologue: The Albany Congress
1. The American Crisis
2. Outbreak of Rebellion
3. The Rebellion Ends
   A. The Hudson Campaign
   B. The Battle of Saratoga-Albany
   C. Joseph Galloway
   D. The Carlilse Commission
   E. The Restoration
4. The Wilderness Walk
   A. The Loyalist Reaction
   B. The Greene Expedition
   C. The Settlement of Jefferson
   D. The Lafayette Convention
5. The Britannic Design
6. The Dickinson Era
7. The Trans-Oceanic War
8. The Conquest of Mexico
9. The Jackson Era
10. The Rise of the Parties
11. The Crisis Years
12. Mexico in Transition
   A. John Mason
   B. Miguel Huddleston
   C. The Rise of Pedro Hermión
   D. The Henrytown Convention
13. The Rocky Mountain War
14. The Kramer Associates
   A. Bernard Kramer
   B. The Guatemala Canal
   C. Omar Kinkaid
15. The Era of Faceless Men
16. The Fall of the Republic
17. The People's Coalition
   A. The Norfolk Convention
   B. Woman Suffrage

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Loyalist reaction

The last excerpt from Scorpions in a Bottle marks the end of the chapter on the British victory over the Americans. We continue on from there to describe the Loyalist reaction, which Sobel notes included the lynching of "some one thousand" former rebels in 1778-79. I provide a few details of that dark time here:

* * *

It seems to be a law of nature that a people suffering oppression will respond to liberation by oppressing their former tormentors. For three years, Loyalists in the American colonies had been subjected to various forms of harassment by supporters of the Rebellion. Now that their own side was ascendant, they took advantage of the reversal of fortune to revenge themselves in kind for the slights they had suffered.

The most notorious instances took place in Virginia. As soon as General Clinton established his military headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, in September 1778, he was besieged by Lord Dunmore, the colony’s Royal Governor, demanding that he be reinstated. Lord Dunmore had been forced to flee Virginia in 1775 after issuing a proclamation declaring martial law and offering freedom to any slave who deserted a rebel master. He had left for Britain in 1776, but with the restoration of British rule to the colonies he returned. The Ministry had continued to issue Dunmore his salary as Royal Governor of Virginia during his sojourn in Britain, and he was finally able to prevail upon Clinton to restore him to power in the colony, supplanting Governor Pendleton.

Clinton had ordered the arrest of several prominent rebels, including Washington, Jefferson, and Henry, and they had been sent to London to face charges of treason against the Crown. Dunmore was not satisfied with these limited measures. He was determined, he said, “to see treason extirpated root and branch from this country.” Although Clinton prevented Dunmore from carrying out mass arrests of former rebels, the governor was later accused of encouraging lynch mobs that killed at least 600 men who had served on Committees of Correspondence and Safety and in the Continental Army. Some former Continentals began organizing their own militia to fend off the lynch mobs, and clashes between the two groups threatened to develop into civil war. At the behest of Bland and other moderates, Clinton finally removed Dunmore from office, appointing Bland in his place.

By then, however, the rebel militia had become too powerful to disarm, and too distrustful of British rule to disband. They found a leader in Francis Marion, a South Carolinian who had fought against the Cherokee during the French and Indian War and received a captain’s commission in the Continental Army. Apart from a battle with the Royal Navy in June 1776, Marion had seen no action during the Rebellion. However, his commission in the rebel army resulted in his arrest after the restoration of British rule, and the forfeiture of his property. After escaping a lynch mob in November 1778, Marion fled to Virginia, where he soon joined the rebel militia being organized against Dunmore. Marion’s experience fighting the Cherokee allowed him to successfully ambush several lynch mobs, and the militiamen elected him their general early in 1779. When Clinton sent his own troops to put down Marion’s militia, they withdrew into the Virginia and Carolina backcountry. For the next 25 years, Marion’s men eluded capture while carrying out raids against prominent supporters of British rule. [1]

Similar incidents of lesser severity occurred in the other twelve colonies. These served to convince many former rebels that they could expect nothing but further harassment from their fellow Americans, and that their only hope for a decent life was to leave the American colonies. Hamilton later wrote, “The nature of man is to seek revenge for real and imagined wrongs. Reluctantly, then, we must move on. To stay here is, unfortunately, unthinkable.” [2]

By 1780, Hamilton, Arnold, and various other leading former rebels had organized two expeditions. The northern expedition, led by Artemas Ward, set out from Pittsborough in March and traveled down the Ohio River to the settlement of Kaskaskia (later Fort Radisson) on the Mississippi. At this point, Ward chose to cross the Mississippi and travel overland to the west, rather than sail upstream to the former French settlement of St. Louis. Nothing further is known of Ward’s expedition; no word from any member ever reached the British colonies. [3]

1. Sir Douglas Carlisle. The Four Viceroys: Burgoyne, Carlton, Howe, and Clinton (New York, 1967), pp. 43-58.

2. Hamilton, Farewell to Change, p. 98.

3. The mystery of the fate of the Ward expedition has become a perennial subject of speculation, similar to that of the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke. As early as 1797, during the conquest of Spanish Louisiana, some of the men in General Edward Curtis’s army sought for evidence of the expedition’s fate, but in vain. Most likely, the expedition was slaughtered by hostile Indians before it was able to establish a permanent settlement. The most thorough account of the expedition itself, and the efforts to locate it, is Angela Ott. The Ward Expedition: History and Myth (New York, 2007).

Monday, February 15, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: Back to normal

In For Want of a Nail, Sobel shows the American Revolution ending in June 1778 with the Continental Congress agreeing to return the Thirteen States to British rule. And then ...

That's basically it. The next thing you know, almost all the American armies have surrendered to the British, and the Thirteen Colonies are under martial law while everybody waits for Parliament to come up with a permanent settlement. How did thirteen separate revolutionary governments each decide to surrender power and accept subordination? We never find out.

Clearly, this is a matter that needs explaining in my sequel to Sobel, Scorpions in a Bottle. This is what I came up with:

* * *

(this section carries on from the Carlisle Commission section)

With the Rebellion at an end, and the American colonies once more restored to British rule, Galloway held that the Congress had completed its task, and adjourned the body. As direct representatives of the North ministry, the members of the Carlisle Commission found themselves acting as a de facto government for the colonies. The commissioners established themselves in Philadelphia, and in consultation with General Howe, directed the restoration of the ministry’s authority. [1]

Reconciliationist regimes had been established in the Southern colonies, including Maryland and Delaware. In the middle colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, the British Army had succeeded in establishing civil authority in the areas they controlled. However, the story was a different one in the New England colonies, where the Rebellion had begun, and where opposition to the return to British rule was strongest.

Burgoyne’s victory at Saratoga-Albany had broken the spirit of the New England militia serving under Gates. These men had returned to their farms and villages, bringing with them tales of Gates’ incompetence and the fecklessness of the Congress. Benedict Arnold, probably the most able rebel military commander in New England, might have been able to rally the New England rebels to continue their resistance had he been able. Arnold, however, had suffered a serious injury at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, and was recuperating in isolation at his home in Connecticut. With him gone, there was nobody in a position to counter the growing sense of despair among the New England rebels. [2]

At the behest of Galloway and the Carlisle Commission, Dickinson agreed to serve as an envoy to the rebel government in Boston. Dickinson found the city in turmoil, as mobs championing different rebel factions fought in the streets. The city’s leading merchants, fearing the loss of all order, agreed to Dickinson’s proposal for a regiment of British soldiers to be stationed in the city. [3] The Carlisle Commission assigned Howe himself to the command, and on October 17, 1778, two and a half years after their withdrawal, the British Army returned to Boston. Once order had been restored, Howe appointed Elbridge Gerry, by now a leading Massachusetts reconciliationist, as head of the colonial government. [4] Over the course of the next year, Howe was able to use similar measures to bring the other three New England colonies under his authority. With Howe in control of New England, Burgoyne in charge of the middle colonies, and Clinton in the South, the era of the Four Viceroys had begun. [5]


1. Henderson Bundy. The Carlisle Commission (New York, 2005), pp. 78-95.

2. Bamford Parkes. Benedict Arnold: The Rebel Genius (New York, 1965), pp. 217-25.

3. Lord Henry Hawkes. Peace and Victory: The Last Stage of the American Rebellion (London, 1884), pp. 623-35.

4. Robert MacKreith. Lord Howe and the Rebellion (New York, 1965), pp. 303-14.

5. Sir Guy Carleton, Governor of Quebec, is considered the fourth Viceroy, although he did not share in the task of pacification of the rebellious colonies.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You know you should be glad

The Johnny Pez blog now presents the Beatles performing "She Loves You" live at the ABC Theatre in Ardwick, Manchester on November 20, 1963.

Because Beatles.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Iowa never happened

For the last year, the Iowa caucuses have dominated the political discourse in the United States. Presidential candidates from both major parties have poured money and manpower into the state, and traveled there time after time to pay homage to the awesome power of the Iowa State Fair Butter Cow.

And the result? Both major parties ended up with basically tie votes. Clinton and Sanders were so close that several contests had to be decided by coin tosses. On the GOP side, Cruz, Trump, and Rubio all finished in the low-to-mid 20% range. The arcane caucus rules make it impossible to predict precisely which candidates will come to the conventions with how many pledged delegates, but right now it looks like the two Democratic candidates will wind up with 22 each (plus or minus 1), and the three Republican candidates will all wind up with 7 each (plus or minus 1).

So, as far as determining which candidate will win the nomination in each race, the whole long, complicated Iowa caucus might as well have never happened.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Invisible Man VI: The Furniture That Went Mad

As we pick up the story of The Invisible Man in chapter VI, "The Furniture That Went Mad", it's still the morning of Whit Monday, following the bizarre burglary of the vicarage. The Halls are up with the sun, seeing to the brewing of the Coach and Horses' beer supply in the inn's cellar. Mrs. Hall realizes that she forgot her supply of sarsaparilla, and she sends her husband upstairs to fetch it. On his way to get the bottle, Mr. Hall notices that the inn's front door has been unbolted, and that the stranger's door is ajar. He enters, and finds the room unoccupied, as he had expected. He is surprised to find that all of the stranger's clothing is scattered around the room.

Mr. Hall, (whose first name, we learn, is George), runs down to the cellar to get his wife (whose name, we also learn, is Janny). As they return up the cellar stairs, they hear the faint sound of the front door opening and closing. On the hall stairs, each hears a sneeze, but each assumes it was the other. The enter the stranger's bedroom, and note that the bed is cold, and hence hasn't been slept in for at least an hour.

As the two stare around at the room, the blanket suddenly rises up from the bed and leaps over the foot, exactly as if an invisible hand had picked it up and thrown it. The stranger's hat then levitates off the bedpost and flies at Janny Hall. This is followed by the chair rising off the floor and attacking her, driving her from the room. The door to the stranger's room slams shut and locks.

Janny Hall immediately draws the obvious conclusion: the stranger has used magic to bewitch the room's furniture. The Halls are joined by Millie the Maid, and the three retreat downstairs, and help to revive Janny's frazzled nerves by, as Wells puts it, "applying the restoratives customary in such cases."

The Halls send Millie across the street to Mr. Sandy Wadgers, the village blacksmith, to consult with him on how to deal with ensorceled furniture. Mr. Wadgers agrees that they are dealing with witchcraft, and recommends the use of an iron horseshoe. The four are joined by Huxter the tobacconist and his apprentice, and the six continue discussing the matter until the door to the stranger's bedroom opens, and he emerges, clad as usual in goggles and bandages. The stranger stops to address the assembled villagers. "Look there!" he commands with a pointed finger. They all look and see the bottle of sarsaparilla standing neglected by the cellar door. The stranger then enters the parlour and slams the door in their faces.

Mr. Wadgers recommends that Mr. Hall confront the stranger and demand an explanation. When Mr. Hall does so (after some time spent working up his nerve), the stranger barks, "Go to the devil! And shut that door after you!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Invisible Man V: The Burglary at the Vicarage

We take up the story of The Invisible Man with chapter V, "The Burglary at the Vicarage". A vicarage, btw, is the residence of the vicar, the local Anglican parish priest. The vicarage belongs to the local parish of the Church of England, and the vicar and his family (if he has one) live there during his tenure as parish priest.

We met the Vicar of Iping, the Reverend Mr. Bunting, in chapter IV, when the village doctor, Mr. Cuss, had his curious interview with the mysterious boarder at the Coach and Horses Inn. Wells records that the vicar's only reaction to Mr. Cuss's peculiar tale was "It's a most remarkable story. It's really a most remarkable story."

Our story resumes in the early hours of Whit Monday, the day after Pentacost, known in England as Whitsunday. In 1896, the leap year in which The Invisible Man seems to take place,  Whit Monday falls on May 25. This would be a few days after Mr. Cuss's interview with the stranger.

The Rev. Mr. Bunting and his wife are asleep, when Mrs. Bunting is awakened by the sound of their bedroom door opening and closing. She hears the sound of bare feet creeping along the hall outside their room, and she wakes her husband. He does not light a candle, but instead puts on his glasses and a dressing gown and slippers in the dark and slips out of their room. He hears someone in his study downstairs, along with a violent sneeze. Having confirmed that someone has broken into their house, he returns to the bedroom, grabs the poker from the fireplace, and heads downstairs. His wife follows him, but remains for the moment at the top of the landing.

As the Rev. Mr. Bunting makes his way downstairs, he hears the snap of a desk drawer's lock being forced, the drawer opening, the rustle of papers being moved, a muttered curse, and the sound of a match being struck and a candle lit. When the Rev. Mr. Bunting reaches the bottom of the stairs, he can see into his study. He can see the desk with the open drawer and the candle resting on it, but not the burglar.

As the Rev. Mr. Bunting stands indecisively in the hall, his wife joins him. Then he hears the sounds of gold coins clinking. The burglar (wherever he is) has found the household cash: five gold half sovereigns. This the vicar cannot allow, and he rushes into the room and yells "Surrender!"

The room is empty, yet the vicar and his wife are certain they can hear someone inside. The search the room, but can find nobody there. The couple stand there befuddled until they hear a sneeze out in the passageway. They rush out, carrying the candle, and hear the kitchen door slam shut. The vicar opens it, and through the kitchen he sees through the scullery that the back door has opened. They can see the garden beyond the back door in the dawn's early light, but no burglar.

The couple close the back door and thoroughly search kitchen, scullery, and cellar, but they are alone in the house. Sunrise finds them still standing on the ground floor of the vicarage, utterly perplexed.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Birthers: a clarification

Back in 2008, when Senator Barack Obama was running for president, a group of Hillary Clinton dead-enders called PUMAs started running with a conspiracy theory claiming that Obama's Hawaiian birth had been faked somehow, and that he was actually born in Kenya, and was thus ineligible to serve as President of the United States. This was despite the fact that the Clinton campaign itself had found Obama's birth announcement in a Honolulu newspaper. The PUMA conspiracy theory quickly spread to various right wing sources, including Joseph Farah's WorldNetDaily, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and, eventually, Donald Trump. The proponents of this conspiracy theory became known as birthers, by analogy with the 9/11 attack conspiracy theorists, known as truthers.

In an amusing sequel to the birther phenomenon, Donald Trump, now himself the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, is claiming that rival candidate Senator Ted Cruz's Canadian birth makes him ineligible to serve as president. Because of the similarity of the claims against Cruz and Obama, and because Trump himself has made the same claim against both men, the term "birther" is being applied to Trump and other figures who are disputing Cruz's eligibility.

This is wrong. The anti-Obama conspiracy-mongers were called birthers because the heart of their conspiracy theory involved disputing that Obama was born in the United States. That is not the case with Cruz. Everyone, including Cruz himself, agrees that he was not born in the United States. Thus, there is no actual conspiracy theory involved; only the legal question of whether Cruz's universally-acknowledged foreign birth disqualifies him for the presidency.

If you want a term for the people who dispute Cruz's eligibility, you might call them "natural-borners", because the issue they raise is whether Cruz is a natural-born citizen within the meaning of the Constitution. Thus, Trump is both a "birther" and a "natural-borner", while Mary Brigid McManamon is a "natural-borner" but not a "birther".

Cruz's current natural-borner controversy is particularly amusing because, had it not been for the birthers making a prolonged fuss about Obama's alleged foreign birth, the question of Cruz's actual foreign birth might not even have come up.

Monday, January 11, 2016

General Philip Benner

General Philip Benner (1762 - 1832) was a businessman in the iron trade from Pennsylvania. Benner Township, in Centre County, is named after him.

Born in East Viincent township, Chester County on May 19, 1762, at a young age Benner served in the American Revolutionary War. Benner went into the iron smelting business after the war in Coventry, Chester County, with a store in East Vincent. After marrying Ruth Roberts (1765 - 1827), Benner purchased land in what was then Upper Bald Eagle Township, Mifflin County in 1792, and established an iron foundry there two years later. It may have been around this time that Benner was commissioned a major-general of militia, the source of his military title. Benner's business interests in the area expanded to include a grist mill and a slitting mill by the time Centre County was established in 1800. From 1802 to 1811, Benner was involved in a legal dispute over the ownership of his land, which ended with him losing his case and being compelled to buy his land a second time.

With the land dispute settled, Benner expanded production from his iron foundry, opening up a trade in iron with Pittsburgh and the western counties. In 1821, Benner became the first president of the Centre & Kishacoquillas Turnpike Company, and assisted in the construction of the turnpike. Benner also contributed to the construction of water-works in the borough of Bellefonte, as well as several houses there. Benner opened stores in Bellefonte and Ferguson township.

As Benner's businesses were expanding in the 1820s, the United States was emerging from the Era of Good Feeling and entering the period of the Second Party System, when the rise of Andrew Jackson split the dominant Democratic-Republican Party into pro- and anti-Jackson factions. Benner was a Jackson supporter, and he served as a presidential elector for the 1824 Jackson-Calhoun ticket. Following Jackson's defeat in the 1824 election, his supporters began building up a new, populist political machine, the foundation of the modern Democratic Party. Benner took part in this partisan activity by establishing the Centre Democrat in 1827.

Despite his general success as a businessman, Benner did suffer the occasional setback. He once spent $50,000 financing the building of a steamboat in Pittsburgh, and loading it with a cargo of iron. The steamboat captain Benner hired was supposed to sell the iron and use to proceeds to purchase a cargo of tobacco for return to Pittsburgh. Instead, he sold the steamboat along with the iron, and absconded to Europe with the money.

Mrs. Ruth Benner died on January 7, 1827 at the age of sixty-two. Her husband died five years later, on July 27, 1832. The couple had eight children.

David Bowie 1947-2016

Today's embedded music video features David Bowie performing the title track from the 1986 film Absolute Beginners.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Carlisle Commission

In For Want of a Nail, Sobel takes a page from our own history, and has Lord North send a peace commission to the Continental Congress in the spring of 1778 headed by the Earl of Carlisle. In our own history, this came after the surrender of Burgoyne's army at the Battle of Saratoga, and was a desperate attempt by North to forestall a military alliance between the American rebels and the French. In our history, North deliberately deceived the commission's members by failing to tell them that he had ordered General Clinton to evacuate Philadelphia. Had he done so, of course, the commissioners would have known that their mission was doomed to failure, and they would have refused to go. As it was, the mission had already failed before the commissioners set out from London, since the Americans and the French had already signed an alliance in February.

One would expect that a British victory at Saratoga would have made the North ministry more determined than ever to use military force to crush the American rebellion. This would have been consistent with 15 years of previous British policy, which was based on a dismissal of American concerns and contempt for the Americans as people. However, Sobel was evidently interested in exploring a world where the Americans returned to being loyal British subjects, and a long, costly British military campaign in America, even if successful, would have sowed the seeds of lasting enmity between Britain and America. So, instead of military conquest, Sobel shows us a British government willing to use negotiations, and satisfaction of American grievances, to end the war. In the Sobel Timeline, the Carlisle Commission basically offers the Americans the same terms as it did in our history. With the Rebellion going much worse for the Americans, this turns out to be an offer that the Americans can't refuse.

* * *
(this section continues on from the Joseph Galloway section)

In London, rumors of victory and defeat in America came hard upon one another’s heels. Word came first of defeat at Bennington, then at Freeman’s Farm, then at Bemis Heights. All of London held its breath, as if fearing that the next news from America would tell of Burgoyne’s surrender to Gates. Instead, news came of Gates’ defeat, and the disintegration of his army. Burgoyne’s victory, along with Howe’s capture of Philadelphia and his repulse of Washington’s counterattack, raised the prestige of the North ministry, and discredited those like Burke and Wilkes who had denounced the ministry’s America policy. Finally, North received word from Paul Wentworth, his agent in Paris, that the French government had grown discouraged by the news from America and was cutting off its supplies of money and arms to the rebels. Wentworth also reported that he had been approached by Franklin, who wished to negotiate an end to the Rebellion and the return of the colonies to British rule. [1]

If the Americans had given up hope of winning their independence, North had given up hope of the military conquest of the rebellious colonies. Burgoyne’s report on his victory had stressed the failure of the expected Loyalist uprising to occur, and the stiff resistance he had encountered from the rebels. He also emphasized the precarious nature of his occupation of Albany, and the general anti-British sentiment of the surrounding country. [2] With these facts in mind, on February 16, 1778, North called a secret meeting of the Cabinet to discuss a possible negotiated settlement of the conflict. No one present disagreed with North’s analysis of the general situation: the ministry had erred badly in its response to the Americans’ growing intransigence in the Crisis, misreading the temper of the American colonists, and the strength of Loyalist sentiment. Instead of cowing the Americans into submission, the ministry’s policies had stiffened the Americans’ resolve to resist, and finally driven them into open rebellion.

Without revealing the source of his information, North informed the Cabinet that the Americans were prepared to return to British rule provided that there was a general settlement of colonial grievances along the lines of Galloway’s Plan of Union. There were heated objections from a few members, notably Lord Germain, but a majority of the Cabinet sided with North, as long as the proposal was seen to emanate from the ministry rather than the colonists. A month later, a commission headed by the Earl of Carlisle was sent to the Congress to offer the proposed settlement. [3]

Events in America continued to favor the reconciliationists. Disillusioned former soldiers from the Continental Army blamed the Congress, and the revolutionary state governments, for the military failures suffered at Saratoga-Albany and Philadelphia. In Virginia, for instance, Governor Patrick Henry was deposed by Theodorick Bland, who had served as a cavalry commander in the Continental Army under Washington. Bland and his supporters (most of whom, like him, were former members of the Continental Army), raised up Edmund Pendleton in Henry’s place. Pendleton issued instructions to Virginia’s delegation to the Congress to support efforts at reconciliation with Britain, leading to the resignations of the radical members Richard Henry Lee and Joseph Jones. [4]

Events in Virginia were echoed elsewhere in the rebellious colonies. By the time the Earl of Carlisle’s commission arrived in America in early May, reconciliationists had gained control of the Congress, and Galloway was one of its most prominent members, replacing Carroll as President on May 23. Under Galloway’s leadership, the Congress agreed on May 27 to ask Lord North for an armistice based on the Carlisle proposals. Carlisle sent word to the British military leadership of the agreement, and they began making preparations for the joint military rule of the reunited colonies that would cause them to be known as the Four Viceroys. The formal articles for armistice were signed by Carlisle and Galloway on June 12, 1778, and over the next two weeks most of the remaining rebel militia surrendered to their British counterparts. The North American Rebellion was over. [5]

1. Dame Brook Alyson. Lord North and His Times (London, 2001), pp. 356-62.

2. Wesley Van Luvender. The Military Thought and Actions of John Burgoyne (New York, 1944), p. 476-79.

3. Henderson Bundy. The Carlisle Commission (New York, 2005), pp. 34-36.

4. Patricia Foster Gooch. Virginia in Rebellion, 1775-1778 (Norfolk, 1997), pp. 282-93.

5. Bundy. The Carlisle Commission, pp. 203-11.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

More armed white men

So, a bunch of armed white men have taken over an unoccupied building in a wildlife refuge in Oregon, in defense of a couple of imprisoned poachers, Dwight Hammond, Jr. and his son Steven Hammond (in other words, more armed white men). Needless to say, the armed white men in question are a group of right-wing gun nuts. The leader of the armed white men, Ammon Bundy, says in a YouTube video that God told him and his followers to take over the building: "I began to understand how the Lord felt about the Hammonds," Bundy says in the video. "I began to understand how the Lord felt about Harney County and about this country. And I clearly understood that the Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds".

This just confirms my belief that white men are the greatest danger facing our country. None of us will be safe until the government recognizes the danger posed by white men and takes firm steps to bring them under control. I suggest implanting chips in their heads that cause them to lose consciousness when activated. In a country where white men have disproportionate control of political and economic power, it's the only way to ensure the safety and security of everyone else.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Invisible Man IV: Mr. Cuss Interviews the Stranger

Having spent the first three chapters of The Invisible Man describing the stranger's arrival in Iping, Wells shifts to a more general account of his residency there. The stranger mostly keeps to himself in the Coach and Horses, and only goes out into the village after nightfall. There are several theories about the stranger's behavior: Mrs. Hall is satisfied with the stranger's own explanation that he is an experimenter who suffered a disfiguring accident. Teddy Henfrey thinks he is a criminal hiding out from the police. The schoolteacher Gould thinks he is an anarchist planning to commit an act of terrorism. The postman Fearenside continues to believe that he is a piebald half-breed.Whatever the explanation, the villagers generally dislike him. However, Mrs. Hall is content to allow him to stay in her inn as long as he pays his bills on time.

One day, towards Whitsuntide (ie just before Whitsunday, which in 1896 fell on May 24), the village doctor, Mr. Cuss, is driven by curiosity to speak with the stranger. The stranger explains that he is trying to recreate a prescription he was given, but which was blown into a lit fire and burned to ashes while he wasn't looking. Cuss then notices that the stranger is missing a hand. Oddly, his sleeve isn't pinned up; it moves around as though there were an arm inside it, even though he can see that there is no arm. When Cuss draws the stranger's attention to this odd phenomenon, the stranger lifts his arm up and points the sleeve directly at the doctor's face. Then, to the doctor's astonishment, he feels his nose being tweaked, as though by a finger and thumb.

Cuss is badly frightened. He knocks the sleeve away and flees the inn. After he tells his story to Bunting, the local vicar, that man says gravely, "It's a most remarkable story. It's really a most remarkable story."