Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A calm day will come

And now, the Johnny Pez blog closes out the year 2014 with ... an embedded music video. Here is The Joy Formidable's "The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade" in a fan video by Steve Orchard.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 30

On December 30, 1915, crowds began to gather in the Mexican city of Chapultepec. Some were there for the New Year celebrations, but most came to hold a silent vigil in support of the imprisoned slaves who were being tried en masse for treason for joining an invading French army the year before. Fighting broke out between the two groups, and when local police were unable to maintain order, soldiers were sent from Mexico City to reinforce them.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hell yes, I'm a feminist

There's a time to be subtle, and there's a time to be blunt.

As John Scalzi notes, these are the times when you want to be blunt.

Hell yes, I'm a feminist.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 29

On December 29, 1894, North American Councilman Thomas Kronmiller responded to Governor-General Ezra Gallivan's address on foreign policy with a speech on the floor of the Grand Council. After pointing out that the United States of Mexico had over two million veteran soldiers under arms, in contrast to the C.N.A.'s inexperienced army of 500,000 men, Kronmiller went on to say, "In 1845, when the war with Mexico began, our population was fifty percent larger than theirs. The Mexican Army never had more than 650,000 men under arms, while we raised almost three times that amount. The difference between the economies was more startling then than it is today. Yet the Mexicans of a half-century ago were able to fight us to a standstill. What might they do today if we do not prepare for all eventualities?"

Kronmiller's remarks were reported in the next day's issue of the Burgoyne Register.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 27

On December 27, 1879, two days after the Paris mob murdered the French royal family, troops from the Germanic Confederation entered the city. Sobel reports that the troops were welcomed by the city's middle-class merchants, who viewed them more as saviors than as conquerors. However, almost immediately, the German soldiers began to desert their units and join the rioters.

On December 27, 1894, North American Governor-General Ezra Gallivan gave an address to the North American Congress of Historians, in which he discussed his views on the C.N.A.'s foreign policy. Gallivan said, "Look at the map and you will see why this nation has been so blessed as to be able to afford a neutral stance on the world scene. We are bounded by the Atlantic moat, the Arctic, the Gulf, and the Mexico frontier. Those who would attack us from Europe cannot do so, while on this continent the only threat could come from Mexico. Figures soon to be released will show that our economy is ten times as large as that of the U.S.M. Last year the addition to production alone was greater than that of the total Mexican output. Our population is some 7.5 million larger than that of Mexico. We are a united people; Mexico faces internal dislocations. We have the good will of the rest of the world; Mexico has only a shaky alliance with the Germans, which may mean little in time of trouble. Yet there are those who say Mr. Hermión is preparing to resume the Rocky Mountain War. He would not be so foolish, but even if troubles do develop, we can arm rapidly enough to meet any challenge that may come our way."

Gallivan's address was reported in the next day's issue of the Burgoyne Register.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 25

On December 25, 1879, the Paris mob stormed the Palace of Versailles, seized the French royal family, and put to death the recently-crowned King Louis XXI, his parents, and his three sisters.

On December 25, 1886, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión celebrated Christmas in San Sebastian Church in Guatemala City, which his armies had captured the month before.

On December 25, 1922, North American Motors President Owen Galloway gave a vitavised address in which he outlined the Galloway Plan to subsidize emigration within and from the Confederation of North America.

On December 25, 1939, troops from the Germanic Confederation fighting against Great Britain in the Global War captured the Victoria Canal and the city of Alexandria, Egypt.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 24

On December 24, 1823, Mexican President Andrew Jackson addressed the California state legislature as part of his grand tour of the recently-established United States of Mexico. In his address, Jackson spoke of the new country's future. "I ask Californians to join in our quest," he said. "California may have the greatest frontier of all the Mexican states." After Jackson's address, his Secretary of War, Arturo Aragon, told reporters that the president was referring to the state's agricultural potential. However, Sobel states that to others it seemed that Jackson was already seeking new conquests, perhaps at the expense of the Russian Empire. Sobel also notes that Jethro Stimson, in his 1950 book Jackson and the Pacific Dream, believed that the president was referring not to the conquest of Russian Alaska but to expansion across the Pacific.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 20

On December 20, 1901, former Emperor of Mexico Benito Hermión arrived in Spain, three weeks after boarding an Argentinian oil tanker in Tampico, Mexico.

On December 20, 1915, Judge Homer Mattfield of the Mexico Tribunal announced that a final verdict in the Chapultepec treason trials would be handed down on January 5, 1916.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sobel Wiki: The Three-Cornered Hat

This month's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the 1875 Mexican elections, the most momentous in Mexican history, and the last democratic elections to be held in the U.S.M. in the nineteenth century.

In discussing the formation of the U.S.M. at the September 1820 Mexico City Convention, Sobel praises the wisdom of Andrew Jackson: "With remarkable foresight, Jackson knew that to have a nation of Mexicans controlled by a numerically smaller, though more energetic group like the Jeffersonians, would do damage to the best qualities of both peoples. In such a situation all Mexicans would be reduced to the status of a permanently occupied people. In time, this would lead either to rebellion or despair, and in either case, the Jeffersonians would be the losers."

And yet, that is precisely the nation that Jackson created. The official language of the U.S.M. is English, presumably preventing the country's Spanish-speaking population from taking part in national politics. By the 1870s, the U.S.M.'s Mexicano majority is ready to rise up against the Anglo minority that has been running the country since Jackson's day, and the 1875 elections are the spark that ignites the flame of revolution.

Senator Carlos Concepción (or Conceptión, as Sobel bizarrely spells his name) of Chiapas is the leader of the radical wing of the Liberty Party, and he is determined to end Anglo rule of the U.S.M. once and for all. When he fails to win the Liberty Party's presidential nomination, he and his followers split from the party to form a third party called the Workers' Coalition. When the Workers' Coalition fails to win the presidential election in August 1875, Concepción forms a revolutionary movement called the Moralistas and launches a guerrilla war to overthrow the Anglo-dominated government. Concepción seems to be on the verge of succeeding in September 1881 when a coup d'etat brings the dictator Benito Hermión to power. Hermión crushes the Moralistas, but in the course of his twenty-year dictatorship, he himself ends the Anglo domination of the U.S.M. Every Mexican president elected in the twentieth century is Hispanic.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 9

On December 9, 1879, the Mexican Senate met to choose a successor to the recently-assassinated President Omar Kinkaid. Sobel states that the Senators genuinely wanted a person who could heal the divisions in the United States of Mexico and assure a continuation of constitutional government, but couldn't find anyone who fit the bill. Senate Minority Leader Thomas Rogers was a suspect in Kinkaid's assassination, but refused to withdraw his name from consideration. Rogers was able to gain a plurality of votes, but was unable to command a majority over the course of several ballots. In the end, Rogers finally agreed to the selection of a compromise candidate: Senator George Vining of Jefferson, an unambitious sixty-seven year old member of the majority Continentalist Party.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 7

On December 7, 1879, Mexican President Omar Kinkaid was killed by a thrown bomb during a parade (Sobel does not make clear whether Kinkaid was taking part in the parade or merely observing it). The assassin's identity was never discovered.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 4

On December 4, 1793, the state of Jefferson held its first elections to the 42-seat Chamber of Representatives under the recently-ratified Lafayette Constitution. The franchise was open to all free males owning more than £5 in property. Although Sobel doesn't mention how many voters participated in the election, the total white population of Jefferson at the time, including women and minors, was approximately 43,000.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Don't let them win

Time for another embedded music video at the Johnny Pez blog, because that's a thing we do from time to time. From 1986 comes Crowded House with "Don't Dream It's Over."

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 3

On December 3, 1931, the Mexico City Times published an editorial praising former President Emiliano Calles, claiming that "Emiliano Calles was doubtless the greatest president this nation ever had."

On December 3, 1970, Robert Sobel interviewed historian Stanley Tulin, discussing the reorganization of Kramer Associates under President John Jackson, and Jackson's successful effort to prevent President Pedro Fuentes from limiting K.A.'s control over the Mexican government.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: December 1

On December 1, 1928, North American Governor-General Henderson Dewey announced a major study of the National Financial Administration "to see how this important agency may better serve the interests of the nation and its people."

On December 1, 1940, British forces aided by poor weather conditions narrowly defeated an attempted amphibious invasion by the Germanic Confederation, the first major defeat suffered by the Germans in the Global War.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 30

On November 30, 1953, North American Govenor-General Richard Mason gave a vitavised speech in which he inadvertantly coined the phrase that would be applied to his administration and to the national mood of the 1950s: the New Day. Mason had recently returned from a world tour to see first-hand the devastation wrought by the Global War. He spoke movingly of the suffering he had seen, and of the many lives that Mason Doctrine aid had already rescued. In fact, Mason was so overcome by emotion that he broke down in tears and was unable to finish, his last words being, "We must lead the world to a new day!"

(Due to a typographic error, Sobel gives the date of the New Day speech as November 30, 1950.)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 29

On November 29, 1938, North American Governor-General Douglas Watson gave a speech at the Liberal Party's national convention. Watson claimed that the administration of his predecessor Henderson Dewey had played a much greater role in supporting the Galloway Plan than was known at the time, pointing out that more families relocated within the C.N.A. without assistance from the Galloway Trust than did so with its aid, and that only 29.7% of those who emigrated received more than N.A. £40 from the Trust, while 31.8% requested none at all. "If the truth were to be told," Watson said, "the Dewey government was more instrumental in aiding emigration than the Trust."

Watson's speech was reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 28

On the morning of November 28, 1901, former Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión bribed the captain of an Argentinian oil tanker to give him passage to Spain. Sobel suggests that Hermión was maneuvered into choosing the oil tanker by agents of Kramer Associates, pointing out that the ship was owned by K.A. and the captain was an employee of the company.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 27

On the evening of November 27, 1901, former Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión entered the port city of Tampico, six weeks after fleeing the Imperial Palace disguised as a butler. Although he didn't realize it, Hermión was accompanied by agents of Kramer Associates who had been keeping him under observation since his flight.

On November 27, 1939, ten days after the fall of Paris, the French government surrendered to the Germanic Confederation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rangers of the north

According to, in the five months since I e-published my novelization of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, I've sold a grand total of two copies. Which is two more than I thought I'd sell.

I can't help noticing, though, that neither of my readers has posted a review of the book on Amazon. Readers, if you're reading this, go ahead and tell the world what you thought of the book. Even if you didn't care for it and only give it a one-star review, that's still better than not having any reviews at all. This is definitely a case where there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 23

On November 23, 1899, the government of Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión recognized the Provisional Free Russian Government of Premier George Tsukansky as the legitimate authority in Siberia. The Provisional Free Government had been formed by Siberian Administrator Admiral Ephraim Small out of former Russian political prisoners who had formed the Free Russian Brigade to fight alongside the Mexican invaders in the Siberian campaign of the Great Northern War. As Sobel notes, Tsukansky was perfectly willing to allow Free Siberia to become a Mexican puppet as long as Mexican troops protected the breakaway republic from the Tsarist army.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The psychopath factories

The internet is abuzz about this story by Sabrina Rubin Erdely in Rolling Stone about Jackie, a freshman who was gang-raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia in 2012. The university administration, and even Jackie's own friends, discouraged her from going to the police, and in the end, none of her assailants suffered any consequences.

The reason why is simple. Assaulting women is the whole point of college fraternities. These organizations exist to shape the characters of the future business leaders of America, and the way to succeed in business is to be a psychopath. Raping women teaches these future corporate executives and Wall Street traders that they are the untouchable elite, and that everyone who isn't part of their elite is a commodity to be used and discarded as they see fit.

In a follow-up story, Rolling Stone reports on UVA President Teresa A. Sullivan's announcement that the university's fraternities have been suspended until the beginning of the spring semester in January 2015. And what will happen then? In a word, nothing. The frats perform a vital function in our society, and that function requires them to train their members to be monsters. The fraternities will continue to operate as they have always done, and women like Jackie will continue to be used to teach the brothers how to become America's psychopathic business elite.

In a way, Jackie's experience was an important learning experience. It has given her a foretaste of the life she will live in a country run by her assailants.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 22

On November 22, 1965, Mexico City attorney Raphael Dominguez was inaugurated President of the United States of Mexico by his predecessor, Vincent Mercator. Dominguez was the sole candidate for president in a sham election held by Mercator, winning only 14.7 votes out of 31 million cast. The late Admiral Paul Suarez, who had narrowly won the last democratic election in Mexico in 1950, received some 9 million protest write-in votes. After Dominguez' inauguration, Mercator joined his Cabinet as Secretary of War.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 20

On November 20, 1962, Mexican dictator Vincent Mercator announced a global peace initiative called the Offensive of the Dove. In his announcement, Mercator called upon the world's nations to sign a non-aggression pact which would also guarantee the neutrality of those countries that had not been involved in the Global War. He also called for a world conference of the belligerent nations (all of whom were technically still at war with each other, since no formal armistice had ever been negotiated between any nations) to meet in Geneva the following summer to sign treaties ending the war. Mercator ended by pledging the U.S.M. to the cause of peace, and vowing never to "start a war, and to destroy all offensive weapons after the treaties are signed."

On November 20, 1965, the German Empire signed a treaty of friendship with the newly-formed Associated Russian Republics, four days after announcing its possession of an atomic weapon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 18

On November 18, 1942, the members of Governor-General Bruce Hogg's wartime unity government agreed that the upcoming 1943 Grand Council elections should go ahead as usual. However, neither party would hold a national convention. Instead, the candidates for the Grand Council would run unpledged, and whichever party won a majority would select the next governor-general. If the People's Coalition won and chose Hogg for a second term, he would retain all the Liberal members of his Cabinet. If the Liberals won and chose Douglas Watson or Hugh Devenny, Hogg would be appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and all the other Coalitionists would be retained.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Res publica

There are numerous references in For Want of a Nail... to republicanism. In 1888, newly-elected Governor-General Ezra Gallivan lauded his predecessor, John McDowell: "He has performed many tasks for our nation, and all of them with dignity and honesty. Now he has shown the measure of his devotion to republicanism by his actions in the Liberal caucus." In 1937, the North American economist Lawrence French attacked the idea that a war would provide a stimulus to the world's economies, writing that "the world's economies would be totally destroyed, as would republicanism wherever it may be found."

This devotion to republicanism may seem odd in a world where the American Revolution failed, and the thirteen colonies returned to the rule of the British monarchy. You would expect the leaders of the United States of Mexico to speak highly of republicanism, since that nation was founded by exiled American Patriots. But Gallivan and French were North Americans, the political heirs of Joseph Galloway and John Dickinson. Why are they so keen on republicanism?

The answer is that in the eighteenth century, republicanism meant more than just the absence of monarchy. To the people of the eighteenth century, republicanism was a fully formed ideology that included the ideas of civic virtue and the rule of law. That is, republicanism wasn't so much concerned with labels as with how people acted. Civic virtue, as Wikipedia tells us, is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are necessary for the success of the community. A republican form of government could exist in a monarchy, as long as the monarch's powers were constrained by the rule of law, and as long as the monarch displayed the proper civic virtue of adhering to those constraints.

Another defining characteristic of republicanism is the idea of popular sovereignty, the idea that the head of state is a representative of the people, rather than the people being subjects of the head of state. Thomas Jefferson made the idea of popular sovereignty explicit in the Declaration of Independence when he said that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The ideology of the American Revolution/North American Rebellion was a republican ideology in this sense. To the Patriots, the British government had become republican in 1688, when Parliament overthrew King James II and raised up William and Mary in his place. Since then, however, the British government had been growing less republican and more tyrannical, which it most clearly demonstrated with its attempts to impose arbitrary taxes on the American colonies.

In For Want of a Nail..., the peace settlement that returned the colonies to British rule was a compromise settlement. The Americans gave up their claim to independence, and the British gave up their claim to absolute authority over the colonies. Under the Britannic Design, North American representative bodies had the power to veto Acts of Parliament. Thus, power in the Confederation of North America ultimately rested with the North Americans, and not with the British. Although the C.N.A. was part of a monarchy, the form of its government was republican. And so,even though the Rebellion itself failed, the republican ideology that had animated it had triumphed, and became a part of the political philosophy of the C.N.A.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 17

On November 17, 1939, the French capital of Paris fell to invading German armies. The Spanish government reacted by abrogating its alliance with France and Great Britain, declaring its neutrality in the Global War.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 16

On November 16, 1965, the German Empire was able to forestall an anticipated British attack by announcing that it had created its own atomic bomb.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 15

On November 15, 1886, the Isthmian War ended with the capture of Guatemala City by the Mexican Fourth Army under General Miguel Aguilar.

On November 15, 1901, provisional Mexican President Martin Cole, acting on orders from Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán, announced a general amnesty for all Mexicans exiled by former Chief of State Benito Hermión. Cole also pledged that the Moralistas would have "a role in the new Mexico if they want one."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 14

On November 14, 1931, Senator Alvin Silva of Durango gave a vitavision interview in which he spoke of Mexico's "Pacific destiny" and strongly criticized President Pedro Fuentes for his obsession with curtailing the power of Kramer Associates. Silva said, "While the President worries about Kramer Associates, the world is changing rapidly. A visit to Honolulu would do him a world of good, not only to refresh his sagging spirit, but to give him a better perspective on the world as it is, not as it was."

Silva's remarks were reported the next day in the Mexico City Herald.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 12

On November 12, 1778, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Lord North, gave a speech before the House of Lords outlining what became known as the Brotherhood Policy, an effort to regain the loyalty of the American colonists in the wake of the unsuccessful North American Rebellion. North said, "We have now entered into a new period of solidarity with those of our nation who live in North America. We have always considered them our cousins -- nay, our brothers. Mistakes have been made in these chambers, as they have been in Boston and Philadelphia, but it will do little good to dwell on them. Instead, we must seek new ways to preserve old institutions, and this will involve a serious reconsideration of the nature of our government, and of its relations with our North American brothers."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 11

On November 11, 1939, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg met with Owen Galloway, the President of North American Motors, to ask him to act as an official government representative "when and if North America's good offices are needed to effect a peace" after Europe's warring nations had exhausted themselves into a stalemate, as Hogg believed would happen. Galloway agreed to do so.

On November 11, 1970, Robert Sobel interviewed Kramer Associates historian Stanley Tulin to discuss K.A. President John Jackson's creation of an informal alliance between the company and the nations of Japan and Australia in the early years of the Global War; the transition of power between Jackson and his successor, Carl Salazar, after Jackson's death in 1949; and Salazar's unsuccessful efforts to persuade North American Governor-General Richard Mason to form an anti-Mexican alliance with K.A. in 1958.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 10

On November 10, 1863, two months after being inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States of Mexico, Arthur Conroy convened a special session of Congress, giving an address calling for a series of reforms to the electoral process:

"Although the rationale for our Constitution was sound, and it remains a beacon to the world, it is in need of repair so as to better meet the challenge of the last half of the century. Consider, if you will, the nature of our land when Jackson assumed power. Our founder led a nation of disparate peoples, speaking different tongues, and existing in stages of development ranging from industrial to primitive. The Indians and Anglos were enemies, and both distrusted the Mexicanos, while the Hispanos were uncertain as to their role. The new nation had a population of only 3.3 million, most of whom were engaged in farming. They lacked even the most primitive forms of long-distance communication and transportation. For that kind of land, the Constitution was well-suited, even inspired.

"Conditions have changed considerably in the last forty-four years. There are some 30 million of us today, and within six years, all should be literate. We have come through a major war with honor. Our communications and transportation are the envy of the world, as are our cotton fields and mines. While differences between our peoples remain, they are far less important than they were in Jackson's day. In truth, Mexico has shown the world that origins and religion are no barrier to public service and personal success.

"It is for this reason I have called you here today. We must modernize our basic law. We will not change its spirit, for to do so would be both rash and unwise. Instead, we shall broaden its scope while retaining its focus.

"Therefore, I recommend two basic changes in the method by which we select our leaders. The first involves the president. At the present time he is selected by a senatorial vote. This cumbersome apparatus, so useful in the past, should be altered so as to make the president more the selection of all the people, and not just the choice of a small group. What I would recommend, then, is that the president in the future be selected by a majority vote of all the qualified citizens of our nation. Should no candidate receive a majority, then the Senate may select the president among the leading two contenders for the post.

"My second proposal is for senators, in the future, to be selected in the same manner, with the state legislatures choosing from among the two leading contenders, should no individual receive a majority in the balloting. Of course, this is not a matter for us to decide, but for the states, and I hope each will consider this proposal seriously, for to accept it would be to reaffirm our confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of our citizenry."

After Conroy's speech, his supporters in the Assembly spoke with other members of the Continentalist Party to point out that his reforms sounded more radical than they actually were. Since the most populous states in the U.S.M. had Anglo majorities, that group would still control Mexico's political system. And by widening the franchise and instituting direct election of the president, they would be able to head off a more radical reform movement by the nation's Mexicano majority.

On November 10, 1939, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg spoke to his Cabinet about the ongoing war in Europe between the Anglo-French alliance and the Germanic Confederation. He said, "The war is going badly for Britain and France, but this is temporary. Soon we may expect a stalemate in Europe, as both sides will have exhausted themselves in a futile exercise in destruction. At that time, North America will act in the interests of peace."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Collateral damage

Gamergate is a war, and women are the targets, but as with any war, sometimes the guys with the guns miss their intended targets and hit innocent bystanders. This is known in the war biz as "collateral damage," and in the last couple weeks, the 'Gaters have inflicted a bit of collateral damage on a standup comedian named Brock Wilbur.

As Wilbur notes, he was "doxxed" on October 25. That is, a 'Gater somewhere discovered his home address and phone number and tweeted them with the hashtag #gamergate in the hopes that other 'Gaters would deluge him with harrassing letters and phone calls. Whoever doxxed Wilbur apparently did so under the mistaken impression that he was associated with the gaming website Kotaku. Since then, Wilbur has indeed been the recipient of various harrassing phone calls and emails, and was also the target of a "swatting," an anonymous tip to his local police that would have sent a SWAT team kicking in his door if he hadn't already warned his local police to expect to receive false anonymous tips regarding him.

Since the initial anonymous doxxing of Wilbur, other anonymous 'Gaters have re-posted his address and phone number every few days, ensuring that he continues to be subject to misdirected harrassment. As Wilbur points out, "the angriest voices of a movement have built something they no longer control. There is a system — a mechanization — for hatred that now exists, and has become self-sustaining."

Which raises an important question. I've been taunting the 'Gaters myself in a not-entirely-futile effort to make a stand against misogyny and maybe get my pageviews up. Is there any chance that I could be doxxed? I suppose it's possible, but I've been maintaining my "Johnny Pez" persona for almost twenty years, and very few people know which real-world person it connects to. As I've said before, I'm ideally suited to this, um, mission.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 7

On November 7, 1897, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán sent his private secretary, Russell Smith, to meet with Alberto Puente, the Governor of California. The object of the meeting was to work out a way for Puente to provoke a war between the United States of Mexico and the Russian Empire, allowing K.A. to seize Alaska and take control of the Yukon gold fields.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Can you hear the sound of hysteria?

Time for another embedded music video. Today it's the title track from Green Day's 2004 album American Idiot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 5

On November 5, 1937, national elections were held in the Germanic Confederation. The result was a victory for the Deutschland Party, led by Chancellor Karl Bruning. The Deutschland Party gained control of the legislatures of Baden-Baden and Bavaria, as well as increasing its majority in the Prussian Diet. Bruning's main opponent, Gustaf von Holtz of the Democratic Party, was a leading peace advocate; his defeat was seen as a mandate for war.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: November 1

In the course of writing the penultimate chapter of For Want of a Nail..., Sobel remarked that as of November 1, 1971, the United States of Mexico remained the only major world power without a working atomic bomb.

Douchebro sighting

My recent attempt to attract the attention of online misogynists by insulting them seems to have paid off. The embedded music video I posted yesterday attracted an anonymous (of course) comment consisting of a copypasted misogynist rant. The rant, being the work of a copypasta troll, was without value, and was therefore deleted. The curious can see the original source of the rant at this Jezebel post.

I must say, I am immensely pleased by the success of this effort. We all like to get attention, even troubled loners like myself. I also enjoy having my belief in the knee-jerk reflexes of the onlight Right confirmed. All I have to do is keep insulting them, and they have to respond. Their feeble minds can no more resist the call of mockery than a moth can resist an open flame.

So we here at the Johnny Pez blog will definitely be doing more posts on Gamergate. Bwahahahahaaa!

Scorpions in a Bottle: Point of Divergence

Frankly, the Battle of Saratoga is a terrible point-of-divergence for an alternate history.

The whole idea of sending an army south from Canada to invade the Hudson valley was a bad one, based on the delusional belief that a majority of the American colonists were Loyalists who would rise up against the dominant pro-independence faction as soon as a British army appeared. In practice, General John Burgoyne’s plan was crippled (though he didn’t know it) by the fact that his commanding officer, General Sir William Howe, had no intention of sending his army north to meet Burgoyne in Albany. Before leaving for his attack on Philadelphia, Howe specifically instructed his second-in-command, Sir Henry Clinton, not to leave the vicinity of Manhattan. Thus, even if everything had gone right for Burgoyne, the best he could hope for was to reach Albany himself before winter set in, and maintain his army there while his superiors in London decided what to do next. The next year might bring a resumption of the march downriver or an invasion of New England; or it might bring orders to abandon Albany and retreat back to Canada. As it turned out, the defeat Burgoyne suffered was always a probable event, and it became a near-certainty after his advance was halted by Horatio Gates’ army at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm.
So why did Sobel make the Battle of Saratoga his point-of-divergence? Because the battle is so often called the turning point of the American Revolutionary War. (In fact, Richard M. Ketchum titled his 1997 history of the battle Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War.) It is true that the American victory at Saratoga persuaded a wavering King Louis XVI to commit to a formal alliance with the rebellious colonists. However, absent some total disaster for the Americans, a French alliance was bound to happen eventually; the chance to detach the American colonies from the British Empire was too tempting for the French to pass up. Thus, Saratoga should be thought of as a milestone rather than a turning point.

For alternate history purposes, the earlier Battle of Trenton would make a much better point-of-divergence. Washington’s army was on the point of disintegrating as the soldiers’ terms of enlistment were about to expire. The attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton was a desperate move that depended on large amounts of luck to succeed. If Washington’s luck had deserted him, his army would have been crushed, and he himself might have been captured or killed, dealing a serious (perhaps even fatal) blow to the American cause.

But the Battle of Saratoga is what I have to work with. The trick is getting Clinton to move north to save Burgoyne, in spite of his orders from Howe. This is how I’ve decided to do it:

* * *
(the story picks up after the battle of Freeman’s Farm on September 19, 1777)

Burgoyne’s campaign, which had begun with such promise, now teetered on the brink of failure. Burgoyne’s men had expected another victory on the order of Ticonderoga. Instead, the rebels had fought them to a standstill. Burgoyne himself had been in the thick of the fighting, and was under no illusions about the cost that would have to be paid if he wished to continue the advance on Albany. At this point, he received word from Clinton, who had written on September 12 that he intended to “make a push at [Fort] Montgomery in about ten days.”

Burgoyne now saw a chance to revive his original plan to catch the rebels between two armies. However, making it happen would require a carefully phrased request. Clinton was neither below him nor above him in the chain of command, so Burgoyne could neither give him orders nor request them from him. Instead, drawing on his skills as a playwright, Burgoyne crafted an appeal for help. “My situation is most perilous,” he wrote. “Unless I receive succor, this great Enterprise must founder, and the work of ending this Rebellion be set back, it may be, years. I may not command it of you, but I do most humbly beseech you to come to my aid with what force you may.” [1]

Burgoyne had no way of knowing whether his appeal would succeed in bringing Clinton north, but he knew that he had no other hope of victory, so he abandoned his advance and began fortifying his forces along the battle line that had been established on the 19th. Gates, for his part, knew nothing of the exchange of letters between the British generals, and he remained in his own defensive position at Bemis Heights. The two armies continued their defensive postures for the next two and a half weeks. One of Burgoyne’s officers later wrote, “I suppose seldom two armies remained looking at each other so long without coming to action.” [2]

Clinton was waiting on reinforcements from Britain which did not arrive until the end of September. With an additional 1700 men added to his army, he sailed up the Hudson on October 3. Landing three days later south of Fort Montgomery, Clinton finally received Burgoyne’s plea for help. The dramatist’s words succeeded in persuading the ordinarily cautious Clinton to move north to Albany. Clinton’s army landed south of the town on October 8, then bypassed the city, which had been garrisoned with 2000 rebel militia, and marched north along the west bank of the Hudson. General Israel Putnam attempted to block Clinton’s path on October 12, but Clinton was able to surprise Putnam with a flank attack led by General John Vaughan, and Putnam’s force was crushed.

Burgoyne, hearing no word from Clinton and with his own supplies running low, attempted a flanking maneuver of his own on October 7 that ended with another repulse by Gates’ men. Burgoyne might have managed to disengage from Gates at this point and retreated back to Ticonderoga, but he still pinned his hopes on Clinton’s arrival. He led his army north across the Fishkill River on the night of October 8-9, then dug into a fortified position.

It seemed to Burgoyne that he had lost his gamble when he learned on October 13 that the rebels had surrounded his army. He sent one of his men to Gates with an offer to meet the next day to discuss terms of his surrender, and Gates agreed to a parlay the next morning. During the parlay, however, Gates issued his own terms, which amounted to unconditional surrender. When Burgoyne’s officers learned of the terms, they declared unanimously “that they would rather die than accept such dishonorable conditions.” That evening, Burgoyne learned that he had won his gamble after all when a messenger arrived from Clinton with word of his victory over Putnam. Putnam’s own messengers to Gates lost their way and never made it to his headquarters at Bemis Heights, so he remained unaware of Clinton’s approach.

Since Burgoyne had refused Gates’ surrender terms, and declined to offer his own, the stalemate between the two armies resumed until October 20, when the arrival of civilian refugees from the south alerted Gates at last to Clinton’s approach. Panicking, Gates ordered an all-out assault on Burgoyne’s position the next morning. A series of charges by Gates’ army was thrown back, and casualties mounted among the rebel troops. Gates’ headquarters at Bemis Heights was overflowing with wounded men and in a state of chaos the next day when Clinton’s army broke through his rear lines. Burgoyne, hearing the sounds of battle to the south, roused his own men into a final attack. With hostile armies on both sides of him, Gates fled the battlefield, and organized resistance to the British collapsed. Most of the rebel militia melted away, returning to their homes. The remainder of Gates’ Continental Army troops attempted to flee to Albany, which was still garrisoned by rebel militia. Clinton was able to pin them against the Hudson, and on October 25 Gates accepted surrender terms offered by Burgoyne. Both Gates and his men would be permitted to return to their homes unmolested provided that Gates pledged never again to take up arms against the Crown. Gates accepted, and the last organized rebel army in New York province dispersed.

1. Henry Mitchell. The Battle of Saratoga-Albany (London, 1939), p. 98.

2. “The Journal of Lt. William Digby” from Joanna Brooks. ed. The Face of War: Diaries of the Army of Nations (London, 1956).

Friday, October 31, 2014

It's too cold

Blogging has been a little light while I've been recovering from a cold I picked up last weekend. To help fill the void, here's an embedded music video of The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 25

On the afternoon of October 25, 1777, victorious British General John Burgoyne offered surrender terms to General Horatio Gates of the Continental Army. Gates' men would be allowed to return to their homes unmolested, and Gates himself would be free to leave the battlefield and return to his Virginia plantation, provided that he pledged never again to take up arms against the British Crown. Gates accepted Burgoyne's terms, and both he and his army retired from the field, leaving the British in possession of the Hudson valley.

On the morning of October 25, 1897, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán met with Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión to discuss the memorandum he had received from Russian Foreign Minister Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky. The two men met a second time that evening. Although no record of the meetings was made, Cortez apparently wanted Hermión to send a strongly-worded note to Sviatopolk-Mirsky demanding that K.A.'s rights in the Yukon be respected. However, Hermión was planning to expand into the Caribbean, and he had no interest in what he called "the frozen wastes of the north." As a result, Cortez was unable to get a commitment from Hermión to confront the Russian government.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All the Young Dudebros

Author John Scalzi is much better than I am at baiting 'Gaters.

Go John go!

Gamergate: Attack of the Douchebros

Two of the core principles here at the Johnny Pez blog are supporting social justice and trying to bump up our meager pageviews, so any time we can combine the two, we will. Longtime readers (assuming there are any) will remember our (unsuccessful) attempt to attract the attention of the online misogyny crowd by invoking the dread name of Rebecca Watson.

Well, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. A phenomenon that's currently making the internet even more terrible than it already was is Gamergate. As Kyle Watson (no relation, AFAIK) notes in this piece at Deadspin, Gamergate is basically a vortex of misogynistic internet gamer trolls who spend their time harrassing women and intimidating various other targets in response to an imaginary grievance. Watson points out that the 'Gaters real grievance is that video game producers, might, possibly, spend slightly less time pandering to the traditional gamer demographic of young white straight guys.

In a way, the Johnny Pez blog is in an ideal position to make a stand against the 'Gaters. It's completely obscure, and thus unlikely to attract their attention in the first place. It doesn't rely on advertising, so it can't be shut down by having its sponsors intimidated. And blogmaster Johnny Pez isn't a woman, so he can't be silenced by online sexual harrassment and rape threats.

If by some remote chance some 'Gaters do manage to find their way here, I'd just like to take this opportunity to point out what utterly worthless sacks of shit they are. They are cowards who hide behind the anonymity afforded by the internet to attack targets they know won't be able to fight back. They are overprivileged crybabies who can't stand the thought of a gaming universe that doesn't revolve around them. Being a white straight guy myself, I can state with total assurance that these assholes not only have no legitimate grievances, it would do them a world of good to suffer through some real adversity and be taken down a peg or three.

Any 'Gaters who wish to respond in comments should be aware that I will delete any that I find to be of no value. And the ones I don't delete, I will relentlessly mock.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 22

On October 22, 1777, the rebel army led by General Horatio Gates was attacked from the rear by General Sir Henry Clinton. When General John Burgoyne's men heard the sounds of battle, they launched their own assault on Gates' men. With two armies attacking them from north and south, Gates and his med fled from Saratoga in a disorganized rout.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 21

On October 21, 1777, General Horatio Gates of the Continental Army attacked the army of British General John Burgoyne in a desperate attempt to avoid being caught between Burgoyne and the approaching army of General Sir Henry Clinton. Despite repeated assaults, the rebel army failed to overrun Burgoyne's position.

On October 21, 1897, Russian Foreign Minister Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky drafted a memorandum in which he claimed that the Alaskan mineral concession he had negotiated with the Mexican corporation Kramer Associates three years before covered only copper, and not the gold that K.A.'s prospectors had discovered the previous year. "Since little or no copper has been discovered in the Yukon region, the mines, when opened, will be controlled by the Imperial government." K.A. would be allowed to operate the mines, "for which the company would, of course, be well-compensated." When K.A. President Diego Cortez y Catalán received the memorandum, he responded by rushing from his office shouting that he had never been treated in such a way before. Cortez immediately telephoned Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión to request a meeting on October 25.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 19

On October 19, 1839, the combined North American army led by General Winfield Scott entered Michigan City and quickly overran the Indian army of Chief John Miller, then proceeded to execute every member of Miller's army. At the official inquiry held after the battle, Scott stated that he had attempted to restrain his men, but was unsuccessful. Scott's subordinates claimed that he had given an order that no prisoners be taken.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 18

On October 18, 1839, a combined North American army under the command of General Winfield Scott reached Michigan City, Indiana, which had been captured by the army of Chief John Miller three months earlier.

On October 18, 1886, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión began the Isthmian War by declaring war on Guatemala.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 16

In the predawn hours of October 16, 1901, forty-nine members of the Kramer Guard infiltrated the Imperial Palace in Mexico City, overpowered the police stationed there, and opened the gates, allowing some two thousand others to enter, before finally cutting communications with the outside. When Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión woke after dawn, the head of the Kramer Guard, Martin Cole, shouted that the compound was in his hands. Cole said, "We will harm no one who is innocent. All we want is El Jefe. Servants and others may leave in peace, and must do so within the next fifteen minutes." Hermión quickly shaved his beard and mustache and put on a butler's uniform, then left the palace with the servants. While some members of the Kramer Guard tailed Hermión as he fled through the city, Cole entered the palace with the rest and announced the formation of a provisional government that would rule Mexico until elections were held. A group of onlookers who assumed that Cole meant to make himself dictator in Hermión's place raised their fists and shouted "Viva Cole!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 15

On October 15, 1793, the voters of the State of Jefferson ratified the Lafayette Constitution, establishing an elected government for the 43,000 white Anglo settlers and their 18,000 black slaves.

On October 15, 1901, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán launched his coup d'etat against Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión, as two thousand Kramer Guards entered Mexico City disguised as laborers and took up posts around the imperial palace. Inside the palace, the Emperor was hosting a state dinner in honor of Heinz von Kron, the ambassador from the Germanic Confederation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 14

On October 14, 1835, Barings Bank in London was forced into bankruptcy after becoming overextended in India, the Near East, and France. With the fall of Barings, several other major banks became insolvent, leading to a panic on Lombard Street. In the end, a dozen private and public banks were forced to shut down, and only prompt action by the Bank of England prevented a total financial collapse in Great Britain. The panic also caused the government of Lord Thomas Tillotson to fall.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 12

On October 12, 1929, former Mexican Secretary of State Albert Ullman appeared on the vitavision interview program I Remember, hosted by Miguel Callendra. Ullman and Callendra spoke about former President Emiliano Calles and his two most important initiatives: the 1920 Manumission Act freeing Mexico's slaves, and the 1923 statehood plebiscites for Mexico's client states.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 11

On October 11, 1882, North American Governor-General John McDowell gave the most important speech of his political career in New York City. Known as the Age of Renewal speech, it was intended as a reply to critics who accused McDowell of being nothing more than a political opportunist with no firm convictions. In the speech, McDowell said, "Every North American has the right to hold a job, to a fair wage, to a fair return on his investment, to a decent place in which to live, to security in his home, to the knowledge that his government knows of his needs, and is prepared to help him help himself." He went on to say, ""Few of these goals have been reached, and some may appear impossible of achievement in our lifetime. But we must make the effort. For this reason, I call upon all North Americans to undertake a time of soul-searching, to go into the Wilderness and then return, better prepared and more willing to work for a better nation and world. North America is in the midst of its Age of Renewal, from which it will emerge greater and more powerful than before." As a result of this speech, McDowell's time as governor-general has been known to historians as the Age of Renewal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 10

On October 10, 1914, the Hundred Day War came to an end when France and the United States of Mexico agreed to an armistice.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Scorpions in a Bottle: Joseph Galloway

For Want of a Nail includes a number of improbable episodes, and one of the most improbable is Joseph Galloway rejoining the Continental Congress in January 1778. After the First Congress adjourned in October 1774, Galloway became a firm Loyalist, denouncing the actions of the Congress in the Pennsylvania Assembly, which he claimed "tended to incite America to sedition, and terminate in Independence." By January 1778, Galloway was running the civil administration of British-occupied Philadelphia under General William Howe. Presumably, Sobel didn't realize how closely aligned with the British Galloway had become.

Nevertheless, it's firmly established in FWoaN that Galloway was back in the Congress by then, so I've got to figure out how it happened. Here's what I've come up with.

* * *

The situation in the winter of 1777-78 was a delicate one. In spite of the defeats suffered by the rebel armies in New York and Pennsylvania, most of the people in the rebellious colonies remained beyond the reach of British authority, which was confined to the middle colonies. Any hint that the North ministry might seek widespread reprisals against the leaders of the independence movement would stiffen the resolve of those leaders to resist a return to British rule. Armed resistance could flare up at any time, leading to a resumption of the fighting and a further hardening of attitudes on both sides.

John Dickinson had always been opposed to independence, and had hoped for reconciliation with Great Britain. Now, with the fortunes of the rebels at low ebb, he saw an opportunity to rebuild the links between America and Britain. The Delaware General Assembly had offered to appoint him to its delegation to the Congress in 1777, but Dickinson had refused. After the defeats at Saratoga-Albany and Germantown, he accepted the appointment, and once in Congress, quickly took charge of the growing moderate faction. He was able to bring them around to his belief that independence had been a mistake, and by January 1778 was ready to execute his master stroke: the return of Joseph Galloway to the Congress.

Galloway had become a staunch Loyalist by the outbreak of the Rebellion in April 1775. When the Continental Congress reconvened in Philadelphia a month later, he declined to serve as a delegate. After the Congress declared American independence and the British captured New York, Galloway left Philadelphia to join General Howe, serving as an informal advisor to the general. Galloway accompanied Howe on his advance on Philadelphia, and after its capture he served Howe as head of the city’s civil government. By the time Dickinson returned to the Congress, Galloway was the most prominent Loyalist in America. [1]

As Dickinson well knew, Galloway’s return to the Congress would be an implicit admission by that body that the Rebellion could not be won, and that a return to British rule was inevitable. By the same token, for Galloway a return to the Congress would be an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of that body, and that its participation would be essential to the reconciliation between colonies and mother country that both men sought. Throughout the months of November and December, the two men exchanged a series of messages in secret working out the details of Dickinson’s proposed invitation, and Galloway’s acceptance of it. On January 9, 1778, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, at Dickinson’s prompting, offered Galloway an appointment as delegate; ten days later, it received his assent. Galloway arrived in York on the 29th and was seated with the rest of the Pennsylvania delegation. [2]

As Dickinson had expected, Galloway’s arrival was the signal for a general exodus of the most radical members of the Congress. Hancock had already resigned from the Congress shortly before the rebel defeats at Saratoga and Germantown. After Galloway’s arrival, the cousins John and Samuel Adams resigned their seats rather than remain in the Congress with him. With his influence at its height, Dickinson proceeded to carry out what has since become his most controversial act: the replacement of Washington as commander of the Continental Army.

Several of Washington’s subordinates, notably Gates, Charles Lee, and Thomas Conway, had long schemed to replace him as overall commander of the rebel army. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was serving as surgeon-general of Washington’s army, joined in the plotting after the losses at Brandywine and Germantown. Dickinson’s motives in taking up the matter were questioned at the time, and have been ever since. [3] When Henry Laurens, the President of the Congress, learned of Dickinson’s plan, he attempted unsuccessfully to block it, then resigned when it became clear that he would be unable to do so. Dickinson was able to arrange for his ally Charles Carroll to replace Laurens, and his plan to restructure the leadership of the Continental Army was passed on February 13.

Under Dickinson’s plan, command of the Continental Army would be assumed by a revamped Board of War, a committee of the Congress that had been established in June 1776 to oversee military matters. A message was sent to Washington the next day summoning him to York to be notified of the reorganization. He had already been informed of the change by Laurens, whose son was a member of Washington’s staff, and when the message from the Congress arrived on the 16th, rather than travel to York in person, Washington wrote a letter accepting responsibility for the reversals suffered by the army, and resigning his commission. Washington then left the army at Valley Forge and returned to his Virginia home. [4]

With Washington gone, desertions from the camp at Valley Forge, already a significant problem, became endemic. Washington’s successor, General Philip Schuyler, attempted to win over the long-suffering troops, but to no avail. By the time spring came at last to Valley Forge, the Continental Army had disintegrated. [5]

1. Bradford Wilcox. Galloway the Loyalist, 1775-1777 (New York, 1998), pp. 288-91.

2. James Elson. Dickinson and Galloway in the Crisis Years (New York, 1901), pp. 143-48.

3. Many officers and men in the Continental Army, notably Alexander Hamilton, denounced the decision to replace Washington. Hamilton would later insist that Washington had been “the mortar that held the Army together,” and that Dickinson’s actions were meant to cause the rebel army to disintegrate. Alexander Hamilton. Farewell to Change: Thoughts on Leaving the C.N.A. (New York, 1785), pp. 51-67. For a modern version of this argument, see Christina Taylor. Sabotage: John Dickinson and the Continental Army (New York, 2011). Dickinson himself was uncharacteristically reticent on the decision to replace Washington. The Late Rebellion, Vol. III, p. 38.

4. General Sir Henry Mates. George Washington: The War Years (London, 1932), Vol. IV, pp. 556-60.

5. Ronald Coakley. A Military History of the North American Rebellion (New York, 1984), pp. 517-21.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 4

On October 4, 1886, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión ordered George Pierson, the Mexican Minister to Guatemala, to open negotiations with Guatemalan President Vicente Martinez for a widening of the Kinkaid Canal Zone "to enable us to better protect that vital passage."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 3

On October 3, 1892, a public funeral was held for former North American Governor-General John McDowell. McDowell's eulogy was given by his political rival and successor, Ezra Gallivan, who said, "Mexico was unfortunate enough to become a tyranny as a result of the Great Depression, while North America remained a republic. There are those who say this was due to the natures of the two countries. Perhaps this is so. But men, not impersonal forces, rule nations. Mexico had Hermión; North America had McDowell. That was the difference." Gallivan's remarks were reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

On October 3, 1914, the government of President Henri Fanchon of France offered to negotiate a peace agreement with the U.S.M. ending the Hundred Day War.

On October 3, 1939, France entered the Global War by declaring war on the Germanic Confederation. In the C.N.A., Governor-General Bruce Hogg proclaimed his country's neutrality, saying, "We are the enemy of war itself, not of any nation. We shall defend ourselves against attack, but shall take no action either side could consider belligerent. North America is at peace. North America will remain at peace. I give you my word on this." Hogg's proclamation was reported in the next day's Burgoyne Times.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 2

On October 2, 1939, the government of George Bolingbroke of Great Britain responded to the previous day's declaration of war by the Germanic Confederation by issuing its own declaration of war.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 1

On October 1, 1797, during the Trans-Oceanic War, a combined force of British regulars under General Lord Cornwallis and Southern Confederation militia under General Edward Curtis took New Orleans, which was only weakly defended by its Spanish garrison.

On October 1, 1892, former North American Governor-General John McDowell suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Manitoba.

On October 1, 1939, the Germanic Confederation declared war on Great Britain.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: September 30

On September 30, 1939 the Global War began when British and German troops clashed near Damascus. The two nations' troops had been airlifted into Arabia earlier in the month to aid the opposing sides in the Arab Revolt.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: September 29

On September 29, 1914, the Hundred Day War between France and the United States of Mexico came closer to its conclusion when French forces besieged in Tampico surrendered to General Emiliano Calles.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: September 28

On September 28, 1820, six days after the start of the Mexico City Convention, Andrew Jackson gave an address to the assembled delegates. In short, straightforward sentences, Jackson outlined his proposal for a constitution governing a union of Jefferson and Mexico. In the new nation, Jefferson would be one of six states ruled from Mexico City by a federal government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches, with the right to own slaves guaranteed. Jackson then turned and left the podium without looking back. That night, at a dinner, Jackson offered the toast, "Gentlemen, I give you the United States of Mexico."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Come on come on come on come on

It's been entirely too long since we had an embedded music video here at the Johnny Pez blog, so here is L7 with "Pretend We're Dead".

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: September 23

On September 23, 1793, King Louis XVI of France suffered a head injury when a carriage he was riding in struck a rock in the road. Louis's head struck an ivory handle inside the carriage, causing him some pain but no apparent injury. Two hours later, when the carriage reached the Palace of Versailles, Louis collapsed while getting out, and died instantly. He was succeeded by his son, Louis XVII.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: September 22

On September 22, 1820, the Mexico City Convention opened. The convention was sponsored by Andrew Jackson, the co-Governor of Jefferson and provisional president of Mexico, in order to create a union of the two (well, one-and-a-half) countries. In addition to Jefferson's legislature, the Chamber of Representatives, which had voted three months earlier to dissolve itself and reconvene in Mexico City, the convention's delegates included former Clericalists who supported Jackson, as well as non-voting delegates from the Indian tribes, and observers from the other Mexican factions.

On September 22, 1920, Mexican President Emiliano Calles joined John Walker, a slave who was due to be freed by Calles' Manumission Act, in confronting a mob. An anti-manumission group called the Sons of the Wilderness Walk had announced that if any freed slaves were processed through the Mexico City Manumission Bureau, it would be destroyed. A mob assembled in the plaza in front of the Bureau building on the morning of the 22nd, but before any slaves appeared, a government locomobile drove up, and Calles himself emerged. Calles passed silently through the jeering mob to enter the building. Rumors went through the mob that Calles would close the building, or that he would call out the army to disperse them. Instead, at 9:30 am, Calles emerged arm-in-arm with Walker, and accompanied him to the center of the jeering mob. The two men stood silently while the mob screamed for three minutes. After that, the screaming slowly died down, until the plaza was silent, and the mob began to disperse. By 10:00 am the plaza was empty except for Calles, Walker, and a group of twenty or so reporters.

Scorpions in a Bottle: Suffragette City

Any history of the United States of America is going to devote at least some attention, and possibly an entire chapter, to the women's suffrage movement. Oddly, Robert Sobel's history of the C.N.A. and the U.S.M. makes no mention of any analogous movement in either country. In the case of the U.S.M., this could be due to the fact that women never gained the vote there -- a comparison of population figures with voter turnout suggests that the franchise was restricted to men as late as 1920, and Sobel never does mention Mexican women gaining the franchise.

But we know that women in the C.N.A. did gain the vote in 1908 (twelve years before passage of the 19th Amendment in our history). However, we don't know the circumstances, or any of the details, since Sobel gives us nothing more than a passing mention in a footnote on page 85.

Why doesn't Sobel go into more detail? It could be because he finds the matter embarrassing, and prefers to avoid mentioning it. I suggested as much in one of my For All Nails vignettes, and in Scorpions in a Bottle, I get to make it official:

* * *

Fourteen of the sixty-eight delegates to the original Norfolk Convention of October 1869 were women, and a majority of the delegates supported woman suffrage. However, the delegates decided to focus their initial efforts on the economic concerns of small farmers, so the Norfolk Resolves issued by the convention were confined to the promotion of agriculture and the regulation of big business. [1] At the Michigan City Convention, seven months later, when the confederation-level branches of the People’s Party united to form the People’s Coalition, the delegates agreed to support a broader agenda, and universal suffrage, for both men and women, was part of it. [2]

At the confederation level, woman suffrage proved particularly popular in the frontier confederations of Manitoba and Northern Vandalia, due largely to the desire of political leaders there to attract woman settlers. The Manitoba Council passed the Suffrage Expansion Act of 1890, granting universal adult suffrage in local and confederation elections, and the Northern Vandalia Council followed suit in 1893. However, an attempt by Manitoba to extend woman suffrage to Grand Council races in 1895 was overturned by the High Court. [3]

When Gallivan and Ruggles gained control of the Coalition at the 1883 nominating convention, they sought to moderate the insurgent party’s stances, and Gallivan in particular was determined to remove all references to woman suffrage from the party’s manifesto. At the time, he insisted that he was simply seeking to win over moderate voters from the older parties who were opposed to woman sufferage. It was only with the publication of Bernard Gallivan’s Letters from My Father in 1920 that the world learned of what has become Gallivan’s most notorious statement: “I would sooner give the vote to Man’s Best Friend than to Man’s Worst Enemy.” [4]

Gallivan succeeded in removing woman suffrage from the Coalition manifesto, but the party’s radical wing continued to support it, and the cause was taken up by Thomas Kronmiller, a radical labor organizer who was elected to the Grand Council from the Michigan City South riding in the landslide Coalition victory in 1893. Gallivan was a more astute politician than Kronmiller, and he succeeded in associating woman suffrage with the Moral Imperative, which had little support among the rank-and-file of the People’s Coalition, although it was popular among the Kronmiller faction.

Kronmiller himself chose to shift his emphasis from electoral reform to foreign policy in the 1898 elections, which were dominated by fears of growing Mexican influence in Russian Alaska as a prospecting team from Kramer Associates made the largest discovery there of gold deposits since the California gold strike of 1838. Other members of the radical wing of the Coalition, notably Councilman Roscoe Breckman of Manitoba, continued to support woman suffrage. For ten years, Breckman repeatedly introduced bills amending the Design to expand the franchise to women, but these invariably failed to make it out of committee. [5]

During the Starkist Terror of 1899-1901, Kronmiller became fixated with removing Gallivan from office. Although he succeeded in ousting Gallivan, Kronmiller was unable to gain sufficient support to become governor-general himself. Gallivan continued to exert influence on the Coalition, gaining the party leadership for his protégé Christopher Hemingway in 1903. Hemingway, whether through conviction or merely out of respect for his mentor, continued to oppose woman suffrage during his term in power.

Hemingway, successor, Albert Merriman, also owed his rise to power to Gallivan’s influence. Despite this, he did not share the other man’s determination to exclude women from the franchise. When Breckman introduced his latest woman suffrage bill on 7 March 1908, he encountered no opposition from Merriman. Even though Gallivan himself rose to speak against the Reform Bill of 1908, condemning it as “an unwise attempt to extend the franchise to those who are, by their very nature, incapable of making rational, informed decisions,” a sizeable majority of Breckman’s fellow Coalitionists voted in favor, as did the Liberal delegations from Manitoba and Northern Vandalia. In this way, women in the C.N.A. were at last able to join in the civic life of the nation. [6]

1. Barbara Montez. A History of the People’s Coalition (London, 1960), pp. 31-38.

2. Ibid. pp. 44-46.

3. Candace Evans. The Struggle for Woman Suffrage (New York, 1956), pp. 390-96.

4. Bernard Gallivan. Letters from My Father (New York, 1920), p. 171. The younger Gallivan was perplexed by the uproar provoked by the remark. He later said, “If I had known that people would be so judgmental about my father, I would never have published the book.” Morton Pettigrew. “The Uncensored Gallivan,” New York Tribune, October 11, 1921.

5. Edward J. Baker. The Unkept Promise: The People’s Coalition and Woman Suffrage (New York, 1967), p. 226.

6. Evans. The Struggle for Woman Suffrage, pp. 624-28.