Aftermath of the American Civil War (1864 - 1880)
North American Power Shifts
The humiliating defeat of the USA at the hands of its rebellious southern states had far reaching consequences for the young nation. First, of course, its infrastructure had been decimated in several areas due to the nature of the war (one of the earliest examples of total war). Furthermore, half of its economic power was ripped from its grasp immediately, forcing its economy to undergo a massive adjustment. In addition, the USA was forced to pay war reparations to the CSA, which caused the government to raise taxes considerably, leading to even more public unrest. All of this led to the ousting of not only Lincoln in favor of George H. Pendleton, but most Republicans in the 1864 election in favor of the Democrats; the Republicans would never be able to reorganize after this historic defeat.However, the effect of this defeat was not only felt at home. Allies abroad, such as France, largely turned their backs on the new nation, seeing as these nations now perceived it to be weak and incapable of even stopping a minor rebellion. Of course, the Americans reached out to the French to assist in paying these debts, although Napoleon III, the French emperor at the time, declined, having his own problems to deal with such as consolidating his power and dealing with enemies in Europe. To augment these hardships, France and Britain both signed cooperative agreements with the CSA, hoping to gain an ally on the North American continent and weaken the United States. The United States was now surrounded on all sides by British colonies to the north, its evil twin to the south, and the pro-French Mexico to the southwest, leaving it entirely on its own.
The Confederacy, of course, enjoyed a great degree of relief after the war. It retained its rights to own slaves, and even began to buy slaves from French and British colonies. The people remained generally happy, and the nation's economy soared as U.S. reparation money came pouring in from the north. Trade agreements were signed between the CSA, Britain, France, and Mexico, all excluding the United States. The capital was moved south to Atlanta, the "greatest city of the south" and several new states were admitted quickly, including the state of Davis (OTL Oklahoma), and people flocked west, eager to claim the lands their country had won from their "oppressors" to the north. However, this expansionism was not limited to territories actually owned by the Confederacy -- many Confederates called for the invasion and annexation of the Caribbean Islands, many of which were owned by Spain.
The Cuban Crisis and a New War
In the late 1860s, things began to look up for the United States. The French, although the government had begun running more efficiently, began to lose some of their standing in Europe. Sensing this, Otto von Bismarck of Prussia seized this opportunity to bring more German states into Prussian control and influence at the expense of French power in the region. Of course, feeling understandably insulted, the French called for war and Napoleon III obliged, beginning the Franco-Prussian War. The war began in 1870 and was relatively short. It began with the invasion of eastern France by German forces in late July, and ultimately culminated in French defeat and surrender after a lengthy siege of Paris.
However, this war had far reaching consequences -- as far west as the Americas. After the Germans won a series of decisive battles in eastern France, Napoleon III and his army of 80,000 were forced to surrender at the battle of Sedan on September 2, 1870. When news of these developments reached Paris, riots and uprisings broke out in the streets, overthrowing the regime of the Second French Empire and establishing the Third French Republic under the Government of National Defence. Even following this, the war continued into the next year, and the Germans lay siege to Paris from September 19 to January 24, 1871, when the Government of National Defence negotiated a peace treaty with Bismarck in Versailles, and ended hostilities. Following, Adolphe Thiers was elected to be the new head of government.
The Franco-Prussian War was very significant to affairs in North America because it restored France as an American ally, being the only republic in Europe and sharing similar values with the United States. Although the French were war weary and suffering heavily in terms of economic status, the Confederacy was shaken by the developments and feared that the French and Americans would soon attempt to retake their land and destroy everything they had fought for. In order to combat this through a show of strength, the Confederate navy instituted a blockade of Cuba and other Caribbean Islands and prepared for a war even they themselves may not be ready for. Madrid responded with an ultimatum: suspend the blockade within 48 hours or face a war.The Confederacy reached out to its 'allies' in Mexico (really, both only held a common disdain for the United States, France, and Spain) for assistance, and President Benito Juarez accepted, though only agreed to assist in a naval capacity. On July 3, 1872, the Confederate Army stormed the shores of Cuba, overwhelming the colony, which had been rebelling against Spanish rule for several years, within a week, while the Mexican navy engaged the Spanish navy to the east side of the island. Eventually, the United States navy entered the war on the side of Spain on October 10, 1872. Then, after a few months of light naval fighting, the Spanish and Americans finally broke the blockade and began to engage Confederate ships and troops directly. Within a month, the Spanish stormed the shores of Cuba and attempted to retake it, and Confederate occupiers had a hard time maintaining their grip on the island due to widespread revolts.
In November, the British entered the war on the side of the Confederacy, their new ally, and pledged a considerable amount of its navy to the conflict. With the most powerful navy on earth involved and the French still too weak to enter the conflict Spain was in a very tough situation. Not only was mainland Spain blockaded so no supplies or ships could reach the combatants, the British navy tore through its enemies' navy quickly, rendering both the American and Spanish fleets effectively useless by early 1873 (The Mexicans withdrew after the election of Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada). After this, the British army elements stationed in the Bahamas helped quell the rebellions to Confederate rule in Cuba, which largely ceased by the end of that year. The Spanish surrendered on March 8th, marking the end of the Caribbean War, and the British, as a sign of commitment to the Confederacy, assisted with a swift invasion and occupation of Hispanola and many other small, sparsely guarded islands in the Caribbean, as well as northern Columbia. On March 11th, the Spanish were forced to hand over Puerto Rico following their surrender. This conflict signified to the world that not only was the Confederacy there to stay, it had the backing of several world powers.
Confederate Dominance and Peace
Though the Caribbean War had been costly for the Confederacy, the expenses were almost immediately recovered multiple times over with the acquisition of northern South America and almost the entirety of the Caribbean Islands. Many of the native peoples of these areas (which were treated as colonies) were either used as slaves in their current location or taken home to newly added western states and territories. In 1876, the Confederate Congress passed the Colonial Security Act, which added a branch to the military which was charged with maintaining a strict civil occupation over colonial districts at all times. This infuriated many who has migrated south to claim the new lands, but many continued to so due to the large monetary reward to be gained from doing so.
However, even in light of the Confederacy's newfound riches, they still faced some level of hardship in securing both new and old territories. Between 1875 and 1880, a total of 17 uprisings took place across the Confederacy, resulting in thousands of deaths and thousands of deportations. Native Americans were deported to the United States by the tens of thousands for fighting against Confederate rule, many not having the skill set required to function in American society, thus bringing poverty and crime with them, which was detrimental to the American economy. As for the revolts that took place in South America, the military administration either imprisoned or killed anyone who attempted to rebel, and eventually things began to settle as these people were integrated into the Confederate system. Regardless, during the period of uprisings and unrest, the Confederate Army grew exponentially and it soon surpassed its northern neighbor considerably. To further increase Confederate power in the region, the nation signed a trade agreement with the Brazilian Empire to the south.
What truly caused the Confederacy's power to increase drastically though, was cocaine. Settlers in South America were taxed at 8% on each crop, which generated an enormous amount of money, doubling the government's previous tax revenue. This money was put into advancing the nation through public works projects to rebuild areas of the south that had been destroyed during the Civil War, industrialize and modernize South America, and incentivize people to settle the west in order to add states and increase power. Colorado was added in 1876, New Mexico in 1878, Utah in 1885, Columbus in 1879, and Caribbea in 1887.
Era of Peace (1880 - 1900)
While the last two decades were defined by relative peace in terms of major wars among the great powers of the world, German, French, British, and Russian imperialism proved deadly for Africa and other less developed regions. As the French, Germans, and British focused on Africa, the Russians pushed a bit deeper into northwestern North America. However, as these nations made progress abroad, they also made progress (at least what some would call progress) at home.
The "New" FranceFollowing the turbulence the French felt in the 1870s, they looked toward North America, where they saw hundreds of thousands fighing and dying for freedom. Thus, upon the estblishment of the Republic, the French people overwhelmingly supported the Republicans and voted against the monarchists. A secular, free, public education system was established throughout the nation and religious freedom became the law of the land. The people decided by popular vote that the Consititution would be rewritten in 1886 to mirror that of the United States more closely, and Parliament was carefully structured in order to resemble the American system.
However, trasitionalists, monarchists, and the radical religious were appalled by republicanism and committed "acts of terror" against public institutions and religious minorities in an attempt to create the illusion of chaos. However, many of these plots were traced back to religious and monarchist leaders, which only spurred on the radical reforms that transformed France throughout the coming decades, prompting the famous General Georges Boulanger to warn that "This new France...it will spell death for the great traditions of Europe"
As the republic expanded throughout Africa, the government experienced great economic relief from the stagnation that was facing the economy at home. In response, this excess money was used to both build up government agencies and to provide basic relief services to the French people to keep the nation functioning. They also received loans from Britain to continue rebuild the infrastructure in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. By 1890, the nation became the second country in the world to establish a federal minimum wage following America's example, and the economy initially slowed, but took off considerably from 1893 onward, refilling the drained treasury and re-establishing France's status as a major European power, although France did struggle considerably on an international level due to political scandals and weak leadership throughout the coming years.
Throughout the 1880s, America veered radically to the left in response to the various crises that arose as a result of the loss of the Civil War. Economic hardships caused by things such as the Panic of 1873, excess native American refugees from the Confederacy, and Caribbean War radicalized many Americans to the left until the Greenback Party became the majority party in the Senate and "Greenbacker" James Weaver defeated incumbent Republican Rutherford B. Hayes for the presidency. Weaver ran on radical progressive policies such as regulating big business, eliminating the gold standard, and empowering the working class through measures such as a minimum wage and various social programs.
After less than two years in office, Weaver had stabilized the economy and begun providing a living wage (which would steadily increase or decrease based on the value of currency) for many Americans who could previously hardly afford to feed themselves rather than a family. This crippled big business's ability to exploit the masses and forced monopolies to shrink. In addition, the Greenbackers were able to pass legislation regulating safety standards for factory workers in big industrial cities in 1883 and ending child labor in 1885. One of the few things they were unable to do initially, regulating the work day, was done in 1887 after the Greenback Party won a massive majority in the House, augmenting their grip on the government. The troubles initially are thought to be brought on by anti-Greenback propaganda used by the dwindling Republican Party to argue that America's economy would slow if less labor was performed.
Weaver went on to win reelection in 1884 and 1888 before retiring from politics in 1892. He was succeeded by fellow Greenbacker George O. Jones, who made far less progress than his predecessor but kept the country moving in the same direction it had been. The opposition to the Greenback Party, however, began to claim that further government regulation would lead the nation down the "road to tyranny." This initially hurt the Greenbackers, but they recovered after the Confederate president at the time expressed his disdain for the direction the USA was heading. Many American citizens at the time wanted to head in the opposite direction as the Confederacy as fast as possible.
In 1895, the Greenbackers passed what is arguably the most radical piece of legislation to be passed thus far: the Voting Rights Amendment, which allowed all United States citizens the right to vote whether they were male or female, white or black. This moved was condemned by world leaders globally, but the French would soon follow their example. Fearing attacks on American soil over radicalism (such as what the French experienced in the Napoleonic Era), Americans called for the creation of a government agency or military branch that would specifically defend against acts of terror committed by traditionalists. Therefore, Congress authorized the creation of the National Safety Administration (NSA) which would be tasked with "defending and promoting American interests at home and abroad."
Alliances Begin to Form
As relations among many of the powers of the world became shakier with each passing year, nations began to form "blocs," or military and political alliances, typically based on ideology. France and the United States had already entered into a de facto alliance, but this was made official when the two nations signed a military treaty in 1894. In 1896, upon the discovery of gold in Russia's Alyeska colony (bringing a huge amount of wealth to the Russians in a short amount of time), the Russians would allow the United States to send miners to cash out on the precious metal, establishing generally friendly relations between the two countries, which would grow much stronger over the coming years.
As tensions between France and the United Kingdom began to cool, the two countries came to the realization that they had more common interests than previously thought. In addition, as Britain became more and more democratized over the years, their methods of government slowly became more similar, thus giving them the common goal of spreading at least some degree of democracy. However, although relations between these countries improved, they would not sign a military agreement until the early 20th century.
In the early 1880s, the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy had formed, leaving the other divided states of europe vulnerable to possible attacks and too wary to be confrontational with any of these nations. This constituted one of the most powerful European military alliances to date, and posed a substantial threat to French, British, and Russian power in the region, though these nations would not align against the Triple Alliance until 25 years later.
In the Americas, the Confederacy had built up a sizable military and formed an alliance with neighboring Mexico that grew stronger each year, which worried the United States, though its military had improved considerably since its destruction in the Civil War and Caribbean War. The Confederacy also signed a military treaty with Britain (to combat the United States) in 1881 and relations between the two nations continued to improve, meaning that the United States was surrounded by enemies on all sides.
Little did these nations know at the time, these alliances, regardless of how insignificant they seemed at the time, would later plunge the world into decades of warfare.