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Following the Rebellion of '61, US history went quite differently than it did in our time line. The strengthening of the federal government which occurred *here* during the Civil War was delayed. Tensions continued between the industrialized North and the agricultural South. This flamed up in the brief Rebellion of '73. While even smaller than the earlier Rebellion of '61, it lead to fears that there would be constant rebellions until it exploded in full-scale war.
Post-Rebellion and Early Decentralization
Much of America's political energies in the 19th century were focused on finding a new balance between North and South. While America continued to play a major role in Japan's development, and American businessmen expanded their influence outside the nation, the government itself tended to focus on internal matters. As a result, the US passed on Russia's offer to sell Alaska. The US also did not intervene in Hawai'ian affairs.
In some ways, though the South may have lost the actual Rebellion, and lost their "Peculiar Institution", they could be said to have been the ultimate victors, at least, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. States' rights gained ground, and informal arrangements between southern states were formalized with the passing of the 13th amendment, which modified Article I section 10 to read Two or more States may enter into any treaty, confederation or alliance, with the consent of Congress, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue. (adapted from the Articles of Confederation). This began the Decentralization Crisis of the late 19th and early 20th century, as regional entities began to develop and a power struggle ensued between the federal and regional governments. Though initially there were many overlapping alliances for specific purposes, they were soon consolidated into several major blocks, though a few minor alliances continued, often overlapping two or more major blocks. The Dixie Alliance and the New England Union were the first two genuine Regions. Others began to form as the federal government lost power. Texas was divided into two over the Region issue, with the east joining with the Dixie Alliance, and the west initially remaining outside the region system. Eventually six regional governments were established.
The major blocks that formed were:
- The Dixie Alliance: mostly the former CSA - consisted of the states of Virginia [including *here*'s West Virginia], North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and East Texas. Maryland later joined. Regional headquarters were at Atlanta, Georgia
- The New England Union: The New England states - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. Regional headquarters were in Boston, Massachusetts.
- The Great Lakes Alliance: Delaware, New Jersey (the only two members not bordering at least one Great Lake), New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin. Regional headquarters were in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Farm Federation (later renamed Central Coalition): Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota. Regional headquarters were in Kansas City, Missouri.
- West Coast League: California (later subdivided into North California and South California), Oregon, Washington. Regional headquarters were in San Francisco, North California.
- Western League: The last of the regions to form. Contained West Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana. Regional headquarters were at Denver, Colorado.
The regional blocks began to grow more powerful, several of them even printing paper money. The late 19th and early 20th centuries were characterized by tensions between the blocks and the federal government. This lead to a series of Constitutional amendments weakening the federal government even more.
During the European War, the United States remained neutral, though trading with, and lending to, both sides. The 1920's were a period of great prosperity, which, however, ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1931. The Great Depression which followed nearly unraveled the United States, as the regional governments flaunted the central government's authority in their attempts to rebuild their shattered economies. For the first time, the various regions' currencies began to differ. A Central Dollar was not the same as a Great Lakes Dollar. It was soon openly suggested that the fiction of a single nation be dropped and the regions all declare independence from the US. Five of the regions rejected this, but the West Coast League did, largely in response to immigration from the east, declaring the birth of the Republic of the Pacific Coast, with the then-current Chairman of the Regional Government becoming the first President. The rest of the United States was now cut off from the Pacific Coast. This problem was solved with the purchase of a small piece of land from Mexico, giving the US access to the Gulf of California.
The Global War
The problems of decentralization remained, however, until the outbreak of the Global War. The United States had watched the growth of totalitarian governments in Russia, the United Kingdom and France with dismay. Upon the declaration of War against Russia by Japan in 1940, the Republic of the Pacific Coast joined Japan. The United States followed shortly after.
The reasons for America's involvement in the Global War have long been debated. The general consensus is that the reasons were manifold. One major motivation was the desire to counter the Decentralization tendencies of the preceding decades, by uniting the people against a common enemy. Another motivation is thought to be the desire to establish America as a world power. In addition, America had much investment in Japan, which they did not wish to lose.
Upon the inevitable declaration of war against Japan by Britain, the United States likewise declared war against Britain, and invaded the Kingdom of Canada.
As had been expected, the war brought the disparate sections of the United States closer together. Federal currency began to replace regional currencies, and the various regional dollars were demonetized in 1942.
The war initially went poorly for the United States, which had not spent much money prior to the war on defense. Canadian and British troops invaded New England, occupying much of that territory, and installing a puppet government to declare independance from the US. Japanese troops reinforced American troops along the western border, but Dakota was successfully invaded. The People's Republic of Mexico declared war against the United States and the Republic of the Pacific Coast in 1941, prompted by the United Kingdom. After a surprise attack on El Paso on December 7 ("A date which will live in infamy"), Mexican troops initially were quite successful in the southwest.
However, by late '42, the tide of war began to change. At the darkest hour, Mexican troops had pushed as far north as Santa Fe, New Mexico, and almost to the Dixie border, while British troops had crossed over in New York, and had bombed New York City into ruins. Regular bombing raids on Washington City lead the government to flee to a more central location, turning Kansas City into a temporary national capital (indeed, the city was later renamed New Washington). However, American troops now halted the British advance. The Regional militaries had been dissolved and merged into a single federal military, which now began to gradually push the invaders out. By the middle of '43, American troops were crossing the Mexican border. In the northwest, the joint Pacific-American army, marching northwards, had joined hands with the Japanese army, marching southwards, and the two began marching east. By early '44, American troops were into eastern Canada.
By this point, the British military had to be withdrawn from Canada to aid the faltering French in Europe, though a garrison remained in Newfoundland. Canada resisted mightily, but eventually fell to American troops. The Yukon and the Northwest Territories were given to Japan, while the rest of Canada, from British Columbia (now renamed Vancouver Territory) to Nova Scotia were in American hands. In addition, American troops now controlled former British possessions in the Caribbean, along with Bermuda. American troops were also occupying most of Mexico. Canada gave up the fight in September '45, while Mexico surrendered a few months later.
The war ended on December 5, 1946, but the war in North America had been finished for nearly a year by that point, though American troops were fighting in Europe and Asia.
The End of the United States
The United States of America was now in possession of a vast continental empire, controlling almost all of North America, with the exceptions of Alaska and northern Canada, and Newfoundland, plus also much of Central America.
This proved to be America's downfall, however, as, once the war was over, the old regional rivalries returned, in far worse form, as there was now vast new territories to bicker over, and frequent uprisings to deal with.
The 1948 election was a tense one. Regional struggles lead to a fragmenting of the political party system, and 7 major candidates ran. In the end, the House was called upon to choose a new President. After nearly 20 ballots, a President of the United States was chosen. This was the Regionalist Party candidate, Henry G Washington, an ironic name, as would soon become clear. Washington's administration proved to be monumental in the history of North America. Washington called upon the states to convene a new Constitutional Convention. On May 9, 1949, the legislatures of 39 of the 48 states, invoking the never-before-invoked second method of proposing amendments (The Congress ... on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments), demanded, and received, a Convention. This Convention, much like the Convention that had created the Constitution, went beyond their call, and declared the dissolution of the United States. They invited delegates from the provinces of the former Kingdom of Canada, as well as the former British Crown Colonies of the Caribbean and Bermuda. Mexican delegates were not invited. The Republic of the Pacific Coast also joined the talks.
In the place of the United States, a loose North American Federation was created. The Federation would consist of the following nations
- The Kingdom of Canada (with the King of the British Nations Beyond the Seas on its throne)
- The United States of New England
- The Federal Republic of the Great Lakes (later subdivided into Yorksylvania and the Great Lakes Federation)
- The Union of the Great Plains
- The Confederation of Dixie
- The Rocky Mountain Confederation
- The Republic of the Pacific Coast (later renamed the Californian Federation)
- The United Kingdom of the Caribean (with the King of the British Nations Beyond the Seas on its throne)
- The Kingdom of Bermuda (with the King of the British Nations Beyond the Seas on its throne)
The Federation would possess a single currency (The North American Dollar), a unified military (along with individual national militaries), would form a defense league, and would co-operate on a variety of areas, with any changes requiring consent of 3/4 of the member nations. These areas of common interest would be under the authority of the North American Congress, a bicameral body loosely modeled on the Congress of the old United States. The head of the Federation would be a President chosen by the Congress for a single six-year term. President Washington was chosen as the first President of the North American Federation. Secession was illegal within 40 years of the signing of the Federation Charter. The Charter was ratified on October 9, 1949 (Charter Day).
The first issue facing the new North American Congress was the issue of Vancouver/British Columbia, disputed between Canada and the Republic of the Pacific Coast. In exchange for Canadian acquiescence to territory lost to Japan, the Congress convinced the RPC to withdraw claims to Vancouver (promptly returned to its original name, British Columbia), in exchange for a large sum of money from the Federation government and assignment of formerly British Pacific possessions not held by Japan (the Gilbert Islands, Pitcairn, and Tonga).
Mexico remained under the joint authority of the Federation, with debate over whether to invite them to join. In the end, such disputes proved meaningless as constant guerrilla warfare in the Mexican countryside eventually forced Federation troops to leave, and the People's Republic of Mexico was soon established.
See North American Federation for developments after Charter Day.