Monday, September 26, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Mexican Civil War

José María Morelos

Scorpions in a Bottle resumes with the second half of Chapter 8, in which the state of Jefferson becomes drawn into the Mexican Civil War.

* * *

Despite the general indignation in the C.N.A. over Major Jackson’s high-handedness, Jefferson continued to receive a steady stream of white settlers and Negro slaves from the Southern Confederation. Jefferson was also a popular destination for Frenchmen seeking to escape their economically depressed homeland. Although most French immigrants settled in the Francophone areas around Lafayette, a sizeable minority, many of them Jewish, chose to make their homes in Henrytown’s growing seaport. Trade between Jefferson and France helped to revive the economies of both countries, and led to the renewal of ties dating back to the Rebellion. [1]

A third source of settlers for Jefferson was the Spanish Caribbean, particularly Cuba. The anti-Hohenzollern uprisings there had touched off bloody revolts by the islands’ Negro slaves, and Jefferson was the popular destination for panicked plantation owners and shopkeepers fleeing the slaughter. The white ruling classes in the Spanish Caribbean were eventually able to put down the slave revolts and regain control of the islands, but many of the refugees chose to remain in Jefferson, mainly settling in the old Spanish towns of San Antonio, Espiritu Santo, and Nacogdoches. Jefferson was also the destination of choice for many French and Spanish residents of Louisiana and West Florida who left to avoid British rule. Jefferson had always been a multilingual society with significant French and Spanish minorities, and this remained true after the Trans-Oceanic War. [2]

The Mexican War of Independence ended in 1805 with the departure of the last Royalist army. However, six years of war had left the new Republic of Mexico divided and bankrupt. Initially, Revillagigedo’s prestige allowed him to hold the country together while it slowly recovered from the conflict. Unfortunately, the rigors of the war had taken their toll on the former viceroy, and he died in January 1806.

Revillagigedo’s provisional government came under the control of his chief lieutenant, José María Morelos, who wished to continue the policy of establishing a completely secular state. This brought him into conflict with Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a charismatic former priest known as the “conscience of the revolution.” Hidalgo was determined to maintain the Catholic Church’s leading role in Mexico. The two men soon reached an impasse, and Hidalgo, fearing arrest, fled Mexico City. A company of soldiers sent to Cuautla to arrest Hidalgo were ambushed there by his supporters on April 14, an event that marked the start of the Mexican Civil War. [3]

In Jefferson City, the Hamilton-Monroe-Gaillard government followed events in Mexico closely. Hamilton was particularly concerned by a proclamation issued by Revillagigedo in June 1805 calling on the Jeffersonians to renounce the uprising of 1796 and submit to his government’s rule. Hamilton began preparing for war with Mexico, but fears of a Mexican attack diminished when news came of the outbreak of the civil war.

As well as diminishing the threat of war, the outbreak of the civil war in Mexico led to the end of Jefferson’s international isolation. As the civil war continued, several areas of the former Viceroyalty of New Spain broke away to form their own states, including Guatemala and Yucatan. Secretary of State Adams was able to establish diplomatic relations with the other breakaway Mexican states, and soon did the same with the newly-established republican governments in the Spanish Caribbean. [4]

A second event that helped end Jefferson’s diplomatic and financial isolation was the death of King Louis XVII of France in 1807. To most Frenchmen, Louis was nothing more than a puppet of the country’s British and German enemies. He was widely and derisively known as “the king on a string.” Since suffering a near-fatal bout of tuberculosis in 1789, Louis had been in poor health, and it was widely believed that his impotence kept him from consummating his marriage to Maria Luisa of Spain.

Upon Louis’ death, the French throne passed to his younger brother Louis Charles, Duke of Normany, who reigned as Louis XVIII. The new king was determined to free the country from Anglo-German domination. He extended diplomatic recognition to Jefferson, and encouraged French bankers to offer loans to the Jeffersonian government. He also encouraged the development of the French textile industry, which provided a steady market for Jeffersonian cotton crops. Hamilton chose Albert Gallatin, the Geneva-born Representative from Lafayette, as Jeffeson’s first minister to the Court of Louis XVIII. [5]

In Mexico, the civil war ground on. Hidalgo’s supporters, who became known as the Clericalists, were too weak to contest control of Mexico City, and contented themselves with conducting hit-and-run attacks on government targets. President Morelos’s supporters, known as the Federalists, remained secure in the capital, but were unable to maintain control of Mexico’s hinterland. Atrocities became common on both sides, and a steady flow of Mexican refugees fleeing the violence crossed the Rio Grande into Jefferson. Most of the refugees were Clericalists who had seen their homes and property destroyed and their friends and relatives killed by Federalist troops. As their fortunes improved in the prosperous, fast-growing new state, and they gained the franchise, they gravitated towards the Continentalist Party, which came to favor the Clericalist side in the civil war. [6]

Jefferson’s prosperity and growing international recognition redounded to the credit of the Continentalist government. In the 1807 elections, the Continentalists won 50 out of 66 seats in the Chamber of Representatives, ensuring that the Hamilton-Monroe-Gaillard ticket would be returned to office fourteen months later.

The second phase of the Mexican Civil War began in August 1809 when Hidalgo was captured by the Federalists and executed. Control of Hidalgo’s “army of clerics” fell to Simón Figueroa, who lacked his former commander’s ability as a tactician, but who turned out to be a skilled propagandist. Assisted by sympathizers in Jefferson, Figueroa’s anti-Federalist broadsides circulated throughout Mexico, turning popular opinion against Morelos’ government. Figueroa was also skilled at concealing his forces from government troops; the Clericalists were seemingly able to strike at will, albeit without inflicting much harm, and there seemed nothing the Federalists could do to stop them.

Hamilton was able to turn the erosion of Morelos’ authority to good effect. Covert assistance from the Jeffersonian government allowed the Clericalists to seize control of the provincial capitals of Nuevo Mexico and California, and both provinces were soon home to well-armed Anglophone settlers with close ties to the Clericalist army.

Although, Morelos publicly described the Clericalist attacks as being “like the stings of mosquitos which, though troublesome, could be born by a patient man,” privately he feared that his government’s authority was on the verge of collapse. Determined to end the Clericalist threat once and for all, in the spring of 1815 he issued a proclamation declaring that anyone found aiding the rebels would be subject to summary execution. Federalist troops then spread out to every urban area in Mexico, rounding up and executing suspected Clericalist sympathizers. [7]

The result was a pitched battle between Morelos’ troops and a mixed force of Clericalists and Anglo settlers led by Horatio Conyers in the hills outside Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico in October 1815. The government army was forced to withdraw, and Nuevo Mexico was spared the horrors of the Federalist inquisition. Conyers became a hero to Anglophone and Hispanophone alike in Santa Fe.

When news of the Battle of Albuquerque reached Jefferson City, it became clear to Hamilton and his supporters that the Clericalists would be unable to resist the latest Federalist onslaught on their own. The time had come for the Jeffersonians to openly intervene in the Mexican Civil War.
--

1. Henri de Amory. The Ghost of Lafayette: The Franco-Mexican Alliance (Mexico City, 1959), pp 38-41.

2. Mitchell Carr. “Patterns of Immigration in Old Jefferson,” Journal of Jeffersonian History, CIV (November, 2009), pp. 288-302.

3. Ortez. The Birth of Mexico, pp. 53-55.

4. Gregory Pomerantz. The Life of John Quincy Adams (Mexico City, 1975), pp. 207-21.

5. Charles Agassiz. Louis XVIII and the Rebirth of France (London, 1972), pp. 166-81.

6. Valentina Cabral. A History of the Continentalist Party (Jefferson City, 1996), pp. 44-47.

7. Ortez. The Birth of Mexico, pp. 91-96.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I, Robot: To Preserve by Mickey Zucker Reichert




Back in February, fantasy author Mickey Zucker Reichert published the third book in her I, Robot prequel trilogy, I, Robot: To Preserve. The books turned out to be not so much a prequel as a reboot of Isaac Asimov's positronic robot series. As I noted in my review of the first book, I, Robot: To Protect, Reichert shifted the time frame of Asimov's original stories by 27 years, so that Susan Calvin's birth takes place in 2009 rather than 1982. This allows Reichert to set her trilogy in our own future rather than in an alternate present, since under Asimov's original chronology To Protect would have taken place in the year 2008.

I liked To Protect. Despite the changes Reichert made to Susan Calvin and to the background of the positronic robot series, she maintained Asimov's focus on the interplay between the robots who obey the Three Laws of Robotics and a human race that has no built-in laws of behavior. Unfortunately, in her second book, I, Robot: To Obey, Reichert shifted the focus away from the Three Laws so that she could write a violent, action-packed thriller centered on a ridiculous MacGuffin. The final book, sadly, continues the tradition established in the second book. Reichert presents us with another violent, action-packed thriller with a seriously unlikely plot.

In the second book, Susan Calvin, second-year psychiatry resident at a Manhattan teaching hospital, suddenly found herself caught between two equally murderous groups: an anti-robot movement called the Society for Humanity, and a hit squad from a military intelligence agency code-named Cadmium. Both groups believed, for no good reason, that Calvin knew a cheat code that would switch off the Three Laws, allowing positronic robots to be turned into unstoppable killing machines. The Society wanted to kill Calvin to keep the cheat code secret, and Cadmium wanted to kidnap Calvin and torture the cheat code out of her so they could weaponize their own positronic robots. The novel ended with a New York cop named Jake Carson thwarting both groups and saving Calvin's life.

As the third novel opens, Cadmium has come up with a new plan to gain the cheat code from Calvin, a plan that is both murderous and needlessly convoluted. Step one of the plan is to murder a brilliant medical researcher that Calvin has worked with, and make it look like the Society was responsible. In order to give an apparent motive for the Society to commit the murder, Cadmium made it look like the Society made it look like the murder was committed by Nate, an android from US Robots who works at the hospital. Unfortunately for Cadmium, the police are too obtuse to notice the clues they planted that point to the Society as the real culprits. Instead, the police arrest Nate for the murder, then arrest Nate's creator, Dr. Lawrence Robertson, the president of US Robots.

Step two of Cadmium's plan is to stage an attack on Calvin while she's walking through Central Park, and have one of their agents save her from the supposed attackers. Calvin believes that the attackers are working for the Society, and that her savior is a recently-discharged Marine named Pal Buffoni. Buffoni is a handsome devil, and it isn't long before he is able to seduce Calvin, winning both her trust and her love. The staged attack occurs shortly after Calvin has stolen Nate from the police, and Buffoni helps Calvin hide Nate in her apartment. Carson, the cop who saved Calvin a year earlier, then shows up at her door looking for Nate, since he has just been assigned to recover the android. Calvin and Buffoni disguise Nate and send Carson on his way.

Step three of Cadmium's plan is to stage another attack on Calvin, this time making sure to kill her closest friend. Buffoni then pressures her to try to figure out what the cheat code is, even though she has assured him that there is no cheat code. Carson reappears, and is able to surreptitiously inform Calvin that Cadmium has been behind all the attacks. Calvin pretends to work out the cheat code while luring Buffoni into a trap, and Carson is again able to save her.

Logically, there was no reason for Cadmium to commit the first murder and try to frame the Society for it. The first staged attack on Calvin in Central Park accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish: convince her that her life was threatened, and make her reliant on Buffoni for her protection. For that matter, there was no logical reason for the second staged attack. Calvin was already in love with Buffoni, and ready to follow his lead. The murder and the second attack occur because Reichert needs them, not because Cadmium needs them. The murder leads Calvin to quit her job at the hospital and go to work for US Robots, which is where Reichert needs her to be at the end of the novel to set up the stories in Asimov's original I, Robot. The second attack allows Carson to figure out that Cadmium is behind everything, so he can save Calvin again.

To sum up: Reichert's prequel trilogy made a very promising start, then suddenly veered into poorly-plotted mayhem. Was it her plan all along to make the prequels such a jarring departure from Asimov's original, or did she run out of inspiration after the first book and settle for writing a couple of violent thrillers? The whole cheat code MacGuffin derailed the trilogy to no purpose, since the hypothetical existence of a cheat code is never mentioned in any chronologically subsequent story.

I suppose if you squint hard enough, the prequels sort of look like the Elijah Baley novels (except much more violent and poorly plotted), so maybe that was what Reichert was aiming at. If so, I can't help wishing that she had tried to imitate the cerebral tone of Asimov's robot novels (and of the original I, Robot collection, for that matter), and not just the murder-takes-place-and-protagonist-solves-it plot structure.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: Rise of the Parties



In the course of writing For Want of a Nail, Sobel mostly skipped events between the end of the Trans-Oceanic War in 1799 and Jefferson's entry into the Mexican Civil War in 1815. Since this is pretty much the formative years of the independent State of Jefferson, I've decided that Scorpions in a Bottle is going to have an entire chapter devoted to this period. Below is the first half of Chapter 8: "The State of Jefferson."

* * *

Once the Jeffersonians completed the conquest of Tejas and northern Coahuila in 1798, all thoughts turned to Mexico City, and the expectation that Viceroy de la Grúa would respond to the Jeffersonian uprising by sending a Spanish army north. The Jeffersonians prepared as best they could, sending a delegation to the Comanche seeking an alliance against the Spanish, and fortifying the roads to Mexico City and Santa Fe. Hamilton even sent Monroe to Norfolk as an unofficial emissary to Bland, seeking help from the North Americans. By then, however, word of Major Jackson’s arrogant interview with Cornwallis and Curtis had reached the capitals of the C.N.A., and popular feeling against the Jeffersonians was at an all-time high there. [1]

It was against the backdrop of this anxiety concerning a Spanish counterattack that the Senatorial campaign of 1798 took place. Under the Lafayette Constitution, the terms of the fifteen-member Senate and the three-member Governate expired in January 1799. One of the oddities of the Jeffersonian constitution was that the two-year terms of the Chamber of Representatives were out of synch with the five-year terms of the senators and governors. As a result, the next class of senators would be chosen by the Chamber elected in 1797.

In the months before their terms expired, some of the senators began quietly canvassing members of the Chamber in hopes of securing enough votes to secure their reappointment. Rumors soon spread among the population of Jefferson of vote-buying within the legislature. The result was a wave of popular anger, not just against individual senators, but against the Senate as an institution. A statewide convention was soon organized with the goal of amending the Lafayette Constitution to abolish the Senate. In the course of the convention, which met in late September 1798, a faction appeared led by William Sayre and Samuel Curtis calling itself the Liberty Party that called for the direct election of the governors. When word reached General Hamilton, he sent a letter to the convention arguing that giving the governors an independent mandate would upset the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branches, increasing the risk of executive tyranny. Hamilton’s prestige was at its height at the time, and the convention chose to accept his counsel. The Senate’s power to choose the governors was transferred to the Chamber of Representatives. [2]

When the Chamber met in January 1799, Hamilton was offered another term as governor, but declined, stating that he preferred to remain at the head of the army while war with the Spanish continued. Johnston also declined a second term due to his declining health. Thus, Madison and Rush continued in office, while Monroe was elevated to replace Johnston.

When word of August Ferdinand’s elevation to the Spanish throne reached Jefferson City in the summer of 1799, Monroe presciently remarked, “Jenkinson thinks he has won Spain, but he has lost America.” [3] Events soon proved Monroe correct: by summer’s end, word came of Revillagigedo’s anti-royalist revolt in Mexico City, as well as others in Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Porto Rico. The threat of retaliation from Mexico City receded, and the leaders of the new state began the work of securing its independence.

The three governors appointed the late John Adams’ son John Quincy Adams Secretary of State, a frustrating office since no other nation was willing to recognize Jefferson as an independent state: Jenkinson’s government was opposed to any independence movements in Spanish America now that Spain had a friendly government; Louis XVII was firmly under the thumb of the Anglo-German alliance; [4] and the other revolutionary governments in Spanish America refused to recognize Jefferson for fear of antagonizing Revillagigedo.

The outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence led Hamilton to resign as commander of the Jeffersonian army. He then accepted the office of Secretary of the Exchequer, and set about putting Jefferson’s finances on a sound basis. Hamilton’s initial efforts to obtain a loan from a foreign government ran into the same difficulties as Adams’: no foreign government was willing to loan money to a state that lacked international recognition.

The salvation of the new nation’s finances came from a North American invention: the cotton gin. By mechanizing the process of separating cotton fibers from their seeds, the cotton gin removed a bottleneck in cotton production that resulted in a fifty-fold increase in cotton produced. A Northern Confederation inventor named Eli Whitney built the first cotton gin in 1793, and copies were soon found throughout the Southern Confederation and Jefferson. The outbreak of the Trans-Oceanic War delayed the growth of cotton production, but with the coming of peace in 1799 cotton production in Jefferson boomed.

The surge in cotton production brought with it a surge in demand for Negro slaves to cultivate it. This aroused the ire of the Liberty Party, who regarded slavery as antithetical to the ideals of the Rebellion. They called for the abolition of slavery, the repatriation of the freed slaves to Africa, and the transformation of Jefferson into the utopian republic of white yeoman farmers envisioned by Thomas Jefferson himself. [5]

While Hamilton himself disliked slavery, he believed that the new state needed the revenue that the cotton boom was bringing in, and slavery was a necessary component of the cotton boom. Jeffersonian ships were soon a common sight in Caribbean ports, their masters bidding fiercely on newly-arrived West African slaves. As the boom continued, the ships ventured across the Atlantic to the slave depots of Whydah and Lagos, purchasing slaves to be transported directly to Henrytown.

Hamilton himself articulated an alternative to the Libertarians’ agrarian utopianism. As the Mexican War of Independence unfolded, and New Spain descended into a maelstrom of violence and chaos, Hamilton came to believe that the Jeffersonians had a duty, a “continental destiny” as he put it, to take control of the country and guide it toward economic prosperity (including slave-based cotton cultivation) and orderly government. Hamilton’s Continental Destiny ideology attracted a large following in Jefferson, including many members of the government. [6]

As the 1803 elections approached, Hamilton’s followers organized themselves into a party in opposition to the Libertarians, calling themselves the Continentalists. Governors Madison and Rush tended to sympathize with the Libertarians, and by the summer of 1803 both groups had put forward slates of candidates for the Chamber of Representatives, and nominees for the Governate. Monroe broke with his former mentor Madison and joined Hamilton and John Gaillard as a Continentalist nominee for the Governate. Madison and Rush chose Sayre to replace Monroe in their own Libertarian ticket. On election day, October 5, the Continentalist candidates won 44 out of 58 seats in the Chamber, and at their first session on Monday, December 19, voted for the Hamilton-Monroe-Gaillard ticket for the Governate. [7]

--
1. Bruce. The Life of Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia, pp. 410-412.

2. David Christman. The Origins of Political Parties in Jefferson (Mexico City, 1960), pp. 44-53.

3. Alexander Hamilton. Memoirs (Jefferson City, 1814), II, pp. 119-20.

4. After the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, King Frederick William III of Prussia, with Jenkinson’s encouragement, created a political union among the victorious allied German states called the Germanic Confederation. This left the Holy Roman Empire in an untenable position, leading Francis II to dissolve it and proclaim himself Emperor of Austria.

5. Peter Collins. The Liberty Party in Old Jefferson (Mexico City, 1954).

6. Christman. The Origins of Political Parties in Jefferson, pp. 107-15.

7. Henry Cisneros. The 1803 Elections and the Rise of Partisanship (Jefferson City, 2009).

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle



We continue with chapter 7 of Scorpions in a Bottle. Today's section looks briefly at the Trans-Oceanic War in Europe and the terms of the peace treaty ending it.

* * *

In Europe, the 1795 Franco-Austrian invasion of the German states had initially gone well for the two Catholic powers, with the French crossing the Rhine to occupy the Duchy of Wurtemburg and the Palatinate, while the Austrians occupied Silesia and advanced through Saxony toward Berlin. Jenkinson responded by sending British troops to the German states, where they successfully halted the French and Austrian advances. However, the Anglo-German forces lacked the strength to push the French and Austrian armies back, and the war in Germany settled down into a stalemate for several years.

The stalemate ended abruptly when the Russians concluded their conquest of Poland in 1798 and declared war on Austria, which had been providing covert aid to the Poles. Faced with a new enemy in the east, the Austrians withdrew most of their troops from Prussia, allowing the Anglo-Prussian army to focus on the French.

Two decisive battles took place within days of each other in September. On September 11, an Austrian army led by Francis II was defeated at the Battle of Kremsier by a Russian army led by Mikhail Kutuzov. Seven days later, an Anglo-German army under the overall command of Arthur Wellesley defeated a French army under Charles François Dumouriez at the Battle of Heilbronn. When news of the two defeats reached Paris, Marie Antoinette was removed from the regency by the king’s uncles, who sued for peace. [1]

While negotiators met at Aix-la-Chapelle to work out a peace treaty, an anti-monarchist uprising took place in Paris. The French royal family was driven out of the country and a republic was declared. Fearing the breakdown of order in France, Jenkinson ordered Wellesley to enter Paris and put down the rebellion. With Anglo-German troops occupying Paris and the French monarchy dependent on them for its survival, the terms of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle were dictated from London and Berlin.

The final treaty was ratified on March 1, 1799. It confirmed the loss of the Floridas and Louisiana to the British, and required the Austrians to cede Galicia to the Russians and Austrian Silesia and northern Moravia to the Prussians. Although the victorious allies declined to annex any French territory, France was required to pay an indemnity of 40 million livres to Prussia and the other German states, which placed a further strain on French finances. Finally, in an effort to end the Franco-Spanish alliance, the Bourbon king of Spain, Charles IV, was deposed, and Prince August Ferdinand of Prussia, youngest brother of the late Frederick the Great, was set on the Spanish throne as Ferdinand VII. [2]

News that a Protestant prince was being placed on the Spanish throne caused consternation in Spain and throughout the Spanish Empire. British garrisons in several Spanish cities were set upon by mobs. The uprisings in the cities were put down, but armed irregulars called “guerrillas” made much of the Spanish countryside hazardous for British troops. [3]

When news of Ferdinand’s enthronement reached Spanish America, the result was a series of uprisings, with most of the Spanish garrison troops joining the rebels. In Mexico City, the leading figure in the rebellion was former viceroy Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla, the Count of Revillagigedo, who had governed the colony from 1789 to 1794. Revillagigedo’s successor, Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca, supported the new king, and the result was a six-year civil war. Revillagigedo’s rebellion attracted the support of New Spain’s clergy, most notably Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos. The Mexican War of Independence ended with Revillagigedo’s victory and the withdrawal of the last loyalist Spanish soldiers on March 17, 1805. [4]
--

1. Sir Wilfred Eddington. The Five Years’ War (London, 2003), pp. 466-79.

2. There has never been any consensus among historians on the war’s name. In the New World it is known as the Trans-Oceanic War, while British historians call it the Five Years’ War and continental historians call it the Habsburg War.

3. Spain remained ungovernable for years until King Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son Louis Ferdinand, who had converted to Catholicism after the family moved to Madrid. Esteban Gutierrez. Luis Fernando and the Spanish Hohenzollerns (Mexico City, 1938).

4. Carlos Ortez. The Birth of Mexico (Mexico City, 1979).

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Louisiana War


Today's excerpt from Scorpions in a Bottle is the third section of Chapter 7: The Trans-Oceanic War, and tells of the Southern Confederation's conquest of Spanish Louisiana in 1797-98.

* * *

In the Southern Confederation, the proposed expedition to New Orleans was delayed for a year while the S.C. militia under General Edward Curtis and Captain Nelson’s fleet were diverted to West Florida to assist the Georgia militia. A combined S.C.-British force captured the West Floridian capital of Pensacola on July 22, 1796, after a three-week siege that saw the besieging armies decimated by an outbreak of yellow fever. By the time Pensacola fell, illness had left less than half of the combined force fit for duty, and Cornwallis chose to end the campaign and return to Halifax. [1]

Curtis traveled to Halifax in the spring of 1797 to meet with Cornwallis and Nelson, and there the three men planned to renew the campaign. Cornwallis’s men boarded Nelson’s transports in June while Curtis returned to Pensacola to organize the overland march to New Orleans. The British fleet returned to Pensacola in July, and the S.C. militia set off three days later, traveling along the Gulf coast with Nelson’s ships sailing offshore. The combined force laid siege to Mobile on August 12, and the settlement quickly capitulated. The same occurred two weeks later when the combined force arrived at the settlement of Biloxi. From there, the two forces split up, with Curtis’s militia making their way around the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain while Nelson’s fleet sailed up the Mississippi. The two forces reunited just outside of New Orleans in late September, and the Spanish governor of Louisiana formally surrendered the city on October 1. [2]

Major Jackson’s force of Jeffersonians still occupied the log fort they had constructed nineteen months before, and Jackson himself traveled to New Orleans two days after the city’s fall to inform Cornwallis and Curtis of Jefferson’s separation from the Spanish Empire. He also, on his own initiative, laid claim to all of Louisiana southwest of the Mississippi-Arkansas river complex on behalf of the State of Jefferson.

Although Jackson was only eight when the Rebellion broke out, his family were well-known rebel sympathizers. After the restoration of British rule in the Carolinas, Jackson and two of his brothers were imprisoned by British troops. Conditions in the stockade where they were held were onerous, and both brothers died during their captivity; Jackson developed a fierce, lifelong hatred of the British as a result. [3] While in New Orleans, he behaved with notable rudeness to both Cornwallis and Curtis, threatening military action against the Southern Confederation if his claims on behalf of Jefferson were ignored by their troops. Cornwallis and Curtis debated attacking Jackson’s outpost, but Curtis was under orders from Connolly to move upriver and occupy the Franco-Spanish settlements at Baton Rouge and St. Louis, so the two men agreed to respect Jackson’s claims. [4]

From New Orleans, Nelson’s fleet sailed upriver in November, and the two armies followed on land. After capturing Baton Rouge on November 17, Cornwallis and Curtis decided to establish a winter camp there and make preparations to continue the campaign in the spring. The armies constructed a large encampment called Fort George and settled down for the winter, while Nelson returned with most of his fleet to New Orleans.

Reorganized and resupplied, the combined army marched north from Baton Rouge in April 1798. They encountered no organized resistance from the Spanish, but endured several attacks by Indian war parties before reaching Fort Radisson in July. Pausing for a week in the Indianan capital to resupply and care for their sick and injured, the armies marched north to St. Louis, the northernmost Franco-Spanish outpost on the Mississippi, which was captured on August 25. With the fall of St. Louis, all of Louisiana north of the Arkansas River was in North American hands.
--

1. Pickett. The Florida War, pp. 121-33.

2. Roscoe Chettering. The Conquest of Louisiana (New York, 1897), pp. 83-87.

3. Alice Rich. Jackson: The Third Founder (Mexico City, 1967), pp. 24-39.

4. Miles. Jefferson in the Trans-Oceanic War, pp. 371-78.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Jefferson War



We resume work on Scorpions in a Bottle with the second section of chapter 7, following the course of the Trans-Oceanic War in the Jefferson settlement. As I've noted before, this part of Sobel's history is somewhat problematic, since he never gives us a reason why the Jeffersonians would rebel against Spanish rule and set themselves up as an independent state. I've done what I can to square that circle.

* * *

In Jefferson City, news of the outbreak of war between Britain and Spain met a mixed reaction. By then, the original rebels were greatly outnumbered by more recent settlers from the Southern Confederation, many of whom still had close ties with friends and relatives in the South. Of the settlement’s three governors, Hamilton sympathized most with the British, and he sought to conclude a formal alliance with the British Empire that would allow Jefferson to break away from Spanish rule and become a sixth confederation of the C.N.A.

Hamilton’s proposed alliance was vetoed by his two fellow governors, who affirmed the settlement’s loyalty to the Spanish Empire and sent a bill to the Congress requesting that a militia force be raised to defend Tejas and Louisiana from British and North American incursions. The stage seemed set for war between the Jeffersonians and the North Americans, and Hamilton chose to resign rather than direct a war against the British. Madison and Johnston nominated Senator Benjamin Rush of Pennsylvania to replace him, and Rush was unanimously confirmed by his fellow senators. [1]

The Jeffersonians’ response to the war underwent a sudden transformation when Governor Muñoz sent word in December refusing their offer to raise an army in defense of New Spain. By then, the sickly governor’s superiors in Mexico City had become alarmed at the steady influx of North Americans into Tejas, and grew determined to establish firm control over the Jeffersonians. Muñoz declared the Jeffersonian government dissolved, and announced that he was sending a subordinate to take control of the settlement. [2]

The Jeffersonians were stunned. It seemed to them that the events of the American Crisis were being played out again in their new settlement. Overnight, the determination to resist the British was redirected into a determination to resist the Spanish. Although the Jeffersonian government continued to reject Hamilton’s proposed alliance with the British, his plan to break with the Spanish Empire was adopted, and his former colleague Madison called upon him to take command of an army to seize San Antonio and end Spanish rule over Tejas.

Hamilton accepted command of the proposed army, which began assembling in Jefferson City over the winter. At Hamilton’s suggestion, a second army was formed under the command of General Jacob Mellon, who had served as Hamilton’s second-in-command during the Apache War. In March 1796, Mellon’s force was dispatched east with orders to secure as much of southern Louisiana as possible, and New Orleans as well if that proved feasible. As it turned out, Mellon’s army lacked enough artillery and siege equipment to take New Orleans, and in May Mellon left two companies of men under the command of Major Andrew Jackson to keep watch on the city. Mellon turned back with the rest of his army and joined forces with Hamilton in the south. [3]

While Mellon’s men had made their way along the Gulf coast from Henrytown, Hamilton’s army of some 1,500 men set off along the road connecting Jefferson City to San Antonio. Forty miles outside of the provincial capital, near the Rio Guadalupe, Hamilton met a force of some 500 Spanish soldiers under the command of Colonel Juan Bautista Elguézabal, on their way to Jefferson City to enforce Muñoz’s order dissolving the Jeffersonian government. Colonel Elguézabal was unaware of events in the Jefferson settlement, and he initially thought that Hamilton’s men were coming to San Antonio to join the Spanish army.

Hamilton made no reply to Elguézabal’s order to stack arms and prepare to be escorted back to Jefferson City. Instead, he ordered his men to form a line of battle. Elguézabal and his men did not understand the significance of the maneuver until Hamilton ordered his men to attack the Spanish. Despite enjoying the element of surprise and a three-to-one advantage, the Jeffersonians were nearly defeated by the Spanish. It was only due to Hamilton’s ability to rally his faltering army on several occasions, and the death of Elguézabal late in the battle, that the Jeffersonians were finally able to prevail. [4]

With their victory at the Battle of Rio Guadalupe, the Jeffersonians were able to march into San Antonio unopposed. Governor Muñoz was sent back to Jefferson City under guard, and Hamilton addressed the San Antonio ayuntamiento, declaring the formation of the State of Jefferson and asking them to send a delegate to the Chamber of Representatives in Jefferson City to act as the city’s representative. The victory over Elguézabal proved costly enough that Hamilton chose to remain in San Antonio for the rest of the campaign season. Mellon arrived with his army in September, and Hamilton spent the fall and winter months reorganizing his army and building up supplies for the spring campaign.

Leaving Mellon in charge in San Antonio, Hamilton set out in March 1797 on his march to the Rio Grande, which he intended to establish as the new state’s southern border. In April, Hamilton’s army occupied the river town of Laredo, the capital of the province of Nuevo Santander. As he had done in San Antonio, Hamilton had the governor taken into custody and escorted to Jefferson City. He then addressed the town’s residents, claiming Laredo for the State of Jefferson and asking them to choose a representative to send to the Chamber in Jefferson City. Hamilton spent the summer and fall in Laredo, fortifying the town in preparation for an expected counterattack by Spanish forces from Mexico City. In October, he left for Jefferson City to consult with the three governors. [5]
--
1. Guerrero. The State of Jefferson, pp. 217-21.

2. Henry Miles. Jefferson in the Trans-Oceanic War (Mexico City, 1956), pp. 42-53. Some historians believe that Muñoz was delirious or under the influence of alcohol-based medication when he issued his orders to the Jeffersonians. See Lysander Gomez. “Possible Incapacitation of Governor Manuel Muñoz,” Journal of Jeffersonian History, XCVI (February, 2002), pp. 712-19.

3. Henry Miles. The Mellon Campaign in the Trans-Oceanic War (Mexico City, 1949), pp. 173-79.

4. Elizabeth Wolters. The Battle of Rio Guadalupe (Jefferson City, 1998).

5. Miles. Jefferson in the Trans-Oceanic War, pp. 337-48.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Florida War



Today's section of Scorpions in a Bottle begins chapter 7, The Trans-Oceanic War, which tells of the outbreak of a general European war in 1795, and its effect on the North American colonies.

* * *

Jenkinson’s declarations of war were the culmination of two years of diplomatic maneuvering following the death of Louis XVI of France in September 1793. The Queen Mother, Marie Antoinette, following in the footsteps of Catherine de Medici, had herself declared regent for her eleven-year-old son, the dauphin Louis Philippe, who succeeded his father as Louis XVII. The Queen Mother sought to renew the Franco-Austrian alliance of the 1740s, and planned a joint attack on Prussia. Jenkinson concluded a defensive alliance with Prussia and several smaller German states, as well as renewing the ancient Anglo-Portuguese alliance. Marie Antoinette and her nephew launched their invasion in April 1795, leading Jenkinson to expand his ministry to include several leading opposition figures. The declarations of war set off a series of engagements throughout the world, including a renewed Spanish siege of Gibraltar and a Russian invasion of Poland.

Word of the outbreak of war reached North America in October. In Quebec City only a few radical separationists such as Paul Cerdan favored armed revolt. The British victory in the North American Rebellion had persuaded the Quebecois that armed resistance to British rule would be futile. On the other hand, if France defeated the British in Europe, the Quebecois might very well find themselves returning to French rule in the peace settlement. Thus, although most of the Francophone population favored the French, they were content to await the resolution of events in Europe rather than attempt to precipitate an uprising at home. [1]

In New York and Norfolk, news of the outbreak of war with the French sparked celebrations, parades, and speeches. For many North Americans, it was the first public patriotic celebration since the outbreak of the Rebellion twenty years before, and served as final proof of the reconciliation between rebel and Loyalist. The Northern Confederation Council voted N.A. £12,000 towards the cost of the Tomkinson expedition into East Florida. [2]

In Norfolk, Governor Bland had more ambitious plans than simply subsidizing the Georgian invasion of the Floridas. He intended to seize New Orleans, and as much of the rest of Spanish Louisiana as possible. Together with the other governors of the Southern Confederation, Bland applied to Connolly for the creation of a united S.C. army to march across Georgia (ironically, along the trail blazed by the Greene expedition) and lay siege to New Orleans. Bland also approached Dickinson, requesting that the viceroy use his influence with the British government to gain the assistance of the Royal Navy in attacking New Orleans. [3] Bland’s relentless advocacy proved irresistible, and by the summer of 1796 a British naval expedition under Captain Horatio Nelson was ready to set sail from Halifax for a rendezvous with the S.C. militia at the mouth of the Mississippi.

In East Florida, Colonel Tomkinson’s regiment defeated and captured a smaller Spanish military force thirty miles north of St. Augustine. The road to the East Florida capital was open, and Tomkinson pressed forward, laying siege to the city on August 23, 1795. Tomkinson knew that his force, consisting largely of raw recruits leavened with veterans of his old company, was unequal to the demands of a protracted siege. Therefore, after two days spent organizing his men, he launched a sudden surprise attack on the Spanish capital. Tomkinson himself led a picked force of veteran troops against a weak point in the fortifications while the remainder of his men kept the city’s defenders occupied with a general assault on the walls. Tomkinson was able to break through, and resistance collapsed as word spread among the Spanish troops that the Georgians had entered St. Augustine.

For the next two weeks, Tomkinson’s undisciplined men gave themselves over to plunder, with the city’s taverns a particular target. Over a month passed after the fall of the city before Colonel Tomkinson was able to re-establish order over his men and resume the conquest of East Florida. [4]From their base in St. Augustine, Tomkinson’s men ranged over the Florida peninsula, destroying any Seminole villages they came across and massacring the inhabitants. By the spring of 1796, aided by reinforcements from the other provinces of the Southern Confederation, Tomkinson had subjugated East Florida and set about invading West Florida. There, through the late spring and early summer, he conquered a string of Franco-Spanish settlements on the Gulf Coast, including the capital city of Pensacola and the French outpost at Mobile. The Georgia legislature at Savannah formally annexed the Floridas to the province on July 2, 1796, without seeking the approval of the S.C. Council, Viceroy Dickinson, or the Jenkinson ministry. [5] Jenkinson grudgingly accepted the Georgian fait accompli, and the annexation was formalized in the subsequent 1799 peace treaty with Spain.
--

1. Davis Malone. The History of Quebec (Dorchester, 1954), pp. 73-81.

2. Madeline McIver. Financing the Trans-Oceanic War (New York, 2012), pp. 55-60.

3. Bruce. The Life of Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia, pp. 377-88.

4. Pickett. The Florida War, pp. 46-55.

5. Bernard Telford. Georgia and the Rise of the S.C. (Mexico City, 1965), pp. 39-48.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: Settlement and Conflict


Work continues on Scorpions in a Bottle. I now present the third and final section of Chapter 6: The Dickinson Era, which takes us to 1795 in the infant C.N.A. and leads us into the Trans-Oceanic War.

* * *

Like Dickinson and Howe before him, Governor-General Clinton found himself facing an ongoing insurrection in the Green Mountain region of New Hampshire, and like them he found himself unable to subdue it. The Green Mountain insurgents were augmented by farmers throughout Massachusetts who had served in the Continental Army. With the Rebellion lost, these rebel soldiers found their pay from the Congress worthless, and many lost their farms to foreclosure. Some left with Ward and were lost; some left with Greene and settled in Jefferson; most left for the Green Mountains and joined in the Allen insurgency. From their mountain strongholds, the insurgents were able to carry out sudden raids against British regulars and Northern Confederation militia, then melt away into the forests and hills.

Lord Cornwallis, the commander-in-chief of British forces in the C.N.A., was hampered by his parsimonious superiors in London, who remained obsessed with paying down the national debt and consequently kept his force undermanned and undersupplied. Cornwallis was also unable to coordinate effectively with Clinton, of whom he remained suspicious even years after the Rebellion. As a result, the Northern Confederation was never able to field a force of sufficient strength to overcome the insurgents. The conflict eventually settled down into a stalemate, in which successive governors of the N.C. chose to leave the Green Mountain region alone, and the insurgency died away into a general hostility to all government authority. It was not until the 1888 electoral triumph of the People’s Coalition (whom they supported) that the people of the Green Mountains were finally reconciled to rule by the C.N.A. [1]

Throughout the 1780s and 1790s, the N.C.’s traditional commercial activities were joined by the first appearance of mechanized industry. The invention of the spinning mule in Britain shortly after the Rebellion was followed quickly by its appearance in New England, and a cloth-weaving industry took hold there. At the same time, the presence of iron ore and coal in central Pennsylvania led to the beginnings of an ironworking industry in that province. Council delegates from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania urged the passage of import duties on cloth and iron from Europe (including Great Britain) to encourage local manufacturing. The proposed duties were voted down, but the notion of protective tariffs against the mother country had been raised, and would not go away.

The settlement of Indiana began in earnest in 1786 when a group of investors from Massachusetts formed a land company and negotiated the purchase of a tract along the Ohio River from the Indiana Council. The company purchase attracted settlers from New England, who by 1792 numbered over 500. Since the new settlement was on the far side of the confederation from the capital at Fort Radisson, the settlers petitioned the Indiana Council in 1792 to create a provincial-level government for them. The Indiana Council was initially reluctant to do so, but financial pressure from the Northern Confederation Council overcame their resistance, and in 1794 the entire area south of Lake Erie was formed into the province of Albany, with the right to appoint one third of the Indiana Council. [2]

Settlers were also crossing the Appalachians in the Southern Confederation. The first settlers in western Virginia arrived under the aegis of the Transylvania Company, an abortive attempt to establish a new proprietary colony in the 1770s. After the Rebellion, the trail blazed by these first settlers was used by a new wave in the 1780s taking advantage of an offer by Governor Bland. Bland feared that the cheap land being opened up in Jefferson would draw away Virginians, leaving the province depopulated. To prevent that, he offered 400 acres in western Virginia to any man who would settle there and work to improve it. To discourage speculators, he stipulated that any man accepting the offer would be required to remain on the land he received for ten years before being allowed to sell it. These “Bland grants” formed the basis for many of the settlements established in western Virginia, including the founding of Bland City, the largest city in western Virginia. [3]

Georgia faced a more immediate problem than a lack of settlers. Much to the colonists’ dismay, the North ministry had sold the neighboring Florida colonies to Spain, and the government in Savannah soon had its hands full dealing with parties of Seminole Indians raiding across the border. Complaints to Connolly and Dickinson had no effect, nor did complaints to the Spanish governors of East and West Florida. Finally, in 1792, Governor Thomas Brown sent a company of provincial militia under Captain Richard Tomkinson into East Florida to search for the Seminole raiders. Tomkinson’s expedition was unsuccessful, and he lost a fifth of his force to disease and desertion. In addition, the Governor of East Florida, Brigadier Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada, sent a sharply-worded note of protest to Brown, warning that any further incursions would be met with force.

Brown ignored de Quesada’s warning, and sent Tomkinson and his men back into East Florida the following year. Tomkinson once again failed to locate any Seminoles, but his losses were much lower, and he was able to avoid a confrontation with Spanish troops. A third expedition in the spring of 1794 ended with Tomkinson attacking a Spanish settlement and killing several of the inhabitants. This prompted de Quesada to send a retaliatory expedition into Georgia which attacked and plundered several plantations near Augusta before returning to St. Augustine with over a hundred freed slaves.

Planning for a fourth expedition was postponed when word reached Savannah in the spring of 1795 that war in Europe was imminent between Britain’s Prussian ally and Spain’s French ally. With the prospect of general war in the offing, Brown issued a call for volunteers to form additional militia companies. By June 1795, a full regiment of provincial militia had been organized, and Tomkinson, now promoted to colonel, led them south across the Saint Marys River in a march on St. Augustine. [4] News of the Georgian attack on Florida reached London in August, prompting Prime Minister Sir Charles Jenckinson to issue a declaration of war against the Franco-Spanish alliance.
----

1. Harvey Ritter. Allen’s Irregulars: The History of a Brave People (London, 1967).

2. Jane McAlaister. The Birth of Indiana (Michigan City, 2007), pp. 74-88.

3. Bruce. The Life of Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia, pp. 308-15.

4. Ralston Pickett. The Florida War (Cornwallis, 1841).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle - Abolitionism



The writing of Scorpions in a Bottle continues. The current section -- the second part of Chapter 6 -- deals with the rise of abolitionism in the Northern Confederation in the 1780s.

* * *

In North America, too, it came as a surprise when Lord Cornwallis was passed over for Dickinson to replace Albany, not least by Dickinson himself. Along with the official notification of his appointment, Dickinson received a personal note from Lord North congratulating him on his advancement and soliciting his recommendation for his own replacement as Governor-General of the Northern Confederation. Dickinson responded by suggesting Governor Clinton, thereby further alienating Galloway, who resigned as Governor of Pennsylvania after issuing a public denunciation of Dickinson’s role in the Rebellion. [1]

Galloway was not the only prominent figure to speak up against Dickinson’s selection. Governor-General Connolly made no secret of his outrage that a reliable Loyalist like himself should be passed over in favor of a man who had taken up arms against the Crown. Connolly did everything in his power to undermine Dickinson’s authority, though thanks to Bland his power amounted to little.

Bland, for his part, remained on cordial terms with Dickinson, although he soon fell out with Governor-General Clinton. By 1785, Bland’s views on the Rebellion had changed dramatically, possibly as part of his ongoing struggle with Connolly. Despite having served himself in the Continental Army, Bland had become a committed Loyalist, and he had taken to laying blame for the Rebellion on Northerners, including Clinton himself. Matters came to a head in 1788, when Bland attacked Clinton by name during a meeting of the S.C. Council. “The Rebellion began in the north,” he declared, “and northerners remain rebels at heart. They are the vipers in our bosoms, and we will yet rue the day we allowed them to escape the hangman’s noose and insinuate themselves in our counsels.” [2] When Bland’s remarks reached him, Clinton gave as good as he got, declaring that “our friend from Virginia is a man of great sensitivity. He left the rebel cause only a month after Saratoga. Had the victory not been won by Burgoyne, today he would be toasting the health of General Gates and others of his stripe. But Burgoyne prevailed, so our friend damns the rebels of Boston and conveniently forgets the rebels of Williamsburg.” [3] Hostilities between the two confederations remained high for the remainder of the century, only dying down after the victories of the Trans-Oceanic War.

Bland’s growing intransigence, combined with Connolly’s hostility, meant that subsequent meetings of the Grand Council accomplished little. The border dispute between Quebec and the N.C. continued to hang fire, with residents of the two confederations nearly coming to blows in the District of Maine in 1788. The Grand Council’s only accomplishment of note during this period was a 1785 resolution renaming Pittsborough Burgoyne.

For the most part, Dickinson’s tenure as Viceroy saw conditions in the former rebel colonies return to their ante bellum state. Commerce between the confederations and Britain resumed, as the Southerners increased shipments of tobacco and other cash crops, while the Northerners carried on the old triangular trade between New England, West Africa, and the sugar islands of the Caribbean.

The most notable exception to this return to pre-rebellion conditions was the growing movement in the Northern Confederation for the abolition of Negro slavery. Abolitionism received a boost during the Rebellion after Lord Dunmore issued his Emancipation Proclamation in November 1775, offering freedom to any slave or servant who deserted a master in rebellion against the Crown, and who took up arms against the rebels. Although Dunmore’s initial attempt to form an Ethiopian Regiment of freedmen proved premature, the Proclamation became general British policy after the rebels declared themselves independent. After the British victories at Albany and Philadelphia, thousands of Negro slaves deserted their masters and made their way to Loyalist territory. Altogether, it is estimated that from ten to fifteen percent of the slaves in the rebellious colonies, roughly fifty thousand to seventy-five thousand, were freed under the Dunmore Proclamation between 1775 and 1778. [4] The result was the creation of a sizeable class of free Negroes throughout the Thirteen Colonies. By 1780, free Negroes in the Northern Confederation outnumbered enslaved Negroes by two to one. Pennsylvania became the first province to abolish slavery in 1784, followed by Connecticut and Massachusetts the following year. In 1790, the N.C. Council passed legislation to gradually abolish slavery by freeing children born to slave mothers after that date. [5]

This proved to be another source of friction between North and South in the C.N.A. Although the Dunmore Proclamation also created a class of free Negroes in the Southern Confederation, these always remained a relatively small minority of the Negro population, and were always subject to various restrictions. Southerners frequently accused Northern abolitionists of encouraging runaways and slave uprisings. Southern paranoia regarding abolitionism increased as the influence of Northern abolitionists led to the passage of similar legislation by the Quebec Council in 1796 and the Indiana Council in 1803. [6]
----

1. Michellet. Dickinson and Galloway, pp. 414-15. Galloway’s decision to resign was also doubtless affected by the death of his wife in February 1784. He later remarried, and his descendants through his second wife became one of the most prominent families in the C.N.A.

2. Percy Harcourt. The Vipers in Their Bosoms: Clinton and Bland in 1788 (London, 1956), pp. 166-67.

3. Ibid., pp. 178-79.

4. Lloyd Mason. The Emancipation Proclamation (New York, 1967), pp. 254-61.

5. Barkley Daugherty. Slavery in the Dickinson Era (New York, 1954).

6. John Harnett. A History of Slavery in the Southern Confederation (London, 1935).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The First Grand Council



Work on Scorpions in a Bottle continues. This section, the first part of Chapter 6, recounts the reaction to Burgoyne's death, and the first meeting of the Grand Council in 1783.

* * *

The death of the Duke of Albany shocked the people of the C.N.A. At 61, Albany had been in robust health, and was widely expected to remain as Viceroy for several years.

Lord Cornwallis was in Pittsborough to attend the upcoming Grand Council meeting, and he was able to immediately step in and take up his duties as Acting Viceroy. It was Cornwallis who presided over the first meeting of the Grand Council. Since he had little interest in the issues raised by the various delegates, he mostly remained in the background after Dickinson was chosen to preside over the Council. [1]

The first question to be addressed was whether the Council had a quorum, since Manitoba had declined to send a delegation, and three of the Indiana delegates were still in transit from Fort Radisson. Dickinson urged that it would be unwise to leave the business of the Council a hostage to fortune, dependent on the uncertainties of travel, weather, and the whims of the individual confederation councils. Privately, he suspected that Legge’s recent death would keep the Manitobans from participating in the government of the C.N.A. for some time to come, and he preferred to carry on without them rather than allow their absence to delay the Council’s work. He persuaded the Council to rule that as long as delegates from at least three confederations were present, the Grand Council had a quorum to conduct business. [2]

One item before the Grand Council was the question of coordinating Indian treaties, since it was clear that it would not be in the best interests of the confederations to allow conflicting land claims to arise. It was agreed that any treaties reached by the confederation governments would have to be ratified by the Grand Council before going into effect.

The council also dealt with ongoing border disputes between the Northern Confederation and its northern and southern neighbors. The dispute with the Southern Confederation over the area south of the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers was resolved in the N.C.’s favor, with the line surveyed by Mason and Dixon in the 1760s being extended to the Ohio River. The dispute with Quebec over the northern border of the District of Maine was shelved in the absence of accurate surveys of the area. [3]

Dickinson’s report to the North ministry on the first Grand Council meeting may have influenced the ministry’s choice of a successor to Albany. It was initially assumed by North’s cabinet that Cornwallis would succeed to the post. Dickinson’s report swayed the ministry to the view that Cornwallis’s marked disinterest in civil administration meant that he should continue his current offices as Lt. Viceroy and commander-in-chief of British forces in North America. Sir Charles Jenckinson, who had succeeded Rockingham as Colonial Secretary after the latter’s death, recommended Lord Dorchester for the post. Lord North felt that Dorchester would be of more use if he remained as Governor-General of Quebec. North surprised those present by suggesting Dickinson himself as Viceroy. It had been generally assumed that the Viceroy would be British, since the post had been envisioned as a direct representative of the Crown in the North American government. However, once the idea of a North American Viceroy was broached, it was agreed that Dickinson would be the best candidate. [4]

----
1. George Jackson. The New Day: The First Days of the C.N.A. (New York, 1967), pp. 331-35.

2. Dickinson. My Life and Work, pp. 217-19.

3. Walter Edmunds. Origins of the Grand Council (New York, 1999), pp. 286-98.

4. North was favorably impressed with Dickinson’s dedication to the cause of Anglo-American unity during the drafting of the Design in 1780. It has been suggested that North privately preferred Dickinson over Burgoyne for the office of Viceroy at the time, but allowed himself to be persuaded to support the latter. See Poorman. Designing the Design, pp. 255-58.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tyranny of the gun

 
So.

There has been YET ANOTHER mass shooting in the United States of America. This time, the target was a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and the shooter was, apparently, a Muslim-flavored homophobic religious fanatic.

For the FOURTEENTH TIME SINCE HIS INAUGURATION the President of the United States has made a public address in the wake of a mass shooting.

Every year, at least eleven thousand Americans kill each other with guns. If America were being occupied by a foreign country whose soldiers killed eleven thousand Americans at random every year, we would rise up and drive them out of our land to put a stop to such a senseless slaughter. But we can't drive out the brutal occupying army that is shooting us down in the streets every day, because the brutal occupying army is us.

The gun nuts tell us that these deaths are the price of freedom. If a foreign army was shooting eleven thousand of us every year, and we couldn't do anything to stop them, would we call ourselves free? Of course not. Yet, as long as it's our fellow Americans who are shooting eleven thousand people every year, that means we are free. Right?

Of course not. Just because the occupying army is domestic rather than foreign does not mean it is not an occupying army. We are being tyrannized, and just because we're tyrannizing ourselves doesn't make it any less of a tyranny. If some homophobic asshole decides he wants to slaughter a bunch of LGBT people, and he can walk into a gun shop and buy the means to do so, that is tyranny. If some lunatic hears Carly Fiorina spewing bullshit about black market baby parts and decides to slaughter a bunch of Planned Parenthood employees, and he can walk into a gun shop and buy the means to do so, that is tyranny. If some white supremacist decides to slaughter a bunch of black people in a church, and he can walk into a gun shop and buy the means to do so, THAT IS TYRANNY.

But, the gun nuts say, we need guns to protect ourselves from the government. Yeah, guess what? If the government wants you dead, all it has to do is target you with a drone strike, and YOU WILL BE DEAD, and all the guns in your arsenal won't be able to stop them. If President Obama had decided to take out the Bundy militia in Nevada a couple years back, all their guns wouldn't have been able to stop him. THEY WOULD BE DEAD. You know why Obama didn't just launch a drone strike on the Bundy ranch? Because he believes in the rule of law. That's what kept Cliven Bundy and all of his fellow wackaloon guns nuts alive: not their guns, but an idea.

And do you know what would happen if the President of the United States was not constrained by a belief in the rule of law? Consider, for example, Donald Trump, who has openly boasted about his plans to use the government to revenge himself on his enemies. He won't be constrained by any silly ideas about the rule of law. If he wants to carry out a drone strike on someone, he'll just fucking well do it, and anyone who objects can expect a drone strike of their own. YOUR GUNS WILL NOT PROTECT YOU from any government ruthless enough to ignore the rule of law.

But, the guns nuts tell themselves in the secrecy of their hearts, we need guns to protect ourselves from the scary black people. Well, too bad! Your racial paranoia is not sufficient reason for the rest of us to go in fear of our lives. If you don't like living in a country with scary black people, I suggest you move to someplace that doesn't have any. I hear the Kerguelen Islands are available.

Remember, folks, the Second Amendment was not designed to let anyone who wants a gun have one. It was designed to create a well-regulated militia (ie the locally-based Army Reserve units that we now call the National Guard), as the amendment itself states in the part that the gun nuts always leave out. The "personal right to bear arms" is a modern perversion of the amendment promoted by the gun industry and created by corporate-friendly right-wing Supreme Court justices. And what the Supremes giveth, the Supremes can taketh away. The tyranny of the gun is not a permanent part of the United States of America. We can change it ... if we want to.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The First Viceroy


This section of Scorpions in a Bottle concludes chapter 5 on the establishment of the C.N.A.

* * *

In the months immediately following Saratoga-Albany, Burgoyne worked diligently to strengthen the fragile lifeline connecting his army to the main British base at New York. He was aided by the Continental Army’s leadership reshuffle, which ensured that he faced no concerted opposition from the Americans. By the time of the armistice in June 1778, Burgoyne’s position in Albany was secure, and he was free to send units to occupy the remaining rebel positions, such as Fort Stanwix, and to move his own headquarters to New York.

The reassignment of Clinton to Norfolk and Howe to Boston left Burgoyne in control of the four Middle Colonies. Unlike his two colleagues, he had no ongoing rebel insurrection to deal with. [1] Burgoyne’s most intractable problem was the Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Franklin, who shared Lord Dunmore’s vindictiveness towards the former rebels. Like Clinton, Burgoyne was eventually forced to use his own authority to replace the obstinate royal governor with a more moderate man to keep him from provoking a renewed uprising.

In addition to administering the most loyalist section of the Thirteen Colonies, Burgoyne also had a talent for gaining popular approval that stood him in good stead. Most notably, Burgoyne, a widower, enjoyed a highly-public romance with Mrs. Abigail Conrad, the widow of a soldier in the Continental Army who had died at Valley Forge. Burgoyne’s marriage to Mrs. Conrad in February 1780 was the social event of the season, and did much to win over former rebels in the Middle Colonies. Burgoyne also wrote and produced two new plays while in New York, both on American themes. The first told the story of the Indian princess Pocahontas, and the second that of Peter Stuyvesant, the tyrannical, peg-legged governor of Dutch New York in the seventeenth century.

In November, word came of Burgoyne’s elevation to the peerage, followed shortly by news of the passage of the Britannic Design, and of Burgoyne’s appointment as Viceroy of the C.N.A. Burgoyne’s satisfaction at his appointment was tempered by the news that he would be expected to move from New York City to the rough frontier town of Pittsborough.

Over the course of the next year, the Thirteen Colonies saw the return of Dickinson, Dorchester, Connolly, and the others from London, and preparations were made for the establishment of the C.N.A. Dickinson took up residence in New York, and Connolly in Norfolk, in anticipation of their appointments as governors-general of the Northern and Southern Confederations. The summer of 1781 saw the Duke of Albany and his family make a triumphant tour across the former battlefields of the Rebellion from New York to Philadelphia. He gave speeches at Princeton, Trenton, Germantown, and Brandywine, in which he praised the valor of those who fought on both sides, and spoke of the colonial rights enshrined in the Design as a victory for the colonial cause.

In the fall, Albany led his family along the long, rugged trail that Braddock had blazed 25 years before to the forks of the Ohio. In Pittsborough, Albany was hosted by Alexander McKee, a prominent Loyalist, while plans were drawn up for a permanent residence called Government House where the Viceroy would reside and oversee periodic meetings of the Grand Council.

In the spring, Albany sailed down the Ohio to Kaskaskia, to meet with Pierre Concordé, a prominent local landowner who would serve as the first Governor-General of Indiana. From there, he took ship down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and from there sailed to Norfolk to meet with Connolly, and with Theodorick Bland, who would remain the Royal Governor of Virginia under the Design. [2] Albany returned to Pittsborough in early June, accompanied by a force of Virginia militia sent by Bland to discourage any attempt by Marion’s raiders to attack the party. He spent the remainder of the month overseeing preparations for the upcoming ceremony of investiture.

At noon on July 2, 1782, Albany was formally sworn in as Viceroy of the Confederation of North America. Lord Cornwallis, who had been appointed Lt. Viceroy, was sworn in at his headquarters in Boston the same day. Similar ceremonies were held for Dickinson in New York, Connolly in Norfolk, Dorchester in Quebec City, Concordé in Kaskaskia, and Francis Legge in York Factory. In the latter two instances, the ceremony also celebrated the renaming of the new confederation capitals to, respectively, Fort Radisson and North City. [3]

The new Viceroy of the C.N.A. divided his time between overseeing the construction of Government House in Pittsborough and traveling to the capitals of the provinces and confederations of the new colonial union. Albany found that the most troublesome of his new duties was mediating between Connolly and Bland.

Connolly was determined to assert the prerogatives of his new office as governor-general, and Bland was equally determined to minimize those prerogatives. Bland was able to prevail by arranging to have himself appointed to represent Virginia in the Southern Confederation Council, and by encouraging his fellow royal governors to do likewise, which they did. Faced with a council made up of his fellow royal appointees, each with his own patrons and supporters in Parliament, Connolly found that he could do little except bluster and complain, which he did copiously.

Dickinson, by contrast, was able to rely on his popularity among his fellow Northerners to ensure smooth relations with the delegates appointed by the N.C.’s provincial governments. In particular, the former rebel general George Clinton owed his own rehabilitation and advancement to the office of Royal Governor of New York to Dickinson’s influence, and he remained a strong supporter of the new governor-general. Dickinson received less support from Galloway in Pennsylvania, who was generally unhappy with the changes that had been made to his Plan of Proposed Union, and was particularly unhappy that Dickinson had been chosen over him to serve as Governor-General of the Northern Confederation. [4]

The Indiana Council was chosen by that conferderation’s landowners, most of whom, like Concordé, were Frenchmen who had settled there before the Seven Years’ War. Indiana’s isolation meant that they had little to do with the eastern confederations, though the arrival of a steady stream of settlers from the British lands foretold that the confederation’s future would bring it closer to the rest of the colonial union. The Quebec Council, likewise, was drawn from French landowners of longstanding. Despite this, Lord Dorchester’s long tenure as governor, going back to the 1760s, ensured that he and the Quebecois were able to work well together. Manitoba remained what it had been before the Design, a fief of the Hudson’s Bay Company inhabited mostly by fur traders. Legge spent most of his time in Quebec City, visiting North City for only a month or so during the capital’s brief summer to attend his own investiture ceremony. [5]

By the late summer of 1783, Albany had succeeded in establishing the Britannic Design as a working system of government for Britain’s North American colonies. The first meeting of the Grand Council was scheduled to take place on September 28, and Albany was deeply involved in preparations for the event when he contracted a cold on September 3. With the upcoming meeting so close, Albany ignored his doctor’s suggestion of bed rest, and continued his work. This worsened his condition, and within a week Albany had come down with pneumonia. The Viceroy was bled several times, in line with the medical practice of the day, which of course served to weaken him further, until he finally succumbed on September 20, 1783. [6] 

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1. In addition to Marion’s insurrection in the Virginia and Carolina backcountry, the Allen Brothers in the Green Mountain district of New Hampshire refused to lay down their arms after the June armistice. Repeated efforts to put down the Green Mountain insurrection were frustrated by the rugged terrain and local antipathy to British rule.

2. There is a popular legend that Albany met with Nathanael Greene as the latter was preparing to make the final leg of the journey to Jefferson. Unfortunately, the historical record shows that Greene’s party had already departed from Louisiana by the time Albany arrived. Bennet. The First Group, pp. 317-18.

3. Fort Radisson was named after Pierre-Esprit Radisson, a co-founder of the Hudson’s Bay Company. North City was of course named after the Prime Minister.

4. Bronson Michellet. Dickinson and Galloway: From Friendship to Rivalry, 1774-1804 (New York, 2003), pp. 379-86.

5. Legge fell ill in the spring of 1783 and died at Quebec City on 15 May. The office of Governor-General of Manitoba remained unfilled for five years until the Jenckinson Ministry appointed Samuel Hearne at the suggestion of the H.B.C. Paul McIlwain. Manitoba: A History (Port Superior, 1995), pp. 27-30.

 6. Philip Williamson. Albany: The First Viceroy (New York, 1988), pp. 351-55. Albany’s widow, Lady Abigail Burgoyne, chose to remain in Pittsborough after his death, raising their two sons in the country of their birth. She never remarried.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Scorpions in a Bottle: The Britannic Design


Today's section of Scorpions in a Bottle commences chapter 5, on the Britannic Design, the legislation that reshapes Britain's North American colonies into the Confederation of North America.

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While the Four Viceroys were working to restore the authority of the Crown in the Thirteen Colonies, and Greene’s followers were making the Wilderness Walk to Jefferson, the North ministry faced the task of putting the Carlisle proposals into effect. The chief obstacle to North’s efforts was the King himself.

Throughout the American Crisis, King George had been the strongest advocate of using harsh measures to bring the colonists to heel. Lord North had been personally unhappy with the hard line taken against the American colonists, but he had believed it was his duty as leader of the government to defer to the monarch’s wishes. It was only with the outbreak of the Rebellion that it became clear to North that the King’s judgment was faulty, and that it would be necessary to defy the monarch if he hoped to restore the colonies to British rule. [1]

The success of the Carlisle Commission in the face of the King’s displeasure encouraged North trust his own judgment. Despite demands from the King’s allies in Parliament for widespread reprisals against the colonists, North pursued his own policy of reconciliation. In an address before the House of Lords on November 12, 1778, he said, “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 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.” [2]

Several members of North’s government, notably Lord Germain, refused to support his “brotherhood policy” and resigned their Cabinet posts. North took advantage of Germain’s departure to bring the Marquess of Rockingham, a noted reconciliationist, into his government as Secretary of State for America. Lord Germain, meanwhile, became the leader of the “King’s friends,” who opposed North’s lenient policies towards the Americans.

Rockingham’s instructions to the Carlisle Commission and the Four Viceroys encouraged them to do everything in their power to “encourage a spirit of Forgiveness in our Friends, and restrain the impulse towards Vengefulness.” Rockingham also instructed that no further rebel leaders should be arrested for treason and sent to London for trial. Since the end of the Rebellion, ten of the most notorious rebels had arrived and were being tried: Hancock, the two Adams cousins, and Robert Treat Paine from Massachusetts; Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and Richard Henry Lee from Virginia; Roger Sherman from Connecticut; and the pamphleteer Thomas Paine from Pennsylvania.

The treason trials had become a cause célèbre among London radicals, as the rebels took the stand to defend their actions. Washington in particular created a favorable impression as he described his evolution from a loyal subject of the Crown to the commander-in-chief of the rebel armies. Thomas Jefferson was able to smuggle a copy of his Apologia out of Newgate prison and it circulated widely among radical circles in spite of efforts by the government to suppress it. [3] In the end, despite the opposition of the radicals, all of the defendants were found guilty. All but Washington, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, were publicly hanged, drawn and quartered in January 1779. [4]

Lord North was forced to navigate a precarious middle path between the radicals, led by John Wilkes, and the reactionaries, led by Lord Germain. The need to oversee the restoration of order in North America, as well as the growing financial crisis in Britain due to the costs of the Rebellion, delayed work on drafting a final settlement for the American colonies. [5] In addition, Rockingham believed that it would be best to allow the passions inflamed by the treason trials to cool.

It was not until the early months of 1780 that the North ministry was able to devote its attention to the North American settlement. On the advice of Rockingham, North invited several American reconciliationists to London to consult on drafting the settlement, including Galloway and Dickinson. As he had proposed at the secret Cabinet meeting of February 1778, North chose Galloway’s Plan of Union as the template for a government for the North American colonies. However, the events of 1775-78 led to significant changes to Galloway’s initial plan.

Fearing that the creation of a single unified government for all thirteen colonies would increase the likelihood of a future second Rebellion, North proposed that three separate governments be established: one for the Southern colonies, one for the Middle colonies, and one for the New England colonies. Each regional confederation of colonies would be governed by a council chosen by the colonial governments for three-year terms and a governor-general appointed by the Crown. On the contentious issue of Parliamentary taxation, North agreed to compromise on the principle of Parliamentary supremacy by granting the councils the power to veto tax bills with a two-thirds supermajority.

Drawing on Franklin’s 1754 Plan of Union, each confederation would have the power to treat with the Indians: making war and peace, and regulating trade and purchases of land. It would also have the power to legislate for the colonies and levy taxes on them. Any legislation passed by a confederation government could be vetoed by Parliament within three years of its passage. Each council would include representatives from the other two confederations, and each would send nonvoting representatives to Parliament.

In order to resolve any issues that might arise between the confederations, there would be an annual meeting of the three councils, during which they would function as a Grand Council for all the colonies. The question of a permanent meeting place for the Grand Council proved to be a difficult one. Philadelphia would have been the logical choice, but the association of the city with the Continental Congress made it unacceptable to the North ministry. Thomas Moffat of Rhode Island suggested New York City, but this was rejected by the Southerners, who were led by John Connolly of Virginia and Robert Wells of South Carolina. Wells’ suggestion that a new capital be built on the Potomac River was rejected by the Northerners.

The issue was resolved by Connolly, who proposed Pittsborough, Pennsylvania as a compromise. Although the city had been founded just 20 years earlier, its location at the forks of the Ohio River made Pittsborough an attractive choice. The Ohio country was already being opened to settlement before the outbreak of the Rebellion, and it was clear that new colonies would soon be planted west of the Appalachian Mountains. It is likely that Connolly’s suggested was also motivated by the fact that he owned considerable land in western Pennsylvania that would gain in value once the North American capital was established there.

Unusually, the bill that the North ministry sent to the Commons for consideration was not given the straightforward descriptive name that was common for Parliamentary legislation at the time. The working title had been the North American Government Act, but at Dickinson’s suggestion the bill was given the name “The Britannic Design.” In the working draft of the Design, the union of colonies was referred to as the Confederations of North America. However, an error in the final draft of the Design left the final S off of Confederations, and this was never corrected. The new colonial union was known thereafter as the Confederation of North America.

The polarized state of opinion in Britain was reflected in the reaction to the Design when details of the legislation reached the public. The May 10, 1780 issue of Lloyd’s Evening Post denounced the Design: “Having expended so much blood and treasure in bringing the rebels to heel, are we now to grant them all they demand short of independence itself?” Lord Germain spoke out against the Design in a speech to the House of Lords, calling it “infamous” and “an insult to the many brave men who gave their lives to preserve our Constitution.”

By contrast, Edmund Burke praised the Design, saying, “Lord North has seen the wisdom of granting a generous peace to the Americans. This act will do more to ensure comity between England and America than a thousand hangings could have done.” The Courant and Westminster Chronicle, which had been highly critical of the North ministry’s handling of the American Crisis, described the Design as “well-conceived to end the troubles which have afflicted relations with the Americans.” [6]

Despite the opposition of Germain and the other allies of the King, it soon became clear that the Design had broad support in both houses. Nevertheless, in the course of the Parliamentary debate on the bill, it underwent several modifications. Most importantly, a number of members, mainly in the House of Lords, feared that the proposed New England confederation would be too likely to rise in rebellion again. Since the middle colonies were regarded as more loyalist, it was decided to combine them with the New England colonies to produce an enlarged Northern Confederation with its capital at New York City. The Southern Confederation would include all the colonies south of Pennsylvania and the Delaware colony, and its capital would be Norfolk, which had been Clinton’s headquarters since the end of the Rebellion.

Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of Quebec, arrived in London during the debate over the Design. He proposed that his colony should also be included in the Design, to act as a further loyalist counterweight to the rebellious Thirteen Colonies. In order to prevent the Quebec Council from being outvoted by the councils of the other two confederations during Grand Council meetings, it was further decided to create two additional loyalist colonies from the territory of Quebec. The lands of the Ohio country that had been added to the colony by the 1774 Quebec Act were separated, and after some debate were given the name Indiana after the Indians who made up most of its inhabitants at the time. Its capital would be the French settlement of Kaskaskia on the Mississippi River, later renamed Fort Radisson. The lands north and west of Lake Superior were also separated and given the name Manitoba. Due to the lack of white settlers in the proposed Confederation of Manitoba, the western half of Rupert’s Land was also added, over the objections of Hudson’s Bay Company, which held title to the area. To satisfy the Company’s shareholders, it was agreed that the Company would be compensated for any cultivable land that was sold to prospective settlers. Eventually, the eastern half of Rupert’s Land was ceded to Quebec under the same terms. The capital of Manitoba would be the Company headquarters at York Factory on the coast of Hudson Bay, later renamed North City.

Franklin’s original Plan of Union had included an executive called the president-general who would be appointed by the Crown, and whose assent would be required for any legislation passed by the Grand Council. With the number of confederations increased to five, it was decided that a similar executive would be required to oversee annual meetings of the Grand Council in Pittsborough, and to serve as a permanent representative of the British government. With the Four Viceroys in control of the North American colonies, the new executive was named the Viceroy. It was widely expected that Burgoyne would be named to the post, which prompted the King to raise him to the Peerage as Duke of Albany, a name that commemorated his decisive victory in the Rebellion. [7]

Additional minor modifications were made to the Britannic Design to secure passage by Parliament. The confederation councils were limited to no more than twenty members, the supermajority required to veto Parliamentary taxation was increased from two-thirds to three-quarters, and the office of Lieutenant-Viceroy was created. With the final provisions of the Design now fixed, Lord North’s allies in the Commons spent two months maneuvering past the obstructions raised by the King’s allies, gaining final passage on January 9, 1781. A last-ditch effort by Lord Germain to block passage in the Lords was frustrated by Lord Shelburne, and the Britannic Design was sent to the King for his assent on January 23. Rumors filled London that the King would refuse his assent, or even that he might abdicate. Reportedly, it was Lord Germain himself who convinced the King that he would do more harm to the Constitution by his refusal to act than by giving his assent to the Design, and he finally agreed on January 26.

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1. Winthrop Wadsworth. King George III and Lord North: The Struggle for the American Soul (London, 1971), pp. 401-12.

2. Henry Collins. Lord North and the Rise of Parliament (New York, 1956), p.98.

3. Warner Jones. In Defense of Liberty: The 1778 Treason Trials (Mexico City, 1966).

4. Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia, who had served under Washington in the Rebellion, personally interceded to allow him to serve out his sentence under house arrest at his Mount Vernon plantation. Washington remained there until his death in 1793. William Branch Bruce. The Life of Governor Theodorick Bland of Virginia (Norfolk, 1891), pp. 227-29.

5. Since the attempt to raise revenue in the American colonies had provoked the Rebellion, the North ministry gave up on this approach. Instead, it was decided that some of the cost of the Rebellion would be made up by ceding the Floridas back to Spain in return for a payment by the Spanish of £5 million.

6. Sharon Poorman. Designing the Design: Lord North, John Dickinson, and the Drafting of the Britannic Design (New York, 2013).

7. Sir Guy Carleton was named Baron Dorchester at the same time.