Indian Casino Near Yosemite National Park

Re:UA | Chapter Fourteen: The Progressive Era [1901-1912]

The period following the end of the Liberation of Brazil was one of good feelings and America basking in its own glory.
The Progressive Era that was ushered in by the election of Samuel Clemens back in 1896 continued well into the 1900’s. President Kimball continued his administration well into a third term, before leaving office in 1904, to be replaced by another Labor Party president, Quinten Allen (Labor, New York). His administration was defined by his focus on the destruction of the so-called “political machines”, breaking up several large trusts, and cracking down on the dismal conditions in urban industrial workplaces, continuing the anti-corruption and pro-union efforts of the Clemens and Kimball administrations.
However, despite the progress made in advancing the strength of unions, cracking down on corruption in the federal government, Allen would not win reelection. Much of it had to do with his infamous extramarital affairs, but it also had to do with the hijinks of Congressman Ned Kelly (Labor, Illawarra) in Australia. A Labor Party extremist notorious for attempting to shift the party further to the far left, the Congressman from the state of Illawarra ended up being arrested in 1905 for a bizarre scandal involving collusion with a small group of communist bandits in the southeastern Australian bush. News of this was spread by opposition newspapers across the USAO, and the Labor Party would require a decade to break free from the stigma of “attempting to institute godless communism across our righteous Union”.
As sudden as this sounds, this was actually the flashpoint punctuating a long-standing struggle within the Labor Party. The struggle pitted the civic nationalist, social democratic (as in, economic social justice within a capitalistic framework) faction, against an internationalist, revolutionary socialist faction which sought to turn the former spirit of Manifest Destiny into a worldwide crusade to liberate the proletariat. Kimball had managed to briefly bring these two factions together for 1896, while sidelining the most extreme militants. However, shortly after his first election, this alliance began to fall apart very quickly, boiling over into brawls in the National Acropolis, culminating in an event even worse than the Kelly Affair. On May 28th 1907, Senator Andrew Takahashi (Labor, New Texas) brought his gun to the National Acropolis and attempted to shoot moderate Labor senator, Edward Brenner (Labor, New Texas). Takahashi’s assassination attempt failed, and he was dogpiled by everyone in the chamber, as Senator Roberto Gutierrez (Conservative, South Peru) wrestled the revolver from Takahashi’s hand. The fact that Senators from across the political spectrum came to Brenner’s aid in that moment was satirically seized upon by satirists as “the first Congressional consensus in four years”. The aftermath of the Kelly Affair, the brawls in Congress, and the Brenner assassination attempt cost Labor a victory in the 1908 Presidential Election, and the far-left faction broke off from the Labor Party completely, to form the American Workingman’s Party – the farthest-left political party in USAO thus far.
Anyway, in 1908, the Liberal Party succeeded in getting their first president in the White House, Wilbur H. Porter (Liberal, New South Wales). A representative born and raised in an upper-middle-class Buenos Aires neighborhood, he was the first British Argentinian president of the USAO, and his faction of the Liberals managed to win over the more centrist Labor voters left disillusioned post-Kelly Affair, while also out-lefting the more conservative members of the Liberals. He respected the Labor Party’s fervor for social justice, but felt they were getting too extreme in some regards and believed their goals could be achieved through other means.
Despite defeating Allen in the 1908 election, he and his faction of the Liberals in Congress formed a coalition with the defeated Labor Party, to push for a resolution to the “Amazon Question”.
Since the 1880’s, the Amazon Territory knew the horrors of logging camps, gold mines and rubber plantations worked by enslaved indigenous peoples. Entire towns were run by companies like Firestone, who regularly bribed the territorial government. And after the expansion of the Amazon Territory in 1901, you had large forces of armed mercenaries keeping these slaves in line. These mercenaries were mostly former soldiers of the Imperial Brazilian Army, who didn’t even bother hiding their distinctive tattoos; ironically, many were former IBA officers descended from Confederate soldiers. The mercenary armies would occasionally wage war against each other over territory, limbs and digits were amputated every day, and sexual assault was an instrument of terror.
The entirety of the Labor Party, along with the Porter Faction of the Liberals, and a surprisingly large two-thirds of the National Party, came together in Congress to push for the Amazon Territory to be abolished and replaced with a new “Amazon Federal District”. Opposing them were the Conservatives and the faction of the Liberals led by Theodore Shepherd (Liberal, Pennsylvania – Porter’s opponent in the 1908 Liberal Primary), and the remainder of the National Party. The Whigs, who represented the small states of the Caribbean and Central America, abstained from voting. The Whigs objected to what they felt was an over-reach of federal power, while at the same time sympathizing with the intentions of the Labor-Liberal coalition.
In the end, the Labor-Liberal coalition was successful in passing the Amazon Preservation Act of 1910, creating the Amazon Federal District. A federally-deputized paramilitary known as the Amazon Ranger Corps was formed to shut down the logging camps, mines and plantations, which led to pitched battles between these federal troops and the mercenaries. Backed by desperate rubber, gold and lumber barons, mercs under the command of Confederato Nataneal Whitaker (a former IBA colonel) attempted to wipe out the ARC garrison in Manaus, as part of a larger effort to establish a secessionist “Free State of the Amazon”. This insane plan ended in failure, as Nataneal’s troops were defeated and forced to retreat back into the rainforest to be pursued by the Ranger Corps, and the conspiracy’s backers were arrested. The “Manaus Incident” only convinced Congress to tighten the screws on their proposed regulations on economic activity in the AFD. Said regulations would declare huge swathes of the Amazon to be federally-protected nature preserves, and would limit the number of trees that could be cut down. Additionally, the AFD’s labor regulators would regularly inspect the rubber plantations and gold for incidences of abuse or exploitation, and ensure that the workers were compensated for their labor and that extraction and cultivation techniques remain sustainable. Other than that, the AFD would pretty much be OTL DC, only writ large and with more jungle. Make of that what you will. And in addition to preventing abuse of the locals, the Amazon Rangers would be responsible for search and rescue, tracking down poachers, and enforcing general law and order in the Amazon, though major cities like Manaus and Belem would retain their own police forces.
The AFD was only the most radical of the USAO’s national parks, however. President Felix Strong created the first national park, Yellowstone National Park, in 1875. Avid nature-lover Aaron Kimball signed into existence national parks in Northern California’s Redwood Forest and Yosemite Valley, Entre Rios’ Iguazú Falls, Colorado’s Grand Canyon, the Alaska Territory’s Denali, East Florida’s Everglades, Mato Grosso’s Chapada dos Guimarães and the Galapagos Islands. Under the Allen and Porter administrations, Tasmania’s Great Barrier Reef, Deseret’s Zion Valley, Alta Colombia’s Ciudad Perdida, South Peru’s Machu Picchu and Nazca Lines, Yucatan’s Chichen Itza and the ancient Inca roads of the Andes, were added to the federal government’s protected natural wonders and archeological heritage sites.
Throughout the early 1900’s, the Caribbean states began coming into their own. By 1910, Port-Au-Prince was the most advanced city in the Caribbean. Rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1892 with the latest in seismically-resistant structures and electrical infrastructure, the capital of Haiti received a flood of investment and was modernized, as was the rest of the state. As part of the electrification program begun under the administration of Haiti’s greatest governor, Jean Bolous (Liberal, Haiti), the island’s first telephone lines and power plants were built, and the economy of the island boomed with the increased demand for citrus fruits in North American cities. Additionally, the island began building up a strong manufacturing base in the eastern part of the state (“Spanish Haiti”) though widespread corruption would lead to child labor going on longer than in many other parts of the USAO.
Elsewhere, over in the Lesser Antilles, you had Trinidad & Tobago undergoing the fastest rate of industrialization in the whole of the West Indies, with its oil, asphalt and natural gas fields and refineries expanding rapidly amid the pristine Caribbean jungle. Close behind Trinidad was Jamaica, with its more diverse mixed economy which really came into its own during the Progressive Era; a large garment sector, agriculture, refining of petroleum products from Trinidad and Gran Colombia, bauxite, gypsum, iron and alumina mining, a friendly tourism industry, and the Caribbean’s premier insurance and financial services, all allowed for Kingston proper and Jamaica as a whole to flourish in the early 1900’s, rivalling the growth and commercialization of the ascending Port-Au-Prince. Fruit, coffee, iron, bauxite, sugar and fishing in the other island states kept their economies afloat, as did tourism from middle and upper-class folks hailing from the rest of the USAO, as well as Europe.
Politically, the Lesser Antilles were (and, today, still are) dominated by the Whig Party. The Whigs are a right-of-center conservative political movement which stresses fiscal responsibility and social moralism, a very “quaint” party preoccupied with limited spending, manners, state autonomy and local politics. They promoted the modernization of the islands’ infrastructure, the expansion of education, and the prohibition of alcohol. That last one would become the impetus for the “Wild West Indies”, a very long period of bootlegging and moonshining, equal parts OTL Prohibition, Wild West and Golden Age of Piracy. Though Whig politicians had some limited success in Central America, Polynesia and Australia, after a while, the National Whig Convention stopped seriously trying to expand their influence beyond the Caribbean.
A little further to the north, in Dixie, the Reconstruction Era was in a way still ongoing. Though now, only a few Military Districts remained. West Florida, Arkansaw and Louisiana. In 1904, West Florida and Louisiana experienced a major revolt by Copperheads and Bloody Shirts. The situation never got worse than West Florida and Louisiana. In West Florida, the capital of Mobile was occupied by the “Confederate State of West Florida” and loyalist citizens (black and white alike) were forced to arm themselves and build barricades as federal troops put down the uprising. And in Louisiana, roving gangs of white supremacists in New Orleans staged a failed ethnic cleansing attempt against its black population. There were also sporadic insurgent attacks in Louisiana, Arkansaw, Georgia, East Florida, South Carolina and Oklahoma. One of President Kimball’s last actions was sending federal troops into the Old South to quickly suppress the racist uprisings, though the role of National Guard units, law enforcement, local militias and armed civilians should not be discounted. Bloody Shirts were undersupplied, outnumbered and most ended up surrendering upon encountering armed resistance.
This would be the “last hurrah” of neo-Confederate sentiment. The rebellion was crushed by federal troops and ragtag militias, received very little public support, and actually extended the date for which West Florida and Louisiana would be readmitted into the Union, from 1906 to 1930. Oklahoma, Georgia and Arkansaw, for not going entirely under rebel control, were readmitted on time in 1906.
With the exception of the 1904 Rebellion, Dixie had come a long way. Aside from a few crazy people, the Confederate surrender at Nuevo Paz was considered the best thing to ever happen to the “Old South” (as Dixie is also known). The process of redistributing land to former slaves and educating both freedmen and poor whites had the effect of economically empowering blacks and mitigating (if not eliminating) much of the racial animus one would have otherwise associated with the region. The extremists were marginalized, and so by the time the 1904 Rebellion rolled around, the insurgents who had counted on the “white man awakening and rising up against federal tyranny”, found out the hard way how wrong they were in their assumptions. There was no “white awakening”. The masses of the Old South rejected their cause. Violently, in fact.
Further to the north, in New York, the city’s now-famous skyline was coming along just fine. New bridges were being built. Newfangled motorcars fresh off the assembly lines had begun to quickly replace the horse and buggy on the city streets. The New York Subway System was opened in 1905. And the world’s tallest all-metal structure was built in 1906 on Coney Island. Costing nearly $1,500,000, the Globe Tower is an eleven-story, 700-foot-tall structure, containing restaurants (one of which rotates), an observatory, a United States Weather Observation Bureau and wireless telegraph station, a vaudeville theater, the world’s largest ballroom, bowling alley, a cinema, roller skating rink, casinos, 50,000-room hotel, 5,000-seat hippodrome, and four large circus rings, where PT Barnum’s famous troupe put on a show for the Globe Tower’s opening day. And the whole thing was fully electrified.
Meanwhile, out in the North American West, the suffragist movement was gaining steam. The movement had already swept Australasia. The states and territories of the former republics of Australia and New Zealand gave their women the right to vote and run for office just prior to joining the US, and this equality was grandfathered in when they became new American states. The presence of Australasian suffragists emboldened suffragists across the USAO, with their most dynamic successes being made in the Rockies, beginning with Auraria in 1890, where the frontier economy actually created the circumstances for strong and empowered women to emerge as major players in their communities. The movement also reached the states of the Canadian prairies, and then down into Mesoamerica by the late 1890’s. Congress finally gave women the right to vote via a 1910 constitutional amendment, which was greeted by a suffragist demonstration in Liberty City, DC. Elements of the Conservative, Labor, Whig and National parties resisted the move, for different reasons.
Speaking of Australia, about a decade after the political union with the United States, things were getting interesting. The people of Australia still thought of themselves as “Australian”, but also part of a larger nation of which they were proud to be members. Increasingly, immigrants from the New World crossed over the Pacific to Australasia. Many were “Yankees” from North America, though there were also plenty of Hispanics who made the journey over, looking for opportunity. The federal government encouraged this, as well as immigration of Australians (white and Aboriginal alike) to the New World, in order to encourage a sense of common nationhood, with similar exchanges taking place in the Philippines, New Zealand and Polynesia. However, the Aboriginal community (which is much larger in this timeline because a dead Indian sailor washed up on the Australian shore around 45 BCE) was split on whether or not they wanted to be part of the USAO. They were already split on the Australian republic. During the Australian Revolution, they formed an alliance with the white settlers against the British. The hatchets which were buried resurfaced after independence, though the Aboriginals were unable to really put up a united front – not in the Australian Congress, nor in the form of armed militancy - due to tribal politics getting in the way. However, small numbers of Aboriginal separatists attempted to resist the US government in this time period, to very little success.
The Russian Imperium gifted the Statue of Brotherhood to the United States in 1902. The statue was placed at Middle Head, at the mouth of Sydney Harbor in the State of Illawarra. Dubbed by the newspapers of the time as “Lady Liberty’s Brother”, the statue stands about as tall as the Statue of Liberty, but it depicts the Roman citizen-soldier, Cincinnatus, holding a Fasces (rods bound together around an axe - a symbol of republican brotherhood and strength of unity) in his right hand, while leaning on a plough with his left, to symbolize peace and prosperity.
All across the Pacific, the US was integrating its new island states and territories. Submarine cables were laid between the various archipelagos, connecting them to each other and to the Australian and American landmasses, as well as to the Philippines, China and Japan. Infrastructure projects on the islands put the natives to work and put energy into the economies of the island states. Investments in education worked to bring the locals into the 20th century, though this sparked plenty of conflicts with more conservative elements of Polynesian society. Given the vast expanses of the United States, it was one of the first nations to fully embrace commercial air travel. Airship flights to the Pacific states and territories boomed, as did airplane flights, though these would not truly take off (excuse the pun) until the 1920’s.
The USAO dominated all of Polynesia, save for the independent kingdoms of Tonga and Samoa. However, the first step towards turning the Pacific Ocean into “an American Lake” began in 1907. In that year, the Samoa Reform Party won the position of Prime Minister, after winning half of the Samoan legislature three years previous. Established by a coalition of native Samoan Unionists and American expatriates (mostly missionaries and businessmen), this was the successor to the banned Samoan Unionist Party, which was outlawed in 1888 by the Samoan monarchy. An attempt by the Samoan king’s monarchist supporters to regain control of the legislature and prevent an inevitable annexation into the USAO resulted in a small civil war. Samoan nationalists targeted anyone they could find who was not ethnic Samoan (Americans, Chinese, Japanese), as well as ethnic Samoans who desired political union with the USAO. It got crazy, and after fervent debate in Congress (overshadowed by the Amazon Question), it led to United States Marines invading two years later, in 1909. King Tanumafili I was forced to abdicate after a referendum in 1910, establishing the Republic of Samoa. The republic voted for annexation in late 1911, though the Samoan nationalists would not go quietly, continuing the fight for about eight years. The impact of Samoa’s annexation would make things…interesting, in Tonga.
Over in Brazil, most of the region was still under US military occupation to one degree or another. Though increasingly, local recruits began to outnumber the outsiders, and the last remnants of the IBA surrendered in September of 1908. That being the case, a new rebellion began to spring up. In spite of all that, however, the Italian Empire gifted the United States a statue of their own, the Statue of Equality, which was placed in Rio de Janeiro in 1906. More similar in design to her sister up north, this 151-foot-tall statue was carefully placed atop Mount Corcovado (the OTL location of the Christ the Redeemer statue), holding up a set of huge scales, with a sword wresting against her thigh. The “Lady of Rio” wears a toga, Phrygian cap, laurels, and a blindfold over her eyes.
And finally, a little to the south, a new state was carved out along the borders of Chile and New South Wales. For over thirty years, low-intensity guerilla war raged between loggers and the indigenous Mapuche people in the Araucanía region of Patagonia. Realizing that they couldn’t hope to fight their way to independence, Mapuche activists became a persistent presence in Liberty City, arguing and lobbying in favor of a new state for the Mapuche. Their efforts ultimately bore fruit in 1910, when the State of Araucanía was admitted into the union.
But for all the USAO’s good fortunes, big trouble was on the horizon in the Old World. More on that in the next chapter.
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