The Winter Cartographer

The cartography, writing, and ramblings of one crazy winter lover who likes to blog about the fun and inconsequential.

Election season is once again upon us, and so, I have figured, why not get in on that action a little and combine my love of history and historical patterns in one big project for you all? I'm sure there is nothing controversial about politics, after all... So, to start off the month of October, I present to you all my project from September: A History of Democratic High Points, 1912-2012. The project seeks to, as the name implies, map out the high points by decade of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives starting in 1912 and ending in 2012, as that was the highest mark for the Democrats in the House in the 2010s thus far.

Now, while the project has an obvious bent towards one party, that is not to say it is trying to favor one, so much as that as the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives for roughly 2/3 of the years of the 20th century, it makes for a more vivid picture to show the high points of that party and the way the party's coalition moved and changed in that time from a southern-based one to a hybrid and finally to an emerging new coalition that we are seeing in recent years. I do plan on a similar project for Republicans, but am currently mulling over a starting point, whether it would be better to start around the end of the Civil War or not, given the differences in how the parties separate themselves or not from their histories. Either way, I hope you all enjoy the project and no matter who you back this November, please remember to vote, as it is such a blessing that we enjoy.

(Also, hint, right click to open the images in their full size in your browser of choice.)

1912 House of Representatives Elections


The 1912 elections marked the first time since Grover Cleveland that there was not only a Democratic President, but that he would have a Democratic House to govern with. With the Republican Party rife with conflict over the fights between party hardliners and Progressives, led by Teddy Roosevelt, the Democrats were able to successfully position themselves as the party of stability and unity for the elections. In addition, 41 seats were added to the House of Representatives following the 1910 US Census, and many of them ended up in Democratic hands, particularly in growing southern states like Texas, which allowed the Democrats to increase their majority in the House—which they had gained back for the first time since 1894 in 1910—by 61 seats.

1922 House of Representatives Elections



The 1922 elections were the height of the Democratic Party for the 1920s, in what was marked as a rough decade for the Democratic Party that fought to find its footing and identity in a country that latched onto good feelings and postwar prosperity. However, that did not stop the Democrats from forcing Republicans into a narrow majority following the 1922 midterms in which continued division among the Republican ranks following the 1920 blowout (the highest point reached by the Republicans in the 20th century) between the conservatives and progressives as well as Republicans having to fight to hold on to a large number of marginal seats led to a large number of gains for Democrats: 76 all told. Not enough for a majority, but with the continued divisions and rise of factions like Senator LaFollette's Progressives and the birth of the populist offshoot Farmer-Labor Party, primarily concentrated in Minnesota, it made governing that much more difficult. The Socialists would also pick up a seat in Milwaukee, to round out the eclectic collection of parties for the era.

1936 House of Representatives Elections



This wave of elections, coming on the heels of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's record-setting victory for re-election as President, would be the zenith of Democrats not just in the 1930s, not just in the 20th century, but ever. At 334 out of 435 seats, Democrats controlled 76.78% of all total seats in the House of Representatives, a total they have not matched since and has only ever been surpassed by the 1866 Republicans with 78.125% in the midst of Reconstruction with not every state returning delegates. Bolstered by public faith in the New Deal, including the passing of the Social Security Act by the House in August 1935 by an overwhelming vote and a lack of Republican unity or organization against the Democratic coalition under FDR, the Democrats were virtually unstoppable. This election was also a high water mark for two major third parties of the era: the Progressive Party of Wisconsin and the Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota. The Progressives managed to win 8 seats, including 1 outside their power base of Wisconsin all the way in San Francisco while the Farmer-Labor Party returned to their previous high point of 5 seats set in the 1930 midterms.

1940 House of Representatives Elections


After the nadir would, naturally, come the decline, and so the high point of the Democratic Party in the decade of the 1940s was in the very first year. Following a high number of losses in the 1938 midterms due to defending a large number of marginal seats as well as the 1937-38 recession, Democrats were once again boosted by Franklin D. Roosevelt as well as economic recovery following that very recession. This election was also notable as the last to occur during the Second World War but prior to the entry of the United States into the conflict, and one of the primary issues of day was the question of neutrality in that war. Ultimately, Roosevelt's resounding victory for an unprecedented third term and the Democratic recovery of several seats gave the party a mandate going into the fateful years of 1941-1943, which would prove to be some of the most world-changing in history. On another note, this was also the last election as of 2018 in which 6 parties were represented in Congress, and the beginning of the end for the Farmer-Labor Party and the Progressive Party. Many of the Progressives would end up rejoining the Republican Party just a few years later while the Farmer-Labor Party would strike a deal with Minnesota's Democratic Party to form the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL for short) which stands to this day, and currently holds 5 of the state's 8 Congressional House seats, both of the state's U.S. Senators, the Governor's office, and minorities in Minnesota's House of Representatives and Senate.

1958 House of Representatives Elections


The next Democratic high point would not come until 18 years later, near the tail end of the Eisenhower era and a very changed world. By then, the Second World War had ended and the Republicans had taken back and lost the House twice during the tumultuous years after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democratic Party's splintering and struggle to find its footing as a party of both segregation and unequal opportunity in the south and of liberalism and social justice in the north, as outlined by Hubert Humphrey's famous speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. The New Deal Coalition had been reconstructed and taken back the House in 1954, and Democrats would not hand it back until after the 1994 midterms' "Republican Revolution", 40 years later. The 1958 midterm was a tie for the second-largest gain in a single year for Democrats in the latter half of the 20th century, as unrest due to the 1958 recession and continued conflicts over civil rights, Cold War policy, and ongoing poverty and working rights caused a swelling of support for Democrats and led them to a very sizable majority in time for the fateful 1960 Presidential election.

1964 House of Representatives Elections


Following on the heels of the Civil Rights Act, the 1964 House elections would take the Democrats to the highest point they had experienced since the 1936 elections 28 years earlier, and a height that the party has not again reached as of this writing. The elections were cast as part of the tumultuous and bitterly-fought 1964 Presidential Campaign by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had assumed the role following the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, and conservative firebrand Barry Goldwater. While the ultimate election was a massive wipeout for Goldwater and the Republicans in both the Presidential ticket and in the House, there were signs of a shift in the electorate. Barry Goldwater won 5 states in the Deep South which had been drifting around various third parties up until that point rather than vote Democrat (most of the time), and Lyndon B. Johnson won the rock-ribbed Republican states of Maine and Vermont, the latter of which had never voted for a Democrat in any election in its history; the last election in which it had not voted Republican being 1852 in which the state had voted for Whig candidate Winfield Scott. In the House elections the shifts geographically were not quite as immediate so much as retaking lost seats despite a steady erosion of the New Deal Coalition, but there still was, for the first time since Reconstruction, the matter of Republicans winning seats in the Deep South including a majority of seats in Alabama while Democrats picked up strength not seen in many decades in areas such as New England, Upstate New York, and suburban Detroit. This large mandate would give President Johnson the power to enact policies such as his Great Society programs and the Voting Rights Act, even though a certain war in Southeast Asia would leave the policy decisions decided in Congress far less remembered from the era.

1976 House of Representatives Elections


Though the 1974 midterm elections are the more famously remembered elections of the 1970s for election nerds, the high point for Democrats in that decade would actually come two years later, just narrowly, with a single-seat gain in the House on the coattails of Jimmy Carter's election to President as a more conservative answer to the country's call for a Democratic President after the Watergate scandal and subsequent loss of respect for President Nixon during the Ford years as the party stumbled its way to try and find what sort of party it wanted to be after the stunning loss of the far leftier (than Carter) McGovern in 1972. The 1976 House elections would show the last full strength of the Democratic post-New Deal coalition of minority and working-class white voters, with it being the last in which any one party won a veto-proof majority in the House. The Watergate Babies of 1974 were still playing a major role in this election as well, and the result would help create the modern Democratic Party those of us in the United States know today. This election would also mark the retirement of House Majority Leader Carl Albert and the rise of famed Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, who held the position from 1977-1987 as the Speaker with the most years served in a row and the third-longest serving Speaker overall.

1982 House of Representatives Elections




In 1980, Reaganism and its effect on the electorate got its biggest effect yet as the country was much changed from the place it had been six years before. The 1980 House elections had brought Republicans into striking distance of a House majority for the first time in 30 years, but Reagan's early polarization brought trouble and it was a struggle for Republicans going into the election. In addition, "boll weevil" Democrats in the south who would vote alongside the President who was popular with constituents on certain issues were able to campaign on those votes to retain seats that might have otherwise been lost, limiting how many districts the Republicans could plausibly win, particularly in a midterm year. Finally, a recession 1982 only further brought stress to freshman Republicans in newly-won seats, and many of those who had risen on the coattails of Reagan in 1980 would not make it past 1982 as Democrats carried themselves to a comfortable majority and the highest point in the 1980s—though the low point following 1982 would not again get quite as close as the low point of 1980. Notably, no less than 3 candidates for President were elected as freshmen in 1982, and 1 of them past the primary: John McCain (R-AZ), John Kasich (R-OH), and Bill Richardson (D-NM).

1990 House of Representatives Elections



The 1990 House elections, the highest point of what would prove to be a very tumultuous decade for the Democratic Party, was one that was ultimately defined less by the election itself and more by what it meant for what came after. The successful ability for Democrats to hold onto the House of Representatives, in large part thanks to favorable maps drawn in 1981 that by 1990 had produced many barely-competitive or noncompetitive races, allowed them to hold Bush to favorable agenda while also winning many other elections in that midterm such as control of state governments across important states like Texas and Florida. This would result in some of the most infamous gerrymandering yet seen in American politics as Democrats would redraw districts to hold onto as many districts in the south as they possibly could, and result in several court-ordered redistrictings and being stretched thinly enough for a breakdown of the Post-New Deal Coalition all together in 1994. In addition, 1990 would result in Republicans pressing for more enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in alliance with minority groups to force Democrats to draw more majority-minority districts, preventing the common practice of spreading minorities out to combine them with Democratic whites across the south for more pro-Democratic districts. 1990, thus, was a minor election with far larger consequences for the future. One other notable mention is the election of Bernie Sanders to Vermont's At-Large district as the first non-Republican and non-Democrat elected to Congress in decades (though followed during the 90s by several others) and the first non-Republican to hold the seat since 1958's election. The seat has not since been held by a Republican.

2008 House of Representatives Elections



Following a difficult decade in the wilderness for the Democratic Party following the 1994 losses, the party had managed to come back into a majority in the 2006 midterms under President George Bush under a myriad of issues including scandals, political corruption, and opposition to the ongoing War in Iraq and War in Afghanistan. Then, by 2008, the economic fortunes of the United States had collapsed into what would become nicknamed as the "Great Recession" and the President's once-meteoric approval ratings were the lowest of virtually any modern President. Thus, the high point of the Democratic Party, which had just 6 years before managed to lose a midterm in one of the few times it has been done, would occur in 2008. Though the Republican Party was not without gains of its own due to continued shifts in the electorates of both parties, the further 21 net gains of the Democrats in this election put the Democrats just 1 seat behind where they had been after the 1992 elections 16 years before on the election of Bill Clinton. The elections coincided with the election of Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois, and Democrats rode his coattails in his Midwestern gains in states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. For the first time since the Antebellum period, Republicans held no seats in New England and for the first time in decades Democrats held most (or all) of the seats in the western states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Similarly, this was a first high point in which Democrats reached a large majority while still losing a majority of House seats in Texas and also managed to win only 1 seat in Louisiana. This alignment would continue in force into the 2010s to this day.

2012 House of Representatives Elections


Thus far in the 2010s, 2012 has remained the high point for Democrats in this decade. Though not a majority in the House, it is the last time that Democrats gained over 200 seats and the last time the Democrats won the popular vote (though through a plurality and not actual majority). This was the election in which Democrats once again riding on the coattails of a hoped-for Obama wave had to contend with a high number of incumbent Republicans recently elected following the Tea Party wave in 2010 and redistricting drawn after the 2010 US Census that was later ruled in a handful of states to favor Republicans (not that Democrats have not done the exact same thing when given the chance, as I have pointed out, mind). The result was ultimately mixed, with Democrats retaining some tricky seats such as West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District and New York's 21st Congressional District in the far north of the state (won by a Democrat as the 23rd in a special election in 2009 that saw the area of the district fall to a non-Republican for the first time since 1873) while losing others. Democrats for the second time won every single district in New England, a feat which as of this writing on October 1, 2018, has not been repeated. Ultimately, Democrats gained 8 seats and fell 17 short of a majority while holding onto the Presidency and gaining 2 seats in the Senate.

For those of us now, a little more than a month out of the 2018 elections, this remains the largest Democratic high of the past decade. Will it be broken? Will Democrats finally gain a majority this decade? Will the Trump coalition and the record-high voter enthusiasm prove too hard a shore for the blue wave to crash against? Only time will tell. Until then, this is what we have, and I hope you all enjoyed this project of mine. If Democrats do indeed break this record (to do so they will need to gain 8 seats), I will make an overly-detailed midterm map and post it after the elections. If not...I'll probably still post a map because it's a trending topic these days. Take care, all, and remember to vote! Oh, and a bonus...

1992 House of Representatives Elections



This map is more of a bonus thing, just to show the beast created in response to winning the 1990 midterms and the advent of computer technology to gerrymandering. Democrats took every advantage they had from 1990 to hold onto as many seats as they could and created what are to this day some of the nastiest gerrymanders one could see, particularly in Texas where infamously the district boundaries could go down to neighborhood level (or so I was told, growing up there). The election coincided with the "Year of Women" and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton's election to the Presidency, but the enforcement of the VRA on redistricting and the counters by Republican-held states with districts of their own as well as the lack of an overwhelming victory by Clinton at the popular vote level helped lead to an overall lose of seats for Democrats, which would help set up the anger and popular discontent to sow the seeds for the Republican Revolution in 1994 that would so radically change American politics to this day.

Citations

Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pitcher, and Kenneth C. Martis. (2013) Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, 1789-2012. Retrieved from http://cdmaps.polisci.ucla.edu on 2 September, 2018.

Oreskes, Michael. “The 1990 Elections: The Future - Redistricting; Elections Strengthen Hand of Democrats In '91 Redistricting.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Nov. 1990, www.nytimes.com/1990/11/08/us/1990-elections-future-redistricting-elections-strengthen-hand-democrats-91.html.

Other information retrieved from http://www.en.wikipedia.org and https://www.ourcampaigns.com/  on 2 September, 2018 through 1 October, 2018.

 

The Yoop


Here is a map for a larger project I've been developing with a friend about an alternate United States and its politics, culture, and world. As a little preview, I thought I would publish a map of one of the 54 United States: Superior. This map is a little bit of practice for larger maps, hope you all like it, and expect more soon!

Superior is one of the newest states in the union, and also the smallest by population at just over 300,000. The state gained statehood through referendum that was decided by a Supreme Court decision, due to movements for an independent Upper Peninsula of Michigan over increased ties with Wisconsin, delays at the time on building a bridge to link it with the Lower Peninsula, and more control over the locks linking the lower lakes with Lake Superior, through which massive quantities of iron and oil travel through. Since then, Superior has maintained close ties between itself and Michigan as well as with Wisconsin and cross-border ties with Canada, making the state one of the most travel-friendly in the union. The completion of a bridge across the Straits of Mackinac and the extension of an interstate up to the state capital of Marquette have helped connect Superior with the rest of the country, even if the state remains largely rural. The state is still a favorite by the lakes and hills in the summer and by the many holiday resorts in the winter.




Well, after a long absence I’ve finally managed to finish something!  This actually started quite a while back, over a year ago, as just a fun little project to make a small little New England with only a rough idea in my head that I put aside for other things. Then with Kanan's and LeinadB93's (as well as all his contributors on Hail, Britannia) excellent work on graphical timelines on AlternateHistory.com brought attention to things like  New England and Commonwealth projects, I figured I’d pick it up again,  and that’s what this became.

 Also, I admit a lot of working on this was learning new techniques over a  story, so apologies for mistakes, and hope you all enjoy.

Peace Only Under Liberty​

The story I have for this is that Burgoyne succeeds in his Saratoga  Campaign in 1777, severing the rebellious New England colonies from the  rest of the colonies and helping the British isolate the rebels. The Tax  Rebellions, as they’re known, come to an end not too much later and  though they are more widespread than history books like to say, a lot of  blame is heaped upon New England to help keep the peace. The other  colonies begin to get more autonomy and move towards self-government  while New England is put under more direct British control for a time,  leading to further tensions between the citizens and those who rule over  them. It also leads to New England developing a rather strict  theocratical Puritan control of local governance that will last well  into the 20th century, even after New England is eventually allowed to  form from the remaining colonies not split off by the British (Maine  being taken from Massachusetts as punishment) into the Commonwealth of  New England in 1878 as part of the Union of the United Kingdom of Great  Britain and Ireland and Her Commonwealths (it’s known as the British  Union/BritU/BU for a reason). New England from there would develop, as  it had already been doing so, as an area concentrated on commerce,  business, and industry, which would help its population boom and coffers  fill during the late 19th century and 20th century and help make Boston  one of the primary ports of the Union. The national character which  developed was one that was rather independent of the rest of the Union  and nationalist, having felt wronged and slighted for their mistreatment  and harder colonial government following the Tax Rebellions up to the  creation of the Commonwealth, and to that was added a uniquely Puritan  character to give the region its own uniqueness among the many varying  states that make up the Union, which New England has at times resented  its being a part of.

Following the Eurafrican Wars of the 1930s and 1940s and the Union's  large role in the victory of the Ten-Part Alliance, New England  underwent a political and cultural transformation of sorts. The ruling  National Conservative Party, which had been in power for a large part of  the Commonwealth’s existence, came crashing down in a quiet sort of  revolution as a new generation with different social mores and ideas,  working in a new booming postwar economy with high tech industry and new  technological-based finance and business firms, took to the ballot  boxes in the decades after and formed new parties, the ones shown on the  map. These parties would address contemporary issues of the day and  still do in the modern era, even if they have shifted around what is  important to them and what wedge issues come up in campaigns. The  primary parties are the Yankee Party,  a social democracy party with a nationalist streak which desires  autonomy from the Union and keeping New England culturally distinct from  the rest; the Liberal Conservative Party,  a centrist to centre-right party with liberal economic policies, a love  of market economy and free trade, a push for open borders and further  immigration (which has been on the rise since the 80s to New England) as  well as increasing ties to the Union, and socially centrist to  centre-left values; and the National Democratic Party, who take the nationalist and self-autonomous policies of the Yankees and apply it to Christian democracy.

The Yankees are the direct successors yet anathema of the National  Conservatives, adopting their populism and desire for autonomy and  cultural distinction but mixing it with labor and social democratic  policies that arose from economic disputes in the 50s and 60s, while the  Liberal Conservatives and National Democrats fight over the other sides  of the issues. For years the Yankee Party was popular and large enough  that they were essentially the government of New England, though  in recent years that has become more contested as the Lib Cons—building  their base out of the diverse and business-friendly cities and towns in  southwest Connecticut on the New York border—have become competitive and  taken the government several times. Even though the government  secularized long ago and the NatCons are no longer around to choose  successors more than voters, some of their legacy remains, from  gerrymandering to voter ID issues that have become large issues in  recent years, including the most recent 2014 election, which is  explained in the map.

Well, I hope that covers it, I feel the rest is explained in the graphic  well enough. Feel free to ask questions, and hope you all enjoy.  Apologies if the description is a little short, this is a map that was  intended as practice more than anything else but, it seems, I can’t do  anything simply.

If you liked this, you can support me on Patreon and get cool extras too!


Full size here

A map done for October's Monthly Cartography Contest run by Krall and I over at Sufficient Velocity. Hope you all enjoy!

In 1680, the Puebloan Revolt began in what would be the most successful Native American revolt in New Spain. Led by Tewa religious leader Po'Pay, the rebels killed around 400 Spanish and drove the rest of the settlers from the province, particularly around the capital of Santa Fe. In our world, the duration of Nuevo Mexico being free from Spanish settlement lasted but 12 years. Here, instead, Nuevo Mexico remained largely free of the Spanish until the Spanish Bourbons took control of New Spain. In response to the rebellion and the failed military expeditions to retake Nuevo Mexico, the Bourbons instead began a series of reforms to the colony and the other Spanish New World colonies, pursuing policies geared towards federalism and a light government touch on matters of economy and religion. Not nearly as much as the British colonies on the latter, but a real change from the Habsburgs. More specifically, the Puebloans were allowed their place in the colony so long as Santa Fe and other Spanish settlements remained Catholic. It wasn't perfect, but it was enough.

The new policies and general success of the Spanish Bourbons led to successful 18th century for New Spain and the Spanish colonies in the New World while the rest of the world seethed and fought the first intercontinental wars. The world as a whole remained relatively unchanged from our own as events in far off colonies did not do much to change the forces of history so much as gently guide it. The first real major changes came at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. The young United States devoted itself far more to the ideas of Jefferson while in Europe the Napoleonic Wars resulted in a somewhat different outcome. Napoleon was still defeated, in time, but with less help from Prussia and more from Austria who took the chance to advantage themselves over their rival. Spain faced many problems in the war and a number of refugees fled to Mexico, including revolutionaries. It was not long before Mexico, like the United States, strained for independence, which was gained in the 1820s under an imperial government. The new government took a strong federal stance to better manage some of its more far off territories, from Costa Rica to Alta California and especially Nuevo Mexico. The empire had its stumbling blocks and at times seemed ready to come apart at the seams, but managed to hold itself together through a growing and prosperous 19th century in which Mexico expanded its borders, its population, its economy, and its own national myths to create a structure that could withstand the worst forces on the inside and outside. Rebellions, ultra-conservative attempted coups, crackdowns on Native peoples only leading to revolt, and more were weathered in time by a solid and stable government based not just upon the emperor but upon the elected officials as well. This in stark contrast to the United States who weathered two civil wars to emerge as the more stable and centralized (and somewhat ironically named) Federal States of America. Mexico and the British were not slow to use the opportunity to claim parts of Orejon for themselves.

The 20th and 21st centuries only expanded the prowess of the Empire of Mexico, though not without growing pains. Economic downturns, political chaos, and wars that covered the world were all difficulties faced by the great empire, but were weathered by a resolute people who began to celebrate their cultural and religious diversity, especially as native peoples in the provinces of Arizona, Nuevo Mexico, and Tejas made their voices heard. Though not as influential over such vast areas, these people carved out for themselves religious, linguistic, and cultural areas that to this day remain influential in the cultural melting pot that makes up northern Mexico. None are more influential in the local provincial culture, however, than the Puebloan peoples. Despite many hardships faced, these peoples survived since the rebellion of Po'Pay to firmly establish themselves as part of Nuevo Mexico and make their own places in Taos, La Luz, Zia, and more into prosperous towns and cities that embody the rich and diverse culture of the province. So diverse is the province that in the 1980s the Mexican Imperial government designated the province as the Plurinational Province of Nuevo Mexico (Provincia Plurinacional de Nuevo Mexico) in order to recognize the many kinds of nationality and culture that exist within the massive province.

That is not to say Nuevo Mexico is the only interesting place. All of North America has begun to enjoy a prosperous and stable 21st century. Northern Mexico has begun to see the fruits of transitioning into a post-industrial economy with technology, information, service, and other fields sprout from the cities of Chihuahua to the quiet forest towns of Orejon. Alta California and Tejas continue to be two other diverse and eccentric centers of mexican arts and culture as they both continue to transition from petroleum-based energy industries to green energy with solar and wind power becoming vogue. Central America, long prosperous provinces of Mexico, has led the world (only tied by the FSA) in agricultural technology and innovation as the rich volcanic soils provide bountiful harvests. Canada stretches from sea to sea as a kingdom in its own right--though still linked to Britain--and with the addition of more of the Pacific Northwest now has two poles around which its population orbits. The nation is world renowned for its quiet living, friendly people, and fattening foods. The FSA, though having a rough start to the 20th century, made a big finish and has come into the 21st at the top of its game. The government is generally a centre-left coalition that focuses on technological solutions to problems and international politics. The right city lights and growing job market have begun to attract people from all over the world to the nation. The three main nations of North America have even moved forward on ideas to create a common market between them all. Time will tell what will come of that, and indeed what will become of the everyday people who make up the nations. What is sure, on this Hallow's Eve in Mexico, the future is a bright one and the whole continent teems in anticipation of what is to come. And so, from the people of Nuevo Mexico, the Mexican Empire, and myself, have a wonderful and bright Halloween!

Full size

Done for the Map of the Fortnight competition on Sufficient Velocity



This is a world in which the American Revolution went rather differently than in our own, and ended up creating a series of states across British North America all under the King to various degrees. These were Nova Scotia, Canada, the Commonwealth of America, and the Dominion of New England (revived to have some legitimacy and with New York as a balance to the more extremist Massachusetts). While the compromise was enough to stabilize the situation in the Americas, it did not calm all of the revolutionaries and dissenters. Those who were not happy with the status quo--a semblance of independence and more representation in Parliament but still definitively under the English--decided to move west. They first traveled to Louisiana and sought refuge there, but found that the best lands were taken or patrolled by the Spanish and the rest was wild and unsuitable for their agriculture. So, they headed west to the semi-mythical land of Oregon and eventually settled in what they called Providence Valley (what we call Willamette Valley). The capital, named Jefferson after their deceased former leader, served as the center of life for the new and small nation. The government created was one similar to the one created by the United States in our world, though leaning far more towards rights for farmers over the small but significant business class who began to trade heavily with Russian and Spanish merchants.

Time passed and revolutionaries and radicals filtered in to the new liberal democracy, especially as the British continued to move west in the 19th century with the annexation of Louisiana. However, the biggest change came with the outlawing of slavery throughout the British Realm in 1831. Suddenly, American slaveowners and those in support of slavery were without some of their greatest resources and at odds with a powerful empire. Some chose rebellion, but the Commonwealth quickly crushed them. The rest decided to pack up their things and make their way to Oregon as best they could and create there a society in their own image. These settlers were largely evangelical in their religion and saw their arrival in Oregon as Biblical in proportion: a fruit of the teachings of the many religious men on the long road to Oregon. At first, the bands of trekkers were welcomed into Oregon, who was happy to increase its population. However, the number of southerners who poured into Oregon in the following decades greatly outnumbered the original settlers and began to transform the liberal democracy from the inside. By the late 19th century, Oregon was ruled by a reactionary government who retained voting rights for landed adult white men, but in practice it was restricted to the elites who had quickly expanded themselves on the farmlands of the Providence Valley and to the north, reducing many former landowners to tenant farmers on their own lands. Rebellions began to occur, and clashes with Native American tribes were frequent, including with those allied to the British in the West.

Things would eventually come to a head in the 1890s with what is today called the Oregon Wars. This series of wars--really one long war with short breaks--was brutally fought between the independent-minded Oregonians and the British Empire who wished to extend its rule over Oregon and was supported, at first, by many inside the colony. However, the use of brutal tactics by the British including population transfers, camps to separate normal people from partisans, and relentless industrial warfare on the Oregonian military (a glorified militia) turned public opinion against the British as they struggled to subdue the massive territory of Oregon. By the end of the fighting, the pre-war population of around 220,000 in Oregon had been reduced by close to 50,000 killed and 30,000 deported to other British possessions as prisoners. Most of the dead were from disease and malnutrition due to the war's devastation, sickness running rampant in the land, and the conditions in the camps. Many of the dead were women and children. The international outcry against the wars resulted in the fall of the "old" Tories and restructuring of the British government and parties in Parliament. In addition, this conflict and subsequent annexing of Oregon into the Commonwealth of America as a province spurred on the creation of a constitution and the "Letter of Right" for the Commonwealth of America to form its own government separate from that of Britain, retaining only a select few aspects of British control and thus becoming, to a degree, independent.

Today, the history of Oregon is taught throughout the Commonwealth as a multifaceted lesson of revolution, reaction, brutality, and war for the wrong reasons that continues to educate the youth of the Commonwealth for now and into the future. Oregon itself is today recovered, though much of the population descended from settlers who came after the annexation. The memories and scars live on from the halls of the Capitol in Jefferson to the gentle rolling hills of the Providence Valley, forever replaying a lesson hard-learned and signed in blood.


(Right click image for full view)

The Rebirth of Rome

Done for the Map of the Fortnight contest over at Sufficient Velocity: https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/motf-1-rebirth.40460/



The Roman Empire under Maurice was not restored to its former glory, but it did survive. Transferring an increasing amount of power to the rich provinces in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Egypt, the Roman Empire was able to survive and endure the perilous 7th and 8th centuries that determined whether the Roman Empire would live or fall. It lived, if only barely, with at one point much of the Middle East almost lost to the Arabian invaders before being driven back for all time. The Roman Empire would endure in the centuries that followed, ebbing and rising in its power over time, though always at the forefront of European power. However, despite this, Rome's power increasingly came from other sources besides Europe. While the Empire kept a presence within Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, and of course The Eternal City of Constantinople, the true power of the empire lay elsewhere. In particular, Egypt was the center of the empire, the axis around which the entirety of Rome spun around. Egypt was the breadbasket, the population center, the Great Bazaar writ large, and the location of Alexandria: the only city that could rival Constantinople in its splendor.

It is only natural, then, that when the Roman Empire at last entered a new Golden Age during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, it would be Egypt and the Near East where the greatest fruits would be borne. It began as Rhomania came to be ruled by the so-called "Aegyptian dynasty", rulers who hailed largely from Alexandria even if they technically ruled from the palace in Constantinople. This dynasty took power away from semi-feudal governors of the themes who had gained increasing amounts of power over the centuries. They took this power and invested it into local government at the city, town, and village level, and emperors surrounded themselves with far more competent advisers under a system of absolute national rule and hands-off local rule.

This had many effects on Egypt and the Near East within the Empire. Egypt rose to ever-greater heights, becoming far and away the richest part of Rhomania bar the city of Constantinople itself, and the population of the region swelled. Commerce became a huge industry as the markets of Alexandria and along the Nile held goods from all over the world and Egypt itself was the great middleman for connecting Europe to Asia, shifting the balance away from Thrace and Asia Minor. Yet it was in the Near East where some of the greatest effects were felt: the Anagénnisi (Rebirth). Here, city governors, bishops, and powerful patron families in the great cities of the region began to use their newfound freedoms and power to transform the Roman Near East. Many great building projects were taken underway, ancient cities transformed over decades into some of the most modern and sophisticated cities in the world. Great works of art, music, and writing were commissioned in this time, and the best minds of Rhomania (as well as Europe and the Middle East) flocked to the region. In particular, Jerusalem underwent a transformation greater than any that had occurred since the city was allowed to openly preach Christianity, becoming a city of all the world and yet unique unto itself with powerful men from every corner of the Earth vying for just a seat at the table. The City of God would only be one of many in the region to be affected, but nowhere else were the works grander of the people working harder.

The Golden Age would not last forever, of course, but it would be one of the most notable of that period as the world began to breathe new life into itself and flourish across all continents. Rome, then, stood at the center of this rebirth and reaped the riches from it, finally living up to the legacy the nation had so long borne. 

Full size here: http://i.imgur.com/gFFmc2X.png

This is a world that diverged from our own in the years 420 and 421 AD, as the Jin Dynasty in China falls terribly hard at the same time that Constantius III, Emperor of Rome, does not suddenly perish and so the world is forever changed. The times after the point of divergence begin to truly diverge from our own as the Roman Empire, in a last saving throw, manages to stay together thanks to Constantius III and his successors. In China, the invasion of northern nomadic peoples spells doom for the tenuous dynasties that had asserted themselves after the fall of the Jin. The Northern China Plain and Yangtze River Valley were split into many competing and divided states warring upon one another. In the south, the Liu Song hold on for a bit longer, laboring under the idea that they will usher a return to China’s glory, but it is not to be. The remnants of the Liu Song will instead reform in the south around Guangzhou and eventually form the modern state as Yue.

Time passes and the world changes. Rome survives through the better incorporation of Germanic peoples into the empire, particularly in border regions that allows them to the weather the storm of nomadic migrations, even if they have a few crises along the way. Some time later In Arabia, the nomadic Arab herdsmen are united by a new religion arising out of the powerful coastal towns of Mecca and Medina. They unite Arabia under a single empire led by a Caliph, and take stabs at breaking out into Roman and Persian territory. These attempts, however, fail and force the restless Muslim warriors, traders, and diplomats in another direction: Africa. Crossing the Red Sea into the land of Axum, the Arabs carry out long campaigns throughout coastal East Africa (and inland where they can survive) that sees massive tracts of land brought under control of a centralized settled government for the first time, and united even more strongly by the religion which spreads rapidly in the region. It will not be the last place Islam spreads, but it will be where it is strongest outside Arabia itself. For centuries afterward, East Africa will be the central axis of power around which the Muslim world rotates, providing great amounts of resources, trade, and manpower directly to the Caliph that allows him to stand on more equal footing with the other great Muslim rulers of Persia (converted through a mix of invasions and diplomacy) and the Muslim empires in India (converted through missionaries). The focus on the spread of Islam through seafaring trade and missionary work will later help convert much of Southeast Asia, with particularly large effects.

The Roman Empire, at the same time, is not slow to realize the potential of Africa either. Camels were brought into Rome for the first time with the Arab invasions, and left afterwards by the invaders and their numbers increased through trade with the Arabian Empire. These animals, for the first time, would allow enterprising Romans to cross the vast sands of the Sahara into the fertile Sahel of West Africa, and the great peoples that dwell there. The traders who ply the dangerous desert routes for gold, salt, and ivory bring with them new architectural techniques, Latin systems of writing and books, Roman organization, and most importantly of all: the Christian religion. Christianity spreads like wildfire across the Sahel, particularly as Rome tends to favor the peoples of the Sahel who are Christian over those who aren’t, and gives them weapons, training, and supplies in exchange for spreading the word of God across Africa. The trade would go on to make all sides rich, and the great kings of the Sahel will become, in time, some of the richest men in history.

It is in China, however, that some of the greatest and most rapid strides are made in virtually every field. While Rome and Arabia struggle to keep vast empires together and play family politics and while India is stuck in a cycle of empires continually growing and shrinking, the stabilizing of the Chinese states in the 9th and 10th centuries allows for great amounts of growth. Competition breeds ingenuity, and the Chinese are no stranger to either. The warring states, stuck in a vastly long Winter Period since the fall of the Jin in 420, make great technological strides that put them ahead of much of the world. They learn how to use wooden blocks to create crude but efficient printing presses, and to use special chemical mixtures to create powder that lights upon contact with fire. The smaller states that will later be formed into Qin find themselves constantly competing for more innovations and ways to gain a foothold against each other. Literacy begins to climb for the first time since the fall of the Jin, bureaucratic reforms enable smaller states to fight far above their weight class, examinations for government officials weed out the week, and improved methods of trade and travel enrich coastal nations like Yue and the peninsular Lu. Chinese writing, art, philosophy, religion, mathematics, and economics spread rapidly through East Asia, particularly in the states of Goseon (particularly Goguryeo who uses these advantages to take over and rule the peninsula after a century of conflict), the Viet state of Cham Pa to the south, and to the Yamato of Nihon. These changes not only effectively Sinicize much of East Asia but also rapidly advance the states that lie within. These reforms even reach the nomads of the north and will eventually lead to the conflicts between the settled and nomadic peoples of the Grass Sea that form the Grand Khaganate.

Perhaps the greatest effect the Chinese states have on the world, however, is yet to come. Islam reaches Southeast Asia in the 11th century, and results in a vast series of wars between Muslim and non-Muslim southeast Asians. The Chinese occasionally meddle in the affairs, but largely the conflicts go ignored until the mid-14th century when the Malay peoples form a single dynasty controlling the straits that link the Donghai and Ratnakaran Oceans. After a century of conflict that had begun to include quarreling with the decidedly non-Muslim Chinese (though large enclaves in the Chinese states exist, particularly in Guangzhou and Lin’an), the new dynasty closed the straits to Chinese traffic except without heavy tolls and promises of special treaties with the Malays. This measure immediately impacted the profits and sustainability of coastal Chinese states and of the trade-heavy Nihon. A solution eventually arose: traders had for quite some time ventured north past the island of Ezochi and the string of islands there and towards a different string of islands that, it was said, led to an entirely different and vast land. The Emperor of Nihon had already been sending ships north to explore the lands after he had decisively claimed Ezochi just a decade before, and so sent vessels further north and to the legendary lands beyond. These lands would turn out to be the northernmost region of Jinshan (Gold Mountain), the first of two continents found by the East Asians. News of the discovery spread fast, even if not every Chinese state was interested. It would be the coastal states like Yue, Lu, and the Later Yan who would be the first to tentatively send their ships, crews, and later settlers beyond the bounds of East Asia towards the promised riches of the New World. Crossing the Donghai Ocean straight across was not possible at the time, and so a steady stream of ships turned north, around the curve of the world and cold waters of northern Asia and Jinshan, and then headed south to the warmer and richer lands there. They found areas like the Golden Bay to make land, interact with the natives, and set up trade. Some went even further south and found the great empires of the New World, the Aztecs, Mayan states, and the new but powerful Inca.

The interactions between the East Asians and peoples of Jinshan and Yinshan were complicated from the start. Disease brought from the Old World, even in far more limited forms than our own world, inflicted pain on the native populations and the population suffered. The Chinese were not ones to conquer, however, and instead worked on setting up trade, alliances, and settlement among the peoples already there. This was particularly apparently in regards to the Aztecs and Incans, who managed to hold on despite population and became well-regarded by the Chinese despite some of their violent ways. Settlement of the Chinese in their own states was largely confined to the West Coast of Jinshan, where connection to East Asia was easiest.  Settlement among the Aztecs, Incans, and other peoples certainly happened but there would not be any Chinese-led states in the region. Chinese contact would instead help spur on further developed of the native states throughout the two continents, with many formerly tribal or Bronze Age peoples flourishing with new technologies, philosophies, and weapons of war and trade; the horse was something of a revolution. In the east, Norsemen happened upon the places they called Newfoundland and Vinland and established colonies of their own there, though the sparsely-populated outposts would never achieve the political or cultural dominance the way the Chinese could. The balance of power in the Shans was forever after in Southern Jinshan and Western Yinshan. Over the next few centuries, native empires grew rapidly in the Mississippi Valley (using our own term for convenience) and in the south of Jinshan where various Aztec dynasties grew northwards, creating ever-larger empires of commerce and resource exploitation. The Incan Empire itself, under Chinese influence, grew to new heights of power and extended across much of the Western Coast of Yinshan.

Industrialization brought only more complications to the world. Beginning in the 17th century and progressing onward, the industrialization of the Chinese states and those in the Shans spread a whole new world of technology different from anything seen before. Travel on rails, mass media and production of books, high rates of literacy and the sciences, and revolutions in warfare. A few times states almost conquered all of China, most notably the expansionist Shu Republic, which was the first of its kind in China. Rail lines crisscrossed the width and breadth of East Asia, and the Grand Khaganate began to come into its own as a major power, conquering and pacifying many parts of northern China that had once belonged to the states now part of the Han Summer Union. Africa was particularly affected by industrialization, as the new methods of fighting disease and faster transportation allowed both native African states and settlers to reach deep into the continent. The centuries-long Scramble for Nzere began in earnest, with the result being a massive organization of many industrial states of various origins. Rome was slow to catch on to industrialization for some time, even as the nations of the Riksradet caught on, and languished thus. For a time, it seemed that internal rebellion and outside intervention might topple the Roman Empire as the 19th century began. At the same time, in the second wave of industrialization, the nations of the Shans came into their own, particularly the oil-rich nations of Anahuac and the Federation of Jinshan. The world’s first collectivist state also came about in the era with the birth of the Nēhiyaw Collective in 1795.

The 19th century, however, would be the time of greatest change, and have a massive effect on the world as it is today. It would be the so-called “Ice Age Century” in which temperatures around the world dropped even as tensions heated. Wars were fought across Africa and the Shans as industrial powers jockeyed for power and alliances were formed, fought, and were broken almost constantly. The House of Islam, for a time, was all but shattered as religious divisions threatened to unwind it, and it was only the so-called “Reformation” that could reunite the quarreling wings of Islam, though not nearly to the degree it had once been. Anahuac fought wars overseas for its allies, becoming the first power native to the Shans to exert itself on the world stage. The greatest conflict, however, came in the form of the Winter War, fought from 1829-1842. It involved virtually every nation in East Asia and only ended with the total destruction of the state known today as the Late Chu state. At the time, it was declared as the Late Chu dynasty in a fit of nationalist fervor following conflicts and famine earlier in the century and sought to unite the entirety of China under a single government and used brutal means to do so. The Chu managed to conquer almost all of the Chinese states before being defeated by a broad coalition including the Grand Khaganate, Nihon, and Cham Pa, as well as the Federation of Jinshan, though at the cost of millions of lives. At the same time as this bloodshed, The Troubles raged in the Roman Empire as it came apart at the seams to a series of governments and movements and warlords that saw the empire almost completely fall, were it not for a revolutionary government that arose, spread throughout the Roman lands, and eventually united them all in the new Spartacist Republic of Rome. Never before in human history had so many been witness to the violence that gripped the world in the 19th century.

Now, as the world moves into the 20th century, the peoples throughout seek to learn from the mistakes and take advantage of the breakthroughs that occurred in the past. The world has found itself in a long peace, with the various alliances and organizations managing to hold together in peace and harmony for a time. The Spartacists rule Rome and have helped it progress to a mighty nation, even if one still struggling behind its past greatness. New nations to become powers such as the Malagasy Empire—united by brilliant rulers and industrialized by their successors into one of the most dynamic growing powers—and the Mississippi Union seek to take up the mantle from the great nations of the last century who have begun to recede from past heights. It is a time when people are far more connected than ever before, where new technologies and breakthroughs are behind every corner from outer space to cyber space. The coming challenges as the world warms up seem at times almost trivial to the potential humanity wields.


At the forefront of all this is the Han Summer Union. It was conceived in the ashes of the last war, as humans looked up from the rubble and ruin towards the sky and the stars beyond, and the boundless potential that they as a united China and world would have. The Qin, successors of the so-called Late Chu, were one of the original supporters, strange as it may seem. They and the other states of the Chinese were able to see past their petty grudges and rivalries and the endless conflict that had plagued the long and brutal Winter Period towards the birth of a new Summer Period, in which a union of all Han peoples could make them all richer, smarter, and safer. It is not an easy union to maintain and has been rough around the edges. Some of the nations immediately outside of the Chinese sphere refuse to join, and movements inside sometimes threaten to unravel it. Yet it is a union worth fighting for and the many millions of China will not stop working hard to see that the birth of this new Summer Period will usher in a new age for all Chinese and for peoples across the world, moving towards an ever-brighter future.