List of Updates
Want to join?
Writer Development Section
Join Club ChangerS
Letters To The Editor
Terms and Conditions
Today in Alternate History
Day in Alternate History Blog
The Iron Cross of Texas
The German "colonists" who came to Texas in the 1830s and 1840s were
largely petty nobles and military officers determined to make themselves
into new Junkers ruling a German Texas -- and succeeded to a
considerable extent. Having done so, however, they were forced to
acknowledge the truth of Napoleon's maxim: "You can do anything with
bayonets except sit on them". They adapted to this reality - also to
considerable extent, although not entirely.
After the Staat von Texas was established by the coup of 1842,
immigration of German aristocrats continued and, in fact, increased, for
some years. After the failed revolutions of 1848-49, however,
immigration from the Germanies was largely of liberal bourgeois.
Fearing that they would be swamped by them, the Texas Herrenvolk enacted
measures that they hoped would keep them out of Texas, which measures
were largely successful. However, the Herrenvolk recognized that their
numbers were limited, and would be augmented but little; the reaction
meant the nobility was staying to dominate the German governments. At
the same time, the American (later called Janschiesser) element of the
population in Texas was resentful of German domination, and with
Janschiesser resentment went the sympathies of the U.S. government.
The obvious thing was for the Herrenvolk to recruit those elements that,
though they might hate Germans, hated Americans more. This, with some
success, they did.
The strongest of those elements was the Mexican population, augmented by
the Texan conquests in the Mexican War of 1849-52, and by Maximilian's
cessions in 1864. A second was runaway slaves (Schwartzvolk) from
Arkansas and Louisiana; the majority of the Janschiesser population was
of southern origin. The third, oddly enough, was the unassimilated
Indian (Urvolk) population. The Herrenvolk viewed themselves as
colonial masters, not as colonists in the English or American way. The
color of the peasant skins was of little moment to them.
Beginning in the 1850s, then, the German and German-descended Herrenvolk
began to recruit them for the power structure. Texas did not, of
course, become a racial paradise, or even a reasonable approximation of
one like, say, Brazil. However, whilst a Herrenmann knew himself to be
top dog, the alpha wolf, he was willing to grant the status of
acknowledged beta to a Meschikaner, an Urmann, or even a Schwartzmann.
Socially, and, to a limited extent legally, these were recognized as
largely autonomous communities, with obligations to the Staat, but
within which a man could hold whatever status he was capable of. A few
Meschikaners and Urmänner were even elevated to the constitutional
Interestingly, one source of recruitment for the Herrenvolk were the
British. They came as merchants, not intending to stay - and, generally
didn't; as with all peoples in another country, though, a few in each
generation decided that they liked the country (or its women) enough to
remain. The English have almost entirely assimilated to the Herrenvolk
(many Scots, peculiarly, have found that their affinities were with the
Urvolk; there are few Apache today who cannot claim at least one
Scottish ancestor). Indeed, the largest source of mobility between
racial and cultural groups is second- and third-generation
"Janschiessers", "Urvolk", and "Meschikaners" of
partial or completely
Mexicans in the Staat have a better legal and social position than did
Mexicans in the U.S. until the 1960s. Mexico itself, however, has a
more checkered history.
Since the German coup happened in 1842, Texas was not annexed by the
U.S. in 1845, and the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 did not occur. An
even more devastating war did occur in 1849-1852 with Texas, however.
Receiving the kind of aid from the British that the U.S. never did, the
Herrenvolk inflicted a series of devastating defeats on Mexico (whose
military leadership was no more competent than in OTL), and lost even
more territory. All that territory was not annexed by Texas, however;
it had, reluctantly, to share it with the newly formed California
The post-war period was just as confused in TTL Mexico as in OTL. As in
OTL, a Liberal government eventually took control and, as OTL, the
resulting financial chaos makes it impossible to pay the foreign debt
(in OTL, Benito Juárez merely suspended payment; I have Vicente Arista
actually repudiate it). A foreign expedition seizes Vera Cruz (the
U.S., as in OTL, is busy fighting a civil war) and, eventually, the
French crown Maximilian von Habsburg-Lotharingen Emperor of Mexico
(although two years earlier).
Here things diverge, however. The ATL Civil War lasts much longer
(although the last decade is essentially guerilla war and terrorism),
and the Staat acts as a physical and psychological buffer between the
U.S. and Mexico. Texas is willing to support Maximilian (for a price)
and the pressures that the U.S. can bring are insufficient to force
French troops to withdraw (although the Franco-Prussian War is).
Maximilian wins the civil war (and a second one in the 1880s), and
reigns until 1911. After the Franco-Prussian War, he is an absolute
ruler, and a fairly enlightened despot. He raises Mexico to the status
of an international power; if not a Great one, certainly one whose
opinions must be taken into account. He brings Mexico into the 19th
century (formerly it had been in the 18th, or even the 17th), and takes
it into the 20th. The benefits that his rule brings about, however,
largely accrue to a nobility of criollo or even foreign origin.
Maximilian dies just in time to avoid revolution; the troubled reign of
his son, Luis, is one long suppression of rebellion - or failure to do
so; in his last failure, he is deposed by his nephew Juan Galindo, who
assumes the leadership of the social revolution and suppresses the
(theoretically) causeless rebellions. Although the government remains
firmly in the hands of the aristocracy, economic benefits (including a
good deal of expropriated American, British, and Texan property) are
distributed widely enough to forestall further revolution for decades.
Not until the death of his grandson, Francisco, from a drug overdose, in
1973 is there an attempt to restore the republic...an attempt that is
firmly suppressed, after three years of civil war, by Francisco's
brother-in-law, Count Felipe Sagasta, soon thereafter the Emperor
The Texan-Mexican border is much less well-defined, and consequently,
even more porous than the U.S.-Mexican border in OTL. On the other
hand, the Herrenvolk are much less hesitant to be brutal than the OTL
government of the U.S. is - and the Meschikaner community identifies
with the Staat more than they do with their dustyfoot cousins from the
ATL Emperors of Mexico
Luis 1911-1929 son; deposed by
Juan Galindo 1929-1947 nephew
Galindo 1947-1957 son; assasinated
Francisco 1957-1973 son
(civil war) 1973-1976
Felipe 1976- brother-in-law
Felipe's son, Juan Galindo II, will succeed one of these days soon; the
Emperor is getting on in years.
The U.S. is a smaller, angrier, and more chauvinistic place than in
OTL. The coup of 1842 put paid to hopes of a friendly annexation of
Texas, and the U.S. was never able to do so. Neither did it have cause
or opportunity to fight the Mexican-American War, and annex the
Southwest. Moreover, these things meant that "Manifest Destiny"
had the effect on American politics that it did in OTL; the American
government was never able to insist on a partition of the Oregon country
between the U.S. and Britain, but instead had to accept the notion of a
formal U.S.-U.K. condominium, one that terminated in 1880 with the
formal independence of the Oregon Union (in OTL terms, British Columbia,
Washington, Oregon, and Idaho).
The U.S. got the German and Irish immigrants of the 1840s and 1850s, but
not the later ones of the 1890-1920 period (there were fewer places for
them to go). In fact, the people who made those later immigrants in OTL
largely stayed home; the U.S. couldn't take them all (although it did
take some), Texas didn't want them at all, and Deseret only wanted them
if they would convert to Mormonism, which most wouldn't. California and
Oregon did take some, California because it wanted a stronger white
population to combat the "Yellow Peril", Oregon because it was too
cheerfully disorganized to turn them away (or even want to).
Culturally, it's difficult to find any notion in TTL U.S. that
originates east of the Elbe or south of the Danube; pasta and pirogies
are scarce, although recipes for potato-and-sausage casseroles abound.
Without the vast western acquisitions, the Civil War took a darker turn.
Southerners, without the (unrealistic) hopes of spreading slavery
throughout the West by "squatter sovereignty", began to agitate for
recognition of their "peculiar institution" to be given a recognized,
special Constitutional status. This rapidly changed to demands that
their states be given such a status; this not being forthcoming, the
Civil War begins four years early. The South is relatively a little
stronger vis-a-vis the North than in OTL; the war goes on longer. When
organized military resistance is finally crushed, though, defeated
Southrons don't have a West to escape to (Texas does not want more
Americans); guerilla warfare and frank terrorism ensue against Union
armies and Union administrators (think the Ku Klux Klan on a much larger
scale). This is exacerbated by Bell's (the U.S. President in 1861-69)
Emancipation Proclamation, the product of six years of war rather than
only two; it not only promises the Southern slaves freedom, but also the
confiscated property of their rebellious masters if they rebel in turn.
The problem isn't solved until Gaines' "Scouring of the South" in the
mid-1870s creates a Tacitean peace there (think Sherman's March to the
Sea, but from the Mississippi, not just from Atlanta). By 1876,
everything south and west of the Virginia border (Virginia does not
secede in TTL) is back to where it was about 1730; only the Carolinas
and Louisiana (all under majority black governments) have been
re-recognized as states again by 1920.
This in turn led to very different ideas on race and race relations than
in TTL. "Separate but equal" had a good deal more meaning; Dixie
run by blacks (most white Southerners were either dead or living on a
medieval level), who were the majority in most places, sometimes the
great majority. The Great Migration during and after World War I didn't
take place; most blacks were comparatively well-off, certainly enough
that they saw no reason to pack up and leave. Seeing a black face on
the streets of TTL Boston is almost as uncommon a sight as in OTL
Stockholm. A black man is definitely a second-class citizen in New
York, Philadelphia, or Cincinnati - but, then, so is a white man in
Charleston, New Orleans, or Belltown (slavery failed to give Southern
blacks a truly enlightened attitude towards race relations).
Of the slightly more than 100 million U.S. citizens recorded in the TTL
2000 census, about one-third self-identify black; almost all of them
live south of Virginia. Of the 72 senators and 291 representatives in
the U.S. Congress in 2002, 21 and 88, respectively, are black (North
Carolina recently elected its first white senator since before the Civil
War). The U.S. is no more a racial paradise than is Texas, but its
black population - a minority in the U.S. as a whole, but a majority in
Dixie -- is generally satisfied at being its own masters - and the
masters of more a few descendants of slave owners, besides.
John W. Braue, III