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Join or Die



In 1992, on this day Buckingham Palace announced the appointment of the next President-General of the British North American Union.

As expected following the retirement of Sir Geoffrey Howe, Mr Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC (pictured) would take up the appointment of vice-regal representative at Her Majesty's pleasure.

A prominent Tory politician and highly experienced diplomat, Mr Patten was considered a 'safe pair of hands' - in his current role as Governor of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, the Baron had introduced limited democratic reforms with the Legislative Council and also negotiated with the Chinese Government on behalf of Great Britain.

A spokesman for the Palace confirmed that the Crown's most senior minister in North America would be presented to members of the Grand Council after the Queen returned from the Christmas break at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

By January 20th the Crown's appointee would assume his full responsibilities for Indian relations, military preparedness, and execution of laws regulating various trade and financial activities.

Historically, those responsibilities had been defined by the Articles of Confederation ratified at the Albany Congress - in 1754, representatives from the colonies of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island met at Albany, New York from June 19 to July 11 to discuss better relations with the Indian tribes and common defensive measures against the French.

In a loyalist appeal to Join or Die, the resulting Plan of Union was urged by a colonist, Benjamin Franklin who subsequently justified the plea in 1789 by explaining that

On Reflection it now seems probable, that if the foregoing Plan or some thing like it, had not been adopted and carried into Execution, a subsequent Separation of the Colonies from the Mother Country might have happened, with Mischiefs suffered on both sides, perhaps during another Century.

For the Colonies, so united, were sufficient to their own Defence, and being trusted with it, as by the Plan, so that the different Parts of the Empire might remain in Peace and Union.

Author's Notes

With the appointment of Barack Obama so prominent in the media ("Public OK with Obama so far" being the most ludicrous headline of the day), we imagine a dystopian universe where a very different appointment occurs - some died in the wool Tories.

This concept was partly inspired by discussions with Todayinah Guest Historian Eric Lipps over the Albany Congress (an alt-hist web site suggested the POD) and also the controversy in Canada over the Crown's role in the continuation of Stephen Harper's minority government which is repeated below.

The name British North American Union originates from Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfus "Two Georges" novel also set in a still-British America in the 1990s.

Paul Sullivan in Let's retire the Queen writes ~

With apologies to Paul McCartney ... Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl, but why is she running my country?

As I've watched the remarkable events of the past week unfold, the most remarkable was the spectacle of Stephen Harper, hat in hand, tugging his forelock in the general direction of Michaëlle Jean, Mrs. Windsor's representative in Ottawa. You're familiar with Mrs. Windsor? That nice old lady in London with the corgis and the celebrity grandchildren? Her Majesty?

There hasn't been a lot of talk about the suitability of that exchange; I guess because most of us are relieved that Ms. Jean, a former Radio-Canada reporter with not one iota of experience in governance, just granted the prime minister's wish, and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition doesn't get to run the country, at least not yet.

But why do Mrs. Windsor and her envoy still run the country? Until last week, they have been little more than glorified lawn ornaments. Inviting them to your charity garden party adds instant class.

But what if Ms. Jean, who probably doesn't like Mr. Harper any more than Mr. Harper likes her, had decided to give the reins of power to Stéphane Dion and the balance of power to Chief Blochead Gilles Duceppe?

For one thing, we'd hear a lot more squawking about how it's time to end this outdated ridiculous subservience to Prince Charles' Mom. Instead, a grateful nation has decided to put aside any qualms about Ms. Jean, her former French citizenship, her rumoured separatist leanings, her absurd appointment as the Queen's representative, never mind the innate, fundamental absurdity of the Queen herself.<br>So what happens in January if Her Majesty's Loyal Etc. try to stick it to Stephen one more time? Back he goes, gripping his forelock, to visit Ms. Jean, and she informs him that “we are not amused,” and turns the government over to Michael or Rae and their little dog Jack? She can do that! She's Mrs. Windsor's envoy. Mrs. Windsor runs the country!

I simply can't believe we're still letting this happen. Here's what we need to do. Immediately, as a nation, we should grow up.

Then, we should send Ms. Jean back to Radio-Canada, tell Mrs. Windsor that it's time to retire as the Queen of Canada; thanks for the memories. Then we elect a president at large (as everyone mistakenly believes they vote for the prime minister anyway), while preserving the parliamentary democracy that we've come to know and love.

We do this through proportional representation, so we get the parties and the policies we want exactly in proportion to the popular vote. Now that's democracy.

And God Save Mrs. Windsor for another day.

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.