Pilot of the Storm by Steve Payne
says: what if the Constitution had been fixed before the USCW even broke
out? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily
reflect the views of the author(s).
In 1861, on this day the
Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter forced the US Congress to dismiss
President James Buchanan's administration less than one month after resuming
The scenario that the legislative arm of government might need to fire the
executive had not been foreseen by the Founding Fathers, who instead of
crowning George Washington, had proclaimed that the US Constitution was
"No elastic element, everything is rigid,
But the decision to place their trust in a
sacred, but rigid and unbending rule of law had proven as dangerous as
reliance on a monarch because it required flexible intepretation by a
strong-willed Chief Magistrate. And the trouble was, a weak succession of
Presidents since Andrew Jackson had exposed major flaws in the American
system of government.
"[Apart from the electing moment] has not the
ballot-box before it; its virtue is gone, and it must wait till its
instant of despotism again returns'"
By the mid 1850s the country was heading for Civil War, unchecked by
the bold and imaginative leaders that might preserve the Union. And so
Walter Bagehot was invited from England, a man of letters widely
considered to be the leading expert on constitutional matters of the day.
Bagehot's committee proposed a series of jaw-dropping recommendations, but
the central proposal was undisputed.
Because America's fixed term system surely did embed apathy in the body
politic. And the scenario foreseen by Bagehot, a national crisis in which
a "pilot of the calm" would need to be quickly replaced by a "pilot of the
storm" arrived soon enough.
says original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's
genius © Frank Prochaska, "The View from Albion Bagehot and the
Constitution: The English political journalist Walter Bagehot was one of the
few contemporary commentators on either side of the Atlantic to grapple with
the constitutional issues that lay behind the outbreak of the American Civil
War", published in Today in History, February 2010.
Other Civil War Variants
Editor of Today in
Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History
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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