The Scrooge Contribution by Raymond Speer
says: what if Ebenezer Scrooge acted as an intermediary with the
Confederacy? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not
necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
Part 1 May 3rd, 1861 -
President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy met with Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge
of the City of London that Friday and arrived at a mutual defense agreement.
Scrooge's terms were set out admirably. The precision
left no doubts in the minds of Davis' Cabinet that their new republic would
get the support of the United Kingdom, Even better, the British Prime
Minister, Lord Palmerston, had initiated the approach to the South and sent
to Richmond his "gray eminence" and master banker.
Even so, the term required for Britiain's support of the South was a
condition the South had never thought of making a factor of its struggle for
independence. Over first discussion of the matter, Vice President Stephens
and four members of the Confederate Cabinet (Toombs, Mallory, Memminger and
Reagan) advised against it.
"If our survival as a nation came about at such a price to the Union we have
left", said Toombs "we would be forever stand condemned before our erstwhile
"Mr. Toombs", said Jefferson Davis. "we shall have to meet many challenges
in the coming war, and not a few of the advantages we shall seek will bring
severe criticism from the North. It is better that our Southern States have
the North's condemnation of our agreements with allies than that the South
do without such necessary aid".
The commotion raised in Parliament was considerable when news of the Scrooge
Assignment was debated on the floor of the Commons. "Sensible men know the
Scrooge Proposal is nothing but piracy, plain and simple", wrote Charles
Francis Adams, the American Minister to the Court of St. James. "Its theft
from the common fund of our Great Republic is justified on no reason or
moral obligation. It is the bald assertion that England gets California if
the confederate states get their independence".
says this is the first Journal Entry of the
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please visit the
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Part 2 July 15th, 1861 - the
Parliament of Great Britain passed by a majority of twenty three a bill that
committed Britain to war for the Confederacy in exchange for the transfer of
California to the British Empire.
Though he lacked a majority, Benjamin Disraeli was
pleased with the response he had received from the House. "By bowing and
doffing our hats to our paymaster," Disraeli lectured, "we have shown that
we favor cash over any moral priciple, assuming we even recall what a moral
principle may be".
"Caliifornia is a pleasent end, a good outcome that might be arged to
justify many things. But the attachment of California to an act of
reenslavement upon four millions of Negroes in the South can never justify
that cruelty, that terror!"
That evening, Disraeli was the host of Ebenezer Scrooge, who had gone
privately to the chambers of the Opposition Leader to his plan. "You know
that Lincoln does not count emancipation as a war aim. Lincoln's repeated
call is for Southerners to submit to his authority and if that happens, he
will befriend them slavery and all".
"Mr.Lincoln's failure to embrace emancipation as an outcome of this war
proves he lacks imagination and spirit,"" agreed Disraeli. "The important
thing is that he has never conceded that his adversaries are right in any of
their behaviors, and, through his silence, he reserves the right to call on
better principles to rally men in the future.
With the news of Parliament's decision speeding around the world, Vice
Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, commander of the North American, West Indies
Squadron, took some housecleaning measures. The first step was to eliminate
those Union ships on blockade assignment before such ships could retire to
The USS _Hartford_ was scuttled after a fierce battle between the New
Orleans blockading detachment and a squadron of the Royal Navy commanded by
Commodore Dunlop. Persistant to his death, American David G. Farragut died
in that Battle of New Orleans when he blew up a ship entangled in a fight.
The US ship _Kearsarge_ encountered three British vessels near Ireland and
left all of them ransacked and on fire in July and August 1861. That ship
was sunk by the _Warrior_ on August 6 and ts crew taken into captivity.
On November 8, 1861, the American warship _San Jacinto_ boarded the British
mail ship _Trent_ and captured two Confederate diplomats who were passengers
on that ship. The _San Jacinto_, at speed, evaded the British Navy and made
port at Boston, where their exploit was some consolation given the news of
the British blockade.
Part 3 December 12th, 1861 -
the Royal Navy decided that raids on either New York or Boston would inflict
no useful damage on the United States, which had been busy fortifying those
ports for the preceding six months.
In a Cabinet decision of that month, Palmerston
authorized the _Warrior_ ironclad to join Admiral Milne's command in the
Atlantic. There were rumors that the US Navy was building an ironclad of a
remarkable new design in New York City, and the _Warrior_ was to counter
At the turn of 1861 and 1862, the Union percieved that it was at a
disadvantage in the courts of Paris. Following the Scrooge Contribution and
Confederate willingness to accept that term, French Emperor Louis Napoleon
contemplated assistance to Britain's new protege, the Confederacy.
Napoleon's immediate concern was getting money out of Mexico. where French
troops still occupied the main customs house of Vera Cruz, Mexico. Rather
than making a decision on what to do in Mexico, the Emperor failed to make a
plan and the number of French soldiers and sailors at Vera Cruz grew to a
force of 20,000 men.
Part 4 March 8th, 1862 - the
ironclad _Virginia_ made its first sortie against the Union ships at the sea
lanes of Hampton Roads, Virginia. The _Virginia_ exchanged a round of cannon
with the wooden _Cumberland_ and then rammed the _Cumberland_ as per
The relatively feeble engnes of the _Virginia_ were then shown inadequate
for the _Virginia_ to back out of a ram as expected. Losing its prow,
_Virginia_ backed enough to give the _Congress_ a devastating barrage from
the ironclad's cannons. Another ship, _Minnesota_ went to shallow water to
escape proximity to the _Virginia_. The first day of action (March 8) did
not involve the British ironclad _Warrior_, held in reserve that day, or the
Union _Monitor_, hurrying south for its encounter with the _Virginia__. The
beginning of the battle of the second day was lit by the light of the still
burning _Congress._ The least impressive ship that second day was the
_Virginia_ which was underengined and poorly built. The _Warrior_, struck
several times at its unarmored rudder, began leaking badly and was stuck in
the shallows of Hampton Roads, while the _Monitor_ was paralyzed by several
direct hits to its gun turret. The outcome was that all three ironclads were
rendered incapable of combat and withdrawn from further action.
As military fortunes swelled along the lines of General McClellan's
peninsular campaign against Richmond, the British Army had invaded across
the border with America in March 1862. Sir James Hope Grant lead five
thousand sepoys (transferred, like him, from India) into Seattle. The
British took the town, though much of the city was burned down.
In the next month (April 1862), Grant received fifteen thousand
reinforcements from across the Pacific Ocean. General Grant planned to go
south along the coast and clear out American resistance sloowly and
Meanwhile, the Pacific Squadron of Admiral Sir Thomas Maitland had been
occupied in making the Pearl Harbor port of Honolulu, Hawaii, a British
base. On April 1, 1862, the Squadron had attempted to occupy San Francisco
during the early morning fog but had been beaten off in a week of fighting.
In May, the Royal Navy made a second attempt that was again overcome by an
onslaught of numbers. The civilians of San Francisco far outnumbered their
adversaries in the Royal Navy and Marines.
On June 21, 1862, General James Hope Grant was defeated in the Rogue's River
battles of southern Oregon, and his forces dispersed and retreated following
the General's capture by a guerilla organization called the "Lake Tahoe
Part 5 December 1st, 1862 -
and days thereafter at the terminus of that year, millions of unsolicited
letters were mailed from inhabitants of Canada to residents of the Northern
States. Such mail also moved in the opposite direction and male and female
residents on both sides decided that they would take an initiative that
might disrail an already settled Government policy.
For example, John A. Macdonald published his "letter to
an American" that last month of Dec. 1862. "Sir, I have lived a peaceful,
prosperous liife without offense to you or your fellows yet my heart freezes
in fear for I know that your America has hundreds of thousands
of soldiers that will march on my quiet Canada as your soldiers seek to
steal Canada from us as early retaliation for our soldiers' role in
stealing California from your nation. How much better it would be if you
kept California and we kept our Canada!"
By January 1863, a response signed by Abraham Lincoln was
being published in a Toronto newspaper, & was authenticated by Abraham
Lincoln's White House. "I shall do nothing in malice. What I do is too vast
for malicious undertaking. I will rejoice when it can be proven to me that
no British Army in Canada shall march against any American county, and I
include in that wish a regard for continued neutrality in all American
territory including California. How I wish fervently that, by refusal to
wage war, the citizens of both Canada and the United States will stop such a
measure and bring peace regardless of the politicians on either side of the
Abraham Lincoln mailed an open letter to Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia
suggesting that he would not order an invasion of Canada in 1863 given a
promise by the enemy that no other efforts to subjugate California be
commenced. Viscount Palmerston made no response to Lincoln's letter to
Bismarck, but advocacy of such a position was extremely widespread,
particularly in Canada itself.
Part 6 January 16th, 1863 -
the Republican Congress passed the National Reconciliation Act and Abraham
Lincoln signed the same at a festive event that Friday evening.
The Act set up standards by which a State could seek
readmission of their Senators and Representatives to the United States
Congress. In the interim until an "ironclad" oath of fidelity was recorded
in favor of the Union by two-thirds of the State's residents, a Governor
would be appointed by the President to act in the State's interests under
close US Congressional supervision.
Part 7 February 12th and
13th, 1863 - a General Election was held for Parliament's House of Commons.
Viscount Palmerston, Prime Minister since 1855, was ousted from office and
Conservative Leader Lord Derby became Prime Minister. As Derby is a member
of the House of Lords, Benjamin Disraeli is the leader of the Conservative
Party in Commons.
Given the results from the battlefields, the political
transition had been anticipated for over a year. Two invasions of San
Francisco had been resisted and pushed back in 1862, and Grant's Expedition
had suffered a sharp setback on the banks of the Rogue River of southern
Those developments pretty well dismantled the Palmerston
Plan for an easy acquisition of California by the British.
Lord Palmerston acknowledged his defeat. "I ought to have
listened to my guts rather than Ebenezer Scrooge." In his own constituency,
Mr. Scrooge lost his election by 60% of the vote going to his Conservative
Lord Derby defers to his leader in the House, Benjamin
Disraeli, whose chief policy is the closure of the plan to annex California.
William E. Gladstone, who is working with Lord John Russell among the
remaining Liberals, cautions that British honor is tied to the promises of
independence made to the several States of the Southern Confederacy.
Jubilation sweeps down the St. Laurence on both sides of
the Canadian-American border on news of the General Election results. US
President Abraham Lincoln, accused of frustrating American military plans by
his delay in authorizing an invasion of Canada, issued new orders approving
of the dissolution of the Army of the Niagara & the Army of the Hudson.
In Richmond, Virginia, Admiral Sir Alexander Milne
visited Jefferson Davis in his office at the Confederate White House. The
Admiral told the President that he expected new orders to withdraw his
hundred ships from blockade duties, and that the Confederacy would once
again have to confront the Union with its own resources.
The President was cold and rude, stating that he did not
expect "our ally, our mother country, to desert us in the middle of this
President Davis had another appointment in two hours. He
and his Cabinet, assisted by input from General Lee, would decide on
Confederate policy on British withdraw.
Further afield, where the French had been quartered in
VeraCruz for more than a year, news arrived that the French were finally
going home. Tortured by indecision ((should Napoleon III take the
opportunity to conquer Mexico? should France join with England in seizing
California? should France take the field against the Union?)), the French
forces had done nothing but sit in the Mexican port. Benito Juarez received
news of the French departure with courtesy and concealed relief. He had long
feared that the French might try to get involved in internal Mexican
says the Pacifix and Dixie thread was originally published on the
Today in Alternate History web site.
Other Contemporary Stories
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