North American Confederacy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with North American Union.

North American Confederacy is an alternate history series of novels created by L. Neil Smith. The series includes the novel The Probability Broach and its sequels, and takes place in a country of the same name.

Novels[edit]

By Publication[edit]

By Chronology[edit]

  • The Probability Broach (1980)
  • The Nagasaki Vector (1983)
  • The American Zone (2001)
  • The Venus Belt (1980)
  • The Gallatin Divergence (1985)
  • Tom Paine Maru (1984)
  • Brightsuit MacBear (1988)
  • Taflak Lysandra (1989) [1]

Their Majestys' Bucketeers takes place in the same universe, though none of the characters from the series appear in it.[2]

History[edit]

The ostensible point of divergence leading to the North American Confederacy (NAC) is the addition of a single word in the preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence, wherein it states that governments "derive their just power from the unanimous consent of the governed." Inspired by this wording, Albert Gallatin intercedes in the Whiskey Rebellion to the benefit of the farmers, rather than the fledgling United States government. This eventually leads to the execution of George Washington, the abrogation of the U.S. Constitution, and the reestablishment of government under the revised Articles of Confederation, but with a much greater emphasis on individual freedom.

Over the ensuing century, the remnants of central government dissipate. Thomas Jefferson successfully leads the abolitionist movement to a peaceful end to slavery in 1820, and the absence of government interference creates a Libertarian utopia where science and medicine advance at a significantly greater pace than in our baseline history. Jefferson is also responsible for developing new systems of weights and measures ("metric" inches, pounds, etc.) and for devising a new calendar to honor the birth of liberty - the old year 1776 becomes Year Zero, Anno Liberatis. Alexander Graham Bell, freed from the duties of inventing the telephone by an earlier inventor, develops a voder technology which allows recognition that chimpanzees, gorillas, and other simians are sentient, and the greater primates are granted citizenship rights equivalent to all races of humans. Later, dolphins and orcas reveal their sentience and join the land civilizations.

In 1892, almost all North American Nations (California, Canada, Mexico, Newfoundland, Cuba, etc.) join together to form the NAC, a new nation whose government has almost no powers and which allows its citizenry to do as it pleases (so long as they don't violate anyone else's rights). The NAC is not involved in any major wars as a country, but a massive cohort of volunteers arises to fight whenever Federalist and Federalist sympathizers disturb the peace, most notably in Prussia in 1914, and against the Czar of Russia in Antarctica in 1957 (where the naval action is led by the NAC version of Robert A. Heinlein).

Other famous persons named in the series include NAC president Ayn Rand, who visits the Moon in the 1950s, and earlier NAC President H. L. Mencken (who was killed by his vice-president's mother after killing his vice-president in a duel). A west coast university is named after historical San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. By the start of the novel in 1986, the NAC spans the entire continent of North America as well as Greenland, with independent settlements on the Moon, Mars and the major asteroids. The government is an utterly powerless entity, with the presidency a largely honorary role preserved only as a coordinator of actions in national emergencies. Along the way, the libertarian philosophies of the Gallatin Party in the NAC remain in conflict with the remnants of Federalist party (sometimes referred to as Hamiltonians, after the man considered the real villain in the old United States, Alexander Hamilton), which continues to promote strong central government.

Presidents of the Old United States/North American Confederacy[edit]

The Probability Broach includes a timeline for the History of the United States, which includes a listing of those who followed Washington and Gallatin as the American Presidents. In this history, the US merged with several other nations to form the North American Confederacy in 1893. From that point, the individuals listed here are considered Presidents of the NAC. Note that many of these individuals are prominent in the history of either Anarchism or Libertarianism.

  1. George Washington: 1789 - 1794 (Executed)
  2. Albert Gallatin: 1794 - 1812
  3. Edmond-Charles Genêt: 1812 - 1820
  4. Thomas Jefferson: 1820 - 1826 (Died in Office)
  5. James Monroe: 1826 - 1831 (Died in Office)
  6. John C. Calhoun: 1831 - 1836
  7. Albert Gallatin: 1836 - 1840
  8. Sequoyah Guess: 1840 - 1842 (Killed in Battle)
  9. Osceola: 1842 - 1848
  10. Jefferson Davis: 1848 - 1852
  11. Gifford Swansea: 1852 - 1856
  12. Arthur Downing: 1856 - 1859 (Died in Office)
  13. Harriet Beecher Stowe: 1859 - 1860
  14. Lysander Spooner: 1860 - 1880
  15. Jean-Baptiste Huang: 1880 - 1888
  16. Frederick Douglass: 1888 - 1892
  17. Benjamin Tucker: 1892 - 1912
  18. Albert Jay Nock: 1912 - 1928
  19. H. L. Mencken: 1928 - 1933 (Assassinated after a duel)
  20. Frank Chodorov: 1933 - 1940
  21. Rose Wilder Lane: 1940 - 1952
  22. Ayn Rand: 1952 - 1960
  23. Robert LeFevre: 1960 - 1968
  24. None of the Above: 1968 - 1972 [3]
  25. John Hospers: 1972 - 1984
  26. Jennifer A. Smythe: 1984 - 1996
  27. Olongo Featherstone-Haugh: 1996 - 2000
  28. None of the Above: 2000 - ? [4]

Themes[edit]

The North American Confederacy is much more advanced in science and technology and much wealthier than our Earth, implying the author's view that libertarianism would solve the world's problems. An often criticised point of the world however is that it is never explored beyond the NAC's frontiers and the NAC possesses impossible amounts of wealth for the area it covers, this has led some to conclude the NAC is a faux-utopia, building its wealth upon brutal privatised exploitation of foreign countries. Smith states that his novels are written with the purpose of promoting libertarianism.[5][6]

Awards[edit]

The Probability Broach won the 1982 Prometheus Award, an award given by the Libertarian Futurist Society.[7] The Nagasaki Vector, Tom Paine Maru, The Gallatin Divergence, and The American Zone were all Prometheus Award finalists.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Uchronia lists the chronology of the series
  2. ^ WorldFAQ: L. Neil Smith's North American Confederacy
  3. ^ In The Venus Belt, Lucy Kropotkin claims that she came in second, avoiding the presidency by only one vote -- her own.
  4. ^ In the sequel, The Venus Belt, it was revealed that Olongo Featherstone-Haugh (pronounced "Fanshaw"), the gorilla who served as Vice-President in this book, had been elected President. At the end, Olongo retires and "None of the Above" (always an option on the ballot) is returned to office.
  5. ^ L. Neil Smith article on "Advocates for Self-Government"
  6. ^ A letter on Smith's website that stresses his libertarian ideology
  7. ^ Prometheus Awards

External links[edit]