North American Confederacy

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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, where in 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 in 1794 to the benefit of the farmers, rather than the fledgling United States government as he does in real life. This results in the rebellion to become a Second American Revolution. This eventually leads to the overthrowing and execution of George Washington by firing squad for treason, the abrogation of the U.S. Constitution, and Gallatin being proclaimed the second president. In 1795, a new caretaker government is established and revised version of the Articles of Confederation is ratified in 1797, but with a much greater emphasis on individual and economic freedom.

After the war, Alexander Hamilton flees to Prussia and lives there until he is killed in a duel in 1804.

Over the ensuing century, the remnants of central government dissipate. The government can no longer create money, only individual people can, being backed by gold, silver, wheat, corn, iron, and even whisky.

In 1803, Albert Gallatin and James Monroe arrange the Louisiana Purchase from France, borrowing money from private sources against the value of the land.

Thomas Jefferson successfully leads the abolitionist movement to a peaceful end to slavery in 1820. Jefferson is also responsible for developing new systems of weights and measures ("metric" inches, pounds, etc.). He also devised a new calendar system in to honor the birth of liberty - the old year 1776 becomes Year Zero, Anno Liberatis (Latin for year of liberation). When Jefferson first proposed the new calendar system in 1796, he originally marked it to Gallatin's ascension to the presidency. However, Gallatin protested that the real revolution was in 1776, and that the Federalist period should be regarded as an aberration, and that commemorating, even by implication, the overthrowing and execution of George Washington might set a hideous precedent (as Gallatin insisted that historians should still count Washington as the first president). Jefferson and Gallatin compromised and utilized 1776 as the new Year Zero.

The absence of government interference creates a Libertarian utopia where science and medicine advance at a significantly greater pace than in our baseline history. Alexander Graham Bell, freed from the duties of inventing the telephone by an earlier inventor named Elisha Gray in 1867 (91 A.L.), 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 on in history, dolphins, porpoises, and orcas reveal their sentience and join the land civilizations. In 1888 (102 A.L.), Thomas Edison invents electrically heated streets. In 1947 (171 A.L.), colored television is invented. In 1993 (217 A.L.), mastodons are cloned back to life with frozen tissue.

In 1893 (117 A.L.), almost all North American Nations and territories (Alaska, California, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Newfoundland, Texas, etc.) join together to form the NAC, a new nation whose government has very little power 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 (138 A.L.), and against the Czar of Russia in Antarctica in 1957 (181 A.L.) (where the naval action is led by the NAC version of Robert A. Heinlein).

Other famous people 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 series in 1986, the NAC spans the entire continent of North America as well as Greenland, though Panama appears to still be part of Colombia. The capital city of the NAC is Gallatinopolis, which is located in the geographical center of the North American continent. The NAC also has independent settlements on the Moon (which were established in 1949 (173 A.L.) ), Mars, and on 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 North American nations to form the North American Confederacy in 1893. From that point, the individuals listed here are considered Presidents of the NAC. It should be noted that many of these individuals are prominent in the history of either Anarchism or Libertarianism.

  1. George Washington: 1789 - 1794 (13 - 18 A.L.) (Executed)
  2. Albert Gallatin: 1794 - 1812 (18 - 36 A.L.)
  3. Edmond-Charles Genêt: 1812 - 1820 (36 - 44 A.L.)
  4. Thomas Jefferson: 1820 - 1826 (44 - 50 A.L.) (Died in Office)
  5. James Monroe: 1826 - 1831 (50 - 55 A.L.) (Died in Office)
  6. John C. Calhoun: 1831 - 1836 (55 - 60 A.L.)
  7. Albert Gallatin: 1836 - 1840 (60 - 64 A.L.)
  8. Sequoyah Guess: 1840 - 1842 (64 - 66 A.L.) (Killed in Battle)
  9. Osceola: 1842 - 1848 (66 - 72 A.L.)
  10. Jefferson Davis: 1848 - 1852 (72 - 76 A.L.)
  11. Gifford Swansea: 1852 - 1856 (76 - 80 A.L.)
  12. Arthur Downing: 1856 - 1859 (80 - 83 A.L.) (Died in Office)
  13. Harriet Beecher Stowe: 1859 - 1860 (83 - 84 A.L.)
  14. Lysander Spooner: 1860 - 1880 (84 - 104 A.L.)
  15. Jean-Baptiste Huang: 1880 - 1888 (104 - 112 A.L.)
  16. Frederick Douglass: 1888 - 1892 (112 - 116 A.L.)
  17. Benjamin Tucker: 1892 - 1912 (116 - 136 A.L.)
  18. Albert Jay Nock: 1912 - 1928 (136 - 152 A.L.)
  19. H. L. Mencken: 1928 - 1933 (152 - 157 A.L.) (Assassinated after a duel)
  20. Frank Chodorov: 1933 - 1940 (157 - 164 A.L.)
  21. Rose Wilder Lane: 1940 - 1952 (164 - 176 A.L.)
  22. Ayn Rand: 1952 - 1960 (176 - 184 A.L.)
  23. Robert LeFevre: 1960 - 1968 (184 - 192 A.L.)
  24. None of the above: 1968 - 1972 (192 - 196 A.L.) [3]
  25. John Hospers: 1972 - 1984 (196 - 208 A.L.)
  26. Jennifer A. Smythe: 1984 - 1992 (208 - 216 A.L.)
  27. Olongo Featherstone-Haugh: 1992 - 2000 (216 - 224 A.L.)
  28. None of the above: 2000 - ? (224 - ? A.L.)[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 is a superior political order. Smith states that his novels are written with the purpose of promoting libertarianism.[5][6]

Criticism[edit]

An often criticized point of the world, 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 the brutal exploitation of foreign countries.

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" (which is 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]