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Author Topic: 6-year terms: An Alternate History of the Presidency  (Read 2212 times)
themadmac
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« on: January 23, 2005, 08:20:27 am »
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Here's one to chew on... Years ago, Jimmy Carter stated in a TV interview that all then-living Presidents agreed that a single 6-year term was the way to go.

What if it had been that way from the start, back in 1789? George Washington assuredly serves the first term, from 1789-1795, but with him ineligible for re-election, what happens next?

This list is an alternative history I've concocted trying to answer that question. Don't bother being too analytical with this - I thought it out, but with anything of this nature there are things that at least seem unrealistic. Feel free to create your own in this threat using your own theories - its alternative history, after all!

In my alternate history, the first four administrations go in the same order:

1. George Washington (1789-1795)
2. John Adams (1795-1801)
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1807)
4. James Madison (1807-1813)

The War of 1812 causes the first skew of history. The war is going badly for Madison, making James Monroe a not-so obvious choice to succeed him. Instead DeWitt Clinton gets the nod.

5. DeWitt Clinton (1813-1819)

Clinton's administration ends the War of 1812 and Monroe, who is a big part of the peacemaking, becomes Clinton's hand-picked choice to be the nation's 6th president.

6. James Monroe (1819-1825)

The four-way race of 1824 to succeed Monroe still occurs, but JQA doesn't loom nearly as large while Jackson's war hero status does, allowing him to cruise to an electoral win.

7. Andrew Jackson (1825-1831)

Henry Clay beats John C. Calhoun in the 1830 election to finally get the keys to the White House. And his presidency has sufficient coattails to get his VP elected to succeed him:

8. Henry Clay (1831-1837)
9. Theodore Frelinghuysen (1837-1843)

Thanks to Frelinghuysen's attempts to end slavery's expansion, the Whigs lose the south in 1842, allowing a DEM dark horse from Tennessee to take the White House...

10. James Knox Polk (1843-1849)
11. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)

As in reality Taylor succeeds Polk, only to die in office. At the 1848 Whig convention though, Millard Fillmore is by-passed for the man who (in reality) finished second to him in the VP balloting. And so it is Abbot Lawrence, not Millard Fillmore, who rises from obscurity to the highest office in the land.

12. Abbot Lawrence (1850-1855)

As in reality, the wrong man at the wrong time steps up to take the helm as the nation runs full speed toward civil war...

13. James Buchanan (1855-1861)
14. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

The civil war erupts upon Lincoln's election, and ends pretty much the same way as in reality - with the defeat of the Confederates and Lincoln's assassination. Tennessee military governor Andrew Johnson weeps for the fallen President as Vice President Hannibal Hamlin is sworn in to complete Lincoln's term.

15. Hannibal Hamlin (1865-1867)
16. Ulysses Grant (1867-1873)

The race to succeed Grant is the most interesting and chaotic in American political history. DEM nominee Horace Greeley defeats sitting VP Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio, only to die on November 29, 1872, before the electoral college gives its votes. The DEM's assume electors will simply elect VP choice Thomas A. Hendricks as President, but instead they split their votes among 4 candidates, leaving none with the necessary majority. Hendricks meanwhile is elected Vice President as originally intended.

The race goes to the Republican-dominated House which, along strict party lines, elects Benjamin Franklin Wade of Ohio as President. Hendricks, a DEM VP serving under a REP President, ultimately does wind up in the White House however, as Wade dies on March 2, 1878.

17. Benjamin Franklin Wade (1873-1878)
18. Thomas Andrews Hendricks (1878-1879)

A decision by Hendricks not to seek a term of his own, DEM disarray and the work of the New York political machine result in a surprise candidate to win the White House for the GOP in each of the next two elections:

19. Roscoe Conkling (1879-1885)
20. Chester Alan Arthur (1885-1886)

Arthur makes it to the White House without Garfield's death, but instead he dies in office, of bright's disease, just a year into his term. VP Thurman succeeds, becoming the 5th President of the past six with ties to New York and/or Ohio.

21. Allen Granberry Thurman (1886-1891)
22. Grover Cleveland (1891-1897)

Strangely, Cleveland takes the oath of office as the 22nd President... just as he did in reality.

23. William McKinley (1897-1901)

McKinley is still dies but Theodore Roosevelt isn't the VP. McKinley's 1896 running mate, Garret Hobart, died in 1899. The succession law of the day elevates Senate President pro tempore William Pierce Frye of Maine to the nation's highest office as our first "Acting President," ending a period of 34 years where, for all but 367 days, a New Yorker or Ohioan lived in the White House.

Act. William Pierce Frye (1901-1903)

The DEM's then win the White House in 1902 and keep it through 1920...

24. Alton Brooks Parker (1903-1909)
25. William Jennings Bryan (1909-1915)

Bryan's strong aversion to conflict (in reality he resigned as Secretary of State in 1915 to protest what he termed "U.S. warmongering") costs us when the Germans provoke war in 1914 by sinking U.S. ships. In October 1914, he declares war under enormous pressure to do so.

26. Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1915-1921)

Thanks to Bryan the war takes much longer to prosecute. Wilson suffers a massive stroke while meeting with his military commanders in September 1919, and unlike the actual, peacetime history, during wartime Congress refuses to indulge an incapacitated President, "temporarily" transferring executive authority to the VP.

Act. Thomas Riley Marshall (1919-1921)

With WW I ending in late 1919, Acting President Marshall is reluctant to commit U.S. troops abroad again. This reluctance has tremendous implications, as America takes a neutral stance in the russian civil war - not deploying troops to support the "white" forces as we did in reality. Though he fails to win a term in his own right, he does win something else by causing it not to ever happen - the Cold War.

27. Charles Evans Hughes (1921-1927)
28. Herbert Clark Hoover (1927-1933)

Hoover's term beginning earlier, his economic policies actually sink the nation into the Great Depression sooner, in mid-1928 rather than in late 1929. In reality or alternate history the result is the same on March 4, 1933: Hoover out, FDR in.

29. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1939)

The New Deal of FDR hasn't yet proven effective by 1939, and the people, tired of what is now 11 years of depression, return the Republicans to power, figuring they can't do any worse.

30. Wendell Lewis Willkie (1939-1944)

The administration stumbles badly when the Germans provoke us into World War II by aerial bombardment of ships in international waters off the french coast. The Japanese take Hawaii briefly in 1943 but things are starting to turn our way, with an invasion of Europe planned for mid-1945. President Willkie never lives to see it though, dying of a massive heart attack on October 8, 1944.

31. Robert Alphonso Taft (1944-1951)

Taft, already a candidate to succeed Willkie in the 1944 election, becomes President upon Willkie's death. He's then elected in his own right, making him the longest-serving President in American history at 7 years, 3 months and 12 days. WW II ends in 1946 with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan.

32. Dwight David Eisenhower (1951-1957)

Nothing stops Ike from being elected. Everybody likes Ike. But with no anti-communist credentials to run on, his actual VP, Richard Nixon, never even is elected to Congress, living out his life as a corporate attorney in Los Angeles.

33. Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1957-1963)

Presidential hopeful John Kennedy makes some headlines in 1962 when women start making public their daliances with the dashing, but married, Senator from Massachusetts. JFK's White House hopes dashed, the party turns to the one DEM who can succeed Adlai.

34. Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969)
35. Hubert Horatio Humphrey (1969-1975)

After 18 years of DEM's controlling the White House, a middle east oil crisis and rising inflation result in DEM nominee Edmund Muskie being defeated by a long-rising star in the Republican ranks...

36. Ronald Wilson Reagan (1975-1981)
37. Gerald Rudolph Ford (1981-1987)

Reagan's economic policies stop inflation and in 1980 the Gipper's VP succeeds him. Reagan suggests to Ford that he make CIA director George H.W. Bush his VP choice, but Ford picks Bob Dole instead, making Bush his Secretary of Energy - the highest post he (or his son) will ever hold in government service. In 1986 the DEMs get serious about taking back the White House, running a New Yorker with strong credentials and a well-received speaking style...

38. Mario Matthew Cuomo (1987-1993)
39. William Jefferson Clinton (1993-1999)
40. Albert Arnold Gore (1999-2005)

Another 18-year run of the Democratic Party occurs with Cuomo doing well during his term, Clinton doing okay, and Gore earning points internationally while annoying his constituents at home by taking strong environmental policies that weaken the short-term American economy.

41. John Sidney McCain (2005-present)

A maverick who is seen by some as a moderate, McCain easily defeats DEM nominee John Kerry in the 2004 election to get the REP party its first win in 18 years.
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ATFFL
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2005, 10:54:36 am »
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Apparently changes in the US have zero bearing on the rest of the world.

A good premise and it works well enough for what it is, but things would fall apart by the time of the election of Henry Clay.

The notion that 200+ years later the exact same people would be in the exact same places and doing the exact same thing is preposterous.

With the wrong people at the wrong time there is no reason to think that the Civil War would hold off as long as it did.
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Akno21
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2005, 11:08:31 am »
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Very interesting.
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Harry
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2005, 11:36:25 am »
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A good read. Smiley
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Joe Republic
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 11:39:59 am »
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An interesting take, but I also think its very hard to keep the timeline from detracting too far from our own after about the first, say, 50 years.  Its hard to imagine that after 200 years of alternative presidents with many different policies and beliefs, we'd still have Bill Clinton serve as president from 1993-1999.  Still, I couldn't do any better, so well done. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2005, 05:15:00 pm »
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I don't understand how the Cold War was averted. Are you suggesting the Whites would have won if Amrica hadn't intervened? Or are you saying American intervention in the russian Civil War was what historically caused the Cold War, rather than the postwar division of Europe? (A view I have never encountered before).
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2005, 05:24:05 pm »
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I found this very interesting, you should do some more like this.
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MaC
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 06:46:03 pm »
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what's interesting about this, is it's like Mexico's system.  In Mexico a President is elected for 6 years, but they cannot run for re-election, as of now, they have Vicente Fox who won in 2000, but will have to give the position to someone else in 2006.
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2005, 12:02:33 am »
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1. George Washington (1789-1795) and
2. John Adams (1795-1801) are obvious enough.

Adams will remove Hamilton two years earlier.  Net effect is a slight pro-Federalist shift, which along with home State support lead to ...

3. Charles Coatsworth Pinckney (1801-1807)
There is no Marbury v. Madison case as Marbury gets his appointment from John Jay without controversy.
In 1804, The 12th Amendment, allowing the US to acquire territory is ratified and the Louisiana Purchase is completed.  Thanks to the 12th Amendment, a precedent is set of interpreting the Constitution narrowly.  In 1806,  Justice Samuel Chase is impeached (as he was in our time line in 1804) but as in our time line he is not convicted by the Senate, thereby helping to establish that impeachment is not to be used for political purposes.

4. Charles Pinckney (1807-1813)
The Democratic-Republicans unite behind the President's cousin who had become a strong advocate of the common man (common white man that is) in the 1790's  Both he and his running mate, Aaron Burr receive the same number of electoral votes, but with the Congress firmly in the hands of the Democratic-Republicans, Burr doesn't pull his stunt.   Still, some people realize the potential problem, and propose doing something, but it doesn't seem urgent.

There is no Embargo Act, as Pinckney isn't as worried about Europe, and with a larger US fleet (6 ships of the line and 12 frigates instead of only 6 frigates), he decides to try convoying American merchant ships instead.  It has limited success, but serves to keep down the number of American sailors impressed into the British Navy.

In 1809, Zebulon Pike and William Clark lead the Corps of Discovery up the Missouri in hopes of discovering the Northwest Passage.  They would hire Toussaint Charbonneau as per our time line as a guide/interpreter, but instead of his second wife, Sacagawea, his third wife, Minnepata would go along.(Toussaint had a habit of marrying young Indian girls that would make an early Mormon proud, he is known to have had at least 5 wives, and may have had more.)

5. James Madison (1813-1819)
Is best known in this time line for Madison's War.  While he wasn't a proponent of the war, with it starting in April 1813 and ending in December, 1818, the war defined his presidency, so it was only natural to name it after him.  The early success of invading Canada and New Brunswick led to later reverses when the British were able to turn their full attention on the Americas after the defeat of Napolean. The Brisish used their naval superiority to great advantage in 1815, seizing New Orleans, raiding a number of coastal cities, including Providence and Washington, and retaking New Brunswick.  In 1816, the British concentrated in the two main rivers, the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi, taking Quebec, Montreal, and Vicksburg.  The 1817 campaign had little effect so 1818 saw a search for peace.  The Treaty of Ghent largely restored the pre-war status quo, but the northern borders of New Hampshire and Massachusetts are trimmed back to match New York and Vermont at 45 N.

6. William H. Crawford (1819-1825)
While there was a good deal of war weariness, there was also a desire to do something to assauge the sting of having to cede territory as well.  There was also the first inklings of future troubles brewing over slavery.  The result was the Missouri Compromise of 1822.  The states of Maine and Missouri (OTL N. Missouri and SW Iowa) were admitted as free states. The state of Jackson (S. Missouri and NE Arkansas), named after the general who had died in the successful campaign to retake Vicksburg from the British in 1818, would be a slave state, and East Florida and Cuba would be acquired from Spain, preferably by treaty, but if need be, by war.  The Spanish-America War of 1822-1824, saw East Florida easily occupied, and the defeat of the Spanish Navy at the Battle of Key West, ensured that Spain had no choice but to cede Cuba as well, altho the US had to pay $90 million to Spain in return.  Crawford suffered a stroke in 1823, and while he did recover, Vice President Calhoun served as Acting President, despite concerns about the constitutionality of the arrangement.

7. John Quincy Adams (1825-1831)
A nice quiet period in US politics except for the passage of the 13th (Internal Improvements), 14th (Seperate election of President and Vice President), 15th (Presidential succession), and 16th (Electors to be chosen by popular vote) Amendments.

8. John C. Calhoun (1831-1837)
His vetoes of tariff acts causes Calhoun's name to still be spoken by those who champion the cause of free trade.  The two party system which had become largely moribund under the two previous administrations, came back to life with Calhoun's Republicans fending off Clay's Whigs.

9.  Martin Van Buren (1837-1843)
Not much was accomplished during his term, mainly because he had to deal with a hostile Whig-controlled Congress for most of it.

10. Aaron Alston Jr. (1843-1849)
The fourth and so far, the last president from South Carolina.  The grandson of Aaron Burr in this time line, he doesn't exist in our time line.  His support of the annexation of Texas led to the Republicans regaining control of Congress and the Mexican-American War of 1844-1847.  In addition to Texas, California, and New Mexico, Tamaulipas, New Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Yucatan were all annexed.

11. Winfield Scott (1849-1855)
The news of California gold is slow to spread.  John Sutter was able to get his land claim confirmed in this ATL well before the gold was discovered.  Besides, the US has other uses for footloose men.  Despite losing the White House to the Whigs for the first time, the Republicans still control Congress, and to quell Northern mutters, it's time to fight the British again of course and try a third time to sieze Canada.  In 1852 the Oregon War begins and is still being fought when Scott leaves office.

12. Stephen Douglas (1855-1861)
The US controls the land, but the UK controls the seas   Mexico had too much in the way of internal troubles to even consider joining the fun.  With other commitments pressing Britain (Crimea, Indian Revolt) a deal is struck.  The US is ceded the Bahamas, British Honduras, and Oregon (but not Vancouver Island) in exchange for $500 million.  If it weren't for California gold and Southern cotton, the US wuld have a hard time funding all that, but it has them, so it can.

13. Jefferson Davis (1861-1867)
President Davis is troubled by fringe elements of the abolitionist movement, and tries to actively brand them as British stooges.  While not entirely untrue, such claims are overblown.

14. Abraham Lincoln (1867-1871)
In a tough three way race, the Whig candidate, Lincoln wins over Republican Benjiman Butler and Democrat John Fremont.  The anti-slavery Democrats have most of their support in New England, the Pacific Coast, and the former Mexican States.  Slavery isn't really an issue that excites midwest voters and the South isn't as worried about the abolitionists as it was in our time line, so the Whig party is able to remain intact.  Lincoln dies from a stroke in May, 1871, bringing his Vice President to office.

15. Alexander Stephens (1871-1879)
The completion of the transcontinental road and the passage of abolition by the State of Delaware were the notable accomplishments of this peaceful time.

Continued...
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My ballot:
Haley(R) Gov.
Sellers(D) Lt. Gov.
Hammond(R) Sec. of State
Diggs(D) Att. Gen.
Herbert(D) Comptroller Gen.
Spearman(R) Supt. of Education
DeFelice(American) Commissioner of Agriculture
Hutto(D/Working Families) US Sen (full)
Scott(R) US Sen (special)
Geddings(Labor) US House SC-2
Quinn(R) SC House District 69
TBD: Lex 1 School Board
Yes: Am. 1 (allow charity raffles)
No: Am. 2 (end election of the Adj. General)
No: Local Sales Tax
Yes: Temp Beer/Wine Permits
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2005, 12:03:10 am »
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16. Samuel Tilden (1879-1885)
This energetic Republican reformer got the US civil service started.

17. John Sherman (1885-1891)
This was the last Whig president elected, as the party began to break apart on the triple shoals of abolition, prohibition, and sufferage.

18. Grover Cleveland (1891-1897)
19. William Jennings Bryan (1897-1903)
20. Venustiano Carranza (1903-1909)
Nothing much happened under these three Republican Presidents.  There was progress made towards the abolition of slavery, with several States passing gradual or compensated  laws for the abolition.

21. Eugene V. Debs (1909-1915)
This president was elected under a Democrat-Socialist-Labor fusion ticket.  Commonly called The Great Amender.  28 different amendmentswere proposed by Congress during his adminstartion, 16 of which actually passed.  The 39th Amendment whchc was adopted in 1915 mandated that by January 1, 1920 all States have a program of gradual emancipation in place with no one to be a slave by January 1, 1950.  This would prove to have unanticipated consequences in the deep south States that opposed the measure.

22. Upton Sinclair (1915-1921)
US politics was in a mess with no less than seven major parties.
Republican, Whig, Democrat, Socialist, Liberal, Labor, and Conservative all formed various regional fusions to get elected.  While it was Republican-Liberal Upton Sinclair who won the presidency, it was the Republican-Whig-Conservative Governor Tillman of South Carolina who would spark the firestorm that would define Sinclair's Presidency.  His solution to the required program of emancipation was simple, but chilling.  In order to be emancipated, a slave had to be sterilized.   It was soon adopted by not only South Carolina, but eight other States as well.  In theory, a slave could choose to remain a slave, but many were forcibly emancipated, and not a few free blacks in the South were re-emancipated.  It is estimated that over 10 million sterilzations were performed in the next three decades, and not always in the best of conditions, with an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 dying from complications from the procedures.  There was an uproar, but it wasn't enough to get the Federal government to do anything.  It was enough of a roar that we stayed out of the Great War, as the US was preoccupied with internal issues.

23. Calvin Coolidge (1921-1927)
24. Herbert Hoover (1927-1933)
The parties coalesced to three by the start of Collidge's first term.  The Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the Labor Party. These two Liberal presidents weren't outwardly energetic, but the US wasn't in the mood for that so all was well.

25. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1939)
This Labor Governor of New York tried to shake the US out of its inward navel gazing, but was unsuccessful. His offer to mediate in the Finland War with Kaiser and Czar was rebuffed.

26. John Sutter IV (1939-1945) Liberal
27. Henry Wallace (1945-1951) Labor
28. Robert Taft (1951-1957) Liberal
29. Joseph Kennedy Jr. (1957-1963) Liberal
30. Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969) Liberal
31. George Walace (1969-1975) Conservative
32. Richard Nixon (1975-1981) Liberal
33. Ronald Reagan (1981-1987) Conservative
34. Lamar Alexander (1987-1993) Liberal
35. Bill Clinton (1993-1999) Liberal
36. Dick Cheney (1999-2005) Conservative
37. Hillary Rodham (2005- ) Labor

Of course with the election of Hillary Rodham, the US has its first woman president.  Countless what-if stories are told about what if the fact that they were of different politics hadn't come between her and President Clinton while they were in college together.  They did date after all, and some speculate that they did even more than that.
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My ballot:
Haley(R) Gov.
Sellers(D) Lt. Gov.
Hammond(R) Sec. of State
Diggs(D) Att. Gen.
Herbert(D) Comptroller Gen.
Spearman(R) Supt. of Education
DeFelice(American) Commissioner of Agriculture
Hutto(D/Working Families) US Sen (full)
Scott(R) US Sen (special)
Geddings(Labor) US House SC-2
Quinn(R) SC House District 69
TBD: Lex 1 School Board
Yes: Am. 1 (allow charity raffles)
No: Am. 2 (end election of the Adj. General)
No: Local Sales Tax
Yes: Temp Beer/Wine Permits
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2005, 08:27:56 pm »
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Interesting.
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2005, 10:33:02 pm »
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I saw one of these a while back on an alternate history board I read every so often.  Highlights included:

*A delayed Mexican-American War because President Henry Clay is reluctant to annex Texas.

*William Seward as President of the United States during the Civil War.

*William Frye becoming President after McKinley's assassination (McKinley's first VP had died and the position was unfilled so Frye, as Senate President Pro Tempore, became President).

*Ronald Reagan becomes President in the mid-70s.

*And President Al Gore is slated to wrap up his term of office in 2005 and hand things over to President Rudolph Giuliani.
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2005, 11:37:39 pm »
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Two big mistakes in both time lines involving Clinton:

1) Without JFK, Clinton probably never would have had the drive to the Presidency.

2) Without a very particular set of events, he would have been William Jefferson Blythe IV.

Ernest, I think you still have too many historical charecters.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2005, 11:48:57 pm »
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1) Without JFK, Clinton probably never would have had the drive to the Presidency.

What do you mean?
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2005, 01:17:16 am »
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Two big mistakes in both time lines involving Clinton:

1) Without JFK, Clinton probably never would have had the drive to the Presidency.

2) Without a very particular set of events, he would have been William Jefferson Blythe IV.

Ernest, I think you still have too many historical charecters.

With Alternate History you have two options:
1) Make it more realistic by having the butterfly effect causing totally different people to hold the leading positions.
2) Make it more accessible by keeping the names largely the same.

As for JFK and Clinton, why couldn't whoever was president in the summer of 1963 fill the same function?
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My ballot:
Haley(R) Gov.
Sellers(D) Lt. Gov.
Hammond(R) Sec. of State
Diggs(D) Att. Gen.
Herbert(D) Comptroller Gen.
Spearman(R) Supt. of Education
DeFelice(American) Commissioner of Agriculture
Hutto(D/Working Families) US Sen (full)
Scott(R) US Sen (special)
Geddings(Labor) US House SC-2
Quinn(R) SC House District 69
TBD: Lex 1 School Board
Yes: Am. 1 (allow charity raffles)
No: Am. 2 (end election of the Adj. General)
No: Local Sales Tax
Yes: Temp Beer/Wine Permits
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2005, 01:31:30 am »
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Young boy mets LBJ, becomes inspired to be President by his... shining idealism?

Sorry, just doesn't work.
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2005, 01:34:39 am »
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With Alternate History you have two options:
1) Make it more realistic by having the butterfly effect causing totally different people to hold the leading positions.
2) Make it more accessible by keeping the names largely the same.


And, I understand what you are saying here, but you still could have mixed it up a bit more.  I don't think this change in the TL would stomp out every historical character by the 20th century, but a good number of them would be gone.
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