An alternate history set in 1876, in a world where there no longer exist any ‘united states’ in the Americas. In 1844, The United States sent warships to Japan and China, threatening the isolationist East with military action lest they open their gold markets to American and European powers. In 1854, the United States made good on this threat, opening fire on Japan’s most populated port.
In our world, the plan worked, bankrupting two of the oldest economies in the world and ushering in an American Century of imperialism, conquest, overt global warfare, exploitation, and genocide for profit.
Centennial Gothic rewinds to 1844…
North American Empire
As America makes claims on the resources of the wealthiest East Asian civilizations, the German Empire takes action. Europe is caught in massive civil wars, and above the smoke and din of the battlefield come dark, unholy machines. The Prussian army, the most powerful force of the united German states, reveals to its international enemies a secret weapon, machines powered by a dark new technology. Before gold is struck in California, the Hohenzollern barons invade the United States at its northeastern coast. The British follow suit, fighting American and Prussian forces in huge three-way battles across the countryside.
By 1854, all territory from New York to St. Louis, Detroit to Richmond, a great international farce sets up a thinly-veiled puppet government on the continent. Black towers fill the sky with chalky smoke as European powers fight over the resources and products of a new ‘empire.’ The United Kingdom, Holland, and Prussia take the largest profits. Cities across the Midwest and New England resemble the slums of industrial London as a new, mechanized landscape takes shape. Alongside the new technology, other unholy powers arise, bringing to life the worst fears of the Victorian imagination.
Every dark secret of Europe is laid bare. The discovery of soulflesh changes the way life and death interact. Magicks. Horrors. Demons. Undead. Though hidden in shadows and still denied by the faceless masses, those in power cannot afford to ignore a new order.
Confederate States of America
In the War of 1844, the wealthiest northerners move south and west. The mass of new immigrants change the face of the American South in a few short years. Slavery becomes untenable without strong international trade relations. Plantations become feudal manors, powered by a peasant class of blacks and whites of many languages. The landowners become like kings, developing their own technologies and arcane arts in the face of the powerful Empire encroaching on their borders.
By 1876, revolutions and civil wars have created a new frontier land, where rogues and roaming guns have little to fear from the Law.
Japan refuses to bow to American imperialism. The Samurai, weakened throughout the Edo period and unable to escape an industrializing world, summon the Rangaku and reveal their own secret technologies. They flee the powerless imperial state that has scorned and belittled them and set sail across the Pacific. The Rangaku, or ‘Dutch Society,’ the branch of Japanese science kept secret from the public for centuries, awaken huge titan machines, humanoid giants of metal and clockwork. Along with spiritists and diviners, the Samurai take California in 1845.
In 1876, a new country runs from British Columbia to Big Sur. Northern areas run smoothly, an almost flawless replica of Tokugawa ideals. In the South, where dust and desert lie, the Wild West is alive with immigrants and refugees. Order is harsh, and the law ruthless, as Samurai fight to keep peace across the territories more populated with the poor and exiled.
Republic of Texas
In 1845, Texas declares independence, welcoming many of the wealthiest New Englanders. The white gentry settle into analogous posts in a new economy. Texas begins trading with international partners and enters into a treaty with the North American Empire to fix borders between the two states. Marshals keep peace within the territory, and Rangers roam the edges of marked civilization to secure trade routes through Native American and Confederate lands.
By 1876, the businesses of Texas have become the most lucrative on the continent, utilizing new technology to produce deadly, mobile gunmen and powerful ‘steamknights’ to protect deliveries over land and sea.
Native American Nations
Carving out all of the lands from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, Native Americans create a loose confederacy of tribes arranged by languages. Calling upon spiritual protectors and the magick of the Fey—those peoples remembered only in fairytale and arcane ritual in Europe—Native shamans and warriors maintain for their people autonomy from the crystallizing powers around them.