CHAPTER 4: THE SHATTER OF 1801
As secessionist movements rocked North America and as Federalist bodies rotted in unmarked ditches in New York City, gatherings of local and regional leaders were underway and reshaping the future of the continent forever. Willard Crawford marched his "Army of Free Soldiers" south to Philadelphia to announce a new American constitutional convention on August 5, 1801. The New England states all bonded together in the face of outright anarchy sweeping their lands. Rhode Island briefly declared itself an independent country, flying a simple horizontal blue and white two-colored banner, but food and supply shortages were crippling it just a month in, and its dysfunctional benevolent military dictatorship was worried about a plot between local merchants to bring back British soldiers to restore order. Thus, they begged for Crawford to march the Free Soldiers to their small nation and reinstate order. The old state banner went up once more and the merchants who had arranged the plot to restore British rule fled to Canada on a tea ship.
Crawford marched back to Philadelphia in time to reconvene the Convention and also in time to hear the depressing news that plans for Maryland to remain a part of the country had fallen apart. Maryland was suspicious of its neighbor Virginia for long-standing territorial disputes in the Ohio Country, but bore no real enmity toward the Republic Jefferson and Madison were creating. The Union hoped to keep Maryland in its fold because of its lucrative ports and businesses, but Samuel Chase (the recently elected Emergency President of the Free State of Maryland) had seen Crawford's invasion of Rhode Island as coercion (news of the merchant plot to restore the King had been lost in the chaos of the faltering USA). He had his delegation to Philadelphia turn back and on September 10, 1801, he proclaimed the Chesapeake Republic of Maryland in Baltimore. Maryland's well-trained minutemen and militias made their break clean and orderly, and the Kingdom of Naples and the Vatican States became the first to internationally recognize Maryland. France and Britain followed soon after.
The New Republic of Virginia was quick to elect Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as President and Vice President respectively. The two men didn't agree on everything, but believed in freedom and had hope that an enlightened and libertine state could still rise from the bloody ashes of the United States. They set out to make sure Virginia was as strong as the "Northern Aggressors" in the "Republican Union," a new name for the old United States agreed upon by its eight remaining states attending Crawford's Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on October 31, 1801. Thanks to Virginia's tremendous economy supported by slave labor and a relatively impressive amount of fairly unimposing but still useful naval vessels, it was the second largest economy in North America and was in a better debt situation than any of the others. Virginia also became the first of the seceded states to form a professional military. It was immediately used to try to chase out remaining natives from their lands and to monitor the north. The border with Maryland was extremely casual, and Maryland's Chase got along just splendidly with Jefferson. Virginia's military also formed an alliance with Maryland's militias, agreeing to come to each others' aid if need be. Virginia was home to several old US and British naval bases, and it rivaled the Republican Union in fleet strength.
Virginia's House of Burgesses was resurrected, which fit in nicely with the aristocratic attitudes of the land-owning gentry, and was essentially a congress. The constitution they adopted in 1803 was largely the work of Jefferson and Madison, and allowed a very large amount of freedom and limited government power. Many citizens claimed it was "what the USA should have been from the beginning." France, Britain, and Prussia all recognized Virginia quite quickly, and stability was derived from the citizen's respect for Jefferson and Madison. It's flag was merely its seal on a white banner.
The Confederation of the Carolinas was the first to truly become independent (not including Virginia's half-hearted secessionist movements it experienced in 1800), with Andrew Jackson, its eager military dictator, having caught wind Crawford's plot to overthrow the government in New York. In fact, Jackson was offered a role in the new government by Crawford, in an attempt to keep north and south together and to pressure Virginia and Maryland back into the fold, but Jackson had said, "It is better or north and south, for free and slave-holding, to part ways and restart this grand American adventure under their own terms." Surprisingly, Jackson's hypnotic control over his loyal soldiers did not stop him from peacefully having the Confederation adopt a very similar constitution to that of Virginias in 1805, after several years of military rule and quelling a slave uprising. He also broke the spirit of the remaining tribes in West Carolina, sending them fleeing into the Ohio Country where they were then vanquished by Virginian and Union forces. Native power east of the Mississippi was finally gone forever. And while there was a Constitution, Jackson was so wildly popular he was essentially doing whatever he wanted.
The Carolinas adopted a unique flag bearing a blue cross over a red-above-white horizontal banner. In the upper corner was a crescent, an old symbol of the militias of the Revolutionary War, and in the center of the cross were three small white stars, symbolizing the union of North, South, and West Carolina around a central larger white star. A "noble heraldic vulture" was adopted as the country's official seal, with Jackson saying it symbolized the scavenging of the remnants of the former US states and how they would survive after its death. Also Jackson just really liked vultures and thought it would look sharp on a shako and a war drum; he wasn't wrong.
The Green Mountain Republic of Vermont was formed after the Treason Trials. Even though it considered itself quite New English, it had had enough of the central government failing and it still bore animosity against everyone else over its Green Mountain Boys' treatment during the invasion of Louisiana. So it decided to form its own libertarian paradise up in the mountains, with an army of all volunteers and a fairly elected "Green Mountain People's Congress of Liberty" (no executive position was established, as the people worried it might become a dictatorship like some said of Crawford or Jackson). There were minimal taxes, minimal government expenditure, minimal laws, and almost total anarchy. Hill clans took maximum power for themselves and invented "land rights" as a means with which to extort their neighbors. If one large family lived in a valley, and another family decided to homestead there, the first large family could essentially tax the newcomers to live there. If the new family was of equal size to the "owners," family feuds broke out. If the new family was bigger than the "owners," then, in all likelihood, the "owners" would be murdered. The people soon lived in fear and terror of lawless neighboring clans murdering them, but at least they didn't have to pay taxes!
Making matters worse was Britain's consistent violation of Vermont's borders. Redcoats ventured in on routine "scavenging tours" in Green Mountain territory, and several illegal logging camps were set up by Canadian citizens. Finally, Vermont's militias mustered and drove out the loggers. King George thought briefly about outright invasion and recapturing of the former colony, but with the Napoleonic Wars unfolding in Europe and their coup attempt thwarted in Rhode Island, abandoned it, leading to the Vermont citizens thinking they had broken the morale of the British Empire and gave them an insane amount of national prestige, something that would persist from that point on. The neighbors down the road might kill them over a cow, but the British Empire knew better than to fuss with the Green Mountain Republic!
On the Gulf Coast, the West Florida Republic was a puppet of the also-fresh faced Republic of Georgia and was much like Vermont in its outlook. It had been a part of Spain but was almost entirely white and American by 1800, and thus it threw off the Spanish yoke and proclaimed independence. Spain was quite busy in Europe and was forced to eat the loss. It was a libertarian wonderland controlled by local towns and villages that pushed the limits of freedom into "do as thou wilt" anarchy. Things got so bad in West Florida that they inadvertently gave birth to a North American icon: the Town Sheriff. Wyatt Masterson was a sheriff who fought off 20 bandits attempting to sack his village on the Gulf Coast. He became a hero, and Georgia, West Florida's puppet-master, started a huge system of sheriffs in its own country, which decreased crime by a large percentage. Aside from the occasional pirate attack, West Florida remained fairly safe as a nation, since Georgia deterred the Spanish from getting any bright ideas. It never elected a central leader, and instead opted for a National Parliament and town councils took care of absolute necessities. West Florida took up Georgia's entire Gulf coastline, but Georgians were allowed to come and go and trade as they pleased. Most everyone knew that one day soon, Georgia would annex West Florida, but until stability could be achieved in North America it was nominally independent.
Like Virginia, the Republic of Georgia was run by aristocratic, land-owning, slave-owning, Southern gentry, and would have probably joined Virginia in a union if the Confederation of the Carolinas hadn't been in between. It's borders stretched from the coast of the Atlantic to the might Mississippi, the heart of cotton country. They weren't quite as radically republican as Virginia, but they were decent as far as adherents to that philosophy were concerned. The Republican Constitution was based on Maryland's model, but it had to make adjustments to make it work with their more aristocratic agriculture-based society. A standing national army was to be kept at all times to deter Spain or other enemies from trying anything, and those soldiers often patrolled West Florida, too. The Georgian Navy wasn't huge, but it did well enough to protect what they needed protected.
Militarist Archibald Bulloch was elected Prime Minister. He was not known as a "bad" man or disrespected, but his militarism signaled a new political force in politics: Ultra-Right-Wing Expansionism supported by the citizens themselves. No cheating occurred. No bribery. No blackmail. The Republic had elected a militarist free and fairly. He believed in individual freedom, but he also believed in expansion and the destruction of neighbors. He was the one who made West Florida a satellite nation. His territorial politics brought him into conflict with Andrew Jackson as they both squabbled over who had rights to areas in West Carolina along the Mississippi River.