Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Introducing Alternate History Weekly Update

Matt Mitrovich has a very nice blog on the subject of alternate history called Alternate History Weekly Update. It's over there on the blogroll if you forget. While Ifnicity will be devoted to reviewing alternate history fiction, and speculation about how history might have happened otherwise, Matt's blog is broader in scope, and deals with computer games (lots of alternate history there), films, television, and other media. He also give some space to steampunk, a subgenre which to me is like fantasy — I like it when it's good, but most of it, alas, isn't. I check this site regularly.

He also deals with timelines, which might be considered the skeletons of alternate history fiction not yet written, and a recent one especially interested me, because it deals with one of my favorite Presidents, James K. Polk. As Matt writes below, he's unique in keeping just about all of his campaign promises, and I think most historians would agree that they were pretty darn good promises.  Matt writes:

What If Wednesday: James K. Polk is Not Elected President

In my humble opinion, James K. Polk is the most underrated American president in history. The Tennessee Democrat was a one-term president, but in that term he accomplished all the goals he set out to achieve when he announced his candidacy. He lowered the tariff, established a treasury system that lasted until 1913, ended the Oregon boundary dispute with Britain and led the country to victory in the Mexican-American War that gave the United States its Southwest. He kept one more promise as well, to only serve one term if he achieved his goals. Thus in his one term, Polk accomplished more than most presidents do in two terms.

(And if he was not elected? Read the whole essay HERE.)

Me again. You've read it? If not, do go back and do so. 

I find the scenario very believable, and it's a demonstration of something alternate history is very good at — giving more meaning to history than we realize is there. Often we read about how important one President or another was, but historians are reluctant to speculate very far about alternatives, but alternative historians aren't.

Interestingly, the plight of Texas in a non-Polk history is similar to the plotline of a graphic novel I collaborated on, Roswell Texas, which you can read on line HERE. History diverges somewhat the same way, not because Polk isn't elected, but because Davy Crockett survived the Alamo to later become Texan President and block annexation to the Union in spite of Polk.

But in real history, Polk accomplished a lot that just might not have happened without him, and we'd be living in a considerable different world today.

Anyhow, if it were up to me, I'd revise Rushmore and put Polk up there.

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