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For all America’s industrial might and pan-Pacific glory, there still remained that one festering pimple, insultingly defying its sense of Manifest Destiny
in the New World.
By the 1890’s, the Empire of Brazil
had truly become a pariah state. An authoritarian slaver nation, which only the most cynically pragmatic of British and French strategists felt compelled to support. The last several decades since the end of the Continuation War
had seen many border skirmishes between the Empire and the Union, mostly in the Amazon and along the tense, militarized border between Brazil’s Região Sul
provinces and the American states of Entre Rios and New Wessex. The Iguazú Falls Crisis of 1877
almost led to an all-out war, as did the sinking of the USS Mexico City
at the mouth of the Amazon in 1886. What prevented these incidents from escalating to war was the fact that the US, while more powerful than the Brazilians, was still wounded from the Great American War, and many American strategic thinkers were unwilling to risk dragging the French and British into a war with Brazil. They were unwilling to risk a defeat or even a Pyrrhic victory. Brazil’s reasons for not escalating were a bit less esoteric. Though by the late 1880’s and throughout the 1890’s, the US was estimated to have returned to full strength, and Brazil’s own nastiness had eliminated any chance of an Anglo-French intervention.
And then came the election of President Aaron James Kimball
(Labor, Northern California) in 1900. Brazil could not have hoped for a less favorable outcome for them.
Kimball was the son of a wealthy rancher in Northern California, who ran away from home and lied about his age to join the Marines. A year later, he fought under Colonel Mondragón’s forces in China. Here, he acquired the trademark horizontal scar across his face, just below his right eye, from a dao
sword that almost killed him at the Battle of Shanghai
. Moments later, he killed the man who struck him in the face took that very same sword home with him as a trophy. It would eventually hang on the wall in the Whitehouse.
After the war, he fell into the early labor organizing circles in San Francisco and the San Joaquin Valley in the late 1880’s. He cut his teeth while fighting for the laborers on his own father’s ranch to unionize, and he quickly became a veritable bulldog of organized labor, known for getting into fights with strikebreakers. More than a union thug, though, Kimball was cunning and charismatic, as well as a voracious reader of books. He climbed his way to the top of the heap in the Northern California Labor Party, gaining many enemies as he did. Kimball would end up surviving not only the slings and arrows of yellow journalism, but also multiple assassination attempts. At age 25, Kimball successfully ran for State Representative on the Labor Party ticket. Following President Samuel Clemens’ inauguration, there was a famous luzograph taken of Clemens, Kimball and Titus Romero I (the National Party’s own firebrand), titled “The Three Mavericks”. During Marcel Hervieux’s unsuccessful reelection bid in 1896, Kimball went up against his personal friend and political rival, Romero (National, Venezuela), as well as the candidates put forward by the Conservatives and Liberals (the Country Party didn’t even bother, as they were mostly focused on grassroots and congressional politics in the Midwest and Dixie). The Liberals and Conservatives were still trying to find stable ground in the new political order, and ran unsuccessful bids, with the fight mostly being waged between Kimball and Romero. Kimball was ultimately victorious, and in the end, the National Party a lost much of its steam, as the political right-of-center started to re-align, and the Conservative Party (along with a revived Whig Party in the Caribbean) finally found its legs.
President Kimball always wore a cowboy hat and was known for his vigorous lifestyle (boxing, wrestling, horseback riding, shooting, hunting, judo, and personally subduing attempted assassins on three different occasions), his staunch American patriotism, and his passionate advocacy for veterans and the working class. As well as his intense hatred for the practice of slavery. In addition to strengthening federal child labor laws in the United States and cracking down on rampant child prostitution in Shanghai, Kimball encouraged Americans to volunteer in the Public Force
of the International Congo
, for the expressed purpose of killing slavers in the territory.
The war with Brazil technically began in 1899 under President Hervieux (as his final presidential action), however, Kimball was the one who pursued it with gusto.
The conflict was a long time coming. The Brazilian state had done its damnedest to suppress Pan-American nationalism, liberalism and abolitionism, using a secret police force known as the Departamento de Segurança Pública
(Department of Public Security, or DSP) to crush dissent at all levels of society. But they could only keep this up for so long, before the Great Revolt of late 1898 broke out. Slaves in northeastern Brazil rose up, with the help of idealistic, free liberals and Pan-Americanists in the cities. The revolt in Bahia was the most successful, with the slaves and their free liberal and student allies proclaiming themselves the “American Republic of Brazil”
. The rebellion further north ended up suffering several major defeats against the Imperial Brazilian Army, who pushed most of the revolutionary forces into the canal city of Recife
(MicroPOD: unlike in OTL, when the area was colonized by Europeans, they used Recife’s many reefs and sandbars to build a Venice-like city of canals
), which flew handmade American flags in defiance of the Brazilian government. However, the rebellion was present across Brazil. And in places where it was not in full swing, martial law was declared, culminating in a series of student massacres and mass-arrests.
Yellow press in the United States was not helping the Brazilian monarchy’s claims that “everything was fine”. Lurid and sensationalistic stories about the “Rape of Belo Horizonte” or the “Thirty Days of Hell” (an apocryphal account of Brazilian soldiers sadistically torturing captured slaves for a month straight) proliferated in the media. Not that the truth was any better. The American public was already mobilizing for war, ready to put down the “Beasts of Fortaleza”, even if the government wasn’t.
At first, the consensus in the National Acropolis was one of reluctance to ratify a declaration of war against Brazil. Even knowing that a US victory would be inevitable at this point, there was a faction within Congress which was extremely hesitant to go ahead. This faction preferred coexistence with an independent Brazil, hoping to moderate the regime. War with Brazil would invariably mean annexation, and some feared the logistical headache of incorporating a region of the world that had been brainwashed to hate the United States. Plus, there were those who were concerned with having to add Portuguese to the official languages of the US. The latter sentiment mostly came from the Francophone states, who were still
sore over Spanish displacing French as America’s “second language”.
However, an incident involving US warships engaging with Brazilian vessels and aircraft at the mouth of the Amazon convinced many (including the reluctant President Hervieux) that there was no other option but to pursue hostilities with the Empire.
The Liberation of Brazil
(1899-1901) had begun.
The war with Brazil saw the first-time use of many new weapons, on both sides.
The Imperial Brazilian Army
used chemical weapons on the US Army
invasion forces as they advanced across the plains of the Southern Front, deploying chlorine gas at the Battle of Passo Fundo
and the Battle of Urubici
. Here, US troops suffered considerable casualties due to insufficient gas mask discipline; American soldiers were issued gas masks, due to intelligence reports that chemical weapons were a component of the Brazilian defensive strategy, however, these same men received little in the way of training with how to use them. This was also the first major war in which air power played a significant role, beginning with the use of French-made airships to drop bombs on the battleship USS Haudenosaunee
, disabling the ship before the craft was downed by rifle fire and the Brazilian pilots taken prisoner. Fixed-wing biplanes came into the picture at first as scouts and light bombers, but it didn’t take long for the world’s first dogfights to take place over the skies of Brazil. Aces like David Bennington and Vitor Bezerra Serrano earned fame as “knights of the air”. Bennington and Serrano later became friends after the end of hostilities, with Serrano attending Bennington’s funeral in 1925.
Armored vehicles played a significant role in the conflict. The Americans invading northward through New Wessex (OTL Uruguay) made extensive use of newfangled armored cars, alongside diesel-powered motorcycles and traditional horse-mounted cavalry. Tracked armored vehicles also made their debut on the Southern Front, in American service. Few in number, these land-crawling ironclads were lumbering and prone to breaking down, but they proved effective at breaking through Brazilian lines, first at the Battle of Castro
and later again at Itapeva and Suracaba. These classified military projects were known officially as “Armored Motor Wagons”, but a German war correspondent by the name of Hermann Kahane (who was so close to these things during the Battle of Itapeva
, he claims to have almost been run over by one) popularized the term “panzer” (from “Gepanzerter Motorwagen“), and this term caught on, even in the USAO. The Brazilians, meanwhile, made use of small numbers of British-made vehicles, which were mostly used to defend Rio de Janeiro. These few British “tanks” (the term didn’t really catch on) present in the war were manned by British crews fighting on behalf of the IBA as “observers”.
Machine guns were used quite extensively on both sides, though on account of sheer industrial capacity, the Americans were able to make more extensive and effective use of them. As the rebels of the “American Republic of Brazil”
were often lightly-armed and lacked any artillery, the invading US forces would often supply them with Springfield bolt-action rifles
, Remington pump-action shotguns
, Winchester lever-action rifles
, Maxim machine guns
, Colt revolvers
and Chang semi-automatic handguns
Out in the Atlantic, the Imperial Brazilian Navy proved no match for the USN. One of the IBN’s three Dreadnought-type battleships, the Minas Gerais
, joined the pro-US “Navy of the American Republic of Brazil”. With most of the IBN either surrendering or scuttled, the Americans were quick to grab all of Brazil’s various island territories with ease. The USN also easily broke the IBN blockade of Recife. The desperate defenders of the city were shooting from behind crumbling barricades when hundreds of howling United States Marines
charged in from behind them to push the Brazilians out of their city; the sight of their American brethren coming to save them from complete annihilation was enough for the Brazilian rebels to muster the last of their energy to drive out the Imperial soldiers. Following the relief of the Siege of Recife
, the canal city became the first major city in Brazil to be annexed into the United States. USAO marines also began a series of landings along coastal Brazil, linking up with the rebel soldiers of the ARB.
It soon became clear that Brazil was not going to win this war. Even before the Fall of Rio de Janeiro, large sections of the IBA began surrendering to the Americans, whilst others dedicated themselves to fighting on in the jungles and countryside. Even with Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro III’s
evacuation to France and the loss of Rio De Janeiro, elements of the Imperial Brazilian Army continued to fight on, mostly in the north, where General Rafael Beauregard
descended from a famous rebel commander in the American Civil War) continued the conflict for longer than he probably should have. Despite managing to score several victories against the invading Yankees in the northeast, the sheer number of Americans and the level of firepower being applied was eventually too much. Beauregard was forced to retreat into the semi-arid backcountry of the sertão
, where, with the help of the feudal farmers and ranchers of the region and their private armies of jagunço
mercenaries, he engaged the invading Americans in pitched desert warfare. Outside of the sertão
, the IBA only held nominal control of the vast Brazilian wilderness, and even then, the Americans were finally beginning to push into the jungle and wetlands
, using airplanes to locate and bomb IBA camps. But upon hearing reports that elements of the IBA had begun implementing scorched-earth tactics (poisoning wells, burning farmland, destroying bridges, killing civilians, etc.) across Brazil, on November 4th 1900, General Beauregard led a force of about a thousand of his men, unarmed, into the USAO-controlled town of Nossa Senhora das Dores, and surrendered to US Army commander Harrison Sanchez. The jagunço
continued the fight in the sertão
for over a decade. But without Beauregard’s professional troops and artillery, they never amounted to anything more than an annoying insurgency.
News of Beauregard’s surrender spread across Brazil and touched off a wave of surrenders. He was considered the best military leader Brazil had. And to many, this signaled the end of the Empire of Brazil. The conflict would continue for another year or so, as the last remnants of the IBA continued to fight a hopeless guerilla war against the occupying US forces. But on January 1st 1901 (the first day of the 20th Century) the American Republic of Brazil was formally annexed into the United States of the Americas and Oceania.
Celebrations rang out across the nation, from Shanghai, Manilla and Sydney to Montreal, New York, Havana and Caracas. In commemoration of this event, the US Navy assembled a “Great White Fleet”
of its latest, finest naval vessels, all painted stark white. Symbolically leading this fleet was the newly-christened USS Minas Gerais
, flying its new American flag proudly and manned by the same rebellious Brazilian crew which overthrew their Imperial officers. The fleet departed from Buenos Aires
, New South Wales, and sailed up the coast of Brazil, visiting Porto Alegre
, Sao Paulo
, Rio de Janeiro
. The fleet then visited the islands of the Caribbean, from Trinidad
, and then sailed to Bermuda
. From Bermuda, the Great White Fleet steamed towards Godthåb, Greenland, and then southward to Halifax
, and then began moving further south to visit Boston
, New York
, and Charleston
. They then sailed through the Bahamas
and the Florida Strait, visited Havana
, New Orleans
, and then finally
entered the Nicaragua Canal in time to catch the July 4th celebrations in Liberty City, DC.
In Liberty City, President Kimball was present to personally review the fleet, and they were greeted by fireworks displays, as well as two
massive parades of infantry, cavalry, armored cars and panzers – each parade marched along one side of the canal as it ran through the city, moving in concert with the battleships. The air was filled with confetti, thousands of waving flags, and formations of biplanes high above the massive patriotic celebration. In fact, in every major city, military parades were held – returning soldiers, elderly veterans, Boy Scouts and local militia men alike participated in public marches and displays of patriotism all across the USAO. Outside of the major cities, small and modest parades were held in small towns and villages in the Midwest, the Prairies, the Outback, the Andes and even the frigid new territories of Greenland and Alaska, and the windswept Falklands. For whilst the Centennial Exhibition was a celebration of Reconstruction, and the Columbia Exhibition was a celebration of the American Experiment, these celebrations were primarily concentrated on the greatness and aggrandizement of the United States Armed Forces, their valor, the historic completion of Manifest Destiny, and the final eradication of slavery and tyranny in the New World.
After traversing the Nicaragua Canal, the Great White Fleet entered Lake Nicaragua, where they were greeted by an eruption of Volcán Concepción
on the island of Ometepe, after which they entered the Pacific Ocean – the “Great American Lake”. Here, they visited the southern Polynesian islands, Auckland
, sailed through the British East Indies, visited Micronesia
, Palau, Manilla
. After receiving a warm welcome and celebrations on behalf of America’s new friend and ally, the Republic of Japan, the Great White Fleet steamed towards Honolulu
, to enjoy a week-long luau
put on by the State of Hawaii for the sailors and marines, before sailing into the cold waters of the North Pacific. The next destinations were Anchorage
, San Francisco
, rounded Tierra del Fuego and the rough seas of the Drake Passage, and finally
returned to Buenos Aires in time for Christmas celebrations.
The purpose of the Great White Fleet was not just to celebrate the completion of Manifest Destiny, but also to demonstrate American naval power. A triumphalist, nationalist display of the most advanced and mightiest vessels of the USN, circumnavigating the entirety of the USAO’s tri-continental empire of liberty.
However, despite the formal annexation of Brazil, monarchist and separatist rebels continued to be a bit of a thorn in the US government’s side. The new territories (soon to be states) of Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande Do Sul, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Goyaz, Minas Gerais, Maranhão, Sergipe, Pernambuco, Paraiba, Alagoas, Ceara, and a greatly expanded Amazon Territory, would take a while to be integrated into the USAO, but the United States had by now perfected its skill in incorporating new lands.
With the entirety of the New World now unified under the banner of the Stars and Stripes, Manifest Destiny was finally over. It was a new era of good feelings.