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The rout of Gettysburg in early July 1863 almost saw the end of the Union, but Lee was unable to capitalize on his success and did not capture Washington, D.C. However, the public was so dismayed by the performance of Lincoln and his generals that George McClellan went on to win the 1864 presidential election. By 1865, the McClellan-Davis Accords had brought an end to the war and the dream of a unified United States.

The Union realized that leaving its capital on the banks of the Potomac overlooking Virginia was strategically unsound, and so the capital was moved to Philadelphia, and then, finally, to New York City. The country continued to build its industrial base, and with ports on the east coast and access to the St. Lawrence Seaway, trade with other nations continued much as it had before the war. Treatment of minorities remained poor for some time, especially toward the Native Americans in the western half of the nation, but ultimately, civil rights were extended to all. Yet a lingering paranoia about British influence coming across the Canadian border, and a deep-seated fear of the Confederacy, kept the Union on its toes. Security became a national obsession.

Meanwhile, the Confederacy split in two shortly after the war over the issue of slavery. The Eastern Confederacy gradually abolished the institution, though minorities were required to live in designated zones and could not vote, attend university, or serve on juries. Eventually, minorities were allowed to open their own universities and hospitals. The Western Confederacy, with its weak central authority based in Birmingham, became more and more insular. Slavery continued well into the 20th century.

When the Great War broke out in Europe in 1914, the Union allied itself with the British, and the Confederacies with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Trench warfare came to Kentucky and Tennessee. Though Kentucky had not seceded during the Civil War, its citizens had never been happy as part of the Union and many joined the Austro-Hungarian cause. By the end of the war, the Union had regained control of Kentucky, and had captured Tennessee from the Western Confederacy. Kentucky and Tennessee were labeled “Occupied Territories,” and New York dedicated an entire governmental agency to those restless states.

The twentieth century passed in relative peace and quiet, with the British, Germans (the successors to the Austro-Hungarians), and then, the Japanese, jockeying for territories and control over trade. By the 1980s, German scientists were rapidly closing in on the secret of nuclear power, though several catastrophes meant sections of Europe became radioactive.

The Eastern Confederacy renamed itself the Free States of America in the late 1990s. Minorities gained the right to vote in local elections, and universal suffrage became a national movement.

Without the financial ability to fund national defense, and four squabbling state governors to contend with, Birmingham had to feel its way carefully into the 21st century. Enmity with the Union, especially over the loss of Tennessee, continued to rankle, while the world’s empires looked for ways to exploit the area for their own good. Birmingham was increasingly isolated in an evolving world where it could exercise little power. But what power it has, it will try to use.

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