NaNoWriMo “The Four Republics” Part Eight

“Gentlemen, I am glad for one last chance to see you all.  It had hoped for an opportunity to call on each of you while I was here in Washington, I expect that this will be my final visit to the capital.  It is my intention to return to my small house in Springfield next week and complete my memoirs.”

Old Abe was now eighty-two, having celebrated his birthday two months before.    The final president elected before the Constitutional Amendment that had lowered the minimum age for Senators and President to twenty-five he was the senior statesman of the Republican Party, which had ruled the federal government from 1861 through the Civil War’s end in 1863 and been swept to near permanent power in the 1864 election by an elated nation.  It took the Democrats until 1884 to regain control of the House of Representatives, led by a generation of men who had been too young to serve in the Civil War on either side.  While the Republicans retained control of the Senate they had lost the Presidency in 1888 to the young populist William Jennings Bryan.  Abe had overseen the reunification of the nation while having his heart broken by the deaths of two more sons and Mary Todd Lincoln who died in a carriage wreck in 1863.  He had tried to be a gentle unifier between two wings of his political party, and had ensured that the fifteenth and sixteenth amendments to the constitution were passed ensuring that all Negros were freed, not simply by presidential fiat but under the constitution and that all Negro men were allowed the same rights as other native born Americans.  After his second term was completed he returned to Springfield, to a house that was really too big for a single middle aged man.  Robert read the law with his father; in part to make certain that he was truly safe on his own, and began his own law career while Abe eventually began to go on speaking trips.   Having completed only a few months of formal schooling Lincoln categorically refused offers of professorships and chancellorships that came his way following his presidency, while some generals went into politics or academia.  Lee, that great patriot who chose the nation over allegiance to a state served as head of the University of Pennsylvania (having been studiously overlooked by William and Mary) and had passed away in 1872, mourned by a grateful nation.

“It is good to see you too Mr. President.” Straton said, “I asked you to join us because what we have to discuss today affects you and your legacy as much as it does the nation. Mr. President, Senators, I have recent information from my son who is serving as a consulate officer in Central America that Col. James Smith’s son passed through Rivas heading for the western sea on this past Sunday.  It is believed that he is on his way to Vancouver where his father has certain business interests.  As one of the Confederado elite he is of course not allowed to legally enter United States territory but we can’t interfere with him in other countries or international waters legally.  That being said, I’m concerned that he has been sent not simply for family business, but for one of two possible other reasons.  He may be there to negotiate with representatives of the Canadians in regards to Brazil supporting their claims in the North West.  Then there is the possibility that he is there to negotiate with members of the administration in hopes of finding a way for the Confederados to return.  His father is in his late 60s and may wish to return to Georgia before he dies.  We owe it to the fallen to prevent that.”

Abe sighed before speaking, wishing he’d not been dragged into this.  He had retired from politics on any level a decade before.

“Surely there is little possibility that the Canadians would drag up that old chestnut of the border.  It is the same there as it is in Minnesota.  49 North.  We and the British negotiated it what, forty years ago? If the fear of confederates in the attic is all this meeting is about I believe I will leave gentlemen.  There are still friends to see here in Washington and neither they nor I are getting younger.  Miss Keckley is a decade younger than me, but her health is declining.  I owe it to my dear Mary to call upon her.”

“Father, it is not simply about one individual Confederado.  It is not even about Bryan possibly negotiating with them.  While Smith was in Rivas he apparently met with another Confederado.  A man named Baylor.  We know both men were members of the Havana Club at the University of the South.”

Blaine broke in at this point.  Worrying that what had been meant to be a meeting of senators could soon descend into a family conversation, and if he knew the Lincolns as well as he thought, it would eventually become an argument.  Robert, with his Harvard education and being the only living son of the President did not share his father’s populist, man of the people worldview in which Old Abe was far closer to Bryan then most of the senators gathered here were comfortable with.

“What Robert is trying to say is we think that there is a significant risk that Baylor and Smith may be working towards some furtherance of the old dreams of the Knights of the Golden Circle.  I’m sure you remember them.”

“Oh come now, Blaine you can’t be serious.  That was before the war, the exiled have been gone for nearly thirty years now the days of filibusting in the Caribbean are gone.”

Straton, becoming exasperated with what had been a meeting he’d called in the first place stepped in.

“Mr. President, the Havana Club that Robert mentioned has existed for twenty years now.  It has taken the place of the Knights of the Golden Circle, but instead of taking political control of the Caribbean and creating a slave nation its goal is economic domination, through investment and political blackmail.  One of the more obvious parts of the scheme is the Baylor Family Warehousing and Shipping Company in Nicaragua.  They control a near monopoly of warehouses on both shores, and are a major contractor for the canal, and there are other more subtle arrangements.”

Before Senator Straton could go on his aide Johnson came through the door clearly flustered about something.

“Mister Johnson, how wonderful to see you again” the elder Lincoln said upon seeing him.  “I knew your father when he was in the Senate, and a great supporter of the Homestead Act. I was saddened when I learned of his death last fall.  We may not have always seen eye to eye, but he was a great supporter of the Union.

“Thank you Mr. President.  Gentlemen, I am afraid that I come with grave news, for both the nation and perhaps more importantly for you Senator Straton, there has been a volcanic eruption in Nicaraguara, and there is no contact with Rivas.”

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