Written for the Friday Challenge. Short version: What if the French and Spanish had successfully invaded England during the American Revolution, as they attempted to do in 1779 (failing miserably)? What would North America look like today?
Charles Gordon had just finished reviewing the document as his limo pulled up in front of the Department of State building. Gathering the document and recent intelligence reports into his briefcase, Gordon strode to the door. His assistant, Tony, was already there. Together they strode toward the car as the driver opened the rear door.
"Is it true, sir?" Tony asked.
"Is what true, Tony?" Gordon replied, though he already knew the answer.
"That French troops are massing just across the Mississippi, sir," Tony replied. "And that the Spanish navy is staging war games in the Gulf of New Spain."
"Hell, Tony, I thought all you youngsters were, um, what's the word? Inline?"
"Online," Tony corrected.
"Oh, right. Online. Never can manage to remember that one. Don't know why," Gordon muttered as he slid into the back seat of the car. He waited until Tony got in on the other side of the car. "Isn't all of that information available online? That's the hallmark of that new Internet thing, immediate access to news?"
"Well, yes sir, it is," Tony agreed, "but a whole lot of the stuff you find online is just ridiculous. There's no control, so people can post the most outlandish things without any concern whether it's true or not."
"So, this brave new online world is no different than the TV news programs? Ha!" Gordon said.
"I wouldn't go that far, sir," Tony said. "None of the TV news programs are claiming our European colonies are going to declare their independence, but it's all over the Drudge Report. I didn't think Drudge was gullible enough to buy that foolishness!"
"Hmph," replied Gordon.
"It is foolishness, isn't it?"
Gordon stared out his window, not speaking.
"Sir?" Tony asked, his voice laced with just a touch of unease.
Gordon sighed, "You might as well know, Tony, since it'll be all over the news tomorrow. Yes, our European colonies are attempting to break away, to declare their independence. They see all the trouble we're having over here, what with the Napoleon of New France rattling his saber and trying to claim Quebec from us yet again. They see the President of New Spain backing the Napoleon's power grab and see Spanish troops moving into northern California, probably in the hopes of grabbing Oregon and Washington while we're busy dealing with the French."
"What?" Tony exclaimed. "No one is reporting that bit about California! Not even Drudge!
"Well, good. Apparently the CIA can still keep one or two secrets!" Gordon said. "Anyway, the colonies see this as their big chance. They figure we'll be too busy dealing with the really important issues on the home front to keep them in line."
"Look at what happened the last time we go involved in a war in Europe," Gordon continued. "Ever since we spent the decade of the '40s in the whole German quagmire, the public just isn't willing to put American lives on the line in Europe any more."
"Maybe it would have been better if the founding fathers had just returned England, France and Spain to their original governments," Tony said.
"Really, Tony, you should know better than to give voice to that revisionist claptrap!" Gordon said. "They do teach American history in the schools these days, don't they?"
"Well," Tony said, "they teach a version of it, I guess."
"Let me guess, the version where the United States should have stayed neutral when France and Spain attacked England in 1779?" Gordon asked. "The version where the United States should have refused King George's offer to grant American independence in return for sending troops to help defend England?"
"That's part of it, sir," Tony answered. "They also say that, having helped defend England, General Washington should not have helped the British conquer France and Spain. And then, when the British turned on him in the end, how he should have either surrendered or retreated back to America."
"What kind of idiots are in charge of the schools, now?" Gordon demanded. "Any fool would know that Washington couldn't sail back here without abandoning most of his men! Washington was much too honorable a man to ever do that!"
"I know that, sir," Tony began, "but some people claim he was power hungry and-"
"What a load of rubbish!" Gordon declared. "Washington did what any real man would do in his situation; he defied the British and fought back! I only wish I could have been around to see King George's face when the American troops marched into London three years later! Wouldn't have minded seeing old George dance on the end of that rope, either, when Washington hanged the old bastard for his treachery! Let me tell you-"
"Sorry, sir," Tony interrupted, happy to change the subject, "but we're here."
"What? Oh, yes, so we are," Gordon said as the limo pulled up to the White House.
Minutes later, Gordon was ushered into the Oval Office.
"Mr. President," Gordon said, formally.
"Charles," the President replied, equally formally. "Have you got it?"
"Yes, sir," Gordon replied, pulling the document out of his briefcase. "It's right here."
The President glanced at the document, "They really did it, didn't they?"
"Yes, sir. Cheeky bastards, if you'll pardon me, sir," Gordon growled.
"It'll score points with the public, you know," the President said, rubbing his temples. "And the opposition is going to kill us with it."
"That was the first thing that crossed my mind, sir," Gordon answered.
There was a knock at the door. "Enter," called the President.
A White House staff member entered, holding a newspaper. "You wanted to be notified if a special edition of the Post was released, Mr. President."
"Yes, Bob," the President sighed. "Have they got the story?"
"I think so, Mr. President," Bob answered. "I haven't been privy to-"
"Is the text of the European declaration included?" the President asked. Seeing Bob nod, the President added, "What does it say?"
Clearing his throat, Bob began, "When in the course of human events..."