A Country Divided

A Country Divided

by Jay F. Downs


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475988673
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/03/2013
Pages: 366
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)

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A Country Divided

By Jay F. Downs

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Jay F. Downs
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4759-8867-3


Henry John Temple quickly closed the door behind him, the cold air and snow blowing through the opening like he was at the North Pole instead of the back room of a pub in London. But it was January 25th, 1865, so what did he expect?

He quickly placed the satchel he was carrying on the table next to the one lamp in the room, which cast off shadows in the dark and dank room. Taking off his heavy coat and hanging it on a peg, he moved the four chairs that were around the table, placed them in front of the small fireplace in the room, put two pieces of wood on the fire, and looked around cautiously to make sure no one could see in anywhere, although there were no windows in the room. He also went to the door that went into the pub and listened to the boisterous crowd living it up on the other side, knocked twice very quietly, and when he heard two knocks back, he was satisfied his guard was on duty and no one could hear what was going to be said in this room. He then sat down and waited.

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, under direct orders from Her Majesty Queen Victoria, he thought about the mission he had been given and the consequences of what might come from the meeting this night. The history of the world might be changed with his daring plan! If only he could persuade these two men coming tonight! He had met Edouard Drouyn de Lhuys, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Emperor Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III of France, and Antonio de Benavides, Foreign Minister of Queen Isabella II of Spain, twice before at state functions when the royal rulers had visited and entertained one another, and Antonio when he had been ambassador to London. Both seemed intelligent and ambitious, and he knew they would listen with great interest. Their countries had a lot to gain, their monarchs would receive a lot of glory and realized it by agreeing to this meeting, and therefore they, personally, would also benefit greatly.

He played back in his mind the brief history he would give as background. For France, he would begin with the joint venture between the French, Spanish, and British against Mexico begun in 1861, that now had ended with a French invasion and the establishment of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico back in May of 1864. Even though the U.S. Congress officially opposed the monarchy with a resolution, there was little they could or would do about it at this time.

He would also bring up the Louisiana Purchase back in 1803, how France had given up so much of their claimed territory to the United States, and how a few of the old men would still remember the sale with bitterness. Being British and a diplomat, knowing what to say and what not to say given the circumstances, he would not mention the territories that were now in the Province of Canada, under British control, or how Napoleon had done it to increase the power of the United States to offset the power of England. Instead, he would make a point of how his nephew, now Emperor Napoleon III of France, longed for more territory and would forever be remembered and honored in his country if he could gain it back!

As for Spain, he would recall how the first Queen Isabella had sent Christopher Columbus on his voyages which had resulted in the founding of the New World, as they had called it, in the first place back in 1492, all the Spanish conquistadors like Coronado conquering and claiming lands across much of the southwest of the United States (not mentioning Ponce de Leon or Florida), and, after Balboa had discovered the Pacific Ocean and claimed the west coast of the New World for Spain in 1513, the Spanish priests had spread the Catholic faith throughout the California Pacific coast, up into Oregon and Washington (again leaving out the part in the Province of Canada), and eastward into the New Mexico and Arizona territories and beyond.

And now, Queen Isabella II would have the chance to regain the Province of California sold to Mexico in 1821, lost in war to the United States in 1848 and made a state in 1850, and all the other territories bought or claimed by the United States since then. She would be remembered as the Spanish Queen who had taken back all the territory granted to the first Queen Isabella!

And, as for England itself, many still remembered the War of 1812 and wished at that time that Great Britain had taken back the original thirteen colonies lost in the American Revolution. France and Britain had recently been allies in the successful Crimean War with Russia that had ended in 1856, and in 1859, Tsar Alexander II had offered to sell Alaska to both the United States and Great Britain, fearing the English expansion into the Colony of British Columbia would result in a takeover, Temple reasoned. Knowing that such a possibility strongly existed would definitely weigh upon the Tsar's decision, he would now suggest to Her Majesty that she make that purchase of Alaska at a very reasonable cost, not only to prevent another costly war to take it and increase the territory of the Province of Canada, but also to prevent even more United States expansion. Hopefully all three countries could be allies again!

The back door swung open, and again a cannon blast of Arctic air and snow followed a man into the room and again ten seconds later when a second man also entered. Both were unrecognizable in their coats with the hoods drawn over their heads—which was what Temple had hoped for on such a night—but as they discarded their wraps he was pleased to see that, indeed, it was Monsieur de Lhuys and Don de Benavides.

"Gentlemen, I appreciate you coming here in this veritable blizzard, but I assure you what you will take back to your Emperor and Queen," nodding slightly to each man in turn, "will make it worthwhile."

They took off their wraps, hung them on pegs alongside Temple's, and hurriedly began warming themselves by the fireplace while he handed each a glass he had poured from a bottle also on the table. After just a moment of input from each man about their health and such, Temple asked, "And now, would you like to see why you were brought here tonight?" With this, he went to the door that adjoined the pub and quietly knocked three times. The door swung open and three people began to enter the room, the first quietly saying "The door is secure" to Temple, acknowledging that another person was on guard still to ensure that no one would disturb them or see or hear what was going to be done in the back room.

The first man was tall and very sturdy, even with his outer coat slung over his arm. The second was of average height and build, but looked comparatively small next to the first man. The third person was smaller still while even wearing a hat and coat.

Temple began the introductions, first with the two important emissaries from France and Spain, and then he preceded the introductions of the three with "These three people have been in contact with me for several years now. They have been and will be invaluable assets to us and our plan."

"First," indicating the large man who had told him the room was secure when he entered, "may I introduce Major Josiah Sterling of the British Royal Marines, a special person attached to Her Majesty's Envoy in the Legation to the United States as an observer of their War of Secession, what they call their Civil War. He has had access to their top military, government, and business personnel at social gatherings and more. If you will excuse the pun, he has jolly well been sterling in his assignment, as he remembers almost anything he sees or reads. His observations and assessments will continue to be very valuable to us." Sterling stepped forward and shook the hand of each of the foreign diplomats, taking note of the two men, as was his fashion and training: Antonio de Benavides was mostly bald, with a mustache and slight growth below his lips, and Edouard de Lhuys very stately looking with gray hair and big sideburns, the ice imbedded in them now dripping like a leaky faucet. "Temple," he said, as he also shook his hand, stating only the last name as a military man is prone to do. He then stepped back to where he was standing.

"Next," Temple continued, "this is Senor Juan Carlos Ramirez," as the second man nodded. "He lives in San Francisco, California, and is a very successful and respected banker, having profited from the Gold Rush in that area since 1848, and is now also financing miners that have been heading to Nevada the last few years for silver. He is in a perfect position to know what is going on out west—and therefore is perfect for us as well." Ramirez bowed graciously to both of the two men, and said, "Thank you, Lord Palmerston" to Temple, his royal title whether he was the Prime Minister or not.

"El nombre de la familia Rameriz se siente honrada en Espana—the Ramirez family name is greatly honored in Spain," acknowledged de Benavides, "and I look forward to our association as well."

"As do I," replied Ramirez, both men bowing again to each other.

Almost chuckling to himself, Temple announced, "And finally—forgive me for saving this one as a special surprise—may I introduce Madame Jeanetta Boudreaux from New Orleans, Louisiana." At this, she took off her hat and scarf to reveal her face. Her coal-black hair was pinned up on her head so as to fit under the hat, her skin looked lightly tanned against the white of the snow on her coat, although her cheeks were flushed and pink from the cold, and her eyes were as dark as her hair. The surprise first at her being a female and then her looks actually caused all four other men to draw in their breaths.

Edouard Drouyn de Lhuys was the first to compose himself, and he quickly came forward, reached for her hand as she extended it, and kissed it. "Enchante—c'est my grand plaisir de vous rencontrer—it is my great pleasure to meet you, Madame Jeanetta"—saying it as the French would, emphasizing the 't's, making it sound romantic and beautiful—"and if I may be of any service to you, please do not hesitate to call upon me. Madame means 'my lady' in French, Jeanetta means 'little Jean', and Jeanette 'God is gracious'," as he turned his head to explain to the men in the room, then turned back to face her, "and all are certainly aware that God has been gracious to you, beautiful little lady." Then, remembering where he was and for what purpose—and perhaps his age—he resumed his place at Temple's left side.

Enjoying the impulsive reaction from Edouard over his surprise for just a moment, himself known for being a lady's man, Temple nevertheless continued with the introduction and business at hand. "I met her and her charming mother and family about six years ago now. Her mother was born in France, Edouard. Jeanetta grew up on a one thousand acre sugar cane plantation near New Orleans. She has traveled extensively to the other major cities in the South—Atlanta, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, Richmond, and the like, as well as here to London—and, like Major Sterling in the North and Senor Ramirez in the West, she has made important connections throughout the entire South that now give her vital access to information concerning the Confederacy. Being an old friend of Confederate General P.G. T. Beauregard and having a pass from him has helped her in her travels also."

"Oh," remembering something he had failed to say, "unfortunately, Madame Boudreaux lost her husband in the Civil War a few months after they were married. He was defending the port of New Orleans when the Union gunboats and soldiers took the city in 1862, even though there was no battle in the city itself and it was spared destruction as has happened elsewhere since. Also, in case none of you ever heard of the Federal Commander who took over and declared martial law in New Orleans at that time, General Butler's General Order # 28 in May that "any woman who insults or shows contempt to a Federal officer shall be regarded and treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation" actually came about because of a rebuff to him from our own little Jeanetta. It caused such a furor in both England and France that he was removed from office there in December. So she is definitely a woman of action, can help us greatly at this time with her freedom of travel and influence, and I welcome her wholeheartedly to our mission."

"Thank you, Pam," she said sincerely, using the popular name Temple was also called by friends and admirers.

"May I express my regrets upon the passing of your husband?" Antonio asked sympathetically.

"Thank you, sir. I am but one of many who has suffered loss over these past four years. Oh, and I also was able to travel to the major cities in the North before the War began, so I am at least familiar with them also. And to London and Paris a couple of times, but I never made it to Spain," nodding apologetically to Antonio, "nor to San Francisco," acknowledging Juan Carlos.

"It will be my pleasure to have you visit Spain any time," Antonio said hopefully.

"And San Francisco. I understand you have cypress trees in your bayous, but have you ever seen the Giant Sequoias and redwoods in California? Some are so huge, I swear a carriage could pass through the trunk."

"I would love to see them sometime!" exclaimed Jeanetta. "The trees in the bayous and along the roads with Spanish moss hanging all over them are some of my favorite things. Our plantation had ..." Her voice trailed off sadly, her mind in a memory of a time now to be no more.

Major Sterling broke the silence. "Excuse me, but you don't sound like a Southerner."

Jeanetta quickly recovered. "Why, suh, whatever do you mean? I would just love y'all to come visit me anytime, ya heah?" Her voice sounded as sweet and thick with a Southern accent as if spreading homemade jam on a piece of bread. She even brought her scarf up to her face as if a fan, slightly lowered her head, and looked up at him through her long eyelashes.

The men looked at her amazed again, and Sterling actually laughed aloud.

"It seems that another of her abilities," Temple added, "is that she can speak so precisely and neutrally that she can sound like the people wherever she is—from a Southern accent to French to a British accent."

"Even Bostonian?" challenged Sterling.

"Well, I'm not sure I have that proper language down yet," Jeanetta admitted. "I've not quite heard enough of it to be able to mimic it well. And I'm not sure I will need it, but one can never tell. Union officers are from everywhere." Still, it was said in enough of a Boston accent that Sterling nodded in admiration.

Antonio interrupted the moment. "May I ask how these three were ... recruited, shall we say?"

"By Jove, of course you need to know that. Major Sterling—Captain Sterling then—was an aide-de-camp to a general after the Crimean War and was in Queen Victoria's company when I first met him. He was highly recommended when I inquired about a person who could be a British observer to the United States when their Civil War began. He was well received by President Lincoln and all he has met there, as they want to keep the United Kingdom out of their war. He seems to me to be certainly well suited for the mission I gave him. I have not been disappointed one time in the information and insight he has given me now for almost four years."

"Senor Ramirez has been in banking for many years, and I met him when he came to London to meet with bankers with the unique idea of actually forming an International Bank—one that would provide accounts, loans, and aid to countries around the world, as a regular bank does to customers in its own community. Extraordinary. I'm not sure the world is ready for that yet, but it's quite an idea. Anyway, I met with him and sensed he was dissatisfied with his way of life—although quite successful—and that he was wanting an even higher, better way of life for himself. In communicating with him now for a few years, I felt he was the one we needed to aid in making the Divine Plan a reality in that part of the country—with his capability and access to the entire area as President of the Bankers Association there."

"I first met Madame Boudreaux in 1859 when she was a young American lady visiting Europe with her family for culture, I suppose. We met at a social event, and I was taken by her intelligence and forward-thinking ideas. Then, when she came back alone to London in May of 1862 fiercely anti-Union, we talked and she agreed to aid me any way she could to give me helpful information on troops and arms, although I had not informed her why I wanted it at that time. She also has been very successful in giving me the information I desired of her from all over the South, as well as patient in not asking the true reason for it. I told her in our last correspondence that it was important for her to come be in on a great plan, and she is here."

Excerpted from A Country Divided by Jay F. Downs. Copyright © 2013 Jay F. Downs. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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A Country Divided 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jay Downs has constructed an alternate history that is as plausible as it is fascinating.  If the major event portrayed here had successfully taken place, and it easily could have, I believe we would be speaking German in America today.  This book should be required reading for every high school student in the United States."