Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Imperial Republic of California

(Note: In the world of Gnome Wars, there is no definitive campaign setting, simply the different nationalities of gnomes.  One of my long term projects with a very rough draft finished is an open campaign world that allows some structure for wars and geo-politics, but also allows the idiosyncrasies of a traditional Samurai warrior nation, or classic Romans wandering around, as well as allow an opening for the frog, rabbit, teddy bear, etc races to co-exist.)

Every school-aged gnome knows that soon after the American gnomes won their independence from their British overlords, the country fractured geographically in Northern (Union) and Southern (Confederate) gnomes.  This early division slowed the organized American expansion on the continent, but it did allow an open door for the Aztexican Empire.  While the Americans skirmished with natives and each other, the Aztexicans advanced north, occupying huge swaths of the west.   

California was the large territory of fantastic potential, but wholly underutilized by the Empire.  Outside of missionaries, the territory was largely populated by immigrants:  Americans making the journey overland or by sea, British from Columbia, even Japanese willing to make the voyage.  A military governor administered the territory and there were few problems, so long as taxes were paid.

After Texas won its independence from the Empire in 1838 and became a Republic, a movement grew in California to do the same.  In 1846, while the Empire was preoccupied in separate wars with Texas and the Confederate Gnomes, settlers revolted and set up the California Republic.  With no Union Naval presence along the west coast, the revolutionaries were allowed time to establish their government and reinforce their forts and loyal militias.  Outside of the scuffle to arrest the military governor, nary a shot was fired to form the new country.   San Francisco was established as the capital.

The flag of the first revolt 1846 - It has been the only flag that Califonia has ever had
When gold was discovered in the Republic in 1848, the legislature raced to establish a national police force to control the tide of new immigrants storming into the country to make their fortune.   The California Republican Guard initially served merely as law enforcement, but soon took on a more formal military role, skirmishing with with Aztexico, South Columbia, and the Mormon Theocracy of Deseret.
By the Election of 1850, inflation from the Gold Rush was crippling, and greed and corruption in the government was rampant.  Despite good efforts by a number of groups to reform the country, significant efforts were made to rig the election and exile all the other candidates who were opposing President William Idle.

Joshua Abraham was one of those candidates, running under the banner of Coastal Party.  The British-born Abraham had spent most of his life in Northern Columbia as a youth and had immigrated to California in 1848, making a killing on Latin American grain futures.  Immediately after the 1850 election, he escaped a potential kidnapping or assassination by government agents and spent the next three years on the run from them, ultimately arriving in the Belgrade, Serbia.  He allied himself with a group known as the Bulgar Legion, and with their help, the final agents were finally disposed of. 

To pay off his debt to the Legion, he joined them to fight against the Ottomans and Russians in the Cry Me a River War.    Abraham performed valiantly during the war, even becoming an officer and rising to the remarkable level of Colonel.  When the war ended, the peace treaty demanded the disbandment of the Legion.  However, Abraham had contacts with the British Consulate in Belgrade, and be it by bribery, blackmail, and powerful powers of persuasion, he convinced the British to provide transport and supply of the entire Legion to anywhere else on the globe.

While Abraham was on his adventures for almost a decade, California stayed under the clutch of greed, but some were fighting back.  Native tribes that had been in California even before the Aztexicans began viciously fighting back against miners who were seizing their lands for gold claims.  These encounters forced the Republican Guard to stretch itself thin along it's eastern border, even inciting a war with Deseret in 1857-1859. 

On September 17, 1859, the British troop transport HMS Plenipotentiary arrived in San Francisco Bay with its colors struck.  Soon thereafter, the Bulgar Legion disembarked and marched unmolested to the Presidential Manor, arrested President Idle, as well as most high ranking officials. 

Abraham proclaimed himself Emperor of California, using the Imperial name Norton I.  He officially dissolved the Senate on October 12, 1859:

...fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled.

Senators and their supporters barricaded themselves in the Senate, but Norton refused the send the Legion in.  Rather, he sent a personal request to General Albert Johnston of the California Republican Guard to accept the new form of government, agree to a truce with the Mormons, and march back to San Francisco to expel everyone from the halls of the Senate.

Two months later, there was peace on the eastern border, many in the former government had been arrested, tried, and executed for treason, and Abraham was formerly installed as Emperor Norton I.

Norton immediately put for the efforts to reform the country.  The Legion and Republican Guard were combined to form the First Imperial Guard of California.  Monies seized from the corrupt officials were put to roads, buildings, and a police force separate from the Guard.  Natives and Aztexicans were given a larger role in the government, as well as being allowed to enlist in the military for the first time.  Until his death in 1880, Norton I was a beloved figure in California, leading the country into an age of peace and prosperity.

Unmarried and with no children, Norton I had set up a militaristic succession to the Imperial crown.  The longest serving member of the Imperial Guard, regardless of rank, would ascend to the throne.  Norton's immediate successor was General Ferdinand Kozovski, a member of Bulgar Legion, and an immediate friend.  He took the crown and took the imperial name Abraham I. 

To embrace more freedom for his subjects Abraham re-established the Senate in 1885, although he would have final say in all matters.   Thus the Imperial Republic of California was established.

In 1898 trade disputes with Spain and Aztexico sparked the Great Pacific War of California.  California's navy successfully seized Spanish possession across the Pacific, bombed Aztexican ports, and even scuffled with the mighty German navy (and lived to tell about it) 

By the time the Great Gnome War has broken out, the California Empire has become a blooming power in the Pacific and Far East.  The Imperial Guard is one of the finest, and possibly most diversified military units in the world and has seen action in Asia, Australia, Latin America, and throughout the Pacific.  For the time being, current Emperor Nicholas I has remained neutral with the political discord in Europe.

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