Summary: The Conquest of America

This summary was originally posted on 2016-11-16.

Published in 1916, The Conquest of America details an invasion of the USA by Germany.


1. Realistic

  • 1917: England goes down to partial defeat.
  • 1918: The USA refuses to enter World War One, even after the UK has lost Gibraltar and the Suez Canal (and, with them, her mastery of the sea), and despite the sinkings of the Lusitania and the Arabic. In the summer, Germany is flung back to the Rhine by the Allies, which include the UK's five million fully-equipped men.
  • 1919: At the Geneva Peace Congress, Germany buys off Europe,… cripples England, and… isolates America. Russia and France gain Constantinople and Alsace-Lorraine, respectively. Belgium becomes a German province after a referendum passes with 65 % in favor of annexation. Germany and the UK have turned socialist, using the full power of state to lessen their present iniquitous extremes of poverty and wealth, which weaken patriotism, and… compelling a division of the products of toil that is really fair. (It's mentioned that Japan rules China by 1921, though when such rule was established is left to the reader's imagination.)
  • 1921-04-27: A German ship packed with dynamite blows itself up in a suicide bombing of the Gatún Locks of the Panama Canal, trapping the entire US fleet in the Pacific (in which it is performing exercises as a show of force against Japan, which has been threatening China, the Philippines, Mexico, and even Hawaii and California). Simultaneously, Germany declares war on the US. Only 50 airplanes and 25 submarines are available for the defense of the Atlantic coast. (The naval reserve of ten predreadnoughts is in Philadelphia, but there are no men available to crew the ships.)
  • 1921-05-04: The Mayor of New York City, George McAneny, appoints a Committee of Public Safety, to remain in permanent session in Madison Square Garden.
  • 1921-05-11: Due to public disorder, Leonard Wood, the general in command of the Eastern Army, places New York City under martial law.
  • 1921-05-12: The German fleet arrives off New York City. On the US side, only ten airplanes and six submarines were assigned to the defense of that area, and can't put up much of a fight.
  • 1921-05-14: 150 000 German troops land on Long Island. Only 30 000 mobile US troops are available for defense. (A German dreadnought is guarding the mouth of Delaware Bay, preventing the inferior US naval reserve from being deployed.)
  • 1921-05-23: The German troops, led by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, occupy the entirety of Long Island. General Wood blows up the bridges and floods the subways that connect Long Island to the rest of the city.
  • 1921-05-25: The specie of the New York City banks (including the Federal Reserve Bank) is transferred to Chicago.
  • 1921-05-26: In the middle of a speech by Bernard Ridder (son of Herman Ridder) emphasizing the loyalty of the city's German-Americans, 50 000 German spies take Manhattan Island in a surprise attack. The entire Committee of Public Safety, including such illustrious personages as Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt, is taken hostage for 1 billion $ in gold (23 billion in 2016 dollars). Wood's army (20 000 federal troops, 50 000 half-trained militiamen, and 5 000 raw recruits) retreats to Trenton, New Jersey.
  • 1921-06-03: Another 150 000 German troops land in New York City.
  • 1921-06-05: Two 125 000-man German armies, under von Hindenburg and Alexander von Kluck, march for Trenton and Boston, respectively, while 50 000 troops remain in New York City.
  • 1921-06-12: New Haven, Connecticut, is captured with minimal resistance by von Kluck's army, which is accompanied by Ferdinand von Zeppelin and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. Twenty hostages, including ex-President William Taft, are taken to ensure the good conduct of the city.
  • 1921-06-22: von Hindenburg wins the four-day Battle of Trenton, having taken 12 000 casualties to Wood's 15 000, and takes hostages to ensure Trenton's good conduct. Wood retreats to Philadelphia.
  • 1921-06-27: Hartford, Connecticut, is captured without resistance, and hostages are taken.
  • 1921-07-02: von Kluck's army enters Boston and takes hostages, having experienced fewer than twenty casualties from unorganized militias and firebombed the same number of villages in retaliation. Several thousand Bostonians riot, leading to a few hundred deaths among the citizens and the killing of two hostages.
  • 1921-07-11: Admiral Frank Fletcher, having brought the US fleet from the Pacific to the Atlantic by way of Cape Horn, loses the Battle of the Caribbean Sea, between Guantanamo and Jamaica. The flagship super-dreadnought Pennsylvania is destroyed, along with the rest of the US fleet.
  • 1921-08-17: Outnumbered two to one, Wood loses the Battle of Philadelphia and half of his army to von Hindenburg, and retreats to Delaware. A third German army, led by Anton von Mackensen, lands in Chesapeake Bay and captures Richmond, Virginia.
  • 1921-08-18: The US sues for peace. A peace conference at Mount Vernon is planned for September.
  • 1921-09-08: At the Mount Vernon Peace Conference, the US is represented by Major General Wood, ex-President Taft, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elihu Root, while Germany is represented by Field Marshal von Hindenburg, Overgeneral von Kluck, and Ambassador Johann von Bernstorff. The US offers 3 billion $ (68 billion in 2016 dollars). Germany demands all of New England, about one-third of New York and Pennsylvania (the southeastern portions), all of New Jersey and Delaware, nearly all of Virginia and North Carolina, and all of South Carolina and Georgia—an expanse of territory about the area of the German Empire (roughly speaking, a thousand miles long and two hundred miles wide) and to be called New Germany. After two weeks of negotiations, Germany has reduced its demand to New England, New York City, and Long Island, and the US (with its final offer of 7 billion $, or 160 billion in 2016 dollars, having been rejected) is about to capitulate.

(A brief timeline and an accompanying map, based on the preceding events, clarifying some history that the book glossed over, and extending through the following ten years, were commissioned from RvBOMally.)

2. Fantastic

  • 1921-09-09: Thomas Edison, part of the Committee of Twenty-One—a group of patriotic businessmen who, since July, have been seeking to save the country—brings to the attention of the US government a method (newly invented by Lemuel Widding) of destroying the German fleet and preventing the enemy army from being supplied. Edison and Widding are kidnapped by a German spy before they can give the method to the US government—but, now apprised of the new situation, the US negotiators refuse to capitulate.
  • 1921-10-03: The truce ends, and hostilities resume.
  • 1921-10-14: At the Battle of the Susquehanna, Wood's 60 000 troops are arrayed against von Hindenburg's 150 000. However, when the Germans cross the Susquehanna River, it's revealed that Standard Oil rigged the US trenches with oil pipes. The trenches and the river are set ablaze, resulting in the deaths of 113 000 German troops and the capture of 7000.
  • 1921-10-15: The remaining 3 000 men of von Hindenburg's army, including von Hindenburg himself and Crown Prince Wilhelm, are caught by surprise and captured by Wood.
  • 1921-11-05: In preparation for the Third Battle of Bull Run, 5 000 tons of liquid chlorine have been prepared, but only 500 small airplanes are available to drop it, and 300 more are required. In the nick of time, Alberto Santos-Dumont, Juan Bielovucic, and Horacio Anasagasti arrive with 400 planes! (Before the war, Germany was threatening South America.) Despite "this splendid support given to America by her sister republics", however, Wood's army is forced to retreat into the Alleghenies.
  • 1921-11-29: In seditious Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the unnamed President of the United States is assassinated. His wife also is killed, in an attempt to shield him. This excites a fervor of patriotism across the country. German-Americans in particular, with Bernard Ridder as their public face, are emphatic in their loyalty.
  • 1921-12-24: 600 000 Bostonians rise in revolt and take prisoner 4000 German garrison troops.
  • 1922-01-01: The America—a new, 600-foot-long super-Zeppelin, with apparatus for steering small submarines by radio control, designed by Nikola Tesla and John Hammond Jr.—is destroyed in an attack on the German super-dreadnought flagship Bismarck in New York City. Tesla, who volunteered to captain the craft on its first mission, is killed.
  • 1922-01-20: The German garrison of Richmond, Virginia, is slaughtered by a force of ten thousand insurgent mountaineers. This setback, coming on the heels of the Boston revolt, inflicts serious damage on German prestige.
    In the confusion, Thomas Edison is rescued from the city by the story's protagonist, who learned Edison's location from a repentant German spy some weeks ago. He reveals to the Committee of Twenty-One the Widding-Edison torpedoa sure way to make an ordinary Whitehead torpedo hit a battleship.
  • 1922-01-24: A fourth German army of 150 000 men sets sail from Kiel.
  • 1922-02-03: In the Atlantic Ocean, a group of US seaplanes armed with the new Widding-Edison torpedoes attacks the German troop-carrying fleet. It sinks six German ships (three dreadnoughts and three troop transports), with a loss of only nine seaplanes, before the fleet surrenders.
    Shortly afterward, the German-American Peace Conference begins.
  • 1922-02-22: Germany signs the Treaty of Pittsburg—a white peace, with no gains on either side, except that Germany regains her captured fleet.
  • 1922-03-04: France and Russia, smarting under the inconclusive results of the Great War, attack the Central Empires. Germany… abandoned her invasion of America, not because of the USA's air victory, but because she found herself involved in another European war.
  • A few weeks later: General Wood makes an inspiring speech before a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Congress almost unanimously (even Senators William Bryan and Henry Ford refuse to vote against preparedness) votes for a strong and fully manned navy with 48 dreadnoughts and battle cruisers in proportion, scout destroyers and sea-going submarines in numbers sufficient to balance the capital fleet, an aerial fleet second to none in the world, a standing army of 200 000 men with 45 000 officers, backed by a national force of citizens trained in arms under a universal and obligatory one-year military system, and adequate munition plants in various parts of the country, all under government control and partly subsidized under conditions assuring ample munitions at any time, but absolutely preventing private monopolies or excessive profits in the munition manufacturing business.