The Twinned Eagles

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What if the United States joined the Central Powers in World War I?

Point of Divergence

On March 6, 1901, German Emperor Wilhelm II is assassinated by an anarchist, getting shot through the lung and heart, killing him in a matter of minutes. His son, Wilhelm III, ascends to the throne at 19 years of age, and is placed under the regency of Prince Henry, Wilhelm II's younger brother. The young emperor, having little experience with state affairs and aware of how his father had been viewed by his subordinates and the world, delegates some of his power back to the military and civilian authorities of Germany.

As a result of having two assassinations of monarchs within ten years (Alexander III of Russia was assassinated in 1894), all major powers increase security around their officials. The first butterfly from this is President William McKinley avoids assassination after one of his bodyguards catches would-be assassin Leon Czolgosz making his way towards the president. In 1903, Wilhelm III makes his first state visit to the United States, being received by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt in New York Harbor. Wilhelm tours New York City's German neighborhoods with Roosevelt, and the two develop a friendship before returning to Washington for dinner at the White House.

Honoring the presidential tradition of not seeking more than two terms, McKinley declines to run for reelection in 1904. Vice President Roosevelt and Indiana Senator Charles W. Fairbanks, representing the progressive and conservative wings of the Republican Party. enter the Republican National Convention as the leading contenders. With machine backing and quiet support from the conservative McKinley, Fairbanks manages to secure the nomination over Roosevelt. On the Democratic side, William Jennings Bryan makes his third attempt at the presidency and secures the nomination for the third consecutive cycle. Polling and the general political atmosphere favored Fairbanks heavily, however with rigorous campaigning and energizing his supporters, Bryan would pull off a major upset over Fairbanks, narrowly securing an electoral college victory.

The populist Bryan would take office with a solidly Republican Congress to contend with. Hopes of progressive reform were dashed during Bryan's presidency as both the Republicans and Bourbon Democrats struck down his progressive proposals, and his administration reached a standstill. Foreign policy under Bryan became anti-imperialist and anti-British, leading to the fraying of relations between the United States and Great Britain. Because of this, Germany would continue extending diplomatic overtures to Washington, looking for a counterbalance to Britain's Atlantic dominance.

After four years of a lame duck presidency, New York Governor and former Vice President Theodore Roosevelt would defeat Bryan handily. Roosevelt's administration, with the support of the Republican Party, manages to pass his progressive agenda through Congress, and focuses largely on domestic issues during his first term. One continued policy from the Bryan to the Roosevelt administrations was a continued positive relationship with Berlin, driven by Roosevelt's personal friendship with Wilhelm III.

In 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated in Sarajevo, sparking the First World War in Europe. The recently reelected Roosevelt pledged neutrality and tried to maintain trade with both sides of the conflict. However, this move was blocked by the Royal Navy's blockade on German ports, and appeals to London failed due to distrust between the two powers. Meanwhile, German propaganda within the United States pushed on America's history of largely negative relations with Britain, as well as glorifying Manifest Destiny with the allure of Canada being integrated into the union. The situation with Britain worsened after the blockade was expanded to include the North Sea in November. Despite assurances of neutrality, however, one event would push the United States into the war, and Roosevelt would be leading that charge.

The German decision to begin unrestricted submarine warfare on British ships within their blockade zone was controversial, but ineffective. One attack was unknowingly attempted by a U-Boat on the RMS Lusitania missed the ship by several yards, and realizing the nearby escort, aborted it. However, the same ship would explode while arriving in the harbor. A coal fire broke out as the ship approached her destination, and that fire spread near the cargo hold. While not directly ignited, the heat set off stored munitions in the ship, triggering a chain reaction of explosions that would kill most aboard, including over one hundred Americans.

Needless to say, public opinion in the United States turned heavily against Britain. At first, London attempted to claim that it was the Germans who sunk the ship, but Britain's naval supremacy was too obvious to let a German submarine so close to British shores. Within the week, President Roosevelt announced his own plan to escort ships sailing across the North Atlantic, and the week after, he gave his impassioned speech to Congress.

"Britain has waged her war on peace, and has had no issue taking our citizens with her. The act of endangering our citizens with smuggled weapons is an act of hostility and disregard for human life. Gentlemen, I ask you now, how has Great Britain treated us throughout history? Shall we continue to let them raid our ships and put targets on the backs of our people? Or will we join together as one nation to fight back as we have since the days of General Washington?"

On May 19th, 1915, Congress narrowly passed a resolution to declare war on the United Kingdom and her dominions, effectively bringing the United States into an alliance with Germany. The first movements of the new American campaign began within the week as American forces pushed northwards and besieged Ottawa and Vancouver, but were held back by the Canadian garrisons. While the United States held significant advantages over Canada in both industrial capacity and manpower, the United States needed several months to completely mobilize, whereas Canada was already mobilized and had the backing of the British Empire. In those months, the Anglo-Canadian forces managed to establish defensive positions at strategic points that the Americans would likely target, and similarly to the war in Europe, the American Front turned to trench warfare. However, despite a stalled invasion of Canada, the Americans were successful in breaking the British blockade of Germany and Austria, forcing the Royal Navy to stretch their forces to cover the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1916, the United States managed to full mobilize and commit more forces northward, however despite managing to take the crucial city of Vancouver, a second front opened up after raids by pro-British Pancho Villa in New Mexico ended in dozens of civilian deaths, and Roosevelt launched a full-scale invasion of Mexico. This invasion would last just a few months, as the civil war-ravaged nation was not able to put up much of a fight against the oncoming Americans, and Mexico City would fall by July 4th, 1916. As American forces surged northwards, the Canadian defenses began to falter, and by December 1916, Ottawa would fall to the Americans, soon followed by Toronto by January. Most of Canada would fall by March 1917, as the war began to turn heavily against the Entente. Shortly after Russia withdrew from the conflict in February, France would surrender in May, and with nowhere left to fight, Britain would surrender days after France.