My attempt to rationalize Harry Harrison's rather unrealistic Stars and Stripes series. CAUTION: Ameriwank ahead! You have been warned.
A most curious incident occurred in New Jersey on the morning of November 30th, 1861. A casket made of what appeared to be glass and iron suddenly appeared in the middle of the road with a flash. Within was the corpse of a man dressed in a very peculiar fashion. The casket was much too heavy for any horses in town to pull, so it was surrounded by local police to keep the growing crowd of curious bystanders. At one in the afternoon, to the surprise of everyone around, the casket opened and the "corpse" emerged from it. Stranger yet, the man had a decent command of English, and after asking questions about his whereabouts and the current year he immediately demanded to see President Lincoln. Lincoln, curious about this development himself, granted the man an audience.
The man, who introduced himself as "Mr. Morris," claimed to come from the distant 28th century. He described this era as a time when the American people had abandoned Earth and forged a nation among the stars. But he explained that the American people were in grave danger from threats that he could not even begin to describe, and so in one last, desperate gambit, he was sent back in time so he could prepare the American people against these future threats and save it from annihilation. The United States, he explained, needed to conquer the world by the 22nd century, so that the entire human race is united under the stars and stripes. The first order of business would be the destruction of the southern Confederacy. Morris was surprised to learn from Lincoln that the Confederates had an ally: the British Empire. Morris assured the president that while he had not expected this development, it would be no problem: he had the tools to get the job done.
Morris’ reforms were drastic and oftentimes confusing. Using what he called a “tabulator,” Morris produced schematics for amazing weapons of war, such as the “autorepeater” and the “tank.” Morris demonstrated the effectiveness of these new weapons before the president, who immediately gave factories all throughout the United States the order to manufacture them to the exact specifications provided by Morris. Advanced communications technologies such as rudimentary wireless communication devices were introduced to ease communication between the armies. Morris also insisted that General McClellan be sacked and replaced with General Grant, under the reasoning that McClellan was too conservative a commander. By the end of 1862, the United States succeeded in cutting the Confederacy in two, thanks to the use of information from the future. The Confederacy surrendered unconditionally in August of 1863, when the first Union tanks rolled past Confederate defenses around Richmond.
Now there was the matter of defeating the British. Although the British had abandoned their Confederate allies as soon as it was clear they were losing and asked for an armistice, the Union government, at Morris’ insistence, demanded all British holdings in North America. These demands, Morris explained, were intended to be so absurd that the British would never be able to meet them, and so the war would continue and British power would be irrevocably broken on American soil. Lincoln was more hesitant about this approach, as his goal was to reunite the country and little more, but Morris insisted that this was the only way to save the American people from future destruction. Morris also made allies among the more nationalistic members of the United States government, securing a power bloc that could oust Lincoln if he ever turned against Morris’ plan. Facing technology decades in advance of anything else on Earth, the British were defeated again and again, finally forced to retreat from the continent by the end of 1865. Using designs for advanced warships, the Americans even landed a force in Ireland, forcing the British to surrender their North American possessions.
In 1868, Morris ran for the office of President of the United States. While some contested his claim on constitutional grounds, as he could not prove he was born on American soil, Morris’ campaign was a resounding success, as he was credited with singlehandedly turning the United States into the world’s premier power. However, his detractors did do some damage by pointing out that Morris’ victory has led to massive insurrections throughout the continent. During his campaign, Morris promised to solve these problems by “any means necessary.” After he was elected president, Morris implemented what he called the “Eaton Solution,” a brutal campaign of organized starvation to suppress revolt in both the old Confederacy and the former British territories. After a failed assassination attempt by actor John Wilkes Booth, Morris created what he called the Presidential Guard, a paramilitary unit personally loyal to the president. Industrial development continued under the auspices of the new Department of Development, and soon American factories were producing aircraft and steinol engines. To keep these secrets within American borders, Morris implemented a policy of extreme repression, allowing nobody to enter or leave the country without explicit permission from the government. Slowly, President Morris turned the United States into his own personal empire, one with ambitions to take over the entire planet.
In 1882, the United States initiated another war with the British over the issue of Venezuela’s border, but although this time the Americans would settle for nothing less than to bring the entire British Empire under their control. Despite Morris’ best efforts, some secrets did leak out to the rest of the world, and while Morris’ America had a greater technological advantage than his British counterparts the fight was still long. The Americans managed to defeat the Royal Navy with the aid of bomber aircraft, but just barely, and the United States Navy would spend the rest of the war recuperating. The American campaign in Ireland and Wales was a long slog through muddy trenches, where gains in inches were paid for with thousands of lives. In India, friend and foe were nearly indistinguishable as alliances with the locals shifted constantly. The war was finally brought to a close on June of 1887, when an American bomber over London dropped a small device that had been attached to Morris’ casket ever since his arrival, one that he had repurposed himself and kept secret for decades. That small device was a fusion reactor, modified to detonate as soon as it hit the ground. While Morris knew that the explosion was small compared to other devices of its class, nobody else did, and the shock of the explosion combined with a renewed American offensive throughout all fronts forced the British to unconditionally surrender. The Americans deposed the monarchy and created the Republic of Britain, granted Ireland and the rest of the empire nominal independence or outright annexed them into the United States, and went about imposing the Eaton Solution throughout all of their new possessions.
President Morris finally perished in 1891, but the American empire he forged would live on. Throughout his reign, Morris molded the American nation in his own image, and by the 1890s an entire generation had grown up knowing nothing but a heavy-handed nationalist dictatorship. Morris’ successors sought to live up to his legacy and fulfill his dream of a united Earth under American rule. However, by the turn of the century, the Americans no longer had the great advantage they enjoyed ever since Morris’ arrival. The German Empire arose in continental Europe and has become an industrial power, potentially challenging American supremacy. Other great powers, such as France and Russia, have formed their own alliances to resist American domination. America’s position as first in the world and its brazen aggression has turned the rest of the world against it. But just before his death, President Morris admitted to his closest advisers that, after decades of tinkering, he had finally figured out a way to send a message back to his own time, and that he had done so asking for help. The new American leadership eagerly hopes for this aid, and have made plans to start a global war as soon as it arrives.