For All Nails

A continuation (and clarification) of Robert Sobel's excellent For Want of a Nail timeline.

For those of you who are impatient and wish to get to the newsgroup posts, press here for the index by date of posting or press here for the index based on chronology.


In 1974 history professor Robert Sobel published an excruciatingly detailed history book documenting an alternate history of the two nations that share the North American continent: The Confederation of North America (CNA), and the United States of Mexico (USM). Click here for a brief chronology of events. Sobel's point of departure (or POD) from actual history was a Battle of Saratoga that saw General Burgoyne and his British troops defeat the colonials under General Gates. The American Revolution, or as this timeline views it, the War of the Rebellion, saw the defeated colonials either hanged, imprisoned, or go on a self-imposed westward exile. Those exiles headed to what is in our timeline (OTL) Texas. These exiles eventually joined with Spanish colonists to form the United States of Mexico. The Tories eventually spun the colonies into what became the Confederation of North America. Sobel's book covers the history of these two nations until the early 1970s. For All Nails is a large set of posts to the USENET newsgroup soc.history.what-if. The original poster, Noel Maurer, picked the name because he suspected that the world Sobel has postulated might head toward a disastrous end, not unlike President Chester A. Arthur's (no, not the real former president) For All Time timeline. From Noel's original post:

For All Nails (with apologies to Chet) is a continuation
of For Want of A Nail, by Robert Sobel.  There was talk
about it on another thread.  I decided to go ahead.

I intend to take this through the year 2001.  And, as you
can imagine from the title, I don't expect things to turn
out particularly well.  It won't come close to Chet's 
masterpiece for pain, but Sobel didn't leave me with
much reason to hope for a happy future.

But you can try to rescue, or destroy, the FaN. 

The ground rules are as follows.  The Sobel book is the
"bible," but with qualifications:  it was written by a
biased historian based in Taipei.  Therefore, some of
its interpretations may be incorrect, even if the facts
are not in dispute.  If my portrayal of the Mercator
dictatorship, to give one of what will be many examples,
differs from the one in the book you now know why.

All I can say is that when I depart from Sobel's inter-
pretation it will be because I find his version consummately
implausible, not because I'm exercising dramatic license.
The Mercator dictatorship is, again, a good example.  So
is Kramer Associates.  You'll never see me openly contra-
dicting Sobel ... but the feel may be very different.

When Sobel said nothing, anything goes.

Anyone can post anything, but with two stipulations.
One, they must be either in the FaT-style ("Maurice
Henderson is not a happy man ... the People's Republic
of Rmo Negro is not a happy place ...") or personal
anecdotes.  Feel free to write about the characters
I've introduced.  Two, the chronological gap between
entries may not be more than eighteen months.  So you
can't leap too far ahead.

I'll be going ahead with this even if there are no
additions.  I promise to take discussions into account.

The other rule is that I am changing the names and
geography of the Mexican "states."  They make no sense,
and sticking to them feels like screeching chalk.

All the best,

Several authors have taken up Noel's challenge. What is documented here is the results of those authors.

The Authors

Let's meet the authors of this timeline.
  • Matt Alderman

    Matthew Alderman is an architecture student at the University of Notre Dame. He enjoys creative writing in his spare time, if and when such a possibility ceases to be merely theoretical. His other interests include Catholic history, ritual and theology; watercoloring; early music; art history; heraldry; the Hapsburgs;the origins of Renaissance alchemy; watching Blackadder; and accusing the Rosicrucians of sending him all those Pottery Barn catalogues.

  • David Mix Barrington

    David Mix Barrington is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where his research interests center on the theory of computation. His other interests (besides alternate history) include Unitarian Universalism and theatre.

  • Sir Francis Burdett

    Sir Francis Burdett is the pseudonym for an academic administrator in the Deep South with delusions of intellectual grandeur. A frustrated writer currently optioning his three volume biography of Robert Caro to the better US publishing houses.

  • Jonathan Edelstein

    Jonathan Edelstein is a lawyer and occasional scholar who practices in New York and has written on topics as diverse as extradition from Israel and the May 2000 coup in Fiji. He is married, lives in Queens, and spends far too much time on alternate history.

  • Bernard Guerrero

    Bernard Guerrero is a manager, former National Guardsman, Rutgers alumnus and MBA candidate at the Stern School of Business at NYU. A devoted husband and father, he spends his spare time walking the woods of Orange County, New York, plotting to take over the world with submarines.

  • Joe Horan

  • Henrik Kiertzner

    Henrik Kiertzner is an elderly retired soldier of the British variety who makes an obscenely luxurious living in IT and fantasises about dystopias.

  • Noel Maurer

  • Dan McDonald

    Dan is a networking kernel hacker (on purpose) and networking security expert (by accident) with Sun Microsystems, Inc. Dan's interests in this TL include computing, pop culture, and general technological issues. Visit his home page for more about Dan.

  • Randy McDonald

    Randy McDonald is a student at the University of Prince Edward Island, in eastern Canada, who is completing his undergraduate studies at that university before heading over to central Canada for graduate studies. In his spare time, he also reads and writes quite a few things, including not a small amount of alternate history.

  • Johnny Pez

    "Johnny Pez" is the secret identity of a humble, unassuming desk jockey and part-time stock clerk in Rhode Island. Johnny's interests in this TL include wild-eyed North American conspiracy theorists and dim-witted European monarchs.

  • Carlos Yu

  • Some general Alternate History terms

    When discussing alternate history, several acronyms and other terms pop up. It helps to know some of these when reading For All Nails.

    Coming soon...

    Some For Want of a Nail/For All Nails terms

    As with any alternate history, words develop differently when the history and culture has been altered by the POD. Many of these appear in For Want of a Nail, but some have been introduced as part of For All Nails

    Coming soon...

    Some For All Nails supplemental material

    Maps (NOTE: All maps are JPEGs of less-than-70kbytes.)

  • Europe
  • North America
  • Miscellaneous Documents

  • The Constitution of the United States of Mexico
  • For All Nails posts

    For All Nails - as posted to soc.history.what-if

    Chronology of events in For All Nails