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An encyclopedia of Robert Sobel's alternate history For Want of a Nail that anyone can edit!
For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga is one of the classic works of alternate history. In it, business historian Robert Sobel wrote about an alternate world where the American Revolution was unsuccessful. However, instead of writing a novel set in an alternate timeline, Sobel chose to write a history book from an alternate timeline. The result is a history of an alternate North American continent from 1763 to 1971, including all the scholarly apparatus of an academic work: footnotes, a bibliography, three appendices, a map, an index, a preface by the author (an alternate Robert Sobel), and a critique by Professor Frank Dana, a hostile historian.
The book's point of divergence from our own history is a British victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, leading to defeat for the American colonists in the American Revolutionary War, which is known in the alternate history as the North American Rebellion. Afterwards, the defeated colonies are reorganized into the Confederation of North America, a dominion of the British Empire that gradually gains complete autonomy over the next sixty years. Meanwhile, the defeated rebels leave the colonies to settle in northern Mexico, where they found the State of Jefferson. In 1820, Jefferson and Mexico merge to form the United States of Mexico. For Want of a Nail then follows the histories of these two North American nations as they interact with each other and with the rest of a changed world, down to the time of the book's publication in the early 1970s.Like any history book, For Want of a Nail references thousands of people, places, events, and organizations, most of which are unique to the alternate history it describes. The Sobel Wiki exists to serve as an encyclopedia of this richly-detailed alternate world.
In 2001, a number of alternate history enthusiasts at the soc.history.what-if Usenet newsgroup (including Sobel Wiki creator Johnny Pez) joined together in the For All Nails project: to extend the Sobel Timeline past its original 1971 terminus, and to correct the various errors, contradictions, and improbabilities that For Want of a Nail suffers from. The result was a series of over 350 Usenet posts, mostly narrative vignettes of life in the Sobel Timeline, but also including newpaper and magazine articles, letters, and vitavision transcripts. Dan McDonald, one of the participants, began archiving the posts at his website, but real life intervened, as it so often does, and the kebe.com archive remains incomplete. In order to remedy this deficiency, the Sobel Wiki includes a second archive of For All Nails posts here.
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In 1568 the mostly Protestant northern half of the Seventeen Provinces rose up against the rule of King Philip II of Spain, beginning the Eighty Years' War. Eleven years later, the rebelling provinces formed the Union of Utrecht, a mutual-defense pact that served as the foundation of the Netherlands. In 1581, the northern provinces declared their independence from the rule of Philip II. The war between the Dutch and the Spanish continued until 1648, when King Philip IV recognized Dutch independence in the Peace of Münster. The largely Catholic southern provinces remained under Spanish rule.
The Netherlands was one of three nations that agreed to form an arbitration panel in 1845 to mediate a border dispute between the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico. However, the panel never convened due to the last-minute withdrawal of Spain, and the border dispute led to the outbreak of the Rocky Mountain War. (read more)