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Bring the Jubilee  
File:Bring the Jubilee 1953 cover.PNG
Cover of the original 1953 Ballantine Books edition
Author Ward Moore
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Alternate history
Publisher Random House
Publication date 1953
Media type Print
Pages 243 (paperback)
ISBN 9780345405029
OCLC Number 38014790
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 21
LC Classification PS3563.O668 B75 1997

Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore is a 1953 novel of alternate history. The point of divergence occurs when the Confederate States of America wins the Battle of Gettysburg and subsequently declares victory in the "War of Southron Independence" on July 4, 1864 after the surrender of the United States of America. The novel takes place in the impoverished United States in the mid-20th century as war looms between the Confederacy and its rival, the German Union. History takes an unexpected turn when the protagonist Hodge Backmaker, a historian, decides to travel back in time and witness the moment when the South won the war.[1]



After the war and the presidency of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate government expressed increasingly imperialistic ambitions. Confederate forces first invaded Mexico, then continued south and conquered the whole of South America before moving west to Pacific islands such as Hawaii. The Confederacy thrived as cities like Washington-Baltimore (merged from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Alexandria) and Leesburg (formerly Mexico City) became renowned international centers of culture and learning. The Confederacy stood as one of the world's two superpowers following the German Union's victory in the Emperors' War, fought in Europe from 1914 to 1916. The German Union swiftly advanced across most of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and formed an alliance with a rejuvenated Spanish Empire. To maintain the balance of power, the Confederacy purchased Alaska from Russia and allied with the waning British Empire. Tensions grew between the two nations up until the 1950's, and people around the world lived under constant threat of impending war, with the defenseless United States certain to be the battleground.


The Confederacy's living standards, economic growth, political influence, and military strength are reminiscent of the post-WWII United States in reality. Although slavery has been abolished, to a large extent because of the efforts of men such as Robert E. Lee, conditions are still poor for minorities. Immigration is encouraged nevertheless, with immigrants being made subjects of the Confederacy like the Latin-American population. Technology developed along different lines, as the internal combustion engine, incandescent light bulb, and heavier-than-air flying craft were never created. Steam-powered "minibiles" and dirigibles are the primary powered means of transportation in wealthier nations; most people still ride horses for short distances or take trains for longer trips. All communication is done by letter or telegraph, and all children learn to understand telegraphs at an early age until the act becomes as natural as reading.

In sharp contrast to the Confederacy's prosperity, the United States is depicted in a state of perpetual recession, with unemployment and corruption rampant. The U.S. is so destitute that a transcontinental railroad is never constructed, while the Confederacy built seven. Only successful landowners and the few lucky winners of the highly popular national lottery are able to rise above the semi-destitute lives of average citizens, but most able-bodied adults are reduced to "indenting" themselves to businesses in exchange for the meager economic security that it affords. U.S. citizens are more hostile to African Americans than Confederates, seeing them as a major cause of the Union's downfall and unwanted competition over the few available jobs; those blacks who have not left the U.S. for Africa are constantly derided by whites. In the U.S., mass lynchings of blacks are still common. Political power in the country is divided between the Confederate-influenced Whigs and the ineffectual Populists. Lastly, the U.S. military is practically nonexistent, with foreign powers frequently deploying troops unopposed across the U.S. in regions where their nationals have been attacked.


File:Bring the Jubilee Map.PNG

The alternate world of Bring the Jubilee in 1952

     Confederate States of America      United States of America      Republic of Haiti

     German Union      British Empire      Spanish Empire      French Empire

The narrator of the novel is Hodgins "Hodge" McCormick Backmaker, who writes a diary of his life in our timeline in the year 1877. Hodge was born in 1921 in the alternate timeline of his story, in the town of Wappinger Falls. At age 17 he travels to New York City, the largest city of the United States (and yet a backwater compared to some Confederate cities), in a desperate attempt to gain admittance to a college or university. After being robbed of his few possessions, he comes into contact with the "Grand Army," a nationalistic organization working to restore the United States to its former glory through acts of sabotage and terrorism. One of the Grand Army's operations involves counterfeiting Spanish currency, with the goal of provoking war between the Confederacy and the German Union in Spanish territories, sparing the U.S. from becoming the two superpowers' battlefield. Despite remaining critical of the organization's activities, Hodge accepts work and lodging with a Grand Army member working from a bookshop. Content to work for food and the opportunity to read at every waking hour, Hodge stays in the bookshop for six years before leaving New York for Pennsylvania.

Hodge's aspirations of becoming a historian researching the war between North and South become reality when he joins a self-sufficient collective of scholars and intellectuals called Haggershaven. Here he meets a research scientist on the verge of developing time travel. In 1952, Hodge takes the opportunity to finally see the Battle of Gettysburg in person. Wearing a special watch to keep track of the differences in time, he travels back in time to 1863, where he then inadvertently causes the death of the Confederate officer who occupied Little Round Top during the battle. In Hodge's timeline, the Confederates hold the hill and win the Battle of Gettysburg, paving the way for their victory over the Union in Philadelphia a year later; in this timeline, however, Colonel Strong Vincent's brigade and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment commanded by Joshua Chamberlain occupy the hill early on and successfully repel Confederate advances. In the novel, Hodge asserts that Little Round Top is the key to the battle, and thus the war. Hodge's actions effectively give the hill to the Union, where events play out as they did in this timeline and the South loses the battle. With history changed, Hodge discovers he is unable to return to the future and is stranded in this timeline. The story concludes as Hodge explains why he felt his story had to be written down, and wonders if by destroying the future he was born in, he destroyed the only dimension where time travel was possible.

An "editorial note" following the story relates how one Frederick Winter Thammis had found Hodge's diary while remodeling his house in 1953. Thammis' father had known Hodge as a child, and had grown up on his stories of an alternate world, but had not thought him fully sane. Thammis notes that he had found a watch of unique design with the manuscript, and quotes a contemporary history book which states that the Confederates' failure to occupy Little Round Top was "an error with momentous consequences."

Publication history[]

Bring the Jubilee appeared in the November 1952 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction before publication as a separate novel.[2] After the release of the original 1953 Ballantine Books edition, the novel was republished in 1965 by Four Square Science Fiction.[3] In 2001, the novel was included in the anthology The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century.[4]

See also[]