United States of America
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US) or America is a federal republic consisting of 72 states, spread across 13 star systems. The majority of these are located within the Chicago Cluster and on the border of the Vega Cloud. The country also has numerous territories located within the Solar Sector, the New Canaan Corridor, and the Frontier Sector.
The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located on the eastern coast of North America. Disputes between the colonies and the United Kingdom led to the American Revolution. On July 4th 1776, delegates from the colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States in 1783, formally ending the war. The nation’s constitution was adopted in 1787 and ratified a year later. Throughout the 19th century the United States pursued a doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”. This involved vast territorial expansion, displacing native American Indian tribes and admitting new states. By 1848 the nation spanned the continent. In the latter half of the 19th century the American Civil War ended legal slavery in the country. Its economy, driven by the industrial revolution rapidly developed and a series of conflicts, including the Spanish-American War and the Great War confirmed the countries status as a major world power.
The Virus Crisis in the 1930s saw the United States harness its vast industrial strength to organize a worldwide relief effort. The First Scinfaxi War a decade later inflicted enormous devastation on the United States, including a period of nearly two years when the country was cut in two. The formation of the Pacific States of America was recognized by the United States following the war and the two countries maintain an economic union and strong partnership.
Following the end of the First Scinfaxi War, the United States spearheaded the creation of an international alliance that would later lead to the creation of the Democratic Federation. American achievements played a large role in the space race and ensured the United States played an integral role in the Alpha Centauri project and colonization efforts throughout the subsequent decades.
Today the United States is a developed country with the Orion Arm’s third largest economy (measured independently from the Pacific States or Democratic Federation), and is a major political, cultural, and military force.
- 1 History
- 2 Politics and Government
- 3 Astrography
- 4 Culture and Society
- 5 Military Forces
- 6 Diplomatic Relations
Prior to the Scinfaxi Virus and Invasion, the United States of America was one of Earth’s most dynamic powers. Originally a series of 13 British colonies of two and a half million people across the Atlantic Coast of North America, a series of taxes imposed by the British Government lead to bitter resentment and the idea of self-governance.
All thirteen colonies united in a Congress that called on them to write new state constitutions. After armed conflict with royalists began, “American Patriots” took control over every colony and began a series of mass meetings and conventions. This would later lead to Congress declaring independence in 1776. With large scale military and financial help from France and the leadership of George Washington, the American Patriots succeeded in the American Revolutionary War. The peace treaty of 1783 confirmed Great Britain’s recognition of the United States as a nation. A new constitution was adopted in 1789 and the Bill of Rights was added in 1791. The nation’s size more than doubled in size in 1805 following the Louisiana Purchase and a second inconclusive war was fought with Great Britain in 1812.
Following the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”, federal territory expanded all the way to the Pacific, leading to confrontations with Native American settlers who first inhabited the area. Part of this expansion was driven by the need for more land for farmers and slave owners. The expansion of slavery was very controversial however and lead to the American Civil War during with the Confederate States of America declared their independence. The Union Victory in 1865 restored federal control, ended slavery and brought about the Reconstruction Era in which the economic destruction of the Southern States was repaired.
Population and economic growth was rapid throughout the 19th century and by the outbreak of the Great War the United States had become a world power. Millions of American soldiers fought for the Allies in Europe achieving victory over Germany and the Central Powers. After a prosperous decade in the 1920s, the collapse of world markets in 1929 lead to a great depression.
The Scinfaxi Virus
The United States was one of the first countries to recognize the danger posed by the Scinfaxi Virus, having first discovered the substance in the Philippines in 1934. As the Virus began to spread rapidly across the world, the United States spearheaded the relief effort together with the United Kingdom. The undeniable danger posed by the Virus and a widespread information campaign by the Federal Government helped pull the nation’s focus from its domestic concerns and draw the United States towards a spirit of interventionism. When the complete evacuation of Australia was announced in 1936, public support for the relief efforts was catalyzed and the United States devoted more and more of its strength towards the global effort.
Working together with the United Kingdom, the main contributions of the United States were at first limited to economic and logistical support. As the situation worsened, the United States announced the construction and sale of 700 cargo ships which would be delivered to the UK to assist in the evacuations. While critics have contended that this effort was undertaken as a make-work initiative to breathe new life into American industry rather than out of true humanitarian concern, the result was a dramatic increase in GDP and the export of vast quantities of supplies and the end of unemployment. This was achieved by tens of millions of workers moving from low productivity occupations to high efficiency jobs, improvements in productivity through better technology and management and the move into the active labor force of students, housewives, and the unemployed. By 1940, as the Crisis continued to grow in severity, almost 40% of the US GDP went towards the relief effort, and over 1000 ships produced a year.
As the Virus Crisis continued and its potential as a threat to human existence became apparent, the United States grew more active in its role in the relief effort. American ships and sailors rescued hundreds of thousands from South America and British Colonies across the world. At the insistence of the United Kingdom, a number of arguably racist policies were dropped, and American ships began assisting the British in the evacuation of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. While racial tensions increased during this period, labor shortages encouraged American industry to find new sources of workers, finding new roles for women, blacks and refugees.
The Scinfaxi Invasion
When the Scinfaxi landings occurred in 1943, the United States had already begun an expansion of the military fearing the Japanese might attempt to take advantage of Virus Crisis. With landings in the Southeastern United States and Mexico however, the US Armed Forces were still unprepared to deal with an enemy on their own soil. The Scinfaxi advance across the country was devastating, nearly annihilating an American force sent to establish a line of defense in Mexico and rapidly expanding out of their landing zones in Louisiana and Florida. Already under severe stress during the Virus Crisis, the American people were rallied by the rhetoric of President Roosevelt. His declaration of war upon the Scinfaxi, while nearly meaningless in a political sense served to galvanize the American people and is widely regarded as one of the finest speeches in American history.
After a series of defeats throughout 1943 and 1944, the Scinfaxi had advanced as far north as the Canadian border, effectively cutting the United States in two. With air travel across the Scinfaxi occupied zones growing ever more dangerous and transit routes through Canada unsustainable, direct contact with the Pacific States was lost completely. With total defeat imminent and the preparation of “doomsday colonies” in the Arctic in Iceland being discussed at the highest levels, the nation’s remaining resources were dedicated to technological innovation. One of these programs, the Manhattan Project succeeded, resulting in the first two atomic bombs which were detonated in Tennessee. Following more detonations in America and across the world, the Scinfaxi retreated back into Central America, effectively creating an armistice across the world.
The United States emerged from the Scinfaxi War dramatically changed. Many of its largest cities had been destroyed during the conflict and tens of thousands of square kilometers of farmland had been devastated by the unhindered spread of the Scinfaxi Virus. A massive refugee population, now effectively stranded after the annihilation of their home countries, struggled to survive alongside the American population, who had lost tens of millions during the war. And perhaps most importantly, the United States was forced to contend with the emergency government of Douglas MacArthur who had established control over the separated Pacific States.
Reconstruction of American industrial and economic capabilities began immediately with tens of billions of dollars dedicated towards the effort. Disagreements with MacArthur however on how this money would be distributed towards the Pacific States, and how the two governments would merge authority proved fatal to hopes of a quick reunification. Tensions between the two governments grew, eventually nearing the point of crisis when an independently developed PSA atomic bomb was detonated at a Nevada test site. The removal of MacArthur in a military coup calmed the situation, leading to agreements on a joint economic union and other considerations, but neither side was completely satisfied, leading to Pacific States citizens to narrowly reject unification during a national referendum.
Despite being geographically separated via the Pacific States, the territories of Alaska and Hawaii both voted by referendum overwhelmingly to remain in the Union. Both regions prior to the Virus Crisis and First Scinfaxi War were already largely self-sufficient and neither were ever directly touched by the Virus nor the Scinfaxi, and they were put off by the policies of the MacArthur administration. Several times during the war, MacArthur attempted to contact and reign in the support of the territories, but neither accepted his authority as anything besides a United States General, and more pressing matters prevented any use of force. To that extent, Hawaii was happy to allow Pacific and Royal Navy ships dock and resupply in Pearl Harbor during the war, but nothing beyond that.
The United States was relieved at this response, as coupled with the loss of the Panama Canal there were initial worries that the US would permanently lose easy access to the Pacific, and keeping Hawaii in particular meant keeping one of Earth’s last remaining tropical regions untouched by the Virus at the time. Both it and Puerto Rico became cornerstones of the US economy in the following decades for that reason, as some of the only sources of products like coffee, sugar, cocoa, and bananas in the world until the changing climate eventually facilitated their growing further north and shipments began coming in from Alpha Centauri. Both areas were soon admitted as states, with Alaska following not long afterward as the 44th and last state ever admitted on Earth.
To help the tens of millions of refugees now living in the United States, the “Nations within Nations” program was established, forming areas of limited self-governance for the myriad of peoples that now found themselves in exile within the United States. While moderately successful, this program would ultimately lead to increased racial and social tensions, eventually culminating with the end of institutionalized racism across the United States and the advancement of civil rights and feminist movements throughout the 1960s and 70s.
The Space Race
Amid the period of reconstruction following the First Scinfaxi War, the United States and other nations deduced the true nature of the Scinfaxi Virus; a malicious terraforming agent intended to make the Earth more suitable for the Scinfaxi themselves. By 1955, the United States, its allies, and rivals began developing long term plans for spaceflight capability. This spirit of innovation soon turned into an ideological struggle between the North Atlantic Alliance (of which the United States was a member), the Soviet Union, the Greater German Reich, and the Empire of Japan. In 1961 the United States followed the GGR and Soviet Union in launching its first manned spacecraft in orbit around the Earth.
The French Blockade Crisis of 1964 marked a fundamental shift in American foreign policy as ties with the United Kingdom, French Republic and Pacific States were dramatically increased to contend with the renewed threat from the German Reich and Soviet Union. The North Atlantic Alliance was subsumed into the “United Nations” and supranational institutions were developed between its member states.
The space race continued to dominate American affairs throughout the 1980s and 1990s and the United States remained a leading partner in the newly formed “Democratic Federation” joint space program. The American research settlement on Mars was the first of its kind and from 1994 to 2001 “Freedom” was the largest space station in orbit.
Like many other nations across the world the United States began experiencing adverse environmental effects as the Scinfaxi terraforming project accelerated. In 2000 a joint American-German “Reclamation Project” attempted to reverse these effects, and while the project itself ended in failure, it laid the seeds for all modern terraforming technology. This and other projects both with the German Reich and Soviet Union helped ease international tensions and ushered in an era of “détente” across the world. In 2024, American and British engineers developed the first faster than light spacecraft propulsion effectively winning the space race and marking the start of the colonization era.
Throughout the 2020s and 2030s the United States spearheaded the effort to colonize an extrasolar planet, making numerous strides in terraforming, propulsion and many other technological fields. Together with many other nations across the world, including its major rivals the German Reich and Soviet Union, the United States founded the Alpha Centauri Colony Venture.
By the 2050s, international support for the Alpha Centauri program was waning. Galvanized by the decreasing cost of interstellar colonization and a desire to break from the embattled ACCV program, the United States founded its first extrasolar colony in the TX-330 system (later renamed the Chicago System). A new wave of expansion followed this move, with dozens more colonies across many other star systems developed in short order. Many colonies were solely U.S ventures but, as other nations sought to keep pace, the Democratic Federation was able to engage in the initiative and support the construction of several colonies backed by multiple partner nations.
With the environment on Earth continuing to deteriorate, colonization efforts further accelerated, eventually consuming nearly 60% of the United States GDP. Like many other nations, the US adopted a one child policy; all efforts went towards relocating the American population to off-world colonies. The government's focus on relocating the US population, along with deteriorating living condition and strictly enforced rationing to help fuel the effort created a new wave of social unrest. Riots and large scale demonstrations became commonplace, both amongst Americans who wished to remain on Earth and also in the exiles of the “Nations Within Nations” program who feared being left behind.
The “Sanctuary Worlds” program, devised as a continuation to “Nations Within Nations” would eventually solve the murky legal status of the descendants of Scinfaxi War refugees by promising colonial contracts to any interested party. Starting with the newly sovereign Alpha Centauri but eventually including close to a dozen other systems, the American government promised long term loans, corporate subsidies, and other economic incentives to any independent colony willing to grant citizenship to any refugees living within the United States.
With the cost of interstellar colonies having decreased to within the means of private enterprise, tens of millions of people would be granted colonial charters outside the authority of the United States, creating the first generation of independent, sovereign colonies outside of Alpha Centauri.
By 2100 the Scinfaxi Virus had fully escaped its confinement in the Southern Hemisphere and rapidly spread once again across the United States and the rest of the world. Despite many efforts to slow it down and destroy the Virus outright, the United States government was forced to accept its time on Earth was running out. Several government initiatives were activated as the first steps to relocate fully to the colonies, now numbering over 30 planets spread across a dozen systems. In 2114, roughly one year after American citizens living in the colonies outnumbered those left on Earth, the United States Capital and many other government organizations were officially moved to New Philadelphia in the Washington System. Transitioning more and more of its economic and industrial capabilities off-world caused widespread problems throughout the 2120s and 2130s, with economic markets prone to wild fluctuations. While the colonies were partially isolated from these effects, the American economy on Earth entered a slow decline from which it would never recover.
The Second Scinfaxi War
On March 1st 2150, after years of limited probes, the Scinfaxi finally resumed their advance on the remaining nations of Earth. Across the world, what had been an orderly resettlement program now turned into a full blown evacuation. The United States military began a series of delaying actions, intending to prolong the war as long as possible to help facilitate the withdrawal from Earth. While the effectiveness of these actions is debatable, the “Last Great Effort,” as it would come to be known, succeeded in evacuating over 55 million people over a four year period. There is still no consensus on how many Americans were killed during the Second Scinfaxi War, but the numbers are most likely in the millions.
The cost of supporting the last refugees from Earth put a massive economic and logistic strain on the interstellar United States of America; for a time, each star system was only nominally connected to one another as they struggled to support their citizens. This crisis began to subside as the United States Merchant Marine recovered from the Second Scinfaxi War and U.S. infrastructure (terrestrial, orbital, interplanetary, and interstellar) was further developed and regulated. With the Union preserved and the United States now spread across over 70 planets and moons within 13 systems, a great period of construction began that would develop the United States into a truly interstellar society.
The Golden Age of Exploration
With the one child policy rescinded in the final year of the 2150s, the American colonies grew very rapidly in population and area. Pioneers, both on land and in space pushed the frontier of settlement in every direction, expanding the territories of the original colonies and establishing outposts on new planets and moons. With an abundance of untapped resources, often needing only the most rudimentary of equipment to harvest, the United States economy quickly recovered from the turbulences of its final years based on Earth. Continued development and settlement of U.S. controlled systems was a cornerstone of life in the latter half of the 22nd century in America, aided by the concurrent development of the interstellar transport system not only within the United States and its allies, but across the Orion Arm as a whole.
A series of secessionist movements emerged in some of the United States’ youngest Golden Age colonies. Many attempted to leverage their economic success into independence; all were profoundly unsuccessful. The seriousness of these movements varied, and most were used simply as a means of drawing attention to poor living conditions in systems that had ineffective local governments or comprised particularly inhospitable planets. One notable exception was the declared secession of a small mining colony in 2174 that only ended after a 200 day siege by the United States Marine Corps. While secession proved to be a failing proposition, the ever decreasing cost of private settlement allowed for a small wave of American “splinter states” founded on worlds outside of U.S. jurisdiction, including several in the Joseph System.
Politics and Government
The main organizing document of the United States of America that defines how its government functions is the Constitution of the United States. The primary articles of the Constitution were first drafted in 1789. At 500 years old this year, the Constitution of the United States is the oldest surviving constitution applied at the national level in the Orion Arm. At the consent of the States, the Constitution can be supplemented or overwritten with additional provisions called an amendment, named by the order in which they were added. The first ten amendments are collectively known as the Bill of Rights, which outlines the personal freedoms the drafters of the document believed to be inherent to all of humanity; such ideas themselves being traceable back to the Iroquois Confederacy's “Great Law of Peace”.
Many, though not all, of the liberal ideals expressed today by the entire Democratic Federation can trace their origins back to the United States and its Constitution. The Constitution’s lack of address on more modern issues such as slavery, equal citizenshp, and universal sufferage were eventually rectified by later amendments, and are upholded by the United States today as strongly as the original ten. During the 22nd Century, many of these rights across the Democratic Federation were temporarily suspended as the deteriorating conditions on Earth warranted more authoritarian control. When society had re-established itself following the Second Scinfaxi War, these rights were quickly restored following mass public protests and several threats of secession.
As provisioned by the Constitution, the United States of America is organized into a federal presidential republic, the oldest surviving one in the Orion Arm. The Constitution explicitly defines three levels of government: Federal, Commonwealth, and State. There is also a local layer as well, but how these are organized are left to the States. Most States divide themselves into counties that share municipal control with the city governments found within. At the top is the Federal government, which consists of three main branches:
- Legislative: Composing of Congress which is itself made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Legislative branch makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse and the power of impeachment by which it can remove sitting members of government.
- Executive: The President of the United States is the commander in chief and highest ranking officer in every branch of the Armed Forces, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the members of the cabinet and other officers who administer and enforce local laws and policies. The President serves as Head of State, and thus as the face of the United States in international dealings.
- Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the President with Senate approval. The Judicial branch interprets laws and overrules those that are found unconstitutional. The Supreme Court recognizes itself as “the highest legal authority in the land”, sometimes bringing it in conflict with the Democratic Federation courts. Any court rulings or international laws from Liberty struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional are voided in the United States
These branches are designed around a checks and balances system that idealizes the concept of separation of powers, where each branch has powers that can keep the other two in check. This ensures continued stability in American politics and provides some resistance against the rise of any autocracy in the system. The Federal branches are headquartered in the Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court, respectively; all of which are located in the capital city of New Philadelphia. These buildings are loose reconstructions and redesigns of the versions that originally existed on Earth. As a symbolic display, the United States intentionally demolished the original buildings just prior to the Scinfaxi overrun of the old capital Washington.
Political and Administrative Divisions
As organized most recently by the 33rd Amendment of 2112, the United States is a federal union of 13 Commonwealths, with each one currently holding administrative control over a single inhabited system. Commonwealths, in turn, are divided into States, of which there is a total between them of 72. Every inhabited planet in the United States is divided between one or several of a Commonwealth’s States. Commonwealth governments have a degree of autonomy from the Federal government and are allowed a certain level of self-governance, so long as they operate entirely within the framework of the Constitution and Federal law. The same applies to individual State governments, so long as they operate within the framework of their respective Commonwealth and of the Federal government. Neither are allowed to have their own foreign policies, and all international dealings, including with other Democratic Federation members, must be done exclusively through the Federal government.
Commonwealths are admitted into the Union using the same process that would-be States use, with the territory in question submitting a petition to Congress containing their proposed name and borders, which passes with a simple majority and is signed by the President. Territories are only eligible for Commonwealth status if they have an established population of American citizens and contain habitable territory. If they so desire it (or it is forced upon them by treaty), it is also possible for a formerly sovereign nation to be annexed as one or several Commonwealths and/or States with Congressional approval. The intentionally vague language of the 33rd Amendment leaves several unconventional possibilities open, such as a large enough space station being granted Commonwealth status, but nothing like that has come to fruition, and such a possibility would be up to the Supreme Court to decide.
It’s also technically possible for a star system or even a single planet to be occupied by more than one Commonwealth, as the 33rd Amendment doesn’t define the territorial extent a Commonwealth is supposed to have either, but this is not currently the case anywhere. As the American population grows however, this could eventually become necessary in the future if the people deem it so. The exception to this rule is the Commonwealth of Washington, which governs the entire Washington system excluding the District of America. The DA is instead under the jurisdiction of the Federal government, as it includes the national capital of New Philadelphia. The District of America is outside the jurisdiction of any State or Commonwealth, but its citizens still have the ability to vote in Presidential elections and are represented in Congress as ordained by a pair of amendments. The Commonwealth of Washington’s capital is New Dover, located elsewhere on the same planet. It is also possible for several star systems to be administered by one Commonwealth, which is currently the case with several Commonwealths having jurisdiction over several neighboring uninhabited star systems in addition to their main one, used primarily for mining and research operations.
Every Commonwealth has a main planet it is responsible for administering which contains their Commonwealth capital and also administers the rest of the system, including any secondary inhabited planets, save for any recognized sovereign countries also in the star system.
Each Commonwealth possesses its own constitution, normally modeled after the United States Constitution. Similar to State constitutions, these constitutions often go into much more detail about specific government policies. Commonwealth governments are modeled after the United States as well; while technically able to house any form of republican government, use exclusively bicameral legislatures. These legislatures generally include one legislative body that directly represents the people, and another that represents the State governments Commonwealth Governors are elected by representative vote via a series of elections held in each of their states, with the term length and limit varying between Commonwealths. Commonwealth Governors (usually just called Governors in practice) are responsible for serving as the Head of State for their Commonwealth. They have the power to sign or veto bills proposed by their legislature, and can propose bills as well. Commonwealths can also impose their own taxes and can create their own Commonwealth institutions with jurisdiction over the system. Commonwealths can create standards for their public services, such as budgeting and funding limits for their public schooling, but the implementation details are largely left up to their States.
Commonwealths are granted the Constitutional right to admit new States into the Union, under Congress’s approval. Congress also has the power to transfer a State from one Commonwealth’s jurisdiction to another, and to assign an orphan State to a Commonwealth. This was vital following the 33rd Amendment’s ratification, but hasn’t been used since. The currently implemented procedure on how to administer an orphan State is to not have any, though in the brief intervals they existed, they were federally unrepresented and primarily self-governing. States retain most of the rights and privileges they had under the old system, being responsible for everything not defined in the Commonwealth or Federal government. They have their own national guards, police forces, school systems, tax codes, regional subdivisions (usually called counties, boroughs, or parishes), local elections, and so on. States also retain individual constitutions as well, some of which are known for going into a high level of detail. The Alabama Constitution in particular regularly ratifies amendments that sometimes only concern as little as the salaries of individual government officials.
Aside from States, Commonwealths also have the right to maintain their own territories and Commonwealth districts, which they can create and manage without Congressional approval so long as they lie entirely within their defined jurisdiction and do not modify the territory of any admitted States. How exactly they are managed varies from one to the other. As a matter of convention, Commonwealth capital cities are located in a Commonwealth district similar to how New Philadelphia is at the federal level. Residents of Commonwealth and Federal territories are full citizens of the United States, but cannot by default vote in national elections and are exempt from certain taxes.
In the Federal government in New Philadelphia, the House of Representatives has been expanded several times from its terrestrial limit in the past 100 years, with the second Capitol Building redesigned to accommodate for this. Commonwealths reserve the right to draw and redraw their Congressional districts which supersede state lines entirely, but these districts are overseen by a bi-partisan council and rejected if they find evidence of partisan gerrymandering. The Senate meanwhile appoints a junior and senior Senator from each Commonwealth, that body, in contrast, having been consolidated from their maximum on Earth, currently consisting of 26 members. This change has shifted the balance of power considerably on the Senate’s side, with individual Senators wielding power only surpassed by the President. This issue is an ongoing political debate in the United States, with some advocating for a reduction of its powers, an increase to the number of Senators per Commonwealth, returning to directly representing the States, or even its abolition and transition to a pseudo-parliamentary system. All of this is also the case for each Commonwealth government, albeit usually with a more balanced Senate, with districts being drawn by each State as usual. Each Commonwealth also hosts a Planetary Supreme Court, with each mirroring a miniature version of the main Supreme Court in New Philadelphia. The Planetary Supreme Courts take cases from the smaller courts when necessary, and have the power to interpret the Commonwealth constitution. For issues concerning the whole Union, the matter is taken up with the main Supreme Court, which behaves exactly as usual.
History of the Commonwealths
In the original drafting of the Constitution, below the Federal government were only the States. States each had their own central government based out of a State capital, with each one being a model of the Federal government. States could pass their own laws and regulations that were overwritten by Federal law in the event of a conflict. As per the original Tenth Amendment prior to its rephrasal, States were responsible for everything not specifically defined as a responsibility of the Federal government, including police forces, public schooling, infrastructure management, and emergency response systems. During the 19th and early 20th Centuries, numerous States were added to the Union, with the number of States eventually far surpassing that of the original 13. In 1912, the State of Arizona was admitted, bringing the number of States under this system up to their historical maximum of 48. Following the First Scinfaxi War and the independence of the Pacific States, this was reduced down to 41, and eventually brought back up to 44 with the later admission of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The number remained constant there up until colonization of the Chicago Cluster began.
In 2114, the same year the capital was moved to New Philadelphia, the 33rd Amendment was ratified. This granted Congress the power to admit any amount of US-controlled territory up to and including entire star systems as Commonwealths, an inserted tier of the government that lies above the States but below the Federal government. Since ratification, local governments report to State governments, which report to Commonwealth governments, which report to the Federal government. The responsibilities of the new federal tier were divided between responsibilities that originally belonged to both the State and Federal governments.
Originally, new states in the exosolar colonies were admitted directly without the 33rd Amendment and were represented directly in Washington D.C as all prior states had been. This arrangement quickly grew into an administrative and legislative nightmare as the number of states rapidly surpassed the Union’s territorial maximum of 48 on Earth. The newly admitted states and relocated original states had no legal capacity to coordinate directly with each other, with interstate treaties and the like being Constitutionally forbidden; each one depending on the one and only Federal government light years away mostly concerned with the situation on Earth for all issues not legally possible to be handled by individual states. The United States quickly found that restructuring the government would be a necessary measure in governing the disparate territories of an interstellar nation. The creation of the Commonwealth system and the centralized planetary authority they provided proved to be a highly effective solution. Each one had the ability to operate independently from Earth, allowing each one to focus on the issues primarily concerning their own system. The Federal government meanwhile was freed up to be able to focus on just keeping the Commonwealths in line, and handling the deteriorating situation on the homefront.
Proponents also reasoned this measure would increase the chance the United States would be able to survive as a united entity if its core on Earth were to suddenly be lost before the transition was complete, with just a few surviving centralized interstellar authorities having to coordinate with one another instead of dozens of States. Emphasis was made that had this more robust design been possible in the past, the Pacific States likely never would have been necessary. The system was thus designed to where every Commonwealth would be able to survive and fend for itself for an extended period on its own if necessary, but is constitutionally and societally loyal to the United States. This feeling of regional independence cemented a regionally focused libertarian American culture that has persisted to this day.
There was considerable debate during the 33rd Amendment’s drafting on what the new federal tier would be called, with several ideas considered such as “colony”, “system”, and “superstate”. Representatives from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, three states who had spearheaded the colonization effort after the collapse of the Alpha Centauri venture and whose settlers were among the first to establish exosolar American colonies, and whose states were then some of the most populous in the Union counting their colonial possessions, popularized the term “Commonwealth”. The term originates from the official titles for those states, making it an already in-use alternative for the term “State”. Precedent also came from the now-defunct Phillippine Commonwealth, which acquired the status a year prior to being overrun by the Virus. Popular media began picking up the term, and a nationwide movement grew to adopt it. Much to their wishes, the 33rd Amendment made it official. Shortly afterward, advertisements began circulating to help colonize the “American Commonwealths among the stars”, with a particularly famous poster depicting a gloved astronaut hand sewing an additional star on the then-recently redesigned flag’s canton.
Starting with the 33rd Amendment’s ratification and up until the area’s annihilation, as per a Supreme Court decision, the United States on Earth were administered as a sort of pseudo Sol Commonwealth. Most of the administrative body was composed of the remaining Federal offices in DC and was overseen by the Vice President. Not a lot of thought was put into this makeshift administration, as it had every intention of being completely temporary. In a manner unlike usual traditions, the Sol Commonwealth was administered almost autocratically with several Constitutional rights suspended, thanks to the emergency powers granted to the Executive Branch by the 34th Amendment and later repealed in the 35th. This measure was deemed temporarily necessary in maintaining public order in the rapidly deteriorating and overcrowded homeland, but was done away with as soon as possible. This makeshift arrangement ultimately ended up serving its purpose well enough of completing the US’s transition to becoming completely spacefaring and saving as much of the American population as possible, with the US retaining its position as the most populous state in the Democratic Federation even after the Second Scinfaxi War.
For a time, the old Earth States between Earth and their new lands administered territory across both this Sol Commonwealth and another, which was a legal muddy area that was never fully resolved in time for it to become obsolete. Despite being treated legally and representatively as though it were one state, each of these were in reality essentially two, featuring dual-administrations for their two governed lands, based out of two capitals. Virginia for instance was governed during this time primarily from their new capital of Tidewater in the Washington system where their Governor resided, while the Lieutenant Governor stayed in Richmond until the transition was complete.
Parties and Elections
The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, State administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. The third largest party is the American Party, although neither it, nor any other party has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered conservative and the Democratic Party is considered liberal, both fiscally and socially in both cases. The party names and the ideologies they represent are often used interchangeably.
The American Party is a mostly single-issue party that desires American independence from the Democratic Federation and unification with the Pacific States, often making use of Revolutionary iconography in their advertising, describing such an act as a “Second American Revolution”. Supporters of the American Party sometimes take up the moniker of “Patriots”, and refer to their opponents as “Loyalists", referring to the names of the two factions from the Revolutionary War. That faction has grown somewhat in recent years, but is still a minority. In the current political paradigm, usually the Republican Party but more rarely the Democratic Party sometimes attempts to appeal to American Party members as a potential voting bloc, advertising themselves as a more center-oriented pick, usually to mixed success.
The President and Vice President run together and are elected every four years through the Electoral College, where each Commonwealth runs their own popular vote concurrently, which in turn tally the results of each state election under their jurisdiction. The winner of the election is the one who wins over a plurality of the Commonwealths, balanced to be roughly proportional to their population (e.g., taking Chicago is significantly more impactful than Adams). The winner of the 2288 election was Democrat Josiah Bartlett who now serves as the current US president. Presidents are allowed to serve a maximum of two terms before retiring, first an informal precedent set by George Washington and later codified in the Constitution after Franklin Roosevelt won four terms in office. Retired presidents are allowed to serve in other public offices, with the exception of Vice President. Every two years, midterm elections are held across the country where all House Representatives and a rotating third of Senators are held for reelection. Representatives and Senators have no term limits.
The flag of the United States features in the canton 13 large stars, representing each of the Commonwealths currently admitted to the Union: Washington, Columbia, Chicago, Republic, Wilson, Independence, Adams, Jefferson, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Hanlon, Amity, and Providence, with several others as unincorporated systems. Independence also contains five independent countries: The Sioux Nation, Navajo Nation, Cherokee Nation, Lakota Republic, and Ojibwe Republic, each set aside as a sovereign refuge for the largest surviving Native American cultures. These nations are outside of United States jurisdiction, aside from being fellow members of the Democratic Federation on an equal grounding. The unincorporated system of Venture also contains the Greater Antillean Confederation, which has much the same relationship. Citizens of these countries are not by default US citizens, but under Federation agreements much like any other country in the DF can freely travel to and live in the United States, whereupon after gaining full citizenship in an expedited process gain the ability to vote.
A direct continuation of all 44 of the old Earth post-fragmentation States live on across multiple planets distributed between the Commonwealths, mixed in with a total of 27 exosolar-founded States thus far. Many of the states formerly surrounding Washington D.C for example live on across the Washington system, most of the old Midwest is in Chicago, most of the old Great Plains states are in Lincoln, most of the old Deep South and Appalachia are between Jefferson and Adams, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico are in Republic, and so on. After the resettlement, the state formerly known as West Virginia officially changed their name to Vandalia, as the prior name was no longer applicable. The other paired states with a geographic dynamic, the Dakotas and the Carolinas, retained their original names, as they in contrast were settled on the same planet together and in roughly the same arrangement.
As of 2289, these States are old only in name and heritage; no living citizen has any memory of their time on Earth, and the size and demographics of these states are radically different. Virginia, for instance, is slightly larger than Alaska was on Earth, has a coastal low-lying climate with mild seasons, and has a population of a quarter billion. Regardless, modern-day Americans generally recognize the legacy of these particular States to be an important aspect of their heritage and the American Mythos, though some Americans show distaste for the special treatment they still sometimes receive, with the bulk of the population, political representation, and cultural artifacts lying with them. This is not helped by the fact that the majority of the newer states lie within more recently settled Commonwealths, creating an overlap of this with the Federal government’s treatment of Commonwealths. These post-Scinfaxi states were founded from the settlers of multiple legacy states mixed together, and lack any history prior to interstellar colonization; creating a perception of these states as more dynamic than their counterparts. This has created a small, but under scrutiny noticeable, amount of tension between the residents of these two groups, that in practice is mostly washed away by the various Pan-Commonwealth identities that have formed. This has also been eased as of late with the extension of the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and World Series to teams from these states, redirecting many of the misgivings onto the sporting fields.
Despite no longer bearing any resemblance to modern state borders, the original shapes of some of the states are still often used in state iconography, notable examples including Texas, Florida, and Hawaii. Many western States often use their new borders to represent their state, forgoing their former trapezoidal shapes. As it is generally much harder to form a cohesive shape out of interstellar territories, the old shape of the United States together as a whole is also often used in national iconography. Of note is the shape of the intact “contiguous 48” that existed prior to the First Scinfaxi War, which is the primary symbol of the American Party. All this is part of an “Earth Nostalgia” style, which has gone in and out of vogue in the past few decades.
Originally, many settlers from the old states chose to land in areas that at least that presented conditions similar to their original geography. Hawaii is a good example of this. Hawaii chose to colonize and control an expansive isolated volcanic island chain in the Roosevelt system, about five times larger than their archipelago on Earth and featuring over a dozen large islands. These islands were seeded with Hawaiian flora and fauna, and the people there carefully preserve old Hawaiian culture as best they can. The state houses a biodiverse array of flora and fauna, and remains top tourism destination within the Democratic Federation; serving as the sole sanctuary for a wide assortment of endemic Hawaiian species. Puerto Rico chose their location similarly as well, controlling a single large tropical island approximately the size of Greenland, containing many native Puerto Rican species. As some of the last regions to be overrun by the Scinfaxi these island states were able to preserve a greater number of native species than other mainland states.
The United States of America lies in the northwest corner of the Democratic Federation, bordered to the west by the United Centauri Republic and Pan-American Republic, to the north by the nations of Caer Sidi, the Islamic Arab Republic, and the Greater German Reich, to the south by the Pacific States of America and the Federation capital Liberty, and to the east by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Canada. Despite sharing no border with the Far Frontier, the United States has permission from the Democratic Federation to colonize a region of the Far Frontier, which eventually with enough development will result in a non-contiguous region of the country, eased in practicality by long-standing bilateral free travel agreements with the Pacific States alongside the rest of the Democratic Federation.
Culture and Society
The Constitution of the United States and its amendments are believed by Americans to be a cultural relic, laying out the founding ideology of their nation and the basis of their way of life. The Constitution is revered by Americans as a sort of sacred document, with some even comparing it to an “ideological Bible” of sorts. Several prominent amendments are known widely by their chronological number, and even sometimes work their way into local slang. Someone who refuses to answer an accusation might say that they “plead the fifth” for example, in reference to the Fifth Amendment which enforces the right to not have to answer for a crime. An American who says something they believe will be unpopular may say they are “exercising First Amendment rights”, in reference to the First Amendment which protects freedom of speech and expression. Locally and particularly abroad, the most divisive amendment of the Bill of Rights is the Second, which protects the individual’s rights to arm themselves with a personal firearm and organize into a militia. The “gun culture” this has created is deeply entrenched in American society to this day, which only intensified following its reinstatement in 2162. Public servants and military officers alike before taking their position swear first and foremost to defend the articles of the Constitution from threats outside and within. Soldiers are even instructed to disobey the orders of their superiors, including the President, if they violate the Constitution.
This reverence is carried over to the Pacific States of America, who enforces a by-design very similar document for that reason. There were concerns from Conservative groups early on even, especially with the MacArthur administration slipping into authoritarianism, that straying too far from the Constitution of the United States would bring the legitimacy of the Pacific States as an American nation into question. During heated political battles, both sides of the aisle may occasionally accuse the other of attempting to undermine the Constitution (with varying levels of credibility to such a claim), and the political enemies of the United States usually have the justification of being so because their societies are seen as doing the same. Communists and fascists in the United States garner the least amount of support than anywhere else in the Democratic Federation for this reason.
The primary language of the United States is American English, with just over 7.6 billion of the country’s population speaking it as their first language. The primary religion is Christianity with 6 billion self-professed followers, particularly of the Protestant and Reformed sects but with large Catholic and Orthodox minorities as well. The second most common confession is unaffiliated, followed closely by Islam. Most Muslims in the United States today are immigrants from the New Canaan Republic and the Islamic Arab Republic, with a diaspora of remaining believers originating from the Nations within Nations program existing as well.
Americans generally observe a wide number of national and state holidays, particularly those of Judeo-Christian origin. Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are celebrated by most households, as well as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa by Jewish and African Americans, respectively. Seasonal iconography and imagery are still often invoked during these times in their marketing, despite them rarely lining up as intended beyond Earth. Two American holidays are Independence Day, celebrated on July 4, and Thanksgiving, celebrated in late November. Independence Day observes the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the original founding document that legally establishes the United States as an independent polity. It also by extension celebrates the victory of the United States over Great Britain in the ensuring Revolutionary War. The American version of Thanksgiving (similar traditions exist elsewhere) calls back to an early event in American history over 600 years ago, where an early colony was saved from starvation by the generosity of nearby Native Americans. Celebrations are held by holding a large feast in the evening, and Americans are encouraged to express gratitude for things that they feel fortunate for. The holiday like most others has deeply religious origins, but the American version in particular takes on a secular meaning as well thanks to the colonial roots.
Also celebrated in the later months is Trinity Day, which observes the anniversary of the initiation of the namesake atomic bomb that is credited with saving the human race and by extension the United States from annihilation. Both Independence Day and to a lesser extent Trinity Day serve as holidays centered around the theme of patriotism, though Trinity Day is more themed around the Democratic Federation as a whole thanks to the British involvement in the Manhattan Project. Trinity Day celebrations are held across the whole Federation, and try to emphasize the importance of the international cooperation that led up to that event and compare that to the importance of maintaining such ideals today. This contrasts with Independence Day, which is themed exclusively around American independence, exceptionalism, and military might. Both holidays are deeply respected in the United States, but have both led to controversy in the past.
As with the other members of the Democratic Federation, the United States is an extremely multicultural society, valuing particularly individualism and freedom of expression. The United States is commonly referred to as the melting pot of cultures, a term whose use in conjunction with the United States is typically dated back to 1908. This has lead to a broad acceptance of immigration and immigrants in the modern era.
Each of the Commonwealths and to a smaller extent their States have their own regional cultures, reputations, and stereotypes that have emerged from such identities. Some typical stereotypes include the perception that those from Washington are seen as hospitable, especially valuing of individual rights, and some of the most culturally tolerant, but also at times out of touch and naive. Those from Chicago are seen as mostly just corn farmers, but also being some of the most mindful of American history, containing some of the country’s oldest surviving settlements. Those from Republic mostly carry the traditions of Texas as “America’s America”, known for being fiercely independent at the regional level, nationally patriotic, and conservative. Jefferson is seen as typically African American and Southern, a fusion of two cultures seen previously as contradictory.
Americans produce and enjoy a rich library of TV, music, movies, video games, books, and consumer products, which are enjoyed all across the Democratic Federation and in the Solar Sector to a lesser extent. Americans in turn often enjoy the works of these nations as well, with particular interest being the Pacific States of America, where Hollywood continues to produce a significant portion of American film. The Islamic Arab Republic has also made recent breakthroughs in media influence as a result of their numerous outreach programs with the American Muslim community. Some Americans are beginning to consume German media as relations with the Greater German Reich have improved. Japanese and Soviet culture and their products are heavily frowned upon, though not illegal. English translations of such media are available on the open market; though much of it is made intended for a Solar Sector audience, and are thus produced in Solar Sector English dialects. Americans have a particularly large presence on the Internet, with many of the most heavily trafficked English-speaking websites being hosted in the United States.
Generally, Americans are known abroad for their hospitality, adherence to democratic ideals, aversion to authoritarianism, patriotism, and democratic internationalism. Americans are typically thought to be optimistic and idealistic, with a strong work ethic, but also selfish, oblivious, and ignorant. As a major power on the interstellar stage, the United States retains its status as one of the most culturally significant and influential nations in the Orion Arm.
The President holds the title of commander in chief and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of War and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of War administers the armed forces including the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Transportation during peacetime and by the Department of the Navy during times of war. In 2284 the armed forces had a combined total of 16.7 million troops on active duty. The Department of War also employed a further 11.4 million civilians, not including contractors. Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System.
American forces are amongst the most advanced and well-funded in local space, capable of being rapidly deployed to nearly anywhere within the Orion Arm. The military operates a network of over 7000 bases and facilities outside of American territory, either in allied nations, unclaimed star systems, or in deep space.
The United States Navy is the largest within the Democratic Federation and the fourth largest in the Orion Arm. It is a true interstellar navy with the ability to project force across the entirety of human space, engage in forward areas during peacetime and respond quickly to regional crises making it an active player in US foreign policy and the focal point of American defense strategy. The United States Navy has the Orion Arm’s second largest carrier fleet, which constitute the foundation of the American fleet. The United States Marine Corps operate closely with the Navy, providing expeditionary units stationed on Interstellar Assault Ships, Marine Fighter Squadrons embedded in carrier air wings and are primarily responsible for orbital assaults.
The United States Air Force is the largest within the Democratic Federation and is responsible for providing air support for terrestrial forces and aids in the recovery and deployment of troops in the field. As of 2287 the United States Air Force operates over 43,000 military aircraft and spacecraft, 20,000 ISBMs and thousands of military satellites.
The United States Army is responsible for terrestrial based military operations and is the largest and senior branch of the United States military. With the largest land based systems including tanks, fighting vehicles and personnel carriers, the US Army is best suited to mobile land warfare, exploiting beachheads established by the Marine Corps. Well not suited towards orbital assaults, the US Army does maintain a fleet of interstellar ships for the purpose of transporting army divisions.
The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a member of the League of Nations and a permanent member of the League of Nations Security Council. Almost every nation in the Orion Arm has an embassy in New Philadelphia and many have consulates across American space. Likewise, nearly all countries host an American diplomatic mission.
The United States has a “special relationship” with the Pacific States of America and the United Kingdom, as well as strong ties with French Republic, Confederation of Australasia and the other members of the Democratic Federation. Its role in the establishment of the United Centauri Republic, Islamic Arab Republic and the Pan American Republic have given the United States strong ties with these nations as well.
Relations between the United States and Germany, while traditionally sour have begun to improve over the past few decades. Talks held between President Bartlett and Reichskanzler Gossler in 2280 were hailed as major progress in a rapprochement between the two nations.
The Soviet Union maintains an icy relationship with the United States with most observers characterizing it as adversarial in nature. Mutual trade and investment is basically non-existent and the severe ideological differences between the two countries make any substantial future agreement unlikely. Despite this, both countries agree on a limited bilateral agenda such as jointly combating interstellar piracy.
US-Japanese relations are very tense and for the past quarter century been marked by a series of limited military incidents between the two powers. American opposition to Japanese expansion, especially in the New-Canaan Corridor remains a major issue that is of yet unresolved.
|Nations of the Democratic Federation|
|Founding Members||United States of America | United Kingdom | | French Republic | Confederation of Australasia | Pacific States of America|
|First Terrestrial Expansion||Republic of Quebec | Antillean Confederation|
|Second Terrestrial Expansion||Aztlán|
|First Extra-Solar Expansion||African Union | Cascadia Planetary Republic | Whitefall Free State | St Helens Free State | Halton Free State | Midway Colonial Administration | Republic of North Point|
|Second Extra-Solar Expansion||Port Daven Colonial Administration | Salvacion Colonial Administration | Kestrel City|