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EXTRA: A Brief History of the United Commonwealth of Columbia

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In Aurora, as on Earth, the colonization of the North American continent officially dates back to 1492, with Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of several Caribbean islands on behalf of the Spanish crown, followed by Juan Ponce de Leon’s arrival to “La Florida” in 1513, and succeeded by French fur traders, who established outposts of New France around the Great Lakes, and the English settlements along the eastern seaboard in places like the Virginia Colony (at Jamestown) and the Puritan’s Plymouth Colony in what is modern-day Massachusetts. The Dutch also seized their fair share of land beginning in 1614, with their settlements along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island.

As on Earth, tensions between American colonials and their distant British overlords reached a fever pitch during the 1760s and early 1770s, leading to the American Revolutionary War—or, as Aurorans call it, the First Revolution. For here is where the shared historical chronology of Earth and Aurora diverges. In 1776, General George Washington was felled by a bullet at the Battle of Long Island; the battle was lost, as was the war. The British, eager to make an example of rabble-rousing revolutionaries, tore up the Declaration of Independence and set it ablaze in front of Independence Hall, which was then razed to the ground. A resulting fire spread to the surrounding buildings, killing hundreds and destroying much of downtown Philadelphia. All the signers of the Declaration of Independence as well as key military figures and the delegates to the Continental Congress were publicly executed as traitors, and the seeds of revolution seemed to have been squashed.

This was not so, however, but the architect of the next American revolutionary was to be, of all things, a born and bred Englishman. John Rowan was a British nobleman and diplomat whose interest in the American cause only increased after the brutal, decisive actions taken by the Crown to quell tensions in the colonies. A man whose wealth was astronomical and whose reputation was sterling, Rowan maneuvered his way into a position as governor for the New York Colony and spent much of his time and resources funding new revolutionary efforts—this time with himself as the intended leader of the New World.  

In 1789, Rowan, who’d spent nearly fifteen years amassing an army, declared war on his fatherland and, with the help of France, Spain and Portugal, managed to wrest control of the colonies away from England once and for all. When the British government finally ceded the territory, Rowan crowned himself King John I and immediately renamed the country the United Commonwealth of Columbia, after Christopher Columbus, the ostensible founder of America. King John I established his capital in New York City, renamed Columbia City, and his royal residence at Fort Rowan (formerly Fort Washington), on the northernmost tip of the island, transforming it from a rudimentary fortress into a palatial manor. The royal family would live at Fort Rowan Palace until 1957, when work on the Citadel, an immense military-residential complex built on an 800-acre tract of land called Rowan Field in the center of Manhattan Island (or, as it was by then called, simply “the Island”), was finally completed. The Rowan dynasty continues to rule the Commonwealth to this day, in the form of King Albert II, an invalid, and his wife, Queen Evelyn, the regent who serves upon the throne in his stead. It is expected that when King Albert dies, his daughter, Juliana, will take the throne.

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