Napoleana, it is well known, is culturally removed from the rest of the south. From earliest days its citizens have pursued a merchant and manufacturing lifestyle while all their neighbors tilled the soil. This led to that state and the great metropolis at its center having a unique place in American history.
In 1794 the area that was to become the southern Athens was the site of a small trading post on the Matahatchie river in what was then far western Florida. This tiny settlement was named for its financial sponsor, the Spanish Duke of Muljuino.
The post was ideally situated for the many trappers, prospectors and con-men who frequented the region, thus the little town prospered. In the wheeling and dealing which characterized land speculation in the new world at the time, Muljuino became part of the territory of Louisiana, which in turn became the subject of one of the great land deals of all time. In 1803, the young United States purchased Louisiana from France. The deal was a good one for both sides, the U.S. doubled its size and Napoleon Bonaparte got to pay off some of his war debt. As a minor stipulation Napoleon asked that a small portion of the land be put aside for his exclusive governorship in the event of personal emergency. It is not exactly known why president Jefferson also gave him a portion of the state of Mississippi and promise of part of Florida, but somehow the deal was done and the principality of Napoleana was founded in 1806. Since the territory was ceded to Napoleon himself and not to the
French government, it was brought into the union upon his death in 1821 as a commonwealth. The new city of St. Edmundsburgh became the state capital although the center of culture and commerce remained at the city now known as Mulweeno.
From St. Edmundsburgh in the north to Carib on the Gulf coast, is a long line of towns and cities running the length of the Matahatchie with Mulweeno at the approximate center. This series of communities is known as the "Matahatchie Concourse" and is the only major industrial region in the south. Where neighboring states could grow cotton, the great mills at Mulweeno could make it into cloth. In fact manufactured goods of all kinds come out of Napoleana and were doing so as early as the 1830's. This is the basic economic difference between Napoleana and the surrounding states that makes it the very unique place that it is. By the 1850's the question of the economic future of the United States was the central issue of the day. Was the U.S. to be a agricultural/slave economy or an industrial/free labor one? Napoleana was in a peculiar position in this dispute, for although the differences were principally regional, the state had much more in common with the north than with the south.
There had never been legal slavery in Napoleana and in fact the state had become rather notorious for sheltering runaways. In the southern parlance of the times, "Goin' to Mulweeno" signified a slave fleeing his situation no matter what his destination. To this day a popular,though rude, nickname for the state is "Nigger Heaven".
In 1861, Napoleana refused to secede from the Union along with its fellow southern states until Confederate president Davis threatened to invade. The governor, Clovis D. Wilson, yielded to the pressure and declared the state separate from the Union, but in a referendum vote the citizens overwhelmingly refused to join the Confederacy.
During the decades leading up to the Civil War, free blacks had flowed into the state filling jobs at all levels in an atmosphere of racial harmony unknown elsewhere. Governor Wilson was a Creole, several state representatives were black as was one of its senators. There was no way that this state could support the goals of the Confederate States, let alone join them, but they could stay in the union only at great peril. Thus it came to pass that in November of 1861, with the support of French troops and the blessing of president Abraham Lincoln, Napoleana became an independent republic and a neutral party in the war.
The new republic suffered greatly in the conflict as the Confederacy blockaded its ports. The result was widespread hunger in this small, non-agricultural republic. The president, former senator Rodney Beauvais, appealed to Lincoln for help which was promised, but didn't arrive until after the fall of Atlanta. In the last desperate days of the Confederacy, Davis ordered an invasion of Napoleana.
The army of Napoleana was mostly French with only a few native troops. The Confederates captured St. Edmundsburgh and the capital was removed to Mulweeno where it remains to this day. This event came close to causing the French to declare war on the C.S.A. and were it not for counter threats from the British, this might have come to pass. Before the situation could get further out of hand, the south was forced to surrender.
The southern states were quickly readmitted to the Union but Napoleana remained aloof for seven months while freed slaves poured into the tiny nation. Mulweeno became the third largest city in North America. This caused a mild panic in Washington and President Lincoln was moved to threaten Napoleana with withdrawal of military and financial support if they did not immediately apply for re admission to the Union.
Upon re admission, the state government was ordered by congress to "equalize representation" in leadership. This measure was intended to appease still disgruntled southerners by reducing the power of blacks, but,as it happened it resulted in the first
Jewish and Chinese representatives in congress. The federal government soon stopped trying to legislate against racial equality in Napoleana as they found that the trend was slow to spread. Those who wished to live in such an environment simply moved there.
In order to boost the state economy after the war, the city of Mulweeno dropped all controls on "any trade which did no harm to person or property", tacitly legalizing gambling and prostitution. This led to the now popular saying "anything goes in Mulweeno".
It was also in those times that financier, Elmo M. Dilmount endowed a university with the intent of creating an institution to rival the "Ivy League" of the north. Within its first decade of existence the Dilmount Institute was able to distinguish itself by producing several of the most accomplished classes the south had ever seen.
By the turn of the century It had become the model for the world of a modern educational institution.
But other things were afoot in the culture of this city. Along the river front had grown up a community of musicians who worked in the many entertainment establishments of the city. Because of the many roach-infested flophouses, this neighborhood earned the name of "Bugtown". Influenced by the Ragtime of the midwest and the Jazz of New Orleans, the musical idiom of the city became known as "Bugtown Jump". It took its place beside the other native forms of music and in the first half of the twentieth century, no musician could get a job who couldn't hold his own playing the "rags, the jazz and the jump". "Jump", "jumptime", "Bugtown", whatever you called it, it swept the nation and Europe and South America were soon to follow. It was one element of what would become America's greatest export, its music. The names of such performers as Adrian "Hamface" Broulet and Alfred "Happy" Krellburgh became world famous.
During the early decades in which jump came into its own, Mulweeno came into a golden age. Because of special stipulations in the agreement by which Napoleana reentered the Union, the state was exempt from Prohibition. This combined with the legality of gambling and the tolerance of prostitution, served to save the city from being overrun by organized crime as had almost every other large city in the nation. What in Chicago was the soul province of unsavory characters like Al Capone, were in Napoleana run as legitimate businesses and closely monitored by the state.
In this period the city's politics were as vital and eccentric as its music. Certainly one of the most colorful figures of the time was single term mayor Ferdinand Morton who had started out as an itinerant piano player from New Orleans. For his entire life Morton insisted he had "invented" jazz although he was never able to produce any evidence to back up this claim. His term was spent on one oddball project after another. He sponsored a city wide poker game which led to his own personal bankruptcy. He ran for president twice, both times in non-election years. Headlines screamed "Off with his head!" when he attempted (unsuccessfully) to order the summary execution of a city councilman. He attempted to change the days of the week through legislation (also unsuccessfully) in order to win a bet. When he left office, and Mulweeno altogether, the city was relieved but somehow also wistful. The citizens knew that someone larger than life had been among them. Morton surfaced again ten years later running a night club in Havana.
By the end of the 1930's Mulweeno had grown to be the third largest city in the United States. The southern states were strengthened by the industrial base it created in the region and other cities followed suit. Atlanta, Birmingham and Tampa grew into major industrial zones in response to the example set by Mulweeno.
By the 1960's Mulweeno had become a center of technology. Many major corporations made their homes in the city and its suburbs and two major technological universities had opened there. Although the Bugtown of old was just a memory, its former location was the home of a museum devoted to the history of American music.
Today, Mulweeno is one of the greatest cities of the western world. Once a trading post for a distant nobleman, later a refuge for a dictator, still later the seat of a proudly independent republic and finally the capital of the New South, the Mulweeno we know today is the product of its amazing history which has been such a large part of the history of all of this great nation.