Eric Flint Wiki
John Chandler Simpson
Fictional Character
1632 series
POD: May, 1631
Appearance(s): 1632,
"In the Navy" in Ring of Fire,
1634: The Baltic War,
1636: The Saxon Uprising
Mentioned in 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught
1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: United States of Europe (born in the United States OTL)
Religion: Episcopalian
Occupation: Admiral of the USE Navy
Spouse: Mary Simpson
Children: Tom Simpson
Affiliations: USE Navy
Created by: Eric Flint (further developed by David Weber)

John Chandler Simpson was a retired Naval officer and businessman. Caught in the Ring of Fire when attending his son Tom's wedding, Simpson and his wife, Mary were transported back to Germany in the year 1631 along with the rest of Grantville. Initially seeking to impose order on the town, Simpson ran afoul of the more "liberal" mindset represented by Mike Stearns. After a failed bid for political office in the nascent New United States, Simpson turned his attention to what he knew: business and naval matters. Simpson soon became the head of the navy of the United States of Europe.

Early life[]

John Chandler Simpson was the son of an owner of a petrochemical company. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy, he volunteered for river duty in Vietnam, and served until he lost his right foot. After that, he went into engineering, and served there until he retired after the death of his older brother, Thomas.[1] After retiring from the United States Navy, Simpson went to work for the company. After six months as a foreman on the floor, he began his rise through the company's ranks. By 2000, he was company CEO.

His wife, Mary, came from one of the richest families in Pittsburgh. They had one son, Tom, who was destined to disappoint his father. While the elder Simpson wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, Tom instead opted to pursue a football career. To his parents' horror, Tom attended college at the University of West Virginia. Worse yet, Tom met and fell in love with Rita Stearns, a young nurse, and the sister of a coal miner, Mike Stearns.

The Ring of Fire[]

Thus it was that John and Mary Simpson were in Grantville on the date of their son's wedding when the Ring of Fire transported the whole town back in time. Both had made it very plain that they were unhappy during the ceremony and the reception, leading their son to apologize to Mike for their behavior. (For his part, Stearns took great pleasure in the couple's discomfort, but didn't share that with Tom.)

Three days after the Ring of Fire, Simpson and his wife were present at the town meeting held at Grantville High School. When Mayor Henry Dreeson informed those present of a emergency committee proposed by the town council, Simpson immediately nominated himself for the office of chairman. However, Simpson's status as an outsider cast him in an unfavorable light, and his proposals of tightening use of resources and keeping refugees out received a lukewarm response.

Mike Stearns in particular was incensed by Simpson's schemes. He immediately took the stage himself and instead advocated expanding, building up, and essentially starting the American Revolution 150 years early. Stearns won the vote, and Simpson was thwarted.

Down but not Out[]

Nonetheless, Simpson was able to maintain visibility in the community. When a new television station went on the air in September, 1631, Simpson demanded a "freedom of speech hour" to counter-balance Stearns's "tyranny". With counsel from Rebecca Abrabanel and Ed Piazza, Stearns refused on the grounds that a new "founding" convention would be held in the winter, and that it would be simply giving in to blackmail to give in to Simpson before then.

When the convention was announced, Simpson, who'd demanded it for months, decried it. Nonetheless, the Constitution was ratified. Simpson ran for the presidency in the 1631 Election, but was handily defeated by Stearns.

However, when the effects of transportation and sea powers' influence on history came on the discussion table for dissection under 17th century conditions, Simpson soon began to make a comeback. Since the town was in landlocked West Virginia, he was the only one with any experience in ship design, or naval experience with combat duty. One other up-timer had served on an aircraft carrier, and one in the Coast Guard, but if Grantville's influence on neohistory was to extend to the sea, Simpson was the best qualified person to put together a navy.


Simpson progressively becomes almost likable as seen through the eyes of young Eddie Cantrell, who begins the work arguing with Stearns that a navy is far more important to the New United States and to Gustavus Adolphus than Stearns understands. Having made his case, Stearns surprises himself concluding that his political enemy is the best and only person that could possibly put together the technical feats and disparate knowledge that could make a technically advanced navy a possibility.

Meeting with Stearns, Simpson's rehabilitation is begun when he acts in ways we can see sympathetically and as reasonable, which surprises Stearns and leads to him showing some appreciation for the man. Traveling with Eddie, Eddie's preconceptions keep getting dismantled by a plethora of small surprises, and again Simpson elicits some small measure of likability and sympathy. Reaching the new capital, Magdeburg, for a moment Weber seems to present a John Simpson reverting to (our preconceived) type, but then the reader finds out he's again on top of things, and that was a good thing. In the event, he first persuades a bar full of Gustavus's officers (convincingly), that the innovations the up-timers are bringing in firearms has transformed ground warfare as they know it, and by the end of an evening has become very popular with the Swedish Army's officer corps.

En route to their lodgings, he, re-enactor Jere Haygood and Eddie were attacked by a group of assassins we are led to believe are mercenaries, reacting to a general price put on the heads of any up-timer by Cardinal Richelieu. Simpson acts with alacrity to deal with the menace, pulling a well worn Browning 9mm from concealment and dealing sudden and unexpected death to the surprised would-be assassins.

Having solved the technical issues with whether building ironclads at Magdeburg is possible, negotiated by radio with Stearns on founding the service, Admiral John Chandler Simpson, informs Lt. Eddie Cantrell that he's in the Navy now.


John Simpson was shown to be uptight and unlikable by most of the people in Grantville, especially during the wedding ceremony in an altercation with Mike Stearns. Overall, Simpson is generally demonized as all that is bad about corporate bigshots "down sizing" the working stiff, while taking home big perks and being protected by golden parachutes.

However, Simpson is a stiff, sometimes officious, but human and moderately likable person that actually has a sense of humor, no matter how hard he tries to conceal it.


  1. 1633, ch. 41.