|1632 series |
POD: May, 1631
1637: The Polish Maelstrom
|Nationality:||United States of Europe (born in the United States)|
|Occupation:||Coal miner, soldier, politician|
|Parents:||Jack Stearns (father, deceased);|
Jean Stearns (mother)
|Spouse:||Rebecca Stearns (wife)|
Baruch Spinoza (adopted son)
|Relatives:||Tom Stearns (grandfather, deceased);|
Rita Stearns Simpson (sister)
|Affiliations:||United Mine Workers, Fourth of July Party|
|Created by:||Eric Flint|
Michael "Mike" Stearns was a former soldier, pugilist, and miner, who quickly became the most important political leader of Grantville after the Ring of Fire event sent the West Virginia town back to Germany during the Thirty Years' War. Stearn's greatest strengths were his ability to read people-to determine at a glance their true motives, feelings and intentions-and to understand what was possible and what was not, even in diverse fields outside of his usual expertise. These skills took him from President of the Grantville local of the United Mine Workers to President of the New United States to Prime Minister of the United States of Europe in a few short years.
- 1 Early Life
- 2 The Ring of Fire (1631-32)
- 2.1 Arrival in the Past
- 2.2 The Battle of the Farm House
- 2.3 Chairman of the Grantville Emergency Committee
- 2.4 First Alliances
- 2.5 The Battle of the Crapper
- 2.6 Moving Forward
- 2.7 Jena
- 2.8 Elections
- 2.9 Early Alliance With Gustavus
- 2.10 Suhl, the Wartburg, and Grantville
- 2.11 Confederated Principalities of Europe
- 3 A Politician born
- 4 The Eastern Front
- 5 Quotes
Michael Stearns was the elder of two children born to Jack Stearns, a Grantville native. A wild childhood had lead Michael Stearns to join the United States Army rather than accept a conviction. After his stint, he tried on several career paths, including longshoreman, truck driver, and professional boxer. He met with some minor success as a light heavyweight boxer, racking up 12 wins and zero losses. However, he retired after a close shave, having just barely won a fight against an unidentified Mexican boxer. The fight made him realize that while he was a very good boxer, he wasn't a great one and never would be. He even attended three years of college before his father was badly injured in a mining accident. Michael Stearns left school and returned to Grantville to look after his father and his sister, Rita. Stearns became a miner himself, eventually becoming president of the UMWA.
The Ring of Fire (1631-32)
In 2000, Stearns was celebrating the marriage of his sister to Tom Simpson, a college football player and the son of CEO John and Mary Simpson. Stearns was partially amused by the obvious discomfort Tom's parents were feeling as the rest of the wedding party freely celebrated in Grantville's high school, and observed that Tom Simpson was a much nicer person than his parents.
Arrival in the Past
Stearns had just made the acquaintance of Dr. James Nichols and his daughter Sharon when the actual Ring of Fire transferred the town back in time. Although Stearns did not initially see anything amiss, aside from the power being out, he did see smoke off in the distance. A rescue party soon formed around Stearns and Police Chief Dan Frost, including Nichols and several members of the UMWA.
After traveling a short distance, the group found a newly erected wall of dirt. No sooner did they get out of their vehicles to investigate, a young girl jumped down the wall, and barreled into Frost. Two men who'd be pursuing her appeared. One shot Frost in the shoulder, but Frost shot both dead in short order. Bleeding profusely, Frost deputized Stearns and the rest of the group before he lost conciousness. James and Sharon Nichols stopped Frost's bleeding. Still seeing smoke, Stearns had the men with him arm themselves. James Nichols joined the group. Sharon accompanied Frost back into town with Ken Hobbs driving.
The Battle of the Farm House
As they climbed over the newly created dirt wall, it was clear the position of the town had changed. Then they saw three farm houses. Two were burning. The third wasn't They could see six men, three raping a woman and the others torturing a man, whom they'd pinned to the door. Stearns and his group quickly agreed to simply kill the men rather than try to "arrest" them.
After taking the lay of the land, Stearns and his group moved in and made relatively short work of the attackers, although one of their own, Harry Lefferts, received a superficial wound. They then tended to the wounded man and woman, and took stock of the situation. Based on the farmhouse, the clothing of the attackers and their victims, their weapons, and the fact that they were speaking German, the realized something was very wrong. The group also took a moment to come to grips with the fact that they had killed six men. Of their group, only Nichols and Frank Jackson, both vets, seemed unfazed. Although Stearns had served in the army, he'd never seen combat. He too found himself shaken by what had happened.
Then one of the group, Tony Adducci, who'd been examining the upstairs, saw a horse-drawn carriage hurrying towards them, and that it was being pursued by 20 or so men on foot, wearing armor and carrying spears. Upon hearing the news, Stearns ordered the men to get ready, but not to engage.
When the carriage did arrive, it was lead by four men on horse back. These men fled upon seeing the miners. One of the occupants of the coach, Rebecca Abrabanel contacted Stearns, and informed him the men pursuing the coach were after her and her father, Balthazar Abrabanel. Adding to the stress of the situation, the senior Abrabnel was suffering a moderately severe heart attack.
Within moments, Stearns had James Nichols inside the coach treating Balthazar. He also learned that the approaching men (mercenaries in the employ of Count Tilly) meant harm to the two. Stearns ordered his men to ambush the approaching mercenaries. The battle was over in a matter of minutes, as those mercenaries who survived the volley retreated.
Stearns returned his attention to Rebecca after the shooting was done, and their respective situations. Stearns informed Rebecca that she and her father were under the protection of the United Mine Workers of America. Rebecca informed Stearns that they were in Germany. Both were baffled by what the other had to say, but Stearns was beginning to get an inkling of what had actually happened. The Abrabanels were taken to Grantville, where Balthazar was given better medical attention.
After Stearns learned that the power grid and the telephone systems were working, he contacted Morris and Judith Roth about accomodating the Abrabanels while Balthazar recovered. The Roths were Jewish, and Stearns their home would be more comfortable for the Abrabanels. Then Stearns and Rebecca spoke for two hours. In that time, Stearns was able to confirm that the town had been sent to the past. Rebecca easily grasped this possibility. Both felt a mutual attraction by this point as well.
Chairman of the Grantville Emergency Committee
Three days after the Ring of Fire, Stearns, Rebecca Abrabanel, and nearly the entire town attended a meeting at Grantville High School intended to assess the town's new situation.
After high school science teacher Greg Ferrara confirmed that there was no way to get home, town mayor Henry Dreeson proposed the creation of an emergency committee, and called for the election of a chairman. Almost immediately John Chandler Simpson nominated himself, and called for a policy of belt-tightening and sealing off the town's borders. Horrified, Stearns took the podium from Simpson and instead advocated for bringing in refugees, building up the town, and essentially starting the American Revolution early.
Stearns' optimism, political accumen, and popularity in Grantville lead to his nomination and election as chariman of the committee. In short order, Stearns selected a cabinet composed of: Frank Jackson (a veteran of the Vietnam War who'd joined Stearns at the Battle of the Farm House); Ed Piazza (high school principal); Melissa Mailey (high school history teacher who'd actually nominated Stearns); Greg Ferrara; Mayor Dreeson; Bill Porter (manager of the town's power plant); Nat Davis (owner of the town's larger machine shop); Willie Ray Hudson (Grantville's best farmer and a former politician); Dr. James Nichols; Quentin Underwood; (manager of the mine, selected specifically by Stearns to serve as a counter-point); and Rebecca Abrabanel.
Stearns' choices were voted for without any real dissent.
At the first meeting, Stearns delegated various responsibilities and set several goals. These included sub-comittee for a constitutional convention, the re-opening of an abandoned mine, the initial plans for a new power plant, the establishment of a proper military, a plan for the organization of agriculture, providing for a banking system, and even foreign relations. This last task went to Abrabanel, whom Stearns appointed National Security Adviser, and then explained what that meant exactly. Rebecca accepted.
Stearns and Rebecca understood at this point that they were possibly falling love, but given their religious differences, both were willing to take small steps forward.
A day or two later, a cavalry regiment lead by Alexander Mackay arrived in Grantville, looking for Balthazar Abrabanel. Despite his initial concerns, Stearns was informed by Rebecca that Mackay was not a threat, and indeed, she and her father had been on their way to meet him with gold for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. After feeding the Scots, Stearns explained Grantville's origins. Stearns then took MacKay to the home of Morris and Judith Roth, where Balthazar Abrabanel was recupurating. The funds the Abrabanels brought were transferred to Mackay, who, impressed with the Americans' honesty, immediately proposed an alliance to meet the forces of Count Tilly as the marched on Badenburg. Stearns gladly accepted.
The Battle of the Crapper
Stearns personally went into the field with Frank Jackson, Mackay, and Andrew Lennox, Mackay's second in command. Stearns also ordered the ostensible "protectors" of Badenburg, the mercenaries led by Ernst Hoffman, be present at the battle, knowing full well that Hoffman's undisciplined troops would be worthless. Stearns wanted not only to defeat Tilly's men, but to break Hoffman's hold on Badenburg, by terrifying both groups. Still, despite what Mackay had seen, Stearns had to convince the Scot of the Americans' technological superiority (this included an M-60 Machine gun Jackson had stolen from the United States Army after his discharge).
Stearns, however, grasped the situation, and planned accordingly. This included both dealing with Tilly's men and Hoffman's. After Tilly's advancing tercio had been cut to pieces, Hoffman's men advanced on the camp followers left behind. Stearns dispatched the "Four Musketeers" to slow down and warn Hoffman off, fully aware that Hoffman wouldn't listen. Stearns led the rest of Grantville's military in an attack. The Americans rode in their newly modified Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), which completely baffled and terrorized Hoffman's mercenaries. Panicked anew, the mercenaries scattered. Riding in one APC, Stearns ordered his driver to chase Hoffman down. Thrown from his horse, Hoffman ran around for five minutes before he collapsed. The battle was well and truly over.
Stearns then turned his attention to rounding up the mercenaries, and moving the various civilizans into Grantville. He learned that Rebecca had come out to see the aftermath. Initially angry, Stearns softened when he realized nearly every woman in Grantville had come out to make sure their loved ones had come through unhurt. When Stearns found Rebecca, both realized that they were indeed in love, and that the waiting was over.
After the battle, the various factions were separated and the wounded treated. James Nichols shared his assessment that most of the mercenaries weren't inherently evil, just men who'd come up in the worse possible situation. Concurrently, Melissa Mailey shared her idea of using Gretchen Richter as a means of spreading some of the more revolutionary ideas from the future.
Stearns met with the Committee, and was informed by Ed Piazza and Quentin Underwood that Grantville would have to increase its labor resources substantially if it was to survive the winter while still taking in refugees, or it would have to turn the refugees away. Stearns decided to make use of the POWs, giving them the choice of either working or leaving. The meeting was interrupted by Jeff Higgins, who announced that he'd asked Gretchen Richter to marry him, much to the consternation of the committee, save for Mailey and Frank Jackson.
After certain derogatory remarks from various committee members, Stearns had Rebecca Abrabanel explained the Spanish concept of limpieza, and how Grantville could opt for that model, or a model much closer to the original USA. Realizing what they preferred, the committee gave its blessing to the marriage, and even teased Higgins on his using a dictionary to propose.
In the aftermath of Breitenfeld, a splinter force of mercenaries marched on the university town of Jena. Stearns offered to protect the town, in exchange for trade of goods and services and an exchange of knowledge between the communities. Jena agreed. Stearns also placed Gretchen Richter inside Jena, where she laid the foundation for the Committees of Correspondence. She also shot a would-be pimp dead.
After the Americans won a short and decisive victory against the oncoming mercenaries, they learned that Gretchen had been taken into custody. As expected, Grantville's leaders did not take kindly to the situation. Higgins wanted to level the town, but Stearns was able to extort the names of associates of Jungers. Grantville leveled the establishment most of these men frequented. Stearns also volunteered to assist the Jena watch in policing its streets.
Word that Gustavus Adolphus had marched through Thuringia put Stearns on edge. He'd realized just how vulnerable Grantville was with most of its military in Jena. Alexander Mackay made it clear that Grantville needed more manpower to defend the town. He asked Mackay to put in a good word with Gustavus when they met again. Then he refocused on the town's political and economic situation.
Stearns quickly realized that, with a substantial part of the nobility engaged in combat, Grantville was positioned to feed and protect the subjects left behind. Grantville had achieved a level of stability--it had power, it was producing goods and foods. Moreover, the Emergency Committee presented Stearns with a prospective Constitution. After some period of political wrangling, the proposed constitution was completed, with Stearns pleading for compromise, likening Grantville's situation to America in 1776, not 1789. With the shouting done, the Fourth of July Party was formed, and elections were scheduled. Stearns vigorously campaigned for the Constitution as it stood.
Stearns also began negotiations with Rebecca's extended family, many whom were powerful financiers in various places throughout Europe. From this, he gained another ally, Don Francisco Nasi, a man with some pull in the Ottoman Empire, who brought the full weight of the Turkish branch of the Abrabanels to Grantville's aid, and even decided to stay in Grantville himself. His only condition for all of this was that Stearns and Rebecca set a wedding date.
The couple ultimately agreed, although Stearns mandated the wedding come after the elections, to allow Rebecca an opportunity to attain office under her own name.
Stearns won the presidency of New United States with over 80% of the vote. Rebecca became the fledgling republic's first (and for a time, only) senator. The entirety of the Emergency Committee was elected to the House of Representatives.
Early Alliance With Gustavus
In April, 1632, Gustavus Adolphus requested a meeting with representatives from the New United States. Despite certain misgivings, Stearns sent his (now-pregnant) wife, his sister and brother-in-law, Ed Piazza, and Julie Sims. The meeting ultimately laid the foundation for an alliance, as the NUS offered itself as a stable economic base for the Swedish war effort. After a resounding success at the Battle of Rain, the way was clear for Gustavus in Bavaria.
However, other enemies were moving against the NUS. Angry at the loss of hereditary lands in Thuriniga to the upstart republic, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar quietly defected from Gustavus's camp to the employ of Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu in turn arranged for a multi-prong attack on NUS territory with Albrecht von Wallenstein. Wallenstein ordered an attack on Suhl while Spanish forces attacked Eisenach. With the NUS's military distracted, Croat mercenaries would raid Grantville, targeting the high school specifically.
Suhl, the Wartburg, and Grantville
Stearns personally over saw the Battle of the Wartburg in August, 1632. After driving the Spanish forces away from Eisenach and into the Wartburg Castle. Despite the objections presented by his commanders, Stearns, utterly frightened by how easily the NUS could crush its enemies, deliberately gave the Spanish forces a chance to surrender. The siege included an all-night bombardment of late-19th and 20th Century music. This was followed by display of rocketry in the early hours, and a napalm attack at dawn. Only after the Spanish forces came out unarmed did Stearns accept their surrender.
Within hours, word came that Grantville was under attack. Stearns quickly realized that Suhl and Eisenach had been distractions. The fact that the military could not get back in less than three hours confirmed an argument Alexander Mackay had been making for months: there just weren't enough Americans to defend the republic from all of its enemies. The NUS needed allies.
Stearns immediately sat down with Gustavus, and hammered out a new arrangement. The result, after much bellowing and compromise proposed by Rebecca, was the Confederated Principalities of Europe.
His daughter Sepharad was born a month later.
A Politician born
Subsequently, as circumstances in the neo-history evolve governmental forms and circumstances, he is successively elected president of the New United States, Prime Minister of the Confederated Principalities of Europe (CPoE), and first prime minister of Gustav II, Emperor of the newly formed federated republic, the United States of Europe.
In September of 1634, a second daughter, Kathleen, was born to Mike and Becky. She was named for a woman who Mike was once engaged to, but who had died before the Ring of Fire.
The Eastern Front
Following his electoral loss to Wilhelm Wettin, Stearns returned to the USE military and was promoted to the rank of general. He was shipped off to war against the rebel provinces of Saxony and Brandenburg. After the rebellious provinces were annexed into the USE Stearns commanded the Third Division of the USE Army in the offensive of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
During the invasion, Stearns was shocked at the atrocities committed by Swedish and German troops and ordered for several of them to be executed using the volley guns. He then created the Hangman's Regiment, which is composed of Thorsten Engler's flying artillery and lead by Jeff Higgins.
General Michael Stearns won the Battle of Zielona Góra.
During the Siege of Dresden , Mike lead his army on a surprise assault on the army of Johan Banér in the middle of the snowstorm. Afterwards he met with a recovered Gustavus to discuss and negotiate. Mike was then sent to Bavaria to, as Gustavus put it, "crush" Duke Maximilian of Bavaria.
Unlike most people, Mike realized that Murad would not only try to capture Vienna earlier than he did OTL, the sultan might have used his earlier declaration that the Ring of Fire didn't happen as a tactic to secretly modernize the Ottoman military.
"According to Melissa Mailey, we now live in a world where kings and noblemen rule the roost. And they've turned all of central Europe—our home, now, ours and our children's to come—into a raging inferno. We are surrounded by a Ring of Fire. Well, I've fought forest fires before. So have lots of other men in this room. The best way to fight [such] a fire is to start a counterfire. So my position is simple. I say we start the American Revolution—a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!" - During the town meeting after the residents learned of their predicament in the Thirty Years' War.
| Political offices|
|President of the New United States
as President of the State of Thuringia-Franconia
None, Office Created
|Prime Minister of the United States of Europe