A More Radical Union During The Civil War? Japanese-Hawaiian Dynastic Union?
Although I'm still self-banned from the alternate history forum because it's a time sink, I still visit now and again to see if anything interesting has been posted. Maybe if I ever become successful enough to go full-time perhaps I'll have them un-ban me (and I'll probably drop back in to advertise Little People, Big Guns when it comes out in November), but that's a long ways off.
Here are a couple interesting scenarios for you.
Until Every Drop of Blood Is Paid: A More Radical Civil War-In real history, the American federal government suppressed the Confederacy's attempt to secede from the Union to preserve (and possibly expand into the Caribbean and bordering areas) slavery and freed the slaves, but the war wasn't explicitly fought for abolition at first and the U.S. ultimately prematurely abandoned Reconstruction, condemning the former slaves to two to three generations of Jim Crow suppression. In this scenario, the murder of Lyman Trumbull by a pro-slavery fanatic gets Abraham Lincoln into the Senate in 1854, where his views on slavery and race become more radical much earlier than they did in real history. This has consequences--John Brown, though still ultimately a failure, is more successful than in real history, and the Confederacy still emerges under different leadership (its president is the failed presidential candidate John C. Breckenridge, with real-life Confederate President Jefferson Davis as Secretary of War). The Confederates do better early on, but from the way things are going, the South is going to get an even worse hiding than in real history.
AHC: Make Hawaii a Japanese Colony-An "AHC" is a challenge to come up with a scenario where a particular counterfactual happens--in this case, Japan rather than the United States colonizes Hawaii. In the post I linked to, a brief visit to Hawaii by lost Japanese fishermen triggers diplomacy between the kingdom (this is well before the U.S. annexation) and the Tokugawa Shogunate. You know, the regime that (mostly) cut off Japan from foreign contact. To make a long story short, the two insular powers form an alliance to deter European or American meddling. It's based on a lot of little-known real-life history (including proposed dynastic alliances, treaties of protection against various outsiders, etc) and it's pretty interesting. My main quibble is that I think the author overestimates the isolation of Tokugawa Japan from outside knowledge, although he does acknowledge the existence of Dutch Learning.