You have the opportunity to make a visit to the past. You get to pick one calendar year in the history of the United States, starting with its first full year of existence after declaring independence, 1777, and ending with the last full calendar year, 2007.
Your visit will start a minute after midnight on the 1st of January of that year, and end a minute before midnight on December 31st.
Difficulty: You are not permitted to leave the country (presumably with the borders that existed at the time), to screw with actual history, to profit from your trip, or to affect your family tree.
I thought this over, and decided on 1860, in Charleston, South Carolina, the year before the Civil War Between the States for Southern Independence (choose whatever combination you prefer), a year in which secession sentiments had been growing, culminating with the issuance of Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, the state’s Declaration of Independence as it were, on the 24th of December, a response to the election the month before. Two days later, Major Robert Anderson, commander of the garrison at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, decided that the fort could not be defended, and relocated his troops to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor; we all know what happened there.
The relevance of 1860 to today seems obvious to me: now as then, war was predicted if the election returns went a certain way. But I have more of a personal stake in this experiment, as a one-time resident of Charleston and as a defender of the South, if not of its “Peculiar Institution.” I’d certainly have no trouble making my way around the five square miles of the peninsula, many of whose streets I’ve walked myself; it’s a place to which I have a strong emotional connection, a place to which I’d never allowed myself to return, lest my childhood illusions be somehow damaged. (I finally went back in 2001, thirty-two years after I’d left; I’ve gone back once more since.) And I’m familiar with the background: when I was in high school, two-person teams, as a history-class project, put together their versions of a theoretical daily Charleston newspaper dated 13 April 1861, the day after Confederate batteries fired on Fort Sumter and started what some of us were in 1968 still calling “the late unpleasantness.”
(Found at A Call to Wings.)