This earth where the ostensible point of divergence leading to the North American Confederacy (NAC) is the addition of a single word in the preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence, where in it states that governments "derive their just power from the unanimous consent of the governed." Inspired by this wording, Albert Gallatin intercedes in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 to the benefit of the farmers, rather than the fledgling United States government. The rebellion soon becomes a Second American Revolution and eventually leads to the overthrowing and execution of George Washington by firing squad for treason, the abrogation of the U.S. Constitution, and the reestablishment of government under the revised Articles of Confederation, but with a much greater emphasis on individual freedom.
After the war, Alexander Hamilton flees to Prussia and lives there until he is killed in a duel in 1804.
Over the ensuing century, the remnants of central government dissipate. The government can no longer create money, only individual people can, being backed by gold, silver, wheat, corn, iron, and even whisky.
In 1803, Albert Gallatin and James Monroe arrange the Louisiana Purchase from France, borrowing money from private sources against the value of the land.
Thomas Jefferson successfully leads the abolitionist movement to a peaceful end to slavery in 1820, and the absence of government interference creates a Libertarian utopia where science and medicine advance at a significantly greater pace than in our baseline history. Jefferson is also responsible for developing new systems of weights and measures ("metric" inches, pounds, etc.) and for devising a new calendar to honor the birth of liberty - the old year 1776 becomes Year Zero, Anno Liberatis. Alexander Graham Bell, freed from the duties of inventing the telephone by an earlier inventor named Elisha Gray in 1867 (91 A.L.), develops a voder technology which allows recognition that chimpanzees, gorillas, and other simians are sentient, and the greater primates are granted citizenship rights equivalent to all races of humans. Later on in history, dolphins, porpoises, and orcas reveal their sentience and join the land civilizations. In 1888 (102 A.L.), Thomas Edison invents electrically heated streets.
In 1893, almost all North American Nations (California, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Newfoundland, Texas, etc.) join together to form the NAC, a new nation whose government has almost no powers and which allows its citizenry to do as it pleases (so long as they don't violate anyone else's rights). The NAC is not involved in any major wars as a country, but a massive cohort of volunteers arises to fight whenever Federalist and Federalist sympathizers disturb the peace, most notably in Prussia in 1914, and against the Czar of Russia in Antarctica in 1957 (where the naval action is led by the NAC version of Robert A. Heinlein).
Other famous people named in the series include NAC president Ayn Rand, who visits the Moon in the 1950s, and earlier NAC President H. L. Mencken (who was killed by his vice-president's mother after killing his vice-president in a duel). A west coast university is named after historical San Francisco eccentric Emperor Norton. By the start of the novel in 1986, the NAC spans the entire continent of North America as well as Greenland, with independent settlements on the Moon, Mars and the major asteroids. The government is an utterly powerless entity, with the presidency a largely honorary role preserved only as a coordinator of actions in national emergencies. Along the way, the libertarian philosophies of the Gallatin Party in the NAC remain in conflict with the remnants of Federalist Party (sometimes referred to as Hamiltonians, after the man considered the real villain in the old United States, Alexander Hamilton), which continues to promote strong central government.