The 1898 Grand Council elections took place on 15 February 1898 for the purpose of electing the Twelfth Grand Council of the Confederation of North America. The elections were the second in a row to return a majority for the People's Coalition, which saw its share of Grand Council seats fall from a record high 98 to a still-formidable majority of 91.
The election occurred in the midst of a growing rift within the majority party between the moderates led by incumbent Governor-General Ezra Gallivan and a growing radical faction led by Indiana Councilman Thomas Kronmiller. Gallivan was an isolationist who wished for the C.N.A. to remain aloof from all foreign ties. He had kept the country distant from the rest of the British Empire, and had also maintained a detente with the imperialistic dictator of the United States of Mexico, Chief of State Benito Hermión.
As an adherent of the Moral Imperative, Kronmiller wanted the C.N.A. go to war with Mexico to depose Hermión, liberate the conquered nations of New Granada, Guatemala, and Hawaii, and emancipate Mexico's Negro slaves. He also wanted the C.N.A. to become the leader of a coalition of revolutionary nations, including the socialist Republic of France, in opposition to the world's other reactionary imperialist powers, including Great Britain, the Germanic Confederation, and the Russian Empire.
It had been Gallivan's intention to step down as governor-general and take a seat in the back benches of the Grand Council at the end of his second term. He said, "I have made my contribution. Let someone else taste of power now." He had also once remarked that "No man is indispensable, but by the time he reaches the age of forty, every man thinks he is." However, Gallivan had to rethink his decision when gold was discovered in Russian Alaska in 1896 by a prospecting team from the rapidly expanding Mexican corporation Kramer Associates. K.A. soon had additional prospecting teams roaming Russian Alaska searching for gold deposits, and on several occasions in 1897 these teams crossed the border into the Confederation of Manitoba and came into conflict with North Americans. Gallivan concealed these clashes from the public for fear that the C.N.A. might be drawn into the growing conflict between Mexico and Russia. Instead, he quietly sent word of the incursions to K.A. President Diego Cortez y Catalán, and Cortez saw to it that they ceased.
The opposition Liberal Party, meanwhile, had for decades supported closer ties between the C.N.A. and the rest of the British Empire, with a view to establishing an Anglo-North American hegemony over the world. The discovery of gold in Alaska prompted Liberal Party leader James Hare to criticize Gallivan's inaction. Hare said, "While the Kramer Associates finds a fortune in Russian lands, Mr. Gallivan allows the Athabasca region to remain frozen and isolated. Perhaps the Governor-General should ask Diego Cortez for assistance, since he appears incapable of action on his own."
Gallivan responded, "Mr. Hare should know, or should be informed, that private investigations of the Athabasca region have shown little or no gold in the district. Any North American who so desires can go to Athabasca and search to his heart's content, and what he finds, will be his alone. It is the role of the individual, and not the government in Burgoyne, to go on gold-seeking expeditions. Does Mr. Hare, who has opposed every measure this government has taken in field of social welfare on the grounds that such actions limit freedom, now suggest the government expand its scope to include gold mining? I think not."
Although he continued to plan to step down as late as August 1897, Gallivan's fear that Kronmiller would gain the party leadership in his absence led him to inform the P.C. central committee later that year that he intended to seek a third term as governor-general in the upcoming elections. At the P.C.'s national convention in January 1898, Gallivan won the party leadership by acclimation, but at the cost of widening the split within the Coalition. Kronmiller spoke out against Gallivan, saying, "We have a Queen already; now Mr. Gallivan wants to be king." After Gallivan won the party's leadership, Kronmiller announced that he would "not be bound by this convention," suggesting that he was planning to run a slate of independent Coalitionist candidates. Kronmiller ultimately chose not to do so, perhaps fearing that a rupture within the People's Coalition would allow the Liberals to regain control of the Grand Council.
The Liberal convention saw the emergence of several candidates for the party leadership; this may well have been due to a decision by Hare to retire, though Sobel does not specifically say so. All of the candidates were committed to a union of some sort with Great Britain and the development of the Athabasca region. Possibly due to the Athabasca issue, the Liberals chose the Governor of Manitoba, Douglas Sizer, a protégé of the last Liberal governor-general, John McDowell. In his acceptance speech, Sizer pledged himself to "the fulfilment of national destiny."
The Conservative Party continued its steady decline, to the point where Sobel fails to mention any Conservative nominee for governor-general in 1898. The Conservatives no longer had any serving members from either of the Vandalias in the Grand Council, and in 1898 their last Councilmen in the Northern and Southern Confederations lost their seats. The only success they enjoyed was electing a second member in Indiana and maintaining their sole Councilman in Manitoba.
Gallivan's popularity and the well-oiled machinery of the local and confederation-level organizations of the People's Coalition ensured another P.C. majority in the Grand Council. The only major defeat suffered by the Coalition was in Southern Vandalia, the C.N.A.'s only majority-Negro confederation. Whether due to oversight or prejudice, in ten years Gallivan had failed to appoint any Negroes to his Cabinet (unlike his Liberal predecessor, McDowell), leaving him vulnerable to accusations of racial bigotry, and giving rise to growing disenchantment with the P.C. among the nation's Negroes. Sizer had exploited the issue to the full, and in Southern Vandalia the Coalition lost four of its eight seats to the Liberals, with the remaining four firmly part of Kronmiller's radical caucus.
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When the Twelfth Grand Council met after the election, Kronmiller challenged Gallivan for the governor-generalship, and won the votes of twenty members of the Coalition caucus, leaving Gallivan five short of the necessary majority. It was the first time in North American history that a political party faced such a challenge. Gallivan was finally able to secure a majority and win election as governor-general, but Sobel doesn't say what, if anything, he was forced to condede to Kronmiller to do so.
Sobel's sources for the 1898 Grand Council elections are Howard Arthur's Creative Nationalism (New York, 1939); Henry Tracy's Gallivan: The Third Stage (Burgoyne, 1961); and Horace Smyser's Origins of Modern Negro Thought (New York, 1966). Election results are from the New York Herald, 16 February 1898.
|C.N.A. Grand Council Elections|
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