The 1903 Grand Council elections took place on 16 February 1903, for the purpose of choosing the Thirteenth Grand Council of the Confederation of North America. The elections returned an eighty-three seat majority for the ruling People's Coalition, the third Coalitionist majority in a row, resulting in the elevation of Councilman Christopher Hemingway of the Northern Confederation as Governor-General.
The 1903 elections took place in the wake of the Starkist Terror, a period of widespread political violence directed at Governor-General Ezra Gallivan. Gallivan's isolationism during the Great Northern War was denounced as treasonous, and he was accused by Councilman Fritz Stark of the opposition Liberal Party of accepting bribes from the Mexican corporation Kramer Associates. Although Stark's charges were quickly debunked by the Nelson Committee, and Stark himself repudiated them, the vilification of Gallivan grew worse until he was forced to resign on 24 July 1901.
When the Coalitionist caucus met the next day to choose Gallivan's successor, it deadlocked between supporters and opponents of Indiana Councilman Thomas Kronmiller, Gallivan's radical rival for leadership of the P.C. The caucus finally settled on a compromise candidate, Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia, who agreed to serve as head of a caretaker administration and not seek the party leadership in 1903. Kronmiller sourly remarked that "Burgen had everything in his favor. No one knew who he was, and neither did he."
Three months after Gallivan's resignation, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión was overthrown. The threat of invasion from Mexico receded, and with it the Starkist Terror. Within a year of his resignation, a pro-Gallivan reaction set in, and Gallivan's attackers were purged from their positions on newspapers and in universities, were voted out in confederation and local elections in 1902, and were shunned in public meetings.
Gallivan's strongest supporters in the P.C. urged him to seek the party leadership again, but he declined, saying that at fifty-four he was "too old and worn for such a task." By the time of the Coalition's national convention in early January 1903, Gallivan's rehabilitation was complete. He received a standing ovation at the convention, and Councilman Jonathan Caldwell, who had called for his resignation four years before, gave a speech lauding Gallivan. The difference between Mexico and North America, Caldwell said, was that "they had Henry, we had Dickinson; they had Jackson, we had Webster; they had Benito Hermión, and we had Ezra Gallivan."
Gallivan was able to use his influence to prevent Kronmiller from gaining the party leadership; instead the convention chose Gallivan's protégé Hemingway. Hemingway was committed to Creative Nationalism, was an isolationist, and believed Gallivan was the greatest governor-general in the C.N.A.'s history. Sobel states that he was handsome, well-spoken, and friendly, but had little else to recommend him to the public.
For their part, the Liberals chose Henderson Nelson, chairman of the Nelson Subcommittee, as their party leader. Nelson had gained a reputation for integrity, and like Hemingway was a moderate, although unlike Hemingway favored closer ties between the C.N.A. and the British Empire. Sobel states that with their choice of Nelson, the Liberals had also rejected extremism and nominated a man who could promise a calm administration.
Delegates from the moribund Conservative Party also met, but so few appeared that their convention was adjourned on the first day without selecting a nominee for governor-general. It was to be the last public appearance for the Conservatives, who subsequently disappeared from North American history.
|Confederation||Liberal Party||People's Coalition|
Sobel says that Hemingway won without too much difficulty, but that this was more a reflection of regret at Gallivan's treatment than support for Hemingway. He quoted an editorial in the 20 February 1903 issue of the Burgoyne Times that stated that the voters "expunged their guilt by voting Gallivan his fourth term."
Sobel's source for the 1903 Grand Council elections is Henry Tracy's Gallivan: The Third Stage (Burgoyne, 1961). Election results are from the New York Herald, 17 February 1903.
|C.N.A. Grand Council Elections|
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