Merriman was a Grand Council member from Indiana in September 1907 when incumbent Governor-General Christopher Hemingway announced that he would not be running for a second term. At the People's Coalition's national convention in January 1908, Hemingway and former Governor-General Ezra Gallivan supported Merriman, and were able to obtain the nomination for him. In the 1908 Grand Council elections, the support of the popular Hemingway allowed the P.C. to win 90 seats to the Liberal Party's 60, ensuring Merriman's elevation as Governor-General, and prompting Thomas Kronmiller to remark, "In this way we enter the fifth term of King Ezra Gallivan."
Sobel writes that Merriman appeared to be a carbon copy of Hemingway, having no desire to innovate and a great love of crowds and travel. Merriman spent two weeks every winter skiing in Northern Confederation resorts, and admitted that "books over two hundred pages in length usually bore me." The five years of Merriman's first term passed uneventfully, and his re-election was so certain that Sobel literally makes no mention of the 1913 Grand Council elections.
Merriman's second term was less idyllic. Following the Hundred Day War between France and the United States of Mexico in 1914, 8000 Mexican slaves who had risen up and joined the French were put on trial for treason. In response, Howard Washburne, the Governor of Southern Vandalia, called for the slaves' release in early 1915. Soon after, on February 10, 1915, Washburne called for the abolition of slavery in the U.S.M. Merriman apologized to Mexican President Victoriano Consalus on February 14, but Washburne's remarks had touched a nerve in the C.N.A. Thirty-four members of the Grand Council endorsed a petition supporting Washburne, and a national organization called the Friends of Black Mexico was formed with Washburne at its head.
On January 4, 1916, the day before the Mexico Tribunal was due to deliver a verdict on the slaves, 2000 members of the F.B.M. stormed the Federal Prison in Chapultepec, Chiapas. The F.B.M. members were able to free the slaves, at a cost of over a thousand dead and 4000 wounded. After a series of telephone conversations with Consalus, Merriman announced on January 6 that any North Americans taking part in the Chapultepec Incident had acted without the government's knowledge. 10,970 North Americans in the U.S.M. had their passports revoked and were expelled from the country, and 232 of these were arrested by the Confederation Bureau of Investigation and charged with "actions injurious to the nation." 154 North Americans were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison terms. The arrests provoked a series of demonstrations by the F.B.M. which in several cases became violent when the demonstrators clashed with anti-black counter-demonstrators.
Merriman was at a loss to know how to deal with the unexpected appearance of racial strife in the C.N.A. He chose not to run for a third term in 1918, instead retiring to the Grand Council after ensuring the nomination of Indiana Councilman Calvin Wagner at the Coalition's national convention.
Sobel's sources for the political career of Albert Merriman are Arnold Marriot's Years of the Pygmies (New York, 1923), Leland French's In the Shadow of the Giants: The Burgen-Hemingway-Merriman Years (New York, 1969), and Hubert Lodge's Men for Their Age: The Hemingway and Merriman Administrations (New York, 1971).
|Governors-General of the C.N.A.|
|Winfield Scott • Henry Gilpin • William Johnson • Whitney Hawkins • Kenneth Parkes • Herbert Clemens • John McDowell • Ezra Gallivan • Clifton Burgen • Christopher Hemingway • Albert Merriman • Calvin Wagner • Henderson Dewey • Douglas Watson • Bruce Hogg • James Billington • Richard Mason • Perry Jay • Carter Monaghan|