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Kenneth Parkes.

The Fourth Grand Council of the Confederation of North America was elected to a five-year term on 15 February 1858. The partisan makeup of the Fourth Grand Council was 78 Liberal Party and 72 Conservative Party. The Liberal majority elected Kenneth Parkes of the Northern Confederation to the office of Governor-General. It is not known who the Liberals chose as Majority Leader or the Conservatives chose as Minority Leader.

Parkes was only able to win a majority vote for governor-general by bribing two Councilmen in the Confederation of Vandalia and blackmailing five more in the Confederation of Indiana. This set the tone for the Fourth Grand Council, which involved wholesale corruption. Almost every post in the national government was for sale, and most were purchased by wealthy businessmen. Large areas of public lands in Vandalia were given as "gifts" to Governor-General Parkes' campaign contributors. Parkes' own personal wealth rose steadily, though it was not learned until his death in 1878 that his fortune amounted to well over N.A. £700,000.

The Liberals were the party of large corporations, especially railroads and large banks. The Fourth Grand Council voted for subsidies for railroad construction and lowered taxes on large enterprises. The Bank of North America operated as a central bank, serving as a depository for Treasury funds, and was dominated by financiers in New York City and London. The Liberal Party's corporate sponsors demanded high tariffs, and the Fourth Grand Council responded by passing the Hawley Tariff, the highest in the country's history. Thanks to the railroad subsidies and the tariff, the C.N.A. experienced steady industrial growth, as railroads spread across the country and steel production flourished in the area around the national capital of Burgoyne, the major Indiana rail hub of Michigan City, and the Tennessee River region of Georgia and North Carolina in the Southern Confederation.

In 1860, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, made a two-month tour of the C.N.A. Towards the end of the tour, Albert wrote to Victoria: "If one had to pick a place to live in the seventeenth century, it would be France. In the eighteenth century, London was the center of the world, a position it held when we first met. Now the flag of civilization has been passed to the North Americans. During the last two months I have seen the shape of the future; it is here, in this wonderful land."

Despite the rampant corruption of his administration and his reputation as a womanizer, Parkes was personally popular. He continued as leader of the Liberal Party in the 1863 Grand Council elections, and on election day the Liberals increased their majority in the Grand Council to 89 seats.


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