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Owen Galloway of Indiana.

The Galloway Speech was a vitavised address given by North American Motors President Owen Galloway on the evening of Monday, 25 December 1922 in which he outlined his proposed Galloway Plan to subsidize emigration within and from the Confederation of North America.


Galloway's speech came after the worst wave of political violence to sweep the C.N.A. since the troubles of the Bloody Eighties, between a heterogeneous group of reformers under the umbrella of the League for Brotherhood, and the defenders of the status quo. Governor-General Calvin Wagner had attempted to rally the nation behind him, but only succeeded in antagonizing his enemies and making his supporters more militant. James Kilroy of the New York Herald wrote that "the faint aroma of Starkism has made its appearance, and both the opponents of our civilization and its supporters seem pleased by the possibility of its return." Economically, the C.N.A. remained prosperous, but a general sense of moral decay that had been growing since the Chapultepec Incident of 1916 was becoming dangerous.

Galloway was a scion of the well-known Galloway family, and one of the C.N.A.'s leading businessmen. He had succeeded his father, Samuel Galloway, as head of Galloway Locomobile in 1919, and he swiftly built the company up into the largest locomobile manufacturer in the world. Although he merged Galloway Locomobile with seven other firms to form North American Motors in 1921, he continued to sponsor the Galloway Playhouse, a weekly radio program that presented dramatizations of popular and classic novels.

In September 1922, the Galloway Playhouse expanded to include vitavision broadcasts, prompting a surge in purchases of vitavision sets. By the end of 1922, the radio and vitavision versions of the Galloway Playhouse had a combined listenership and viewership of forty million (out of a total North American population of 140 million). On the evening of 25 December 1922, sixty million North Americans tuned in to hear and watch a dramatization of Charles Dickens' novel "The Christmas of the Magi". At 7 PM, after the conclusion of the dramatization, Galloway himself appeared to give what was expected to be the usual message of peace and brotherhood that was characteristic of the Christmas season.

The Galloway Plan[]

Initially, Galloway's address was indeed a seasonal message of peace and good cheer for his audience. However, he then began to speak of "the problems that beset the nation this day of peace and brotherhood," and launched into his discussion of what came to be known as the Galloway Plan. He began by noting the disturbed nature of the times, and the lack of a generally accepted solution. He warned that "civil strife destroys all, the victor included."

Galloway then touched on the setting of "The Christmas of the Magi", the first Christmas in the New World by the Pilgrims. He stated, erroneously, that by leaving England, the Pilgrims had prevented a civil war from occurring there. He also praised the former rebels from the North American Rebellion who took the Wilderness Walk to Jefferson, thereby preventing continued conflict in what would become the C.N.A., as well as founding their own nation.

From these examples, Galloway concluded that when political disagreements threatened to degenerate into civil strife, the best solution was for the minority faction to leave and create their own separate society. "If two peoples cannot live together, they may better live apart. Bryan Coleman tells us we are immoral; the Heirs of the Rebellion, speaking through its central office, replies by demanding that Mr. Coleman and those who think like him leave the country, to which Mr. Coleman responds by saying that the C.N.A. will be changed, and that in the new nation he will create, the Heirs of the Rebellion will be crushed." In the case of the current crisis, Galloway reluctantly concluded that the League for Brotherhood's desire for racial equality was unobtainable at present. He recommended that the reformers be allowed to remove themselves from among their opponents.

In order to facilitate the separation of the reformers from the traditionalists, Galloway announced that his brothers and sisters and himself, with the blessing of their father, had decided to organize a national trust dedicated to assisting those who sought to emigrate. The trust would be capitalized  at N.A. £100 million, in the form of securities of North American Motors and other large corporations. The dividends and interest would be used for the purpose of helping those who desired to relocate, whether to other parts of the C.N.A., to the United Empire, or elsewhere.

Galloway promised that further details would be released within the week, and that he would discuss them in a press conference held on 5 January 1923. He closed his address by quoting a line from "The Christmas of the Magi": "We go to a better land, to a future gained and paid for by the sacrifice of our ancestors. In so doing we assure the continuance of our people, and not their destruction."


Reaction to the Galloway Speech was mixed, with some praising Galloway and others criticizing him. Howard Washburne, the head of the League for Brotherhood, called the Galloway Plan "worthy of study, and the child of a man of unquestionable sincerity." Other commentators denounced the Galloway Plan as a scheme to sell locomobiles, or a clever ploy to enable Galloway to become the next governor-general or become the power behind the government.

The Galloway Trust was established as promised in February 1923, by which time thousands of would-be emigrants had already showed up at its temporary headquarters asking to be placed on the rolls. Between 1923 and 1970, over a million North Americans accepted assistance to leave the country, and five million had relocated within the C.N.A.

Galloway himself became the most popular figure in the C.N.A., and his weekly addresses on the Galloway Playhouse became a ritual with millions of North Americans, just as attendance in church or at the motion pictures. Despite his wooden delivery, Galloway had a mystique that puzzled conventional public figures, worried politicians, and attracted a horde of imitators.


Sobel's sources for the Galloway Speech are Great North American Speeches (New York, 1966), edited by Maxwell Parkes; and Lewis Sayers' The Galloway Plan: The Modern Moses (New York, 1966).

This was the Featured Article for the month of December 2015.