Liberal Origins under the Britannic Design
The origins of the Liberal Party go back to the early nineteenth century, a time when the original Britannic Design was in effect, and the C.N.A. was a loose federation of autonomous confederations. Partisan politics began to appear in the three oldest confederations, the Northern Confederation, the Southern Confederation, and Quebec, in the 1810s.
In Quebec, the Anglophone population and moderate Francophones formed the Liberal Party, also known as the Progress Party, in 1811 to promote industrialization, increased commerce, and the development of the north country. They were opposed by the Farmers Congress, which first met in Montreal in 1812, and which opposed industrialization and sought to remain free of ties to bankers and merchants in New York City and London. A year after its initial meeting, the Farmers Congress was renamed the Conservative Party.
In the S.C., the wealthy plantation owners and professional men in the cities formed the Country Party, which became known as the Liberal Party after 1819. The S.C. Liberals supported low tariffs, improvements to waterways, and a large navy to protect the slave trade. Southern Liberals were opposed by the Farmers Party, renamed the Conservatives in 1820, which was made up of small farmers, urban workers, and free Negroes.
In the N.C., wealthy industrialists and bankers formed their own Liberal Party in 1820, and succeeded in elevating their nominee, Daniel Webster, to the office of Governor. The N.C. Liberals supported high tariffs, aid to manufacturers in the form of subsidies, and laws making it easier to create private banks. During his first term, Webster was able to enact the Liberal agenda, gaining passage of the Tariff of 1822, the Bank Bill of 1822, the Internal Improvements Bill of 1823, the Harbors Act of 1823, and the establishment of the Bank of the Northern Confederation.
Webster's opponents coalesced to form their own Conservative Party in the early 1820s, an uneasy coalition of farmers, urban workers, and small businessmen. Under the leadership of Martin van Buren, the Conservatives were able to gain control of the Northern Confederation Council in the 1825 elections. However, unlike the Liberals, the Conservatives lacked a coherent program, and lost control of the Council in the 1831 elections.
The Crisis Years
In the S.C., a series of slave revolts led to the formation of the explicitly anti-slavery Southern Union in 1825, and both established parties were forced to grapple with the slavery issue. Governor of Georgia John Calhoun emerged as the leader of the Liberals. In the wake of the Insurrection of 1829, Calhoun gave his Defense of the Realm speech, in which he defended the institution of slavery, and also called upon like-minded men in the S.C., the N.C., and Indiana to join together to defend the status quo from various reformers. The Liberals were able to gain control of the Southern Confederation Council in the 1833 elections, and Calhoun became Governor of the Southern Confederation.
In the N.C., the economic recession following the Panic of 1836 led to the rise of a powerful labor union called the Grand Consolidated Union. The head of the Grand Consolidated, Franz Freund, formed a pro-labor political party called the Laborers' Alliance to contest the 1839 elections. With the anti-Lberal vote split between the Laborers' Alliance and the Conservatives, the Liberals were able to retain control of the N.C. Council, and Webster won another term as governor. Their failure to unseat the Liberals angered the Laborers' Alliance, and in the summer of 1840 the Grand Consolidated mounted a massive general strike. As the strike continued, order broke down in several Northern cities. Webster was attacked and stabbed by a radical worker named Matthew Hale on 4 September, dying three days later.
The Liberal majority on the Council chose Henry Gilpin of Pennsylvania to succeed Webster. Gilpin mobilized the N.C. Army, and also encouraged manufacturers to hire private armies. Both private and confederation armies attacked Consolidated headquarters and workers throughout the N.C. Gilpin excused these tactics by saying that, "there is no room for violence in the N.C., but the situation is so critical that strong measures are needed." By the time the Grand Consolidated Union and the Laborers Alliance had been suppressed in March 1841, over 40,000 people had been killed and 78,000 injured. Gilpin ruled the N.C. with an iron fist until he was turned out of office in the 1842 elections.
The Panic of 1836 caused a precipitous drop in the price of slaves in the S.C., with the price of a prime field hand falling from N.A. £150 in the spring of 1835 to N.A. £19 in the summer of 1838. The slave market collapsed, and the major Southern importer of slaves, Hatch and Sons, went bankrupt. Plantations switched from raising cotton and other staple crops to vegetables and grains, resembling miniature feudal states, and commerce ground to a halt. Calhoun urged Southern slaveowners to stand by the institution of slavery, warning of "an atmosphere of confusion and anarchy" if they allowed slavery to be abolished. However, Conservative leader Willie Lloyd persuaded a majority of Southerners to adopt a plan for compensated manumission called the Lloyd Bill, which passed the S.C. Council in April 1840 and was ratified by Viceroy Sir Alexander Haven on 16 May.
By 1841, the disorders in the Northern and Southern Confederations, along with a major Indian war in Indiana and a Francophone uprising in Quebec, caused Liberal leaders to heed Calhoun's call from twelve years before. Calhoun was joined by Gilpin and Scott, along with Liberal delegations from the four major confederations, at Concordia, North Carolina for a national convention in July and August 1841. The delegates to the convention merged their confederation-level parties into a national organization called the Unified Liberal Party, and called for amending the Britannic Design to transform the C.N.A. into a unified and centralized nation. The Conservatives held their own convention in Brant, Indiana in September, and echoed the Liberals' call for a more united C.N.A., while organizing themselves nationally as the National Conservative Party.
Haven submitted these resolutions to the Crown, and the government of Sir Duncan Amory responded by calling for a special meeting of the Grand Council in Burgoyne in the summer of 1842. At the Burgoyne Conference, as it was known, General Scott emerged as the leading Liberal, and together with Conservative leader Lloyd was able to oversee the drafting of the Second Britannic Design, which created a unified national government led by a Governor-General chosen by a popularly-elected Grand Council.
The Rocky Mountain War
In the first elections to the new Grand Council under the Second Design in February 1843, Scott's leadership allowed the U.L.P. to win 91 of the Council's 150 seats, and Scott was chosen as Governor-General, with Gilpin becoming Minister of War in Scott's Cabinet.
Scott sought to encourage settlement in the frontier confederations of Manitoba and Vandalia, sponsoring a series of homesteading laws and subsidizing the expansion of the North American railroad network. Gilpin, however, was determined to launch a war against the growing power of the United States of Mexico, and by 1845 he was able to seize on a series of border incidents in the Broken Arrow region between Vandalia and Mexico del Norte to force an unwilling Scott to sanction an invasion of Mexico.
The North Americans suffered a series of reversals in Mexico del Norte, Jefferson, and Tampico, but the U.L.P. was able to gain another majority in the 1848 Grand Council elections, and Scott won a second term as governor-general. By the spring of 1849, however, Gilpin had come to blame Scott for the lack of progress in the war. With help from Lloyd, Gilpin was able to arrange a no confidence vote in the Grand Council in April, and Scott resigned. Lloyd's hope for a snap election was frustrated, though, as Gilpin was able to form a coalition government with some pro-war Conservatives, winning a Council vote on 15 May by a margin of 78 - 72.
Despite his political maneuvering, Gilpin proved no more able than Scott had been at prosecuting the Rocky Mountain War, and by the 1853 Grand Council elections, Gilpin had lost control over the U.L.P. The Unified Liberal Caucus chose Councilman Bruce Harrison of the N.C. as its candidate for governor-general. Both Harrison and his N.C.P. opponent, Councilman William Johnson of Manitoba, ran on similar peace platforms, but Harrison was unable to dissociate the U.L.P. from the unpopular Gilpin, and the Unified Liberals won only 51 seats.
Following their loss, the U.L.P. leadership simplified the party's name to the Liberal Party. The N.C.P. followed suit, becoming the Conservative Party. Johnson's peace treaty with the U.S.M. was popular, and had he remained the head of the Conservatives, he might have led them to another victory in 1858. However, Johnson resigned in August 1856, and his successor, Whitney Hawkins of Indiana, proved a poor choice as party leader. The Liberals continued to draw their support from merchants and industrialists, and the party platform called for high tariffs, hard money, and laissez-faire economic policies. In January 1858 the Liberal Caucus chose Councilman Kenneth Parkes of the N.C. as its leader, and he used a combination of skilled oratory, opposition research, and bribery to win a majority of 78 seats in the 1858 Grand Council elections.
Parkes sponsored the Hawley Tariff, which raised rates to the highest level in North American history, continued Scott's subsidies to railroads, and lowered taxes on large enterprises. He also sold national offices to wealthy businessmen and awarded vast land grants in Vandalia to Liberal political doners. Despite the corruption of his administration, Parkes was able to gain the Liberals additional seats in the 1863 Grand Council elections through wholesale vote-buying in Indiana and Vandalia.
The corruption continued during Parkes' second term, allowing him to build up a vast personal fortune, which he was able to keep hidden from North American voters. Towards the end of 1867, Parkes announced that he would not seek a third term, and that "Liberals throughout the land shall be allowed to select the next governor-general in open convention." Liberal delegates met in Burgoyne in January 1868, and allowed themselves to be persuaded through lavish bribery to choose Parkes' protégé, Governor Victor Astor of the N.C., as the new Liberal leader. The Conservatives responded by holding their own convention in New York City, where they chose a wealthy dry goods magnate, Councilman Herbert Clemens of Indiana, as their party leader. Clemens proved more adept at vote-buying than Astor, and the Liberals once again went into opposition, winning only 65 seats in the 1868 Grand Council elections.
Clemens sponsored bills expanding the franchise and reapportioning Grand Council seats in an effort to solidify the Conservatives' hold on the government. The effort failed due to the formation of a third party, the People's Coalition, in 1869. The P.C. drew support from voters who felt unrepresented by either major party -- poor whites and Negroes in the S.C., workers and small businessmen in the N.C., wealthy wheat farmers in Indiana, and struggling pioneers in Vandalia. The new party, combined with Clemens' electoral reforms, cost the Conservatives eight seats, and the Liberals two, in the 1873 Grand Council elections. The Conservatives were able to maintain their majority, and Clemens won a second term, but both established parties were alive to the threat posed by the Coalition, and took steps to halt its rise.
The Liberals met in Philadelphia for their nominating convention in January 1878. Ten years in opposition, and revelations of the corruption of the Parkes administration, had left them desperate. John Runk of Georgia was handsome and well-spoken, but as a protégé of Calhoun, it was feared that he would alienate Negro voters who dominated the newly-established confederation of Southern Vandalia. Astor and Claude Baldwin of Indiana were too closely identified with the corruption of the Parkes administration. That left Councilman John McDowell of Manitoba, who was personally honest, and a champion of reform, though unknown outside of his home confederation.
At the Conservative convention in Michigan City, Governor-General Clemens declined to seek a third term, and like Parkes before him he persuaded the convention to nominate his chosen successor, in this case Indiana Governor Joseph Fellows. The Coalition held its convention in New York City, and the delegates there refused to choose a single nominee, letting the confederation-level organizations choose their own candidates, and pledging to hold a second convention after the election if they won a majority.
The campaign was marred by a wave of political violence directed against the Coalition by the established parties, with the Indiana party headquarters being attacked and burned to the ground, several candidates in the S.C. set upon and beaten, and union leader Conrad Richter kidnapped and held incommunicado until after the election. By the end of the campaign, the Coalitionists had taken to retaliating against the other parties in kind. The political violence shocked voters, who responded on election day by boosting the Coalition's share of the Grand Council from ten seats to 39. Practically all of the Coalition's gains came at the expense of the Conservatives, leaving the Liberals, to everyone's surprise, with a 62-seat plurality.
Age of Renewal
McDowell refused to consider forming a coalition government with either of the other parties, and the newly-elected Grand Council went through seven ballots before a sufficient number of reformist councilmen from the other parties switched their votes to give him a majority. Initially, he was able to gain support from the more moderate members of the People's Coalition to pass his first efforts at reform. However, apart from the Confederation Bureau of Investigation, which succeeded in rooting out government corruption, few of the measures had effective enforcement provisions, and by 1880 the leaders of the Coalition in the Grand Council were denouncing McDowell as "a tool of the big banks, the big corporations, the reactionary unions," and claiming that he was offering "the form of change, but not the substance."
During McDowell's first term, the outbreak of the Franco-German War in 1878 led to a credit crunch in Great Britain which resulted in the sudden withdrawal of British investments in North America. This precipitated the Great Depression, the worst economic slump since the Panic of 1836. The economic crisis coincided with the outbreak of a violent republican revolution in France in December 1879 that unleashed a wave of anarchy and social unrest throughout Europe known as the Bloody Eighties.
McDowell responded to the Great Depression by ordering the Treasury to make deposits in key financial institutions throughout the C.N.A., ensuring their liquidity. He also created the National Financial Administration and the Rural Credit Association to offer low-interest loans to, respectively, endangered businesses and farmers. When the mob violence of Europe threatened to spread to the C.N.A., McDowell expanded the C.B.I. and transformed it into a national police force, then halted European immigration in 1882. At the same time, McDowell joined together with Prime Minister Geoffrey Cadogan to organize the First Imperial Conference in London in 1881, to discuss common problems among the nations and colonies of the British Empire. A Second Imperial Conference met in New York City the following year.
McDowell's success in dealing with the economic crisis won him the support of groups as diverse as the C.N.A. Businessmen's Association and the Mechanics National Union. However, as the 1883 campaign season approached, his critics among the Conservatives and the People's Coalition accused him of being an opportunist whose only real dedication was to maintaining his personal power. McDowell responded with his Age of Renewal speech in New York on 11 October 1882, promising that every North American had "the right to hold a job, to a fair wage, to a fair return on his investment, to a decent place in which to live, to security in his home, to the knowledge that his government knows of his needs, and is prepared to help him help himself." The Conservatives accused McDowell of radicalism, while the People's Coalition dismissed his reforms as "more of the same placebos" and called for a guaranteed wage for workers, government support for farm prices, and "solidarity with our brothers across the seas," meaning the revolutionary republican regimes in France and elsewhere in Europe.
During the campaign for the 1883 Grand Council elections, McDowell traveled the country, delivering speeches on the subject of reform. At the same time, the Liberal caucus in the Grand Council introduced a series of bills designed to implement some of his programs. The bills were poorly drawn and managed, and all were defeated by the combined votes of the opposition parties. Then, on 8 January 1883, McDowell gave a speech in Burgoyne in which he condemned "men of the past and radicals who would destroy our future, who have hindered every attempt justice I have made in the past five years." At the Liberal convention in the capital, McDowell was renominated by acclimation, and in his acceptance speech he pledged himself to the "creation of The Age of Renewal in North America, one that will bring benefits for all citizens, in every part of the nation."
At the Conservative convention in New York City, the delegates sensed that their party was in decline, and in desperation nominated Theodore Lindsay, publisher of the New York Herald, the country's leading Conservative newspaper. At the People's Coalition convention in Boston, the leading figure was Ezra Gallivan, the newly-elected mayor of Michigan City. Gallivan had gained power by moderating the Coalition's goals, and focusing on grass-roots party-building. Knowing that McDowell was unbeatable, Gallivan supported the nomination of Councilman Scott Ruggles of the N.C., a respectable, hard-working, responsible moderate. On election day, McDowell led the Liberals to an 82-seat majority, while Gallivan and Ruggles won 45 seats, making the People's Coalition the main opposition party.
Now that he had a majority, McDowell was able to pass a series of bills without opposition. Lindsay denounced McDowell's programs, claiming that "The Governor-General will destroy our moral fiber with his nostrums, and our exchequer with his taxes," while the Coalitionists warned that "Mr. McDowell, while well meaning, is treating symptoms, but ignoring the illness. The nation needs surgery, not more pills."
By 1885, it had become clear that most of the Age of Renewal programs were either unworkable or poorly managed. Taxes were at an all-time high, inflation was rising sharply, and a series of small insurrections broke out in Quebec and parts of Indiana and the N.C. At the same time, there was a public outcry against the expanded powers of the C.B.I.
Despite being 62 years old and in declining health, McDowell sought and gained the nomination for a third term at the Liberal convention in January 1888, pledging himself to the completion of the Age of Renewal. At the Coalition's convention, Gallivan gained the nomination over Ruggles, and campaigned effectively against McDowell. The Conservatives struggled to maintain their status as a national party, nominating the moderate Abraham Reese at their convention. It was widely expected among the North American press that the Liberals would retain control of the Grand Council, but in the 1888 Grand Council elections, the Coalitionists gained an unexpected victory, winning a 73-seat plurality to the Liberals' 66 and the Conservatives' eight.
McDowell might have attempted to form a minority coalition government with the Conservatives, but he refused to consider the possibility, and at a meeting of the newly-elected Liberal caucus, he asked the twelve-member Indiana delegation to cast their ballots for Gallivan. Eight did so, and Gallivan was elevated to governor-general.
The Long Opposition
With McDowell's defeat in 1888, the Liberals began a 35-year period as the opposition party, the longest time a party remained out of power in the C.N.A.'s history. Throughout his first term, Gallivan had to rely on the support of at least three opposition members to pass his Creative Nationalism programs. Despite this, he was able to gain passage of the key components of his agenda, reducing inflation and unemployment, cutting military spending, holding the Quebec Plebiscite which led to autonomy for that confederation, and transforming the N.F.A. into a national venture capital firm.
Gallivan's reforms were successful and popular enough to ensure him the P.C.'s nomination for a second term, despite the opposition of the party's radical wing. The Liberals nominated Minority Leader James Hare of the N.C. as their leader, but in the 1893 Grand Council elections, Gallivan was able to lead the Coalition to a sweeping victory, winning 98 seats to the Liberals' 48. Gallivan's second term was hobbled by the growth of the radical wing of the Coalition, led by Councilman Thomas Kronmiller of Indiana, but the reforms introduced in his first term remained popular.
A coup d'etat in Mexico in 1881 had led to the dictatorship of Benito Hermión, also known as El Jefe. Hermión was an imperialist who fought a series of wars in Central and South America that increased the power and reach of the U.S.M. Gallivan's isolationism and seeming indifference to the threat posed by Hermión's Mexico made him unpopular among Liberals such as Hare who sought closer ties to the British Empire, and also among adherents of the Moral Imperative such as Kronmiller who wished to see the C.N.A. expand its global influence as an independent state.
Foreign policy was the major issue of the 1898 Grand Council elections. The Liberals nominated Manitoba Governor Douglas Sizer, a protégé of McDowell and an internationalist, as their party leader. Gallivan sought a third term, and was again nominated by acclimation by the Coalition, but Kronmiller announced afterwards that he would "not be bound by this convention." During the campaign, Sizer instructed the Liberal Party in Southern Vandalia to ignore other issues and concentrate on Gallivan's failure to name any Negroes to his Cabinet. This allowed the Liberals to win an additional four seats there, contributing to the 56 seats they won nationally.
Opposition to Gallivan's isolationism increased dramatically in the summer of 1898 when Mexico went to war with the Russian Empire and swiftly conquered Russian Alaska. Several nationalist organizations appeared, calling on Gallivan to resign. More extreme groups such as the For North America Movement hinted at the need for Gallivan's assassination. Sizer himself called on Gallivan to resign in a speech on 10 January 1899, saying "He should leave government. Mr. Gallivan has stayed too long."
The reaction against Gallivan's isolationism turned violent in July 1899 when Liberal Councilman Fritz Stark accused the governor-general of accepting bribes from Mexican businessman Diego Cortez y Catalán. A wave of political violence called the Starkist Terror swept the C.N.A. There were assassination attempts against seventeen of Gallivan's allies in the Grand Council, one of them successful. A subcommittee of the Grand Council chaired by Liberal Councilman Henderson Nelson investigated Stark's charges, and found that he had been taken in by a mentally unbalanced clerk in the Mexican embassy. Stark recanted his accusations and committed suicide, but the anti-Gallivan unrest continued until his resignation on 24 July 1901.
Three months after Gallivan's resignation, Hermión was overthrown by Cortez, and the Mexican threat receded. A backlash grew against Gallivan's critics, and by the 1903 Grand Council elections, Gallivan was able to secure the nomination of his protégé Christopher Hemingway. The Liberals sought to dissociate themselves with the Starkist Terror by choosing Nelson as their party leader, but the effort failed. Despite Nelson's role in exonerating Gallivan, the Liberals won only 67 Council seats, and Hemingway became governor-general.
After the violence and disorder of the Starkist Terror, the people of the C.N.A. wanted peace and prosperity, and the People's Coalition provided both. The Liberals won only 60 seats in 1908 under Councilman Guy St. Just. Ten years later, when Liberal Governor Chester Phipps of the S.C. warned that another Coalition victory would mean "more of the same," his opponent Councilman Calvin Wagner agreed, and went on to win the Coalition's seventh straight victory. By then, however, events were already in motion that would bring an end to the Coalition majority.
Malaise and Diffusion
The C.N.A.'s era of tranquility ended abruptly on 4 January 1916, when the Chapultepec Incident brought the country to the brink of war with Mexico. During the 1914 Hundred Day War, thousands of Negro slaves in Durango and run away from their masters and joined the French Army's drive on Mexico City. After the French defeat, the slaves were arrested and tried en masse for treason. In response to the Chapultepec Treason Trials, Governor Howard Washburne of Southern Vandalia denounced slavery in the U.S.M., saying "Either Mexico will end slavery, or we will do it for her." Washburne resigned and founded the Friends of Black Mexico, which agitated for the abolition of slavery in the U.S.M.
The day before the Mexico Tribunal was due to hand down its verdict in the trials, thousand of North American students stormed the Federal Prison in Chapultepec and freed the imprisoned slaves. Governor-General Albert Merriman denounced the North American students, and hundreds were arrested by the C.B.I. and charged with "actions injurious to the nation." The result was a series of protest rallies throughout the C.N.A., many organized and led by the F.B.M.
Thirty four Liberal members of the Grand Council had endorsed Washburne's original call for the end of slavery in Mexico, and there was a movement in the Liberal Party to nominate him for party leader in 1918. Governor Phipps was able to fend off Washburne's supporters and secure the party leadership for himself, but Washburne had tapped into a deep current of dissatisfaction with the status quo in the C.N.A. After the abolition of slavery in Mexico in May 1920, Washburne converted the F.B.M. into the League for Brotherhood, which sought to reform race relations in the C.N.A. The League attracted millions of middle-class white intellectuals and became a vehicle for their dissatisfaction with industrial civilization.
The growth of the League gave rise to a reaction among the defenders of the status quo, such as the Heirs of the Rebellion, and by the summer of 1922 the clashes between the two sides produced the worst civil distubances since the Bloody Eighties. At the major party conventions in December, the People's Coalition renominated Wagner, while Phipps' supporters among the Liberals were again able to deny the nomination to Washburne, instead nominating Councilman Henderson Dewey of Indiana.
The situation was resolved unexpectedly on 25 December when locomobile magnate Owen Galloway announced the Galloway Plan to subsidize emigration within and from the C.N.A. The plan was immensely popular among both sides in the national crisis, and Galloway quickly became the most popular man in the country. Both candidates sought Galloway's endorsement, but he was careful to avoid publicly favoring either one. Despite this, Dewey was able to give the impression that he was closer to Galloway than Governor-General Wagner by imitating his speaking style and appearance. In the 1923 Grand Council elections, Dewey led the Liberals to their first victory in 35 years, winning 81 seats.
As governor-general, Dewey focused his attention on devolving as much political and financial power as possible from the national government to that of the confederations, a process he later referred to as his "dismantling operation." He did this, not from sincere devotion to the principle of diffusionism, but from a recognition that the national mood favored decentralization. Furthermore, Dewey believed that the Liberal victory in 1923 had been a fluke, and that the best way to aid the Liberal Party was to strengthen confederation-level institutions and use them to direct political patronage to local Liberal organizations. Under Dewey's tenure, spending by the national government fell from 8.8% of gross national product to 6.4% in 1928, while spending by local governments rose sharply.
Along with Dewey, a group of like-minded men joined his government in Burgoyne, including Minister of Finance John Hopkins, Minister of Home Affairs Douglas Watson, and Majority Leader John Jenckinson. Like Dewey, they came across well on vitavision, presenting an appearance of modesty, understatement, and coolness. The same was true of the new Liberal governors of Indiana and Manitoba, David Heald and Foster McCabe.
Dewey also maintained his low-key, Gallowayesque style, giving his program no romantic nickname, and introducing his legislation in the Grand Council with little fanfare via Liberal back-benchers. Dewey also cultivated Galloway, meeting with him eight times during his first term, and asking him several times to chair special commissions, which Galloway politely refused. In 1927, Dewey offered to step down as governor-general and support Galloway for Liberal party leader; Galloway politely refused this as well. Dewey's Minister of Home Affairs, Douglas Watson, made certain that members of his ministry cooperated with the Galloway Trust whenever possible. Watson later revealed that more individuals relocated within the C.N.A. without Trust assistance than did so with its aid, and that only 29.7% of those who emigrated overseas received more than N.A. £40 from the Trust, while 31.8% received no subsidy from the Trust at all. Since those who left the C.N.A. tended to be Coalitionists, the Dewey administration was actually exporting its political opposition. Meanwhile, assistance from Home Office agents to those relocating within the country often converted lukewarm Coalitionists into loyal Liberals.
Dewey's success at building up the confederation-level Liberal organizations, cultivating his ties to Galloway, and embracing the national mood of diffusionism allowed him to lead the Liberals to an even greater victory in the 1928 Grand Council elections, winning 94 Council seats, along with control of four confederation legislatures and five governorships. In keeping with his low-key style, Dewey's second term featured no changes in the Cabinet or proclamations of new initiatives. It was not until 1 December 1928 that Dewey announced a major study of the N.F.A. "to see how this important agency may better serve the interests of the nation and its people." In particular, Dewey believed that the agency's financings of new businesses should be less concentrated in the industrialized confederations of Indiana and the N.C., and should be made instead on the basis of each confederation's share of the population.
The administrators of the N.F.A. played into Dewey's hands by denouncing his plan as arbitrary and unjust. Carl Bixby complained that the agency was being asked to finance "unworthy enterprises" because of their geographic location, while Norris Jones announced that he would have resigned in protest "had I not known that the Governor-General would name a diffusionist in my place." The popular reaction to these complaints increased the popularity of Dewey's proposed reform. The study was completed on 5 May 1929, and Dewey went on vitavision that evening to announce his proposal to "bring the N.F.A. to more people, to increase its usefulness, not detract from it."
As was his habit, Dewey moved slowly to implement his reform, meeting with Jenckinson and other Liberal Council leaders on 8 May to plan their legislative strategy. They decided to schedule a vote for the bill the following week to avoid claims from Coalitionists that opinion had been stifled. However, the planned legislative campaign was derailed by Dewey's death by heart attack two days later.
Recession and War
Jenckinson had recessed the Grand Council following the conference with Dewey, and so half the members of the Liberal caucus were out of town when the governor-general's death was discovered. Many of those who were present had no preferred candidate. Jenckinson announced to the press that afternoon that the Liberal caucus would meet the following morning and not adjourn until a new governor-general had been selected.
The three leading candidates were Watson, Hopkins, and McCabe. McCabe was the most popular candidate, but many of his supporters, including a majority of the Manitoba delegation, were absent when the caucus met. Hopkins' policies were closer to Dewey's than Watson's, but Watson had more support among the Liberal caucus, in spite of being more internationalist. When the Liberal caucus finally achieved a quorum of 71 members on the morning of 12 May, Watson was able to gain a majority and was chosen to be the next governor-general. However, there was general criticism of the way Watson was chosen, and he was nicknamed "the accidental executive."
Watson gave a vitavised address on the evening of 12 May in which he pledged to fulfill Dewey's programs, "with priority given those . . . which will increase opportunity for young North Americans," a reference to Dewey's planned reform of the N.F.A. Watson was able to gain passage of the N.F.A. reform in 1930, which established new, semi-autonomous branches of the agency in the capitals of the confederations which would be financed independently. Watson also continued Dewey's policy of encouraging emigration by increasing spending on roads and subsidizing airmobile travel.
Watson's policies proved even more popular that Dewey's, and in the 1933 Grand Council elections he increased the Liberal majority from 94 seats to 104. Encouraged by his victory, Watson moved to implement his goal of ending the C.N.A.'s isolation, making a tour of Europe's capitals in April 1933, and giving an address before the British Parliament. Returning to Burgoyne, Watson held a special Cabinet meeting in which he revealed a growing international crisis brewing between Britain and the Germanic Confederation. on 1 August, Watson introduced legislation in the Grand Council increasing military spending.
Despite initial opposition, Watson was able to slowly gain support for his spending bill, until Galloway spoke out against it on 1 July 1934. Watson's popularity instantly plummeted, and by January 1935 Minority Leader Bruce Hogg introduced a bill of impeachment against him. Hogg's impeachment bid failed, but left Watson weakened politically. When Kramer Associates announced in February 1936 that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Mexico to the Philippines, the result was a worldwide panic that led to the bankruptcy of the confederation-level branches of the N.F.A. the following month. The combination of Galloway's opposition and the poor economy allowed Hogg to win a narrow victory over Watson in the 1938 Grand Council elections. In his inaugural address in February 1938, Hogg said, "One thing can be promised without a shadow of doubt. Unless attacked, this country will not fight in a foreign war while I am in office."
An Arab Revolt against the rule of the Ottoman Empire drew Britain and Germany into war in October 1939. The Germans won a series of overwhelming victories against the Ottoman Empire and France, leaving Great Britain isolated. Public opinion in the C.N.A. turned from isolationism to support for the British, and Hogg responded with a program of covert military aid to the British. In July 1940 Hogg invited the Liberals to join a unity government for the remainder of the war, and Watson became his Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Over the next eight years, North American aid to Britain and Kramer Associates aid to Japan, China, and Australia allowed those nations to withstand attacks by Germany and Mexico, and eventually drive them back. In the C.N.A., nonpartisan elections were held in 1943 and 1948 that maintained Hogg's unity government. Watson's retirement in 1948 made Hugh Devenny the leader of the Liberal Party.
War Without War
By the end of 1948, the war had left all the combatant nations exhausted, and a de facto armistice developed as military operations were allowed to wind down. As arms production and farm subsidies ended in the C.N.A., in March 1949 Liberal Councilman Richard Mason of the S.C. proposed a massive international aid program to repair the devastation caused by the war. The aid program, known as the Mason Doctrine, won instant approval thanks to a growing mood of survivor's guilt in the C.N.A.
Hogg's death in September 1950 brought Council President James Billington to power in the C.N.A. and the People's Coalition. Mason capitalized on the national mood of guilt to become the leader of the Liberal Party, and in the 1953 Grand Council elections, he led the Liberals to an 82-seat majority. Mason expanded his foreign aid program, and focused his attention on international affairs, while leaving control of domestic policy to his Minister of Home Affairs, Grover Speigal. Speigal was able to reverse some of Dewey's decentralization moves, including returning financial control of the N.F.A.'s branches to Burgoyne.
Critics in the People's Coalition harshly denounced the general tenor of the Mason administration, and the expansive nature of the Mason Doctrine in particular. Mason's supporters dismissed the criticism, and in the 1958 Grand Council elections Mason was able to lead the Liberals to a second, though much narrower, victory.
As the world recovered from the devastation of the Global War, the old animosities resumed, especially those between Britain and Germany, and between the U.S.M. and Kramer Associates. Mason insisted on North American neutrality and opposed any increase in military spending. His support in the Grand Council collapsed in July 1962 when K.A. detonated an atomic bomb and Mason refused to consider creating a North American atomic bomb project. At the 1963 Liberal Party convention, Mason was able to retain his position as party leader, but it was clear that the Liberal caucus in the Grand Council would no longer support him, and he created a separate slate of Council candidates called the Justice Brigades. In the 1963 Grand Council elections, the Liberals won only 70 seats, and the Justice Brigade slate none, allowing the Coalitionist candidate Perry Jay to become governor-general.
Jay authorized a North American atomic bomb project located in Michigan City, cut back sharply on Mason Doctrine aid, and pledged to phase out the N.F.A. by the end of the decade. After the successful test of an atomic bomb in northern Manitoba on 1 September 1966, Jay resigned. The People's Coalition caucus chose his Minister of Finance, Carter Monaghan, to succeed him.
Mason remained popular among the pacifist wing of the Liberal Party, and at the 1968 convention he was able to prevent Speigal from becoming party leader. However, when the convention chose a compromise candidate, Manitoba Governor Jason Winters, Mason and his supporters left and founded a breakaway party called the Peace and Justice Party. In the 1968 Grand Council elections, the Liberals under Winters won only 53 seats to the Coalition's 80 and the P.J.P.'s 17.
Sobel speculates that the Liberal Party may go into decline in the future, as its radical pacifist wing defects to the P.J.P. and its moderates gravitate to the People's Coalition. On the other hand, if the issue of the atomic arms race fades in importance, the Liberals may recover from the 1968 split.
Liberal Nominees for Governor-General
|1853||Bruce Harrison||Northern Confederation||59|
|1858||Kenneth Parkes||Northern Confederation||78|
|1863||Kenneth Parkes||Northern Confederation||89|
|1868||Victor Astor||Northern Confederation||65|
|1873||Victor Astor||Northern Confederation||63|
|1893||James Hare||Northern Confederation||48|
|1903||Henderson Nelson||Northern Confederation||67|
|1908||Guy St. Just||Northern Confederation||60|
|1918||Chester Phipps||Southern Confederation||minority|
|1953||Richard Mason||Southern Confederation||82|
|1958||Richard Mason||Southern Confederation||77|
|1963||Richard Mason||Southern Confederation||70|
This is the Featured Article for the week of 7 September 2014.