Writ in Burnished Rows of Steel: America 1836-1860
This will be a counter-historical account of American history in the critical years between the expiration of Andrew Jackson’s second term in 1836 and the election of 1860. RL election campaigns get me thinking about past elections, which really serve as the backbone behind this AAR. Credit should go to Volksmarschall, too - his ‘The Presidents: Clay to Smith’ is a fantastic read and something of a model for this AAR, although I won’t delve into congress as much as he does, my focus will be more on the president and his cabinet. I haven’t tried a history-book style AAR yet, so any and all criticism/feedback is welcome. The point of divergence from the real timeline is early 1836, before the party nomination process began. The people are real and as true to character as possible, but the events they take part in will be quite different from American history as we know it. Without further ado, let’s commence:
Chapter One: The Passing of the Jacksonian EraSection One: The Candidates of 1836
On Election Day of 1836 there was a general buzz of excitement amongst the politicians and politically minded citizens of America, still in its infancy but stronger than ever. Eight years of the Andrew Jackson presidency had left a seemingly irreparable mark on American government and they manner in which the position of the president was perceived – never before had a president been as powerful as Jackson. A question weighed heavily on voters’ minds that day: is our government evolving before our eyes, and is that a good thing?
Two candidates were listed on the ballot for President: Louis McLane (Democratic Party), Noah Noble (Whig Party). Their running mates (Martin Van Buren and Willie Person Mangum, respectively), both happened to despise their partners on the ticket, and the nominating conventions for both parties had been brutal and harsh.
The Democratic Party, the party in power after Jackson swept his way to the White House some eight years earlier, had effectively transformed themselves into the party of Jackson, alienating many New Englanders, who disagreed with the manner in which the President was conducting himself and the lack of respect shown to the legislative and judicial branches of the government (Jackson was often portrayed as a crude backwoods brute straight out of a log cabin by his political opponents).
The remedy to the image crisis was to nominate Martin van Buren, a wealthy New Yorker of Dutch descent, Andrew Jackson’s VP for the later years of his presidency and a former Senator, Governor, and Secretary of State. He was supported by the more business-friendly wing of the party, who were particularly prominent in New York and Pennsylvania, two crucial states to electoral success.
Martin van Buren
The rural and western arm, however, wanted to nominate someone who would continue on in the spirit of Jackson – a free thinker who would not bow to the interests of merchants or shipping moguls. Louis McLane, a former Senator, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State, a resident of Delaware, was their answer. He was known for being honest and willing to come out and make his opinion clear, unlike van Buren, who detractors say would hide his true opinions behind layers of smoke and mirrors.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Louis McLane
The battle within the Democratic Party was a battle of geography and of demographics – would Martin van Buren, who many saw to be representative of Northeastern old money that had been so influential in shaping America, be nominated to run for president? The woodsman, farmers, and common people who had worked to put Jackson in the office in the first place came out strongly against van Buren and in favor of McLane, who they felt better reflected the true identity of the Democratic party that had been forged in the past decade.
In the end, McLane won the nomination. In a move aimed at appeasing the reeling Northeastern wing of the party, it was determined that Martin van Buren would be his running mate.
The Whigs, on the other hand, had no clear candidates for the office. Henry Clay, leader of the Whig movement (although not necessarily the party), refused to weigh in on who he thought should run for President, saying instead that he would wait until the candidates declared themselves and then endorse the individual he thought would best serve America.
Three candidates came forward, representing three distinct regions and characters – William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, a former Senator and a war hero, Willie Person Mangum, of North Carolina, a former Senator, and Noah Noble, of Indiana, a former Governor.
Harrison, a hard working military man who won his fame in the War of 1812 and in the conflicts with Indians, was the immediate front-runner to win nomination. He had a strong record of opposing Jackson and his Democratic cronies, as they were often thought of by Whig commentators and journalists, and was well-liked in the West, an area that had received increased political weight thanks largely to the emphasis Jackson’s campaign put on winning the West.
William Henry Harrison
Harrison was not, however, destined to represent the Whig party against McLane. While walking alongside the James River in Richmond, Virginia after a speech to voters he stumbled into the river. Despite being helped out by aides within a matter of seconds, Harrison contracted a severe case of pneumonia and would die several weeks later.
Noah Noble, a loyal follower of Henry Clay and a proponent of major infrastructural programs throughout America, gave the eulogy at Harrison’s funeral. Noble had rose to prominence first as a lawyer, then as a Senator, and within a matter of years he was considered one of the political heavyweights of the West. Clay, whose influence on the internal workings of the Whig Party should not be underestimated, took an immediate liking to him, and privately confided to him that he felt the young governor would play a major role in the Whig party in coming years.
Whig Presidential Candidate Noah Noble
Noble’s eulogy was so touching, so eloquent, that Willie Mangum, the other remaining candidate for nomination, approached his rival after the service and announced that he would not contend for the nomination, leaving the governor the sole nominee. Noble immediately offered to include Mangum on the ticket as his running mate, an offer that was initially rejected but ultimately accepted (after Clay urged the North Carolinian to accept in order to provide some regional balance).
The stage was set for the election of 1836: McLane/van Buren (D) vs. Noble/Mangum (W)
Last edited by Serek000; 13-10-2010 at 00:27.
veritas vos liberabit
So you killed off Tippeccanoe in 1836? Haha!
McLane vs Noble, well, I hope McLane wins!
@ Volksmarschall: Aye, I killed him early, better than having to kill him later, I suppose! I was halfway hoping for McLane, too, but alas, it was not to be.
Chapter One, Section Two: The Election of 1836
The election of 1836 was, despite having tickets representing all corners of the nation, largely confined to several key battleground states.
A map detailing priority states. Whig priorities have green boxes, Democratic priorities have blue boxes, and contested states have both blue and green boxes.
McLane, despite riding on the coattails of Jackson, who appealed to the common men of the backwoods and frontier West, was not willing to fight out a campaign over the western states, which he believed would inevitably go to Noble (given that Noble was a popular figure in Indiana and that Clay, who held tremendous influence in the West, was firmly behind the Whig candidate). There was a major exception, however – Tennessee, where Andrew Jackson was still wildly popular. The votes there would be construed by McLane and the Pro-Democrat newspapers to be more or less a referendum on the policies of Andrew Jackson, which made the outcome of Tennessee far closer than it would otherwise have been.
The inland states of the South were also more or less abandoned by the McLane campaign, who felt that Noble’s ability to portray himself as a folksy charmer would play well in the inland South, especially in the less settled regions of northern Alabama and Mississippi. Louisiana, however, had the potential for a Democratic victory – Noble’s advocacy of protectionist trade policies threatened the wealthy traders and merchants of New Orleans who regularly traded with the British and Spanish colonies in the Caribbean Sea. A similar appeal was made in Georgia and South Carolina, where Savannah and Charleston respectively were major shipping hubs to the Caribbean and Europe and the point where many foreign goods, especially sugar and tea, entered the southern United States of America. Mangum, the VP candidate on the Whig ticket (and a native of South Carolina), travelled extensively throughout the South, in an effort to counter the growing popularity of McLane, especially in the Carolinas.
The port of New Orleans, a city which found itself at the heart of one of the most intense campaign battles of the election.
McLane and the Democrats knew that their real stronghold in this election would be New York. As Martin van Buren’s home state, the VP candidate’s influence and prestigious family name was enough to ensure a successful victory in a vitally important state. Van Buren campaigned independently on the behalf of McLane in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, too, promoting laissez faire economic policies and condemning the protection platform favored by the Whigs. Noble wasn’t ready to abandon Pennsylvania quite yet, though, and he sent letters to newspapers all throughout the rural western and southern reaches of the state, arguing that a vote for McLane was a vote for the interests of wealthy Philadephians, and that the Democrats only cared about the eastern third of the state.
A similar tactic was employed by the Whigs in Virginia, where they criticized McLane and van Buren for only caring about the wealthy tobacco farmers, not the mountain people in the west of the state. McLane more or less ignored these accusations and continued campaigning in Richmond, Norfolk, and Petersburg. He spent very little time in his home state of Delaware of his adopted home of Maryland, believing that he was basically ensured victory due to the tremendous influence of merchants and shippers in those two states, two important groups that favored laissez faire policies.
In New England, the Whigs had a tremendous asset: Daniel Webster. A hugely influential and widely popular statesman, Webster had become something of a hero in New England. He wrote letters to newspapers in Boston, Springfield, Burlington, and Augusta in which he thoroughly denounced the Democratic ticket as being elitist and conceited, as well as supportive of the abomination of slavery. Webster was one of the most vehement abolitionists of his day, and missed no chances to take shots at McLane’s perceived pro-slavery opinions (despite the fact that Whig VP candidate Mangum was a slaveowner). Webster, Noble believed, would tip the scales in his favor in New England.
Daniel Webster, brilliant orator and supporter of the Whig Party.
By the time the votes were tallied, the nation was tired of the election season and eager to find out who their next president was. The official announcement was made: Noah Noble was the 8th President of the United States of America.
Noble in Green, McLane in Blue
The election was extremely close, with Noble winning big in the West and South while faltering in the mid-Atlantic. The campaign strategy of making Noble a man of the people while distancing McLane from the people of the West and South had triumphed over McLane's strategy of appealing to businessmen and the merchant class.
Noble / Mangum: 51.2
McLane / van Buren: 48.8
Noble / Mangum : 151
McLane / van Buren: 148
veritas vos liberabit
The Jacksonian South turning to the Whigs...a scene I've seen before I think! Well, now its time to see if the Whigs are just like the old Federalist Party or truly more commoner oriented than their Hamiltonian predecessors...
Perhaps the Democratic Party will find a new base in the ruralized industrial states like Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania this go around? Nothing beats old Party politics compared to todays, way more interesting and political oriented.
Virginia and Pennsylvania in particular will be battlegrounds in upcoming elections, especially Virginia - the amount of wealth in the form of tobacco and cotton plantation owners, paired with the rural poverty in the western bit of the state (remember, what is now WV was still Virginia at this point) makes it a real case study of wealth and want.
Originally Posted by volksmarschall
The Democratic Party went all in on the '36 election, and failed (albeit by a narrow margin). That will cause some real introspection and questions - internal party politics will sure be spicy for them, count on that.
Spoiler: The Liberty Party shows up early in this with a surprising amount of support. That sure had a peculiar influence on the other two big parties...
I've got the next four years played out, it's just a matter of me finding time to sit down and get it written, but hopefully before Friday there'll be another update.
I had originally intended to do one long update, covering both the politics and historical events of 1837-41, but I've since decided to break it down into two sections - the political events (meaning party politics, cabinet members, opposition figures, etc) and the national events (foreign policy, internal reforms, etc). This is the former of the two, and has behind the scene information that will be referenced in the next update.
The Noble Government, 1837-41.
After winning the election of 1836 by the narrowest of margins, Noah Noble set about to establish himself as a legitimate president, not as just a backwoods Hoosier who stumbled into the White House through the support of Clay and Webster. His first task as President was to get his cabinet in order, and to make sure they were all candidates who would survive a confirmation hearing and vote in an oft-hostile Congress (the Democrats were in the majority, albeit by slim margins, in the House, while the Senate was more heavily Democrat).
His first appointment came as no surprise - Henry Clay, the brilliant statesman and heart of the Whig party, was to become the Secretary of State. Clay, despite being disliked by a great number of Democrats, had such impressive credentials that he was confirmed unanimously.
His second appointment was somewhat more surprising, as it required a prominent member of the legislature to step aside in order to take a cabinet position. Daniel Webster, a Massachusetts senator with a rich history as a successful lawyer, was nominated and confirmed by congress as the next US Attorney General, although it was widely believed that he was appointed to the cabinet to take on an unofficial advisory role.
The other appointment that brought surprise to Washington was the announcement of John Bell as Secretary of War. A Tennessee man, Bell had started his political career in the Jacksonian cabal but had, sometime during the middle of Jackson's first term in the White House, fallen out of favor with him. As a result, he felt neglected and friendless and acted accordingly, defecting to the Whig party. Bell was confirmed by a narrow vote, and had to rely on personal friendships with many of the western members of Congress to get the required majority.
The key players of the Noble cabinet. From left: Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Bell
President Noble, at only 45 years of age and being relatively untested, was attacked relentlessly by Democratic congressional leaders and especially by newspapers as being a puppet of Clay and Webster. Noble, naturally shy and nonconfrontational, hesitated to respond to such allegations, believing that direct response to petty personal attacks was below the office which he held. He did, however, use his Vice President, Willie Mangum, as something of an attack dog. Mangum wrote countless letters, under the pseudonym Publius (the same pseudonym used by Hamilton, Jay, and Madison in the Federalist Papers) condemning personal attacks on the president while at the same time singling out specific Democratic members of the House as cowards for not telling off the newspapers in their districts that published the slanderous material.
The Democrats, for their part, were struggling to keep the party together. Louis McLane, the presidential candidate in 1836, publicly lambasted Martin van Buren, his running mate, and accused him of giving the Whigs a victory. Van Buren fired back, blaming the party for allowing McLane to run a poorly organized campaign instead of endorsing van Buren's campaign strategy.
Other Democrats, such as the rapidly rising star of the Democratic party William R. King, an Alabamian and staunch Jacksonian, were concerned that both McLane and van Buren would abandon the south to the Whigs and ignore southern interests, something he argued Jackson would never have done. King won the attention of many southern Democrats who felt that they were thrown to the wolves, and appealed to the same demographic through his opposition to the Missouri Compromise, which he believed cheated the south out of prime slave territory in parts of the unorganized west.
William R. King
Martin van Buren was infuriated that people like King, who he viewed as nothing more than a thoughtless ideologue, were taking the reigns of the party. The old New Yorker, who still held considerable sway in the Democratic Party, called a meeting between McLane, King, and himself, the three main personalities within the Party, to discuss how the party should move forward. King fired off on all cylinders, giving a passionate and heated rant about how the Democratic leadership (meaning McLane and van Buren) only care about eastern business interests and appeasing the "damned arrogant merchants and lawyers" in Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. He then went on to attack McLane and van Buren's complacency with the Missouri Compromise, which he viewed as bordering on criminal.
Van Buren, usually a collected man, lost his temper and unleashed an uncharacteristic bout of rage. He stood up, towered over King, and shouted that the Alabamian was a disgrace to the party, a petty racist and a protector of the abombination of slavery. The room was stunned - van Buren, who had long expressed anti-slavery views in private correspondences, had never made his opinion so blatantly public.
McLane, who himself was no staunch supporter of slavery, was nonetheless shocked by the outburst. He quietly said that he believed the meeting to be over and left the room, as did King, leaving van Buren alone. At that point, van Buren recognized that he was no longer a welcome member of the transitioning Democratic Party, and formally left the party.
It was only a matter of weeks until he was back in politics - this time as the founder of the Liberty Party, an abolitionist party that was otherwise quite centrist. He managed to poach some key members of both the Whig and Democratic parties, and before the 1838 elections the Liberty Party was polling nationally at 25%, a remarkable accomplishment for such a young movement.
The election of 1840 would be a trying time for America, with three radically different parties vying for power.
veritas vos liberabit
King for President! Haha, it would be quite ironic to call the President, 'President King,' methinks. And an early sighting of John Bell...
And the Liberty Party....perhaps an extremely successful early version of the abolitionist Republicans perhaps? This certainly doesn't bode well for the Whigs and or Northern Democrats I would presume, judging that they would get little to no support south of the Mason Dixon Line.
An early sighting of Bell indeed! History forgets about him, perhaps tragically, as he was not truly the radical southerner that Lincoln and Co. portrayed him as being during the election of 1860, and that really tarnished his reputation. Today, history just remembers him as a loser to Lincoln, not as a Secretary of State, Senator, and even Speaker of the House - a pretty distinguished career.
Aye, the Northern Democrats will be unhappy to see the Liberty Party, but it'll really be the Whigs who'll need to redefine themselves to avoid being swept under.
The first major moment of the Noble administration came on the 23 of January 1837, when an enterprising industrialist from Springfield, Massachusetts came to the White House for an audience with President Noble. He presented an offer to build a large lumber mill in Illinois – the first large industrial center in the West. Noble agreed in principle with the industrialist that it would greatly boost the western economy and attract immigrants to the backwoods, but he was concerned about the price. After some haggling and discussion, it was determined that the Federal Government would provide a 1,000 dollar loan to the industrialist, and construction of the factory began shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, further south, the debate over Texas was raging. The Democrats, in particular the Jacksonian faction led by William King, were clamoring for full recognition of Texas as an independent entity. Some Whigs, too, were voicing that opinion, notably Secretary of War John Bell, although Noble was unwilling to definitively recognize Texas. For weeks he steadfastly refused to deal with Texas, believing that it would give a victory to the Democrats and establish a slave nation along the American border. Secretary of State (and heavy-hitter within the Whig Party) Henry Clay went to President Noble, attempting to convince him that in the interest of American security and the protection of American citizens in Texas the rebellious province must be recognized. Noble eventually declared recognition of Texas as an independent and sovereign entity, albeit in a lukewarm manner.
The economic situation of the United States, in a tremendous boom in the early 1830s, took a sudden and alarming turn for the worse in July 1837. An artificially strong economy, spurred on by rampant speculation (especially about land) burst, leaving the economy in a downward spiral. The Democrats, vicious and seemingly ubiquitous in their opposition to Noble's presidency, were quick to claim that it was his fault that the economy collapsed, citing his failure to continue Jackson's anti-bank policies. Levi Woodbury, a former Secretary of the Treasury under Andrew Jackson, was particularly vehement in his attacks on Noble's economic policies, which he criticized as being vague, unfocused, and pro-bank.
President Noble was not naïve enough to think that his political clout would be untouched by the sudden economic downturn. In an unprecedented move (written off as simply an attempt to save face by his opponents) the sitting President took a month long tour of the most effected regions – New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – meeting with local bankers and business leaders all the way. Meanwhile, back in Washington, Vice President Willie Mangum was rabidly attacking the Democrats for politicizing a national disaster, falling back into his familiar role as attack dog so that the president could stay above the fray.
A notably empty Broadway in New York City, one of the hardest hit cities in the Panic of 1837.
Yet another crisis was to confront the Noble administration, this one of a foreign nature. An American merchant vessel, the Sleeping Siren, was seized in the port of Coro, Venezuela, accused of smuggling sugar out of Venezuela. The crew, some 25 Bostonians, were taken to a military prison outside of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. The captain and first mate were put on trial, regarded as a farce by American officials, and sentenced to be hanged.
Congress was infuriated by these startling events and the wrongful prosecution of US citizens. The Democrats, then the majority in both the House and Senate by slim margins, passed legislation forcing the closure of Venezuelan owned business throughout the US and closing American harbors to Venezuelan ships. Louis McLane and William King are quick to call for war against Venezuela, although other Democrats, notably Levi Woodbury, were more temperate and condemned a call to war as being rash.
Levi Woodbury, leader of the moderate Democrats
The Liberty Party, surging in popularity under the leadership of Martin van Buren, was the most adamant of the anti-war parties. Van Buren made it clear that he believed the real root of the hawkishness of the Democrats was a desire to add more land to the Union that would be favorable to slavery and the interests of the wealthy southern plantation owners. The prominent New Yorker wrote countless letters to Henry Clay, the Secretary of State, urging patience and calm in the face of such a relentless pro-war ruckus in Congress.
The Whigs were not, however, unified on the issue. Many southern Whigs, the key demographic that gave the election to Noble back in 1836, were shocked at Noble's presumed indifference to the plight of the poor condemned seamen. John Bell, who had become something of a headache to the party, was the first of the Cabinet to openly join the Democrats and conservative southern Whigs in their call for war.
Things changed on the 1st of March, 1838, however, when the captain and high ranking crew members of the Sleeping Siren were executed in front of a large crowd of Venezuelan nationalists outside of Caracas. The Democrats in congress were extremely angry, accusing Noble of dragging his feet and being overly-cautious when he could have taken strong and determined action to prevent the execution of American citizens for a trumped up charge. By this point the majority of prominent Whigs, except for Noble and Webster, were in favor of war. The president was well aware of the vote breakdown in Congress – the Democrats and War Whigs would have over the 2/3 required majority to over-ride a veto on any declaration of war. That declaration of war was on Noble's desk within a week, and it was reluctantly signed the by the president, despite a flurry of letters by the leader of the Liberty Party, Martin van Buren, urging restraint.
President Noble, feeling weakened being effectively forced to sign a declaration of war he did not personally support, reasserted his authority by personally taking charge of the planning of the invasion of Venezuela in what would come to be called the Smuggler War. In order to further spite the Democrats, he selected Winfield Scott, a hardened veteran officer with experience in both the Indian Wars and the War of 1812 (and a loyal Whig), to lead the invasion. The army sent southwards would be no more than 30,000 men strong – Noble, by his constitutional power of acting as commander-in-chief, was able to dictate the terms of the war. It would not be a war of grand conquest or of imperialism, but a war to secure the release of the remaining seamen and to send a clear message – America would not be bullied by other states in the Western Hemisphere.
Winfield Scott, leader of the American forces in the Smuggler War
America was going to war.
veritas vos liberabit
Political turmoil, both domestic and foreign, recognition of Texas, Southern Whigs upset with the Western and Northern dominants in the Party, a rising Liberty Party, economic troubles, oh... and a war to top it off! Poor President Noble, certainly having a harder 1837-1841 term than Henry Clay did in mine!
This is certainly something to watch... and if I may say, you're work is making me so eagerly wishing I could go back and "redo" some of America's early history following Jackson. You've brought up so many politicians I tossed aside because of name recognition, less exciting in-game moments, and the fact that certain characters - Clay, Polk, Webster, etc., are personal favorites so they got a nod far before going to more minors who deserve recognition, although Noble was a disaster as governor in RL.
Fantastic stuff! Well, as a student of American History, it's not too hard to please me I guess. lol!
You know, shortly after posting that update I went back and looked (I'd forgotten real details, it'd been a long time since I'd read it) at how Henry Clay fared in your AAR. You did a fine job with him - Clay is one of my favorite American historical figures. Just because he was relegated to Secretary of State doesn't mean he's done, though, the old fellow's still got some life in him.
Originally Posted by volksmarschall
There'll be more recognizable figures coming up, too, especially as the slavery debate heatens, as it inevitably will. Not to mention the coming of the American Party, which is also something of an unfortunate inevitability. I, for one, hope the Liberty Party lasts as a major force, just for the Liberty Party - American Party debates. Those would be tremendously fun to make up.
I should have an update up sometime on Saturday, probably Saturday evening.
Chapter One, Section Three:
The Smuggler War, 1838-39
The 30,000 man army led by an up and coming Winfield Scott, a veteran of the Indian Wars and a darling of the Whig Party, boarded transport vessels anchored off Baltimore, bound for Venezuela. The war was wildly popular with the American people, and thousands turned out to wish the troops a safe journey and speedy return after what could only be victory.
The plan, as determined by a council of President Noble, Secretary of War Bell, and General Scott, was to land at Coro, the port city in which the Sleeping Siren was anchored when it was first seized by the Venezuelans, sparking the controversy and, ultimately, the war. From Coro, General Scott was to push eastwards towards the capital of Caracas, via the province of Valencia.
Cities of interest to the strategy devised by Noble, Bell, and Scott
Scott's army disembarked at Coro without opposition. Informants and reconnaissance made it clear that the largest Venezuelan army, under the command of the able and talented Jose Antonio Paez, was marching in the southeast of the country and that it would be some time before it could arrive. The American forces quickly occupied the province and drove out any resistance they encountered.
General Scott, being fully aware of the political implications of the war, made a great show of publicly asking President Noble for guidance moving forward – whether or or not to push towards Caracas. Although he, the President, and the Secretary of War had previously agreed on an offensive from Coro to Caracas, the General understood that it would greatly boost the sagging popularity of the President if the American people saw him taking charge of the war effort. Noble didn't squander the opportunity, and sent a letter to Scott urging him forward; a copy of said letter found its way to the offices of several newspapers in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The Democrats, especially the rising star of the party, William King, cried foul. Privately, party leaders expressed their fury that the Whigs were claiming the war as their own – despite Noble's reluctance to even send troops to Venezuela.
Meanwhile, down in Venezuela, Scott's troops turned east, towards Caracas. The province of Valencia stood in the way of the army. Valencia was defended by a ragtag bunch of 1,000 soldiers, largely untrained and undisciplined. When the US Army (then numbering around 27,000) arrived, a short battle ensued, during which the Venezuelans thoroughly embarrassed themselves and quickly broke rank. Following the scattering of the defenders, Valencia was taken. Shortly after the capture of Valencia, intelligence reports confirmed that the Venezuelan military hero Jose Paez was marching out of Caracas with some 17,000 troops.
Jose Antonio Paez, capable and well-respected leader of the Venezuelan military
The ensuing battle, The Second Battle of Valencia, was the biggest fight the US Army had fought since the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. General Scott and his three divisions, totaling 27,000 troops squared up against General Paez and his two divisions, totaling 17,000 troops. General Scott was aware that if he was to lose the engagement the war may very well be lost, and he proceeded with caution in the battle. After several days of skirmishes and probing Paez's defenses, he ordered an attack on Paez's left flank. The assault, which took place shortly after sunrise, was successful. Paez's left flank collapsed, allowing Scott's right, which had led the attack, to begin enveloping the remainder of Paez's army. The Venezuelan wisely withdrew from battle, taking his beaten and battered army back to Caracas. Scott reported the victory back to Noble, who again publicized the victory and praised the brilliant General who oversaw the victory. When the smoke cleared, Scott had roughly 21,000 troops remaining, compared to Paez's measly 9,000.
Noble, acting on the advice of John Bell, ordered the deployment of another division to Venezuela in order to help secure the gains made by Scott. The General welcomed the decision, and waited until the reinforcements arrived in Coro to begin his attack on Caracas. The Venezuelan capital, defended by the remnants of Paez's army, was easily captured by Scott. Meanwhile, the reinforcement army in the west began to take undefended province after undefended province under its control, and before long all of Venezuela west of Caracas was under US military control.
Noble sent Henry Clay, the Secretary of State, to inspect the gains made by Scott. Clay, upon his arrival in Caracas, sent a letter back to the White House stating that he believed that one more push by Scott directed at the east of Venezuela could thoroughly break the will of the Venezuelan government and force them to the negotiation table. Scott was willing to go on the offensive, and pushed through the provinces of Barcelona, Comana, and Barancas, reaching the border with British Guyana. Venezuela consisted of only three unoccupied provinces at this point, and Clay requested an audience with the Venezuelan president.
The meeting was, without question, for the signing of a peace treaty. Clay had drawn up an offer that would see all provinces west of Caracas ceded to the United States, as well as demanding that Venezuela pay a hefty tribute. The Venezuelan president flatly refused that offer, making the argument that he would never deny his country its territorial integrity to the extent desired by Clay. A counter-offer was presented that would cede Coro and Valencia to the United States, as well as seeing Venezuela become a dominion of the United States, under the belief that a Venezuela subservient to the United States is better than a Venezuela that is reduced to three or four shattered provinces. Clay hastily agreed and sent the treaty to congress for ratification.
Venezuela after the Treaty of Trinidad
The treaty was approved by congress by a large margin, although some Democrats opposed it, arguing that the USA should gain more territory and should not settle for making Venezuela a dominion when it could be totally crushed and occupied.
All in all, the war was a tremendous victory, not just for the United States but for the Whig Party, which went from a sagging 40% approval rating to a refreshed 60%. As the election season of 1840 neared, President Noble had distinguished himself as a wartime leader and staunch advocate of American interests abroad and had reduced the image of Democrats to that of petulant children who were willing to raise a fuss over every issue, even issues they once supported.
The Election of 1840 would be a hard-fought battle for all three parties involved.
The Election of 1840 was a heated and groundbreaking affair in American politics. For the first time in American history, there was a viable third party in the election – the Whigs and Democrats had to contend with the upstart Liberty Party. The election stoked the fires of regionalism, which had long been a divisive force in American politics, and set into motion a tumble towards inevitable internal conflict.
The Whig Party went into its convention on a high note – after whether the storm of the Panic of 1837 by deflected blame onto speculators and remnants of Jacksonian economic policies, the successful prosecution of a popular war sent the Whig poll numbers surging. President Noble, while not particularly popular himself, was bolstered by a strong and visible cabinet that featured Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Bell. He faced no internal opposition and was announced as the Whig candidate for the Presidency on the first ballot of the convention.
The Vice Presidential nomination, however, was not as cut and dry. Willie Mangum, who had previously been the Vice President, announced that he would return to his home state of North Carolina to run in the gubernatorial election. The party was faced with a difficult decision as to who should replace him, although three candidates stood out – Daniel Webster, John Bell, and Winfield Scott. It took six ballots, but the decision was made to put John Bell, the Secretary of War and a popular firebrand from Tennessee, on the ticket as Noble’s running mate.
President Noble (W-IN) and Vice Presidential Candidate John Bell (W-TN)
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, were reeling from the defection of Martin van Buren and the huge hit their popularity received as a result of their attacks on the Noble administration over the Panic of 1837, which were deemed by the public to be cheap and desperate. Two factions were clearly present – the Southern Democrats, led by William King, and the Eastern Democrats, lead by Levi Woodbury. King was the clear frontrunner, and he continually played up the supposed great weakness of Woodbury – he was a crotchety old New Englander, born into great wealth and educated at Dartmouth – not the type of candidate favored by the Jacksonian Democrats, the western and southern Democrats who swung to Noble in the election of 1836 and who were a key part of the party’s plan moving forward. On the third ballot, King was declared the winner.
The Democratic nominee for Vice President came as a surprise to many outside the Party’s inner circles – George M. Dallas, the former Mayor of Philadelphia, Attorney General of Pennsylvania, and Senator, was nominated after a tough fight with McLane and Woodbury. The Party hoped that Dallas would bring some balance to the ticket, representing the Mid-Atlantic, crucial swing states in the upcoming election.
William R. King and George M. Dallas
The Liberty Party did not have a true convention – Martin van Buren simply announced that he would be running for president under the Liberty Party banner. Van Buren, being in effect the embodiment of the Party, unilaterally selected a running mate – Nathanial Hawthorne, the 39-year-old writer and moralist from Massachusetts. Hawthorne, upon hearing of his nomination as the running mate, traveled to New York to meet with van Buren and, after several days of conferences and discussion, agreed to serve on the ticket. Hawthorne was a known proponent of the abolition of slavery, which was the focal point of the Liberty Party, and Martin van Buren hoped that his rapidly growing prominence would shed light on the issue of slavery, which was quickly becoming the dominant issue in New England.
Martin van Buren and Nathanial Hawthorne
The stage was set and the candidates were selected – all that remained was to go to the polls.
veritas vos liberabit
with a three way race, a fairly popular president sitting in Washington following a successful war, and squabbles amongst the northern democrats leading to van Buren to run to the Liberty Party and the Democrats harking back to the Jacksonians in the South....if the Whigs can manage to get their voters out, and knowing New England should back them (although New England would also be the hotbed for anti-slavery and abolitionist activity), the Whigs and Noble should return to Washington for another 4 years. But the fact that Hawthorne is on the Liberty Party ticket is more than enough reason to vote Liberty in 1840!
The three campaigns of 1840 got underway with a bang. All the candidates, Noble (W), King (D), and van Buren (L) had their eyes on different regions – Noble on the west and New York, King on the south and mid-Atlantic, and van Buren on New England. The real tossup element was the emerging Liberty Party.
Despite garnering major endorsements from newspapers throughout the north, the Liberty Party was deemed by many to be a one-issue party. Luckily for van Buren and Hawthorne, that issue was slavery, a hot and contested issue throughout the nation, and one for which the abolitionist stance would guarantee votes in New England. This position led many to expect the Liberty Party to do extremely well in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Noah Noble was not willing to surrender that region without a fight, however, and sent his attorney general, Daniel Webster, to stump for the Whig Party in his home state of Massachusetts. Webster and van Buren held two debates throughout the region – one in Boston (MA) and the other in Burlington, (VT). Webster was widely believed to have won the debate in Boston, while van Buren was hailed as the victor in Burlington. After the debates, which were regarded as one of the finest displays of rhetoric America had ever seen, New England was up for grabs.
Webster debating against van Buren in the Massachusetts State House
Meanwhile, the Democrats focused on the south, where they were already popular, and the mid-Atlantic, where they felt they could make some gains. King travelled extensively through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, where he hoped that anti-Noble sentiment (largely due his perceived inactivity over the Panic of 1837) would help tilt the election back in the favor of the Democrats. He did better than expected, partially by adopting a more jingoist position as time went on, attacking Noble for not punishing the Venezuelans enough in the peace at the end of the recent Smuggler War. He was not naïve enough, however, to feel that he could compete in the northeast or northwest, and quite reasonable did not spend any time or funds in those regions. For the Democrats, the electoral prospects looked grim.
The Whig Party, surging in momentum, was looking forward to an electoral cakewalk. Noble himself did not do any campaigning, rather he sent prominent Whigs to campaign on his behalf. Webster went to New England, Clay to Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia, and his running mate, John Bell, to Tennessee. He hoped to capitalize on the split within the Democratic Party and continue to exploit the popularity of the recent war, which many believed would be enough to see him through to victory on Election Day. When all was said and done, there was no question that the Whigs were heavy favorites in the Election of 1840.
When the polls were counted and the results announced, nobody was terribly surprised by the outcome. The Democratic implosion had been confirmed by a major electoral loss, there was a viable third party, and the Whigs had exceeded expectations and cruised to an easy victory.
Electoral College Breakdown:
Whigs: 185, 11 states carried
Democrats: 81, 11 states carried
Liberty: 28, 4 states carried
Popular Vote Breakdown:
Noah Noble had won his second term in office, John Bell was elected Vice President, and the Whigs had retaken the House of Representatives.
The electoral map of the Election of 1840
veritas vos liberabit
Andrew Stevenson or James Polk in '44!
Alien Space Bat
Liking this! Count me along for the ride
Alas, my poor flaky PC won't run EU4 without making some very worrying noises, I will write an EU4 AAR just not yet.
My AARs: EU3 England, Golden Horde, France, Iroquois, Castile / EU2 Finland
/ My Inkwell
"Sunset Invasion isn't ASB - it's just Prawnstar playing CK2" Athalcor
"If EU3 had exiled prawn-like aliens he'd be the first one to do a WC with them..." aldriq
"You were prawn under a conquering stAAR!" Arakhor
I have a total of 40 pages to write before Friday (but maybe Monday if I get lucky), so there won't be any updates for some time, maybe 10 days or so. I do hate research papers with a fiery passion (although, relevant to this AAR, one such paper is on the role of Kentucky in shaping Henry Clay's political career). Hopefully the weekend of the 17-19th will bring an update.
veritas vos liberabit
40 pages... bah, that should be nothing for someone like yourself! But.... I do feel or know what that is like, I'm currently in the process of writing about 10 pages worth of school and extracurricular work daily as well!
Originally Posted by Serek000
James K Polk, might, just might, make an appearance in the next update. Two other big names will pop up, too, in the next update, which should be up by Sunday at the latest.
Originally Posted by volksmarschall