• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Episode Nineteen: John Rockefeller Jr.

Episode Nineteen, Part X

Number 26: John Rockefeller Jr.
Party: Republican
43 years old, from Ohio

The Election of 1920

By 1920, the United States was experience a domestic age of tolerance and peace like none since the Era of Good Feelings (1815-1830s). Although President Rockefeller and the Republican Party and its progressive allies had achieved great domestic victories, not only under his administration but the preceding administration under Theodore Roosevelt, there was still an unsettling feeling towards him and his liberal internationalism that many felt was a danger to American sovereignty. It was here that many in the progressive movement had broken with Rockefeller, as progressive nationalists and conservatives came together to defeat the US entry into the League.

It was this old battle scar that would become the catalyst for the elections of 1920. The Republicans were seen, despite some of the strongest opposition coming from within the Republican Party, as the party that was willing to sell out American sovereignty to foreign collusion. Although Rockefeller remained somewhat popular, particularly for his stances on religious ecumenism (having nominated several Catholics for high ranking government positions), and his support for prohibition, his image on international foreign policy issues was forever tainted.

All the major contenders for the party nominations had to make their positions clear on the still hot-topic of international rule and internationalism as a foreign policy. Among the likely contending nominees, only Republican Senator Chase Osborn of Michigan came out as a strong supporter of the League and of internationalism as a new cornerstone in American foreign policy.

Republican Return to Normalcy

At New York, where the Republicans met to select their next nominee, the major favorites included Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, William Edgar Borah, and Governor Hiram Johnson. The Republicans were convinced that to continue their electoral dominance, they needed to drop internationalism as part of the party platform. Although they endorsed the prevailing spirit of progressivism that had come to dominate the party’s domestic policies, the Republicans repudiated Rockefeller and even Roosevelt for their internationalist stances. In a crushing nomination victory on the second ballot, with 773 of the 984 delegate votes, the Republicans nominated Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and with unanimous support for Vice President, selected Senator William Edgar Borah.

The Republican nomination couldn’t be clearer, a full rejection of Rockefeller’s League and liberal internationalist philosophy, but a full endorsement of the progressive tradition in the Republican Party. The two poster faces of the Irreconcilables, and the two most important Senators in defeating the League in the Senate sent a strong message to the voting public. Senator Borah even called the ticket he was part of, “A ticket to return America to normalcy.” However, not all Republicans were happy with the ticket. Robert La Follette, former governor of Wisconsin and a leading leftwing progressive voice walked out with fellow governor of California Hiram Johnson. Both men claimed that Lodge was too conservative on economic and business issues, just like Rockefeller and Roosevelt, and wanted to promote a more progressive economic platform. La Follette and Johnson would come to accept the Progressive Christian Party’s nomination, running on a more leftist agenda on economics – sometimes coming off as possible socialists with their policy ideas and positions.


Senators Lodge and Borah, two of the leading opponents against the League of Nations, now the Republican nominees for President and Vice President respectively.

A Dark Horse Wins the Democratic Nomination

Coming into the Democratic nomination in Chicago, the Democrats were still split between the direction of their party. Southern Democrats still constituted the backbone of the party, and were very conservative on social issues, opposed the League of Nations, but were generally supportive of economic progressivism. Northern Democrats, who held the money in the party, were split between the more progressive internationalists who had supported the League of Nations and the more conservative anti-imperialists, who were skeptical of encroaching international governance and responsibility and were staunch nationalists.

In addition, one of the major contenders was a Catholic. While the Democrats had nominated Governor Burke in 1912, his Catholicism was largely hidden during the election. However, Governor Smith was the most high profile Catholic in the Democratic Party. A young and fresh face with who was a champion of immigrants, the working-class, women’s suffrage as a member of the New York House of Representatives, and one of the few high profile politicians who opposed prohibition, he was seen as the ideal candidate to lead the party forward and offer a different candidate than that of the Republican Party. However, Democratic nationalists from the South had formed behind Thomas Gore, not willing to see another “Papist” be nominated by the Democratic Party.

Woodrow Wilson and a dashing young house representative from New York – Franklin Roosevelt, were among Smith’s biggest supporters at the Convention. While Thomas Gore secured a plurality of delegates through the first 8 rounds of voting, the 9th round saw a major shift in the Democratic Party. Although Smith had been a quiet supporter of the League of Nations, he never came out publically like Wilson. Wilson’s endorsement was seen as a detriment to his cause, but Wilson and Roosevelt (who also was supportive of the League) rallied the internationalists to back Smith’s nomination in the 9th round of voting. Al Smith secured the nomination by 3 votes over Thomas Gore. Franklin Roosevelt was the surprise nomination for Vice President, having arrived at the delegation only a lowly member of the New York House of Representatives, but his display and handling of backroom politics made him an instant political star.


Alfred E. Smith, left, Governor of New York and the Democratic nominee for President. At right, Franklin Roosevelt, a member of the New York House of Representatives; for his political abilities at the convention, he was nominated as Vice President and seen as a young rising star in the Democratic Party.

Al Smith Wins the Election

The election cycle was brutal. Protestant nationalists attacked the nomination of Al Smith, and even some of the more conservative elements in the Democratic South threatened to bolt the party with Smith’s nomination, rather than voting for a “dirty Catholic” they would support a Yankee from Massachusetts, at least Lodge was a Protestant in their thinking. Some were openly endorsing Robert La Follette, even though he had been a former Republican.

Al Smith played down the Catholic card saying, “Governor Burke was Catholic and he was nominated. William Rosecrans, who became President after the unfortunate death of President Lincoln was Catholic…I just happen to be a Catholic who is running as the Democratic nominee for the Presidency… I am a patriotic American, who loves his country more than the glistening residence of the Vatican. Like all Catholics in America, I am an American first, and a Catholic second.”

Smith ran as a moderate on economic issues, and promised to bring the American economy into a new golden age. He was generally silent on foreign policy issues, simply saying he agreed with Rockefeller’s military reduction initiatives and that if elected, he would continue them. When questioned about the League of Nations, he simply replied, “That ship has sailed.”

Lodge also ran as a moderate on economic issues, but was very vocal in his opposition for the League of Nations. As mentioned, La Follette ran on an economic populist creed while also being vocally opposed to the League of Nations. By the election, one newspaper reporter said, “Lodge and La Follette are banking everything on an issue that died in 1918. Smith is the only candidate not living in the past but the present.”

Al Smith and the Democratic Party sailed to a great victory in 1920, and he became the first elected Catholic President of the United States.

Senate: 104 seats
Senate Majority: Democrats, 53 seats (+9)
Senate Minority: Republicans, 40 seats (-10)
Third Party: Progressives, 9 seats (+1)
Fourth Party: Socialists, 2 seats (No change)

House of Representatives: 446 seats
House Majority: Democrats, 229 seats (+30)
House Minority: Republicans, 193 seats (-32)
Third Party: Progressives, 24 seats (+3)



Smith/Roosevelt (D): 321 electoral votes, 31 states carried, 13,001,491 popular votes (45.3%)
Lodge/Borah (R): 205 electoral votes, 18 states carried, 11,671,813 popular votes (40.7%)
La Follette/Johnson (PCP): 21 electoral votes, 3 states carried, 3,116,813 popular votes (10.9%)
Others: 0 electoral votes, 0 states carried, 903,001 popular votes (3.1%)
 

volksmarschall

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And with this update, the game content AAR is officially finished! I will be posting an "epilogue" with Al Smith's inauguration as the last update to the AAR probably middle of this week!

Cheers!
 

Enewald

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The party lines are a bit blurred... seems like too many support American interventionism (imperialism), whilst too many support increased state role also. :p
What happened to the old good Whigs... :(
 

volksmarschall

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The party lines are a bit blurred... seems like too many support American interventionism (imperialism), whilst too many support increased state role also. :p
What happened to the old good Whigs... :(
Historically, the party lines were pretty blurred until the 1970s when the left-right divide starting to become paramount and effectively, the conservative base of the Democratic Party (since its inception) jumped ship and aligned with the Republicans just as the traditional Republican base of "Yankee liberals" had been fast losing ground to Democrats as working class immigrants tended to align with the Democrats more than Republicans (even though Republicans and Democrats in the north largely were equal to each other, the only differences really being Dems being more labor/union friendly than Republicans and Republican backers and leaders, like the Rockefellers and Lodges being identified with the de facto American aristocracy for their long lineage in the country). I've tried to reflect that throughout the AAR.

Until the switch, most historians would have said Republicans tended to be socially progressive (supported abolitionism, women's suffrage, prohibition, etc.) but economically conservative to laissez-faire (big business stereotypes), while also being anti-immigrant (most American nativists from the "Know Nothing" joined the Republican Party after its folding). Democrats were socially conservative but a mess when it came to economics. Southerners were at times populist to laissez-faire, some revisionists say this was the main reason for Civil War, while northerners were generally conservative but supported union and labor reforms, and the Democrats have always been the historic home to immigrants. Then the social progressives and social conservatives in the parties essentially switched sides creating the modern parties we have today with Democrats depending on their elected region fighting on economic issues (New England Democrats tending to be the more conservative, Midwestern Democrats being moderate with identifiable connections with labor unions, and the Western Democrats being the more left-wing and populist in their economic orientation). As long as the New England Democrats hold the power in the party, I'm content with them. Sort of interesting if you want to study American political history...

Someone must be a minimalist when it comes to state intervention in morality and economics! And if that's the case, why support the Whigs who promoted economic nationalism? :p
 

Kurt_Steiner

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And with this update, the game content AAR is officially finished! I will be posting an "epilogue" with Al Smith's inauguration as the last update to the AAR probably middle of this week!

Cheers!
Tell me that the AAR will follow after 1920 somewhere else...
 

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Tell me that the AAR will follow after 1920 somewhere else...
That depends, the epilogue, as I have written it, is sort of the "highlights" of his inaugural address to close this AAR. It will be left to you dear readers to determine what happens, and whether or not I have created an alternative timeline that will veer differently than the TL we all know about the 20s and 30s.

On that note, what did Al Smith ever do to you to merit such harsh feelings? :p
 

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Epilogue: Alfred E. Smith

Epilogue

Number 27: Alfred E. Smith
Party: Democrat
46 years old, from New York


The Presidential portrait of Al Smith, President of the United States from 1921-1929 during the era of the "Roaring Twenties."

Inaugural Address Highlight

The stunning victory of Governor Smith, now President Smith, shocked many in America. Twenty years ago, the thought of a Roman Catholic becoming President was not only scandalous; it was a bonafide American heresy to think such things. Smith had so many things going against him. The Democrats had not won the Presidency in twenty years. The Republicans had overseen the expansion of America as the greatest power in the world (some might argue the British Empire was still greater), and initiated the post-war peace, to some success. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Jack Rockefeller rated highly among the American people for their handling of the domestic front (Roosevelt) and the Great War and peace.

As President Smith calmed the fears that he was not a Papist seeking Papal domination over the United States, he addressed the many concerns of the nation following the Great War and the initial years of the post-war peace. He also promised that the rest of this century would be the “Century of Peace.” He also spoke about how the economic infrastructure of America would ensure an economic boom under his administration, and audaciously declared that America may soon “eradicate poverty.”

“In this great nation of ours, of which you have so graciously elected me to the honorable and high office of the President of the United States, I can promise but one thing to each and every American, regardless of race, gender, religion, and political affiliation - that I will preserve and uphold the great traditions of the men who have held this office in the past, and preserve and uphold the great ideals upon which this special nation was built.

With the blessings of Almighty God in Heaven, may the United States remain, what a famous governor on his passage to freedom once said, ‘A shining city upon a hill for all the world to see.’” The world we see is bright, the horizon great, the vision endless. In this also, great opportunities for discovery await us. The new frontier beckons us, indeed, it calls us to its very soul. We shall have the courage and the audacity to answer this calling - our ships will sail the seven seas, our armies will maintain the peace, so that our children and grandchildren may one day ask those proud veterans of Europe, ‘What was war?’

This country has meant so much, not only for me and my family, but for everyone’s family who lives in this great nation. Our election proves but one thing, anything is possible in the United States of America. So, with the backing of God, the road to peace in front of us, and the endless opportunities calling us - I say to every American, even though the cost of freedom and peace has been so burdensome, the hour of our collective departure has arrived, and we go to meet our destiny!


So began the Presidency of Alfred E. Smith in a brave new world...


FINIS!
 

volksmarschall

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Acknowledgments:

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to all the readers who made this AAR both memorable and enjoyable, recipient of seven AwAARds, and given a place among the top AARs Victoria has to offer in the Anthology of Victoria AARs! I am indebted to your patience, kindness, and comments! If not for your help in the AAR as readers, this project would not have been possible! The success and final completion of this AAR is equally attributed to you all over the years of work to finally bring this to a proper conclusion. (P.S. The United States finished #1 in the game ranking)

- volksmarschall
 

Enewald

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Ugh, Catholics. Next thing we know they might elect a Muslim or even a Woman as president! :eek:

Also good to have this finished. 56 pages is a quite long AAR. :cool:
Enjoyed it a lot over the years. :)
 

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Although I didn't start reading until towards the end, this was a fabulous AAR!:) I would say the 2 third party presidencies and the Civil War (both of which I had to go back some to read) where probably the most interesting parts. A great job!
 

GreatUberGeek

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Congratulations, volksmarschall! This was a great AAR, and good to see a fellow Catholic claim the throne! :D
 

Kurt_Steiner

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That depends, the epilogue, as I have written it, is sort of the "highlights" of his inaugural address to close this AAR. It will be left to you dear readers to determine what happens, and whether or not I have created an alternative timeline that will veer differently than the TL we all know about the 20s and 30s.

On that note, what did Al Smith ever do to you to merit such harsh feelings? :p
I had to endure him in a HOI2 game where, due to my stupid sense of humor and silly events, he got elected in 1940 and managed to screw the game by doing nothing (and I do mean that, nothing, even when Japan Pearlharbourized him) for 4 years. Then FDR was elected in 1944 and then died and Truman began nuking everything that moved...
 

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Sad! You got rid of my favouritist president of all time.

Dude, you could have had COOLIDGE win the election! :D
 

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I would again like to thank everyone who supported this AAR through the years, new or old! You really do not know (or maybe you do) how helpful you all were/are in completing and working on an AAR like this one! :)

Ben Kenobi said:
Sad! You got rid of my favouritist president of all time.

Dude, you could have had COOLIDGE win the election!
Then my AAR title would be incorrect! :p

Kurt_Steiner said:
I had to endure him in a HOI2 game where, due to my stupid sense of humor and silly events, he got elected in 1940 and managed to screw the game by doing nothing (and I do mean that, nothing, even when Japan Pearlharbourized him) for 4 years. Then FDR was elected in 1944 and then died and Truman began nuking everything that moved...
I can only somewhat understand the outrage, but it was still from a game! :p I think I've seen only 1 or 2 games of all the HoI2 games I played where Smith ended up as President...


On this note, I would like to inform everyone that I have decided to start a new project, The Presidents: Redux, the Victoria 2 version of this AAR, which is going have so many different changes! :cool:

EDIT: Now over 100,000 views! Thanks so much each and every one! :)
 
Last edited:

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Clay to Coolidge is a better title anyways. ;)
 

Nathan Madien

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Mar 24, 2006
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This AAR was absolutely wonderful, volksmarschall. :cool:

It will be left to you dear readers to determine what happens, and whether or not I have created an alternative timeline that will veer differently than the TL we all know about the 20s and 30s.
The Democrats control the White House for sixteen years until 1936, when Republican Alf Landon defeats FDR's Vice President. After serving two terms, Landon hands the keys of the White House over to fellow Republican Thomas E. Dewey in 1945. Dewey's inability to get along with the conservative Republican leader Robert Taft splits the GOP wide open in 1952, allowing Adlai Stevenson to take back the White House for the Democrats. In 1954, the country is shocked when Puerto Rican nationalists assassinates Stevenson on Capitol Hill. Vice President John Sparkman then takes over and launches the United States into space by putting the first manmade satellite into orbit and the first man into suborbit. In 1960, Sparkman's Vice President Henry M. Jackson gets elected President. However, in 1964 the country becomes tired of progressive policies and elects the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater.

How's that for speculation, volksmarschall? :laugh:
 
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volksmarschall

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This AAR was absolutely wonderful, volksmarschall. :cool:


The Democrats control the White House for sixteen years until 1936, when Republican Alf Landon defeats FDR's Vice President. After serving two terms, Landon hands the keys of the White House over to fellow Republican Thomas E. Dewey in 1945. Dewey's inability to get along with the conservative Republican leader Robert Taft splits the GOP wide open in 1952, allowing Adlai Stevenson to take back the White House for the Democrats. In 1954, the country is shocked when Puerto Rican nationalists assassinates Stevenson on Capitol Hill. Vice President John Sparkman then takes over and launches the United States into space by putting the first manmade satellite into orbit and the first man into suborbit. In 1960, Sparkman's Vice President Henry M. Jackson gets elected President. However, in 1964 the country becomes tired of progressive policies and elects the conservative Republican Barry Goldwater.

How's that for speculation, volksmarschall? :laugh:
You might want to re-update your original list of Presidents in the first AAR if you want to create a semi-attached timeline! :p That said, I really should thank you since your AAR was the inspiration spark for this one, without you, this never happens! ;)

Cheers!
 

Nathan Madien

Field Marshal
Mar 24, 2006
4.458
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You might want to re-update your original list of Presidents in the first AAR if you want to create a semi-attached timeline! :p That said, I really should thank you since your AAR was the inspiration spark for this one, without you, this never happens! ;)
You're quite welcome, although I got my inspiration spark from reading "Advantages without Obligations". That AAR inspired my AAR, which in turn inspired your AAR.