President Huey Long

 

I’m for the poor man — all poor men, black and white, they all gotta have a chance. They gotta have a home, a job, and a decent education for their children. ‘Every man a king’ — that’s my slogan.

Huey Long

 

 

 

The great demagogue of American history, Long might have been president if history had been more kind to him and less kind to FDR.  Let us postulate that Long was not assassinated in 1935, and that instead of dying in 1945, FDR had died in 1935 during his first term.  If Roosevelt had died, his Vice President John Nance Garner of Texas would have taken over.  Cactus Jack was a colorful character, but he was also enough of a politician to have realized that he would never get the nomination in 1936.  He was too conservative and too Southern.  Plenty of Northern liberals would have thrown their hats into the ring, along with Huey Long.  Long had already written a book, My First Days in the White House, and he was going to run come what may.  Before Roosevelt’s death he erroneously predicted that FDR would lose in 1936, and doubtless he planned to help bring that about, and the death of FDR would have eliminated what he thought was his main obstacle to the White House.

 

Long would have had on his side his oratorical skills, which were among the best in the nation, a pleasing buffoonish persona hiding a very sharp intellect and his economic radicalism, popular among a public which had lost confidence in capitalism.  On the con side his dictatorial rule in Louisiana had earned him many ardent foes around the nation.  Would he have gained the nomination?  Probably not, but his fight for it would have set him up for a third party run.

Judging how poorly Alf Landon did in 1936, I doubt if the nation was ready for a return to GOP rule.  I give Long a decent shot of victory in 1936, judging from the popularity of his Share the Wealth campaign before his assassination.  His strongest regions would have been in the South and the West.  Pick off a handful of the big industrial states and Long would have achieved his life’s ambition.

 

 

On its face, his economic program would have been DOA in Congress:

He proposed capping personal fortunes at $50 million and repeated his call to limit annual income to $1 million and inheritances to $5 million. (He also suggested reducing the cap on personal fortunes to $10 million–$15 million per individual, if necessary, and later lowered the cap to $5 million–$8 million in printed materials.) The resulting funds would be used to guarantee every family a basic household grant, or “household estate” as Long called it, of $5,000 and a minimum annual income of $2,000–3,000, or one-third of the average family homestead value and income. Long supplemented his plan with proposals for free college education, with admission based on an IQ test,[10] and vocational training for all able students, veterans’ benefits, federal assistance to farmers, public works projects, greater federal regulation of economic activity, a $30 monthly pension for those over the age of 65, a month’s vacation for every worker, World War I veteran’s adjusted Compensation certificates due in 1945 would be issued immediately, and limiting the work week to thirty hours to boost employment.[10][11] He proposed a $10 billion land reclamation project to end the Dust Bowl. Long promised free medical service and what he called a “war on disease” led by the Mayo brothers.[10] These reforms, Long claimed, would end the Great Depression.[12]

These are all proposals that Long made prior to his death in 1935 and which were widely attacked by economists at the time.  However, a President Long would doubtless have used the new power of radio inspired popular opinion to ram through his program.  As Governor of Louisiana Long made wide use of patronage, and more unsavory means, to deal with a hostile legislature.  It is reasonable to assume that on a national scale he would have adopted the same tactics with Congress.  I can imagine him attempting to implement most of his policies by emergency decrees, justified by the Great Depression.  The legality of such decrees would have been nil, but in Louisiana Long had shown a penchant for strong arming courts.

With Long as President, it is easy to predict that he would have roused great support and great resistance, and a very divided US would have faced the world as World War II began.  Perhaps a nation on the verge of civil war, as Louisiana was at the end of Long’s reign.   Better that this alternate history was forestalled from reality by Long’s death in 1935.

 

Published in: on August 24, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on President Huey Long  
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What if Red Dawn Had Happened?

When I was watching Red Dawn when it came out in 1984 I was thinking to myself whether this type of partisan resistance to an invasion of the United States would take place.  I concluded that almost certainly it would.  In the Revolution, after the Continental Army in South Carolina surrendered at Charleston, partisan bands under Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens, and many lesser know figures, sprang up, and made life hell for the occupying British.  When Washington sent troops to take back South Carolina, the partisans gave valuable intelligence and acted as force multipliers for the Continental troops and state militias.  During the Civil War, similar partisan bands fought for the Confederacy and forced the Union to tie down huge amounts of troops guarding supply lines.  After the Japanese invaded the Philippines, American and Filipino guerillas made certain that the Japanese had little control out in the countryside.  The strategic situation set forth in the movie was fanciful, but the partisan war it depicted would have been a likely consequence of such an invasion.

Doubtless the occupying enemy would have tried an extensive propaganda effort. (more…)

Published in: on June 22, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on What if Red Dawn Had Happened?  
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D-Day the Alternatives

When looking back at an immense historical event like D-Day, the looking back part of that equation is the problem.  History can only be viewed like witches say their prayers:  backwards.  D-Day to us is unshakably part of a history which views it as the beginning of a sequence of events that led to the rapid overthrow of the Third Reich and the ending of the war in Europe in early May 1945.  We forget the uncertainty that surrounded the launching of the Great Crusade in Eisenhower’s ringing phrase, with so much fear that the invasion could become a gigantic fiasco.  Here are a few possible alternatives to what did occur.

  1.  D-Day defeated.  If the Germans had guessed correctly where the Allies were coming ashore, this was the likely outcome.  A defeated D-Day would likely have foregone another attempt for months if not until 1945.
  2.  D-Day stalemated.  This almost occurred.  The breakout from Normandy in early August was by no means guaranteed.
  3.  D-Day partially succeeds.  Omaha Beach fails.  This would have left a large gap between Utah Beach and the British and Canadian beaches of Gold, Juno and Sword.  This would also have given the German defenders endless opportunities to slow the invasion or defeat it outright in the coming days.
  4.  The Allies advance slowly across France.  Throughout World War II the Wehrmacht demonstrated amazing resilience in the face of defeat.  So the Germans demonstrated in September 1944 with the defeat of Market Garden and the rallying of their forces on the Franco-German border.  It is not hard to see the Germans doing the same earlier and making the Allied advance much slower in France.
  5.  Stalin makes a separate peace.  Probably unlikely, but the Soviet government did send out peace feelers to Nazi Germany in 1942 and 1943.  A D-Day defeated or less successful might have caused Stalin for the second time to come to an agreement with Hitler.  The Nazis withdrawing to Germany in the East would have given Stalin a possible bulwark against the victorious Allies in the West, but at the very least it would have given him a free hand in Eastern Europe without the cost in blood and material of perhaps conquering Germany by the Soviets alone.  Military defeat of Nazi Germany in this reality would likely have required heavy use of atomic bombs in 1946.

None of this occurred, God be praised, but it could have, something the participants in D-Day well understood.

Published in: on June 7, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on D-Day the Alternatives  
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Ecce Homo: Take 99

It had been a rough night.  Everyone had possessed an opinion about what should be done, with few of the opinions agreeing.  Now he was ready to pass judgment in the harsh glare of the early morning light, sleepless and having consumed too much wine.  It had been hard to reach a decision but he had reached it.  Why did he have the oddest feeling that he had already done this before?

“Release the prisoner.  He has committed no offense against the laws of Rome.  Such is the judgment of the Senate and the People of Rome.”

Pilate glanced over at the accused.  He expected to see relief and joy.  Instead, in the man’s face Pilate read infinite sadness, with perhaps a touch of irritation.  Then everything went dark.

“Procurator, Caiaphas is outside with a prisoner.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.

Pilate grimaced.  “Just what this gods’ forsaken day needs.”  He had more than half a mind to tell Caiaphas to get lost.  That is what he decided to do.  “Marcellus, tell the old rat I am occupied and I will remain occupied until next week.  If he really wants to see me, he can wait that long.”

Then everything went dark.

“Procurator, Caiaphas is outside with a prisoner.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.  Pilate sighed, Yes and he has that young rabble rousing carpenter from Nazareth with him.  My spies have earned their pay at the Temple this week.  Pilate heard Caiaphas out and refused to judge the case.  He ordered Yeshua to be scourged and expelled from Jerusalem.  Whatever game Caiaphas was playing, Pilate was not going to take part.  Then everything went dark.

Procurator, Caiaphas is outside with a prisoner.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.  Pilate heard Caiaphas and then said that this seemed to be a quarrel over the religion of the Jews.  He announced that as this was the case, Caiaphas could execute Yeshua by stoning if he wished, but Rome was not going to be  involved.  Then everything went dark.

“Procurator, Caiaphas is outside with a prisoner.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.  Pilate listened to Caiaphas and took the case under advisement.  Three weeks later, after Jerusalem had calmed down, Pilate ordered the release of Yeshua, Pilate’s wife asking this of him after having a series of dreams involving Yeshua.  Then everything went dark.

“Procurator, Joseph of Arimathea is outside.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.  Joseph knew the rich merchant slightly but was only too happy to receive a substantial bribe from him to release the carpenter rabbi, Yeshua, from the clutches of Caiaphas.  Then everything went dark.

“Procurator, Caiaphas is outside with a prisoner.”, said his aide Tribune Marcellus.   Pilate heard Caiaphas present his case, questioned Jesus, and the next day ordered Yeshua to be crucified.  The sentence was not carried out when the Zealots of Barabbas decided to liberate the fellow prisoner of their released leader.  Then everything went dark.

************************************

Pilate condemned Yeshua to be crucified.  This whole business had been mysterious and wearisome to Pilate, who felt as if he were an actor reading lines he had read many times before.  However, the oddest moment was when he glanced at the face of Yeshua.  The usual pain and anguish of a man just condemned to a gruesome death was slightly there, but Pilate had never seen before the faintest hint of a smile.

Published in: on April 1, 2021 at 5:30 pm  Comments Off on Ecce Homo: Take 99  
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D-Day Defeated

 

 

This could easily have been the seventy-sixth anniversary today of Eisenhower announcing the defeat of D-Day.

What we tend not to recall today is what an immense gamble D-Day appeared to be from the perspective of the Allies.  Amphibious landings had a distinctly mixed record for the Allies up to the D-Day landing.  Sometimes they worked, but they were just as apt to be bloody shambles like the Dieppe raid in 1942, or Anzio, a costly stalemate for four months with the Allies coming close to being thrown back into the sea.  Eisenhower had good reason for drafting a press release shouldering all the blame in case the D-Day invasion was repulsed:

 

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

There were many ways the invasion could have ended in defeat.

  1.  If the Germans had guessed correctly that Normandy was the invasion site and positioned their troops accordingly.  Hitler, intriguingly enough, had long thought that Normandy would be the invasion site, but eventually bowed to his Generals who thought that the invasion would come at Calais.
  2. Worse weather.  The weather in the Channel was bad to marginal for a cross Channel invasion.  If the Allies had faced on D-Day storms of the severity that occurred on June 19, and wrecked the Mulberry harbor at Omaha Beach, the invasion would likely not have succeeded.
  3. The Omaha Beach landing did come close to defeat.  More German troops and the battle could easily have gone the other way.
  4. Of the ten panzer divisions in France, only one, the 21st, was in striking distance of Normandy on D-Day.  Considering the havoc the panzers wreaked in Normandy, after running the gauntlet of Allied air power, if the Germans had a third of their panzer divisions pre-positioned in Normandy they might have tipped the balance on D-Day.

The historical outcome should not blind us to the rolling of the dice the Allied leadership engaged in on June 6.  They had done what they could to ensure a favorable outcome, but the information they lacked made the entire operation a calculated risk.

 

Published in: on June 8, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on D-Day Defeated  
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The Kennedy-Goldwater Debates

 

The Kennedy-Goldwater debates have been called the seminal political event in modern American history.  Certainly their impact on how American presidential campaigns are conducted has been immense, with debates in the style of the Kennedy-Goldwater debates being conducted in every following presidential contest.  One initial question that puzzles when looking back at those debates is why President Kennedy agreed to them.  Unlike 1960, the 1964 presidential election did not appear to likely be a close contest.  The unemployment rate was five percent, and inflation, at one percent, was a non-factor.  Kennedy had earned quite a bit of popular sympathy due to the death of Mrs. Kennedy in the assassination attempt by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 22, 1963.  Kennedy had been shattered by her death, and gave serious thought to not running for reelection in 1964, and retiring after one term.  However, he quickly realized that this would make his vice-president the all but certain Democratic nominee in 1964, a fact that Kennedy found distasteful for two reasons that Kennedy noted to his press secretary Pierre Salinger:  “The thought of Lyndon as the nominee frightens me.  First, he might lose and, second, he might win.”

Kennedy and Goldwater were friends.  Both World War II veterans, they each were elected to the Senate in 1952.  Despite their partisan differences, they quickly became the closest of political adversaries.  In 1963 they began to discuss a series of debates, modeled on the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

The nomination process for each of the parties was a study in contrasts.  Kennedy had no opposition for the Democrat nomination, while Goldwater’s nomination was the culmination of a long going feud in the Republican party between conservative and liberal factions.  By the time of his nomination, Goldwater was the leader of a badly fractured party, and the polls indicated he had no chance to win the election.  Kennedy advisors counseled him not to debate Goldwater at all, and if a debate were held, to do so in the 1960 format that had served Kennedy so well.  Kennedy rejected the advice.  He had promised Goldwater debates in the Lincoln-Douglas format.  Reneging now would cause him to go back on his word, and, perhaps, indicate that he was afraid to face Goldwater, an imputation that Kennedy could not allow.

Goldwater benefited greatly from the debates.  The Republican convention had been a disaster for him, and most of the media was attempting to portray Goldwater as a trigger happy ideologue who might start a nuclear war.  The debate format, where the candidates spent a fair amount of time asking each other questions directly without a moderator, allowed Goldwater’s essentially genial personality to shine through.  Kennedy also stumbled on the question of Vietnam, displaying a fair amount of ambivalence as to what should be done.  Kennedy won decisively, 54% to 46%, but the election was not the rout that the early campaign polls had predicted.  Polls indicated that the public loved the debate format, and the ratings for the debates indicated that the polls were accurate.

The torment of the Kennedy second term is well known, with the radical expansion of government under Kennedy’s New Frontier initiative, increasing racial turbulence over Civil Rights, but most of all Vietnam.  Initially Kennedy increased American involvement in 1965, sending American combat units to shore up the government of South Vietnam.  Kennedy was shocked at the vociferous reaction of his liberal base to this, and in 1966 attempted abortive negotiations with the government of North Vietnam.  His unilateral withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam in 1967, and the rapid fall of South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to Communist insurgents, shocked the nation.  Pictures of desperate Vietnamese fleeing by sea to seek refuge led the nightly news for weeks.  One of the most vociferous critics of President Kennedy’s Vietnam policy was Senator Barry Goldwater.

1968 was the mirror image of 1964.  Goldwater led a united Republican party while Vice President Johnson helmed a badly divided Democratic party, a party whose divisions had been on full display both within and without the Democratic convention in Chicago.  Goldwater had no need to debate Johnson, but he did so in the Lincoln-Douglas debate style of 1954.  Commentators who knew the well earned bombastic reputation of Johnson were shocked that in the debates he came across as very carefully spoken, and quiet.  Wags wondered how many tranquilizer darts had been shot into Johnson.  In any case the debates did not help him, with Goldwater winning with 50% of the vote.  Alabama Governor George Wallace took 13% of the vote and 45 electoral votes in the deep south, running on a populist, and overtly racist, outsider platform.  What Goldwater did as President will be examined on another occasion.

 

 

Published in: on April 1, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Kennedy-Goldwater Debates  
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History: Great Events or Great Men and Great Women?

 

One of the abiding debates in History is whether it is shaped primarily by vast forces at work in human civilizations or by great, the term is not used in a moral sense, men and women who shape the times in which they lived.  It is tempting to fudge the question and say both, an easy answer and partially true.  Napoleon would doubtless have ended his career on half pay as a Major serving in the Royal artillery of France but for the French Revolution.  However, it is impossible to see the French Revolution morphing into the French Empire without the drive, extreme military genius and grandiose vision of Napoleon.  I think it is also impossible to see the French Revolution occurring or prevailing except for Louis XVI, a good man and perhaps the most incompetent of French monarchs being, on the throne of France in 1789.  No, I am fully in the camp of historians who believe history is shaped mostly by great individuals.  Behind the scenes of course all of this is being stage managed for His purposes, within the limits of human free will, by God, but that is to leave History and enter the realm of theology.

Recently I read the book Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the Twenty-First Century (2013) by Christian Caryl.  It is an astonishingly good book and shows how four figures:  Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, Deng Xiaoping, Ayatollah Khomeini, each, in their own way, led counter-revolutions against the drift towards Socialism that was the dominant theme of the world post World War II up till 1979.  Of course there was a fifth figure at that time, perhaps the most important of them all, who was preparing a campaign which would drive from power an incumbent President and alter the course of American, and world, history, Ronald Reagan.  Reagan is a large figure in Caryl’s chapters on Thatcher, but I think he explored the other four individuals in making his argument, because they are much less well known, with the possible exception of Pope John Paul II, to most Americans than Reagan.

Thatcher made an odd Prime Minister of Great Britain, and not primarily because of her sex.  As she climbed the greasy pole of British politics, her opponents sneered at her lower middle class origins, calling her “the grocer’s daughter”.  I doubt if Thatcher minded.  Most of her world view she acquired from her father, an intensely religious and conservative man, who treasured hard work and drive, and preached the need for limited government and the importance of the free market.  He taught his daughter never to follow the crowd and to stand unhesitatingly for what she thought was right.  In her radical embrace of free markets and her intense Euro-skepticism, Thatcher stood in sharp contrast to the well bred elites who tended to dominate the Conservative Party.  What Thatcher proclaimed, they argued sotto voce, was well enough to say when stumping for votes, but to actually govern that way would be a disaster.  She proved them wrong and they never forgave her for it, ultimately replacing her in 1990 with the colorless non-entity John Major, who would lead the Tories to their worst electoral defeat ever in 1997 at the hands of Tony Blair and his more market oriented New Labor.  Thatcher died in 2013, her passing marked by displays of raw hate by the far Left in the UK.  (I suspect that Thatcher would have viewed these grotesque displays of bile as the finest tribute paid to her!)  The hatred was well earned.  Thatcher had planted well.  No British government could return to pre-Thatcher Socialism and her Euro-skepticism was prophetic of the Brexit vote in 2016.  Rather than being shaped by her times primarily, Thatcher shaped the times to come.

 

Published in: on January 13, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on History: Great Events or Great Men and Great Women?  
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USMC v. SPQR

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic, and I thought the military history mavens of Almost Chosen People might have fun with it.)

Not quite as one sided as Napoleon having a B-52 at Waterloo, or the Allies confronting in World War II a Nazi reared Ubermensch.

 

Published in: on December 5, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on USMC v. SPQR  
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Theodore Roosevelt and the Almost Second Civil War

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt never made any secret of his detestation of Woodrow Wilson, thus it was small wonder that his campaign for President in 1920 was a crusade to eradicate the legacy of his successor in the White House.  This was congenial to almost all Republicans, and Roosevelt was coronated, rather than inaugurated, at the Republican national convention in 1920.  Forgotten was the schism in the Republican Party in 1912 between Progressives and Conservatives.  Roosevelt, in his acceptance speech, proclaimed that he knew not either Progressives or Conservatives, but only Republicans.  He sealed the deal by having Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding as his running mate, the man who had given the nomination speech for Taft at the bitterly divided Republican national convention in 1912.  The Democrats nominated Governor James M. Cox of Ohio, and, in one of the more flat footed moves in American political history, nominated as Vice-President former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a distant relative of Theodore Roosevelt, who was married to the niece of the former President.  Democrats earned ridicule with the campaign slogan:  Vote for our Roosevelt! and an embarrassed Franklin Roosevelt quickly announced that he held his uncle by marriage in the highest esteem and that he would not think of comparing himself to him.  Theodore Roosevelt campaigned like a human cyclone, and won in a historic landslide with 65% of the popular vote and 417 electoral votes, breaching the Old Confederacy by taking the state of Tennessee.  Roosevelt said on election night that he had never felt so good since the charge up San Juan Hill.

Behind the scenes however, concerns were being raised about the health of the President Elect.  Since 1918 rheumatism had plagued him, and the assorted injuries and illnesses of a tempestuous lifetime were grinding him down.  In public he still projected an air of robust vigor.  In private he was often exhausted and frequently unwell.

Nonetheless his administration started well.  He negotiated separate peace treaties with Germany, Austria and Hungary so the US was no longer technically at war with these former members of the Central Powers.  He sent an American observer to the League of Nations, and announced that the US would join in League actions if such actions were in the interests of the US.

On the domestic front he once again made a strong plea for a Federal anti-lynching law, only to see it die in the Senate, once again, at the hands of Democratic Southern senators. This had happened before during his first go round as President, but he was not going to tolerate this outcome now.  Roosevelt had been deeply moved by the sight of the hundreds of thousands of blacks who served faithfully in the military during the Great War.  He had been disgusted by the segregation of the Federal civil service by Wilson, and he had been alarmed by the bloody race riots that occurred during the Great War and its aftermath.  Roosevelt was convinced that the nation could no longer afford the evil luxury of treating its black citizens as fifth class Americans.  Conferring with his old friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, President Roosevelt had the Republicans use their 9 seat majority in the Senate to do away with the Senate filibuster, which caused a considerable uproar around the nation, particularly in the South.  The uproar increased markedly in volume when the Senate passed the anti-lynching law and rose to typhoon level when the House and Senate passed what was popularly known as the Lodge Force Bill of 1921, which basically put the Federal government in charge of elections, the purpose of which was to ensure the right of blacks in the South to vote.  This was a revival of a bill that Senator Lodge first had proposed in 1890.

President Roosevelt expected that these moves would be unpopular in the South among whites, but he was stunned by the reaction that resulted.  Southern governors meeting in Richmond, Virginia drew up a proclamation that stated that the South would resist the Federal election takeover in the courts, and by force if necessary.   The proclamation further recited that Southern National Guard units would never be used against the white citizens of the South and that any efforts to federalize the Southern National Guard to enforce the will of the Federal government on white citizens would be null and void.  A conference of all Southern states was scheduled for January 19, 1922, the birthday of Robert E. Lee, in Montgomery, Alabama to consider what further efforts to make in response to the actions of the Roosevelt administration.

Never a man to back down from a fight, Roosevelt had Congress pass what became known as the Roosevelt Force Bill on November 1, 1921, which authorized the President to call for a million volunteers in the event of a domestic insurrection.  At the same time he gave a speech on November 11, 1921 in which he noted that the North and the South had spilled their blood together on the battlefields of the Spanish-American War and the Great War and that present passions must not allow them to see in their own day the horrible bloodshed of the Civil War played out again.

Who knows what might have happened if TR had not died in his sleep on November 15, 1921, worn down by the cares of office and his own poor health.  Vice President Warren G. Harding spoke for many Americans when he said:  Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight. 

As President, Harding now had to deal with a nation on the brink of a second civil war, less than sixty years after the first Civil War.  The newly formed American Legion began the process of compromise that ultimately led to the avoidance of War.  American Legion posts around the nation passed resolutions calling on Congress to resolve the differences between North and South peacefully, further announcing that no member of the post would ever fight against fellow Americans.  Veterans of Foreign War posts swiftly followed suit, as did the elderly veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic and the various Confederate veteran organizations.  The American Peace Society was founded, dedicated to the proposition that Americans would never fight against each other again.  Black Republicans were aghast, afraid that their long awaited deliverance from disenfranchisement in the South was to be taken away from them.  Their fears were prescient.

President Harding met with leaders of Congress from December 26, 1921 to January 1, 1922 and hammered out what came to be known as the Compromise of 1922.  The main provisions  were as follows:

  1.  The anti-lynching law would remain in effect.
  2. The Lodge Force Bill would be repealed.
  3. A Commission appointed by the President would be set up to study the issue of the civil rights of negroes in the South.
  4. The Senate filibuster would be reestablished and a constitutional amendment passed enshrining the Senate filibuster in the Constitution, with the proviso that the filibuster could be overridden in regard to legislation which would have passed in three consecutive Congresses, absent the use of the filibuster.

As with all compromises, no one was completely happy with it, especially black Republicans, but with the alternative being civil war the measure was passed overwhelmingly by Congress, and the Filibuster Amendment was approved by the requisite number of the states by Thanksgiving of 1922.  In his State of the Union address of December 8, 1922, President Harding praised the return to normalcy, a new word the President coined, in the nation.

Almost unnoticed in all the political furor over civil war, the nation had recovered from the post war slump, and the economy was roaring along.  In reaction to the avoidance of civil war and the good economy, an ebullient mood swept across the nation, and what historians called the Second Era of Good Feelings began.

Political prognosticators were predicting a landslide win in 1924 for the popular President Harding when a dazed country woke up on August 3, 1923 to learn that Harding had died of a heart attack in San Francisco the day before.  Two Presidents dying in a period of less than two years struck most Americans as an ill omen.  The new President, Senator Albert B. Cummins of Iowa, the President Pro Temporare of the Senate, would have his work cut out for him.

Published in: on April 1, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Theodore Roosevelt and the Almost Second Civil War  
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No World War I

Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars,
That make ambition virtue!

Othello, Act 3, Scene 3

 

 

Alternate history has always fascinated me, and Andrew Roberts, a great contemporary historian, I heartily recommend his recent biography of Churchill, does a good job of pointing out the traumas that arose in the wake of the grand blood-letting we call World War I, and how they may have been avoided if World War I had not occurred.  Do I think  World War I could have been avoided?  Well, certainly the crisis over Sarajevo could have been settled peacefully if a modicum of common sense by Austria-Hungary and Germany had prevailed.  However, Europe had enjoyed an unprecedented, up to that time, peace since Waterloo in 1815, interrupted only by relatively brief wars between the Great Powers, but by 1914 this vacation from history was manifestly breaking down.  The Balkans had produced, since the closing decades of the 19th century, a series of minor wars that were always threatening to get out of hand and involve the Great Powers.  For good reason Otto von Bismarck, the man who created Imperial Germany, had predicted the year before his death:“That one day the great European War would come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”   In the decades leading up to the Sarajevo Crisis, Europe had weathered a series of crises that threatened great power clashes.  Below the surface of the stability of the Great Powers were revolutionary movements, waiting impatiently in the wings of contemporary history for their forthcoming moment on center stage.  In retrospect it is not of note that the Great War came, but that its outbreak had been delayed so long by jury-rigged emergency diplomacy, a general hesitation among the Great Powers to risk all on a roll of the iron dice of war and, above all, good luck.  When peace depends primarily on luck, sooner or later the good luck will run out.

 

 

Darryl Bates : What started it?

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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