Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Part 7: Chapter XXIV - Page 158
  • 1.png

    Russia in Revolt, November 1917 - Source: NewSocialist

    Mutinies by the French Army and the anticlimactic end of the Battle of Verdun indicated, at least to President Roosevelt and Kaiser Wilhelm, the inevitability of U.S.-German victory in the war. Air and naval development by these two allies was proceeding on schedule. Overall construction rates far outpaced anything the Entente could bare to muster in this late stage of the conflict. Enlistment rates were high in the post-St. Lawrence U.S. and the maintenance of German Army conscription presented the Central Powers a categorical, numerical advantage. Furthermore, by August, the ongoing Second Battle of Armentières appeared to exemplify a grand finale of sorts to the Entente's strategy of provoking thoughtless offensives. Time was of the essence, and everyone knew it.

    Victory was right around the corner. Roosevelt was sure of it. Verdun's gratifying conclusion beckoned an approaching catharsis. With the Entente on its last legs, one final blow could end the 'war to end all wars' for good. Winning the geopolitical challenge was paramount to protecting the future of American prosperity, the president believed. He allowed other Cabinet officials to observe and contain domestic dissent while he primarily focused on these foreign matters. In that regard, Roosevelt green-lit a concerted effort by the United States Information Council to obscure news of the mutinies. The federal organization, spearheaded by the Progressive Party, ensured that any characterization of the events in Verdun kept descriptions of material conditions to a minimum. They would not allow the press to feed into the Socialist narrative of an evil and fruitless war, and as thus refused to print the words of insurrectionists who named their revolt a heroic rebuttal to an inhumane war. Instead, Americans learned through propaganda of innate cowards retreating from the sheer might of the German Empire and its American-made weaponry.
    H. William Ackerman, Columbians in Washington: Great Expectations and the Hope of a Nation, 2013

    The mutinies sparked by the 62nd Division greatly affected French morale at home. French military leadership wholly anticipated that the nation would turn against individual mutineers and cheer on their court marshalling, but accelerating losses made scores of Frenchmen empathize with the disobedient soldiers. Word of the flagrant insubordination sparked hearty protests in Marseille, Lyon, and Paris against the war. Now feeling as though the men at the front were on their side and willing to risk imprisonment to cease endless warfare, French workers likewise joined in a mutiny of their own. Marseille workers operating munitions factories collectively chose to introduce the first of many work stoppages. Unions proclaimed, "Not a minute more of labor until the war is over." Much of the anger at this juncture was directed at Philippe Petain and Robert Nivelle, the faces of the military establishment, but Poincaré dared not speak out against the only two figures able to withstand total subjugation by the Germans.

    At the same time, pressure mounted on Prime Minister David Lloyd George to address the discouraging situation. Thousands of British men and women, furious with their leader's apparent aversion to reasoning with an unceasing class of generals and admirals (a total 180 to his predecessor's incessant tempering of the military leadership), voiced their displeasure via anti-incumbent protests of their own. Lloyd George also faced biting criticism in Canada, where incensed MPs at the behest of social activist J.S. Woodsworth penned a public declaration calling on the British prime minister to commit to a decision. Either provide the necessary supplies and men to fend off the Americans, the notice read, or else, ”face imminent defeat, and […] certain calls for independence.” The prime minister sent no firm reply to the Canadian plea, but did rightly recognize the danger of rising dissatisfaction with the war. Albeit ignoring the fundamental core of antiwar sentiment, as succumbing to the 'mob' was a branch too far, Lloyd George pledged to bring the conflict to a speedy end. "There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks," he announced, "and this is a task we plan to finish."

    Every egg was placed in the Armentières basket. In Lloyd George's mind, victory in Belgium would undoubtedly change the course of the war. His confidence was, as military historians often reflect, not materially based. Armentières was a bloodbath for all parties involved. Not unlike the campaigns that preceded it, this Western Front fight continued for months as Falkenhayn's elastic defense kept German casualties low and the Entente in shambles. The French manpower shortage may have doomed the offensive even prior to its beginning, but the fifty-four British divisions were thought to have been enough to tear apart German defenses. At the absolute height of the chaos, when no world power was willing to yet come to the peacemaking table, Pope Benedict XV issued a proposal pleading an end to the "horrors of the terrible war unleashed upon Europe." The Pope called for, "belligerent peoples and governments to become brothers once more," and peacefully resolve territorial and political questions. For a brief second, some pacifists optimistically (and naively) believed this could be the final straw. Yet, world leaders paid this declaration virtually no mind and kept at the war as hard as ever.

    Any glimmer of hope from men like Raymond Poincaré and David Lloyd George that the war would miraculously turn in their favor was dashed away for good in the autumn of 1917. The Russian Provisional Government, a machine presided over by Minister-President Alexander Kerensky, stood firm in its favorable stance on continued engagement with Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. That position was so unbelievably unpopular with the workers of Petrograd, a working-class population left starving and radicalized, that it eventually fed into the bursting of a second revolution. This, the Great October Socialist Revolution, saw the overthrow of the provisional government by a collective uprising of Petrograd workers in conjunction with the leftist, antiwar Bolshevik Party on November 7th. Strengthened by the fast-fading war effort, the Bolsheviks were able to win the elected majority in the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. Arisen to a position of authority in Russia, the radical party oversaw massive changes under the label of a new workers' state. Russians saw their lives change practically overnight, from the free distribution of food to equal access to healthcare, and the soviets supplanted the parliamentary Duma entirely. This experiment of direct democracy was the first ever instance in modern history in which the needs of the average worker and peasant overshadowed profitmaking interests.

    The February Revolution failed to fundamentally alter the course of the war, but the October Revolution lived up to the hype. Russia's new, revolutionary government went to work organizing an armistice with the Central Powers. Prior to the end of the month, as wartime escapades endured across the planet, Russian emissaries signed the premier paperwork that soon cemented a definitive surrender of the Eastern Front. That was it. For all intents and purposes, the Entente's cause was relegated to the dustbin of history from the moment of Kerensky's resignation. However, the powers that be would not go so quietly.
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXIV - Page 159
  • poincare.png

    French President Raymond Poincaré, c. 1913 - Source: Wiki Commons

    French Prime Minister Aristide Briand was forced to resign in the direct aftermath of the mutinies, taking the fall for the heated controversy. This sidestepped the demand to end hostilities, and led to the short tenure of Briand's replacement, Alexandre Ribot. The latter's frank refusal to shift the course of the war or delve into matters of reorganizing military command led to the start of the aforementioned protests and work stoppages in Marseille and Paris. Ribot too resigned in shambles in the heat of the moment, taking with him the entire ministry. The moniker of French prime minister soon fell to Raoul Péret, a lawyer and financial reform advocate, who immediately attracted controversy with news of his insistence to hold the line on the Western Front and retain the employment of Petain and Nivelle.

    Demonstrations endured in the streets of Paris. Labor unions professed continuous opposition to the war, accompanying a dramatic resurgence of the French Left. Anarchists and pacifists, as well as feminists and anti-imperialists, joined in the ranks of a revitalized peace movement. Together, they fought against against the interests of the state and military establishment. Rallies were initially small, with only about a thousand attendees marching against the war. When the news of Verdun reached the French public, there had been an awakening, of sorts, against the central government. Nevertheless, crowds fluctuated between February and November of 1917, and it was not until Russia's formal exit did the Parisian protests grow unmanageable for the administration. A second, worker-driven revolution was astounding to the people of France, as was the Eastern Front ceasefire.

    Giant banners waved with pictures of Karl Marx and Jean Jarues, the assassinated leader of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). Sympathy strikers poured into the streets all across the country as a collective determination to end hostilities reached a perceptible apex. Members of the French Army began throwing down their weapons on the front in numbers far surpassing that of the winter mutiny. Conservative estimates place the total number of mutineers in the French ranks (exclusive to those in active service on the front) to about one-third of all divisions. On November 20th, General Pétain's entire staff resigned at once. Péret and Poincaré were stumped and terrified.

    After these crises, from waves of soldiers disobeying orders to the demonstrations in French cities numbering in the millions, it was extraordinarily clear that the present government was unfit to carry out its duties. November 27th saw the sun set on the tenures of Péret and Poincaré as each, finally, admitted defeat. This historic event, that which culminated in the complete collapse of the French Third Republic, provoked wild celebrations. Crowds outside of the Elysee Palace were ecstatic. At last, the merciless killing would come to a close. This peaceful changeover of the government allowed for the stark rise of the SFIO: The social democratic/socialist party at the forefront of the rallies. Legislative party leader Ludovic-Oscar Frossard rose to the position of president. Upon taking office during this provisional period, he demanded an immediate ceasefire and issued a sweeping pardon for all mutineers.

    December was an unexpected endpoint to the World War, but without France or Russia at her side, the United Kingdom could do little else but declare a ceasefire on all fronts. Nationalist revolts in Quebec sparked serious trouble on the domestic front for Canada, a nation struggling to keep rifles in the hands of its fledgling, undertrained Army. Lloyd George released a statement expressing his wish for a peace summit, and lettered President Roosevelt of this decision at once.


    Millions of lives changed forever in December of 1917, and millions more had their destines twisted in new and strange directions. [...] In the United States, the president gleefully accepted the idea of an armistice. Britain waving the white flag practically guaranteed, to the U.S., an opportune peace summit. A bright future awaited the nation, Roosevelt presumed. An end to the calamity, one that removes Russia and France from the equation altogether, relieved the president more than all else. He was, at first, tickled by the idea of a childish Bolshevik government reigning in the East, and naturally viewed its collapse as inevitable. "More the better," he wrote. It would teach homegrown Socialists the impossibility of carrying out their "imbecilic" ideology.
    Brian Steel, Foreign Relations: A Summary of War, Peace, and Everything In-Between, 2015
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXIV - Page 160
  • vienna.png

    The Vienna Peace Conference, 1918 - Source: GeneralHistory

    The Great War was over. Over eight million died during the course of this travesty, plus an additional eighteen million wounded or missing. World leaders rose and fell quicker than the life cycle of a common fruit fly. Longstanding governments buckled under the pressure of an unpacifiable population. The world had fundamentally changed, and the memory of the, "war to end all wars," would permanently affect the construct of the public consciousness. With the fighting concluded, however, now the question was how to go about the reorganization and reconstruction of the world. The main, unifying objective of the hostilities, that of total reallocation and division of resources, land, and national borders, necessitated the ratification of a definitive peace treaty. Blood soaked the seas red, and now the sharks prepared to feast.

    Alongside Germany, the United States had emerged in the strongest position to set demands at the peacemaking table. Despite funneling revenue toward the war effort and the exacerbating the national debt, the American power established itself as perhaps the strongest producing and trading nation in the post-war era. The U.S. was undoubtedly a manufacturing juggernaut, even so prior to the outbreak of war, but now it stood alone with its surplus industrial capacity. European governments owed billions in direct loans to the United States treasury, and private investment in overseas enterprises doubled since 1914, thus transforming the once-aloof debtor nation into a toughened creditor. This unique stage frankly meant Theodore Roosevelt's dream of an American Empire was finally being put into motion.

    Following the joint agreement on the armistice, diplomats from over thirty countries gathered in Vienna to conduct the business of negotiation. Delegations included heads-of-state, notable secretaries, ministers, and, to a lesser extent, military commanders. For instance, President Roosevelt (cane in tow) joined the symposium, but he brought with him Secretary James R. Garfield, Assistant State Secretary Henry C. Lodge, and Admiral Austin Knight. Delegates were assigned to some four-dozen committees and instructed with the duty of hashing out the finer details. As one may imagine, it was a foregone conclusion that the victorious powers would seek to implement their various territorial and economic war goals, but the defeated would nonetheless attempt to salvage all they could.

    Though domineering men like David Lloyd George and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando played their respective roles in the peace process, the "Big Three" leaders reigned supreme at the Vienna Peace Conference. This overbearing numerical group was composed of President Roosevelt, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Emperor Charles I. These three informally, albeit effectively, pronounced the shape of the final treaty, and uniformly struck down provisions they deemed unsuitable. Representatives of the fourth Central Power, the Ottoman Empire, did indeed have a say as to the makeup of the process, but Sultan Mehmed V and Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, for example, are infrequently named by World War historians as key decisionmakers. Other than the aforementioned individuals, some periodically argue that Count Johann von Bernstorff, German Ambassador to the U.S., proved invaluable to Germany's prospects.


    The Treaty of Vienna, signed July 1st, 1918, officially ended the war between the Central Powers and the Entente. This treaty was the first of four drafted in the city of Vienna, but it is the most significant for its role in envisioning the postwar world. President Roosevelt, with his European allies, felt as though the opposing nations needed to be harshly punished for the damage caused during the war. Some viewed this punishment as unjust. See below some of the treaty clauses.
    Reparations: The United Kingdom, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, Romania, and Serbia are ordered to repay billions for war-related damages. Existing debts are not excused.
    Military Constraints: The former Entente's armed forces are heavily reduced. British production of submarines now forbidden. The Royal Navy is sharply limited.
    Freedom of the Seas: France and the United Kingdom are forbidden from fortifying trade restrictions and/or blockades.
    The Alliance System: The Entente is dismantled. The United Kingdom, France, and Italy can no longer form military alliances with any Eastern European or Asian power.
    Europe and America: Germany gains territory. Belgium and Luxembourg become German client states. Ireland is granted limited independence. Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria gain territory. Poland and Baltic states are re-established. Canada is no longer a British Dominion and is removed from the British sphere of influence.
    Asia and Africa: Prewar German and U.S. possessions are restored. Japan surrenders all conquered territories in China and the Pacific. U.S. gains Micronesia and Germany gains non-Dutch Melanesia. Mittelafrika is formed from Belgian, French, and British colonies in Africa.
    War Guilt: Serbia is forced to accept responsibility for causing the war.
    Jamesco Ltd., Wars That Changed the World Encyclopedia, Vol. 23, 1999

    For the first time in over a century, a globe-stretching war altered the state of both hemispheres simultaneously. The tidal shift in Europe was anticipated, but the prospect of losing Canada was a surefire blow to the British ego. The loss of their chief North American possession was perhaps inevitable when considering the growth of anti-British factions in the Canadian Parliament and Lloyd George's overwhelming sense of dread at the idea of interacting with that besieged land. Upon the signing of the Treaty of Vienna, Prime Minister Robert Borden acquiesced to public pressure which demanded he dissolve parliament and call a general election. With the Unionist Party coalition in tatters and a hearty opposition ready to take the lead, Borden stepped aside and allowed for the dissolution of the Unionists in late 1918. Thomas Crerar, leader of the center-left Progressive Party of Canada, secured a landslide victory in the 1918 federal election as the now-separated Liberals and Conservatives dissipated to distant legislative minorities. The 42-year-old politician would preside over a divided nation, one characterized by violent Québécois separatists, angered British loyalists, and an Ontario provincial government operating as a de-facto U.S. vassal state.

    By the year's end, the German Empire sat at the head of the European Zollverein: A cross-continental economic union governed by members of the Central Powers and all residual satellite states. This coalition, not unlike its nineteenth century predecessor, immensely assisted in the development of Central Europe, as well as the continent's overall postwar recovery. Smaller countries desperate for economic assistance and greatly deterred from engagement with the failed Entente eagerly signed up to be a part of the customs union. This included the newly created nations of Poland, Ireland, and the four new Baltic states, in addition to the Netherlands, Spain, and all of Scandinavia. In the terms of Jacob Fischer in The New Zollverein,
    "The inability of the Vienna Peace Conference to settle on a postwar, peacetime political organization expedited the need for Zollverein, a tool for both industrious growth and international cooperation."
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXIV - Page 162
  • league1.png

    "A League to Enforce Peace," June 1915 - Source: Columbia

    All around the world, as was in the United States, people reacted wildly to news of the armistice. Men and women poured into the sidewalks of all major towns and cities and cheered in ecstasy that the nightmare was finally at an end. Confetti fell from the rooftops like snow. Children sang in the streets while music erupted from balconies. It was an unbelievable relief, and the same held true for the soldiers at the front. According to the diary of Carl F. Collins, written from his station in Ottawa, "It is finished. Thank God above it is finished. I have never been witnessed to such joy. […] It is the absence of gunfire that is the strangest thing of all.” Nathan Smith, a servicemember in the U.S. Navy, relayed, ”The men are weeping, singing, shouting. Despite the violence these past years and the loss of friends and loved ones, everyone is feeling this emotion, hysterical for the turning of a page.”

    When details concerning the initial treaty process made their way to U.S. shores, the reaction was a bit mixed in select audiences. An overwhelming majority of Irish-Americans, a population that helped propel Roosevelt over Bryan in the 1916 presidential election, were discouraged. Many anticipated the incumbent to fulfill their wish for a free and independent Irish state, but although early reports highlighted the potential for such an agreement to remain on the table, the debate in Vienna was chiefly limited to matters of colonial ownership and reparations. Irish-American trade unionists and elected officials pushed incessantly for the president to be sure to incorporate the stipulation at the conference, yet their high expectations were met with news of a mere proposition to prod London to guarantee Home Rule within the United Kingdom. Roosevelt ultimately opted against expending leverage for a group of, as he termed them, "hyphenated Americans," regardless of their assistance, electorally. Neither men of Irish descent in the United States nor residents of the British holding would be satisfied with this conclusion, and their struggle to secure total independence only intensified as the second anniversary of the Easter Rising proved nearly as deadly than the original.

    On the flip side of the coin, African Americans were disappointed in the president's failure to assure the addition of anti-discrimination language into the final treaty. Many Black Americans fought on behalf of the United States and paid with their lives, yet the federal government ultimately deemed their plight for equal rights unimportant. W.E.B. Du Bois was among those who found issue with the lack of fair representation at the Vienna Peace Conference. In light of the hundreds of thousands of Black soldiers who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and the millions of Africans who would be invariably, and inversely, affected by the colonial policy of the Vienna Treaty, Du Bois and civil rights activist Ida Gibbs Hunt worked to found the Pan-African Congress in Paris. Delegates from the fifteen represented nations urgently petitioned the Vienna conference to allow for equal representation, in addition to their more ambitious demand for African home rule. Their requests were fervently denied. Insofar as the continent Africa was implicated, the final treaty only brought up the topic when deciding which white-ruled, European power would be calling the shots. Du Bois was further annoyed when he discovered that the triumphant victory parades in the Austrian capital explicitly excluded all non-white soldiers.

    The U.S. Progressive Party, and in truth all non-Socialist political factions, were nevertheless overjoyed with the conduct of the president and his administration in completing the war and delving into the peace process. A handful of Democratic and Republican officeholders expressed concern over the extended leave of the president during the six-month long trip to Europe, and a greater share worried that the incumbent would seek to overturn traditional peacetime isolationism, but the Progressives remained steadfast in alignment with the incumbent. La Follette notwithstanding, the Columbians bowed to the president now more than ever and trusted in their leader's ability to excellently carry out overseas negotiations. To them, it appeared as though the nation was on-track for a return to their comfortable prewar arrangement - that is, a slow-and-steady evolution of legislative progress with only the occasional Hearst-like demagogue to fear.

    As did other politicians and similarly minded businessmen and corporate heads, Roosevelt believed in the idea of an all-powerful American economic machine: One greater than or equal to the prowess of the German Empire in Europe. Per this mindset, bringing their dream to a reality necessitated first and foremost international tranquility and a sense of brotherhood unseen this century. The shattered markets of Europe could, in time, begin to recover under the guidance of the Kaiser's theoretical Zollverein, but the incumbent president did not trust in that vehicle’s sustainability for long-term peacemaking and cooperation. Per biographer Franklin Heeler, "Theodore Roosevelt affirmed patriotism and national sovereignty high on the mantle, but do not confuse the forest for the trees. Through his own experience in combat, knowledge of the war department, and presidential terms, the man knew the danger in condoning unchecked armaments and ignoring calls for international arbitration. Like with the creation of the Labor Department, neglecting to enact nonpartisan oversight risked an even greater danger."

    Taking the initiative over the non-existent or otherwise pitiful proposals by his colleagues at Vienna, Roosevelt and the American delegation insisted the other nations unilaterally agree to his idea of a globally spanning League to Enforce Peace. Originally conceived in 1910 during a Nobel Prize address, the aging leader envisioned a communal organization based on the tenants of practical de-escalation and collective security. This league would be composed of a judiciary supported by an elected executive and legislature - not a parliamentary structure. Only in utilizing this concept of strict, centralized legalism would it be plausible to withstand aggressors and non-committed member states. Nothing in the working treaty noted methods of enforcing the harsh restrictions presented to the defeated nations, and such a fact was both incredibly disturbing for proponents of genuine disarmament and quite alleviating to the British delegation. In theory, any violators that refused to follow the direction of Roosevelt's league would be met with military action, or, in the words of Roosevelt, "draw the sword on behalf of peace and justice."

    When push came to shove, however, he was met with a supremely skeptical and disapproving audience in Europe, principally among his own allies. Germany certainly had no reason to desire a legalist approach. Their own actions in the war would not, by any objective means, be considered fair and legal, and the German and Austrian delegations disliked the prospect of a multinational committee judging the morality of their empires. The Kaiser was unwavering in his support for Zollverein as the be-all and end-all for peaceful economic, and eventually political, organization. It was safe, traditional, and Berlin-based (unlike an impartial court). As indicated by Fischer's quote, the European Zollverein was settled in the aftermath of the Vienna Conference partially out of the need to construct some semblance of internationalism in the postwar period. The premier Vienna Treaty did not name a League-like fixture to oversee the implementation of its showy, apparently inoperative provisions, and now it appeared the roadblock standing in the conference's way was insurmountable. In an eventual recognition of this reality, one cleverly identified by the British prime minister, conference representatives curbed belligerent clauses in the treaty's revision and in successive compacts, thereby retooling allotted shares of reparations and defanging certain arms limitations.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 163
  • palmer.png

    USIC Chairman Alexander Mitchell Palmer, c. 1918 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Chapter XXV: Paint it Red: No War But Class War

    As President Roosevelt played the international circuit and worked to improve upon global relations in Vienna, his administration at home was greeted with a familiar problem. Roosevelt's Cabinet needed to ensure that the home front was safety and speedily quieted, and in this objective White House officials received infrequent instructions via notices, telegrams, and telephone calls. Albeit exuberant over their captain's skill in playing the game of war and confident in his chops as a diplomat, Cabinet officials oft expressed apprehension at Roosevelt's wartime domestic policies. The executive was virtually alone in holding the line against proponents of an ethereal sedition ban, and not until European and North American theaters closed did he deem it worthwhile to tackle the root issues connected to the 1917 May Rallies and the Movement for Peace. Now that an armistice had been declared, all eyes turned to Washington for its next moves.

    Throughout 1917, up to the eventual ceasefire and in the proceeding months, organized labor struggled to fend with and break free from the challenges imposed on them by an ever-changing economy. Working class Americans conducting day-to-day operations in industrial facilities fared marginally better during the Great War than in years past. Wages rose slightly across the board to compensate for dramatically increased productivity and heightened wartime demand, and this held especially true for metalworkers. Individuals working in such fields enjoyed somewhat improved working conditions, although most remained unaffiliated with any union and wage increases did not offset simultaneous price hikes in food, commodities, and housing. Wage disparity was also on the upswing with female workers customarily granted smaller paychecks than their male counterparts (men in munitions factories took home an average of $2.44 per day, women took home $1.80). Nevertheless, union organizers faced an uphill battle as workers appeared disinterested in risking their sole means of survival.

    The Industrial Workers of the World proved a giant, red target for progressively belligerent city and state governments as the Movement for Peace dwindled. The comparatively conservative American Federation of Labor fared similarly, gaining a boost in membership whilst failing to secure any meaningful victories apart from the moral. Samuel Gompers' friendliness toward the Roosevelt Administration and his conciliatory demeanor for officeholders in general spared his union the brunt of the burden, but labor unions overall grappled with the troubling situation. Roosevelt's Pershing Address swung open the doors for the Society for Americanism to play its part as previously noted, and the SA, in its strictly enforced anti-sedition pledge, rarely discriminated based on the color of one's membership card. To the intellectually malnourished SA, any and all association with a labor union garnered suspicion and accusations of treason. At the behest of governors like William Stephens in California, the nationalist group willfully engaged in its gang-like tactics, relentlessly disrupting the lives of activists and leaking rally plans to the police.

    This development was, undoubtedly, the most consequential result of the president's rejection of the Hanley bills in the spring of 1917. Mass arrests lingered through the latter years of the war in states and cities promoting laws aimed at curtailing antiwar demonstrations (the very same laws Roosevelt himself resoundingly disapproved). The lack of federal guidelines per the restriction of speech did not stop widespread repression. According to Franklin Heeler, "[Roosevelt] opposed the Sedition Bill(s) not out of moral sanctity. He was a realist, and he did not trust in the abilities of his administration to carry out, as he called it, a two-front war. His resources were spread thin, and a whistle-stop appeal to the public was no longer his favored route to progress. By 1918, war was over, negotiations were well underway, and the very last topic he wished to contend with was the declaration of a War on Socialism. [...] Roosevelt was a tired man by the time he took part in Vienna. He walked with a cane because of extreme joint pain and was generally fatigued and plagued with headaches. Some believe these conditions led to the decision to prolong the life of USIC."

    The United States Information Council operated in full force regardless of the armistice, and by all measures of deduction the president spared not a thought to eliminating the agency. Its original intent concerned guiding the prevailing war narrative, but now the imaginative incumbent began to theorize a novel use for the once-temporary council. The catalyst of this shift in the president's contemplation likely stemmed from the appointment of Representative Alexander Mitchell Palmer (P-PA) as chair of the agency. The first official head of USIC, Brigadier General William Harts, was reassigned to concentrate fully on the Northern Front. Roosevelt selected Palmer for a multitude of purposes, not the least of which was to satisfy critics who warned the president against retaining active members of the military in positions typically reserved for statesmen and attorneys. Palmer's appointment was hailed by fellow Columbians as a welcome safeguard to preserve the USIC in the postwar period. Many of the same were likewise thrilled to learn of the new appointee's vocal opposition to the private vigilantism of the SA.

    Palmer's foray into the White House altered the scope of USIC and transformed it into a permanent fixture for the administration. Once settled into his role, the new chair substantially downsized the agency's staff and thoroughly vetted those who remained. He, with Attorney General McKenna, communicated feverishly with state governors that utilized the arguably criminal talents of the SA and demanded an end to it. Uprooting apparent seditious activity was acceptable, Palmer reasoned, but in working with an enterprise as seedy as the Society of Americanism these state governments opened themselves up to litigation. From the moment a ceasefire was announced, USIC flipped a switch that launched a new slate of policies. All anti-British propaganda was swept under the rug, and from thence on the organization concentrated all fire on left-wing agitation, the labor movement, and the Socialist Party.

    Despite President Roosevelt's then-controversial rejection of a full-fledged, federal measure to forbid alleged "seditious activity," he managed to secure peace on his terms and delegated to men like Stephens, McKenna, and Palmer the responsibility to carry on their fight. That said, Congress was hardly satisfied. As dozens of conservatives repeated, no federal measures were set in place to, for example, interfere with the distribution of radical periodicals via the U.S. Postal Service. Cities that had instituted sedition laws ensured that such publications never reached newsstands, but the popularity of the overt antiwar Appeal to Reason soared and its subscribers did not have much difficulty in obtaining regular issues. State laws also did not remove members of the Socialist Party from public service. This was critical, as some nationalists on the more extreme end accused their colleagues of disloyalty and asserted the potential for a betrayal of the republic a la France's SFIO. Much of the agenda in the postwar Congress, as such, was filled with rabid censure resolutions and reworkings of the old Hanley bills. Even with these warning signs noted, the troubles of the postwar period in the United States were only just beginning.
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 164
  • steel2.png

    Steelworkers at an Organizing Rally, April 1918 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Men and women of the United States eagerly awaited the new year, a step out of the darkness of war and into an era of de-escalation. The fighting had come to an anticlimactic close after four tumultuous years, setting the stage for what appeared to be renewed prosperity. Once again, as was the case in the Spanish-American and Philippines wars, the United States emerged unambiguously victorious. Seeing as this particular conflict was, at least for the U.S., a brawl over economic hegemony, spheres of influence, and freedom of overseas trade, financial speculators assured the public that a glorious, newfound Pax Americana was waiting just beyond the horizon. A secure and orderly economy, one unimpaired by arbitrary blockades and international restrictions, was precisely what President Roosevelt pledged. Nevertheless, instead of bringing about unprecedented growth and riches to the children of the empire, 1918 brought about uncertainly the likes of which had not been seen for decades.

    Virtually all industries in the United States enjoyed splendiferous profits during the Great War. Some owners doubled or tripled their workforces, and in times of heightened demand it was hardly a tough decision to cede minor concessions to an increasingly class-conscious working class. They sprinkled in more wages here, dripped in limited recognition of their unions elsewhere, but never once indicated that these wonderous benefits were limited time offers. Yet, that was the plan. Quite literally on Armistice Day at peace's declaration, calculative and conniving robber barons made a collective decision to rein in working conditions they viewed as expensive and superfluous. It was an infamous choice that robbed millions of exhausted Americans of their hard-earned pay and eight-hour work weeks (claimed as luxuries), but the verdict was most certainly inevitable given the lack of federal protections or owner integrity.
    Benjamin McIntyre, The Workers' Struggle: The Birth of a Columbian International, 2018

    Shackled by a combination of swell-sounding, albeit temporary concessions by factory managers, a lack of interest or initiative, and accusations of disloyalty in the face of war, the labor movement was somewhat paralyzed. Underlying tensions which had been totally unearthed in the labor conflicts of the early 1900s found mixed results, but as a whole the unionized section of the American working class was dramatically expanding and empathy with both skilled and unskilled workers stretched far and wide. Organizers discovered a loosening of these shackles upon Armistice. The U.S. economy ground to a halt with news of the sudden drop in demand, thus dissipating, overnight, quotas for steel, coal, iron, and munitions. January and February saw the country rattled by soaring inflation, and with it a sudden leap in the urgency for higher wages. Workers now teetered on the brink of poverty. However, from the perspective of Eastern American Steel Corporation President Elbert H. Gary, the company required significant downsizing to remain solvent.

    Eastern American issued its call in conjunction with Dallas Steel Corporation and Western Steel. The entire metalworker’s industry plotted gradual, weekly layoffs to accommodate for the ongoing postwar recession, in addition to a steady rollback of wage hikes and a quiet prohibition on trade union meetings. The latter measure was not written in any formalized company statute, per se, but their continuous denial of assembly permits and under-the-table arrangements with meeting hall property owners clearly indicated an orchestrated effort - Not to mention, the stealthy employment of private agencies (SA or Pinkertons) to intercede in organizing efforts. Union representatives requested an open floor to negotiate, but to no avail. Newly appointed Labor Secretary William J. MacDonald (P-MI), a proponent of moderate arbitration, referred to Gray's measures as "dutiful and fair," and therefore did not opt to intervene.

    It is important to note that steelworkers chiefly belonged to one of two labor unions. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, a conservative AFL-affiliate, held a majority stake. Its bureaucratic leaders, all shaped in the mold of the inoffensive Samuel Gompers, were on splendid terms with the steel corporations. The AA led calls for a peaceful settlement with assistance by the federal government, even after MacDonald made his disinterest clear. Secondarily had been the Sons of Vulcan, a splinter of the AA formed at the time of the McKees Rocks strike in 1909. SV members were predominantly based in the Western states, and a sizable portion were second-wave European immigrants. Following the conclusion of that railcar manufacturing strike, the SV cemented its separation from the AFL and voted unanimously to join with the IWW. Syndicalist William Z. Foster, head of the Sons of Vulcan, was less so interested in toying with the whims of an uncaring Labor Department.

    Abiding by the results of a strike referendum, one passed decisively at an IWW-sponsored national steelworkers conference, the Sons of Vulcan declared its intent to engage in a work stoppage if its demands were not met. Elbert Gary and fellow cohorts did not respond. AA leaders clamped down on their own workers under instruction from Gompers himself, insinuating expulsion should any of their members join in the radical motion to strike. The AFL simply could not afford to drown one its greatest weapons. A massive loss threatened the very existence of the Amalgamated Association, just as the Pullman Strike functionally ended the American Railway Union. "[The AFL] tried it all," remarked labor historian Henry Mavis Kyer, "from threats to coercion and blackmail. Gompers prepared to name all strikers Bolsheviks. Nothing was out of bounds."

    SV Steelworkers, once the union's deadline passed, abided by the referendum. Beginning May 1st, 1918, International Workers' Day, over a fourth of the entire steel industry shut down. From the massive plants in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to the swathes of mills in Pueblo, Colorado, work stoppages suddenly plagued the country. Impressed by the actions of their fellow metalworkers, desperate to take command of the situation, and perhaps encouraged by the might of the IWW thus far, workers belonging to the AA stunningly joined with the call to strike in an act of flagrant disobedience. Gompers and the AFL had lost control of their own members and incidentally handed their rival union a tremendous win. With about three-quarters of the industry dead quiet by May 4th, the promise of Pax America seemed a quaint memory.
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 165
  • Seattle_General_Strike.jpg

    Front Page of the Seattle Union Record, May 23rd, 1918 - Source: Wiki Commons
    That is what I want to urge upon the working class; to become so organized on the economic field that they can take and hold the industries in which they are employed. Can you conceive of such a thing? Is it possible? What are the forces that prevent you from doing so? You have all the industries in your own hands at the present time. There is this justification for political action, and that is, to control the forces of the capitalists that they use against us; to be in a position to control the power of government so as to make the work of the army ineffective, so as to abolish totally the secret service and the force of detectives. That is the reason that you want the power of government. I know, too, that when the workers are brought together in a great organization they are not going to cease to vote. That is when the workers will begin to vote, to vote for directors to operate the industries in which they are all employed. So the general strike is a fighting weapon as well as a constructive force. It can be used, and should be used, equally as forcefully by the Socialist as by the Industrial Worker.
    Bill Haywood, The General Strike Speech Excerpt, 1918

    The IWW, despite being the target of incessant harassment by vigilante groups and laws criminalizing the union's positions, possessed adequate resources to provide national coordination for the upsurge of activity in the steel industry. Having maintained and expanded its presence and popular notoriety, beginning in 1907 with the victory of the UMWA, then bolstered significantly by the success of the WCIUL-led Shirtwaist Strike, the union likewise grew its base of support among Midwestern and Western industrial workers. Farmers, miners, machinists, and dozens of other industries knew the IWW well. Regardless of the state-led mudslinging campaign, the Industrial Workers could not be effectively painted as a foreign-sponsored entity, nor as an out-of-touch, un-American institution. By 1918, the IWW was viewed alongside the AFL as the face of the American labor movement.

    A contingent of IWW organizers in Pittsburgh premiered a renewed tactic in the wake of a resituated USIC. Union agitators worked to spread counterpropaganda, an active attempt to thwart the federal government's narrative. Bill Haywood and others in the Greater Pittsburgh Region of Western Pennsylvania put their ears to the ground. They looked to hinder both USIC misinformation efforts as well as that of company managers hoping to demoralize strikers with strikebreakers. Haywood's speeches struck at the heart of the issue, commonly motioning to class solidarity in place of mindless patriotism and superficial divisions. He stressed the ideals of a socialist mode of production, contrasting the status quo, an undemocratic workplace structure, with collective cooperation and universal liberation. He particularly enjoyed incorporating personalized stories from other labor conflicts, such as his experience in Wales during a coal miner's strike.

    Three weeks into the Steel Strike, the Sons of Vulcan held firm. Foster refused to blink, as did Elbert Gary. Strikers committed to the SV's stance on nonviolence, muzzling opportunities by state governors to call in their respective national guardsmen. Mass arrests took place under relatively peaceful circumstances, but even then, Socialist Party officeholders pledged to defend the rights of the striking workers when brought to trial. Tales of police cracking down on picket lines and strikers being dragged from their homes did not serve to instill even a droplet of fear. Public opinion, by historical accounts, stayed with the steelworkers and against the robber barons. Amid these troubles and in an overnight meeting with fellow board members, USIC Chairman Palmer was horrified to learn of a new development underway. A strike had broken out. Not in a steel mill, but rather at a Northwest shipyard.

    On May 22nd, roughly 40,000 Seattle shipbuilding workers declared a work stoppage. Shipyard owners, in response to pleas to raise wages in accordance with inflation, announced their willingness to increase the pay of skilled workers alone (otherwise, an across-the-board wage cut would manifest), thus prompting a strike. Just thereafter, the U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation sent a telegram to the shipbuilding owners stating their intention to withdraw contracts if the company were to increase wages. This notice found its way to the Metal Trades Council. Seeing as the state no longer thought it necessary to hide its favor with employers, members of the Seattle Central Labor Council called on the city workers to join in a general strike. Workers granted unanimous support.

    Inspired by the Bolsheviks in Russia and supported by the IWW and local Socialist officials, the people of Seattle formed a novel, impromptu people's government. Named the General Strike Committee, this counter-government, organized by workers in various trades, sought to provide essential services to all city residents. The collective body established its own method of food distribution, maintained hospitals, retained the service of firemen, and employed its own "Veteran's Guard," a substitute for police made up of recently returned war veterans. About 50% of the striking locals openly affiliated with the IWW, but the Industrial Workers were nonetheless depicted as the drivers of the general strike. Haywood, Flynn, Charles Moyer, and the de facto upper echelon of the union vehemently insisted that the Seattle strike was not miraculously generated by the IWW, but rather it was a spontaneous, instinctual event conducted by Seattleites. These statements failed to prevent newspapers in Olympia, Portland, and Milwaukee from crediting/discrediting the union when various trade unionists in their cities joined in the call for a general strike.

    Seattle's General Strike was not expected to outlast the afternoon. Instead, it lasted through the end of May and into June. Upwards of 15 towns and cities engaged in collective work stoppages by June 10th, the steel mills remained closed, and news rapidly spread concerning plans of labor strikes in Lawrence and Boston, Massachusetts. The economy of the United States was swiftly slowing to an absolute halt. Meanwhile, the Roosevelt Administration, apparently seeking to frighten the strikers into submission without resorting to total war, released a response denouncing the ”menace” of industrial unionism. Their response restated a select assortment of the president’s own words during the Movement for Peace, like his cogent accusation that left-wing activists represented, ”the worst foes of liberty and democracy,” and redirected the ire toward supposed nefarious elements in the American Labor Movement. Use of the injunction had been outlawed but forcibly recalling the tide of public opinion was still possible, and the administration furthermore vowed to fully prosecute antagonizing forces. Most importantly, President Roosevelt, then-managing the nation's diplomatic affairs in Vienna, submitted speedy approval of a stark administrative rollback. Per the Labor Department, as authorized by the president, all federal protections for unions, union organizers, and participants in labor strikes that had been established during the war were thenceforth rescinded.
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 166
  • Eugene-Debs-Canton-Ohio-Speech-Zinn-Education-Project--335x266.jpg

    Eugene Debs Speaking to a Crowd, June 1918 - Source: Zinned

    As was apparent to the governments of all states, as well as in D.C., this new labor crisis was swiftly evolving past the point of containment. An industry shutdown was a complex problem in and of itself, but the introduction of city-wide concurrent strikes added a layer of frenzy into the mix. American cities were no strangers to labor disputes disrupting local economies. Since the 1870s, state, local, and federal governments had been familiar with the concept, dreading it whenever such calamitous outcomes occurred. The founding of Roosevelt's Labor Department juxtaposed with other gradually implemented progressive reforms may have led some to believe a massive strike wave impossible, yet that was precisely where the country was in the spring and summer of 1918.

    Workers struck in unparalleled numbers. Steel production and refinement was essentially halted, but now, inspired by the events in Seattle, entire metropolitan centers were anesthetized. IWW affiliates, one after another, affirmed walk-offs and established strike funds. At the behest of an unruly rank and file, the Western-based United Mine Workers prepared to engage in a strike of their own. A range of managers in the textile industry struggled to keep a lid on their own workplaces, as did pseudo-monopolistic rail executives. Over 150 strikes engulfed the nation in the month of May. That count rose to 290 in June, and the stage was set for that figure to double. Widespread discontent over shared exploitation, the reluctance or inability of the owner class to maintain fair conditions, and newfound resentment over the administration's professed falsehoods pertaining to economic glory culminated in the immobilization of the entire country.

    U.S. soldiers returning from the front in massive numbers handed industrial employers an entirely new issue with which to contend. When the drums of war demanded enlistment for the Northern Front, factories employed working class women to replace them. These new workers were paid far less for the same position, as previously iterated. With the war concluded and the soldiers headed home, factory owners leapt out of the figurative frying pan, and into the fire. Not unlike in the case of Eastern American Steel, overseers and company executives announced mass layoffs with the purpose of reopening so-called "men's jobs." For the millions of veterans fortunate enough to return alive and with a participating employer, their prewar bosses offered reemployment at a reduced pay grade. It was either that, or they were shut out of the workforce entirely due to extensive downsizing. First forced off to die for an uncertain cause, and now mistreated by one's homeland, the degree to which human lives were treated as disposable units may have awakened a silent undercurrent of class solidarity in these former soldiers (as well as among the expendable female workforce). In the words of British Army veteran Harry Patch, "We were all conned, the Americans too."


    There is but one thing you have to be concerned about, and that is that you keep foursquare with the principles of the international Socialist movement. It is only when you begin to compromise that trouble begins. So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what others may say, or think, or do, as long as I am sure that I am right with myself and the cause. There are so many who seek refuge in the popular side of a great question. As a socialist, I have long since learned how to stand alone. For the last month I have been traveling over the Hoosier State; and, let me say to you, that, in all my connection with the Socialist movement, I have never seen such meetings, such enthusiasm, such unity of purpose; never have I seen such a promising outlook as there is today, notwithstanding the statement published repeatedly that our leaders have deserted us.
    When the newspapers reported that Kaiser Wilhelm and President Theodore recognized each other at sight, were perfectly intimate with each other at the first touch, they made the admission that is fatal to the claim of Theodore Roosevelt, that he is the friend of the common people and the champion of democracy; they admitted that they were kith and kin; that they were very much alike; that their ideas and ideals were about the same. If Theodore Roosevelt is the great champion of democracy, the arch foe of autocracy, what business had he as the guest of honor of the Prussian Kaiser? And when he met the Kaiser, and did honor to the Kaiser, under the terms imputed to him, wasn’t it pretty strong proof that he himself is a Kaiser at heart? This farcical congregation in Vienna represents the indifference to which they cast their eyes at democracy. That hive of sycophancy and autocratic vampires would have you believe that the Socialists consist in the main of disloyalists and traitors, and only the aristocratic parasites, the Junkers of Germany, the United States, and Wall Street, can be faithful patriots.
    Here, in this alert and inspiring assemblage our hearts are with the Bolsheviki of Russia. Those heroic men and women, those unconquerable comrades have by their incomparable valor and sacrifice added fresh luster to the fame of the international movement. Those Russian comrades of ours have made greater sacrifices, have suffered more, and have shed more heroic blood than any like number of men and women anywhere on earth; they have laid the foundation of the first real democracy that ever drew the breath of life in this world. And the very first act of the triumphant Russian revolution was to proclaim a state of peace with all mankind, coupled with a fervent moral appeal, not to kings, not to emperors, rulers, or diplomats but to the people of all nations. Here we have the very breath of democracy, the quintessence of the dawning freedom. The world is daily changing before our eyes. The sun of capitalism is setting; the sun of socialism is rising. It is our duty to build the new nation and the free republic.
    Eugene Debs, Speech in Canton, Ohio, June, 1918

    Deeply displeased with the conduct of his subordinates, save Secretary Garfield, President Roosevelt departed Vienna slightly ahead of schedule. In mid-July, upon the signing of the Vienna Treaty and the cementation of its revision, the commanding American finally exited the stuffy halls of the Vienna Conference and somewhat urgently made his way back to the United States. Roosevelt had hoped to return to a settled and calmed nation following the cathartic ending to the travesty of the Great War, but he discovered that the reports relayed to him by the Cabinet purposefully minimized the scale of the work stoppages and general strikes underway. Albeit opting against a public appearance aside from a rather imperial welcoming commission, Roosevelt reached the shores of the U.S. intent on bringing yet another tumultuous moment in history to an amicable close.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 167
  • chicago.png

    Destruction in Chicago, July 1918 - Source: Wiki Commons

    "Theodore Roosevelt, fueled by rage and adrenaline, stormed through the White House doors and re-entered the gates of bureaucratic hell. His own trusted friends and allies had not the ability to soak in the knowledge and wisdom the president deliberately hoped to instill. He saw no men sitting around the rustic Cabinet Room table, only failures, guilt-ridden children. Albeit tainted in the long shadow of depression and unnervingly quick aging, Roosevelt tossed aside his old way of methodical reasoning and charged headfirst into the inferno. The darkest American summer was thereby interrupted by the wick of a relit candle." For the quoted commentator, conservative author N.L. McPherson, Roosevelt's return to Washington exemplified hope in what would otherwise be deemed an American Doomsday. This sentiment was likewise shared by Progressive pillars, chiefly businessmen donors, desirous of some semblance of order.

    The president's plate was piled up with disconcerting news, and not one word spoken by his Cabinet officials appeared to ease the stress. Preserved federal records, including Roosevelt's own journal entries and various staff retrospectives, do indicate an exceptionally erratic president completely disinterested in the opinions of secretaries Temple and Cortelyou. Vice President Johnson was wholly shutout, as was Attorney General McKenna. Taking the reigns as if flashing back to his service in the military, the bristled president commanded a new, multifaceted direction. Domestic reform was well overdue, that much was clear. Once outlandish concepts like the general strike could only emerge from years of deep-seated anger and resentment in the workplace. Reform alone would not rid the country of the Red Scourge, however. Strike at the heart, Roosevelt claimed, and the beast shall die, no matter its size.

    McKenna handed in his resignation letter as instructed. The new vacancy was immediately offered to USIC Chairman Palmer. This critical move, the sole suggestion from Johnson adopted by Roosevelt, meant an internal shift in the conduct of the Department of Justice. The United States Information Council was renamed to better fit in with its standing as a permanent fixture of the federal government. Known from July of 1918 as the Federal Intelligence Authority, the security office fused with certain elements of the Justice Department, therefore granting it a wider range of resources and the opportunity for simplified cross-departmental cooperation. With its new capabilities, communicating sophisticated objectives like organizational infiltration proved a cinch. In the meantime, the president rubberstamped a slew of anti-socialist projects drafted by the A.G.-to be. Johnson's other proposed ideas, including persuading Roosevelt to commit militarily to oppose the burgeoning Soviet state, did not find success.

    In the streets of Seattle, Milwaukee, and Boston, state police doubled down on their repression tactics. They uprooted organizers and union advocates from crowds, arresting them in droves, and mercilessly beat any who dared to resist. SA vigilantes gleefully joined in the pummeling, often appearing from side streets and wagons to kettle the unruly picketers. A new dimension also started to unfold as the labor rebellion reached its apex, that of interracial friction. Southern-based postwar tabloids did not shy away from targeting, or blatantly scapegoating, black communities for the nation's woes. Whether it be for instilling supposed radical, un-American ideas among striking workers or threatening the livelihood of white workers (returning black servicemen were hired for a lesser rate), white supremacist provocateurs always found an excuse. Horrific, destructive race riots erupted in South Carolina, Texas, and in Washington, D.C., between June and July, costing about a dozen lives and wreaking havoc on predominately black residential districts. The Roosevelt Administration gave no response.

    Enter Chicago. For over a month, thousands of public-sector workers hopped on the general strike bandwagon and demanded more reasonable conditions. Municipal employees, clerks, engineers, and others joined the five concurrent labor stoppages engulfing the Windy City. Strikers were of varied ancestry, language, and skin tone, and in that truth Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr. (D-IL), a machine politician and fervent anti-socialist, envisioned his chance to deal the labor rebellion a significant blow. His administration, one that openly affiliated with the SA and celebrated the USIC, communicated the directive to instill racial strife betwixt the dissimilar unions. Conservative Democrats like Harrison theorized racial equality as a key component to a successful labor movement, although the latter outcome they sought to prevent. Per Representative Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ), "the American Negro returning from abroad would be our greatest medium in conveying Bolshevism to America." Stirring division was their only means to conquer the tide of solidarity, in other words. Harrison's office fomented rumors of a sudden yet inevitable betrayal from the black strikers, whispers of under-the-table deals and assistance to strikebreakers, sparking a torch of anger from an a fidgety, on-edge workforce. Agents of the state sowed dissent not only among workers, but throughout the entire city, emitting a surefire dog-whistle for any resident connotating black organizing with "Bolshevism."

    Members of the Chicago Socialist Party and local IWW organizers fought hard to temper the flames, yet by mid-July race-oriented resentment managed to seep through and inject itself beyond simply the labor strike. On the evening of the 11th, large crowds of armed whites, shepherded by the South Side branch of the Society for Americanism and Irish American athletic clubs, launched the first of many violent patrols through Chicago's "Black Belt". They fired weapons indiscriminately into homes and at black individuals, targeting everything and everyone in sight. These patrols were, per declassified city records, condoned by the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Harrison's office. Determined to protect their families and neighborhoods, however, and in a dramatic turnabout from prior riots in Texas and Washington, the black communities of Chicago fought back. Black veterans of the Great War organized themselves into improvised defense militias and returned fire. Back-and-forth violence endured until the Illinois National Guard, at the insistence of the governor, finally quieted the disruptive city. 32 had died, hundreds injured, and entire blocks were burned to the ground. Union members may indeed have been on both sides of this race riot, perhaps signaling a previously undiagnosed pitfall in the present movement.

    The brief Chicago General Strike collapsed. Its failure at the heels of a tumultuous race riot gave way to fear from Americans across the country that the ongoing labor rebellion was furthering racial antagonisms, in addition to putting the national economy at risk. Mayor Harrison, as one may imagine, blamed the IWW and the Socialist Party for driving up tensions that otherwise would not have existed. He berated, "foreign agents," for intruding in the affairs of the city and inflicting, "the plague of Bolshevism," upon a vulnerable America. The mayor concluded that IWW activists, many of whom were second-wave immigrants, brought to the United States European social conflict along with European political ideals - again insinuating that the heart of the labor movement was a foreign plot. Somewhat ironically, albeit in a tragic sense, Harrison's July 17th speech shared the front page with a developing story concerning a legitimate plague breaking out in Central Europe. News of a particularly infectious strain of influenza circulated earlier in 1918, but thus far the disease had not surpassed mortality rates of a regular flu season. Starting in July, the sickness began spreading much faster. It decimated thousands in Central and Eastern Europe, with the bleakest numbers arising out of Warsaw, Zagreb, and Budapest.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 168
  • flu.png

    Walter Reed Hospital Flu Ward, Summer 1918 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Nothing is exempt from the political sphere, not even the rise of a mysterious disease. An incredibly vile and contagious virus suddenly grasped the world by the jaw in the second half of 1918. This plague-like strain was dubbed the "Serbian Flu," a name with an uncertain history. Its etymology is muddled, a rather bizarre development considering initial cases were discovered not among Serbs, but Croats, although one may deduce this as a purposeful mistake. Anti-Serb biases were in no short supply in the postwar period. Serbia itself was specifically cited within the Vienna Treaty as the chief malefactor responsible for the Great War, so it was by no mere coincidence that the Balkan nation was once again burdened with blame. With that said, the terminology has gone unchanged since the outbreak.

    Influenza hysteria was soon commonplace in Europe, but not quite so in the United States. Sparse cases were diagnosed within North America as a whole, and rampant misinformation in the early stages of the virus led scores to believe that the sickness had merely been an ordinary, run-of-the-mill flu, thus staving off widespread alarm. Despite an upswing in mortalities throughout Central and Eastern Europe as a direct result of the Serbian flu, nothing seemed to pierce the disinterested American consciousness. "The Serbian flu," wrote Philip Brown in Historical Ailments and Afflictions, "included symptoms often associated with influenza; sore throat, fever, headache [...] Respiratory complications came to epitomize the 1918 strain of H1N1. Bacterial pneumonia was common in the lungs of victims, a side-effect of damaged bronchial tubes. Rapid respiratory failure was the leading cause of death."

    A slow yet steady uptick in American cases caught the attention of publishers and investigatory epidemiologists, however, it was not Manhattan nor Atlanta that initially stirred unease. It was Vienna. Relatively few instances of the virus were unearthed in the Austrian capital as participants learned of the deadly strain taking hold in fellow European capitals like Sarajevo and Budapest, temporarily soothing fears that it had infiltrated the peacemaking venue. Whether it be hubris or optimism, those present at the event elected not to cancel it outright, but rather to introduce an 'open windows' policy and suggest all persons attending be more attentive to covering one's mouth when coughing. President Roosevelt and the greater part of his caravan had already departed Vienna and were well on their way to Washington when the first Viennese diplomats revealed their potential infections and instituted self-imposed quarantines.

    News broke at the tail end of July, mere days after the riots in Chicago, that Secretary Garfield was hospitalized for the virus. The head of the U.S. State Department elected to remain in Vienna to oversee any further treaty alterations and solidify arrangements with the German Empire, a decision mutually agreed to by the president, and was scheduled to return to Washington by August 10th. Garfield and four other reputable diplomats commanded the downsized American delegation as residual talks petered out. His loyal service to the president was thereupon interrupted with the sudden onset of a dizzying fever, prompting the entire party to fall back into quarantine. Roosevelt immediately ordered plans be made to convoy the remaining Americans from Vienna. "That damned war cannot be permitted to collect another American life," he penned to an associate.

    Public health authorities began to enact maritime quarantines as numbers fluctuated in the states. They did so to protect against ships arriving from the most perilous of European 'hot spots.' Some governors went the extra mile, forbidding the acceptance of travelers from Central Europe altogether. This tactic joined dozens more utilized by public officials as the reality of the pandemic began to set in. Upticks across the country led to the introduction of social distancing initiatives, limited public transport schedules, and the closing of public meeting places. Without any shred of a reliable cure, health experts could only advise against the formation of crowds wherever possible to curb exposure to the virus. It is vital to recall that the arrival of the Serbian flu coincided with the most explosive labor rebellion seen in a generation, further complicating the matter.

    Seeing as some city and state authorities saw fit to limit crowd sizes and shut down most closed-in facilities (like union halls), law enforcement had the chance to seriously clamp down on the ongoing labor rallies. Regardless of how sympathetic elected officials were to the ambitious, resilient strikers, it was purely irresponsible, in their view, to excuse violations of health protocols. Yet, the laborers themselves, hardened by their own experiences and supremely skeptical of the government, did not trust in the authenticity of their reasoning. Were city-wide quarantines and the prohibition of public gatherings truly designed first and foremost to prevent the transmission of H1N1, or were their motives a bit more nefarious? Truth be told, we may never know for certain. Scientific data has since concluded that the viral wave spread due to unhygienic conditions in conjunction with tightly packed trains, factories, and places of worship. Implementing preventative measures was certainly the correct step to restrain the outbreak, however police-abetted skirmishes with strikers had little to do with containing the pandemic.

    An upsurge of Serbian flu cases by the end of July and in early August crippled IWW recruitment drives in places like Seattle. It was impossible to organize effectively when stepping onboard a picket line provoked fierce brutality by so-called "crowd control" enforcement. Efforts to rally support for sympathy strikes in the heart of Boston collapsed, as was true for New York and Philadelphia. Indicating a semi-reversal to the trends in the North, tens of thousands in Dallas, Texas, joined in a massive general strike led by IWW-affiliated oil field and refinery workers. The hesitancy of the UMWA to permit an industry-wide work stoppage of its own while out disallowing UMW locals from taking part in regional stoppages led to an additional 4,500 coal miners taking part in the Dallas strike. The week-long event, which did eventually stumble as Governor William P. Hobby (D-TX) expectantly called in the National Guard, culminated in a 10,000-man march on Dallas City Hall. Workers famously hoisted a crimson-colored flag in the plaza just outside of the government building on August 3rd as a symbol of working-class resistance. Their banner, in the words of one anti-socialist observer, "...was a warning shot. [Strikers] did not burn the flag. They clamored, ''Paint it Red'" It was a short-lived moment of victory for the labor movement, but it confirmed that spontaneous labor uprisings could spring up anywhere, and even in the middle of a ravenous flu season.


    Vienna -- Mr. James Rudolph Garfield, son of James A. Garfield, twentieth President of the United States, died at his Viennese lodgings from pneumonia. Mr. Garfield has a long history of public service, beginning as an Ohio State Senator from 1896 to 1899. He served as an advisor to Theodore Roosevelt and governed the Department of the Interior from 1905 to 1909. Mr. Garfield was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1910 from Ohio and served a partial term before resuming his service to the president as Secretary of State in 1913. He is survived by his spouse Helen Garfield and four children. Mr. Garfield would have been 54 years old October 17th.
    Western Newspaper Union, "James Garfield Dies at Vienna," The Idaho Springs Siftings-News, August 7th, 1918
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXV - Page 169
  • trhj.png

    President Roosevelt and Vice President Johnson, 1916 - Source: OAC

    Secretary Garfield's passing evoked an outcry of grief from former colleagues as well as the fourth estate, but more than all else it underscored the precariousness of the nineteen-teens and moreover needled the necessity for President Roosevelt to appear before the country and assuage its fears. Virtually the entirety of Washington, even the incumbent's greatest political foes, understood the significance of doing so. Recent evaluations had confirmed the spread of influenza within the very heart of Vienna, infecting not only the Progressive Ohioan, but six others including Emperor Charles' younger brother, Archduke Maximilian Eugen. The frightening specter of Serbian Flu afflicting world leaders, yet another worrisome development to add to the pile, served to accelerate economic uncertainty, deepen the evolving industrial downturn, and send another blow to the promise of postwar security. Undoubtedly, the best method to slow the compounding national crises and stop the bleeding was for a healthy and active president to confront the matter head-on and declare his plan to lead the United States out from the proverbial fog.

    Roosevelt aspired to do just that, yet his body refused. According to notes from the White House medical staff, Roosevelt's agonizing joint discomfort had grown so intense that the leader was nigh hourly downing medicinal painkillers to curb the worst of it. He suffered from endless migraines and tumultuous insomnia, aggravating his temperament and crumbling information retention. Most obvious above all was the deterioration of his physical appearance. Putting aside his all-white top, a feature known of the president since the start of his third term, the elected leader had grown remarkably gaunt. His weight loss often made the man unrecognizable to those unawares, and it was reported through the grapevine that he had lost upwards of fifty pounds over the span of his European visit. White House medics, theorizing an assortment of ailments, insisted he submit to boundless tests and appraisals, but Roosevelt personally brushed aside any health-related concerns. "He'd avoid the sensitive topic," wrote Ackerman, "either to comment on the poor quality of Viennese cuisine or interject with a unrelated anecdote. [...] His symptoms did not correspond with the flu, so suffice it to say he was not concerned."

    The incumbent nevertheless worked through the pain in an attempt to bring his shattered country back together. He poured over every shred of news about the virus, the strikes, and the declining state of the economy. Struggling both physically and mentally to chart out a step-by-step course for the offices of the Executive Branch to follow, Roosevelt progressively leaned on the expertise of his Cabinet officials (despite his initial adrenaline-laced denigration). The broad sentiment in the party, and indeed among men like Crowell and Temple, honed in on retribution alone. Dormant political issues from social welfare and regulation to women's suffrage and the protection of black voting rights no longer appeared to factor in the equation. Roosevelt's own letters indicate a rush of depression and alienation at this stage, exemplified most vividly with the words, "I fear I no longer recognize them as allies." By August 13th, he was all but completely incapacitated, resigned to do the business of the presidency from the seat of a bed. Five days later, weakened and sapped of life, the aged Rough Rider passed away.

    Per McPherson, "The Old Lion never again awoke. His Pride mourned the loss, but life must go on." Men crowded around the room. First Lady Edith Roosevelt sat solemnly at her husband's side as the Physician to the President verified the assumption. Palmer, Crowell and Cortelyou rushed to the scene, joining Vice President Hiram Johnson and others soon present at the dismal site. As the realization set in, the wandering, tear-filled eyes of the staff found their way to the vice president. Johnson, a known entity in the administration, was no stranger to his peers. He was austere, though not unsociable. Principled and astute, yet not at all boisterous like his partner in the West Wing. Johnson, the reform-minded attorney from California, was met with the epitome of a 'make-or-break' opportunity - to either follow in the footsteps of his predecessor or cast a new shadow. As insinuated above, the moment at hand called for a nimble, dynamic presence at the helm. Johnson elected to embrace that need, and furthermore utilized the passing of his friend to help accomplish it.

    Johnson was immediately sworn in as the 31st President of the United States upon the arrival of Justice William R. Day to the White House. Word of Theodore Roosevelt's passing was released to the press that evening, coinciding with plans for the new president to deliver a public statement the following morning. In his first official act in the executive position, one that stayed under wraps for the next twenty years, Johnson opted to deliberately misconstrue the circumstances surrounding Roosevelt's demise. Upon careful consideration, no official cause of death was announced to the press alongside the bleak announcement. The discernable catalyst for Roosevelt's death, according to official federal documents on the subject, was a debilitating overnight stroke: Ostensibly a by-product of chronic lead intoxication due to the projectile lodged in his scapulothoracic joint. Yet, that unfortunate reality was unappealing for Johnson. Therefore, it was essentially rewritten. None apart from the president's personal surgeon learned the hard facts, and the physician himself was ordered to keep the details classified. In harnessing the dreadful passing of his once-close friend and colleague for political purposes, Hiram Johnson gave a glimpse into his brand of rulership. Nothing was off-limits.


    An abhorrent bereavement has betided our land. We have lost a giant and a patriot, perchance the finest ever borne from these United States. President Roosevelt was my dear friend, an inspiration for honest governance and personal nobility. To America, he was a far greater presence. His real ability and fearless courage, rare attributes in this day and age, won us a world safe for prosperity and liberty. We as a nation do and will express our enduring respect and admiration for his life, our true and deep sorrow for his death. This is a day of remembrance, and of reflection. We mourn a good and great President who is dead; but while we mourn, we are lifted up by the splendid achievements and grand heroism of his life.
    Now, it is with a heavy heart that I uphold my solemn duty as President of the United States. It will be my resolve, as it was for President Roosevelt, to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. [...] Our American ideals rest primarily on recognition of the rights of men and the absolute sovereignty of the people, and it is the maintenance and perpetuation of these principles that measure the life of the republic. Only a government responsive to the interest of the public good may claim itself representative. Prosperity cannot thrive in a divided government, and an industrious economy cannot be born in the thorny laurels of anarchy.
    President Roosevelt, my friends, gave his life for the pursuit of Pax Americana. His crusade for justice in government, fairness in policy, and balance in perspective was met with discordance. Reckless conspirators and foreign-born demagogues have bred unrest and social discontent, endangering the livelihood of the workingmen, and hampering societal progress. Their obstruction came at the irreparable detriment of law-abiding citizens and their public officials, the president chief among them. Dogmatic foes of liberty and democracy are pure malefactors and nothing else. It is a travesty, a stain on Roosevelt's memory, to permit them the privilege to preach their heinous, un-American doctrines. Their activities are treacherous and seditious.
    From the throngs of tragedy and the shadows of disorder, our America will rise to greet the dawn. The Torch of Columbia cannot be extinguished.
    Hiram Johnson, Address to the Nation Excerpt, August 19th, 1918
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 170
  • hj.png

    Hiram W. Johnson, 31st President of the United States - Source: Wiki Commons

    Chapter XXVI: Your Crown Lies Heavy: Progress Endangered, Traitors in Our Midst

    Long-haired preachers come out every night
    Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right
    But when asked about something to eat
    They will answer in voices so sweet

    You will eat, you will eat, by and by
    In that glorious land in the sky, way up high
    Work and pray, live on hay
    You'll get pie in the sky when you die, that's a lie


    Joe Hill, Preacher and the Slave, 1911

    The body of Theodore Roosevelt was not yet cold when his lawful successor saw fit to cast blame upon certain segments of the country. President Hiram Johnson could have chosen to abide by the wishes of the departed leader, thereby following in the footsteps of the revered Progressive trailblazer and seek, first and foremost, a level-headed, wholly mediated solution to the tiresome national ills. Be it by nature or the conditions of the moment, Johnson elected not to calm the unruly winds through soft-spoken language. His first speech as the ascended president appeared to demonstrate the novel incumbent's plan to diverge course. As opposed to flatly laying out facts or quietly mourning Roosevelt's death, Johnson consciously motioned to so-called nefarious subversives. It was a loosely-defined "them", he put forward, the anarchists, the socialists, and the immigrants, who were truly responsible for the economic downturn, the sudden spike of influenza, and the passing of their hero-president.

    This ethos, an us-versus-them paradigm, inherently characterized the initial months of the Johnson presidency. The people of the United States were not allowed time to process the tremendous loss of their leader. There was no time to grieve, claimed the new face of the federal government, not when hordes of undesirables were running rampant. "We must band together as Americans," the president declared, "and defeat those dark forces that seek to stain our legacy and bring ruin to our communities." Continuous use of words like, "foreign," "foreign-born," and, "un-American," drove-in further the suggestion that European migrants, above all else, were to be targeted. He never referred to any organizations by name but judging by his supreme distaste for 'radical' tendencies and second-wave immigrants, it is safe to presume that Johnson cared not for the affairs of the Industrial Workers and the Socialist Party.


    Marks: The period from June 18th to about October 5th is commonly referred to as the Red Summer, as you know -"red," for more than one reason. I've found that it is more enlightening, however, to separate this four-month span into two halves. On the one half, from June to August, the 1918 Labor Rebellion reaches its height and plateaus while race riots rage in Washington D.C., Chicago, and in other cities. The splashdown of Serbian Flu and its subsequent protective measures in the United States also serve to envelope that summer's essence. Now, that right there constitutes three colossal issues, not even to touch on the advancing Great Migration or the recession - Surely more than enough to teach a semester-length course or write an anthology. It was Roosevelt's death which began the latter half of the Red Summer.
    Dickinson: Without a doubt.
    Marks: But this second piece to the puzzle, despite its epigrammatic nature, is no less significant to the political and social development of the early twentieth century. Hiram Johnson, inexperienced as an executive but very much a man familiar with the ins and outs of the far-reaching abilities of the federal government, comes to power and immediately issues a call to action. He refuses to cede an inch, even to men in his own party demanding institutional reform. That speech, as I'm sure you'll agree, John, fired off the loudest warning shot, though not the first, in what we today call Bloody September.
    Dickinson: Yes, certainly. Words are words, though, and in a vacuum hold no innate power. Yet having learned his share of of wisdom from the Populists and the rise of President Hearst, Johnson was quick-witted enough to capitalize on an undercurrent of reaction. He embraced certain xenophobic red-baiting and adopted the convenience of scapegoating, finger-pointing. Riling up these folks earned him new allies, and in this case sidestepped the need to lean on Congress or the courts for assistance. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Columbian, of course, not a populist agitator by any means, but Johnson believed his predecessor's reliance on progress 'by the book' was much too slow to be of any use.
    Dickinson (cont.): To secure the state and the economy [...] he rubber-stamped the ravaging of American laborers and defiling of countless households. Reading first-hand accounts of the brutality is frankly horrifying. One written by a young woman from Pittsburgh still comes to mind whenever I read or re-read these stories. Her father worked at a steel mill and was himself a member of the Sons of Vulcan. Their family struggled to get by with the mills closed. They survived on a pittance from the union, obviously the city did not spare a nickel, and in their spare time worked for a union-sponsored free health clinic. Anyway, this woman detailed from memory her father explaining the union's refusal to submit to Eastern American's offer to mediate exclusively with native-born skilled workers. "We are one," he said. "Like America, the union is indivisible." That man, Charles Gardner, and hundreds like him, lost his life on the picket line.
    Historians John Marks and John Dickinson, 1918: Labor, Disease, and Blood: A Live Forum, Aired 2010

    Whereas Theodore Roosevelt argued in favor of settled accords and greatly discouraged state governors from calling in the National Guard as a response to labor squabbles unless absolutely necessary to protect fellow countrymen from harm (an untested loophole in the American Safeguards Act ban on injunctions), Hiram Johnson wasted no time in demanding action. Inspired by the words of the new president, city sheriffs across the country deputized tens of thousands to assist in the clamping down of supposed seditious activity. Persons who once marched in Preparedness parades rejoined with their old cliques, often with now-engorged chapters of the Society for Americanism, to found Roosevelt Defense Leagues: Militant organizations self-tasked with defending the nation's precious lifeblood from, "the scourge of foreign ideologies." Such groups flooded the outskirts of steel plants, coal mines, textile mills, and other industrial worksites. Together with fellow anti-labor police units, Pinkerton agents, and unaffiliated opponents of workplace integration, these men launched an assault on the labor movement the likes of which had never been seen.

    Skirmishes dwarfing those of the last few months erupted. Blood gushed and gunfire clamored. State police, when not directly involved in the bloodshed, typically waited on the sidelines to arrest union leaders, putting to rest any lingering questions of bias. Over time, as growing numbers of strikers faced extraordinary repression, many improvised their tactics and fought back as necessary (not unlike the strategy of Black Chicagoans in July). This was plainly counter to the nonviolent approach of the IWW and the SP thus far, with the exception of the armed labor conflicts in Appalachia, but union organizers and other notable figures of the movement like Haywood and Flynn could not preach peace while their comrades perished by the hundreds. Yet, outgunned and under a merciless (and lawless) onslaught, steelworkers in the Midwest, coal miners in the mountain states, and textile workers in the Northeast no longer possessed the drive to limp on. As the labor rebellion speedily fizzled and the leaders of the IWW found themselves ensnared by the justice system, picket lines shrunk. Violence had seemingly prevailed as the Steel Strike came to a de facto end on September 30th. All AA workers and a majority of SV members returned to work with their demands unmet. News of William Foster's arrest under federal charges dashed any lasting glimmer of hope for the strikers. Elbert Gary won the grisly battle for control of the steel industry, but, per O'Conner's A Radical History of American Politics, the reputation of the Steel Triopoly and that of the Johnson administration suffered tremendously.

    "The downfall of the Chicago Strike," wrote O'Conner, "signaled a drawn-out, albeit steady decline in the rallies and picketing of the Red Summer. The recipe brewed in July, that of a disunified working class brought to heel by racism, may have ended once and for all the longevity and influence of the IWW. The old-fashioned tact of ferocious repression as utilized by President Johnson quickened the end of that seasonal uprising, but any critic worth his salt was now unable to cite inter-union disjunction as reasoning for their defeat." Johnson was no beginner to politics. He opted to scapegoat for the sake of regaining 'common sense' order. The year 1918 saw a greater number of labor strikes than any prior year in American history, though more than three-fourths ended before or during Bloody September. Johnson essentially accomplished what he set out to do, and by refraining from deploying the U.S. Armed Forces he considered his role bloodless, but his tossing out of the baby with the bathwater is undeniable. The federal government had condoned all-out barbarism and completely defiled its claim to impartiality. Meanwhile, the IWW remained infused in the construct of American labor, and its near-50% stake in all unions by the end of 1918 stayed unchanged by the events of Bloody September. In the words of Eugene Debs, "The spirit of organization cannot be crushed. Another day is dawning."
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 171
  • police.png

    A Police Assault in the Closing Days of the Steel Strike, Homestead, Pennsylvania, September 1918
    - Source:
    The Great Steel Strike

    Positively beaming in the glow of an assured victory, President Johnson strode ahead unperturbed. His focus was unmoving: To implement his vision as rapidly and efficiently as possible. His first official foray into managerial decision-making, controversial though it may be, was greeted in Washington as a superb and welcome deed. Unsubtly calling out supposed agents of rebellion and decimating the labor movement against its will played rather well in certain circles. Political bureaucrats and businessmen too viewed working class-consciousness as a menace, and were soon fed up with Roosevelt's incessant refusal to take organized labor's economic threats seriously. For them, in the words of Congressman John Elston (P-CA), "it is a fine whiff of fresh air, a calm on the river," for the country to have once more, "a man driven by rationality," in power. Moreover, as the new face of the Progressive Party and in recognition of the electoral consequences of alienating industrial workers entirely, Johnson did indeed make it a point to praise the handful of unions that rejected participation in the general strikes.

    Soothing the national panic was not an objective attainable by any man alone. It took the entire administration, the media establishment, and the heads of several major industries to even begin the monumental task. New national standards concerning the transmission of the Serbian Flu were adopted across the 48-states by the end of the Red Summer (then enforced by municipal workplaces and private businesses), and the first phase of an anti-labor initiative was all but complete with the end of the Steel Strike. Two of Johnson's key collaborators which had assisted immensely in the carrying out of these tasks were Attorney General Palmer and the eternal president of the American Federation of Labor, Samuel Gompers. Palmer was a no-brainer considering his friendship with the Californian and their shared admiration of now-defunct USIC policies, yet the former's increasingly prevalent role in the Roosevelt Cabinet almost certainly helped shape the direction of Executive-level policy and cannot be understated. Without the Attorney General's towering presence in the Cabinet room, some historians speculate that Johnson may have acted more cautiously.

    Gompers, the visceral foe of industrial unionism and monarchical governor of the AF of L, found a kinship with the Progressives long ago. Like a majority component of the party, the union leader believed in reform-minded legislation and championed the creation of the Department of Labor as a masterful stroke of genius. Gompers initially opposed entrance in the war, but, like other Columbians, gradually came to support U.S. involvement for the sake of securing a prosperous, bountiful future for American workingmen. The IWW, with its staunch opposition to sluggish change-from-above and openness to workers of all creeds, colors, and languages, was Gompers' prime enemy. In this, he and Johnson concurred. Their mutual hatred for the socialistic union made the two more so allies rather than cordial friends, though this alliance was wholly symbiotic. The AFL president won a reliable assistant in his quest to rub out the dangerous IWW, and the newly-inaugurated U.S. incumbent secured an incredibly valuable partnership from a union he believed honest and respectable. It seemed to benefit both equally to reduce the number of radical agitators in order to regain their sense of societal order.

    Congress was President Johnson's third titanic ally. Roosevelt, for all of his combative bluster and impulsive neck-wringing on the road to the Square Deal and the eventual war resolution, constantly battled an ever-rocky relationship with the legislative branch (due in part to the ousting of Speaker Cannon and the David Phillips fiasco). Comparatively, as Roosevelt blared the horns and rallied the troops, it was Johnson who worked to settle affairs in Congress. During his senatorial term he acted as a liaison of sorts for La Follette when a cooler head was needed to entangle with the opposition. Johnson, as such, retained positive relations with congressional leaders in the two dominant parties. Despite not holding onto a congressional majority in the upper house, the president concluded that these ties with the legislature would benefit his plans terrifically. One can always count on catching more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Prior to and in the very early days of the 1918 labor rebellion, a select assortment of Socialist congresspersons with a smattering of Democrats and Progressives were knee-deep in an investigation on the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a permanent nationalization of the nation's railroads. Roosevelt had temporarily authorized total government control of the locomotive system for the purpose of simplifying the transport of war goods, but at the end of the Great War questions remained whether this, provenly more efficient, system was worth retaining in some regard. A loose coalition of Socialists, liberals, and union officials upheld a plan to enshrine federal ownership in accordance with a representative board of directors, and for a moment it appeared as though the proposal had adequate support for passage. This innovative idea coincided with dozens more put forward by similarly styled coalitions, including worker-oriented grievance committees and equal representation on corporate boards. Albeit a genuine opportunity to curb the power of corporate consolidation of the railroads, the purportedly anti-trust Roosevelt Administration did not stake a position on the matter. The measure stalled. Talk predictably faded fast when the general strikes broke out and violence captured the press.

    Instead, the central focal point of the legislature shifted to a return of the anti-sedition Security and Loyalty bills. Congressional leaders begun work on designing a scaled-back version of the Hanley bills even before the ascension of President Johnson, but now the doors had swung wide open. Roosevelt was not amenable on the issue, but Johnson's political evolution made him far more susceptible to the whims of the party. Then-Vice President Johnson had thoroughly endorsed the use of existing law to criminalize so-called 'anti-American' demonstration as the subject of U.S. intervention rallied together competing pro and antiwar parades. His speech at the 1916 Progressive Convention indicated just how far and fast this evolution was moving. "Subversives," he exclaimed, "risk endangering American service to mankind." Thus, it was no shock when the second-in-command joined called for a nationwide law to combat the rise of the Movement for Peace in May of 1917. Now, even with the war over, the president re-affirmed his commitment to the idea. He planned to sign off on a bill mimicking that of California, where district attorneys were free to seek indictments and convictions based solely on accusations of a nebulous treason. Authorities working under Governor Stephens in the Golden State arrested over ten thousand on those pretenses, from taking part in labor stoppages to speaking out against funding anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia. If all went according to the president's plan, millions may have been arrested.

    To the boundless disappointment of Johnson, Stephens, Palmer, Gompers, and the rest of the Progressive Right, the Judicial Branch had alternative plans. The Supreme Court was untethered by electioneering concerns as well as the changeable sentiments of the White House. Its composition fundamentally metamorphosed in the past decade with a majority of justices having been nominated and confirmed by either Hearst or Roosevelt. "The courts," wrote Ackerman, "kept the authentic Progressive Era alive in a way that the eponymous political party did not." In unanimous or near-unanimous decisions, the Supreme Court outright banned the use of child labor (1914, Jacobson v. Haverford), rejected a conservative challenge to the constitutionality of the American Safeguards Act (1916, White v. United States), and affirmed the legality of a New York law mandating all corporate donations to politicians be public (1916, Frich v. New York). Chief Justice Joseph Carey presided over one of the most progressive federal courts in history, but it did not proclaim itself an enemy of the Johnson agenda until November 1st, 1918, when a certain ruling effectively suffocated the drive for a revised sedition bill.


    On March 6th, 1918, Katherine Becker, a schoolteacher from Bakersfield, California, was arrested and summarily discharged for disloyalty. Becker belonged to the Socialist Party and refrained from punishing a student for expressing doubts over the integrity of the U.S. Armed Forces in the World War. Per California Law as of 1916, Becker committed a state felony. Henry H. Roser, a Los Angeles-based labor attorney and former mayoral candidate, challenged the legality of the 1916 Sedition Act based on grounds of contradicting the First Amendment to the Constitution. Becker posed no danger to the United States, according to Roser, but the present interpretation of state law incorrectly penalized her with exaggerated charges. In his terms, it was a clear violation of the Constitution to either dismiss an employee or discipline a student based on his or her political opinion and affiliation. The case escalated to the Supreme Court. In a majority ruling, the court decided against the State of California.

    Becker v. California: Decision 5-4
    Chief Justice Joseph M Carey - Plurality
    Justice Edward D White - Dissent
    Justice William R Day - Dissent
    Justice Emory A Chase - Plurality
    Justice Marcus C Sloss - Plurality
    Justice Louis Brandeis - Plurality
    Justice Frederick W Lehmann - Dissent
    Justice William H Taft - Dissent
    Justice Benjamin Griffith - Plurality

    Ronald L. Chapman, A Concise History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 2011
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 172 - 1918 Election Results
  • 1918 Congressional Elections

    Senate
    Democratic: 42 (+5)
    Progressive: 29 (-3)
    Republican: 22 (-4)

    Socialist: 3 (+2)


    House
    Democratic: 131 (+5)
    Progressive: 127 (-29)
    Socialist: 93 (+62)
    Republican: 84 (-31)

    Civic League: 0 (-6)
    Independent: 0 (-1)


    Senate Leadership
    Senate President Hiram W. Johnson (P-CA)
    President pro tempore John H. Bankhead (D-AL)
    Caucus Chairman Robert L. Owen (D-WV)
    Conference Chairman Robert La Follette (P-WI)
    Conference Chairman Warren G. Harding (R-OH)

    Caucus Chairman Ashley G. Miller (S-NV)


    House of Representatives Leadership
    Speaker Champ Clark (D-MO)
    Minority Leader Wesley L. Jones (P-CA)
    Minority Leader Meyer London (S-NY)

    Minority Leader James R. Mann (R-IL)

    A great deal had changed in the United States since the previous congressional election. It was just two years ago, in an election season that corresponded with the tension-raising presidential cycle, when Theodore Roosevelt and his Progressives sailed to victory on a platform of reformism, patriotism, and an unmitigated triumph in the Great War. In November of 1918, Roosevelt had withered away, taking with him any remnant of positivity within the Progressive establishment. Only a few short months passed since the ascension of Hiram Johnson, but in that time his influence on the party was felt far and wide. Candidates for political office from the president's party championed the legacy of the recently departed leader to the highest degree, but their collective messaging stemmed more from a place of anti-socialism and xenophobic nationalism than anything resembling the original Chicago Platform. "Drive The Wooden Stake Through The Bolshevik Devil," read a flyer sponsored by the Ohio Progressive Party.

    As it turned out, an indeterminate prewar normalcy was not as enticing to American voters in 1918 as was the promise of a government responsive to the demands of its citizens. Despite exhaustive sympathy to the incumbent leadership following Roosevelt's death, public discontent with the ruling party far outweighed any favorability spike. Johnson, and too Roosevelt, had blatantly ignored domestic reform since the breakout of war. Their demonization of an ill-defined treason seemed to supersede all pledges to enact progressive legislation. Very few Columbians running for office even cared to mention universal suffrage or the eight-hour working day. Now more than ever, and especially after the tumultuous Red Summer and the rise of exuberant fearmongering, your average American had come to identify the Columbians as a party of antagonizers and militants. True, the people desired restoration and order, but not a tyrannical order categorized by workplace massacres. Therefore, voters turned to other options.

    In dozens of states, such voters looked to the Socialist Party as a viable alternative. The SP endured as the sole vehicle of the grassroots labor movement all throughout the rollercoaster-like year. Its leaders attained the spotlight whenever and wherever possible, counteracting the Johnson Administration's anti-IWW narrative to instill their own points of view. It was not uncommon for city councils to have a handful of Socialist officeholders, and success stories like that of Mayor Seidel repeatedly disproved federal propaganda claiming fiscal irresponsibility. In the eyes of the typical worker, representatives like Meyer London who fought on Capitol Hill for pro-labor legislation were not frightening Bolsheviks, and in the words of a contemporaneous voter survey were termed more "patriotic" than their Democratic, Republican, and Progressive counterparts. For any and all workers familiar with the organizing structure of the IWW and scarred by the extreme repression of the labor uprising, the pros of voting Socialist eclipsed the cons.

    Under these conditions, the Socialists managed to win a spectacular sixty-two new seats in the House of Representatives (predominantly in their upper Midwest strongholds and in industrialized, urban districts), setting their grand total to 93. Firebrand activists Scott Nearing (S-NY) and Edmund T. Melms (S-WI), and famed authors John S. Reed (S-NY) and Oscar Ameringer (S-WI), were a part of that gigantic class joining the diverse Socialist contingent in Congress: One which stretched from devout unionists like Representative Fiorello La Guardia (S-NY) to the business-oriented Victor Berger (S-WI). The latter figure opted in 1918 to run for Senate in the special election to succeed the late Senator Isaac Stephenson (P-WI), eventually winning by the skin of his teeth. Alongside State Senator Matthew S. Holt (S-WV), Berger was the latest entry of the SP to the upper chamber in Washington. The House delegation, though far from the slightest sniff of genuine power over the legislature, could no longer be outright ignored as a faction when fostering voting coalitions. On that note, once a bargain was struck pertaining to an end to all discussion regarding future anti-socialist sedition bills, Champ Clark of the Democrats won a majority vote for House Speaker. If not for the Socialists, Jones may have held onto his position.

    The Democratic Party, buoyed by national exhaustion over the Progressives, fared well in the congressional and gubernatorial elections of 1918. In spite of regional divisions, unhidden sectionalism, and the fairly recent presidential defeat of William J. Bryan, Democrats bolstered their numbers in the Senate and accumulated a net gain of five House seats. Some historians cite their profound luck this cycle as a simple side-effect of growing distaste with the uproarious chaos of the Roosevelt-Johnson regime, but credit should be partially attributed to the rise of a younger class of Northern Democrats painstakingly shedding the stench of the Bryan and Hearst eras. Senator John Fitzgerald of Massachusetts pioneered the concept of post-Bryan liberalism with his 1916 shock win as his brand appeared to resonate with Democratic and independent voters alike. David I. Walsh (D-MA), similarly an Irish-Catholic reformer, toppled the seemingly invulnerable John W. Weeks (R-MA) to deliver the GOP yet another surprise blow in the Bay State. Attorney John B. Jameson accomplished the same in a New Hampshire special election.

    In Michigan, a state often considered a bellwether in the never-ending game of political tug-of-war, maritime safety advocate William A. Smith (R-MI) suffered the most high-profile defeat out of any this cycle. Smith was a standard Republican moderate in the Senate and naturally did not attract controversy, but his Democratic challenger could hardly say the same. Following a hotly contested primary election, motor vehicle magnate Henry Ford captured the party's nomination. House Leaders Champ Clark and Woodrow Wilson prompted the insatiable Ford to run for office in the belief that no other stood a chance against the affable Smith, and that may have proven true if the businessman declined that offer. However, he did run, and immediately stole the thunder from fellow challenger Marcus J. Cassidy (P-MI). Ford's controversial statements kept his name on the front-page of near-all Michigan newspapers, courtesy of the Michigan Republican Party, and the state's residents were well-aware of the industrialist's rabid antisemitism, pacifism, and union-busting practices when they voted him in: 40% to Smith's 35%.

    Missouri Senator William J. Stone, a titan of Democratic politics and President Bryan's Secretary of State, died in April, 1918, and was temporarily replaced by a St. Louis city commissioner named Xenophon Wilfley (D-MO). Stone owned the seat since 1902, and various other Democratic politicians sat in that same chair since the 1870s. Nonetheless, the Progressives and Republicans managed to make some inroads in local politics over the previous four years, and Senator Reed (D-MO) winning a lukewarm 50% of the statewide vote in 1916 indicated a potential weak point in the Solid South. John A. Henderson, the incumbent Columbian mayor of Kansas City, mounted a much-hyped campaign for the Senate while the isolationist conservative Selden P. Spencer (R-MO) did likewise. Yet, the final tally showed not a weakened Democratic electorate, but rather one severely underestimated by the available polling. Former Governor Joseph "Holy Joe" Folk, a reformist Democrat and proponent of governmental transparency and morality, utterly clobbered the competition. For now, the Solid South appeared unbreakable.

    Progressive mainstays faced a handful of notable, perhaps preventable, primary defeats in these midterm elections. Sensing their chance to pounce on a political organization with its identity and purpose in flux, and additionally inspired by Governor Charles E. Hughes' (R-NY) ability to win cross-party support, conservative nationalists flowed into statewide Progressive Party chapters. Hughes himself belonged to this community but remained focused on his own re-election as opposed to directing a national initiative, and indeed secured a third term despite a hearty challenge by Assemblyman Alfred E. Smith (D-NY). This group, starting in the postwar period, began taking positions of authority in these state parties, and soon thereafter promoted challenges to incumbent officeholders they deemed unsuitable. Their plan counted on eradicating all Columbians wholly unable to gain the endorsement of the Republican Party, thus awarding a new breed of Nationalist Progressives the opportunity to capitalize on Roosevelt's name without abandoning their conservative policies. Among the victims were Frank H. Funk (P-IL), E.M. Thompson (P-ME), Franklin Murphy (P-NJ), and well over twenty others. In their place were men far to their right on virtually all issues. Freshman Senator Bert M. Fernald (P-ME), for example, strongly criticized the existence of the Federal Trade Commission and voted in favor of supplanting Conference Chairman La Follette with Republican leader Warren Harding.


    Senators Elected in 1918 (Class 2)
    John H. Bankhead (D-AL): Democratic Hold, 91%
    John N. Heiskell (D-AR): Democratic Hold, 68%
    John F. Shafroth (D-CO): Democratic Gain, 39%
    L. Heisler Ball (R-DE): Republican Hold, 42%
    William J. Harris (D-GA): Democratic Hold, 88%
    William E. Borah (P-ID): Progressive Hold, 51%
    Medill McCormick (P-IL): Progressive Hold, 44%
    William S. Kenyon (P-IA): Progressive Hold, 43%
    Charles Curtis (P-KS): Progressive Hold, 40%
    Edwin P. Morrow (R-KY): Republican Hold, 41%
    Joseph E. Ransdell (D-LA): Democratic Hold, 92%
    *Walter Guion (D-LA): Democratic Hold, 87%
    Bert M. Fernald (P-ME): Progressive Hold, 42%
    David I. Walsh (D-MA): Democratic Gain, 38%
    Henry Ford (D-MI): Democratic Gain, 40%
    Knute Nelson (P-MN): Progressive Hold, 44%
    Pat Harrison (D-MS): Democratic Hold, 80%
    Joseph M. Dixon (P-MT): Progressive Hold, 37%
    George W. Norris (P-NE): Progressive Hold, 36%
    John H. Bartlett (R-NH): Republican Hold, 44%
    *John B. Jameson (D-NH): Democratic Gain, 39%
    Walter E. Edge (P-NJ): Progressive Hold, 41%
    William B. Walton (D-NM): Democratic Gain, 42%
    *Joseph W. Folk (D-MO): Democratic Hold, 58%
    Furnifold Simmons (D-NC): Democratic Hold, 63%
    Robert L. Owen (D-OK): Democratic Hold, 40%
    Charles L. McNary (P-OR): Progressive Hold, 43%
    LeBaron B. Colt (R-RI): Republican Hold, 50%
    Nathaniel B. Dial (D-SC): Democratic Hold, 95%
    Peter Norbeck (P-SD): Progressive Hold, 40%
    Albert H. Roberts (D-TN): Democratic Hold, 55%
    John Morris Sheppard (D-TX): Democratic Hold, 72%
    Thomas S. Martin (D-VA): Democratic Hold, 79%
    Matthew S. Holt (S-WV): Socialist Gain, 34%
    *Victor L. Berger (S-WI): Socialist Gain, 35%
    Frank W. Mondell (P-WY): Progressive Hold, 43%

    * Special Election
     
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 173
  • blg1.png

    The Ontario Legislature, c. 1909 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Toward the end of the year, and in the wake of a disappointing midterm election, it had dawned on President Johnson and PNC Chairman Melville Kelly that their political branding was swiftly losing its steam. Relying on sympathy for Roosevelt's passing had failed (though by all accounts did lessen the severity of congressional losses) and leaning entirely on fearmongering propaganda ultimately did not rouse the public. It was a fair bit shocking to the administration. Amid war, the group's open embrace of patriotism assisted their electoral goals terrifically, and furthermore granted them the opportunity to discard any residual plans for reform. Pure-and-simple Patriotic Americanism was the name of the game. Columbian flag-waving boosted party notoriety, propelled interest in joining the global fray, and successfully staved off Bryan's 1916 presidential challenge. This motif also proved to bring in support and financial contributions from certain moneyed interests once viciously opposed to the organization. Why, then, had it begun to crash back down to earth?

    Per H. William Ackerman in Columbians in Washington, "The World War changed everything, and of this the Columbians were certainly not exempt. Six years after submitting their resolution to amend equal suffrage to the Constitution, House Progressives emitted total radio silence on the subject of reform initiatives. The loss of Theodore Roosevelt seemed to rob the ruling party of not only its standard-bearer and chief founder, but of its absolute core. Somewhere along the line, the purpose of "progress" within "Progressive" was lost." Ackerman, like other historians of the era, theorize that without its captain, the ship was doomed to lose its way. Sans their rightful king, the pride would open itself to the snakes. It is no coincidence that the rise of the Progressive Nationalists sparked off in the first congressional midterm following the ascension of Hiram Johnson. Yet, considering Roosevelt's role in the Preparedness movement, the Canadian Offensive, and the Philippines War, he was very much a central component of the Progressives' shift to obsessive nationalism.

    The Progressive Party's overall makeup and world perspective evolved, or devolved, more so due to its political fundraising. Postwar Progressives and the Johnson administration, by their actions and their statements, did not convey unease with the power of trusts and corporate combinations. Attorney General Palmer did not exhibit nearly the same attentiveness to corrupt business practices as McKenna. From the moment he took office, the former USIC chief quietly slowed and/or reversed investigations into systematic malpractice, thus accelerating the rebound of corporate corruption from its relative hibernation earlier that decade. The steady dissipation of the Republicans in Congress and the utter collapse of the John Weeks campaigns (presidential and senatorial) had already pushed the steel triopoly to outwardly favor Columbian rule, but once Johnson green-lit the events of Bloody September, the rush of support was immeasurable. "[Johnson] inherited an exorbitantly profitable political organization," described Ackerman. "Regardless of its electoral woes in the short-term, the Progressives gained, in 1918, mountainous monetary assistance. [...] One by one, the Republicans' numbered list of grievances with their separatist foes was shrinking."

    The PNC possessed the funds to coordinate effectively, it was winning favor with the upper business class, and its patriotic persona outshined the competition by a mile. Still, this carefully constructed recipe lacked a crucial ingredient. What ought to have been a jovial midterm melted into a miserable headache. The main problem, in the eyes of the committee and the president, was the absence of a unifying crisis. Labor unrest was innately disunifying, and of this the only agents capable of capitalizing on it were the Socialists. By contrast, the war against the Entente escalated Progressive support and carried them to victory in 1916. One internal, American Worker vs. American Owner, one external, the United States vs. the Entente. Johnson desired an external crisis above all else. Only then could a united citizenry identify itself with the state and cheerfully come to its defense. Fortunately for the Commander-in-Chief, one materialized.


    Canada sat in a state of devastation after the war. Poor harvests, famine, and high unemployment, coupled with impossible tariff rates, blighted the country and put added pressure onto the governorship of Prime Minister Thomas Crerar. He struggled endlessly to quell an unruly and troublesome population, one rife with provincial tension and division. His government authorized emergency relief to the nation's cities and countryside, however the distribution of food and health aid suffered its own difficulties in transit through Ontario. Townships and cities in Southern Ontario stayed defined by a heavy U.S. Army presence in brazen defiance of President Roosevelt's vow to allow for semi-independence from military rule on the road to a graduate withdrawal. Toronto, a shattered metropolis under the thumb of the notorious Isaac Littell, strictly prohibited duty-less trade imports.
    In mid-February 1919, upon the third anniversary of Canadian victory in the Battle of Crowe Bridge, a host of militant activists in Toronto took center stage. Armed with rifles and revolvers, some dressed in dyed Canadian Army uniforms, the Volunteer Ontario Liberation Army mobilized to force total autonomy and the establishment of a free state. Thousands of furious and starving civilians and veterans took part in the four-day street-fighting affair. They briefly captured an impromptu command post in the empty, war-torn Ontario Legislative Building and claimed it as their centerpiece. These revolutionaries lowered the high-flying Stars and Stripes from atop the iron and timber structure and replaced it with a flag colored in crimson. Solidarity, they declared, with the workers of the world. [...] The U.S. Army did not hesitate to suppress the uprising and reacted as fiercely as anticipated. Over 600 were killed. Ten alleged organizers were executed.
    Jacob Knowles, The 1910s: An Overview, 2014

    For Johnson and other former War Progressives, the violent skirmish in Toronto put in question the authority of the United States in North America. Perhaps desirous of lifting their concerns to the front-page, the Torontonian agitators stepped out of bounds and led to further violence and destruction. The president read aloud a speech in the aftermath of the insurrection (known today as the Toronto Rebellion, or Toronto Massacre), calling on the country and the Armed Forces to be consistently attentive to threats, "beyond our borders. Our servicemen, soldiers and sailors, cannot abandon their duties to maintain international order." To carry out this "preventative" measure, Johnson announced an indefinite postponement of all troop withdrawals from Canada and the Ontario border. Days later, fully prepared to pounce on an obvious breach of the Vienna Treaty and the U.S.-instigated bloodbath in an occupied city, Eugene Debs explained, "There was never a time when the state was so ripe for Socialist agitation and organization."
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 174
  • poland.png

    PLF Defenses in the Polish Independence War, 1920 - Source: Wiki Commons

    As the Johnson Administration eyed further intervention in U.S.-occupied Ontario following the insurrection in Toronto, it made it a point to communicate the absolute necessity of such considerations. The very last thing they desired was for the culmination of a newfound international conflict that resembled, in any way, the calamitous Great War. It was out of a professed need for caution that the president issued his order to halt the withdrawal of all U.S. soldiers stationed in Canada. This was no fight over trade routes, and neither did it involve territorial expansionism. According to Johnson's speech, the fluid situation concerned the safety of the Army officials themselves, and to a quieter extent the well-being of the Canadian citizenry. He had no interest in rekindling Roosevelt's international entanglements, and thereby the president did not take it upon himself to solidify a more-entrenched American presence in Europe. Like in North America, it was true of the European continent that the Great War failed to soothe international pressures and overarching political disputes.

    By 1919, an obstreperous movement was slowly yet surely sweeping across the continent. Russia was mired in a destructive Civil War betwixt the ruling Bolshevik government and an opposing White Army. The Whites, a coalition of anti-communist factions stretching from Romanov monarchists to Kerenskyite liberals, struggled to counter the powerful Red Army due to a lack of supplies and financial support from the West. Former imperial officers like Lieutenant General Anton Denikin led the Whites on a rampage through the countryside, burning down factories and setting grain fields ablaze to prevent the Soviets from utilizing these resources. In France, similarly a nation reeling from revolution, economic isolation risked social unrest. There was no all-out civil war in recourse, but reactionary forces looked to sabotage the Fourth Republic in its infancy. Ambitious power-seekers like Prince Victor Napoléon, the Bonapartist pretender, and Prince Philippe, the Duke of Orléans, attempted to cobble together a 'White Army' of their own, but, for the time being, the French people were willing to defend their new government and, in turn, withstand the tantalizing appeal of an imperial revival.

    France and Russia, despite retaining no written alliances and practicing two differing ideological interpretations of socialism, were equally detested by Britain, Germany, and the United States. The German Empire and its satellite nations enforced extraordinarily strict trade guidelines and had mostly forbade economic interactions with either the Fourth French Republic or the Soviet government. President Frossard repeatedly requested an audience with the Germans to negotiate a re-opening of trade routes to the East, identifying the issue as humanitarian and not political. If the people of Russia were starving, per Frossard, it was the duty of bread-rich countries to send foodstuffs. Direct Franco-Russian trade was impossible. The Kaiser and all subordinates nevertheless refused. "Starvation," Steel wrote, "would certainly topple the communists, or so the Reich believed."

    Kaiser Wilhelm, who much like Johnson keenly diagnosed the spread of Socialism as perilous to his own power, still managed to misjudge the appeal of the movement and underestimate the speed of worker organizing. Revolutions in France and Russia had completely altered the playing field. Revolutionary theory now became revolutionary history. These two documented cases of successful nationwide revolts inspired individuals and organizations far beyond their borders. For example, when the Vienna Treaty authorized the creation of new, or rather revived, Eastern European nation-states, Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles, and others were thrilled with the idea of self-governance and independence from the Russian Empire. Yet, once the reality of non-independence under the banner of the German Empire set in, they were utterly despondent. These were textbook satellite states, and the more technologically adept German overseers (compared with feudalistic Russian deputies) ran a tight ship free of any cracks. Furious over "broken promises" and the lies of Vienna, and inspired by the 1917 revolutions, the above populations began to take action into their own hands.

    Turmoil characterized this section of Eastern Europe for the remainder of the decade. Charismatic revolutionary leaders from Jukums Vācietis in Courland to Pēteris Slavens in Vidzeme cobbled together militias of all sizes and creeds, and whilst proclaiming solidarity with the workers and peasants, put up a fair match with the German Imperial police. Revolts in Riga, Mitau, Trakai, and Palanga rose and fall in the rebellious, two-year span, and captured revolutionists were either placed in labor camps or ordered to their death. The Polish War of Independence, however, a 16-month affair that sparked with a Warsaw-based general strike, accomplished what the Baltic states could not. German officers worked to silence the strike and round-up the offending organizers, perhaps to nip the revolt in the bud, but this served to simply rally additional Poles to the movement. The left-wing Polish Liberation Front commanded the dissent. Directed by Edward Rydz-Śmigły and advised extensively by Leon Trotsky, their slogans combined demands for autonomy with calls for a workers' republic. Fighting raged at the 1920 Battle of Lodz when the PLF won their first significant victory, and by October of that year the German soldiers were strategically withdrawn to concentrate on a more pressing matter. The short-lived Piłsudski Government, one wholly subservient to the Kaiser, fell on October 18th. In its place rose a government modeled after the Soviet structure.

    Johnson observed the events taking place in Europe quite carefully. In doing so, it only served to reinforce his preconceived notions. The socialist movement, he believed, was dangerous and its revolutionary theories endangered the republic. If it tore down even a sliver of German hegemony in Europe, who was to say it could not do the same in the United States? Something had to be done to prevent the unthinkable, but with the chaos of 1918 settled, it was exceedingly clear that the administration would be on its own in combating U.S.-born Bolshevism. The president and Attorney General Palmer were distraught by the decision reached in Becker v. California. That case severely dampened any realistic chance for passage of an anti-sedition bill, and the loss of a Progressive-seat plurality in the House of Representatives all but solidified an end to any discussion of the security proposals. Congress now returned to debating nationalization of the railroads, a revision of the 1886 Succession Act, and an overhaul of the 12th Amendment. Voters selected legislative progress over do-nothing fear in the midterm elections, and their message was heard loud and clear in the Capitol. Fortunately for the enterprising president, the Roosevelt years swung open the doors to boundless executive jurisdiction. Therefore, the Federal Intelligence Authority had been hard at work since July of 1918 developing various measures to accomplish the same goals as a national sedition law.

    Hand-in-hand with Palmer, the FIA researched a slew of extralegal means through which to render the Socialist Party and the IWW impotent. Though the Supreme Court striking down the California Sedition Act nullified the ability of the state to charge and imprison persons based on their political preferences, nothing was yet in place to forestall charging of organizers and activists with bogus, lesser crimes. Even without a national sedition law, conservative state judges were supremely skeptical of suspected socialists and anarchists. Palmer also guided the FIA down the road to infiltration tactics. That is, federal agents would routinely act as moles for the government to collect information in worker-oriented clubs and gatherings. Infiltration campaigns allowed the Johnson Administration to learn more about local unions and parties, which in and of itself was enlightening, but the president was far more fascinated by his Attorney General's plan to potentially foster intra-party resentment with the use of informers. If a saboteur were, for instance, inspire the splinter of the Socialist left-wing, it would prove an easy target for federal authorities and lead to the end of the American Left.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVI - Page 175
  • germer.png

    Adolph F. Germer, c. 1919 - Source: Wiki Commons

    Set against the backdrop of unsettled troop movements in Ontario and a spike in mass demonstrations across the world, the American Socialists were about to encounter a crossroads unseen in nearly a decade. Johnson's decision-making in accordance with militaristic interests appeared to guarantee an escalation of violence on the Northern border, and his diplomatic choices indicated an intent to continue an ongoing trade embargo with France and Russia whilst eliminating any trace of a trade barrier with Great Britain. The motive behind this turn of events, both the economic restrictions as well as the occupation of Canada, revolved around defending the unchallenged permanence of global capitalism. Socialists in the U.S. understood this well, and as such they knew the unparalleled importance of dethroning the Johnson regime in the upcoming presidential election. Accomplishing that was paramount. However, the party first had its own internal kinks to work out.

    The Socialist Party of America, albeit significantly bolstered by its recent victories at the polls, remained in a quandary regarding its overall positions on various political movements and its stance on the general strike tactics of 1918. Thus far, the party allowed for the IWW to command the pickets and guide organized labor on the ground. Individual SP officeholders provided legal support when necessary to workers under duress, and a few city chapters declared themselves allied with the strikes, yet the national party did not stake an official position on the 1918 Labor Rebellion. It was impossible for the IWW to promote the SP on its behalf when the latter's ruling board seemed to brush off the greatest revolutionary uprising of the masses in American history. The same held true for the Socialists' lack of a coherent position on the workers' revolutions in France and Russia. Even if an overwhelming majority of its members supported these developments, the party had professed neutrality until the time arrived for the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party to meet and decide the fate of the SP's advocacy moving forward.

    It is crucial to mention that the sitting NEC was not at all emblematic of the party's now-massive, diverse membership. The NEC was composed of fifteen individuals, many of whom were men sunk deep into the comfortable party bureaucracy. It firmly represented the Old Guard and their unevolved ideas at the expense of the new breed of Socialists. Member John Spargo, for example, maintained throughout 1918 that the party's affiliation with the IWW was a mistake, regardless of the union's profound influence on the labor movement. The majority right-wing of the NEC was precisely the reason for the SP's silence on the Bolshevik and SFIO revolutions. Their leadership also ensured inaction in the realm of integrating women into their rolls, as well as a denial on all fronts to confront segregated party chapters in the Southern U.S. From their perspective, the impartiality of the Socialist Party on a host of divisive issues widened their electoral possibilities. Morris Hillquit's respectable second-place finish in the 1917 New York City mayoral election, when compared with self-described "American Communist" Charles Ervin's meager 10% in the following year's gubernatorial race, was often brought up as proof of their position on the matter. Nonetheless, this conservative-leaning facet to an otherwise revolutionary organization seemed completely counterintuitive to the objectives of the party.

    By 1919, the left-wing of the Socialist Party was, in actuality, now the center. The minds of Eugene Debs and Bill Haywood had long-since prevailed over the business Socialists from the early part of the century. They defeated the conservatives at the contentious nominating convention of 1908, pushed through permanent ties with the IWW, and emerged in vocal opposition to pre-war Preparedness and the eventual entrance of the U.S. in the Great War. All these triumphs flew in the face of the NEC, but none yet dared to reform that committee. That is, until the results of the spring elections for national office came to light. Candidates in league with the new ideological center auspiciously captured 12 out of the 15 total seats on the board. Seeing as this progression all but doomed the sitting bureaucrats, a slim majority of the outgoing NEC opted to throw a Hail Mary and planned to outright declare the election invalid. The old party regulars were willing, by all accounts, to throw away all they had worked for if doing so meant holding onto power and denying the left-wing a seat at the table. "Party documents provide a historical record of the plot," wrote Thomas O'Conner, "as do the transcripts of the meeting in Chicago. The resolution was authored by National Executive Secretary Adolph Germer, and the NEC was not unified on its passage.

    Beginning on May 24th, 1919, the National Executive Committee held their Chicago-based conference ready to move on invalidating the vote and, presumably in the inevitable fallout, expelling from the party all who questioned their authority. Yet, by the actions of one of the few left-wing representatives on that committee, lecturer and SP functionary John M. Work, word of the NEC's deceit found its way to the ears of Eugene Debs. According to the unverified memo, the Germer Resolution included not only a dictatorial pronouncement of the election as fraudulent, but sweeping suspensions of any member engaged in political action. Debs' presence virtually ensured the plot's failure from the start. He promptly leaked Work's testimony to the entire delegation and the state chairmen, and pulled together disparate wings of the organization to curb a looming disaster.

    When the conference came to order, New York City Councilman and former editor of The Masses Max Eastman famously led the charge against "boss rule." John Reed, now-famed for his account of the Russian Revolution in Ten Days That Shook the World, eagerly rose beside Eastman to demand the vote be deemed authentic. Too rose dozens more to say the same. The scheme was outright indefensible, they declared, and it was an act that ran counter to the core democratic values of the party. A loud majority of the delegation called for immediate resignations, others for expulsions. NEC member L.E. Katterfeld joined the fray and too demanded Germer and his conspirators be removed from the committee. "I have seen no evidence of voting irregularities. The tally must be confirmed," Katterfeld stated to uproarious applause from the delegates. Before long, and especially once Morris Hillquit was seen rallying support for Germer's removal, the NEC agreed to vote on the motion. By a count of 11-4, it approved the certification.

    The rise of a transformed NEC led by newly designated National Executive Secretary Alfred Wagenknecht undoubtedly secured party unity and saved the Socialists from what may have been an earthshattering rift. Now free of its shackles to an outdated organizing body, the Socialist Party could now embrace the positions of its members. Its new NEC promptly adopted submissions by newspaper editor Louis C. Fraina and Representative LaGuardia pertaining to a renewed alliance with the American working class, a commemoration for the workers slain by strikebreakers, a commitment to bring about equality for women, confirmation that it will demand fair representation of black Americans in the South, and a declaration citing solidarity with the struggles for worker liberation in Europe. Heading into 1920 and the next presidential cycle, the horizon looked bright for American Socialism. "Adolph Germer submitted his resignation in the aftermath of the certification," explained O'Conner.
    "He claimed ignorance, as did Julius Gerber and the other members active in the plot to derail the NEC vote. Gerber remained an organizer in Queens for the Socialists. Germer was exiled. [...] Internal documentation from within the committee apparatus revealed ample evidence of a consistent exchange of letters with Washington. Non-socialistic publications neglected to print the allegations. Biographers today never hesitate to do so."
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 176
  • john.png

    CLA Chairman John Fitzpatrick - Source: Wiki Commons

    Chapter XXVII: The Election of 1920: Showdown of the Century

    On Inauguration Day, March 4th, 1897, President William Jennings Bryan fatefully declared, "the great corporations, trusts, syndicates, and combinations of wealth are against us." He observed that the sheer economic power of the financial elite, if left unbounded by his and future administrations, stood to overshadow the Constitution and live untethered by the law. He and others swore to fend off these forces, and yet, the lack of proper oversight over the course of some decades built toward a reality much like Bryan's nightmare. For all intents and purposes, and despite President Roosevelt's tepid and underwhelming response to the trusts, an Oligarchy had risen to a position of unchallengeable authority in the United States. Robber barons and their oligopolies ran the levers of the economy behind the curtains. The monopolies and triopolies controlled by Rockefeller and Morgan interests, with their tentacles stretched from steel and oil to rail and coal, effectively wiped out any lingering competition from local industries. They skillfully dodged any statewide or federal enforcement of measly antitrust laws and sidestepped parameters set by the courts in the Northern Securities case, thus allowing for the greatest era of income inequality and lopsided wealth distribution since the height of the old Gilded Age.

    By January of 1920, the American Oligarchy was hard at work delegitimizing IWW-affiliated labor unions and the U.S. Socialist Party as creatures of the Bolshevik Communists. Together with the Hiram Johnson Administration, corporate executives and company presidents heavily clamped down on any slight upsurge in labor organizing - the latter often responding with mass firings and blacklists. Especially in the aftermath of Bloody September, manufacturing owners had no reason to act coy. Any worker seen flashing his or her IWW "red card" was booted from company grounds, unless in the rare instance of a pre-existing union contract disallowing such a practice. Most steel and coal workers, even if they belonged to the Sons of Vulcan or United Mine Workers respectively, were not permitted to discuss party politics whilst on site. These initiatives complicated the ability of IWW organizers to expand their influence among industrial workers, as one may imagine, and it noticeably stunted the total number of labor strikes in the second half of 1919. Alongside underground raids aimed at spooking the labor movement into submission, owner practices sought to ensure that a calamitous strike wave like that of 1918 would never emerge again.

    The above tactics were a concerted effort by President Johnson, Attorney General Palmer, and industry leaders like Elbert Gary to incite what some historians call a "Red Scare" into the populace. Their objective, to forever rid the country of the threat of a Bolshevik revolution, meant conducting unwarranted arrests (wholly illegal once the courts struck down California's Sedition Law) and disrupting the activities of the IWW while simultaneously instilling in the public a sense that all left-wing activism and politics were innately foreign-born. Nativism was markedly on the upswing in the postwar period. Capitalizing on that equaled certain success. However, due to the size and favorability of the IWW and the SP by a sizable portion of the country, the Red Scare thus far was a flop, but the instigators wholeheartedly believed that continuous agitation by state and city leaders would eventually wear down the notion that the IWW was inherently an American entity.


    Brushing off election results the previous November, [Johnson] stayed in the mindset that the stopping the Far Left was of paramount importance and superseded the public's desperation for Roosevelt-style progress. He kept Palmer close and requested he join to attend most of the president's meetings. Henry Cabot Lodge, his Secretary of State, was most displeased and objected to Palmer's presence at discussions pertaining to foreign affairs. He was overruled, of course. Johnson, always subdued and austere, perhaps allowed his militant AG more space at the table than others may have. [...] Congress, ripped from the Progressives and handed to the Democrats, passed some dozen notable bills and resolutions in its first two sessions. Just a few flew over Johnson's veto. [...] Congressman Hayward introduced the resolution at the start of the May session, and it was quickly granted the necessary votes for complete approval by the House and Senate. The proposed 18th Amendment to the Constitution was sent to the states, giving state governments a chance to voice their feelings. It was soon approved by three-fourths of the states, forever reducing the extent of the lame duck period and clarifying contingent election rules.
    H. William Ackerman, Columbians in Washington: Great Expectations and the Hope of a Nation, 2013

    Part of Johnson's fears stemmed from the electoral successes of the Socialist Party. Their spectacular showing in 1918 demonstrated the increasing electability of political brand once deemed insatiable to the general public. Expanding their total number of House seats was a commendable feat worthy of Debs' praise and Johnson's scorn. It took decades of work, but the predominant labor party at last achieved respectable minorities in many state legislatures, which in turn set the stage for fairer redistricting and apportionate distribution of party representation. Still, the party thus far struggled on the state level insofar as executive positions were concerned. Beyond marginal city council and town supervisory victories, three-term Mayor Emil Seidel remained the party's highlight. Seidel, who in 1920 served as the Wisconsin State Chairman for the Socialists and was considering a run for the U.S. Senate, was joined by a sparse few others on the same level. Newspaper editor Daniel Hoan (S-WI) carried on Seidel's policies in Milwaukee, but other than in the 414, victory was unattainable. The news was less fruitful on the gubernatorial stage up to this point as men like William C. Sproul (P-PA) and James M. Cox (D-OH) figuratively pummeled left-wing adversaries in their respective elections. Author Albert Farr (S-NJ) did manage to surpass Progressive Newton A.K. Bugbee for second place in the 1919 New Jersey gubernatorial race (won by Democrat Edward I. Edwards), and Socialist Ingvar Paulson nearly tied with incumbent Governor Samuel W. McCall (P-MA) for that year's Massachusetts election (won by Bryanite Democratic reformer and businessman Richard H. Long (D-MA)). The one bright spot for the Socialists on the electoral front, and a victory that momentarily shook the political world, was the shocking upset in the 1919 Chicago mayoral election.

    Incumbent Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr., then known and scandalized in some circles for his links with the SA, announced his intent to run for yet another term. This flew in the face of the state party's expectation that he would step down, and ultimately cost him the crucial support of Cook County Clerk Robert Sweitzer. As the city was neck-deep in a budget crisis and suffering from one of the worst job shortages in the country, Harrison was all but dead-on-arrival in the general, though his command of the Chicago Party handily won him the nomination over the objection of several skeptics and lesser opponents. Republicans sided with the rather conservative William H. Thompson and the Progressives lifted up Municipal Court Chief Justice Harry Olsen. Cook County State's Attorney Maclay Hoyne ran on an independent ticket, further dividing the field. Socialists chose John Fitzpatrick, a union organizer and sitting chairman of the Chicago Labor Association. His five-year service at the newly established CLA oversaw peaceful coordination with the Chicago Federation of Labor and local IWW branches, a post-strike rebuilding project as authorized by the state, and reformist petitioning for stronger workplace protections. His campaign drifted to the right of the national party, espousing city-wide union recognition but nothing resembling industrial democracy. He distanced himself from the 1918 Chicago General Strike and only referred to its correlated riots as a means to attack the unhelpful, red-baiting tactics of Mayor Harrison. As the candidate emphasized, "Workers rebuilt this city. It is about time we have a mayor who sides with workers, the lower class, the robbed, the oppressed, the impoverished, the great majority of the earth, not the exploiters and aristocrats."

    Fitzpatrick took about half of the African American vote in Chicago, a plurality of the women's vote (suffrage had been legalized in Illinois by 1919), a huge percentage of Irish Americans', and caught the attention of nearly all unionized voters. This, in addition to a poor showing by the Democrats and Thompson's inability to discredit Olsen, placed Fitzpatrick ahead of the field. He won with 30%. Rumors swirled of the mayor-elect's potential arrest or ballot invalidation at the behest of Carter Harrison, and indeed Thompson disgracefully called the vote into question, but the incumbent chose not to go down that road. "One step out of line with the Constitution," Harrison elucidated, "and Palmer will be at his doorstep." Anti-socialists stood at the ready at every corner, from the chief of police to Governor Frank Lowden (P-IL). Fitzpatrick would be in for a rough tenure should he have imposed an IWW-style program for the city. Nevertheless, this stunning upset by the Chicago Socialists shattered President Johnson's hope that internal divisions and electoral disadvantages, abetted by intensive sabotage and instigating by the FIA, would forever prevent the ascension of socialists to higher office. As the presidential cycle neared, the incumbent readied to roll-out a campaign unlike any other.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 7: Chapter XXVII - Page 177
  • bryantoon.png

    "Anything on the Hip?", Nelson Harding Cartoon from The Literary Digest, 1920 - Source: Wiki Commons

    The Democratic Party struggled to find an identity in the Roosevelt period, and for a time were arguably lost in the weeds on the subject. Former President Bryan epitomized the reformed Party of Jefferson for an entire generation. Many Democratic leaders and state chairs fully intended on handing the mantle over to Bryan for another try at the White House. There were few reasons to doubt Bryan's ability to rush headlong back to a position of power and respectability, especially now that his irrepressible rival was permanently out of the picture. Nothing quite exemplified a return to sunny normalcy like the Great Commoner, and some speculated that his familiar use of a "plutocracy versus democracy" narrative dating back to the last century could theoretically kneecap the Socialists and bring industrial workers into the Democratic Party. Yet, though Bryan was once a young pioneer in the field of proto-class-based politics, he was clumsily out-of-touch with the present state of affairs in the country. He absolved himself of political ambitions following his failed 1916 run, and after embarking on a brief speaking circuit in Europe in 1919, settled back home keen on retirement. Routine medical examinations had revealed to Bryan the realization of his biggest fear: He was diagnosed with diabetes, the same disease that ended his father's life. Worn and in less-than-stellar health, Bryan announced in an article featured in The Commoner that he would not again actively seek the presidential nomination.

    This sent the party into somewhat of a panic. Bryan was viewed as the last of a dying breed of nineteenth century progressive Democrats, and perhaps the only man able to contain the burgeoning inter-party contest between Northern liberals, moderate agrarian Westerners, standpat Midwesterners, and conservative Southern planters. His contemporaries in government had all either retired or passed away by 1920. The lone exceptions were failed gubernatorial candidate William Sulzer and former State Secretary John Lentz, both of whom were disgraced for their service to President Hearst and neither of whom held office. As for the exiled and secluded newspaper magnate, he collapsed in terms of any genuine influence on the Democrats or the now-defunct Civic League. None of them could dare hope to capture the same spark and awaken the same demographics as Bryan. The nomination for the presidency thenceforth became an absolute free-for-all. Bryan, the unbridled kingmaker, was reserved to sit back and declare his preference when he saw fit.

    Dozens entered the race on the Democratic side in the final months of 1919. Each candidate served to represent his own specific geographical and ideological brand, morphing the burgeoning field into a mix of favorite sons and boss-endorsed officeholders. Some of them were fresh faces on the national scene, like Arizona House Speaker Fred Colter (D-AZ), the pro-labor protégé of former Governor George Hunt, but their appeal was limited and their records bare-bones. Others were familiar, albeit unwelcome and non-competitive. The latter group included former Senator Joseph W. Bailey (D-TX), the irrelevant, conservative Bourbonite, and sitting Senator Furnifold M. Simmons (D-NC), a contemptible statesman known for instigating the 1898 Wilmington coup. Insofar as Southern Democratic candidates, neither Bailey or Simmons were at all indicative of where Texans and North Carolinians were, politically-speaking. Four years ago, firebrand Senator Thomas Watson, whilst loudly advocating for white supremacy and espousing anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic conspiracies, unveiled the party's seedy underbelly when he secured an astounding second-place finish at that year's national convention with 305 delegates. The Watson Campaign's incorporation of antebellum race pseudoscience and populist economics nearly granted him the nomination.

    Nativism was an exponentially powerful force in the increasingly racialized Democratic Party. Many of its members fully endorsed the notion that the wonderous geopolitical success and industrial advancement of the United States stemmed from its white, Anglo-Saxon ancestry. In the view of this clan, all postwar troubles were due to the unbalanced influence of urban and immigrant communities. Nativists, sometimes called "Native Americans," carried an intense resentment of the country's minority and non-English speaking populations, and certain politicians were quick to capitalize on the scapegoating for their own benefit. Not too dissimilar from Johnson in their approach, this-or-that candidate in the nativist wing of the Democrats would tend to agree with the president's brutish treatment of the Wobblies and his defining them as foreign agents. Tom Watson, like Ben Tillman before him, spearheaded the South's steady transition from the old Bourbon orthodoxy to its blend of White Populism. He and others of the nativist creed drew massive support from white textile workers and sharecroppers based in the Southern states, though nativism was not exclusive to the South. In the aftermath of Watson's 1916 run for the nomination (which served to bring his ideas to the party's accepted mainstream), these politicians began catching glimpses of support among former Bryanites. One favoring economic populism and anti-corporate policies yet disfavoring coordination with ethnic and religious minorities may have found oneself a nativist in 1920.

    An additional controversial matter encircling the Democrats in 1920 and in the preceding decade was their relationship with the temperance movement. Prohibition advocates once locked arms with the William J. Bryan in a joint call to abolish alcohol sales and consumption on the federal stage, and that group had no intention to abandon the fold. This blossoming faction of "Dry Democrats" found itself at odds with the Johnson Administration for its conscious decision to sideline the temperance issue, and with the more neutral National Democratic Committee. Once the president (and subsequently, the whole of the Progressive Party) announced mid-war abject disfavor with a national prohibition law, proponents of such a program turned to the Democrats. However, under the stewardship of septuagenarian Judson Harmon, the DNC professed neutrality. This stirred a snowball effect within the party proper as Anti-Saloon League propagandists and Protestant reformers pressed "Dry State" Democratic officials to declare favor for nationwide prohibition and consequently designate moralist convention delegates. Temperance evangelists viewed the sale of alcohol as lethal practice and a corrupting force on the body politic. Waffling on the liquor interest would be met with their ire. Furthermore, the weight of this albatross around the necks of Democratic legislators was only compounded by Bryan's lurking presence in the background. As indicated in Nelson Harding's apt political cartoon, the prevailing narrative of the day placed Bryan in a gunman's shoes as he held the party hostage on this particular issue.

    The above two tendencies captivated a sure-fire segment of the Democratic-voting electorate, but not all of it. In the North, elected representatives from the Democrats belonged to opposite camps from that of their Southern and (rural) Western brethren. As discussed in regards to the 1918 congressional and gubernatorial elections, a new class of post-Bryan liberalism had been in the process of taking over the Northern and Midwestern state parties since intra-war disillusionment with the Columbians greatly reduced the latter's influence and representation in Congress. Liberal Democrats were urban-centric and unlike the nativists with which they sharply opposed, they did not alienate Catholics and European immigrants. This sect recommended a federal amendment to enshrine equal suffrage under the law and, though this branch of Democracy fell short of outright endorsing or applauding the IWW, members refused to condemn the activity of so-called radical labor unions. Senator David Walsh (D-MA), for example, looked back on the bloody conclusion of the labor rebellion and named it a tragedy. "[The federal government's response] was disproportionate and cruel. There is no justifying the actions of this administration." Northern Democrats too chiefly disagreed with the enforcement of a national prohibition of alcohol, joining a majority of Republicans, Columbians, and Socialists in their shared skepticism.

    Perhaps the embodiment of liberal Democracy, Senator John F. Fitzgerald (D-MA) declared in late December an intent to run for the presidency. The shrewd Bostonian observed since his arrival in Washington an unmistakable crescendo of dissatisfaction and disenchantment with the Progressive Party and its inaction. His very own constituents relayed local concerns that Johnson and the Columbians had outright deserted their commitment to bring about transformation in government. In his declaration address, Fitzgerald answered this crowd directly, pledging to enact legislation to bring about a nationwide eight-hour working day as well as a federal law to legalize participation in a labor union.
    "It is a minimum," he stated, "to do right for the workers. We must be the party of progress." Boston's beloved mayor and the Bay State's incumbent Class 1 senator immediately gained sufficient press coverage and notoriety for his words, and he managed to follow that up with a spree of endorsements. He won quick favor with his state's governor, Richard Long, and achieved a full-throated recommendation from New York Assembly Speaker Alfred Smith. Utilizing a nickname Fitzgerald received for his ability to entice even bitter rivals to his side, "Honey Fitz for President," was plastered across nearly every paper in New England.

    As party regulars observed Fitzgerald's entrance in the race whilst mulling over much-anticipated news of Speaker Champ Clark throwing his hat in the ring, news broke of an announcement by the president. Hiram Johnson rather expectantly recited a short address to declare his interest in gaining a complete presidential term. He filled that speech with the usual suspects, decrying communist labor organizing and sprinkling suspicion onto, "radicals that may have infiltrated federal, state, and local governments." Johnson noted, "The Party of One Nation abides by its nation alone," and in no other moment brought up the name of a political party. Some reporters pondered the absence of the standard "Progressive" phrasing, but not until January 10th did the purposeful nature of Johnson's wording become apparent. In an otherwise inconsequential interview with the Washington press, Republican National Committee Chairman Martin G. Brumbaugh reflected,
    "Our primary function is to preserve the integrity of the Constitution. We must not permit a reproduction of Chicago."
     
    Last edited:
    Top