The American Chairman - Act I : Give me liberty or give me Hearst


The American Chairman
Act One

Give me liberty or give me Hearst


Well, where to begin?
A week ago I guess.
I have had this idea trotting around my head again and again over the past week, at least.
Over the summer, and even still now, I watched political crisis unfolding in Italy and in the UK. I remembered own troubled hours of parliamentary regime.
A fascinating scene.
And like that, I wondered how interesting could it be to see that in the United States.

I thought then, why not make a little TL out of it? I could well handwave the background.
I had a vague idea of how to justify it: a long and ultimately violent power struggle of likes that happened before elsewhere. Yet, I wasn't quite satisfied. So I searched a little more. I could have put the pod back to the 19th century, but that was too much butterflies to account for. So, the 20th century it would be.

Obviously, for a crisis that would lead the United States to switch from a presidential republic to a parliamentary regime, that would get the right context for a standoff between the President and the Congress to end the way intended, I hadn't much choice but the Great Depression.
No much choice, and perhaps no much will to look beyond that easy and convenient period.

But as I have dug into this ever deeper, I saw I couldn't quite just begin the TL decades after a the pod and put clues here and here. The story I sketched inside my head was too much interesting not to give it a try.

It's not yet a TL intended to go full into detail, more by ellipsis, so I don't have to pressure too much inspiration and imagination, but let you more feel the mood. Though that's a practical need, I hope you will enjoy the narrative effect. I think that my pace won't be any faster than one per week, so I can have time to search through and plan in advance the TL.

... so, why Hearst?
Huey Long was available, except I keep him for another TL of mine. Plus, William R Hearst was somewhat striking me out of some similarities with the current president, so I won't hide that my depiction may be influenced at moments by it.

... the title ?
Without giving too much away, this isn't going to be a socialist or communist takeover. I intend to drive the events up to a point when the Congress will set up a provisional government in opposition to the President's cabinet, an Executive Committee.

... how far the TL?

Though the pod would be sometime in early 1900s, the TL proper will start in 1932. We shall go up to the point the parliamentary regime would be set up in the US, which shall run the course of a Hearst presidency. I can't say the year for sure, but that shall be into the 1940s.

I may not post the first chapter until next weekend, but I'll let you think of it and tell me.
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1. ' I, William Randolph Hearst ' (1932 - the presidential election)

1. ' I, William Randolph Hearst '

Who was William Randolph Hearst?

The 32rd president of the United States remain to this day a controversial, infamous and ultimately maligned figure, a Frankenstein of politics, a man of many contradictions... an evil of history books. But that's history, and the dark side of the legend, forged over decades, overshadows the man himself. Not that he was without sins, but a good story couldn't go written without all the grey and white areas that colored his character and his achievements, he couldn't just be understood from a fragment.

When the 1930s dawned upon the United States, the Great Depression had settled in. A decade of relentless growth, overproduction and speculation had brought about a bubble that burst in October 1929. Investors and speculators lost over tens of billion dollars, banks began to fail in droves, credit contracted severly. As people were no longer able to afford the commodities on the market, their demand fell, so the prices fell too, and so went benefits and the wages of workers, fueling an ever ending vicious circle of decline and misery. Meanwhile, trying to deal with it, the Republicans doubled down on their protectionnist agenda with the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff of 1930, only to bring about a trade war and a collapse of exports, and raised taxes. And they set up a corporation to provide emergency loans... Too little too late many would say.

From $105 billions in 1929, GDP would fall to under $60 billions in 1932. And from a mere 4 points in 1929, unemployment rose to about a quarter of the population in 1932. Coincidentally, one quarter of the population was also the share of readers that counted the chain of newspapers and magazines controlled by the future president, not counting radios and cinema studios, that spanned the whole country from New York to San Francisco. Such was the scene upon which our story sets place: on the first day of 1932, a Friday, William Randolph Hearst announced on the airwaves and in his newspapers he was running for President of the United States.

At the time of the annoucement, the Democratic primaries were two months ahead. Though generally non-biding, the primaries were nonetheless setting the tone for the National Convention to follow in June. And for Hearst, they amounted to an uphill battle. Through his carreer, Hearst had accumulated the enemies in the establishment. Yet, he wasn't unprepared. In the two years leading up to his announcement, Hearst and his chief political operative Louis Howe began to court figures of influence within the Democratic party at states and federal level, trade unions and businessmen alike, mayors, governors, congressmen, senators and so on, granting favors to ones, calling in some from others, threatening, blackmailing in some cases, forging new partnerships, reviving others.

Hearst partnered with Boston businessman Joseph Kennedy Sr to lock up New England and the Catholic vote. The open support of Thomas Kennedy, the secretary-treasury of the United Workers of America, to his efforts was considered a sign of the union's leader John Lewis tacit endorsement and brought the unions on board; it also delivered Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Meanwhile in Lousiana, despite his personal suspicion of the man, Huey Long brought his weight behind his fellow governor from New York to secure the Deep South. US Senators the Hearst machine and medias had helped to elect in particularly narrow races in the midterms, McGill in Kansas, Hoidale in Minnesota, Gerry in Rhode Island were called in as well.

Yet, the toughest battle would be courting the corporate vote. Ever a man trying to reach both ends of the political and social spectrum in an impossible synthesis, Hearst had raised and was raising suspicion not only from his current allies but also from prospective ones. He took a positionning as intermediary and peacemaker between the companies and the unions. This tactics was one used to great success in Europe by Mussolini and Hitler, playing off the fear of social agitation and ever expanding Unemployed Councils, American Soviets of sorts which Hearst media were prone to showcase their infiltration by Communists, even though in an effort to reach out to these councils, Hearst never quite unleashed his dogs on them. To further support, he promised he would block any legislation meant to break private ownership of public utilities. He made assurances to bankers that he would go 'easy' on them and shield them from harsh congressional actions, all while promising an important package of banking relief measures. He went as far as reverting, albeit reluctantly and with a very prudent undertone, his stance on protectionism; the backlash occuring over the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff was a lesson good enough.

The first concrete result of this strategy was the rallying a few days after the campaign's launch of Wendell Wilkie, an attorney and executive from the Commonwealth & Southern company who also brought with him Ohio. The month after, J.P. Morgan Jr. hesitantly vouched for the governor of New York. Henry Ford, a personal friend of Hearst yet reluctant because of his stance on unions, eventually followed the movement and put Michigan firmly into Hearst column. Even though it would never officially endorse him, the National Association of Manufacturers abstained from lobbying against Hearst and kept up critics for public appearances, a sign that was not to be missed by Democratic establishment figures.

To court the farmers, Hearst had far less difficulties. Early on, he had come out in support of the McNary-Haughen farm relief bill and had hired Henry Wallace to advise him on agricultural matters. Through Wallace's intermediary, he eventually won over Montana US Senator Burton Wheeler, the former running mate of La Follette in 1924, and with him, the Farm Belt, the Great Plains and the Mountain states.

On the public front, it never made much doubt that Hearst was the favorite. Even as establishment figures scrambled to bar Hearst from being nominated, they were unable to offer a credible alternative, or even to present a united front. Though House Speaker Garner seemed at first the indicated leader of the conservative camp, Maryland governor Albert Ritchie, a moderate and pragmatic conservative, put himself into consideration as a compromise candidate who could rally both the North and the South; after all, it hadn't been since 1848 that a Southerner had been elected president. In Virginia, Harry Byrd played the favorite son card, as did James Reed in Missouri and Murray in Oklahoma. The only concrete rebuke the establishment could put up against Hearst was to set up the National Convention in Houston for the second time in a row. Yet, after Hearst predictably swept through the primaries, after he had spent months agitating carrots, he used a stick.

The 27th day of June, 1932, was a Monday. It was that day that the Democratic National Convention begun. When it came to the first ballot, it was expected that despite his efforts, Hearst would be short of about 20 delegates to reach the 770 delegates two thirds supermajority required. However, right before the ballot happened, Louis Howe, Hearst's right hand, had met former Senator Reed apart for just 10 minutes. In the following hour, as the Missouri delegation was called in to vote, the Senator dropped out of the race and publicly endorsed Hearst, to the enthusiasm of Hearst supporters.

For a couple years, there would only be rumors to talk of, but the mystery surrounding it was a message clear enough to everyone. When two years later, a widowed Senator Reed married Nell Donnelly, a successfull fashion designer who had just divorced, it came to public knowledge that both had engaged into an affair and that the adultery had produced a child, but at that time, Reed had long withdrawn from politics, Hearst had become President, and with the news long past, noone really bothered. Still, this case would be one of the first bodies to populate the dark legend of President Hearst written in the decades afterwards.

For the time being, this decision from Reed meant that Hearst was to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot. When he addressed the Convention on July 2nd, he was triumphant. Having showed who was the boss around, he returned to throwing carrots. As a gesture of conciliation and appeasement towards the conservatives, he selected House Speaker Garner as his running mate. In his acceptance speech, William Randolph Hearst then famously concluded: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American People".

Truth be told, Hearst lacked charisma and was a shy person, yet he was a master in public relations. One doesn't arrive where he was without mastering public opinion. On the campaign trail, he was everything, populist, demagogic, flamboyant, could promise one thing or its contrary, contradict himself without consequences. Nothing really mattered in all of this. After all, President Hoover and the Republicans had sunken to such a level of unpopularity that whatever candidate the Democrats had put forwards would be guaranted a win. Hearst's flamboyant style and recurrent factual inconsistencies could be pointed at by President Hoover again and again, noone listened. Hoover was perceived as way out of touch, a president who said as the depression set in: "prosperity is around the corner", a leader who never ventured out of his ivory tower in Washington DC and ate while millions were starving. Hearst, for all his defaults, was relatable, could be seen, could drive hope.

On November 8th, with 508 electoral votes, and advance of 7 million votes and over 18 points, he had won the election in the largest landslide in American history. Then, on March 4th, 1933, he pronounced the fateful words : "I, William Randolph Hearst".

Author's note

I didn't plan this chapter to be as long, and that's where my imagination brought me. This is why I posted it today and not yesterday. I've written and rewritten a few times, and even there, I'm not quite satisfied, but I'm okay at this point. My style has not matured and the TL isn't meant to go full on detail, but rather on the story. That's to say, I won't do a TL of events like they would have been, but rather like I would like them to go, mainly for the narrative fun. And having made quite a lot of search and planning for the first term of Hearst, I hope I'll be able to write this down and do it to the end.

My depiction of Hearst character is mainly extrapolated from what sources I could read on the web and the evolutions he would have gone through ITTL. As I said earlier, I could also draw some modern inspiration or at least draw implicit parallels.

Here a few links I find quite interesting on Hearst's life:

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Earlier than that. The pod is rather diffuse, slight changes underneath the surface as far back as 1900, but the first recognizable change is his election as mayor of New York city in 1905.

As for Smith, we'll hear from him at some point. But surprise... ^^
2. A business of favors (1933 - Hearst's cabinet)

Left-end: William Hearst - Right end: John Garner
Upper row (left to right) : Thomas Gore, Smedley Butler, Wendell Willkie, Pat Harrison, Henry Ford
Lower row (left to right): Marriner Eccles, Alexander Palmer, Claude Swanson, Henry Wallace, John Lewis

2. A business of favors

William R Hearst's presidency came with an ominous sign as the very day he was sworn in in DC, Bruno Hauptmann was shot dead by Jack Ruby on the steps of a New York city courthouse. A year earlier, while the electoral season was taking off, the infant son of Charles Lindbergh had been kidnapped and later found dead. The case had passionated America. Hauptmann, the suspect, would be caught barely six months later after an anonymous tip. That Jack Ruby, a young bartender freshly arrived from Illinois with ties to the New York mafia was lost on the media and it would be a while before anyone did. Yet, as Thomas Dewey would later expose, the city's main boss, Arnold Rothstein, had troubling connections with the former New York City mayor who was now living in the White House, but without obvious motive, claims about the hit would never really take off.

Later however, in his 1958 biography of Hearst, James Burns would see this motive in the initial support of Henry Ford for Hearst and his acceptance of a cabinet post: how to explain otherwise Ford, a staunch opponent of unions, accepting to sit in opposite union leader John Lewis? To Burns, Hearst had his 'friend' Rothstein looking up for the kidnapper of Lindbergh's son as a favor to Ford, a close friend of the family, in exchange for assuaging the industrialist's reluctance about his agenda and his cabinet. A theory noone could prove by then, since all three of Hearst, Ford and Rothstein were dead at the time the book came out, but one that was fitting the pattern of Hearst presidency so well that it would become an integral part of the dark legend.

Upon his election, Hearst set out to implement his economic and political agenda, and that went through a cabinet. First and foremost, he had been intending for long to copy the same recipe that had brought him power and popularity back in New York: low taxes and heavy public spending. To conduct such a policy that amounted to throwing off under the bus decades of fiscal conservatism and balanced budgets, it would take someone of trust as Secretary of the Treasury, perhaps the most strategic of all cabinet posts. Hearst's choice however had long been settled on Marriner Eccles, a banker known for his loud support of John Meynard Keynes' theories on deficit spending, a theory much to the liking of the new president.

The caution brought by Henry Ford as Secretary of Commerce along the promised tax cuts were intended to assuage conservatives' and business interests' fears, especially with eyebrows rising in the wake of the appointment of John Lewis as Secretary of Labor. Lewis choice had been in line with Hearst's longstanding strategy of playing the great mediator and trying the impossible synthesis of business and workers diverging interests, not unlike what happened in Germany at the same time. The appointment of southerners like Pat Harrison for the Interior, Swanson for the Navy, besides John Garner's position as Vice President was intended as a compensation of sorts. Another southerner, Thomas Gore, also joined the list as Secretary of State, his appointment being both intended as a gesture towards Huey Long and as a strong standing in favor of American neutrality by virtue of the Senator's known anti war credentials.

Picking up a blind senator for a cabinet position wasn't the single daring if not controversial appointment made then by Hearst, nonwithstanding Lewis. In his courting of public figures, he had also brought on board retired Major General Smedley Butler, whose outspoken anti imperialist views and public persona were appreciated. He also brought out of retirement Alexander Mitchell Palmer, the man who had presided over the Red Scare back in '19 and '20, to return as Attorney General. Henry Wallace, the advocate of farmers from Iowa joined in as Secretary of Agriculture, though noone really bothered about it. Finally, Wendell Wilkie was picked up as Postmaster General as a rewards for his support during the convention, in what Burns termed as another favor in 'a business of favors'. This cabinet was intended as a show of audacity, yet it was from perfect and was a time bomb in the making, in itself a temporary compromise that didn't really satisfy anyone but Hearst.

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Addendum 1 - Hearst Administration (1933)
US Presidential Cabinet
President : William R Hearst (D-NY)

Vice President : John N Garner (D-TX)

Private secretary to the President * : Louis Howe (D-NY)

Secretary of State : Thomas Gore (D-OK)
Secretary of Treasury : Marriner S Eccles (R-UT)
Secretary of War : Smedley D Butler (Ind-PA)
Attorney General : Alexander M Palmer (D-PA)
Postmaster General : Wendell Willkie (D-IN)
Secretary of the Navy : Claude A Swanson (D-VA)
Secretary of the Interior : Byron P Harrison (D-MS)
Secretary of Agriculture : Henry A Wallace (P-IA)
Secretary of Commerce : Henry Ford (D-MI)
Secretary of Labor : John L Lewis (R-VA)​

* : de facto Chief of Staff, though the title and office didn't exist yet
3. The First Hundred Days (1933)

3. The First Hundred Days

Since the Crash of 1929, the collapse of the credit bubble had been rippling through the banks across the country. As it became increasingly apparent deposits were no longer safe, clients began to withdraw theirs in droves, draining out the banks from their gold and currency reserves. Thus, by December 1930, the Bank of the United States failed; it was the fourth largest bank in the country. Barely five months later in Europe, the Creditanstalt which accounted for 16% of Austria's GDP failed too. Its failure cascaded through Europe and likewise caused a run on the US dollar for gold as central banks began to redeem it to make up for their losses. To counter this attack, the Federal Reserve doubled interest rates to maintain the dollar's value, but in doing so, had precipitated further deflation and bank failures. These fueled even more bank runs which in turn led to more bank failures. On February 14th, 1933, the crisis had reached a critical point as Michigan had to declare a bank holiday to avoid a complete collapse of its banks. Instead of avoiding a panic, the holiday caused one as people lost any remaining confidence in banks' health and began to rush to their banks, and over two months' course, the amount of currency held by the public - hoarded in other words - rose by about 1.8 billion dollars. Efforts to stem the panic largely floundered as on February 24th, Maryland followed suit, and by March 3rd, 32 states out of 48 had done so.

When Hearst was inaugurated, this crisis was his first to deal with. Using a proviso of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, he declared on March 6th a national one week bank holiday. On March 9th, the Congress called in extraordinary session was considering a bill for an Emergency Banking Relief Act, allowing the private issuance of clearinghouse certificates while also paving the way for taking the US dollar off of gold standard like the United Kingdom did in 1931. It was doubled with a de facto deposit insurance from the Federal Reserve banks aiming at restoring confidence. The bill was rushed through the Congress, adopted and signed into law within a single day. The success was quasi immediate. Over the next two weeks, about 900 million dollars, or half the withdrawn deposits, were returned, and by mid May, these deposits were back to before February 14th levels.

While a success, it arroused Huey Long's suspicion of Hearst, later criticizing the issuance of clearing house certificates and the President's perceived collusion with bankers. Yet, as the Senator from Lousiana vowed not to let banks get away with it, Hearst went from one side to another. If he had given to the bankers, he gave a hand to the labor. On March 14th, he had asked Congress to consider a bill for a Civilian Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief Act - CCC - to provide employ for half a million men between age 18 and 25 and to veterans in public work projects on national forest lands and other federal held properties. However, though supported in principle, critics emerged from fiscal conservatives who wished to scale it down and worked to stall the bill through committees [1]. It was fated to be the stage of the first protracted battle to happen between the White House and the Congress, yet the Second Bonus Army arrived at that moment.

During the presidential election, Hearst had consistently supported the veterans' claims to immediate bonus payment, and as he was elected, they planned a second march on DC. On April 1st, when newspapers reported the oncoming arrival of about 2,000 veterans, it was thought as a joke. The joke however turned short as the 2,000 turned out to be 20,000 within a week [2], and it didn't show any sign of stopping. It quickly transpired on the Capitol Hill that President Hearst had effectively worked the past weeks to stimulate and amplify the movement and was seeking to use the Bonus Expeditionary Force to coerce the Congress into adopting his version of the bill on the CCC. After the Congress had begun to stall and amend the bill, Hearst newspapers began to largely diffuse critics of the Congress and praises of veterans by Hearst: "I do not care whether a man got sick on the battlefield or did not; every man that wore the uniform of this country is entitled to be taken care of" [3]. At their father's guidance, William Jr and George were secretly funding the travel of groups of veterans to the capital. And when they arrived, the President made a show of receiving their leader Walter Waters at the White House. Moreso, Hearst worked along Superintendent Glassford [4] and Secretary Butler to provide food and housing, and yet through it all, also to keep the situation under control and keep the Army away. On April 4th, to further the pression, Wright Patman, Representative for Texas, reintroduced his bill for an Adjusted Compensation Payment Act, to pay for $2 bilions in bonus.

At last, the Congress ratified the CCC bill on April 7th and the bonus one on Monday, April 10th. Then, within one week, the BEF was gone. Though both measures had had a previous large measure of support even in spite of conservatives' reservation, this first standoff with the president had brought both discomfort and distrust among congressmen. Never had they witness such a violence since Wilson's battle for the League of Nations, and they were surprised and taken aback to experience firsthand the micromanagement habits of a man whose ego barely suffered contradiction. Yet, after this stunt, Hearst was more popular than ever among Americans and the veterans, and noone dared to move openly against him... at least for now. So, when later that month Hearst nominated Senator Hugo Black (D-AL) to replace retiring Justice Willis Van Devanter, and that the nominee's past affiliation with KKK was brought up by Senator Vandenberg (R-MI), the issue was thoroughly investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though to no avail except for delaying it [5]. The same scenario happened when the Senate had to consider Robert Fechner, a former labor union leader, as nominee to head the CCC.

In the meantime, almost unnoticed among the Second Bonus Army crisis, Hearst at last outlawed by decree possession of monetary gold and effectively took the US dollar off of gold standard. Then, later in April, he had the Agricultural Adjustment Act ratified, retaking the provisos of the previous McNary-Haughen Farm Relief bill, to purchase surpluses but at the same time, moving to incentivize reduction in the intent of bringing up the prices and farmers' purchasing power. In May, a Gold Reserve Act drafted by Secretary Eccles, to definitively enact the abandon of gold standard and devaluate the dollar by about 40% to support exports and attract gold back into US banks, was introduced and ratified without much of a fuss.

Coming June, as the banking reform put forward by Senator Glass and Representative Steagall was nearing its conclusion, Hearst engaged into his second battle of date with the Congress, though a more silent one. To stay true to his engagement with the bankers - chief of which was JP Morgan Jr - that had supported his presidential bid, and effectively bankrolled his policies back in New York, the president set out to sabotage Glass' efforts at separating commercial and investment banking. In this, he played both sides and set out to aggravate the divergence of view between Steagall and Glass about inclusions of small unit banks in the reform - which the latter opposed - while also putting emphasis on the former's proposal for a Federal Deposit Insurance, and even pushed Long into keeping on with his filibuster of the bill by convincing Glass not to budge on the issue of branch banking. As it appeared the bill wasn't going anywhere, Hearst began to support Steagall move to pursue to dissociate both issues of divestment and deposit insurance, to press onto the latter. With it, it appeared that the House and Senate versions of the bill could not be reconciled and when Congress adjourned on June 10th, it was dead in the water [6].

Though he had torpedoed the banking reform, Hearst kept along with his promises to support a Federal Deposit Insurance, and in the meantime, supported the passage of the Securities Act establishing a Securities Exchange Commission to regulate the markets and restore confidence shattered by the Crash of 29. To head it, he appointed Joseph Kennedy on account not only of his support of Hearst's candidacy a year earlier, but also and especially of his knowledge of the market mechanics, his success through the Depression and his connections in the business circles.

Notes :
[1] - A notable divergence from OTL here is Hearst neither pressed for balanced budget nor introduced the Economy Act to cut salaries and benefits across the Federal government. Here, the proposed CCC is a bit larger than the OTL one with 500,000 against 300,000, which without prior large cuts in the federal budget does not endear Hearst the fiscal conservatives, both Democrats and Conservatives.
[2] - Hearst' support for the Bonus ITTL is met with enthusiasm, hence a better start.
[3] - Actually, this one is OTL from Huey Long. I couldn't find satisfying Hearst quotes to adapt here.
[4] - He was enticed by President-Elect Hearst to stay in.
[5] - It's said that Devanter and Sutherland would have retired if not for the salary cut made by the Economy Act. ITTL, as such act has not passed, Devanter retires early. Sutherland will follow shortly, but that's for another update.
[6] - The divide between Steagall in the House and Glass in the Senate, and the filibuster by Long are OTL, and IOTL, Roosevelt seemingly sought to have the Congress adjourning before it could reconcile House and Senate versions of the bill. I read that while some banks had supported the move, others such as JP Morgan's was opposed to it. The bill had been in the work since 1932 and even Glass declared it happened too late to have a significant. So here, I'm just having Hearst actively undermining it.

That one was long due, but that was more a motivation issue than an inspiration block.
So, here, with a few adaptations, I mostly followed the OTL chronology. And here a few sources to complement this post.
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It's been a while since I've not written here, mainly because of work and other RL issues.
So, while this is no way meaning that I quit on this TL, I'll let you an hinsight into the TL direction with an outline, if only to fuel discussion and speculation.

1933 (late)
  • New York debt crisis : Hearst has used as mayor then governor massive public spending to ingratiate himself popular support, but at the cost of leaving huge deficit on state and city finances. Bankruptcy has been delayed through a combination of book cooking and shady backroom deals, and ultimately by Hearst use, once president, of funds from Reconstruction Finance Corporation, but funding quickly dries up, and the battle against fiscal conservatives, raging ever since the battle over Bonus and banking bills, has stalemated intended bailout legislation, which ultimately leads to New York state and New York city to go bankrupt. The panic that ensues, and the propagation to other states threatening to undo all progress of the year, drives a reluctant congress to a bail out, but the harm is done. Although relieved by federal programs, New York is hit hard by austerity programs, contributing to a landslide election for the progressive Republican-Socialist fusion ticket of Fiorello La Guardia.
  • Hearst' Deal : Though stalled by New York debt crisis and the ensuing bailout, the ATL new deal is passed, as a combination of OTL acts for public works projects (PWA, WPA), overhaul of labor relations (NIRA, NLRB), along with a general lowering of taxes, and a liberalization of tariffs (Reciprocal Tarrifs act). The Congress is once again coerced into supporting this legislative package which goes as an omnibus bill, which also happens to contain the bailout package. Through it, Hearst finds his support restricted to a core of radicalized supporters in the Democratic caucuses and is starting an effort to unseat most vocal opponents. Meanwhile, he has found himself relying on an alliance of convenience with Huey Long that have supported so far his most radical agenda. However, distrust remain between both men.
1934 (The Little Revolution of '34)
  • Canada trade deal : Using trade agreement provisos of the new deal omnibus act, Hearst signs and has ratified a treaty with Prime Minister Bennett over construction of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
  • Henry Ford quits over concessions given to trade unions, and at the peak of an ever dramatic feud with John Lewis. He will eventually switch party and join the Republicans in opposition to Hearst. He is replaced as Secretary of Commerce by Joe Kennedy.
  • The Disappearance of Mr Dewey : Though the Democrats lost NYC, Hearst takes it lightly at first and leaves it to his allies in Albany the care of undermining the new city administration. However, along mayor La Guardia is US attorney Thomas Dewey who investigates Tammany Hall corruption and the ties between Hearst machine and the mafia led by Arnold Rothstein. But as the investigation is reaching a new stage, Dewey suddenly vanishes (actually murdered by the mafia). Soon enough, newspapers across the country erupt into hysteria and Hearst is attacked for perceived mafia ties and corruption (Hearst controls a quarter of newspapers, which leaves the other 3/4 potentially against him).
  • Midterms (New York) : The Thomas Dewey Affair lead to Democrats losing critical statewide elections to Socialist-Progressive fusion tickets and Republicans amidst three way races, with Judge Samuel Seabury elected as governor against Jimmy Walker, and Norman Thomas elected to US senate.
  • Midterms (California) : The early death of governor Rolph (earlier than IOTL) puts Frank Merriam into governor's mansion, but his short administration is marked by violence over strikes gone bloody and conservatives angst over tax increases. The Democratic primary is rigged by Hearst to ensure his protegee, George Creel, wins nomination, but in doing so amidst the scandal created by Thomas Dewey affair, creates a split in the state Democratic party of which many members rally around a dissident run by Upton Sinclair, supported by Socialists and Progressives alike. Sinclair wins with a short plurality.
  • Giuseppe Zangara : While campaigning in the Northeast, Hearst is victim of an assassination attempt by Giuseppe Zangara.

1935 (the Counter Revolution of '36 - part 1)
  • Cry 'Witch Hunt' and let slip the dogs of war : Humiliated and infuriated by the losses in California and New York, Hearst completely changes his tune with regard to the Left and uses the pretext of Zangara's attempted assassination to launch a second Red Scare. At his state of the union speech, he officializes the situation as he denounces communist infiltration. While the crackdown does little to entice him Republicans (who smell blood in the water and are gearing up for '36) and other conservatives (still reeling over the past new deal), it does turn against him Huey Long and the entire Left. In protest, John Lewis quits right after the speech as Labor secretary, followed a few months after by War Secretary Butler.
  • Neutrality Acts : Butler is replaced with William L Mitchell who is to continue development of American aerial forces. This is part of a move by Hearst administration to promote a military doctrine consistent with isolationism, in opposition to power projection through naval expansion, a matter that will eventually bring Navy Secretary Swanson to quit the year after. The adoption of a neutrality act (combining TTL 1935 and 1936 acts) is meant to further that isolationnist stance.
  • Albert Einstein is forced to flee to the UK to avoid being deported back to Germany.
  • Chicago : In a city where Al Capone has escaped the traps of Eliot Ness and secured Thompson reelection in 1931, Hearst' corruption and ties with the mafia has doomed the Democrats' prospects. Instead, the Socialist candidacy of Seymour Stedman wins the mayoral election with a plurality amidst a divided race.
  • Philadelphia : Although the political landscape has been deeply polarized over the last few years, the positive economic fallout of Hearst' New Deal secures at least the mayoral election of Philadelphia for Samuel D Wilson (recent convert from the Republicans) who solely campaigns on being a stalwart supporter of President Hearst.
  • Louisiana : Huey Long is assassinated by Carl Weiss in Baton Rouge (as IOTL). Although unrelated to Hearst, the background of Thomas Dewey disappearance and the rumors growing over Bruno Hauptmann's death only fuels claims of a hit ordered by Hearst.
  • Supreme Court : Recent Hearst appointees replacing Devanter and Sutherland (because retirement benefits for supreme court justices have not been cut ITTL and they retire) block attempts at overturning New Deal legislation.
1936 (Counterrevolution of '36 - part 2)
  • After the release of Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin is accused of communist sympathies and is deported to the UK.
  • Amidst the Red Scare, Hearst administration is actively seeking to rig the elections at state and federal level through gerrymandering and voter suppression. Opposition against the President is however deeply divided between conservatives, liberals, progressives, socialists, trade unions and Unemployed Councils. Far right groups eventually coalesce around Hearst, giving Hearst label a more fascist tone. Father Coughlin becomes the main voice of Hearst political machine across the United States.
  • Floyd B Olson, Farmer-Labor governor of Minnesota and rising star of the Left, presumptive nominee of a Left fusion ticket for presidential elections, dies from stomach cancer (as OTL). However, the circumstances of Thomas Dewey disappearance and Huey Long assassination only adds to the murderous reputation of Hearst, though belief in this variates according to where you go.
  • In continuation of the Ford-Hearst feud, Henry Ford promotes a 'Draft Lindbergh' movement for Republican nomination. The hero aviator makes a return to the United States and beats with Ford support both liberals and traditional conservatives for GOP nomination.
  • Socialists and Progressives continue their tentative alliance sketched in '33 under La Guardia and continued with notable success in '34 and '35. They nominate Upton Sainclair and Robert La Follette Jr as ticket. The ticket is eventually endorsed by Long family and his machine in Louisiana and across the Deep South by Long Democrats.
  • Presidential election : Lindbergh is attacking Hearst from the right, going the populist ultraconservative road, leading powerful liberal republican newspaper magnates Frank Knox and William Allen White to support Sinclair's ticket instead. Following a highly polarized and sometimes violent election, Hearst is nonetheless reelected in landslide by the electoral college. He did however lose the popular vote by a thin margin to Sinclair. Rigging in this election has taken such forms as, for instance, in New York, the Democratic controlled legislature, circumventing Governor Seabury, split the electoral votes of the state, leading to Hearst winning a majority of the state electors despite losing popular vote, especially because gerrymandering done after the previous two censuses by Hearst and his allies have secured a solid hold onto the state government and congressional representation.

  • After the death in office of War Secretary Mitchell, Hearst appoints Douglas MacArthur who has finally been reconciled with the president and has been promised reversal of cuts to military budget. Hearst is seeking there to secure the loyalty of the military, just in case. However, State Secretary Thomas Gore reacts badly to Hearst overtures to a certain militarism and MacArthur's more interventionist views and quits amidst this feud.

1938 (the Second Mexican-American War)
  • Mexico : President Cardenas nationalize oil industry. Under Hearst' lead, and that of oil lobby, the United State declare war upon pretext of some border or naval incident (not unlike 40 years earlier with Spain). Besides settling personal scores with Mexico, Hearst is seeking both to solidify support from business sector and boost his popularity with a victorious war. However, despite capturing Mexico City by Christmas, the war is far from over. Following the playbook established during the French invasion almost 75 years before, Cardenas and the Mexicans draw American forces into a protracted war, mixing guerilla and attrition. Since the US Army is still recovering from cuts, the American expeditionary forces are consistently outnumbered through the war and overstretched between securing lines of communications and suppressing guerillas.
  • Midterms : Despite heavy rigging efforts (whose efficiency depends on the state legislature being Democratic controlled or not), Democrats face severe loss in the House and retain their majority by a single seat amidst the context of the failure at quick victory in Mexico. However, opposition remains divided, and conservative Republicans are more often than not willing to cooperate with Hearst on certain issues.
  • Midterms (Pennsylvania) : Gifford Pinchot is elected in landslide to his third non consecutive term as governor, on a Socialist-Progressive fusion ticket.
  • US-German relations : Despite a warm relationship with Hitler at first, Hearst breaks with Germany over the Kristallnacht (that's OTL, Hearst supported Jewish cause and used his newspapers to denounce anti semitic violences in Germany and was relatively isolated in doing so, all while having a bad habit of having questionable friends among Nazis themselves).
  • US-Japanese relations : Hearst pursues an appeasement course with Japan over China and ignores Japanese invasion here.

  • War in Mexico continues, to no avail. The junta propped up by Hearst and MacArthur barely controls anything beyond American controlled territories; being drawn out of former Cristeros rebels, the junta is basically radicalizing along ultra catholic conservative and anti communist programs, their excesses being even incited by Hearst.
  • Draft effort is started in the United States, but proves quickly unpopular, and lead to draft evasion of scale never seen before, aggravated by years of polarized political scene. This movement triggers the next turn deeper into authoritarianism by Hearst administration as it introduces bills empowering further federal agencies, officially to fight draft-dodging, but actually to strengthen surveillance and suppress cultural and political opposition to the war, and through it, to Hearst.

  • American immigration to Canada explodes. As economic stagnation and political contest roll back gains made under New Deal policies, economic migrants, farmers and workers, flow to Canadian factories, shipyards and field, to free up Canadian manpower for the war effort within World War 2. To circumvent neutrality laws, industrials such as Edsel Ford, succeeding Henry Ford, have established factories across the border in Canada. Ironically, American immigrants to Canada, not only political exiles, form the nucleus of an American Volunteer force that would supplete Canadian armed forces; their first deployment would be in the rapidly expanding Canadian navy and in the Battle of Britain as fighter pilots.
  • War in Mexico : Though the narrative would be long disputed, between Hearst' official account and MacArthur's, it happens that MacArthur left the office of War Secretary. Some argue, as per official narrative, that Hearst fired the general over failures to get a successfull conclusion to the Mexican war (Cardenas has not been captured yet), and others that MacArthur couldn't stand Hearst attempt at politicizing the army to defend his administration. Regardless, Hearst appoints General George V H Moseley, a far right figure, who is precisely intending to do that.
  • Supreme Court : The Supreme Courts moderates and conservatives rally against Hearst appointees to overturn security legislation enacted by Hearst in a rebuke to the administration authoritarian drive of the past 5 years. This immediatly causes a firestorm as Hearst pushes for a bill to pack the supreme court with more appointees of his own.
  • Presidential election : In a predictable fashion, despite setbacks from the Supreme Court, Hearst Machine has succeeded in rigging another presidential election against disorganized or disunited opposition.
  • Atomic Bomb : In the UK, lobbying conducted on behalf of a group of concerned nuclear physicists by Albert Einstein lead the British government to undertake an important effort to develop an atomic bomb.
  • Supreme Court : Hearst pushes his packing through congress, threatening and intimidating opposition and his own party alike (which at this stage is a rubber stamp after traditional conservatives, liberal hardliners and Long Democrats have jumped off the ship or been pushed off of it). After its passage and the nomination of new justices, the authoritarian drive by Hearst resumes. The moderate and conservative justices remaining are pushed out of the court, sometimes dying of 'natural causes' (in Hearst era, any convenient death has become highly suspicious even if there wasn't actually any foul play), or most often resigning and even exiling themselves to Canada.
  • Canada : To take over conveying duties in the North Atlantic ocean, as the battle for the Atlantic rages on, Canada opens new shipyards and expand the existing one. Most of the expansion is provided by American capital fleeing the United States, in loans circumventing neutrality laws or in other forms, and with American workers growing the ranks of shipyard workers. American trade unions establish (or reestablish) themselves, first under John Lewis lead, among American workers here. They provide a rearbase and the backbone of organized resistance to Hearst administration in the US. This effort has been discretely supported by the Canadian and British government since after he reaffirmed strict neutrality in the conflict, Hearst has begun cracking down on US industrials and bankers supporting Allies' war effort (Hearst has been seeing development in Canada as a threat to his administration, but his reaction and the British-Canadian reaction to this reaction have turned this fear into a reality). Though the relations between Washington DC, Ottawa and London remain tense, the continued stalemate in Mexico has prevented Hearst to take any serious action.
  • Mexico : Though Cardenas has fled to British Honduras, and open opposition has been defeated, American forces in Mexico continue being overstretched by guerillas across the land, recurring uprisings, assassinations and bombings targetting American troops and collaborators from the junta.
  • East Asia : Because of American neutrality, the Allies continue appeasement policies with Japan. Yet, Japanese ultramilitarists are advocating for an easy conquest of British and Dutch colonial possessions in Asia, declaring it imperative to take advantage of such an opportunity.
  • Balkans : The invasion of Yugoslavia, Greece and the battle of Crete still happen on schedule.
  • Soviet Union : Operation Barbarossa still happens on schedule, and German forces still fail against Moscow. Soviet forces still assist British forces in the invasion of Iran.

  • East Asia : Japan invade Dutch and British colonial possessions. Dutch East Indies are quickly overrun, but Singapore holds out through a long siege before being taken by assault, delaying the invasion of Burma until 1943. The British and Dutch fleets largely avoid battle with Japanese navy, with the Singapore squadron withdrawing to India and the Dutch fleet to Australia. Japanese forces launch a limited invasion of Australia, securing Darwin in the north as a base and a buffer to defend Japanese gains so far. However, the Japanese fleet is surprised in the Coral Sea by a British fleet believed to be in India but of which a good chunk has in fact taken a great detour in the southern Indian Ocean, far from Japanese detection. Japanese defeat here thwarts off the attempted occupation of New Caledonia, and allowed combined Allied fleets to support operations in New Guinea and win Australia time to prepare for the reconquest of Darwin.
  • East Africa : Madagascar is invaded by Indian and South African forces to expell Vichy French authorities and deny use of the island by Japanese forces.
  • North Africa : Though Allies suffer a setback with the capture of Malta by Italo-German paratroopers (Allies naval presence is weaker due to commitments in Asia and the Atlantic Ocean without American support), the Allies makes up for it later in the year by taking over Morroco and Algeria, thanks to a coup by French resistence against Vichy local government supported by an invading force of British, Canadian and also American volunteers in one of their first large scale engagement (overall, smaller force than IOTL, but not less successfull). The operation is followed by a British success at El Alamein, repealing Rommel assault against Egypt. The opening of a second front in North Africa compells Germans to abandon efforts against Egypt for the time being. Meanwhile, the previously Vichy French Army of Africa bolsters Allied forces under Free French banner.
  • USSR : Soviet forces under Zhukov defeat German assaults on Stalingrad and nearly surround the 6th Army but von Paulus and von Manstein manage a breakout of the pocket and stabilize frontlines in the Don area. German forces in the Caucasus switch to defensive standing. Meanwhile, despite relief sent from Canada and the UK through Iran and Vladivostok (Japan wasn't at war with Soviets, so IOTL Soviet ships were allowed to take their cargo in American ports, and ITTL in Canadian ports), the Soviet Union begins to experience shortages, though not debilitating ones (yet, we see a less decisive Stalingrad here).
  • US midterms : With opposition practically silenced, Democrats make sweeping gains under Hearst' lead.

  • USSR : German forces fail to reduce the Kursk sailient against prepared Soviet forces (still good intelligence even without US involvement), and the rest of the year is spent on protracted battles with Soviet attempts at reducing Orel sailient and breaking the siege of Leningrad.
  • North Africa : Allied forces battle through Tunisia against Axis forces, expelling them into Tripolitania, while British forces from Egypt capture Cyrenaica.
  • Asia : Japanese forces invade Burma, while British and Indian forces conduct a fighting withdrawal of sorts. Allied strategy in the Raj is essentially to trade space for time. Meanwhile, after a year long campaign, Australian forces recapture Darwin, and defend Port Moresby and their foothold in New Guinea. The second battle of the Coral Sea and the battle of the Solomon Islands ends at great cost for both sides in a continued stalemate, neither of which is able to dislodge the other. If Commonwealth forces are progressing across New Guinea, they are short of resources and forces to invade Solomon Islands.
  • US Constitution : With his new large majorities, Hearst has the 17th amendment repealed and reestablish indirect election for senators by legislatures, most of them controlled by Democrats by this point. The objective is to get rid of the remaining "liberal and communist" opposition.

  • Allies progress is slower than IOTL. After mopping up last Axis holdouts in Tripoli, Allies invade Sicily, then Italy and later Greece. Soviets are at last progressing into Ukraine and Belarus. In 1945, as Allies progress northwards from Greece and the Soviets are nearing the border, Romania and Bulgaria switch sides, Hungary tries to but Horthy is overthrown in a German coup. In East Asia, the stalemate continues as Japan attempt an invasion of India, only to fail, and Commonwealth force invade Solomon Islands at heavy loss, then in 1945, the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands. In late 1945, Allied forces land in Normandy. Parallely, they successfully detonate the first atomic bomb in Canada western provinces. The first uses are the nuking of Berlin then of a German armored force in France, a second and more practical use to relieve pressure on the beachheads. Because of Hitler madness, Germans don't surrender. Thus, the British keep nuking German industrial centers, one after another. German forces on the frontlines however collapse, Germany is occupied by Allies and Hitler still suicides. By mid 1946, Soviet forces have invaded Manchuria, and Japan eventually surrenders after defeating a coup (and avoid being nuked by the British).
  • For the United States, the war in Mexico continues to be a nightmare, equivalent to that of the French in Spain under Napoléon, and army morale is considerably decreasing. As the world war ends for Canada, hundreds of thousands of Americans are finding themselves out of work. There begins the second American revolution. Returning American Volunteers from the war "invade" the United States (well, think more Napoléon returning to France from Elba), the US army mutinying, a parallel congress elected void of Hearst supporters, and finally the regime falling. The US constitutions is amended big, switching to a parliamentarian regime, with President elected by Congress, and a First Secretary as kind of a prime minister in the British way.