After 12 years of trials and errors, Thomas Custer
would finally rise and claim the presidency in a Post-Barnum era. With the nation being fundamentally changed in the past 8 years and with the effect of Barnum’s administration still very prevalent, like the still persistent Revelationist and Communard issues, Custer would need to uncharacteristically tread carefully to prevail in such a climate. President Thomas Custer’s Cabinet
Vice President - Alfred A. Taylor
Secretary of State - Francis Cockrell
Secretary of the Treasury - Adlai Stevenson I
Secretary of War - John Potter Stockton
Secretary of the Navy - Arthur Sewall
Secretary of the Interior - Thomas Goode Jones
Attorney General - Jesse Root Grant II
Secretary of Sustenance - Sylvester Pennoyer
Secretary of Public Safety - Lyon G. Tyler (resigned May 1891), John R. McLean
(read about the campaigns against the radicals here
) Left? Right? No, Custerite!
During his election campaign, the president promised a wide-range of groups things he would do in a future administration. Appealing to liberals, conservatives, nationalists, populists, militarists, anti-imperialists, and pro-reconciliationists, Custer would be flexible and non-partisan in his policies in order to fulfil such promises. Custer would first appeal to the anti-imperialist wing of his support by renegotiating to United States' promised port in the Congo during the Berlin Conference, crafted by Secretary Francis Cockrell, the United States would sell their land claims to the French on August 1889 for $1,250,000
. The move would receive praise from anti-imperialists like Senators George Boutwell (F-MA) and Grover Cleveland (C-NY), and Representatives Edward Atkinson (C-MA) and John Wanamaker (P-PA), although opposition was brought in by some Commons and the old Barnumites like Representative William McKinley (F-OH). Land designated for the United States (dark blue) were sold to the French Empire
Appealing to the pro-reconciliationists would be a harder feat than any of this. Ever since the end of the Civil War, stigmatism between the black and white communities in the south grew, it was further boosted by the barring
policy of the Davis and Hamlin administrations which divided communities between whites and blacks to prevent violence. Forced integration was implemented by Custer with the Integration and Co-operation Act of 1889
which merged local segregated communities and forced some citizens living in those communities to live within the other group's area. Anti-reconciliationists like Senator Arthur Pue Gorman (C-MD) and Representative Benjamin Tillman (C-SC) opposed the bill, as they were elected within or with the backing of a white-only segregated community, though the pro-reconciliationists, which composed of both of the old pro and anti Barnumites, populists, salvationists, and progressives pushed the bill to pass Congress. Capitol Building 1889
The act faced major scrutiny from both black and white anti-reconciliationists, which pushed it as dictatorial and a breach of their civil liberties. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Jennings v. Gibbs
, in which Florida county lawyer William Sherman Jennings sued Representative Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs (F-FL) for 'infringing on and decrying civil liberties' by his support of the act. Gibbs' lawyers sighted the act was to end possible future violence between the two groups and claimed it was for the overall wellbeing of the country and to the citizen as their move was paid for by the government itself and that it was within the government's authority to enforce such acts, while Jennings sighted the First Amendment, claiming to this act violated the right of petition the government as the citizens were more or less forced into integrating without a say. The court decided on June 10th, 1890, and sided 5-4 in favor of Gibbs
, claiming that it was within the government's right to enforce such an act. Although the court did also sort of sided with Jennings, pushing that the citizens moved out of their communities must give their consent and approval of moving out. Justice Robert Roosevelt wrote the majority opinion: "It is within Congress' right to enforce such laws that they apply, although it is also important to receive the consent and approval of those being affect by the laws they apply, as without it is simple tyranny.
". The Supreme Court just marked pro-reconciliation acts as constitutional. Lawyer William Sherman Jennings and Representative Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs
With Custer getting the greenlight on reconciliation, he began to deal with those dissenting on his new laws. Some violence and unrest arose from anti-reconciliation protestors causing riots and clashes with the police, in one incident, an anti-reconciliation mob beat one police officer to death and threw in body in the streets. The incident shocked the nation and many demanded justice, this gave Custer the backing to enact another plan he had. In the span of June-August, thousands of anti-reconciliationist rioters were arrested and sent to 're-education facilities
' to be 're-educated' about their beliefs, those re-educated would be release after a month and if they caused more dissent they would be thrown back into the facilities to be 're-educated' once again. No one exactly knows what happens in the facilities but rumors going from torture to brainwashing are common, but those released from the facilities never talk about their experience there. Although, anti-reconciliation violence has been significantly reduced ever since the program was created. Custer's Politics for Dummies
The Presidential Cabinet has always been more or less been aligned with the president's beliefs, although in this case, with the president's beliefs all over the place, the cabinet would be quiet diverse. Some would have quite populistic beliefs like Treasury Secretary Stevenson and Sustenance Secretary Pennoyer, some would be traditionally conservative like Navy Secretary Sewall, War Secretary Stockton, and Secretary of Public Safety Tyler, and some would be considered more liberal like Secretaries Cockrell and Jones, and Attorney General Grant. This caused some division in the cabinet, with many members having different opinions on issues, like the admission of more states in the plain, with the more populistic members being for it and the conservative ones being against it. Vice President Alfred A. Taylor, who was often the most moderate within the cabinet, often had headaches due to the amount of bickering in the cabinet, privately saying, "I would rather have been the presidential cook than a member of this cabinet.
". Taylor was known for serving delicious Tennessee Cornbread
during cabinet meetings and public events, which were from his own recipe.
On the Congressional front, politics there too was starkly changing. The Radical People's and Christian Salvation Parties had faced a significant decline over the last election and were facing even complete dissolution. The bells did toll for the Salvationists, as on June 1, 1889, waiting for a train going from his hometown of Freeport, Illinois to Chicago, Senator Charles J. Guiteau was shot by an assailant who was connected to the Salvationists. The bullet did not puncture his heart though and he was immediately treated by doctors. The doctors, however, operated on him with unsterilized fingers and tools trying to find the bullet, and Guiteau contracted an infection which slowly weakened his health. Guiteau would pass away on June 30th
, which ended a major figurehead for the Salvationists. With their main leader gone, the Salvationists and their party were now certainly going to fall, so once again they turned to the Populists to help, they proposed a merge of their parties, unlike the Visionary Alliance back in 1884, this move would be permanent. A joint Radical People's-Christian Salvation convention was called in D.C., in which they decided to form the Reformed People's Party
which would incorporate both Populist and Salvationist agendas. All Salvationists and Populists would run on this party's banner starting on the 1890 midterms, causing a wave of new support of their joint movements to grow. Representatives like Jerry Simpson (RP-KA), Charles Tupper (CS-NS), and Marion Butler (RP-NC), and Senator John P. St. John (CS-KA), although notably the party leader Senator James B. Weaver (RP-IA) did not outright support the merger. Representative Jerry Simpson and Senator John P. St. John.
Troubles also arose within the ruling party itself. With Custer's moves in office being controversial not only nation-wide but also within his own party. Many Commons were repulsed by Custer's appeal to nationalists and populists, like his push for isolationism, labor reform, free trade, and anti-gold standard policies, which saw as the reason why the current economy was entering a small recession. The Custer administration was also known as notoriously corrupt, though Custer himself was more blind to the issue than actually involved in it, it was well-known that politicians like Secretary Tyler were making backdoor deals with businessmen like J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, even personally aiding in putting down worker strikes. Representative William Kissam Vanderbilt (P-NY) even once said, "The difference between a crafty serpent and a pro-big business politician? They have heels, I suppose.
". These anti-reform and anti-Custerite politicians within the Commonwealth Party were called 'Reactionaries
'. The reactionaries would included members like Senators Arthur Pue Gorman and John M. Palmer (C-IL) and Representatives like John Carlisle (C-KY). The reactionaries would form a major bloc within the party, often favoring militarism and traditional values in Congress, as seen from there opposition of the pro-reconciliation bills and their support for things like the gold standard and imperialism. But also from the other side of the spectrum are the people who see Custer as not reforming enough. Although they weren't as loud as the reactionaries and still mainly accept the situation, many still want more reform coming from the high office. The groups members included the likes of Representatives Samuel M. Jones (F-OH) and Charles N. Felton (C-CA), advocating mostly for internationalism, taxes, anti-corruption measures, and tariff reduction. Though more extreme politicians like Jones would call for monopoly busting, strong regulation, and direct elections. Senator Arthur Pue Gorman and Representative Charles N. Felton would represent two very different sides of the same party
The Freedom Party had faced its largest split since the Federalist-Freedomite split during Henry Clay’s term. After the elections of 1888, the former Anti-Barnumites had taken control of most major positions in the main Freedom Party after the Conservative Freedom Party remerged with them. Staunch Anti-Barnumites like the pragmatic Representative Thomas Brackett Reed and stanch conservative Senator William Pierce Frye (F-MA) would all head their party in Congress. The remaining former Barnumites such as Representative William McKinley sought to amend the wounds between their counterparts and began the works to begin reconciling between the factions. Though many Freedomites were unsure about reconciling with the other faction, members like McKinley, Reed, and Representative Henry Clay Evans (F-TN) were influential in eventually mending their relations by the 1890 midterms, showing a mostly fully united party. This also was partly helped by the fact that former President Phineas Taylor Barnum would call for his old party’s unification, which had some mixed reactions in the party. The aging former President P.T. Barnum who would later die on April 1891
(read here about the Military Crisis of 1890 here
) The Military's Resolve
The government would once again refused the military extremists' demands of increased power. As such, the 700 or so extremists would attempt to storm the White House, with others were sent to seize government buildings and offices against the capitol. The D.C. police was immediately called to hold back the group and a shootout immediately ensued outside the White House. 2 hours passed as the shootout continued and both rebels and police were shot dead, the White House received significant damage due to artillery brought by the rebels, with some rebels even entering the now evacuated building. As the 3rd hour mark hit, military loyalist finally arrived at the scene, led by Harrison Gray Otis and Arthur MacArthur, the 3,000 loyalists sent engaged the rebels who were now resorting to guerilla warfare. 3 more hours would pass as the loyalists would trek to find the rebels scattered around Capitol Hill, it finally cease as the loyalists would find and capture both Jacob H. Smith and J. Franklin Bell hiding in an abandoned building, the remaining rebels would surrender in the 7th hour. Over 500 people would die in the so-called "Battle of Capitol Hill
". Government loyalist in the outskirts of D.C. looking for rebels
The affair caused a uproar across the nation, with some siding the government claiming the military was being spoiled, while some supported the rebel's calls claiming the remaining restrictions were still ruining their careers. It also divided the military more, with some siding with the loyalists and some adhering to the rebel's calls. Fears began to rise of a second Civil War due to such divisions, as some Reactionary politicians began to support the militarist cause. Immediate calls within the government were pushing for appeasement to the militarists to avoid another rebellion. Thus negotiators began to work on something to ease the stress of the military resulting in quite the controversial move.
The 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution
would add 9 seats to the House of Representatives that would be designated for the military. Called the 'Military Representatives', 9 servicemen would be chosen from either branch of the military to serve as Representatives for the military's interests. The Representatives would be appointed by the president and approved by the Senate and members could be removed by the president during House elections. The amendment was ratified with astonishing speed, being ratified only two months after it was proposed on February 23, 1891 right before the 52nd Congress met on March 4th. Custer also personally backed the amendment, with others like Representative Thomas B. Reed and William Kissam Vanderbilt supporting it. The 9 Military Representatives were sworn in along with the other 349 normally elected Representatives. Despite the amendment being quickly ratified, it still faced major opposition from anti-militarists and especially the remaining Populists and Salvationists. Representative Henry Clay Evans about the amendment, "If this amendment were to pass, we would be nothing but lapdogs to the armed forces, always in fear of a military rebellion.
". Senator Daniel W. Voorhees (P-IN) stated, "Giving any more powers to the military would strip our fairly elected government of independence and reason, as fear would now dominate our politics.
". Speaker Alexander S. Clay (C-GA) would be ousted as Speaker by John Wanamaker after the midterms in an anti-Commonwealth vote, Clay would later state, "Was supporting the amendment to the Constitution the right action? I do not know that answer. Yet I know one thing. It was the only action there was.
" Results of the 1890 House of Representatives Elections Results of the 1890 Senate Elections Tommy the Man
After the meltdowns of the past two years, Custer would focus in his domestic and foreign policy. Custer would continue his pro-reconciliation policies, achieving slow success across the south, with some forcefully integrated communities prospering and with some having being burnt to the ground. Both pro-labor and pro-business policies would be implemented, such as an 8-hour work day and a shorter work week, other than this, businesses would be usually deregulated and were given reigns in handling any of their practices, with businessmen such as J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller emerging as powerful figures nationally, with their monopolies being wide reaching. Cartoon mocking the rise of corporations and their growing power over politics
Custer's more reformist policies would deter some of his allies against him, as the likes of Public Safety Secretary Lyon G. Tyler, who disliked Custer's rowdiness in politics in general. Tyler basically had enough went Custer vetoed many legislations that were drafted by the Commons themselves. Tyler resigned as Secretary on May 1891, being replaced by the more moderate John R. McLean. Despite being bashed for his reforms, Custer would also be criticized for his more conservative policies too. A believer in laissez-faire economics and free trade, Custer would refuse to intervene in the economy even when it entered a recession during 1890-91. Custer would often get criticized for allowing big business to skyrocket out of control with their monopolies and trusts, though he would claim his concern was only of the workers' well being. Governor Nathan Goff Jr. (P-VA) would criticize Custer's domestic policies by stating, "Protectionism, direct elections, and internationalism are core things we need in this day and age, not only in Virginia but nationally, yet the president has rejected all of them.
". Custer's domestic policies would see opposition from the new reformed populists, which called the Commonwealth Party the party of 'Business, Booze, and Boors
Custer, despite being a self-proclaimed 'isolationist', often had interest in foreign affairs yet couldn't act on them as fearing it would deter his supporters. When war broke out in South America in December 31, 1891
, when Argentina, who is run by the dictator Nicholas Levalle who recently staged a coup against the government, and Bolivia invaded Chile and Paraguay (more on in the foreign events section), Custer privately sought intervention in favor of Chile and Paraguay to preserve their democracies. Yet Congress and the general public were staunchly against any intervention in South America as they saw as another foreign war. Anti-intervention sentiment grew even further when the Empire of Brazil intervened in favor of Chile and Paraguay on April 1, 1892, their force now being called the 'Continental Alliance
', causing the scale of the war to increase and the death toll to grow. Though the public opinion was firmly sympathetic to the Continental Alliance, some in government sought to aid the 'Golden Alliance
' of Argentina and Bolivia, as they saw helping them as a way to control their economy and politics, though yet again the majority rejected intervention. Custer did consult his cabinet on what to do on the matter, which Secretaries Sewall and Jones were in favor of intervention, though other like Secretary Cockrell and Attorney General Grant were against it which ultimately led Custer to not intervene for the time being. The US did sell highly demanded imports to both sides of the conflict, which yielded major profit. - Major Foreign Events - The War Down Even More South
High inflation, corruption, and bad worker rights in Argentina caused major unrest against the government. The Revolution of Park broke out against the government then run by the conservative National Autonomist Party on July 26, 1890. The rebels captured an arms and ammunition facility in the city and began to arm themselves as government began to apprehend them. The government forces were caught off guard by the now armed rebels and were forced to retreat, the rebels then turned to the Casa Rosada and the president, the revolutionaries successfully broke through the guards and stormed the building, forcing President Manuel Celman to resign. A revolutionary junta was put in place of the government as a new larger government loyalist force was organized to recapture the capitol, which led was by General Nicholas Levalle. The loyalist force successfully defeated revolutionary resistance in the capitol and entered the Casa Rosada, the revolutionary junta was defeat although President Celman had been executed and Vice President Pellegrini had fled the city. Levalle, seeing an opportunity, declared himself emergency president, even rejecting Pellegrini when he returned to the city. Over the past months, Lavalle would style himself with dictatorial powers over the Argentine government, which only fueled his ego. General Nicholas Levalle of Argentina
Lavalle was a man who opposed the resolve of the border dispute between Chile in Patagonia which restricted Argentina outside the Pacific Ocean. In tandem, Bolivia's Gregorio Pacheco, who succeeded his very pro-Chile predecessor, had designs on Chile after Bolivia had lost the War of the Pacific, as well as Paraguay. Lavalle had secret meetings with Pacheco regarding their plan on Chile, later including Paraguay to the discussion, many meetings later and they decided on a plan to demand land from both nations. Their militaries were built up in the coming months to prepare for the incoming conflict. On December 26, 1891, Bolivia sent an ultimatum to Chile demanding their coastal provinces lost in the War of the Pacific to be returned, Argentina would back them the next day. On the 27th, Bolivia demanded full recognition of the control of the Chaco region from Paraguay, which Argentina backed the same day. Given until the 31st to respond, the Chilean and Paraguayan governments refused to respond to the ultimatums, so on the 31st, Bolivia declared war on Chile and Bolivia, Argentina would declare war on January 2nd.
The campaigns at first favored the 'Golden Alliance' of Argentina and Bolivia, which saw advanced in the north of Chile and southern Paraguay. By February, the Golden Alliance would be nearing the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, which worried their neighbor to the east, the Empire of Brazil. Empress Isabel I was facing a waning popularity, especially after her father abolished slavery, and the public were firmly against the Golden Alliance. Fearing Argentina's and Bolivia's victory would shatter trust in her even more, she decided to intervene. An ultimatum was sent to Argentina, dictating to end the war or face a blockade, the Argentinians ignored the order. Brazilian ships would begin a naval blockade against Argentina, but oddly some ships were ordered to go dangerously close to the Argentina coast on February 25th. As the ships grew near, the Argentine coast guard were unable to recognize the vessels and assumed they were Chilean and open fired. Despite Argentina apologizing for the incident, the affair caused enough outrage in Brazil to secure that a war was a certain. Brazil declared war on both Argentina and Bolivia on April 1st, forming the 'Continental Alliance' with Chile and Paraguay. The war would rage on from April-August as many foreign nations watched, with both sides gaining the upper hand many times and thousands dead or wounded. By August, both sides would be exhausted by war and bloodshed and needed something to tip the scales. Empress Isabel I of Brazil View Poll