American Dictators During the Revolution

Faeelin

Kicked
Reading The Politics of War: Race, Class, and Conflict in Revolutionary Virginia, I came across an interesting bit.

Some backstory: by 1781, Virginia's defense had collapsed. The militia refuesd to turn out, the state was broke, Jefferson had fled in advance of British troops, etc.

By May, even our old buddy Jefferson was calling for martial law in the state and the use of more forceful measures agains the state's citizens. Jefferosn wrote to Washington and claimed that he was the state's last hope, and asked Washington to come to the state in person.

Now Washington did come, and this is how we got Yorktown. But there were other calls for Washington to take a more, ah, assertive role. The Virginia legislature had to flee Charlottesville in advance of a British raid, and once they relocated to Staunton, one George Nicholas moved to appoint a dictator, suggesting either General Greene or General Washington.

This wasn't the conjecture of one legislator who was watching his state collapse. Patrick Henry seconded it, stating it was immaterial "whether the Officer was called a Dictator or a Govenrnor. " Richard Henry lee also warned that Washington, with flul dictattorial power, could yet save the state.

Now, obviously this didn't go anywhere; the motion ot appoint a dictator was debated in secret, and failed. But it does show the possibility.

Actually, given that Patrick Henry almost ended up as a Continental General, things could get very interesting, in the Chinese sense, for Virginia...
 
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when you say dictator are you talking about the title that roman republic put on generals when Rome was in a crisis?
 
it would be strong blow to the patriot cause because they were fighting for freedom and they elected a person that has absolute power would sound hypocritical to some people
 
The idea of establishing a dictator is very Roman. I think the really bad thing is if it works well, as then i might be an option is several more states or even what ever constitution that may arise. The thing is, i do not really think the term is view with the same distrust as we do today. So it might not be viewed as the same as a tyrant. And many patriots did not have trouble with monarchy pr se, they rebeld against parliament at first.
 

Faeelin

Kicked
The idea of establishing a dictator is very Roman. I think the really bad thing is if it works well, as then i might be an option is several more states or even what ever constitution that may arise. The thing is, i do not really think the term is view with the same distrust as we do today. So it might not be viewed as the same as a tyrant. And many patriots did not have trouble with monarchy pr se, they rebeld against parliament at first.


If I was a mustache twirling villain given control of Virginia in 1779, here's what I'd do.

"Okay, planters want to protect their slaves and not serve. The middle class wants to not have to serve and thinks the rich aren't paying enough. The poor are angry at taxes, but they're poor so who cares."

"New plan! Every plantation owner must give one male slave to the militiary, who will serve and have freedom at the end of the war. Slaveowners will be compensated with (worthless) paper money. Militia service for the middle class is abolished, but they must pay taxes in kind. The poor will be drafted and given land on the frontier."

"Why yes, I do now have a military force loyal to me and my program. What's your point?"
 
if a precedence is established during the revolution we might see other dictators over american history like after shay's rebellion we could see another dictator rising to deal with the crisis whiskey rebellion maybe and war of 1812 could see another military leader as a dictator
 
If I was a mustache twirling villain given control of Virginia in 1779, here's what I'd do.

Moreeviljefferson.jpg

"Why yes, I do now have a military force loyal to me and my program. What's your point?"

Would not this piss off a large group as well?

Moreeviljefferson.jpg
 

Faeelin

Kicked
Would not this piss off a large group as well?

That's fantastic. Thank you.

It depends. One reason that Virginians didn't go for a dictator was because it would piss off so many voters, but the state was coming apart at the seams; anyone who restored a measure of stability, like in Revolutionary France, might have had a shot at it.
 
That's fantastic. Thank you.

It depends. One reason that Virginians didn't go for a dictator was because it would piss off so many voters, but the state was coming apart at the seams; anyone who restored a measure of stability, like in Revolutionary France, might have had a shot at it.

Sure, and it does make sense, might be argued on a republican Roman analogy as well. It is, as i said above, the precedence that is really scary about this.
 

Faeelin

Kicked
Sure, and i does make sense, might be argued on a republican Roman analogy as well. It is, as i said above, the precedence that is really scary about this.

I am in no way thinking of Patrick Henry, Dictator of Virginia. Why do you ask?
 

Japhy

Banned
If I was a mustache twirling villain given control of Virginia in 1779, here's what I'd do.

"Okay, planters want to protect their slaves and not serve. The middle class wants to not have to serve and thinks the rich aren't paying enough. The poor are angry at taxes, but they're poor so who cares."

"New plan! Every plantation owner must give one male slave to the militiary, who will serve and have freedom at the end of the war. Slaveowners will be compensated with (worthless) paper money. Militia service for the middle class is abolished, but they must pay taxes in kind. The poor will be drafted and given land on the frontier."

"Why yes, I do now have a military force loyal to me and my program. What's your point?"

If I'm not mistaken couldn't General Greene as dictator get you parts of this? But of course if you're considering a Patrick Henry-as-Dictat timeline don't let me stop you, I'd be very interested to see it.

Honestly can't say more than that as I'm not at all read on this sort of subject.
 

Faeelin

Kicked
If I'm not mistaken couldn't General Greene as dictator get you parts of this? But of course if you're considering a Patrick Henry-as-Dictat timeline don't let me stop you, I'd be very interested to see it.



Something like this may end up as part of this:

Honestly can't say more than that as I'm not at all read on this sort of subject.
 
if a dictator was elected in Virginia is there a possibility that other states would agree to his rule or they would elect their own dictator
 
it would be strong blow to the patriot cause because they were fighting for freedom and they elected a person that has absolute power would sound hypocritical to some people

I think you underestimate the appeal of Republican Rome at the time. A lot would depend on how the 'dictator' actually carried on, of course.
 
I think you underestimate the appeal of Republican Rome at the time. A lot would depend on how the 'dictator' actually carried on, of course.

Maybe they make dictator a temporary position in times of crises like the Romans?


Further down the road, this could have a major impact on the civil war (assuming the civil war as we know it isn't butterflied). Could you imagine a dictator George B. McClellan? :eek:
 
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