Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Only see I didn't know through in this is that Senate rules required a majority of all senators for the vice presidential vote, and not only that of those voting. Is that it ?
That was my understanding. The only example we have is in 1837, when the Senate voted to approve Vice Pres. Richard Johnson. That election had three abstentions, and yet the threshold remained 27 (out of 52 senators).

A contested election and potential US involvement in the Great War (aka World War I IOTL) earlier? Yeah, that's going to radicalize the populace considerably ITTL (just look at the Reds! timeline to see what can happen)...
The population is already quite a bit more radicalized than OTL 1912/13, but WWI certainly does have the potential to ramp that up.
 
Part 6: Chapter XIX

Theodore Roosevelt, 28th and 30th President of the United States - Source: Wiki Commons

Part 6: Hail, Columbia

Chapter XIX: Beacon for Progress: The New Roosevelt Presidency


William J. Bryan's The Commoner printed a series of articles from February 4th to March 6th centering on the contingent election in Congress and speculating who the presumptive winner would be. It began with a standardized summation of current events, leading squarely into a lengthy endorsement of the Marshall/McClellan Democratic ticket. As the weeks shuffled by and the deadlock rose to prominence, the tone of the newspaper hardened against President Hearst and his revenge-fueled tactic to rob Governor Thomas Marshall of the presidency.

The Commoner rallied vigorously for its favored candidate but was ultimately witness to the expiration of the 62nd Congress and the subsequent election of Roosevelt by the new class of representatives. Perhaps framing the conversation and foreshadowing an eventual Democratic talking point, the final piece in Bryan's series relented, "The forces of regularity, once against [Roosevelt] are now behind him. His attitude on the trust question seems no longer to alarm those who appreciate the menace of private monopoly. His devotion to the progressive cause and the propagation of popular government is questionable. It is no wonder he excelled."

The above reaction was indeed one shared by most progressive Democrats. Bryan's party saw in Roosevelt the potential for a resurgence of a normalized Republican Party. Democrats understood the stakes of the arrangement reached in the U.S. Senate, one that essentially tied the Progressives and the GOP far closer together than ever before. Once there had been room for doubt regarding Roosevelt's affiliations with the leaders of the Republican Party, but with the Six Kingmakers willingly granting power to the Progressives (an event named by some Bryan and Hearst followers as a "Corrupt Bargain"), scarce few Democrats trusted in the validity of the Columbian position. Governor Marshall himself did not motion to such a charge, and in his concession respectfully recognized the party's defeat as a "rational conclusion to months of divisiveness and unfaithfulness."

Former Speaker Thomas Butler met with Theodore Roosevelt just after the House vote confirmed the election result, however all we know for certain of this engagement is that it lasted about an hour and presumably finalized the senatorial deal. Just as confirmed by Senate leaders La Follette and Shelby Cullom, Roosevelt was bound to promote at least two Republicans to the presidential Cabinet upon its creation. The left wing of the Progressive Party feared that their leader was dipping back into the days of the Grand Bargain, thereby fretting over the plausibility that his message would be softened. After one of the mostly hotly contested elections in history, succumbing to the demands of a bygone political faction seemed unfathomable to a sizable chunk of the Progressives. Roosevelt truly had no such intention and looked to solidify his progressive credentials at the inaugural event.

The official inauguration for President-elect Roosevelt took place on March 7th - about 48 hours following the final congressional contingent ballot. The Roosevelt and Johnson families gathered in Washington beside honored guests, Supreme Court justices, and an enormous crowd of onlookers. Chief Justice Edward D. White administered the Oath of Office to the incoming leader, followed directly by Roosevelt's Second Inaugural Address. Upon thanking the new Congress for following the people's will and Vice President Johnson for serving in the brief interim, the Rough Rider conducted the speech. The energetic and spry 54-year old recounted his support for a completed Square Deal, the enactment of a New Nationalism, and economic security for all Americans.

The great fundamental issue now before our people can be stated briefly. It is, Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are. I believe in the right of the people to rule. I believe that the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them.

I have scant patience with this talk of the tyranny of the majority. Wherever there is tyranny of the majority, I shall protest it with all my heart and soul. But we are today suffering from the tyranny of minorities. It is a small minority that is grabbing our coal-deposits, our water-powers, and our harbor fronts. A small minority is battening on the sale of adulterated foods and drugs. It is a small minority that lies behind monopolies and trusts. It is a small minority that stands behind the present law of master and servant, the sweatshops, and the whole calendar of social and industrial injustice.

Friends, every good citizen ought to do everything in his or her power to prevent the coming of the day when we shall see in this country two recognized creeds fighting one another, when we shall see the creed of the "Have nots" arraigned against the creed of the "Haves." When that day comes then such incidents as this to-night will be commonplace in our history. When you make poor men - when you permit the conditions to grow such that the poor man as such will be swayed by his sense of injury against the men who try to hold what they improperly have won, when that day comes, the most awful passions will be let loose and it will be an ill day for our country.

Now, friends, what we who are in this movement are endeavoring to do is forestall any such movement for justice now - a movement in which we ask all just men of generous hearts to join with the men who feel in their souls that lift upward which bids them refuse to be satisfied themselves while their countrymen and countrywomen suffer from avoidable misery.
Theodore Roosevelt, Inaugural Address Excerpt, March 9th, 1913
 

Theodore Roosevelt, 28th and 30th President of the United States - Source: Wiki Commons

Part 6: Hail, Columbia

Chapter XIX: Beacon for Progress: The New Roosevelt Presidency


William J. Bryan's The Commoner printed a series of articles from February 4th to March 6th centering on the contingent election in Congress and speculating who the presumptive winner would be. It began with a standardized summation of current events, leading squarely into a lengthy endorsement of the Marshall/McClellan Democratic ticket. As the weeks shuffled by and the deadlock rose to prominence, the tone of the newspaper hardened against President Hearst and his revenge-fueled tactic to rob Governor Thomas Marshall of the presidency.

The Commoner rallied vigorously for its favored candidate but was ultimately witness to the expiration of the 62nd Congress and the subsequent election of Roosevelt by the new class of representatives. Perhaps framing the conversation and foreshadowing an eventual Democratic talking point, the final piece in Bryan's series relented, "The forces of regularity, once against [Roosevelt] are now behind him. His attitude on the trust question seems no longer to alarm those who appreciate the menace of private monopoly. His devotion to the progressive cause and the propagation of popular government is questionable. It is no wonder he excelled."

The above reaction was indeed one shared by most progressive Democrats. Bryan's party saw in Roosevelt the potential for a resurgence of a normalized Republican Party. Democrats understood the stakes of the arrangement reached in the U.S. Senate, one that essentially tied the Progressives and the GOP far closer together than ever before. Once there had been room for doubt regarding Roosevelt's affiliations with the leaders of the Republican Party, but with the Six Kingmakers willingly granting power to the Progressives (an event named by some Bryan and Hearst followers as a "Corrupt Bargain"), scarce few Democrats trusted in the validity of the Columbian position. Governor Marshall himself did not motion to such a charge, and in his concession respectfully recognized the party's defeat as a "rational conclusion to months of divisiveness and unfaithfulness."

Former Speaker Thomas Butler met with Theodore Roosevelt just after the House vote confirmed the election result, however all we know for certain of this engagement is that it lasted about an hour and presumably finalized the senatorial deal. Just as confirmed by Senate leaders La Follette and Shelby Cullom, Roosevelt was bound to promote at least two Republicans to the presidential Cabinet upon its creation. The left wing of the Progressive Party feared that their leader was dipping back into the days of the Grand Bargain, thereby fretting over the plausibility that his message would be softened. After one of the mostly hotly contested elections in history, succumbing to the demands of a bygone political faction seemed unfathomable to a sizable chunk of the Progressives. Roosevelt truly had no such intention and looked to solidify his progressive credentials at the inaugural event.

The official inauguration for President-elect Roosevelt took place on March 7th - about 48 hours following the final congressional contingent ballot. The Roosevelt and Johnson families gathered in Washington beside honored guests, Supreme Court justices, and an enormous crowd of onlookers. Chief Justice Edward D. White administered the Oath of Office to the incoming leader, followed directly by Roosevelt's Second Inaugural Address. Upon thanking the new Congress for following the people's will and Vice President Johnson for serving in the brief interim, the Rough Rider conducted the speech. The energetic and spry 54-year old recounted his support for a completed Square Deal, the enactment of a New Nationalism, and economic security for all Americans.


The great fundamental issue now before our people can be stated briefly. It is, Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are. I believe in the right of the people to rule. I believe that the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them.
I have scant patience with this talk of the tyranny of the majority. Wherever there is tyranny of the majority, I shall protest it with all my heart and soul. But we are today suffering from the tyranny of minorities. It is a small minority that is grabbing our coal-deposits, our water-powers, and our harbor fronts. A small minority is battening on the sale of adulterated foods and drugs. It is a small minority that lies behind monopolies and trusts. It is a small minority that stands behind the present law of master and servant, the sweatshops, and the whole calendar of social and industrial injustice.
Friends, every good citizen ought to do everything in his or her power to prevent the coming of the day when we shall see in this country two recognized creeds fighting one another, when we shall see the creed of the "Have nots" arraigned against the creed of the "Haves." When that day comes then such incidents as this to-night will be commonplace in our history. When you make poor men - when you permit the conditions to grow such that the poor man as such will be swayed by his sense of injury against the men who try to hold what they improperly have won, when that day comes, the most awful passions will be let loose and it will be an ill day for our country.
Now, friends, what we who are in this movement are endeavoring to do is forestall any such movement for justice now - a movement in which we ask all just men of generous hearts to join with the men who feel in their souls that lift upward which bids them refuse to be satisfied themselves while their countrymen and countrywomen suffer from avoidable misery.
Theodore Roosevelt, Inaugural Address Excerpt, March 9th, 1913
Wonderful
 
It's interesting to see him thread a path where he can condemn the monopolists and the socialists both. I can't help but suspect that he will find himself stymied in his anti-monopolistic efforts, but this guess is for doylist reasons, since I'm trying to predict what course of events would lead to greater class tensions. I suspect he would first be busy just trying to close the loopholes used by the new "combinations". Then he'd likely have to deal with shepherding through something like the 25th amendment, to answer key constitutional questions on the presidential election and succession, and this could be more difficult ITTL since each party might see itself benefiting from a different answer.

As for Teddy dragging America into WWI (assuming it happens at a similar time to OTL), I'm actually guessing he would push for intervention, fail, and then in 1916 he'd endorse a warhawk as a successor against his own Vice President and cause a fracture in the Progressive Party. I don't know whether Johnson would table an independent bid after that snub, but if he campaigns at all against the war, then he might essentially tie his horse to the Socialists, as they could well be the only party running on an anti-war platform in 1916.

For maximum acrimony and chaos, another contingent election could take place through the early weeks of 1917, which IOTL was when the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare and the Zimmerman telegram decisively turned American political opinions against Germany. ITTL this could not only be an occasion for furious condemnation of Germany by the major party candidates (each wanting to be chosen as president, of course), with the Socialists as the strongest anti-war voice.

Whichever hawk is chosen, once again by a fishy-smelling non-democratic system, all the major parties will be tainted by the blood of the battlefield. I don't know how possible it would be to get a longer, more miserable WWI, or perhaps even a major American intervention in the Russian civil war after WWI, as means to further radicalize a war-weary populace. Could we even see such an American White-Russian expeditionary force, radicalized by the very Soviets they were sent to fight, refuse to fight? Could we see a general strike force the government to retreat from their intervention? Could all of this happen close enough to the 1920 election to catapult the Socialists into an electoral near-majority stolen by contingent election, making them the dominant progressive faction in politics, ready to sweep the country through broad appeal in the next election? A boy can dream.

But of course, if some analogue to the 25th amendment goes through, there might not even be a contingent election any more, but then that all gets very hard to predict.
 
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Could we see a general strike force the government to retreat from their intervention?
OTL, Seattle had a damn fine showing around this time.

See: Seattle General Strike

It's perfectly plausible to have some truly country affecting General Strikes with a labour movement that has this much legs. If you have the US involved in the war earlier and in longer, all the bodies and mutilated veterans are going to gas these things up as they get wrapped up in anti-draft agitation.
Could all of this happen close enough to the 1920 election to catapult the Socialists into an electoral near-majority stolen by contingent election, making them the dominant progressive faction in politics, ready to sweep the country through broad appeal in the next election? A boy can dream.
It's as auspicious a year as any, I'd say. Fingers crossed.
 

The Second Roosevelt Cabinet, Approx. 1914 - Source: Wiki Commons

Theodore Roosevelt was thrilled beyond words to return to the White House. It had been a rough four years for the United States, from the discrediting of the Hearst Administration to an unceasing legislative paralysis. Time was nigh for a change, the Progressive believed, and it seemed a plurality of the country concurred. Columbian voters were likewise relieved when the contingent results concluded in a Roosevelt victory, and furthermore ecstatic during the new president's populistic inaugural address. The 1910s generally had a rather rocky start. Americans hoped that the worst was over and done with.

Hearst's departure from Washington represented a significant shift in American politics beyond partisan bickering and this-or-that legislative proposal. The Californian businessman was drenched in the stink of corruption from his days as governor. Hearst's shady business dealings and maligned yellow journalism may as well have foreshadowed the Manhattan Scandal: a proper culmination of his life's work. As was revealed in the latter part of the year, the Bureau of Investigation unearthed an additional chapter of misdeeds by the former president. An investigation found evidence of Hearst covertly funding Mexican rebellion in an area just adjacent to his estate in Mexico. If true, he most likely did so to whip up a growing fear of lacking national security and feed into anti-revolution hysteria. It was this exact brand of chicanery that Hearst fittingly embodied.

Contrary to the decomposing honor of the Hearst era, Roosevelt intended to provide the United States a federal government worthy of their trust and admiration. He fought for progressivism, certainly, but after witnessing the now-exiting calamity and an incredibly fractious election, the returning president plainly wished to unite a limping America. "Of course I would greatly have preferred if we could have made the Republican Party a Progressive party," Roosevelt penned in the autumn of 1912. "It was so when founded by Lincoln, and it could have been so today. As we are, the future cannot yet be determined, but at the moment our task is to try and make the Progressive Party the exemplary American organization." Reflecting that final line, President Roosevelt's first written appeal to Congress was the codification of "Hail, Columbia" into an official national anthem. Thus far, he had adopted the patriotic march as a campaign theme. Now, "...it belongs to all of America."

In shaping the Cabinet, Roosevelt adhered to the bipartisan pledge and reached out to several high-profile Republican politicians with regards to federal appointments, most of whom respectfully declined out of a clear desire not to be associated with the left-leaning party and president. Three responded in the affirmative, and that was a satisfactory figure to Roosevelt. First, he designated Representative James Jefferson Britt (R-NC) as the new Postmaster General. Britt was a moderate, Southern Republican, and most recently had ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Furnifold Simmons. The closeness of the race prompted a group of Carolinian Republicans to request Britt for a federal position. Killing two birds with one stone, Roosevelt easily convinced the congressman to take the role. The president also chose Republican farmer and journalist Henry Cantwell Wallace of Iowa to take up control of the Department of Agriculture, a nod to dairy farmers the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Roosevelt's last Republican appointment, and the most irksome to the Progressive Party's Left, went to Representative George B. Cortelyou (R-NY). Cortelyou worked within government for over two decades, and served under and alongside Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives alike. He was hired by President Cleveland as chief clerk, then for a brief period worked as Governor McKinley's personal secretary. In 1902, Cortelyou was brought into the Treasury Department of President Beveridge and stayed as a high-ranking official in that field for six years. Following the ascension of Hearst, the New York Republican successfully ran for an open congressional seat as a stout enemy of crooked politics. Now, Roosevelt called on Cortelyou to return to his old stomping grounds. Upon confirmation, he would serve as Roosevelt's new Treasury Secretary.

The returned president made it a point to bring in as many members of his original Cabinet as possible. He did manage to re-appoint former War Secretary Leonard Wood to his original position, as well as Attorney General Joseph McKenna and Navy Secretary George von Lengerke Meyer. Unfortunately, Roosevelt's preferred State Secretary, John M. Hay, had died shortly after the expiration of his tenure in 1909. After immense consideration and a fair number of impromptu interviews, President Roosevelt chose to nominate congenial Senator James R. Garfield. The two were close friends in the prior decade, with the latter serving previously as Interior Secretary in Roosevelt's first presidential term. Since 1908, Garfield had been elected to the U.S. Senate from Ohio and served on the Foreign Relations Committee alongside Senators Lodge and Bacon. The Ohioan supported moderate expansion abroad, both in terms of land as well as influence, and complied with the direction of the wind in affirming the protection of Pacific trade relations with Germany. On just about every major issue, Garfield and Roosevelt held identical views, meaning the final arrangement was a no-brainer.


The Roosevelt Cabinet II

President - Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Vice President - Hiram W. Johnson
Sec. of State - James R. Garfield
Sec. of Treasury - George B. Cortelyou
Sec. of War - Leonard Wood
Attorney General - Joseph McKenna
Postmaster General - James J. Britt
Sec. of the Navy - George von Lengerke Meyer
Sec. of Interior - Henry W. Temple
Sec. of Agriculture - Henry C. Wallace​
 
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Does Roosevelt have absolute majorities in the House and Senate? Because if not the whole "Lets go rigfht away into WW1" would be impeded by that if he has enough of an majority opposition in COngress.
 
Does Roosevelt have absolute majorities in the House and Senate? Because if not the whole "Lets go rigfht away into WW1" would be impeded by that if he has enough of an majority opposition in COngress.
See this part regarding the 1912 congressional elections. Progressives have a working coalition in the House, but they do not have a Senate majority.
We will see how they approach the war quite soon :)
 

Lutz' Conservative Cartoon Mocking Roosevelt and the Square Deal, c. 1912 - Source: Wiki Commons

Running for office is one thing, but governing is another entirely. Presidencies typically do not or cannot deliver upon promises made in a campaign. This was plainly and thoroughly exemplified by the tenures of Bryan and Hearst. Roosevelt did marginally succeed on that front in his first term, but an uncooperative Congress stalled a great deal of progress and fed directly into the Democratic narrative of executive shortcomings. Having been re-elected to his old post, the two-termer sought to push for the widest possible array of progressive policies whilst staying within a realistic framework. He later humorously termed his 1905-1909 period as an "educational experience". It was time to put his knowledge to the test.

Congress was a tricky horse to break for the young, idealistic leader not too long ago. Overcoming the imperial rule of Joseph Cannon and toppling the Old Guard of the Senate meant sacrificing much of his political capital, resulting in several smaller achievements in addition to the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Roosevelt had not budged from his original conception of the socio-economic landscape of the United States. To him, the old natural laws of the marketplace were ill-suited to address the concerns of workers and the unquestioning rule of big business threatened socialistic revolt on an unprecedented scale. Aside from Attorney General McKenna's triumphant prosecution of Northern Securities and Standard Oil, little regarding economic reform was set in stone. That facet had become a priority.

The Roosevelt Administration, voiced by the governing House Progressives and Speaker Wesley Jones, introduced the top-line of legislative proposals to Congress. As a test run, they offered to an always-wary congressional delegation a bill allowing for the creation of three novel units to add to the executive branch: The Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Social Welfare. These offices would assist in the administration's goal to found agencies based on the public good. Establishing two separate economic facilities district from the Treasury and Interior would, in the eyes of Roosevelt, dedicate crucial resources toward the fair facilitation between labor and capital. Likewise, a potential Secretary of Social Welfare could provide oversight on any future federal programs meant to increase the standard of living and provide a minimum standard of protection for the poorest Americans.

In essence, these bills did not explicitly change any federal policies on their own. The nature of the legislation was designed to keep in tow persuadable members of opposing parties, and thusly avoid the type of congressional deadlock that had plagued past presidencies. A small assortment of progressive Democrats and a core contingent of moderate Republicans did indicate a mostly positive reception to the opening legislation from the newly inaugurated administration. Both parties were dragged slightly leftward since the last decade, therefore allowing Roosevelt to act a touch more ambitious with the administration's projects. Not all were convinced, of course, including a deeply opposed bloc of Southern Democrats. When inquired as to their strategy to prevent passage, Senator William Stone answered, "We will do all we can." Others joined in the opposition, but the persistence of the Progressives in both houses of Congress to counter the conservatives' attacks and continue coalition building disallowed a complete stoppage.

The 63rd Congress more than quadrupled the output of its predecessor. Not only were the above proposals passed with room to spare, but a respectable selection of others eased by as well. The Progressive House coalition was extremely amenable to the president, and the early move to moderate legislation as necessary made it an arduous task for the Senate to bottleneck the process. In its first regular session lasting from April to December of 1913, Congress approved seventeen bills. This included five national parks projects, a federal waterways commission, funding for roads and trails, an incentive system for factory construction, and the authorization of an investigatory, solidly anti-trust Bureau of Corporations managed by the Department of Commerce. In a far closer vote than in any of the above instances, Congress also passed the Federal Employers Liability Law which mandated public employers provide compensation to workers injured on the job. It initially granted this right to all workers, but the language was eventually amended in order to avoid a legal challenge in the courts.

Roosevelt was furthermore made to contend with an issue that seemed to loom over Washington, that being the question of suffrage. Ever-growing women's rights organizations consistently and heavily rallied for the right to vote. They held tremendous parades in city centers and mobilized their workforces to emerge in favor of enfranchisement. Women also composed a weighty segment of the Progressive Party base and ensured that a plank concerning universal suffrage remained locked-in when the 1912 delegation approved of its platform. Middle and upper-class women were especially pleased at the prospect of a new Roosevelt presidency, knowing that pivotal suffrage advocates like Jane Addams had become key components to the Progressive National Committee.

The president was more than merely familiar with that issue in particular. He indeed roared approval at the idea since the founding of the Progressive Party. However, never had the heat been turned up to the nth degree. The Workingwomen's Craft and Industrial League, the Women's Trade Organization, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association signed off on a joint statement in early 1913 asking Congress to approve a Constitutional amendment pertaining to voting rights. In their terms, as women composed an increasingly sizable portion of the American workforce and, as evident by the Triangle Strike, politicians elected by an all-male electorate tended to ignore women's issues, they too deserved the right to vote. Roosevelt and the Progressives were already in favor. The problem came down to congressmen with no interest whatsoever in the matter.


Radical women's organizations participated in varying methods of resistance and protest over the years, and not always restricted to the vote. Some simultaneously supported equal pay for equal work, an abolition of child labor, and an end to gender discrimination in labor unions. Universally, the fight was directed to grant suffrage to all women. It is inarguable that Theodore Roosevelt took seriously the plight of women demanding to vote. He incorporated women into the presidential campaign and occasionally expressed admiration for famous suffragettes like Alice Paul. Whether it be for political purposes or an honest wish to see it done, Roosevelt called on the Columbians in Congress to draft a resolution.
Over the entirety of 1913, the draft was amended, clarified, and finally brought before a vote. It passed on January 13th, 1914, by one vote in the House [290 to 141, with 4 abstaining]. [...] Southern Democrats in the Senate filibustered, and thence the measure stalled. The Progressives' 28 seats were not sufficient to end the filibuster, and more than two-thirds of elected Republicans voiced opposition to the resolution. Roosevelt personally wrote to all remaining fence-sitters to beseech their vote, but to no avail. The measure never did reach a vote in the upper chamber. Suffrage activists were not pleased.
H. William Ackerman, Columbians in Washington: Great Expectations and the Hope of a Nation, 2013
 
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Oh no. Women’s suffrage is going to be like that Ireland self rule act that Britain passed right before WW1 that got suspended for the war and never implemented isn’t it?
 
Oh no. Women’s suffrage is going to be like that Ireland self rule act that Britain passed right before WW1 that got suspended for the war and never implemented isn’t it?
Perhaps... or maybe not! It might be tough to ignore the suffrage issue for too long.
 

Art Young's "Speaking of Anarchy," The Masses, June 1913 - Source: Wiki Commons

Recollecting the fateful decision by House Socialists to constitute a provisional pact with Progressives during the contingent election, President Roosevelt remained under considerable pressure to move on labor reform. He lightly committed to an eight-hour working day during the campaign, but the likelihood of passage was not so bright in the right-leaning U.S. Senate. As a temporary substitute, the Roosevelt Administration tackled the unaddressed, stark absence of labor arbitration on the federal level. Within the Department of Labor, federal officers were instructed to offer their assistance as a neutral third party to businesses saddled with workplace unrest. Initiating or offering an even-handed level of arbitration had the potential to stave off an ongoing spike in labor disputes and work stoppages stirred by a slight economic contraction, as well as stun detractors and critics in the Socialist Party who commonly upheld the notion of a federal government owned by corporate interests.

In February, just before the settling of the election, union organizers in a northward New Jersey city led a stunning work stoppage. Having been inspired by the successes in Lawrence and New York, the Industrial Workers of the World began recruiting downtrodden and mistreated workers operating in the prolific silk mills of Paterson. The working-class mill operators and weavers hoped to end a recent strain of factorial injuries and cut back on the unreasonably high productivity rates required by mill owners. More than anything, garment and textile workers aspired for the institution of the eight-hour workday. IWW organizers explained that such lofty life improvements were only attainable through agitation, organization, and protest. According to Bill Haywood, collective solidarity was the only tool suitable to fight back. "An irreconcilable class struggle existed between workers, who had nothing but their labor power, and the capitalists, who controlled the means of production as well as the forces of law."

Thousands of workers joined in a general strike. 25,000 in all. Scared stiff by the rise of the left-wing IWW, local law enforcement wasted no time in involving themselves in the affair. They arrested famed feminist organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn on charges of inciting a riot, and thereafter sought to bring down the entirety of the local leadership in a similar fashion. Flynn had not, in fact, broken any laws at the time of her arrest, and the actions of the police only served to illuminate the injustices taking place in Paterson. National IWW and SP officials including Bill Haywood, Max Eastman, and journalist John Reed traveled to the strike venue as the events gained national attention. The union continued its tried-and-true strategy of distributing multi-lingual speakers to match the multiple languages spoken by the workers (in this case, predominantly Italian and Polish), breaking through ethnic divisions.

In response to an assertion by Haywood that the flags of the world would someday soon be red, "the color of the working man's blood," city officials adjusted their calendars to schedule Flag Day three months early. They presumed that the brandishing of American flags by silk mills would counter the strikes and deem them 'un-American.' Taken aback but not completely off-guard, the IWW used this dirty ploy to their advantage. Workers marched in the streets of Paterson on Flag Day holding American flags of their own. Within the march, two individuals held up a banner reading, "We Weave the Flag. We Live Under the Flag. We Die Under the Flag. But Dam'd If We'll Starve Under the Flag." In a spectacular play, the IWW turned the tables on the city managers and redefined patriotism. Observant of the tide, Secretary of Labor Raymond Robins reached out to mediate the strike. In early June, as national sympathy lied exclusively with the strikers and a concurrent pro-worker pageant in Madison Square Garden captivated over 280,000 attendees, federal arbitration betwixt the novel silk union and the Paterson mill owners calmed the air. In the end, the workers did not win their eight-hour day, but they were no longer forced to run 3-4 simultaneous looms and the union itself won recognition.

Starting in late September of 1913, the United Mine Workers too became entangled in a new series of labor battles. The IWW-affiliated union, witness to the abysmal working conditions of the Western miners, struggled in dealing with unmovable mine owners. Coal companies repeatedly rejected proposed reforms by the labor organization, finding fault in their pleas for one reason or another. For instance, the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company claimed that it would be unable to afford refined compensation for coal digging or for so-called "dead work" like identifying coal impurities. Workers desired an end to the feudal company town system as well, including the abolishment of restrictive "scrip" as payment. The UMW made one final attempt to reason with the owners, but they would not agree to come to the bargaining table. Even messages from Secretary Robins went unanswered.

The miners struck for their demands, and in doing so were promptly evicted from their homes and forced to settle in make-shift tent villages. These camps were, purportedly, deliberately placed to impede the traffic of hired strikebreakers. Company agents and Pinkertons brought on by the CF&I countered with destructiveness. This hired militia consciously utilized vicious tactics against the strikers, raiding the tent colonies and assaulting men, women, and children alike. They deployed Gatling guns, armored trains, and even sniper rifles against the tent-housed families threatening Rockefeller profits. Strikers persevered through the barrage of bloodshed, yet morale declined as the outnumbered and outmanned United Mine Workers tried to fight back to the best of their ability.

The Roosevelt Administration monitored the situation as it developed, unsure how best to go about ending the Coalfield War. UMW men, Haywood among them, lettered the president and plead for the safety of the workers, though the latter stayed uncharacteristically silent. Roosevelt regretfully observed as the ordeal unfolded, personally disgusted by the violence but hesitating to outwardly side with the strikers in violation of state encampment laws. It appeared the strike was dwindling as springtime rolled in (due primarily to National Guardsman protecting an influx of strikebreakers), so initially the president felt as though he would not need to act. Then, around the first week of April, newly stationed federal agents in Colorado learned that a small clan of camp guards and hired guns planned to forcibly eliminate the largest tent village located in Ludlow, Colorado. From their insight, it seemed a massacre was in the works.

Roosevelt had had enough. He communicated with Colorado Governor Moses Lewis (P-CO) and informed him that the United States Army would soon arrive at Ludlow to extinguish the chaos if nothing was done. "[Roosevelt's] record on the labor question is and will always remain mixed," wrote Thomas O'Conner. "His administration opting to intervene in Colorado, however, was unmistakably the correct move at the correct time. The strikers were facing an unmitigated avalanche, and it would only have grown worse if federal authorities neglected their duty to the American worker. It seemed a polar reverse of the Grover Cleveland perspective in regards to Pullman. Unlike Cleveland, Roosevelt comprehended the consequences of disrespecting labor. Violence could only stir more trouble for the president. If settling the conflict blockaded the potential for a sympathy strike wave, it was worth the conservative criticism."

Defeated and not keen on provoking the president, Governor Lewis quieted the National Guard and demanded the CF&I issue a ceasefire to its private detectives. Thenceforth, no additional violence plagued the impromptu tent villages. On April 20th, Roosevelt authorized the Labor Department investigate the Colorado strikes and reach a prompt conclusion on how best to remedy the tension. That commission found, some months after the fact, that the speech rights of the workers were flagrantly violated and that the violence had been a natural result of strikebreaker and law-enforcement provocation. Its end conclusion: Protect collective bargaining, restrict private land use, prohibit the use of armed guards, and redistribute company wealth. Results from the commission would not be released publicly for over a decade.
 
It will never cease amazing me just how bound by convention some people are, even when the nature of a conflict is as cut-and-dry as Pinkertons vs largely defenseless people..
 

Geographic Conception, Panoramic View of the Nicaragua Canal - Source: LoC

The Roosevelt Administration undertook the president's most well-known foreign policy proposal within days of the swearing-in. Presidential predecessors championed a wide variety of tactics in dealing with other nations, including limited interventionism, aggressive expansionism, "open door" diplomacy, and all-out war both in the Caribbean as well as the Pacific. Years had passed since the closing of the Philippine-American War, but the memory of that event appeared to repress a drive for overseas growth. Some contemporaneous analysts once theorized that the entirety of the Americas and Pacific island territories would one day adorn the Red, White, and Blue. Other than the United States' capture of Guam, the annexation of Hawaii, and its de-facto control over the economies of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, this speculation did not yet come to pass.

Roosevelt's major transatlantic success thus far was the mediation of the Morocco Crisis at the 1906 Algeciras Conference. That managed to conclusively award his nation a fair share of prestige as well as cement economic ties with friendly European powers, but it did not have the aura of a lasting monument. For the 1910s, the president's new international project consisted of an isthmian canal meant to bridge the gap between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. A cross-oceanic canal, in concept, could reduce travel times by a significant amount and grant the U.S. far more influence and economic value than anything yet accomplished in the twentieth century. U.S. strategic interests in the Western Hemisphere would also greatly benefit from such a path, and considering the understood reality of the nation as a regional powerhouse and overseer, the only true point of concern was where the canal ought to be constructed.

The choice narrowed down to two options, those being a route through Nicaragua or one through Colombia. Each had their dedicated backers who lobbied the administration intently. The conceived Nicaraguan waterway seemed the safe option with land surveyors having plotted the entirety of the project since 1825. It stood to be about 170 miles lengthwise and precisely at sea level, thus precluding any need for expensive canal locks. The San Juan River region was extensively mapped out by an isthmian canal commission authorized by President Beveridge, though the overall plan died with the former leader. Alternatively, the administration could side with the Colombian route. Colombia was more southward than Nicaragua, but due to a previous construction effort (since abandoned), part of the trench had already been dug out in the former location. More so, geologists estimated that the length of the canal would be discernably shorter, allowing for cheaper building and maintenance costs. The true downside with the Colombian plan involved the country itself and its associated caveats.

Colombia as a state was not particularly stable in the early 1900s, and its government was unlikely to relinquish existing deals in the name of supporting an American intervention. Rival powers in Colombia warred for control over the mechanisms of power from 1899 to late 1902, resulting in over 100,000 deaths and rampant destruction all throughout the country. This civil war was subsequently expanded with an uprising along the Isthmus of Panama, of which the ruling conservative government brutally suppressed. President Carlos Restrepo resented the United States for its frequent interference in the affairs of neighboring nations and would hardly be willing to allocate land use. Most significant of all was the fact that France currently held canal construction rights in Colombia. France was not on stellar terms with its Western acquaintance since the outcome at Algeciras, and attempted negotiations with Philippe Bunau-Varilla, the French manager of the New Panama Canal Company, were unable to move the needle so much as an inch.


It is laborious to understate the perilous state of uncertainly centered on [France and the United States]. Theodore Roosevelt was a universally despised figure within the Poincaré Government for his needless meddling in Morocco and status-seeking venture in Central America. French political cartoons depicted him as a quintessential cowboy, commonly donning either his Rough Rider uniform or less subtle imperial attire. An emerging narrative of American irresponsibility and recklessness thrived in part due to cartoonist Jean-Luc Laurent, a vicious opponent of U.S. intervention on the world stage and the prodigal son of a wealthy landowner with vested interests in an occupied Morocco. He blamed the collapse of 1912 Fes treaty discussions and increasing resistance on the part of Sultan Abd al-Hafid exclusively on Roosevelt.
France, by all accounts, did not intend on resuming construction in Colombia, but sacrificing the opportunity to the United States was frankly out of the question. The State Department's approach to unquestioningly act on the whims of the president backfired tremendously and led to an all-encompassing sense of belligerence.
Brian Steel, Foreign Relations: A Summary of War, Peace, and Everything In-Between, 2015

Angered though unsurprised by the turn of events, Roosevelt tossed aside the Colombian option and settled wholeheartedly on Nicaragua. He was eager to press on and thereby treated the matter with a sense of supreme urgency, knowing from his first term how fast these opportunities can slip away. Secretary Garfield formulated a concise land lease agreement with input from others tied to the project, and swiftly departed to Central America. In August of 1913, President Adolfo Diaz Recinos of Nicaragua, a man referred to by Roosevelt as "the most reasonable leader in all of the Americas," signed off on the deal. This accordance granted the United States full canal rights in exchange for a multi-million lump sum. The venture came into existence without a hitch and work began almost immediately as the administration started its national recruitment drive for infrastructure workers. Congress soon signed off on the final deal with bipartisan support, awarding the administration its sole planned foreign policy victory.
 
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Author George Robertson, Chicago Tribune Columnist, c. 1912 - Source: Wiki Commons

George Robertson of the Chicago Tribune released an article on June 12th, 1914, reflecting on the first full year of the new administration and all that had been accomplished. It was unapologetically optimistic and left no question as to the author's personal leanings. "Mr. Roosevelt," the piece read, "has risen to the occasion. Brushing away the cobwebs of a static government and cleaning house of naysayers and unpatriotic scoundrels, our captain charts a course along the route of a New Nationalism. Our destination, so says the president, is America's Promised Land. With clear skies and a sturdy vessel, we may just arrive on time." This above celebration of President Roosevelt paints a rosy picture of an American future, brought into existence out of the pure willpower and patented charm of President Roosevelt. That somewhat featherbrained suggestion was not entirely exclusive to the Tribune's editorial staff.

Progressives insisted on framing the incumbent's leadership as the onset of a peaceful American Golden Age unseen in a generation. Analysts, writers, and ideologues in this vein considered the contemporaneous trends unstoppable and they relished in the associated Victorian positivity. Their country was trending leftward, that cannot be denied. One unaligned with progressivism in the early 1910s may as well have tossed away any chance of attaining elected office outside of conservative strongholds in the South and Northeast. The American march to Progress was too mirrored in other parts of the world, as in the United Kingdom where the novel Labour Party continuously gained steam and in Russia with the growth of the Constitutional Democratic Party (also known as the Kadets). Some historians note a generally wider acceptance of reform, the gradual lessening of political corruption, and a sense of mutual harmoniousness taking root in this period as well.

As if to put a feather in the cap of the administration, economists noticed signs that the mild recession of the past four years was finally nearing its end. Gross national product declined by a noteworthy amount during the Hearst President, leading to a steady monetary contraction, a slight increase in joblessness, and a deflation of the dollar. Production rates and unemployment figures remained unchanged in 1913, but an uptick in median income bolstered confidence. Treasury Secretary George Cortelyou presented these encouraging signs to the president, and Roosevelt, in turn, exclaimed the onset of a complete recovery to an insatiable press corp.

Democratic and Republican party leaders begrudgingly acknowledged the early success of the Roosevelt Administration, knowing full-well that any follow-up act to the embarrassing Hearst era would be greeted with open arms. The incumbent had not introduced an unreasonable agenda to Congress, so the opposition could not blame the president for acting out of step with the country. His labor department's measures to mediate workplace disputes may have been an overreach of executive authority to some (especially Southern Democrats), but settling strikes was a healthier alternative than allowing workers to be massacres by gangs of hired guns. Even to the most hardened partisan, Roosevelt and Garfield's management of the Nicaragua Canal ordeal was exemplary and epitomized the type of foreign policy admired by the forces of capital. Typically, a midterm election awards the opposition a weightier say in Congress. In the forthcoming race, a Progressive upsurge seemed extraordinarily likely.

Representative Champ Clark (D-MO), the former vice president and a commanding voice within Democratic ranks, wrote that he maintained a fear far more insidious than a Columbian tilt in the midterms. To Clark, the perception of the incumbent as a wise and patriotic entity, contrasted with his bullish, devil-may-care persona as once exhibited in the Spanish-American War, "leaves us with a president that may transcend party biases." That is, the popularity of Theodore Roosevelt, "risked not merely control of Congress, but all branches of the government." If, perchance, Roosevelt desired an additional term in the White House, winning it would be all but guaranteed. Senator Stone, furthering this point of view, was reportedly overheard in a meeting concerning his re-election campaign stating, "[Mark] Hanna was right to fear this godawful curse accumulating power for himself. He'll be made emperor by Christmas."

As insinuated in the aforementioned Tribune piece, few pictured the present administration in a negative light, and fewer still stood with Clark and Stone in devising a Roosevelt-led dystopia. Evidence is scarce that the American populous thought as far ahead, electorally, as Democratic congressmen fretting over future losses. George Robertson's Pax Americana may seem fantastical and rather unscientific to us today, but the prospect of unceasing progress beneath the umbrella of capitalism was indeed an accepted, apt outcome to the Americans of 1914. Students of U.S. History frequently judge this moment in time as the definitive peak of the Progressive Era, citing that exact rationalization. Nevertheless, it is an absolute truth that any peak must precede a fall. Even Robertson considered the feasibility that an ideal period of fairness and reason could one day meet its untimely end. That conclusion arrived sooner than he preferred, and not with a whimper. Courtesy of one Gavrilo Princip, it ended with a bang.
 
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