Crimson Banners Fly: The Rise of the American Left

Man, the death of Albert Beveridge is definitely going to have a negative impact on the Philippine–American War, but even more than that, the ascension of Chauncey Depew as the President is quite literally the best thing to ever happen to the Socialists. In his own time, Depew was widely regarded as a vacillating spineless windbag, who would kotow to Railroad and business interests. Now that he is President, we essentially have the ultimate anti-Progressive in the White House, which will infuriate the Democrats and Progressive Republicans, and give the Socialists a literal scapegoat to villainize to everyone.
 

Presidential Hearse in Washington, D.C., November 7th, 1902 - Source: Wiki Commons

Beveridge's assassination rocked the nation. Republican loyalists and champions of imperial policies lamented the loss of the vigorously expansionist president. Senator Lodge had been especially shaken by the ordeal, which was certainly expected considering his presence during the traumatic shooting, yet he nonetheless volunteered to act as a liaison with the press. He responded to an assortment of calls and letters addressed to the presidential party in the direct aftermath of the shooting, calling for a period of mourning out of respect to the fallen president.

Political figures in each major party presented statements pertaining to their grief, including former Presidents William J. Bryan and Grover Cleveland (Benjamin Harrison had passed in 1901 from pneumonia). Bryan, who overtly despised Albert Beveridge, held back from relaying any snide remarks and kept his written commentary absent of political conjecture. "I doubt it was easy," Ruth Bryan Roosevelt admitted in an interview with author David Bergman. "My father often confided to us his personal feelings on President Beveridge. Although I feel it would be disrespectful to repeat the words today, I can assure you the public sentiment differed quite a bit." Likewise, Cleveland released a brief note conveying sorrow over the untimely presidential death.

Even the most virulent anti-Beveridge publishers set aside routine criticism of the war to focus on the events of November 2nd, commonly bemoaning the poor security at such venues. "This was no less than an abysmal failure of the Secret Service organization," wrote Washington Post contributor John Travis. "Congress ought to mandate strict training for those persons vested with protecting the president. It is time to consider creating a specialized branch of the U.S. Army to carry out this task. And if we must, shield the president from direct interactivity with the public."

The body of Albert Beveridge, at the time of his declared death and the end of his autopsy, was moved to the state capital for several days of national bereavement. Tens of thousands poured in to Springfield to show their deference to the deceased leader, and more still attended the procession as Beveridge was relocated to Washington. Judging from the sheer size of the audiences as they mourned, ideological differences and general anxiety over the war in the Philippines disappeared for a time. Secretary Roosevelt may have said it best, declaring that, "Americans were never more united than they were upon the passing of Beveridge." In death, the late president unified more of the country than he ever could do in life.

Beveridge's assassin was found to be Scott Clarence Leroy, a religious zealot and alleged anti-imperialist. A recluse and an aspiring author, Leroy scribbled a variety of rather nonsensical pamphlets in the late 1890s and worked, unsuccessfully, to have these pieces published by prominent journals and magazines. One such pamphlet, later used as evidence in his murder trial, condemned the firebombing of the Philippines as the work of the Devil in broad daylight. Leroy cited Beveridge and his Cabinet as the "Horsemen of the Apocalypse," an embodiment of evil taken from the Book of Revelation, and envisioned himself as a Jesus-like savior, proclaiming, "God has chosen I to wage the crusade. By His instruction, the Devil must be vanquished from the earth before it is plunged into darkness evermore." He apparently tracked Beveridge down in Illinois and carried out the assassination to fulfill this manic command.

The well-documented trial lasted from November 5th to November 14th. In that time, it swiftly became painfully obvious that the shooter explicitly targeted the president and, thanks to the dozen or so eyewitness accounts of the assassination, that he indeed fired the four shots from a .38 caliber handgun. Leroy's insanity defense failed to win support by the grand jury, and he was sentenced to death on the grounds of first-degree murder. He was thereby executed via electric chair on December 21st, 1902. Leroy's final, unsettling words constituted a short prayer and the acknowledgment of, "Crucifixion for fulfilling my promise on the earth."
 
Well, at least this won't cause an anti-socialist blowback. But I doubt it'll do anything to stop the tide of American atrocities in the Philippines.
 
This has a Socialist America endgame right?

I wonder what form of socialism is going to be adopted. Market socialism? DeLeonism? Syndicalism? Central planning but with political democracy? OGAS?
 
Part 3: Chapter IX

Chauncey M. Depew, 27th President of the United States - Source: Wiki Commons

Chapter IX: Clawing Back: The Depew Doctrine

Few positions in the federal government of the United States were as powerless as that of the vice presidency. In a handful of past administrations, the second-in-command proved a worthwhile force whilst in office. This was, however, an exception to the rule. Aside from rarities like George Clinton and John Adams, the vice president typically not have have a prominent role in the management of the Executive branch. Levi P. Morton, under President Harrison, had no say in national affairs aside from presiding over the Senate. Likewise, for Adlai Stevenson and John McLean, neither truly accomplished any noteworthy feats in their roles as vice president.

Chauncey Depew, prior to November of 1902, similarly ranked as unimportant to national affairs as his predecessors. The New Yorker was selected by then-Senator Beveridge at the Republican National Convention for a multitude of causes, chief among them his status as a prominent and well-liked individual in business circles. Depew had been a known orator for decades and garnered an unmistakable reputation for enthralling audiences. He was perhaps best known for delivering the stirring 1886 address commemorating the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. From thence on, he presented thousands of speeches to varied organizations and businesses.

Depew's speaking style differed immensely from men like Beveridge and Bryan. Instead of driving up political evangelist fervor or minimizing the inhabitants of other nations, he intently focused on national optimism. According to Ackerman, "Depew viewed the United States not as a singular race of enlightened, chosen peoples. Rather, he characterized American civilization as the culmination of centuries of global progress, encompassing all glorious aspects of previous civilizations within. This natural evolution of humanity, to Depew, fueled the scientific revolution and manifested itself through the expansion of the railroads and the invention of the steamship." He glorified nationalism, of this there is little doubt, but he proved uninterested in utilizing this tool to ferment division and war like his presidential predecessor.

The vice president did not accompany Beveridge on the autumnal whistle-stop tour. At the closing of the first official congressional session on July 1st of 1902, Depew remained in Washington for a brief time before returning to Manhattan. Fascinatingly enough, the vice president corresponded regularly with RNC Chairman McKinley during this period. The two men agreed with former Secretary Hay's disposition regarding Beveridge's worsening mental state and endless fixation on Pacific conquest. His private letters were burned upon his death, but Depew patently despised the policies of President Beveridge and may have concurred that a replacement candidate was necessary in 1904. Hay's "appropriate measures" could have led to a significant challenge to the incumbency at the convening of the upcoming national convention.

Of course, the idea became defunct once Beveridge was slain in Springfield. Depew was notified of the shooting via telegram and rushed to wire Senator Lodge for updates. Lodge soon informed Depew of the hospital's medical report and suggested he immediately locate a judge who could carry out the presidential oath. The mortified vice president complied and his staff frantically searched for a suitable choice. On the evening of November 2nd, New York Supreme Court Justice James A. Blanchard administered the oath of office to Chauncey Depew at his home at 27 W 54th Street in New York City.

Sleepless from shock and rattled over which steps to take, the new president grabbed the next D.C.-bound train the following morning, just beyond dawn. Depew believed that it was necessary to proceed cautiously and present a temperate attitude in the face of such calamity. Therefore, he opted against speaking directly before the public, fearing his doing so would disrupt and distract from the national period of mourning. Roosevelt reached out to Depew first, writing, "In these sorrowful times, we are most fortunate to have your wisdom as we seek to console the nation." Depew responded warmly, thanking the war secretary and ensuring that his advice would be utilized wholeheartedly in the new administration.


Once the dust settled, the Old Guard, at long last, returned to the driver's seat. Beveridge's disruption of national affairs lasted fewer than two years. For Reid, McKinley, and others who sharply opposed the jingo reformism espoused by Albert Beveridge, the assassination relieved from the United States a monstrous burden. Beveridge, after all, started to veer off course domestically. His final few speeches indicated newfound distaste for poverty and sympathy for the jobless. In an alternate circumstance in which he survived the assault, it is certainly possible that Beveridge would have enacted a primitive iteration of welfare.
David K. Knight, Turbulence on the Wings: The Downfall of Polite Politics in the Twentieth Century, 1999
 
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"Survival of the Fittest" from Puck Magazine, December 29th, 1902- Source: Wiki Commons

President Chauncey Depew embodied the very core of the elder Republican leadership and all it represented. Once settled in to his new position, Depew intended on backpedaling from the accused 'absurdities' of the Beveridge Administration. At first, upon his solemn ascension to the presidency, it was not entirely clear how dramatically the new president would shift course. Roosevelt's letters have implied his own belief that the New Yorker could not honorably redirect the aim of the administration, yet time judged this assumption false. Through examining Depew's activities as president, it is safe to infer that he theorized it feasible to spurn his predecessor without enraging the avidly pro-Beveridge GOP electorate.

The president's conservative colleagues in the federal government trusted in the ability of their leader to adequately enact the deviation, thereby insinuating, as journalist C. Allen Thorndike Rice once had, that Depew's skills with public oratory were unmatched in his time. "He is one of the foremost orators in the country," Rice proclaimed, "and as an after-dinner speaker is unrivaled. He charms a cultivated audience by his subtle humor, and a general audience by his flowing wit; is, in fact, so flexible that he can readily and easily adapt himself to circumstances."

McKinley, likewise, felt enamored with Depew's ascension. On Christmas Eve, 1902, he wrote, "This new year is going to be a year of patriotism and devotion to country. Our devotion to the founding principles of the United States hold true in these tenuous times. I am glad to know that the people in every part of the country mean to be devoted to one flag, the glorious Stars and Stripes; that the people of this country mean to maintain the financial honor of the country as sacredly as they maintain the honor of the flag. In the memory of President Beveridge, we must soundly declare that nothing shall impede our path. There is no man better suited, no man so profoundly prepared, to carry out this task than our current president."


The Depew Cabinet

President - Chauncey M. Depew
Vice President - Vacant
Sec. of State - John Bassett Moore
Sec. of Treasury - William B. Allison
Sec. of War - Theodore Roosevelt
Attorney General - Philander C. Knox
Postmaster General - Charles Emory Smith
Sec. of the Navy - Alfred Thayer Mahan
Sec. of Interior - Lyman J. Gage
Sec. of Agriculture - James Wilson
Depew, with surefire assistance from the party leadership, plotted ahead to the next Congress and focused in on the extent of his legacy. Reinvigorating conservative normalcy was a daunting task, especially when all major presidential candidates in 1900 expressed a degree of reformist ideology. Contrary to his vast proclamations foreseeing vast and sweeping changes in his inaugural address, however, Beveridge woefully neglected domestic affairs whilst in office and chose to focus entirely on his drive for imperialism. As such, no significant legislation was passed by the 57th Congress other than the nonpartisan Cullom Resolution. Even as Beveridge toured the country, all the while consistently communicating with Washington, he refused to dedicate time to domestic reform prior to the completion of the Philippines War.

Few were more excited to witness the change in leadership than Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon. Wholly ashamed of the late president's flagrant disregard for legislative matters and uncaring demeanor toward the Legislative Branch, Cannon was thrilled when Depew swapped in. In an abbreviated discussion, Cannon and Depew worked out a legislative arrangement. With some input from Hanna and McKinley, the president honed in on three key issues to address when the 57th Congress re-convened in December for its brief second, and final, session.

Primarily, Republicans desired passage of an unambiguous gold standard bill to conclude the ceaselessly chaotic chapter of American currency history. Sometime in early December, Secretary Allison submitted an outline of the proposed monetary bill to his friends in the Senate. Senators Orville Platt (R-CT) and John C. Spooner (R-WI) reshaped the idea into a complete bill, formally introducing the measure in Congress on December 10th. This legislation sought to permanently establish a fixed gold standard in the United States and eliminate in its entirety the specter of bimetallism. Western Republicans and Populists balked at the notion, as did Silver Democrats. Men like Senator Henry Teller described the bill as a farce, arguing that the adoption of a strict gold standard needlessly offended farmers and poorer laborers. The majority in Congress, however, disagreed with the likes of Teller and wholeheartedly favored an end to turbulent bimetallism.

Depew also tossed aside Beveridge's utopian plan to bring about a bipartisan tariff commission. Republicans generally found this idea ludicrous and opposed input from free-trade Democrats. Depew, in a significant repudiation of his predecessor, signaled his support for partisan tariff legislation. The Currier Tariff bill, named for one of its architects, Representative Frank D. Currier (R-NH), looked to institute a dramatic escalation of import duties upwards of 50%. It specifically targeted woolen goods, iron ore, lumber, coal, and sugar, promptly reversing every last measure of the 1894 Wilson-Gorman Tariff Act. Due to the assistance of a select few retiring Bourbon Democrats, the Republicans secured passage for both the Gold Standard Act and the Currier Act before the end of 1902.

On January 4th, Congress passed its last notable piece of legislation that session: the repeal of the Sulzer-Hepburn Bill. Conservative Republicans and Democrats, having derided the measure since its 1897 introduction as "socialistic in nature" and an unjust expansion of the federal government, managed to twist that act of Congress into a symbol of former President Bryan. Beveridge never appeared willing to fancy its repeal, but Depew proved more than interested. Bryan Democrats fought for its protection to their fiercest degree, but having long since lost their initiative, they could not withstand the zeitgeist. Sulzer-Hepburn was repealed in its totality, gutting the minimal oversight of trusts and eliminating maximum rail rates. Now, following a brief reprieve, the era of profound consolidation of American industry had returned.
 
How long until there are cries of conservative conspiracy, with the assassination of a maverick with some reformist tendencies and the accession of a new president who is far more of one mind with the majority of Congress?
 
How long until there are cries of conservative conspiracy, with the assassination of a maverick with some reformist tendencies and the accession of a new president who is far more of one mind with the majority of Congress?
I'm shocked there aren't already. It's pretty damn suspicious.
 
Even the most virulent anti-Beveridge publishers set aside routine criticism of the war to focus on the events of November 2nd, commonly bemoaning the poor security at such venues. "This was no less than an abysmal failure of the Secret Service organization," wrote Washington Post contributor John Travis. "Congress ought to mandate strict training for those persons vested with protecting the president. It is time to consider creating a specialized branch of the U.S. Army to carry out this task. And if we must, shield the president from direct interactivity with the public."
I have a bad feeling about this (I know this proposal was around IOTL but...)
 
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