IN HIS OWN RIGHT IV
by Paul MacLeod
Plotting a Course
Seeking a Successor
The Premier of Translyvania, Gheorge de Basesti, had risen from being an outcast and traitor under the old regime, to become one of the most senior officials of the United States of Austria-Hungary. He had achieved his ambition of equal rights for all Transylvanians after a quarter of a century of struggle. At the age of 84, he knew his time was short, but he had prepared the new generation - potential successors were Alexandru Vaida-Voevod (47) and Iuliu Maniu (46). Emperor Franz Ferdinand had appointed Bishop Miron Cristea of Karansebesch as the faciliator for a commission of reconciliation to heal the bitterness of the years of struggle.
However, the Premier had concerns
for the future. On the other side of the border, in Romania, the Crown Prince
Carol was a decadent playboy, renowned for his illicit dealings and affairs and
hardly the candidate to ensure long-term stability. His socialisation with
prostitutes and mistresses, his contravention of royal law, his anti-Semitism
and manipulation of politics were all foreboding of trouble. As for the Emperor
Franz Ferdinand, his recent bout with influenza had left him weakened. Doctors
were doubtful that he would see the age of sixty (he was currently 56) and his
"most likely to succeed", the Archduke Karl, had himself been struck
by the Great Plague. Without their long-term survival, the Hapsburg Dynasty was
short on potential candidates. Without their survival, there was every chance
that a new dynasty would be founded and the continued equality of the
Transylvanians would be left to chance. De Basesti was not prepared to take that
On 11 January, 1919, the Premier
sought an audience with the Emperor on matters of succession. He stated clearly
his concerns and suggested that the Emperor groom another potential candidate,
in case both he and Karl should die before Karl's son, Otto, reached majority.
He insisted that his people would support Otto in the election should he be of
age, but doubted his electability if he was still a minor. (At this time, Otto
was only six years old.) He shared his preferred candidate with the Emperor, one
he believed would guarantee the future for his people, and went his way. He
would pass away only a month later, unaware of the outcome of the seed he had
planted in the Emperor's mind.
The seed bloomed, however, and on 23 January, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary sought an audience with King Ferdinand of Romania, technically to discuss a border dispute in Bessarabia (Romanian officials had held up a Russian diplomat on his travels). In reality, Franz Ferdinand was there to scout out a potential successor. He considered that perhaps the king's Eton-attending liberal-leaning teenage son, Prince Nicholas, might be groomed as his successor. Another alternative candidate was the King of Aragon, combining the Catholic powers and once again becoming a Holy Roman Empire. Franz Ferdinand was most keen to see his teenage son, Maxmilian (above left), succeed. There was, however, no guarantees. Either way, the Emperor offered King Ferdinand the chance to send his second son to Vienna after he had finished his schooling, ostensibly to receive his officer training in the Imperial Navy.
The Chancellor’s Victory
The result was never in doubt as Germany went to the polls in early 1919. Just as Wilhelm I had his Bismarck, just as Wilhelm II had von Bulow, it now appeared as though Kaiser Wilhelm III had Chancellor Friedrich Ebert. The victory of the Social Democratic Party was absolute.
The first clear indicator out of the
polling results was that the German Peoples Party (DVP) was on its last legs.
They had gone into the election with 14% of the seats in the Reichstag. When the
last vote had been counted, the once great party of Prussian liberalism managed
just above 3%. Party leader Gustav Stresemann indicated that it was perhaps
inevitable that the DVP merge with the German Democratic Party (DDP), its
competitor for the liberal vote. The DDP had scored its best result to date and
appeared to be a party on the rise. While the increase in its vote had been
marginal at best, a mere 2%, it had achieved this in the midst of a landslide
against all other parties other than the incumbent. It had been the only party
other than the SDP to increase its total. The shrinking liberal base in Germany
made it impossible for the two parties to continue competition. They would unite
in 1920. The staunchly conservative German National Party had also suffered in
the election, falling from nearly 17% of the vote to just below 8%.
The Catholics in the south had tried
a new approach in this election, focusing on the creation of the Bavarian
Peoples Party. The illness of Ludwig III meant that, at any time, the King of
Aragon could become King of Bavaria. The BVP was preparing for that event,
splitting the Catholic vote into two distinct groups (Catholic Germany and
Catholic Bavaria). It meant that, whatever the result of the coming succession
crisis, the Catholic Church would continue to function as a political force in
both areas. It was generally agreed that, if no crisis emerged, the Catholic
Peoples Party and the Bavarian Peoples Party would reunite in the coming year.
Voters did not, however, appreciate the cynicism and the combined vote of the
parties fell from nearly 27% to about 17%.
Chancellor Friedrich Ebert was the undoubted victor. He had gone into the election as leader of the largest bloc in the Reichstag (about one third of the seats). He walked out of the election with nearly three-fifths. Despite rumblings about his leadership in a miniscule section of his backbench, he now had the numbers to initiate large changes to the German state.
Ebert recognised the potential
dangers of the Bavarian situation and was concerned that the Bavarians remained
more staunchly conservative than any other part of the Empire. He shared plainly
with the Kaiser that the long term survival of the Reich might require the
distribution of greater powers to the regions so that Bavarians were not
continually subject to the increasingly left wing philosophy of the Reichstag.
However, he also warned that the same regional powers may be just what some
Bavarian nationalists wanted to allow them to pursue a separatist course. The
Social Democrats might have won a German election; their main concern now was
making sure that the Empire survived until the next one.
Collapse of Authority
The King of Poland was supposed to be celebrating his 65th birthday this year. He did not feel much like celebrating. The push by Austria for a heightened level of economic collaboration, slanted wholly in favour of Austrian business, was threatening the future of the Polish Authority. The USSR had already stopped the transport of products into the Austrian sector and the Germans had placed a veto on the design of the new currency. The only things that were continuing to operate was the transportation and law and order. Everything else had come to a grinding halt as the Authority could only work with the agreement of all its members, and the level of distrust had become paralysing.
On 14 February, 1919, during a particularly stormy meeting, the Russian High Commissioner walked out of discussions. Austria had vetoed a motion to allow Russian troops to put down sporadic violence, arguing that if Russia was not able to contain unrest without using military force, she should perhaps hand over responsibility for her zone to Austria. The situation had been forced by the sudden resignation of Austria's Chancellor von Koerber due to ill health. It had left an uncertain political vacuum in Vienna and much of the political hierarchy were more concerned with the spoils of power that were currently the subject of a fight between the Treasury Minister, Karl Seitz (left), and the Industry Minister, Benito Mussolini.
Russia refused to return to the
table without a new agreement. The German government, despite its best efforts,
could not get Vienna and St Petersburg to reach a mutually suitable arrangement.
The deadlock would drag on for months. Finally, on 26 August, following a
violent protest in Kattowitz, the USSR's Chancellor, Viscount Trotsky, announced
his country was formally annexing its zone of control. He did so with the
complete support of Germany, where Chancellor Ebert copied his actions the
following day. In the history of the Polish people, the day was remembered as
the Fourth Partition. The Austrian zone folded back into the United States of
Viscount Trotsky stated that the Russian government would not seek to assimilate or restrict expression, and would invite the Polish nobility to join the administrative and bureaucratic arms to ensure a high degree of Polish autonomy. Nonetheless, he argued that the only way in which the poverty and wretchedness of Poland could be rectified was direct control. Tsar Michael distributed a letter to the Polish people, stating that he would work to "repair the past and build the future". He further stated that he wished the Polish people to provide a decade for Russian-German cooperation to rebuild their country before again considering their potential for independence.
The Prime Minister of Naichi, Hara Takashi, (right) arrived in Seoul to warm acclaim, cheering crowds and a reception par excellence. His assurances of financial assistance during the recession, when Joseon had boomed while Naichi had suffered, had earned him enormous credibility with the Korean people. In addition, he shared the Christian faith and had repeatedly refused noble rank to "serve the people". Prime Minister of Joseon, Hong Myun-hui, met Takashi at Gyeongmudae House, his official residence. This was the first official visit by a Naichian Prime Minister to Joseon, but the matter to be discussed was of utmost importance to both leaders.
King Michi, the son of Emperor
Taisho, was due to be married and, as he would one day succeed his father, the
candidate must be suitable to the whole Empire. Myun-hui had been most insistent
that the bride must come from Joseon, continuing the interbreeding that had
begun with King Yunghuei's wedding to the sister of Taisho. Unfortunately, that
marriage had produced only one child, Princess Myeongseong, honoured with the
same name as Korea's ancestral martyr queen. As such, she was ineligible, under
Japanese succession laws, to assume the throne. Myhun-hui suggested to Takashi
that the succession laws could be changed.
The idea of a woman ascending the
throne, especially one with a name such as Myeongseong, was an idea that was
alien to the people of Joseon, but one that was possible, considering the
adoration they feted upon the princess. She could become Queen upon the death of
her father, just as Michi would become Emperor upon the death of his. If they
were married, despite the age difference, and produced offspring, then the two
thrones would be like the English in the 1600's - there would be one heir for
both throne. Takashi agreed to return to Kyoto and speak to the Emperor on the
behalf of both their realms.
On 1 March, a notice appeared on the
Suzakumon and Kenreimon, gates of the Kyoto Gosho, home to the illustrious Tenno
Taisho. The Emperor announced the betrothal of "Crown Princess Myeongseong
of Joseon, our beloved daughter" to "Michi, King of Naichi, Crown
Prince of Japan, son of great righteousness". The two would eventually wed
The Great Migration
One of the most interesting social phenomena of the period between 1915 and 1920 was the beginning of an unparalleled expansion of migration by Europeans. Having conquered the world, there were any number of Europeans who were keen to fill it up. Between 1910 and 1920, 30.1 million Europeans left their continent of birth and travelled the globe in search of a new home.
The largest supplier of migratory
labour was the German Empire. Driven by a campaign called Ergriefen Sie de
Reich (To Claim the Empire) and sponsored by the German government, over
twelve million Germans made their homes abroad. Two-thirds of them made their
way to Kamerun, where they quickly outnumbered the Bantu, Fulani and Baka. In
the main, they were agriculturalists, who began to cultivate cocoa, coffee and
bananas, as well as producing large cotton fields with native labour. The rivers
provided enormous opportunity for hydroelectric development. Discoveries of
bauxite and manganese allowed for the production of large volumes of aluminium
and steel, while large limestone quarries provided building materials for the
construction of enduring and elegant buildings, particularly banks and railway
About two million Germans headed to
South West Africa, where they outnumbered the natives by a ratio of four to one
(this figure, of course, was assisted by the Herero Genocide of 1904-5).
Primarily, the colony became a pastoral and mining centre, with large cattle
ranches broken by townships centred on deposits of tin, lead, zinc, silver and
tungsten. However, the most profitable resource was undoubtedly the diamonds and
it was the lure of high wages for mining that drew many Germans to make southern
Africa their home.
A similar migration was observed among the Poles, whose continued political instability, war and annexation brought great hardship. In all, five million Poles left their homeland, with substantial numbers settling in Canada, Japan, Argentina and the Ottoman Empire. However, unlike the Germans, they did not concentrate themselves and there are few countries on Earth today that do not have a Polish sector in their major cities. Some only made it as far as Denmark and Flanders, but most were scattered. This pattern was repeated by the subjects of the Hapsburg Empire, who, despite political reforms, found they could obtain greater benefits abroad.
France's migrants were not nearly as
adventurous. The vast majority simply crossed the Mediterranean to occupy the
increasingly French enclaves of Algeria and Morocco, as well as smaller numbers
making their way to Tunisia and Tripolitania. These North African enclaves
absorbed 1.7 million migrants in the decade and increased political pressure at
home to demand more land from the Berbers. About four hundred thousand made
their way to Malagasy, where they established large resorts for wealthy
Americans to view its bizarre ecological treasures. However, in the long run,
they would prove unable to compete with the safaris of the African mainland,
where tourists could also hunt the animals.
The largest population increase
outside Africa occurred in Canada. In 1910, the provinces had a population of
just under 7.2 million; by 1920, they have reached 9.7 million. This substantial
increase was driven by a clear Canadian policy to "fill up" the
western provinces. Approximately 40% of the intake was from Great Britain and
Ireland. In Australia, during the same period, the growing activism of the
native indigenous peoples (in response to American progress) and the growing
demands of Japan for raw materials pushed modifications to the White Australia
Policy. Australia made allowances for northern Europeans, such as the Germans
and Finns, to migrate. Its population grew from 4.4 million in 1910 to 6.1
million in 1920.
Outside Europe, the only country to
experience a decline in population was Brazil. Its low wages and lack of
infrastructure compared to its neighbours led to growing numbers in Uruguay
(1.08 million to 1.54 million), Costa Rica (0.36 million to 0.52 million), and
particularly Argentina (6.84 million to 9.43 million).
Despite his contributions to the making of a recession, the reputation of the aging former US President James Clark had become somewhat rehabilitated in Europe. During the three years of Republican Administration, the European powers began to develop a longing for the "good ol' days" when the Americans had not seemed so irrational and scary. During his trip to Europe, in the March of 1919, he was somewhat feted as a man of foresight. He was praised for his "vision" in providing the trade rules that began to distribute some of America's enormous wealth into the development of other countries.
The reason for his visit was an invitation to address the Strasbourg Commission. The European press were expecting him to provide a "vision" for them as well. In hindsight, his speech does not appear to be visionary at all; rather, it reads as a rehash of his speeches as President combined with points from the tome on trade by Maynard Keynes (left). However, the presence of the former President was enough to motivate action that would establish a permanent framework for global trade.
Clark proposed the creation of the International Trade Commission, where all trade would be governed by the principles that he first set out in 1913: freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, no child labour, no forced or compulsory labour, no discrimination, equal pay for equal work, fair pay and hours and guaranteed paid holidays. He further set an agenda that, within five years, all countries should negotiate a 20% multilateral reduction in tariffs, with states free to choose for themselves the areas in which they would cut protection.
He further proposed that, once the
International Trade Commission had completed its first round of negotiations,
they should bring into effect the International Monetary Commission. All
international trade would be conducted in the one global commodity-based
currency, just as the Indo-British Empire was already constructing. In fact,
Britain's work should be a pilot program that would eventually be expanded to
take in every other country. Of course, as the global economic centre, it made
sense for both organisations to be based in the City of London.
A draft treaty was drawn up by 7 May
for consideration and a final treaty agreed on 28 June, 1919. Virtually every
country agreed to sign up for the opportunity to gain greater access to
international markets. The three outstanding absentees were the United States,
who stated that they regarded the treaty as an infringement on their sovereignty
and pressured Mexico and its puppet states in Liberia and Paraguay to follow
suit, and the Ottoman Empire, where ongoing debate about the nature of the
Caliphate seemed to paralyse consideration of all other matters. The first ITC
Conference opened in Geneva on 10 January, 1920.
Two New Countries
President Venustiano Carranza of Mexico had been walking a tightrope, trying to give his people as much of the socialist agenda as they were demanding without frightening the United States Administration. However, there were continuing critics within his own government, who insisted that he was not going far enough or fast enough. The primary offender in this case was the head of his armed forces and Minister of War, General Emilio Zapata (right).
It was now clear, however, that
Zapata saw himself as the successor to Carranza. The President was required by
the Constitution to step down in 1925. While that was five and a half years
away, there was no way that Zapata could be his successor. He would undoubtedly
attempt to implement the reforms for which he continued to push in Cabinet and
that level of provocation would lead to renewed conflict with the United States.
Undoubtedly, that was the reason that Zapata was continuing to push for a
massive increase in military spending.
To contain the General's ambition,
Carranza arranged for an interview with one of Mexico City's leading daily
newspapers and for a question specifically relating to the future of the nation
after his departure. He stated, "There are many talented people who would
be able to fill my shoes, but none are better qualified than Portes." His
reference was to the Governor of Tamaulipas, Emilio Portes Gil. Portes and
Zapata had bad blood, with the former having been an advisor to the latter
during the Madero presidency - Zapata had, in fact, sacked Portes before the
Governor had used his connections to get himself a judgeship and then his
Needless to say, the tension around
the Cabinet table increased exponentially until in early April, President
Carranza announced, "with great regret", the dismissal of his military
chief and offered a substantial reward for his capture, dead or alive. Zapata,
who had received information of the plans against him, fled to the city of
Tuxtla Gutierrez, where on 10 April, he declared the formation of the United
Mayan Republic. Appealing to the Mayan cause won him wide support in Chiapas and
on the Yucatan Peninsula and, in a series of coups, Mexican officials were
overthrown and removed. The President ordered the mobilisation of the armed
forces, but a good number refused to follow orders, fleeing south to seek out
sanctuary with their old chief.
On 12 April, a message was passed
from Carranza to Acting US President Harding via Cuba. He was concerned that the
United Mexican States were about to plunge into a civil war. Harding was,
however, hamstrung by the Bolivarian Pact, which clearly provided that any use
of American troops on Mexican soil would be regarded as an act of war. In
addition, Harding had no Congressional or cabinet support for such a move and he
reluctantly declined. However, he did invoke the Monroe Doctrine, stating that
any involvement or interference by another country would lead to war. He also
suggested that Mexico might like to leave the Bolivarian Pact to provide the
United States with the ability to assist.
Carranza had no capacity to fight a
direct war against his southern enemy. He instead asked for and received
permission to send loyalist soldiers to the US for training in counterinsurgency
and subversion tactics. He refused to recognise the new republic and instead
began to funnel guns and money to rebels with the assistance of the United
States. On the other side, the Europeans surreptitiously began to do the same,
feeding resources from British Honduras and recognising Maya as a defacto
independent nation. The Bolivarian Pact, which had no authority to interfere in
the matter and did not wish to antagonise either side, sat on its hands and
watched its moral authority and its support in Mexico bleed away.
orders of the Imperial Secretary contained a command that the new nation must be
secular. It must contribute to the Imperial forces, but could not raise its own
army. It must continue to use the currency of India. It could not deny access to
British or Indian subjects. The Indian Parliament could overrule its legislation
in the case of any inconsistency. Beyond that, the new Jirga (Senate) would be
entitled to make whatever law it chose, under the leadership of its new Chief
Minister, Amanollah Barakzai. The Senate would have representatives from four
states: Sarban, Batan, Ghurghusht and Karlan.
The Dominion of Pashtunistan,
in its earliest years, was dominated by the most liberal branch of Hanafite
Islam. It was in light of that liberalism that its first law was for free and
compulsory elementary education for all people, including women. In the three
major cities, Kabul, Qandahar and Peshawar, new secondary schools would be
constructed for those who showed promise. All students would be required to
learn Pashtun and English.
Another leap forward was the Family
Law Act of 1920, which made it illegal to marry children and immediate family
members. It forbade the sale of women and limited dowries. It prohibited widows
from being used as slave labour by her husband's family. In 1924, an amendment
allowed Pashtun women to lift the veil for the first time. The clerics did not,
however, go quietly. The powerful Qazi and their clerical courts rebelled, but
were crushed by Indian troops. In subsequent reforms, Barakzai would establish
that all clerics had to obtain dual degrees in Islamic studies and in law before
they could sit in judgment on any citizen. Britain, proud of these reforms, gave
much assistance to the Chief Minister during his decade of rule and Pashtunistan
became a jewel like the Koh-i-noor, the great diamond that became part of the
Crown Jewels of India when it returned to New Delhi in 1926. The flag of the new
nation can be seen below. It is notable in that it became the first flag of a
British dominion not to carry the Union Jack.
An Heir for Bavaria?
In Germany's general election of 1919, the landslide to the left strongly discouraged the Bavarians. Whilst Social Democrats and Liberals dominated every other part of the Empire, Bavaria had elected a government that was extreme right, nationalist and reactionary.
On 1 May, King Roberto of Aragon
arrived in the south and commenced a series of public speeches. He called upon
the Bavarian people to consider the option of secession from the German Empire
and to hold a referendum on the subject. He argued that Bavaria was Catholic;
the rest of the Empire was Protestant. He argued that Bavaria was conservative;
the rest of the Empire was socialist. He argued that Bavaria had traditionally
belonged with Austria and that she should return to her people. He proclaimed
his Hapsburg heritage and his intent to reunify all the realms of the Hapsburg
family by seeking the Austrian throne upon the demise of Emperor Franz
Kaiser Wilhelm could not allow this
threat to national unity to go unchallenged. France would undoubtedly assist if
required. However, his government was clearly pacifist and would not be inclined
to fight a civil war. The rift with Austria and its potential to support
Roberto's agenda also made it a factor to consider. He thought about potential
allies and came up with a potential solution.
It was not widely known that King
Roberto was, through his mother, the heir to the title of the Great Pretender.
When the House of Stuart had been deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688,
all Catholics had been prohibited from succession to the British throne. It was
the search for Protestants that had driven the English to look to Hanover for
their king; without such an agreement, Roberto would have been King of Great
Britain. The Kaiser considered: how would the British feel about the idea of a
super empire in the heartland of Europe headed by a person who still believed
himself entitled to the throne of Great Britain?
It was thus, in August 1919, that
the first British battlecruiser in many years crossed the Kiel Canal into the
Baltic Sea. The British, German and Russian navies conducted a series of
exercises - together. And, on 18 August, London, Paris, St Petersburg and Berlin
announced they would sign a joint security pact for a period of ten years.
Two Countries, Not So New
In May, 1919, two governments on other sides of the world appeared to be falling apart. One symbolised the decline of a government; the other threatened the unity of a state. Both were despite the best efforts of their leadership to hold them together.
Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden of
Canada watched as his party members, led by Thomas Crerar, crossed the floor to
form the Progressive Labour Party. Crerar had risen to prominence as head of the
Manitoba Grain Growers Association and was elected to Parliament as a
Conservative Party member in 1917, immediately being appointed Minister of
Agriculture. However, he had been impressed by the work of the US Socialist
Labor Party in attacking tariffs and adapted a similar stand on behalf of
western farmers within the government. When it became clear that the Canadian
Government was dragging its feet on signing up to the International Trade
Federation, the Minister and his supporters "jumped ship", leaving the
Prime Minister with a majority, but only just. Many felt that it spelt the
demise of the Government, but Borden would manage to hold on longer than anyone
Many miles away, in the lands of the
Ottoman Empire, the discussion between secularist Turks and the clerical Arabs,
sparked by the late Caliph's papers, had turned into an angry debate. Armenia,
as a Christian state, had questioned whether it should seek Russian protection,
the Jews began to wonder if Isra'il could survive conflict between the Turks and
the Arabs. There had been rumblings within the Army. For Sultan Mehmed VI, there
was a realisation that the debate could not continue much longer without posing
a long term threat to the unity of his Empire. His attempts to delay the debate
had been wholly unsuccessful.
On 19 May, with the recent
excavation of the city of Ur providing a temporary distraction, he confronted
his legislature and announced his intention to surrender the title of Caliph. He
provided the argumentative politicians with twelve months to find a replacement
and argued that the new Caliph should also take on the titles of Sharif of Mecca
and Guardian of the Two Shrines, equally reducing the power of the Hashemite
clan, but making clear that there was no question of them choosing not to
endorse his plan. After all, it was the will of the Prophet that his people be
united and the King of Hejaz would surely not stand against it. His chief
criteria was that the Caliph must be supported by both Sunni and Shi'a as the
leader of all the faithful. His second criteria was that the person must not be
a member of a house that held temporal responsibilities. Rather than reforming
the Caliphate, he was separating it entirely from the political apparatus of the
His initial support was directed
toward the 59-year-old Sheikh As'ad Shuqeiri, the Mufti of Syria and Isra'il.
However, the Shi'a felt that the Sheikh was too close to the imperial royal
family, being both a judge appointed by the Sultan and the custodian of the
Imperial Library. And so the search was on to find a suitable candidate to
become the head of the world's second largest religion. Concurrently, to
symbolise the potential unity of the faith, the Caliph ordered the construction
of an enormous palace complex opposite the Al-Misfalah Gardens, just a short
walk from the Al-Masjed Al-Haram, the holiest site in all of Islam. It would be
the new home of the Caliph.
The US Constitutional Convention
On 4 June, 1919, the Governor of New York, Alfred Smith (right), was elected as Chairman of the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. They had gathered here for fear of a Presidency that had become increasingly powerful and threatening to them all, as well as to the outside world. There was no doubt in the mind of the vast majority of the delegates: this would be more than a series of cosmetic reforms. What they needed was a fundamental redistribution of power.
No political faction had a majority
in the decision-making process. Yet they all agreed on a number of points.
Firstly, the power of the Presidency was too great and it needed to be divided.
Some argued that there needed to be a division of powers between the President
and a Prime Minister. However, others felt that transferring executive power to
members of the Congress was generally a bad move. Others stated that the office
of the Attorney General should not be a presidential appointment, to ensure the
law enforcement of the nation could not be abused by the President. However,
that began a debate regarding how one would empower an Attorney General to stand
up against a President.
The Electoral College, it was
commonly agreed, was a failed institution and should be abolished. To ensure
some balance, there were suggestions of adopting a preferential voting system.
Others (usually current or former members of Congress) complained about the
terms of Congress, stating that two years was insufficient to achieve anything
and that the terms should be extended to four years for Representatives.
Members of the Socialist delegation
were determined to achieve some kind of resolution that eradicated the growing
influence of money over elected officials, as well as wishing to dramatically
increase the powers of the Congress (the only body of government in which they
had any say). More conservative members wanted a "clearer definition"
of the rights available to citizens, arguing that, as they currently stood, they
opened up the way for anarchist and irresponsible behaviour.
Three days after they first
convened, the situation was complicated by the announcement from the White House
that President Beveridge had resumed duties. While the dead from the Great
Plague had been substantial, he would not be one of them. (The list of
fatalities globally now included many of the high and mighty, including former
Prime Minister of Canada Wilfred Laurier, business magnate Henry John Heinz,
philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, former Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin
and Prime Minister of South Africa Louis Botha.) The President stated that he
would oppose the campaign to install a new constitution and that he would stand
as a candidate in the elections of 1920. However, in his own party, he was
confronted by opposition from Senator Hiram Johnson, Governor Frank Lowden of
Illinois and General Leonard Wood, all of whom were delegates to the Convention.
The Constitutional Convention would
remain in session until 3 September, when President Beveridge announced that the
National Security Council had uncovered a plot by "socialists" to
attack Independence Hall. Among those who would be rounded up for interrogation
would be the Mayor of Cleveland, Charles Ruthenberg. While no charges would be
laid, it would be enough to delay the resumption of the convention until early
in 1920 and ensure that any constitution would not be able to take effect until
after the 1920 Presidential election.
The Socialists Stand Up
On 11 November, 1919, a day that is still remembered in the annals of American history, Texas Governor Edward Meitzen shocked the nation when he made an address to the nation by the National Broadcasting Service, the first national US radio service.
He announced that Lawrence Graham,
the late NSC agent, was, in fact, alive and in custody. Not only was he alive,
but he had provided a great deal of information to police about the internal
operations of the President's National Security Council, that he had turned over
bank statements that demonstrated the NSC had funded the attempted assassination
and that he was prepared, under oath, to state that the Attorney General had
personally authorised the mission. Attorney General Harry Daughtery immediately
issued a strenuous denial, claiming that any evidence against him had been
fraudulently produced by the Socialist administration in Texas. "The Texans
have lied from the start," he said, "and they will go on lying."
The following day, the Governor of Washington, another SLP member, announced that he was commencing an investigation into the death of an IWW official, who had allegedly committed suicide while in the custody of the National Security Council. Anger swept through the union movement and the IWW declared a general strike. Large numbers of workers took to the streets. Miners, storemen, dock workers, transport drivers, iron and steel workers, teachers, postal workers, printers, nurses and a whole host of other trades joined in the strike. By the end of December, over half of the United States workforce was on strike, the economy was in freefall and the demands for accountability by the Federal Government were growing louder by the day.
The situation reached crisis point when on 9 January, 1920, the Attorney General authorised warrantless raids across the country, arresting thousands of people in thirty-three states. He claimed evidence of a planned revolution against the state. Just ten days later, President Beveridge gave an address to the nation, stating that the National Investigations Bureau would conduct a "high level, thorough and vigorous investigation". He was followed by Senator Hiram Johnson, who stated that the Senate would likewise investigate the dealings of the Administration with a view to clearing out corruption and "ending the seemingly terminal decline of the nation" and asked citizens to return to work.
The Fall of the Chieftains
In late 1919, the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Henderson (left), and his French counterpart, Leon Blum, had a meeting of note with an Amazigh judge in Paris. Since Berber self-rule had been granted in 1913, a new governmental structure had been built under French guidance. However, there had been concerns about the fact that this newly created state had been ripped apart by tribal infighting, time and again. The visitor was asking for French and British support to end the violence and create a stable political entity.
Chief Justice Muhammed Ibn Abd El-Karim
El-Khattabi had been the son of a judge of the Ait Yusuf clan of the Aith
Uriaghel tribe. He had studied law from 1900 to 1905 at the distinguished
University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco, and had chosen to then spend three
years in Paris studying a post-graduate degree in engineering and economics.
Upon his return, in 1908, he had climbed through the Moroccan administration and
had purchased El Telegrama, a notable Moroccan daily. When self-rule was
granted in 1913, he had become Chief Justice of the newly formed Berber state at
the age of only thirty-one.
Now, El-Khattabi was not so sure of
his people's future. Local brigands and inter-tribal rivalries needed to be
brought to an end. Intervention by foreign troops would not help the cause and
would be resisted. What it required was a coup d'etat, the abolition of the
Great Council of Chiefs and the establishment of a secular, pro-development
populist regime. However, he was not certain that it could be done. Furthermore,
if it could be done, he projected that it would take at least five to seven
years to bring the Tauregi and other rebel tribes under control.
One of the reasons that the French
were still uncertain about their colonies in Africa was their indefinite
strategic status should they be allowed to go free. El-Khattabi was offering the
prospect of a strong Berber state and governance under an educated and
intelligent pro-French leadership. It would require the sacrifice of the
southern portion of the Algerian enclave; however, most of the French population
was solidified into the northern portion anyway. It would just mean that future
migration to Algeria would need to be discouraged in favour of Morocco,
Tripolitania and Tunis. Blum and el-Khattabi also discussed the prospect of a
new identification, one that would provide an image of unity to the tribes,
while still undercutting their tribal leadership and providing a positive image
a European audience.
On 28 January, 1920, a coup d'etat
was staged with French support. The chieftains were offered a choice between
death or exile, with most choosing the later and el-Khattabi's army, with modern
European weapons, spread out across the countryside to suppress any resistance.
The tribes were formally abolished. That same day, Britain and France both
extended de facto recognition in record speed to President el-Khattabi and to
his new Republic of Numidia.
A Caliph is Elected
The gathering in the holy city of Al Madina Al Monawara began with a call to prayer by the aging Hussein bin Ali, Emir of the Arabians. It was followed by a grand ceremony, in which Sultan Mehmed VI laid a down a crown in the Al-Masjid Al-Haram before the tomb of the founder of the faith, calling for "he who is learned, brave, pious and near to the words of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, to take up the crown and prepare until the day of Muhammed al-Mahdi". The words were a clear call to the Shi'a delegates present to repair the rift in Islam by joining this process.
Under new laws passed by the Ottoman
parliament, the Sultan could no longer hold both spiritual and temporal powers.
To remain ruler of the Empire, he must grant authority to a new spiritual
leader. The Sultan had invited representatives from Islamic communities across
the globe and had paid for their transportation. They were here from every sect
and every school in an attempt to elect a Caliph to represent them all. The key
element of Shi'a involvement was that the new Caliph had to be a descendant of
Ali ibn Abu-Talib and Fatima Zahra, the cousin and daughter of the Prophet (PBUH).
There was also an insistence that the new Caliph could not have a birthplace
from any point east of Mecca, to prevent the fulfillment of a prophecy regarding
the end of the world.
Many felt that further concentration
of power in the hands of the Hashemite, the most likely candidates, would break
apart the Sultanate. Though the representatives from the Ottoman Empire had
numerical advantage, the Sultan had clearly instructed that the Emir and his
family were not to have the title of Caliph and thus that bloc of votes would be
divided. This allowed for a greater influence by the Maliki, Shafi'i and Shi'a
representatives, who would otherwise have been neutralised in any vote. However,
it was agreed that the Emir should manage proceedings.
the consensus fell upon Yusuf ibn Hassan (left), a 38-year-old from Meknes, who
was related to the deposed royal family of Morocco, and for the first time in
1259 years, all of Islam had a single Caliph. While it remained to be seen how
long that unity would last, Caliph Yusuf I would rule until his death on 17
The Convention Resumes
On 14 February, 1920, President Albert Beveridge announced that the Constitutional Convention would resume its activities, under the protection of the American Legion, who would occupy the Independence Hall and its precincts for the duration. The delegates gathered uncomfortably, well aware that everything said during the proceedings would be immediately reported to the White House and that all statements would be closely analysed for their content and tone. They had already been warned that any criticism of the current Administration could result in their arrest on criminal charges.
Two weeks earlier, one of the hierarchy of the Administration had decided that it was time to make a contingency plan. Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, had made contact with officials in the British Embassy and had asked their assistance. He had been placed in contact with a Canadian counter-intelligence team, specifically instituted by the Borden Government with the intent of infiltrating the United States and preventing any threat to the political and economic stability of Canada. His purpose: to prepare for a military coup d'etat in case one should become necessary.
He took into his confidence Major
General Hugh Scott, who had quietly complained about the growing American
Legion. While not as well-armed, it had grown larger than the Army itself and
had established chapters all across America. The Canadians had recently expelled
a number of Americans, allegedly for attempting to establish a secret base in
Saskatchewan, and General Scott could not be certain that the Administration had
not authorised the action. Tensions on the northern border were worse than they
had been in over a century. Scott was also rather peeved about military
desegregation, but it was his concern about the paramilitaries that moved him to
join the conspiracy.
On the side of the workers, the
union movement had declared that they would hold a "National Day of
Action" on 15 March, and stated that such rolling stoppages would continue
until the Meitzen Affair had been fully investigated. Behind them was the IWW's
ragtag "People's Action Alliance", a group about fifty thousand strong
who were taking great advantage of their Second Amendment rights and buying
large amounts of weaponry. In the South, the White Citizens Movement had begun
to re-organise and was doing the same, with the tacit support of the Ku Klux
Vice President Warren Harding,
Attorney General Harry Daughtery and National Investigations Bureau Director,
Mitchell Palmer all advised the President that the day may be coming, in short
order, where martial law would be required. Beveridge agreed that the threats to
the Administration were growing by the day, but he was reluctant to take such
drastic action with an election looming on the horizon in November. He had
pledged to bring war to the Socialist threat; it was appearing increasingly
inevitable that civil war might be the outcome.
On 15 March, 1920, the National Day of Action, sponsored by the Socialist Labor Party and the International Workers of the World, saw large numbers take to the streets of America. From New York to Milwaukee, many facilities came to a standstill once again. By their sides marched the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples and the Native American Association. Fearful of police or even army intervention, the marchers carried weapons, declaring themselves the "Army of the People"; however, the SLP leader, Congressman Eugene Debs, ensured that they behaved themselves. Standing on the steps of the newly completed Lincoln Memorial, he called for workers to gather once again on 2 April and to continue to stand up to "government suppression of our constitutional rights".
The response on 2 April would be somewhat different. On 23 March, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Admiral Benson (right) by the National Investigations Bureau. He was charged with treason. Fortunately for Benson, he was spirited across the northern border into Newfoundland incognito and placed aboard a ship to Britain before the Government could respond. Nonetheless, it was sufficient for the President to become convinced of a British plot to overthrow the American government and for the union movement and the SLP to be classified as tools of conspiracy by foreign socialists. He resolved to meet them with force.
On 2 April, the Second Day of Action
became the largest show of force by the union movement to date. Modern estimates
put the number of protestors at over fifty thousand. On orders from the
President, the Army moved in. During a series of gun battles across America's
industrial heartland, 1556 people were killed. The Socialist Labor Party
headquarters in Terre Haute, Indiana, was raided by the NIB and a number of
members of Congress detained for questioning. Party leader Debs was placed under
arrest for sedition and treason, accused of plotting to overthrow the
Administration. Defence Secretary John W. Weeks, Commerce Secretary Herbert
Hoover, Labor Secretary James Davis and Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace all
resigned in protest.
President Beveridge called for calm,
stating that, while the socialist threat remained, America would be safer in the
days to come. However, it was his Administration that had come under threat. The
arrest of Congressional members antagonised the moderates within his own party.
On 26 April, the day following the convictions in the Meitzen case, Senator
Hiram Johnson of California split the Republican Party for the second time in
fifteen years, taking large numbers out of the Republican caucus with him and
joining the Democratic Party en masse, stating the need to form a unified
Congress. On the same day, the Senate issued subpoenas for Vice President
Harding, Attorney General Daughtery and NIB Director Palmer.
A Royal Wedding
The official announcement had been made the previous November, when the future King Edward VIII and his bride-to-be had dazzled the world with her white gold engagement ring, including a monumental diamond surrounding by thirteen others. The streets of London had come alive with a crowd that was later estimated at over fifty thousand as the bride and her father began the journey to Westminster Abbey in a glass coach. The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was throwing a wedding.
Her Victorian gown was enhanced by
ten thousand pearls, puffed sleeves and silk slippers. Her bouquet was yellow
roses, gardenias, orchids, lily of the valley and freesia, with accents of
mrytle from Queen Victoria's garden at Osborne House. The "old" lace
on the "new" dress came from the collection of Dowager Empress
Alexandra, the consort of the late Edward VII, now approaching eighty. The tiara
on her head had once belonged to Maria Feodorovna, wife of Tsar Paul I, and held
nearly 130 carats of diamonds, having been "borrowed" from the Russian
Tsar for the occasion. The "blue" was a dainty bow on the bodice of
During the ceremony, Edward, the
25-year-old Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall, presented his new wife with a
wedding band fashioned from Welsh gold. Afterwards, the new couple's wedding
breakfast at the Buckingham Palace consisted of brill in lobster sauce, chicken
breasts garnished with lamb mousse and strawberries in cornish cream, washed
down with claret and port. The cake was five tiers, with a garden of
confectionary roses accenting an ornamental "E" for Edward and
"O" for his third cousin, Princess Olga of Hesse, daughter of the
former Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.
In a brief interview with the times, the new Princess of Wales spoke about her trips to Russia since the Revolution and her gratitude for the welcome of the Russian people. She also spoke about her late mother, Princess Alix, who had died just last year. She also confirmed that Prince Alexei (left), the former Tsarevich, would remain at Eton College. However, the most important question would be answered just eleven months later, when, on 17 January, 1921, Princess Olga gave birth to George Nicholas Albert Michael. Two and a half years later, she would give birth to Alexandra Victoria Olga Mary and then in 1926, to Edward Frederick Arthur George.
There are disputes as to his birth year - some suggest 1852, others 1854. Husayn ibn Ali (aka Hussein bin Ali) was born in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire and was always destined to be head of the Hashemite family, one of the most powerful clans in the Empire. He and his family were the most direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammed, and, as such, were responsible for being Guardians of the Two Mosques, Islam's holiest shrines.
His rise to prominence began in 1909, when following the failure of the Jonturkler coup d'etat, he participated in the diplomatic congress that gave rise to the Second Tanzimat, the reinvigoration of the Ottoman state. While he primarily agreed with the modernisation, he opposed strongly the sale of land in Uhyun to foreigners and questioned the separation of the city of Jerusalem into a separate principality. It was primarily as a result of this opposition that the Sultan made substantial concessions toward Arab development and appointed the long-serving Arab Grand Vizier, Nafi al-Jabiri. It was during this time that he took the title of King of Arabia, antagonising the tribes of the southern peninsula who refused to recognise his authority.
In June, 1913, he served as the
Imperial Envoy to St Petersburg, negotiating the normalisation of relations
between the two empires after decades of tensions and winning the favour of the
Kurds for his expansion of their kingdom at the expense of the Persians. Three
years later, he served as the Commander of the Ottoman forces in overthrowing
the Wahhabi Kingdom of Nejd and deposed the Saud family. He also led the
negotiations with established the line of demarcation, permanently separating
the Arabian peninsula into Ottoman and British spheres of influence.
The most transformational event in
the life of King Hussein was the debate over the role of the Caliphate, which
became a central theme of Ottoman life following the demise of the Sultan during
the Great Plague of 1918-19. In the argument over the separation of church and
state, it became clear that Mehmed VI would not compromise due to his fear of
the power of the Hashemite family. While retaining the title of King of Arabia,
King Hussein compromised by agreeing to surrender the title of Sherif, thus
preventing the Ottoman Empire from plunging into civil conflict. However, the
Hashemite family came to strongly resent the sacrifices they had been forced to
On 4 April, 1920, King Hussein,
endorsed by the overwhelming majority of Arabs, announced his intention to seek
Arabian independence. He stated that this would take place as a negotiated
process, specifically stating that he wished to retain good relations with the
Ottoman and British Empires. (Poor relations with the Persians meant that he
could not do otherwise.) The Sultan, having been advised of Arab intentions,
asked for a meeting in the capital, Beirut and invited the British to mediate in
the dispute between the houses of Osman and Hashem.
After three weeks of intense
negotiations, King Hussein agreed to postpone political secession. In return, he
received substantial revisions to the Seven-Year Plan which benefited the Asiri,
the Yemeni and the Nejd, as well as making substantial improvements to the Al
Hasa coastline. The United Kingdom again came to the party as the international
financier, but demanded in return for its investment a concession of land south
of Al Kuwait, increasing the holdings of the Sabah family by approximately one
third. It was agreed that the three parties would meet again to discuss the
matter in 1923.
Defending An Empire
While India and the other Dominions were now partially funding the British Army, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald recognised that the drain on the Exchequer could not continue indefinitely. The cost of defending the Empire was immense. The main difficulty was that, if the British began to demand resources from the Dominions to pay for their defence, the Dominions would undoubtedly begin to demand a greater say in how the military was used. MacDonald met with Emperor King George V and discussed the situation. It appeared inevitable that, at some stage, the British would either need to sacrifice the Empire, or sacrifice their control of the Empire. There was no other way.
In early 1920, the Prime Minister
sent notes to his fellow heads of government asking for an Imperial Conference.
Those invited were:
Sir Robert Borden;
Australia: Matthew Charlton;
South Africa: Jan Smuts;
India: Mohammed Ali Jinnah;
Egypt: Rushdi Husayn;
Newfoundland: Michael Cashin;
New Zealand: Patrick Webb (Prime Minister Hindmarsh had died in the Great Plague);
Ireland: John Dillon; and
Pashtunistan: Khan Abdul Jaffar Khan.
They gathered in Cairo in April to
discuss a way forward, with the Earl of Koubah chairing the conference.
found himself facing some strong opinions, particularly from Charlton and
Borden. Borden (right) was concerned that London was refusing to take seriously
the potential threat of civil unrest in the United States spilling across the
border; he was supported strongly by Cashin in this regard. Charlton had heard
reports from his countrymen about the bloodshed in India during the mutiny of
1911-14 and was not prepared to continue to support the aims of the Empire
unless Australia could have some say to as how and where her troops were used.
Furthermore, Charlton summed up the beliefs of many other delegates when he
stated there was no reason why the Indians and the British should be entitled to
"lord it over us all". They wanted both India and Great Britain
classified as Dominions and an agreement that all Dominions would be equal in
status, not subordinate to each other in any way, but united through a common
allegiance to the Crown, a common defence and a common foreign policy.
Borden's recommendation was that
they should establish an Imperial Council, to administer the defence and foreign
affairs of the Empire, rather than having rule emanating out of London, with
each Dominion having just one vote. MacDonald was prepared to reach agreement on
this, but wished to reserve the right for England, Scotland and Wales to be
considered as three separate Dominions for the purposes of voting, giving
Britain three votes to one vote for everyone else. General Smuts summed up the
attitude of others when he told MacDonald that if Scotland and Wales wanted to
vote separately, then they should not be ruled from Westminster. In fact, none
of them should be ruled from Westminster and the legislative authority of the
British Parliament over the Dominions should be revoked. Borden added that their
Governors-General should only serve as representatives of the Crown, not the
British government. In short, the Dominions wanted equality.
MacDonald was shocked by the
demands, but had received commitments that together, the Dominions would cover
two-fifths of the cost of Imperial defence. This would allow for a substantial
increase in the British, strike that, the Imperial Defence Forces while actually
lowering the cost of defence to the British government itself, as well as
providing extra resources or perhaps tax cuts for the average British worker. He
agreed to take the matter under advisement. He was not surprised that the
Conservative Party hated the idea; however, the Liberals, who were prepared to
negotiate, signalled their consent to most of the terms but managed to get
Britain the three votes it wanted (to represent all the other parts of the
Empire). The Koubah Declaration, as the agreement would later become known, was
passed by the British Parliament in 1923 and gave birth to "The
Changes in 1920
The year 1920 was a period of massive change, with events that only a decade before had been considered impossible. In May, 1920, the first Negro professional baseball player, Oscar Charleston, was hired by the Indianapolis Indians to play at Victory Field. He went on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, taking part in the 1925 World Series win. In the 1930's, he would become one of a consortium who bought the club outright. His employment made way for six other African American players to be hired in 1921.
The Death of Democracy
As NSC Deputy Chairman and NIB Director, Alexander Mitchell Palmer had almost unlimited power. Despite his expulsion from the Democratic Party's National Committee, he had seized the assets and persons of many of the "would-be revolutionaries". His projection of a revolution on May Day had not come to fruition, but he had no doubt that, without the actions of the army in April, the revolution would have succeeded. The growing vacancies at the Cabinet table were a sign, he told the President, of the weakness of the commitment of those resignees to the stability of American democracy.
On 22 July, 1920, as he perused documents in his Washington, D.C. office, he was visited by his own Deputy, William J Flynn and two other agents. The conversation was brief and he was presented with a warrant for his own arrest, charged with his involvement in plotting the assassination of Governor Meitzen. He was immediately placed in a vehicle and transported out of the capital to Pennsylvania, where he was kept incommunicado for seventy-two hours. At that time, Vice President Warren Harding and Attorney General Daughtery were also arrested for their involvement in the conspiracy.
When the White House learned of the arrests, President Albert Beveridge was outraged. However, the assault against his Administration had not yet reached its pinnacle. The day after the Vice President was arrested, Mexican President Carranza stated that the lack of continuity in his oil contracts with the United States meant that he must unavoidably seek alternate markets. He announced the cancellation of US deals in lieu of new arrangements with Argentina, Colombia and Chile. Assaulted from without and from within by conspiracies against his Administration, President Beveridge announced the suspension of the Constitution on 2 August and declared that he would rule by decree under martial law.
The response was riots in the streets of most American cities. The climax came on 15 August, when a massive group of citizens occupied the Capitol, demanding the restoration of the Congress. As the American Legion began to move into position around the building, one of the protestors emerged holding a white flag of truce. He was shot down on the Capitol steps. Not long after, the Capitol was ablaze (right). While much of the building's exterior survived intact, the Library and the interior was utterly destroyed. The heat of the flames brought down the cast-iron dome, and the 6800 kg Statue of Freedom plunged nearly three hundred feet from her pinnacle into the burning wreck.
The enraged crowd then turned on the American Legion, who, though armed, were no match for the massive crowd. They were quickly overwhelmed and lynched from nearby street signs. The crowd then began to make their way up Pennsylvania Avenue, while the President and First Lady Catherine Beveridge fled across the Potomac into Virginia. The White House was occupied briefly and then torched. A similar raid was made upon the Treasury building, where large number of greenbacks were seized by the maddening crowds. Smoke rose above the city for the next two days before American Legion reinforcements were able to move in and retake the city. President Beveridge declared the defeat of the socialist revolution and ordered his forces to crack down hard on all signs of resistance.
Despite his claims of victory, President Beveridge gave an address to the nation on 20 September, 1920, stating that the state of emergency must continue. He argued that there remained dangerous threats, as typified by the bombing of the American Legion headquarters the previous day. What he had done, he said, was to force the socialist resistance into an open insurgency where they would be easier to fight, rather than having them carry out hidden plots against the Government.
The US Collapses
With the first sign of resistance in Cascadia, it was perhaps inevitable that the accumulated grievances of the South should finally spill over into political action. Many of the Southern Representatives and Senators, getting grumpy as their Canadian hideaways moved toward winter, decided that if Cascadia could hedge their bets, so could they.
"My fellow Americans," he began, "We are a great people and we have a great gift. We are among the lucky few enabled by the grace of the Great Architect of the Universe who are empowered to transform the world by our actions. We are learning to control nature; we are becoming a great culture; and one day, we will be able to reach out to the new worlds that the astronomer, Hubble, has recently discovered and we will touch and change them too. The hopes of the future are endless.