A Tale of Two Assassinations
(The Creation of An American Dictator)
PART 1By Michael W Moore
What did happen-on Feb. 15th 1933 in Miami Fla., shortly after being elected President for the first time, an assassination attempt was made on the life of Franklin Roosevelt. The assassin was unsuccessful, missing Roosevelt and hitting Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak who later died from his wounds. The assassin, one Giuseppe Zangara, was an Italian immigrant who hated wealthy capitalists. He died in the electric chair five weeks after the assassination attempt. Mr. Zangara was heard to say, "I don’t like no peoples".
in Baton Rouge, La. He had called a special meeting of the state legislature. The events that followed have been a mystery for decades. Walking down the corridor of the Capitol building Long is thought to have been greeted by Dr. Carl Weiss, a physician from Baton Rouge. Then, as reported by witnesses, Weiss shot Long at close range in the abdomen. Weiss was immediately shot and killed by Long's bodyguards. All told, 31 bullet wounds were found in Weiss' body, 29 in the back and 2 in the head. Long was 43 years old.
For a dual POD lets reverse the results. Roosevelt’s assassin had better aim and Franklin Roosevelt was killed.
Long’s assassin’s gun misfires and he is cut down before he can get another shot off, Huey Long lives.
For those of you not familiar with American history Huey Long was quite the ‘bigger than life’ character. The man Franklin Roosevelt called, "the most dangerous man in America". Before we let the time line unwind some back ground on Huey Long is appropriate. I think you’ll find it quite interesting. (P.S- I lifted most of the following background info from someone’s web site months ago. Sorry don’t remember who to attribute it to)
Huey Long, known as "The Kingfish," was an American politician a member of the Democratic Party. He was governor of Louisiana, a Senator and a presidential hopeful before his assassination. He was a populist who was said to have had many dictatorial tendencies.
Long introduced several major reforms once in office, including free textbooks and free night courses for adult learning, increased expenditures on the state university, and a program to build a school within walking distance of every child in the state. Once in office Long also financed a wide-ranging program of public works; over 12,000 miles of road were paved and over 100 bridges were built, as well as a new airport in New Orleans, and a medical school at Louisiana State University. The programs were financed by increased taxes on the rich and on big business; the new roads were paid for with a tax on gasoline. Long was so determined to have his way that, bypassing the state legislature, he put considerable effort into ensuring that his own people controlled every level of the state political system, ensuring levels of graft that were outrageously high even by the standards of Louisiana politics.
His efforts in Louisiana were the subject of an IRS investigation; he had increased annual state government expenditure three-fold and the state debt over ten-fold. In 1929, he was impeached on charges of bribery and gross misconduct, but the state senate failed to convict him by a narrow margin of two votes. It was often alleged that Long had concentrated power to the point where he had become a dictator of sorts; this was quite unprecedented.
In 1930 he was elected to the United States Senate. He went to Washington in 1932 after having ensured that Alvin Olin King was elected to replace him as governor. Long continued to be in effective control of Louisiana while he was a senator. Though he had no constitutional authority to do so, he continued to draft and press bills through the Louisiana legislature, which remained controlled by his supporters. He was vigorous in his efforts to try to combat the damages of the Great Depression. By 1934 he began a reorganization of the state that all but abolished local government and gave himself the power to appoint all state employees.
He was a vocal supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1932 election, but when Long was not offered a federal post, he turned against Roosevelt. In 1933 he was part of the three week Senate filibuster against the Glass-Steagall Act. In another famous filibuster on June 12–13, 1935, Long made the longest speech of his Senate career. The speech took 15 1/2 hours and was filled by 150,000 words. In 1934 he created the Share Our Wealth program, proposing heavy new taxes on the super-rich. Though he was a Democrat, President Roosevelt considered Long a demagogue and privately said of him that "he was one of the . . . most dangerous men in America."
Long was considered by many to be the best and most charismatic public speaker of his day.
So we begin…
With Roosevelt’s death V.P. John Garner becomes President.
Garner is an able man and good politician, but had little of F D R’s presence and communication skills. He was, as one writer stated, "a mole rather than an eagle."
He inherits a shit storm!
The Great Depression was in full flower. Unemployment soared from 3.2 percent to 24.9 percent, leaving more than 15 million Americans out of work. Some remained unemployed for years; those who had jobs faced major wage cuts, and many people could find only part-time work. Jobless men sold apples and shined shoes to earn a little money.
By the winter of 1932 to 1933, the banking system reached the point of nearly complete collapse; more than 5,000 banks failed by March 1933, wiping out the savings of millions of people.
While 1933 had seen a dramatic growth of unions and many serious strikes, 1934 witnessed an eruption. There were 1,856 stoppages that year, by far the largest number since World War I and many were accompanied by violence.
A walkout of auto parts workers in Toledo, Ohio, disrupted that city and in the face of the threat of a general strike, led to the institution of collective bargaining.
A series of massive strikes of truck drivers led by Trotskyites in Minneapolis brought on class warfare and forced the recognition of the union.
A similar upheaval that started on the docks in San Francisco was the prelude to both a general strike in the Bay Area and to a coast wide maritime shutdown.
The largest of these strikes took place during the fall of 1934 when 376,000 textile workers in hundreds of mills in New England and the South walked out.
When drought began in the early 1930s, it worsened these poor economic conditions. The depression and drought hit farmers on the Great Plains the hardest. Many of these farmers were forced to seek government assistance. Some voluntarily deeded their farms to creditors, others faced foreclosure by banks, and still others had to leave temporarily to search for work to provide for their families. In fact, at the peak of farm transfers in 1933–34, nearly 1 in 10 farms changed possession, with half of those being involuntary.
Once-productive topsoil turned to dust that was carried away by strong winds, piling up in drifts against houses and barns. Parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado became known as the Dust Bowl.
In Sept. 1935 the Labor Day Hurricane hits the Florida Keys causing catastrophic destruction. It to this day remains the strongest recorded hurricane to ever strike the USA, killing over 400 people.
President Long proceeded to implement an enormous and unprecedented federal program dubbed ‘A Fair Shake’.
‘A Fair Shake’, centered around higher taxes on the wealthy and a massive increase in Government spending (this program greatly exceeded OTL ‘FDR’s A New Deal’). President Long embraced the new ideas of British economist John Maynard Keynes, who argued that intentionally unbalancing the budget to a significant degree would boost demand to the point where recovery would take place. The U.S. gross public debt increased from $23.5 billion in 1935 to $51.4 billion in 1937.
For the most part ‘A Fair Shake’ was well received, "at least he was doing something". Even the wealthy could only complain so much, as the improving economy fattened their pocket books and helped alleviate their higher tax load.
Things still weren’t great, but they were getting better and folks were willing to give Huey the benefit of the doubt. President Long had instituted a nightly radio show he called ‘Town Meeting’ and most citizens listened in nightly.
The economy however, which had seemed on steadily upward slant, began to slow in early to mid 1937 despite the massive Govt. outlays. People could sense it and started to become nervous. Then an event occurred that would cause Heuy Long’s Presidency to move in an entirely different direction.
An American gunboat the USS Panay was patrolling the Yangtze River, near Nanking China on Dec. 12, 1937, when Japanese warplanes suddenly and without provocation repeatedly dive-bombed the Panay and sunk the gunboat.
As luck would have it much of the incident was caught on film. The US public was outraged by this attack, which caused two deaths and dozens of casualties.
President Long seized on the incident as being ‘just what the doctor ordered’ for the USA’s sick economy. He had been following the German recovery engineered by Adolph Hitler for some time and thought that it might very well serve as useful model.
He rattled the sabre and greatly roiled public opinion.
Eventually he did let the Japanese off the hook, no way did he want a shooting war, accepting an insincere apology and some reparations.
What he did get was an incident and a ground swell of public opinion that he could and did use to push a huge bill through Congress on Dec. 24th 1937 authorizing a massive military expansion and build up. Most of this build up would be Navy and Marine Corps expansion, although the Army and particularly the Army Air Corps would get their share. (Think of the Vinson ‘Two Ocean Naval Act’ 6 months to a year ahead of schedule.)
Within 6 months un-employment was going down and the shipyards were humming. Tens of thousands were working on government projects, building roads, bridges and dams. At the Presidents call many men had enlisted in the services, in a patriotic fervor over the Panay incident, further reducing the ranks of the un-employed. Within a year un-employment had fallen below double digits for the first time in a while and was still falling.
By the time war broke out in Europe in Sept. 1939 virtually everyone who wanted a job had one. The US economy was seriously in danger of over heating, but people had work and money in their pockets. President Long was very popular indeed and keenly following events in Europe.
President Long’s reactions to the war breaking out were very different than Roosevelt’s OTL.
While promising to keep the country out of the European conflict, his first thoughts were of personal aggrandizement and boldly enhancing the USA position in the world. In other words, how could he take advantage of the coming calamity?
Trade with Britain and France sky rocketed and finished off the last dregs of the US depression.
With war clouds looming he was able to essentially double the ‘Two Ocean Naval Act’, and because of the potential for a future land war in Europe much more emphasis this time was placed on Army build-up.
1939, 1940 proceeded as per OTL.
The main difference this ATL was the bigger and earlier US build-up of its Armed Forces.
Also Long was much less inclined to offer material on credit and struck a much harder bargain with the British and French.
In return for much needed material he wanted some of their colonies in exchange. Both countries initially refused but after Dunkirk and the fall of France the situation drastically changed.
By the end of 1940 Britain had sold all its Caribbean Possessions to the USA.
Long implemented the ‘Long Doctrine’ in Sept. 1940 to seize the French and Dutch Caribbean colonies. Simply the ‘Long Doctrine’ stated that any colonies or possessions in the American hemisphere, would be seized by the USA if the mother country ceased to be a free and functioning state.
Re-elected in 1940 he carried all but 2 states. What’s more his coat tails were very long, by 1940 the Democrats controlled the Senate (65 to 34) and had over 70% of the House of Representatives.
A cornerstone of Long’s 1936 platform was, "a light bulb and radio in every house". During his first four years he had gotten Congress to authorize a massive rural electrification program. He also had started a Govt. guaranteed loan program so every home could be wired for electricity and purchase a radio. By the 1940 elections 95% of American homes had a radio.
Long’s charismatic speaking style and down home charm came through on the medium of radio like no other politician in history. It was estimated that some 80% of American homes tuned into his, 5 evenings a week, ‘Town Hall’ radio programs.
With his sweeping mandate in the 1940 elections he began to consolidate his power. He had legislation passed that broke off the protection portion of the Secrete Service from the Treasury Dept. and had it placed in the Executive branch of the Govt., reporting directly to the President.
He had originally retained the Secrete Service name until it was pointed out that it’s initials, SS, might have some negative connotations. So it was renamed OSIS (OFF Shore Intelligence Service), in addition to serving as a body guard attachment for the President and other top officials, it was tasked with intelligence gathering outside the country. Lavishly funded it grew into an over 4,000 person strong agency within a year, and would triple the next.
Critics were highly vocal concerning OSIS, and what they called a ‘private police force’, but such was President Long’s popularity it made not a dent.
By 1940 if you wanted to get anywhere in a government job, or run for office in the Democratic Party, it was a given you better be one of Huey’s Boys.
President Long tired of having many of his pet projects struck down by the Supreme Court. The Court had a slim conservative majority of 4, when they sided with a couple of more moderate members. In Dec. 1940 President Long narrowly rams legislation through Congress to expand the Supreme Court from 9 judges to 15. (FDR tried the same thing OTL in 1935 and was defeated in his efforts) But FDR never had the political capital that President Long commanded at the end of 1940.
Along with the 3 existing liberal judges the 6 new ones give President Long a virtual rubber stamp for anything he wants to do in the future. Many people, even some in his own party, are becoming alarmed by the concentration of power in Huey Long’s hands.
American military observers in France in May of 1940 had reported back the overwhelming success of the German Panzer units.
President Long in Dec. of 1940 authorized a rapid expansion of US armored units.
1941begins very similar to OTL.
The Battle for the Atlantic is in full swing and not looking very promising for the Brits.
In March Rommel attacks in North Africa and by April has chased the British out of Libya, except for the garrison defending Tobruk. The British counter is stopped at Halfaya pass.
By midyear Britain has quietly sold off Bermuda and the Falklands to the USA to keep the supplies flowing. Indeed, this entire bargain basement colonial sell off has been kept from the British public. They’ve been told only that America has taken over the defence of these possessions.
With the acquisition of Bermuda a homeland defence strategy known simply as The Triangle is formulated. The points of the triangle are Bermuda to the East, Hawaii/Midway/Wake to the west, and The Canal Zone to the South. President Long has ordered these points to be made impregnable. Within months new harbors are dredged, new airfields are built and tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors and marines are dispatched to these points.
The Japanese have occupied French Indochina since Sept. 1940 and have been embargoed by the USA and the British as in OTL.
In Jan. 1941 the USA, Australia, and New Zealand sign a sweeping trade agreement, which essentially drops all trade barriers between the three countries.
Long also signs a secrete treaty with both countries guaranteeing full mutual aid to each other in the advent of a Japanese attack on any.
In May ‘41 Britain agrees to sell Malaysia (sans Singapore) to the USA. This transaction is not kept secret in the hopes of forestalling Japanese aggression.
With an occupation fleet in waiting, the USA immediately assumes defensive responsibility for the area, which will free up British troops who can be used elsewhere.
The Japanese are not happy with this development. They are even more livid when President Long invokes a new interpretation of the ‘Long Doctrine’.
June 1st 1941 he annexes the Dutch East Indies as ‘unclaimed and undefended contiguous territory’ to the new American Malaysia. All of what is present-day Malaysia and Indonesia now belong to the USA and the entire area is renamed the American East Indies.
This latest move catches the Brits, Dutch, Aussies, and the Japanese all off balance.
Barbarossa kicks off on schedule in June 1941 and by the end of July it looks as if Hitler is well on the way to Moscow.
Long is not pleased by the spectre of a quick German victory over the Soviets. He arranges a secrete meeting with Churchill in mid August in Canada.
With Russia on the ropes and the Germans sinking ships faster than the Brits can build them, Long figures he has an unprecedented opportunity to augment his power and the USA’s position in the world. He intends to keep Britain and Russia in the war, to bleed them and the Germans white.
He offers Churchill an immediate and greatly expanded aid program financed by the USA’s acquisition of most of Britain’s African Colonies.
He further promises to begin shipping massive aid to Russia as soon as possible.
Churchill loathes and thoroughly distrusts Long at this juncture but can see no way out without huge and immediate US aid. He is also desperate to keep Stalin in the war and the promise of massive US aid coming soon should stiffen his spine.
Nyasaland, and British Somaliland are all quietly passed over to the Americans in Sept. 1941.
In Oct., as Churchill had anticipated, Long again invoked the Long Doctrine and annexed French West Africa including the port of Dakar. This provoked a strong reaction from the French Admirals in the port. But with an American battle fleet standing off the harbor, the conclusion was inevitable and they finally surrendered the port.
Further French and Belgium territory was annexed that Oct. by the Americans including the Cameroons, French Equatorial Africa, the Belgium Congo, Togo, and French Somaliland.
Huey Long’s Empire was growing by leaps and bounds.
Contact is established with the Soviets and much war material of all kinds is promised. But this is not OTL lend-lease; President Long agrees to immediately begin shipping supplies on credit, but demands eventual payment in gold. The press dubs this plan ‘Gold for Guns’.
Long makes good his promise to Churchill and aid is drastically increased. Much of the US Navy is now escorting convoys to Britain. The US Navy is now engaged in an un-declared war with the German U-boats.
Later in that same Oct. President Long convenes a meeting of all North American countries. Its purpose, to ease trade barriers and discuss mutual defence.
The Japanese were furious with the US purchase of Malaysia from the British and subsequent annexation of the Dutch East Indies, areas they had designs on themselves.
The decision is made to strike south.
The same plans were laid as OTL.
The difference in this ATL is the relative strength of the USA and it deployments.
The Japanese were aware of the American build-up but not its scope.
The Japanese plan a secrete attack on Pearl Harbor for Sunday December 7th 1941.
They plan simultaneous attacks on US installations in the Philippines and the American East Indies.
They plan to catch much of the US Pacific Fleet napping and destroy it.
End Part 1