- Freedom Party (Harry Turtledove)
Infobox Fictional Political Party
party_name = Freedom Party
party_articletitle = Freedom Party (Harry Turtledove)
appears = American Empire
leader = Jake Featherston
motto = "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!"
"Repeal the seven words!"
Harry Turtledove's "American Empire" and "Settling Accounts" series of novels, the "Freedom Party" is a fascistpolitical organization as well as an analog of the National Socialist German Workers' Party that takes power in the Confederate States of Americaduring the 1930s, and leads the nation into a version of the Second World War.
The Freedom Party was founded in
Richmond, Virginia, sometime after the Great War (the exact date is unclear) by a man named Anthony Dresser (analog of Anton Drexler). Its rather vague ideology, which was made Party policy after Jake Featherston took control, encompassed extreme Confederate nationalismand white supremacy, and hatred for blacks, socialists, the United States, and the Southern aristocracythat dominated the political and military establishments.
Jake Featherston became the seventh member to join, in the autumn of 1917, after the end of the First World War. He had initially scorned the Party as being too amateurish, which was reflected on the lack of details or information on early posters. Nevertheless, Featherston joined the Party and soon became the head of propaganda after he discovered he could speak better in public than any other member. Featherston drew in members by the score, and it was clear that the Party's future lay in his skills and talents. Dresser worried that the Party was looking to Featherston as its leader rather than himself and his committee. He attempted to have a floor vote of confidence for his abilities, but he was defeated. He was then voted out of his own organization by Party Secretary Ferdinand Koenig. Featherston became the Party Chairman, and never forgot Koenig's loyalty.
Under Featherston's direction, the Freedom Party rose quickly to national prominence, electing several Representatives to the
Confederate Congressin 1919. It was not the only such organization in the postwar Confederacy: the Redemption League, the Red-Fighters, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Knights of the Gray, and others all had similar ideas, but the Freedom Party rose further and faster than any of its rivals (excluding the Tin Hats - based on the "Stahlhelm" or Steel Helmet group from our timeline's post-WWI Germany - a veterans' organization which did not contest for political offices). In Congress its members often came into political and physical conflict with the Whigs, the traditional ruling party, and the Radical Liberals, the main opposition.
The Party pioneered political warfare in the Confederacy, using war veterans and young men as shock troops to break up meetings of other parties. These troops, called "stalwarts," dressed identically in "uniforms" of white shirts and khaki (butternut) pants, and seem to be an analog of the Nazis'
Sturmabteilung(SA) or "brownshirts." Its members also comprised a substantial amount of the Confederate volunteers who fought in the Mexican civil war for Emperor Maximilian III against the republican rebels, in an analog of the Spanish civil war.
The Presidential Election of 1921
The Freedom Party National Convention of 1921, held in
New Orleans, illustrated both Featherston's simultaneous weakness and strength. On one hand, he had been forced to move the convention to the MississippiRiver as a concession to westerners, especially Willy Knightof the Texas-based Redemption League, who had agreed to endorse the Freedom ticket despite his own ambitions. On the other, he won the support of Amos Mizell, leader of the Tin Hats, and easily captured the nominations of both himself for President and his protege Ferdinand Koenigfor Vice-President.
The Whigs nominated Wade Hampton V of
South Carolina, scion of one of the Confederacy's richest planter families, and the Radical Liberals chose Ainsworth Layne, a Harvard-educated lawyer. The 1921 campaign is well-noted for violence: several dozen people were killed as the Whigs and Rad Libs attempted to emulate Freedom tactics, and political rallies degenerated into pitched battles.
In the election itself the Freedom Party performed above most observers' expectations by outpolling the Radical Liberals and taking Texas,
Floridaand Tennessee. Featherston lost, however, to the Whig nominee Hampton, who took every other state but the Radical Liberal strongholds of Cuba, Chihuahua, and Sonora. The Party improved its standing in the Confederate House of Representatives and picked up its first Senator and Governor, from Florida and Tennessee respectively.
The Hampton Affair
Bitter over this defeat, Featherston nevertheless resolved to concentrate on the 1923 and 1925
midterms and build up strength for the 1927 presidential election, which he believed would be a certain Freedom Party triumph. (The messianic aspects of Featherston's personality had already begun to assert themselves.)
Featherston's mentality aside, the Party had great momentum and eventual victory appeared likely. This likelihood evaporated in 1922, when President Hampton was assassinated by a deranged Freedom Party member named Grady Calkins in Birmingham. The Party's protestations of innocence, no matter how truthful, fell on deaf ears: their reputation for political violence was well-earned, and the stalwarts had in fact been preparing to raid Hampton's rally the night he died. Freedom Party fortunes began to rapidly fall across the nation.
(The Hampton assassination was semi-analogous to the
Beer Hall Putschof 1923, in which the Nazis under Hitlerattempted to seize power in Bavariaand, eventually, all of Germany. Although the Hampton affair appears to be the act of one individual, the Munichputsch was a deliberate act on the part of the Nazi leadership. Both, of course, were setbacks which their respective ideologies, which had previously been rising seemingly inexorably, would have to struggle to overcome.)
Burton Mitchel was sworn in as President of a grieving nation: it was the first assassination of a national leader in the history of either the CSA or USA. The heretofore little-known
ArkansasSenator quickly took advantage of the new climate and asked US President Upton Sinclairto end the war reparations that were so damaging to the Confederate economy. Sinclair agreed, and the Socialist-majority United States Congressforgave the remainder of Confederate reparations that year. The Confederate government was finally able to end the Weimar-style hyperinflationthat had plagued the country postwar, and full recovery finally began, further taking the wind out of the Freedom Party's sails.
The Post-Hampton Years
The Freedom Party spent the next six years "wandering in the desert." The Hampton-inspired backlash, the recovering economy, and newly-harmonious relations with the United States combined to bring the Party to its lowest point since 1918. The Party lost several seats in the 1923 midterm elections, mostly to Whigs, and common members and prominent backers alike fled.
Not all was dark: this period marked the beginning of the Party's use of
wirelesscommunication ( radio broadcasting), which would prove so effective in later years. The Party continued its support of Imperial forces in the Mexican civil war, which resulted in eventual victory over the republicans. The Freedom Party guards, troops who were better-trained than the stalwarts and dressed in uniforms similar in color and cut to that of the Confederate Army, gained prominence at this time.
The 1925 election did little to raise the faithful's spirits: though it won the Governor's house in Texas, the Party fell further in the House. It suffered another blow when the Confederate Supreme Court decided that Burton Mitchel, elected Vice-President in 1921 and serving as President since 1923, could run for the office in his own right in 1927, despite the provision in the Constitution limiting the President to one six-year term. Mitchel easily won the election against Featherston and the Radical Liberal candidate
Hugo Black, despite the Whigs' lethargic response to the damage caused by the Mississippi floods that year, which destroyed the homes of over half a million people. The Freedom Party seemed doomed to third-party status, like the Republicans in the USA.
The Economic Collapse
Late in 1928, a consortium of Austro-Hungarian banks called for repayment of a loan to the Russian imperial government. Czar Michael's government, bankrupted by the long socialist revolution which had finally ground to a halt a few years before, defaulted, sending shockwaves through the European banking community. They teetered for a few months into spring of 1929, when the entire debt structure in Europe collapsed, taking banks and stock exchanges with it. The crisis slowly crossed the Atlantic, and in June the
New York Stock Exchangefinally crashed. The Great Depressionhad begun.
Perversely, bad economic news had always lifted the Freedom Party, and this year was no different. As the Mitchel Administration stood by and watched helplessly as the economy collapsed, The Freedom Party stormed to victory in the Congressional elections, elbowing the Radical Liberals out of second place. Freedom was once again on the march.
The Freedom Party disappointed some of its optimists by failing to win a majority: such was its prospects that capturing slightly more than a third of the House seats and winning several Senate and gubernatorial races was seen as a defeat. They could take heart, however, from the US's Democratic Party, whose nominees
Calvin Coolidgeand Herbert Hooverdefeated the Socialist incumbents Hosea Blackfordand Hiram Johnsonin 1932. (Coolidge died of natural causes before he could be sworn in, and Hoover took his place.)
The Party greeting of "Freedom!" was on every other set of lips. Its symbol, a reverse-colored Confederate battle flag, was posted on every other wall and telephone pole. Featherston was nominated unanimously on the first ballot at the FNC in Nashville. Ferdinand Koenig, two-time vice-presidential nominee and a Virginian like Featherston, was put aside in favor of the Texan Willy Knight, in order to ensure success in western states. (The actual motive was to sideline the ambitious Knight by placing him in the nigh-useless Vice-President's office.)
They needn't have worried: The Freedom Party won every state but Arkansas and Louisiana, routing the Whig and Radical Liberal nominees Samuel Longstreet and
Cordell Hull, and captured a majority in the House of Representatives. On March 4, 1934, Jacob Featherston was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America.
Almost as soon as the Inauguration ceremonies were finalized, the Freedomization of the Confederacy began. Stalwart squads patrolled the streets, making sure the population saluted the Party's new-found authority by hanging up patriotic banners. The Stalwarts also began settling accounts with the Party's enemies, arresting Whigs and Radical Liberals on trumped up charges and hauling them into prison, or else just killed them. To drum up support, and also to remind everyone who was sitting in the Gray House, the Party instigated
race riots which would deflect white attention from the Freedomization process by turning their energies against the blacks.
The Supreme Court was abolished when Featherston, the "de facto" leader of Congress as well, used his popularity to abolish the Supreme Court under a rationale that effectively repealed the Confederate equivalent of the
Judiciary Act of 1789and judicial review. Having ruled against the constitutionality of the popular Federal damming in the Tennessee Valley, Featherston was certain the public would have no objections to his act, and he was proved right. As soon as Chief Justice James McReynolds was forcibly retired, the Confederate people cheered Featherston (albeit some of it being compelled by the presence of Stalwarts in every aspect of society). With a major check and balance to his future abuse of executive authority removed, and a personal score settled (McReynolds had allowed Burton Mitchel to run in 1927, defeating Featherston's chances that year), Featherston could move about more freely.
To keep up the pretense that the CSA remained a free constitutional republic, the opposition parties were allowed to continue existence, though any attempt to go beyond simple place-holding was ruthlessly suppressed by the Stalwarts and policemen (all of them to a man being Freedom Party members) acting on orders from the Governor, who in turn would get his orders from Attorney General Ferdinand Koenig. Whig meeting halls were closed; prominent opposition leaders were arrested for false reasons and sent to concentration camps. Polls continued to be open on every Election Day, but Stalwarts would guard the entrances and allow only Freedom-voters admittance, ensuring perpetual Freedom control of the state and national legislatures. In 1935, the states gained Freedom electors, who sent only Freedom Party Senators to the Senate in Richmond. This, and the one-party control of the House, allowed an amendment to the Confederate Constitution to be passed in 1938, which removed the provision limiting the President to a single term; this effectively made Featherston President-for-life.
Dissenters Within the Party
The constitutional amendment offended several veterans of the Party, possibly out of a sense of betrayal, or felt that other members should be given a shot at the Presidency. Chief among these dissenters was the Vice President of the Confederate States, Willy Knight, who had aspirations for the Gray House since before he joined his Redemption League party to the Freedom Party ticket in the 1920s. Knight realized that he had been sidelined by Featherston and Koenig, and sought revenge, soliciting the help of Stalwarts who had formerly belonged to the Redemption League. Featherston survived the assassination attempt the group had put together and almost immediately discovered the extent of Knight's role. The Vice President was impeached, made to resign, and upon departing his office was arrested by Freedom Party guards led by Chief Assault Band Leader Ben Chapman, who escorted him to Camp Dependable. Knight was murdered by Jefferson Pinkard on the personal order of Ferdinand Koenig in 1941.
The Party was purged of Stalwarts who'd shared Knight's views, and Featherston never fully trusted the Stalwart Squads again. It was the Knight Purge that allowed the Freedom Party guards to become a more prominent force in C.S. society.
Under Anthony Dresser and his Executive Committee, the Freedom Party is organized as a normal political organization. There are about 7-10 men on the committee, with newcomer Jake Featherston as its Chief of Propaganda. The rest of the Richmond Party is made up of regular members who attend weekly meetings, with its parliamentary form of rules.
Jake Featherston remakes the Freedom Party into a military-style organization, with himself as its undisputed chief. (His self-proclaimed title of Sarge reflects this uncompromising megalomania.) His authority filters down to each tier of leaders. Regular Party members, the Stalwarts, were required to wear the white-and-butternut uniform to meetings and public rallies and assault squad actions, and to accept as Party law any decree coming from Featherston's office.
The Freedom Party has control of the CSA, and exercises its authority in most aspects of everyday life. Confederate officials in the government, who were almost all Whig before 1934, are replaced by Freedom men, as are the police and public officials. Director of Communications Saul Goldman coordinates members of the press and other media channels into his department, with most newspapers and radio stations being bought by (or "convinced" by Stalwarts to sell to) Freedom men. With the chief instruments of power in their hands, the Freedom Party co-ordinates Confederate society into a force reflecting their own designs, with Jake Featherston still the Boss of the country and the Party, which have become intertwined.
Freedom at War
Unlike most other modern leaders, Featherston preferred to lead from the front, or at a spot not too far away. He spent much of his time near the First Richmond Howitzers, his army alma-mater from the First World War, and even yanked the lanyard of the guns a few times. He also enjoyed firing at US airplanes with the new automatic rifle Confederate soldiers used, a reckless feat that greatly alarmed his bodyguards. The propaganda value of being at the front was also used to his advantage: Saul Goldman's media crews filmed him visiting the troops and shooting at the enemy, and then circulated the footage to boost morale at home. Jake Featherston would never be shown to be a shirker at home, not when he shared the same risks as his soldiers.
While the president played artilleryman at the front in northern Virginia, Ferdinand Koenig and General Forrest ran the administration in the capital. Koenig directed domestic civilian and Party affairs, such as rooting out saboteurs and running the camp system while Forrest directed the war from his headquarters in the War Department at Mechanic's Hall. Not everything could be done by flunkies - Featherston did devote a fair amount of time to paperwork, often wishing he could ditch the presidency and return to being a sergeant of artillery - but he also knew that, without him at the helm, the Confederate States would lose a most valuable asset to the war effort.
The Machinery of Death
Featherston insisted that the blacks of the Confederacy be exterminated. This, as he stated to his aides on numerous occasions, was as important as prosecuting the war with the United States, for it would make the Confederacy a better place to live. Mechanization of agriculture had lessened the need for black agricultural workers, and Mexicans from the Empire would replace blacks as service workers.
On occasion, Featherston ordered the deportation of entire specific black communities, such as that of Jackson, Mississippi, in 1943, following a suicide bombing by a black waiter there.
Freedom Party Guards
The Freedom Party guards primary function in the Freedom Party is to protect Jake Featherston and other important Party bigwigs, and also to help run the big political machine the Freedom Party runs across the CSA: correctional camp guards, political commissars, etc. Instead of the white and butternut semi-uniform of the stalwarts the guards started out wearing near-identical
Confederate States Armybutternut uniform. By the outbreak of World War II, the Guards have switched to gray uniforms to distinguish themselves from the military.
As the war started turning against the CSA in the winter of 1943, Attorney General Ferdinand Koenig asked Featherston for permission to send Party Guards into battle. The first guard actions took place near
Lubbock, Texasand halted the U.S. advance. The Party Guards quickly gained a reputation for fighting to the end as the regular Army falls back all around them, but even they can't hold off the United States advance. To distinguish them from regular army, the Freedom Party units wore camouflageuniforms that were a mottling of brown.
Freedom Party Guard Ranking System
*Guard -- Private
*Assistant Troop Leader -- Corporal
*Troop Leader -- Sergeant
*Assault Troop Leader -- Lieutenant
*Chief Assault Troop Leader -- Captain
*Assault Band Leader -- Major
*Chief Assault Band Leader -- Lieutenant Colonel
*Standard Leader -- Colonel
*Brigade Leader -- Brigadier General
*Group Leader -- Major General
Prominent Members of the Freedom Party
* Lulu Mattox
* Roger Kimball
* Anne Colleton
* Amos Mizell
* Ben Chapman
* Caleb Briggs
* Robert Quinn
* Donald Partridge
Nathan Bedford Forrest III
ayings, Slogans, and Mottos
* "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" - Chant used by members and supporters at rallies.
* "Featherston and Freedom!" - Stalwarts' battlecry during street-fights.
* "I'm Jake Featherston, and I'm here to tell you the truth." - The Freedom Party made much use of the word "truth," often using it as a cover to project lies and false justifications for their actions.
* "Repeal the seven words!" - A slogan used during the campaign to amend the part of the Confederate Constitution limiting the president to a single-term, the last seven words of the aforementioned section ("but the President shall not be reeligible"). Once amended, the Confederate Constitution allowed Jake Featherston to run multiple times. This, combined with his strong-arm control of Confederate politics, effectively made him
president for life.
The Freedom Party used the Confederate Battle Flag, with colors reversed (red bars crossing over a blue background), as their party symbol. Unlike the Swastika flag of Nazi Germany, the Freedom Party flag never replaced the national flag as the Flag of the Confederacy, though it was always required to fly alongside the old flag. This is most likely due to the fact that the flag of the pre-Nazi Weimar Republic claimed no great affection or loyalty from the German public, most of whom would have been born and raised under the banner of the pre-war 'Second Reich', and so its replacement by the Swastika required no great abandonment of fondly-held tradition. The national flag of the Confederacy, on the other hand, had been the Stars and Bars since 1862 at the latest, and commanded great loyalty and respect from the average Confederate. Ditching it in favour of a bastardised version of the national Battle Flag would not have gone over very well with the very people (nationalistic, militaristic, patriotic conservatives) Jake Featherston claimed to be representing.
The Freedom Party stalwarts wore white shirts and butternut khaki trousers as their paramilitary uniform. The origins of this semi-official uniform remains unclear, but Confederate veterans came home in a butternut uniform and wore the trousers as a reminder of their military service. Featherston wore it often before becoming President, and this is probably where the stalwarts got their uniform from. The Freedom Party guards copied their dress from Army uniforms, even sharing the same color until 1940 before switching to gray uniforms as their presence in C.S. society became more pronounced. For everyday Party business (such as guarding Party big-shots or guarding concentration camp inmates), the F.P. guards wore their regular Party uniforms, but for special occasions (such as attending Jefferson Pinkard's wedding in the Autumn of 1942) dress uniforms were worn.
Jake Featherston wore an Army sergeant's uniform as his outfit starting on Inauguration Day, March 4, 1934, and every day since then. For official events, such as greeting visiting heads of state (that is, U.S. President Alfred Smith's visit to Richmond in June 1940), Featherston donned a Freedom Party guard uniform, probably to look more modern and sleek but also to intimidate those around him. During a speech in Louisville in 1941, Featherston vowed that he would not change his outfit until every Confederate territory in U.S. hands was returned to the CSA.
Featherston's first vice president, Willy Knight, wore a European field marshal's uniform for Inauguration Day. This irked the chairman of the Freedom Party, not least because it drew attention away from him and towards the ambitious and politically-dangerous Knight.
Members of the Freedom government wear Freedom Party uniforms, such as members of the State Department. For some reason, though, both Ferdinand Koenig and Saul Goldman continued to wear everyday business attire in their meetings with Featherston, perhaps wearing Party uniforms at rallies and public appearances. Other times, though, Koenig was seen wearing a gray Party uniform, such as during Featherston's flight through the Carolinas and Georgia in the summer of 1944.
* [http://turtledove.wikia.com/wiki/Freedom_Party "Freedom Party" at Turtledove Wiki]
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