Playtest: 1789-1790

This is a continuation of William Outzen’s summary of the latest playtest. The government now operates under the US Constitution:

1789-1790: The Beginning of the Era of Federalism

With the support of new President Arnold, George Wythe was selected to be Senate Pro Tempore, an honor given because he was the father of the Constitution. Several politicians emerged as potential Speakers: John Jay, John Witherspoon, and Cornelius Schoonmaker. Jay easily won over 50% of the vote and found himself the man in charge, a position he did not desire. For his Cabinet, Benedict Arnold selected exclusively from the Red Party: Benjamin Lincoln as Secretary of State, William Franklin as Secretary of War, Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, and Charles Pinckney as Postmaster General. A few other appointments went exclusively to Red Party members. However, with just enough opposition in several Red Party factions, and opposition with the Blue Party, William Franklin was blocked from assuming the position. Arnold, trying to recover from an immediate defeat, chose the previously confirmed Robert Treat Paine to assume the position. Arnold couldn’t rest, as his new Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton went and got himself killed in a duel, and Senior General Artemis Ward was killed in combat in the Northwest Indian War. Arnold picked William Moultrie to assume the position of Senior General, and Edmund Randolph to become the new Secretary of the Treasury, pending Congressional approval.

That was just the beginning for Arnold however, as a global recession hit, devastating the American economy. The French Revolution made it even worse, as Arnold not only faced an economic crisis, but a diplomatic one. President Arnold, in a bid to keep his country out of a war, refused to come to the assistance of France, angering his base and the French people. In his daily meetings with advisors, Arnold was watching his country plunge deeper and deeper into crisis, unable to stop it. The military was falling apart, his economy entered into a Great Depression, and his populace was growing unruly. The Blue Party, while concerned about the economy, cheered the disastrous start to the Red party regime. 

Governors worked to combat the crises on the state level, with mixed results, while others, gaging the political headwinds, worked to ensure future success for their party on the State level. Blue Party leaders quickly established themselves as the opposition.

Diplomatically, Arnold’s administration worked to improve relationships with England and signed a trade deal with Spain. They attempted a trade deal with France, but failed, driving their budget down. Military wise, things weren’t any better. Senior General Moultrie, the only military leader the country had, bravely won a victory against the Natives. However, he pressed too hard and was thrown back. So far, President Arnold’s administration had failed in every avenue to deal with the crises. Newspapers throughout the country were openly criticizing his leadership. 

The House and Senate turned to legislation to rescue the country. Red Party members were ready to abandon Arnold if it meant saving themselves. Red Party leaders scrambled to find options to fix the dire economic situation. Seven packages were proposed to address the multitude of crises:

Package 1: Grant the President the ability to call for the state militia to defend against invasions by foreign nations or native tribes, Create West Point

Package 2: Federal Direct Tax on Window Panes, Alcohol Tax, Assume the Rev War Debt of the States to create a national debt and build credit

Package 3: Establish Federal Death Penalty

Package 4: Constitutional Amendment–Protecting states from being sued by residents of other states and countries

Package 5: Create a Standing Army, Officially declare war on the NW Indian Tribes, Organize the territory calling Itself the Republic of Vermont, Ban Immigrants from the UK, Ban immigrants from Hostile Countries

Package 6: Create a 10% tariff, Create a federal excise tax on sugar, Regulate commerce between Indian tribes and US Citizens

Package 7: Make President Pro Tempore 3rd in line for presidency

Each package, with the exception of the military package passed both the House and Senate. President Arnold signed each into law, supporting his party and hoping these would keep his party alive in the next elections. The proposed amendment to the constitution failed. Several of the economic and spending packages helped stabilize the economy, though several of the new taxes and tariffs were unpopular. Many also resisted the idea of a standing army, accusing Arnold of desiring a dictatorship. Benedict Arnold’s base felt abandoned by him, as the traditionalist President was forced to sign several new policies into law. Arnold gave a speech to try to win them back, but failed. 

In a brutal election, the Blue Party stormed to a massive win in governor elections, taking 11 seats. The beatdown continued in the House, as the Blue Party would win 22 seats to the Red Party’s 6. Luckily, with only ⅓ of the Senate being up, the Red Party and President Arnold were able to hold their majority. But they would now have to work with an antagonistic Blue Party finally tasting power.

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