Playtest: 1793-1794

The following is a continuation of William Outzen’s write-up of the current playtest:

1793-1794

Following the complete control of Congress by the Blue Party, Michael Jenifer Stone was reelected as Speaker, with Senator Elbridge Gerry elected Pro Tempore of the Senate after a bitter fight. The Red Party nominated Pierce Butler to be their leader, and to assume the mantle of opposition. President Lee turned to his cabinet in a bid to get his administration going:

Secretary of State: James Monroe of Virginia

Secretary of the Treasury: Senator Elias Boudinot of New Jersey

Secretary of War: Robert Treat Paine of Pennsylvania

Attorney General: Governor Robert R Livingston of New York

Secretary of Navy: J Meigs Sr of Ohio

Postmaster General: Senator Peleg Arnold

He also named Representative James Madison as his Key Advisor. During the confirmation process, Senators rebelled against Lee’s picks for War and AG, believing that their factions were ignored. Through a bitter confirmation process, Lee was able to push Paine through as Secretary of War and Livingston as AG. It was more stressful than he would have liked, but Lee’s Presidency was already off to a better start than Arnold’s. He trusted to Secretary Monroe the appointing of his ambassadors: 

UK Ambassador: James Linn

France Ambassador: Richard Bache

Spain Ambassador: James Booth Sr

Lee also trusted Secretary Meigs Sr to appoint the admirals:

Senior Admiral: Wade Hampton I

Admirals: George Muter, John Barry, Francis Willis

Lee instructed Paine to choose a new General, and he chose Richard Peters.

Lee immediately faced another challenge as Associate Justice Nathaniel Niles passed away at the age of 51. Instead of rushing to a decision, he announced that he would appoint a replacement following the session of Congress in order to fully vet each prospective candidate. 

During the early days of his Presidency, relations with England began to sour, and Georgia experienced catastrophic flooding. Lee quickly declared a State of Emergency, sending aid to Georgia and growing more popular. Lee also decided to stick with Arnold’s position of neutrality with the French Revolution. He next turned and dealt with the Whiskey Rebellion, ordering Secretary Paine to deal with the issue. Paine struggled to coordinate responses, and the Rebellion continued. Domestic stability plummeted, and talk of a Civil War began to spring up. 

Diplomatically, listening to the recommendations of his Secretary of State, Lee ordered his ambassadors to uniformly attempt to improve relations. Militarly, the US experienced more fortune. A victory gave them yet another shot at ending the war, but General Taylor was lulled into a false sense of security and overwhelmed. 

Congress, after much wrangling in committees and with each other, proposed 9 packages:

Package 1: Create Dept of Post Office, Create offices of Senate/House majority/Minority Leaders and Whips, Guarantee the Right of a Slaveholder to Recover an Escaped Slave in Another State

Package 2: Establish US Dollar as nation’s currency, using gold and silver bullion

Package 3: Increase size of the Army, Institute military draft, Vermont statehood, Organize Tennessee Territory

Package 4: Restrict Residency to those of ‘Good Moral Character’, Set the punishment for crime of treason to death, Criminalize False, Critical Statements of the Federal Government

Package 5: Create Marine Hospital

Package 6: US Amendment to establish Christianity as Official Religion

Package 7: Cotton Tax, Establish US Mint

Package 8: Increase Size of Navy, Increase Defense Spending, Territory West of Virginia (KY)

Package 9: Allow President to deport citizens from hostile nations, Bill of Rights, Set penalty for willful murder to death, set penalty for counterfeiting to death, suffrage for White Male Property Owners in the US

Congress was attempting to push through 10 amendments to the Constitution in an effort to guarantee personal rights and freedoms. Lee championed these as necessary for Democracy to work. In the Senate, Package 4 and 6 failed, while the Bill of Rights sailed through. The same results were found in the House, so the amendments were sent to the states. The states, though, blocked three of the amendments, the First (freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc.), the Eighth (Right to bail, no cruel and unusual punishment), and the Nineth (People have other rights even if they’re not spelled out). The 2nd amendment passing mollified the public, convincing them to stop muttering treasonous thoughts. President Lee supported every package but the 7th, arguing that new taxes and a US Mint were not necessary at the time. They would halt the growth of the southern states and was just a cheap way by the North to increase sectional tensions. Congress very quickly took steps to override his veto, arguing that the US mint was a necessary development for the nation. They easily overrode his veto, joining with the Red Party. Yes, he could veto, but power belonged to Congress, not the President. Speaker Stone claimed this as his opportunity to finally circumvent Vice-President Daniel Hiester, who had staked his fortunes on the President, much like Washington had.

President Lee turned his attention to matters that didn’t involve Congress. First, he established a Pro States Rights policy, in essence supporting the Southern States’ stance. He then announced that his administration would be strictly enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act, though Red Party critics argued that these two policies contradicited each other. Finally, in his position as Commander-in-Chief, He authorized a troop surge to help win the Northwest Indian War, which had lost popularity amongst the populace. Reports from his generals painted a dire picture, and he and Paine feared that the war would soon be lost. Paine failed in this task however, as once again his orders were sloppy and uncoordinated. No lingering harm was done however, much to the relief of the Lee administration. The Fugitive Slave Act however, turned into a massive debacle. Secretary of State Monroe butchered the implementation of the act, accidentally rounding up people who were never slaves. Attorney General Livingston also blundered, failing to justify the administration’s position. 

Behind the scenes, President Lee had tasked his advisor, James Madison, with compiling a list of possible Supreme Court nominations. Madison used his position to push William Montgomery, which Lee accepted. Montgomery was presented to the Senate, where a vote was required. Some Senators openly questioned his experience and aptitude for the position, but he received the necessary votes in the end. A successful note to head into the midterms with.

Taking stock before the elections, President Lee believed that his party was on solid, if not great ground. They likely would not blow out the Red Party like they had two years prior, but he believed that they would hold their majorities. Adding the State of Vermont would help, as they were likely to vote for those that had approved them. This proved to be a false hope. The Red Party captured 7 Governorships, unseating many Blue Party incumbents. In the House, the Red Party won 17 seats to the Blue Party’s 12. It was an upsetting turn of events for President Lee, who now found his agenda severely threatened. The newly elected governors proceeded to appoint new Senators, but the current class benefited the Blue Party. They were able to hold on to the Senate, leaving only the House of Representatives in Red Party hands.

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