Playtest: 1795-1796

Here’s the continuation of William Outzen’s write up of the current playtest:


Following the Red Party’s capture of the House, Speaker Michael Jenifer Stone announced his retirement. A few other names retired, including Edward Telfair, a long respected Governor of Georgia. With new leadership offices in the House and Senate, the nomination process became more contentious. The Red Party controlled the House, so were able to nominate for the majority positions. The Blue Party controlled the Senate, so their nominees would run the majority. The first red party nominees were:

Speaker of the House: Representative Theodore Sedgwick, Representative Francis Dana

House Majority Leader: Representative Ebenezer Huntington

House Majority Whip: Representative Francis Dana, Representative John Parke Custis

Senate Minority Leader: Senator Thomas McKean

Senate Minority Whip: Senator Henry Latimer

After much negotiation, the Red Party came to an agreeable solution. Sedgwick was withdrawn from contention, and Dana was promoted to the Speakership. Huntington easily won election as House Majority Leader, with Custis easily becoming Whip. Senator McKean easily won the majority vote for Leader, with Henry Latimer becoming his Whip. 

The Blue party nominated:

House Minority Leader: Representative David Bard, Representative Francis Willis, Representative Thomas Burke

House Minority Whip: Representative David Bard, Representative Robert Brown

Senate Majority Leader: Senator Benjamin Howland, Senator Samuel Allyne Otis

Senate Majority Whip: Senator Benjamin Howland, Senator Samuel Allyne Otis

In an effort to provide unity, Otis endorsed Howland for Leader, in exchange for him taking Whip. Careful negotiations worked behind the scenes to ensure that all factions were in leadership in some form. The Senate proved agreeable to all parties, and Howland and Otis took their respective offices. The House proved to be a massive quagmire, as the factions could not agree on a single candidate. Bard eventually won the election, with Brown becoming the Whip. No faction was happy, and it splintered the caucus, until Bard announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy, therefore ensuring chaos. In his statement to his peers, Bard endorsed Burke, the candidate with the least votes. With the election now thrown back into chaos, Bard also stood down for the House Whip position, ensuring that Brown would win the election. As a result of his decision, Burke won the House Minority Leader election and Brown won Whip. Neither of their positions were secure, and they would have to preside over an unruly and unhappy caucus. Conservatives in the Blue Party were deeply unhappy that they had been passed over for any leadership positions, openly grumbling that the Red Party might be more receptive to them.

Using his new power and Senate Majority Leader, Howland nominated for the Senate Chairs:

Domestic: Aaron Burr

Foreign Affairs: Lachlan McIntosh

Economics Chair: James Gunn

Judicial Chair: Arthur Middleton

His nominations were viewed as attempts to paper over the divisions in the party and bring moderates back to the fold. 

In the House, Speaker Dana nominated his Chairs:

Domestic: Theodore Sedgwick

Foreign Affairs: George Washington

Economics Chair: Benjamin Edwards

Judicial Chair: George Read

The appointment of George Washington was viewed as a potential plan to reestablish his credentials. He was deeply connected to a failed Presidency, and this was an attempt to separate himself from Arnold. 

Following the midterms, President Lee decided to update his cabinet. James Madison, his key advisor, pushed for himself to be nominated for Secretary of State, but Lee resisted. His nominations were:

Secretary of State: Representative Albert Gallatin

Secretary of War: Governor John Sevier

Secretary of the Navy: Richard Bache

However, Gallatin declined the nomination, preferring to remain in the House, and Lee nominated former Governor James Sullivan instead. All three nominations easily passed the Senate, giving Lee an easy and much needed victory. Secretary Sullivan now had to appoint his new ambassadors, choosing

UK: Secretary Robert Treat Paine

France: Thomas Jefferson

Spain: James Booth Sr

The slave rebellion continued, with Lee trying to push the nation to support Southern slave owners. Public panic continued to spread, causing the stability of his country to begin to plummet. In addition, the lack of stability brought a panic back to his economic system, hurting him politically. At the same time, a series of coal mine disasters highlighted how awful his citizens’ quality of life was.

The Colony of Haiti, owned by the French, erupted into revolution. Politicians argued for both supporting the revolution, and supporting the French. President Lee felt that aiding the slave revolution (while dealing with his own slave rebellion) would be incredibly shortsighted. He decided to simply ignore it and hope it didn’t spread. At the same time, he was informed by Amb. Thomas Jefferson that the French Foreign Minister, Talleyrand, required a significant bribe to open negotiations. President Lee, in an effort to avoid growing tensions with France, agreed to pay the bribe. Lee also was present at the opening of the Bank of Manhattan, as a public guest to celebrate the achievement. The economy began to show a few signs of improvement, while Secretary Sullivan caused several diplomatic faux pas’ angering the French and Spanish. 

The Supreme Court met to decide their first case. In Ware vs Hylton, they ruled on whether a section of the Treaty of Paris overruled a Virginia statute. In a 3-2 ruling, the Court ruled that State laws outweighed Federal treaties. This decision angered France, leading to a massive increase in tensions. Secretary Sullivan ordered his ambassadors to try to improve the relations, which worked for England. Relations began to improve between the two countries, giving President Lee some breathing room. Sadly, Ambassador Thomas Jefferson failed in France, and caused yet another diplomatic faux pas. France actively began working to undermine the new nation, a marked fall from the previous alliance they had shared not even a decade earlier. Militarily, General St. Clair once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. With the backing of President Lee, Secretary Sevier removed St. Clair from command, and appointed James Wilkinson to replace him. The war would continue, which was serving as an international embarrassment for the young country.

After a busy legislative session, and strenuous debate in Congress, they proposed 10 packages for a vote:

Package 1: Increase Funding for the Northwest Indian War

Package 2: Allow President to Deport Dangerous Immigrants

Package 3: Library of Congress

Package 4: Limit Current President’s Ability to Declare War without Congressional Approval, Organize Northwest Territory

Package 5: House Carriage Tax

Package 6” Natural Born Citizenship for those with parents born in US, Restrict Residency to those of ‘Good Moral Character’ (effectively removing property requirements and class systems)

Package 7: 3rd Amendment (no quartering soldiers in the houses of citizens)

Package 8: 9th Amendment (you have other rights than just those in the constitution)

Package 9: 11th Amendment (a citizen can’t sue another state)

Package 10: 12th Amendment (Presidential elections have President and VP on single party ticket)

After the voting, package four failed in the senate, ensuring the President retained his power. Package 5 was filibustered in the Senate. Once again, the 3rd amendment failed, as did the 12th amendment. Amendments 9 and 11 passed with the rest of the packages in the Senate and the House, sending them to the desk of President Lee. The amendments went to the Governors. Amendment 9 failed to gain enough state support, dooming it to failure, while Amendment 11 passed, therefore being added to the constitution. 

Lee decided to listen to the suggestion of his Attorney General, and adopted a pro-federal government policy, an abrupt about face from his previous 3 years. He argued that this approach was necessary to normalize relations with France and rebalance the Government. His key advisor James Madison had advised forming a commission to root out corruption in the federal government, but Lee resisted. For being his key advisor, Madison had done very little to push Lee. In fact, almost every suggestion he made was shot down. Madison was growing increasingly frustrated by Lee’s actions, and was growing to regret joining the administration. Lee also began to push for a reduced military budget, arguing that purchasing lands from Native Americans would be a preferable solution to continued war. Lee presented a budget that successfully cut the military budget without harming military preparedness, which also led to a balanced budget. This was a massive success for the President. 

Fresh off this success, Blue Party leaders decided to renominate President Lee. His term hadn’t been a disaster, though his track record as Commander-in-Chief was spotty. They also attempted to keep Vice-President Daniel Hiester on the ballot. However, spurned Key Advisor James Madison announced that he would be endorsing Hiester for President, and encouraging members of the party to vote for him. This sent seismic waves throughout the Blue Party. Hiester had quietly continued to build his influence within the party, and now moved on his popularity, hoping he could unseat Lee, and essentially swap offices. In a bid to keep Hiester’s vote down, Senator William Blount was also pushed forward as a candidate, though with little hope of winning himself. The Red Party was less divided, choosing Senator George Wythe, the father of the Constitution, and Pierce Butler, who was viewed as the true power in the party.

President Lee brought the whole power of the Presidency to bear in his campaign, which gave him an early lead. He was helped by Vice-President Hiester’s scandal, as Hiester was targeted by pro-government newspapers. Butler used his media contacts to spin a narrative of a failing administration, targeting their military ineffectiveness, flip-flop on States Rights, and a destroyed relationship with France. 

The election turned into a mess electorally. Butler quickly surged to a lead, with 120 electoral votes, with Hiester in second with 58. President Lee finished a distant fourth with 31 (behind Senator Wythe who had 49). Senator Blunt finished with zero. Butler and the Red Party claimed victory, though the election led to high tempers. Two Virginia electors refused to support Wythe, and threw their votes to New York Governor Rufus King instead. To make matters even more complicated, election irregularities were rampant in several of the states. Several candidates considered going before the Supreme Court to argue their case, including President Lee. Lee, in the sake of unity and to move the nation forward, announced that he would not be pressing forward with a lawsuit, but would congratulate Butler and Hiester on their victories.

In the contingent House elections, Speaker of the House Francis Dana lost his reelection bid, shocking pundits and party leaders across the country. House Minority Leader Burke also fell in his reelection bid. The Red Party would keep their House majority alive, hurting the Blue Party further. This election, though slated to be close, was turning into a disaster. Dana was appointed to the Senate in Massachusetts, keeping his political career alive.

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