The Postwar Era 1812-1829
With the victory of Napoleon over Russia in 1813 and subsequently Britain in late 1815 and early 1816, the United States of America found itself on the victorious end of the War of 1812, which ended officially with William Clark's (of Lewis and Clark fame) capture of Louisbourg, the last British stronghold in Canada, on May 4th, 1814. Britain's losses in Europe opened the door for a rapid American absorption of Canada and Caribbean territories, as well as Andrew Jackson's swift campaign to seize Florida and Cuba before France could make designs on the former Spanish territories. As a further result of Spain's ruling at the hands of Napoleon, the Central and South American colonies detached themselves quickly from Spanish control, sometimes even with the help of the elite installed by the deposed Spanish royalty themselves, before Napoleon's armies arrived in the New World.
The fear of Napoleonic intervention in the Western hemisphere led to the election of Georgia's William Crawford over James Monroe, the outgoing President Madison's Secretary of State. Crawford and his Vice President, John Quincy Adams, made their best effort to keep Napoleon disinterested in the spoils of the West. France, however, had ravaged Europe in many years of what became known as the Imperial War, and Napoleon had his attention turned towards putting down revolts throughout his new Empire. The trans-Atlantic alliance tentatively formed during what Americans knew as the Canadian War became one primarily of courtesy; Napoleon had seen the tenacity of American soldiers called up from around the young country during the battles against the British and had no intention to involve himself in another costly war.
Witrh the Virginia Dynasty of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison now over, Crawford set about developing and organizing teh newly captured territories in Canada, Flordia, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, his presidency ended somewhat prematurely; in 1819 he fell terribly ill and while officially President, it was Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay who carried out the day-to-day activities of the Crawford regime. On June 6th, 1821, only months after leaving office, Crawford would die peacefully on his Georgia estate, only the second President to pass away.
Against the backdrop of the ailing President was an increasingly heated campaign to succeed Crawford. The specter of the French Empire - which stretched from the border of the Portuguese runt state to the Urals bordering the divided remnants of the old Russian Empire - just across the ocean made foreign affairs critical in the 1820 election. Adams, backed by the remains of the Federalist party from the north that had managed to survive through a sympathetic Crawford presidency, ran against William Clark, a Virginian who had made his fame exploring the West and later becoming a hero of the Canadian War, and a territorial governor of the Huron Territory. Adams, despite his support of Northern industrialists, lost narrowly to the upstart and inexperience Clark. He would run for a Senate seat from New Englad two years later, a seat his family would hold for the next eighty-four years.
Clark was a self-described moderate; he believed in expansion of territory, expansion of agriculture and expansion of industry. He built what is today known as the Great Coalition, also the Clark Coalition, a powerful bloc of voters who supported his policies in all three major regions of the United States; the Industrial North, the Slaveholding South, and the Expanding West.
Clark dealt favorably with Indians, as did Chief Justice John Marshall. General Andrew Jackson, a passionate Tennessean, disagreed however, and his efforts to create new lands for plantation owners in the south made him a champion of the opposition to Clark: southern gentry and northern laborers in an unusual bloc that became known as the Democratic Party. Jackson ran against Clark in the 1824 election but lost heavily. Clark and his new Secretary of State, Henry Clay, continued their work of expanding the economy in three directions, and by 1828 the United States had welcomed the new states of Huron, Cuba and Nova Scotia.
Clark debated seeking a third term in 1828, but a stroke in the summer made it a virtual impossibility. Clay vowed to seek the Presidency in his mentor's stead, but was upended unexpectedly by New York Democrat Martin Van Buren and his fierce South Carolinan running mate, John C Calhoun. The Postwar Era of Crawford and Clark had ended.
Clay, War and Diplomacy 1829-1853
The Panic of 1830 and Clay Administration
Martin van Buren inherited a country that had been on an economic boom for eleven years. After only ten months in office, the National Bank ran out of money and called in all loans in January of 1830. The Panic of 1830, which the crisis evolved into, was caused by Clark's hands-off approach to tariffs and economic management, but the fallout was handled poorly by van Buren, whose attempts to increase taxes failed miserably. He was saved by an influx of foreign immigrants seeking to escape a violent purge instigated by Napoleon's inner circle, which by 1830 was effectively running the country due to the Emperor's rapidly failing health. The horrors of ethnic cleansing and "Frenchification" drove thousands of Germans, Italians and Poles to America. Van Buren signed an agreement allowing Napoleon to ship his "undesirables" to America where they would be sent to the West or Canadian territories to help settle new land.
Opposition to van Buren's "open-door policy" to immigrants from the French Empire was fierce, and part of the platform Henry Clay ran on in 1832, supported by what was by then known as the National Party. The Democrat's lost in a massive landslide thanks partially to a law they had created expanding the electorate. Clay instituted vast new reforms to the National Bank, the agriculture system and created laws to facilitiate industrial growth in multiple areas of the country. He and his vice president, William H. Harrison, helped establish industry in southern cities like Atlanta, Savannah, Richmond, Charleston and Havana where slaves could be used in factories as well as on plantations. It was in the mid-30's that Puerto Rico was added to the Union and the sugar boom started.
During the 1830's, America experienced a reinvention economically as the early Industrial Revolution began, coinciding with swarms of immigrants from Europe, especially Russia and Germany, which provided fodder for the factories. In 1838 the Congress passed a law placing a new, stricter limit on immigration, leaving thousands of immigrants stranded for months in ports, where they were quarantined in small, unsanitary camps. The "open-door policy" had ended, and the horrors of the Freedom Camps, as they were mockingly called by immigrants, became a staple of the foreigner's experience in the United States.
Clay easily coasted to reelection in 1836 over John C. Calhoun, and he and Secretary of State John Tyler turned an eye south towards Texas, which was in the middle of a rebellion against Mexico to become an independent country and possibly join the Union. In 1838, Texas defeated Santa Ana's soldiers at the Battle of San Jacinto, but fearing the assistance of Americans, Santa Ana ordered a preemptive invasion of Louisiana and Arkansas. In 1839, Mexican soldiers assaulted American soldiers stationed in Texas and the Mexican War started.
Clay deferred management of the war to Vice President Harrison, who was known as the Hero of Tippecanoe. The Mexican Army, built up by Iturbide and Santa Ana, had superior training, weaponry and discipline than the American forces. The war raged in Texas, the Sequoyah territory and Arkansas through 1840, soon becoming a battle of attrition. Harrison, embarrassed by his failure to bring "swift victory" as he had promised, declined to return to office for the third term Clay sought in 1840. Clay appointed Daniel Webster, a powerful northern Nationalist, to be his new Vice President. They won over the second John C. Calhoun bid for the presidency more narrowly than the last time, and in 1842 Secretary of State John Tyler called the lengthy war with Mexico "a hopeless cause."
In 1844, with Clay realizing that he needed a victory to secure a fourth term against an upstart Democratic challenger, James Polk, tried to gain French assistance in the war, sending Millard Fillmore to France to secure aid and making Zachary Taylor, a decorated general, Chief General of the military, a position which had never existed before. Under Taylor's direction, American soldiers landed at Veracruz in Mexico and opened up a new front in the war. While victory was largely secured by the end of the summer, it was not enough to save Clay and give the longest-tenured President the fourth term he sought. The Democrats returned to power in both the White House and Congress, yet the policies of Polk differed little from those of Clay - in fact, Polk's ambitious attempts to continue Clay's economic platform almost bankrupt the nation again. With the victory over Mexico in 1845, the United States added Texas, New Mexico and California to their territory. Polk would focus his energies on securing relationships with the new French Emperor, Louis Bonaparte, and fostering settlement of new territories.
The Panic of 1846 struck once the war was over and the veterans returned home to find their jobs taken by immigrants - the "total war" practiced against Mexico also meant that for the first time, industry in the US would have to be recommitted to civilian purposes. For three years, the mild depression would linger and almost two million Americans migrated towards the West, leaving several new states ready to be inducted into the Union. Polk was defeated by a Nationalist ticket of Zachary Taylor and George Washington Adams, the son of John Quincy Adams and the grandson of the second President, and a former Massachusetts Senator.
During its first few years, the Taylor administration worked to adjust to the realities of being a diplomatic power - they arranged a de facto truce with the young Alaskan government to the north in establishing a tentative border and sent missions overseas to interact with the typically isolationist Asian powers. It was during these years that the first real signs of America's growing role int he global sphere became apparent - but just as he was preparing for reelection, Taylor died unexpectedly in 1851 of illness and the second Adams to take the Presidency would be George W. Adams, who would go on to lead the nation into the next great era of American politics.
The Industrial Growth and End of Slavery 1853-1881
The Slavery Debate
George W. Adams took power at a time when new states were being added to the Union almost by the year and the slaveholding South was beginning to feel the pressure of industry in the North, West and Canada. Adams sought to develop a compromise, but found his efforts stunted by Democrats led primarily by Stephen Douglas of Illinois, who envisioned the West as an area of freeholding expansion. Further upsetting the precarious balance was Adams's policy of giving powerful friends positions in government - most notably, he had maintained Millard Fillmore as Vice President throughout and his brother Charles as Secretary of State once his brother's last term as Massachusetts Governor expired. With an economic collapse in 1857, many Americans questioned abolitionism versus 'protectionism,' as Southerners called their quest to maintain the status quo.
The question boiled throughout the Adams presidency until the 1860 election. The Nationalists nominated Charles Adams, the outgoing President's brother, and the Democrats put forth Douglas, who won an easy victory. Nationalists were whipped into a fury and the abolitionist movement gained steam in the North. Douglas, while from Illinois, was passive on slavery, up until a revolt in the North began to target slaveowners and attempts to begin slave revolts across the South. Douglas sent two of his most trusted generals, Abraham Lincoln of his native Illinois and Ulysses Grant, to quash the Pennsylvania Rebellion of 1861. Southerners raised alarm at the abolitionist uprising, voiced most eloquently by Senator Jefferson Davis, but Douglas managed to hold the trust of the South until 1863.
While there were murmurs in the South, especially South Carolina, about secession after the Nationalists took power in 1862 in Congress, nobody seriously considered dividing the Union. Emperor Louis I of France, shortly before his death in 1867, began moving 35,000 French Foreign Legion soldiers into Montreal and Quebec, with their intent clear: to attack the quickly-growing United States in case of diplomatic crisis. In the event of a civil war, both nations would be weakened and prone to assault by the French.
Lincoln and Grant continued to raise their fame by squashing several more uprisings throughout the South as Douglas was forced to pass legislation favoring abolitionist ideals in the North, but the Nationalist candidate for President in 1864, Horatio Seymour of New York, promised to appease both sides. His campaign was structured around pointing out to the South that landowners would in fact make more money by gradually phasing out slavery over time, and in the North quieting the fiercest abolitionists by promising action to quell slavery.
His victory over the hapless and weak Douglas put enormous pressure on Seymour to do what he had promised. For three long years, Seymour fought to not only balance the influx of immigrants from another foreign shakeup during the succession of Emperor Philippe in France, but also the warring factions within the Nationalist Party and the country. Finally, with help from centrist Democrats, Seymour pushed a bill through Congress that grandfathered slavery; all children born to slaves after 1870 would be free, but their parents would remain property of owners. The idea was that landowners would not suffer current profit losses, and the children would be forced to stay on at plantations regardless to sustain a living. Seymour also abolished anti-reading laws and passed a law granting all free men the right to vote, which later became a Constitutional amendment.
This all occurred at a time when in the North, the industrial base was growing at a rate never seen before. The Congress passed a bill in 1869 following a Supreme Court decision that allowed them to regulate railroad traffic, as per the commerce clause. In 1873, the grand vision of Stephen Douglas was attained with the construction of a railroad from St. Louis to San Francisco. Two years later, a railroad route through the South, from Covenant, Arkansas to San Diego was completed, and in 1880 the Northern Link between Chicago and Oregon was complete.
Seymour staved off Davis, the champion of the south, in a narrow election in 1868, only months after he had pushed his Compromise of 1868 through Congress. Several Southern Democrats, fearful of their positions, seriously considered abolition. However, Seymour signed into law in 1869 the broadest and most comprehensive fugitive slave law ever passed at the national level, established a federal bureau to process slavery (including their legal status, sale and transport across state lines) and offered one of the first government subsidies when he offered generous tax incentives for Southern slaveowners who freed their slaves but kept them on as cheap labor. Factory owners in the North were also granted incentives to hire freedmen in their factories.
It appeared that Seymour had staved off the bulk of his slavery issues, but in 1870, before he could finish his work on sating the worried and powerful Southern bloc, he passed away in his sleep and his Vice President, William Seward, was forced to take over.
The Presidency of Josiah Marks
Seward was a weak, ineffectual leader, who was bossed around by the powerful Nationalist-controlled Congress. He engaged in costly wars with Indians which heightened tensions in the Great Plains and he was goaded into signing legislation that allowed the growth of several powerful monopolies in the 1870's and early 1880's. In 1872, Josiah Marks, the Governor of Florida, ran for the Presidency on the Democratic ticket and soundly defeated Seward.
The victory of Marks was hailed in the South and feared in the North - the abolitionists, who had been angered that Seymour had not accomplished more with his bill to end slavery, now feared that Marks would overturn all the progress made in the last few years. The "Free America or No America" movement began shortly after his inauguration, and two attempts were made on Marks' life when he visited the North. The Yorktown Convention was held in Yorktown, Huron to discuss the potential secession of several Northern and Midwest states into a new country.
Upon hearing of the Yorktown Convention, Marks immediately expanded the military, gave his top general, Abraham Lincoln, permission to crack down on dissenters, and signed a law making it illegal for states to secede from the Union. While the law held little legal ramification were a state to secede, and with the Supreme Court expressing serious doubts about their ability to uphold the law should it ever be challenged, Marks had made a major political bluff, and his posturing was a success. The secessionists in Huron and Michigan quieted down once Lincoln stationed a 50,000 man army in Cincinnati.
In 1874, to sate the Northern discontent with his economic policies and his pro-Southern stance, Marks travelled to Boston to give the now-famous Marks Doctrine:
"We live in a nation such as has never existed on Earth before - a nation that, from tyranny, birthed liberty. That from oppression, birthed freedom. That from injustice, birthed equality. That is the core principle of our nation. The ideal is that we are One Nation, Under God. The thought was that Out of Many, we could become One. The right of the state cannot be infringed upon - and the integrity of the Union, it must be preserved! A house divided cannot stand, and the end to this debate must come now. The writing is on the wall, and the institution of slavery as it exists will end, and it shall end, but by peaceful means, by legal means, by natural means, not violence or division."
The speech in Boston is considered one of the greatest orational moments in American history, in which Marks gave his case for not only why the question of slavery was dangerous in its division, but also the core fundamentals of the United States. In 1875, he pressured friends in Florida to manumit the state's slaves, and Florida became the first Southern state to ban the practice of slavery on August 30th, 1875. By 1878, all but Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina had banned the institution.
Northerners were stunned that Marks had been able to end slavery so efficiently being a Southerner himself, but they also did not recognize the behind-the-scenes orchestrations of Marks - in order to win the cooperation of Southerners, Marks had agreed to not oppose laws in the South making blacks second-class citizens, taking their right to vote away through legal loopholes and agreeing to veto any pro-black legislation in Congress until he left office. With an injection of cash into the economy in order to fund massive projects for the American Centennial of 1876, the Democratic administration staged one of the first-ever federal stimulus projects. The American Centennial on July 4th, 1876 was a legendary nationwide celebration, with fireworks, gala after gala for an entire week, and the Emperor Philippe I of France himself travelled to the United States to be at the event, the first time a French Emperor had visited the US and the first time an American President and French Emperor would meet in person - this would not occur again until Charles Hughes and Louis II met in 1918.
Marks cruised to a reelection victory in 1876 when the National Party failed to find any real platform or issue to tackle Marks with. His hammering of Arthur Brandenburg in the electoral college was the greatest margin of victory in American history, with Brandenburg securing a whole of three electoral votes from his home state of Vermont.
Marks' second term was less about slavery and more about a soured American economy - overspeculation in many industries had resulted in the Panic of 1877, which hampered the industrial North, and prompted an even greater shift west in population now that massive railroads crisscrossed the country. Two additional national railroads were planned for construction in the 1880's, and Pacific ports were booming as trade with the emerging Empire of Japan and America's ally in Korea was booming.
However, the growth in the West also brought settlers into conflict with the Sioux, as well as the Alaskans who had established a far more formidable and permanent frontier presence across the 51st parallel, the de facto border, from the Americans. Throughout the 1870's, wars with the Sioux, who had formed a loose confederacy in Alaskan territory under Sitting Bull with support by the Alaskan tsar, Feodor II, had escalated to a point where the American Congress found it intolerable.
There were numerous incidents in the frontier during Marks' second term - the Big Duck Creek raid among the most infamous, when American soldiers attempted to kidnap Sioux leaders deep in Alaskan territory. Marks had to send Secretary of State Rutherford Hayes to Sitka to personally apologize to Feodor II and establish a recognized, yet still unofficial, frontier along the 51st parallel. Alaskan demands to territory further south and American hubris only intensified the problem. Congress, which was only barely controlled by the Democrats in the Senate and had a narrow edge to the Nationalists in the House, was beginning to demand action, and the National Party's growing Western base supported the idea of a military solution to the "Alaskan Problem" that was now threatening the booming Plains territories. States such as Nebraska and Kahokia were rapidly being added to the Union, and the governor of the Dakota Territory was urging peaceful solutions to the rising tensions.
Marks had to deal with the diplomatic standoff with the less powerful but resilient Alaskans as well as watching popular support for his policies erode in the Northeast and even South. The depression that followed the Panic of 1877 was causing starvation and violent crime in many Eastern cities due to joblessness, and the National Party was gaining support. Also, in the South, the millions of manumitted slaves were now beginning to flex their right to vote, despite being unable to read - many Nationalists were taking advantage of this fact and gaining important positions in traditionally Democratic territory by manipulating freedmen at voting booths.
Tired from a still sour economy, his constant apologies to Alaska for border incidents committed by trigger-happy American commanders and feeling his lofty presence with his friends in the South decline, Marks declined to run for a third term in 1880. His successor-in-waiting, Alexander Gibbons of Tennessee, lost in a landslide to Samuel Tilden of New York in what was called the "Nationalist Revolution."
Wars and Peace: 1881-1900
See: Alaskan War
Post-War Depression and Labor Battles
There were few who would claim that the Alaskan War was not an unmitigated disaster for the US - the burgeoning Pacific Northwest had been ravaged, almost a million American soldiers lay dead with nearly two million wounded, and the Alaskans had assaulted Omaha at one point. With the ceasefire in 1887 and the Treaty of Sofiyagrad in 1888, a temporary fix had apparently been found. President Blaine worked throughout most of 1887 and '88 to assuage the now-deep divisions within the United States, divisions he thought had vanished over a decade earlier thanks to Marks' stronghanded policies.
The Northern states had been the ones seeking a conflict, and the South had been strongly opposed. The South was home to America's top generals, most of whom had resigned in the early 1880's to show their refusal to go to war, thus impeding the war effort. Within the military itself, the pro-war and anti-war camps had been even more clearly defined than in the Congress. Northern troops had seen the majority of fighting in the Dakotas and Plains, while Southern troops, due to railroads through Texas to California and the West, had been the ones affected the most by the campaigns in the Washington Territory.
On a further note, the North's industry had boomed with the conflict, while the South was still struggling to adjust to a post-slavery economic model. With the conflict over, the wartime industries lagged as they attempted to adjust - entire factories had been built to support the battles, and now there were thousands unemployed with factory shutdowns. With so many Northern citizens sent off to war, immigrants (who could not enlist or be drafted) took hundreds of thousands of cheap jobs in the North. Soldiers returning from the front often found that there were no jobs for them to return to; the opposite effect occurred in the South, where most soldiers stayed in California or Oregon due to cheap land and growing economies - and from being too poor and far from home to afford a trip back.
The result was what was called the Depression of 1889, when two years of deflation across the country and steep joblessness drove the US economy into its worst rut in history. Jobless soldiers, who were unable to gain work because immigrants and those who had stayed at home were willing to work for less, took to the streets in armed gangs. There existed an "anti-military" fervor in America following the devastation of the war - the militant culture that had caused the Alaskan War was now being fought against by powerful immigrant groups and poor Southerners. The National Party was successfully portrayed as the party of warfare, and James Blaine managed to eke out a razor-thin victory in 1888 despite the collapsing economy.
Blaine's second term ended prematurely when he died of a stroke on October 20th, 1890. His successor, Robert Lincoln, was seen as a moderate by members of both parties - he had gone to West Point and his father was the celebrated Abraham Lincoln, yet the younger Lincoln espoused the Democratic philosophies of government protection of its citizens, demilitarization and regimentization of the economy.
The Depression grew worse under Lincoln, who was unpopular in Washington due to his inability to deal with the generals. During the Depression, the powerful businessmen who ran the large conglomerates continued to consolidate power and buy up weak competition, and state officials were often practically for sale in uncertain times. Few politicians lasted full terms in what was called the "Impeachment Frenzy," as state legislatures regularly censured their own members or impeached their governors. Labor unions often staged violent protests and strikes that were cracked down upon by state militias or private armies - the penniless soldiers returning from the war found huge profits to be made as hired mercenaries for powerful conglomerates. With a slew of inexperienced politicians across the North, the Depression seeped into the South, where tensions were already high between unemployed whites and blacks fighting for the same jobs. America seemed to teeter on the brink of a civil war once again.
The Age of Rockefeller
It was oil tycoon John Rockefeller who emerged in 1892 as the "Democratic Savior." Hemorrhaged by infighting since their loss in 1888 to James Blaine, the National Party was grossly unstable due to the lengthy economic downturn. The Democrats were only partially better off since the South was warding the Depression decently, but racial violence, particularly lynchings, was on the rise as per economic hardship. The Vicksburg Massacre was an incident in which a mob of unemployed white men and women lynched almost forty blacks living in a nearby shantytown all in the same three trees overlooking the city. In return, a practical army of black men set the town ablaze and killed almost a hundred people, many of them women and children. The atrocities committed by both sides did not go unnoticed across the country.
Rockefeller approached the Democrats, whose Southern wing was bickering with its Northern wing, and suggested approaching the economic crisis like one would a business. Rockefeller's "Business Model" was published in numerous newspapers and his popularity grew, especially when he pledged to donate half of his personal wealth to the beleaugured National Bank should he be elected, and also swore that he would sell his shares of Standard Oil, the company he helped found, to the American people at a hugely discounted rate. He won handily in 1892 despite never having held elected office before.
The economy began growing again under Rockefeller, although the big economic boom would not come until towards the end of his second term. As President, Rockefeller altered the relationship the American government had with businesses, and also signed landmark legislation to help cut deals between striking unions and management. He also hiked the tariff rate up and slashed the interest rates from the National Bank before creating a "Government Reconstruction Program" in the West and the Plains, which had remained sparsely inhabited for many years. As a result, the new state of Washington boomed in the 1890's, doubling its population over eight years, and the Fraser Territory grew so much that it was inducted as Pacifica in 1899. Settlers, particularly from the South, flocked to California, New Mexico and Peninsula as government-built railroads began growing in number and bringing more and more people to the West. Rockefeller also invested an enormous amount of his own money into public universities, many of which had faced potential closure during the depression, and passed a law through Congress outlawing the practice of banning women from public universities that received federal grant money. That same law would be interpreted in the 1910's to extend to black men and women, which began the Southern practice of funding state universities with little to no federal funds.
Despite his success and popularity in his first term, Rockefeller was unable to manage to generate the same goodwill after winning his second term in a landslide over Nationalist candidate Peter W. Urban. The economy, which began to regroup due to an influx of capital, was growing due to an injection of consumer spending from the upper classes - however, many working class jobs were difficult to come by, in particular due to the perceived "War on Labor" by the Rockefeller administration. Despite tepid support for Rockefeller by the South, the burgeoning labor movement, which had strong ties to the Catholic backbone of the Northern wing of the party, was beginning to grow frustrated with Rockefeller's anti-labor policies. In 1899, the Williamson and Sons Trust Scandal broke out, in which it became apparent that Rockefeller and other "Bourbon Democrats" had cut illegal deals with many trusts and agreed not to prosecute them under the Antitrust Act of 1891, which Rockefeller had campaigned against.
The growing populist wing of the party, which supported bimetallism, competition and overseas influence began to rise up in arms against "King John," especially in the South, where poor whites began to grow dissatisfied not only with the powerful Northern Democrats but also with their local governments, which had agreed to Rockefeller's insistence on state laws banning minorities and non-citizens from entering unions - which was conversely a ploy by Rockefeller and his business allies to hire non-unionized minority labor (in particular the children of freedmen and immigrants) for lower wages than unionized white citizens.
Thus, the stage was set for the 1900 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, where the multiple competing wings of the Democratic Party debated the party's future post-Rockefeller. Northern Democrats and the Bourbons were alarmed at the growing popularity of William J. Bryan, the articulate and charismatic spokesperson for the Southern and Western populist wing of the party, and did their best to prevent his nomination. In turn, Southerners balked at the prospect of another Rockefelleresque businessman such as James Taylor Scott receiving the nomination. The convention lasted a full week, longer than intended, and the nominating process stretched out to 441 ballots. On the 441st ballot, former Secretary of State Alan Cordyne was chosen as the party nominee to mass dissent - as an Irish Catholic and a supporter of labor unions, Cordyne lost the support of both critical Bourbons and Southern Democrats. The Southern Democrats insisted on the nomination of Virginia's governor, Fitzhugh Lee, as the Vice Presidential choice, but despite Lee's presence on the ticket, voter interest was minimal in a "Papist Presidency." Pro-business Bourbons, long dissatisfied with the growth of anti-Rockefeller elements within the party, defected to the resurgent Nationalists en masse. With the infighting within the Democratic Party, William McKinley of Ohio emerged as the "calming presence" from the Nationalists - a pro-business progressive who supported modest reform both socially and economically, who was soft-spoken and promised to uphold the gold standard. To appease the remaining militaristic elements of his party, McKinley nominated former Marine Captain and Governor of New York Theodore Roosevelt as his Vice President.
The 1900 election is often described as one of several "aligning" elections in the early 20th century. It began the alignment of the business interests with the National Party and the elements of labor and rural farmers with the Democrats. It aligned the National Party with social liberals and progressives, and made the Democrats the party of social conservatives seeking out popular, anti-business and anti-federalist reform. It began to shake the association of the Alaskan War with the National Party and further diminished the role of the military in electoral politics. McKinley won a narrow election over Cordyne and independent candidates Peter Urban, representing the military elite and conservative Nationalists, and George Walter Haley, the Populist Party's nominee.