Alfred Emanuel "Al" Smith, Jr. (December 30, 1873 - October 4, 1944), also known as the Happy Warrior, was a four-time Governor of New York (1919-1920, 1923-1928), and was the Democratic United States presidential candidate in 1928. He was the first Roman Catholic and Irish-American to run for President of the United States as a major party nominee. He lost the election to Herbert Hoover. He then became president of the Empire State, Inc. and was instrumental in getting the Empire State Building constructed during the Great Depression.
Al Smith in Southern Victory
Al Smith (1873-1942) was the 32nd President of the United States, serving from 1937 until his death in 1942. He was the US' first Catholic President. Smith brokered the Richmond Agreement with Confederate President Jake Featherston in the hopes of appeasing the belligerent Featherston. He returned rights to Utah that it had before the Second Mexican War, but did little to get the country out of the depression. Smith was able to steer the country through the early dark days of the Second Great War, and was killed in the bombing of Powel House.
Early Political Career and First Term as President
Smith rose to prominence as Governor of New York in the early 1930s. While the Socialist Party had lost some of its credibility when President Hosea Blackford was unable to deal with the economic depression that crippled the country beginning in 1929, the Democratic Party and Blackford's successor Herbert Hoover also proved unequal to the task. Further, the Hoover administration also seemed incapable of dealing with Jake Featherston and the Confederate Freedom Party. Finally, the American public had grown weary of the ongoing and costly conflict in the former Confederate state of Houston as well as the perpetual military occupation of Utah.
The Socialists were given another chance, gaining a majority in Congress in 1934. Smith received the party nomination in 1936, and campaigned on a promise for change, including self-determination for Houston, Utah and Kentucky, another former C.S. state that had grown restive under Freedom Party influence. Although Hoover attacked Smith's more relaxed stance on foreign policy, Hoover's own track record, including the costly conflict in Houston and the inconclusive Pacific War against Japan did not help his standing. Hoover's lax handling of the depression further strengthened Smith's position. Smith won in 1936, and took the oath of office in 1937.
Smith's first act was to normalize the situation in Utah, putting an end to military rule and returning control to civilians. Next, Smith removed the military garrison in Houston and disbanded the Kentucky State Police. However, he did nothing overt to deal with the country's economy, although he did permit the country's continued rebuilding of its military, albeit at a relatively slow pace.
The Richmond Agreement
Throughout Smith's first term, his counterpart in the Confederacy, President Jake Featherston, had demanded the return of territories the C.S. had lost to the U.S. during the Great War, implying that the C.S. was prepared to retake those territories by force. Smith, wanting to avoid another war, while realizing that the American people were tired of the troublesome former Confederate states, finally agreed to meet with Featherston in Richmond. The result was the Richmond Agreement. Featherston obtained a promise from Smith for plebiscites the three former states in Houston, Kentucky, and Sequoyah, provided Smith won the election in November 1940. In turn, Smith extracted from Featherston a promise that the plebiscites would be held in a fair atmosphere, that blacks would be allowed to vote for self-determination, that Featherston would not ask for any more territory, and that any state that changed hands would be demilitarized for 25 years. While Featherston paid the Agreement lip service, in truth he had intended to break its terms immediately.
Second Term, Operation Blackbeard, and Death
Based on his success in concluding the Richmond Agreement, Smith was re-elected in 1940. The terms of the agreement, including plebiscites, were carried out early in January of 1941. Instead of allowing 25 years to pass before sending Confederate troops and barrels into Kentucky and Houston (now once again western Texas), Featherston broke his promise in 25 days. Freedom Party Stalwarts blew up a police station and blamed it on pro-USA terrorists, inventing an incident for Featherston to use as an excuse to place the Confederate Army on the banks of the Ohio River. He also demanded the remaining territory that the U.S. possessed. With the Richmond Agreement shredded, Smith refused to negotiate with his Confederate counterpart and mobilized the U.S. Army.
Featherston continued to issue ultimata until June of 1941. When Smith refused to cave in to Featherston, Featherston initiated Operation Blackbeard, the CSA's war plan for a quick overwhelming victory. By throwing all the offensive units into one army, the Confederacy pushed through Ohio cutting the USA in half. C.S. forces reached Sandusky, a town on the shore Lake Erie, in the first week of August 1941.
After the USA was cut in two, Featherston demanded the USA surrender, offering terms such as a C.S. occupation of the U.S. frontier and a reduced U.S. military. Smith angrily refused, much to Featherston's surprise, and ordered U.S. counterattacks against the Confederate salient while preparing for an offensive in Virginia that autumn. While the Virginia attack was not wholly successful, the continued fighting in the salient robbed Featherston of the short war he needed in the face of superior U.S. resources.
While Smith had appeared naïve in dealing with Featherston, he nonetheless ordered his War Department to begin building a uranium bomb early in 1941. The project was managed by Assistant Secretary of War Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The war took its toll on Smith. While he was able to keep the country unified and fighting, many questioned his policy in dealing with the Confederacy prior to the war. Smith was killed in Powel House, the Presidential Residence, in 1942, during a Confederate bombing raid. Smith was mourned. United States bombers destroyed the Gray House, the Confederate Presidential Residence, but Featherston had already fled.
- References to Historical Figures in Turtledove's Work, for additional, minor references.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States in OTL, who served from 1933 until his death in 1945, including most of World War II. Roosevelt had succeeded Smith as governor of New York State in 1928, and viewed Smith as a mentor for a time. Much like the fictionalized Smith, Roosevelt did not live to see the end of the war, although unlike Smith, Roosevelt died of natural causes when the Allies were on the cusp of victory.
- Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States in OTL, who defeated Smith in the 1928 election. In Southern Victory, Smith defeats Hoover in the 1936 election.
- John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic to be elected President of the United States in OTL. In the Southern Victory series, Smith is the first Catholic to be elected President.
- Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940 in OTL, including the opening year of World War II. The fictionalized Smith's decision to meet with Jake Featherston and broker the Richmond Agreement is a loose parallel of Chamberlain's decision to meet with several European leaders, including Adolf Hitler, at the Munich Conference and broker the cession of the Sudetenland to Germany. Smith's fictional death is also a (very) rough parallel to Chamberlain's decision to resign in 1940 (and he died of natural causes only 6 months after), leaving the conclusion of the war in the hands of another (Charles W. La Follette for Smith, Winston Churchill for Chamberlain).
- Joe Steele, the 32nd President of the United States in Joe Steele.
- Return Engagement, pg. 279, hc.
- Ibid., pgs. 296-297.
- Ibid., pg. 301.
|Titles and Succession|