|Southern Victory |
POD: September 10, 1862
In at the Death†
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Religion:||Baptist (probably lapsed)|
|Date of Birth:||c. 1886|
|Date of Death:||1944|
|Cause of Death:||Gunshot wound (Second Great War)|
|Occupation:||Artillery Sergeant, Politician, Author of Non-Fiction|
|Military Branch:||Confederate States Army (Great War)|
|Political Party:||Freedom Party|
|Political Office(s):||President of the Confederate States|
Jake Featherston (c. 1886 - July 7, 1944) became the 13th President of the Confederate States in 1934, serving until his death in 1944. In that time, he appealed to a defeated and demoralized country's darkest nature, initiating a war of aggression against the United States that culminated in the most dramatic act of industrialized genocide in the 20th century and the complete destruction of his country.
Featherston was born and grew up in Virginia. He was raised a Baptist but grew substantially less devout as he grew older. His father had been an overseer before President James Longstreet ordered the manumission of the Confederacy's slave population, and the ex-overseer always resented the end of the institution. Jake himself had been a boy when manumission took place. Later in life he would reflect that he never accepted coddling "least of all from his mother, when she was still alive."
In any event, by the time the Great War began, and probably by the time he joined the army, both of Featherston's parents had died.
The Great War, 1914-1917
At this time in his life, Featherston was still far from manifesting the fanatic and murderous hatred of Blacks which was a major feature of his later life. Rather, like many White Confederates of his time, his attitude toward Blacks was often ambiguous and contradictory. He had an especially ambiguous attitude with Perseus, a black worker attached to the unit who was in fact one of the leaders of the planned Red uprising. Featherston and Perseus developed a grudging respect for each other. On one occasion of emergency, Perseus helped Featherston operate his gun - which was not supposed to be Negro work. On the night before going off with the rebels, Perseus took the risky action of coming to say goodbye to Featherston.
Featherston came out of the war still a mere sergeant, despite having command qualifications. He had uncovered evidence that Pompey, the black servant of Jeb Stuart III, was a leader in the Red Rebellion. Featherston informed Major Clarence Potter, an Intelligence officer investigating a possible Red Rebellion at the time, that Stuart's servant should be looked into. Captain Stuart used his family's influence to shield the servant. Later, after the Negroes rebelled, it became clear that Pompey had been a Red all along, tarnishing Stuart's reputation forever. Captain Stuart, humiliated and enraged, later sought death in battle, an act for which his father, Jeb Stuart Jr. of the Confederate States General Staff, blamed Featherston. Stuart Jr. made certain that Featherston never rose above sergeant as revenge for his son's death. The Confederate War Department's handling of Pompey kindled Featherston's resentment towards blacks and the Confederate aristocratic elite.
Already embittered in the closing days of the war, Featherston began writing a book entitled Over Open Sights. In it, he outlined what he saw were the causes for the Confederacy's defeat in the Great War, including the blacks and the Whig aristocracy. He also shared his own solutions for these "problems", which in turn led him into politics and the upstart Freedom Party.
The Freedom Party and Path to Power, 1917-1923
Featherston initially saw the Freedom Party and its founder, Anthony Dresser, as amateurish at best. However, because the two main parties did not share his views, he joined the Freedom Party. Very quickly, Featherston discovered he had an untapped talent: he was a fiery and charismatic speaker. Indeed, his power to stir his audience brought droves of members to the fold. When the envious Dresser sought a vote of confidence to shore up his own power, the Party, led by its secretary, Ferdinand Koenig, forced Dresser out and placed Featherston in charge. Koenig would prove to be one of Featherston's most loyal lieutenants.
The Freedom Party began the 1920s with a great deal of momentum, as the harsh reparations imposed by the U.S. drove outrageous inflation in the C.S. economy. Despite the monolithic power base held by the Whigs in the national government, Freedomites began winning public offices through the CSA. While Featherston lost his bid for the presidency in 1921, his future seemed bright indeed.
That future dimmed when President Wade Hampton V was assassinated by a deranged Freedom Party member, Grady Calkins. The resulting bad publicity halted the progress the Party was making. Further, the newly elected President of the U.S., Socialist Upton Sinclair, eased the reparations, allowing the C.S. economy to recover from the inflation. Featherston still pursued power, running for the presidency again in 1927. He agitated against the problems he saw, but the voters paid little heed.
Renewed Momentum and the Presidency, 1929-1941
The year 1929 saw the stock markets crash all over the globe. Every country slipped into a massive economic depression. Unemployment spiraled, and populations grew restive and disenchanted with the status quo. Featherston and the Freedom Party were able to capitalize on the people's dim outlook. Making scapegoats of the aristocracy of the C.S. for failing to deal with the depression, Featherston forced himself back into the public eye, once again seizing political momentum. The Freedom Party's use of violent tactics to quell its opponents ensured the path to power would be a smooth one. In 1933, Featherston was elected President of the Confederate States of America.
In short order, Featherston established dictatorial control over the Confederacy. He abolished the Supreme Court of the Confederate States. He ordered the assassination of Louisiana governor Huey Long (who had dictatorial aspirations of his own) in 1937. In May 1938, he oversaw the formally democratic amendment of the Constitution to permit him to run again. Handily re-elected, Featherston effectively became president-for-life.
This last act was too much for his Vice President Willy Knight. In December, 1938, Knight convinced certain stalwarts to attack Featherston's car as it drove through the streets of Richmond. Although Featherston's driver Virgil Joyner was killed, Featherston survived. Knight's role in the plot was discovered, and he was impeached, forced to resign, and was imprisoned in Camp Dependable. In late 1941, Knight was executed on Ferdinand Koenig's orders.
Featherston's foreign policy had two goals: revenge against the United States and Confederate supremacy in North America. To that end, Featherston strengthened ties with his country's traditional allies, France and Britain. He encouraged anti-U.S. violence in Kentucky, Sequoyah, and Houston, the states that the C.S. had lost to the U.S. at the end of the Great War. United States President Al Smith pursued an accord, which led to the Richmond Agreement, granting plebiscites to the three states. Kentucky and Houston voted to return to the C.S.; Sequoyah, with a substantial population of U.S. transplants, remained in the U.S.
However, Featherston had entered into the Agreement in bad faith, making an empty promise that he would not pursue any more territory formerly belonging to the U.S. When he broke his promise by publicly demanding the remaining territory, he was met with firm resistance from Smith. In the meantime, war was brewing in Europe, and, in 1941, the CS joined the Entente in declaring war on Germany. It soon became clear to Featherston that Smith was not going to back down and return the territory. It was also clear that the U.S. was not going to immediately stand with Germany as it had in 1914. Thus, he initiated Operation Blackbeard, the invasion of the U.S. without a formal declaration of war.
The Second Great War, 1941-1944
Due the initial military success of Blackbeard, Featherston became more cocky and egocentric, taking a hands-on approach to the strategic aspects of Second Great War. As an experienced artilleryman, he'd occasionally sneak off to the front and take command of a howitzer battery in his former regiment which both amused and horrified Clarence Potter. The death of Al Smith during a C.S. bombing raid further inflated Featherston's hubris. He pushed for Operation Coalscuttle to succeed despite the rising losses it took as the Confederate Army pushed through Pittsburgh and the warnings by his military commanders to pull out of the city. Dissent began to rise due to losses in Pittsburgh and in the Ohio salient.
Domestically, Featherston had instituted a series of public works programs. He also modernized agriculture, with an eye to displacing the blacks. Featherston had a strong sense of white superiority, common to Confederate citizens before the Great War. It was fanned into a burning rage during the war, when, despite the Red Rebellion, the increasingly-desperate C.S. used black soldiers on the battlefield. The troops were not particularly well-trained, and so did not always fight well. In Featherston's mind, the Red Rebellion had already proven Confederate blacks treacherous; as far as he was concerned, their inconsistent performance on the battlefield had lost the C.S. the war.
Featherston's rapid rise to power in the interwar years fed his ego, eventually giving him a sort of God-complex. After becoming Freedom Party leader and later President, he began to believe he was destined to achieve such power, and began to take all criticism as a grievous offense. By the time the Second Great War broke out, his early victories had him convinced that he was perfect in every way, completely incapable of error. That is why the defeats at Pittsburgh and Ohio came as such a rude awakening to him. His rising anger over his failure, coupled with his constant, manic repetitions of "We will beat them, dammit!", caused high-ranking members of his inner circle, such as Nathan Bedford Forrest III and Clarence Potter, to doubt his fitness to command the CSA.
After the Army of Kentucky was trapped and destroyed in Pittsburgh and the subsequent destruction of the Confederacy's corridor through Ohio, Featherston began placing more and more hope into the uranium bomb project headed by Professor Henderson V. FitzBelmont of Washington University. He also diverted vital resources and manpower away from the main front in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to protect the main "population reduction" facility in western Texas, Camp Determination. As the summer of 1943 turned into autumn, Featherston began looking for a decisive battle to be fought in front of Atlanta, a battle that would either buy more time for FitzBelmont's project and the population-reductions, or cost the Confederacy the greatest war in history and the loss of its independence.
Defeat and death
Main article: Death of Jake Featherston
This victory did not come. Atlanta fell and morale throughout the Confederacy seriously dropped. However, Featherston remained defiant, believing the victory would still be his in the end. Even when Nathan Bedford Forrest III, long a loyal subordinate, attempted to overthrow him, Featherston refused to consider the possibility of defeat. However, after Richmond fell, he fled to Newport News, Virginia. At the same time, with the help of British research, FitzBelmont completed the Confederacy's first (and only) superbomb, which Potter was able to detonate on the outskirts of Philadelphia west of the Schuylkill River. In response, the U.S. destroyed Newport News with a superbomb in the hope of killing Featherston. By luck, Featherston was in nearby Portsmouth, and so was merely a witness to the bombing.
With his Newport News hideout discovered, Featherston and a small number of loyal aides including Lulu Mattox, Saul Goldman, Ferdinand Koenig, Clarence Potter, and Chief of Staff Willard fled. Featherston and his entourage moved by night and slept during the day to avoid discovery by US forces, retreating through North Carolina to the last redoubt of the Confederacy in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, but all direct routes were cut off by US forces.
They attempted to fly to the redoubt in an Alligator. The Alligator was shot down between Athens and Madison, Georgia. Everyone survived the crash but Lulu was seriously injured. She begged Featherston to kill her so she would not be captured by the U.S. Reluctantly, Featherston shot her dead, saying afterwards that that was the hardest thing he ever had to do.
The indomitable Featherston then attempted to lead them to an ungarrisoned town, where they would obtain disguises and motorcars and flee west. On the way to Madison, the group was intercepted by a young U.S. Army auxiliary named Cassius, who shot Featherston to death as soon as he recognized Featherston's voice. The rest of the group was captured.
Featherston was succeeded by Don Partridge, who quickly signed an unconditional surrender to the United States.
First Term (March 4, 1934 to March 4, 1940)
- President: Jake Featherston
- Vice President: Willy Knight (1934-1938; forced to resign, died 1941)
- Attorney General: Ferdinand Koenig
Second Term (March 4, 1940 to July 7, 1944)
- President: Jake Featherston
- Vice President: Donald Partridge
- Secretary of State: Herbert Walker
- Attorney General: Ferdinand Koenig
- Chief of General Staff: Nathan Bedford Forrest III (1936?-1944); Willard (1944)
Partridge's Term (July 7, 1944 to July 14, 1944)
- President: Donald Partridge
- Chief of General Staff: Cyril Northcote
Other prominent members of the Featherston Presidency
- Saul Goldman - Director of Communications
- Anne Colleton - Freedom Party spokeswoman (killed 1941 in an air raid)
- Ben Chapman - Freedom Party Guardsman, with the rank of Chief Assault Band Leader
- Strom Thurmond - Freedom Party Congressman from South Carolina (killed 1941 of wounds suffered during an air raid)
- Jefferson Pinkard - Group Leader in the Freedom Party Guards, Commandant of Camp Determination
- Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. - Confederate States Ambassador to the United States
- Lulu Mattox - Presidential Secretary
- Hiram McCullough - Chief of Featherston's Bodyguards
"I was good at what I did, is all. Good enough to lead a battery for a year and a half, but not good enough to take the stripes off my sleeve and put a bar or two on my collar. La-de-da my ass-hadn't been for a la-de-da officer with a fancy pa gettin' hisself killed...ah, the hell with it."
"I'm Jake Featherston, and I'm here to tell you the truth."
"We're on the way! The Freedom Party is on the way, on the way to Richmond. The Confederate States are on the way, on the way back. And the white race is on the way, on the way toward settling accounts with the coons who stabbed us in the back and prevented us from winning the war. And you all know that -- we should have won the war!"
"We're going to win this sucker. Win it, you hear me? We're going to lick the damnyankees, lick 'em right out of their boots, lick 'em so that they stay licked."
"I don't want to just get ahead of the game. I want to win it and then kick over the goddamn table!"
"Believe it. If you believe it, you can do it. That's what life's all about. Believe it hard enough, work for it with everything you've got, and you'll get it. Look at me."
"Get us some motorcars, and --" (These were Featherston's last words. He was killed by Cassius Madison in mid-sentence.)
- Featherston was fond of Habana cigars and good whiskey.
- Featherston was exceedingly fond of a certain big ol' floppy straw hat.
- Featherston's favorite colors were white and butternut.
- Featherston's favorite Confederate Presidents (other than himself) were Jefferson Davis, James Longstreet, and President Lee.
- Adolf Hitler, whom Harry Turtledove has acknowledged is the primary model for Featherston. He makes an unnamed cameo appearance in The Center Cannot Hold, where some characters remark that he reminds them of Featherston.
- Joe Steele, the American alter-ego of Joseph Stalin, who in an eponymous novel becomes a dictatorial president in North America.
- Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States in OTL. Like Featherston, Trump is a bully who uses racist fear-mongering to achieve his ends. A fictionalized Trump, in the guise of the "Terrific Leader", tyrannically rules the U.S. in the near-future in the short piece "The Terrific Leader".
|Titles and Succession|