The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The role of the Executive Branch, of which the President is the head, is to enforce the national laws as stated in the Constitution or made by Congress. The office of president was established upon the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788 and the first president, George Washington, took office in 1789.
The president serves as the chief executive and leader of the executive branch of the federal government. Article Two of the Constitution establishes the president as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and enumerates powers specifically granted to the president, including the power to sign into law bills passed by both houses of Congress, to create a Cabinet of advisers, to grant pardons or reprieves, and, with the "advice and consent" of the Senate, to make treaties and appoint federal officers, ambassadors, and federal judges (including Justices of the Supreme Court). Article Two also defines a presidential term at four years.
In OTL, since 1951, presidents have been limited to two terms by the Twenty-second Amendment. There have been 45 presidencies, but only 44 individuals have held the office; Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms.
This article lists the known presidents found in the works of Harry Turtledove after the Point of Divergence in alternate history, or sitting presidents found in works of science fiction. Presidents who served before the POD of a given alternate history that are mentioned in passing do not need to be listed here - even if they are still alive during the story but do nothing during it. Stories set in the history of OTL may reference past presidents, the sitting president, or future presidents: unless the work is one of speculative fiction, those presidents do not belong here.
|Republican Democratic Socialist|
"Election Day"[edit | edit source]
|43||George W. Bush||2001-2009||Republican||Dick Cheney|
|44||Barack Obama||2009-2017||Democratic||Joe Biden|
|45||John F. Kennedy Jr.||President-elect at story's end||Democratic||Michael Bennet|
|16||Abraham Lincoln||1861-1865||Republican||Hannibal Hamlin|
Incumbent at novel's end, 1868
In 1932, California Congressman Joe Steele won the presidency, and established a dictatorship during the course of his unprecedented five terms. He died in March 1953, about six weeks into his sixth term, and was succeeded by Vice President John Nance Garner. However, through the machinations of former Steele loyalists, Garner was impeached, convicted, and removed from office. As a series of circumstances had removed all legal successors to the presidency, J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the Government Bureau of Investigation, seized emergency executive powers, and moved into the Oval Office. He maintained the title of "Director", rather than adopting the office of President.
|31||Herbert Hoover||1929-1933||Republican||Charles Curtis|
|32||Joseph V. Steele||1933-1953||Democrat||John Nance Garner|
(Ascended to the presidency)
|33||John Nance Garner||March-April(?), 1953||Democrat||Office vacant|
Directorate[edit | edit source]
|1||J. Edgar Hoover||1953-
incumbent at novel's end
Literary comment[edit | edit source]
The original "Joe Steele" story has a different ending. After Steele's death, a three-way conflict among President Garner, the Hammer, and J. Edgar Hoover claims the lives of both the Hammer and Garner, and Hoover takes over. It is not revealed what title he uses. This is in contrast to the novel's "legalistic" process of bloodlessly removing Garner from office and establishing himself as the "Director", but the end result is essentially the same.
President Abraham Lincoln was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter at Fort Stevens in 1864, during the Great Rebellion. Vice President Hannibal Hamlin ascended to the Presidency, and began a policy of retribution against the rebelling Southern states. Hamlin's successors continued this policy.
|16||Abraham Lincoln||1861-1864||Republican||Hannibal Hamlin|
(Ascended to the presidency)
|17||Hannibal Hamlin||1864-1869(?)||Republican||Vacant to 1865|
For most of the history of the United States between the end of the War of Secession and the end of the Great War, the presidency was held by a member of the Democratic Party. This came in response to Abraham Lincoln's status as a Republican. Aside from Republican James G. Blaine, who served from 1881 to 1885, every president from 1865 to 1921 was a Democrat.
After U.S. victory in the Great War, Upton Sinclair became the first Socialist Party president. From there on, the Socialists met success over the next generation, winning five of the six elections between 1920 and 1940, though usually by very narrow margins. Neither party dominated the political cycle the way the Democrats had in the 19th century, as each party was able to capitalize on the failures of the other.
It had been the custom since George Washington that the a president was only elected to two consecutive terms. Theodore Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term in 1920, but was defeated, thus leaving the custom intact.
Calvin Coolidge holds the distinction of being the only person elected to the office never to serve. After winning the 1932 election, Coolidge died of a heart attack the following January, just under a month before he could take the oath of office.
Officially the Presidential residence was the White House in Washington, DC. During the Second Mexican War, Washington was evacuated by the Federal government due to its location within range of Confederate heavy artillery. The government relocated to Philadelphia where the President set up residence and office space in the Powel House. After the war, the Federal government remained in Philadelphia due to Washington's continued insecure position, and though Washington remained the capital of the US de jure, for all practical purposes, Philadelphia became the permanent capital and Powel House the permanent executive mansion. The White House was periodically used by the President for certain formal functions, such as inauguration ceremonies and state funerals.
|16||Abraham Lincoln||1861-1865||Republican||Hannibal Hamlin|
19 or 20
|Samuel J. Tilden||1877-1881||Democratic||Unknown|
20 or 21
|James G. Blaine||1881-1885||Republican||Unknown|
21 or 22(?)
22 or 23(?)
|Alfred Thayer Mahan1||1889-1897 (?)||Democrat||Unknown|
23 or 24(?)
|Thomas B. Reed1||1897-1902 (?)||Democrat||Unknown|
24 or 25-27(?)
|28||Theodore Roosevelt||1913-1921||Democrat||Walter McKenna|
|29||Upton Sinclair||1921-1929||Socialist||Hosea Blackford|
|30||Hosea Blackford||1929-1933||Socialist||Hiram Johnson|
|312||Herbert Hoover||1933-1937||Democrat||Office vacant|
|32||Al Smith||1937-1942||Socialist||Charles W. La Follette|
(Ascended to the presidency)
|33||Charles W. La Follette||1942-1945||Socialist||Office vacant|
Incumbent at series' end
Literary Comment[edit | edit source]
In The Center Cannot Hold, Hosea Blackford is specified as the 30th person to serve as president. Mathematically, this implies that two presidents did not complete their terms at some point between 1865 and 1913 for this to be possible.
The text does not identify all presidents between those years. Only Tilden, Blaine, Mahan, and Reed are named as such for the relevant time period (1865-1913). The exact terms of Mahan and Reed have not been revealed; circumstantial textual evidence supports Mahan serving from 1889-1897; some evidence supports Reed serving from 1897-1902, which would make him one of the two presidents to die in office.
- 1=Presidents identified in the series canon, but their terms are not given.
- 2=Calvin Coolidge was elected to be the 31st President, but died before taking office, so his entire term was served by his elected Vice President Hoover.
"Vilcabamba"[edit | edit source]
With the arrival of the Krolp and their military domination of the planet, the United States was reduced to a rump state that ran among the Rocky Mountains and the Wasatch Range, combined with a small part of Canada. The offices of President of the United States and Prime Minister of Canada were combined in one person. The office also became hereditary. The last duly elected president was Harris Moffatt I. His lineage continued to rule the rump U.S. until the presidency of his grandson Harris Moffatt III from the de facto capital of Grand Junction, Colorado. However, with the final defeat of the U.S., 50 years after the Krolp arrived, the presidency was abolished and Harris Moffatt III was forced into exile in the Krolp's North American capital of St. Louis.
In the aftermath of the Race Invasion, the American Presidency saw two critical interruptions. The first came in 1944 with the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Vice President Henry Wallace had been killed the year before, when the Race's explosive-metal bomb destroyed Seattle while Wallace was visiting. Then-Secretary of State Cordell Hull succeeded Roosevelt per the Presidential Succession Act of 1886.
The second came in 1965 when President Earl Warren committed suicide after agreeing to allow the Race to destroy Indianapolis. This act was in response to Warren's secret attack on the Race's Colonization Fleet in 1962.
|32||Franklin D. Roosevelt||1933-1944||Democrat||Henry Wallace|
January 20, 1941 - 1944
(Died in office)
|33||Cordell Hull||1944-1945(?)||Democrat||Vacant until 1945|
|?||Earl Warren||1961-1965||Republican||Harold Stassen|
(Ascended to the presidency)
|?||Harold Stassen||1965-1969(?)||Republican||Vacant until 1969|
|?||Unknown||2025-series' end, 2032||Unknown||Unknown|
Other Presidents[edit | edit source]
In addition to the above, Harry Turtledove has written several works of speculative fiction in which the presidency plays a prominent role or, at a minimum, in which the incumbent president is referenced. The following Presidents were in office during or after the PODs of various alternate history works, or in speculative stories set in the future of OTL.
In the State of Jefferson Stories, the 1919 POD does not seem to have affected the list of Presidents as of 1981, when the most recent installment "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" takes place. Referenced post-POD Presidents include Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. Carter appears via television in "Always Something New," with Reagan being the incumbent during the most recent story.
In addition to the above, Franklin D. Roosevelt is President in the Days of Infamy series, "News From the Front", The War That Came Early, and "Cayos in the Stream," all of which end during FDR's third term. "News From the Front" ends with Congress preparing to impeach Roosevelt in 1942; he would have been succeeded by Vice President Henry Wallace if convicted and removed from office. FDR is also President during the early scenes of The Man With the Iron Heart, and is referenced posthumously later in that novel.
John F. Kennedy is the President and central POV character in "A Massachusetts Yankee in King Arthur's Court", where he goes on a fantasy adventure set in OTL. In The Valley-Westside War, whose POD is deliberately ambiguous, Kennedy appears to have been assassinated on the same schedule as OTL; his successor is unnamed, and the presidency ceased to exist as a result of the Russian-American War of 1967.
Kennedy is also President in the unfinished work Winter of Our Discontent, initially co-written with Bryce Zabel, wherein Kennedy survives the attempt on his life, and is subsequently re-elected in 1964, but faces impeachment in 1966. Zabel completed the novel on his own and it was published under the title Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas? in July 2013. As Turtledove withdrew from the project while it was in progress, the final book is not in the purview of this Wiki.
Lyndon Johnson is referenced as the incumbent President in "The Fillmore Shoggoth", set in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. His interaction with the story's speculative elements is minimal and off-stage.
Donald Trump appears in the guise of the "Terrific Leader" in the short work of the same name. He reigns over an authoritarian regime several years after his initial election. The story is set in the future of OTL, but until November 2020 there is still time to make it retroactively an alternate history.
In "Elder Skelter", the unnamed incumbent President and her cabinet debate whether or not Quebec's attack on the Maritimes would be sufficient to trigger the emergency clause of the Twenty-Eighth Amendment. Aside from her sex, nothing else is known about her.
The Supervolcano series takes place over a period of eight to ten years. References are made to a sitting president at various points in the series, but no president is ever named, nor described in any detail. The President at the start of the series is a Democrat.
Historical Presidents in Non-Presidential Roles[edit | edit source]
Several historical Presidents have appeared in the alternate history works of Harry Turtledove but never assumed the office for any number of reasons. In some works, the story is set well before the historical figure took office, or the historical figure is killed before taking office. In others works, the office does not exist. Stories set in the past of OTL may reference a historical figure who later became President; unless the story is one of speculative fiction, such references do not belong here.
George Washington plays significant posthumous background roles in The Two Georges as Governor-General of the North American Union, and The Disunited States of America as a great general but not as a political leader.
Andrew Jackson is referenced in The Two Georges as a Governor-General of the North American Union. In "Hail! Hail!," he is likely to run for President in 1828, but the story does not depict the campaign.
Andrew Johnson appears in "Must and Shall" as Military Governor of Tennessee, and it is highly unlikely that he ever became President. In The Guns of the South, Johnson plays a background role as a losing candidate for Vice President, and the novel ends before the next election.
Ulysses S. Grant appears in The Guns of the South as the General-in-Chief of the Army, and the novel ends before he has had a chance to begin a political career. He appears in How Few Remain as a retired failure, and later volumes of Southern Victory confirm that he never became President in that timeline. In "Must and Shall," he is referenced as a victorious general, but there is no indication that he was President.
Franklin D. Roosevelt is not President in two works. He seeks the Presidency in Joe Steele (both the novel and the short story) but is murdered before he can win the Democratic nomination. He features prominently in the Southern Victory series as both Secretary of War and Assistant Secretary of War for the United States cabinet, but never seeks the Presidency.
Dwight D. Eisenhower appears in his OTL role as a general in The Hot War, Joe Steele (and its source story), The Man With the Iron Heart, and Worldwar. In Joe Steele, he specifically refuses to seek the office. There is no indication in Worldwar that he was ever President. In The Man with the Iron Heart and The Hot War, he is mentioned as a popular candidate, but both works end before the next election.
John F. Kennedy appears in The Two Georges as a magazine publisher who bitterly opposes the North American Union's form of government. He appears on the cover of the U.S. edition of Colonization: Down to Earth, operating a "futuristic" personal computer, but he is never mentioned in the actual text of the Worldwar Franchise.
Richard Nixon appears in Colonization: Second Contact (as a Congressman), The Two Georges (as a used "steamer" salesman), Settling Accounts: The Grapple (as a soldier), and Joe Steele (as an Assistant Attorney General). He plays background roles in The Hot War: Armistice (as a Senator) and "Hindsight" (as Vice President). In The Two Georges he never entered politics, while the Worldwar Franchise (of which Second Contact is part) skips ahead in time and leaves his biography undiscussed. All the others end before he has had chance to run for President.
George H. W. Bush is obliquely referenced in the satire "Bedfellows" as someone whom the main characters are on their way to meet. The office of presidency is not mentioned. As the story is a satire, taking the plot literally is not the best approach to the material.
George W. Bush appears in the guise of "W" in "Bedfellows". As with his father (above), trying to determine whether W is President in the story is beside the point. Bush is referenced obliquely in "Birdwitching," where he seems to have been a head of state, but likely used a title other than President.
Donald Trump appears directly in "Election Day," a story predicated around his failure to win the presidency. Trump's OTL role of tycoon and pussy-grabber is occasionally referenced in stories "set in the future of OTL" and written well before his election as President; e.g., The Disunited States of America and Supervolcano: All Fall Down. Trump is also referenced in Alpha and Omega; he was incumbent at time of publication, but it is unclear whether he was ever President in the novel's universe.
See Also[edit | edit source]
- Vice President of the United States, the second-highest office in the U.S., and the legally designated successor of the President in the event an incumbent cannot perform his/her duties.
- President of the Confederate States, the parallel office in the Confederate States. In OTL only one man, Jefferson Davis, ever held this office. The office survives longer and plays a role in The Guns of the South and Southern Victory.
- Censor of the Federated Commonwealths of America, the head of state of the FCA in A Different Flesh.
- Consul of the United States of Atlantis, the head of both state and government of the United States of Atlantis in the Atlantis Series.
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the head of government and highest elected office in the United Kingdom.
- Governor-General of the North American Union, the apparent head of government in the North American Union in The Two Georges. The GGNAU combines aspects of the POTUS and the UK PM.
- King (head of state) and Prime Minister (head of government) of the Confederated Provinces, the rulers of the USA analog in The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump.
References[edit | edit source]
- Alternate Peace, loc. 527-727, ebook.
- Not strictly stated in the text, but strongly implied