The Radical Liberal Party was a long-time political party of the Confederate States of America. For most of its existence, the Radical Liberals was the main left-wing party of the Confederacy and were the main opposition of the Whig Party until the rise of the Freedom Party in the late 1920s and early '30s.
Post-Second Mexican War: 1882-1917
The Radical Liberals arose in the aftermath of the victory of the Second Mexican War. With the new territories bought from Mexico there came enough "progressives" who didn't feel the Whig Party was going far enough to bring the Confederacy up to the economic level of the USA, the German Empire, or the United Kingdom. The Whigs were always the party of the aristocratic landholding elite of the Confederacy: the Radical Liberals wished to spread the wealth more to the lower classes. Even with the rise of this party, the Whigs were able to keep a hold on all branches of government in the interior (the important parts of the CSA).
Even as the main opposition party, the Radical Liberal only appealed to the fringes of the Confederacy, specifically the Spanish-speaking states of Sonora, Chihuahua, and Cuba. Occasionally they attracted swing voters in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.
Post-Great War: the 1920s
After the Great War, the Radical Liberals favored co-operation and closer economic ties with the USA, including lowering trade tariffs.
At the end of the Great War, large portions of western Texas were ceded to the United States and reconstituted as the state of Houston. This greatly angered the remaining portions of Confederate Texas, and also instilled fear in the remaining Texans due to the hostile border with the USA now being located even closer to them. While the Radical Liberals had occasionally managed to gain some swing votes from Texas in the past, these new circumstances pushed Texas into the camp of more hardliners - first far right-wing Whigs, later the Freedom Party. On the other hand, the Radical Liberals did start making greater inroads into Louisiana, considered another "fringe" state (due to being more multicultural), which had grown disillusioned with the Whigs, but was still traditionalist enough that its citizens found the Freedom Party distasteful.
Briefly, the Radical Liberals also faced some minor competition from the Socialist Party of the Confederate States, which heretofore had never held significant government positions. In the 1917 election, the first in which black veterans were allowed to vote, the Confederate Socialists managed to win four seats in Congress: one from New Orleans, one from Cuba, and a couple in Chihuahua. This ate away at some of the Radical Liberals' support base in that election cycle, but as the Socialists also supported racial equality between working class blacks and whites, the party could not secure the numbers to compete with the Radical Liberals. The Socialists lost these few seats not long afterwards as the economy improved in the 1920s.
The 1930s and dissolution
The Radical Liberals were able to keep the fringes of the CSA until the 1933 elections. However, their power base in the formerly Mexican states was based on an alliance with the long-established big land owners, with the small peasants effectively compelled to vote as directed by their "patron". This enabled Jake Featherston's Freedom Party to mobilize the peasants in a grassroots movement, with its taking power by violence seeming as a kind of social revolution, breaking the landowners' power and with it the Radical Liberals' main basis of support.
Radical Liberals who tried to resist were sent to concentration camps or killed, together with their long-standing rivals, the Whigs, and the party assets and premises confiscated on behalf of the Freedom Party.
By 1937, the single remaining bastion of Radical Liberals was Louisiana, where Huey Long held the office of governor. However, even that was a rather illusory win, since Long was not so interested in the Radical Liberal Party as such, and more with using the name as a label masking his personal power ambitions. What followed was less a story of the Radical Liberals' last stand and more a personal power struggle between two dictators, Featherston and Long.
The Radical Liberals had slowly gained the votes of Louisiana constituents throughout the 1920s and early '30s; the Whig Party being too conservative and the Freedom Party too repulsive for Louisianan tastes. Along with the Socialists, the Radical Liberals appeared to be soft on the race issue, and the Party did especially well in a state with a high proportion of prominent blacks and liberal whites. It was in the midst of this political situation that Long rose to prominence in the Louisiana Radical Liberal party, eventually becoming governor of Louisiana. Long appealed to the common folk in the same way that Jake Featherston appealed to common folk across the country. He ran for re-election to the governor's office 1933 while simultaneously running for Vice President on the national Radical Liberal ticket as Cordell Hull's running mate. Although they lost the national election, Long stayed Governor of Louisiana.
In the same way that the rest of the CSA was being brought under Freedomite control, Long took over the political machine in Louisiana. His private army arrested Freedom Party congressmen and Stalwart leaders and incarcerated them in Long's concentration camps. He took control of the courts and the state legislature, and made sure that the Freedom Party made no progress in his state the way they did in the rest of the CSA. With the state secure in his hands, Huey Long launched massive public works programs, building highways connecting different corners of the state and capturing the admiration of thousands of citizens. In the midterm elections of 1935 and 1937 only Long's men were elected to Baton Rouge and to Richmond, where the opposition parties were allowed to exist, if only in name. President Jake Featherston started to make plans for his troublesome foe.
In the spring of 1937, Freedom Party spokeswoman Anne Colleton paid a call on Huey Long at the Statehouse. She warned him that Featherston was no longer going to tolerate the near-independent attitude Louisiana was taking. Long shrugged her off and went on to do other business. Colleton told Freedom Party agents, who then paid a black janitor to gun down Long in the halls of the Statehouse. Long died a few hours later, upon which Featherston then declared martial law in Louisiana in response to "black terrorism." Freedom Party guards disarmed the Radical Liberal-controlled state police and arrested thousands of Radical Liberals, murdering one of Long's brothers in the process. By the end of the week, the last state in the CSA fell into line with Featherston's Freedom Party.
With Louisiana broken, the Radical Liberal Party effectively ceased to exist. The Freedom Party sent many former Radical Liberals to its new concentration camps as political prisoners.
Featherston allowed the Radical Liberal Party one last gasp by letting it name a presidential candidate in 1939. It was a token gesture at best, as Featherston carried every state in the rigged election.
- The candidate's name is not revealed in the text.