Nomination BackgroundEdit1844 would be the first time the Crown Party actually held a nominating convention, in which members of the party would hold power in choosing the nominee. Since its founding by King Andrew I in 1805, the Crown Party nomination had always been a very secluded event. Members of the party who wanted the nomination and other party bigwigs would meet with the King and speak to him, and shortly afterwords he would announce his choice. There were no votes, no speeches, and little public interference. But with the schism of the Crown Party in the mid-1830s and the defeat of the Absolutist Crowns, the party was forced to reform. When the party officially regrouped in 1843, the Constitutionalist Crowns were firmly in power and it was decided an actual nominating convention would be held based on the Whig model; the Whig Party had been holding nominating conventions since 1812. In his old age and realizing he no longer held the control on the party he once did, King Andrew acquiesed in this decision.
Unlike previous years, in 1844 the Crowns had very few candidates to choose from, although in hindsight these candidates were the best possible, and it largely made things simply as people got comfortable with the convention system. The major candidates included:
- Lord Secretary of the Treasury William R. King (68) of Bahamas
- Lord Secretary of the Army Stephen W. Kearny (49) of New Jersey
- Governor William L. Marcy (57) of New York
- Governor John Fairfield (47) of Maine
Stephen W. Kearny heavily coveted the nomination, and had a large backing of support. A native of New Jersey who had attended Columbia University in New York, Kearny's career started in 1812 when he joined the army at age 18. Usually assigned on the western frontier, he was a tough solider who quickly became known for taking the most difficult of assignments. Seeing combat during the Indian wars of the early 1820s, Kearny served under elderly General Anthony Wayne, and infamously was a member of the "death squads" who often slaughtered troublesome natives. A reputation as a man who followed orders only benefited Kearny, and he continued to rise through the ranks. He served in the Peninsular War (1827-1829), where he first served under General Winfield Scott. By wars end he was a Lieutenant Colonel at the young age of 35. In 1833 the URAS went to war with Morcocco, and Kearny found himself on the front lines. Fighting Muslims, Kearny was favorited among the commanding officers for fighting ruthlessly, and he developed many skills for fighting in the desert. In fact, when Scott was temporarily called back to the URAS for political reasons, Kearny was put in charge of the war effort. It was under his command that the regicide of the Armenian royal family took place, giving him fame among most Americans although making him hated amond the Whig Party ranks. The war ended in 1834, and both Kearny and Scott were given occupation duty. In this simple task, Kearny's mind turned to politics, and he announced his support for Prime Minister Oliver Hazard Perry, and that he had always been an Absolutist. But in 1836, Perry lost to Unionist nominee Lewis Cass, formerly a Constitutionalist Crown. In an appeal to Absolutist Crowns and to appear bipartisan, Cass offered Kearny the position of Lord Secretary of the Army, which he gratefully accepted. He resigned from the army as a General at age 41, and went on his way to Philadelphia. The Cass administration was unusually peaceful, and Kearny did little in the next eight years. But he gained valuable political experience, and more importantly political ties. His persona as a tough soldier who fought for the King alone was popular with large segments of the population, and the Crown Party knew it. The more conservative elements of the Crown Party, the Absolutists, made Kearny known as their candidate of choice and lended their support. A decade ago, Kearny's victory would have been a forgone conclusion; but after the Perry administration, many feared another Absolutist, because of what would happen to the country, and more importantly what would happen to the party's popularity afterwords.
William L. Marcy had been a major figure for over a decade. Moving to New York in 1811 to practice law, Marcy quickly became caught up in politics. An opponent of Governor Clinton, he was a key leader of the Albany Regency and a confidant of Martin Vanburen. When Vanburen became Governor in 1822, Marcy became a major state leader, and often served as Vanburen's righthand man. When Vanburen became Viceroy in 1832, it was clear that Marcy would succeed him. Marcy had served in the position since then, making sure New York remained a firmly Crown state, and that no anti-Vanburen candidates made it to office. He was a staunch party man, good with foreign policy, and a good politician. In 1844, he became the favorite of the Vanburen wing of the party; members of the Crown Party loyal to Vanburen and Vanburen only, who earned the nickname the "most powerful favorite son." Marcy was seen as Vanburen's future successor in the party, and with that he went into the convention with some of the most dedicated supporters possible. But on the other hand, he had little where to go but down, and it was obvious most Crowns were against making Vanburen a puppetmaster. Despite this, Marcy had a lot of influence, and like his boss had the chance to play kingmaker.
Of all the candidates, John Fairfield seemed the most unknown, yet also the one with the most potential. A born and raised man of Maine, Fairfield was a former lawyer and judge who had established a successful practice in his home state. Despite Maine being a firmly Whig state, Fairfield was the one major Crown who be successful in state politics. He was seen as a plain and honest man with good values. In 1838 he was appointed the Governor of Maine, and had been reappointed every year since. He was a fair Governor, and a bipartisan who worked with Whigs often. He favored free trade, and moderate expansion. The youngest candidate at the convention, Fairfield was seen by some as the ideal candidate. But very few saw this; he was from a small, New England state, and had no name recognition whatsoever. Fairfield had no fair chance, but his many qualifications put him as the best possible compromise candidate lest the others fall short.
Meeting in the national capital of Philadelphia, the Crowns spent the first two days of the convention in celebration and hoopla, describing themselves as the real "American party" and how they represented the interests of the King. On day three, the balloting actually began, and it immediately became a race between King and Kearny, with Marcy holding a strong minority of voters, and Fairfield on the outskirts looking in. King and Kearny traded places in first place, and it seemed sure that things would remain stonewalled until the other candidates backed out. After only a few talks, Fairfield released his delegates, and endorsed King. Only Marcy and Vanburen's delegates remained, and it was clear that Marcy would not win; his numbers had remained largely the same, and he could not gain support at the convention. It came down to who could offer the better deal. Kearny immediately offered Marcy, or even Vanburen, the position of Viceroy, or anything else he wanted. Vanburen, the puppetmaster behind the Marcy campaign, considered it, although declined the offer; he had already served until one near Absolutist, which had nearly ended his career. Although he agreed more with Kearny politically, Vanburen and Marcy endorsed King, under the promise that Vanburen would become Lord Secretary of the Treasury. Marcy's delegates put King over the top, and he asked Fairfield to be the Viceroy nominee. With the Crown ticket of King and Fairfield (King, the King's choice, and Fairfield, the Fair-man's choice), the future looked bright indeed.
Shortly after the Crown's first party convention, the Whig's held their 9th party convention. Minister of Congress and warhero James Buchanan of Pennsylvania won the nomination, with Lord Secretary of the King's Law and former Governor of Virginia Abel P. Upshur as the Viceroy nominee. Buchanan was known for fighting in the Peninsular War, and for writing the Buchanan Act of 1837 instituting a national civil service, while Upshur was a compromiser and very popular in the south. Both parties had nominated strong tickets, and the country was preparing for a dynamic campaign.
Not exactly living up to their dynamic expectence, both candidates decided to run front-porch campaigns; this is because both felt safe in their positions. King already had the whole south firmly behind him, and felt his support could easily invade the middle states. With protectionism on the line, Buchanan had all of New England (excluding Maine which stood behind its favorite son) and Pennsylvania behind him, and most industrialists generously funded his campaign. All over the country people stumped for their candidate, and many endorsements went out. Former Prime Minister Henry Clay and current Prime Minister Lewis Cass endorsed King, while Former Prime Minister Hunter DeRensis endorsed and actively campaigned for Buchanan. While it seemed like the north was evenly for Buchanan and the south was evenly for Buchanan, it was the west that was up for grabs.
Both parties campaigned hard in the west to gain support, since neither candidate really represented their interests. Many observers believed Buchanan had a lead in the west, because of his past war record and how much protectionism had helped develop the west in the past.
When it came time for the new Prime Minister to be chosen, it was very close. Polls showed King leading in the south and the far north, while Buchanan led in New England and the west, with the middle states split. The percentages were roughly 49% for Buchanan and 47% King. Andrew I was very old, and knew he would depart the world soon. Reluctantly, he chose James Buchanan as the new Prime Minister, and the one he would die under; although he agreed more with King, Buchanan held the most support, and work to run the country honestly. James Buchanan would become the sixth Prime Minister of the Union of Royal American States. King retired from politics after that at the old age of 68, while Fairfield remained the popular Governor of Maine and prepared for another run in 1848. His plans were tragically cut short however, when he died at the young age of 50 in 1847.