Nomination BackgroundEditIn 1845, the URAS had been rocked to its foundations with the death of its founder and first king, Andrew I. His stepson, John I, was now the ruling monarch, and had been for the last three years. John was known to be more radical than his father, and much less statesman like. This would be John's first appointment of a Prime Minister, and greatly show what kind of a reign he would have.
This put the Crown Party in high hopes of seeing success this year. They were just barely defeated in 1844, Whig Prime Minister James Buchanan had lost quite a bit of popularity, and there was now a firm Crown supporter on the the throne. With the continuation of protectionism and with the Great South American War still in the public mindset, foreign policy suddenly came to the spotlight of national politics. While Buchanan had tepidly supported the effort, the other Whigs had been staunchly against it. It was known that they would never pass a declaration of war, and so the military was used in the conflict without the consent of Congress. This put the party into a fury, and alienated many people from the popularity of expansionism among the public. The Crowns had fully supported the war, and planned to use this "Whig leadership failure" to their advantage in the coming appointment.
Like the previous convention, there were generally few candidates for the Crown Nomination this year. But all of the candidates fought tooth and nail for the nomination, since they were all sure that with a near absolutist like John I on the thrown, the Crown Nominee would be a surefire victor. The major candidates included:
- Congressman Stephen A. Douglas (35) of Illinoia
- Minister of Congress Martin Van Buren (66) of New York
- Former Ambassador to the Commonwealth Charles Francis Adams Sr. (41) of Massachusetts
- General Zachary Taylor (63) of Virginia
Martin Van Buren was arguably the most senior member of the Crown Party that still held considerable power (especially after Andrew I's death in 1845). A former Governor, Viceroy, and Ambassador to the Commonwealth, Vanburen had some of the highest political credentials in the country. In 1844, leaving the office of Viceroy along with the Cass administration, he was elected as a Congressman from New York; a simple job for the man who had controlled every office in the state for over twenty years. Upon election, he was also made a Minister of Congress, already giving him increased power over the body; also considering two of the other Ministers were New York stooges under his beck and call. From this point on, Van Buren largely remained out of the spotlight. Working in the shadows, he carefully watched the political winds to see where they'd take him. Van Buren had always been a free trader and laizzez faire, while opposing unnecessary wars (although he bowed out of speaking against the Perry administration). And while he had been a good friend of Andrew I, he made it clear that he would not be a puppet if made Prime Minister. After the failure of William Marcy's attempt to get the Crown nomination in 1844 (really a ghost-front for Van Buren's power, as many realized), the "Fox" had to find another candidate to represent his interests in this convention, or do it himself. Deciding the latter, he promised a return to original Crown principles of a ruling monarch, with limits of course seeing how things had changed. He possessed all the resources of New York state and their delegates, but Van Buren wasn't very popular anywhere else. The lower party members thought that he was simply too old and from a different era to be chosen, and at the same time he wasn't able to appeal to the expansionists or southerners. But John I was good friends with him (as had his father) and that was enough to make him a major contender for the nomination.Charles Francis Adams Sr. was considered the most unlikely of Crown candidates, and the one with the least support at the convention. The grandson of John Adams, and the son of Andrew Franklin Adams, Charles Francis was considered the heir to the Adams legacy. A graduate of Harvard, he had studied law with famed libertarian Daniel Webster and been a successful lawyer for a short time. He had inherited his father's politics, and was considered the closest thing to an absolutist there was at the convention. But on top of this, he was also a firm abolitionist; he favored the immediate abolition of slavery, with financial payment to the slaveholders. While the Whig Party had its share of moderate abolitionists, an abolitionist Crown, and one as radical as Adams, was an anomaly at best. The Crowns were firmly pro-slavery (even if most Americans considered it out of style), as was the monarchy. A newspaper editor for the better part of the last decade, Charles Francis had attempted to mold the two seemingly opposite beliefs of abolitionism and absolutism together with minimal success. But his writing was acknowledged as some of the best in the country, and his many books and newspaper articles were widely read. His only real political experience was that of Ambassador to the Commonwealth, which he only served in for five years (1842-1847). He had been appointed by Lewis Cass as a favor to the Adams family and the more Absolutist Crowns. Since he hadn't made any follies, he was kept on by Buchanan until his resignation in 1847; largely to return to the URAS and prepare his campaign. By this point he had still never served in domestic office. A Massachusetts man, his geographical position wouldn't add anything to sucess either, since the Crowns had no hope of carrying New England support. And his relatively youthful age, 41, and his lack of experience also made him an unlikely candidate (the fact that Stephen Douglas was only 35 in comparison was largely ignored). But Adams remained steadfast, a political freak that wouldn't give up. He went into the convention with little to no support, but he would make his voice heard whether the Crown leadership liked it or not.
Despite his lack of name recognition, Zachary Taylor was a general in the URAS Army, and for most people that's all they needed to hear. Taylor was a successful Virginian plantation owner, and had served in the army since 1802 with the start of the Second Seven Years War. He fought till its conclusion, and had remained in the army afterwords. Going up through the ladder of promotion, Taylor had served in the Peninsular War, the Subjagation of Moracco, and most recently as an advisor in the Great South American War. A lieutenant general since 1838 and a full fledged general since 1846, Taylor was one of the most senior men in the army. Politically he had no experience and no firm opinions, although it was known he had kept a written friendship with William Henry Harrison and was a colleague of Lewis Cass; even King John I was said to be fond of him. His friends called him a moderate Absolutist, although he'd never said anything definitive on the subject. A senior general and warhero with perfectly moldable political views who the king liked. Some saw only one key drawback; Taylor hadn't announced that he was actually seeking the nomination. A mix of political observers and friends had placed his name into consideration, while Taylor himself had announced he'd prefer to remain in the army. While he would graciously accept the nomination if nominated, he'd make no effort to seek it. That included attending the convention itself, which would have given him a hometown advantage with it taking place in Virginia. Many party heads said he was worth nominating, while others worried that if he wasn't even willing to put in the work of getting the nomination, how would he perform in office? The lesser members generally didn't know who he was.
The second Crown Party nomination would take place in Richmond, Virginia. Douglas entered the convention with a clear plurality, and no where to go but up. Van Buren entered with his delegates marching on orders, with no where to go at all. Adams could count all of his delegates on his fingers, and no where to go but down. Taylor didn't show up at all, but his delegates formed a loud fraction praising their absent candidate. Douglas and Vanburen fought for front place, but no one's delegates would move.
After several dozen ballots of exhausted voting, Douglas was very close to gaining the nomination. Then Adams, now down to 3 delegates, gave what many considered to be the speech of the decade. He spoke for nearly an hour, and systematically attacked every issue at hand, both domestic and foreign. He said the URAS was doomed to failure, unless it quickly changed its ways. It had to strip Congress of its enhanced powers, and give more overall command to the King, the one man ordained by God to make the right decisions. The URAS also had to give up the abhorrent practice of slavery, which was a smear on God's kingdom. It had to expand its overseas possessions against foreign powers, especially the southern republics. Adams spent nearly ten minutes describing the horrors he saw in the Commonwealth, and called them "the biggest enemy America has ever had." He called for immediate war against the Commonwealth, and rightly bring the American powerhouse to European soil. At the end of the speech, there was a few seconds of silence before the convention exploded. Cheers were heard across Richmond, and Adams was lifted up on delegates' shoulders. For a few brief moments, some eyewitnesses thought Adams would carry the nomination. But reality quickly set in, and although Adams stripped some support from his three competitors, he still stood far behind both Douglas and Vanburen. He was equal to Taylor by this point, although his chances of gaining national support remained few to none.
After several more difficult ballots, most saw where the tide was going, and switched their support to Douglas, who had given a speech praising expansionism as much as Adams, although with a more constitutional feel. Douglas finally gained the Crown nomination, and set out to choose his Viceroy. He immediately wrote a letter offering the position to Taylor, who he saw as a fitting match; an elder general from a southern state. But Taylor refused, citing that he either wanted it all or nothing. Several other names were considered, but they all had strings attached (Adams was never considered). Eventually, Van Buren's name came up. Many were against it, seeing him as not bringing enough to the table, but Douglas was more optimistic; Van Buren had already served as Viceroy twice before, would guarantee New York state to the ticket, add extra money to the campaign, and give the ticket a more balanced feel given Van Buren's experience and Douglas' youth. Van Buren quickly accepted the offer, and thus the Doulgas/Van Buren ticket of 1848 was born.
Like he did in 1844, Buchanan staged a front-porch campaign, relying on local Whig structures and the quiet dominence of incumbency. But his opponent, Douglas, took to the stump, giving speeches all over the country, similar to Hunter DeRensis' campaign of 1816. But in a major step, Viceroy Abel P. Upshur also went campaigning. Uphsur made speeches and appearences in Delaware, Maryland, and his home state of Virginia. Without a southern nominee, Upshur was sure that the Whigs could make traction in the upper south.
Douglas seeminly guaranteed the Crown Party all of the west and far north. New England remained staunchly for Buchanan, and continued to donate generously to his campaign. Amazingly, it was the usually solid Crown south that would be the decider. Most southerns liked Douglas, although they also liked the much more experienced Upshur, who promised Buchanan would work for southern interests in a second term. With his constant campaigning on his native soil, Upshur was able to sway many upper southerners away from Douglas, and historians agree that this saved the Buchanan campaign from disaster.
When it came time for John I to decide, Buchanan and Douglas were neck and neck in the polls. Buchanan and Douglas were both tied around 48% support. Many observers said this basically guaranteed Douglas the appointment, since John I was a Crown supporter himself, and had a distaste for Buchanan. But amazingly, John I settled on James Buchanan against all odds. Some contended that although Douglas was popular and an expantionist, he was also a firm constitutionalist, arguably more than Buchanan himself; Douglas actually believed firmly in the will of the people. This would not do for John at all, and so with that he swallowed his pride and chose Buchanan for a second term.