Calvin Wagner was the twelfth Governor-General of the Confederation of North America, serving from February 1918 to February 1923, and a member of the Grand Council from Indiana from at least 1913 to 1928.
Wagner represented Indiana in the Grand Council in 1918 when outgoing Governor-General Albert Merriman chose him as his successor. Merriman's influence was sufficient to gain Wagner the nomination at the People's Coalition's national convention, and despite the racial strife that had disturbed the C.N.A. since the Chapultepec Incident, Merriman's popularity was still great enough to enable Wagner to defeat the Liberal Party nominee, Governor Chester Phipps of the Southern Confederation in the 1918 Grand Council elections.
Wagner was much like his predecessors Merriman and Hemingway, an amiable politician with no strong likes or dislikes. Wagner had earlier served as a judge in the Indiana court system, and he preferred to be known by that title. A Burgoyne journalist would later describe Wagner as "a decent and fairly intelligent man who unfortunately has the appearance of a contented hog". Wagner once stated that "This is a business century, and we are a business country," and during the election promised "still greater prosperity and continued peace and tranquility." However, Wagner's amiability left him unprepared to deal with the growing unrest that resulted from the formation of the Friends of Black Mexico and the Chapultepec Incident.
Following the abolition of slavery in the United States of Mexico in 1920, former Governor Howard Washburne transformed the F.B.M. into the League for Brotherhood, with the goal of ending racial discrimination in the C.N.A. The L.B. expanded to include the anti-urban Agrarian Alliance, the Neiderhofferian Workers' Army, and the anarchistic Universities for Justice. By the summer of 1922, the growing dissatisfaction with the status quo resulted in massive demonstrations and major riots. Wagner attempted to rally the C.N.A. behind him, but succeeded only in antagonizing the protestors and radicalizing his supporters. On June 23, 1922, James Kilroy of the New York Herald wrote that "The faint aroma of Starkism has made its appearance, and both opponents of our civilization and its supporters seem pleased by the possibility of its return."
In response to the growing unrest, locomobile magnate Owen Galloway, the President of North American Motors, made his vitavised Galloway speech on 25 December 1922, offering his Galloway Plan to subsidize emigration within and from the C.N.A. During the 1923 Grand Council elections both Wagner and his Liberal opponent, Indiana Councilman Henderson Dewey, supported the Galloway Plan. Dewey, however, was more successful in convincing voters that he had Galloway's support, and the People's Coalition lost its majority in the Grand Council.
Wagner continued to serve in the Grand Council during Dewey's first term as Governor-General, and was one of the contenders for the nomination at the Coalition's 1928 national convention. However, the convention chose Councilman Frank Evans of the Northern Confederation, who led the Coalition to a second defeat at Dewey's hands in the 1928 Grand Council elections.
Sobel's sources for the life and political career of Calvin Wagner are Winslow McGregor's A Child Shall Lead Them: The Idiocy of Our Times (New York, 1921), Jeremy Slater's Essays of the Revolution (New York, 1921), Milton Schuster's The Quiet Election: The Wagner Victory of 1918 (New York, 1929), Farley Shaw's Voices of the Great Protest (New York, 1930), Fritz Webern's The Dilemma of Our Times (New York, 1933), and Franklin Drew's The Guard Changeth: The Elections of 1923 (New York, 1931) and The Guard is Confirmed: The Elections of 1928 (New York, 1933).
|Governors-General of the C.N.A.|
|Winfield Scott • Henry Gilpin • William Johnson • Whitney Hawkins • Kenneth Parkes • Herbert Clemens • John McDowell • Ezra Gallivan • Clifton Burgen • Christopher Hemingway • Albert Merriman • Calvin Wagner • Henderson Dewey • Douglas Watson • Bruce Hogg • James Billington • Richard Mason • Perry Jay • Carter Monaghan|