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Dewey

Henderson Dewey of Indiana.

Henderson Dewey (1875? - 1929) was the thirteenth Governor-General of the Confederation of North America, serving from February 1923 to May 1929, and the first to die in office.

Dewey was a Liberal Grand Council member from Indiana who received the party's nomination for Governor-General at the December 1922 convention. The 1923 Grand Council elections were dominated by discussions of the Galloway Plan, which had been announced by Owen Galloway on 25 December 1922, after both parties had chosen their nominees. Incumbent Governor-General Calvin Wagner announced his endorsement of the Galloway Plan "and all it entails," while Dewey went further, promising to bring Galloway into the government if elected. Dewey also imitated Galloway's manner of speaking, and even his appearance. In this way, Dewey was able to convince voters that he was closer to Galloway that Wagner was, and the Liberals won their first Grand Council majority since 1883.

Unlike John McDowell and Ezra Gallivan, Dewey did not give his legislative program a name, which was in accordance with his low-key style of governance. In his first term, Dewey introduced over a hundred measures into the Grand Council, generally with little fanfare by Liberal back-benchers. Sobel mentions four major ones: The Spargo Bill, which redistributed federal revenues to the confederations on a per capita basis; the General Education Bill, which guaranteed education through professional schools to all intellectually qualified citizens; the Simmons Toll Road Bill, which provided for the construction of confederation-sponsored toll roads; and the Transportation Control Act, which consolidated regulation of railroads, airmobile lines, and inter-confederation trucking under the Confederation Transportation Authority.

Dewey's legislative program had the general effect of transferring power from the national government in Burgoyne to the confederation governments. In part, this was motivated by Dewey's political philosophy, since he believed that the national government would inevitably lose power to the confederations, and he wanted to build up confederation governing institutions. In part, it was motivated by partisanship, since Dewey believed that his election had been a fluke, and that the People's Coalition would regain control of the national government after he stepped down, while the Liberals would retain control in Manitoba, Northern Vandalia, and his own confederation of Indiana. As a result of Dewey's policies, in five years national government spending fell from 8.8% of the C.N.A.'s Gross Domestic Product to 6.4%, while confederation spending rose dramatically.

Under Minister of Home Affairs Douglas Watson, the government cooperated fully with the Galloway Trust, and quietly assisted would-be emigrants. From 1923 to 1928, over 400,000 North Americans emigrated overseas with assistance from the Trust, and another 200,000 did so on their own with guidance from Home Office agents. Since the overseas emigrants tended to be Coalitionists, the Dewey administration was effectively exporting its political opponents. At the same time, over 1.1 million North Americans relocated within the C.N.A. with Trust funding, and the cooperation offered by Home Office agents converted many of them from lukewarm Coalitionists to staunch Liberals.

Although there was no formal cooperation between the Galloway Trust and the government, Watson's policy of assisting emigrants gave voters the impression that Galloway favored the Liberals. As a result, in the 1928 Grand Council elections, the Liberals increased their majority from 81 seats to 94. In addition, the Liberals won control of the governorships of five of the confederations, and four of the legislatures.

Characteristically, Dewey made no new Cabinet appointments and announced no new initiatives at the start of his second term. Instead, he waited until December 1, 1928 to announce a major study of the National Financial Administration "to see how this important agency may better serve the interests of the nation and its people." Dewey aimed to apply his own diffusionist philosophy to the N.F.A., imposing a requirement that its financings be porportional to each confederation's population. He announced this in a vitavised speech on May 5, 1929, and met with Liberal Party leaders three days later to formulate a legislative strategy. The decision was made to schedule a vote the following week; however, two days after the meeting, on the morning of May 10, Dewey was found dead of a heart attack.

Following Dewey's death, his widow Edith Dewey edited his papers into a book, Commonwealth, published in New York in 1930.


Sobel's sources for the life of Henderson Dewey are Dewey's posthumously published memoirs, Commonwealth (New York, 1930), as well as Alton Gibbs' A Friend in Burgoyne (New York, 1931), Franklin Drew's The Guard Changeth: The Elections of 1923 (New York, 1923) and The Guard is Confirmed: The Elections of 1928 (New York, 1933), and Don Brokow's Henderson Dewey: A Study in Mediocrity (New York, 1945).


This was the Featured Article for the week of 3 November 2013.


Governors-General of the C.N.A.
Winfield ScottHenry GilpinWilliam JohnsonWhitney HawkinsKenneth ParkesHerbert ClemensJohn McDowellEzra GallivanClifton BurgenChristopher HemingwayAlbert MerrimanCalvin WagnerHenderson DeweyDouglas WatsonBruce HoggJames BillingtonRichard MasonPerry JayCarter Monaghan

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