The Starkist Terror can refer specifically to the wave of violence that swept the Confederation of North America in July 1899 following the Stark speech, or more generally to the war hysteria and vilification of Governor-General Ezra Gallivan that accompanied the Great Northern War between the United States of Mexico and the Russian Empire from 1898 to 1902. The Starkist Terror has given rise to the term "Starkism" refering to any attempt to paint one's political opponents as unpatriotic or treasonous.
In its wider sense, the Starkist Terror can be said to have begun in the summer of 1898, following the Mexican conquest of Russian Alaska in the first phase of the Great Northern War. The ease of Mexico's victory over the Russian Empire resulted in a wave of panic sweeping through the population of the C.N.A. For the first time in its history, the legislature of Manitoba passed a resolution asking for increased military spending. The legislature of neighboring Northern Vandalia followed suit.
By autumn, the new militarism had spread to the eastern confederations, where new organizations were founded to oppose Gallivan's isolationism. The Students Defense League under Frank Mitchell of Georgia University claimed over 100,000 members, who proclaimed their devotion to "the defense of our land from its enemies, both internal and external." They accused Gallivan of working "either together with or for foreign powers who would destroy our nation." Mitchell himself called for Gallivan's removal from office "by whatever means necessary." Edward Byrnes of the smaller, but more radical, For North America Movement, hinted that assassination might be the best way to remove Gallivan from power.
The Friends of Burgoyne, whose members traced their descent from Loyalist soldiers in the North American Rebellion, called on Gallivan to resign "for the good of the nation." In an address on 10 January 1899, Manitoba Governor Douglas Sizer also called on Gallivan to resign. "He should leave government," said Sizer. "Mr. Gallivan has stayed too long." An unofficial tally of mail to the members of the Grand Council ran two-to-one against Gallivan, and was highly critical of his defense policies.
At first, Gallivan ignored the movement, hoping that the "belligerency craze," as he called it, would pass. As the movement gained strength, he finally decided to address the situation, giving a speech on 17 May 1899 in which he assured the people that the North American armed forces were strong enough to defeat any Mexican challenge. The new militarism subsided for a month, then flared up again in late June with news of the first Mexican landings in Siberia.
The movement entered a new, more violent phase after 10 July, when Councilman Fritz Stark of the Southern Confederation gave a speech in which he claimed to have proof that Gallivan was in the pay of Kramer Associates, which was directing the C.N.A.'s isolationist foreign policy. The Stark speech touched off a two-week wave of political violence across the C.N.A. that resulted in 436 deaths, over 13,000 injuries, and some N.A. £980 million in property damage.
Attempts were made on the lives of at least fifteen Councilman who supported Gallivan, successfully in the case of Dudley Graves of Indiana. Coalition offices were looted and burned, and in New York City and Philadelphia mobs entered immigrant quarters searching for "foreigners" who were sympathetic to "anti-North Americans." Gallivan was forced to remain secluded in the Executive Mansion, surrounded by capital guards. It was said that not even the army would be permitted near Gallivan, since elements of the Burgoyne regiments were prepared to assassinate him.
Following the speech, Gallivan called Stark and asked for a meeting "to examine these grave and irresponsible charges you have made." Stark agreed, but only if he were accompanied by a delegation from the Grand Council's Committee on Rules. Gallivan agreed, and the meeting was held on 19 July. Stark gave Gallivan documents he had received from John Montalban, a clerk in the Mexican embassy. Gallivan denounced the documents as forgeries, and asked the other Councilmen present for "a full investigation of these slanders, at the earliest possible moment." The Councilmen agreed, and the next day they established the Special Subcommittee of the Rules Committee to Investigate Charges of Treason, also known as the Nelson Subcommittee after Chairman Henderson Nelson of the Northern Confederation.
Gallivan had insisted that a member of the opposition Liberal Party be appointed head of the subcommittee "to remove any doubts as to its impartiality." Sobel indicates that another reason for Gallivan's request was that all of the subcommittee members from his own People's Coalition were supporters of his rival Thomas Kronmiller, who hoped to see him removed from office.
By the time the Nelson Subcommittee issued its report on 4 August, it was able to establish that Gallivan's assets came to only N.A. £324,954, most of which was in government bonds. There was no trace of the N.A. £9 million Gallivan had supposedly received from K.A. since 1893. In addition, the subcommittee learned that Montalban had a record of mental illness, and that the documents he had provided to Stark were indeed forgeries.
In a public address on Sunday, 6 August, Stark recanted his accusations, saying "I have wronged a good and honest man, irreparably. I ask Governor-General Gallivan's forgiveness and understanding. I acted out of love of country, but I have done more harm to it than any man since the Rebellion." Stark then announced his resignation from the Grand Council. The next day, he was found dead in his home of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. In his hand was a note with the words "It is ended."
In spite of Stark's renunciation, the fear of Mexico's military power remained strong, and Gallivan's opponents claimed that he had coerced Stark into denying his claims and then had him killed. Within a week, the vilification of Gallivan resumed. Newspaper articles and books appeared showing (Sobel says "purporting to show") how K.A. controlled every aspect of life in the U.S.M., and was now doing the same in the C.N.A. A play opened in New York called "The Merry Life of Patrick Henry" which was a thinly-disguised attack on Gallivan, implying that he was guilty of the most terrible crimes. "The Merry Life of Patrick Henry" received good reviews and was an immediate hit, and was soon opening in other North American cities.
Gallivan still had considerable support among moderates, the Indiana branch of the People's Coalition, and majority elements in the P.C. organizations in Northern Vandalia and the Northern Confederation, which prevented Kronmiller's supporters and the Liberal caucus from gaining a no confidence vote in the Grand Council. However, the anti-Gallivan opposition, including nativists, expansionists, and supporters of the Moral Imperative, remained intact, and as the months passed the threat of revolution grew worse.
Finally, on 24 July 1901, Gallivan called a special meeting of the P.C. caucus and announced his resignation as Governor-General. In a speech to the nation that evening, he said, "For many years I have cherished the grace with which John McDowell left office, and had hoped I could match it. This was not meant to be. Therefore, let me be blunt and direct. Events of the past two years have shown I have become an embarrassment to many in the nation, a source of serious contention. North America as a whole would be better served by my resignation than if I stayed in office."
The next day, the P.C. caucus met to choose Gallivan's successor. Kronmiller had become too identified with Starkism to gain a majority of votes, while other candidates were unable to win sufficient support for various reasons. The caucus finally settled on a compromise candidate, Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia. Kronmiller complained afterwards that "Burgen had everything in his favor. No one knew who he was, and neither did he." Burgen agreed not to seek the party's nomination for governor-general in the upcoming 1903 Grand Council elections, and on 29 July 1901 he was sworn in, with Gallivan at his side.
The ouster of Mexican dictator Benito Hermión three months later brought an end to fears of Mexican invasion, and together with Gallivan's resignation, left the Starkites with no target to attack. Within a year, a reaction set in, and the Starkites were purged from their positions on newspapers and in universities, voted out of office in the 1902 elections, and avoided at public meetings. Politically, the turmoil of the Starkist Terror gave way to the placidity of the Years of the Pygmies.
Sobel's sources for the Starkist Terror are Edward Byrnes' Rebel (New York, 1920); Allan Watterson's The Great Fear: Starkism in the C.N.A. (London, 1956); Alice Welsch's Who Killed Cock Robin? Starkism in Perspective (New York, 1959); and Henry Tracy's Gallivan: The Third Stage (Burgoyne, 1961).
This was the Featured Article for the week of 23 February 2014.
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