Convention of 1903

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The Democratic-Republican Party Political Convention of 1903, more commonly known by the famous names of the Convention of 1903 or the 1903 Convention, was a national convention held by the Democratic-Republican Party of Sierra in 1903 to settle a long-standing issue that had plagued the party for decades. The issue was over whether or not the party should continue to keep political republicanism as part of the its official party platform or to drop it and instead promote cultural republicanism, an opposition to the monarchy expressed through separate cultural and social norms, customs and traditions while abstaining from traditions and customs that supported the monarchy. The issue had plagued the party for decades following the end of the Sierran Civil War where, while the party retained a strong position in politics, avoided discussing republicanism and potential abolition of the Sierran monarchy which angered portions of the party's base and factions of the party.

The convention was held in Bernheim, San Joaquin at the request of Robert Landon, the Prime Minister of Sierra and son of the late republican revolutionary, Isaiah Landon. While Landon himself was supportive of the ideology and goals of his late father, he abstained from discussing political republicanism, then called radical republicanism, out of fear of dividing the party or seeing the Royalists score a major parliamentary victory nationwide by exploiting the divisions or support for abolition, a position that was only supported by a fraction of Sierran society in the aftermath of the civil war. Landon himself was present at the convention and served as the Chairman of the Democratic-Republican National Committee and President of the Political Committee, a political body formed to handle platform related issues during the convention.

Landon himself chose to remain neutral, but would decide whether or not the party would continued to push for political republicanism once the issue had been settled in a debate. During the three days the debate waged on, two notable factions had emerged called the Traditionalists and the Culturalists. Traditional Republicans were members of the Democratic-Republican Party, mainly Styxiecrats who supported abolitionism and supported political republicanism. They opposed dropping the idea believing that the party would become "slaves to the monarchy" while many others only supported political republicanism because of the pro-republican and anti-monarchist nature of the respective provinces that they represented, most notably San Joaquin and Santa Clara. Cultural Republicans were in support of cultural republicanism and believed that it was for the greater good that radical republicanism be dropped from the party platform arguing that the general public was still supportive the monarchy and the latter benefited from post-civil war support. Philip Judd from the Gold Coast was the leading member of the culturalists while the traditionalists were lead primarily by Hiram Johnson from San Francisco.

The convention concluded on the decision to adopt cultural republicanism and drop political republicanism from the party platform after a narrow vote which saw the culturalist position win with at least 51% of the vote. The traditionalists, who won only 48% of the vote, became disillusioned in the long run and eventually formed the Reformed Republican Party one month after the convention and campaigned as a republican alternative to the Democratic-Republicans. The two parties clashed in the elections of the late 1910s and early 1920s and while the Democratic-Republicans won, the convention had long lasting impacts that are still felt in the modern era. In the contemporary era the convention remains controversial with many believing that the decision was valid while others believed that the decision was either counter-productive or no longer feasible and pragmatic for the party in the modern era.

Background[edit]

Photo of Robert Landon in 1901 at the time of his election.

The election of Robert Landon in the 1901 general election as the Prime Minister of Sierra came at a shock to the nation who believed that the Landon family was either dead or withdrew from public life following the end of the Sierran Civil War. Robert Abraham Landon was revered by those within both the Democratic-Republican Party and especially in the Styxie who believed that the opportunity to formally abolish the monarchy had arrived, an opportunity not seen since the early 1870s during the tenure of Ulysses Perry as Prime Minister. While republicans across the country celebrated, monarchists were frightful, fearing that Robert Landon would abolish the monarchy and attempt to establish a new communist state under the principals of Landonism, the guiding philosophy and personal interpretation of Marxism by his father, Isaiah Landon. While Robert Landon ran on a platform of limiting the monarch's powers and even voiced support to the idea of a Crowned republic, he was hesitant to endorse full abolition fearing that he would lose the election and would allow the Royalist Party to gain a supermajority and would attempt to stifle the republican movement. Further more Robert himself was not opposed to the Sierran Cultural Revolution believing in racial equality, but a substantial portion of the Democratic-Republican base was opposed to it from anti-monarchists who opposed the influence of the monarchy in the revolution to far-right nativists in the Styxie opposing civil rights and racial equality. As a result, Landon ran on a platform of preserving what he called "traditional republican values" and appealed to the Dem-Rep base by promoting to oppose "Royalist tyranny" by any means.

One of Landon's most notable supporters was Hiram Johnson, a radical republican and far-right nativist member of the Democratic-Republican Party who represented Presidio, San Francisco in parliament. Johnson had applied to be Landon's Deputy Prime Minister, but lost to Philip Judd, a moderate cultural republican member of the DPRS. Johnson was chosen as the Minister of the Interior in 1902 and used his position to stifle the cultural revolution, but also pressured Landon into pursuing abolition in private. A rivalry broke out between Judd and Johnson over whether or not political republicanism should remain on the Dem-Rep Party platform and the issue eventually became public and divided much of the party. Fearing a potential electoral and/or political disaster, Landon called for an "emergency party convention" to be held in Bernheim to discuss and settle the issue, the latter of which he referred to as the "republican question". The goal of the convention was to see if the party should continue espousing political republicanism, commonly referred to as radical republicanism in post-civil war Sierran politics, or to drop it from the party's platform completely and endorse cultural republicanism, a form of republicanism emphasizing common customs, traditions, cultures and values held by those who opposed the monarchy. The Bernheim city government would agree to host the convention and the Democratic-Republican National Committee had also agreed to host the event and established a committee to oversee the debate and was given the power to make the final decision once the debate over the issue was over.

The republican question soon became a national issue and was a defining moment in Landon's first term as prime minister. The controversy and debate was made even more intense considering that it occurred during the opening stages of the cultural revolution and much of the Democratic-Republican Party, especially Styxiecrats and party traditionalists, opposed the revolution from white nationalist sentiments from Styxiecrats to anti-monarchist sentiments from more moderate counter-revolutionaries. Major media outlets and newspapers covered the issue and thousands of reporters and journalists would travel to Bernheim to cover the upcoming convention viewing it as a potential turning point in the Democratic-Republican Party and the larger republican movement. Sierran republicans were also divided over the issue, though the division was region based with cultural republicanism seeing strong levels of support among Democratic-Republicans in the coastal regions in the south along with many in the Pacific Corridor while political republicanism was supported overwhelmingly by those in the Styxie.

Planning[edit]

Known Factions[edit]

Traditionalists[edit]

Johnson was the unofficial leader of the traditionalist faction.

The Traditional Republicans were a faction of the Democratic-Republican Party that were hardline republicans and were ardent opponents of the monarchy and wanted its legal abolition. Called the Radical Republicans in mainstream Sierran politics and media, traditionalists mostly originated from the Styxie from the core provinces such as San Joaquin and Santa Clara to satellite provinces that shared, and still share, common customs, views and values such as San Francisco and the Central Valley. Democratic-Republicans that held radical republican views were mainly from provinces that were a part of the Second California Republic during the civil war, both those that joined willingly and those that were occupied during the republican offensives, and where pro-republican and anti-monarchist sentiments remained strong despite the decline of political republicanism in the post-civil war years. Hiram Johnson was the unofficial leader of the traditionalist faction during the convention and hailed from the province of San Francisco. Johnson's views were influenced by those of his family and how his youth was dominated by the civil war such as his father fighting for the Bear Flaggers and his mother was a nurse in the republican army. During his tenure as a Member of Parliament, Johnson became the most vocal and leading radical republican in all of Sierra rivaled only by Santa Clara MP and later governor Anton Parker who also espoused anti-monarchist and political republican views.

Radical republicans were concerned over the decision to drop political republicanism from the DPRS platform under the fear that if they do, the party will have lost its purpose with many fearing that Democratic-Republicans would become "subordinates of the Royalist elite and corrupt aristocracy". Such sentiments were made in local newspapers based in the Styxie and promoted to a wide audience. The term traditional republican was coined by Johnson himself who viewed the term radical republican as a smear by monarchists to tarnish those who were critical of the monarchy. In an interview he gave one week before the convention he called the term radical republican "a nonsensical smear by the royalist, aristocratic elite and their monarchist supporters who can't stand the idea of the republican movement being legitimized and want it dead. They've wanted us gone since 1877 and they want us dead now". Parker viewed the convention as inevitable saying that "the issue of republicanism has always been a thorn in the party's side. I support abolition of the monarchy, but there are too many yellow bellies who can't get behind the idea" in an interview with Bunker Hill Journal. Democratic-Republican delegates who supported the traditionalist stance had widespread support among the Styxie provinces, mainly the core provinces with substantial support from the satellite provinces of San Francisco and Plumas. Outside of the Styxie, the traditionalists were viewed as political radicals and received widespread negative press in the media due to their ardent anti-monarchist views and their opposition to the cultural revolution with newspapers supporting the revolution denouncing the traditionalists and pro-revolutionary groups calling for boycotts on goods and businesses from companies that were either owned by radical republicans or supported them.

Culturalists[edit]

Debate and outcome[edit]

First Day[edit]

Second Day[edit]

Third Day[edit]

Final decision[edit]

Aftermath and legacy[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1981 film 1903 depicts the three day debate between traditionalist and cultural republicans during the convention. It was directed by Jack Muller and focused heavily on Johnson and Judd's feud.
  • The HBO 2017 miniseries Convention of 1903 documents the entire convention from the background to its outcome while focusing heavily on all major figures during the convention.

See also[edit]