|Chairman of the Second Californian Republic Executive Council|
April 14, 1874 – November 11, 1877
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Position abolished|
|Sierran Senator from San Joaquin|
November 16, 1870 – April 13, 1874
|Preceded by||Uriah Jennings|
|Succeeded by||Hershel Parkins|
November 5, 1817|
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
December 29, 1888 (aged 71)|
Landon Estate, Bernheim, San Joaquin, Sierra
|Resting place||Sentinel National Cemetery, Santa Nella, Santa Clara, Sierra|
|Spouse(s)||Martha Rita Cunningham|
|Religion||Congregationalist (Disciples of Christ)|
California Republic (2nd)
|Republicanism in Sierra|
Born to a poor family of farmers in Charleston, South Carolina, Landon embarked for California in 1849 in search for wealth and better health when he contracted tuberculosis as a young man. With his wife, Landon experienced initial difficulties adjusting to life in California, but eventually worked as a newspaper publisher. Influenced by the socialist ideas within his circle of friends, and witnessing the conditions of the working man at the minefield and in the city, Landon devoted the following years towards promoting social justice and workers' rights. In 1851, Landon purchased a farmhouse near Bernheim and established a utopian colony, and founded The Liberty Press, a leftist newspaper which garnered popularity among locals. Through his publications, Landon became a prominent political thinker, and gained a large base of followers. When Sierra was formed in 1858, Landon deeply opposed the institution of monarchy and quickly rose in the ranks of the Democratic-Republican, and became one of the party's most outspoken republicans. Developing close ties with other leaders including Prime Minister Ulysses Perry, he served as a senator for San Joaquin. After the political assassination of Prime Minister Perry, Landon encouraged rebellion, and eventually started it himself in 1874, triggering the Sierran Civil War, and assuming leadership over Second California Republic as its executive chairman.
Hailed as a republican and a socialist revolutionary, Landon's opposition to the Sierran monarchy ultimately failed. Following his surrender at the end of the civil war in 1877, Landon was placed on a lifelong house arrest at his Fresno residence. Landon represented one of the most prominent republican figures in Sierran history, and was among the last of the so-called "Radical Democratic-Republicans" leaders who advocated for the abolition of the monarchy in the 19th century.
Landon is regarded as the Father of Socialist Republicanism in Anglo-America, and spent the remaining eleven years after the war under house arrest, writing the majority of his works criticizing monarchism, capitalism, and social blights in Sierra, including his most famous work, Exploitation in the Modern Age. During his final years, he developed Landonism, which was the cumulative synthesis of his views. Although his views on capitalism and advocacy for Marxism were largely ignored by his contemporaries, his ideas were later drawn upon by international leftist movements throughout the world, and would be cited as inspiration for the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, along with various other leftist movements. Landon's works were a major influence on the development of the United Commonwealth's Continentalist Party. While Landon has been revered romantically in contemporary times as a revolutionary, his military tactics, especially those towards the end of the civil war, and his governance as the Republic's only chairman have been met with controversy, and has attracted criticism. Landon is also the paternal grandfather of Robert Landon (1901-1909), Sierra's 9th Prime Minister who was a Democratic-Republican. After decades of Landon's contributions and views towards socialism being overlooked by Sierran culture, there has been a contemporary revival in interest of his works.
Early life and career[edit | edit source]
In America[edit | edit source]
Isaiah Landon was born to Henry Landon and his wife Abigail Whitman, on November 5, 1817 in Charleston, South Carolina. The eldest of six children, Landon's family was poor and lived as non-slaveholding yeomen. Unable to afford higher education, Landon stopped after completing the eighth grade and worked on the farm with his father and brothers, picking tobacco and other crops. Although Landon spent much of his childhood and young adulthood on the farm, he developed an interest in politics, law, and philosophy. Never attending a university, Landon was largely self-taught, as he frequently visited the local library, attended local town meetings and engaged in public forums, expressing his opinions and seeking to solve issues. Landon eventually found work as a journalist, earning enough money to provide for his family. Although Landon did not approve of slavery, he believed that it was a fundamental and entrenching institution of the South and according to his personal journals, he at one point, planned to own several when he was able afford to.
Landon met his future wife, Martha Rita Cunningham in 1843 while working on a story in Charleston. Although they were friends, Landon developed romantic feelings for Cunningham, love that was temporarily unrequited solely because Cunningham's family was wealthier while the Landons were poor. Determined, Landon began searching for additional jobs away from the farm in addition to reporting, and worked on a workshop, before contracting tuberculosis in 1848. Physically ruined, news of gold and clean air in California prompted Landon to use his savings to travel there. Cunningham, who was disowned by her family over irreconcilable differences, ran off with Landon together and embarked on a six-month journey in a clipper to San Francisco City.
In California[edit | edit source]
Arriving to California penniless, as the cost of the journey was all his savings, Landon and Cunningham were thrown into debtor's prison after they failed to afford their shipping company's extraneous fees. During Landon's captivity, his health had greatly deteriorated, and he nearly collapsed in the midst of hard, physical labor, and was forced to be nursed back by an on-site physician. After four months locked in a San Francisco City jail, the two were released, and were taken in by a friendly society of American socialists in the city. The friendly society, known as the Benevolent Association of Freeman (later renamed the Bay Area Republicans), which consisted of individuals with utopian socialist and egalitarian ideas, strongly influenced Landon's views, and shaped his ideology and later attitudes toward monarchism. After spending a little more than 8 months in the company of the Benevolent Association, Landon and Cunningham set off for Sacramento, in hopes of finding enough gold to settle and establish a farm somewhere in the Central Valley, and potentially form an experiment community based on the Benevolent Association's ideals and tenets.
When Landon and Cunningham arrived to Sacramento, he encountered the lawlessness and chaotic conditions that were commonplace around the gold mines. When Landon attempted to stake his own area for mining, he was viciously beaten by a group of prospectors who claimed he was trespassing their property. Fleeing, he and his fiancé departed to Juno (then known as Knights Camp) where Landon tried to set up his own newspaper there instead of searching for gold. He had developed reservations on undertaking a life in agriculture, believing it was in his purpose to educate others. He created The Working Knight's Gazette which focused on social justice and problems in the minefields, and managed to circulate a few hundred papers for five issues before he was forced to close operations by local business owners who refused to subsidize his explicitly socialist views. Landon once again left, revisiting the idea of owning his own farm, but had gained his own posse of followers, who were intrigued by Landon's ideas.
In June 1851, settling in the outskirts of Bernheim, the most populous settlement in inland northern California, Landon and his followers purchased a large plot of land, where he founded the community of the Grace Colony, whose population peaked at 67. It was here where Landon finally married Cunningham, and had their first child, Joshua, born at the colony. From here, Landon was able to achieve his goal of producing a nationally read newspaper, raising objections to the ineffectiveness of the Californian government and its failure to improve the conditions of the exploited. He founded The Liberty Bell Press, which instantly became popular in not only in Bernheim, but throughout San Joaquin and Santa Clara, as it was cheap and affordable, and was "the voice of the people". Landon faced threats by ranch owners and statesmen alike, demanding that he cease publication, and so, in order to defend the integrity of the paper and his colony, Landon armed his followers, a move that was seen with great alarm by many Californians. His followers were ridiculed as "drunkard, faux-philosophers" and "illiterate, algerine hobbledehoys", and were mockingly called "Landonites", or the "Thirteenth Tribe of Israel".
When there was news that the government of California was holding a national convention to revise the constitution, Landon's supporters pressed for him to be invited, but the demand was flatly denied by the Convention, and Landon slammed the decision, decrying it as an act of "trampling and strangling democracy". Although Landon was unable to attend the Convention in 1857, he played a minor role, speaking with members of the Convention's republican faction, and offering his suggestions for the plans drafted up. Among the individuals he spoke with, he befriended future Sierran prime minister Ulysses Perry, who became a close friend and political ally of Landon.
In Sierra[edit | edit source]
When the Constitution of 1858 was ratified, transforming the Republic of California into the Kingdom of Sierra, Landon strongly opposed the change, heavily criticizing the new direction of the country, and joined the Democratic-Republicans. Although Landon's socialist ideas would not gain traction within the party, he was held with great esteem among the party for his affirmative republicanism, and concern for the welfare of the Sierran working class. Landon became a regional party director, overseeing party members in the Bernheim area, and urging his followers to vote in Democratic-Republicans. He frequently sparred with the landed aristocracy and titled farmers, and organized farmers' strikes in order to improve working conditions while he served party regional director.
Landon is credited with the development of labor unions and federations in Sierra, helping with the foundation and organization of the Order of Farming Countrymen and Brotherhood of Railroad Workers. Landon himself however, never formed his own labor organization, and nearly all of the unions which formed rejected Landon's socialism, as well anarchism, emphasizing instead, a "virtuous form of republicanism". Downplaying his own socialist ideas, Landon focused on promoting "class-conscious republicanism", and campaigned across the Styxie in garnering political consolidation into the various unions set up.
Political career[edit | edit source]
In 1869, several labor organizations and party leaders in San Joaquin encouraged voters in the upcoming elections the next year to vote for Landon. Landon, who had earned himself a reputable status as a fiery orator and highly prolific writer, became a household name among Democratic-Republican supporters and Royalist opponents alike throughout the country. The Grace Colony, which had disbanded, was still the residence of the Landon Family, and visitors flocked to the estate in hopes of meeting Landon. Landon began placing serious consideration in running for one of San Joaquin's two electable seats in the Senate, which was about to be vacated by incumbent Democratic-Republican Russell K. Deavy, who was stepping down after two terms in office, and did not intend to seek another term. By the end of the 1860s, San Joaquin had effectively become staunchly Democratic-Republican, and had a Democratic-Republican supermajority within its legislature. With no other Democratic-Republican challengers wishing to oppose the highly popular Landon, and no viable Royalist candidate, Landon ran virtually unopposed and won the 1870 senatorial election. In addition, his friend, Ulysses Perry, who had also gained immense popularity, was elected as Prime Minister, becoming the first Democratic-Republican to hold the office.
As a senator, Landon led the "Radical Democratic-Republican" wing in Parliament, grandstanding and striking down any laws that he believed advanced the institution of monarchy. He was highly protectionist, and refused to vote for any bills that included hidden tariffs and taxes. Earning the nickname, "Old Man No", Landon was known for his lengthy filibustering speeches, disrupting sessions, and threatening to fight his own peers if they tried to interrupt him. On two instances, Landon was forcibly removed from the Senate chamber. An account by fellow Senator Marcus Bragg, 1st Lord Bragg (R-SF) wrote the following rather colorfully: "[Landon], the ornary fool went about waking snakes [causing a commotion], and was most considerable of a nuisance through his own shameful conniption [hysteria], disrupting the peace in these most sacred halls."
Landon was an outspoken supporter for the silver standard, and supported antitrust laws to restrict the private monopolization of railroads and infrastructure. He frequently joined his friend, the Prime Minister Ulysses Perry, and fellow Senator Frederick Bailey (DR-SC) in criticizing the political influence of King Charles I, and called for an auditing of the Royal Family's personal finances, and demanded that the King be forced to attend parliamentary sessions requiring his royal assent.
On February 18, 1874, Prime Minister Perry was killed, and at the time, the circumstances of his death was unknown and officially categorized by the government as an apparent suicide. Although his body was not found, Perry's own bodyguards claimed that the prime minister was shot several times, before being tossed into the river. Immediately following this, Landon, as many others, suspected that Perry's death was politically motivated and at foul play at the hands of the King and his supporters. Angered, Landon privately consoled the Perry family, and called for a thorough investigation on Perry's death, a motion that was delayed due to legal complications surrounding Perry's own death. In Perry's place, his deputy prime minister, Issac Johnson, succeeded Perry as Acting Prime Minister, but publicly came out stating that he agreed with the government's explanation (specifically, from the Royal Bureau of Investigation) on Perry's death, which was suicide. However, Landon noted that the two eyewitness accounts claiming Perry was shot several times proved inconsistent with a suicidal death. The Royal Bureau of Investigation asserted that Perry may have shot himself in the abdomen several times, before falling backwards into the river, and drowned.
Following the incident and the political drama that ensued, Landon first began contemplating an armed rebellion around March 1874. Private notes and accounts revealed that by that time, he had already devised a rudimentary plan to recruit his own followers, and unify republican clubs and unions in overthrowing the Sierran monarchy, and installing a republican regime. Seeking to avenge Perry's death, who was revered as a national hero, Landon returned to San Joaquin frequently, overseeing the training of his followers, and assessing the infrastructural ability of the Styxie in withstanding retaliation from the Kingdom. By 1874, the capital of Sierra had moved from San Francisco City to Porciúncula, over 350 miles further south, and virtually all of the institutions of government including the monarchy had relocated there. Landon believed that if he was able to seize control of San Francisco City, it would be possible for maintaining a firm control over his potential breakaway state, which he envisioned would be guided by republican principles.
Concurrently with Landon's own plans, the political culture of Sierra had become radicalized and polarized, with ordinary Democratic-Republicans angered by Perry's death, and staging protests, and in some cases, even violent riots and vandalism against government buildings. Finally, confident with the resources and popular support he had acquired, Landon made the decision to incite rebellion, and on April 13, 1874, Landon delivered an impassioned speech before citizens in Bernheim, urging citizens to take up arms, and to overthrow the monarchy. His speech, the Bernheim Address, listed various grievances the monarchy had allegedly committed against the people, and mirrored the language of the American Declaration of Independence. He called for the restoration of the California Republic, and the expunging of all monarchists who sought to undermine the Republic, and believed it was necessary for the common man to retake their nation, and rights against the upper echelons of Sierran society.
Sierran Civil War[edit | edit source]
Immediately following Landon's provocative speech, he personally led an armed storming of the San Joaquin Provincial Capitol and the Governor's Mansion, removing elected officials from their offices, and capturing other buildings, including the local ammunition depot. Many members of the Sierran Crown Armed Forces and law enforcement, rather than fight back, joined Landon's rebellion, and quickly led to a Bernheim firmly under republican control. News of Landon's speech, and the decisively successful takeover of Bernheim spread through telegram, inspiring other disgruntled citizens throughout the Styxie and beyond into revolting. Landon, realizing his own successes, declared himself the leader of the self-proclaimed Second California Republic, and founded the Standing Executive Committee, the republic's center of operations and administration, and served as its chairman. He appointed several of his own followers, as well as Senator Paul Peterson (DR-SJ), as sitting members of the Standing Executive Committee, and oversaw prominent generals including Albert Sidney Johnston, Hubert Fisher, and Edmund York swear loyalty to him, and the Republic.
The Republic made rapid advances, taking over much of the Styxie within a month, taking advantage of the ill preparation of the Monarchist forces against the Republican forces through sheer, overwhelming forces and numbers. Landon's plan included seizing the former capital of San Francisco City, as well as the town of Monterrey, which would effectively allow Landon to control the entire northern part of Sierra comfortably. Landon also relied on the spontaneous rebellions that occurred throughout the Kingdom, in hopes of linking up with "liberated" towns as Landon's ultimate goal was to send troops southward, all the way to the capital of Porciúncula. The Republic's enormous gains in a relatively short time was attributed to Landon's delicate, and concise management and planning, as well as the fervent spirit among his followers in carrying out the cause. While the war waged on, Landon also oversaw providing basic utilities and essentials to his people, forming a legislature and working on a constitution. Landon distributed the land among the people, selling Republic-held land to farmers at exceptionally low prices, and incentivized them into producing crops efficiently. He encouraged workers and farmers to cooperate together, and allowed unions to organize local working projects and factories.
By the beginning of 1875, San Francisco and the surrounding region had already fallen to the Republic, and Landon diverted his attention to the south, commanding troops to begin marching towards the Southwest Corridor through Tejon Pass. General Johnston, who was charged with leading the Republican forces through Tejon Pass, made the folly in believing the Monarchist forces were camped south of the pass in San Fernando Valley, rather than at the Pass itself. Miscalculating their location, Johnston and his men were ambushed, trapped, and brutally defeated. The event, now known as the Folly at Tejon Pass, was a pivotal moment in the Sierran Civil War which marked the downfall of the Republic. Following this crushing defeat, the Republic made no more significant advances, and instead, lost territory as the Kingdom launched an exhaustive counter-invasion campaign against Central Valley and beyond.
Troubled by the rapid losses, Landon instructed his men to adopt the scorched earth policy, compelling forces to deliberately set fire to farming fields and even private property as a means to halt Republican advances. Landon reasoned that such an idea would make it difficult for the Kingdom to reclaim their land, or to use captured land productively against the Republic. A highly controversial plan, Landon's officials nonetheless obeyed, and complied, forcing townspeople to leave their homes and move northward to the Styxie heartland in order to "defend the Republic". Those who resisted, or attempted to run into Monarchist lines were summarily killed, including women and children. There has been disputes as to whether or not these killings were directly instructed by Landon, but such cases were prolific and commonplace for the Republican troops retreating from the south during the ten months of the Kingdom slowly pushing the Republic up against the Central Valley.
Capitulation[edit | edit source]
As the Republic continued to lose ground, Landon had resorted to more controversial military tactics, including purposefully burning down towns and accepting no prisoners of war. With Bernheim, the capital of the Republic captured by the Monarchists, the Republic had essentially collapsed, and Landon's personal troops were all the remained of the Republicans. Fearing for his own capture, Landon planned to flee Sierra and travel to the United Commonwealth where he would try to persuade the Commonwealth to support the Republic.
With the threat of defeat looming over and morale deteriorating quickly, some of Landon's advisers and officers urged him to surrender. Refusing, he insisted that the Republic continue to fight, declaring that it could last just long enough to elicit international sympathy and then, intervention. Privately however, Landon acknowledged that the "cause is lost", and was preparing to permanently leave Sierra and return home to South Carolina until there was a new window of opportunity, and his safety could be guaranteed. In early November of 1877, he and his men camped at Indian Wells, Kings. Here, he announced his decision to travel across America to secure assistance from the Americans. He gave the choice to his men to either stay and continue the war as guerrilla fighters, or leave the battlefield and return home. In other words, Landon finally admitted defeat, and believed it was essential that the cause of the republican workingmen continue to thrive after the war, despite defeat, and return stronger in the near future. Most of his men opt to remain fighters. On November 11, on the night before he was set to leave, Landon slept at a safehouse in Ridgecrest. Although the town was now under Monarchist control, security was at a minimum, and the family Landon stayed with had built an improvised, secret tunnel and basement which Landon could use to hide in. Escorted by a private entourage late in the evening, Landon resigned into the crawlspace.
Trial[edit | edit source]
After his surrender, Landon was arrested and placed on trial before an impaneled grand jury at the San Francisco City Courthouse which was severely damaged because of the war. He was charged multiple counts of high treason, conspiracy to murder the King, unlawful seizure of government property, and many other crimes. Landon testified that although his actions would indeed be considered treasonous, he asserted that what he did was merely patriotic, and it was a revolution perpetuated as the result of the underclass feeling marginalized and ignored by the Kingdom. Landon expressed no regrets in triggering the war, but firmly stated in his hope for the nation to rebuild, and to foster mutual understanding between the Monarchists and the Republicans, and the poor and the wealthy. Although Landon was captured, small-scale fighting and resistance continued in some parts of the country, and supporters of Landon rallied around the Courthouse, demanding his release. He plead guilty to all of the charges except for the counts on high treason. On November 28, 1877, the Court sentenced Landon to death by hanging, and was to be executed on December 29 of that year. Fearing yet another backlash from the public similar to the death of Perry, Landon urged his supporters to press on the republican cause non-violently, and stated that although he would die, the revolution would not. Just three days later, King Charles I, sympathetic to Landon's cause, despite having been the source of contention for the war, publicly commuted Landon's sentence, and placed him under house arrest, desiring Landon live the remainder of his life with dignity in the comforts of his own estate, and to be able to be visited by his own family, friends, and supporters.
Although Landon still detested the King, as later revealed in his later writings, Landon expressed his desire to convey his gratitude to the King personally for his mercy, which they did on their meeting together on December 6 when Landon was moved back to his home in Bernheim for his house arrest sentence. The conditions of the house arrest were stipulated by the Court, among the restrictions were, that he was only allowed to leave his property with the permission of a local judge and the governor of San Joaquin, and only then, if he was accompanied by a unit of the Royal Guardsmen. He was allowed to travel anywhere for up to 7 days after approval, but must then return, thus limiting the distance he would travel. Beyond this and a few other restrictions, Landon was free to speak and meet with his own followers, and used the time he had writing on various topics, among them, on capitalism, socialism, and republicanism.
Later life[edit | edit source]
Under house arrest, Landon seldom requested the opportunity to travel outside his property, only doing so on four separate occasions, each time for a time outside less than 24 hours. He frequently delivered political seminars to those who sought his opinions, and regularly held social gatherings in the fields of his estate. He began collecting books and essays from his guests, creating his own personal library, which contained over 10,000 individually unique books, works from over 32 languages, and at least 300 different authors. Landon spent much of his time reading, and wrote extensively, maintaining contact with editorial staff of the The Bernheim Examiner, a local newspaper, occasionally being featured as a guest writer. Although the Democratic-Republican Party had officially disowned Landon during the Sierran Civil War, he was still highly regarded even moderates within the party and the leadership, and romanticized as a revolutionary hero. Landon was one of the few radical Democratic-Republican leaders who was not executed, with MP Jacob Van Sant (DR-PL), the former assistant to Landon during the war, sentenced to 150 years in prison in Juno, and others similarly sentenced to actual or effective life imprisonment. Unlike Landon, these individuals, despite some having only played comparatively minor roles in the war as republicans, did not enjoy the liberties and privileges Landon was accorded, and thus, could not communicate with Landon either. The majority of Landon's allies died in prison, with the exception of Xavier Robertson, a governor appointed under Landon, who was released early from prison in 1902 after 25 years of imprisonment.
He worked on six major books during his final years under house arrest, all of which were compilations of a series of letters and articles Landon wrote for The Bernheim Examiner and other publications. Following the start of his house arrest, he published Reflections on the Civil War in Sierra, where he justified his own actions throughout the war, and analyzed the political undercurrents and overtures that dominated the war. He lambasted the Kingdom of alleged atrocities, and accused them of falsely fabricating Landon as a bloodthirsty warlord, dismissing it as propaganda. In the same year, he released The Phrygian Cap which served as a sequel to his previous 1863 work, The Jacobite Wine, which was unique among all of his most known works in that it was a commentary on republicanism in the form of a fictional narrative. In The Phrygian Cap, he wrote a historical retelling of the days leading up towards the French Revolution in the eyes of a young sans-culotte, and the repression of liberal forces under the French monarchy.
In 1879, he published Black Rose: Critique of the Capitalist Mode of Production, which was his own observations of the economy in Sierra and neighboring countries. Landon had read extensively from German thinker Karl Marx, and admired his work, and sought to present it from the perspective of an Anglo-American viewer. He concluded that as owners continued to profit at the expense of their workers, they could control and manipulate the state to impose a strict hierarchy, such as the creation of aristocracy as was attempted under the Bachelor, Sr. Ministry, which he labeled as "neo-feudalism". He also studied Max Weber, and agreed with Weber on the belief that there were other forms of stratification and inequality besides economics, which were chiefly, social status, and political affiliation. Landon believed that even poor monarchists (many Jacobites at the time) who he believed lacked class consciousness in favor of ideology, helped perpetuate traditional order, and prevented workers from gaining enough clout or mobility within the state. He further analyzed his thoughts in Exploitation in the Modern Age, regarded by many of his greatest work, as it introduced his own adaptation of Marxism in an early form of communism known as Landonism, which heavily influenced the intellectual and political leaders of the Russian Revolution.
Illness and death[edit | edit source]
Due to old age, and having to live a mostly sedentary lifestyle due to the circumstantial conditions of his house arrest, Landon's own health deteriorated rapidly towards the end of his life. He tried vegetarianism to combat his developing arthritis, which made it difficult for him to write. As it grew worse, he had his own page write down his thoughts, as he was confined to the rocking chair. During the summer of 1888, his last year, he frequently complained about the heat, and suffered from heat stroke on at least three occasions, and a life-threatening fever. These health complications and incidents placed a tremendous toll on Landon's well-being, and by November, he was unable to leave his bed, and he had to be tended all night. Concerned for his health, and fearing that he was close to death, Landon's wife looked into requesting the government to lift Landon's house arrest, and allow him to stay at a nearby hospice where they could accommodate Landon's needs. Governor Thomas Bailey, a moderate Democratic-Republican, ultimately refused to honor Landon's request, and upon hearing this, Landon wrote a scathing report of the governor, accusing him of being a "loathsome dog", although the two had long stood as political rivals.
By December of that year, Landon had stopped writing completely, and required constant attendance and assistance. Frail and exhausted, Landon continued to receive guests, who visited him at his bed, to listen to his words. Although he was constricted breathing made it hard to speak, he reportedly yelled in rage upon discovering that his confidant, General Hubert Fisher, was denied pardon by the King, and was executed by hanging on December 14. On December 27, two days before Landon's death, the man received his last guest, Henry Nicholas Reynolds, future socialist activist and politician. Reynolds, who was only 19 at the time, received from Landon, a trove of his personal collection of writers, and was instructed to read them thoroughly before having them published. In a personal memoir 29 years later, Reynolds recalled, "This extraordinary man bestowed to me an immeasurable wealth of wisdom and knowledge, and even during his final days in agonizing path, his eyes convicted me with a fighting spirit, and an earnest desire to see the Revolution continue on. He remained a steadfast champion to the Republic until his dying breath." On December 29, shortly after noon, Landon died in his sleep, and his wife was the first to discover this. Landon's body was moved to the living room, and news of his death quickly spread, attracting hundreds to the Landon Residence, who wanted to see their leader one final time. Rivals cheered for his death, and the media expressed a diverse range of opinions on the late leader's legacy. During the King's New Year speech, Charles I spoke warmly of Landon, stating that although the two had very fundamentally strong differences, the two both cared deeply of the people, but stopped short of calling Landon a "hero" as some had hoped.
Personal life[edit | edit source]
Landon was an avid reader and a writer, dedicating his afternoons on the table, sometimes skipping dinner, and spending time responding to other writers into the early hours of dawn. He was fond of fine dining, and admitted once to his guests during a dinner party, "This mouth speaks against the bourgeoisie but eats like the bourgeoisie," often sitting by the kitchen to evaluate and test his wife's cooking. Landon was a frequent smoker, and at one point, smoked up to two packs a day, preferring cheap cigars which distinctly reminded him of his days as a young boy in South Carolina as a tobacco farmer.
Family[edit | edit source]
Landon fathered two children (Joshua and Victoria) with his wife, Martha Rita (née Cunningham), and had a total of nine grandchildren at the time of his death, including future prime minister Robert Landon. He was the eldest son of a family of six, and spent the majority of his childhood and young adulthood as a farmhand at his family's farmhouse. Although Landon was fairly close with both his parents and his siblings, they did not meet each other for over fifteen years after Landon's departure for California, until Landon returned to South Carolina to pay a visit, just two years after Sierra was founded, when he was 41.
Religious views[edit | edit source]
Although Landon seldom expressed his own religious beliefs, throughout his life, wishing to avoid "personal entanglements and disputes on spiritual matters", he maintained that he was a Christian, and occasionally attended church services at a local Disciples of Christ congregation. He wrote some essays on his thoughts on religion, and although he did criticize aspects of organized religion, he believed that beliefs systems could be used for good, and were useful in helping the alienated to overcome struggle. Religion was one of the few subjects Landon disagreed with Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. He rejected the concept of the opium of the masses and believed religion was complimentary to social change and revolution, and compatible with Marxism. He was widely opposed to mixing religion with politics however, and discouraged his followers from using religious analogies or imagery in political conversations or publications. He also rejected claims that he was a Furthermore, Landon expressed his frustration with the Catholic Church, and believed the Papacy was responsible for keeping the Sierran monarchy in power and linked the Pope with the Antichrist. He also wrote an essay which declared that Jesus and followers of the early Church were advocates of socialism, and insisted that true Christians would abandon materialism and greed.
Political views[edit | edit source]
|The Jacobite Wine, The Phrygian Cap, Black Rose, Exploitation in the Modern Age, Anglo-American Application of Karl Marx|
|School||Landonism · Republicanism · Syndicalism · Marxism|
|Politics, economics, philosophy, class struggle, history, military, natural sciences|
Socialism[edit | edit source]
|Part of a series on|
Political theorist Mark Bishop wrote in his 1957 book, The Poverty of Authoritarianism that Landon was a "socialist first, and republican second", in contrast to the stronger popular association of Landon with republicanism. Although Landon's socialist views were widely known during his life and after through his own writing and followers, they remained controversial even after his death. His works were analyzed and criticized by the Pacific School during the Sierran Cultural Revolution, and avoided outright censorship by being allowed to remain in publication in versions which featured heavy annotation and commentary by anti-Landonist scholars. Landon's socialism was downplayed during the Cold War and The Disturbances by political republicans in Sierra who abandoned the traditional element of socialism within Sierran republicanism in favor of neoliberal democracy and by history textbooks, which merited its own controversy as revisionism. Throughout his life, Landon's views evolved and changed significantly, and by the end of his life, Landon had developed his own ideology, Landonism, which promoted revolutionary socialism, syndicalism, direct democracy, and nationalism.
Landon espoused socialist views when he first arrived to California where developed close friendships with members of the Benevolent Association of Freemen. He drew inspiration from early utopian socialists including Étienne Cabet and Charles Fourier, who created their own communes of workers. Experiencing firsthand the effects of the Gold Rush, and the economic conditions within the urban setting, Landon was critical of the emergent society in California. Landon described the setting as a "culture motivated by greed and malice", and individuals were "beholden to money and it alone". When Landon first began publishing his political newspaper, The Working Knight's Gazette, he maintained close ties and correspondence with trade union leaders. Landon was an early proponent for syndicalism, and believed that a truly democratic society could be attained once skilled workers were able to control the means of production for themselves.
When Landon purchased his Bernheim residence in 1851, he established a colony, imitating the communities created by other utopian socialists. Seeking to experiment his own political ideas, Landon accumulated a sizable group of followers who voluntarily chose to live within his colony. Together, Landon and his supporters founded a village named "Humanity", and a newspaper press which produced The Liberty Bell Press. Here, Landon observed that while his colony was self-sufficient enough in terms of food, it continued to encounter constant interference with external forces including the government, and had a heavy reliance on goods which the colony could not purchase. Landon accurately predicted that because his colony still ultimately operated under the jurisdiction and command of a nation-state with a different mode of production, his colony would collapse eventually. Although his newspaper press continued to thrive, his colony eventually disbanded in 1860 as Landon and his followers were unable to support it financially without having to procure funds from employment by outside sources or soliciting money from private donors.
Convinced that the entire society must be transformed, Landon proposed that rather than depend on small colonies, action must be taken to achieve economic equality by democratic means. Influenced by the social democratic movement, Landon believed that a politically empowered working class would be able to acquire more rights and influence over the state from the ruling class over time, eventually enough to give way to a full transition to a state controlled by workers. When Landon was elected into office as senator for San Joaquin, he attempted to apply his principles into practice, and was politically aggressive towards his opponents, including the King, pressing for extreme reforms and filibustering frequently against bills he disagreed on. Although Landon had written that compromise was necessary, he rarely took towards negotiating across the bench-aisle, stating, "For compromise is good up until it treads immoral incongruity, and betrays the very principles of a man. There are spheres in policy for where no man with conscience and empathy for the worker can compromise on. I stand firm against expediency and chicanery wherever I see it."
Republicanism[edit | edit source]
More well known and associated with his strong beliefs on republicanism, Landon has been credited as the most influential leader in fostering Sierran republican thought, and even hailed as the "Father of the Styxie", a region in which a majority of its population identifies themselves as "republican" and describe their ways of life as "republican" (cultural republicanism). Having been born in a republic, and then witnessing the creation of a new republic, Landon believed that a republic was a robust and fair system which could secure democracy, and manage large nations efficiently. He believed that "in order to become a socialist, one must become a republican", as he believed that monarchism was simply an archaic relic of feudalism, and that its continued existence in capitalist systems were indicative of an imperialist society ruled by a modern aristocracy or bourgeoisie, where the Crown was at the apex of such structure. Landon first wrote about monarchism during his early years in California in response to his encounters with British immigrants, most of whom were middle-class or wealthy, with their Victorian ideas. Troubled by their rhetoric and their rigid conceptions of class and wealth, he declared that monarchy is "the germ that produces the somatic toxins of bourgeois culture and values" and represented a system built upon injustice.
When he served as senator, Landon viciously assuaged colleagues who supported the monarchy, and disproportionately devoted his legislative attention on curtailing and ultimately, abolishing the monarchy. Labeled as a Radical Democratic-Republican, he pressured party leaders to take a more aggressive, hardline approach, calling for them to shut down any bills which helped "preserve the wretched institution", and to refuse to allocate funds to the King's Privy Purse. He was also among the first Sierrans to recognize an emerging culture of republicans, and embraced this form of "cultural republicanism", as an organic anathema to the "bourgeois Jacobitism" of the Royalists. His disdain for the monarchy also extended to Sierra's peerage system, and criticized politicians and individuals who accepted knighthood into one of Sierra's chivalric orders, dismissing them as "boujee fluff".
Legacy[edit | edit source]
Sierran historian and researcher Aiden Gott considered Landon to be "one of the most important and divisive figures to have emerged in Anglo-American history", whose "ideas and writings continue to touch the hearts of millions, and reverberate throughout the world". Landon invigorated a strong working culture in the Styxie and established a robust labor movement which eventually gained major progress during the early 20th century and onwards. Landon's articulation and embracement of socialism, and his use of an armed revolution inspired future revolutionaries including the Russian Bolsheviks to undertake their own movements. A controversial figure, Landon was adored by supporters and reviled by enemies, with critics on both sides of the political spectrum.
Over 120 unique places, the majority of which are located in the Styxie, bear Landon's name in his honor, including public schools, parks, roads, government buildings, art galleries, geographic features, and more. His likeness has been depicted on innumerable amounts of portraits by republican and socialist artists, and was honored in several official commemorative stamps. The most famous and popularly visited memorial to Isaiah Landon is the Cenotaph and a 10-feet tall bust in his image at the Sierran Civil War National Memorial in Bernheim, just several miles north of his home and resting place.
In popular culture[edit | edit source]
Isaiah Landon has been a popular subject in various media.
Film[edit | edit source]
- Landon is portrayed by actor John Eaton Wallis in the film The Green Cowboy (1955), a war film on the Sierran Civil War.
- James Fargo plays Landon in the historical drama film Crown or Cap (1973).
- Michael Wilson plays Landon in the historic drama film Landon's Last Stand (1977), a film about his capitulation.
- Tommy Iraci plays Landon in the film Landon (2015), a biography on the revolutionary.
Literature[edit | edit source]
- Landon serves as the main character of President Landon (1967), an alternate history novel where Landon won the civil war.
Television[edit | edit source]
- David Fallwell plays Landon in the tv series Republic (2017), an alternate history series and adaptation of Republic (1977).
Music[edit | edit source]
- The name of the Sierran musical group The Landing is a tongue-in-cheek reference to Landon. The self-titled album and its songs also makes reference to Landon.
- Landon is depicted in the music video for Fuck the Queen (2015) by Q-Lo.
- Landon is one of the many republican figures of Sierran history depicted in the song Martyrs (2019), one of Q-Lo's posthumous releases.
Selected bibliography[edit | edit source]