Matthew Washington

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Matthew Washington
Born12 October 1836
Holt, Alexandria, Colony of Virginia
Died30 September 1912 (aged 75)
Paris, France
OccupationMilitary officer, politician.
TitleProtector of Virginia

Matthew Washington (12 October 1836- 30 September 1912) was the President of the Republic of Virginia from 1875 to 1877 and Protector of Virginia from 1877 to 1899. His rule is referred to as the Protectorate. He was a member of the House of Washington, one of the most prominent families in the Virginian Aristocracy.

Washington began a political career in the National Diet as a member of the Passionate Party. The Passionists championed agrarianism, conservatism, and isolationism and were led by Jonathon Fairfax, the first Prime Minister of Virginia, until his retirement. Afterwards, Washington and his Radicals took over the party and advocate for more jingoistic policies.

Washington led the Virginian forces of the African Expedition Force (AEF) in Salvatia during the Third Anglo-Virginian War in 1874. After winning a minor battle against the British, he returned to Virginia to led a potential invasion of New England. The Virginian Navy was destroyed and Salvatia was captured. Before the year ended, Virginia would sign the Treaty of Boston in which they gave up their African colony. The Economic Collapse of 1875 caused great turmoil in Virginia and Washington ran for the Presidency. The fraudulent victory of Prime Minister George Smith, caused Washington to assume Emergency Powers and purge dissenting voices from the government.

During the Protectorate, Washington brought order and stability to the nation. Foreign investment led to internal development mainly in cities and industrialization. However, this came at the cost of social and political rights. Thousands in political opposition were arrested and imprisoned. Black Virginians faced the most persecution since Virginian independence. Wealth generated during his time disproportionally went to the Virginian Aristocracy. However, when Washington began to target them in his War Against the Valorists, he was soon pushed out of power and resigned on 2 May 1899. He would first leave for New Amsterdam before retiring in Paris, France and dying on 20 September 1912.

Washington remains a controversial figure in Virginian history. Many believe that his coup was unjustified and that PM Smith had legitimately won. He succeeded at making Virginia one of the most industrial and stable powers on the continent, but also reigned in political freedoms and destroyed race relations. The Third Republic of Virginia after him would slide Virginia further down a authoritarian road before the Prohibitionist gained power.

Washington's Coup

Virginia's defeat in the Third Anglo-Virginian War took its toll on Washington. He blamed himself for leaving Salvatia as the cause of their loss. Family and friends kept watch over him as they feared he may take his own life. Washington had spent a good deal of his fortune on investing in Salvatia and now he was facing finical ruin, but so was the rest of the nation. The Economic Collapse of 1875 began on 5 March when the Bank of Henrietta declared bankruptcy due to unpaid debts. Thousands flocked to their banks to withdrawal and many smaller banks soon closed. Inflation and foreclosures soared during the next few weeks.

Political riots began against Prime Minister Smith. He had just formed his third government (Smith III) with Rationalist support as he lost the support of some in his own party. Smith began to involve direct government intervention into the economy something many Passionists were against. Washington was reportedly rebuffed by Smith when he attempted to offer advice to Smith in fear he would bring about the end of their party. This insult pushed Washington over the edge, he now sought to remove Smith from power, but Washington overestimated party officials who still had his backing. The average Virginian supported him, but he lacked the finical backing to run against his own party and the Rationalists.

However, President Reign, an old Fairfax Passionist, announced he was not seeking another term and gave his support to Washington. He would not need the support of party members to gain this office. He began a massive political campaign (the first in Virginian history) across the nation. From Hopewell to Bovenstadt, he gave speeches and meet with voters. Washington may have done more hurt than help to the Passionist as he openly condemned Prime Minister Smith as incompetent and a coward for not continuing the war with the British.

On 19 September, Washington had won the presidency with a historical margin, however the Passionist Party held onto their majority, though smaller, and Smith his office. This came as a shock to many. The political unrest during the election was immense and many doubted that Smith would survive the election yet alone win. Many began to claim that the election was rigged, but Rationalist leadership held cooler heads and agreed to the results of the elections. Washington however did not.

During his Presidential Address on 26 September, Washington called for the immediate removal of Smith as he won the election through treachery and had a list of known collaborators that helped him. Hundreds of disgruntled army soldiers who had trained under Washington for the aborted invasion of New England flocked to Williamsburg to rally behind their general. For several days, neither Washington nor Smith made a move, but on the afternoon of 2 October a fight broke out between Washington's soldiers and the Jamestown Guard. Washington's forces would oust Smith from the city by the early morning the following day marking the last day of Smith's government.