In the Shadow of Princes
Founded after the Unification War of 986 PCE, the Merikan Union is a federation of the old city states of the Merikan Confederate Republic. The Union is much more centrally controlled than the old confederation and the past decade has witnessed a gradual usurpation of the sovereignty of the Union’s member states. It becomes more and more apparent that the Continental Congress of Union members is merely an adjunct of the powerful Union president, an office currently held by Harlan Strom. For now the powerful executive privileges wielded by the president in Union Delphi remain unchallenged, but as indiscriminate and reckless warfare continues to be waged on the Merikan frontier, it remains to be seen how long the democratically elected government of the Union will simply follow the party line.
The history of the disparate city-states comprising the Merikan Union is hardly unified. Each city has its own regional identity and interests and the origin myths and legends of post-Cataclysmic Merikan civilization are a collection of competing stories from very different cultural perspectives. It is commonly believed that the impetus for the rise of the original Confederate Republic of Merika (575 PCE) was the need for mutual defence against the Empire of the Hidden Hand.
But there is more to the story than that. The Precursor nation native to the Merikan lands had bequeathed a tradition of liberal democracy that endured perpetually in the oral remembrance of the fragmented Merikan peoples. The traditional values of individual freedom and self-reliance common to all the city-state nations of Merika formed the framework for an enduring political bond, a tie so strong that it would eventually give rise to a vehement new Merikan nationalism centered on the coastal metropolis of Union Delphi.
In the 960s PCE, A handful of Delphian aristocrat families claimed to come into the possession of ancient scrolls foretelling the providence of Merika’s Precursor nation. Guided by this obscure knowledge, the Stroms, Vinyards, and Rawklers began a populist movement that soon spread to other cities of the confederacy. The demise of the Hidden Empire at the close of the Princes’s Retribution War came to be touted as the conclusion of a great revolutionary struggle for Merikan independence. Now that the Hidden Empire was gone, the way stood clear for the collective Merikan nation to emerge and claim national dominion over the continent of their Precursor forebears.
In 986 PCE, a scant eight years after the Battle of New York had removed the Princes from power, Harlan Strom, the latest scion of the Strom lineage, had himself declared the President of a new Merikan federal state with the support of three confederate city-state governments, Delphi, Nehark (aka New York), and Tempus. Claiming his broader legitimacy from the spreading grassroots unification movements and political parties that had spread throughout the old confederacy, Strom demanded the immediate resignation of the confederate president, Andra Marcus. According to the Unionists, elections would be held upon Marcus’s removal from office to ensure the democratic bonae fides of the new regime.
President Marcus, rightly sensing the bad faith of the Unionist request, denied Strom’s overtures and condemned Unionist sentiment as treasonous to the liberty of the confederate states. War broke out shortly thereafter and Marcus, an able veteran of the Princes Wars expecting a decisive victory, assumed direct command of confederate forces. But the war preparedness of the Unionists stunned the president with a rapid series of catastrophic military setbacks, culminating in a confederate rout in Jacksonville. President Marcus was captured as the intact remnants of the confederate army limped away beaten and never to rise again.
It has been rumoured that President Strom had engaged the assistance of foreign powers to ensure military success in the unexpectedly brief civil war, but according to eyewitness reports foreign soldiers never figured large in any major battle for either faction. Nonetheless, talk still circulates about secret treaties and clandestine support and much of this cant implicates the shadowy relationship between the Merikan Union and the Phoenix Order, a longstanding alliance of which very little is known.
Under the dominance of Unionist influence, Merikan culture has grown increasingly bullish over matters concerning racial and national identity. The hardline base of Merikan nationalism, centred mainly in Union Delphi, Nehark, and Tempus, harbours a mistrust and anxiety over foreign influence and exchange that borders on xenophobia. This attitude increasingly seeps into the Merikan mainstream, as Union propaganda has seeded a generation of citizens raised to believe the extreme nationalist ideology supported by the imperialistic and bellicose Unionist agenda.
Religion plays a significant role in the propagation of the Union’s national myth, as the state-affiliated Merikan Evangelical Church propagates an ancient doctrine of manifest destiny that feeds religious feeling directly into expansionist national fervour.
Another feature of conventional Merikan Evangelical piety is a cultural aversion towards science and technology. Traditional Merikan cultural doctrine has always taught a distrust of scientific ideas. This distrust is grounded in the belief, held by all Merikan cultures, that the Cataclysm was somehow the result of human beings exceeding the mortal grasp and peering into matters beyond the purview of earthly mortals. For the average Merikan, the Cataclysm has always been explained as a punishment levelled against the Precursors for being too curious, for extending the scientific gaze too far into the mysteries of the universe.
Under the Union, a new pragmatism has melded with Evangelical righteousness to generate a new attitude toward science and technology in Merikan life. The state and church now advocate the moderate use of technology in the service of national ends. It is now no longer wicked for Merikans to practice science and explore technological applications, but it remains forbidden for Merikans to permit the scientific development of foreign nations, inferior peoples and, worse, Mutos who have not been chosen to bear the righteous light of the new age of learning and wisdom.
The paradox of Merikan identity is the genuine impulse for individual freedom and self-determination that co-exists with the authoritarian imperatives of nationalist government. There is a tension betweens these opposing political poles that has yet to be confronted by the far-reaching ambitions of the present political regime.
Generals of the Continental Union Army
James Vinyard – New York Frontier Guard
Thadeus Wilson – Atlanta Central Guard
Cambis Avanis – Florida Home Guard
Albert Simeon – Northern Continental Corps
Jerrod Strom – Southern Continental Corps