Coughlin continued on as a parish priest until retirement in the 1960s.
Charles Coughlin in Joe Steele
Father Charles Coughlin (1891-1935) had initially supported President Joe Steele's Four Year Plan on his radio show. However, by 1934, Coughlin had soured on Steele and was publicly very critical.
At their trial, the Supreme Court Four identified Coughlin and Louisiana Senator Huey Long as being part of their conspiracy with Nazi Germany to harm the United States. Coughlin was immediately taken into custody. He went meekly, showing off his handcuffs and quoting from the Twenty-third Psalm.
Coughlin entered a guilty plea at his military tribunal, despite the efforts of his attorney, Levine (who'd also attempted to defend the Supreme Court Four). The head of the tribunal, Colonel Walter Short, accepted the plea, and immediately asked the other members of the tribunal if they needed to "haggle" over the sentence. While Captain William Halsey and Major Carl Spatz were silent, Lt. Nathan Bedford Forrest III advocated for the death penalty, which Short promptly passed.
Coughlin's attorney's attempted to appeal to the Supreme Court, which declined on jurisdictional grounds. When they asked Steele for clemency, Steele refused. Coughlin was executed in the same spot as the Supreme Court Four. He began a Hail Mary, but was shot after uttering "Ave". The officer who oversaw the execution finished it: "Ave atque vale." Journalist Charlie Sullivan used a pun on that quote for a headline: AVE ATQUE VOLLEY.
Coughlin's role is essentially the same in the short story.
- References to Historical Figures in Turtledove's Work#Charles Coughlin, for more minor references to Coughlin in Turtledove's work.