The River and Dam Act was a law that was signed by President Jake Featherston of the Confederate States of America in July 1934. The purpose behind the law was to tame the Mississippi River system that had caused so much trouble to the CSA in the past, and also to provide a source of energy for several million inhabitants of the Tennessee Valley. Featherston and his government also sought to create a constitutional crisis in which he would emerge more powerful and popular than before.
Summary of Act Edit
The basis for the law had its genesis in the Mississippi River floods of 1927, which wrecked whole areas of the Mississippi Valley and displaced tens of thousands of Confederate citizens and black residents from their communities. The then-governing Whig Party did nothing to help lower the plight of the people, and Featherston was bothered by their do-nothing attitude (albeit for political reasons, not humanitarian ones).
Possible constitutional Issues Edit
Once in power, Featherston set out to make good on his campaign promise to control the rivers by building dams and levies - which went against Article 1, Section 8, Part 3 of the Confederate Constitution, expressly prohibiting Congress from appropriating money for internal improvements saving river navigation. The document was the United States Constitution nearly word-for-word with but a few exceptions that prohibit such spending for fear one section of the country would develop an industrial sway over the agricultural sector just as had happened before the War of Secession. This public-works program bucked what would be a long-standing Confederate tradition but had the triple-sided effect of giving work to thousands of white Confederate citizens and to giving the impoverished region electricity and hope that their homes won't get washed away in the future - with the third side being that since the law would be overwhelmingly popular, the Confederate States Supreme Court would be making its position vulnerable when it moved to strike down the law as unconstitutional, which it did that autumn. And all of this was part of Featherston's ultimate plan to extend the power of the executive branch.
Jake Featherston v. James McReynolds Edit
A great outcry arose over the controversy, and Featherston went to the press to present his side of the story. Since his director of communications Saul Goldman controlled the cinema, newspapers and radio, the public heard only Featherston's viewpoint, and the Supreme Court under Chief Justice James McReynolds became the hated pariahs of the land. When he was certain that the time was right, Jake Featherston announced in a radio broadcast: "James McReynolds has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" paraphrasing a quote attributed to US President Andrew Jackson following a United States Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court was abolished as soon as a precedent was found by Attorney General Ferdinand Koenig, and McReynolds went to Featherston's office to argue the matter. He exited an hour later as a shaken, broken man, and retired into obscurity.