The old White Star Flag, which served as the flag of the Republic of Avalon from 1912 (Year 1) until 1914 (Year 3).
Part 3: In Congress Assembled
May 21, 2276 (Year 364), Titanic City
The government car headed east on Vault Street, all the way to Lowell Street on the east side of Manhattan Island. They passed the Security Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Colonial Office and the main campus of Avalonia University before Vault Street came to a dead end at the Memorial Dock, and the car turned north onto Lowell. The car passed shops and town houses, some of the oldest buildings in the city. About a mile and a half up from Vault, the car came to a stop at Andrew’s home, a three-story brick and wood townhouse that had been built over 100 years ago. Across the street was the river park, where parents were strolling with their children, a few elderly citizens were sitting around feeding the birds, and one young couple sitting on the ground having a picnic. Andrews got out of the car and walked up the steps into his home. He walked through the door to hear his two youngest children running down the stairs shouting “Daddy!” at the top of their lungs. His middle child, 10-year-old Margaret, reached him first, giving him a big hug. Her 4-year-old brother Edward was not far behind. He picked up Ed and walked into the parlor to the left of the main hall, where his wife was getting up from her seat.
“It’s good to see you darling. How was your day?”
“More and more reports. The Colonial Office wants to start on the next phase of expansions in New Albion and Atlantia, and they have to have Congress to give the go-ahead. Hopefully we’ll get through it by the end of the week.”
“That’ll be good. You know my sister is considering going out to Atlantia. She wants to start fresh after the engagement to Robert fell apart.”
“That’s definitely a fresh start. Life’s a little rough out in the new colonial expansion. Lots of wilderness still to tame.”
“Sarah’s a tough girl. I think she can do it.”
“Perhaps. Well if she does I wish her luck. Not something I’d want to do.”
“I don’t know dad, it sounds kind of exciting to me.” Said James, Andrew’s 16-year-old son, his oldest. “Henry and I were talking about it today. If we don’t join the Navy for our two years of service after school, we may go to the Colonial Force.”
“We’ll see about that. The men in this family have served faithfully in the Navy for generations. Would you really want to break that tradition?”
“Well…when you put it that way….does make it harder to say no to the Navy. But I still think the Colonial Force would be more exciting.”
“Thankfully that’s still two years away,” Andrew’s wife, Clara, piped in, defusing the situation. “Dinner should be ready soon. Why don’t you go and change clothes and we’ll eat darling.”
“Okay, that sounds like a plan.” And with that, Andrews walked up the flight of stairs to the master bedroom and changed out of the suit he wore to work and into some more comfortable clothes to relax for the evening.
At dinner, Andrews told his wife about the request from the Prime Minister.
“Astor House? That’s the second event you’ve been invited to this year. Do you think the Prime Minister is planning on giving you some sort of political promotion?”
“Clara I’ve considered that. It’s quite possible. Maybe a junior ministry appointment or something like that. But I’ve not heard anything official. Only time will tell.
As dinner was finishing up, Maria, the housekeeper, came in to the room.
“Mr. Andrews, there is a telephone call for you. It’s from Prime Minister Guggenheim.” This immediately got Andrews’ attention and he excused himself from the table to take the unexpected call.
“Mr. Prime Minister, to what do I owe the honor of your call?”
“Mr. Andrews, I apologize for interrupting your dinner. I assure you I’ll be brief. I need you to come by my office first thing tomorrow morning before you go the Congress building.”
“Of course Mr. Prime Minister. I’d be happy to. I’ll have my driver bring me by Astor House first thing tomorrow. I should be in before 9 o’clock. Will that work?”
“Yes that would be fine. See you then. Goodnight.
“Goodnight, Mr. Prime Minister.” And with that the conversation ended. Andrews was deeply puzzled, and told his wife as much when she asked.
“Who knows,” she said, “maybe some junior position has suddenly opened up. Or maybe he just needs your help introducing some new bill into Congress.”
“Well I will find out tomorrow morning.”
April 25, 1912 (Year 1), Onboard the Titanic
It was just before 10:00 a.m. as Captain Smith walked into the First Class Lounge on A-Deck where the members of the Constitutional Assembly had gathered, Several of the recently elected delegates shook his hand and greeted him, including Margaret Brown, who had handily won the support of her peers and sent to the Assembly.
“Good morning Captain. Are you ready to make history today?”
“Why Mrs. Brown, I think we are about to do just that. If we are successful in making this settlement, I’m sure students hundreds of years from know will have to memorize this day and learn our names. Quite a strange feeling.”
“Yes I know exactly what you mean. I keep thinking about the Founding Fathers of the United States. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin. I wonder if they felt like this, if they knew what they were doing would go down in history.”
“Oh I don’t doubt your countrymen felt the same things we are now. And as the historical importance of the moment wasn’t lost on them, I don’t think it is lost on us either.”
“Well put Captain. Well put.”
Captain Smith made his rounds among the delegates, making a point to shake hands and greet each of the 40 members of the newly elected Constitutional Assembly. As the clock struck 10, the members of the Assembly found their seats, and the Captain made his way to the front of the center hall, opposite the main entrance, where a long table had been set up with seats facing the delegates for the Captain and his council. The captain was seated in the center. To his right were the senior officers: Chief Officer Henry Wilde, First Officer William Murdoch, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, Third Officer Herbert Pitman, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, and Sixth officer James Moody. To his left were Thomas Andrews, J. J. Astor, Bruce Ismay, Benjamin Guggenheim, Archibald Butt, and Master-at-Arms Thomas King. The delegates were seated in four rows all facing the Captain’s Council, with five members of each constituency seated on either side of a central row. As everyone else sat, Captain Smith stood at his place and opened the meeting.
“Gentlemen, and ladies,” nodding to Margaret Brown and the 5 other women who were present among the representatives in the room, “As one of you told me when I arrived here this morning, we are here to make history today. Indeed, the actions we take over the next few weeks and months will greatly shape the lives of our descendants. This morning’s session is just the beginning. A chance for us to begin to chart our course. Together, I believe we can establish a nation based on the principles that we all cherish from our homelands. We must establish a nation that respects the freedoms and liberties of the individual, but also protects the needs of the whole. From this seed of 2,200 souls we must grow the future of mankind. So, without further pleasantries, I hereby declare open the first session of the Constitutional Assembly of the Titanic Colony.” Captain Smith received a robust applause from the delegates and his council, before continuing on with the business at hand.
“Our first order of business is to establish a few ground rules. I will serve as a non-voting speaker of this Assembly, only to vote in the case of a tie. The rest of you, including my Council, will each have one vote. An agenda will be drafted for each day by the Council and adopted by all delegates at the beginning of each day.” The captain went over procedures for voting and adding new material to the agenda before he finally turned the floor over to Mr. Andrews, who’d been elected as Chairman of the Captain’s Council, who presented the days agenda, which really had only one all encompassing item.
“Honored delegates, our agenda for today is really quite simple, but also quite broad. We must settle on a very basic outline of how we want to set up our future government. Not the details, but the overall layout. Do we want a president, a monarchy, a board of directors? Should we have a legislature? What about a court system? Once we decide on some of these broad generalities, we will break down our coming days to handle the specifics of our future constitution.
Now, on the council, there are two primary competitors for what we feel the most appropriate form of government should look like. I will allow my colleague Mr. Bruce Ismay to take the floor first to present one view, followed by Mr. Astor with the opposing view.” With that, Mr. Ismay stood up and addressed the Assembly. In his proposal, the Captain would be installed as the colony’s leader and there would be a small council of representatives to run the colony for the time being, with options to expand the council at a later date once things were more established. Several times Ismay stressed that this was to serve as a temporary measure until the colony was more settled and a more representative government could function properly.
After Ismay was seated, Astor made his own address. He supported keeping the Captain in place as head of state, but wanted to see an elected legislature making most of the decisions, perhaps adopting some sort of Westminster-style of governance where the legislature elected from it’s membership a head of government that would run the day-to-day aspects of the government.
Once these two views had been presented, the floor was open to debate. To no one’s surprise, the delegates from the crew and third class balked at Mr. Ismay’s proposal and strongly supported Mr. Astor’s proposal. In the Second Class and First Class, things were more mixed. By two o’clock, a motion to vote was made by Archibald Butt, and in a vote of 36-16, the so-called “Astor Plan” was approved. The government of the new colony would be governed by a legislature and executive.
May 22, 2276 (Year 364), Titanic City
The morning commute to the Government Quarter went very quickly as Andrews sat in the back of the government car, headed to the Prime Minister’s residence at Astor House. The historic residence was on Captain Street, halfway between the Congress House and Edward Palace, on the west side of the street across from Colonial Park. With morning traffic, the drive took nearly half an hour from Andrews' townhouse on Lowe Street, putting Andrews at his destination just before 9 o’clock. The three-story brick building with white columns lining the street-facing front dominated that section of the street. Andrews’ car pulled up and the driver let him out, and said he would pull around back and park. Andrews approached the gate and gave the guard his identity card and told the man he had an appointment with the Prime Minister. The guard conferred with a registry in his guard post and, after seeing the Congressman’s name, allowed him entry. Up a short flight of stairs that led him to the porch underneath the portico, Andrews approached the front door that was opened by a porter.
“Welcome to Astor House, Mr. Andrews. I’m Martin Andbrown, the Prime Minister’s secretary. He’s in the study, waiting on your arrival. Follow me.” Andrews followed Andbrown into the study. He mused momentarily about the secretary’s last name. In theory they were distant relatives. Andrews was a descendant of the second son of Thomas Andrews and Margret Brown-Andrews, Lionel. Andbrown would be a descendent of Thomas and Margaret’s third son, Samuel, who changed his last name as an adult to reflect both his father and mother’s last names. It seemed as though most people were distantly related, at least in Titanic City. With everyone descended from a mere 2,200 people, it was hard to avoid.
Andrews’ musings ended there, as he entered the famed study of Astor House, the formal office of the Prime Minister of Avalon. The room was painted a pale blue, with several white bookshelves filled with a vast assortment of titles. The Prime Minister’s desk was built of luxurious dark oak, and dominated the room. Richard Guggenheim III, the thirty-fifth prime minister of the Republic, was sitting behind the desk and looked up as Andrews entered. He’s been in the office for four years, and looked likely to stay in office after the general election next year.
“Mr. Andrews, thank you for joining me this morning on such short notice.”
“My pleasure, Mr. Prime Minister. What is that you’d like to talk to me about this morning? I assume it’s something important since you had me come on relatively short notice like this.”
“It is important, Mr. Andrews. You see, David Bracken, the Deputy Prime Minister, has tendered his resignation.”
“Well, that is a surprise. And I’m sorry to hear that. Bracken is a good man.”
“Yes, it is very unfortunate. Tomorrow, this will be announced publicly. And I intend to announce a cabinet reshuffle at that time as well. Interior Minister Samuel Deacon will be moving up to fill Bracken’s spot. And, I would like you to fill his.”
“You want me to be the Interior Minister?” Andrews asked, surprised.
“Yes. You’ve worked extensively with the interior ministry projects that have been passed through Congress, and you’ve done other work back in New Eire. I believe you’d be perfect for the job. And if you must know, I’d already planned on tapping you for the cabinet after the elections next year, but with Bracken’s resignation it seemed like the perfect opportunity to move that plan up.”
“Well sir I am quite honored. Thank you very much for the offer.”
“You’re welcome, Andrews. Will you accept?”
“Yes, absolutely. I’d be happy to.”
“Excellent. We will make the announcement here at noon tomorrow. I’ll see you then. Oh, and Andrews, this will mean you will be at the main celebration on Foundation Day later this week.”
May 25, 1912 (Year 1), Outside the Vault
Captain Smith looked out at the crowd that had gathered outside the Vault. A stage had been assembled in front of the massive concrete structure on the center of Manhattan Island. The rest of the Captain’s Council sat on stage with Smith, and in the first row of the seated crowd the forty members of the Assembly waited for the ceremony to start. Behind the Assembly members, a vast majority of the passengers and crew were in waiting for the start of the ceremony. Behind those seated on the stage, the pennant flags of the White Star Line fluttered idly in the wind. Although it had been decided that the White Star flag would not serve as a permanent flag for the soon-to-be republic, the Council felt that it would be a good temporary stand in until a new flag could be created.
Off in the distance, the Titanic’s whistle blasted long and loud, the signal that it was noon, and time for the ceremony to begin. Captain Smith rose from his seat and walked up to a podium set up on the stage. In the Vault, the Quartermaster had discovered an audio projection device so that all those assembled could hear the Captain and the other speakers. The Captain cleared his throat, and began to speak.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of this brave new civilization. We are gathered here to mark the beginning of a brilliant new future. Over one month ago, we found ourselves upon the shores of a North America nigh unrecognizable to us all. We have been swept across time and space, something that none of us quite understand or can explain. We are here now, and that is all that matters. We must move forward and prepare for what lies ahead, and create a world suitable for our children and their children and many generations thereafter.
Today, myself and my council and the forty representatives the people of this new nation elected will sign our new constitution into law. Today is birth of our new nation. From this day forward, we are no longer American or English, Canadian or French, European or Asian. From this day forward we are all citizens of the Republic of Avalon.” A great cheer and applause came up from the crowd as the Captain finished speaking. Following his remarks, the forty representatives of the Constitutional Assembly filed on stage and signed the Articles of Governance, followed by the Council, and finally Captain Smith.
The document signed in to law that day would be a somewhat temporary system, with such a small population. Later on, the way the new Congress would be elected and how such representation would be proportioned would change as the population grew and spread out along the continent. The Captaincy became a permanent institution, a figurehead leader of the new Republic. The Prime Minister would be chosen from the members of the Assembly, and a cabinet would be appointed by the Prime Minister, all ruling in the name of the “High Captain.” While the High Captaincy isn’t a hereditary position, the custom will be adopted that the reigning High Captain will appoint their successor.