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January 19

"American life loses a personality valued by friend or foe on account of his courage, honesty, and decent method of fighting" ~ Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' paper, Der Angriff

Untimely Death of the Great Opposer, former President William Borahin 1940, on this day in alternate history former President William Edgar Borah a.k.a. "The Great Opposer" and "The Lion of Idaho" died in his sleep of a cerebral haemorrhage at his home in Washington D.C., aged seventy-four.

During recent years prior to his demise Borah had felt that he might be able to settle differences in Europe by meeting with Adolf Hitler. Of course, such a move was strictly outlawed under the Logan Act because a private citizen was not authorised to conduct diplomacy on behalf of the United States. But in fact such a meeting had already been discussed at least in outline with Charles Lindbergh and might well have gone ahead after Lindbergh triumphed in the Fall at the 39th quadrennial presidential election.

This missed opportunity was due in part because Borah was ahead of his time when it came to isolationism. A controversial figure who had bitterly argued with fellow Republicans over membership the League of Nations, his rise to the Presidency had been a historic accent. In order to counteract La Follette's appeal in the West, Calvin Coolidge needed Borah as his running mate in 1924. But he was reluctant to accept the role of running mate being next in line for the Chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee after Henry Cabot Lodge. Within twelve months both Lodge and Coolidge were dead, according to the President's intimate circle of friends Coolidge had suffered his fatal attack in large part due to a particularly heated argument with his VP, Borah.

This particularly nasty rumour, and many other reasons for making plenty of fresh enemies in GOP, caused Borah to dismally fail in 1928 and at sixty-three years old he appeared to be finished. Out of office having quit the Senate in 1925 and missing out on the Chairmanship with Lodge's death, he was a private citizen who watched with mounting frustration the collapse of the League of Nations and the rise of Nazi Germany. it was his personal tragedy that he was to die a year before his planned meeting with Hitler. Had he acted in the role of American envoy he would have brought together a credibility of political thinking with the prestige of being a former President moreover having been "proven right". As events were to transpire, a state visit by Lindbergh would be much more problematic to arrange. given the deteriorating situation in Europe after his inauguration in 1941.

Author's Note: in reality Borah declined Coolidge's offered and became Chairman. The alleged non-fatal heart attack of Coolidge is described in David Tenner's article.