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Founding Fathers: 1789 - ????


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@Hestia@Pringles @ConservativeElector2 @WVProgressive @themiddlepolitical @Magnus Rex

Welcome to The Founding Fathers!  We'll be playing Rick Heli's Founding Fathers, a game where you each control a faction of statesmen trying to rise to glory.  The rules are available here.  There is also a FAQ here (mostly giving rulings on rare, oddball situations that weren't covered in the rules).   You can also find my first ever playthrough here, where I walked those players through the rules much like I'll be doing for you, here.

I will of course explain the rules as we go along -- but I do encourage you to read the rules linked above, as that will enable you to strategize in advance.

We will not be playing with the sequel or expansion packs this time -- just the core game, to serve as an introductory as none of you have played before -- other than @Magnus Rex.  On that note, @Magnus Rex is working on developing a google sheet to help track the various things that will need tracking.  Thank you, Magnus, your abilities on that front are approximately eleventy bajillion times better than mine.

In addition to what you'll find in the actual rule book, a few house rules to be aware of:

1)  Real life always comes first.  That said, the ask that players make their move within 24 hours of me delivering them a personal notification that it's their turn is pretty minor, so please at least communicate with me to let me know if it's going to take longer than 24 hours to respond due to real world situations.  I'll always understand.

2)  Each issue takes one year (four issues per four year Presidential term).  So a President elected at the age of 42 will be 43 after his first issue, 44 after his second issue, 45 after his third issue, and so on.  Why does this matter?  Well, because of house rule number three:

3)  Statesmen under the age of 30 cannot be appointed to...anything, really.  Your politician must be at least 30 to be eligible for a job, whether that's Secretary of State or Postmaster General or anything in between, for realism (our youngest Sec ever was Alexander Hamilton, who was either 32 or 34 -- he tended to lie about his age).  You most also be at least 35 to be elected President or VP.

4)  We'll have a full Supreme Court, which is a rule developed by the game's designer for one of the expansion packs, currently in beta test.  As one of his beta testers, I really enjoyed this and it worked well.  I'll explain more about how this works when it's time, of course.

Our first order of business, in addition to familiarizing yourself with the rules, is to pick your starting faction!

What the heck is a faction?

Player = You, the human being reading these words on your electronic device right now.

Statesmen = A real, historical figure in the game, to be controlled by one of the players.

Faction = A team of statesmen controlled by one individual player.

It is possible that a faction may be made up of more than one party -- indeed, nearly all of the factions below are.  Politics make for strange bedfellows!  But despite their political difference, the statesmen within a faction vote as a unit -- they're all aye or they're all nay, they never split their allegiance to each other.  

So why does party matter?  Well, elections, for starters.  Presidential elections will tend to feature the most popular member of each political party, plus a same-party VP candidate of their choosing.  Additionally, Presidents can usually only appoint ONE opposite party statesman to their cabinet -- thus, being the same party as the sitting President is usually a path way to getting cabinet appointments, which gives you issues, which gives you popularity, which gives you points (and the possibility that you could be President one day).


At the top left, you'll see two numbers.  "Ability" is how good they are at doing a job, whether that job is President, Secretary of War, Postmaster General, etc.  "Popularity" is their starting...well...popularity.  You gain additional popularity primarily depending on how you respond to issues that arise, and also by being elected or appointed to offices.  The statesmen with the highest popularity gets nominated by their party to the Presidency.  For both ability and popularity, higher numbers are of course better.  Some statesmen also have an "M" up in the top left.  This means they have Military experience, which means they can be appointed General.

At the top right, you'll see a state abbreviation, for their home state.  This matters during elections, as you can create election chokepoints.  At the start of the game, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York are probably the best home states, in my opinion, but this will change as the game continues and the country grows.

At the bottom left, you'll see Conservative or Liberal.  This is the statesman's political party, which (as already mentioned) matters during elections and political appointments.  Below the party, you'll see a number over a gavel -- this is the number of congressional votes they control.  Your faction votes as a unit, so for example FACTION ONE controls 15 congressional votes (3+10+2 from their three statesmen) at the start of the game.  Finally, there is a number at the very bottom left, which is a reverse indicator for age.  Benjamin Franklin is "1", which means he's the oldest statesmen in the game.  George Washington is "2", so he's the second oldest statesman in the game, etc.  There are certain cards that indicate a statesman has died -- when that happens, you roll a die and the result indicates which of the three oldest statesman has died.

Finally, in addition to a picture and a bio, there may be a special indicator on the card.  For example, Alexander Hamilton gets +1 influence per turn.

With all of that said...action to our players to choose their factions!  First come, first served. 

Note that these descriptions are only temporary.  Politicians will die or retire, and new ones will come along.  So "the elder statesmen" won't always be the oldest faction, and the Southerners won't always be made up of Southerners.  These are just my own descriptions of who happens to be in the faction at the start of the game.

FACTION ONE: @Magnus Rex The elder statesmen.  This team has President George Washington, and therefore the hardest part...getting nominated and winning the election...is already done.  But rack up those points while you can -- you have three of the four oldest statesmen in the game, so don't expect to stay at the top forever.  Your top priority, in addition to grabbing those points while you're in power to do so, is to get some young blood into your faction.  Note that Washington is by far the most popular statesman in the game, and his nomination to a second term seems all but guaranteed, unless you royally screw it up (or he drops dead).    Total congressional votes: 15.




FACTION TWO: @ConservativeElector2 The New Yorkers!  Thanks to their powerful home state, these guys could make solid choices to be Vice President or even President one day -- indeed, Hamilton is positioned to possibly surpass John Adams as Washington's heir apparent thanks to his popularity level.  Total Congressional Votes: 12.




FACTION THREE: @Pringles The Diplomats.  Note that Thomas Jefferson is currently poised to be nominated in the next Presidential election, as the most popular Liberal.  You've also got the bipartisan Elbridge Gerry, who can serve as VP or cabinet member to Presidents of either party...but is prohibited from being nominated to the Presidency as he's not a member of either party.   Congressional votes: 8.


FACTION FOUR: @themiddlepoliticalThe Young Bucks.  Thomas Pinckney is the oldest of the bunch at the ripe age of 39.  Albert Gallatin, at the age of 28, is so young that he isn't even eligible for a job yet (though he will be soon).  And note that, like Hamilton, Burr receives 1 influence per turn.  Most interesting here might be Burr, who is currently tied with Madison and Monroe to be Jefferson's heir apparent -- Madison wins that tie breaker for now by virtue of being older, but it won't take much to put Burr over the top. This faction is playing the long game -- their statesmen might not be worth much yet, but they'll likely be around for a long time.  Congressional votes: 9.  


FACTION FIVE: @Hestia The New Englanders.  Vice President John Adams is poised as Washington's heir apparent, though Hamilton is nipping at his heels.  Adams is also extremely capable at any job he's given.  Of course, as the third oldest statesman, he's also eligible to drop dead at any given moment.  But the most notable thing about this team is that it is the only faction that starts with all statesman being part of the same party.  It will be in this faction's interests to advance the standing of the Conservative party at every opportunity -- though they run the risk of being left out in the rain if Liberals ever get to the White House.  Congressional Votes: 5.


FACTION SIX: @WVProgressive The Southerners.  You've got two future real-world Presidents AND you're also tied with Hamilton's team as the most congressional votes behind Washington's faction.  Madison is currently the #2 most popular liberal behind Jefferson -- but Monroe or even Burr could easily pass him.  Total congressional votes: 12.  


Action to each player to choose their starting faction, first come, first served.  Also, begin reading the rules.  I expect we'll begin actually playing next Saturday, so you have a week to familiarize yourself with the game.

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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Everyone should have View access to the link above, which will serve as our "game board", with @MrPotatoTed having Editor access to make changes and updates as we play.

If you have any issues with opening / viewing the google spreadsheet please let me know.

@Pringles @ConservativeElector2 @WVProgressive @Hestia @themiddlepolitical

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In the Fall of 1787, after nearly four months of wrangling, brow-beating, and arm twisting, the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia emerged with a Constitution.  Over the next several months, it would be ratified by the newly-independent states.  They also had a leader, the universally popular George Washington ( @Magnus Rex).  Now it was time to see if it would all actually work.  Could a democratic republic, surrounded by enemies, deeply in debt -- a new experiment in the world -- thrive and survive?  

Or would Benjamin Franklin's (Also @Magnus Rex) dark foreshadowing -- "A republic, if you can keep it" -- prove all too apt?

Welcome to Founding Fathers!  You each play as your own team of statesmen, working to build their own legacy -- something that will outlive them when they die. 

You will achieve great things if you work together.  But working together will only get you so far.  After all, you are not playing to be forgotten among the masses.

As the game begins, George Washington has just been elected President.  John Adams ( @Hestia), his Vice President, has not yet come to curse the office as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." No other offices have been filled, yet.

If you can keep this nation --this grand experiment -- somehow financially afloat...independent of foreign intruders...and also held together despite deep differences between the north and south...then you just might have a shot of playing all the way up to the 1860's.  A span of nearly 100 years of (alternate) American history.  

But if you fail -- then it's game over.  If you are remembered at all, it will be as the men who were handed an incredible opportunity to build a new world, and ruined it over their ideological differences.  

President Washington's first task shall be to assemble the greatest minds our nation has to offer.  He'll need a Secretary of State to handle foreign affairs.  A Secretary of Treasury to handle our finances.  A Special Envoy as our chief diplomat.   A General to lead our armies.   A Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to ensure out laws are enforced fairly and dutiful. 

And, yes, he will need a Secretary of War.

He will need great minds.

He will need you.

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The point of the game is to rack up popularity.  Popularity goes to an individual statesmen -- and when that statesman inevitably either retires or dies, those popularity totals are converted into Victory Points.  You win by having the most Victory Points at the end of the game. 

How do you achieve popularity?  Well, getting elected President is a great way to do it.  You get three popularity for being elected President, plus you can (usually) assign members of your own team to cabinet positions for more popularity -- and then, as you (both President and cabinet) handle various crises?  Why, that's more popularity too!

But if you can't get elected President?  All is not lost!  All you have to do is convince the President to give you one of those sweet, sweet cabinet positions (or appointment as General, etc), handle crises that fall under your department, and wait for that old coot to die so you can move up!

There are also influence points, or IP.  At the start of the game, each player (NOT each statesman) begins with three IP.  You can use these IP to handle issues that come up (we'll talk about this later).  You can also use IP to either boost your statesman's popularity -- or build support for your political party.  All of this comes into play later, during the "Player" phase of the game.

But right now, we are in the Issues Phase.  

As President of the United States, @Magnus Rex   may do any of the following, in any order he chooses.

1) Reveal and handle an issue.  He will ultimately need to do this four times, before we advance out of the Issues stage.
2)  Pass/Repeal any taxes (with his Secretary of the Treasury, which he'll need to appoint first).  There are currently no taxes to repeal.  
3)  Pass/Repeal any tariffs (again, with his Treasury Secretary).  There are currently no tariffs to appeal.
4)  Appoint offices.

Again, these may be done in any order.

All of the action is currently on @Magnus Rex though I encourage the rest to consider petitioning him for whatever offices you might be interested in.  Roleplaying in character can be fun, for those who are into that sort of thing.  But those who aren't comfortable roleplaying don't have to.

There are two kinds of offices that @Magnus Rex needs to appoint.  The first are political offices.  All of these MUST go to Conservatives (the President's party) -- with the exception of one that he may choose to give to a liberal.  In other words, he must give 3-4 of these to conservatives, and 0-1 to liberals.

Note that each office comes with one popularity point -- except the Secretary of State, which comes with two.

All of these offices are surrendered before the next Presidential office.

(NOTE:  Attorney General does not, and will not, exist.  It's part of an expansion pack we won't be using in this playthrough).


Then there are the non-political offices.  As such, they can go to Conservatives OR liberals.  Each of these are unique.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court -- this is a lifetime appointment.  Once appointed (and accepted), the Chief Justice serves until he dies...or until he is elected either President or Vice President.  It comes with no popularity, and is initially completely useless (other than helping to break election ties).  However, the Chief Justice can play a vital role in a lot of scenarios that fall under his jurisdiction, after somebody plays the Theory of Judicial Review card.  

General -- Can only go to those with an "M" listed by their popularity/ability, indicating Military experience.  They retain their role even when the Presidency changes...but it is not necessarily a lifetime appointment.  They can be stripped of their rank in favor of a different General with a higher ability...or in favor of a military man from the President's party if the current General is of the opposite party.  They of course must resign as General if they are elected President or Vice President.

Finally, while the base game only allows for appointing a Chief Justice, we're going to simulate having an entire Supreme Court.  In addition to the Chief Justice, President Washington may appoint five additional justices (a grand total of six).  However, while appointing Alexander Hamilton as Chief Justice would mean that Alexander Hamilton is literally the Chief Justice, the five additional justices are more abstract.  Appointing Alexander Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson or even President Washington himself as a justice does NOT mean that they're actually serving on the bench -- rather, it's an unnamed judge who happens to be politically aligned with that statesman.  Thus, a justice marker can be given to "any" statesman, regardless of political party, age, or whether that statesman is already employed...but each statesman can only have ONE judge marker.  (A Chief Justice can have a judge marker in addition to their Chief job, representing a judge that happens to be aligned with the Chief Justice, giving them two votes instead of one).  When a statesman with a judge marker dies or resigns, their unnamed judge also dies, and the sitting President names their replacement.

There will be a total of six justices (Chief+5) in Era A.  We'll up it to seven justices in Era B, and eight in Era C.

Getting a judge marker will initially give you nothing -- no popularity, no power -- but if somebody eventually plays the Theory of Judicial Review card, the sitting Supreme Court and all future Supreme Courts will get to vote on whether to overturn certain issues, if the Chief Justice decides to challenge the President's decision on said issue.  All players will get a vote equal to the number of Judge markers they have (plus the Chief Justice).  It must be 50%+1 to overturn the President.

(The Postmaster General does not, and will not, exist in this game.)


Edited by MrPotatoTed
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Next topic:  Finances.

Currently, we have a revenue of -30, and a reserves of 0.  This means that if Washington neither spends nor earns any money for our nation, then at the end of his first term, America will be 30 in debt.  That by itself...even with the interest that is charged...is not necessarily a big deal.  However, you will find that it quickly adds up if not resolved, and debts of more than 100 run an increased risk of financial disaster that could harm the sitting President and Secretary of Treasury...or even ending the game entirely in financial collapse.  It is generally in everyone's interest to balance the budget and run up a surplus...though of course sometimes you may want to go into debt to chase after some shiny popularity points!

How do you increase your revenue?  Well, by tariffs, for starters.  You may only attempt to pass ONE tariff per Presidential term, and of course you start with Tariff I.  


Note that they say "Treasury + Congress".  This means that you need to appoint a Secretary of Treasury -- AND you need to get Congress to approve.  We'll discuss how Congress works when it comes up.  Note the "difficulty" in the top left.  Your Treasury Secretary must have an Ability score higher than that difficulty...or they (or you as President) must spend enough influence points to overcome the gap.  One influence point will give your Secretary a one-time boost of one ability point.

There's also popularity in the top right.  If you successfully pass Tariff I through congress, both the President AND the Treasury Secretary will receive 2 popularity.

In addition to tariffs, there are also taxes.  These are usually less popular than tariffs, but sometimes necessary.  You'll note they don't come with any popularity.  (The number after the slash means you get popularity for repealing them if they already exist).  


In addition to not being popular, taxes can also kick off some really bad times.  See below:


Edited by MrPotatoTed
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kay.  That's probably enough to get us started.  

We are currently on @Magnus Rex  President Washington to do the following in any order he wishes.

1) Reveal and handle an issue.  He will ultimately need to do this four times, before we advance out of the Issues stage.
2)  Pass/Repeal any taxes (with his Secretary of the Treasury, which he'll need to appoint first).  There are currently no taxes to repeal.  
3)  Pass/Repeal any tariffs (again, with his Treasury Secretary).  There are currently no tariffs to appeal.
4)  Appoint offices (including the assigning of 5 abstract Judge tokens).

To advance to the next state (treasury) he will need to appoint every office and also reveal and resolve four issues.

When you're ready for the first issue, Washington, let me know.  I'll reveal it and talk through how the issues work.

The rest of you are encouraged to begin making your case to Washington on why your candidates are the best for the offices of your choice.

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President Washington will begin his term by appointing a Cabinet.

The rules permit the President to send one job offer to a member of the opposing party, and so the inaugural Secretary of State will be Dr. Benjamin Franklin

The inaugural Secretary of the Treasury post is offered to Mr. John Jay of New York @ConservativeElector2

The inaugural Secretary of War office is offered to Rufus King @Hestia

Our standing national army, the Legion of the United States, requires a General. I ask Mr. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina to serve and to lead @WVProgressive

The administration requires a Special Envoy. I ask my fellow Virginian John Marshall to take up the post @Pringles

The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is offered to my trusted aide during the war for independence, Mr. Alexander Hamilton in New York @ConservativeElector2


All players have the right to decline a job offer, which will require the President to seek out an alternative appointee.

When all posts are filled, @MrPotatoTed the President will receive the first Issue on his desk.

Edited by Magnus Rex
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@Magnus Rex everyone has accepted, so per your request, it is time for...



In 1774, 19-year-old King Louis XVI inherited a throne mired in controversy and ineptitude, leading a destitute people who no longer desired a king, and deeply in debt from centuries of war.  Recently dislodged as the nation's leading colonial power, King Louis sought to restore France's reputation, finances, and love for the monarchy by bringing England to its knees.  But lacking the funding for yet another direct war, King Louis had instead turned his attention to the Americas, where he allied with the rebels to overthrow England.  This would greatly weaken and embarrass France's enemy number one, earn the French King the respect of his people, and of course lead to the spoils of war -- gold, land and trade.

However, despite supporting the winning side, France's naval fleet was nearly wiped out near the end of the war, putting England in a much stronger negotiating position.  Indeed, due to France's weakened power and desire for revenge, Benjamin Franklin ultimately negotiated the peace settlement with England secretly, leaving France mostly out of the equation.  As a result, France enjoyed few gains from their involvement in the American revolution -- and they were now even further in debt.

Desperate to save his country and his own head, and recognizing America would never be in position to repay their debt (literally and figuratively) to France and was in fact now openly trading with their former mutual enemy England, King Louis XVI refused to recognize the sovereignty of the newly established union.  French ships began firing on and capturing American trading vessels throughout the Caribbean, crushing the fledgling economy and threatening the newfound independence of the United States of America.

 - Big Sticks: The Threats That Made America

President Washington, action is to you.  Shall we fight back?  Negotiate peace with France?  Or ignore this kerfuffle and hope it goes away -- after all, with the way things are going in France right now, King Louis XVI may not be long for this world.

@Magnus Rex already knows how this works, but for the benefit of our new players:

President Washington's first choice is whether to pursue war, pursue negotiating peace, ignore the problem, or defer to Vice President John Adams.

PURSUING WAR:  President Washington would pass this issue to Secretary of War Rufus King.  @Hestiacould then decide to agree with war, or refuse.  

- Secretary agrees with war:  The war has a difficulty of 5 (see top left of card).  King only has an ability level of 1, so he'll need to spend 4 Influence Points.  Each faction (player) begins with 3 IP, so @Hestia only has 3.  Any player can give their faction influence points to @Hestia to help out, if you are so inclined.  (SIDE NOTE:  Individual statesmen can also have influence points, which are not as easily given out to other players --  but no individual statesmen have any yet, so we'll talk about that later).  Assuming @Hestia successfully comes up with a total of 4 IP, a vote then goes to congress.  All players get to vote, in order.  The first person to vote is the player after the President, which in this case is @ConservativeElector2.  In addition to having a number of votes from your statesmen (each statesman has a different number of vote power, add them all up to get your faction voting power), any player can spend 1 influence point to get +3 votes.  You can spend as much IP as desired, but must do so on your turn to vote.  If congress votes in favor of war, President Washington and Secretary King each get 2 Popularity (the first number at the top right)...but the US more than doubles the size of its current debt, with no current ability to ever pay it off. 

- Secretary disagrees with war (or fails to come up with enough IP, or Congress refuses to support it):  President Washington and Secretary King each lose 2 popularity (the number on the far right of the top right corner), and our nation loses $15 million (instead of the $50 million we'd lose from war).

PURSUING NEGOTIATED PEACE:  President Washington would pass this issue to Special Envoy John Marshall.  @Pringles could then agree to negotiate peace, or refuse.

- Envoy agrees to negotiate peace:  Negotiation has a difficulty of 5.  Marshall has an ability of level 2, so he'd need to spend all 3 of his faction influence points to achieve this (or get donated IP from other factions).  The vote then goes to congress.  If congress approves, President Washington and Envoy Marshall get no popularity (the middle number on the top right).  We lose the least amount of money (only $10 million) -- and public support shift two points in favor of the President's Party, which is the Conservatives.  This will give the Conservatives an advantage in all future Presidential elections, until Liberals find a way to reclaim public support in their favor.  Additionally, this negotiation can be sabotaged if any player has the sabotage card.

- Envoy refuses to negotiate peace (or Congress overturns it, or it gets sabotaged):  President Washington and Envoy Marshall each lose 2 popularity and our nation loses $15 million.

IGNORE THE PROBLEM:  President Washington does nothing.  He loses 2 popularity and our nation loses $15 million.

DEFER THE PROBLEM TO VICE PRESIDENT JOHN ADAMS:  Once per four-year turn, the President can defer one issue to his Vice President.  Vice President @Hestia could then choose between war, negotiated peace, or ignoring.  In addition to the President and relevant cabinet member, VP Adams would also reap the popularity benefits or punishments of the action.

As a general note to all players, be sure to keep your cards in mind, as you may have cards that could help or hurt the President at any time.


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Vice President Adams will attempt to negotiate peace with the French. @Pringles He thinks that getting out of a war this early with the French would be a good thing for the nation and settle the nationhood idea once and for all. Our faction would donate IP to help resolve the peace as well (not sure if that comes before or after or with this decision @MrPotatoTed 😛 ). 

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7 minutes ago, Hestia said:

Vice President Adams will attempt to negotiate peace with the French. @Pringles He thinks that getting out of a war this early with the French would be a good thing for the nation and settle the nationhood idea once and for all. Our faction would donate IP to help resolve the peace as well (not sure if that comes before or after or with this decision @MrPotatoTed 😛 ). 


Envoy of the United States John Marshall will proceed to carry through with the plans of peace with the French nation. He is pleased to see the Vice President is sensible enough to address this properly.

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For all players, remember you can spend IP for additional votes.  1 IP = 3 extra votes for your faction.  But they’re only for a single issue.

Also, remember I’ve private messaged you all cards that may alter the number of votes you have.

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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Hell Aye!

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Before the next issue crosses our threshold, we need to do something about our fiscal situation.

Washington asks Treasury Secretary John Jay to draft a Tax on owning slaves. 

Action to @Hestia if John Jay agrees to move forward, he will need 4 IP to meet the difficulty of the issue and put the bill before Congress for a vote.

The President's faction will donate 1 IP to this cause, will any other factions join in this effort? @WVProgressive @ConservativeElector2 @themiddlepolitical @Pringles

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If Secretary Jay agrees, comes up with enough IP, and it passes congress:  it will bring in +7 million per Presidential term, helping to start paying down our debt of $40 million.

However, taxing the purchase of slaves is controversial.  It will put us one step closer to game-ending civil war, and will also come with a die roll that carries a significant chance of hurting Washington and Jay’s popularity, and even a small chance of moving the country a second step closer to game ending civil war.

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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