George Washington married widow Martha Dandridge Custis in 1759, following the death of her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, in 1757. Washington adopted her surviving children John and Martha. As eveyone knows, Washington (known as George Rex Americanus), after winning the Revolutionary War, accepted the offer of the American crown, ruling as a benevolent king who held the nation together through its tulmutuous early years.
Washington's stepson John died in 1781, which made his step-grandson George Washington Parke Custis king. George II Americanus (to differentiate him from the late English king of a similar name) reigned until his death in 1857.
Mary Custis was the sole surviving (white) heir of George II. Legally, upon the death of her father, she acceeded to the throne automatically under English common law. However, due to the anti-monarchy controversy, it was decided that until the matter was decided in Congress she would not be referred to as the queen. No coronation occured and Mary did not engage in any royal duties, nor did she leave her residence at Arlington House for the White House.
In 1860, amidst the Constitution Crisis, the Supreme Court ruled in Myers v. Crown, that Mary de facto abdicated the throne. The abdication remained a very divisive point between Americans. Southern states were broadly Royalist while northern states were broadly Republican. Exacerbating the divide was the South's demand that abolition be phased in with compensation and economic assistance. Northern hardliners came to prominance following the soft abdication or "declination."
It was over these issues that the Civil War began in April of 1861. After the Union Army's defeat at Gettysburg in 1863, General Robert E. Lee, the uncrowned king consort, offered peace to the Union. Lee knew that a bloody war would ensue and he could not guarantee a swift victory even with the help of the United Kingdom. The terms were to revive the throne, under a mutually agreeable formal constitution, similar to the one ultimately rejected in 1789.
Reconciliation, rather than destruction, was the talk of the day. Prime Minister Abraham Lincoln famously said "I have no objection to a queen, nor even a king. I don't even object to Southerners." It is believed that Lincoln and the Republicans agreed to the terms to preserve the integrity of the nation, rather than seeing it split and the North potentially falling victim to reconquering by Britain from Canada.
The Constitution of the United States was signed on December 14, 1863, taking effect on the first of January 1864. Robert and Mary were crowned in a small ceremony in the White House. They reigned together as co-monarchs to overcome objections to a female monarch. Sadly in April 1865, a disgruntled actor from Maryland, John Wilkes Booth, who was upset that the South reconciled with the North, shot King Robert and Prime Minister Lincoln. The former died instantly while the latter expired early the next morning. Queen Mary was stabbed, but physically recovered. She entered mourning and was rarely seen publically up to her death in 1873.
In 1873, George Washington Custis Lee, who took the regnal name Custis, became king. Never having children, upon his death without issue Custis was succeeded by his younger brother Robert E. Lee Jr., Robert II (male preference primogeniture would not permit his elder sister Mary to acceed as long as a surviving male son of the deceased king lived). 20 months later in 1914, Robert II died. Having no sons, Robert's heir was his daughter Anne Carter Lee. Queen Anne died in 1978. As she was preceeded in death by her son Hanson Edward Ely, his son Robert Lee Ely became King Robert IV.* With the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment to pass, absolute primogeniture, which would have placed Anne's daughter, Anne Carter—as she was known—did not affect the traditional passing of the throne.
*Robert IV, despite being only the third King Robert, took his number out of respect for his elder cousin, Robert E. Lee III, son of William, the second son of Robert I. The current king of the United States is Robert E. Lee V (Robert V).
Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.