The Founders are a major citizen faction and political party in the city of Columbia. Their name relates to the fact that they see themselves as the true founders of the city, and they attempt to model their ideals after the Founding Fathers of the United States. The party promotes ultra-nationalism, religious zealotry in the divinity of Father Zachary Hale Comstock, jingoism, militarism, elitism and extreme xenophobia, and is at war with the anarcho-communist resistance group known as the Vox Populi. Central to their ideology is the belief that Elizabeth will lead them to an apocalyptic cleansing of the world below in order to remake it into Columbia's image, and that a "False Shepherd" will attempt to lead her astray. The Columbia police force and military are both aligned with the Founders.
In 1890, Booker DeWitt distinguished himself at the battle of Wounded Knee by scalping and burning alive a large number of Native Americans; thus, earning the nickname, "The White Injun." While Booker was seen as a hero among his fellow soldiers, he was personally disgusted with himself. He then sought out to be baptized and start a new life. In one universe, Booker rejected this baptism, however in another, he accepted, and renamed himself Zachary Hale Comstock. Comstock, now a born again Christian, also had a good political reputation for his service at Wounded Knee. Between 1890 and 1893, he convinced Congress to fund the construction of Columbia. With the support of Washington and Rosalind Lutece's floating atom theory, which would grant the city levitation, Columbia would officially launch in 1893.
Comstock, with his growing ego and public persona, spawned a cult of personality by declaring himself a prophet and claiming an angel named Columbia had given him the vision of the city. He cemented his followers' devotion through the use of Tears. Using the Lutece Device, he would look into another dimension and see a future outcome. He would claim a prophecy, and when it happened, the citizens out of astonishment were duped into worshiping Comstock. He also claimed that the Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, were saints in the Angel Columbia's eyes. In Honor of this, his followers named themselves the Founders.In addition to their fervent devotion to Father Comstock, the Founders also embraced his extreme beliefs, notably aggressive white supremacism and classism. White, middle- to upper-class Protestant citizens had access to all of the city's privileges, while non-whites and Irish Catholics were segregated into much poorer conditions. This underclass generally only appeared in proximity to the Founders population in positions of servitude. Various forms of propaganda reinforced this class division. History was rewritten from the Founders' viewpoint to justify Comstock's ideology and his seizing control of the city. This included the events of Columbia taking part in crushing the Boxer Rebellion in China, and Comstock's decision for Columbia to secede from the United States. Children were indoctrinated into these beliefs, and Founders' children were encouraged to enter the city's military force at a young age.
The Founders embraced a very egalitarian treatment of women, who were allowed to join the city's militia, army and police force. They equally were progressive in the adoption of advanced technology, namely the city's quantum-based levitation system and the body-warping Vigors. Rosalind Lutece, a brilliant female scientist, was still not exempt from sexist jokes, but she was still largely respected as the most eminent scientist in all of Columbia. Elizabeth, following the passing of Father Comstock, was expected to lead Columbia and deal with the world below.
The Founders, aside from being a political party, have different branches ranging from manufacturing conglomerates to cults and militants. The main manufacturing and goods producing company in Columbia, Fink Manufacturing, is a Founder owned company. The Fraternal Order of the Raven is a shadowy sect dedicated to enforcing Founder beliefs in racial purity. The city's police force and military are headed by Founders.
The Founders' main recruitment base is Columbia's White Protestants The Founders are supported by the majority of Columbia's middle and upper-class citizens, with the affluent district of Emporia being the center of their power. The party's leaders are all extremely wealthy, and are supported by Columbia's business elite. One, Jeremiah Fink, is allegedly among the wealthiest men in the city. The Founders indoctrinate Columbia's young, to create future loyal supporters, and recruit them into the police and army to uphold the Founder ideology. Elaborate propaganda pieces such as Soldier's Field are used for this purpose.
The Founders' ideology heavily incorporates symbolism, most of it associated with the United States' Founding Fathers. The city's three main symbols are as follows:
- The Sword, championed by George Washington. It exemplifies strength, courage and military prowess. Following the death of Lady Comstock, the Sword also grew to symbolize vengeance against Columbia's enemies.
- The Key, championed by Benjamin Franklin. It symbolizes wisdom, and is occasionally used among the population to signify intelligence.
- The Scroll, championed by Thomas Jefferson. It represents justice, righteousness and moral guidance.
Other factions and individuals within the Founders also developed symbols of their own: for example, the Fraternal Order of the Raven, tasked with avenging Lady Comstock, worship the raven (so that they may watch over the city) and the coffin (for their self-perceived failure to protect Lady Comstock) alongside the Sword. Jeremiah Fink splits society into lions (the elite), cattle (workers) and hyenas (dissidents), going so far as decorating his Beast contingent's armor with golden lion heads.
In addition to these symbols, the Founders also worship certain individuals: Most notably, Father Comstock, their leader, whom they see as a divine prophet. Lady Comstock is seen as a saint, especially following her death. Elizabeth is worshipped as the Lamb of Columbia, and is Comstock's planned successor. Elizabeth's jailor Songbird is viewed as a guardian of the city. Even Monument Island, where Elizabeth is initially held captive, is held to be almost sacred, which caused great distress among the population when it was partially destroyed. Conversely, figures opposed to Comstock are demonized: Daisy Fitzroy and the Vox Populi are associated with the Devil, whereas Booker is hunted down for being the False Shepherd, a figure who Comstock prophesied would arrive to corrupt Elizabeth.
The Fall of the FoundersEdit
Fiercely convinced of their righteousness, the Founders did not hesitate to stamp out any form of ideological dissidence. Romantic or sexual relations between white and black people were punishable by death (and, once a year, turned into a public stoning), and supporters of worker's rights were hunted down and either ostracized or jailed. Thus, when the Vox Populi movement began, the Founders immediately declared war against them, forcing Vox Populi members underground and to resort to violence. Initially viewed as a nuisance, the purported murder of Lady Comstock by Daisy Fitzroy caused the Founders to escalate actions against the "Vox" and their supporters. Daisy Fitzroy became a leader of the Vox Populi. An even more extreme and racist branch of the Founders, the Fraternal Order of the Raven, tasked themselves with the assassination of Vox Populi members, and above all, Daisy Fitzroy.
Initially, the Founders held the upper hand, thanks to their privileged status and support from Fink Manufacturing, possessing economic and technological supremacy over the rebels. The Vox Populi had little access to weapons, were forced into the underground, and could make limited attacks against the Founders and their supporters. Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth opened a Tear into a reality where the Vox gained access to weapons made by a gunsmith by the name of Chen Lin, allowing the Vox to cripple the Factory district and spread their control to the rest of the city, murdering any Founders they came across. Many surviving citizens were forced to flee the city, with those who stayed to fight being forced back to Comstock House. Eventually, the Vox took over Columbia, burning much of it down.
List of Key FoundersEdit
The scalps of key Founders members, save for Comstock's, can be found nailed to a board in the Port Prosperity Station's foyer. The bloodied board reads "Tell us, Prophet. Do you see us coming?"
- Zachary Hale Comstock, leader of the Founders.
- Jeremiah Fink, owner of Columbia's largest businesses and weapons supplier.
- Flambeau, Jeremiah Fink's associate.
- Saltonstall, a major politician.
- Marlowe, inventor of the Murder of Crows Vigor.
- H. Clark
Flambeau's body is directly underneath the sign, along with two other corpses.
- ↑ "Interview: Ken Levine aims high with BioShock Infinite" article on GamesCatalyst.com