President Thomas Eckhart was the Enclave President before the events of Fallout 76. Eckhart rose to power as president of the Enclave through Machiavellian political maneuvering before the Great War and a political party purge after in the Whitespring Congressional Bunker. Eckhart is also primarily responsible for the creation of the Scorchbeasts that roamed and decimated Appalachia and infected its population with the Scorched Plague.
Son of disgraced American businessman Joseph Eckhart, Thomas was embarrassed at the young age of 16 by his father's damning indictment of U.S. capitalism and defection to China. Bereft of good standing or a company to rule, as it was liquidated and distributed to worker's advocacy programs worldwide, Eckhart turned his bitterness into a single-minded pursuit of power with the goal of eradicating communism and its adherents once and for all. His drive and dedication eventually led him to the position of Secretary of Agriculture in the last United States administration, where he became a fervent promoter of the idea of a preemptive nuclear strike on China - an idea that was consistently dismissed by the powers that be, with Eckhart recommended to focus on pursuing the goals of his department.
However, his ardent opposition to communism and fervent nationalism has led to him becoming a natural candidate for selection into the innermost enclave of power of the United States government. The relatively benign Department of Agriculture was the perfect cover for funding the Whitespring Congressional Bunker, with money funneled from the Department's coffers under Secretary Eckhart's oversight at a grand scale. The amount of time and money spent by the Department did not escape notice, especially from Appalachian senator Sam Blackwell and his contacts. Fortunately for Eckhart and the project, the senator did not manage to blow the lid off the project.
Rise to Power
It was available when the early warning came and the government officials - what government remained after October 23rd, 2077 and the flight to reinforced locations that month - rushed to shelter. Eckhart, naturally, chose the Whitespring. He was one of the few to make it to safety. Only a select few other members of the enclave made it to safety, including the Secretary of the Interior and a number of high ranking officers. The rest was left to fend for themselves. All non-Enclave personnel who arrived at the Whitespring Congressional Bunker were rounded up and shot, including members of Congress who foolishly thought that a Congressional Bunker would save their lives. The survivors were horrified to learn that connections to Raven Rock and the oil rig were lost, leaving them isolated. However, it played right into Eckhart's plans, allowing him to seize the opportunity and lead the fight against communism. After gathering the survivors in the conference room, Eckhart informed them of the isolation and the death of the Secretary of the Treasury due to "radiation sickness", then announced himself as the new leader of their little enclave, as per pre-War rules of succession.
Then he offered them a choice: Using the Whitespring to continue the war against communism and the enemies of America, until no enemies stand against them, or opposing his plans. As the Enclave was supposed to be the bastion of democracy, he called for a vote with their feet. Everyone who supported his idea of using the facility and Appalachian resources was asked to stand at the left side of the room, by the entrance. The rest were to stand against the wall on the opposite side. Many sided with General Swafford, who opposed continuing the pointless war. Eckhart was disappointed but prepared. He had his supporters exit the room, while MODUS sealed the opposition inside, leaving them to suffocate.
Although the purges entrenched Eckhart's control, he only had 48 people left to "save" democracy with. He wasted no time in briefing the survivors on his plan: The complete eradication of communism using any means necessary, with no moral or ethical constraints. It was total war and no option was off-limits, even a repeat of the nuclear nightmare. Eckhart has not forgotten his idea of resolving the great ideological struggle with nuclear weapons. However, the biggest obstacle in his plan to use the Appalachian nuclear network was the fact that all but one general were eliminated. He needed a general for his war plan and he needed more people for the Enclave to survive. He ordered MODUS to assign an escort to Harper around the clock, while scouts were to keep out an eye for potential candidates for "recruitment".
By mid-2080, the Responders became a natural source of recruits, though many would require brainwashing in order to be pressed into the Enclave's ranks. Eckhart was keenly aware that torture would not lead the United States back to supremacy, so he was elated when scouts under Major Ragnarsdottir revealed that West Tek's FEV research survived the nuclear blasts and - despite his hatred for the Chinese - that a Chinese infiltration base at Mama Dolce's Food Processing near Morgantown was secured by Agent Grey. Both of these would become vital parts of his plans. The scouts also revealed that the election system could be hacked, in order to allow Eckhart to become the President of the United States - the President of the Enclave.
Path to the Presidency
However, the path forward would prove rocky. Apart from multiple casualties sustained in the process of perfecting mutation serums, the plan for unleashing nuclear devastation on China were hampered by the automated safeguards built into the nuclear arsenal. Simply having a general on hand to access the nuclear silos wasn't going to lead to nuclear launches. As work continued on advancing Eckhart's plans, the Enclave experienced a sudden windfall in late 2082: A group of soldiers led by Colonel Ellen Santiago arrived at the bunker, acting on rumors they heard about the bunker. With no sensible alternatives, Santiago led her men from the still smoldering remains of Washington D.C. to Appalachia, arriving at Eckhart's doorstep. The Secretary was elated to have a veteran at his disposal and lured her into service with promises of revenge against the Reds.
With an influx of veterans, the work towards the eradication of communism advanced at a rapid pace. The experiments with mutations continued in parallel with work on accessing the nuclear arsenal, resulting in many working serums... And the first scorchbeasts, accidentally created when Enclave scientists exposed irradiated bats to biochemical experiments the previous year. Eckhart ordered further study of the creatures in controlled habitats at the abandoned AMS mining complexes while keeping the officer corps in the dark.
He was making a disastrous mistake, but Eckhart had no time for reflection. Just three months later, in January 2083, Eckhart's man completed reprogramming the Appalachian election machines. Although General Harper expressed reservations about mobilizing men to vote for Eckhart, granting him the title of President, the Secretary believed it was necessary to give the men of the Enclave an authority to look up to. They only knew two: God and the President, and there was no way to create the former.
Aggressive Impulses of an Evil Empire
Eckhart wasted no time in asserting his authority over his subordinates, especially Colonel Santiago. In one notable instance, he revoked a sergeant's permission to leave the bunker and search for his wife in the region, berating the colonel for giving special leave in wartime and potentially leading an outsider to learn about the bunker and - God forbid - join the Enclave as a "little housewife". Santiago had no choice but to accept Eckhart's stance. However, the President's heavy-handed approach started to make the colonel reconsider her decision to join without full knowledge of what was going on at the Whitespring.
The situation deteriorated in late 2083 when General Harper died of heart failure brought on by radiation poisoning. Eckhart's plan for nuclear retaliation crumbled before his very eyes as MODUS attempted in vain to shock the general's heart to life. With his plan thrown off the rails, Eckhart salvaged the situation by sending Santiago to Camp McClintock and making her earn an automatic promotion to general by exploiting the same system that gave him the Presidency. Santiago succeeded, although the way in which she earned the stars disgusted her.
Still, it worked for Eckhart. Not only did he have a general and thus the means to access the silos, he could also offload the task to seek out nuclear launch codes to her and her men. The search was complicated by the way in which the codes were distributed, assigned to aide de camps to carry on their backs or delivered by automated cargobots, but also the fact that even with the key and codes they couldn't launch without somehow tricking the automated system into raising the alert level to DEFCON 1. Eckhart and Grey already had a plan in motion for this occasion, aiming to use the Liberators, Huntersville mutants, and the mighty scorchbeasts to unleash hell upon Appalachia and trick the system into believing an invasion was underway. Although all wanted to win the war, putting Appalachia through hell was making many reconsider - especially Major Ragnarsdottir, who explained the situation to Santiago.
As the soldiers struggled with their consciences, Eckhart took time to order an assassination of former Senator Sam Blackwell, remembering the threat he posed before the Great War. The senator's sudden appearance at Harpers Ferry and subsequent elimination of an Enclave operative left the President furious.
Believing all the cards to be in his possession, the President ordered the attempts to raise the DEFCON levels to begin. Liberators and super mutants were unleashed on Appalachia, but all they managed to achieve was barely a tick on the DEFCON counter. Angry with the half-measures and lack of success, Eckhart planned to move ahead with even more radical attempts. However, his single-minded pursuit of nuclear capability and the sheer amount of blood shed in the process finally broke the straw. General Santiago realized that revenge against the Reds was not worth paying such a steep price and confronted Eckhart in July 2084, threatening to leave with her men. The President tried his usual flattery and playing on Santiago's thirst for revenge, but she remained adamant. Realizing that he was in danger of losing, Eckhart instead chose to incapacitate her with a knock-out agent and keep her in an artificially-induced coma until he had need of her clearance.
She was kept in storage (for a lack of a better word) until June 2086. With nobody to oppose him, Eckhart unleashed the scorchbeasts on Appalachia, with the terror and destruction brought down by them successfully raising the alert level to DEFCON 1. Dismayed and demoralized by the brazen disregard for American life, Santiago's loyalists and members of Eckhart's officer corps staged an open revolt. Fighting off robots and Eckhart's troops, Jackson and one-time Eckhart supporter Major Ragnarsdottir revived Santiago, who gladly assumed leadership of the uprising.
However, while Eckhart was placed under arrest, ultimately the uprising failed. Santiago's decision to blow MODUS up backfired and the AI turned on all human members of the Enclave. After an explosion tore out a large part of MODUS' memory, the damaged AI retaliated with an explosion in the weapons lab that killed General Santiago and ruptured a toxin tank that leaked into the air circulation system. MODUS promptly sealed the bunker, dooming all within - including President Thomas Eckhart - to an ignoble death, choking to death in darkness.
Thomas Eckhart is mentioned only in Fallout 76.
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
ECKHART RENOUNCES CITIZENSHIP
by Rita Haggerty
Joseph Eckhart, prominent New York businessman and founder of Eckhart Unlimited, has publicly renounced his US citizenship, taking an oath of loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, according to Chinese state sources.
Stating that "I can no longer watch as capitalism grinds good men and women to dust," Eckhart went on say that the proceeds from the recent liquidation of Eckhart Unlimited, once one of New York's fastest growing shipping and manufacturing houses, would be distributed to worker's advocacy programs across the globe.
There has been no word if Eckhart's three children - Julia (21), Joseph Junior (18), and Thomas (16) - will be joining their father abroad or attempting to carve out a life for themselves here in the United States.
--- END ENTRY."
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "I'm Sorry Thomas
--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
I'm sorry, Thomas.
The idea of a preemptive strike was taken under considered, but dismissed outright. You shouldn't fear. We have things well in hand.
The best way to help now is to focus on your department's research. Those initiatives are much more important to our future.
--- END ENTRY."
- Charleston Capitol Building terminals: "Subject: Intelligence Committee
[Fri 04 June 2077 06:19:37]
Recommended reading for the upcoming Intelligence Committee meeting.
- The Congressional Bunker project
-- Who has stake in this? Who's really funding?
-- Is Vault-Tec overly involved? Trustworthy?
The answers to these questions are the source of my fears, and exactly why I need your help.
>>You Replied Fri 04 June 2077 08:11:33"
- Charleston Capitol Building terminals: "Subject: Dept. of Agriculture
[Thu 10 June 2077 06:23:01]
The most recent evidence is pointing to the Department of Agriculture having a large stake in the bunker project. I've put out feelers to find out what Sec. Eckhart's involvement is. And why Agriculture is sinking so much time into the bunker.
>>You Replied Thu 10 June 2077 09:00:02"
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "Cabinet Nuclear Alarm Logs
... accessing ...
--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
LAUNCH DETECTED! ISSUING CABINET WARNING! ::
Pres :: msg received. Proceeding to PR_002.
V Pres :: msg sent. No confirmation received.
Speaker :: ERROR. Contact removed from list.
Sec Treas :: ext. conn. made. En route to CB_002.
Sec Def :: ERROR. Contact removed from list.
Att Gen :: ERROR. Contact removed from list.
Sec Int :: msg received. En route to CB_002.
Sec Ag :: msg received. En route to CB_002.
Sec Com :: Contact removed from list.
ERROR. WARNING LOG TRUNCATED. ::
--- END ENTRY."
- Whitespring surveillance recording 1.1.2
- Whitespring surveillance recording 1.1.5
- Whitespring surveillance recording 1.1.7
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "Meeting Transcript - Entry 1.3.2
TRANSCRIPT - 1.3.2
Good morning, members. You all appear to be recovering well from the inoculations. These will be the first of many, I presume, so please, don't push yourselves.
There are fewer of us than I was hoping for, but that only means that every one of you is all the more precious to our success, from the most decorated virologists to the most dogged technicians. And all of you will be required if we are to reach our goal - the complete eradication of Communism and those that practice it.
Now, business. Some of you have worked with me before this nightmare began, but let me reiterate for those that haven't: nothing is off-limits. All lines of inquiry are open and available to our research here.
You will be tasked, but should you find a promising strain of "X" or an effective technique for "Y", you are to bring it to me directly. And if it helps us reach our goal, we will pursue it. Progress is the only measure of success. We cannot be slowed by the timidity of the past.
Now I've given the initial research plans to the various laboratory leads. You should all meet, discuss, mingle. MODUS will bring refreshments.
Yes, Mr. Secretary.
You're all going to be spending a lot of time together. Good to get the introductions out of the way now.
- Whitespring surveillance recording 1.3.3
- The years are calculated basing on the surveillance recordings, assuming that they follow a Year.Month.Day format and are relative to the activation of the facility on October 23, 2077 (1.1.1).
- Whitespring surveillance recording 2.9.6
- Whitespring surveillance recording 5.2.4
- Whitespring surveillance recording 5.4.8
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "Meeting Transcript - Entry 5.7.2 (Partial)
TRANSCRIPT - 5.7.8 (Partial)
Very well. We all know our parts then?
I do have one question, Mr. Secretary.
And that is?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the automated silos, they require a general of appropriate rank be present. Just a general. Presidential authorization is not required.
That is correct, General.
And we're mobilizing a not insignificant number of men to achieve this goal. Santiago's men. Men I'm sure some of us may not fully trust yet.
And you're asking why it is we're doing this?
I'm asking why are we risking few and precious resources so you can call yourself President, when it's not necessary for the mission?
To the contrary, General Harper. It is quite necessary. All of us around this table understand the dedication required to accomplish our goals here. The sacrifice. But to ensure the loyalty of those out there, we cannot presume dedication alone will be enough. We require authority. And those soldiers and statesmen recognize only two great authorities - God and the President of the United States. And I don't know of an automated system we can use to make a god. So the latter will have to do.
- Whitespring surveillance recording 6.1.0
- Whitespring surveillance recording 6.2.1
- Whitespring surveillance recording 6.2.4
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "Accessing the Silos
--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
Initial scouting efforts confirm your suspicion, General. You're the only one who can get us inside the silo. Donnelley's on track to take a run at the promotion process, but until he's ready, when we breach, we're going to need you with us.
The security system requires a missileer escort be present ... which, maybe we'll luck out and one will be alive, but I wouldn't count on it. Chances are good we'll have to fight our way to the targeting computer. But if we could find one of those misileers, it might make our lives a hell of a lot easier.
--- END ENTRY."
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "The Code Pieces
--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
There are eight aide-de-camps charged with lugging the Silo Alpha code piece transceivers on their backs. We've found six thus far and it's given us some answers ... and one big new question.
Each transceiver has a letter paired with its number ... but even with six of the letters, it doesn't spell anything. I'll admit, spelling wasn't my stand-out subject in school (the Ragnarsdottir boys were recess men), but we spent half a night trying to reorder it into something. Hell, MODUS couldn't figure it out.
That's when we realized the letters are coded. This must be the encryption you said was mentioned in the orientation. We just have to figure out how they did it.
I dispatched men to go through the archives in Sugar Grove, but they failed to find anything useful.
Next group is going to go over Mama Dolce's more thoroughly, see if we missed anything the Commies might've figured out. They found some kind of an password on one of the bodies that they never found a use for - 4Party651 - which could be a lead.
--- END ENTRY."
- Whitespring Congressional Bunker terminals: "Tricking DEFCON
--- ACCESSING ARCHIVAL ENTRY.
This is the tricky one. We've got a Nuclear Keycard. One. If something goes wrong during the launch - fat finger, you sneeze, whatever - we're up shit's creek. And no one has been able to get a bead on a keycard convoy for a while now. But Jackson's been going through the documentation, and he believes he's parsed out what's happening.
The specifics get pretty technical (the man ended up burning through three sticks of chalk trying to explain it to me) but the abridged version is that the system tasked with watching over the region doesn't think things are bad enough to warrant the convoys. This also explains why all the DEFCON signage in the bunker has been slipping downwards. But if we could trick the system into thinking there was some sort of invasion here, we could get its undivided attention, along with all the keycards we could ever need.
Now, staging an invasion, well, we don't have the resources to do that ourselves and it sounds like spinning up an army of MODUS' butler bots won't make it bat an eyelash either. But Grey, sick puppy that he is, had an idea. If we could get the Chinese robot factory at Mama Dolce's back up and running, we might be able to make the system think the region's under attack. It might make things... dicey for folks outside the bunker, but it'd be a big step in getting us to launch.
Now I'm sure you're thinking the same thing I am as I type this: is a group of belligerent spy bots running around going to be enough? And, if it's not, what is the President willing to resort to in order to guarantee the success of the launch? This has "slippery slope" written all over it.
I wanted to bring this to you now, as I can guarantee Grey has already planted the idea in the President's head. I'm not thrilled with the prospect of putting Appalachia through hell just so we can finally win this war, but if we can do this in a managed way, this might be our best way forward.
--- END ENTRY."
- Whitespring surveillance recording 6.6.1
- Whitespring surveillance recording 6.9.7
- Whitespring surveillance recording 8.5.2.
- The following exchange is obtained after fixing the Assaultron at the bunker:
Assaultron: Initiating ... final ... playback ...
Ragnarsdottir: That's the last of them. Entrance is clear, general. MODUS. Have the rest of these things stand down. The general's placed Eckhart under arrest. It's over.
MODUS: General ... Santiago is dead, Major.
Ragnarsdottir: What? What the hell was that?
MODUS: There's been a ... detonation in the weapons lab. It appears the agent has ... broken containment and is filtering into the air system.
Ragnarsdottir: MODUS, what are you doing?! Open the god-damned door!
MODUS: This facility is now ... quarantined.
Ragnarsdottir MODUS! Open the fucking door! You're going to kill us all!
MODUS: To the contrary, Major. We're fixing ... the problem.