When Emperor Palpatine finally appeared at the finale of George Lucas’s original Star Wars Trilogy, he was a figure shrouded in mystery. He controlled the entire governing body and with it, every star system in the galaxy. His Empire had usurped the Republic and the Galactic Senate as the ultimate source of authority, and used its vast military to enforce its doctrines and maintain civil order. The Empire’s might was great. The Emperor’s might seemed less certain, for here was a weathered old man with ashen skin, and yellowed eyes who walked with a cane by the time of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
But as we bore witness, the Emperor was one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy, and George Lucas had an epic story planned for him, one that would slowly, meticulously unfurl with Episode I, II, and III. Palpatine had been an altruistic man of strong conviction who identified the bureaucratic tumult in the Senate for what it was; stagnation. He envisioned a greater, more prosperous future for the galaxy, and had the fortitude to set a plan in motion to achieve it, the ramifications of which would shape the entirety of the Star Wars Saga.
10 HE WAS AN EXCELLENT SENATOR
Queen Amidala, the most beloved monarch of the planet Naboo (who the people would have gladly seen sit on the throne again!) endorsed Senator Palpatine. This was despite the advice of her Jedi cohort, which included the ever-skeptical Obi-Wan Kenobi, who like most Jedi was suspicious of politicians in general.
Palpatine only ever had the best interests of Naboo in mind, always voting for legislature that was for their benefit of the planet and its inhabitants as a whole. Outwardly, no one could accuse him of placating other star systems out of self-interest or personal gain, even when Naboo was a wealthy trading planet.
9 HE DID EVERYTHING IN HIS POWER TO PROMOTE PEACE
Though the necessary elements for the Clone Wars to begin were set in place by Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas a decade prior to their inevitable commencement, prior to that tumultuous eruption kicking off in Revenge of the Sith, it was the Galactic Senate that decided that Palpatine should serve another term as Chancellor.
Palpatine only ever served the will of the people, from his time as a Senator of Naboo, to his time as Chancellor of the Senate. Loyalist citizens did not want to go to war, and he did his best to promote peace, but when the time was necessary to strike at the heart of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, he did so without mercy.
8 HE APPOINTED ONLY THE BEST MILITARY PERSONNEL
Though the Jedi had been the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy for a millennium since the dawn of the Republic, their numbers were not extensive enough to fight a war for it. The Republic had had no need for a galactic military presence, relying on the Jedi to be the peacekeepers that mediated resistance to Republic authority wherever it emerged.
When the Separatist Crisis made it no longer possible for the Jedi Order to keep peace, high ranking members (Masters and Knights) were granted command of clone trooper companies to put an end to their attacks on Republic star systems. Though Palpatine knew not all the Jedi approved of him or his methods, he chose to abide by the adage "keep your friends close but your enemies closer".
7 THE SEPARATIST CRISIS CREATED ITSELF, NOT HIM
When the systems that decided to join The Separatist Movement had collectively concluded that they’d had enough of the Republic and its endless bureaucratic toil at the hands of self-serving politicians, it was not because Palpatine drove them to such a choice. It wasn’t even attributed to his nefarious alter ego, Darth Sidious.
Some star systems simply didn’t wish to be under the authority of what the Republic had become, and they separated from the loyalist worlds. Palpatine wasn’t wrong when he informed Queen Amidala that the figurehead of the Republic’s bloated arrogance, Chancellor Valorum, had no real power. Separatists would have wanted to secede regardless, only waiting for their numbers to increase.
6 HE PREDICTED THE JEDI THREAT
For a millennium, the Jedi had been the strong arm of the Republic, though they were not a fighting force and did not condone violence. Still, their presence across the galaxy meant that they were omnipresent agents of the governing authority and that their directives were passed down from the Galactic Senate. Not every galactic citizen approved of their methods or their stewardship of Republic ideals.
When their omnipotence was threatened by Palpatine, they were revealed for what they truly were; an oppressive cohort that didn’t believe in progress, change, or a new direction for the galactic collective. Clinging to the edifice of a decadent past, they turned on Palpatine, and he exposed them as the gatekeepers they were.
5 HE ENDED THE CLONE WARS IN ONE DAY
Each clone trooper in the Grand Army of the Republic had been equipped with an organic chip that made them unable to disobey Order 66, a command that Palpatine himself had integrated into their systems. This was a fail-safe measure Palpatine created, knowing the Jedi might one day turn against him and threaten his progress.
Not only did Order 66 demand all clone troopers to exterminate their Jedi commanding officers, it also meant they exterminated all Separatists. One of the only Jedi to believe in Palpatine’s authority, Anakin Skywalker, was sent to Mustafar, where all the leaders of the Separatist Movement were gathered, to annihilate their threat. In a single day, Palpatine and his forces had won the Clone Wars.
4 HE SAW A BETTER FUTURE FOR THE GALAXY
Where some loyalist systems saw unity and prosperity, Sheev Palpatine saw a galaxy fractured by indecisiveness and bureaucratic self-servitude. As a senator of Naboo, he had tried to make the Republic he served a more structured, organized, and decisive body with his legislature and his votes.
Not all star systems would always agree on the right course of action for their collective, but with strong leadership, the sort that couldn’t be challenged by mewling bureaucrats, they could be made to see reason. The choices that they made would not only serve themselves, but the entire collective body.
3 HE BROUGHT PEACE AND SOLIDARITY
During the several years the Clone Wars waged, the galaxy had seen massive destruction and chaos the likes of which it had never before experienced. With the destruction of the sanctimonious Jedi Order and the divisive Confederacy of Independent Planets, Palpatine was prepared to offer the galaxy peace and solidarity. He was determined to rebuild the Republic into the first Galactic Empire.
The Senate celebrated the Empire’s creation with thunderous applause. With this Empire came a military presence the likes of which the galaxy hadn’t experienced before either, with Imperial stormtroopers on every system, but it also created a sense of heightened security.
2 HE GAVE GALACTIC CITIZENS MORE OPTIONS
With the creation of the Empire, there were now more ways than ever for galactic citizen to get involved with their government. With the creation of the Imperial Academy, Palpatine gave young people the option of exploring new vocations, even enlisting in the Imperial Military. This gave them a chance to leave their home planets on the Outer Rim and see more of the galaxy than they ever thought possible.
For some (including Biggs Darklighter and Luke Skywalker), a chance to attend the Imperial Academy was the only hope they had of seeing their piloting dreams become a reality, even if they didn’t completely agree with its doctrine.
1 HE BOOSTED THE ECONOMY WITH GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS
Since the Old Republic never had a standing military, much of the opportunities it offered were in government legislation and politics, applicable only to certain portions of the galaxy’s population. With the Imperial Military, opportunities arose that never existed before, including large government contracts.
Suddenly military strongholds and installations were springing up out of the ground, while enormous fleets of Star Destroyers were being built. The greatest of all the government contracts, which supplied over 50,000 jobs for technicians, military personnel, and crew, was the Death Star Superweapon. It was a battle station that would keep all the star systems in the galaxy in line with Palpatine’s doctrine.