The First Foundation, often referred to simply as the Foundation, was established at the planet Terminus, outside the Imperial borders. The Foundation was set up with Imperial blessings as a "Encyclopedia Foundation", intending to preserve all of human knowledge during the predicted one thousand years of chaos. Seldon's true intention for the Foundation is to preserve the physical sciences and provide a political starting point for the Second Empire.
The nature of the Foundation changes through the five hundred years of history Asimov provides in the books. In the beginning, the "Foundation" refers to the Encyclopedia Foundation in Terminus City. Terminus City is run by a mayor, and in the beginning Terminus was quite weak and subject to the political whims of the Four Kingdoms surrounding it. The most notable of those kingdoms is Anacreon. As the scientific knowledge of the galaxy continues to wane, the preservation of atomic power in Terminus enables it to use that knowledge to its advantage.
Mayor Salvor Hardin realizes that the Encyclopedia Foundation was a farce: Terminus' true role was to serve as the foundation of a new political entity, one that will hopefully grow into the Second Empire. Because the scientific and technological abilities of the Foundation are so far above those of the Four Kingdoms, Hardin is able to create a religion around atomic power.
The Foundation's nature throughout the books is one that is continually shifting. From an academic foundation to a religious center, it turns at the end of Foundation into a trade hub. The Foundation will grow from Terminus to become a federation of planets under the direct control of Terminus or under its sphere of influence. The leader of the Foundation, and later the Foundation Federation, will retain the title of "Mayor" but some will grow to have almost dictatorial powers. The Foundation is briefly conquered by The Mule, since no one there can resist mentalics.
By Second Foundation (novel), those in the Foundation have become aware of the Second Foundation, and its leaders have surmised that its powers are mental, rather than physical. Both the Mule and the Foundation search for the Second Foundation in an effort to destroy it, but are unsuccessful. By Foundation's Edge, the Foundation Federation holds the overwhelming majority of the galaxy in its sphere of influence, aside from isolated worlds like the 50 Spacer Worlds and Gaia that are not on any maps.
List of Mayors and Heads of State of Terminus/First Foundation
The Board of Encyclopedists was the governing body of Terminus (an Imperial Protectorate then) until 50 FE, when the Mayor of Terminus City Salvor Hardin seized power with the help of Yohan Lee, in order to stop Anacreon from establishing military bases on Terminus. Here is a comprehensive list.
- Dr. Lewis Pirenne, a representative of the Galactic Emperor, ruled as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, of the Encyclopedia Foundation Number One. He was then superior to Hardin, and pressurised him concerning the Terminus City Journal. During his reign, the Royal Governor of the Prefect of Anacreon assumed right as King. Hardin and he escorted Anselm haut Rodric (Envoy Extraordinary of his Highness of Anacreon, Sub-prefect of Pluema, "plus a dozen other titles") in Terminus.
- Salvor Hardin was the first Mayor of Terminus City. He played an important role in the Foundation's history, by his political battle against Anacreon, and by establishing Scientism in order to pacify the neighbouring worlds. He tricked haut Rodric into revealing that Anacreon does not have nuclear power, by noticing that he did not correct Hardin when he stated that it is hard to obtain plutonium for nuclear power (plutonium is not utilised for the particular process). He seized power as head of state of Terminus with the help of Yohan Lee in 50 FE. He later defeated Wienis, Prince Regent of Anacreon, and his nephew King Leopold I of Anacreon, through Scientism and relegious propaganda thirty years later. He was once a student of psychohistorian Bor Alurin.
- The Mayor of Terminus who appears in the trial of Hober Mallow rules in 156 FE. Hober Malllow was charged of alegedly allowing an Anacreonese Scientism Missionary (Jord Parma) to be killed in Korell.
- Hober Mallow was the first Trader who became Mayor aided by politician Ankor Jael. As Mayor, Mallow leads the Foundation through its third Seldon Crisis. In this instance, the crisis involved an impending war with Korell and those remnants of the Empire which back them. Mallow's solution, reminiscent of Salvor Hardin's years before, is to make the Korellian economy (as well as the livelihood of its population) dependent on Foundation merchandise. The “war” ends three years later as one of "the least fought wars in Galactic History", as quoted in the Encyclopedia Galactica, and Mallow transforms the power and influence of the Foundation from chiefly religious to primarily economic, turning Terminus into a successful plutocracy ruled by Merchant Princes, which Mallow becomes the first of.
- The Mayor of Terminus City mentioned in The General, Part One of Foundation and Empire. He is referred to be an "idiot" in a "soft" government, ruling during the reign of Cleon II, who launched an attack on the Foundation in 195 FE.
- Indbur I, the first monarch of a Mayor, ruled in 215 FE. He is mentioned to be a brutal and capable Mayor. He set up slave mines, in which trader Lathan Devers died along with the great-grandfather of Toran Darell I, and removed the last remnants of free elections. Under his brutal reign, the Democratic Underground Party was formed in 215 FE. They continued to operate until the end of the century.
- Indbur II, the son of Indbur I, succeeded the throne as a birthright. He was "merely brutal", therefore only "half of his father".
- Indbur III, the son of Indbur II, was "neither brutal, nor capable". He is the Mayor in The Mule, Part Two of Foundation and Empire. He is remembered to have been the last monarch of a Mayor, and having fallen to The Mule. Both Captain Han Pritcher and Ebling Mis defied Inbur III; In the months prior to the Mule's assault on the Foundation, Pritcher was ordered by Mayor Indbur III to investigate the Independent Traders of Haven, which Pritcher described as "a rat hole in space that, it seems, does not pay its taxes, but chose to investigate what was happening on Kalgan, contrary to orders, and Ebling Mis ignored the usual protocol involved with requesting an audience with the Mayor, and instead, barged into the palace unannounced to make the Mayor address his discovery of the Fifth Seldon Cris coming. He arranged for a meeting in the Seldon Vault at Mis' date, only for Seldon's predictions to be incorrect, the Mule to attack and for him to be emotionally controlled by the Mule, disguised in the Vault as Magnifico, to emotionally control him to surrender.
- The Mule ruled Terminus from Kalgan, as the First Citizen of the Union of Worlds, from 295 to 300 FE. Motivated by awareness of his abnormal appearance and hatred against the galaxy, the Mule used his extensive powers to rise to power: first conquering a pirate's asteroid base, an industrialist later gave him control of a planet. From there he managed to take over the planet Kalgan by converting the then warlord of Kalgan. This gave him the possibility of conquering the First Foundation, but he needed allies for this, so he decided to disguise himself as a clown, claiming to be his own jester, in order to seek the agents the Foundation would sent to investigate him. This allowed him to meet Han Pritcher, but the first to encounter him were Toran and Bayta Darell, whom he ended joining in their travels. This, at the same time, allowed him to have Kalgan declare war on the First Foundation, conquering both it and the Independent Traders' planets. His attempts to find the Second Foundation through manipulation of Ebling Mis, though, ended up being stymied in the last second thanks to Bayta, who had realized who he was and killed Mis before he could speak up. The Mule ended up leaving, allowing the Darells to go untouched on the basis of their friendship. During the following years, the Mule continued to use his power to sweep aside the last remnants of the Galactic Empire centered around Neotrantor and forging the Union of Worlds, styling himself First Citizen of the Union. However, his plans to create a new Empire were kept in check by his fear of the Second Foundation, which led him to organizing multiple expeditions to seek it. The sixth expedition, led by Bail Channis (who turns out to be a Second Foundation agent) appears to be successful, but in fact it is all a trap created by the First Speaker of the Second Foundation, who defeats the Mule and alters his mind, making end his quest and spend the last years of his life as a benevolent dictator, eventually dying a premature death resulting from his mutation.
- The Mayor of Terminus City during Search by the Foundation, Part Two of Second Foundation (novel). He fights Kalgan (under Lord Stettin) in 377 and 378 FE, in a war instigated by the Second Foundation under First Speaker Preem Palver. He knew Toran Darell II and the two discussed the war, the mayor having a much more negative outlook on it than Darell.
- Four female mayors of Terminus were elected between 378 and 498 FE, although Harla is the only named female mayor.
- Harla Branno, the fifth female Mayor of Terminus, ruled in Foundation's Edge during the Eighth Seldon Crisis in 498 FE. She exiles Golan Trevize accompanied by Janov Pelorat to Trantor, hoping to find the Second Foundation through them. She suspects Sayshell as a candidate to host the Second Foundation. Her faithfull subordinate was Liono Kodell. She plays a role in the Decision that potentially could kick-start Galaxia and did so.