Rather than offer the people of the galaxy newfound hope, the Empire instead became a tyrannical regime, presided over by a shadowy and detached despot steeped in the dark side of the Force. Personal liberties were crushed, and the governance of everyday affairs was pulled away from the senate, and instead given to unscrupulous regional governors.
Accompanying the growth of the Empire was an unprecedented military buildup. The many shipyards in the Emperor's domain churned out immense fleets of Star Destroyers and TIE fighters. The Imperial starfleet maintained order in the galaxy, a role previously undertaken by the Jedi Knights, an august order of protectors wiped out during the Emperor's ascent.
It was through fear that the Empire ruled. Its power hungry lieutenants and technocrats developed greater and greater instruments of destruction to cow a rebellious populace. This philosophy culminated in the creation of the Death Star, a mobile space station with a prime weapon of unspeakable power. When fully charged, the Death Star's superlaser had the ability to destroy a planet.
Despite such shows of strength -- indeed, because of them -- the flames of rebellion fanned higher. Small pockets of resistance banded together to form the Alliance to Restore the Republic. At...