thanks for the schooling

The Union must be preserved, Fabrica de Tabacos ... Habana (c1860; LOC:

mission accomplished

The seventh Thanksgiving since Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States. President Andrew Johnson unobstreperously followed Mr. Lincoln’s example by proclaiming a national commemoration. According to an editorial in The New-York Times all the states went along, except for Mississippi, whose citizens were “called to observe a fast and not a feast.” Another Times article that Richmond, the ex-Confederate capital, observed Thanksgiving with most shops being closed. Henry Ward Beecher delivered another Thanksgiving sermon at Plymouth Church, just as he did in 1860. The Times covered many of the sermons in the metropolitan area, including one from a Unitarian church in Manhattan.

From The New-York Times November 30, 1866:

The American Mind Under Six Years’ Schooling.


For God has not given us the Spirit of peace [sic], but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind – 2d Epistle of Timothy, 1st chapter, 7th verse.

The boyhood of Lincoln--An evening in the log hut / E. Johnson 1868 ; W. Harring. (Boston : Chromo-lithographed and published by L. Prang & Co., c1868.; LOC:

“a learner like the rest of us”

The six years since November, 1860, have been the most memorable period in the history of America – more memorable even than the six years after the Declaration of Independence, in 1776 – since they have established the idea of that Declaration in its true meaning upon a new and immense domain, and alike in the face of home-insurrection and foreign hostility. Compare our position and temper when we met for worship Thanksgiving Day, 1860, and now. The election of President had passed, and the choice of the people called ABRAHAM LINCOLN to the seat of Government. It was generally supposed that the States in the minority would peacefully, although reluctantly, acquiesce in the decision. Alas! we little knew what was in store for us, and we turned away with incredulity, and almost with contempt, from the few, dark prophets who pointed out to us the cloud no bigger than a man’s hand that was to swell into a fearful storm and break with fury upon the land. The speaker here gave some statistics showing that the country was by far more prosperous now than at any time previous to the war. The war had educated the American mind, given it experience, and rendered it practical in all things. He continued: It is hard to say what man best expresses the national idea, or embodies the American mind. We have had no WASHINGTON, HAMILTON or MADISON to guide us from the beginning, or even to tell us what was to happen. We had to make our own way, often in the dark, and our most conspicuous man was a learner like the rest of us; and honest ABRAHAM LINCOLN was willing to take his primer of patriotism and go to God’s school to learn what to do and say. He learned his lesson and said it to the people, and then died, struck by a foul hand that wrote its own doom, and the doom of its rebel crew, and turned the victim, who was sometimes the doubting patriot, into the triumphant martyr. We have had no great leader, and God means that the nation shall be great, and that the American mind itself shall be imperial, and shall need no one chief to imperil its dignity and perhaps tempt it to idolatry. Noble men we have, indeed, who have helped build up the national mind – perhaps, preachers, merchants, poets, journalists, orators, statesmen, philosophers – but the American mind is greater than them all, and follows the call of God and His providence, no matter what a President or Secretary of State, a popular preacher or a noted editor may say. The American mind has learned wisdom of God, and can say with confidence, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” The muscular force of the American mind tells upon its judgment, and our people judge of men and things not by the doctrinaire, but by the dynamic scale. They have been so often disappointed by mere professors, and have tried so many men, and found them wanting, that they have learned to be very discriminating, and to distinguish between the substance and the show. We ask now what a man really is and really can do, and wish to give fair play to every man, without expecting perfection from any. It is remarkable how shrewd our people are, and also how considerate. It is true that they do not mean to run into any extremes, or play the fool with zealots of any faction, or to run into the arms of sectionalists of either type. We mean to work out the problem of peace as we work out the problem of war, by wanting God’s will and doing our best as time called. The nation evidently expected to follow the lead of the President to speedy reconstruction, but they were disappointed in his temper and policy,especially in his veto of the Civil Rights Bill, and his somewhat greater disposition to fraternize with some of the old enemies of emancipation than with its friends. They are sorry that he loses his temper and dignity sometimes, and talks more vehemently than is well. Yet they give him his due and do not think that he meant to betray the old flag, little as he knows its highest worth. They take him as he is and hope to see him learn wisdom and calmness by disappointment. The party of conservative reconstruction was damaged, if not ruined, by the President’s undignified tour; and the party of progressive reconstruction may be sure of the same fate if they make the new apostle of impeachment their organ, and offend the common sense of the country by mistaking a smart lawyer or a staunch Provost-Marshal for a good General or a great statesman. The American mind has learned to like words less and deeds more. It looks with little satisfaction upon blatant orators of the stump or platform, and seems most pleased at present with that quiet man who, after doing the great thing that was to be done to make peace, and giving the order that finished the war, shut his mouth, and showed mainly by his lighted cigar that there was breath still in him and some fire too. The reverend gentleman continued at great length to illustrate how the events of the past six years had educated the American mind to rely upon itself, drawing its ideas of right and justice directly from God, and that those principles actuated it at all times. Speaking of the freedmen, he said: We are putting the dynamic estimate upon classes as well as persons. We have come to the conclusion that we all weigh something, and no useful class can be spared. The millions emancipated by the war – our freed people – are weighed and found not wanting. In 1860 they worked and gave the South its wealth and the North most of its trade. Since 1860 they have fought, and now, all free, they are mostly at work, and many of them and their children, thank God, are at school. They are free and intensely national in their feelings, and, with God’s grace, the great American mind is at work upon them and with them. Fair play for the freedmen in all respects and free suffrage – impartial, intelligent suffrage, for all our people of every hue and blood. Impartial suffrage – the ballot to all who know how to use it, but no ballot to idiots, dunces or sots, black or white.

President Johnson’s proclamation was filled with respectful references to God. According to Hans L. Trefousse, Andrew Johnson, as a young Tennessee legislator in about 1840, “successfully moved to postpone a resolution calling for daily prayers to open legislative proceedings.”[1]

From the Library of Congress: advertisement; Eastman Johnson’s young Abe Lincoln
  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & company, Inc., 1997. Print. page 41.
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“pernicious isms of the day”

Charles Lenox Remond (

Charles Lenox Remond

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper probably in 1866:

FANATICS IN COUNCIL. – A so-called Equal Rights Convention was held at Rochester, on Tuesday and Wednesday last, at which a strolling company of mountebank performers, half male and half female, who favor negro suffrage, woman’s rights, and all the other pernicious isms of the day, appeared. Parker Pillsbury, the negro Redmund [sic], Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and one or two other unsexed women, amused the small audience present.

I don’t think the event was held in Rochester. According to  November 21, 1866 issue of The New-York Times, the convention, with between 250 and 300attendees, was held in Albany, New York on November 19th-21st. Lucy Stone was the president of the convention. All the people mentioned in the Seneca County article attended, along with Frederick Douglass:

Lucy Stone with daughter Alice Stone Blackwell, half-length studio portrait, sitting, facing front (ca. 1858; LOC:

Lucy Stone could vote AND take care of her babe

… Special Dispatch to the New-York Times
ALBANY, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 1866.

A call for a Convention of those who favor the rights of all persons to equal privileges in the eye of the law was held in Tweddle Hall, in this city, yesterday, and its sessions will continue through tomorrow. The old and shining lights of the anti-slavery rostrum, and the itinerent [sic] lecturers on womens’ rights were there, each and all ready with a panacea for the disordered condition of the country, and predicting a reign of peace and plenty when their suggestions should be heard. It will not be too much, probably, to say that FREDERICK DOUGLASS was the most distinguished in the gathering. He made a speech in his usual close and logical style, or in what his admirers term so, which was received with loud applause. …

Frederick Douglass House Parlor, Washington, D.C. (LOC:

“Frederick Douglass House Parlor, Washington, D.C.”


FREDERICK DOUGLASS, being called on, said that he had not expected to speak, yet he was always prepared, and would comply with their requests. He had marveled that men had attempted to carry on the fabric of Government without calling in the assistance of women. He affirmed that it was impossible to think of any reason why man should construct a Government which would not apply equally to woman. We do not need government because we are men and women, but because we are human beings, capable of determining between right and wrong, and influenced by good and evil motives. All this, and more, applies to woman as well as to man, and there is not an argument which does not bear with equal weight for both. Our republican form of government is often spoken of as a masterly and unsurpassed specimen of workmanship, provided with checks and balances, which would insure its working right, and to which there is no other Government to be compared. I admit this in part, but not wholly, for there is a partial failure in that part which deprives woman of the franchises of freedom. It appeared to him that this was to be a Woman’s Rights Convention, instead of an Equal Rights Convention. He should not object to this if the women would only kindly take the negro by the hand and elevate him. For his part, he could not attend a public meeting without bringing the negro with him – in fact, he was inseparable. While he thought that the question of equal rights was of importance to women, he thought it was much more so to them. It was a question of life and death, for New-Orleans was remembered by them. Women have a hold on the affections of men, but his race had none on that of the ex-slaveholders. They disliked the black men, and it was therefore essential that they should have the power to vote. Women, if they get the power of voting, will raise the negro, and check the ravages of intemperance and degradation. They say, if woman votes, she will be indifferent to her household duties, and that she will be a mere echo of her husband. He denied this. The wife will look as tenderly on her babe as if she had not voted, and her duties as wife will be as well discharged. He did not see why she should not go with her husband to deposit a ballot, as well as to go to the Post-Office. If she commits a crime, she is punished like any other criminal, and she should have the rights of a citizen. If there was any objection in the minds of persons listening, he hoped to hear from them. He thought if the Convention which nominated LINCOLN and JOHNSON had been composed in part of women, the whole of that nomination would not have been made. …

So women could have saved the country from Andrew Johnson, who was showing himself to be opposed to freedmen aspirations. In a February 1866 meeting President Johnson told Mr. Douglass that he opposed black suffrage. According to Hans L. Trefousse, the president’s official mouthpiece, the Washington National Intelligencer, condemned the September 1866 Southern Loyalists’ Convention in Philadelphia for “welcoming Frederick Douglass. It was the first time a great party had practically carried out the theories of Negro equality,” even though the white race always considered itself superior. “It was obvious that Johnson shared this sentiment, and presumably few blacks or their supporters were taken in by his efforts to appear as their friend.” [1]

F Douglass speech (

Frederick Douglass – abolition fanaticism in 1847

Abolitionism was certainly an ism that shook things up in the 19th century. Project Gutenberg provides a speech Frederick Douglass delivered in 1847. Here’s a paragraph:

…I cannot agree with my friend Mr. Garrison in relation to my love and attachment to this land. I have no love for America, as such; I have no patriotism. I have no country. What country have I? The Institutions of this country do not know me—do not recognize me as a man. I am not thought of, spoken of, in any direction, out of the Anti-Slavery ranks, as a man. I am not thought of or spoken of, except as a piece of property belonging to some Christian Slaveholder, and all the Religious and Political Institutions of this Country alike pronounce me a Slave and a chattel. Now, in such a country as this I cannot have patriotism. The only thing that links me to this land is my family, and the painful consciousness that here there are 3,000,000 of my fellow creatures groaning beneath the iron rod of the worst despotism that could be devised even in Pandemonium,—that here are men and brethren who are identified with me by their complexion, identified with me by their hatred of Slavery, identified with me by their love and aspirations for Liberty, identified with me by the stripes upon their backs, their inhuman wrongs and cruel sufferings. This, and this only, attaches me to this land, and brings me here to plead with you, and with this country at large, for the disenthrallment of my oppressed countrymen, and to overthrow this system of Slavery which is crushing them to the earth. How can I love a country that dooms 3,000,000 of my brethren, some of them my own kindred, my own brothers, my own sisters, who are now clanking the chains of Slavery upon the plains of the South, whose warm blood is now making fat the soil of Maryland and of Alabama, and over whose crushed spirits rolls the dark shadow of Oppression, shutting out and extinguishing forever the cheering rays of that bright Sun of Liberty, lighted in the souls of all God’s children by the omnipotent hand of Deity itself? How can I, I say, love a country thus cursed, thus bedewed with the blood of my brethren? A Country, the Church of which, and the Government of which, and the Constitution of which are in favor of supporting and perpetuating this monstrous system of injustice and blood? I have not, I cannot have, any love for this country, as such, or for its Constitution. I desire to see it overthrown as speedily as possible and its Constitution shivered in a thousand fragments, rather than this foul curse should continue to remain as now. [Hisses and cheers.] …

I know I must live too much in the past … I was surprised to discover that there was a birthday party for Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls on November 12th this year. Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass attended. Mrs. Stanton sure is holding up well for being 201. During her speech she alluded to her winter wheat quote. One advantage to living in the past – I discovered that public birthday parties for Elizabeth Cady Stanton were also a thing of the past.
The image of Charles L. Remond is licensed by Creative Commons. The cover from the abolition speech is at Project Gutenberg. From the Library of Congress: Lucy Stone and daughter, Carol M. Highsmith’s photograph at the Douglass house, 80th birthday souvenir
80th birthday bash (

80th birthday bash

  1. [1] Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton & company, Inc., 1997. Print. page 269.
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another Gettysburg dedication

Inauguration ode. Composed by Mrs. Isabella James. November 20, 1866 (LOC:

quoting Lincoln

Evidence (to the left) indicates that three years and a day after the National Cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated another dedication was held in the town – this time for the National Soldiers’ Orphans’ Homestead. The orphanage was inspired by the story of Sergeant Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Infantry Regiment. On July 1, 1863 the 154th was trying to help cover the retreat of the 11th Corps. Their position was soon attacked by a much larger Confederate force, which soon surrounded and captured most of the 154th. Sgt. Humiston was shot dead as he tried to make his escape. In the days before dog tags the only identification found on the corpse was an ambrotype of the soldier’s three young children, which Sgt. Humiston was clutching in his hand. A huge publicity campaign was launched to try to find the dead soldier’s family, and eventually Philinda Humiston and her three children were identified in Portville, New York. The Humistons’ story inspired the founding of the Gettysburg orphanage. You can read a very good article about Amos Humiston, his family, and the orphanage at Historynet. The Humistons stayed at the Gettysburg orphanage from October 1866 until Philinda remarried in October 1869. After a few successful years, the orphanage eventually closed because of mismanagement and mistreatment of the children.

There is currently a monument commemorating Sgt. Humiston and his children in Gettyburg.

amos-humiston ny 154th

Amos Humiston, 154th NY Infantry

"The children of the battle field" / Wenderoth, Taylor & Brown, 912-914 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. (LOC:

“The children of the battle field” (front)

"The children of the battle field" / Wenderoth, Taylor & Brown, 912-914 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. (LOC:

proceeds for the orphanage (back)


154th Regiment Battles and Casualties (

154th decimated at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg

154th Regiment Monument at Gettysburg (

154th Regiment
Monument at Gettysburg

The image of the 154th’s monument, the losses table, and the roster all come from New York State Military Museum, which also provides several letters home from the regiment’s major, Lewis D. Warner. A July 10, 1863 letter discusses the disaster at Gettysburg and the difficulty of accurately reporting the losses: “As we did not recover this ground [where the 154th was captured on July 1st] until the 4th, and as the dead were by that time under the intense heat, so swollen and disfigured that recognition was impossible, we cannot, until the return of the prisoners, make an accurate report.” The Library of Congress provides the images of the poem, children, Frank Leslie’s. There seem to be a couple factual discrepancies in the accounts I linked to.
An incident of Gettysburg - the last thought of a dying father ( Illus. in: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, (1864 Jan. 2), p. 236. ; LOC:

anonymous Amos Humiston in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, (1864 Jan. 2)

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letters to and from

Campaign sketches. The letter for home / H. (by Winslow Homer, Boston, Mass. : Lith. & pub. by L. Prang & Co., [1863]; LOC:

“Print shows a nurse writing a letter for a wounded Army of the Potomac soldier in a hospital bed.” (by Winslow Homer [1863])

ww1letter (

Washington Monument on armistice night, 1921 (c1921 Nov. 25.; LOC:

“Washington Monument on armistice night, 1921”

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litmus test

Mending the family kettle (Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 22, no. 559 (1866 June 16), p. 208.; LOC:

it’s out of Andy’s hands now

150 years ago today a Republican newspaper responded to Democratic charges that the new Congress would only re-admit Southern states to the Union if the Republican party was assured of winning the 1868 presidential election. The Republican paper said that if a Southern state ratifies the Fourteenth Amendment, it will be re-admitted.

From The New-York Times

The Elections and the South.

[The Times quoted a paragraph from the November 9th edition of the World about devious Republican intentions]

The old story over again. Detected and defeated, the Democrats raise the cry of false pretences, and impute to the victorious party purposes wholly at variance with the truth.

On the part of the Republicans, of this State especially, the professions put forward on the question of Southern restoration have been in harmony with the action of Congress. There has been no reserve, and most certainly no deceit. The Syracuse Convention presented the Constitutional Amendment as the basis of restoration, and the address put forth as from the National Union Committee, explicitly avers that the admission of qualified members will at once follow the ratification of the Amendment. On this ground the battle was fought in this State, and in every State which was heard from on Tuesday. Massachusetts has elected at least one member who demands more than the Amendment; but we anticipate that that member will not be more potent at Washington than he was at Big Bethel. With this exception, every State in which the Republican banner has been borne in triumph has committed itself to the Amendment as a compromise, the acceptance of which will entitle the South to immediate admission. Even Mr. FORNEY, speaking for the extremists, admits this to be the case. “Such,” he says, in a letter over his signature in the Press – “such undoubtedly was the determination of a large majority of Congress when that body adjourned on the 28th of July, and such would, I believe, be the response of the triumphant people of the North and West at the present time.” Such has been their response. And the responsibility of [rejecting ?] an overture made by the Republican Party in good faith rests with the South.

The South may be ruled out at the next Presidential election. But it will be because the Southern people refuse to avail themselves of the terms of admission submitted for their adoption. If they refuse the Amendment which is declared to be the condition of immediate restoration, they will, of course, remain out of the Union. And being out of the Union, they will have no lot or part in the choice of its next President. The matter is in their hands, and as they mould it so will it be.

The same issue of the Times quoted an Atlanta’s paper endorsement of James P. Hambleton in a special election on November 28th for U.S. Congressman from Georgia’s Seventh District: “True, the member elect may not be permitted to take his seat, and in all probability will not be.” But since there were candidates running, the people should vote their preference. James P. Hambleton served the Confederacy during the war “and suffered long imprisonment for the active part he took in it [the Confederate service], and for his opinions as expressed when publishing and editing, in this city, the journal favorably known as the Southern Confederacy.

The Library of Congress provides the political cartoon, which was originally published in the June 16, 1866 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper
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the anonymous eight

Republican roll on (NY Times, November 8, 1866

Republican roll on (NY Times, November 8, 1866)

In 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton ran for Congress for New York’s Eighth District as an independent – unaffiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties. She didn’t win.

From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in 1866:

AWFUL. – Our whilom towns-lady, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, announced herself a few days before election as a candidate for Member of Congress in the 8th District of New York city, but only received eight votes. This shows what a graceless set those New York “copperheads” are, and that it will take a good deal of civilizing yet to bring them up to the mark of “impartial suffrage.”

A New York City newspaper lauded the eight (male) voters. From The New-York Times, November 8, 1866:

AN EPOCH. – It appears that out of twenty-two, odd, thousand votes cast in the Eighth District for Congressional candidates, Mrs. ELIZABETH CADY STANTON received eight. If the stringent rules of the ballot did not forbid, it would be satisfactory to record and embalm the names of this independent and gallant minority. As marking an epoch in the progress of the race, their names, however, may be held of less significance by posterity than their symbolical number. Thus it has been in times past. Of the Septuagint – the seventy (or seventy-two) learned Jews to whom we all owe so much of our sacred history – not an individual name of popular significance is extant. No one of the Jewish Sanhedrim of two thousand years ago, or of the French Sanhedrim of sixty years ago, presents to-day a name to conjure by. The Venetian Council of Ten [represent an epoch?] in government, and nothing more. Few care to recall the names of OCTAVIUS, ANTHONY and LEPIDUS, in connection with the Roman Triumvirate. And yet, if there were no social and political etiquette in the way, how satisfactory it would be to call the valiant Eight who have led the way in this movement toward universal enfranchisement by their proper names! Their history will, some day, be written by some learned pundit, who may properly call it: “The Reformed Congress; or, The Modern Octatenque.”

Democrat Brooks beats Messrs. Cady Stanton and Cannon (NY Times November 7, 1866

Democrat Brooks beats Messrs. Cady Stanton and Cannon (NY Times November 7, 1866)


third column doesn’t fit the template (NY Times November 7, 1866)

According to History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1881; pages 180-181), Theodore Tilton (I believe in 1868) had a higher vote count for Mrs. Stanton:
The New York Herald, though, of course, with no sincerity, since that journal is never sincere in anything—warmly advocated Mrs. Stanton’s election. “A lady of fine presence and accomplishments in the House of Representatives,” it said (and said truly), “would wield a wholesome influence over the rough and disorderly elements of that body.” The Anti-Slavery Standard, with genuine commendation, said: “The electors of the Eighth District would honor themselves and do well by the country in giving her a triumphant election.” The other candidates in the same district were Mr. James Brooks, Democrat, and Mr. Le Grand B. Cannon, Republican. The result of the election was as follows: Mr. Brooks received 13,816 votes, Mr. Cannon 8,210, and Mrs. Stanton 24. It will be seen that the number of sensible people in the district was limited! The excellent lady, in looking back upon her successful defeat, regrets only that she did not, before it became too late, procure the photographs of her two dozen unknown friends.
Drawing of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, art located at the Frederick Douglass home in Washington, D.C. (by Carol M. Highsmith; LOC:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Women's Suffrage (Harris & Ewing, photographer; LOC:

still going forward

You can find the images at the Library of Congress. Carol M. Highsmith took the photograph of the drawing of Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the Frederick Douglass home in Washington, D.C. The photo of the suffragette was taken between 1910 and 1920.
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Boston Uncommon


New York Times, November 7, 1866

There weren’t too many surprises in state elections held on November 6, 1866 – the Republican landslide continued for the most part as voters in state after northern state rejected President Johnson’s plan for rebel states to easily re-enter the Union and representation in Congress. However, two of the Republicans elected to the Massachusetts state legislature were unique – the first black men elected to that body. An editorial wondered how that type of result would work out in the South as the franchise was eventually extended to black men in the former rebel states.

From The New-York Times November 7, 1866:

A NOVELTY IN POLITICS. – The election of two colored men yesterday to seats to the Legislature of Massachusetts is certainly a novelty in American politics. The event, however, is one that will undoubtedly soon be followed by others of like character in other States, and there will be a logical advance from the struggle as to giving negroes votes to a contest as to giving them public offices. The question is a simple enough one in the New-England States, but when the principle comes to be applied to the Southern States, in some of which the negroes must possess a controlling political power, and be able to elect a majority of blacks to the Legislatures, it will be quite another matter.

According to Wikipedia, Edward Garrison Walker and Charles Lewis Mitchell were the African-American men elected in 1866. Massachusetts enfranchised black men nine years earlier. Both Mr. Walker and Mr. Mitchell represented Boston districts. Mr. Walker joined the Democratic party about a year later because of “dissatisfaction with the Republicans.”

mastatehouse62 (

novelty in the state house

The circa 1862 image of the Massachusetts state house is from Wikipedia
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“arrested development”

The tailor of the Potomac, or, Andy Johnson, on his way to Chigago [!] (LOC:

“weary of the tailor from the State of Tennessee!”

150 years ago a Boston journal reacted to Andrew Johnson’s Swing Around the Circle with a 6,000 word attack on the president and his policies. Here are the first three paragraphs from The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVIII.—NOVEMBER, 1866.—NO. CIX:


Andrew Johnson has dealt the most cruel of all blows to the respectability of the faction which rejoices in his name. Hardly had the political Pecksniffs and Turveydrops contrived so to manage the Johnson Convention at Philadelphia that it violated few of the proprieties of intrigue and none of the decencies of dishonesty, than the commander-in-chief of the combination took the field in person, with the intention of carrying the country by assault. His objective point was the grave of Douglas, which became by the time he arrived the grave also of his own reputation and the hopes of his partisans. His speeches on the route were a volcanic outbreak of vulgarity, conceit, bombast, scurrility, ignorance, insolence, brutality, and balderdash. Screams of laughter, cries of disgust, flushings of shame, were the various responses of the nation he disgraced to the harangues of this leader of American “conservatism.” Never before did the first office in the gift of the people appear so poor an object of human ambition, as when Andrew Johnson made it an eminence on which to exhibit inability to behave and incapacity to reason. His low cunning conspired with his devouring egotism to make him throw off all the restraints of official decorum, in the expectation that he would find duplicates of himself in the crowds he addressed, and that mob diffused would heartily sympathize with Mob impersonated. Never was blustering demagogue led by a distempered sense of self-importance into a more fatal error. Not only was the great body of the people mortified or indignant, but even his “satraps and dependents,” even the shrewd politicians—accidents of an Accident and shadows of a shade—who had labored so hard at Philadelphia to weave a cloak of plausibilities to cover his usurpations, shivered with apprehension or tingled with shame as they read the reports of their master’s impolitic and ignominious abandonment of dignity and decency in his addresses to the people he attempted alternately to bully and cajole. That a man thus self-exposed as unworthy of high trust should have had the face to expect that intelligent constituencies would send to Congress men pledged to support his policy and his measures, appeared for the time to be as pitiable a spectacle of human delusion as it was an exasperating example of human impudence.

Andy's trip "Who has suffered more for you and for this Union than Andrew Johnson?" / / Th. Nast. ( Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. X, no. 513 (1866 October 27), pp. 680-681; LOC:

“His low cunning conspired with his devouring egotism to make him throw off all the restraints of official decorum”

Not the least extraordinary peculiarity of these addresses from the stump was the immense protuberance they exhibited of the personal pronoun. In Mr. Johnson’s speech, his “I” resembles the geometer’s description of infinity, having “its centre everywhere and its circumference nowhere.” Among the many kinds of egotism in which his eloquence is prolific, it may be difficult to fasten on the particular one which is most detestable or most laughable; but it seems to us that when his arrogance apes humility it is deserving perhaps of an intenser degree of scorn or derision than when it riots in bravado. The most offensive part which he plays in public is that of “the humble individual,” bragging of the lowliness of his origin, hinting of the great merits which could alone have lifted him to his present exalted station, and representing himself as so satiated with the sweets of unsought power as to be indifferent to its honors. Ambition is not for him, for ambition aspires; and what object has he to aspire to? From his contented mediocrity as alderman of a village, the people have insisted on elevating him from one pinnacle of greatness to another, until they have at last made him President of the United States. He might have been Dictator had he pleased; but what, to a man wearied with authority and dignity, would dictatorship be worth? If he is proud of anything, it is of the tailor’s bench from which he started. He would have everybody to understand that he is humble,—thoroughly humble. Is this caricature? No. It is impossible to caricature Andrew Johnson when he mounts his high horse of humility and becomes a sort of cross between Uriah Heep and Josiah Bounderby of Coketown. Indeed, it is only by quoting Dickens’s description of the latter personage that we have anything which fairly matches the traits suggested by some statements in the President’s speeches. “A big, loud man,” says the humorist, “with a stare and a metallic laugh. A man made out of coarse material, which seemed to have been stretched to make so much of him. A man with a great puffed head and forehead, swelled veins in his temples, and such a strained skin to his face, that it seemed to hold his eyes open and lift his eyebrows up. A man with a pervading appearance on him of being inflated like a balloon, and ready to start. A man who could never sufficiently vaunt himself a self-made man. A man who was continually proclaiming, through that brassy speaking-trumpet of a voice of his, his old ignorance and his old poverty. A man who was the Bully of humility.”

cleveland (

the Cleveland stop on the Swing

If we turn from the moral and personal to the menial characteristics of Mr. Johnson’s speeches, we find that his brain is to be classed with notable cases of arrested development. He has strong forces in his nature, but in their outlet through his mind they are dissipated into a confusing clutter of unrelated thoughts and inapplicable phrases. He seems to possess neither the power nor the perception of coherent thinking and logical arrangement. He does not appear to be aware that prepossessions are not proofs, that assertions are not arguments, that the proper method to answer an objection is not to repeat the proposition against which the objection was directed, that the proper method of unfolding a subject is not to make the successive statements a series of contradictions. Indeed, he seems to have a thoroughly animalized intellect, destitute of the notion of relations, with ideas which are but the form of determinations, and which derive their force, not from reason, but from will. With an individuality thus strong even to fierceness, but which has not been developed in the mental region, and which the least gust of passion intellectually upsets, he is incapable of looking at anything out of relations to himself,—of regarding it from that neutral ground which is the condition of intelligent discussion between opposing minds. In truth, he makes a virtue of being insensible to the evidence of facts and the deductions of reason, proclaiming to all the world that he has taken his position, that he will never swerve from it, and that all statements and arguments intended to shake his resolves are impertinences, indicating that their authors are radicals and enemies of the country. He is never weary of vaunting his firmness, and firmness he doubtless has, the firmness of at least a score of mules; but events have shown that it is a different kind of firmness from that which keeps a statesman firm to his principles, a political leader to his pledges, a gentleman to his word. Amid all changes of opinion, he has been conscious of unchanged will, and the intellectual element forms so small a portion of his being, that, when he challenged “the man, woman, or child to come forward” and convict him of inconstancy to his professions, he knew that, however it might be with the rest of mankind, he would himself be unconvinced by any evidence which the said man, woman, or child might adduce. Again, when he was asked by one of his audiences why he did not hang Jeff Davis, he retorted by exclaiming, “Why don’t you ask me why I have not hanged Thad Stevens and Wendell Phillips? They are as much traitors as Davis.” And we are almost charitable enough to suppose that he saw no difference between the moral or legal treason of the man who for four years had waged open war against the government of the United States, and the men who for one year had sharply criticised the acts and utterances of Andrew Johnson. It is not to be expected that nice distinctions will be made by a magistrate who is in the habit of denying indisputable facts with the fury of a pugilist who has received a personal affront, and of announcing demonstrated fallacies with the imperturbable serenity of a philosopher proclaiming the fundamental laws of human belief. His brain is entirely ridden by his will, and of all the public men in the country its official head is the one whose opinion carries with it the least intellectual weight. It is to the credit of our institutions and our statesmen that the man least qualified by largeness of mind and moderation of temper to exercise uncontrolled power should be the man who aspired to usurp it. The constitutional instinct in the blood, and the constitutional principle in the brain, of our real statesmen, preserve them from the folly and guilt of setting themselves up as imitative Caesars and Napoleons, the moment they are trusted with a little delegated power. …

fighting-traitors (LOC:

fighting traitors

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People (Congress) #1

Extract const. amend (Illus. in: Harper's weekly, v. 10, no. 513 (1866 Oct. 27), p. 688.; LOC:

from Harper’s Weekly October 27, 1866

From The New-York Times November 3, 1866:

The President and the People.

That the dominant sentiment of the country differs at this time more widely than ever from the position of the President, is proven beyond dispute by the result of the late elections. The President, by his messages to Congress, and by his speeches upon his late tour, has given the people every opportunity to comprehend fully his policy. He has not only stated it repeatedly in definite terms, but he has enforced it by all the arguments which he could command from the Constitution, from the principles of reason, and from the grounds of statesmanship and the public welfare. He has been thoroughly in earnest in the matter, and has himself unquestionably been governed by the reasons which he has brought to bear upon others, and through which he has attempted to convince his opponents. But neither Congress, which was demonstrated by the votes, nor the people, as has been shown by the elections, appear to have been affected by the President’s arguments, or, at least they have not been affected in such a way as to bring them to the conclusions at which he is firmly anchored. On the contrary, the divergence between them has been steadily growing greater, until to-day the policy of the Administration seems hopeless of popular triumph in any State of the Union, if we except the State of Kentucky.

The editorial goes on to argue that the Legislative branch of the federal government is more powerful than the Executive as shown by Congress overriding the president’s vetoes. There was even talk of impeaching the president. The Times called on Mr. Johnson to act as a statesman and accept the people’s vote and work with Congress by trying to conform his policy to the legislature’s.

… On a hundred occasions he has said, “The people are always right.” It can, therefore, be no violence to his principles or his character, to listen to their voice and obey it. He held out against Congress last session, because he believed the people were with him. He held on his course through the Summer, because he saw no sufficient reason to change it. He held on after the earlier elections in the Fall, because he believed the later and more important ones would result in his favor. But after he has heard from the Eastern, Western and Central States – after he hears from New-York and New-Jersey and Illinois and the other States that vote this month, he can have no shadow of a doubt as to the popular will; and he will only justify his record in voluntarily recognizing that it is not the Executive but the people who’s right it is to rule.

You can check out the Harper’s Weekly cartoon at the Library of Congress. The cartoon suggests the importance of the Fourteenth Amendment in the 1866 elections.
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no more rebels to fight

So far I haven’t noticed a letter from General William T. Sherman endorsing President Andrew Johnson’s reconstruction policy being published just before the 1866 elections in New York for its bombshell affect, but according to reports the general openly supported the president while he was in Washington, D.C. in October. From a Seneca County, New York newspaper in November 1866:

LIUTENANT [sic] GENERAL SHERMAN while in Washington made no secret of his support of the President’s policy. On one occasion he said, “Soldiers have something else to do now besides fighting. We fought the rebels as long as there were any rebels to fight. What we have now to do is to secure the object for which we fought. We fought to restore the Union; let us now restore it.” He frequently expressed his surprise and indignation that the Southern states were deprived of the right of representation so long after the termination of the war. – N.Y. Commercial Advertiser.

According to his 1889 memoirs, General Sherman had been in Washington at the request of Andrew Johnson. From The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman, Second Edition, Volume II, in Chapter 26:

General Sherman's portrait in 1889 book

General Sherman’s portrait in 1889 book

While these great changes were being wrought at the West, in the East politics had resumed full sway, and all the methods of anti-war times had been renewed. President Johnson had differed with his party as to the best method of reconstructing the State governments of the South, which had been destroyed and impoverished by the war, and the press began to agitate the question of the next President. Of course, all Union men naturally turned to General Grant, and the result was jealousy of him by the personal friends of President Johnson and some of his cabinet. Mr. Johnson always seemed very patriotic and friendly, and I believed him honest and sincere in his declared purpose to follow strictly the Constitution of the United States in restoring the Southern States to their normal place in the Union; but the same cordial friendship subsisted between General Grant and myself, which was the outgrowth of personal relations dating back to 1839. So I resolved to keep out of this conflict. In September, 1866, I was in the mountains of New Mexico, when a message reached me that I was wanted at Washington. I had with me a couple of officers and half a dozen soldiers as escort, and traveled down the Arkansas, through the Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes, all more or less disaffected, but reached St. Louis in safety, and proceeded to Washington, where I reported to General Grant.

He explained to me that President Johnson wanted to see me. He did not know the why or wherefore, but supposed it had some connection with an order he (General Grant) had received to escort the newly appointed Minister, Hon. Lew Campbell, of Ohio, to the court of Juarez, the President-elect of Mexico, which country was still in possession of the Emperor Maximilian, supported by a corps of French troops commanded by General Bazaine. General Grant denied the right of the President to order him on a diplomatic mission unattended by troops; said that he had thought the matter over, world disobey the order, and stand the consequences. He manifested much feeling; and said it was a plot to get rid of him. I then went to President Johnson, who treated me with great cordiality, and said that he was very glad I had come; that General Grant was about to go to Mexico on business of importance, and he wanted me at Washington to command the army in General Grant’s absence. I then informed him that General Grant would not go, and he seemed amazed; said that it was generally understood that General Grant construed the occupation of the territories of our neighbor, Mexico, by French troops, and the establishment of an empire therein, with an Austrian prince at its head, as hostile to republican America, and that the Administration had arranged with the French Government for the withdrawal of Bazaine’s troops, which would leave the country free for the President-elect Juarez to reoccupy the city of Mexico, etc., etc.; that Mr. Campbell had been accredited to Juarez, and the fact that he was accompanied by so distinguished a soldier as General Grant would emphasize the act of the United States. I simply reiterated that General Grant would not go, and that he, Mr. Johnson, could not afford to quarrel with him at that time. I further argued that General Grant was at the moment engaged on the most delicate and difficult task of reorganizing the army under the act of July 28, 1866; that if the real object was to put Mr. Campbell in official communication with President Juarez, supposed to be at El Paso or Monterey, either General Hancock, whose command embraced New Mexico, or General Sheridan, whose command included Texas, could fulfill the object perfectly; or, in the event of neither of these alternates proving satisfactory to the Secretary of State, that I could be easier spared than General Grant. “Certainly,” answered the President, “if you will go, that will answer perfectly.”

General Sherman and party left for Mexico on November 10th.

According to Garry Boulard [1]General Grant declined the Mexico assignment in an October 21st note to the president:

“I have most respectfully to beg to be excused from the duty proposed. It is a diplomatic service for which I am not fitted either by education or taste.”

No longer, just because the president asked, would Grant respond. Johnson was astonished. A wide and unbridgeable chasm between the General-in-Chief and President had finally become a reality.

  1. [1] Boulard, Garry The Swing Around the Circle: Andrew Johnson and the Train Ride that Destroyed a Presidency. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2008. Print. page 158.
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