2,111 unknown

Civil War Unknowns monument, designed by Montgomery Meigs and dedicated in 1866, at Arlington Cemetery (1866?; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2015650835/)

as it originally appeared in 1866

150 years ago this month the Civil War Unknowns Monument was sealed at Arlington National Cemetery. Although Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs intended the monument to honor Union soldiers, Confederate soldiers were probably also included because all the skeletons were unidentifiable. Wikipedia also says that one of the reasons Arlington was chosen for the national cemetery was to make it impossible for Robert E. Lee to ever move back into his old house. Today Arlington House is The Robert E. Lee Memorial.

According to the October 3, 1866 issue of The New-York Times the remaining household effects from the Lee mansion were delivered to General Lee’s representative by order of President Johnson on October 1, 1866:

… It appears that nearly everything of any value had been stolen. Many valuable heirlooms, including some of the family portraits had been purloined. The portraits were taken from the frames, packed in boxes, and stored in the upper loft of the mansion for safety in 1861. These boxes had been broken open, and everything of real value taken away, and the letters and private papers of Gen. LEE scattered over the loft

View of the city of Washington, the metropolis of the United States of America, taken from Arlington House, the residence of George Washington P. Custis Esq. / P. Anderson del. ; on stone by F.H. Lane. (Boston : T. Moore's Lithography, c1838.; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2003670215/)

D.C. from Arlington House c1838

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crater surprise

The Battle of the Petersburg Crater: The Crater, as seen from the Union side. From a sketch made at the time (ca. 1887; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2003669688/)

after the explosion

The Battle of the Petersburg Crater: The Confederate line as reconstructed at the crater. From a drawing made by Lieutenant Henderson after the battle (ca. 1887; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2003669689/)

after “reconstruction”


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

BODY OF A WHITE FEMALE SOLDIER FOUND IN THE CRATER AT PETERSBURG. – The Petersburg Index says that the grave diggers at the crater have unearthed, a short distance in front of that famous place, the body of a white woman dressed in a Federal uniform. The body when found was in an excellent state of preservation. The features, pallid with the hue of death, revealed the delicate caste of her woman’s face, and her hair, though cut short, possessed a glow and softness which alone might have excited a suspicion of her sex. She had been shot through the head. She was carefully placed in one of the new coffins provided for her sterner comrades and taken [?] with them to be buried among them.

You can read more about Women Civil War Soldiers here.

For sale! That very valuable tract of land known as Crater Farm near Petersburg, Virginia ... For terms, address Mrs. Susie R. Griffith, Crater Farm, Petersburg, Virginia Kirkham & Co. printers [n. d.]. (https://www.loc.gov/item/rbpe.18802200/)

tourist trap?

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General Butler for Congress

pittsburgh-in-1817 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/43259/43259-h/43259-h.htm)

Three Rivers about 50 years earlier

About a week after a similar gathering in Cleveland a Soldiers and Sailors Convention met in Pittsburgh on September 25 and 26, 1866. Unlike the Cleveland meeting the Pittsburgh convention was strongly pro-Congress and anti-President Johnson. According to the September 27, 1866 issue of The New-York Times 150 years ago today former Union General Benjamin F. Butler presented the policy resolutions for the convention’s consideration: the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which “clearly defines American citizenship and guarantees all his rights to every citizen”; it was unfortunate that some people in the country didn’t receive the amendment and other laws in a spirit of conciliation; Congress has the right to make laws for the conquered adversary; the Republican party supports all people everywhere struggling for their freedom and supports the Union men of the South; justice for the volunteer soldiers and officers that served in the war; President Johnson’s claim that he could have made himself dictator “insulted every soldier and sailor in the Republic.” And here is another resolution dealing directly with the president:

Ben Butler, Maj Gen'l (i.e. Major General) (between 1861-1865; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2015649024/)

presented Pittsburgh resolutions

Resolved, that the President, an Executive Officer, has no right to a policy as against the Legislative Department of the Government. [Applause.] That his attempt to fasten his scheme of reconstruction upon the country is as dangerous as it is unwise; his acts in sustaining it have retarded the restoration of peace and unity; they have converted conquered rebels into impudent claimants to rights which they have forfeited and places which they have desecrated. If consummated it would render the sacrifices of the nation useless; the loss of the lives of our buried comrades vain, and the war in which we have so gloriously triumphed, what his present friends at Chicago in 1864 declared to be a failure. [Applause.]

The convention adopted all the resolutions.

Here is an 1896 summary that contrasts the Cleveland and Pittsburgh conventions. From The Struggle between President Johnson and Congress over Reconstruction by Charles Ernest Chadsey:
(page 100)

A third convention of the year was the Cleveland convention of soldiers and sailors, organized on September 17, with General Wood of the regular army as chairman. This convention was composed of supporters of the administration, and, like the National Union convention, contained a considerable proportion of Democrats. The resolutions endorsed those of the National Union convention, and declared that “our object in taking up arms to suppress the late rebellion was to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the States unimpaired.”

The great mass of the soldiers, however, were earnest supporters of Congress, and the results of the Cleveland convention were disappointing to its originators; its principal effect was to create great enthusiasm over the anti-administration convention of soldiers and sailors, which met in Pittsburg on September 25 and 26. This demonstration was intended to offset whatever influence the Cleveland convention might have had over the people, and it proved wonderfully effective. It was estimated that at least twenty-five thousand old soldiers were in the city at the time. The cause for this enthusiastic support is not difficult to find. The policy of the administration appealed to the moderates—those who wished as rapid a restoration to former conditions as possible, and those who were most influenced by the appeal to so-called justice. The majority of the soldiers, on the contrary, those who had made the greatest sacrifices for their country, were the most sensitive concerning the results of their sacrifices. Thoroughly accustomed to the thought of their great accomplishments, the manumission of the slaves and the preservation of the integrity of national power, they were keen to resent any steps which they thought tended toward the annulling of these results. With this natural bias, the arguments which the congressional party brought to bear upon them were accepted with enthusiasm; and many of the leaders went into the political campaign to be followed by the same soldiers who had followed them through their military campaigns. The convention, however, was in no sense a convention of officers. While the permanent president, Jacob D. Cox, of Ohio, had been a general of volunteers, the temporary chairman, L. E. Dudley, had been a private, and the majority of the offices of the convention were filled by men below the rank of lieutenant.

As was to be expected from the nature of the convention, the feeling against the administration was stronger and declared in more impassioned tones than in the previous anti-administration convention. Its influence upon the country was correspondingly greater. The army, recognized at this time as the great preserver of the commonwealth, had great influence over all classes of citizens. The anti-administration conventions, the New Orleans massacre, and the violent attacks on Congress by the President while “swinging around the circle,” assured the triumph of the congressional party.

The resolutions adopted at Pittsburgh were presented by General Butler. They were emphatic in tone, commencing with the declaration that “the action of the present Congress in passing the pending constitutional amendment is wise, prudent, and just,” and that it was unfortunate that it was not received in the proper spirit, the terms being the mildest “ever granted to subdued rebels.” The President’s policy was declared to be “as dangerous as it is unwise,” and “if consummated it would render the sacrifices of the nation useless.” The power “to pass all acts of legislation that are necessary for the complete restoration of the Union” was declared to rest in Congress. The declaration of the President to the committee of the National Union convention, that he could have made himself dictator through the Freedmen’s Bureau, aided by the army and navy, was characterized as an insult to “every soldier and sailor in the Republic.” The obligation of the soldiers and sailors to the loyal men of the South was acknowledged; and it was added: “We will stand by and protect with our lives, if necessary, those brave men who remain true to us when all around are false and faithless.”

This, the most successful of the four conventions, completed the remarkable series of national gatherings organized for effect on the State elections. They were all characterized by frankness of statement, and by clear recognition of the points at issue. But, as frequently happens in political campaigns, the most important incidents were those which were not designed to affect national issues. The riot at New Orleans was intended, by its participants, to affect only Louisiana politics, yet all the Southern States were compelled to share the responsibility. The same thing was true of all other incidents through which the South manifested, during these critical months, an unwillingness to accept the political results of the war.

Before the resolutions the Pittsburgh city councils presented a gold-headed cane to John L. Burns, “the hero of Gettysburgh”.
Benjamin Franklin Butler was indeed elected to Congress as a Republican in 1866.
The cradle of the G.O.P. First Republican convention held at LaFayette Hall, Pittsburgh, PA, Feb. 22d 1856 (Pittsburgh, Pa. : Armor Litho., c1897 Jan. 29.; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2008676781/)

Pittsburgh was also site of first national GOP convention

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zeppelin attack

Reportedly 100 years ago last night German Zeppelins attacked England.


New York Times September 25, 1866

wrecked-zeppelin (Wrecked Zeppelin from plane in Eng. [i.e. England]; c1916; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2006001296/)

“Photograph shows the remains of a L33 German zeppelin which crashed on Sept. 24, 1916 in Little Wigborough, Essex.”

more Zeppelin wreckage from September 1916 raid in England

more Zeppelin wreckage from September 1916 raid in England

It wasn’t as flashy, but I’m pretty sure the British blockade during World War I caused German civilians a lot of agony.

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“Egotistic to the point of mental disease”

Way back in April 1866 and probably at least in part responding to President Johnson’s February 19th veto of the Freedmen’s Bureau bill and his belligerent attitude in a Washington’s Birthday message, a The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVII.—APRIL, 1866—NO. 102 severely criticized the president and argued that Congress was a more legitimate representative of the people because Congressmen were more directly elected by the people.

In an issue from 150 years ago this month and undoubtedly published even before Andrew Johnson’s damaging Swing Around the Circle, the periodical continued its attack as the 1866 elections drew near. The article is about 4600 words. Here are a few extracts from The Atlantic Monthly, VOL. XVII.—SEPTEMBER, 1866—NO. CVII:

Hon. Andrew Johnson (between 1860 and 1875; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/brh2003000892/PP/)

“evil developed in him”


The President of the United States has so singular a combination of defects for the office of a constitutional magistrate, that he could have obtained the opportunity to misrule the nation only by a visitation of Providence. Insincere as well as stubborn, cunning as well as unreasonable, vain as well as ill-tempered, greedy of popularity as well as arbitrary in disposition, veering in his mind as well as fixed in his will, he unites in his character the seemingly opposite qualities of demagogue and autocrat, and converts the Presidential chair into a stump or a throne, according as the impulse seizes him to cajole or to command. Doubtless much of the evil developed in him is due to his misfortune in having been lifted by events to a position which he lacked the elevation and breadth of intelligence adequately to fill. He was cursed with the possession of a power and authority which no man of narrow mind, bitter prejudices, and inordinate self-estimation can exercise without depraving himself as well as injuring the nation. Egotistic to the point of mental disease, he resented the direct and manly opposition of statesmen to his opinions and moods as a personal affront, and descended to the last degree of littleness in a political leader,—that of betraying his party, in order to gratify his spite. He of course became the prey of intriguers and sycophants,—of persons who understand the art of managing minds which are at once arbitrary and weak, by allowing them to retain unity of will amid the most palpable inconsistencies of opinion, so that inconstancy to principle shall not weaken force of purpose, nor the emphasis be at all abated with which they may bless to-day what yesterday they cursed. Thus the abhorrer of traitors has now become their tool. Thus the denouncer of Copperheads has now sunk into dependence on their support. Thus the imposer of conditions of reconstruction has now become the foremost friend of the unconditioned return of the Rebel States. Thus the furious Union Republican, whose harangues against his political opponents almost scared his political friends by their violence, has now become the shameless betrayer of the people who trusted him. And in all these changes of base he has appeared supremely conscious, in his own mind, of playing an independent, a consistent, and especially a conscientious part.

Indeed, Mr. Johnson’s character would be imperfectly described if some attention were not paid to his conscience, the purity of which is a favorite subject of his own discourse, and the perversity of which is the wonder of the rest of mankind. As a public man, his real position is similar to that of a commander of an army, who should pass over to the ranks of the enemy he was commissioned to fight, and then plead his individual convictions of duty as a justification of his treachery. …

The party which, under the ironical designation of the National Union Party, now proposes to take the policy and character of Mr. Johnson under its charge, is composed chiefly of Democrats defeated at the polls, and Democrats defeated on the field of battle. The few apostate Republicans, who have joined its ranks while seeming to lead its organization, are of small account. Its great strength is in its Southern supporters, and, if it comes into power, it must obey a Rebel direction. …

Beauregard's march (c1861; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/92504728/)

States weren’t rebellious?

In the minority Report of the Congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction, which is designed to supply the new party with constitutional law, this theory of State Rights is most elaborately presented. The ground is taken, that during the Rebellion the States in which it prevailed were as “completely competent States of the United States as they were before the Rebellion, and were bound by all the obligations which the Constitution imposed, and entitled to all its privileges”; and that the Rebellion consisted merely in a series of “illegal acts of the citizens of such States.” On this theory it is difficult to find where the guilt of rebellion lies. The States are innocent because the Rebellion was a rising of individuals; the individuals cannot be very criminal, for it is on their votes that the committee chiefly rely to build up the National Union Party. …

In fact, all attempts to discriminate between Rebels and Rebel States, to the advantage of the latter, are done in defiance of notorious facts. If the Rebellion had been merely a rising of individual citizens of States, it would have been an insurrection against the States, as well as against the Federal government, and might have been easily put down. In that case, there would have been no withdrawal of Southern Senators and Representatives from Congress, and therefore no question as to their inherent right to return. …

The doctrine of the unconditional right of the Rebel States to representation being thus a demonstrated absurdity, the only question relates to the conditions which Congress proposes to impose. Certainly these conditions, as embodied in the constitutional amendment which has passed both houses by such overwhelming majorities, are the mildest ever exacted of defeated enemies by a victorious nation. … [The 14th amendment sent to the states earlier in 1866 for ratification is a moderate, non-radical proposal] …


Iago at work

But whatever view may be taken of the President’s designs, there can be no doubt that the safety, peace, interest, and honor of the country depend on the success of the Union Republicans in the approaching elections. The loyal nation must see to it that the Fortieth Congress shall be as competent to override executive vetoes as the Thirty-Ninth, and be equally removed from the peril of being expelled for one more in harmony with Executive ideas. The same earnestness, energy, patriotism, and intelligence which gave success to the war, must now be exerted to reap its fruits and prevent its recurrence. The only danger is, that, in some representative districts, the people may be swindled by plausibilities and respectabilities; for when, in political contests, any great villany is contemplated, there are always found some eminently respectable men, with a fixed capital of certain eminently conservative phrases, innocently ready to furnish the wolves of politics with abundant supplies of sheep’s clothing. These dignified dupes are more than usually active at the present time; and the gravity of their speech is as edifying as its emptiness. Immersed in words, and with no clear perception of things, they mistake conspiracy for conservatism. Their pet horror is the term “radical”; their ideal of heroic patriotism, the spectacle of a great nation which allows itself to be ruined with decorum, and dies rather than commit the slightest breach of constitutional etiquette. This insensibility to facts and blindness to the tendency of events, they call wisdom and moderation. Behind these political dummies are the real forces of the Johnson party, men of insolent spirit, resolute will, embittered temper, and unscrupulous purpose, who clearly know what they are after, and will hesitate at no “informality” in the attempt to obtain it. To give these persons political power will be to surrender the results of the war, by placing the government practically in the hands of those against whom the war was waged. No smooth words about “the equality of the States,” “the necessity of conciliation,” “the wickedness of sectional conflicts,” will alter the fact, that, in refusing to support Congress, the people would set a reward on treachery and place a bounty on treason. “The South,” says a Mr. Hill of Georgia, in a letter favoring the Philadelphia Convention, “sought to save the Constitution out of the Union. She failed. Let her now bring her diminished and shattered, but united and earnest counsels and energies to save the Constitution in the Union.” The sort of Constitution the South sought to save by warring against the government is the Constitution which she now proposes to save by administering it! Is this the tone of pardoned and penitent treason? Is this the spirit to build up a “National Union Party”? No; but it is the tone and spirit now fashionable in the defeated Rebel States, and will not be changed until the autumn elections shall have proved that they have as little to expect from the next Congress as from the present, and that they must give securities for their future conduct before they can be relieved from the penalties incurred by their past.

You can get a better look at and read more about the Thomas Nast cartoon that was published in the September 1, 1866 issue of Harper’s Weekly at HarpWeek. From The Library of Congress: portrait, piano march music, blockage
The man that blocks up the highway. (1866; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/scsm000329/)


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one nationality

Gen. J.E. Wool (between 1855 and 1865; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/brh2003003720/PP/)

General Wool still on fire

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

The Second Campaign for the Union.

The noblest soldiers in the army of the Union, assembled in convention at Cleveland on Monday, the 17th, inst., for the purpose of giving their influence in favor of a speedy settlement of the questions before the country. They fought to keep the States in the Union. Congress has thus far determined to keep the States out of the Union.

The veteran General Wool was called upon to preside temporarily, and his speech on taking the chair was worthy the fire of his best days. The Convention cheered the old hero to the echo.

General Thomas Ewing, U.S.A. (between 1860 and 1875; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/brh2003001318/PP/)

perpetual Union

Gen. Ewing, of Kansas, in the course of an eloquent speech, said: “What bound us together in that conflict of arms? Not hatred of slavery, for on that ground we differed; not love of war, for we all desired peace; not hatred of the Southern people, for they were our countrymen. No, it was the sentiment of nationality – determination that the Union should be preserved and made perpetual. That was the only purpose of the war known or recognized by the army and navy of the United States. That was the sentiment that raised all our armies, and was the soul of them all. Neither army, nor navy, nor people had any other purpose. ***** Congress still wishes to blow the embers of war, while Johnson desires peace. They will have no peace except on terms which secure party and sectional dominion, while Johnson desires union on the basis of the Constitution. The Secessionists drove the States into rebellion by the old cry of “Abolitionist,” while the Radicals keep the Union separated by the still more dreaded cry of “traitor.” That cry had no terror to the soldiers. Their oath taken on entering the army bound them to preserve the Union by every means in their power. They owed allegiance rather to the Constitution than to philanthropic theories, however right. To save the Constitution they were ready to strike hands with the Democratic party and labor with it so long as they remained true to the Union.”

The more than 179,000 black federal soldiers and sailors who fought during the war undoubtedly fighting for the Union but probably especially to defeat slavery and the slave-holding Confederacy.

You can read more of the Wool and Ewing speeches in the September 18, 1866 issue of The New-York TimesAccording the the September 19, 1866 issue of The New-York Times the convention ended on the 18th. The Cleveland convention received a dispatch from a Memphis convention of former Confederate soldiers. Three cheers were given for Ned Forrest (The only name I recognized).

PUBLIC SQUARE AND PERRY MONUMENT, CLEVELAND, OHIO. (1886; Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35575/35575-h/35575-h.htm#Page_150)

commemorating a famous sailor from John E. Wool’s first war

John Ellis Wool and Thomas Ewing Jr. appear courtesy of the Library of Congress. The Cleveland image comes from Peculiarities of American Cities , by Willard Glazier (1886; page 150). The Perry Monument was erected in 1860 and stayed at different places on the Public Square until 1892.
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straggling home

City Hall - Washington / lith. by E. Sachse & Co., Baltimore. (ca. 1866; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/00650403/)

two hour wait at City Hall

150 years ago today President Andrew Johnson’s Swing Around the Circle tour concluded. According to the September 16, 1866 issue of the The New-York Times crowds in York Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Washington were mostly supportive with no reported heckling. From York: “Here, as at all other places on the route, the cheers for Gen. GRANT exceeded.”

But not everything went according to plan. “The Presidential Party came back in a somewhat straggling fashion”. An extremely ill Secretary Seward got back early and was to brought to his home by ambulance. General Grant did not attend a banquet in Baltimore and also got back to DC before the president’s train. Secretary Welles and Admiral Farragut hung with Mr. Johnson all the way to the White House. The reception in Washington was not as impressive as it might have been because the presidential train was two hours late. Many people at the depot and City Hall got tired of waiting and went home. Even so, crowds were large and quite enthusiastic all along the procession and at the White House, where President Johnson thanked the crowd (daily eye-witnesses to how he performed on the job)and stuck to the message he asserted all along the tour:

… All I can promise you for the future is that that [sic] there will be a continuance of my conduct in the past. I have tried to discharge my official duties in compliance with the Constitution and the principles which I deemed to be right. I will add that the sentiment which you exhibit to-night is not peculiar to yourselves, but that which pervades the country wherever I have been. My own opinion which has gone abroad to the country with regard to sustaining a government of constitutional law is unmistakable and not to be misunderstood; and I believe the day is not distant when the judgment of the American people will be made manifest that this Union must be restored – that peace and prosperity and harmony must again prevail throughout the United States. I believe I can safely testify that the greater portion of your fellow-citizens that I have visited, and I have seen millions of them since I left you, will accord with you in sustaining the principles of free Government in compliance with the Constitution of the country. …

An American History textbook states that many people got tired of President Johnson harping on the Constitution and shows a Harper’s Weekly political cartoon in which Mr. Johnson is portrayed as a parrot repeating “Constitution”. [1]

President's house (ca. 1866; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/2006679469/)

home sweet home

  1. [1] Garraty, John A., and Robert A. McCaughey. The American Nation: A History of the United States, Seventh Edition. New York: HarpersCollins Publishers, 1991. Print.page 455.
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Johnstown calamity

Could it get any worse? 150 years ago today Andrew Johnson’s Swing Around the Circle tour rolled on from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, PA. According to the September 15, 1866 issue of The New-York Times the crowds were generally enthusiastic along the 260 mile route. At Johnstown at least 3000 mostly supportive citizens cheered as Senator Edgar Cowan introduced President Johnson as “the great Tribune of the American people.” General Grant and Admiral Farragut were cheered, but then a temporary platform for the audience that spanned an old canal collapsed. About four hundred people were standing on the platform when it gave way; it was about a twenty-foot drop. A second section of the platform collapsed after the first. People were buried in the rubble. “Men and women were seen with helpless children in their arms, their clothes and faces blackened by the coal dirt against which they had fallen.”

Appalling calamity at Johnstown, Pa., on Friday, Sept. 14th, caused by the falling of a railroad bridge crowded with the citizens of the town, during the visit of President Johnson and suite - four persons killed and over 350 wounded / sketched by our special artist, Mr. C.E.H. Bonwill. (Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v.23, 1866 Oct. 6, p. 40. ; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/98510867/)

Johnstown September 14, 1866

The train, after remaining several minutes, moved on, the work of rescue being still in progress, and a number of wounded and of dead apparently being borne away. The train was obliged to move to keep the time-table right to avoid accidents. There was, therefore, no opportunity to ascertain the extent of the accident. the President instructed Deputy Marshal O’BEIRNE to remain at Johnstown to learn the particulars and to extend all possible aid to the sufferers.

Even though the train had to follow its time-table, “[to] appearances, however, Johnson had callously abandoned the scene of massive casualties.”

The Library of Congress provides the images: the 1866 “bridge” collapse, which was published in Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper, v.23, 1866 Oct. 6, p. 40 and which reported four killed and over 350 people wounded; and ruins from the more well-known 1889 Johnstown Flood.
The ruins at Johnstown, after the flood May 31, 1889 / Rothengatter & Dillon, photo's, Phila. (https://www.loc.gov/item/90712948/)

Johnstown 1889

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“not entire cordiality”

View of Pittsburgh & Allegheny / Otto Krebs lith., Pittsburgh. (c1874; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/94513615/)

Pittsburgh in the 1870s

It was more of the same 150 years ago today as President Andrew Johnson’s Swing Around the Circle rode the rails from Columbus, Ohio to Pittsburgh. According to the September 14, 1866 issue of The New-York Times the tour met supporters and opponents along the route.

Apparently only a few persons assembled at New Market, Ohio, but they “had posted a placard containing the words ‘New-Orleans’ ‘New Orleans.'” Someone in the crowd propose three cheers for Thaddeus Stevens. General McCallum announced that the President would have nothing to say to the crowd since they disrespected him. The audience called for Custer. General Custer said, “‘I was born two miles and a half from here, but I am ashamed of you.’ The cars then moved on.”

Four or five thousand people received the presidential party in Steubenville, Ohio. Mr. Johnson chose not to bicker with the surly elements in the crowd. He thanked his supporters then reportedly waxed stoically poetic regarding the hecklers:

“Shall I set my like upon a throw
Because a bear is rude and surly? No
A clever, sensible, well-bred man
Will not insult me, nor no other can!”

The president then quietly went back inside the train.

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polite disagreement

Cincinnati c1866

Cincinnati c1866

150 years ago Andrew Johnson’s Swing Around the Circle was rolling and floating along. Unlike Cleveland and St. Louis, President Johnson didn’t care to make a stand against the hecklers who confronted him in Indianapolis on September 10th. As some in the crowd constantly shouted and finally told the president to shut up, Mr. Johnson quietly left the hotel balcony and stayed inside for the rest of the night. The presidential faced less vocal opposition the next couple days. The September 12, 1866 issue of The New-York Times reported that all Indianapolis newspapers regretted the violence in the crowd the night before and reported on the enthusiastic reception the president received in Louisville when it arrived about 4 PM on the 11th.

According to the September 13, 1866 issue of The New-York Times 150 years ago today President Johnson and entourage visited Cincinnati and Columbus. On the evening of the 11th the party left Louisville on the steamer Uncle Sam (or United States in a dispatch from the Associated Press in the same story) and arrived in Cincinnati about 9 AM on the 12th. “Notwithstanding the Common Council refused to extend the municipal hospitalities, the reception was very fine, and the collection of people very large.”

State Capitol, Columbus, Ohio (ca. 1860; LOC: https://www.loc.gov/item/95501378/)

State Capitol, Columbus, Ohio (ca 1860)

The group arrived in Columbus, Ohio about 4 PM later that day. The mayor welcomed the president at the state-house. “Both here and in Cincinnati the utmost respect was manifested. If Ohio people do not agree wholly with what he says, they are dignified and respectful in their entertainment of different opinions.” President Johnson spent the night at the Neil House, where he was reportedly visited by one of his former slaves, “a former chattel of his” almost 100 years old. “The old lady like to have collapsed with joy when she grasped the hand of her former owner. ‘O,’ said she, ‘he was a might kind master to his niggers.'”

If you read the New York Times reports of the President’s trip over the past few days you will realize that it sure seems like I was wrong to post on September 1st that General Grant left the tour at Saint Louis. He was reportedly with the group in Indianapolis and rejoined the group in Cincinnati. He went to the theater there and refused to see a group of soldiers who called for him outside the theater. He told their commander: “Sir, I am no politician. The President of the United States is my Commander-in-Chief. I consider this demonstration in opposition to the President …”

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