The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals

By George Fort Milton | Go to book overview
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XII. CHARLES SUMNER DECLARES WAR

DURING this first summer in the White House, Andrew Johnson had problems a-plenty. It was his task to set up provisional governments in the various States of the South, to watch and nurture their constitutional conventions, to secure information as to Southern conditions and to give attention to the political repercussions of Southern reports on Northern thought--to say nothing of politics, which can never be absent from the mind of an American president. While Schurz, Stanton and Sumner were seeking Radical advantages from the General's tour, the presidential reorganization of the Southern States proceeded apace.

When Gideon Welles returned to Washington early in June, following a jaunt with Dennison to South Carolina, he found the city thronged with loyalists and with conservative leaders from the South. On June 8 a Mississippi delegation headed by Judge William L. Sharkey called on the President. The next day A. J. Hamilton, Lincoln's Military Governor of Texas, "a profuse talker," appealed to the President to be continued in his office.1 The Secretary of the Navy was very unfavorably impressed with Hamilton, who was known in Texas as "Drunken Jack," but Sharkey seemed "a man of mind and culture" to him.

On June 13 Johnson issued a proclamation appointing Sharkey Provisional Governor of Mississippi; except for the substitution of the names of persons and state, it was a faithful copy of the North Carolina document. On June 17 James Johnson was named for Georgia and, despite protests, Andrew J. Hamilton for Texas.2 On June 21 Johnson appointed Lewis E. Parsons in Alabama, on June 30 Benjamin F. Perry in South Carolina, and on July 13, William Marvin in Florida.3

General Schurz did not conclude his arrangements with Sumner until July, and did not start on his presidential mission of observation until about the middle of that month. However, Chief Justice Chase, his mind occupied with the twin projects of negro suffrage and of a presidential candidacy in 1868, had preceded him.

Chase was writing Johnson from nearly every place he vis

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