The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals

By George Fort Milton | Go to book overview
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THE 1866 campaign did not end with the Swing Around the Circle. Although the events of the tour and Radical misrepresentation of them probably rendered the outcome hopeless from Andrew Johnson's point of view, the campaign proceeded for six weeks longer. During this time the chief Radical effort was to express hatred of the South and its people, to exaggerate the Memphis and New Orleans riots, and to charge that the President had personally instigated them.

The powerful influences concentrated against the President in this election were well summarized thus: "An almost united party as a party; control largely of telegraph and railroads; of the moneyed, manufacturing and other business interests of the country; of a powerful and audacious press; of an organized religious fanaticism; of all the departments--legislative, executive and judicial--of every State government except two, and the benefit of the influence and the votes of nearly the whole body of Federal office-holders. The President has no party as a party to support him, and no instrumentality of power except his patronage."1

In addition to this, the Northern industrial leaders had determined that a protective tariff must be maintained for their self-protection, and that greenbacks must be retired. For these reasons, the great financial interests of the North, save those of merchants and importers, were cast practically solidly against the low-tariff, currency inflationist Democratic president.

But if any chance had existed of repairing the damage done at Cleveland and St. Louis and of overcoming the influences just mentioned, the Democrats perversely destroyed it. Johnson had hoped that a combination of Conservative Republicans and Democrats would furnish the necessary majority to sustain his course. But the latter, far from availing themselves of the Radicals' errors, conducted their campaigns so as to repair the rents in the Radical armor. "Instead of openly and boldly supporting the President and the policy of the Administration,


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