Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

VIII
JOHNSON AND LINCOLN

THE Confederate States of America were organized on the 4th of February, 1861. On the following day Senator Johnson addressed the Senate from which the "Ambassadors" of those states had taken their departure. He reminded his remaining colleagues that on the previous December 19th he had denounced secession as a "great political heresy. . . . Since I made that speech . . . I have been the peculiar object of attack. I have been denounced because I happen to be the first man south of Mason and Dixon's line who entered a protest. . . ."1

After reviewing the condition of the country, he thus paid his compliments to Buchanan: "It seems the inability of the United States to defend and take care of its own property has been an invitation to them to take possession of it. . . .2 Has it come to this that . . . your vessels must be fired upon, that your flag must be struck, and still you are alarmed at coercion; and because a gallant officer has taken possession of a fort where he cannot very well be coerced, a terrible cry is raised. . . ."3

Not many arguments are as telling as that which Johnson based on the Richmond Inquirer of November 1st, 1814. This authority from Virginia,--what could be more perfect! In 1814 a convention had met at Hartford animated by New England's opposition to the War of 1812 and threatened to withdraw from the Union. Here is what Virginia thought about it: "Turn to the convention at Hartford and learn to tremble at the madness of its authors. How far will those madmen advance? . . . No man, no association of men, no set of states has a right to withdraw itself from this Union of its own accord. The same power which knit us together can only unknit. . . . Countrymen of the East! We call upon you to keep a vigilant eye upon those wretched men who

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