Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview
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LIV
ULYSSES GRANT

JOHNSON now had three and a half months wherein Congress was not present to harass him, but the next hundred days were to bring him anything but peace.

He had had warnings enough that Grant was responding to the Radical advances, and yet wisely, he decided that this appointment, if any, would silence criticism for suspending Stanton. It was good strategy for the President, if possible, to attach Grant to his cause. He did not know how little was the likelihood of this. He did not know that less than six months earlier Grant had written Washburne to denounce Johnson's exposure of the first Reconstruction act as "one of the most ridiculous veto messages that ever emanated from any President."1 That Grant would receive next year a nomination for the Presidency was more than probable, but whether the Republicans or the Democrats would secure him as their standard bearer was still in doubt. The decision lay with Grant himself; that he could have the supPort of either party was plain enough. Both were anxious to put forth the Popular war hero.2

Grant was at this time a pivotal man. His great Power of appointment given him as general of the army by the Stanton- Boutwell measure,--unconstitutional though it was--was not lightly to be reckoned with. If he could be won to Johnson's side the Radicals would be indeed discomfited.

Artists, if not historians, must lament that Grant could not have died on the day of Appomattox. His conduct there is a treasured heritage of America. When he stopped his soldiers from firing their salute of joy, saying "The war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again," he reached the zenith of his career. The rest was anti-climax. His career as a "statesman" was anything but statesmanlike. He did not understand civil life, and

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