Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

By Robert W. Winston | Go to book overview
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One August day in 1865 two carriages drove up to the White House. Tom Pendel, the old doorkeeper, opened wide the doors, the servants bustled around in obsequious welcome, and the President hastened from his busy desk--the entire Johnson family, eleven in number, had arrived. Exiles, fugitives, three years driven from their Tennessee home, but now together again and under one roof. Five robust children, happy and open-eyed, swarmed through their magnificent new home, twelve-year-old Andy, cured of infantile consumption, leading the rest. Mrs. Johnson, weary with travel and worn with disease, was assisted from the carriage and soon retired, having chosen a small quiet bedroom on the southwest, overlooking the grassy lawn and the wonderful elms, with the Mall and the Potomac in the background.

What a contrast the renovated White House was to that of President and Mrs. Lincoln's days. Then there was anxiety, war and destruction; now had come smiling peace. Then, only three sat at table, Mr. Lincoln, Mrs. Lincoln and little Tad; now there were a round dozen. Colonel Robert Johnson, about thirty years of age, was to assist the President in routine work; Andrew, Jr., was entered at a Catholic school in Georgetown; D. T. Patterson, a son-in-law, was a Senator from Tennessee. His wife, Mrs. Martha Patterson, and her sister, Mrs. Mary Stover, were to relieve their mother, as mistress of the White House. A private tutor had been engaged for the children old enough to enter school. These were Mary Belle, a beautiful young girl, and Andrew Johnson Patterson; and then the Stovers, Sara, Lillie S. and Andrew Johnson--rollicking, wholesome, fun-loving urchins, devoted to "Grandpa" and "Grandma" and always out for fun and sport.1 Indeed these

Recollections of Col. W. H. Crook; Saturday Evening Post, June 18, 1910.


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