Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

By Robert W. Winston | Go to book overview
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The November elections in 1866 went overwhelmingly Republican, and the Radicals had things their own way. Old Thad Stevens, rising in Congress, drolly remarked, "I was a Conservative at the last session of this Congress, but I mean to be a Radical hereafter." The President's course had been so thoroughly condemned at the polls that conservative papers were urging him "to forego his plans." He could now "tuck ship and sail with the wind," they declared; "why sharpen acrimony by further resistance?"1 The radical press was jubilant, boasting that "King Andy" was dead, that the sot, the beast, the renegade, the dirty dog and the copperhead, as they called the President, together with "my policy" and "I," "Me," and "My" had been buried forever.2 He had "reeled" into the Presidency and been repudiated.

Threats made during the campaign, "We'll hang the d--d traitor," were again heard and the Governors of several states held an imprudent and violent meeting.3 The President being a traitor to his party, his office should be sequestered, he should be turned out and tried afterwards. On the other side unwise friends were still urging the President to meet force with force. Congress was a Rump and it was his duty, they insisted, not to recognize the unlawful assembly or to approve any bill until the southern states were admitted. He was admonished "to keep his powder dry" and "to issue a call for five hundred thousand troops to defend the country."4 Advice of this kind came from the North, however, the South having had war enough for the present.

In this state of confusion the President kept his head and

New York Herald and World, November 8, 1866; Times, November 9.
Oberholtzer, Vol. I, p. 416.
Ibid., p. 417.
Johnson MS.


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