Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

By Robert W. Winston | Go to book overview

APPENDIX C

"For nearly three years, in the midst of dangers and difficulties the most complicated and perplexing, I have earnestly labored to restore the state to its former proud position in the Union. My constant effort has been to save it, not to destroy it; but the rebellious sentiment of the people often interposed obstacles which had to be overcome by military power. The task was painful, but the duty has been performed, and the result has passed into history. Time, I am happy to say, has greatly calmed the passions of the people, and experience restored them to reason. The folly of destroying their government and sacrificing their sons to gratify the mad ambition of political leaders needs no longer to be told to the laboring masses. The wasted estates, ruined and dilapidated farms, vacant seats around the hearthstone, prostrate business, and even life itself, everywhere proclaim it in language not to be misunderstood.

"But all is not lost. A new era dawns upon the people of Tennessee. They enter upon a career guided by reason, law, order, and reverence. The reign of brute force and personal violence has passed away forever. By their own solemn act at the ballot-box, the shackles have been formally stricken from the limbs of more than 275,000 slaves in the State. The unjust distinctions in society, fostered by an arrogant aristocracy, based upon human bondage, have been overthrown, and our whole social system reconstructed on the basis of honest industry and personal worth. Labor shall now receive its merited reward, and honesty, energy, and enterprise their just appreciation. Capital, heretofore timid and distrustful of success, may now confidently seek remunerative and profitable investments in the State. Public schools and colleges begin anew their work of instruction upon a broader and more enduring basis. The foundations of society, under the change

-526-

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