Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

Excerpt

I would not venture to say when I first became interested in Andrew Johnson, but it must have been as early as 1865, when I was a mere child. A thousand times I have passed Casso's Inn and the little cabin in the rear, where "Andy" was born. When a barefoot boy I waded in the old swimming holes around Raleigh, where Andy and his brother Bill and Selby',s other "bound" boys, fifty years before, had dived and ducked each other. I tramped the same woods and caught suckers and goggle-eyed perch from the same streams. Well do I remember a famous watch and chain President Johnson presented my elder brother, valedictorian of his class, spouting an oration on the Constitution and the Union in June 1867, when thousands crowded the University campus, at Chapel Hill, to get a look at the tailor-President.

I can hear Andrew Johnson's rich mellow voice, as he tells the students of his cramped childhood and of a long journey afoot in 1826, when he was making his way through the village and out to his future home, in far-away Tennessee. Nor shall I forget the crowds that gathered in Raleigh to meet the President, once an orphan boy apprenticed to Selby the tailor; or the solemn words he spoke and the ludicrous turn an old woman in the crowd, who had known Andy in his tailor-shop days, gave one of the President's figures of speech. "I have no other ambition in life," President Johnson declared, "but to mend and repair the breaches in the torn and tattered Constitution of my country." "Bless his dear heart," said the old lady, "Andy's going to come back home and open up his tailor shop again."

I also remember the thousand and one lies people were telling on him, not maliciously, I think, but--well, it seems to be permissible to manufacture stories about those in high place. His birth and origin puzzled the wiseacres. Surely old JacobJohnson . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.