Andrew Johnson: A Biography

By Hans L. Trefousse | Go to book overview

VIII
UNCONDITIONAL
UNIONIST

THE ELECTION of 1860 and the success of the Republican ticket was a disaster for Southern Unionists. With South Carolina preparing to secede and other states ready to follow suit, upholders of the government were faced with the collapse of all they held dear—the Union, their ideals, and often their livelihood. Hoping against hope, they naturally sought to avert the drift toward disaster and continued to work for a last-minute compromise.

What was true for Southern Unionists in general was even more true for Andrew Johnson. The ordeal of the Union was a real crisis for him, not merely because he was genuinely devoted to its preservation— Andrew Jackson was his model—but also because his position at home was becoming increasingly difficult. Like other states in the upper South, Tennessee was still hoping for an adjustment. The majority of the population favored the Union, but as in other slave states, this loyalty was often conditional. Only in the eastern part of the state was there a large number of unconditional Unionists; in the other two divisions, the states' rights element had considerable strength. In addition, the Unionists, especially the unconditional ones, tended to be former Whigs, while their opponents were generally Democrats. 1 For the leading Democrat in Tennessee, this situation created a critical challenge.

The senator's best hope was to attempt to stay the secession movement. Together with like-minded leaders of all parties, on November 24, 1860, he joined in a convention at Greeneville, where he took a dis

-128-

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Andrew Johnson: A Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Andrew Johnson - A Biography *
  • Contents 9
  • Illustrations 11
  • Preface 13
  • I - Raleigh Poor White 17
  • II - Tennessee Tailor 25
  • III - Greeneville Politician 35
  • IV - Fledgling Congressman 51
  • V - Veteran Congressman 69
  • VI - Governor of Tennessee 84
  • VII - United States Senator 109
  • VIII - Unconditional Unionist 128
  • IX - Military Governor 152
  • X - Vice President 176
  • XI - Unionist President 193
  • XII - Presidential Reconstructionist 214
  • XIII - Pugnacious President 234
  • XIV - Beleaguered President 255
  • XV - Defiant President 272
  • XVI - Fighting President 293
  • XVII - President Impeached— President Acquitted 311
  • XVIII - President in Limbo 335
  • XIX - Ex-President 353
  • XX - Epilogue 375
  • Abbreviations 381
  • Notes 383
  • Index 447
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