Andrew Johnson: A Biography

By Hans L. Trefousse | Go to book overview

XI
UNIONIST
PRESIDENT

GOOD FRIDAY of 1865 has always been considered a day of bad omen in American history; how ominous it was, however, no one realized at the time. The assassination of the president was serious enough; the accession of his successor had more fateful consequences than anyone could have foretold.

Johnson had gone to bed early that night. Shortly after 10:15 he was awakened by a loud knock at the door. When he did not respond immediately, his fellow boarder at the Kirkwood House, former governor Leonard J. Farwell of Wisconsin, called in a loud voice, "Governor Johnson, if you are in this room I must see you." The vice president sprang out of bed. "Farwell, is that you?" he replied. "Yes, let me in," was the answer. The door opened, and Farwell, who had just come from Ford's Theater, excitedly told Johnson the news. The president had been shot. The vice president, stunned, grasped Farwell's hands, and the two men fell upon each other, holding on for mutual support. Soon there were guards outside to prevent any attempt to murder Johnson. Secretary of State Seward already lay seriously wounded in his home, and no one knew how widespread the assassination plot was.

Johnson quickly regained his composure, and calmly, without exhibiting any signs of fear, considered what was to be done. In order to get some firsthand information about the condition of the president and the secretary of state, he sent Farwell to the scene of the crime, where the Wisconsin politician found that the dying president had been carried to

-193-

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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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