The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals

By George Fort Milton | Go to book overview

V. THE TAILOR-POLITICIAN

IN 1829, Andrew Johnson was elected alderman, his first step in a lifelong career in politics. This initial plunge was a result of the affection of the young men of the town who frequented his tailor shop debating society. For the little twelve by twelve log cabin had become the loafing place of the young men of Greeneville. Their conversations were accompanied by much boisterous merriment, but this did not disturb their tailor host at all.

"Andy, however, neither lost his temper nor suspended his twofold employment of reading and sewing," one of them relates.1"The moment the needle passed through the cloth, his eye would return to the book, and anon to the needle again; and so, enter when you would, it was ever the same determined read and sew, and sew and read. His sober industry and intelligence won the favor of the grave and sedate, and his genial tolerance of the jovial groups which frequented his shop secured him unbounded popularity with the young men of the place."

They were so impressed with the tailor that they determined to give him a substantial proof of their admiration by electing him to the town council. Accordingly, on the Saturday night preceding the Monday town election, a dozen of his admirers gathered to make up their slate at the counting room where Alexander Hawthorne, a ringleader in the plan, was employed. "The first name we put down for alderman," Hawthorne tells us, "was Andy Johnson, the rest were soon selected, and as there was no printing office in the place, we wrote out the ballots. We resolved to keep everything secret until Monday morning. Then we went to the polls and worked for our candidates. Our whole ticket was elected by a sweeping majority."

The tally sheet of this election, which has been preserved, shows that while Johnson was elected, his vote of eighteen was the smallest received by any of the seven successful candidates. Interestingly enough, not alone Andrew Johnson, a tailor, but also Blackstone McDannel, a plasterer, and Mordecai Lincoln, a tanner, were elected. The success of these three plebeians

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The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgment ix
  • I. War-Time Washington 1
  • Ii. Plot and Counterplot 16
  • III- the National Union Convention 37
  • Iv. the Bound Boy of Raleigh 59
  • V. the Tailor-Politician 74
  • Vt. "In the Furnace of Treason" 98
  • Vii. on the Ticket with Lincoln 120
  • Ix. President Andrew Johnson 160
  • X. the Trial of Mrs. Surratt 190
  • Xi. the Lull Before the Storm 213
  • Xii. Charles Sumner Declares War 236
  • Xiii. the Triumph of Caliban 262
  • Xiv. Victory at Any Price 293
  • Xv. a Marplot in the Cabinet 320
  • Xvi. the Swing Around the Circle 344
  • Xvii. Bayonet Rule by Act Of Congress 370
  • Xix. Johnson Crosses the Rubicon 426
  • Xx. General Grant Breaks His Word 457
  • Xxi. the Impeachment of The President 486
  • Xxii. Preparing for the Trial 515
  • Xxiii. Impartial Court Or Political Inquest? 541
  • Xxiv. Sound and Fury 566
  • Xxvii. Last Months in the White House 633
  • Xviii. the Tennessee Epilogue 654
  • Appendix - Authorities Consulted and Cited In This Volume 677
  • Notes 685
  • Index 755
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