Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XI
LINCOLN AND JOHNSON--THE UNIONIST TICKET

DURING the spring of 1864 the Unionists of Tennessee discerned, in the coming National Convention at Baltimore, a new opportunity through which to bring their state more rapidly into alignment with the Union. On May 30th a convention met at Nashville and, after recommending Lincoln's renomination, resolved that Johnson should be the vice-presidential nominee. It spoke of his "unflinching courage and patriotism," it praised his administration as military governor and declared that he had "endeared himself to all American patriots," and had "gained the entire confidence of all the loyal people of Tennessee."1 Their delegates now repaired to Baltimore--of course, Parson Brownlow was one of them.2

Before the convention met on June 7th, there had been much doubt as to Lincoln's renomination. The failure of the Union arms in the summer of 1862, the tragedy of Fredericksburg in December, the calamity of Chancellorsville in 1863 were all laid at his door. His availability as a candidate had become a matter of grave doubt among the leaders of his party.3

During this 'period the Presidential cravings of Chase had become so acute as to disturb even Lincoln's large magnanimity.4 In August, 1863, Chase wrote: "I think a man of different qualities from those the President has will be needed for the next four years. I am not anxious to be regarded as that man; and I am quite willing to leave that question to the decision of those who agree in thinking that some such man should be chosen."5

Nothing is more revealing of Lincoln's patience than his remark to John Hay two months later: "Mr. Chase makes a good secretary and I shall keep him where he is. If he becomes President, all right. I hope we may never have a worse man. I have

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