Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XII
"CULTIVATED AND MORALLY EXCELLENT PEOPLE"

ON the morning following the Baltimore nominations, when the good citizens of Washington Square and Gramercy Park sat breakfasting in the midst of their black walnut and their Victorian draperies and turned to the editorial page of the New York World, this is what they read: "The age of statesmen is gone; the age of rail splitters and tailors, of buffoons, boors and fanatics has succeeded. . . . In a crisis of the most appalling magnitude requiring statesmanship of the highest order, the country is asked to consider the claims of two ignorant, boorish, third-rate backwoods lawyers for the highest stations in the Government. Such nominations, in such a conjuncture, are an insult to the common sense of the people. God save the Republic!"1

This was read, no doubt, with much complacency by those whose offspring were improving at home the many fine business opportunities created by the war, while displaying a vicarious patriotism through hired substitutes. It may have met with somewhat less approval from those whose sons had been fighting six days before with General Grant at Cold Harbor. Perhaps they were more in sympathy with the Tribune's milder views. Mr. Greeley on that morning said: "We cannot but feel that it might have been wiser to spike the most serviceable guns of our adversaries by nominating another for President. . . . The will of the majority of Unionists has been heard. . . . We bow to the decision."

But in that same editorial Mr. Greeley added: "As to the selection of Andrew Johnson for vice-president, it is in many respects a happy one. There are various kinds of war Democrats, from those fighting under Lee and Beauregard for the Rebel cause, to those who have from the outbreak of the struggle, done their

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