Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XXI
JOHNSON MAKES A BAD SLIP

WITH the progress of the Union arms as he himself described it, "reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all,"1 on the 4th of March, 1865, Abraham Lincoln delivered his second Inaugural address. One perfect sentence is its final paragraph. As long as English literature endures these words will live: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."2 Unless it is the Sermon on the Mount, there is nothing that excels the simple majesty of that paragraph.

Andrew Johnson was inaugurated at noon on the same day. The scene in the Senate was a brilliant one. All the seats within the spacious galleries were occupied and every spot where men could stand was filled. The galleries were set apart exclusively for ladies. In lovely crinolines they made a striking and a brilliant scene.3 The retiring Vice-President occupied the chair, and the officers of the Senate were in their places. Seated at the clerk's desk in front of Mr. Hamlin was the Vice-President elect. The Judges of the Supreme Court were there, the Cabinet, the Diplomatic Corps and the attachés of foreign nations. The high officers of the Army and the Navy were arranged behind the diplomats, while back of the Cabinet sat the Senators and Senators-elect.4

At 12 o'clock Johnson was introduced by the outgoing Vice- President and the oath was then administered. Then for fifteen minutes he addressed the audience. It was not up to his high

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