Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XXXXVI
THE PHILADELPHIA CONVENTION

FOUR national conventions were held during the summer of 1866.1 In our entire history there is no other non-presidential year in which this was done. The first was called in furtherance of Johnson's administration to be held in Philadelphia on the 14th of August.2

Welles threw himself vigorously into the organization of this demonstration. At a Cabinet meeting on August 7th Stanton remarked that an application had been made to him for bunting with which to decorate the convention hall. He had none for this purpose, he said, and then added, with a sneer, that he would turn this application over to the navy. The retort from the Secretary of that department was like a body blow. "My bunting," said Welles, "has always been promptly shown and it would be well were you now to let us have a sight of yours." Stanton was taken aback, colored, and then repeated that he had no bunting for the Philadelphia gathering. "Oh," said Welles, "show your flag.""You mean the convention," replied Stanton,--"I am against it."3"This is wrong," said Welles privately to the President a few hours later. "We cannot get along in this way." "No," answered Johnson, "it will be pretty difficult."4

Before the 14th of August, the delegates began to arrive at Philadelphia. From all over the country, North and South, they came. Whether they were Northerners or Southerners, Democrats or Republicans mattered not, so long as they were ready to support Johnson's purpose to preserve the Union from a new destruction. There were not lacking those who felt that a new war was then impending.5"I am unwilling to believe," wrote Welles, "that a majority of Congress is preparing for such a step, but the majority is weak in intellect, easily led into rashness and

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