Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XXXIX
SWINGING AROUND THE CIRCLE

SOME time back we were preparing to join Johnson in his "Swing Around the Circle." Onthe 28th of August, 1866, the Presidential party left the capital. Among the guests were Secretary Seward, Gideon Welles, Postmster-General Randall, the President's daughter Mrs. Patterson and Senator Patterson of Tennessee, Col. Moore, the President's secretary, Mrs. Welles and her two sons, Edgar and John, Mrs. Farragut and Admiral Farragut, Generals Rousseau, Custer, Stedman, Stoneman, Crook and last, but not least, General Grant.1 Stanton had advised the trip, but at the last moment declined to come because he said his wife was ill. "I think," wrote Welles, "Mrs. S. may be some but not seriously indisposed."2

The route planned and followed was via Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, West Point, Albany, Auburn, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, Springfield, Alton, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and so back to Washington.3

It was a bold attempt to carry the Congressional elections that had prompted Johnson's purpose to speak face to face with the people of the North. It was by facing hostile as well as friendly crowds that he had risen from obscurity to fame. He was not unaware of his power to sway men, and he had determined to use it in furtherance of the cause of justice. His extemporaneous addresses, however, when reported, especially when badly or dishonestly reported, lack much as polished works of rhetoric. Somehow, nevertheless, in the ashes of the printed page we still can see the embers that once were kindling flames. Down in Ten­nessee there had been few newspapers, so that one speech could be

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