Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XLIII
JOHNSON'S ENEMIES RETURN TO WASHINGTON

THROUGH the chill November days, Gideon Welles sat contemplating the morose political horizon, confiding now and then his dark forebodings to his diary. "The fall elections have passed," on November 17th he wrote, "and the Radicals retain their strength in Congress. False issues have prevailed. . . . President Johnson was and is denounced as a traitor because he does not repel and persecute the beaten Rebels."1

And he continued: "The Democrats with equal folly and selfishness strove to install their old party organization in force, regardless of the true interest of the country. . . . The consequence has been that instead of reinstating themselves they have established the Radicals more strongly in power. We have, therefore, had elections without any test, statement or advocacy of principles, except the false one that the Radicals have forced, that the Administration had united with the Rebels."2

And still further: "The Radicals have elected General Butler to Congress in a district of which he was not a resident. The Democrats in New York have elected Morrissey, the boxer and gambler, to Congress. It is not creditable that either of these men should have been elected. It shows the depravity of the parties and the times. Two negroes have been elected to the Massachusetts Legislature, not for talents, ability or qualification, but because they are black. Had they been white no one would have thought of either for the position."3

November 20th came, as did also the advance guard of Johnson's enemies in Washington. Stevens and his lieutenants were on the ground early to block out work for their followers.4 There was no doubt that they would press impeachment should occasion offer. "If Thad Stevens can get his caucus machinery at work,"

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