CLOSING DAYS OF JOHNSON'S PRESIDENCY
Two days after Congress reconvened, on Monday the 7th of December, Andrew Johnson sent in his last annual message as President of the United States. The winds had come and the tempests blown, but like a mighty oak whose deep roots hold fast to the firm earth, Johnson stood unshaken and unscathed. He had not budged one inch from the Constitution of his fathers or from his support of what his predecessor had striven to accomplish. The serene and passionless paragraphs of this great state paper gave no hint of all the storms of passion that had played about him since his annual message of the year before. He wrote in the spirit of reasonable conciliation, as though there were the hope that Congress would give heed. Jubilant with Grant's election, and now more than ever domineering, there was, of course, no chance that these sectional partisans would concern themselves with anything except the spoils traditionally belonging to the victor. Johnson was writing for the historian.
"It may be safely assumed as an axiom in the government of states," he wrote, "that the greatest wrongs inflicted on a people are caused by unjust and arbitrary legislation, or by the unrelenting decrees of despotic rulers, and that timely revocation of injurious and oppressive measures is the greatest good that can be conferred upon a nation. The legislator or ruler who has the wisdom and the magnanimity to retrace his step when convinced of error will sooner or later be rewarded with the respect and gratitude of an intelligent and patriotic people."1
He referred to the exclusion of Texas, Mississippi and Virginia from participation in the recent elections as a denial of their constitutional rights. And he continued: "The attempt to place the white population under the domination of persons of color