Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

By Robert W. Winston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
CONGRESSMAN

While in Nashville as a member of the legislature, Johnson kept up a brisk correspondence with his Greeneville constituents, posting them on public affairs at the Capital and asking for the local news. Among the first letters he wrote was one to his friend William Lowery, bearing date October 4, 1841. Though the handwriting is juvenile and cramped, as if written by fingers made stiff by hard labor, the letter has a tone of confidence and of buoyancy. " GovernorPolk's Inaugural Address was fine," he wrote. "The Whigs are down in the mouth, and though they have a majority of one, the Democrats are going to block their game, they are planning to postpone the election of United States Senators for two years." Some months previous, Johnson had written a letter to Governor Polk. In a boyish hand, and with numerous misspelled words he wrote: "Unless I am 'rong' the terms of United States Senators expire March the 4th next," and suggested "an extra session of the legislature to handle the matter." Politics had evidently gone to the young fellow's head.1

In 1842, on retiring from the State Senate, Johnson began to aim at bigger game; his eye was fixed on a seat in Congress. For the past fifteen years, with his own hand, he had worked at the tailor trade. All day long he had measured customers, cut out garments and shoved the tailor's goose. Sitting on his workbench, he could be found with wax and thread, needle and thimble, in hand. Though his ears were erect and his mind alert for knowledge, he was intent on earning his daily bread. Not only not ashamed that he was a tailor but proud of it. "I always gave a snug fit," he would sagely remark, when afterwards some one joked him about his tailor days. And the business had grown and prospered. It now required five or six

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Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Prefatory Note v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I: Odds - 1808-1860 1
  • Chapter I - Runaway Apprentice 3
  • Chapter II - A. Johnson, Tailor 15
  • Chapter III - Successor to Andrew Jackson 26
  • Chapter IV - Congressman 40
  • Chapter V - On the Stump 58
  • Chapter VI - Governor and Senator 76
  • Chapter VII - Home Life 95
  • Chapter VIII - Jeff Davis Spoils the Broth 108
  • Chapter IX - Father of the Homestead 128
  • Chapter X - Impasse 142
  • Part Ii: Alone - 1860-1865 153
  • Chapter I - Testing Time 155
  • Chapter II - Lion-Heart 174
  • Chapter III - Fight for Tennessee 188
  • Chapter IV - Senatorial Whip 205
  • Chapter V - Military Governor 217
  • Chapter VI - Lincoln and Johnson 243
  • Chapter VII - Vice-President 263
  • Chapter VIII - The Execution of Mrs. Surratt 277
  • Chapter IX - Hero of an Hour 292
  • Chapter X - Thad Stevens Pockets Congress 307
  • Part Iii: Unbowed - 1865 and After 323
  • Chapter I - Presidential Reconstruction 325
  • Chapter II - Swinging Round the Circle 347
  • Chapter III - Veto Follows Veto 372
  • Chapter IV - The Great Reconstruction 390
  • Chapter V - Impeachment of the President 405
  • Chapter VI - The Trial 428
  • Chapter VII - Foreign and Domestic Policy 455
  • Chapter VIII - Leaving the White House 471
  • Chapter IX - The Come-Back 490
  • Chapter X - Sixty Years After 510
  • Appendix A 521
  • Appendix B 522
  • Appendix C 526
  • Bibliography 529
  • Index 541
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