Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot

By Robert W. Winston | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
JEFF DAVIS SPOILS THE BROTH

In December 1859 the House did not adjourn for the usual Christmas holidays. It was in no humor for merry-making. Since convening early in December it had tried in vain to organize and elect a speaker. John Sherman, leading candidate for the speakership, had disqualified himself, in the opinion of the conservatives, because of an endorsement of the Impending Crisis.

This remarkable publication, written by J. Rowan Helper, a poor North Carolina white, was creating almost as much trouble in Congress as John Brown's Raid.1 In this book Helper insisted that the South was a decadent country, that slavery was gradually undermining its prosperity and destroying its soul, that it was the most backward section of the Union. Not only did he make this contention; he undertook to prove it by cold facts from the census table. His remedy was the abolition of slavery and colonization of the negro. Though his attack on southern slave-holders was untrue and unnecessary, his demonstration was unanswerable. At the bare mention of Helper's book southern Congressmen went into a frenzy, the term "Helperite" becoming the synonym for treachery to the South. Though published in 1857, the book did not come into prominence till the winter of 1859, about the time John Brown was going to the gallows in Virginia. Helper Impending Crisis was Andrew Johnson's vade mecum--his arsenal of facts.

While the House was endeavoring to elect a speaker the greatest confusion and discord prevailed. Southern Congressmen charged that Harper's Ferry and John Brown's Raid were the direct result of Black Republicanism as contended for by Helper and by Seward and Lincoln. Seward's "irrepressible

____________________
1
First Session Thirty-sixth Congress, p. 574.

-108-

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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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