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Andrew Johnson: A 'Trent Lott' kind of guy

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    Ram s last post got me curious about Andrew Johnson. What was a white supremacist Democrat doing on the ticket anyway? From an article
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 31, 2005
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      Ram's last post got me curious about Andrew Johnson.
      What was a white supremacist Democrat doing on the
      ticket anyway? From an article
      ) by Philip Kuhhardt:

      During the Civil War, Johnson became the only senator
      from a seceding state to remain in Washington and back
      the Union. "Damn the negroes," he explained to a
      Northern general; "I am fighting those traitorous
      aristocrats, their masters." The following year, even
      though he was a Democrat and Lincoln a Republican, the
      President rewarded his loyalty by naming him wartime
      governor of Tennessee. And in 1864, after Johnson
      publicly supported Lincoln's policy of emancipation,
      he was chosen to run on the Union ticket for vice
      president. On November 8, they won the election.

      But the President soon had reason to regret his
      choice, for Johnson's behavior at the inauguration was
      a severe embarrassment. Having taken considerable
      whiskey to fortify himself from a recent illness, the
      swaying, stammering, beet-red vice president called on
      each cabinet member by name, telling them in turn that
      they were plebeians-creatures of the people.

      "I'm a-goin' for to tell you here today," he sang out.
      "Yes, I'm a-goin' for to tell you all, that I'm a
      plebeian. I glory in it. The people, yes, the people
      have made me what I am. And I am a-goin' for to tell
      you here today, yes, today, in this place, that the
      people are everything!"

      "To think," said an editorial in the New York World,
      "that one frail life stands between this insolent,
      clownish creature and the Presidency."

      Little more than a month later, Lincoln was killed,
      and the fifty-six-year-old Democrat from Tennessee was
      sworn in as the seventeenth President. "I have been
      almost overwhelmed by the sad event," Johnson uttered
      in a brief statement from his hotel room after taking
      the oath of office. "I feel incompetent to perform . .
      . duties so unexpectedly thrown upon me."

      From the beginning, everything in Johnson's presidency
      went wrong. Although he retained Lincoln's entire
      cabinet, he resisted calling upon their experience and
      wisdom. And instead of cultivating Republican leaders
      in Congress, he allowed his differences with them
      regarding the difficult problem of Reconstruction to
      set them off on a collision course.

      Unlike the majority of Congress who wanted to
      safeguard black rights and hold the South accountable,
      Johnson was determined to remain faithful to what he
      saw as Lincoln's policy of leniency. On May 29, he
      announced a general amnesty to former Confederates, to
      be supplemented by presidential pardons for the top
      leaders of secession.

      Bolstered by the President's strong support and
      sympathy, Southern states began reinstating many of
      their old leaders, acting as if the Civil War had
      never been fought. Four Confederate generals, five
      colonels, and even the former vice president of the
      Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, were elected to

      Outraged, Congress refused to seat them. Instead,
      acting on what it called the true spirit of Lincoln,
      it passed a bill to provide federal aid to liberated
      slaves, which Johnson quickly vetoed, and then a
      sweeping civil rights bill declaring blacks to be full
      citizens of the United States. Johnson vetoed again.
      "I am right. I know I am right, and I am damned if I
      do not adhere to it," he insisted. When Congress, by a
      two-thirds vote, overrode this second veto, it became
      open war.

      To seek support from the American people, Johnson set
      out on a cross-country speaking tour. But his
      undignified harangues only increased his unpopularity.
      "Congress has undertaken to poison the minds of the
      American people," Johnson blasted. "This common gang
      of cormorants and bloodsuckers have been fattening
      upon the country for the past four or five years. . .
      . [They think] everybody is a traitor that is against

      With Congress taking full control of Reconstruction,
      Johnson was now virtually ignored, referred to by one
      observer as "the dead dog of the White House." Former
      Congressman Isaac N. Arnold, in a letter to the
      President, wrote, "You have betrayed the great . . .
      party which elected Abraham Lincoln."

      In March 1867, to further constrain him, Congress
      passed the Tenure of Office Act, forbidding the
      President to dismiss his top officials without the
      Senate's concurrence. In defiance, Johnson ignored the
      law and fired Edwin Stanton, the secretary of war,
      claiming he was disloyal. Republicans became convinced
      that Johnson had committed a convictable crime, and in
      the following year, Congress voted to impeach.
      "Impeachment of me for violating the Constitution!"
      Johnson exclaimed. "Damn them! Have I not been
      struggling ever since I have been in this chair to
      uphold the Constitution which they trample under

      In the embattled White House, Johnson wondered and
      waited, kept informed of the proceedings in the Senate
      chamber through eyewitness reports. And then, after
      more than a month, the day of decision arrived. In the
      end it all came down to one man's vote, that of Edmund
      G. Ross, a Republican senator from Kansas, to whom
      Johnson had promised that he would soften his
      opposition to congressional Reconstruction. "Not
      guilty!" Ross intoned. The news was run by foot to the
      White House, where on hearing it, the President wept.

      "I intend to devote the remainder of my life," he
      said, "to the vindication of my own character."

      Never before had two branches of the government been
      at such odds, or the office of the presidency been so
      diminished. And much of it-though not all-had been
      Andrew Johnson's fault. Stubborn and independent, at
      his best moments heroically so, he was also crude and
      uncompromising and lacking in any sympathy for black
      Americans. And he was unable to lead the country
      through the massive challenges of Reconstruction.

      In November 1868, General Ulysses S. Grant was elected
      President, and after four months Johnson returned to
      Tennessee. "I have performed my duty to my God, my
      country, and my family," he would insist. "I have
      nothing to fear." In an attempt to restore his
      reputation, Johnson ran for a seat in Congress, losing
      a Senate race in 1869 and a House race in 1972 before
      finally winning a spot in the U.S. Senate in 1874.
      When news of his victory in Tennessee reached
      him-making him the only former President ever to be
      elected to the Senate-the old fighter grew emotional.
      "I'd rather have this information than to learn that I
      had been elected president of the United States. Thank
      God for the vindication."

      Copyright 2003 The Rector and Visitors of the
      University of Virginia
      last updated on 01/19/2005 - 02:13

      Here are a few more details of his impeachment
      borrowed from the Wikipedia:

      Congress and Johnson argued in an increasingly public
      way about Reconstruction: the manner in which the
      Southern secessionist states would be readmitted to
      the Union. Johnson favored a very quick restoration of
      all rights and privileges of other states. However,
      "Congressional Reconstruction", enforced by repeated
      acts passed over Johnson's veto, provided for
      provisional state governments run by the military and
      ensuring the local passage of civil rights laws and
      otherwise imposing the will of the United States
      Congress — which, of course, was run by the North.
      Johnson's public criticisms of Congress provoked much
      talk of impeachment over the months.
      On February 21, 1868, Johnson notified Congress that
      he had removed Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War, and
      was replacing him in the interim with Adjutant-General
      Lorenzo Thomas. This was an apparent violation of the
      Tenure-of-Office Act, made law in March of 1867, which
      was a law that Congress had specifically designed to
      protect Stanton. The Act said, "...every person
      holding any civil office, to which he has been
      appointed by and with the advice and consent of the
      Senate ... shall be entitled to hold such office until
      a successor shall have been in like manner appointed
      and duly qualified," thus removing the President's
      previous unlimited power to fire any of his Cabinet
      members at will. Johnson had previously vetoed the
      Act, claiming it was unconstitutional, and
      subsequently Congress had passed the Act again by the
      required two-thirds majority to make it law, over the
      objection of the President. (Years later in Myers v.
      United States (1926), the Supreme Court ruled that
      such laws were indeed unconstitutional.)

      President Andrew Johnson
      The Senate and House entered into hot debate. Thomas
      attempted to move into the War office, for which
      Stanton had Thomas arrested. Three days after
      Stanton's removal, the House passed a resolution to
      impeach Johnson for "high crimes and misdemeanors",
      specifically, for intentionally violating the
      Tenure-of-Office Act and thus violating the law of the
      land, which he had sworn an oath to enforce.
      On March 5, 1868 a court of impeachment was organized
      in the Senate to hear charges against the President.
      William M. Evarts served as his counsel. Eleven
      articles were set out in the resolution and the trial
      before the Senate lasted three months. Johnson's
      defense was based on a clause in the Tenure-of-Office
      Act stating that the then-current Secretaries would
      hold their posts throughout the term of the President
      who appointed them. Since Lincoln had appointed
      Stanton, it was claimed, the applicability of the Act
      had already run its course.
      Johnson was acquitted by a vote of thirty-five for
      conviction to nineteen for acquittal. He had avoided
      removal from office by a single vote. There were two
      votes in the Senate: one on May 16, 1868 for the 11th
      article, and another on May 26 for the other 10.
      Johnson was the first President to be impeached, and
      the only one until the impeachment of Bill Clinton on
      December 19, 1998.

      --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

      Don't forget Andrew Johnson, the jerk who got us into
      "all these
      problems" (quoting Trent Lott) for at least another
      century. Lincoln's
      intention was good, and he probably didn't to be the
      first President
      to be assassinated.


      --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS JOHNSON
      > Thanks to all for the responses.. my question was
      > certainly answered well. I'm not sure if anyone ever
      > brought in someone for veep outside their own party
      > since, but I'm reasonably sure that if someone did,
      > they didn't deliver a 2 hour inaugural address in
      > freezing temperatures without a coat, as Harrison
      > I don't think anyone got off to a worse start than
      > basically freezing himself to death on his first
      > Tom
      > --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
      > ---------------------------------
      > "Robin Hood," Congress and the Court
      > Copyright 1976, Supreme Court Historical Society
      > from the Yearbook 1977 Supreme Court Historical
      > Society
      > Presidents nominate persons for positions on the
      > Supreme Court for a
      > variety of reasons--and in about one case in four,
      > Senate rejects
      > the nomination for a variety of reasons, mostly
      > political. Altogether,
      > thirty-four persons have been proposed for the Court
      > who did not sit.
      > Seven were confirmed but declined the appointment;
      > died after
      > confirmation but before he could take his seat;
      > were rejected
      > by recorded vote; the rest were killed off by
      > types of
      > delaying action, or simply no action.
      > Eight Presidents have had one of their nominations
      > defeated by one
      > senatorial tactic or another; Grover Cleveland and
      > Richard Nixon had
      > two rejections apiece; Millard Fillmore and Ulysses
      > Grant, three
      > each. But the record is held, in rather dubious
      > by John Tyler,
      > the unhappy President without a party, who had the
      > distinction of
      > experiencing five rejections of four of his nominees
      > in thirteen months.
      > Tyler's selections for the Court were all of high
      > professional
      > quality. It was Tyler, not the individual nominees,
      > who was the target
      > of the Senate vendetta. Only once in six attempts
      > the President
      > succeed in getting his man confirmed--Chief Justice
      > Samuel Nelson of
      > New York. Nelson was so conspicuously competent
      > in the interval
      > of an uneasy truce between White House and Capitol,
      > his name was
      > approved and he went onto the bench.
      > Tyler, a Democrat, had come to the presidency by
      > accident. William
      > Henry Harrison had been chosen by the Whigs as their
      > candidate for the
      > White House in 1840 and Tyler had been his running
      > mate. The fact that
      > the vice-presidential candidate came from the
      > party and had
      > almost completely opposite political views seemed to
      > the strategists
      > of the day to be a masterstroke. In the Number Two
      > position, Tyler's
      > views would be neutralized while the combination of
      > Whig and a
      > Democrat would offer a bipartisan appearance
      > calculated to split the
      > opposition. To the familiar campaign song of
      > "Tippecanoe and Tyler
      > Too," the Whigs contented themselves with vilifying
      > their opponent,
      > Martin Van Buren of New York, and evading a
      > of issues which
      > would bring their own candidates into conflict with
      > each other.
      > The whole thing blew up when the elderly Harrison
      > struck by
      > pneumonia on the day of his inauguration and died a
      > month later. Tyler
      > became the first vice president thus to succeed to
      > White House
      > because of the death of the incumbent President. He
      > immediately served
      > notice that his administration would follow a strong
      > states' rights
      > line; with the Whigs in control of the Senate, this
      > overshadowed a
      > solid opposition to Tyler nominees, e.g., for the
      > Supreme Court, as
      > events were to prove. The Whigs, chagrined at having
      > lost the fruits
      > of the election, turned for leadership to Henry Clay
      > of Kentucky, an
      > old Tyler foe; as for the Democrats, they not only
      > resented Tyler's
      > trafficking with the Whigs in the 1840 campaign, but
      > they were for the
      > most part followers of Van Buren, whose defeat in
      > was ascribed in
      > large part to the vitriolic attacks of the
      > Harrison-Tyler partisans.
      > The confrontation began in January 1844, when the
      > President sent up a
      > nomination of a successor to Justice Smith Thompson,
      > who had died the
      > previous month. Tyler's first impulse was to play
      > same political
      > game that had proved effective--at least up to a
      > point--in 1840: he
      > would propose Van Buren himself, thus appealing to
      > Democrats for
      > restored party harmony while putting his strongest
      > rival for the 1844
      > Presidential nomination out of contention. Van
      > friends saw
      > through the maneuver and persuaded Tyler that Van
      > Buren would reject
      > the nomination and make Tyler himself a laughing
      > stock. The President
      > thereupon substituted another New Yorker, John C.
      > Spencer--and leapt
      > from the frying pan into the fire.
      > Spencer was a Whig, but this did nothing to further
      > his nomination.
      > First, was the fact that he was an anti-Clay Whig;
      > second, he had
      > accepted appointment to Tyler's Cabinet as Secretary
      > of War and
      > subsequently Secretary of the Treasury. Finally, his
      > narrow, technical
      > views on the national banking laws had added to the
      > current enmities,
      > since it had been a bitter debate over a banking
      > that had caused
      > mass resignations from the Cabinet in 1842. Despite
      > acknowledged legal
      > competence, "I have no confidence in the political
      > integrity of Mr.
      > Spencer," wrote a New York political leader to
      > henchman,
      > Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, while
      > New York Whig
      > stalwart, Francis Granger, declared in the New York
      > Herald that ninety
      > Whigs out of every hundred would oppose the
      > nomination.
      > Within three weeks, the Spencer nomination had been
      > rejected by the
      > Senate, 21-26. For the next six weeks, Tyler sounded
      > out a number of
      > prospects including--or so it was rumored--the
      > Philadelphia
      > lawyer Horace Binney and the longtime reporter to
      > Supreme Court,
      > Henry Wheaton. Finally, on March 13, 1844, the
      > President made his
      > second formal selection, the chancellor of New York,
      > Reuben H.
      > Walworth. The Senate showed no disposition to act on
      > the nomination,
      > and while matters thus drifted along a second Court
      > vacancy occurred
      > with the death of Justice Henry Baldwin. On June 5
      > Tyler sent up a
      > second name for the second opening--Judge Edward
      > of Philadelphia.
      > Tyler was in an impossible situation, not only with
      > respect to his
      > Supreme Court nominees but with reference to his
      > entire administrative
      > program. A courtly Virginian of the old Jeffersonian
      > tradition, it had
      > been his misfortune to come to national office at a
      > time when the
      > party of Jefferson was torn between the Van Buren
      > faction of the North
      > and the Clay faction of the West. Indeed, most of
      > political career
      > of this gentle and gentlemanly Southerner was to be
      > history of being
      > left behind by changing times. Elected to the Senate
      > as an
      > anti-Jackson Democrat, he had felt obliged to
      > Jackson against
      > Clay, in the deadlock of 1828, as "a choice of
      > Yet in 1832
      > when the Jacksonian Democrats won control of the
      > Virginia legislature
      > and returned Tyler to the Senate, it was with
      > instructions to vote to
      > expunge the resolution which had censured Jackson in
      > the heated
      > struggle over the Bank of the United States. Unable
      > find it in his
      > conscience to do so, Tyler had resigned his seat.
      > Tragedy and near-tragedy had marked Tyler's
      > presidential years. In
      > 1842 his first wife had died. Two years later,
      > an official
      > visit aboard the warship Princeton, he himself
      > narrowly escaped death
      > when there was an accidental explosion which killed
      > several members of
      > the presidential party, including a prominent New
      > Yorker, David
      > Gardiner. This event did prove to have a happy
      > Gardiner's
      > daughter, Julia, married the widowed President in
      > 1844, providing
      > the White House with a gracious First Lady in the
      > closing months of
      > the administration.
      > The couple then retired to the Tyler plantation on
      > James River in
      > Virginia. which Tyler had named "Sherwood Forest,"
      > wry
      > acknowledgement of his own political destiny, which
      > described as
      > the role of "Robin Hood" confronting the arrogance
      > power in his own
      > time. The choice of the terms apparently was an
      > admission of political
      > predestination; by the spring of 1844, it was
      > that Tyler's
      > chances of renomination for the presidency were as
      > non-existent as his
      > likelihood of getting his Supreme Court nominations
      > through the
      > Senate. In January 1845 the Senate formally tabled
      > Walworth and
      > King nominations.
      > That November, the election of James K. Polk had
      > settled several
      > matters--the diehard efforts of Clay to get into the
      > White House, and
      > the prospects of both Tyler and Van Buren for future
      > political office.
      > Another matter which the Polk election settled was
      > ambition of
      > Senator Crittenden to get onto the Supreme Court. He
      > had first been
      > nominated in the last days of John Quincy Adams'
      > administration, with
      > the Jacksonians in the Senate voting to "postpone"
      > action until their
      > own man took office a few weeks later. Clay, had he
      > been successful in
      > his final bid for the White House, presumably would
      > have sent up the
      > name of his fellow Kentuckian one more time.
      > Now, in the last days of the Tyler administration,
      > White House
      > sought to accommodate the Senate in the wake of the
      > presidential
      > election; with political issues settled for the
      > and with one
      > Supreme Court position having been unfilled for a
      > year, it could be
      > hoped that a policy of reasonableness might govern
      > relations between
      > President and Senate in these last few months. The
      > optimists were to
      > prove to be only half right.
      > "Better the bench shall be vacant for a year," the
      > National
      > Intelligencer had editorialized the previous spring,
      > "than filled for
      > half a century by . . . partisans committed in
      > to particular
      > beliefs." The charge was somewhat exaggerated; while
      > Walworth was
      > condemned in the Senate as "querulous, disagreeable
      > [and] unpopular,"
      > he was in many professional respects the best
      > qualified of Tyler's
      > unsuccessful nominations. For the previous twenty
      > years as chancellor
      > of New York he had virtually written the law of
      > pleading and
      > rules of evidence, and a substantial majority of his
      > opinions had been
      > upheld on appeal. Both his predecessor, the renowned
      > Chancellor James
      > Kent, and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story cited
      > cases as
      > authoritative.
      > Yet there was no denying that he was cantankerous,
      > a point where
      > members of the state bar openly declared that they
      > supported his
      > nomination for the Supreme Court as a means of
      > him out of
      > their own judiciary. The animus was apparently deep
      > rooted; in the new
      > constitution of 1846, New York would dispose of the
      > problem by
      > abolishing the office of chancellor. In January
      > Tyler accepted
      > the fact of the massive opposition to Walworth and
      > withdrew his name.
      > There was no clear objection--other than the
      > anti-Tyler
      > fixation--for opposing Judge King, a highly reputed
      > Pennsylvanian, and
      > the President made one final attempt to override the
      > opposition by
      > resubmitting King's name. The signs in the Senate
      > so forbidding,
      > however, that early in February he withdrew that
      > nomination as well.
      > Time was now running out; obviously, the anti-Tyler
      > forces were
      > delaying action until a new administration could
      > over in March.
      > But the outgoing President made one further effort,
      > and for the two
      > vacancies on the Court he finally, on the same day
      > that he withdrew
      > King's name, submitted two last nominations--Chief
      > Justice Samuel
      > Nelson of New York and former United States Attorney
      > John Meredith
      > Read of Philadelphia.
      > Nelson, one of the best known state judges in the
      > land, was confirmed
      > within a week, and took his seat on the Court the
      > after Tyler left
      > office. It was to be Tyler's only successful
      > nomination for the bench.
      > Read, although popular with all faction among the
      > Whigs, had
      > antislavery views which were anathema to the
      > members of the
      > Senate, and the term ended without action on his
      > The sound and fury over the Court vacancies actually
      > attracted small
      > attention in their day. The struggle between Tyler
      > the
      > Congressional opposition involved other issues of
      > burning public
      > concern, epitomized in the effort to annex the
      > Republic of Texas.
      > After the Whig-dominated Senate refused to ratify a
      > treaty of
      > annexation, Tyler proposed a joint resolution of
      > houses, which
      > would require only a simple majority. This tactic
      > finally worked, but
      > only after the fall elections made certain a new
      > Democratic majority
      > in Congress. In a sense, the judicial nominations of
      > the President
      > without a party were innocent bystanders to the
      > contest; in any
      > case, several highly qualified candidates were the
      > victims.
      > ---------------------------------
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      > ---------------------------------


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    • Ram Lau
      ... Tom, The reason why Lincoln picked a Democrat as his running mate was because of his unpopularity in 1864 and the fact that the country was deeply
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 31, 2005
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        > Ram's last post got me curious about Andrew Johnson.
        > What was a white supremacist Democrat doing on the
        > ticket anyway? From an article


        The reason why Lincoln picked a Democrat as his "running mate" was
        because of his unpopularity in 1864 and the fact that the country was
        deeply divided. He thought that move would secure his re-election bid,
        and more importantly, appease the South.

        If McCain had the decency to be Kerry's Andrew Johnson in 2004, that
        would have been a winning cross-party ticket since Linoln-Johnson.

        Let s see.. two cross-party tickets; in both cases, the president dies within a month or so, and both VPs go on to have miserable presidencies. It s not hard
        Message 3 of 8 , Sep 1, 2005
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          Let's see.. two cross-party tickets; in both cases,
          the president dies within a month or so, and both VPs
          go on to have miserable presidencies. It's not hard to
          see why it's not more common.

          --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

          > Ram's last post got me curious about Andrew Johnson.
          > What was a white supremacist Democrat doing on the
          > ticket anyway? From an article


          The reason why Lincoln picked a Democrat as his
          "running mate" was
          because of his unpopularity in 1864 and the fact that
          the country was
          deeply divided. He thought that move would secure his
          re-election bid,
          and more importantly, appease the South.

          If McCain had the decency to be Kerry's Andrew Johnson
          in 2004, that
          would have been a winning cross-party ticket since



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