Friday, December 1, 2017

Andrew Johnson Speaks to Black Crowd in Nashville

This news snippet of a speech made on October 24, 1864, by Andrew Johnson was found printed on the third page of the document I shared in yesterday's post. I thought I'd share it, too, as it caught me a little by surprise. Knowing Johnson's seeming about-face when he assumed the presidency after Lincoln's assassination makes these comments intriguing.

Johnson, never a friend of the Southern aristocracy, came from humble beginnings. He ran away as a apprentice tailor in North Carolina as a young man and eventually set up his own shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, where he was self educated with the help of his wife. Johnson became involved in politics, serving in the state legislature, then the US House of Representatives, Governor of Tennessee, and the US Senate. He was the only senator from a seceded state who did not resign his seat. Johnson was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee during the Civil War by Lincoln and then became the Old Abe's vice presidential choice after the election of 1864.

As president Johnson still abhorred those former Confederate aristocrats who sought his pardon, but he also saw that their rights were restored as well as their previously confiscated lands. His promises of protection and equal rights for African Americans, as expressed above, was seemingly forgotten in his attempt to reconcile the sectional divisions the war had finally settled with arms.

Johnson image and text image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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