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Full text of "Oration of Hon. George W. Jones, with other proceedings at the unveiling of the monument to the memory of ex-President Andrew Johnson, at Greeneville, Tennessee, June 5th, 1878"

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— ■^ — • — ^ — 
Unyeiliinig of the Monument 


G^REENEVILLE, TENN., .TUNE 5th, 1878, 




'^ON. George W, Jones, 



The Unveiliiiff of the Monument 


Ex-President Andrew Johnson, 


June 5TH, 1878. "7^" 






The ceremonies connected with the unveiUng of the monument 
erected over the remains of Ex-President Andrew Johnson, occurred at 
Greeneville, Tenn., June 5, 1878. At an early hour of that day peo- 
ple began flocking into the village from the surrounding country. 
Special trains from the east and west poured into town a throng of peo- 
ple from along the line of railroad from Bristol to Knoxville. There 
were three thousand people present, including distinguished citizens 
from every division of the State. At 11 o'clock the procession was 
formed in front of the Court-house and moved to Monument Hill 
in the following order : 

Drum Corps. 

Coeur de Leon Commandery, of Knoxville. 

Odd Fellows Band. 

Carriages, conveying the speakers and the ' family of Ex-President 

Invited guests in carriages. 


After the arrival at the monument, the family and invited guests, in- 
cluding the Knights Templar, took seats on the stand erected for the 
purpose, when Mr. C. Van Gunden, of the firm of Van Gunden, Young 
& Drumm, of Philadelphia, Pa., builders of the monument, spoke as 
follows: "Mr. President: On the 3rst of March, 1877, Mrs. Martha- 
J. Patterson, Mrs. Mary J. Stover and Andrew Johnson, Jr., children 
of the late President Johnson, contracted with us for the construction of 
this work. We have felt ourselves highly honored in being chosen by 
them, for we had not only the artists' and mechanics' pleasure, but, as 
American citizens, have felt grateful in being permitted, though in an 
humble way, to perpetuate the memory of Tennessee's greatest states- 
man. We have, with conscious integrity, devoted our best skill to the 


execution of the task confided to us, and now, with thanks to the de- 
voted family of our l)eloved ex-President for their unremitting courtesy 
and kindness during the progress of the work to its completion, I place 
in your keeping the result of our united labors, and may the memory 
of their filial love and patriotic devotion, expressed in the structure be- 
fore us, and the deeds of the noble dead whose ashes sleep beneath 
this monument, be gratefully remembered for ages to come." 

The great flag enfolding the monument then, as if by magic, fell 
gracefully down, and disclosed the tribute of childrens' affection to 
noble and loving parents. It had been beautifully decorated by the 
ladies of Green eville, with a garland of laurel, wrapped spirally around 
it, and a wreath of laurel in the eagle's beak, while numerous bouquets 
of surpassing beauty adorned the niches in the die and base. Under 
the arch, the graves were strewn with choicest flowers and foliage. 

Standing on the crest of a prominent conical hill, half a mile south- 
west of Greenville, the monument commands a noble landscape, 
stretching awav for miles to the distant mountains that line the horizon. 
The marble shaft rises in the center of the Johnson burying ground, a 
circular grassy plot, thirty feet in diameter. Side by side lie the graves 
of the dead statesman and his wife. A few steps south are buried their 
sons, Charles and Robert, the former of whom, a surgeon in the Feder- 
al army, met a tragic death during the war, by being thrown from his 
horse while in Nashville. 

The monument is twenty-seven feet high, with a measurement of nine 
by seven feet at the base — which is of gray granite, and composed of 
three pieces — the low, broad arch and the two supports which rest upon 
a Hmestone foundation set five feet in the solid slate of Monument Hill. 
This arch spans the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson some three feet 
above the ground surface. 

On the arch rests the die, al)out three feet high and four feet square, 
flanked on either side by a half pyramidical wing, on the top of each 
of which stands an urn holding a funeral torch. Next above the die is 
the pedestal, also about three feet high and two feet square, the bottom 
and top both ornamented round about with a molding, bead fillet and 
concave. Above the pedestal stands the shaft of white Italian marble 
about fifteen feet in height, scjuare, with beveled corners, plain at the 
bottom, the upper half draped with the stars and stripes, and surmount- 
ed with a globe on which is perched an outspread eagle, also of white 
Italian marble, poised as if in defence from an expected attack from 
. below. \ 

The pedestal is ornamented with a scroll Constitution immediately 
above an open Bible, on thfr left hand page of which rests an open 
hand iiointing towards the Constitution and also representative ot the 


act of taking the oath of office under it. The die bears the following 
inscription : 

Andrew Johnson, 
Seventeenth President of the 
United States. 

Born Dec. 29, 1808, 
Died July 31, 1875. 

His faith in the People 
never wavered. 

Eliza Johnson, 

Born Oct. 4, 1810. 
Died Jan. 15, 1876. 

In memory of Father and 

The east face of the monument alone bear inscriptions — the others 
are plain, A neat substantial iron palisade encloses the monument and 
family burial ground, and the whole is distinctly visible from the rail- 
way, approaching Greeneville from the West. The cost of the monu- 
ment was nearly $9,000. 

After the formal delivery of the monument by the representative of 
the builders, Hon. Jno. C. Burch, of the Nashville American,, intro- 
duced Hon. George W. Jones, of Fayetteville, the orator of the occa- 
sion. At the conclusion of the oration the procession formed and re- 
turned, halting at the residence, where the invited guests, including the 
speakers and Knights Templar, were received and entertained by the 
ladies of the family. 

The following is the introductory address of Hon. John C. Burch : 


This immense assemblage, the eager anxiety of all to witness the 
ceremonies of the day and to hear every word that is uttered bespeak 
the deep interest which is felt in this occasion. Near three years ago 
the most eminent citizen of your county, of the State and of the Union 
was suddenly summoned from exalted station and the busy scenes of 
public life to the quiet slumbers of the grave. Many of us who are 
here to-day were here when his mortal remains, wrapped in the flag of 
his country, were committed to their mother earth. In yon quiet village 
he selected his home before he had arrived at years of maturity. Here, in 
later years, after his countrymen had crowned him with many honors, 
he selected this spot for the burial of himself and the dear, devoted one 
whom in early life he had chosen as an help-meet for him, and who, 
through all the unusually trying years of a most eventful life, fully and 
faithfully discharged the duties to which she had been allotted. 


Many of you knew him in his every-day walk as a prfvate citizen;: 
all of us knew him, or knew of him, as one of the foremost figures on^ 
the great historic canvas of American life. No man of his earnestness, 
of convictions could live so long and so eminently in public life and 
during such a stormy period of the country's history without antago- 
nizing the political views and aspirations of many of his fellow-citizens. 
It is not asked that any of us shall admit that his were always the 
correct positions. But none ever knew him who did not acknowledge 
and admire his simplicity of character, his integrity of purpose,, his per- 
sonal courage, his indomitable will, his unyielding devotion to what he 
believed the right. 

The career of Andrew Johnson was the most remarkable of the 
present century, if not of all the past. It will prove a source of inspi- 
ration and encouragement to the humble youth of this age and of all 
future civilization. We are here to pay respect to this wonderful ca- 
reer and to assist in emphasizing it for the consideration of the present 
generation as well as for posterity. The highest civic honors have been 
already paid to the deceased statesman. Since his entombment, filial 
affection has erected over his remains a monument, to mark their rest- 
ing place by the side of his beloved wife. Friends have thought that 
the unveiling of this monument should be made the occasion 
of an oration, somewhat commemorative of his private life 
and pubhc services. The surviving children of Mr. Johnson have 
selected for the preparation and delivery of this address one who was 
for forty years his warm personal friend^ and who, for the most of that 
time, was intimately associated with him in public life. The duty 
which 1 have been asked to perform is to introduce to you this bosom 
friend, this intimate associate of the deceased, one of Tennessee's most 
eminent living citizens. Ladies and gentlemen, I have the honor of 
presenting to you the orator of the day, the Hon. Geo.. W. Jones, of 


Ladies and Gentlemen: 

The ceremony performed in our presence to-day discovers to the 
eyes of this assemblage the monument, erected by his children, to 
mark the resting place of the remains of Andrew Johnson. The 
occasion has been deemed appropriate for an oration commemorative 
of the life and character of that remarkable man, and at the solicita- 
tion of those children and numerous friends, while sincerely distrusttul 
of my ability, I have accepted the duty. The reason for my selection 
lies chiefly in the fact, that for a period of forty years it was my for- 
tune to have been intimately associated with him, and that our services 
in public station, during the period in which I acted, was fundament- 
ally accordant in political views. The antecedents of both were some- 
what similar also, and conduced to render us congenial, and to estab- 
lish relations — both public and private — of a sympathetic friendship, 
which were not severed at any period of his eventful career. The 
opportunities of this relationship have been held to qualify me to speak 
of him as he was, to analyze his characteristics, to interpret his motives, 
and to portray the events of his laborious and tumultuous life in the 
light which may serve as a guide to the estimate in which posterity 
may hold him. This task I do not regard myself equal to, and were 
it otherwise, neither time nor the proprieties -of the occasion would 
permit a discourse requiring a review of one of the most important 
periods in the political history of our Government. This, indeed, will 
be the duty of the elaborate historian, who shall write, of the man and 
his times after the roar of the combat shall be forgotten, and the pas- 
sion it aroused shall have given place to reason. In the shaping of 
great events, he wrought with rare vigor and power, and his life will 
project a commanding figure on the canvas of history. To that repos- 
itory^ his fame may be safely committed. The time, to-day, may be 
profitably employed in recounting the narrative of his wonderful course 
from orphanage and obscurity to exalted station and world-wide re- 
nown, and in reflecting on the mental and moral attributes which 

L 2 ] 

enabled him to overcome these obstacles, and achieve results so grand. 
In this aspect his life is a lesson of absorbing interest and instruction ; 
and though it is not possible to speak of it without reference to eras of 
fierce political conflict, I shall endeavor to do so justly and candidly, 
remembering for him that he is dead, and for the living that the truth 
in regard to great characters who may become exemplars, is all that is 

Nearly three years have elapsed since Mr. Johnson, but recently 
elected to a seat in the highest council-chamber of the Government, 
and apparently in robust health for one who had nearly reached the 
limit of three-score and ten years, was suddenly stricken, and his 
spirit summoned from the scenes of earth. The unexpected announce- 
ment thrilled the people of the United States with a sense of sadness. 
Those who had admired and supported him, as well as those who had 
not, felt that a great man had fallen — in the figure of Scripture, "that 
a standard-bearer on the walls had fainted" — and that a public be-' 
reavement was suffered. The bells in cities were tolled. The public 
buildings exhibited the insignia of mourning. The flag of the nation 
hung at half-mast. The day of his burial was respected in a suspen- 
sion of the official business of the public. Numerous meetings of the 
people assembled to express the universal sense of loss. At a later 
date, funeral pageants were formed in honor of his memory, notably 
one at the Capital of this State, whose public servant he had been so 
long. Still later, on the meeting of Congress, a day was designated on 
which the Representatives of the people should, in resolutions and 
spoken eulogies, voice the sentiment of the nation regarding his 
death ; and in these, political friends and foes united in the language 
of homage. Here, at his home, his removal was as if one of yonder 
mountains had "bowed its tall head to the plain." First receiving a 
mark of the public confidence from this people nearly half a century 
before, his luminous ascent to supreme station had reflected honor 
upon them, and his fame was cherished here as a household god by 
. every one. No tribute of tongue or pen, or ostentatious parade, paid 
to his memory, was so true or just as the homely outpouring of the 
people, and the children of the people, who had been his early and 
steadfast friends, on the day his body was interred at this spot. The 
obsequies were not elaborate in equipage and vain display of cere- 
mony. They were such only as he would have desired — a concourse 
of the people irrespective of social rank, subdued in grief, and quiedy 
performing the last service we can offer our fellow-men. They were as 
becoming as they were spontaneous and unaffected — the simple and 
sincere offering of those who knew him best and esteemed him most- 

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And thus, after a life of extraordinary energy in a great field of action, 
illustrating both extremes of fortune, amid the mingled admiration and 
regret of a continent, his mortal part was laid in the earth, and men 
turned away, thenceforward to contemplate him in the steadily receding 
view of history. To trace this life since he first appeared in the then 
village yonder, more than fifty years ago, is a story of the marvels pos- 
sible to indomitable will and inflexible honesty, allied to inborn talents. 
But who that saw him then, and there may be those living who hear 
me, would have ventured to predict that the uncouth youth, poor and 
unlettered, unknown and unfriended save by the widowed mother, 
who was his companion and his dutiful burden, was to become the 
recipient of all these honors, in life and in death, I have so feebly 
depicted ? How it came to pass, let the sequel show. 

Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, December 
29, 1808. He was the son of Jacob Johnson, an humble man, who 
filled at various times several petty offices in that town. He was quite 
poor, and unable to give his children even the rudiments of an educa- 
tion. He died when his subsequently illustrious son was in the fourth 
year of his age. In the history of men who have become eminent, 
early loss of the father is quite a frequent circumstance. It was the 
case with Jackson and Clay, for example. One might speculate, if in 
characters having the germs of greatness, this apparently adverse 
stroke of fate did not tend to develop the faculty of self-reliance, an 
element afterwards so prominent. At ten years of age, Andrew was 
apprenticed to a tailor in Raleigh, and a few months before the expira- 
tion of his term of indenture, he left his employment and his native 
place, on account of a boyish misdemeanor in which he was implicated, 
■^n a year or more he returned, having spent the time at work in his 
trade at Laurens Court-house, South Carolina. Learning that his 
former master had removed some distance from Raleigh, he sought 
him, made apology for his misconduct, and tendered payment for the 
unperformed period of service for which he owed. This honorable 
offer was not received properly, and the proud spirit of the youth 
revolted, and he resolved to seek a new home, /^is gaze turned west- 
ward, and for him, indeed, "the star of empire" was brilliant with 
destiny. Having traveled in the humblest manner, with his dependent 
mother, in the fall of 1826 — then eighteen years of age —he arrived in 
Greeneville, Tennessee. Here he opened that shop which has become 
historic, and sat dihgently at his trade, approving himself a good 
workman, and acquiring the confidence of those who employed him. 
Not long after, he married her who rests by his side beneath that shaft, 
justly sharing the honors paid to him. Their temperaments were un- 

L 4 ] 

like — he, fervid and aggressive; she, calm and retiring—but their 
u-nion was fortunate, and, by her aid, he was better prepared for the 
long encounter which fate held in reserve. He had never gone to 
school. Incited by listening to readings from a copy of "The Ameri- 
ican Speaker" — a work of oratorical exercises— while an apureritice on 
the board, he mastered the alphabet, and learned to readZ/Until his 
marriage, his education consisted only in such imperfect reading as the 
intervals from toil allowed him. His wife taught him writing and 
arithmetic — acquisitions which served to enlarge the sphere of his 
capacity, and stimulate the sacred thirst for knowledge. /Under her 
instructions his self-education was pursued concurrently with his daily 
labor, and far into the night, when other mechanics were accustomed 
to rest. Such was the resolute spirit of the man, as even at this time 
his nascent ambition was prefiguring the career on which he had set 
his heart. 

His thrift in his vocation, and his studious habits and active 
intelhgence, were not long in attracting attention, and in 1828 he 
was elected an alderman of this town, and re-elected in the year 
following. In 1830 he was made mayor, a considerable dignity for 
a young man of twenty-two years of age. This office he filled 
for several years with efficiency. He was appointed a trustee of 
Rhea Academy in 1834. This was the year in which the second 
Constitution for the State was submitted to the people. He advocated 
its adoption, as its features, in the main, were more democratic than 
the instrument of 1796, which it was designed to supersede. Thus, in 
the incipiency of his public life, is observed a devotion to that prin- 
ciple which became its shibboleth — the bringing of the government 
nearer to the people. In the year following, the first General Assem- 
bly, under the new Constitution, was elected, and he presented himself 
as a candidate for Representative. The division of the people into 
parties, afterwards so long known as Whig and Democratic, was just 
then occurring, and the instincts and modes of thought of Mr. John- 
son at once aligned him with the latter, at whose head was Andrew 
Jackson. His candidacy, however, was not wholly acceptable to some 
who assumed to be local leaders of the party, but nothing caring, he 
engaged in debate with his popular competitor, and sustained himself 
so well as to silence all objections in his own ranks. He was elected, 
and it was in the House of Representatives in that Assembly that your 
speaker, as a fellow-member, formed his acquaintance. In that body, 
though but few, if any, discerned the elements of character he after- 
wards developed, he made more than the ordinary impression of a new 
member. He was punctual, laborious, but not unduly forward. He 

[ 5 ] 

kept a vigilant eye on the legislation proposed in moulding the order of 
things under the new Constitution, and judiciousl)^ participating in 
debate. His style was less assured and vehement than afterwards; 
but nevertheless ready and pointed. Though plainly clad, and not so 
robust in figure as in later life, his marked and expressive features pre- 
sented him well, and engaged attention when he arose to speak. An im- 
portant measure of that session was an act for internal improvements — the 
building of a system of macadamized turnpikes at the expense of the 
State treasury. Mr. Johnson's course in regard to this was strongly 
illustrative of candor and boldness, as well as of tenacious adherence 
to constitutional limits in legislation, which he ever so consistently and 
signally displayed. His -own mountain-bound section of the State, 
under the operation of the law, would derive benefits greatly desired — 
ready means of inter-communication, as well as accessibility to other 
sections, then quite difficult. It was, therefore, popular in that 
region, and a number of its leading advocates were from East Ten- 
nessee. Mr. Johnson gravely doubted the power of the General. 
Assembly to impose a tax upon the people for an extraordinary purpose 
without the previous consent expressed at the polls, and seriously ques- 
tioned the abstract right and propriety of incurring an indebtedness of 
the State, bearing interest, for any object, however desirable or laudable. 
From a fund thus acquired, he was jealous to apprehend misapplication 
of its use. With these views he strenuously opposed the enactment of 
the measure, notwithstanding the expected advantage to accrue to the 
people Avhom he represented. In this early step, there was nothing of 
the odor of demagoguery, which since has been erroneously charged 
against him. Indeed to this manly independence of the popular desire 
was, in great part, to be attributed his defeat for re-election in 1837. 
Two years later, however, he appealed a third time to the people. 
Some of the consequences of the favorite measure which he had fore- 
told, had been observed, and he was triumphantly returned. His 
bearing and legislative service at this session gave evidence of enlarged 
information on questions meriting public attention, and of ripening 
powers. A single defeat had not discouraged him, nor in the least 
relaxed his ardor. In 1840, he was nominated a candidate, for the 
State at large, for Presidential Elector, on the Democratic ticket, and 
appeared in debate with various gentlemen of distinction on the oppos- 
ing ticket. His experience in speaking before the people, and in the 
halls of legislation, had begotten confidence in his capacity. He was 
thoroughly informed upon the current questions and principles at issue, 
and in these forensic struggles he bore himself the equal of any whom 
he met. Those who witnessed them, perceived that he was in a sphere 

[ 6 ] 

in which he was qualified to become eminent. He was elected a 
member of the State Senate in the year following. The period was 
one of intense political antagonism. The Whig party, successful in 
the Federal elections, had suffered a disaster in the early death of 
President Harrison, and the alleged defection of his successor to its 
principles in an important object to its great leaders — the establishment 
of a Bank of the United States. Mr. Johnson was then, as ever after- 
wards, a determined opponent of powerful fiscal corporations, holding 
them to be inimical to the rights and interests of the mass of the 
people, and promotive of public corruption. He felt it to be a public 
duty to oppose, by every legitimate means, the ascendancy in Congress 
of the party advocating this measure. In great part, this question 
entered as an element in the election of United States Senators, which 
then devolved upon the General Assembly, and Mr. Johnson was one 
of the democratic majority of the State Senate — known in the political 
parlance of the time as "the immortal thirteen" — whose refusal to act 
thwarted an election. This produced an angry contest, and the argu- 
ments in attack and defense were of a mixed legal and partizan charac- 
ter. At this session, Mr. Johnson was the author of a bill providing 
for a scheme of internal improvements, which he held to be safely 
practicable, and not obnoxious to the objections which he had urged to 
the measure of a previous legislature. 

He had now achieved a reputation co-extensive with the State. In 
his six years of service in the General Assembly, he had exhibited in- 
defatigable industry, astuteness and skill in debate, a candid record 
upon all issues, and unbending courage. He aspired to a wider field 
of. action, and announced himself a candidate for the Federal House 
of Representatives, and after an arduous canvass, was elected, and 
entered that body in the thirty-fifth year of his age. It was the fortune 
of your speaker to enter it simultaneously, and to serve with him dur- 
ing the ten years of his membership. In that forum, then containing 
a number of distinguished men of long experience in the National 
Councils, and receiving at that time a number also of those who after- 
wards acquired high renown, the ambitious member from the First 
Tennessee District, doubtless, felt painfully the grip of those ' ' twin 
jailors of the daring heart" — "low birth and iron fortune" — which had 
condemned him to educational deficiency. But nothing daunted, he 
assiduously addressed himself to attaining whatever could better qual- 
ify him for the position. He had neither taste nor natural aptitude for 
enjoying what many esteem as the recreative honors of membership in 
Congress. He regarded it as a theater of high and important duty — 
an arena of public usefulness, in which the gratification of a just am- 

[ 7 J 

bition was a legitimate reward. In the sessions of that body, he was 
diligently attentive to the business transpiring ; in the intervals, he was 
discharging duty on committees, or intently seeking information from 
the library and every source at his command. He knew no idle hours, 
but was incessantly equipping for the discharge of the functions which 
the people had committed to his trust, and the making for himself an 
honorable fame. He was somewhat sensitive on one point, and 
quickly resented a derogatory allusion. In his first session, in the 
course of a discussion on the tariff, a colleague from this State made 
reference to his mechanical occupation. Mr. Johnson instantly inter- 
rupted him, and demanded to know if he spoke contemptuously, The 
intention was promptly disavowed. It is a mistake to suppose that he 
was accustomed to artfully introduce this feature of his life to propi- 
tiate popular favor. Neither was he ashamed of it, but quietly proud 
rather, and prouder still of the free institutions which fostered the 
effort to rise from humble station. During the long period of his ser- 
vice in the Lower House of Congress, he was a frequent partaker in 
the debates on all of the leading questions before the body. The two 
great parties alternated in predominance, and the lines of division were 
distinctly drawn. As a rule, he acted with his political associates, but 
there was a vein of independence in his course which, on occasions, 
resisted the trammel of party dictation; and, when moving in concert, 
his reasons were always his own. This ingredient of character early 
attracted the notice of the eminent and sagacious John Quincy Adams, 
so long an ornament of the House, who spoke of him as an acute and 
original thinker, and foresaw the distinction of which he was capable. 
Out of this element in his composition grew a number of frank utter- 
ances which produced criticisms among his political friends at home, 
and cost him several severe contests for the retention of his seat — those 
of 1847 ^I'ld 1 85 1 will be remembered. Before the people, however, 
the formidable disaffection in party ranks notwithstanding, he was in- 
vincible. His first effort in Congress was a speech in favor of the bill 
refunding the fine imposed on General Jackson by Judge Hall in 1815. 
He spoke also on the measure for the annexation of Texas ; and dur- 
ing its course, in a number of speeches, defended the justness of the 
war with Mexico. His speeches on tariff revision, which resulted in 
the law of 1846, exhibited thorough research and knowledge of that 
intricate subject. The erection of special industries into monopolies 
by a protective tariff system, he held to be partial and unjust, and 
grossly injurious to the interests of the most numeroiis classes of the 
people, and moreover, in contravention of the cardinal principles of 
free government. In regard to the Oregon boundary line, and the 

[ 8 ] 

threatened difficulty with the British Government, he sustained the 
poHcy of President Polk. He was a strenuous advocate of retrench- 
ment in the expenses of the Government, which he perceived to be 
unnecessarily and inordinately large in many features, chiefly so in 
extraordinary and useless offices and large salaries. He favored simple 
and economical administration, in the interest of the toiling tax-payers, 
and as a potent instrumentality in repressing the inevitable tendency to 
corruption. A speech on this subject, of great earnestness, was con- 
strued as an attack on the then Democratic administration, and gave 
umbrage in some quarters. But it was not his way to withhold the 
expression of his views under dread of any disapprobation. In a 
debate arising upon an important question then . prominent, he deliv- 
ered an incisive speech in advocacy of the Executive veto power, in 
which he traced a contrast between its wholesome use as a feature of 
Republican government, and the kingly negative under a Monarchical 
system. He defended it as a conservative clause of the Constitution, 
designed to restrain hasty, improvident and sectional legislation, proper 
to be wielded by the Chief Magistrate as the representative of the 
whole people. Perhaps the most glowing dream of his ambition did 
not forecast the era twenty years later, when he should boldly exercise 
it in circumstances perilous with the crisis of his public career. About 
this period he initiated his long and persistent struggle to secure the 
enactment of a law granting a homestead of one hundred and sixty 
acres of the public lands to any citizen Avho should occupy and culti- 
vate a part of it for a specified number of years. This measure en- 
countered both discouragement and opposition from various sources. 
The great and overshadowing question of slavery and its complication 
with territorial settlement, was an obstructing prejudice to its intrinsic 
merits. Upon this rich and vast domain which it was proposed to 
reserve for this purpose, the eager eyes of incorporated greed, vulture- 
like, were already gloating. The homestead law, designed as a bounty 
to enterprise and frugal industry, and the encouragement of thrifty citi- 
zenship — the richest treasure a nation may have ; but a powerful influ- 
ence strove to retain it for ripening schemes of selfish speculation 
adroitly masked. But Andrew Johnson conspicuously championed 
the measure, and at a time and under circumstances when considera- 
tions of sectional popularity would have deterred a less intrepid and 
independent man. He may be said to have been its projector, and his 
name is indissolubly identified with this legislation, so beneficent to 
thousands, and so sagacious and statesman-like. It is one of that class 
of laws which crown their authors with the blessings of generations of 
people. The many homes on the teeming acres of the great West 

[ 9 J 

stand as a monument to the wisdom and courage of Mr. Johnson. In 
the agitation ensuing upon the territorial acquisitions from Mexico with 
reference to slavery, as a Southern man, Mr. Johnson steadily upheld 
the rights and interests of his section as guaranteed under the Constitu- 
tion. In the exciting debates to which this portentious question led, 
he did not assume extreme ground touching the institution of slavery, 
nor advocate its extension as a means of maintaining the balance of 
political power between the free and slave States. He did, however, 
defend its constitutional sanctions where it then existed, and in the 
common territory of the United States, as a species of property as in- 
violable as any other. As to the policy and perpetuity of this pecu- 
liar institution, he held that the former was settled in- the fact that 
it existed, and was thoroughly incorporated in the body of society, and 
that the latter was a question out of the province of the powers of the 
General Government, and determinable only by a variety of economi- 
cal considerations, as time might develop. An aggressive war upon it 
as a moral and social wrong, which was to be hedged by inhibiting 
its spread, he despised as fanatical, and violative of the spirit in which 
the Federal Union was formed, and deprecated it as threatening to in- 
cite a sentiment imperilling alikfe the Union and the Constitution, the 
safeguard of all institutions. As a scheme of adjustment of the then 
aspect of the question, he did not approve some of the features of the 
Compromise of 1850, but finally voted for the five measures which it 
comprehended. One intimately conversant with Mr. Johnson's views 
during the long and troublous era caused by these issues, could but 
know that he was loyal to the legal rights of the Slave vStates in this 
respect, and to every degree; and was prepared to maintain them 
under the Constitution and within the Union, and could not but know, 
also that he would not surrender the integrity of the Federal Govern- 
ment to preserve slavery, or any other single interest whatever. The 
destruction of that he regarded as tantamount to the sacrifice of all 
that could be held dear to the American people, and as the culmina- 
tion of irretrievable political disaster, and would put nothing in the scale 
asainst its preservation. 

p^bn March 4, 1853, his first period of service in Congress termi- 
nated, and he retired from the public employment, but for a short time, 
a few months only. In the spring of that year, he was nominated as 
the Democratic candidate for Governor of Tennessee, and thereabout 
the truth of history requires a statement. While recognizing their 
necessity, Mr. Johnson was never an adept in party conventions, and 
he was not present when this honor was tendered him. In Congres- 
sional re-districting, under the census of 1850, the First, so long repre- 


sented by him, had been made doubtful or adverse to the success of a 
democratic candidate. Fortuitously, in the fall preceding, your speaker 
met a prominent member of the party, who urged that the coming 
Gubernatorial candidate should be from East Tennessee, and named 
Mr. Johnson, and he consented ; and he, while in Washington City, 
by letter, requested a distinguished leader in the party in Nashville, 
who would be present at the convention as a delegate or otherwise, to 
withdraw his name from before the convention in the event he should 
think it necessary to do so, in order to harmonize the convention. 
There it rested, so far as his, Mr. Johnson's, personal interference was 
concerned. On the assembling of the convention, at a preliminary 
consultation of delegates, the name of the gentleman to whom had 
been confided Mr. Johnson's interest, was himself recommended to 
the convention for nomination as the democratic candidate. He felt 
the embarassment, and frankly stating it to the convention, requested 
that his name should not be presented to the convention, and there- 
upon Mr. Johnson was nominated by the Convention. In the confer- 
ment of this honor, no imputation of overreaching can, in the least, 
impeach his manliness./ His competitor was Gustavus A. Henry, a 
gentleman of high character, and famed for commanding eloquence 
and ability, and the field of contest was the entire State. Mr. John- 
son reversed the political majority of the previous election, and was 
inaugurated Governor in October. His address on this occasion con- 
tained several passages which provoked sarcastic criticism. His ad- 
ministration of State affairs was upright and acceptable, and marked in 
some features by his characteristic vigor and independence of prece- 
dent. He was unanimously nominated for re-election, and the contest 
following, was one of the most remarkable ever witnessed, as well for 
its fierceness as for the boldness and ability he displayed, and was, for 
a time doubtful, Only he, perhaps, could have achieved the result. 
In this year, the disintegration of one of the great parties which had 
so long disputed the political mastery of the government, gave rise to 
an organization whose leading tenet was proscriptive of the political 
rights of citizens of foreign birth, and members of the Church of 
Rome. Oaths of obligation to its purposes, and passwords of admis- 
sion to its councils, were alleged of it. It absorbed the mass of that 
party whose distinctive form had disappeared, and very considerable 
numbers of those who had held opposite political affiliations. It was 
formidable alike in its construction, its specious principles, and in the 
support it received from men of high intelligence and unimpeachable 
character. It opposed the fundamental articles of Mr. Johnson's 
political creed — his belief in the rights of man irrespective of nativity. 


and in the largest liberty of thought and conscience — as well as his 
theory of free institutions and aroused the utmost energy of his nature. 
In political warfare, he never favored defensive tactics, but this he 
assailed like the Mameluke cavalry on a charge. The intensity of his 
feeling quickened his powers, and his argument blazed with denuncia- 
tions as he attacked it in every form. With ridicule, he drove it from 
the intrenchment of secrecy, and with unsparing language he com- 
batted its doctrines and designs. The opposing candidate was Mere- 
dith P. Gentry, a gentleman of experience and tried capacity, and 
gifted with copious and sonorous eloquence, and the unusual encounter 
brought other able speakers to the field. Mr. Johnson's forensic 
efforts were the highest he had ever exhibited, and his triumph won a 
national renown. His second term of service as Governor of the 
State passed without a notable incident, and at its conclusion, being 
now the unquestionable leader of his party, he was, by its unanimous 
choice, elected to the vacant seat in the United States Senate in 1857. 

Nearly twenty years of continuous official life, with the untiring 
application with which he cultivated his talent for public business, emi- 
nently fitted him for that great arena. In his development, he had 
acquired a degree of accomplishment, as well as increased strength, 
and from the first he was a stalwart figure in the Chamber where the 
giants of debate — dead and living — were wont to wrestle. Over the 
political heavens portentous clouds were forming, and the public mind 
was fevered with anxiety and alarm, at the period of his entrance. 
On the western border were already heard the mutterings of the ter- 
rific storm which, in a few years, was to burst with devastating fury 
upon the nation. No one descried more clearly the ominous aspect, 
or -desired more earnestly to avert the catastrophe, or understood 
more thoroughly the necessity for a statesmanship at once bold and 
cautious. He knew the designs of infatuated and reckless leaders — 
whether they marshalled the sentiment of a vast section of the coun- 
try under the banner of irrepressible conflict, or inculcated another 
section with the doctrine of national disruption as a means of avoid- 
ance, and desirable consummation. He held sympathy with neither, 
but the chief themes of Senatorial discussions were big with the 
problem. Notwithstanding these, however, there were other matters 
of great importance which received his attention. He opposed the 
Pacific Railroad measure on the ancient principles of the democratic 
faith, which denied the power of the Government to construct directly, 
or otherwise, works of internal improvement, or by aid or subsidies of 
monies or lands, to ally itself with companies for that object. Not 
doubting the utifity of such a work for purposes of military transporta- 

[12 J 

tion, on which it was defended, he yet saw vast areas of the pubHc 
lands about to pass into the grasp of soulless corporations, and engend- 
ering of corrupt combinations as a consequence. He was instinctively 
jealous of these powerful organizations. The infamous history of the ' 
Credit Mobilier, fresh in memory, and the conscienceless lobby which 
hovers now at Washington as another branch of Congress, attests his 
foresight; and all the accruing advantages of the work are question- 
able compensation for such a train of evils. 

The dissensions in the democratic party regarding the status of 
slavery in the territories, which caused the adjournment of the Charles- 
ton Convention without a nominee, was deeply deplored by Mr. John- 
son. In the light of the history of the times, perhaps the result to 
which it contributed — the election of a sectional President — could not 
have been averted ; though, with a united front of the party, North 
and South, a contrary result was possible. During the session of that 
convention, he had been honored with the unanimous vote of his 
State on repeated ballotings, as its Presidential choice, and had there 
prevailed greater unanimity as to the question at issue, it is not im- 
probable that the conservatism of his locality, and the inherent constit- 
uents of his popularity, would have made him the candidate of the 
convention. The division occurred, and he espoused the cause of 
that onfe of the democratic candidates having the greater following in 
the Southern States. Over this step he hesitated, and numbers of his 
friends watched his course with anxiety. In the crisis then iminent, 
his antecedent views warranted the opinion that he would not follow 
into extreme measures, and to your speaker he firmly said, that in the 
last event he should be for the Government, the Union and the Consti- 
tion. His motive at this time may be assumed to have been the hope 
that in an alliance with that section of his party from which he appre- 
hended extreme action, he could exert a more potent influence to 
restrain it. The event came, and Congress assembled amid unpara- 
lelled excitement. Already the Federal Union was dissolving. Within 
a fortnight he delivered in the Senate a speech directed against the 
doctrines and policy of secession, and in behalf of the integrity of the 
Federal Government. It was the ablest effort of his life. Other great 
speeches, ancient and modern, have displayed more amplitude of 
learning and rhetorical excellence, but for incisive power and electric 
boldness — the scene and the theme conspiring for effect — this is unsur- 
passed. Benton spoke satire of Webster's reply to Hayne thirty years 
before, when the Union was intact and the danger imaginary, but the 
most violent antagonist was awed into respect by the thunder of this 
eloquence when the storm actually burst. All through those three 

[13 j 

eventful months preceding Mr, Lincoln's inauguration, he labored by 
private appeal and effort to retain a full Southern representation in the 
Senate, arguing that its majority could withstand whatever aggressions 
the Executive might make, and yet save the Republic from detriment ; 
and, on the sixth of February, 1861, when curses from those whom he 
had long served were hurtling about his head, he made another speech 
of great force, in which he proclaimed his unalterable determination to 
cling to the Union, let who would desert. Upon the adjournment of 
Congress, Mr. Johnson returned to Tennessee, which yet formally 
adhered to the Federal Government, but under the fall of Sumter, the 
land heaved as with an earthquake. After a futile effort to stay her 
act of separation, he was compelled to leave the State, not to return 
until he caine as Military Governor in March 1862, At the extra ses- 
sion of Congress called for July 4, 1861, he advocated the war meas- 
ures, but, concurrently with the venerable Crittenden in the House of 
Representatives, he presented resolutions declaring that the war was 
not waged for conquest and subjugation, nor to destroy existing institu- 
tions, but to restore the authority of the Government. The position of 
Military Governor was as anomalous and distasteful to him as it was 
irritating and vexatious to the people, and was assumed at the sacrifice 
of the better feelings of his nature, and with the hope that its functions 
might abbreviate and ameliorate the condition of the State to which he 
owed so much. The prolongation of the struggle dispelled this hope, 
and much of the exasperation that occurred should be mainly ascribed 
to the excitement and mutual passion that prevailed. The firmness 
and vigor of his administration, however, was a powerful adjunct to 
military operations. 

In 1864, at the second candidacy of Mr, Lincoln, Mr. Johnson was 
named for Vice-President, was elected in connection to that office. 
The proclamation emancipating the slaves had been issued as a war 
measure, and the continuance of the contest, then at its fiercest, had 
virtually effectuated it. For the success of the Federal arms this was 
the gloomiest period of the struggle, and in the North, a large and 
growing party were clamorous for peace. The Administration feared 
the political result to be doubtful, and to secure the warm support of 
the portion of the democratic party supporting the Government, aban- 
doned the distinctive name of Republican, and nominated Messrs, Lin- 
coln and Johnson as the Union National candidates. As such, and 
such only, the latter accepted, as the language of his letter to the com- 
mittee accepting the nomination clearly sets forth. The fact that he 
was a democrat, lending his great influence to the Government in its 
dire strait, was the motive for his selection; and never did he, in faith 


or in form, detach himself from the democratic standard. This is an 
historical fact, elucidating subsequent history, and vindicating him from 
the charge that he deserted the party which elevated him to the Presi- 
dency. Within a few weeks after his accession to the second office in 
the Government, the armed resistance to its authority surrendered, and 
almost simultaneously came the tragic death of Mr. Lincoln, and he 
ascended to the Chief Magistracy. As he took the oath prescribed, 
the nation already quivering with excitement at the march of events, 
was dumb with horror at the appalling crime, and never did ruler 
assume the reins of power under responsibility more delicate and tre- 
mendous. This era, and the conduct of Mr. Johnson as President, 
will engage the profound attention of him who shall write its truthful 
history, as philosophy teaching by example. The throes of a four 
years' civil war, waged with gigantic numbers and fury, had disjointed 
the Constitutional fabric of authority, and demoralized alike the victors 
and the vanquished. Sobriety and reason had deserted, and, as if to 
crown the catastrophe, an act fitter for the age of the Borgias than the 
century which saw it, had come to horrify and madden. Here was 
all of opportunity for guilty ambition, invested with power, to engulf 
the remnant of liberty in the vortex of anarchy, and to emerge itself a 
despot. In the escape from this danger two causes of rescue may be 
considered. One will be found in the character of the American 
people impressed by their institutions. Though liable, as others, to 
become the temporary sport of passion, the individual sense of respon- 
sibility, acquired from habitual participation in the affairs of Govern- 
ment, tends to restore them to soberness and the recovery of their equi- 
librium. This was then exhibited. The other, and not the least, was 
in the personality of the President. In that dread time no Crom- 
wellian dreams disturbed his sedate and majestic patriotism. No 
thought of self-aggrandizement to the injury of his country warped his 
judgment or betrayed his integrity. To calm the tumult, to reassure 
confidence, to re-establish, in form and in spirit, the free institutions he 
so much admired, this was his ideal of duty and vision of glory; and 
and to these tasks he addressed himself with wisdom and courage, 
possessed by few in circumstances so perplexing. He invited a con- 
tinuance in service of the cabinet of his predecessor, and as the sequel 
proved, judiciously decided not to convene Congress in extraordinary 
session. In vindication of justice, he promptly brought to trial and 
execution the conspirators in Mr. Lincoln's murder, for one feature of 
which he has received much sentimental reproach; but, in this respect, 
the careful student of that exacting period will fully exonerate him. In 
a brief time the mass of the Federal army wa«i disbanded, and in a 


few months all military trade restrictions with the region lately at strife 
with the Government were removed, and a general amnesty, with cer- 
tain reservations, was proclaimed. Simultaneously the work of estab- 
lishing provisional civil governments in the lately insurgent States, 
with the view of restoring their autonomy and just relations to the 
United States Government, was commenced, and with due expedition 
was completed. In justification of these legitimate Executive proceed- 
ings, just prior to the assembling of Congress, he dispatched the Gen- 
eral of the army on an official tour for the purpose of observing th^ 
temper of the people in those States, and reporting the result of this 
reorganization, on the condition of affairs. This report was submitted 
to Congress shortly after the delivery of his first message to that body, 
and its facts sustained the policy adopted. That paper was an elabo- 
rate review of the manifold important events of the nine preceding 
months, a lucid disquisition upon the theory of the Government, and 
an able exposition of the principles and measures he had pursued. It 
is replete with statesmanship, and the archives ■contain no document 
more noble and patriotic. The fears of his imperious temper, fretted 
by the persecution he had undergone, was not realized. Elevation , 
had but steadied his faculties, and the leniency and magnanimity ex- | 
pected of the amiable Lincoln, blended with a just security for Federal 
interests, and restoration of the organic rights of States which had 
revolted, were the essential characteristics of his policy. But, with 
the Congress then met, and the one succeeding — which find a fit par- 
allel in the worst features with the long Parliameht of England — this 
Avise and correct statesmanship met stern and factious resistance. The 
message was referred to an extraordinary committee of fifteen, whose 
perverse counsels dictated a vindictive and vituperative hostility to the 
President, arrested the peaceful work of reorganization, and under the 
name of reconstruction, inspired the dominant majority of Congress to 
a series of measures whose baneful effects have yet scarcely ceased. 
Mr. Johnson was charged with the betrayal of the Republican party, 
and of the Republic as well — terms synonymous in the vocabulary of 
this truculent majority. He had done neither. To the former he had 
not professed allegiance, either in act or utterance ; of the latter. His 
faithful friendship was almost the sole buttress of protection. This led 
to a long and acrimonious contest between the President and Congress, 
to which his previous struggles were puny in comparison. He was 
deeply indignant, and to a large assemblage before the Executive Man- 
sion he made a counter denunciation. Against the unconstitutional, 
reckless schemes of that body, the heroic element of his character was 
arrayed, and the rock of Gibraltar was not more sure and firm-set than 


this man. The veto power he had formerly defended, claiming its 
derivation from n trilninal negative of tlie people when Rome was a 
republic, he now wielded in the name of the people, and in defence of 
their constitutional liberties. It was stricken down successively in the 
instances of the civil rights' bill, the freedmen's bureau bill, the bill 
to enforce enfranchisement of colored men by the States, the bill 
subordinating States to military district government, and the tenure-of- 
ofifice bill. He sustained his action in a series of messages which 
illuminated the subjects of which they treat, at once cogent and 
conclusive to reason, but not to sheer force of majorieties determined 
to defy it. Still he did not yield, and upon the basis of opinions from 
his Attorney General, sought to mitigate the mischiefs of the military 
satrapies set up in the Southern States, and to remove from the Cabinet 
a contumacious member. Infuriated now at his intrepid firmness, the 
Congressional oligarchy resolved to impeach him on charges, dignified 
as high crimes and misdemeanors, and the nation witnessed the spec- 
tacle of its President standing at the bar of the Senate, baited by the 
minions of a malignant partizanship, and defending his own integrity, 
and that of his great office, against the encroachments of faction. No 
trial in history exceeded this in interest, and had the result been dif- 
ferent, none ever carried consequences of more pernicious import. 
For the illustrious accused, the ordeal was terrific, but his equanimity 
was unmoved. Had he been guilty, his placid courage would have 
redeemed his fame. But even in a prejudiced tribunal, the convicting 
majority could not' be obtained, and he emerged triumphantly — the 
sober sentiment of the country condemning his accusers. The period 
of his Presidency was tempestuous, but it was illustrated with patriotic 
wisdom, with brilliant administrative vigor and with honesty. Though 
encountering more formidable obstacles than any predecessor, he laid 
down his great trust unimpaired, and his niche in the temple of fame 
is assured. 

On the fourth of March, 1869, he departed from the Capitol for his 
home in Tennessee, journeying amid ovations of popular approval. 
At large meetings held at prominent points in the State he testified of 
his stewardship. He was then just turned of three-score years, but 
his exciting labors had not dimmed his eye nor unnerved his strength, 
nor was his strong nature satisfied with the score he had left with his 
fierce antagonists still on the scene of action. He desired to re-enter 
the Senate, to oppose on that- field the hurtful measures he had so 
stoutly fought in one still higher. But other counsels prevailed, and . 
he was not gratified. The mists of prejudice yet lingered in the atmos- 
phere. A few years later he sought entrance to the popular branch of 



Congress as Representative from the State at large, but under circum- 
stances which again defeated him. His unyielding spirit never flagged, 
however, and he finally won the most sincere gratification that his am- 
bition could enjoy. He felt his election to the Senate to be a reversal 
of any sentence that his loved State had ever passed against him, and 
it was a proud day, when, amid the acclamations of the thronged gal- 
leries, he stepped on that floor with her seal in his hand. Nor did the 
memories of that Chamber — once his court of judgment — render less 
sweet the sense of his just triumph. The Senate was convened for 
the special consideration of the ve.xed question of Louisiana affairs — a 
condition induced by the legislation he had so sternly combatted. It 
had then its worst phase — anarchy produced by the lawless domination 
of its Legislature by the Federal military. Against this he spoke with 
his characteristic power. It was his only and last eftbrt, for, though 
no sign was given, his fate was impending. In the summer of 1875 
he was engaged at his home in the arrangement of his voluminous 
papers, and there received an earnest invitation to enter the pending polit- 
ical campaign in Ohio, which was of national importance. This was 
accepted, but during the work of preparation the last messenger came. 
Death found him preparing for another battle. It was not to be, and 
after an illness of a few hours he expired in the presence of his family 
in the sixty-seventh year of his age. As the announcement flashed 
over the land, carrying regret to minds considerate of the unsettled 
political condition, it carried also the thought — he " should have died 
ereafter. " 
Mr. Johnson was not the creature of circumstances, otherwise this 
scene to-day had not been. He carved his own career, mainly with- 
out adventitious favor. Perhaps some elements in his own character 
caused the struggle of his life to be the more severe. A degree of 
reserve, tinged with distrust, made him less the object of warm esteem 
and attachment than that of confidence and admiration inspired by 
the intrinsic elevation of his nature. He was endowed with capacious 
and resolute faculties which brooked no obstacle, and made him supe- 
rior to cliques and conventions. His only external aid was the liberal 
institutions of government under which he lived, and of these he felt 
himself to be a foster son, and for them he cherishe^d an affection 
which would have made his life, if needed, a sacrifice^^A representa- 
tive democracy offered a theatre, and by his own exertions he reared 
the intellectual and moral structure which his countrymen are proud 
to honor. There is no frivolous or fictitious component in the charac- 
ter he has left; it is the product of earnest, faithful work, due to laud- 
able aspiration, and devoted to the servi(-e of his country and his 


His personal appearance was familiar here. Of medium height, his 
figure was compactly shaped, indicating sinewy strength and power of 
endurance. His step was elastic, and his carriage erect. In com- 
plexion, he was slightly swarthy ; his hair, in early manhood, was quite 
dark and luxuriant, becoming thinned and silvered in his latter years. 
His chest was broad and deep, his neck stout but shapely, surmounted 
by a large and well-formed head. His countenance, with its deep-set, 
piercing eyes, was one to arrest attention. "On his front, delibera- 
tion sat, and public care," with an expression habitually anxious, 
shaded with sadness. Smiles were not frequent with him, but when so 
moved, they were sincere and hearty. His general manner was grave, 
rather than austere, but quickly showed his feelings — the sterner as 
well as the gentler.^'' Trained in no school of deportment, he had yet 
an innate dignity, and while in the Presidential chair, the sceptre of 
authority seemed native to his hand. His mind was analytical and 
logical in cast — the reasoning faculties being predominant. He sought 
for facts and first principles, and applied them acutely and profoundly. 
His imagination did not furnish him with figures of fancy, but his 
fervid nature furnished him with apt resources of illustration and well- 
chosen language. His power was in clearness of statement and sim- 
plicity of argument, that the people could follow, and a vehement 
earnestness which convmced them of his sincerity. In his conflict in 
debate, a personal tone was often observed which was not intended — 
the result rather of his intense feeling upon the principle or doctrine 
at issue. Though often in collision, bitterness did not abide with him, 
except to those who had been treacherous or vindictive./' -Most severe- 
ly tested from the lowest to the highest point of his fortunes, his de- 
cision and force of will was simply grand. Though open to counsel, 
he formed his own judgment, and his conclusion was immovable. 
Opposition but fixed it the more firmly, and men called him obstinate, 
but he stood upon his rendered reasons. He was thoroughly honest 
in his convictions, and in their defence no danger appalled him. He 
would have adhered to them at the martyr's stake. His honesty, in 
the broad sense, was an emphatic trait. That which he believed became 
a part of him, and he was incorruptible by bribe, either to his purse or 
his ambition. His official standard of uprightness was -lofty, and in an 
era of corruption he was without blemish. His moral courage, in the 
performance of public duty, towered to the sublime, and in this 
respect their characters are as little different as are the spelling of their 
names — Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson. His tastes were 
simple and frugal, and the blandishments of station did not debauc h them; 
A modest home in this unpretending town, and the company of his 
neighbors, sufficed for him who had moved among the more than equal 

L 19 ] 

of the great and titled. He did not affect piety, and was not commu- 
nicative of whatever religious views he entertained. So thoughtful as 
he was, it is probable that he held some, but he kept that account 
with his Maker alone. He was not without faults, but they were such 
as are common to the best of men ; and not without errors, but the 
balance of his qualities, great and small, and of his acts, public and 
private, is more largely in his favor than that of most men. His polit- 
ical principles were pronounced and steadfast. He was a Jeffersonian 
Democrat of the intenser type, and believed firmly in the capacity of 
the people, in their honesty of purpose, and in their fidelity to good 
government and social order. I'hough to no man has the term been 
more offensively applied, he was not a demagogue, and no taint of 
agrarianism defiled his thoughts. He opposed universal suffrage as 
alike inexpedient, and unconstitutional in the manner it was proposed. 
He did not mislead the people. He communed with them frankly, for 
he did not forget that he was one of them, and had been of the hum- 
blest. Occasion came when he differed with the people, and he main- 
tained his opinions with fearless candor. He was devoted to the Con- 
stitution of the United States as the chart of the wisest and the freest 
government ever devised by man. He interpreted it by the letter, and 
insisted that its powers should not be enlarged by too liberal construc- 
tion. He regarded it as the palladium of popular government and 
regulated liberty. He jealously guarded the reserved rights of the 
States, but held that the union of these States, formed under the Con- 
stitution, was essential to their preservation. When it was imperilled, 
he stood forth its mighty champion. Of that struggle others may wear 
the military laurels, but to him belongs the civic wreath ; and in the 
catalogue of its history, the impartial verdict of aftertimes will award 
him the first place for unselfish patriotism and unequalled powers. 

The designs and inscriptions on that chaste marble — the eagle, the 
flag, the .scroll, and the simple line, "His faith in the people never 
wavered" — typify the character it commemorates. Here on this ro- 
mantic spot, chosen by himself, that shaft will stand, attracting the 
gaze of those who pass on that great highway yonder leading to the 
North and to the South, and to the East and to the West. It will be- 
come a pilgrim shrine to which generations yet unborn shall journey 
to pay homage to the memory of one whose name will grow more lus- 
trous as time shall lapse. And these majestic mountains, which will 
not survive his fame, looking down, shall sentinel the sepulchre of this 
Statesman, Patriot and Friend of the peo])le — the Defender of the 
Constitution and the Union. 


Among the letters received by the family from distinguished public 
men in other States were the following: 


Executive Chamber, Albany, May 31, 1S78. — Mrs. Patterson — 
Madam : I have received your kind invitation to be present at the 
unveiling of the monument erected to the memory of our late President, 
Andrew Johnson, on June 5. Remembering the ability, integrity and 
patriotism of the distinguished statesman in whose honor this ceremony 
will be held, it is with deep regret that I find myself unable to partici- 
pate in it. Public engagements of the highest importance will detain 
me at Albany constantly for many days to come, and I am therefore 
forbidden froiii assisting to pay a deserved tribute to the memory of 
one who has done so much for and deserves so much of his State and 

I am,' madam, with great respect, 

L. Robinson. 


15 Gramercy Park, New York, June i, 1878. — Gentlemen: T 
have received your invitation to be present at the unveiling of the mon- 
ument to ex-President Andrew Johnson at Greeneville, Tennessee, on 
the 5 th inst. 

It would give me great pleasure to be present on that occasion if it 
were practicable. But engagements here preclude the possibility. 

I appreciate highly the character of Andrew Johnson; his devotion 
to constitutional principles as they were practiced by Jefferson and by 
Jackson, and I sympathize with the homage which his fellow-citizens 
propose to pay to his memory. 

Very truly yours, 

Samuel J. Tilden. 

To the committee at the unveiling of the Johnson monument. 

from ex-senator VICKERS, OF MARYLAND. 

Chester Town, Md., May 29, 1878. — An invitation was received 
to-day to attend the appropriate services accompanying the unveiling of 
the monument erected to the memory of a great man and a true i)a- 
triot. He was faithful to all his trusts, honest and fearless. 


The votes I gave to sustain him as Chief Magistrate, I recur to with 
much satisfaction — they were conscientiously given and I rejoiced in 
his triumph. I hope the Union he served to sustain will continue to 
exist as long as the beautiful monument erected to Andrew Johnson, 
ex-President of the United States, shall resist the encroachments of 

My best wishes are extended to his family, and I regret that circum- 
stances will debar me the pleasure of witnessing and participating in the 
interesting and beautiful services of the occasion. 

With great respect, I am sincerely yours, 

George Vickers. 

To the family of the late President, Andrew Johnson. 


Greenfield, Ind., June i, 1878. — Mrs. Patterson: Sometime since 
I saw in a newspaper a statement that a monument will be erected to 
your father, ex-President Andrew Johnson, on the 5th of June. I had 
hoped that my business affairs would be in condition to permit my 
presence on that occasion, but I now find that it will be out of my 
power to be there. I very much desired to contribute, at least my 
presence, expressive of the high esteem in which I hold the memory of 
ex-President Andrew Johnson, as an honest and patriotic man of great 
ability, and a true friend. Not knowing the post-office address at this 
time of any of your father's family, I shall address this letter to you at 
Greeneville, Tenn., and, assuring you and all the family of my deceased 
friend, including your husband, of my highest regard and pleasant re- 
membrance of former kindness, I shall always take great pleasure in 
testifying to my knowledge of the many good qualities of your great 
father, now deceased, whose name will be more and more honored as 
time passes and history is just. Please say as much to all the family 
now surviving. I am yours, etc. David S. Gooding. 


Washington, D. C., June 3, 1878.— Hon. D, T. Patterson— Dear 
Sir : I desire through you to thank all those who did me the honor to 
send me an invitation to attend the ceremonies of unveiling the monu- 
ment erected to the memory of Andrew Johnson. It is a source of un- 
feigned regret that I am unable to attend. I sincerely hope that the 
occasion will call forth a pronounced expression in approbation of the 
services of one of the most illustrious citizens of the Republic. 


'The State of Tennessee is rich in distinguished service and illustrious 
memories which must never be neglected or forgotten. Every cere> 
■mony which repeats their virtues and devotion will recall the present 
generation to the contemplation of heroic patriotism and incorruptible 

Before the brave and adventurous pioneers had expelled from her 
borders the stealthy and deadly tread of the savage, they were recalled 
to participate in the struggles of the revolution. From that period to 
this her sons have freely poured out their blood in the defence of the 
Republic. Her wisdom, foresight and patriotic devotion have been 
called into the councils of the nation and have taken the front rank. 
In every contest but one they have stood by the Republic. On this 
occasion she reluctantly threw her power against the nation. Under 
the guidance of Andrew Johnson she was the first to resume her place 
in the home of her fathers. It was from the inception to the close of 
this fearful struggle that this eminent citizen played the most conspicu- 
ous part and had the most marked influence upon the cause of national 
restoration and regeneration. 

It will not be out of place. to recall some of his cardinal principles in 
this period of national decadence. Among the most cherished were the 
inviolability of the popular will as expressed by the ballot; the pros- 
perity of the people is the measure of national wealth, and not the 
treasury swelled by taxation; never distrust the good faith of the 
people ; nothing is settled that is wrong ; the people are capable of self- 
government, and will at last correct every political error; the sanctity 
and dignity of labor is above all other social and political interests. 

Though this man's life was one continued storm and struggle against 
opposition, calumny and envy, he lived to see the angry waves subside 
and the tempestuous ocean calm as the slumbering infant. He had 
witnessed the achievement of his cherished wishes. He had first 
spoken for the nation and opposed war. His counsels were unheard, 
and after an ocean of blood had been shed, he conducted the revolted 
States back to their places in the Republic. He had returned to Ten- 
nessee, and by his generous magnanimity, conquered his place in the 
affections of his fellow-citizens. He had been welcomed back to the 
Senate by the American people — to the spot of his proudest triumphs 
and bitterest agonies. He returned to his mountain home and died in 
the midst of the fortunate consummation of his long anxious struggles. 
Happily he did not live to see the will of "the people defeated by fraud 
and the National Executive chosen by an unauthorized commission 
against the solemn expression of the people at the ballot. 

He entered public life when political antagonisms had centered in 
political chiefs. The contest was fierce and personal, though involving 

[24 1 

only questions of a transient character. Gradually the conflict widened 
and deepened into one of civiUzations eminating from sections formed 
on geographical lines. In his course he had been a diligent student of 
the Constitution, and his intense admiration of that expression of civil 
government grew into an enthusiastic reverence. To this chart he 
turned with pious veneration through all the angry and exasperating 
contests that were rapidly generating the fearful conflict of arms. 
Amidst all the long and dreary agony that followed, he turned devout- 
ly to the fountain of his faith and hope for guidance. When the hour 
of reconciliation had arrived, when the cry of an exhausted people for 
peace was uttered to the heavens, he again turned to the ever-living 
fountain of light for the principles which should direct his steps in re- 
storing the shattered and disordered Republic. The events that have 
followed reconstruction have attested his wisdom and foresight, and 
have claimed for him new titles to the reverence of the American 
people. I shall not now, over his ashes, enter into any comparisons. 
Tiiey force themselves unwillingly upon the public mind, and have 
silenced every murmur against his patriotic and upright administration 
of the government. It has been a source of wonder to see how rapidly 
the waves of partisan resentment have subsided into tranquil approval. 
Every year attests the value of his jealous regard for the provisions of 
the Federal Constitution and his disposition to win the confidence of the 
prostrate section of his country. 

Throughout his political life he was no friend of the sword. He 
used it only in extreme emergencies and renounced it upon the first 
gleam of peace. He relied upon generous and impartial justice, upon 
the influence of an exalted charity and the magnetic power of a noble 
and patriotic love to cement again the bonds of union and give assur- 
ance that the Republic was again the home of all her children. 

I will not longer detain you on his merits. They will, from that 
beautiful mount in which his ashes repose, be portrayed by a life-long 
friend and companion who was endeared to him by all the ties of a 
common faith, personal friendship, disinterested and patriotic services 
and common struggles for what they righteously believed vital to the 
interests of the nation and her people. I am happy to know that one 
who will do justice to his motives and his actions has been chosen for 
the service. I feel profoundly grateful that " heaven has bountifully 
lengthened his days," for this pious service. Again, by a faithful and 
sincere heart, will the blessings and dangers of free institutions be 
pressed home upon the public conscience. With the warmest assurance 
of regard and esteem, I am, as ever, your friend, 

Jos. S. Fowler. 


"His faith in the people never wavered." 


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