Johnson, Andrew | The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Volume 03, 1858–1860The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Volume 03, 1858–1860

The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Volume 03, 1858–1860



Johnson, Andrew



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Cloth ISBN: 0-87049-141-5
Status: In Print
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ISBN: 0870491415
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Description

The Johnson who entered the Senate in the waning months of 1857 was essentially the Johnson of old- in personality, in commitment tot eh common man, and in dedication to such cherished goals as homestead legislation, economy in government, and constitutional amendments designed to advance the democratic process. During his decade in Congress, ha had promoted these “Andyjohnsonisms” in the House; as Tennessee’s chief executive, he had urged them upon the General Assembly. He now returned to the Washington scene to further his ideals and career.

Johnson did not immediately become involved in the vitriolic debate on slavery. But if he did not always speak out directly on some of the great national issues, he referred to them obliquely while concentrating on his pet propositions, the enactment of a homestead law and stringent economy in federal spending. The major reason for his comparative detachment, however, was an increasing absorption with presidential politics.

By 1860, Andrew Johnson was a disappointed man. He had witnessed at long last the passage of his cherished homestead bill, only to have victory snatched from his grasp by a Democratic President. He saw his immediate presidential aspirations frustrated, the Democracy dissevered, a sectional party triumphant. And at year’s end the lowering cloud of secession loomed starkly on the horizon.

Volume 3 of The Papers of Andrew Johnson provides evidence of Johnson’s continuing progress toward national recognition. Many of the letters, directed to his son Robert and other intimates, represent his assessment of the state and national political scene; others relate to family affairs; a comparative few are concerned with routine matters. Letters to Johnson tell us much about the man and his milieu. Moreover, his speeches and remarks go far in exhibiting his salient characteristics – but only his courage and his unlimited faith in the wisdom of the people, but also his inveterate prejudices.

Here, then is the picture of the maturing politician about to emerge into the full glare of the national spotlight, transformed from a southern spokesman for democracy into a staunch defender of the Union.

LeRoy P. Graf and Ralph W. Haskins are professors of history at the University of Tennessee.

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