The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
»Johnson's Background

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Harper's Weekly,  September 14, 1867,  page 578

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HarpWeek Commentary: By 1867, Harper’s Weekly had turned strongly against President Johnson. This article from September and the following one in December show how its editorial position changed as a consequence of Johnson’s behavior.


In the speculations upon the Presidency we hope the Vice-Presidency will not be forgotten. Three times in our history the Vice-President has been called to the Chief Magistracy by the death of the President; and the three "accidental" administrations have been among the most humiliating in our annals. But the president is the most disastrous and disgraceful of all.

Soon after the accession of Mr. Johnson to the Presidency, we told in these columns the history of his nomination. It was effected by the friends of Mr. Seward, and was a "Conservative" movement. The substantial and plausible argument urged was that, as the Convention was a "Union" Convention, and contained many delegates who were "Union" men but not strictly Republicans, it would be unfair to insist upon renominating the Chicago ticket of 1860, which was a pure party ticket; and as Mr. Lincoln must inevitable be the chief candidate, the second place should be given to some well-known Democrat who had been perfectly faithful during the war. Having come so far it was very easy to go farther, and add that, if there were such a phoenix as a well-known Democrat, who was also a Southerner, if possible, also, an ex-slaveholder, and who had made himself especially conspicuous for loyalty during the war, then Providence was peculiarly kind, and we had only to name him and sweep on to victory.

Upon such general grounds, and certain private, personal considerations belonging to party intrigue, Andrew Johnson was nominated. It is, however, scarcely possible to know less about a candidate than was known about him. To the outbreak of the war he had been a Senator of the violent Southern type. Since the war began he had fiercely denounced his late political allies, and had been subsequently made Military Governor of Tennessee, where he was heard of chiefly by occasional vehement speeches. There were rumors of bad personal habits which were heard privately; but no one could speak with authority, for nobody knew. Apparently nobody cared. Sure of Abraham Lincoln, what mattered the rest? A Union party must have a Union ticket. The Vice-President is a name merely. We must get all the strength we can. Three cheers for Abe and Andy…

Articles relating to Johnson's Background:
Andrew Johnson (small bio)

June 25, 1864, page 402

The Union Nominations
June 25, 1864, page 402

President Andrew Johnson
May 13, 1865, page 289

The President and the Secretary of State
May 20, 1865, page 306

Andrew Johnson
September 15, 1866, page 583

Andrew Johnson
September 15, 1866, page 584

The Vice-Presidency
September 14, 1867, page 578

The Vice-Presidency
December 7, 1867, page 770


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