Lot 66
  • 66

Andrew Johnson, seventeenth President, as Senator from Tennessee

Estimate
20,000 - 30,000 USD
Sold
25,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Johnson"), to the Hon. D. T. Patterson
  • Paper, Ink
3 pages (7 x 4 1/2 in.; 180 x 115 mm) on a bifolium, "Washington City, dated "Jany 3rd 1860" [but actually 1861, as is clear from content, postmark, and franking signature], to D. T. Patterson at Greenville, Tennessee, accompanied by original autograph envelope, marked "Free" and with full franking signature; small paper flaw on first leaf costing bits of two letters. Letter and envelope inlaid into an album leaf with a transcription of the letter. 

Provenance

Part of a collection assembled for Augustin Daly, ca. 1889-1893 (American Art Association 19 March 1900, lot 3122), sold to — to the celebrated New York dealer George D. Smith — resold by Smith in or before May 1900

Catalogue Note

"I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE SO MAD AS TO DESTROY THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE ASSUMED CAUSES. …" A FIRSTHAND VIEW OF THE SECESSION CRISIS, WRITTEN FROM THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE JUST TWO WEEKS AFTER SOUTH CAROLINA LEFT THE UNION.

Andrew Johnson, Senator from Tennessee, firmly believed in an indissoluble Union; he was probably the most prominent Southern Unionist and  the only member from a seceded state to remain in the Senate during the Civil War. He here describes is frustration and incredulity that the nation has actually come to the brink of dissolution. 

"A few days since I ordered the Nashville Democrat to your address. It has been paid for one year. I hope you will take it out of the office and if you do not wish to read it hand to to someone that will. The excitement is high here at this time and no [one] seems to know what course things will take. I at this moment, heard that the president has sent the So. Ca. commissioners home with a flea in their ears. If he had taken a stand some time since all would have been settled by this time. The gallery is now crowding to overflowing. Douglas and Baker speaks today. I see that I am getting myself pretty well abused in some place. I cannot help it—my duty I intend to do let the consequences be what they may. South Carolina you will see before this reaches you has commenced hostilities and intends I suppose to take the consequences. I still have hope. I cannot believe that the American people are so mad as to destroy the Government for the assumed causes and especially so if there could be a little time to think what we are doing. The secession feeling is losing ground here at this time. The north and the northwest is sinking into one solid mass as to the preservation of the Union. The course taken by So. Ca. is depriving her [of] all sympathy whatever and especially so as it becomes more manifest that it is disolution she desires and not protection of slave property. I have not received one word from home now nearly two weeks—there must be some stoppage in the mails."

In closing, Johnson reports that "Baker will commence speaking in a few minutes" and asks Patterson to "Pardon this scrawl." 

Johnson's loyalty to the nation earned him the vice presidential slot on Abraham Lincoln's 1864 ticket. But Lincoln's assassination left Johnson with the overwhelming responsibility of implementing reconstruction, and competing factions on all sides ultimately thwarted his plans and brought down his presidency. 

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