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Political caucus right after assassination
12-17-2013, 01:57 PM
Post: #1
Political caucus right after assassination
“In a political caucus , held a few hours after the President’s death, “the feeling was nearly universal,” to quote the language of one of their most prominent representatives, “That the accession of Johnson to the presidency would prove a godsend to the country.””

I have come across this quote quite often now and am curious because it is so vague in terms of names and people involved.

It usually is quoted from David Donald who apparently mentioned that the people involved in this caucus were radical republicans.
I have hunted it down to the short biography of Hay/Nicolay, where there is no mention of any party involvement – they just speak of “extreme radicals in Congress”.

I was wondering if the long version of this biography – or maybe some other source – offers more info on the people involved in this caucus and who exactly is quoted in that “godsend” quote???

Help a newbie…?
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12-17-2013, 02:20 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2013 01:04 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #2
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
George W. Julian said this. There is a litte more in M. Burlingame's second volume of "A. L. - life". Did you read it in "Lincoln Reconsidered"?
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12-17-2013, 02:23 PM
Post: #3
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
No, I just took the easy way out and tried to trace it to the original source, which appeared to be Hay/Nicolay.
Is there more in the Burlingame book?
(I am asking because I am just starting out and don't have all those books yet)
I'll take any hint...
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12-17-2013, 02:50 PM
Post: #4
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-17-2013 01:57 PM)Angela Wrote:  “In a political caucus , held a few hours after the President’s death, “the feeling was nearly universal,” to quote the language of one of their most prominent representatives, “That the accession of Johnson to the presidency would prove a godsend to the country.””

Johnson sure fooled them

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-17-2013, 03:37 PM
Post: #5
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
Angela,

If the source is indeed Nicolay/Hay, you can find their ten volume biography on either Google Books or Internet Archive. Just go to either website and type in Nicolay/Hay and Lincoln.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell
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12-17-2013, 06:14 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2013 01:03 AM by Eva Elisabeth.)
Post: #6
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
Angela, the sources are George W. Julian, "Political recollections, 1840 to 1872 (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg,1884), 255, and "George W. Julian's Journal - The Assassination of A. L.", Indiana Magazine of History II (1915): 335.

Here is one respective page from Burlingame's book (I'm afraid, it doesn't explicitly list who else was involved in the caucus):
http://books.google.de/books?id=UrCBLHGy...CCcQ6AEwAQ

One clergyman quoted on the next page is Henry Ward Beecher (Uncle Tom's Cabin- author Harriet Beecher Stowe's brother). "Johnson's little finger was stronger than Lincoln's lions" (he said shortly after L.'s death).

Burlingame's two volumes are a good source for finding sources! You can download the first volume (with enlarged footnotes compared to the printed edition) as free pdf here:
http://www.knox.edu/academics/distinctiv...-life.html

Donald's "Lincoln Reconsidered" quotes another representative, J.M. Ashley: "The decease of Mr. L. is a great national bereavment, but I'm not sure if it is so much of a national loss." If you don't have this book I recommend it. There you'll find more on Lincoln and the radicals an on the aftermath of the assassination in various fields (politics, society, culture etc.).

Ashley later initiated impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson. He was also the one who inroduced the first bill for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and cooperated with Lincoln on the 13th Ammendment.

Angela, I also seem to recall Jörg Nagler wrote on the topic in an essay, I just can't find it right now.
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12-18-2013, 12:16 AM
Post: #7
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-17-2013 06:14 PM)Eva Elisabeth Wrote:  Angela, the sources are George W. Julian, "Political recollections, 1840 to 1872 (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg,1884), 255, and "George W. Julian's Journal - The Assassination of A. L.", Indiana Magazine of History II (1915): 335.

Here is one respective page from Burlingame's book (I'm afraid, it doesn't explicitly list who else was involved in the caucus):
http://books.google.de/books?id=UrCBLHGy...CCcQ6AEwAQ

One clergymen quoted on the next page is Henry Ward Beecher (Uncle Tom's Cabin- author Harriet Beecher Stowe's brother). "Johnson's little finger was stronger than Lincoln's lions" (he said shortly after L.'s death).

Burlingame's two volumes are a good source for finding sources! You can download the first volume (with enlarged footnotes compared to the printed edition) as free pdf here:
http://www.knox.edu/academics/distinctiv...-life.html

Donald's "Lincoln Reconsidered" quotes another representative, J.M. Ashley: "The decease of Mr. L. is a great national bereavment, but I'm not sure if it is so much of a national loss." If you don't have this book I recommend it. There you'll find more on Lincoln and the radicals an on the aftermath of the assassination in various fields (politics, society, culture etc.).

Ashley later initiated impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson.He was also the one who inroduced the first bill for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and cooperated with Lincoln on the 13th Ammendment.

Angela, I also seem to recall Jörg Nagler wrote on the topic in an essay, I just can't find it right now.

Bless you, Eva - now I have at least one name to start with! I'll check the links today and see if I can find more!

Rob - thanks, I had no idea that the whole thing is online!

I really wonder if they managed to get together a larger group or if it was just a hand full of people who more or less met on the street and later called it a caucus!
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12-18-2013, 08:01 AM
Post: #8
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
Late last month Betty Ownsbey, Dave Taylor and I met in Caroline County with two great historians, Cleo Coleman, President of Historic Port Royal, and Herb Collins, Curator emeritus Smithsonian. Herb had actually talked with Andrew Johnson's granddaughter. The family story of the second inauguration and Johnson's poor performance was due to the fact that the Vice president was a tea toddler. He was indeed under the weather and maybe overdid a medicine. I think we all know the nature of patent medicine from that era.

John was never given a fair shake.
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12-18-2013, 02:07 PM
Post: #9
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-18-2013 08:01 AM)Jim Garrett Wrote:  Late last month Betty Ownsbey, Dave Taylor and I met in Caroline County with two great historians, Cleo Coleman, President of Historic Port Royal, and Herb Collins, Curator emeritus Smithsonian. Herb had actually talked with Andrew Johnson's granddaughter. The family story of the second inauguration and Johnson's poor performance was due to the fact that the Vice president was a tea toddler. He was indeed under the weather and maybe overdid a medicine. I think we all know the nature of patent medicine from that era.

John was never given a fair shake.

Jim, I agree - and I'm not after Johnson with my question. I just keep coming across the same quote again and again and was curious as to a) where it originated (I think Eva REALLY hit it, even Hay/Nicolay wasn't the original source) and b) if there is more to that "caucus" - who attended, what exactly was discussed etc.?
I feel just like you concerning the second inaugural - he was sick and was hoping to get a boost. I feel sorry for him and how that all turned out.
I am hoping to one day get to the point of how and why exactly the radicals turned on him (I'm sure that is quite a story) but as of now, my knowledge is wikipedia level.
There is just too much to learn about Lincoln for me...
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12-18-2013, 02:12 PM
Post: #10
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-18-2013 02:07 PM)Angela Wrote:  I feel just like you concerning the second inaugural - he was sick and was hoping to get a boost. I feel sorry for him and how that all turned out.
A. Lincoln, in the end, felt the same, I think.
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12-18-2013, 02:17 PM
Post: #11
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
Johnson was not nearly as good a politician as Lincoln. Nor, was he as diplomatic. He was also from a southern state (Tennessee) and a former slave-owner; things that did not endear him much to the Radical Republicans. His decision to fire Secretary of War Stanton didn't help him much either.
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12-18-2013, 02:33 PM
Post: #12
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-18-2013 02:07 PM)Angela Wrote:  I am hoping to one day get to the point of how and why exactly the radicals turned on him (I'm sure that is quite a story) but as of now, my knowledge is wikipedia level.
There is just too much to learn about Lincoln for me...

Stanton's biography by Benjamin Thomas & Harold Hyman will answer a lot of your questions. It is very good. Probably the best book I have read this year.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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12-18-2013, 02:40 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2013 02:49 PM by Angela.)
Post: #13
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
(12-18-2013 02:17 PM)Rogerm Wrote:  Johnson was not nearly as good a politician as Lincoln. Nor, was he as diplomatic. He was also from a southern state (Tennessee) and a former slave-owner; things that did not endear him much to the Radical Republicans. His decision to fire Secretary of War Stanton didn't help him much either.

Yes, Roger - I noticed how he burned ground quickly that was so arduously paved by Lincoln. But then, Johnson wasn't chosen for his political abilities, was he.
From what I gathered, I think he served his purpose as vice president (being from a southern state) - but he never even came close to understanding the delicate political dance it would have taken to master reconstruction.
On the other hand - and this is why I am currently curious about the republican radicals - it would have been nice for him to have at least a tiny bit of support instead of just being..."used"?

(12-18-2013 02:33 PM)Gene C Wrote:  
(12-18-2013 02:07 PM)Angela Wrote:  I am hoping to one day get to the point of how and why exactly the radicals turned on him (I'm sure that is quite a story) but as of now, my knowledge is wikipedia level.
There is just too much to learn about Lincoln for me...

Stanton's biography by Benjamin Thomas & Harold Hyman will answer a lot of your questions. It is very good. Probably the best book I have read this year.

Gene, thank you so much for this! I am taking notes as I am reading all the posts here - what a gift!
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12-18-2013, 06:15 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2013 06:18 PM by Rob Wick.)
Post: #14
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
I would recommend Annette Gordon-Reed's small biography of Johnson as a good place to start. Also, the late Hans L. Trefousse has done a great deal of work on the Radicals and Johnson.

However, I also have to say there's a reason Johnson is ranked as low as he is. He was a horrible president, especially for what the country needed after the war. Paul Bergeron has written a book attempting to rehabilitate Johnson called Andrew Johnson's Civil War and Reconstruction which I reviewed for the Fall 2012 edition of the Lincoln Herald. One of the problems that a president faces, especially when he succeeds a martyr, is the constant comparison to his predecessor. It isn't fair, but it's reality. What the country needed after the war, and Lincoln's murder, was someone who could unite the country instead of seeing every act of Congress as a personal slight, which Johnson did. Add to that Johnson's inept handling of Reconstruction and you get someone that's very hard to defend.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell
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12-19-2013, 05:45 AM
Post: #15
RE: Political caucus right after assassination
I found it – thanks to Eva!

It is quite detailed in the Journal of George W. Julian; here is his entry from April 15, 1865:

“Have spent most of the afternoon in caucus with Wade, Chandler, Covode, Judge Carter and Wilkinson, correspondent of The Tribune, who is determined to put Greeley on the war-path. In this caucus we agreed upon a new cabinet, which we are tomorrow to urge upon Johnson, among other things placing Butler in the State Department, Stebbins, of New York, in the navy, and Covode Postmaster General.
I like the radicalism of the members of this caucus, but have not in a long time heard so much profanity. It became intolerably disgusting. Their hostility towards Lincoln’s policy of conciliation and contempt for his weakness were undisguised; and the universal feeling among radical men here is that his death is a godsend.”


Thanks again all for the help!!!
I was really curious as to why it is never mentioned who attended, most biographies leave that out - but Julian listed the people there and the topics discussed.
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