Andrew Johnson Biography


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, June 25, 1864

This site features online versions of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This is a valuable resource to enable you to watch the events of the war unfold on the pages of newspapers of the day.

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Andrew Johnson


Andrew Johnson Biography


Battle of Piedmont

Cold Harbor

Cold Harbor

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Cold Harbor Battle Description

Sherman Resaca

Sherman Entering Resaca Georgia

Cat Fight

Cat Fight Cartoon

Hanover Ferry

Hanover Ferry

Cold Harbor

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Cold Harbor Battle






[JUNE 25, 1864.



ANDREW JOHNSON, of Tennessee, nominated by the Baltimore Convention as the Union candidate for Vice-President—whose portrait we give on the preceding page—was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on the 29th of December, 1808. When ten years of age he was apprenticed to a tailor, and worked at that trade in South Carolina until his seventeenth year. He never attended school, but acquired a good common education by studying, after his marriage, under the direction of his wife. Having removed to Greenville, Tennessee, he was elected Mayor of that place in 1830, was elected to the State Legislature in 1835, and to the State Senate in 1841; and in 1843 became a Representative in Congress, serving until 1853. During the latter year he was elected Governor of Tennessee, and re-elected in 1855. In 1857 he was elected United States Senator for the term ending in 1863, and at once became conspicuous for his solid sense and sterling integrity. Upon the disclosure of the plans of the rebel conspirators he at once took high ground in support of the Government, denouncing and opposing with great bitterness and force the whole traitorous scheme. Upon the restoration of Tennessee he was made Provisional Governor of the State, and in that capacity has rendered service of immense value in establishing tranquillity and order and defeating the manoeuvres of the Secessionists of the State. Governor JOHNSON early saw that slavery was the cause and strength of the rebellion, and, though always in former years a pro-slavery man, promptly took ground in favor of the complete extermination of the system.

" ANDY" JOHNSON, like Mr. LINCOLN, is emphatically a self-made man. He reflects directly, in his wonderful career, the genius of our institutions, under which the humblest citizen may attain the highest honors of the republic.


JOSHUA REED GIDDINGS, whose portrait we give on a the preceding page, was born at Athens, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, October 6, 1795. In his childhood his parents removed with hint to Canandaigua, in this State; and at the age often he went with them to Ashtabula County, Ohio. Here he and his family were among the earliest settlers. His father was a farmer, and JOSHUA helped him, studying only in the long winter evenings. In 1812, at the age of seventeen, he enlisted as a volunteer, going to the war as a substitute for an older brother. He was engaged in two actions with the hostile Indians. When discharged he began teaching school. In 1817 he began the study of law in the office of ELISHA WHITTLESEY, who was Controller of the Treasury for many years. In 1826 he was sent to the Legislature for one term, declining a re-election in order to follow his profession. In 1838 he re-entered public life, being sent to Congress in place of Mr. WHITTLESEY. His first motion in Congress was to strike out the enacting clause of a bill for constructing some public improvement in the District of Columbia, on the ground that the people of the District ought to ask no favors while they insisted on the maintenance of a slave-market. He became almost immediately conspicuous for the courage with which he attacked slavery, and in all the discussions on this subject in which he took part he took the broad ground that slavery was a mere local institution, which the General Government could not and ought not to acknowledge, and whose force ceased the moment the slave reached the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. In 1842 Congress, on the motion of Mr. JOHN MINOR BOTTS, passed a severe censure upon Mr. GIDDINGS, for presenting certain resolutions in relation to the case of the Creole. Mr. GIDDINGS was denied the right to defend himself, and the resolution being passed, he immediately resigned his seat, and called upon his constituents to pass upon his conduct. They re-elected him with so little delay that he was absent from his seat but five weeks. He returned with specific authority from his constituents to present again his resolutions.

Mr. GIDDINGS served in Congress in all twenty-one years. During this time he was known for his constant devotion to the principle of liberty; and it must be said in his honor that he denied to no man the freedom of discussion which he claimed for himself. He acted generally with the Whig party until 1848, when he worked with the Free-soil party. In 1844 he united with JOHN QUINCY ADAMS in submitting a report in which it was distinctly declared that the liberties of the people had their primary foundation in the truths of Christianity. In 1850 he opposed the so called Compromise Treasures. By his unceasing opposition to slavery he aroused the bitter personal hostility of the proslavery party. In July, 1850, he was charged with abstracting important papers from the General Postoffice. He instantly demanded an investigation, and was entirely exonerated by a committee consisting chiefly of political opponents. In 1859 some blackguard in Richmond published in the journals of that city an advertisement offering a reward of ten thousand dollars to any one who would bring the person of Mr. GIDDINGS to Richmond alive, and a reward of five thousand dollars for his head. In 1843 Mr. GIDDINGS wrote a series of political essays over the signature "PACIFICUS." In 1853 was published a volume of his speeches. In 1858 he printed " The Exiles of Florida"—an important work, full of information on some of the obscurer portions of our history. Lately has been published a volume on which he had been engaged for some years, which gives a complete account of the slavery agitation in Congress.

As a public man he was pure, honorable, conscientious, and devoted to the principle and practice of liberty. As a writer, his style lacks elegance, and is somewhat crude and rude, showing the marks of early disadvantages in respect of education. As a speaker, he was not eloquent, but forcible, pertinacious, and courageous. In all his acts he showed personal courage and a determination to maintain the right at all hazards.


THERE'S a venomous snake which lurks in the grass, A slimy, treacherous, horrible thing;

Of a copperish hue are his ugly folds,

And he gives no warning before his sting, But strikes with a secret and sudden dart, Leaving a poisoned and deadly smart.

In the cool sweet meadows and over the fields, Mid the tall green shoots and the clover blooms, He crawls along on his, horrid scales,

And through the depths of the forest glooms This hideous reptile his slow path takes, The vilest of all the race of snakes.

He basks in the light of the sun by day,

And hides in his narrow den at night Along with his mate and pestilent brood.

Oh, a loathsome, hateful, repulsive sight

Is this slimy serpent, this crawling thing,

With the copperish hide and the deadly sting!

Of late he has taken the shape of man,

As of old took Satan the serpent's form, Plotting at night in his traitorous den,

And lurking by day in the sunshine warm,

Ready to strike with a secret dart

His poisoned fangs to the Nation's heart.

More dangerous far than an open foe

Is this cunning snake with fangs so keen, Lying concealed in the tall green grass,

And striving to hide his venomed spleen.

Oh, what shall we do with the hateful thing To render harmless his poisoned sting?


SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 1864.


THE Baltimore Convention met and organized on the 7th of June, and on the 8th, in one session, laid down its platform, nominated ABRAHAM LINCOLN and ANDREW JOHNSON with enthusiastic unanimity, and adjourned.

There was never a Convention which more truly represented the people, and, upon the first opportunity offered, it showed its purpose in the most unmistakable manner. No one who watched its deliberations, or who has read its proceedings, but must feel that it expressed the strongest popular determination for the unflinching prosecution of the war by every efficient method. Its settlement of the Missouri question, by admitting the radical delegation from that State, and excluding the other, by a vote of 440 to 4, was the indication that the vast mass of the Union men in the country have parted company with the hesitating and doubtful course which has been associated with the name of BLAIR. The resolutions, clear, incisive, and full, are to the same result, and leave no doubt in any mind that the "Border State policy," having served its purpose, and a purpose with which we are not disposed to quarrel, is no longer the policy which the people of the country approve. This decision is emphasized by the nomination of ANDREW JOHNSON, a life-long Democrat, who has been educated by fire and sword straight up to the necessities of the crisis.

Of ABRAHAM LINCOLN we have nothing to change in the views often expressed in these columns. That he unites perfect patriotism and great sagacity to profound conviction and patient tenacity, and that his conduct of our affairs has been, upon the whole, most admirable and wise, we are more than ever convinced ; and that no public man in our history since WASHINGTON has inspired a deeper popular confidence we have no doubt whatever that the result of the election will establish. Of ANDREW JOHNSON it is enough to say that there is no man in the country, unless it be Mr. LINCOLN himself, whom the rebels more cordially hate. He fought them in the Senate, when they counted upon his aid, and he has fought them steadily ever since and with untiring energy. It is pleasant to record, of our personal knowledge, that one of the wisest and truest patriots in the country, who has sacrificed not less than JOHNSON himself, says of the contingency of JOHNSON'S succession to the chief magistracy, that the country and the cause of American Liberty could then not be in safer hands.

The reception of the nominations is what might have been expected of a people which had virtually ordered them to be made. The Copperhead journals, the late supporters of JOHN B. FLOYD & Co., denounce the Convention as a corrupt body ; and seeing in the nominations the most tremendous proclamation of the loyal citizens of the United States to all enemies at home and abroad that the cause of the American Union is to be fought out upon this line, they renew their old cry that our liberties have been lost in the effort to maintain them. The real Copperhead regret is, not that liberty has been lost, but that slavery has not been saved. The Union journals which have considered Mr LINCOLN badly advised, timid, and hesitating, still cordially applaud the platform, which they properly regard as a body of instructions from the people for increased and continual vigor. They are entirely satisfied with the resolutions and ANDREW JOHNSON, but wish the Presidential nomination had been left dependent upon the result of the campaign. That is a view of the situation which seems to us peculiarly erroneous,

and fraught with the utmost danger. The reliance of every patriot is and must be upon the sturdy good sense and purpose of the people--a faith not to be shaken by disaster, and a purpose which demands that the Chief Magistrate, at such a period as this, shall be a tried, and not an untried man.

It is remarkable that journals. which we have. always supposed were truly and not technically " democratic," because believing in the general wisdom and instinct of the people, while they regret to see that Mr. LINCOLN has been renominated, confess that he is beyond any question the man and the choice of the people. We believe it also, and for that reason, if for no other, heartily hail the result. If the Baltimore Convention had adjourned to some future day, because the military campaign is not yet decided, its action—by revealing an utter want of popular confidence in the present Administration, under which that campaign is conducted—would have done more to defeat military operations, and destroy the faith of the country, than any step which could be named.

Fortunately for the good cause, the people differ with these journals. Their cause is not yet, in their own estimation, so desperate as to require them to look for salvation to military prestige, however deserved, or to military ability, however gladly and proudly conceded. This is the loyal people's cause and war. In ABRAHAM LINCOLN they have found their sincere representative. Therefore they have almost universally demanded his renomination, and therefore they will elect him by a conclusive majority.


GENERAL FREMONT has resigned his commission in the army, and has accepted the Cleveland nomination. In accepting it he has written a letter in which he declares that Mr. LINCOLN has already deprived the people of those liberties against which also JEFFERSON DAVIS took up arms. That we may do General FREMONT no injustice, we quote his words. Among the objects of the Cleveland Convention, he says, was to bring the people " to realize that while we are saturating Southern soil with the best blood of the country, in the name of Liberty, we have really parted with it at home."

In the estimation of General FREMONT, therefore, the guilt of the President and of DAVIS is equal ; and if what he says be true, the war is as unholy as ever Mr. VALLANDIGHAM or Mr. FERNANDO WOOD declared it to be. No loyal, liberty-loving citizen of the United States can be more fairly asked to sustain, by a single dollar or word or wish, an Administration which has deliberately overthrown the Constitution and liberty, than to encourage a conspiracy which aims at the same result. The strongest friend of the rebellion, the most vehement apostle of " peace," has never offered a plainer and more conclusive reason for immediately stopping the war, and settling definitely the terms of the destruction of the Union and Government than General FREMONT offers in his letter. If Mr. LINCOLN be equally treacherous to the Constitution with JEFFERSON DAVIS, certainly any man may elect with whom he will range himself. If General FREMONT be correct, it is General GRANT'S patriotic duty to turn his guns against the Washington traitor who has really destroyed our liberties rather than against the Richmond rebel who has merely threatened them.

No man has the right, without a knowledge which few can have, to question another man's sincerity. Yet it is hard to conceive that General FREMONT can sincerely mean us to view, on the one hand, the exercise of an arbitrary authority for the salvation of the Government, expressly granted by the Constitution in time of rebellion, as treachery to that Government ; or, on the other, to accept an occasional indiscretion in its exercise as a loss of liberty. We trust that the right of personal freedom is as sacred in our estimation as it is in that of General FREMONT or of Mr. FERNANDO WOOD ; and we can not forget that Mr. WENDELL PHILLIPS, whose letter is urged upon General FREMONT as virtually the Cleveland platform, does not hesitate to concede that the exercise of arbitrary power may be necessary, and must be allowed at a time like this. His words are : " In sixty days after the rebellion broke out the Administration suspended habeas corpus, on the plea of military necessity, justly."

Yet that a sense of personal wrong, long brooded, and fostered by unfortunate influences of many kinds, may confuse even a noble and generous mind, history too plainly shows. It remains for us, then, only to deplore that General FREMONT adopts a view of the situation which concedes the destruction of the government as accomplished, and releases every citizen from his obligations. The more direct, the more heroic, course for him, if the cause has indeed been betrayed by Mr. LINCOLN and our liberties are lost, as he asserts, would be, not to allow that hoary despot nearly a year to forge our chains more closely, but to unroll the banner of armed opposition at once, and summon all true men to rescue their liberties from the tyrant's grasp.

With what profound sorrow those who have known the name of FREMONT only as the watch-word of Liberty and Union now hear him repeat

ing the cry of VALLANDIGHAM and the Copperheads, adopting their extremest position as his own, only those who have known what it is to see the moral fall of a leader almost romantically admired can imagine. If FREMONT had died before the war began his name would always have shone in our history with a lovely lustre, as a symbol of the regenerative principle of American politics. He was not President, the historian would have said, but his name expressed the aspiration of awakening conscience in the people.

When, then, it is asked hereafter, How did he change? the reply will be simple : that, at a time when slavery by force of arms was struggling to overthrow the Government which was the security of liberty, he denounced certain acts of that Government in self-defense as themselves a virtual overthrow of the Constitution, and separating himself in the crisis from the mass of his truest friends, threw himself into the arms of the bitterest enemies of Liberty. Does General FREMONT believe that the gentlemen who are going to the Chicago Convention, and who will support its nominations, are any truer friends of Union and Liberty than those who went to Baltimore and their supporters ? Does he not know, or in the heat of passion has he forgotten, that the gentlemen who will meet at Chicago were the steadiest supporters of that policy against which his name was formerly a protest, and that their political action and sympathy with slavery are today the chief hope of the rebellion ? And yet he knows, as we all know, that many of the managers at Chicago will be glad to see him the candidate of the Convention. Is it because they have come to him, or because he has gone to them ? When the New York World loudly applauds him, is it because he is helping or hindering the cause of human liberty? because he is uniting, or because he is distracting, the friends of the Union and of national honor ?

BROWNING wrote a poem called " The Lost Leader," whose melancholy music murmurs forever in the hearts of all who have read it with experience. But never, perhaps, will its lines recur to thousands and thousands of young and earnest American hearts so painfully as they do since FREMONT wrote his letter. Was that enthusiasm of the generous youth of a whole nation so despicable? Is the smile of DAVIS, is the cheer of FERNANDO WOOD, so much sweeter than the trust of unknown multitudes ? Was it worth while to cease to be the FREMONT of June, 1856, to be the FREMONT of June, 1864 ?


IN his speech at the GRANT meeting Judge DALY is reported to have said that he deprecated the use of epithets and party names in politics, with especial reference to the term " Copperhead," as applied to certain persons in the loyal States. For ourselves we have used that term for the purpose of exact designation. We are engaged in a formidable war for the maintenance of the Government and Union. In its prosecution every power of the Constitution is invoked, and all its forces employed. To suppose that the Constitution is inadequate to the exigency is the extremest folly ; because not only is every government, in the nature of things, empowered to save itself, but because the Constitution itself explicitly grants all the necessary power.

That instrument was framed by men fresh from a long and desolating war, who understood, therefore, exactly the conditions and necessities of war. But they were also men who, from the end of the Revolution to the adoption of the Constitution, had been the victims of a vague and weak Government, wanting that supreme sovereign force which in every political society must somewhere be found. The Constitution created that national sovereignty. The people who adopted the Constitution surrendered that final authority, taking it, for all national purposes which were expressly indicated, from the political societies known collectively as the United Colonies, and then as Confederated States, and conferring it upon the Union which those people created by the Constitution. To suppose an essentially vital conflict, in time of peril to the Union, between the lesser State and the greater Union is impossible. To question the absolute right of that Union to maintain itself by every power and means by which any State under any circumstances might maintain itself, is idle. If there be any purpose in the Union whatever, it is its own perpetuity until it shall be modified as the Constitution itself provides. To resist any other kind of modification whatever is the most solemn duty of every citizen subject to that Constitution.

Now when an armed attempt at the overthrow of that Union is made, and made under circumstances of the extremest danger to the commonwealth, whoever aids the effort by arms is a rebel and a traitor. Such are JEFFERSON DAVIS and his associates. They plead as their sole justification, not any oppression upon the part of that Union government, but merely the sovereignty of the State as superior, in the discretion of the State itself, to the national sovereignty. The Constitution they declare to be it compact of States, not of the people, from which any State may at will withdraw. Whoever, therefore, en- (Next Page)




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