Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Bi-Partisan Ticket

From Michael Zak, speaker on the history of the Republican Party:

Most history books written by Democrat professors downplay the fact that the Worst President Ever was a Democrat. Did the Democrats nominate him? No, he was the 1864 Republican nominee for vice president.

Andrew Johnson - Andrew Jackson Johnson, to be precise - was the only southern Senator not to go with the Confederacy. For being strong on national security, this hardline Democrat was nominated by the Republicans to be Abraham Lincoln's 1864 running mate. He was drunk at his swearing in as vice president, and it was downhill from there. A month later, the murder of the Great Emancipator made Andrew Johnson president.

Andrew Johnson shared none of Abraham Lincoln's compassion for African-Americans. Referring to Frederick Douglass, whom Lincoln had called "one of the most meritorious men in America," Johnson said: "I know that damned Douglass." "White men alone must manage the South," he declared. In a message to Congress, President Johnson said blacks have less "capacity for government than any other race of people. Whenever they have been left to their own devices they have shown a constant tendency to lapse into barbarism." This from a man whose political party was overseeing the mutilation and murder of countless black people in the South!
On this day in 1866, President Johnson began his "Swing around the Circle," a trip through the Midwest to win popular support for his policy favoring neo-Confederate, Democrat control of the South.

In one speech lasting an hour, the pompous and crude Andrew Johnson referred to himself more than two hundred times. In another, he went so far as to imply that the murder of Abraham Lincoln had been part of God's plan to make him president. At a third event, he said the Republicans' House majority leader deserved to be hanged. After Johnson compared himself to Jesus, his remaining speeches were drowned out by hecklers. State government officials refused to be seen with him.

In the midterm elections that November, so disgusted were most Americans by this buffoon in the White House that Republicans won two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress. Congressional Republicans endured Andrew Johnson in the White House for nearly two more years before impeaching him.

In 1874, Tennessee Democrats re-elected Andrew Johnson to the U.S. Senate, making him one of four American presidents to hold federal office after leaving the presidency. Can you name the other three?