President Johnson

June 20, 1866

Summary

Jefferson Davis speaks hesitantly of his relationship with Johnson; the President has an overwhelming sense of pride which occasionally conflicts with some of the Southern representatives in Congress.

Transcription

As Mr. Davis was speaking of the Senate, asked him his opinion of President Johnson, to which for some moments he made no reply, apparently hesitating whether to speak on the subject or not. At length he said that of President Johnson he knew no more than the papers told everyone; but of Mr. Johnson, when in the Senate, he would as freely speak as of any other member. There were, of course, differences between them, more especially just previous to the retirement of the southern representatives from Congress. The position of Mr. Johnson with his associates of the south had never been pleasant, not from any fault or supercilliousness on their side, but solely due to the intense, almost morbidly sensitive pride of Mr. Johnson. Sitting with associates, many of whom he knew pretended to aristocracy, Mr. Johnson seemed to set up before his own mind, and to keep ever present with him, his democratic or plebeian origin as a bar to warm social relations. This pride- for it was the pride of having no pridehis associates long struggled to overcome, but without success. They respected Mr. Johnson's abilities, integrity, and greatly original force of character, but nothing could make him be or seem to wish to feel at home in their society. Some casual word dropped in debate, though uttered without a thought of his existence, would seen to wound him to the quick, and again he would shrink back into the selfimposed isolation of his earlier and humbler life, as if to gain strength from touching his mother earth. In a word, while other members of the Senate were democrats in theory or as their political faith, Mr. Johnson was a democrat of pride, conviction, and self-assertion- a man of the people, who not only desired no higher grade of classification, but could not be forced into its acceptance or retention when friendly efforts were made to that end. He was an immense worker and student, but always in the practicalities of life, little in the graces of literature. His habits were marked by temperance, industry, courage, and unswerving perceverance ; also by inveterate prejudices or preconceptions on certain points, aud these no arguments could shake. His faith in the judgment of the people , was unlimited, and to their decisions he was always ready to submit.
About this article

Contributed By

Brooke Beam

Identifier

BeamBrooke-18660620-PresidentJohnson.pdf

Citation

“President Johnson,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 26, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/227.