A Radical's Description of the President- His Great Power and Ability Conceded

March 9, 1866


Radicals now believe Johnson's egotism embodies the "spirit of evil" and that he is looking to crush Congress


The Hon. John D. Baldwin, member of Congress from Massachusetts, writes this description of Andrew Johnson and his late speech. Baldwin is one of the Sumner-Stevens stripe in politics: "What the President said is before the country. How he said it, my poor words may fail to tell. For the first time I stood near and looked closely on this man. In the course of an eventful life I have seen many men of willful power and force, but never before have I looked on one so thoroughly embodying the evil spirit of the revolution. It will not do to underrate Mr. Johnson. He is terribly in earnest, and, withal, most vindictively cool. A thoroughly-paces demagogue, his inconsequential logic, his egotism, his repetitions, his throughout belief in himself, and his popularity, are all elements of strength when he faces such assemblages as were arrayed about him yesterday. Andrew Johnson is an able man- how able, I never realized till yesterday. All results are involved in his policy. Had he a Cabinet as able and as desperate, the dire results which the near would bring could hardly be named now. We stand on the verge of a fierce strife, to meet which the country should gather its strength and gird up its loins. This man is no weak Buchanan, and he means to crush Congress or be crushed. "Mr. Johnson is a man of stalwart mould. Just above middle stature, he is so broad shouldered, firm set, and deep-chested, as almost to seem below it. He has a large head. It is a compact home for his fiery will and brain. His face is market, strong oval outline, powerful under jaw; well defined but rather sharp chin; a wife, straight mouth, full flexible lips, skin coarse in texture but firm, complexion swarthy, hair coarse black, streaked with grey, a nose small at the root, but full and large at the nostrils, which expand and lift as he speaks, broad roomy forehead, beetling bushy eyebrows, beneath which are a pair of the coldest, hazel grey eyes I ever saw in a human head ; these are the outlines of Andrew Johnson
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“A Radical's Description of the President- His Great Power and Ability Conceded,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/85.