Слике страница

District of Tennessee, embracing seven counties. He canvassed the district with his opponent, Col. John A. Asken, a popular gentleman of prominence and ability, and handsomely defeated him. He took his seat as member of the House of Representatives at Washington, in December, 1843, retaining that position by successive elections until 1853.

The State having been redistricted previous to the election of the latter year, that portion in which Mr. Johnson resided was so allotted as to place him in a district having a large Whig majority, and thus he lost his seat in Congress. Gustavus A. Henry, at that time the Whig candidate for Governor, was the leading spirit in this movement, and Mr. Johnson determined to defeat the man who had thus "Gerrymandered," or, as he called it, "Henrymandered" him out of Congress. After an exciting canvass, Mr. Johnson was chosen Governor, and again in 1855 he was elected, this time defeating one of the ablest Whigs in the State, Meredith P. Gentry. During his administration of the gubernatorial duties, which he performed in the most impartial manner, he was active in urging upon Congress the Homestead Bill, and exerted his influence for the spread of popular education. Under his successive régimes, much was accomplished for the benefit and internal improvement of Tennessee, and the sons of toil still found in him a zealous defender of their rights and advocate of their wants.

In the year 1857 he was elected by the Legisla

ture of Tennessee United States Senator, for the term of six years, and ably discharged the duties of that office until the spring of 1862, when he was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee. Prior to his election to Congress, his public services had been confined to the limits of his State, but from this time he belongs to the country.

Andrew Johnson was emphatically "a representative of the people." Born of the people, and at an early age thrown upon his own resources, he lived and grew up amongst the people, becoming familiar with their every-day lives and deeds, their opinions, their wrongs and their asserted rights, their inmost thoughts and their highest aspirations. Feeling "the smart of the want of a proper education while young," but proud in the consciousness that for the knowledge he possessed he was indebted solely to his own exertions, he stood in the legislative halls, Andrew Johnson, Tailor and Statesman, the compeer of any member of either house. Modestly assuming, but thoroughly appreciating the dignity of his position, he never permitted any sneer at his calling, or any attempted disparagement of the laboring classes, to pass unrebuked, and we find him breaking lances with the ablest debaters in Congress.

"Sir, I do not forget that I am a mechanic. I am proud to own it. Neither do I forget that Adam was a tailor, and sewed fig-leaves, or that our Saviour was the son of a carpenter."

He cordially hated aristocracy, and had decided objections to gentlemen, reared in affluence and idleness, arrogating to themselves the right to all the knowledge in the world. When Jefferson Davis superciliously asked, "What do you mean by the laboring classes'?" Andrew Johnson answered, "Those who earn their bread by the sweat of their face, and not by fatiguing their ingenuity."

[ocr errors]

A true Democrat, he was a firm believer in the sovereignty of the people, and held that members of the lower house of Congress were next in power to the people. Respecting statesmen and hating politicians, he claimed that upon the floor of the House the people had a right to be heard. He was thoroughly imbued with the idea that legislation was for the many, not for the few; for the good of the whole country, and not for the benefit of any party.

He was always consistently in favor of retrenchment in governmental expenses, and participated in nearly every debate upon appropriation bills, or acts requiring the expenditure of the public funds. He opposed the Smithsonian Institute, on the ground that it would be a burden on the public treasury, without commensurate good results; voted against all direct appropriations for the District of Columbia, arguing that any city in the United States would cheerfully contribute to have the National Capital removed to its limits; - debated all bills to increase the clerical force of the different

departments, declaring that if the clerks - many of whom he believed to be political vampires doing little or nothing for government during six hours per day, and devoting the remainder of their time to drinking, gaming, and abusing honest legislators in the newspapers- were made to do a decent day's work there would be no necessity for such increase; introduced resolutions to reduce the salaries of members of Congress, and all officers of the Government, civil, military, and naval, amounting to over $1000, twenty per cent. ; also a resolution instructing the Committee on Finance to investigate and report how much and wherein the expenses of all the departments might be reduced ; -- opposed all appropriations for monuments and funeral.expenses, and called for a statement of the items in the bill for funeral expenses of a distinguished member of the House; denied the right of members to vote themselves books, &c., saying they "might just as well vote to increase their salaries";— and refused his assent to the purchase of Mr. Madison's papers and Washington's Farewell Address, not from any want of respect for the services and memory of either, but from his dislike to "speculations and jobs."

He was the true and honest friend of the poor, and of the laboring classes, and appeared in Congress as their champion. He introduced the subject of Homesteads into the House of Representatives, and carried it to a successful issue in that branch. He also brought up the subject in the Senate, and


debated it at great length, but the bill, as passed, was vetoed by Mr. Buchanan.

Believing that the burdens of the Government should be borne by the rich and not by the poor, he proposed an amendment to the tariff bill, taxing capital instead of labor. He also opposed the tariff on tea and sugar.

He had no faith in caucuses, and held that they gave the controlling power to a few politicians, and prevented a true representation of the people. At different times he offered resolutions to amend the Constitution so that the people should vote directly for President. He advocated the bill to refund the fine imposed upon Andrew Jackson by Judge Hall at New Orleans (H. R., January 8, 1844); was in favor of the Annexation of Texas (H. R., January 21, 1845); discussed the Oregon question asserting our right to 54° 40', but sustained the administration in the final settlement of the question (H. R., January 31, 1846); addressed the House on the Mexican question, in support of the administration, December 15, 1846, January 5, 1847, and August 2, 1848; delivered an able argument on the veto power (H. R., August 2, 1848); opposed the bill establishing the Court of Claims (H. R., January 6, 1849); made an earnest plea for the admission of California and the protection of slavery (H. R., June 5, 1850); debated the Mexican indemnity bill (H. R., January 21, 28, 1852); also the bill for right of way on rail and plank roads (H. R., July 20,

« ПретходнаНастави »