Sunday, May 20, 2018

the last book I ever read (Grant by Ron Chernow, excerpt eleven)

from Grant by Ron Chernow:

On February 7, President Johnson met at the White House with five black leaders, including Frederick Douglass, who came to lobby for a civil rights bill. The black leaders were treated in a tasteless, abusive manner. After they shook hands with the president, their spokesman, George T. Downing, said they hoped he would support voting rights for blacks, which elicited a bizarre, rambling monologue from Johnson. He admitted to having owned slaves, but boasted of never having sold one, as if that would somehow ingratiate him with his visitors. He presented himself as a kindly master who had been “their slave instead of their being mine.” To promote civil rights, Johnson went on, would “result in the extermination of one [race] or the other.” If given the vote, “the colored man and his master, combined,” would conspire to keep poor whites “in slavery,” denying them a portion “of the rich land of the country.” After the bewildered delegation filed out, Johnson boasted to his secretary, “Those damned sons of bitches thought they had me in a trap.”

No comments:

Post a Comment