Thursday, October 17, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple, excerpt twelve)

from The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple:

Ross was not the only one demanding or receiving post-impeachment favors. Johnson had attended the wedding of John Henderson and Mary Foote, whose father was then nominated as U.S. commissioner of patents. Johnson named the corrupt customs house collector Henry Smythe minister to Austria, although Smythe had been put under temporary arrest and criminal prosecution. Cornelius Wendell, the printer who’d allegedly arranged an acquittal slush fund, was appointed government director on the Union Pacific Railroad board. And Perry Fuller made Vinnie Ream’s father superintendent of warehouses in New Orleans, although within months Fuller was arrested for a scheme to defraud the government of tax revenue. Edmund Ross guaranteed the bond for Fuller’s release.

Like many conservatives, Ross defended himself by noisily blasting the Radical Republicans. Impeachment had sprung full-blown from “the malevolence of Stevens, the ambition of Butler, the theories of Boutwell, & the folly of an unthinking crowd of party followers,” the lawyer John Codman Ropes reassured William Pitt Fessenden. Ross joined the ranks of those Republicans who considered themselves moderates, not conservatives. Believing themselves merely judicious, they claimed it was “the duty of Congress to make the best of Mr. Johnson.” To celebrate their own judiciousness, they planned a public dinner in Boston to toast Fessenden for what they called his courage, his conscience, and his conviction. The invitation list included Massachusetts Governor Alexander H. Bullock and more than seventy other politicians, industrialist, Brahmins, Harvard trustees, and leading men of the area: Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Francis Parkman, jurist Lemuel Shaw, industrialist Amos Lawrence, John Murray Forbes, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., James Russel Lowell, and editor Samuel Bowles: men of probity, prudence, and profound self-regard—an intellectual and often financial elect who regarded blacks and white Southerners with condescension and assumed that they knew best what served the country and their class.

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