To become Vice President of the United States.
Johnson was from the eastern part of Tennessee, an area with few slaves and no sympathy with wealthy slaveholders or their rebellion. He and other loyalists considered secession to be void and those who foisted it on the people to be traitors. Most of his fellow east-Tennesseeans refused to recognize the authority...
Johnson was from the eastern part of Tennessee, an area with few slaves and no sympathy with wealthy slaveholders or their rebellion. He and other loyalists considered secession to be void and those who foisted it on the people to be traitors. Most of his fellow east-Tennesseeans refused to recognize the authority of the new Confederate government over their state, and suffered oppression for this stand. Johnson stood like a rock by their side. After their states seceded, every southern Congressman and U.S. Senator resigned and went home but one: Andrew Johnson of Tennessee. He remained at his desk in the Senate representing the people of Tennessee, a living symbol and constant reminder of Lincoln’s claim that the Union was not broken, that rebellion was treason, and that the Confederacy was imposed on an unwilling southern people by corrupt leaders. In 1862, he became military governor of Tennessee. Northerners during the Civil War viewed Johnson as a hero, and his presence in Washington and then back in Tennessee itself implied the possibility of reconciliation.
By 1864, the Civil War had been in progress for three years, and the people of the North were tired. To insure the success of the Union cause the leadership considered it imperative that there should be unity and cooperation of the loyal people of all parties – that it was necessary to lay aside, as far as possible, partisan issues, and to unite in the then-approaching presidential campaign upon a non-partisan, distinctively Union ticket and platform. President Lincoln was, of course, to receive the nomination for reelection. Andrew Johnson, though a Democrat, received considerable support for vice president, and he was selected as Lincoln’s running mate.
With the war going well by election day in November 1864, the Lincoln/Johnson ticket was victorious. Johnson was vice president-elect, with Inauguration day March 4, 1965. The day before being sworn in as vice president, Johnson tendered his resignation as Military Governor of Tennessee and Army General to Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. This is that very letter to Stanton sending his resignation. It is the only letter we have seen of any president/vice president sending his resignation from a previous office to assume the highest offices in the land.
Letter Signed, Washington, March 3, 1865, to Stanton. “In tendering the accompanying resignation [not included], I beg to express my high regard to you personally, and also to thank you sincerely for the uniforn kindness which you have been pleased to extend to me personally and officially during my service as an officer under the War Department.” He signed “With sentiments of high regard.”
Stanton replied the same day, “This Department has accepted your resignation as Brigadier General and Military Governor of Tennessee. Permit me on this occasion to tender to you the sincere thanks of this Department for your patriotic and able services during the eventful period through which you have exercised the highest trust committed to your charge. In one of the darkest hours of the great struggle for National existence, against rebellious foes, the Government called…to place you in…a position of personal toil and danger…With patriotic promptness you assumed the post, and maintained it under circumstances of unparalleled trial, until recent events have brought safety and deliverance to your State and to the integrity of the Constitutional Union, for which you so long and so gallantly periled all that is dear to man on earth…”
Just a month later, President Lincoln was assassinated and Johnson was thrust into the office of President of the United States.
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