Lot 73: Uncommon Andrew Johnson Senatorial Free Frank with Autograph Address
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: JOHNSON, ANDREW. (1808-1875). Seventeenth president of the United States and one of only two presidents to be impeached. Free Frank. (“Free A. Johnson”). 1p. 12mo. (Washington, D.C., May 18, [1846-1850]). A hand-addressed envelope to William M. Laurens (?) of Greeneville, Tennessee, Johnson’s hometown. Johnson has added “Free” to the left of his signature and “M.C.” (Member of Congress) beneath it. ********** From 1843-1853, Johnson represented Tennessee in the Senate. He returned to his seat in 1857 after serving four years as governor of that state. A passionate defender of the Union, Senator Johnson was unable to prevent the secession of his native Tennessee in June 1861, after which he became the only remaining Southerner still serving in the Senate. On March 4, 1862, he was appointed the state’s military governor by President Lincoln and commissioned brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers. After resigning his Senate seat, Johnson returned to Tennessee where he raised Union regiments and soon established a provisional government that became “a sort of laboratory experiment for the reconstruction of the Union,” (DAB). Johnson’s courageous efforts were rewarded two years later with his nomination as Lincoln’s vice president, “a recognition of the service of the militant Unionists of the South [which] helped to relieve the party of the purely sectional character which had at first attached to the Republicans,” (ibid.). ********** Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 landed Johnson the presidency during the difficult post-war years. He followed Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction and pardoned those former Confederates who swore an oath of allegiance to the U.S. or requested presidential pardons. Johnson sought to return the country to its pre-war state with the addition of the abolition of slavery. However, when Congress convened at the end of 1865, representatives disapproved of the number of Confederate leaders remaining in Congress. Johnson’s response was to oppose Congress’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which he felt violated state rights. Tensions between the chief executive and the legislature culminated in 1868 when Johnson attempted to fire Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and defy the Tenure of Office Act, passed in 1867 despite a presidential veto. For this violation, Johnson was impeached and, although acquitted, he lost his effectiveness as a leader. Johnson returned home to Tennessee and was re-elected to the Senate in 1875; he died only a few months later. ********** Paper loss along the top edge with some staining and wear and a clumsy tape repair on the verso. In good condition.