[n.p. 1868 or early 1869]. Manuscript poem in verse. 7-7/8" x 14-3/4". Nine verses. Entirely in ink script on blue paper. A few words crossed out and changed. Matted with two bookplate engravings of Presidents Grant and Johnson by H.W. Smith. Each bust engraving with facsimile signature beneath the portrait and imprint of "H.W. Smith NY." Very Good.
A diligent search has failed to uncover any record of this poetic attack on President Andrew Johnson-- manuscript or printed-- and the author's celebration of the impending Grant presidency. The untitled poem mocks the disastrous "Swing Around the Circle" during the 1866 mid-term election campaign, when Johnson managed to alienate northern voters beyond repair.
President Johnson had sought to reverse the results of the War by advocating an immediate restoration of the rebellious States to the Union. Lincoln had placed him on the 1864 ticket because Johnson courageously supported the Union throughout Tennessee; and Lincoln needed to win the Border States in order to prevail. A War Democrat, Johnson never shed his State Rights ideology. Lacking moral objections to slavery, he opposed secession from a visceral hatred of the plantation aristocracy. Once that class had been humbled, he saw no obstacle to restoring the rebel States to power, pardoning former Confederates en masse, and leaving the freed slaves vulnerable to the white majority. A stubborn man, he refused to compromise with a Congress which fiercely opposed him. The clash led Johnson to veto legislation and to articulate a view of the Union that had become odious in the North. Johnson's wild "Swing Around the Circle" paved the way to Republican Reconstruction and the impeachment. Item #38593