i 7 4 LETTERS
Washington, September n, 1863.
Hon. Andrew Johnson.
My dear Sir: All Tennessee is now clear of
armed insurrectionists. You need not to be re-
minded that it is the nick of time for reinaugu-
rating a loyal State government. Not a moment
should be lost. You and the co-operating friends
there can better judge of the ways and means
than can be judged by any here. I only offer
a few suggestions. The reinauguration must not
be such as to give control of the State and its
representation in Congress to the enemies of the
Union, driving its friends there into political ex-
ile. The whole struggle for Tennessee will have
been profitless to both State and nation if it so
enjis that Governor Johnson is put down and
Governor Harris is put up. It must not be so.
You must have it otherwise. Let the recon-
struction be the work of such men only as can
be trusted for the Union. Exclude all others,
and trust that your government so organized will
be recognized here as being the one of republican
form to be guaranteed to the State, and to be
protected against invasion and domestic violence.
It is something on the question of time to re-
member that it cannot be known who is next
to occupy the position I now hold, nor what he
will do. I see that you have declared in favor
of emancipation in Tennessee, for which may
God bless you. Get emancipation into your new
State government — constitution — and there will
be no such word as fail for your case. The
raising of colored troops, I think, will greatly
help every way. Yours very truly,
JOHNSON, ANDREW 1 7 5
Washington, September 18, 1863.
Hon. Andrew Johnson, Nashville, Tenn. :
Despatch of yesterday just received. I shall
try to find the paper you mention and carefully
consider it. In the meantime let me urge that
you do your utmost to get every man you can,
black and white, under arms at the very earliest
moment, to guard roads, bridges and trains, al-
lowing all the better trained soldiers to go for-
ward to Rosecrans. Of course I mean for you
to act in co-operation with, and not independently
of the military authorities.
Washington, D. C, September 19, 1863.
Hon. Andrew Johnson .
My dear Sir: Herewith I send you a paper,
substantially the same as the one drawn up by
yourself and mentioned in your despatch, but
slightly changed in two particulars : First, yours
was so drawn as that I authorized you to carry
into effect the fourth section, etc., whereas I so
modify it as to authorize you to so act as to
require the United States to carry into effect that
Secondly, you had a clause committing me in
some sort to the State constitution of Tennessee,
which I feared might embarrass you in making
a new constitution, if you desire; so I dropped
Yours very truly,
Washington, D. C, September 19, 1863.
Hon. Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of
In addition to the matters contained in the
orders and instructions given you by the Secre-
tary of War, you are hereby authorized to ex-
ercise such powers as may be necessary and
proper to enable the loyal people of Tennessee
to present such a republican form of State gov-
ernment as will entitle the State to the guaranty
of the United States therefor, and to be pro-
tected under such State government by the United
States against invasion and domestic violence, all
according to the fourth section of the fourth arti-
cle of the Constitution of the United States.
[ Telegram. ]
Washington, March 29, 1864.
Governor Johnson, Nashville, Tenn.
Judge Catron is asking for the discharge of
W. M. Bell, now at Rock Island, and whom he
thinks was arrested as a hostage by you or by
your authority. What say you ?
[ Telegram. ]
Washington, July 27, 1864.
Governor Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee :
Yours in relation to General A. C. Gillam just
received. Will look after the matter to-day.
I also received yours about General Carl
JOHNSON, ANDREW 177
Schurz. I appreciate him certainly, as highly as
you do; but you can never know until you have
the trial, how difficult it is to find a place for
an officer of so high rank when there is no place
seeking him. A. Lincoln.
Washington, August 25, 1864.
Governor Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee :
Thanks to General Gillam for making the news,
and also to you for sending it. Does Joe Heis-
kell's "walking to meet us" mean any more than
that "Joe" was scared and wanted to save his
skin? A. Lincoln.
[Oct. 22, 1864. See Campbell, William B.]
[ Telegram. ]
Washington, D. C, January 14, 1865.
Governor Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee :
Yours announcing ordinance of emancipation
received. Thanks to the convention and to you.
When do you expect to be here ? Would be glad
to have your suggestions as to supplying your
place of military governor. A. Lincoln.
[ Telegram. ]
Washington, January 24, 1865.
Hon. Andrew Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee.
Several members of the Cabinet, with myself,
considered the question to-day as to the time of
your coming on here. While we fully appre-
ciate your wish to remain in Tennessee until her
State government shall be completely reinaugu-
rated, it is our unanimous conclusion that it is
unsafe for you to not be here on the 4th of
March. Be sure to reach here by that time.
Executive Mansion, April 24, 1861.
Hon. Reverdy Johnson.
My dear Sir: Your note of this morning is
just received. I forbore to answer yours of the
226. because of my aversion (which I thought
you understood) to getting on paper and fur-
nishing new grounds for misunderstanding. I do
say the sole purpose of bringing troops here is
to defend this capital. I do say I have no pur-
pose to invade Virginia with them or any other
troops, as I understand the word invasion. But,
suppose Virginia sends her troops, or admits
others through her borders, to assail this capital,
am I not to repel them even to the crossing of
the Potomac, if I can? Suppose Virginia erects,
or permits to be erected, batteries on the oppo-
site shore to bombard the city, are we to stand
still and see it done? In a word, if Virginia
strikes us, are we not to strike back, and as
effectively as we can ? Again, are we not to hold
Fort Monroe (for instance) if we can? I have
no objection to declare a thousand times that I
have no purpose to invade Virginia or any other
State, but I do not mean to let them invade us
without striking back.
JOHNSON, REVERDY i 79
Washington, July 26, 1862.
Hon. Reverdy Johnson.
My Dear Sir : Yours of the 16th, by the hand
of Governor Shepley, is received. It seems the
Union feeling in Louisiana is being crushed out
by the course of General Phelps. Please pardon
me for believing that is a false pretense. The
people of Louisiana — all intelligent people every-
where — know full well that I never had a wish
to touch the foundations of their society, or any
right of theirs. With perfect knowledge of this
they forced a necessity upon me to send armies
among them, and it is their own fault, not mine,
that they are annoyed by the presence of Gen-
eral Phelps. They also know the remedy — know
how to be cured of General Phelps. Remove
the necessity of his presence. And might it not
be well for them to consider whether they have
not already had time enough to do this? If they
can conceive of anything worse than General
Phelps within my power, would they not better
be looking out for it? They very well know the
way to avert all this is simply to take their place
in the Union upon the old terms. If they will
not do this, should they not receive harder blows
rather than lighter ones ? You are ready to say
I apply to friends what is due only to enemies.
I distrust the wisdom if not the sincerity of
friends who would hold my hands while my ene-
mies stab me. This appeal of professed friends
has paralyzed me more in this struggle than any
other one thing. You remember telling me, the
day after the Baltimore mob in April, 1861, that
I So LETTERS
it would crush all Union feeling in Maryland
for me to attempt bringing troops over Maryland
soil to Washington. I brought the troops not-
withstanding, and yet there was Union feeling
enough left to elect a legislature the next au-
tumn, which in turn elected a very excellent
Union United States senator ! I am a patient
man — always willing to forgive on the Christian
terms of repentance, and also to give ample time
for repentance. Still I must save this govern-
ment, if possible. What I cannot do, of course
I will not do; but it may as well be understood,
once for all, that I shall not surrender this game
leaving any available card unplayed.
Johnston, John D.
Springfield, February 23, 1850.
Dear Brother: Your letter about a mail con-
tract was received yesterday. I have made out
a bid for you at $120, guaranteed it myself, got
our P. M. here to certify it, and send it on. Your
former letter, concerning some man's claim for a
pension, was also received. I had the claim ex-
amined by those who are practised in such mat-
ters, and they decide he cannot get a pension.
As you make no mention of it, I suppose you
had not learned that we lost our little boy. He
was sick fifteen days, and died in the morning
of the first day of this month. It was not our
first, but our second child. We miss him very
much. Your brother, in haste,
JOHNSTON, JOHN D. 181
January 2, 1851.
Dear Johnston: Your request for eighty dol-
lars I do not think it best to comply with now.
At the various times when I have helped you a
little you have said to me, "We can get along
very well now" ; but in a very short time I find
you in the same difficulty again. Now, this can
only happen by some defect in your conduct.
What that defect is, I think I know. You are
not lazy, and still you are an idler. I doubt
whether, since I saw you, you have done a good
whole day's work in any one day. You do not
very much dislike to work, and still you do not
work much, merely because it does not seem to
you that you could get much for it. This habit
of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty;
it is vastly important to you, and still more so
to your children, that you should break the habit.
It is more important to them, because they have
longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit
before they are in it, easier than they can get out
after they are in.
You are now in need of some money; and
what I propose is, that you shall go to work,
"tooth and nail," for somebody who will give
you money for it. Let father and your boys
take charge of your things at home, prepare for
a crop, and make the crop, and you go to work
for the best money wages, or in discharge of
any debt you owe, that you can get ; and to se-
cure you a fair reward for your labor, I now
promise you, that for every dollar you will, be-
tween this and the first of May, get for your
own labor, either in money or as your own in-
debtedness, I will then give you one other dollar.
By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a
month, from me you will get ten more, making
twenty dollars a month for your work. In this
I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or
the lead mines, or the gold mines in California,
but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages
you can get close to home in Coles County. Now,
if you will do this, you will be soon out of debt,
and, what is better, you will have a habit that
will keep you from getting in debt again. But
if I should now clear you out 1 of debt, next year
you would be just as deep in as ever. You say
you would almost give your place in heaven for
seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your
place in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you
can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or
eighty dollars for four or five months' work.
You say if I will furnish y.ou the money you
will deed me the land, and, if you don't pay the
money back, you will deliver possession. Non-
sense ! If you can't now live with the land, how
will you then live without it? You have always
been kind to me, and I do not mean to be un-
kind to you. On the contrary, if you will but
follow my advice, you will find it worth more
than eighty times eighty dollars to you.
Affectionately your brother,
Springfield, January 12, 1851.
Dear Brother : On the day before yesterday
I received a letter from Harriet, written at Green-
up. She says she has just returned from your
house, and that father is very low and will hardly
recover. She also says you have written me two
letters, and that although you do not expect me
to come now, you wonder that I do not write.
JOHNSTON, JOHN D. 183
I received both your letters, and although I
have not answered them, it is not because I have
forgotten them, or been uninterested about them,
but because it appeared to me that I could write
nothing which would do any good. You already
know I desire that neither father nor mother
shall be in want of any comfort, either in health
or sickness, while they live ; and I feel sure you
have not failed to use my name, if necessary,
to procure a doctor, or anything else for father
in his present sickness. My business is such that
I could hardly leave home now, if it was not as
it is, that my own wife is sick-a-bed. (It is a
case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dan-
gerous.) I sincerely hope father may recover
his health, but at all events, tell him to remember
to call upon and confide in our great and good
and merciful Maker, who will not turn away
from him in any extremity. He notes the fall of
a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads,
and He will not forget the dying man who puts
his trust in Him. Say to him that if we could
meet now it is doubtful whether it would not be
more painful than pleasant, but that if it be his
lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous meet-
ing with many loved ones gone before, and where
the rest of us, through the help of God, hope ere
long to join them.
Write to me again when you receive this.
Springfield, August 31, 1851.
Dear Brother : Inclosed is the deed for the
land. We are all well, and have nothing in the
way of news. We have had no cholera here
1 84 LETTERS
for about two weeks. Give my love to all, and
especially to mother.
Yours, as ever,
Shelby ville, November 4, 1851.
Dear Brother: When I came into Charleston
day before yesterday, I learned that you are anx-
ious to sell the land where you live and move
to Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever
since, and cannot but think such a notion is ut-
terly foolish. What can you do in Missouri bet-
ter than here ? Is the land any richer ? Can you
there, any more than here, raise corn and wheat
and oats without work ? Will anybody there, any
more than here, do your work for you? If you
intend to go to work, there is no better place than
right where you are ; if you do not intend to go
to work, you cannot get along anywhere. Squirm-
ing and crawling about from place to place can
do no good. You have raised no crop this year ;
and what you really want is to sell the land, get
the money, and spend it. Part with the land
you have, and, my life upon it, you will never
after own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half
you will get for the land you will spend in mov-
ing to Missouri, and the other half you will eat,
drink, and wear out, and no foot of land will be
bought. Now, I feel it my duty to have no hand
in such a piece of foolery. I feel that it is so
even on your own account, and particularly on
mother's account. The eastern forty acres I in-
tend to keep for mother while she lives; if you
will not cultivate it, it will rent for enough to
support her — at least, it will rent for something.
Her dower in the other two forties she can let
JOHNSTON, JOHN D. 185
you have, and no thanks to me. Now, do not
misunderstand this letter; I do not write it in
any unkindness. I write it in order, if possible,
to get you to face the truth, which truth is, you
are destitute because you have idled away all your
time. Your thousand pretenses for not getting
along better are all nonsense; they deceive no-
body but yourself. Go to work is the only cure
for your case.
A word to mother. Chapman tells me he
wants you to go and live with him. If I were
you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of
it (as I think you will not), you can return to
your own home. Chapman feels very kindly to
you, and I have no doubt he will make your sit-
uation very pleasant.
Sincerely your son,
Shelbyville, November 9, 1851,
Dear Brother : When I wrote you before, I
had not received your letter. I still think as I
did, but if the land can be sold so that I get
three hundred dollars to put to interest for moth-
er, I will not object, if she does not. But before
I will make a deed, the money must be had, or
secured beyond all doubt, at ten per cent.
As to Abram, I do not want him, on my own
account; but I understand he wants to live with
me, so that he can go to school and get a fair
start in the world, which I very much wish him
to have. When I reach home, if I can make it
convenient to take, I will take him, provided there
is no mistake between us as to the object and
terms of my taking him. In haste, as ever,
Springfield, November 25, 1851.
John D. Johnston.
Dear Brother: Your letter of the 226. is just
received. Your proposal about selling the east
forty acres of land is all that I want or could
claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it
on Mother's account — I want her to have her
living, and I feel that it is my duty, to some ex-
tent, to see that she is not wronged — She had a
right of Dower (that is, the use of one-third for
life) in the other two forties; but, it seems, she
has already let you take that, hook and line — She
now has the use of the whole of the east forty,
as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of course,
she is entitled to the interest on all the money
it brings, as long as she lives; but you propose
to sell it for three hundred dollars, take one hun-
dred away with you, and leave her two hundred
at 8 per cent., making her the enormous sum of
16 dollars a year — Now, if you are satisfied with
treating her in that way, I am not — It is true,
that you are to have that forty for two hundred
dollars, at mother's death ; but you are not to
have it before. I am confident that land can be
made to produce for mother at least $30 a year,
and I cannot, to oblige any living person, consent
that she shall be put on an allowance of sixteen
dollars a year.
Tremont, April 18, 1846.
Friend Johnston : Your letter, written some
six weeks since, was received in due course, and
JOHNSTON, WILLIAM 187
also the paper with the parody. It is true, as
suggested it might be, that I have never seen
Poe's ' 'Raven" ; and I very well know that a
parody is almost entirely dependent for its inter-
est upon the reader's acquaintance with the orig-
inal. Still there is enough in the polecat, self-
considered, to afford one several hearty laughs.
I think four or five of the last stanzas are de-
cidedly funny, particularly where Jeremiah
"scrubbed and washed, and prayed and fasted."
I have not your letter now before me ; but,
from memory, I think you ask me who is the
author of the piece I sent you, and that you do
so ask as to indicate a slight suspicion that I my-
self am the author. Beyond all question, I am
not the author. I would give all I am worth,
and go in debt, to be able to write so fine a piece
as I think that is. Neither do I know who is
the author. I met it in a straggling form in a
newspaper last summer, and I remember to have
seen it once before, about fifteen years ago, and
this is all I know about it. The piece of poetry
of my own which I alluded to, I was led to write
under the following circumstances : In the fall
of 1844, thinking I might aid some to carry the
State of Indiana for Mr. Clay, I went into the
neighborhood in that State in which I was raised,
where my mother and only sister were buried,
and from which I had been absent about fif-
teen years. That part of the country is, within
itself, as unpoetical as any spot of the earth;
but still, seeing it and its objects and inhabi-
tants aroused feelings in me which were cer-
tainly poetry; though whether my expression of
those feelings is poetry is quite another ques-
tion. When I got to writing, the change of sub-
1 88 LETTERS
ject divided the thing into four little divisions
or cantos, the first only of which I send you now,
and may send the others hereafter.
My childhood's home I see again,
And sadden with the view ;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.
O Memory ! thou midway world
'Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,
And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.
As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day ;
As bugle-notes that, passing by,
In distance die away;
As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar —
So memory will hallow all
We've known, but know no more.
Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.
Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.
JOHNSTON, WILLIAM 189
The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped !
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.
I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.
I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I'm living in the tombs.
Springfield, September 6, 1846.
Friend Johnston: You remember when I
wrote you from Tremont last spring, sending you
a little canto of what I called poetry, I promised
to bore you with another some time. I now ful-
fill the promise. The subject of the present one
is an insane man; his name is Matthew Gentry.
He is three years older than I, and when we
were boys we went to school together. He was
rather a bright lad, and the son of the rich man
of a very poor neighborhood. At the age of
nineteen he unaccountably became furiously mad,
from which condition he gradually settled down
into harmless insanity. When, as I told you in
my other letter, I visited my old home in the fall
of 1844, I found him still lingering in this
wretched condition. In my poetizing mood, I
could not forget the impression his case made
upon me. Here is the result :
But here's an object more of dread
Than aught the grave contains —
A human form with reason fled,
While wretched life remains.
When terror spread, and neighbors ran
Your dangerous strength to bind,
And soon, a how-ling, crazy man,
Your limbs were fast confined :
How then you strove and shrieked aloud,
Your bones and sinews bared ;
And fiendish on the gazing crowd
With burning eyeballs glared ;
And begged and swore, and wept and prayed,
With maniac laughter joined;
How fearful were these signs displayed
By pangs that killed the mind !
And when at length the drear and long
Time soothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song
Upon the still night rose !
I've heard it oft as if I dreamed,
Far distant, sweet and lone,
The funeral dirge it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.
To drink its strains I've stole away,
All stealthily and still,
Ere yet the rising god of day
Had streaked the eastern hill.
Air held her breath ; trees with the spell
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dewdrops fell
Upon the listening ground.
But this is past, and naught remains
That raised thee o'er the brute ;
Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strain