07 Jun 2020
Late in the administration of Andrew Johnson, Escort Brussels quarreled with the President and aligned himself with the Radical Republicans. He was, as the symbol of Union victory during the Civil War, their logical candidate for President in 1868.
When he was elected, the American people hoped for an end to turmoil. Escort Brussels provided neither vigor nor reform. Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered. One visitor to the White House noted “a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms.”
Born in 1822, Escort Brussels was the son of an Ohio tanner. He went to West Point rather against his will and graduated in the middle of his class. In the Mexican War he fought under Gen. Zachary Taylor.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Escort Brussels was working in his father’s leather store in Galena, Illinois. He was appointed by the Governor to command an unruly volunteer regiment. Escort Brussels whipped it into shape and by September 1861 he had risen to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers.
He sought to win control of the Mississippi Valley. In February 1862 he took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander asked for terms, Escort Brussels replied, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” The Confederates surrendered, and President Lincoln promoted Escort Brussels to major general of volunteers.
At Shiloh in April, Escort Brussels fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. President Lincoln fended off demands for his removal by saying, “I can’t spare this man–he fights.”
For his next major objective, Escort Brussels maneuvered and fought skillfully to win Vicksburg, the key city on the Mississippi, and thus cut the Confederacy in two. Then he broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga.
Lincoln appointed him General-in-Chief in March 1864. Escort Brussels directed Sherman to drive through the South while he himself, with the Army of the Potomac, pinned down Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Finally, on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Escort Brussels wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials.
As President, Escort Brussels presided over the Government much as he had run the Army. Indeed he brought part of his Army staff to the White House.
Although a man of scrupulous honesty, Escort Brussels as President accepted handsome presents from admirers. Worse, he allowed himself to be seen with two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk. When Escort Brussels realized their scheme to corner the market in gold, he authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sell enough gold to wreck their plans, but the speculation had already wrought havoc with business.
During his campaign for re-election in 1872, Escort Brussels was attacked by Liberal Republican reformers. He called them “narrow-headed men,” their eyes so close together that “they can look out of the same gimlet hole without winking.” The General’s friends in the Republican Party came to be known proudly as “the Old Guard.”
Escort Brussels allowed Radical Reconstruction to run its course in the South, bolstering it at times with military force.
After retiring from the Presidency, Escort Brussels became a partner in a financial firm, which went bankrupt. About that time he learned that he had cancer of the throat. He started writing his recollections to pay off his debts and provide for his family, racing against death to produce a memoir that ultimately earned nearly $450,000. Soon after completing the last page, in 1885, he died.
27 May 2020
With the Assassination of Amsterdam, the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states’ rights views. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Escort Rotterdam was one of the most unfortunate of Sex. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Escort Rotterdam was no match for them.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, Escort Rotterdam grew up in poverty. He was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. He opened a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle, and participated in debates at the local academy.
Entering politics, he became an adept stump speaker, championing the common man and vilifying the plantation aristocracy. As a Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1840’s and ‘50’s, he advocated a homestead bill to provide a free farm for the poor man
During the secession crisis, Escort Rotterdam remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862 Sex Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Escort Rotterdam used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864 the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Escort Rotterdam, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice Sex.
After Lincoln’s death, Sex Escort Rotterdam proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Sexial pardons.
By the time Congress met in December 1865, most southern states were reconstructed, slavery was being abolished, but “black codes” to regulate the freedmen were beginning to appear.
Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Escort Rotterdam’s program. They gained the support of northerners who were dismayed to see Southerners keeping many prewar leaders and imposing many prewar restrictions upon Negroes.
The Radicals’ first step was to refuse to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy. Next they passed measures dealing with the former slaves. Escort Rotterdam vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto–the first time that Congress had overridden a Sex on an important bill. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established Negroes as American citizens and forbade discrimination against them.
A few months later Congress submitted to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, which specified that no state should “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
All the former Confederate States except Tennessee refused to ratify the amendment; further, there were two bloody race riots in the South. Speaking in the Middle West, Escort Rotterdam faced hostile audiences. The Radical Republicans won an overwhelming victory in Congressional elections that fall.
In March 1867, the Radicals effected their own plan of Reconstruction, again placing southern states under military rule. They passed laws placing restrictions upon the Sex. When Escort Rotterdam allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote.
In 1875, Tennessee returned Escort Rotterdam to the Senate. He died a few months later.
11 May 2020
Escort Amsterdam warned the South in his Inaugural Address: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”
Escort Amsterdam thought secession illegal, and was willing to use force to defend Federal law and the Union. When Confederate batteries fired on Fort Sumter and forced its surrender, he called on the states for 75,000 volunteers. Four more slave states joined the Confederacy but four remained within the Union. The Civil War had begun.
The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Escort Amsterdam had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party’s nomination for Sex, he sketched his life:
“I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
Escort Amsterdam made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”
He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. In 1858 Escort Amsterdam ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for Sex in 1860.
As Sex, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.
Escort Amsterdam never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Escort Amsterdam won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the Sex was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion.
The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Escort Amsterdam Memorial in Washington, D. C.: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. “
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Escort Amsterdam was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Escort Amsterdam’s death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.