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    Andrew Johnson Autograph Letter Signed. Four integral pages, 8" x 9.75", Washington, December 26, 1851. Johnson was serving in the U.S. Congress for the state of Tennessee when he wrote former Tennessee Senator Alfred O. P. Nicholson with strategy for the upcoming 1852 election. He first states that it would be best"...for our state convention while in session to lay down a platform for the democracy and recommend its adoption to the National convention. If we would lay down some principles that were broad and unmistakably democratic in their tendency, the state and the nation could be carried in the next contest without any kind of doubt." To accomplish this, he says, they should first lay forth a creed "...with distinctness and then go for the man that is best calculated to carry them out...[as] now is the most favorable time to lay down a creed disconnected as much as possible with those old dividing lines, that would be acceptable to all who are democrats."

    At the time, the opposing party, the Whigs, were divided into different camps and Johnson makes mention of that fact, remarking that "Parties are breaking up in Tennessee as they are throughout the nation and now is the time to go forward with measures that the opponents of popular government dare not oppose before the people." To do this, he believes, Tennessee should "...lead in the great move of making this a government of the people in fact."

    For the "...future success of the party..." he makes several suggestions. First, he proposes "...three amendments to the Constitution... propositions [that] will do for the whole nation N & S." In addition, he suggests "The election of Senators by the people...," "The election of a president by the people..." which he believes is "...good Jackson doctrine...," "...a strict adherence to the compromise as passed by the last congress...," a policy concerning homesteading, the "...distribution of all officers appointed by the president and heads of department among the states according to their federall [sic] Representation...," and finally, that "...labor must be made respectable and the mechanics and farmers must be made the aristocracy of the country..." If the Democratic Party does not put forth these measures first, he fears that "...the whigs will take lead of us in these popular measures."

    Johnson did not seek reelection at the end of his term and even hinted at retirement in this letter saying, "This matters but little for my political career is run which will enable me more effectually to serve some of my friends and pay off many obligations of that kind." He was eventually convinced by friends to run for governor of Tennessee, winning the position in 1853. Folds are weak and separating, especially along the main vertical fold, which is nearly detached. Separation has been repaired archivally. Slight smudging of the ink at the upper left of page two. Line of staining on page four, but not affecting the signature.

    W.C. Putnam Collection for the benefit of the Acquisition and Conservation Fund of the Putnam Museum.


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