Status: Complete

4 SEPTEMBER 1866 123

“But what,” he asked, “shall be said of Andrew Johnson?” Perhaps it
would be improper to speak evil of dignitaries, perhaps it would be better to
leave Mr. Johnson to speak for himself as being the most damaging thing he
can do for himself. “But what,” he asked, “shall be said of him who told us
that traitors must take a back seat in the work of restoration, if he now
invests those same traitors with the supreme control of the States in which
they live? What shall be said of him who promised to be the Moses of the
colored race, if he become[s] their Pharaoh instead? Why this must be said
of him: that he had better never have been born.” ¹² He had heard that the
President feared assassination by colored men; he had investigated the
report. and came to the conclusion that Mr. Johnson was only in danger
from moral assassination, as physical assassination could not be justly
classed as being among the refinements of Northern society.

When in England the speaker observed no special prejudice against
color, and had often been courteoust approached by Americans with the
request that he introduce them to some noble Lord. On this side of the water
the same gentleman would have disdained to ask the same favor of a negro.
The speaker ended by picturing the condition of the freedmen as the na—
tion’s friends, when accorded all the political rights of the white men.


New York Herald, 5 September 1866 and New York Tribune, 5 September 1866. Other
texts in Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 September 1866; Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 5 Sep-
tember 1866; Rochester Daily Democrat, 10 September 1866.

In an attempt to rally broad public support for the Johnson administration’s poli-
cies of southern “restoration” and states’ rights, supporters of the president
held a “National Union” convention in Philadelphia in August 1866. Radical
and moderate Republican opponents of those policies responded by calling
their own convention in Philadelphia the following month. Although it was
officially a “Southern Loyalists’ Convention,” prominent northern Re-
publicans attended as honorary delegates to demonstrate that anti-Johnson
sentiment was national in scope. Douglass was among those selected by a
Republican mass meeting to represent Rochester, New York, at the Loyalists’

12. Douglass refers to Jesus‘ remark about his betrayer in Matt. 26 : 24: “It had been good for
that man if he had not been born."

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