Great Moments in Foresight (Andrew Johnson edition)


Over the weekend I was reading up on Andrew Johnson (don’t ask) and stumbled upon what might be the least prescient editorial the New York Times has ever published. Context: Johnson has just taken the oath of office as Vice President visibly drunk, prompting critics to suggest that this might be indicitive of, say, a total lack of preparedness for the enormous challenges facing the nation. At one point during his address, he blanked on the name of the Secretary of the Navy and asked the audience; the man he replaced, Hannibal Hamlin, literally tugged on his coattails to get him to stop. When Johnson finally finished, he tried swearing-in the incoming class of senators, but “became so confused that he had to turn the job over to a Senate clerk.” Cue The Times:

No man in this country has rendered, within his sphere, more substantial service to the Union cause, or earned more thoroughly the gratitude of the Union party than ANDREW JOHNSON; and we venture to predict that…he will abundantly vindicate himself from the slanders of his enemies, and the ungenerous misconstruction of some who have claimed to be his friends.

I demand a retraction.

Fact:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Tim Murphy

    Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at tmurphy@motherjones.com.