Two letters written from Alton, Illinois (not far from St. Louis) from a local businessman describing President Andrew Johnsons bizarre drunken behavior while in St. Louis.
Part of the "Swing Around the Circle" tour Johnson undertook in 1866."Swing Around the Circle refers to a disastrous speaking campaign undertaken by U.S. President Andrew Johnson between August 27 and September 15, 1866, in which he tried to gain support for his mild Reconstruction policies and for his preferred candidates (mostly Democrats) in the forthcoming midterm Congressional elections. The tour received its nickname due to the route that the campaign took: "Washington, D.C., to New York, west to Chicago, south to St. Louis, and east through the Ohio River valley back to the nation's capital".
Johnson undertook the speaking tour in the face of increasing opposition in the northern states and in Washington to his lenient form of reconstruction in the south, which had led the southern states largely to revert to the social system that had predominated before the Civil War. Although he believed he could regain the trust of moderate northern Republicans by exploiting tensions between them and their Radical counterparts on the tour, Johnson only alienated them more. This caused a supporter of Johnson to say of the tour that it would have been better "had it never been made..."
Both are in fine condition and give a clear description of just how bad Johnson's behavior really was!
From a three-page letter, written from Alton, Illinois September 17, 1866 by the same author of the October 8th, 1866 letter. The first pages of this letter the author discusses business, but he saves the best for the last paragraph…..”A Johnson passed through here last week, and “swung around the circle” a couple of times, left the flag and the constitution with us and passed on to St. Louis where he had another “big Drunk” Farewell Andrew Johnson...
“Alton October 8/66
Having to wait for an Ill river Boat to take me up to Griggsville. I thought I'd take the opportunity to drop you a few lines. I am going up there to attend the Pike Co fair. Last week I attended the state fair of Mo held at St. Louis. We sent an ‘Uncle Sam’ down and I went down and ran it, and had the satisfaction of bearing off the honors in the shape of 1st Premium $5.00, diploma and Blue Ribbon.
Well I suppose before I write any more you would like to know how we all do. Well we are all alive yet, the Cholera has passed us by and we ‘still live’. Frank has had a pretty hard time this summer with bilious intermittent fever, which has taken some of her ______ flesh, she is now around again however and I hope she will entirely recover. Nellie has got pretty nearly ‘___’ of her bowel trouble but has chills which hang on to her very persistently, however on the whole she is much better and gaining flesh and growing finally. She is as smart as ever, and I think a little smarter. I think her the smartest
child of her age west of the Allegheny Mountains. She can use more big words (and put them where they belong too) than any 14-year-old child that I ever saw.
Mrs. Mitchell has a young French lady there teaching Belle French and Nellie is getting so that she can talk parley vous as well as any of them.
Etta and Albert and Jennie & John and Florence and Bob and Geo and Messick and Charlie and Toney and Theo Day are all healthy
Uncle Hezekiah and Eva came down and made us a visit the Judge, said nothing about politics. Andy Johnson is played out in this country and you can rely upon the great Parisian state rolling up such a majority for John A. Logan and against copperheads and Rebels as will make A Johnson tremble in his boots.
The Philadelphia convention opened my eyes and those of thousands of others who still cherished the hope that Andrew Johnson was what he claimed to be and what we all hoped he was, an honest man. -and his tour from Washington to St. Louis enabled us all to see him and hear him, and it sickened us all, that journey cost him millions of honest
votes. His speech, his drunken driveling slobbering harangue at the Southern Hotel at St. Louis was the straw that broke the camels back it was the most disgusting tirade that ever emanated from any man it would have disgraced Ben Peake, or General Pomeroy. He was drunk, drunk! He openly and boldly endorsed Mayor Monroe, and the New Orleans massacre. Well I think the proceeding today in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa will put a quietus upon him and all his friends (of which latter he has very few left) I see the Times, Herald and Post have all left him.
Trade keeps up a bold front. Sales up to Oct 1st 103 thousand and upwards, last week our cash receipts were over $8 thousand dollars.
Hope to see you here soon. Love to all. good bye
Yours aff the boat has whistled
F W Drury
Weather delightful, Wheat 29.5 and Harness Leather $.45”
$395.00 plus shipping for both letters