Andrew Johnson, Paul Bergeron (ed), The Papers of Andrew Johnson: Volume 10, February-July 1866 (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 57-58
John Osborne, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Washington, Feby. 8. 1866
My Dear Sir,
I cannot forbear to express to you the great pleasure I felt on reading your remarks to the colored men who visited you yesterday. The principles you enunciated are the same expressed to me in a conversation I had with you last Autumn, and in which I fully agreed with you. You said to me then that every one would, and must admit that the white race was superior to the black, and that while we ought to do our best to bring them (the blacks) up to our present level, that, in doing so we should, at the same time raise our own intellectual status so that the relative position of the two races would be the same. I think that was about your idea, and if some success attended the efforts to exalt the black race, which I some doubt, the result would doubtless be that the white race would still hold its natural place above them. Man, with his puny arm, cannot annul the decrees of God!
I am astonished, and more than astonished, at the persistency with which the radical idea of placing negroes on an equality with whites, in every particular, is pressed in Congress. And with solemnity I say, that, in my opinion our Union is, at this moment, in greater danger from the fanatical zeal with which this false idea is pressed, than it was from the Rebellion itself! Give the colored race the unlimited right of suffrage, and a fire brand is cast among the people that cannot be extinguished until it is quenched in the blood of hostile factions.
I hope, & trust, and pray that the vision of the sovereign people will be so far carried into the future by the common Father of us all, that they will avert the danger by vetoing, not only the measures which tend to so awful a result, but the men who initiated and supported them.
I am only one humble citizen, but I love my Country and her Constitution, and I desire, beyond all things, the prosperity, and the honor of that Country. Until the tide of fanaticism, which is now in full flood, shall turn, as it must, unless sanity is departed from the people, we must place our trust in you to keep us safe "from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noon-day."
Permit me to ask if you have read a most forcible article on the races of men, published in the Intelligencer of this morning, from the pen of Doctor Nott? If you have not read it, I commend it to your perusal.
Pardon me for writing to you at such length. I have know you so long, and so well, and esteemed and respected you so much, that I could not forbear to express my unalloyed pleasure at the noble position you hold as a statesman and a patriot. If my feeble tongue or arm are needed for your defence they are always ready.