Saturday, June 23, 2018

Comey, Trump, and Andrew Johnson

In a post titled James Comey Says Donald Trump Is Not the Worst U.S. President Ever , Newsweek includes text:

Comey said: “I would rate him [Trump]… one or two, probably one. We have had worse presidents. Andrew Johnson was the president after Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson was a raving racist and drunk and terrible person, so I think he was worse.”

As to Andrew Johnson being a "raving racist," see the 2013 post in the New York Times titled
When Andrew Johnson Freed His Slaves . Note also that the last U.S. President to have held a slave in his lifetime was U.S. Grant, not Andrew Johnson.

As to a patent connection, note "who" defended Andrew Johnson during the impeachment trial: Benjamin R. Curtis, one of two Supreme Court Justices who dissented in the Dred Scott decision and an expert in patent law. His brother George Ticknor Curtis wrote one of the leading patent law treatises of the time [ A treatise on the law of patents for useful inventions in the United States of America, published by Little Brown in 1849]. Among other distinctions, Benjamin Curtis was the first Supreme Court justice to have graduated from a "law school."

The Newsweek text suggests that Comey thinks Andrew Johnson was a worse president than Trump.

In the post Historical rankings of presidents of the United States , one notes that Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan both are rated lower than Andrew Johnson. Prior to becoming president, Johnson was a firm backer of the 13th Amendment. Arguably, Johnson's major problem, as president, was that he had the wrong personality to deal with the situation confronting him, rather than being a "raving racist."

James Comey grew up in Allendale, New Jersey and attended Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale.

Recall that slavery existed in New Jersey at the beginning of the Civil War (see for example
New Jersey and the 13th Amendment
); Yale University "expels" John C. Calhoun name [IPBiz, 12 Feb 2017] citing to History of Slavery in New Jersey: "It was not until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed in 1865 that the last 16 slaves in the state were freed."

Note also the wikipedia entry for Commonwealth v. Aves , which states

By the start of the Civil War, every Northern state other than Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey granted freedom automatically to any slave brought within its borders.

In a post by the National Park Service [NPS] titled
Andrew Johnson and Emancipation in Tennessee
, one has the text

According to tradition, Military Governor Andrew Johnson freed his personal slaves on August 8, 1863. By September 8, 1863, even the New York Times stated that "Gov. JOHNSON thus plants himself on the extreme Anti-Slavery ground --"

On October 24, 1864, Johnson freed all the slaves in the state of Tennessee.

As one footnote to some of Johnson's vetoes in his time as president, the NPS states

While President, Andrew Johnson struggled with Congress over the elements of Reconstruction. Many of his vetoes appear to have been made in direct defiance of assistance for the freedmen, but had their basis in his interpretation of Constitutional principles. In his veto of the Civil Rights Bill, for example, he stated that the act "...contains provisions which I can not approve consistently with my sense of duty to the whole people and my obligations to the Constitution of the United States."

One should observe that in the Aves case, Benjamin Curtis (who later dissented in Dred Scott) represented the slave owner.


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