Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, August 31, 1997, pg. 19
Have you ever wondered if there have been any U.S. Presidents who visited Albion while they were in office? Oh, there have been vice-presidents, such as Bush or Fairbanks who spoke at Albion College, but have there been any Presidents? A search through my historical files reveals that there was one U.S. President who came to Albion and gave a speech here while in office. Gerald Ford? No. George Bush? No, he was still vice-president when he spoke here. President Johnson? Yes. Not Lyndon Johnson, however as you might surmise, but Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States!
President Johnson came to Albion by train on September 5, 1866 on his way to Chicago, where he was to preside at the unveiling of a monument to Stephen A. Douglass. His trip had begun on August 28, and Johnson had previously traveled through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit before coming to Albion. Accompanying Johnson were General George Custer, future U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Wells, Secretary of State William H. Steward, and Admiral David Farragut.
Johnsonís trip was the result of bitter divisions between him and the Congress over Reconstruction following the Civil War. He hoped that his train tour and speeches would influence the upcoming congressional elections. His ploy was of no avail, as the rift between the President and Congress grew so wide in the months to come that he was eventually put up for impeachment.
Greeting President Johnson in Albion when he arrived at 10:30 a.m in the morning was none other than William V. Morrison, a prominent Michigan Democrat from Albion who had opposed the Civil War. Morrison was chosen chairman for Johnsonís visit and had the honor of introducing the President during his stop here. Morrison eloquently pleaded that the "President was there as the guardian of the Constitution and was appealing to the people for their support in his struggle to save that instrument from the radicals of Congress."
Johnson gave an extemporaneous speech here, recollections of which are recorded in the article, "President Andrew Johnson at Albion" by former Albion resident O. E. McCutcheon. The article appeared in the Michigan History Magazine, Volume 3, 1919, pages 530-539.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a drawing of U.S. President Andrew Johnson, the only U.S. President to visit Albion while in office.
U.S. President Andrew Johnson
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic