As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
This Week in History
April 22, 1889 – Oklahoma Land Rush Begins
At high noon on April 22, 1889, an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of two million acres of Oklahoma. The rush into the “Unassigned Lands” began with the firing of a single shot.
The lands were considered some of the best unoccupied public land in the United States. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1990 was passed and signed into law by which President Benjamin Harrison opened the two million acres for settlement. An earlier Homestead Act of 1 862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, allowed legal settlers to claim lots up to 160 acres in size. If the settler lived on the land and improved it, he could then receive the title to the land.
Many settlers immediately started improving their new land or stood in the line waiting to file their claim. Schoolchildren sold creek water to homesteaders waiting in line for five cents a cup, while other children gathered buffalo dung to provide fuel for cooking.
By the second week, schools had opened and were being taught by volunteers paid by pupils’ parents until regular school districts could be established.
Within one month, the “sooner’s” had five banks and six newspapers.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), 17th President of the United States
Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribe for our motto: ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever,’ and exclaim, ‘Christ first, our country next.’ – Andrew Johnson, from his farewell address
Andrew Johnson was born in December 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father died when he was around three years old, leaving his family in poverty. Johnson’s mother took in spinning and weaving to support her family, and she later remarried. She bound Andrew as an apprentice tailor when he was 10 years old. He had no formal education, but taught himself to read and write.
At 16 or 17, he ran away from his indentured position and went to Greenville, Tennessee, where he found work as a tailor. He was 19 when he married Eliza, age 17. His new wife taught him arithmetic up to basic algebra, and tutored him to improve his literacy and writing skills.
He entered local politics at age 21, and became mayor of Greenville. He was then elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, where he served a single term. In 1853 he was elected governor of Tennessee, following one term of which he was elected to the United States Senate. Nine years later he was selected by President Abraham Lincoln to be his running mate. The following year, Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded at Ford’s Theater, and on April 15, 1865, the morning after Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson was sworn in as president of the United States. Johnson was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency upon the assassination of a president, and the third vice president to become a president upon the death of a sitting president.
As President, he presided over the initiation of Reconstruction. His conciliatory policies toward the South and his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederate states back into the union and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with members of Congress. Just three years into his term, articles of impeachment were prepared against him, but he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate. One of Johnson’s last significant acts was granting unconditional amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day, 1868.
In his post-presidential years, he ran for United States Senator from Tennessee, without success, but was elected by the Tennessee legislature to the U.S. Senate and served three months until he died. He is the only former president to serve in the Senate after his presidency.
Johnson and his wife had five children. He was a staunch Bible-believing Christian, but had no denominational affiliation. He died in Tennessee in 1875 at the age of 66. He is buried just outside Greeneville, Tennessee in what is now the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.