Excellent reporting by Joshua Benton in The Atlantic informs us that Trump’s newly selected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson’s great-great-great-grandfather, Alfred Johnson, having been a confederate soldier, was required to swear an oath in Aug. of 1867 of to “support and defend” the Constitution of the United States if he aspired to hold any political office in the newly rehabilitated state of Georgia.
Benton does not say if Alfred Johnson ran for political office in Georgia, for which he would have needed to swear the oath. But he does give some background on how the oath came about, the changes it went through, and provides the text of the to be sworn statement:
“The Wade-Davis Bill of 1864 would have required a majority of white men in each state to take the Ironclad Oath before full readmission to the union. Lincoln pocket-vetoed that bill, considering it too harsh. He’d backed a much more lenient plan requiring only 10 percent of a state’s pre-war voters to swear an oath before that state could be readmitted. And his version was more forgiving than the Ironclad Oath, requiring only future loyalty—that they would “henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder.”
The oath Alfred Johnson would take had been defined in Congress’ Reconstruction Acts, and it was closer to Lincoln’s than to the Ironclad Oath. Like Lincoln’s, it treated the leaders of the Confederacy with less mercy than it did enlisted men. Johnson had to swear that he had:
“”never been a member of any State Legislature, nor held any executive or judicial office in any State and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof;
that I have never taken an oath as a member of Congress of the United States, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, and afterwards engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof;
that I will faithfully support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, encourage others so to do.
So help me God.””
Benton also goes on to tell us that Alfred Johnson named his son “Andrew” in honor of the man who was President of the U.S. at the time, just to be safe I suppose, and that son Andrew later moved moved to Hempstead County, Arkansas and began the chain of begetting that would eventually produce the seditious little twerp and future Speaker Mike Johnson – the man who who would help to prepare the legal groundwork for Trump’s attempt to reverse the 2020 election – eventually leading to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6th, 2021.
We cannot know how Alfred Johnson would feel about his progeny breaking his sworn oath to “henceforth” support the Constitution… perhaps he swore the oath just as a convenience – a way of smoothing the road ahead for himself and his family.
But he did name his son after the President of the United States at the time.
So, it is also possible that Alfred pledged his oath sincerely, and would, if he could, stretch out his hardened farmer’s hands through time and grab this smarmy little suited proselytizer Mike Johnson by the scruff of his neck and box his ears red.
Let us hope we voters do in November of next year what great-great-great grandfather cannot.