Interracial marriage and VP Richard Johnson

Today when people think of VP Johnson, they think of Andrew or Lyndon. But in the 19th Century, Richard Johnson became the 9th Vice President on the ticket with Martin Van Buren. Amazingly, the electors from Virginia, refused to follow their pledge to elect Johnson as VP. The United States Senate, as per the US Constitution, ended up voting Johnson in as VP anyway. 

At the time, Johnson seems to have been famous for two things, killing the Indian Tecumseh in battle and marrying his slave, who was one-eighth black. Despite being dropped from the ticket by Van Buren in the election of 1840, the Henry Clay campaign still went after Johnson and his interracial marriage, as shown in the Coon Song:

"There's Old Tecumseh: he won't do: 
While he loves black, he will get blue; 
And taking a wife, so weak his sight. 
Poor man! he didn't know black from white."


Leave a comment