1866 National Union Convention

The National Union Convention (also known as the Loyalist Convention, the Southern Loyalist Convention, the National Loyalists' Loyal Union Convention, or the Arm-In-Arm Convention) was held on August 14, 15, and 16 1866, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]


The convention was called in Philadelphia before of the midyear elections of 1866 in an attempt to encourage political support for US President Andrew Johnson, who was under attack by both moderate and Radical Republicans. Johnson's friends tried to rally support for his lenient pro-South Reconstruction policies. Some hoped to create a new political party, but that goal was not realized.[2]

Delegates gathered at a hastily-built temporary structure that was designed to accommodate the several thousand people expected to attend. Formally called "the Wigwam," the immense edifice was on Girard Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets, across from Philadelphia's Girard College.[3]

About 7000 prominent politicians and activists attended the convention. At its opening, representatives from Massachusetts (General Darius Nash Couch) and South Carolina (Governor James Lawrence Orr) paraded arm-in-arm to symbolize national reconciliation and social equity. The convention was called to order by US Postmaster General Alexander Randall. General (and former New York Governor and Senator) John Adams Dix served as the temporary chairman and Wisconsin Senator James R. Doolittle served as permanent convention president.

In the end, the convention was not successful in unifying the country behind Johnson. He launched a speaking tour (known as the "Swing Around the Circle") hoping to regain public and political support. On the speaking tour, Johnson at times attacked his Republican opponents with crude and abusive language and on several occasions appeared to have had too much to drink. Ultimately, the tour was a disaster for Johnson and emboldened Congress to override him and to impeach him in 1868.[4]

Notable attendeesEdit

Notable attendees of the National Union Convention include:

Further readingEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ McKitrick, Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1960) pp 394-420
  2. ^ Wagstaff (1968)
  3. ^ Wagstaff (1968)
  4. ^ Wagstaff (1968)

External linksEdit