Monday, September 24, 2007

Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808July 31, 1875) was the seventeenth President of the United States (1865–1869), succeeding to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Greeneville, Tennessee at the time of the secession of the southern states. He was the only Southern Senator not to quit his post upon secession, and became the most prominent War Democrat from the South. In 1862 Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of Tennessee, where he proved energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion. Johnson was nominated for the Vice President slot in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He was elected along with Abraham Lincoln in November 1864, and he became president upon Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865. As president he took charge of Presidential Reconstruction — the first phase of Reconstruction — which lasted until the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the 1866 elections. His conciliatory policies towards the South, his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederates back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with the Radical Republicans. The Radicals in the House of Representatives impeached him in 1868, and he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate, that of Edmund G. Ross. He was the first U.S. President to be impeached.

Andrew Johnson Early life
Johnson served as an alderman in Greeneville from 1828 to 1830 and mayor of Greeneville from 1830 to 1833. As a Whig he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Early political career
Johnson was elected governor of Tennessee, serving from 1853 to 1857, and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from October 8, 1857 to March 4, 1862. He was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Thirty-sixth Congress). Before Tennessee voted on secession, Johnson toured the state speaking in opposition to the act, which he said was unconstitutional. Johnson was an aggressive stump speaker and often responded to hecklers, even if those hecklers were in the senate. At the time of secession of the Confederacy, Johnson was the only Senator from the seceded states to continue participation in Congress. Johnson was then appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as military governor of Tennessee in 1862. He vigorously suppressed the Confederates and spoke out for black suffrage, arguing, "The better class of them will go to work and sustain themselves, and that class ought to be allowed to vote, on the ground that a loyal negro is more worthy than a disloyal white man."

Andrew Johnson Political ascendancy
As a leading War Democrat and pro-Union southerner, Johnson was an ideal candidate for the Republicans in 1864 as they enlarged their base to include War Democrats and changed the party name to the National Union Party. He was elected Vice President of the United States and was inaugurated March 4, 1865. At the ceremony, Johnson, who had been drinking (he explained later) to offset the pain of typhoid fever, gave a rambling speech and appeared intoxicated to many. In early 1865, Johnson talked harshly of hanging traitors like Jefferson Davis, which endeared him to the Radicals.

Vice Presidency

Main article: Abraham Lincoln assassination Lincoln assassination
Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States on April 15, 1865, upon the death of Lincoln that morning. He was the first Vice President to succeed to the U.S. Presidency upon the assassination of a President and the third to succeed upon the death of a President.
Johnson had an ambiguous party status. He attempted to build up a party of loyalists under the National Union label, but he did not identify with either of the two main parties while President—though he did try for the Democratic nomination in 1868. Asked in 1868 why he did not become a Democrat, he said "It is true I am asked why don't I join the Democratic party. Why don't they join me...if I have administered the office of president so well?"

Presidency 1865–1869
Johnson forced the French out of Mexico by sending a combat army to the border and issuing an ultimatum. The French withdrew in 1867, and their puppet government quickly collapsed. Secretary of State Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia on April 9, 1867 for $7.2 Million. Critics sneered at "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox" and "Icebergia." Seward also negotiated to purchase the Danish West Indies, but the Senate refused to approve the purchase in 1867 (it eventually took place in 1917). The Senate likewise rejected Seward's arrangement with the United Kingdom to arbitrate the Alabama Claims.
The U.S. experienced tense relations with the United Kingdom and its colonial government in Canada in the aftermath of the war. Lingering resentment over a perception of British sympathy towards the Confederacy resulted in Johnson initially turning a blind eye towards a series of armed incursions by Irish-American civil war veterans into British territory in Canada, named the Fenian Raids. Eventually Johnson ordered the Fenians disarmed and barred from crossing the border, but his initially hesitant reaction to the crisis helped motivate the movement toward Canadian Confederation.

Foreign policy
At first Johnson talked harshly, telling an Indiana delegation in late April, 1865, "Treason must be made odious... traitors must be punished and impoverished... their social power must be destroyed." But then he struck another note: "I say, as to the leaders, punishment. I also say leniency, reconciliation and amnesty to the thousands whom they have misled and deceived." Johnson in practice was not at all harsh toward the Confederate leaders. He allowed the Southern states to hold elections in 1865 in which prominent ex-Confederates were elected to the U.S. Congress; however, Congress did not seat them. Congress and Johnson argued in an increasingly public way about Reconstruction and the manner in which the Southern secessionist states would be readmitted to the Union. Johnson favored a very quick restoration, similar to the plan of leniency that Lincoln advocated before his death.

Break with the Republicans: 1866

There were two attempts to remove President Andrew Johnson from office. The first occurred in the fall of 1867. On November 21st of that year, the House Judiciary committee produced a bill of impeachment that was basically a vast collection of complaints against him. After a furious debate, there was a formal vote in the House of Representatives on December 5th, which failed 108-57.

First attempt

Main article: Impeachment of Andrew Johnson Second attempt
One of Johnson's last significant acts was granting unconditional amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day, December 25, 1868. This was after the election of U.S. Grant to succeed him, but before Grant took office in March, 1869. Earlier amnesties requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people were issued both by Lincoln and by Johnson.

Christmas Day amnesty for Confederates

Administration and Cabinet

Nebraska - March 1, 1867 States admitted to the Union
Johnson was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate from Tennessee in 1868 and to the House of Representatives in 1872. However, in 1874 the Tennessee legislature did elect him to the U.S. Senate. Johnson served from March 4, 1875, until his death from a stroke near Elizabethton, Tennessee, on July 31 that same year. In his first speech since returning to the Senate, which was also his last, Johnson denounced the corruptions of the Grant Administration and his passions aroused a standing ovation from many of his fellow senators who had once voted to remove him from the presidency. He is the only President to serve in the Senate after his presidency.
Interment was in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee, where he was buried with a copy of the Constitution. Andrew Johnson National Cemetery is now part of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.

Historians have gone through cycles on Johnson. The Dunning School of the early 20th century saw him as a heroic bulwark against the corruption of the Radical Republicans who tried to remove the entire leadership class of the white South. Johnson seemed to be the legitimate heir of the sainted Abraham Lincoln. By the 1930s a series of favorable biographies enhanced his prestige.
Johnson's most important foreign policy action was the purchase of Alaska from Russia (the future Soviet Union), which would prove vital to national security later during the Cold War. The idea and implementation is credited to Seward as Secretary of State, but Johnson approved the plan. It should be remembered that gold was not discovered in Alaska until 1880, thirteen years after the purchase and five years after Johnson's death, and that oil was not discovered until 1968.

Historians' changing view of Andrew Johnson

United States presidential election, 1864
History of the United States (1865-1918)
Tennessee Johnson See also

Howard K. Beale, The Critical Year. A Study of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1930). ISBN 0-8044-1085-2
Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1999). ISBN 0-393-31982-2 online edition
Albert E. Castel, The Presidency of Andrew Johnson (1979). ISBN 0-7006-0190-2
D. M. DeWitt, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1903).
W. A. Dunning, Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction (New York, 1898) online edition
W. A. Dunning, Reconstruction, Political and Economic (New York, 1907) online edition
Foster, G. Allen, Impeached: The President who almost lost his job (New York, 1964).
Eric L. McKitrick, Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1961). ISBN 0-19-505707-4
Martin E. Mantell; Johnson, Grant, and the Politics of Reconstruction (1973) online edition
Hatfield, Mark O, with the Senate Historical Office, Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993.(Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997), p.219
Howard Means, The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation (New York, 2006)
Milton; George Fort. The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals (1930) online edition
Patton; James Welch. Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860–1869 (1934) online edition
Rhodes; James Ford History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 6. 1920. Pulitzer prize. online edition
Schouler, James. History of the United States of America: Under the Constitution vol. 7. 1865–1877. The Reconstruction Period (1917) online edition
Lloyd P. Stryker, Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage (1929). ISBN 0-403-01231-7 online edition
Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography (1989). ISBN 0-393-31742-0 online edition
Winston; Robert W. Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot (1928) online edition Primary sources

No comments: