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Statue of Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States, taking over after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. He handled reconstruction poorly and was the first president to officially be Impeached, but was acquitted for some reason.

Rough Start

1865 for Andrew Johnson started out rough. On the day he was sworn in as Vice President, he was hungover. Stupidly, he asked the outgoing Vice President for another drink. Taking two drinks, he said "I need all the strength for the occasion I can have."

Johnson delivered a rambling address as Lincoln, the Congress, and dignitaries looked on. Almost incoherent at times, he finally meandered to a halt, whereupon Hamlin hastily swore him in as vice president. [1]

One month later, he was targeted by one of John Wilkes Booth’s henchmen, George Atzerodt, who was assigned by Booth to kill the Vice President at the Kirkwood Hotel; but at 10:15 pm, the same time Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater and Lewis Powell was attacking Secretary of State William Seward at his mansion, Atzerodt decided to get drunk and leave his assignment instead of killing the Vice President. Hours later, Johnson was informed that Lincoln has been shot.

Racism

Johnson didn’t believe that black people should be slaves and oversaw the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery, "except as a punishment of crime". During the American Civil War, he also worked to help ban slavery with Lincoln. Despite this, Johnson believed that black people were inferior to whites and institutionalized discrimination against black Americans including denying them the vote. [1] Or, perhaps, both men believed that education was necessary to prepare freed slaves and society for extending the franchise. Universal white male enfranchisement was just coming into practice at that time. Incidentally many feel Johnson was unfit to govern and as mentioned above, he narrowly escaped impeachment, or maybe he was fit to govern, Lincoln himself chose him. It was a contentious time, and points of view varied.

Fun section

We like some jokes in Liberapedia.

He and Lyndon B. Johnson show when running for president in the 60s of their century. Don't choose a VP named Johnson or you'll get shot! Makes sense, right?

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Worked his way up from poverty
  • Was a champion for the “common folk”
  • Oversaw the official end of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th Amendment which officially confirmed that slavery is abolished, except as a “punishment of crime”
  • “Seward’s Folly” (The Alaska Purchase) by his Secretary of State, William Seward
  • Survived in an assassination attempt by one of John Wilkes Booth’s henchmen, George Atzerodt

Cons

  • Was considered very difficult and stubborn to work with, like John Tyler
  • Anti-abolitionist (Nope, he freed his own slaves in 1863, and as Governor of Tennessee, he oversaw freeing of all Tennessee's slaves in 1864)
  • Alcoholic (was drunk when inaugurated as Vice President) (Maybe... he was suffering from typhus at the time and was self-medicating with a common remedy, whiskey)
  • Extremely racist (May be a racist, doubtfully "extremely racist" for his time)
  • Lied that Reconstruction is finished (Presidential reconstruction became very contentious after Lincoln's assassination)
  • Mishandled Reconstruction
  • Pardoned ex Confederates that unexpectedly led to the creation to the KKK
  • Attempted to veto the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Freedman’s Bureau, and other Reconstruction bills[2]
  • Violated the Tenure of Office Act by removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (In 1926 the Supreme Court ruled all Tenure of Office Acts unconstitutional)
  • Known for his rage outbursts
  • Alienated both the people and Congress
  • First President to be impeached
  • Almost removed from office but acquitted by only one vote

References

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