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Andrew Johnson

Essay by review  •  February 22, 2011  •  Essay  •  649 Words (3 Pages)  •  792 Views

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Andrew Johnson was a humble, self-educated man. He enjoyed instant success with appointments as a mayor, congressional representative, governor, and senator. A slave owner and loyal to the Union, he refused to resign as a Senator from Tennessee when the state seceded with the outbreak of the Civil War. This brought him to the attention of President Lincoln. In 1862, Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee. In 1864, in order to win votes from the Democrats, Lincoln chose Johnson as his running mate. They were victorious in the presidential election. In April 1865, Johnson became President upon the assassination of Lincoln.

There were a series of political quarrels between Johnson and Radical Republicans in Congress over the Reconstruction policy in the South. Radicals wanted to transform southern social and economic life. Most Radicals had been associated with the Abolitionist movement before the Civil War.

Radical momentum in Congress grew and they were in majority by the end of 1865. In April 1866, Congress enacted a Civil Rights Act in response to southern Black Codes. President Johnson vetoed the act, claiming it was an invasion of states' rights and would cause uproar among the races. The veto was overridden by a single vote. This marked the beginning of an escalating power struggle between Johnson and Congress.

In June of 1866, Congress passed the 14th Amendment, giving civil liberties to both native-born and naturalized Americans. It also prohibited any state from denying citizens life, liberty, or property, without due process. The right to vote for all males twenty-one and older was also established. Johnson opposed the amendment because he did not believe it applied to southerners, who were without representation in Congress. Tennessee was the only southern state to ratify the amendment.

The Radicals were victorious in the elections of November 1866, resulting in a two-thirds anti-Johnson majority in Congress. With this majority, three consecutive vetoes by Johnson were overridden by Congress in 1867, thus passing the Military Reconstruction Act, Command of the Army Act, and Tenure of Office Act against his wishes.

Many in Congress wanted to keep Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, in Johnson's cabinet. The feud between Johnson and Congress climaxed as Johnson looked to fired Stanton. This would put him in violation of the Tenure of Office Act. On August

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