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Andrew Johnson, Radical Republican and Constitutional Crisis

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 7 years, 10 months ago


Andrew Johnson, Radical Republican and Constitutional Crisis
Andrew Johnson Presidency


PLEASE NOTE: As we explore the post war years (1865 to 1877) please keep in mind the following events are occurring simultaneously: rapid Industrial growth and labor unrest in a number of northern cities, building of the Transcontinental RR; wars of Conquest against Native Americans on the Great Plains, significant western migration and settlement and a financial Panic in 1873



President Abraham Lincoln’s Plan (1863-1865)

President Andrew Johnson’s Plan (1865-1867)

Congressional Reconstruction (1867-1868)

Southern Reaction to Reconstruction (1868-1877)



Believing the Reconstruction Acts to be wrong and unconstitutional, Johnson repeatedly blocked their enforcement. He repeatedly gave pardons to ex-Rebels. He hampered military commanders' efforts to block the rise of Southern leaders to power. In frequent speeches and interviews, Johnson publicly expressed his defiance of the Radical Republicans. They knew that their program for reconstruction of the South could not succeed with Andrew Johnson in office.


On Washington’s birthday in 1866, against the advice of his more sober advisers, the President made an impromptu address to justify his Reconstruction policy. “I fought traitors and treason in the South,” he told the crowd; “now when I turn around, and at the other end of the line find men—I care not by what name you call them—who will stand opposed to the restoration of the Union of these States, I am free to say to you that I am still in the field.”  During the “great applause” which followed, a nameless voice shouted, “Give us the names at the other end. … Who are they?” “You ask me who they are,” Johnson retorted. “I say Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania is one; I say Mr. Sumner is another; and Wendell Phillips is another.” Increasing applause urged him to continue. “Are those who want to destroy our institutions … not satisfied with the blood that has been shed? … Does not the blood of Lincoln appease the vengeance and wrath of the opponents of this government?”



Reconstruction and Rebuilding   (2:43)






Congressional Reconstruction (1867-1868)

And the impending Constitutional Crisis

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson (2:41)


The final blow came after the passage of the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. This law made it impossible for the president to dismiss important government officials without the permission of the Senate. In a move than infuriated Congressmen, Johnson defied the act.



Impeachment Timeline






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