President Andrew Johnson
President Andrew Johnson
Our seventeenth president was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808. He grew up in a very poor family. He became apprenticed to a tailor, but ran away from home before finishing. He opened up his own tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee and married Eliza McCardle.
After entering into the world of politics, he became a member of the House of Representatives and then the Senate between the 1840’s and 50’s. During this period he advocated a homestead bill to provide farms to poor men.
During the secession, Johnson remained in the Senate after Tennessee left the union. This branded him a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862, Andrew Johnson was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee by President Abraham Lincoln. After Johnson’s reconstruction work in the state, he was nominated for Vice President by the National Union Party (Republicans) under Abraham Lincoln. After Lincoln’s assassination, Johnson became president.
Andrew Johnson started the reconstruction on the former Confederate States. He pardoned anyone who was willing to take and oath of allegiance, but any Confederate leaders or men of wealth had to obtain Presidential pardons.
By December of 1965, most of the southern states were reconstructed, slavery was in the process of being abolished, and “Black Codes” were starting to appear to regulate the freedmen. The Radical Republicans were appalled by the black codes, and made an attempt to change Johnson’s program. Their first step was the refusal to seat any Senator or Representative who had been a member of the Confederacy.
When the Radicals started to pass bills to deal with the former slaves, Johnson vetoed the legislation. In return, the Radicals generated enough votes to pass the legislation over the veto, the first time Congress had overridden a president on an important bill. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed. This act was to establish citizenship for all blacks and forbade discrimination against them. After the Civil Rights Act, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. It stated that no state could “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Radical’s next passed several laws to restrict Andrew Johnson. After Johnson violated one of these laws, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment. Johnson was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and was acquitted.
Andrew Johnson returned to Tennessee where he was reelected to the Senate in 1875. He died later that year in Carter County, Tennessee on July 31, 1875. He was buried in Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Greeneville, Tennessee.
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