Andrew Johnson's Radical Reconstruction

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Andrew Johnson was the President of the United States in a very difficult time, the Radical Reconstruction. During the Reconstruction, there were many items that Johnson was frowned upon for doing. Johnson was an insensitive man to public opinion and lacked political savvy. Also, Southern whites undercut Johnson’s lenient program of Reconstruction and played into the hands of so-called Radical Republicans in Congress who wanted to take away power from the executive branch. The author Donald explains how Johnson’s behavior was responsible for Radical Reconstruction and for the charges of impeachment lodged against him by members of his own party. Defenders of Johnson like to push the idea that Congressional Reconstruction was the work of a few…show more content…
The southern whites who worked around the Presidents moderate plan of Reconstruction did so in a manner that would be frowned upon today. The Southern whites had been guaranteed charity from Lincoln. “With his [Lincoln’s] enormous prestige as commander of the victorious North and as victor in the 1864 election, he was able to promise freedom to the Negro, charity to the southern white, security to the North” (page 3). An example of how Congress worked around Johnson’s disliked program of Reconstruction was passing through bills for him to sign. Johnson vetoed them and as a result Congress over ruled him and passed them anyway. This is illustrated by Donald, “Andrew Johnson became a cipher in the White House, futilely4 disapproving bills which were promptly passed over his veto” (page 10). This sole action of vetoing the bills led to the Congress wanting to take away power from the President which they essentially did. Due to the fact that they could pass bills they were slowly and slightly removing power from the Executive…show more content…
Johnson had learned politics in frontier Tennessee. Andrew Johnson was introduced to politics in Tennessee were the government officials “exchanged violent personalities, crude humor and bitter denunciations” (page 5). In laymen’s terms, they were not formal in their conduction of business. Also, Johnson during the time of Lincoln’s second inauguration, approached members of the Senate “obviously inebriated state and made a long, intemperate1, harangue2 about his plebian origins and his hard won success” (page 4). Johnson also did not care how the general public thought of him. “Andrew Johnson’s greatness weakness was his insensitivity to public opinion” (page 3). Lincoln in contrast said “Public opinion in this country is everything” (page 3). Another instance where Johnson’s behavior went astray was when he was meeting with Senator Charles Sumner, who was a radical. During the argument, Johnson and Sumner were very energized. In the heat of the argument, Johnson “unconsciously used Sumner’s hat, which the Senator had placed on the floor beside his chair as a spittoon!” (page
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