President Andrew Johnson: The Impact of his Presidency on Reformation and Civil Rights President Andrew Johnson is considered one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. President A. Johnson became president after the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865…
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There were two attempts made to impeach him from office during his term, although neither was successful. During a time when the nation was greatly wounded in the aftermath of the Civil War, President A. Johnson created a political leadership that did not help the nation towards its recovery. President Andrew Johnson had established a place within history with ill-advised behavior from the moment of his inauguration as Vice President to Abraham Lincoln. During the event, President Johnson had become intoxicated and his inauguration speech was a slurred mess that embarrassed those at the gathering. Later he would claim that he had been drinking because of the pain of suffering from typhoid fever, but whether this was true or not, his position in the administration was tainted by this rambled, incoherent speech. Because of this event, there were frequent accusations of his drunkenness, including on the day that he ascended to the Presidency when Abraham Lincoln was shot, but this accusation was put down by many witnesses to the event who claimed it was untrue. Still, this issue plagued his career, framing him as unreliable and creating a system that consistently second guessed his attempts at leadership.i Andrew Johnson received his leadership of the country through the tragic death of Abraham Lincoln who was shot and killed at a play by John Wilkes Booth at a play at Ford’s Theater. He should have been the perfect selection for the task of helping the country to recover, a Southern man who aligned his political beliefs with the North giving him an understanding of both cultures. One of the first acts that he committed after ascending to the Presidency was to create the First Amnesty Proclamation. This proclamation gave amnesty to thousands of southerners who had participated in the war. In order to be given a pardon, all that was needed was to swear an oath to the Union. However, fourteen classes of people were not allowed this general amnesty option. This included those who had graduated from military academies, those under indictment, and those who owned property worth more than 20,000.00.ii This last exclusion created economic problems. Those who had to go through the very lengthy process of applying individually for amnesty had their lives disrupted through the inability to participate in the privileges of legal status. This included not being able to marry, to get loans, or to easily conduct business. Johnson is quoted as having stated “you know perfectly well that it was the wealthy men of the South who dragooned the people into secession“.iii With those of means being affected, this meant that commerce was affected. However, the desired result that President Johnson was seeking was to allow for Caucasian Southerners of less means to climb into politics, leadership created by those of average means rather than an elitist class. However, this goal was very short lived as the power that was temporarily given to the average farmer was soon to be usurped once again by the elitist class. The acceptance of emancipation was not easily won and the retributions for the loss of the slavery against African Americans were harsh and violent. Southerners were reticent to accept the newly freed people and there were frequent reports of whippings, murders, and the burning of schools and churches. In addition, Black Codes being developed by that middle class leadership that President Jo
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