From: Chris McAtee
Time: 3:11:09 AM
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
How did Andrew Johnson get to be President of the United States? As a reward for his loyalty to the Union during the war, southern war Democrat (as well as former Congressman, Senator, and Governor of Tennessee) Andrew Johnson was nominated as Lincoln’s vice-president in the election of 1864. Lincoln won the election but was shot by John Wilkes Booth on the night of April 14th, 1865; he died from his wound several hours later. Booth had an accomplice who was also supposed to kill Johnson on the same night but he failed in his mission. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase swore in Johnson as president the next day.
Did the person who wrote this obituary think Johnson deserved to be impeached? The individual who wrote this obituary for the New York Times clearly had at least some bias against the former President, based upon the manner in which Johnson handled the reconstruction effort in the south immediately following the war. He describes Johnson’s methods of dealing with the former rebels as “hasty” and “severe”. He also goes at length describing the ever-widening fault between the president and congress during the time, and attributes the source of this conflict to Johnson over exceeding his executive authorities. The writer describes Johnson as a very stubborn and vindictive man, vetoing everything congress sent before him and making unconstitutional decisions that both benefit him and be a barrier to congress.
What other primary sources ought to be consulted in order to draw a valid conclusion about the reasons for, and justice of Johnson’s impeachment? The most obvious of sources would be the actual written legislation and written transcripts of congress and the senate, if they were available from that period. The majority of congress believed that Johnson was using his executive power to unconstitutional ends, trying to usurp legislation approved by congress. A critical study of this legislation and the proceedings surrounding it would most likely be very revealing. It seems apparent that no one in congress was pleased with Johnson’s plans for reconstruction, and several members of his cabinet did resign.