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The Andrew Johnson Presidency Essay

552 words - 2 pages

President Johnson was thrown into the presidential seat at a crucial turning point of American government. Johnson took a strong anti-Confederate stand, and sought to destroy the planter aristocracy. He was a spokesman for nonslaveowning whites and rose rapidly to political fame, but he reversed his position on slavery during the war. Johnson neither adopted abolitionist ideals nor challenged racist sentiments. The Civil Rights of blacks was not his main concern.
Johnson had the difficult task of reconstructing the South after the Civil War. Although most of his reconstruction policies were later replaced by congressional policies, Johnson did make some achievements in the Southern governments. Johnson allowed Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas to return to the Union. Those who took an oath of allegiance could elect delegates to state conventions, receive a pardon, and all their property, except slaves, would be restored. Johnson disqualified all ex-Confederate military and civil officers and those with $20,000 in taxable land. However, Johnson abundantly handed out presidential pardons to many southerners. By the end of 1865, all seven states had created new civil governments that in effect restored the status from before the war.
Andrew Johnson had his own political agenda which did not correspond with Republican plans. Many Republicans were stunned when Johnson announced a new plan for restoration in May 1865. All seven states took steps to ensure a landless, dependent black labor force. They passed “black codes” which left freedmen no longer slaves or really free. Many northerners claimed what they saw this as southern defiance. Johnson, despite Congressional attempts, did not make any arrangements to stop “black codes” and protect freedmen’s...

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