Andrew Johnson

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Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States (1865–1869). Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era of the United States in the four years after the American Civil War. His tenure was controversial as his positions favoring the white South came under heavy political attack from Republicans.

At the time of the secession of the Southern states, Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Greeneville in East Tennessee. As a Unionist, he was the only Southern senator not to quit his post upon secession. He became the most prominent War Democrat from the South and supported Lincoln's military policies during the American Civil War of 1861–1865. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of occupied Tennessee, where he proved to be energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion and beginning transition to Reconstruction.

Johnson was nominated for the Vice President position in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He and Lincoln were elected in November 1864 and inaugurated on March 4, 1865. Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865.

As president, he took charge of Presidential Reconstruction — the first phase of Reconstruction — which lasted until the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the 1866 elections. His conciliatory policies towards the South, his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederate states back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with Radical Republicans.[3] The Radicals in the House of Representatives impeached him in 1868, charging him with violating the Tenure of Office Act, but he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate.

Johnson's party status was ambiguous during his presidency. As president, he did not identify with the two main parties — though he did try for the Democratic nomination in 1868 — and so while President he attempted to build a party of loyalists under the National Union label. Asked in 1868 why he did not become a Democrat, he said, "It is true I am asked why don't I join the Democratic Party. Why don't they join me ... if I have administered the office of president so well?" His failure to make the National Union brand an actual party made Johnson effectively an independent during his presidency, though he was supported by Democrats and later rejoined the party as a Democratic Senator from Tennessee from 1875 until his death of a stroke at 66.[4] For these reasons he is usually counted as a Democrat when identifying presidents by their political parties.[5] Johnson was the first U.S. President to be impeached. He is commonly ranked by historians as being among the worst U.S. presidents.

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