Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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JOHNSON, Andrew, president of the United States 1865-9, was born at Raleigh, N. C., Dec. 29, 1808, and died in Carter county, Tenn., July 31, 1875. After holding various state offices, he served as representative from Tennessee (democratic) 1843-53. as governor 1853-7, and United States senator 1857-62. He was appointed military governor of Tennessee (see that state) in 1862, and in 1864 was elected vice-president by the republican party. He became president upon President Lincoln's death, and served until 1869. (For the political events of his administration see RECONSTRUCTION; FREEDMEN'S BUREAU; CIVIL RIGHTS BILL; TENURE OF OFFICE; VETO, IMPEACHMENTS, VI.; REPUBLICAN PARTY.) He was again elected United States senator in 1875, serving until his death.


—President Johnson was an exceptionally favorable and fortunate specimen of the southern "poor white." He was absolutely without the influences of early education until after his character had been fairly formed: it was only after his marriage that he was taught by his wife to read, write and cipher, and he then passed almost at once from the tailor's bench into politics. In this field he was steadily battling against "the aristocracy," from his first formation of a working-man's party in Greenville, Tenn.. in 1828, up to the day on which, as president, he offered heavy rewards for the arrest of Jefferson Davis and the other alleged participants in Lincoln's assassination. To his mind the great work had then been done by the overthrow of the slaveholding aristocracy, and the status of the negro in the south was a question of almost as great difficulty as before. When congress undertook to reconstruct southern state governments, and to compel southern whites to recognize the political equality of the negro in the work, congress, in Johnson's eyes, took the place of oppressor upon the southern people which the "aristocracy" had held before the war, and he simply changed his opposition accordingly. It does not matter whether reconstruction by congress was accomplished wisely or unwisely: it is certain that President Johnson was eminently unfitted by nature, by education, and by life-long devotion to an entirely different object, to deal with the problem of reconstruction. The tone of his answer to the first negro delegation which met him after his accession to the presidency was sufficient to forewarn his failure, and to show the reason for it. Even his sincerity, his persistency, and a certain frankness which was often far from engaging, made him a more certain victim to the difficulties of his position.


—See Savage's Living Representative Men, 347; Savage's Life and Public Services of Andrew Johnson; Moore's Life and Speeches of Andrew Johnson; Foster's Life and Speeches of Andrew Johnson; and authorities under articles referred to.


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