by Hans Trefousse

ISBN 978-0-945707-22-6     $35.00

463 pages including illustrations.

   “Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House, but he remained in office after the roll call for conviction by the Senate fell one vote short of the necessary two thirds.  How and why this happened is the focal point of most biographies of Johnson, including this one. 
   Johnson became President at a moment of supreme triumph and tragedy in American history.  Northern victory in the Civil War had preserved the nation from dismemberment and excised the cancer of slavery.  But overnight the celebrations turned to mourning when John Wilkes Booth murdered Abraham Lincoln.  Without warning or preparations, without Lincoln's prestige, lacking his predecessor's political genius for employing flexible means to achieve principled ends, Johnson faced the daunting tasks of reconstructing a war-torn Union and guiding a slave society in its transition to freedom.  He did so as a Democrat elected by Republicans, a southerner presiding over a government and nation now dominated by the North, and a lifelong supporter of slavery at the head of an anti-slavery party.  Johnson proved unequal to the task.  His administration was wracked by three years of escalating conflict with congress which culminated in impeachment and near conviction...
   Johnson was always an outsider battling the establishment, succeeding against great odds as a champion of the underdog.  In ante-bellum Tennessee he was a Democrat in a Whig state, a spokesman for the common man against planter domination, a representative of poor and rocky east Tennessee against the fertile western lowlands.  In 1861 he refused to go with his state into the Confederacy; during the war he ruled a hostile civilian population as military governor.  Johnson was temperamentally incapable of working within the establishment; during Reconstruction the North and the Republicans were the establishment.  Johnson’s defiance of them was consistent with his whole career; once again he could fight for the underdog against the odds.  Abraham Lincoln, the preeminent political insider, must have been turning over in his grave."  Distilled from the review by James M. McPherson, Atlantic Magazine, August, 1989.

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