Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

Book - 2011
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A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian recounts the tale of the unwanted president who ran afoul of Congress over Reconstruction and was nearly removed from office

Andrew Johnson never expected to be president. But just six weeks after becoming Abraham Lincoln's vice president, the events at Ford's Theatre thrust him into the nation's highest office.

Johnson faced a nearly impossible task--to succeed America's greatest chief executive, to bind the nation's wounds after the Civil War, and to work with a Congress controlled by the so-called Radical Republicans. Annette Gordon-Reed, one of America's leading historians of slavery, shows how ill-suited Johnson was for this daunting task. His vision of reconciliation abandoned the millions of former slaves (for whom he felt undisguised contempt) and antagonized congressional leaders, who triedto limit his powers and eventually impeached him.

The climax of Johnson's presidency was his trial in the Senate and his acquittal by a single vote, which Gordon-Reed recounts with drama and palpable tension. Despite his victory, Johnson's term in office was a crucial missed opportunity; he failed the country at a pivotal moment, leaving America with problems that we are still trying to solve.

Publisher: New York : Times Books/Henry Holt, 2011.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780805069488
Branch Call Number: B JOHNSON GORDON-R
Characteristics: xviii, 166 pages ; 22 cm.


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Dec 28, 2017

While many authors allow their biases to creep into their works, historians and biographers need to be particularly on guard to prevent this. Unfortunately, in this case, the author hits you right in the face from the start with her bias and keep hammering at it until nearly the last paragraph.

President Andrew Johnson was an abysmal example of a president (along with several others) and probably should not have been in a position to come to the office...but he did. This book tells the story of his rise to power and his poor performance in the job but there are numerous significant passages that dwell on his major flaws (primarily racism) which precluded more factual aspects of his Reconstruction fights with Congress and the impeachment process he faced.

Fortunately, the remaining books which I have read in this series do not suffer from a similar structural flaw.


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