Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.


I think I see some similarities between the Democrats’ apparent efforts to try to impeach President Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Andrew Johnson was a “war Democrat,” meaning that he was a Democrat who supported the Union. He was Governor of the border state of Tennessee. Lincoln considered the border states critical in saving the Union.

“I hope to have God on my side,” Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said early in the war, “but I must have Kentucky.” Unlike most of his contemporaries, Lincoln hesitated to invoke divine sanction of human causes, but his wry comment unerringly acknowledged the critical importance of the border states to the Union cause. Following the attack on Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for troops in April 1861, public opinion in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri was sharply divided and these states’ ultimate allegiance uncertain. The residents of the border were torn between their close cultural ties with the South, on the one hand, and their long tradition of Unionism and political moderation on the other.

In 1864, after Atlanta was taken by Sherman, Lincoln began to think about the situation after the war. He met with Sherman and Grant on March 28, 1865. He had two weeks to live. He talked to them about his plans for after the war ended. Sherman later described the conversation. Lincoln was ready for the post-war period and he told Sherman to assure the Confederate Governor of North Carolina that as soon as the army laid down its arms, all citizens would have their rights restored and the state government would resume civil measures de facto until Congress could make permanent arrangement.

In choosing Johnson as his VP in 1964, Lincoln was doing two things, he was supporting his argument that no state could secede from the Union. The radical Republicans like Stevens and Sumner had taken the position that states had “committed suicide” by seceding. There was even a movement at the Baltimore Convention to nominate someone else, like Fremont who had been the nominee in 1856. The other was allowing the Convention to choose the VP nominee. It did seat some delegations from states, like Tennessee, that were still the scene of fighting. Only South Carolina was excluded.

The Convention was actually assumed to be safe for a Hannibal Hamlin renomination. Instead it voted for Johnson by a large margin. The final ballot results were 494 for Johnson, 9 for Hamlin. Noah Brooks, a Lincoln intimate, later recounted a conversation in which Lincoln told him that there might be an advantage in having a War Democrat as VP. Others, including Ward Hill Lamon, later agreed that Lincoln preferred a border state nominee for VP.

And so, Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat, was elected to an office that no one ever considered as likely to become President. No one anticipated Lincoln’s assassination. However there was a significant segment of radical Republicans that wanted to punish the states that had seceded and those who had joined the Confederacy, contrary to Lincoln’s plans. He had intended to restore the local governments, pending Congressional action to restructure the state governments. The Convention was well before Atlanta fell to Sherman’s army and Lincoln was not convinced he would be re-elected. The War Democrat VP nominee would help with border states.

Johnson humiliated himself with his inauguration speech, at which he was suspected to be drunk. He may have been ill; Castel cited typhoid fever,[95] though Gordon-Reed notes that there is no independent evidence for that diagnosis

Six weeks later, Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson was not well prepared to assume the Presidency.

Johnson implemented his own form of Presidential Reconstruction – a series of proclamations directing the seceded states to hold conventions and elections to reform their civil governments. When Southern states returned many of their old leaders, and passed Black Codes to deprive the freedmen of many civil liberties, Congressional Republicans refused to seat legislators from those states and advanced legislation to overrule the Southern actions. Johnson vetoed their bills, and Congressional Republicans overrode him, setting a pattern for the remainder of his presidency.

Much of his actions followed the plans of Lincoln as he explained them to Grant and Sherman at at City Point on March 26, 1865.

The events of the assassination resulted in speculation, then and subsequently, concerning Johnson and what the conspirators might have intended for him. In the vain hope of having his life spared after his capture, Atzerodt spoke much about the conspiracy, but did not say anything to indicate that the plotted assassination of Johnson was merely a ruse. Conspiracy theorists point to the fact that on the day of the assassination, Booth came to the Kirkwood House and left one of his cards. This object was received by Johnson’s private secretary, William A. Browning, with an inscription, “Don’t wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth.”

Johnson tried, against resistance, to follow Lincoln’s plans.

Upon taking office, Johnson faced the question of what to do with the Confederacy. President Lincoln had authorized loyalist governments in Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee as the Union came to control large parts of those states and advocated a ten percent plan that would allow elections after ten percent of the voters in any state took an oath of future loyalty to the Union. Congress considered this too lenient; its own plan, requiring a majority of voters to take the loyalty oath, passed both houses in 1864, but Lincoln pocket vetoed it.[121]

Johnson had three goals in Reconstruction. He sought a speedy restoration of the states, on the grounds that they had never truly left the Union, and thus should again be recognized once loyal citizens formed a government. To Johnson, African-American suffrage was a delay and a distraction; it had always been a state responsibility to decide who should vote. Second, political power in the Southern states should pass from the planter class to his beloved “plebeians”. This was similar to Sherman’s actions in Georgia where he would burn the homes of the rich planter class that favored secession.

The radical Republicans in Congress, led by Secretary of War Stanton, were enraged by the assassination of Lincoln and determined on revenge against the former Confederacy. Johnson opposed this and thus began his battles with the Congress.

The Republicans had formed a number of factions. The Radical Republicans sought voting and other civil rights for African Americans. They believed that the freedmen could be induced to vote Republican in gratitude for emancipation, and that black votes could keep the Republicans in power and Southern Democrats, including former rebels, out of influence. They believed that top Confederates should be punished.

The Moderate Republicans sought to keep the Democrats out of power at a national level, and prevent former rebels from resuming power. They were not as enthusiastic about the idea of African-American suffrage as their Radical colleagues, either because of their own local political concerns, or because they believed that the freedman would be likely to cast his vote badly. Northern Democrats favored the unconditional restoration of the Southern states.

Johnson got into this controversy and was not adept at countering it.

Johnson was initially left to devise a Reconstruction policy without legislative intervention, as Congress was not due to meet again until December 1865.[124] Radical Republicans told the President that the Southern states were economically in a state of chaos and urged him to use his leverage to insist on rights for freedmen as a condition of restoration to the Union. But Johnson, with the support of other officials including Seward, insisted that the franchise was a state, not a federal matter.

Seward supported him and was a moderate Republican. The radicals were determined on punishment.

As Southern states began the process of forming governments, Johnson’s policies received considerable public support in the North, which he took as unconditional backing for quick reinstatement of the South. While he received such support from the white South, he underestimated the determination of Northerners to ensure that the war had not been fought for nothing. It was important, in Northern public opinion, that the South acknowledge its defeat, that slavery be ended, and that the lot of African Americans be improved. Voting rights were less important

This seems to have been a reasonable approach.

Northern public opinion tolerated Johnson’s inaction on black suffrage as an experiment, to be allowed if it quickened Southern acceptance of defeat. Instead, white Southerners felt emboldened.

I am not convinced that this is true. The South was prostrate with its economy destroyed.

At the end of the American Civil War, the devastation and disruption in the state of Georgia were dramatic. Wartime damage, the inability to maintain a labor force without slavery, and miserable weather had a disastrous effect on agricultural production. The state’s chief cash crop, cotton, fell from a high of more than 700,000 bales in 1860 to less than 50,000 in 1865, while harvests of corn and wheat were also meager.[1] The state government subsidized construction of numerous new railroad lines. White farmers turned to cotton as a cash crop, often using commercial fertilizers to make up for the poor soils they owned. The coastal rice plantations never recovered from the war.

Bartow County was representative of the postwar difficulties. Property destruction and the deaths of a third of the soldiers caused financial and social crises; recovery was delayed by repeated crop failures. The Freedmen’s Bureau agents were unable to give blacks the help they needed.

One consequence was that northern fortune seekers moved south.

During and immediately after the Civil War, many northerners headed to the southern states, driven by hopes of economic gain, a desire to work on behalf of the newly emancipated slaves or a combination of both. These “carpetbaggers”–whom many in the South viewed as opportunists looking to exploit and profit from the region’s misfortunes–supported the Republican Party, and would play a central role in shaping new southern governments during Reconstruction. In addition to carpetbaggers and freed African Americans, the majority of Republican support in the South came from white southerners who for various reasons saw more of an advantage in backing the policies of Reconstruction than in opposing them. Critics referred derisively to these southerners as “scalawags.”

The movie “Gone With the Wind” gives the southern version of this history. It was set in Georgia and other evidence suggests the conditions were much like those in the movie.

Johnson’s sympathy for the defeated South led to conflict with Congress.

According to Trefousse, “If there was a time when Johnson could have come to an agreement with the moderates of the Republican Party, it was the period following the return of Congress”. The President was unhappy about the provocative actions of the Southern states, and about the continued control by the antebellum elite there, but made no statement publicly, believing that Southerners had a right to act as they did, even if it was unwise to do so. By late January 1866, he was convinced that winning a showdown with the Radical Republicans was necessary to his political plans – both for the success of Reconstruction and for reelection in 1868. He would have preferred that the conflict arise over the legislative efforts to enfranchise African Americans in the District of Columbia, a proposal that had been defeated overwhelmingly in an all-white referendum. A bill to accomplish this passed the House of Representatives, but to Johnson’s disappointment, stalled in the Senate before he could veto it.

His struggle with Edward Stanton brought on the crisis.

Although strongly urged by Moderates to sign the Civil Rights Bill, Johnson broke decisively with them by vetoing it on March 27. In his veto message, he objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when 11 out of 36 states were unrepresented in the Congress, and that it discriminated in favor of African Americans and against whites.[138][139] Within three weeks, Congress had overridden his veto, the first time that had been done on a major bill in American history.The veto of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, often seen as a key mistake of Johnson’s presidency, convinced Moderates there was no hope of working with him.

This ended the possibility of an alliance with moderate Republicans.

In January 1867, Congressman Stevens introduced legislation to dissolve the Southern state governments and reconstitute them into five military districts, under martial law. The states would begin again by holding constitutional conventions. African Americans could vote for or become delegates; former Confederates could not. In the legislative process, Congress added to the bill that restoration to the Union would follow the state’s ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, and completion of the process of adding it to the Constitution. Johnson and the Southerners attempted a compromise, whereby the South would agree to a modified version of the amendment without the disqualification of former Confederates, and for limited black suffrage. The Republicans insisted on the full language of the amendment, and the deal fell through.

Reconstruction by the radicals was in full swing.

on March 2, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over the President’s veto, in response to statements during the Swing Around the Circle that he planned to fire Cabinet secretaries who did not agree with him. This bill, requiring Senate approval for the firing of Cabinet members during the tenure of the president who appointed them and for one month afterwards, was immediately controversial, with some senators doubting that it was constitutional or that its terms applied to Johnson, whose key Cabinet officers were Lincoln holdovers.[149]

It was clearly unconstitutional. Just as the New York State Bill of Attainder for Trump’s taxes is another example.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was an able and hard-working man, but difficult to deal with.[150] Johnson both admired and was exasperated by his War Secretary, who, in combination with General of the Army Grant, worked to undermine the president’s Southern policy from within his own administration. Johnson considered firing Stanton, but respected him for his wartime service as secretary. Stanton, for his part, feared allowing Johnson to appoint his successor and refused to resign, despite his public disagreements with his president.

Grant favored the rights of freed slaves, but wanted no part of the position of Secretary of War. Stanton was an intemperate man. He had slandered Sherman for his efforts to assist the surrender of Joe Johnston’s army. Sherman refused to shake his hand and never spoke to him again.

Johnson and Stanton battled over the question of whether the military officers placed in command of the South could override the civil authorities. The President had Attorney General Henry Stanbery issue an opinion backing his position that they could not. Johnson sought to pin down Stanton either as for, and thus endorsing Johnson’s position, or against, showing himself to be opposed to his president and the rest of the Cabinet.

Johnson, after repeated defeats of the resolution in the House, was finally impeached in March 1868. He was acquitted by one vote. The trial lasted three months. He completed his term and later was elected to the Senate, the only ex-president to do so. He remained quite popular in the South.

What are the lessons for Trump ? Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath and had had his law license revoked. Additionally, he had asked/ordered cabinet members to attest to a lie. Johnson was inept in some of his advocacy for the defeated South. Trump has neither lied under oath, though accused of it by his enemies, nor shown the ineptitude of Johnson in assessing public sentiment.

This appears to be a war between the President and a Congressional House (one house) of another party. The Johnson case was somewhat similar as the opposing party did not consider him a valid President as the President had been assassinated raising him to the office. The two previous vice- presidents who had been raised to President by death also had their troubles with Congress. Tyler had his veto overridden, the first time that had happened, and Fillmore had a rough time getting the Compromise of 1850 passed.

Harrison’s death sparked a brief constitutional crisis regarding succession to the presidency, as the U.S. Constitution was unclear as to whether Vice President John Tyler should assume the office of President or merely execute the duties of the vacant office. Tyler claimed a constitutional mandate to carry out the full powers and duties of the presidency and took the presidential oath of office, setting an important precedent for an orderly transfer of presidential power when a president leaves office intra-term

Also, Tyler agreed to support an effort to craft a compromise bank bill that would meet his objections, and the cabinet developed another version of the bill.[43] Congress passed a bill based on Treasury Secretary Ewing’s proposal, but Tyler vetoed that bill as well.[44] Tyler’s second veto infuriated Whigs throughout the country, inspiring numerous anti-Tyler rallies and angry letters to the White House.[45] On September 11, members of the cabinet entered Tyler’s office one by one and resigned

After peace was restored, he (Fillmore) supported the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson. Though he is largely obscure today, Fillmore has been praised by some, for his foreign policy, and criticized by others, for his enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act and his association with the Know Nothings.

21 thoughts on “Trump and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.”

  1. There is one key difference between the situation today and that at the end of the First American Civil War. The Radical Republicans could at least be said to have acted out of an excess of patriotism and chauvinism for the united Country and its institutions and Constitution. They may well have been wrong in that a punitive response against all the citizens of the Confederate States likely would have led to a partisan movement that could have lasted generations. But their goal was a return to constitutional normalcy.

    The night before the surrender at Appomattox, there was a strong undercurrent of feeling that the Confederate Army should scatter and carry on the fight. A couple of things helped quiet those feelings. General Lee’s insistence on avoiding guerilla war, General Grant’s lenient terms of surrender and parole, and the actions of General Joshua Chamberlain who had been given the honor of accepting the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, its arms, and equipment.

    When Confederate General John B. Gordon marched the dispirited remnants of the defeated Army past the Union forces, they did not know what to expect, other that it was going to be bad.

    On his own, General Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top and arguably one of the saviors of the Union, ordered the Union army to the “Carry Arms” salute, rendering the military honors due to an honorable defeated foe in the custom of the time.

    General Gordon and his forces returned the salute, and it gave them hope for the future. Yes, they did cry as they folded their battle colors and stacked arms, but when they were released under the terms of parole given by General Grant, much of the bitterness died, and there was no guerilla war.

    After the war, veterans of both sides viewed themselves more as brothers than as enemies. I live in a small town in the mountains of Colorado that pre-dates the Civil War. Our old town cemetery is full of markers from both sides, AND there is a Confederate cemetery section, paid for by the Union Grand Army of the Republic for those Confederates who had “seen the elephant” with them and could not afford a decent burial and marker.

    If the radical Republicans had had their way, we might still be fighting the old war.

    Today, the Democrat-Socialists have no loyalty to or good feelings for Constitution and Country. Their goal is to tear them down and impose a slavery on everybody. The impeachment effort is part of that, as is the theft electoral votes which means that a few Democrat-Socialist states will determine the president without regard for the rest of us.

    This impeachment is only one gambit in a newer, larger war.

    Subotai Bahadur

  2. The Mueller presser makes it more likely that Democrats will self immolate.

    Imagine if the GOP had nominated some one like Lindbergh in 1940.

    Bob Mueller decided to shoot up the town before he rode off into the sunset.

    It is fair enough to observe that in his short but explosive speech, delivered at the Justice Department this morning, the special counsel did not say anything that wasn’t already set forth in his report — a point being emphasized by the White House. The sprawling report is 448 pages long, however. In his nine-minute address, Mueller quite consciously highlighted the portions of the report that fuel the Democrats’ calls for impeachment.

    Mueller was adamant that he did not make a finding on whether President Trump should be charged with obstruction of justice because the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued guidance forbidding the indictment of a sitting president. I’ve argued before that he is completely wrong on this, but that is beside the point.

    What matters is that Mueller can be fairly understood to be saying he believed President Trump committed obstruction of justice. That is not the only possible interpretation, but it is the most likely interpretation.

    This, in the face of the enemy, is close to treason. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi an d many other Democrats are on the payroll of enemies of the US, like Iran and China.

    Is this part of a plan to paralyze the Trump administration while negotiating with China , Iran and NK ??

  3. Trump will be impeached for the same reason Johnson was–his political opponents think he shouldn’t get to be president. But Johnson didn’t win an election. Trump did. It’s difficult to think of anything more catastrophically awful in recent American history than the decision of Obama and cronies not to peacefully hand over power, wish their successors the best of luck in steering the ship of state, and walk away to fight, politically, another day. Do you think that George W Bush and Co. thought Obama had terrible and dangerous ideas? Of course! But he won the election, so he got his turn. Those who have been whining about “norms” for the last 2+ years are right, but they’re the ones who are shattering norms that keep the country running and stable. It’s hard to see how to recover equilibrium at this point. All this could have been foreseen as a perfectly logical outcome of putting a Chicago political machine hack in charge.

  4. But Johnson didn’t win an election. Trump did.<

    Excellent point. Still BREXIT was resisted and the ALP is already complaining about the election down there,

  5. We are seeing increasing unwillingness to accept the will of the voters.

    This reflect the left moving leftwards faster than it can brainwash the public into accepting leftism.

    The left responds with intimidation and violence against the deplorables bitterly clinging to their God and their guns, which results in people lying to pollsters, with the result that we repeatedly get unexpected election results, as with Trump, brexit, and the recent Australian elections.

    Disgusted with democracy, the Democrats are sliding towards a coup. The treason of Brennan and Mueller was the of a beginnings coup attempt, but Brennan lost, and Mueller chickened out.

    Mueller passed the torch of treason to Congress.

    In a sense they have a point. The time of democracy is ending, whichever side wins. To be one people need to be one nation under God, or one nation under a ruler with a cult of personality. God can no longer preside.

  6. It was clearly unconstitutional. Just as the New York State Bill of Attainder for Trump’s taxes is another example.

    There is no doubt that it was unconstitutional, but that determination wass for the federal courts to decide. While the law was on the books, Johnson’s constitutional duty was to follow the law. He was rightly impeached.

    To Subotai’s point, my hometown was a little bit different. Illinois, despite being the Land of Lincoln now, was as divided as the country at large, with Confederate sympathizers controlling the southern half of the state and Union loyalists in the northern half. In 1863, the governor even had to declare an emergency and dissolve the state legislature for almost two years because there was a majority that wanted to withdraw from the war. There were running gun battles throughout southern Illinois between federal troops and Copperhead guerrillas.

    Our town was on the side of the line controlled by dyed-in-the-wool abolitionists. We sent a Radical Republican to congress whose farm was a station along the Underground Railroad. The old cemetery has a Civil War memorial for Union troops only. As if to avoid any ambiguity, they put the words, ‘liberty’, ‘justice’, ‘equality’, and ‘pro patria’ on each side of the base.

    The border states were the border in military posture only. In terms of public sentiment, the line really ran a few hundred miles north. The sting of division was particularly acute because the dividing line was so close. By my vantage point, there wasn’t much appetite for reconciliation then.

  7. “He was rightly impeached.”
    Impeachment is a purely political act, so there’s not really a right or wrong about it. If the Radical Republicans wanted full control of the Cabinet, then one of them should have run for president…

    I wonder if the insanity of the Democrats in going after Trump kamikaze style will lead to a stronger push for term limits. Why should we tolerate the likes of Pelosi and Nadler being able to sit in Congress for decades, if they can’t tolerate a president of the opposite party? Constitutional amendments are passed by states, and we outnumber them by quite a bit there.

  8. }}} If the radical Republicans had had their way, we might still be fighting the old war.

    Oh, but we are…. We still are…. :-/

  9. Southern Illinois was not all Confederate. Cairo (pronounced like Karo syrup) was a Union base. Missouri was more divided with rebel forces contesting half the state. Grant had to fight them several times.the northern half of Tennessee was quickly taken by Grant, Fort PIllow was a major win and was jut east of Memphis, which had the major Union hospital where my great great uncle died after being wounded at Vicksburg,

  10. I have thought that had Lincoln survived, integration with the South would have been far less painful. I agree, the Dems will self-immolate.

    Mueller didn’t act like a prosecutor.

  11. Booth did more damage to the South than Sherman ever could have.

    Lincoln’s assassination was the greatest tragedy in the nation’s history. Reconstruction should be mentioned along with Versailles as an example of the destruction caused by victorious forces motivated purely by retribution and not reconciliation.

  12. Impeachment may be political, but it is also something of an open forum. Additionally, given the wording ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ a clear pretext must be argued. If deception and even unlawful actions were employed in the creation of this pretext, this could generate backlash. In an election year the stakes are high. I have read an opinion that the main reason for an impeachment is a conviction that the coming election could not be won by the anti-Trump forces. That would make it an act of desperation, but given the successful demonization of Trump and Trumpsters in the eyes of many Americans it may be inevitable. Meuller has stated any criminal accusation he might make could “potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” This and other quotes suggest clearly that in his view impeachment is in order, and this might well be his legacy. Either way, it would cement permanent antipathies and create a divide such as we were able to avoid after the Civil War. To quote the President, impeachment “is a a dirty, filthy, disgusting word.”

  13. Johnson’s impeachment trial lasted three months. I have read that McConnell would call for a vote the first day or otherwise derail the process the Democrarts are hoping for.

  14. William Barris is a freaking national hero. He along with Mike Rogers will loom large in histories of these years. If we make it.
    “I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.”
    “I’d rather, in many ways, I’d rather be back to my old life but I think that I love the Department of Justice, I love the FBI, I think it’s important that we not, in this period of intense partisan feeling, destroy our institutions. I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it’s President Trump that’s shredding our institutions. I really see no evidence of that, it is hard, and I really haven’t seen bill of particulars as to how that’s being done. From my perspective the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”

  15. “But I think it’s important to understand what basis there was for launching counterintelligence activities against a political campaign, which is the core of our second amendment- I’m sorry, the core of our first amendment liberties in this country”

    I don’t think that was a real slip up.

  16. Tennessee was not a Border state; it was an “Upper South” state, not adjacent to any free state. It had a substantial “unconditional” Unionist minority, and a larger “conditional” Unionist faction. Thus the state did not declare secession right away. (E.g. US Rep. Robert Hatton. In early 1861, he used his Congressional franking privilege to send thousands of anti-secession pamphlets to Tennessee voters; after Fort Sumter, he became a Confederate general and was KIA at Seven Pines.) In the actual Border states, secession was either rejected (DE, MD, KY, MO) or the state split up (VA), even after Fort Sumter. Tennessee declared secession immediately after Sumter.

    Sherman said that was what Lincoln told him, but there was no record of the conversation nor any witnesses. Nor did Lincoln make similar statements to anyone else.

    Sherman incorporated this position into the terms of surrender for Johnston’s army in North Carolina. In doing so, he attempted to form the procedure for Reconstruction throughout the country, which was way above his pay grade.

    Before Johnson became President, he had stated several times his view that the secessionist leaders should be punished as traitors. The Radical Republicans agreed with him on this.

    However, once he was President, Johnson, like many others, lost interest in this. Johnson was a white supremacist and partisan Democrat. These issues pre-empted his resentment of the old plantation “elite”.

    Instead, he enabled what has been dubbed “Conservative Reconstruction”, in which former Confederates took control of the restored civil government, enacted draconian “Black Codes” which practically re-established slavery, and even persecuted local Unionists. It is absurd to describe this as “following the plans of Lincoln”.

    It is not clear what actual Reconstruction policy Lincoln would have carried out. His views were changing rapidly toward the end of the war, especially on the issue of black civil rights and status. He would not have gone as far as the Radicals did – but he would not have been faced with entrenched “post-Confederatism”. He would never allow that movement to get started.

    IMO, Lincolnian Reconstruction would have avoided “Conservative Reconstruction”, the extreme program of Radical Reconstruction would never have been needed, and the terrorist “Redeemers” (KKK et al.) would also not be needed.

    One other point:

    Mike K: Fort Pillow was about 100 km north of Memphis, on the Mississippi River. Fort Pickering was at Memphis and included a hospital.

  17. Labeling people in 1866 as “white supremacist” or “racists” is stupid. Almost everyone in the entire world was “racist” and if not a “white supremacist” was a “Black or Yellow Supremacist”

    The impeachment of Johnson was unnecessary, since his chances of being re-elected were zero, and the Radicals had the votes to over-ride almost every veto. It was simply another Radical Republican excess.

    What’s ironic is the Republicans plan of giving Blacks the vote to ensure Republican supremacy backfired on them. From then on African-Americans were counted in the Census – but after Reconstruction had no votes in the South. Result? The White South was vastly over-represented in Congress and the Electoral College. If the Republicans didn’t want to enforce Black voting rights – at the point of a bayonet – forever, they should have simply apportioned Congressional districts based on the White Votes.

  18. BTW, I think the column is far too positive towards Stanton. He was an excellent administrator, but his dabblings in militarily strategy and politically driven Commanding Officer selections were often disastrous.

  19. As for Trump Impeachment vs. Johnson. The current drive for impeachment, based on nothing, can’t be compared to Clinton, or Johnson or Nixon (who resigned before he could be impeached). Nixon and Clinton committed High crimes. Johnson was at loggerheads with 2/3 of Congress over the most important issues of the day. Trump on the OTOH, is simply disliked by a few radicals in the House. They have no “High crime” to impeach with. They are simply engaged in a partisan exercise.

    The Republicans in the House should refuse to vote on Impreachment. Make it clear this is ALL about politics.

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