CANCELLED -- Andrew Johnson
The American Presidents Series: The 17th President, 1865-1869
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
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Andrew Johnson never expected to be president. But just six weeks after becoming Abraham Lincoln's vice president, the events at Ford's Theater thrust him, unprepared, into the nation's highest office.
Johnson faced a nearly impossible task--to succeed the nation's greatest chief executive, to bind the nation's wounds after the Civil War, and to work with a Congress controlled by the 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 Republican congressional leaders, who tried to 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.
Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor of law at New York Law School, where she has taught since 1992. She is the author of the celebrated Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, co-author with Vernon Jordan of Vernon Can Read!, and editor of Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History. She lives in New York City.