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President Andrew Johnson opnions wanted-- - Other People of the Civil War - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Wed Sep 10th, 2008 04:34 pm
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5fish
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President Andrew Johnson is consider a failed president but this was not always case. He was consider a hero by the early 20th century historians as a knight against the Radical Republicans corrupt designs for the south. He start off with high marks by historians but as history it revisited his high marks fall...

He was lenient or the south someone would say to lenient. He appointed Governors that supported white rule in the south by passing  "Black Code " laws. He veto funding for the Freedmen Bureau, veto first civil rights law, veto the Reconstruction acts 1 & 2, and oppose the 14th amendment. He used his influence to stifle the 14th amendment being approved by the states, which failed. Many of the laws he veto were over turned by congress or passed in later years.  

I ask for one's opinion because the "lost cause fans" tend to dislike Johnson as much as the pro-union side does. Johnson was the best friend the white south could have had in the white house in 1865. He the one that pardon most of the X-confederates. The radicals tried twice to impeach the man and failed in both attempts.

I ask  for one's opinion because who is more right the historians form the first half of the 20th century or the ones form the second half of the 20th century. The man's record is not a mixed bag it is cleared so do historians have a problem with the answer...

 

 

 



 Posted: Wed Sep 10th, 2008 06:23 pm
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The Iron Duke
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You must consider the time period in which an author is writing. Since so much emphasis is placed on the Civil Rights Movement nowadays it shouldn't be that big of a surprise that modern day historians would view Johnson as a failure. Another good example is that Grant's presidency is traditionally viewed as an abject failure but because he was supportive of civil rights for the freedmen modern historians are putting a much more positive light on his administration.

If any president has not received the commendation that he deserves it is James K Polk.

Last edited on Wed Sep 10th, 2008 06:25 pm by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Thu Sep 11th, 2008 07:30 am
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susansweet
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James K. Polk is the only president that said this is what I am going to do and in his one term in office did everything he said he would do.  He worked so hard during the one term in office which he said was all he needed, that he died within a short time after he left office. 

I visited the Polk home in Columbia Tennessee a few years ago and learned quite a bit about the man and his presidency. 

Susan



 Posted: Thu Sep 11th, 2008 10:43 am
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5fish
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I agree with Iron that the period in which a historian lives does effect his point of view when interpreting history. It is obvious the early historians of Reconstruction allowed their racial bias to color their interpretation. It is obvious that later historians views changed about Reconstruction as our nation views on race changed.

Now we have two interpretations Johnson period as president so which one should be considered correct. If the Civil rights movement had failed in the last half of the 20th century would we still consider Johnson one of our better Presidents. Can history have two correct interpretations of Johnson period from the same facts?

Note about Polk: I am a great believer of Manifest Destiny and support his views or expanding America's borders. I know our expansion after the Mexican-American war led to all the acrimony in the 1850's and civil war. We would not be the world power. We have become without expanding from sea to shining sea.

I think Iron will have to expand on his comment about POLK---

Last edited on Thu Sep 11th, 2008 03:27 pm by 5fish



 Posted: Thu Sep 11th, 2008 11:13 am
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izzy
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Always in motion is the future (or past for that matter).  May the force be with you.



 Posted: Sat Sep 13th, 2008 02:11 am
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Wrap10
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Johnson is an interesting study, isn't he. Right after Lincoln is killed, he talks like he's going to be about the worst nightmare the South ever had. He seemed to view southern leaders as nothing short of tyrants, worthy of a good hanging. Then when some of those same southern leaders begin glad-handing him as president, he completely changes his tune and seemingly becomes the South's best friend. Maybe it's unfair to say it like this, but you get the sense that they played him like a fiddle.

It was largely because of Johnson that the former Confederate states got a shot at "self reconstruction" for a couple of years after the war. The result was a post-war South that had a remarkable resemblance, politically and socially, to the pre-war South, which perhaps isn't really surprising when you get down to it. But the result of that was the better known Congressional Reconstruction, or "Radical" Reconstruction as it's also called, championed by several of the so-called Radical Republicans in Congress. This is the version of Reconstruction that is often portrayed, incorrectly for the most part in my opinion, of the North having its boot on the throat of the South. That idea, in my view, is overplayed.

But Johnson had a hand in what in the end was, if not a complete failure, then certainly far from being a complete success. And I think his reputation properly suffers for it as a result. What would his reputation be in the absence of the Civil Rights Movement? That's hard to say, at least for me. But I do think Reconstruction, as a whole, was what it has often been called, a golden opportunity missed. I don't know as I fully agree with the folks who think its failure is the starting point for the racial problems that followed over the next century. It played a role, but the roots of that problem were already in the ground by that point. But, the decade or so that followed the war was a chance to at least seriously weaken those roots, if not pull them out of the ground. Advances were made in that direction, but not as far, by a good deal, as they could have been.

I do think Johnson comes in for a share of the blame for that, as does the entire country for that matter. I also think Johnson was in over his head. The problems that faced the country after the war would likely have taxed the abilities of Lincoln himself, as I've seen at least one historian say. And to borrow a phrase, Johnson was no Lincoln.

But maybe bringing about equality and solving racial strife was asking a bit too much of that generation, among white people at least, given their collective world view and what they had just gone through in the first half of the 1860's. It is sad though, to think about what might have been, and how history might have been altered. Even if it was, at bottom, a long shot at that time. Perhaps that's why Reconstruction seems to get so little attention compared with the Civil War.

Perry



 Posted: Sun Sep 14th, 2008 03:12 pm
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5fish
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Warp 10,

It does seem that Abe had a vision for the South after the war but he did not live to complete it. I figure his vision would be frond upon by today's values.

Johnson had a vision as well about a yeomen south but failed bring it forth. He was not up to the job but if he had work with congress maybe he would have achieved something..

This idea the radicals brought racial strife to the south is plain bogus. Every action by the white southern leadership that arose after the war was about puting Freedmen into caste like system with few if any rights. If allowing the white southern leadership to cow the Freedmen back into servitude is racial harmony then let there be strife...

The radicals, who had a vision of racial equality in the south...

 

 



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 Posted: Tue Sep 23rd, 2008 04:49 pm
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5fish
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Bama46 wrote: "The radicals, who had a vision of racial equality in the south..."

Just exactly which radical Republicans are you referring to? Please name them and describe their "vision"

Exactly what did you want Johnston to do?... surrender the presidency to his cabinet and the congress..nothing short of that would have been satisfactory to them...



I have not forgotten you Bama but Thaddus Stevens was one for integration of the races in the south following the war....Senator Sunmer was one for integration too..I want to throw Rep. George Julian into the mix....They did not want to ship the Freedmen off somewhere but integrated them with the white south. They wanted citizenship and suffrage for the Freedmen

 

 

 



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 Posted: Wed Sep 24th, 2008 11:40 am
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5fish
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Bama, your view of the reconstruction era is obviously tainted by the Dunning school, which many of its teaching are being revise by modern historians.



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 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 04:08 pm
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5fish
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Bama,

I was not lecturing you but your impression of Reconstruction are similar to those expressed by historians following the Reconstruction era. Those views are being revisited by preset day historians with new assessments of the Reconstruction era.

Can you state one event were there was any brutality on southern whites? There was none but the were several race riots where southern white attacks local Freedmen, like Memphis and New Orleans.

The "Mississippi plan" was used by the southern Democrats to intimidate the freedman, scalawags and carpetbaggers into not voting. This plan was used in state after state across the south in the 1870's and was successful in bring the Democrats back into power in the south.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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 Posted: Sun Sep 28th, 2008 06:38 pm
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ole
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Now do not tell me that family stories do not have validity when at the same time recognizing that letters written during an era contain some of the most valuable insights into the thinking of the era.

Time to disagree. Letters and diaries are superior insights in that they were written at the time, often on the scene, and are not subject to change. Family stories ---- well, you've heard of the parlor game, "Gossip"?

 



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 Posted: Mon Sep 29th, 2008 12:36 am
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The Iron Duke
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Ed,

I'm having a hard time reading post 14.



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 Posted: Mon Sep 29th, 2008 01:20 am
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ole
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There is validity to family stories..not as much as letters and dairies, but validity nontheless. Details certainly can get blurred, but the basic story stays pretty much intact, my experience.

Naaaaah. The stories get convoluted in one generation, let alone five or six. They're fun and entertaining, but evidence of nothing.

ole



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