Andrew Johnson by Annette Gordon-Reed
The American Presidents Series: The 17th President, 1865-1869

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Synopsis

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 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.

 

About Annette Gordon-Reed

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Annette Gordon-Reed is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, Professor of History in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, which won both the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
 
Published January 18, 2011 by Times Books. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction

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It was during those early years, when he had “brushed up close to the nightmare of dependency and social degradation,” a state shared by the enslaved African Americans at the time, that Johnson developed his obsession with the wrongs of the poor whites at the hands of the planter class—and at the...

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New York Journal of Books

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Annette Gordon-Reed sets the tone for her study of Andrew Johnson, 17th president of the United States in her introductory remarks: “Throughout the entirety of his political career Andrew Johnson did everything he could to make sure blacks would never become equal citizens in the United States of...

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Apr 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Andrew Johnson: The American ...

Fred Beauford

Senate, and using all of his gifted skills as an orator, spoke out forcefully against secession, which, as Professor Gordon-Reed points out, greatly endeared him to northerners, and the abolition movement, although the great Frederick Douglass is quoted early in the book that he felt that Joh...

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