Lessons from the impeachment of Andrew Johnson By Eric Foner

William S. Lear rael at zopyra.com
Sat Dec 19 07:45:16 PST 1998

On Sat, December 19, 1998 at 10:00:09 (-0500) James Farmelant writes:
> Lessons from the impeachment of Andrew Johnson
> By Eric Foner, 12/19/98
> Once before in American history, during the turbulent era of
> Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, a president was impeached
> by the House and tried before the Senate - Andrew Johnson.
> Unlike now, Johnson's impeachment arose from differences with Congress
> over the most fundamental questions of public policy: How should the
> country be reunited? Who was entitled to the rights of American
> citizens? What should be the status of the emancipated slaves?
> Johnson's Reconstruction policy is often described as one of
> ''leniency'' toward the South. It was lenient enough to white
> Southerners, to whom Johnson quickly restored control over local
> affairs.

Foner is a lousy historian in my opinion. He's a bit more liberal than McDonald I guess but just as deluded.

The following is a different, I think more accurate take, by Thomas Ferguson from chapter one of his excellent *Golden Rule*. It appears on p. 69, and I have removed his reference citations:

Backed by a massive coalition of bankers, merchants, and some

(not all) important railroad men, President Andrew Johnson

treated the South rather like another group of similarly

connected business leaders treated Germany 80 years later, and

began reinstalling the old leadership of the defeated country

into power. He also pursued a highly conservative monetary policy

designed to get the United States quickly back on gold, and laid

plans to cut tariffs.

All of these proposals generated powerful opposition. The

Reconstruction, tariff, and monetary policies were sharply

opposed by many industrialists, especially those in Pennsylvania

and the Midwest, who complained bitterly about tariff cuts and

deflation; some railroads, which did not want to have to pay off

newly issued bonds in sound money; and many Republicans of all

stripes whose overriding priority was the creation of a viable

Republican Party in the South to secure the fruits of the Civil

War. Johnson had to be rescued by superlawyer William Everts,

attorney for the Astors and the New York Central, and barely

escaped impeachment.


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