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Mr. President

Andrew Johnson
Seventeenth President, 1865–1869

“I got to be
an obstacle that was to be removed…If Congress by a two-thirds vote may abolish the Executive… then you have despotism.”

—After election to U.S. Senate in 1857.

Standing Alone:
Once the only southern senator to vote against secession, Vice President Andrew Johnson took up Abraham Lincoln's mission to restore the Union after his assassination. However, he quickly found himself in conflict with the Republicans in Congress over reconstruction. Johnson infuriated the Republicans when he supported a "mild" approach to reconstruction, which let the South choose how to deal with emancipated slaves. He also opposed Congress’s programs for helping freed slaves and punishing the South. It was over Johnson's veto that Congress passed the nation’s first civil rights bill to protect former slaves from racial discrimination. When Johnson later fired his disloyal secretary of state, he came within one vote of being impeached.

Portrait by Washington Bogart Cooper , circa 1866 . NPG.86.213 , Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery .

Fast Facts
Party: Republican
Date of Birth: Thursday, December 29, 1808
Date of Death: Saturday, July 31, 1875
Vice President: none
First Lady: Eliza McCardle Johnson

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