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Andrew Johnson

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Andrew Johnson On April 9th, 1865, the Civil War officially ended. Five days later President Abraham Lincoln was killed, leaving the executive office to his successor Andrew Johnson. Following the war, plans were made for a reconstruction of the United States. President Johnson did not meet the Northern demands for reconstruction. He had many bad qualities and, in the Northern opinion, did not have the political skills of Lincoln. The Northerners also thought Johnson was stubborn and ill tempered. In May of 1865, when Johnson offered his outline for reconstruction, he pardoned all of the Southern whites except for Confederate leaders and some wealthy plantation owners. Many of them were later pardoned. Johnson then once again gave the Southern states freedom to run their state governments. People believed that Johnson was ignoring the former slaves’ rights. This became more and more evident, as the Black Codes began to form in the South. These were the many laws confining the African Americans to what some thought to be slavery except in name. In 1865, when Johnson declared reconstruction to be over, many Republicans, appalled at this, took action by refusing to seat Southerners that had recently been elected into Congress. Surprisingly enough, when the Civil Rights Bill came along abolishing the Black Codes and giving all people equal rights, Johnson passed it along with another bill. This action once again gave the African Americans more freedom. This was when Johnson’s prejudice against African Americans began to show up more and more. Around this time, two major bills were proposed; one of them was the Civil Rights bill. This bill would completely veto all of the Black Codes and give African American’s citizenship rights. The Houses passed it, but Johnson being prejudiced did not support it and vetoed both bills. The Civil Rights bill soon became the first bill to ever be passed over presidential veto. Congress began to come up with its own plan for reconstruction; it would help the African Americans. Despite this support, the African Americans still had not gained their right to vote. In 1866 the Fourteenth Amendment was passed and issues of civil rights for blacks came up repeatedly. Johnson was still trying to push his reconstruction program, which did not help the Northerners trying to get the South to ratify this amendment. In 1867 the New Reconstruction Act was passed once again over presidential veto.
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