Andrew Johnson: A Biography

Andrew Johnson: A Biography

by Hans L. Trefousse


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Politically shrewd but fatally unable to adapt to new political realities, Andrew Johnson presided, disastrously, over the tumultuous first years of Reconstruction. In this provocative account, Hans Trefousse gives us "a brilliant, compassionate portrait of a dynamic era of social change and national healing, and of the tragic failure of an American leader" (Library Journal).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393317428
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/17/1997
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 468,394
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Hans L. Trefousse is professor of history at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His other books include The Radical Republicans, a pathbreaking history of Reconstruction.

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Andrew Johnson 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
lapd00duke More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and I thought it was well written. I normally select my presidential books from the American Presidential Series. However, I selected this book from a previous recommendation from a reader and thought this to be a great book. Not too overbearing with information and it kept me wanting to read on. Made clear some issues that Team of Rivals failed address.
cyderry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrew Johnson was a self-made man who was placed into a difficult position by his place in time. This enigmatic man was the only Southern Senator who remained loyal to the Union at the time the Civil War began. He believed whole-heartedly in the Union and the Constitution and throughout his life fought to preserve them. But he was a contradiction. He was a Democrat that served as Lincoln's (a Republican) Vice President, he was a white supremacist that was concerned about freed men of color, he was a politician who lost only two elections - one early one late in career - but was always looking for vindication by the people. Johnson was a stubborn man who appeared to believe that he was always right when it came to political matters and here lies his difficulties. Since he was a Democrat in a Republican administration per se, he had little support for his plans for the Reconstruction of the nation at the end of the war and after Lincoln's assassination. He used the Presidential veto 29 times and was overridden 15. His personal feelings for other politicians frequently got in the way of vital legislation. However, he held ground in his belief of the powers of the Constitution and was vindicated at his impeachment proceedings by acquittal.I still think I need more details concerning the impeachment process, so another book is in order for that historical event. As a President I don['t think that he was great, but he wasn't as bad IMHO, as history makes him out.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Andrew Johnson is one of the more intriguing characters in US history - at least for me. He was a Democrat, albeit a Unionist Democrat, that served as Vice President under Republican Abraham Lincoln. He professed to be concerned for black freedmen to the point of even referring to himself as their "Moses", yet repeated expressed white supremacist views and implemented Reconstruction policies seemingly without regard for the effect on freedmen in the South. He's the first US president to be impeached, with precident-setting results for executive-legislative relations ever since. My hope with Hans Trefousse's Andrew Johnson: A Biography - the first full biography of Johnson I've read - was to better understand this complex man, especially where he impacted post-Civil War events. Johnson is presented here as the classic self-made man - humble beginnings, self assurance and hard work leading to material success, the desire to excel in politics to validate his success. He presented himself as a populist and Jacksonian Democrat his whole political career, and in fact on many occasions was able to translate that persona into real support from the people, at least some segments of the populace. Yet the same determination that led to his success turned into sheer pig-headedness when the country needed the president and Congress to put the nation back together again after the Civil War. While more than one factor was in play, it's clear that without some compromise, the southern states were given latitude to put a de facto slave culture back in place.Trefousse's work is a functional biography - it presents the man and attempts to understand him - but it was a bit of a long slog. Frankly, the first half of the book was rather dry and throughout the whole book, I never felt I really got Andrew Johnson in the way other authors have made other presidents come alive. The second half of the book certainly picked up more interest, with all the drama associated with the conflict between Johnson and those with more radical ideas about how to reconstruct the Union. I suppose part of my reaction to the book came from my dislike of the man presented here and the things he stood for. However inappropriate that might be for historical study, it certainly made it hard for me to connect with the work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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