U.S. History 1492-1877 11: Presidential Reconstruction
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Andrew Johnson became president after Lincoln and granted amnesty to any former confederates who wrote him a letter of apology. That's pretty lenient considering the war they just had. If only it was that easy to be forgiven after robbing banks...not that we do that or anything.
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Why did Lincoln have a Southern Vice President?
Well, to look like he didn't hate the South.
And Johnson was one of the few Southern Democrats who actually supported Lincoln
making Johnson seem like a good pick. [Map shows pro-Lincoln and anti-Lincoln states]
But Johnson ran into a heap of trouble with Lincoln's party, the Republicans,
not long after he took the reins.
Republicans already thought Lincoln's Reconstruction policies
were too soft on the South. [hand kneads the dough]
But when Johnson started rolling out his ideas, the Republicans seriously blew
their tops, and nobody wanted to see these guys topless. Seriously. [An annoyed shirtless guy enters library]
In 1865, Johnson called for general amnesty and restoration of property,
minus slaves, to Southerners who swore an oath of loyalty. [A sleeping guy suddenly jumps in joy]
Of course, those who owned more than twenty thousand dollars in property
had to get a personal pardon from him.
As in, "Dear Mr. President, I'm very sorry about the whole slavery thing [an official letter]
and seceding from the Union. Can we be friends again?
P.S. I'd really like my plantation back, thank you very much.
But really all they had to do was ask nice, [ Mr. Johnson pops up from a chair and a girl pleads to Johnson]
and Johnson was granting pardons left and right.
So many that the White House secretary couldn't keep up in typing them all.
Autumn came, along with thirteen thousand pardons, and a bunch of [The hands types on typewriter]
black codes being drafted in the South.
Johnson's Reconstruction plan didn't even qualify as a slap on the wrist,
it was more like he gave the South a hand massage.
Well thanks to Johnson, more than sixty former Confederates arrived to
take their seats in Congress.
There were four generals, four colonels, six Confederate cabinet officers [The image of Congress]
and none other than the Confederacy's former VP, Alexander H. Stephens.
This was not great PR for Johnson.
Northerners were like, "um, we thought we won the war..." [guy pops up in Johnson's office]
In the House of Representatives, republican Thaddeus Stevens
came up with the tactic called, "waving the bloody shirt." [A bloody shirt waves over members in Congress]
This meant reminding Northern voters of the bloody sacrifices their people had
made on the battlefield to build support for aggressive Reconstruction policies.
We're kinda disappointed that Thaddeus didn't literally wave a bloody shirt.
Well Johnson tried to combat this with his so-called "Swing Around the Circle." [A circle is marked on the map]
With Congress demanding that the South ratify the 14th Amendment so they
could rejoin the U.S. of A, Johnson decided to go road trippin' in the North.
He was like, "Hey, Yankees, call me A.J., I'm not so bad."
"Also, how 'bout y'all not vote for the radical Republicans when the mid-term elections roll around?"
Well, unfortunately for A.J., the "Swing Around the Circle" there was a flop. [The girls swings on the swing]
Crowds even heckled the President.
We like to imagine it like the beginning of Shrek, where there's an angry mob [A mob with torches and pitchforks protests in front of Johnson]
with pitchforks and torches. Johnson responded much like the angry ogre, [Johnson turns into an angry ogre]
destroying what was left of his popularity.
He even compared himself to Jesus, saying that he [Johnson talks to Jesus]
was "bleeding on the cross of radical reconstruction." And oh boy, that was a mistake.
Like an, "oh God, there's a gas leak in my house and I just lit a match," kind of mistake.
Well, the mid-term elections came, and the Republicans obtained well over a
two-thirds majority in both Houses. [Republican logo]
Translation: they could now push their own Reconstruction Program forward, despite
Andrew "Shrek" Johnson's cries of, "this is my swamp!"