Andrew Johnson and his role in White Supremacy
August 15, 2017 1:00pm CST
What history recalls is that he became President after Lincoln was assassinated and was the first President to be impeached. There's a little more to his story. Andrew Johnson was born very poor. His mother worked as a seamstress and married again. His step father apprenticed Andrew and his brother, William, to a local tailor. In those days the word 'apprentice' was used instead of slave when dealing with whites. The Johnson boys were sold to the tailor. He was treated like dirt by the higher classes and developed a white-supremacist attitude to compensate. Illiterate, ignorant, Johnson was one of hundreds of thousands of poor whites; (PWT... poor white trash), and developed a hatred of the plantocracy; for in those days, the land owning, slave owning whites were like royalty, and the poor whites were like serfs. Johnson and his brother ran away from their obligation. Hiding from the authorities, the same ones who were called 'slave catchers'. In Tennessee he met Eliza McCardle. She taught him how to read. They married in 1827 when he was nineteen She helped him open a tailor shop and lots of people came and discussed politics. He was supported by poor whites like himself. At the age of 21 he was elected alderman, then mayor of Greeneville. After the 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion, Tennessee adopted a new state constitution with a provision to disenfranchise free blacks, for up until then free blacks had the rights of all citizens. The idea that a black man would read better, was more successful fired his hatred and his sense of superiority. Johnson supported the provision of disenfranchisement so strongly, and campaigned around the state for its ratification. He became famous in the state. This fame led to his election in 1835, to the Tennessee state legislature. He liked Andrew Jackson who advocated for poor whites. Johnson was anti-abolitionist and a promoter of states' rights, while still being an unqualified supporter of the Union. Andrew Johnson ran for the U.S. Senate and was elected. Many objected to him, and The Richmond Whig referred to Johnson as "the vilest radical and most unscrupulous demagogue in the Union." After Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, Tennessee seceded from the Union. Andrew Johnson broke with his home state and became the only Southern senator to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate. However, his pro-Union passion did not go unnoticed by the Lincoln Administration. Once Union troops occupied Tennessee in 1862, Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor. Johnson fully believed in slavery, fully believed the white man superior to all others. But because he stayed in the Union it was felt he supported the Union ideals. He didn't. Johnson hated the Plantocracy with such force that it drove him. Lincoln put him on the ticket as Vice President for the election in 1864 to show unity. When Lincoln was assassinated, he became the 17th President of the United States. As Congress was in recess the first eight months of Andrew Johnson's term, he took full advantage. He pushed through his own Reconstruction policies. He quickly issued pardons and amnesty to any rebels who would take an oath of allegiance. This resulted in many former Confederates being elected to office in Southern states and instituting "black codes," which essentially maintained slavery. Later, he expanded his pardons to include Confederate officials of the highest rank, including Alexander Stephens, who had served as vice president under Jefferson Davis. In February 1868, the House voted to impeach Johnson for violation of the Tenure of Office Act, and for bringing disgrace and ridicule on Congress. He was tried in the Senate and acquitted by one vote. He remained president, but both his credibility and effectiveness were destroyed. Johnson finished his term maintaining his opposition to Reconstruction and continuing his self-imposed role as protector of the white race. He had many supporters during his years in office, for many poor whites objected to freeing the slaves, to giving the freed slaves any rights at all. The PWT didn't see the rich white man as their oppressor, they say the Black man with rights as their enemy. This mentality has continued to this day.