1 minute reading time (267 words)

Presidents 16-17 - American History Lesson #7

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See Lesson #6 here.

Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States "warned the South in his Inaugural Address: 'In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you.... You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.'" During his presidency, Lincoln bolstered the Republican Party and garnered support from northern Democrats for the Union cause. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, liberating slaves in the Confederacy. Re-elected in 1864 amid Union victories signaling the war's conclusion, Lincoln pursued peace with flexibility and generosity, urging Southern states to swiftly rejoin the Union. His commitment to reconciliation was evident in his Second Inaugural Address. Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, at Ford's Theatre in Washington.

Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)

After Lincoln's assassination, President Johnson started Reconstruction in 1865, pardoning most but requiring special pardons for leaders and the wealthy. By December 1865, most southern states were reconstructed, abolishing slavery, but "black codes" emerged. Radical Republicans in Congress opposed Johnson, passing laws to protect former slaves and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, overridden by Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment was proposed but rejected by most former Confederate States. Southern unrest led to Radical Republicans imposing their Reconstruction plan in 1867, with military rule. Johnson's dismissal of Secretary of War led to his impeachment by the House, but he was acquitted by the Senate in 1868.


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