AUTHOR: David O Stewart
Consider this premise in 2004. George W Bush wants to unite the nation due to several divisive decisions nominates Teddy Kennedy as his running mate. In the middle of the War on Terror and the Bush Tax cuts he is assassinated and Kennedy takes over as President. Now Teddy has to deal with a Republican congress and a divided nation.
Take that premise and multiply 100 fold and that will give you a feel for our nation's heartbeat when Abraham Lincoln was tragically shot and Andrew Johnson took over as President of the United States.
Andrew Johnson, a Tennessee Democrat, succeeds, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, at the beginning of Reconstruction. The GOP Congress is determined to exact revenge on the losers of the Civil War, turn out the Southern aristocracy, and give the Freedmen the opportunity to be a full part of American society. Johnson's sympathy is clearly with the South and the battle lines are drawn.
As I read this book, I could easily visualize this as a movie. The high drama of assassination, the period of Reconstruction, a time when federal income tax was in its infancy and the graft and corruption of government was vast and with many characters. One of which was dating a cross dresser (that is a fact)!
In the Showtime series, "The Tudors" they start the show by saying something to the effect, "Have you ever heard a stor yand know the ending but never really know how the story happened?" Well the Johnson Impeachment was just that. There are so many twists and turns.
- Ulyesses S Grant is trying to be loyal to Johnson yet hates him and wants to be President and is just biding his time.
- General Sherman is asked by Johnson to replace him but has loyalty to Grant.
- The Tenure of Office Act is so flimsy but is the primary prop used by the congressional adversary, Thaddeus Stevens who during the trial has to take shots of whisky just to keep going being ever so close to death.
- You have four different groups creating slush fund money to buy votes for acquittal.
- You have the South who sends many of the same Senators and Congressmen who left at the beginning of the war back to Washington City only to be turned away by the Northern Republicans who will not seat them.
The evidential aquittal of Johnson is almost anticlimatic. The Republican have a "super" majority and overrode veto after veto until Grant enters office. The "one" vote difference has been claimed by the seven turncoat Republicans for generations, "John Henderson of Missouri being one, but speculations was that many more were prepared to vote against impeachment if the opportunity presented itself.
Here is the ultimate irony, Johnson attempts to gain another attempt for President via the DEMOCRATIC convention and almost wins!
Stewart weaves these eventS like a novel. The book is riviting all the way to impeachment and then bogs down a bit but only because I know the ending. The book is well researched and extremely enjoyable to read, especially considering that the events are 140 years ago. You can almost see Kenneth Starr in each chapter!SOURCE: St Louis Public Library
NEXT UP: Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamera, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam by H. R. McMaster