America’s 153 Years of Civil War began when President Abraham Lincoln was shot died the next morning. Johnson was also a target on that fateful night, but his would-be assassin failed to show up.
On Washington’s birthday, a few days after he had vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, Johnson spoke to a crowd outside the White House. During the speech, he claimed that “new rebels” in the North were plotting to take over the government. He charged that some members of Congress were as traitorous as Jefferson Davis, the Confederate leader.
“Give us the names!” a voice in the crowd shouted. Johnson named three Republican leaders of Congress.
Northern states supported the 14th Amendment, but no Southern state ratified it. It failed to receive the required three-fourths approval. Congress passed a reconstruction law, described at the time as “written with a steel pen made out of a bayonet.”
The law abolished all Southern state governments set up under Johnson’s program. In their place, Congress created five military districts, each commanded by an army officer. The army commanders were authorized to rule by martial law, using federal troops and military courts to maintain order.
President Johnson vetoed the law, saying that it would create an “absolute despotism” over the South. But Congress voted to override his veto.
President Andrew Johnson Refused To Ratify The Treasonous 14th Amendment and became the first president of the United States to be impeached. Johnson said “Although the federal Constitution contains some restrictions on state authority in Article I, Section 9, Johnson asked, “Where can we find a Federal prohibition against the power of any State to discriminate, as do most of them, between aliens and citizens, between artificial persons called corporations and natural persons, in the right to hold real estate?”
If Congress can declare by law who shall hold lands, who shall testify, who shall have capacity to make a contract in a State, then Congress can by law also declare who, without regard to color or race, shall have the right to sit as a juror or as a judge, to hold any office, and, finally, to vote “in every State and Territory of the United States.”
As respects the Territories, they come within the power of Congress, for as to them, the law-making power is the Federal power; but as to the States no similar provisions exist, vesting in Congress the power “to make rules and regulations” for them.
The Constitution guaranties nothing with certainty, if it does not insure to the several States the right of making and executing laws in regard to all matters arising within their jurisdiction, subject only to the restriction that in cases of conflict with the Constitution and constitutional laws of the United States the latter should be held to be the supreme law of the land.
When the members of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction renewed their consideration of what would become the Fourteenth Amendment, they did so fully aware of their colleagues’ objections to national control of common law civil rights.
Johnson died from a stroke near Elizabethton, Tennessee, on July 31, 1875, while visiting with his daughter. The illegal process by which Congress secured ratification raises important questions of political legitimacy.