(1865–1869). As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination
. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American Civil War
. Johnson's reconstruction policies failed to promote the rights of the Freedmen, and he came under vigorous political attack from Republicans
, ending in his impeachment by the U.S.
There are no good laws but such as repeal other laws.
No, gentlemen, if I am to be shot at, I want no man to be in the way of the bullet.
I have lived among negroes, all my life, and I am for this Government with slavery under the Constitution as it is. I am for the Government of my fathers with negroes, I am for it without negroes. Before I would see this Government destroyed, I would send every negro back to Africa, disintegrated and blotted out of space.
I am a-goin' for to tell you here to-day; yes, I'm a-goin for to tell you all, that I'm a plebian! I glory in it; I am a plebian! The people — yes, the people of the United States have made me what I am; and I am a-goin' for to tell you here to-day — yes, to-day, in this place — that the people are everything.
Notwithstanding a mendacious press; notwithstanding a subsidized gang of hirelings who have not ceased to traduce me, I have discharged all my official duties and fulfilled my pledges. And I say here tonight that if my predecessor had lived, the vials of wrath would have poured out upon him.
I have had a son killed, a son-in-law die during the last battle of Nashville, another son has thrown himself away, a second son-in-law is in no better condition, I think I have had sorrow enough without having my bank account examined by a Committee of Congress.
Legislation can neither be wise nor just which seeks the welfare of a single interest at the expense and to the injury of many and varied interests at least equally important and equally deserving the considerations of Congress.
The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.