- How did President Andrew Johnson interpret the Constitution with respect to restoring the Union after the Civil War?
- Trace the constitutional controversies of Andrew Johnson’s presidency.
- Understand Johnson’s constitutional objections to the Fourteenth Amendment and other elements of Reconstruction.
- Evaluate Johnson’s understanding of the Constitution.
- Handout A: Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments
- Handout B: Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress, December 1865
To create a context for this lesson, have students complete Constitutional Connection: Slavery and the Constitution.
Have students read Handout A: Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments and answer the questions.
Show the thematic documentary All Other Persons: Slavery, the Constitution, and the Presidency found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmMOvLCCO0c.
Distribute Handout B: Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress, December 1865. Depending on students’ reading skills, you may wish to:
- Have students analyze each section individually.
- Have students work in pairs to analyze each section.
- Have students work in pairs to analyze one section, and then have students jigsaw into new groups to share their responses.
- Project Handout B and go over all the chart sections together.
Reconvene the class and conduct a large group discussion to answer the questions:
- Why do you think Johnson’s plans for “restoration” failed?
- Were his objections to the forced-ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment legitimate? Why or why not?
- In your opinion, did Johnson understand the Constitution correctly?
Have students analyze the Fourteenth Amendment and write a brief essay with one of the following thesis statements:
- The Fourteenth Amendment radically altered the Constitution.
- The Fourteenth Amendment merely emphasized principles that were already in the Constitution.
Develop a timeline that shows legislation vetoed by President Johnson. For each law, summarize the following:
- name & date of bill
- purpose of bill
- why Johnson vetoed the bill
- further Congressional action, if any
- outcome of the law, if applicable