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Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments


President Andrew Johnson saw himself as a protector of the United States Constitution during and after the Civil War. In his efforts to preserve and restore the Union, he supported the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery. The same motive led him to oppose the Fourteenth Amendment because he believed it would infringe on the legitimate powers of the states. In this lesson, students analyze Johnson’s leadership with respect to Reconstruction, and specifically his response to the passage of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.


Students will:

  • 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.