Lincoln vs. Johnson

Between Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, who's presidency had a greater impact on the nation?

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln ran for his 2nd term as president. He was up against the Democratic candidate, George B. McClellan, but ended up taking the win. It was crucial for Lincoln to have the right man by his side, so when deciding who would take the role as Vice President, there was much to consider. With all the situations and uprisings between the split of the country, Lincoln figured it'd be best if he gained the support from the south. To do this, he elected Andrew Johnson as the Vice President and hoped to appeal to southerners who never wanted to leave the Union in the first place. After the selection, the two worked to change the nation for the better. Unfortunately though, around April 15, 1865, Lincoln was brutally assassinated. This left the seat of presidency for Johnson. Although he heroically stepped up in a time of need, Johnson was so unpopular among the people that he became the first president to be impeached . On the contrary, Lincoln achieved many goals and could possibly be one of the most influential presidents of all history. Therefore, because he assisted the Union to a victory over the Confederacy, because he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and because he signed the 13th Amendment, Mr. Lincoln had a far more significant presidency than Andrew Johnson ever did.

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Lincoln knew that the problems between the North and South had to end in order for the country to prosper. He understood that slavery was morally wrong, but he wasn't an abolitionist. All he really wanted to do was to preserve the Union, so he did. The Civil War began and Lincoln used all his men and money to win. Booths, like the one shown above, were set up around the Northern states to gain volunteers for the army. Men would line up to offer their strength, humility, and resources for the benefit of the war. As seen in the photo, the men didn't hesitate and that represents an emotion of encouragement or approval of the actions that were being held upon the south. Lincoln also personally recruited Ulysses Grant as general for the Union army and that's when the triumph grew closer and closer. With battles like Wilderness and Cold Harbor, the rebel army drastically broke. Eventually, the Confederates surrendered at Appomattox Court House and gave the Union a fantastic victory. With Lincoln's decision of going to war and of who to put in the war, success was practically inevitable. If he chose differently, then perhaps the sight of a confederate flag blowing in the wind wouldn't be so absurd.

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The issuing of Emancipation Proclamation also changed the lives of many. Even though it only covered about ten rebellious states, this document was the spark of something new. Yes, the border states were not free and really Lincoln was freeing people he didn't directly control, but this document inspired other actions that would soon follow. Also, issuing a document such as the Emancipation Proclamation was a risky move. Lincoln knew that a bunch of Southern states would bash him and become completely furious. However, it was a risk he was willing to take. In the image above, Lincoln is found in a storm raging sea to illustrate the difficulty of balancing both sides of the nation and trying to please all. Unlike Lincoln though, Johnson took congress for granted and didn't really consider other opinions. He just foolishly abused his executive power. Continually, the life preserver around Lincoln says "Union" and that helps the audience understand that the only thing he is living for and the only thing that is saving him is the Union. The whole progress of this document was chaotic, suffocating, and terrifying; just like the storm the artist depicted.

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Furthermore, the 13th Amendment, which Lincoln supported to the fullest, impacted the nation so immensely. It abolished slavery and gave a new beginning to African Americans. This section of the Constitution gave more hope than any unpromising words said before. Now blacks were legally free and could live a life on their own. No more masters, whipping, or sad songs. Many Southerners were obliviously disappointed with this decision and began to despise Lincoln even more so than they originally had. But nevertheless, the positive impact was far more impressing than any of the negative. On the other hand, Johnson was given the opportunity to pass the 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship to all men despite race, but he opposed. This shows the unwilling, unfair and insensitive side of Johnson.

Both presidents did have an impact on the nation, no doubt. However, whether that impact be helpful or dreadful is a different story. Mr.Lincoln was well prepared, strategic, and relatively likable. Johnson, however, was hated, strategically ignorant, and surely unprepared. To be fair, yes, Johnson was unexpectedly placed as president. So, this affected the states politically, but also economically. Having Johnson in charge led the nation to a -5% deflation rate. Which caused employment and the value of property to go down. That is only one fine representation of the difference between the two presidents. Lincoln was victorious, he helped the black community rather than ignore, and he pushed the country forward. All Johnson did was trump the economy, abused his executive powers, and selfishly opposed laws regarding black freedom. It must be obvious that Mr. Lincoln served this country for the better and Johnson served it for the worse.

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