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Profs & Pints: The Worst President Ever?
July 16, 2019 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0$2 – $12
Profs and Pints presents: “The Worst President Ever?” with Michael Ross, professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park.
As talk of impeachment stirs in Washington, it’s worth taking a trip back into history and examining the troubled political career of the first president ever to be impeached by the House of Representatives, Andrew Johnson.
Johnson was deeply insecure, racist, ill mannered, and prone to drink. His political instincts were usually wrong, and he confused stubbornness with strength. Yet in 1864 President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, picked Johnson, a Democrat, as his running mate in order to demonstrate national unity during a close election and divisive war.
No one thought Johnson would ever be president. Then an assassin intervened and on April 15, 1865, Johnson assumed the presidency at one of the most critical moments in American History. With Robert E. Lee having just surrendered at Appomattox, Washington needed to answer critical questions about the nation’s future: What would happen to the states that had joined the Confederacy? Should there be treason trials for Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders? What would freedom look like for the four million former slaves recently liberated from bondage? Some Republicans had confidence that Johnson, who had talked tough about punishing the planter class and redistributing land in the South, was up to the task. But others, like the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, quickly realized Johnson was the wrong man with the wrong values at the wrong time. “Whatever Andrew Johnson may be, he is no friend of our race,” Douglass remarked bitterly after the two met.
Professor Ross will guide the audience through what happened next: Johnson’s disastrous plan for Reconstruction, his titanic struggles with Republicans in Congress, and his impeachment and trial. After assessing Johnson’s lasting impact on American race relations and the United States Constitution, Ross will put up for debate the question of whether Johnson was the worst president in American History, as some scholars claim. You’ll walk out with important historical perspective. (Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, save $2 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please give yourself plenty of time to place an order and get settled in.)