Presidential Politics during Reconstruction (1865-1877)

Facilitator: Barbara McCornack, 493-0985, Dates: Tuesdays, January 8 –February 26, 2019 Time: 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM Text: Impeached: The trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, by David O. Stewart, 2009 Presentations: See below

The reconstruction period has been described as “the ugliest power struggle in all American politics. For a decade, revenge and civil rights, egotism and impeachment, stretched the reaches of the government and marred the progress of a new nation trying to gain its footing.” A recent news article said of current times: “The country is as polarized as it has been since the Civil War.” So developing a greater knowledge of this period of history seems particularly relevant today. During this class we will develop a better understanding of what happened to the legacy of Lincoln during the presidential terms of Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant. We will discuss how these quite different men used their presidential powers in dealing with Congress as they worked to develop a plan for the freed slaves and the defeated South.

The first part of each class will consist of discussion of readings from the text (or additional information on Ulysses S. Grant’s two terms). The second part will involve viewing half-hour segments of DVDs dealing with Reconstruction, with discussion following.

Each class member will be expected to read about 40 pages each week and join in the discussions. Presentations will not be required, but there will be opportunities for five members to give short (20-30 minute) reports on assigned topics.