According to the C-Span historians, the two presidents who served right before and after the Civil War were the worst in history. I agree that James Buchanan was a failure in every way, but Andrew Johnson doesn’t quite belong in the cellar. He was an unsatisfactory president, not an abysmal one.
He was a virulent racist, and no one wants to go to bat for someone like that. But he is misjudged in ways that need correction. I will assess Johnson on the same basis I do the other presidents: on what his policies did for the causes of peace, prosperity, and liberty. His racism obviously matters, but only to the degree that it intrudes on his policies for the detriment of society.
Let’s get this part out of the way. Johnson was one of three presidents (four including Trump, at the time of this writing) who…
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