March 31, 1968
Johnson Announces He Will Not Run Again
President Johnson announces a unilateral halt to the bombing. At the end of his speech, Johnson stuns the nation by announcing that he will not run for a second full term as president.
Johnson Will Not Run Again - History
On Sunday, March 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the world with his surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election.
The announcement came at the end of this TV speech concerning the situation in Vietnam where increasing numbers of young American soldiers were being killed amid the recent escalation of the war by the North Vietnamese.
In January 1968, the Tet Offensive had occurred in which North Vietnamese troops staged a surprise attack on 36 provincial capitals and five major cities in South Vietnam including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon and the presidential palace.
Filmed footage of the attacks and the resulting carnage appeared on nightly news programs watched by the American public. Unlike previous wars, news personnel in Vietnam were not censored and thus often took graphic frontline combat footage.
Year after year of TV news reports showing bloodied Americans and dead Vietnamese civilians led many Americans to question the necessity of the ordeal. By 1968, demonstrations and unrest had erupted on college campuses with demands for an immediate end to the war.
Amid the mounting death toll and continuing erosion of popular and political support for the war, President Johnson was faced with having to decide America's future course in the conflict. His choices included possible escalation in an effort to win the war, or the pursuit of peace with an enemy who now seemed determined to fight and win no matter what the cost.
- --to expand their own armed forces,
- --to move back into the countryside as quickly as possible,
- --to increase their taxes,
- --to select the very best men that they have for civil and military responsibility,
- --to achieve a new unity within their constitutional government, and
- --to include in the national effort all those groups who wish to preserve South Vietnam's control over its own destiny.
- --to reequip the South Vietnamese forces,
- --to meet our responsibilities in Korea, as well as our responsibilities in Vietnam,
- --to meet price increases and the cost of activating and deploying reserve forces,
- --to replace helicopters and provide the other military supplies we need, all of these actions are going to require additional expenditures.
- --the peace that will one day stop the bloodshed in South Vietnam,
- --that will permit all the Vietnamese people to rebuild and develop their land,
- --that will permit us to turn more fully to our own tasks here at home.
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40 Years Ago, LBJ Opts Not to Run, Stunning Nation
40 Years Ago, LBJ Opts Not to Run, Stunning Nation
It was a final indicator of his ambivalence, which was showing even as he edited the speech while rehearsing it for the cameras in the Oval Office that evening. Some of this rehearsal was captured by CBS producer John McDonough, who shared it 40 years later in a segment on NPR.
LBJ can be heard in the segment, returning to sentences he had decided to alter. He did not rehearse the ending, leaving his options open to the final minute.
Later, as he delivered the live version, White House aides were calling members of his Cabinet to make sure they were watching and knew what was coming.
But few others knew, even as the speech neared its end. Those in the dark included the news anchors and commentators who had no advance text and heard the president's words just before he signed off.
Typical were the reactions of Roger Mudd and Dan Rather who were covering the speech live for CBS and found themselves at a loss for words.
"What I'd rather do," said Mudd, "is go home and come back tomorrow morning and begin to talk about it."
If the professionals felt that way, the nation as a whole was at least as flummoxed. If there was one thing Johnson had established in four decades in Washington it was his relentless interest in being in power.
But what the country could not have known at the time was that LBJ had been agonizing over this decision for more than six months. A series of health problems — gallbladder and kidney stone surgeries, a serious respiratory infection, heart issues — had plagued the president in 1967.
In the fall of that year, he sat with his most trusted intimates to re-assess the re-election campaign everyone assumed he would conduct. Two were told to draft a withdrawal statement for a national party dinner in October, and again for a political function in December. The notion returned as part of the planning for the State of the Union Address in January 1968.
Each time, Johnson considered the statement and discarded it.
Then came the Tet Offensive, the enormous effort by North Vietnamese troops and communist guerrillas to seize key targets in South Vietnam. Throughout the month of February, major cities in the South were battle zones. Even the U.S. Embassy in Saigon was attacked and briefly held by the enemy.
Although the offensive failed with great loss of life for the communist forces, the impression left in the U.S. was of the enemy's strength and resilience. The war seemed more futile than ever. Johnson's approval rating fell into the mid-30s, the approval for his handling of Vietnam even lower.
The Night In 1968 When A Nation Watched An American Presidency Crumble
In that moment, New Hampshire held its first-in-the-nation presidential preference primary. Upstart Democratic candidate Eugene McCarthy, a little-known senator from Minnesota, came embarrassingly close to beating the president.
Days later, New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy had joined McCarthy in challenging the president's renomination. Kennedy, younger brother of the president whose assassination initially had put Johnson to the Oval Office, was now in the race.
But whatever Johnson thought his chances were of winning another term, by late March he had become obsessed with ending the war in Vietnam.
Robert Dallek, the historian and Johnson biographer, wrote that LBJ "wanted to end the war in 1968 without regard for domestic political considerations.
"The issue now, as he saw it, was the historical reputation of his five-year administration."
For a time immediately after the March 31 announcement, LBJ seemed to be succeeding in this last ambition. Media reaction to his sacrifice was overwhelmingly positive. The Washington Post, which had been savaging his war policy, praised his "personal sacrifice in the name of national unity" and wished him "a very special place in the annals of American history. "
The editorial writers were not alone. LBJ's polling went from 57 percent disapproval to 57 percent approval virtually overnight.
Even those who saw him as still scheming, still hoping for a draft at the nominating convention, had to respect the size of Johnson's gesture. He had new leverage in dealing with a recalcitrant Congress on a tax increase, a bill banning discrimination in housing and a spending increase for his signature Great Society programs.
Johnson gave a bravura performance at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, ruthlessly poking fun at himself and at his critics. He joked that while he had pledged not to seek the nomination of "my party," he might still be willing to talk to the Republicans. The line got a big laugh.
But the relentless narrative of 1968 would turn tragic again and again. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis the week after Johnson's withdrawal speech. Two months later, Robert Kennedy was fatally shot the night he won the California primary (and with it, quite possibly, the Democratic nomination).
The convention itself in August would become a street riot, with Chicago police officers beating the youthful antiwar demonstrators they had been called in to control. The delegates inside the convention hall would nominate Humphrey for president, and the vice president would lose in November to Republican Richard Nixon.
In retirement the following year, Johnson saw his health continue to deteriorate as he watched the war he could not stop continue to cost lives. He lived through all of Nixon's first term and landslide re-election, dying the same week Nixon took the oath a second time. Although most American troops had left Vietnam by that time, the war would not end until the final North Vietnamese victory in 1975.
Lyndon B. Johnson’s Decision Not to Run in 1968
Use this decision point after discussion of the Vietnam War and its unpopularity to discuss how it affected the presidential election in 1968 and LBJ’s decision not to run in the election.
As 1968 dawned, President Lyndon B. Johnson had every expectation that, notwithstanding the growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, he would easily receive the Democratic Party’s nomination that summer to serve a second four-year term and then cruise to re-election against his Republican opponent in November. He had pushed through his ambitious legislative agenda to create a “Great Society” at the beginning of his term. He had presided over a booming economy, due to a large 1964 tax cut for businesses and taxpayers. He had received authorization from Congress to send troops to Vietnam to fight communism and was confident the country was winning the war. Senator Eugene McCarthy had recently announced he would challenge Johnson for their party’s nomination, but the Minnesotan’s bid struck the president, his chief political advisers, and most observers as inconsequential and even unrealistic. Johnson’s decision to run was easy, because he sought to become a great president, like his political hero, Franklin Roosevelt.
However, the Tet offensive, launched on January 30 by America’s North Vietnamese and Viet Cong enemies and aimed at toppling the U.S.-supported Saigon regime, upset Johnson’s optimistic assumptions in dramatic fashion. It set the stage for one of the most tumultuous presidential elections in modern U.S. history.
The North Vietnamese forces (regular North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong guerrillas) failed to achieve their more ambitious goals with the Tet attacks. They were unable to rally significant popular support for the uprising they wanted in South Vietnam, they could not hold any of the cities and towns they had targeted, and they failed to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. North Vietnam’s bold gamble did succeed, nonetheless—and spectacularly so—in puncturing the illusion of progress that the Johnson administration had been holding before the American public. Support for the administration’s policies began to erode steadily in the wake of Tet. Before the offensive, 50 percent of those polled believed the United States was making progress in bringing the war to a successful conclusion after Tet, only 33 percent held that view. A remarkable 49 percent expressed the opinion that the United States never should have intervened in Vietnam in the first place.
South Vietnamese troops defending Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Although North Vietnamese forces suffered huge casualties, the Tet Offensive was still considered a U.S. defeat because of the damage it did to American support for the war at home.
On February 8, New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a sworn political enemy of Johnson and an increasingly outspoken opponent of the war, offered a withering critique of administration policy that resonated with the growing ranks of skeptics. “Our enemy, savagely striking at will across all of South Vietnam, has finally shattered the mask of official illusion with which we have concealed our true circumstances, even from ourselves,” he declared in a major public address. Kennedy called for immediate negotiations aimed at a peaceful settlement, emphasizing that the United States appeared “unable to defeat our enemy or break his will—at least without a huge, long and ever more costly effort.”
Johnson’s own political party, dominant since the New Deal of the 1930s, was by then profoundly split over the war. That point was driven home when, on March 12, McCarthy nearly defeated Johnson in the first presidential primary in New Hampshire. Then, just four days later, the charismatic Kennedy announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, confronting Johnson with a much more formidable political foe than the introverted, less-well-known McCarthy. Meanwhile, from the other end of the political spectrum, Republican contender Richard M. Nixon and third-party hopeful George Wallace—a former Democratic governor of Alabama, ardent segregationist, and supporter of the war—were readying their challenges to the globalism and liberalism of an increasingly fractured Democratic Party.
The embattled Johnson responded to mounting political pressures and those shifting popular opinions by announcing, on March 31, a major shift in U.S. policy in the Vietnam War. In an address to a nationwide television audience, the president said he was ceasing nearly all bombing raids against North Vietnam and called upon Hanoi to enter into formal negotiations with the United States to secure a peace settlement. Just before the close of his address, Johnson shocked his listeners by declaring he would neither seek nor accept his party’s presidential nomination. Johnson’s decision was not easy, because he was driven by deep political ambition, but he was greatly troubled by the divisions and turbulence in American society and by an increasingly unpopular war that was so closely tied to his administration.
Formal peace talks opened in Paris in May 1968, but unrest in the United States enormously complicated the prospects for a resolution of the diplomatic issues separating Washington, Hanoi, and Saigon. The assassination in April of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. the dozens of bloody and destructive race riots that followed, including in Washington, DC, itself the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy two months later the protests, street fighting, and heavy-handed police crackdown that accompanied the Democratic convention in Chicago that August and the bitterly contested three-way election pitting Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey against Nixon and Wallace—all served to persuade North Vietnam not to compromise with a lame-duck U.S. leader. Johnson’s final months in office were thus buffeted by a bloody stalemate on the ground in Vietnam and a frustrating impasse around the peace talks’ conference table in Paris, each unfolding against the backdrop of a highly contentious election campaign. Nixon heralded his secret plan to end the Vietnam War and insisted he would reinstitute “law and order” throughout American society, appealing to voters unsettled by a seemingly unending conflict and the domestic unrest and disorder brought in its train. Humphrey sought to distance himself from Johnson’s Vietnam War policies without actually breaking from the notoriously thin-skinned Oval Office patron whose support he needed.
President Johnson (center) and Vice President Hubert Humphrey (left) in a cabinet meeting discussing the Vietnam War in March 1968.
In a last-ditch effort to break the diplomatic deadlock, Johnson approved a complex compromise with North Vietnam that allowed South Vietnamese and National Liberation Front participation in the Paris peace talks. The seeming breakthrough was made possible only by Hanoi’s sudden abandonment of its longstanding opposition to participation by the American-backed “puppet” Nguyen Van Thieu of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese dragged their feet, nonetheless, with President Thieu charging that the compromise amounted to a “clear admission of defeat” by the United States. At this juncture, the South Vietnamese president was quite obviously awaiting the outcome of the American election, calculating that he could cut a better deal with Republican nominee Nixon than with the White House’s current occupant. Signals to that effect were being conveyed clandestinely to Thieu’s representatives by representatives from inside the Nixon camp. This was a treasonable offense, if proved, and one that Johnson learned about to his fury and disgust via telephone taps, intercepts, and surveillance.
On October 31, in a final attempt to end the deadlock—and to help bolster his vice president’s electoral prospects as well—Johnson announced a complete halt of all U.S. bombing operations against North Vietnam. It proved too little, too late. Once again, Thieu balked. A furious Clark Clifford, Johnson’s new secretary of defense, thought the South Vietnamese leader guilty of double dealing and duplicity. Only after another two weeks had elapsed did the South Vietnamese leader reluctantly agree to send a delegation to Paris. By that time, Nixon was the president-elect, having defeated Humphrey by a razor-thin margin.
South Vietnamese President Thieu and President Johnson in a meeting in July 1968.
The election of 1968 proved pivotal to the course of modern American history in numerous respects. It demonstrated the efficacy of the “backlash” tactics pioneered by Nixon and Wallace to highlight and condemn the perceived excesses of liberal permissiveness, the welfare state, the anti-war movement, and the counterculture. It also brought to the White House a chief executive dedicated to extricating the United States from the chaos of Vietnam, but to do so slowly and deliberately, without compromising the credibility of U.S. commitments, without diminishing America’s commanding status as a global superpower, and without threatening his plans for dealing with China and the Soviet Union. In political terms, it heralded the high-water mark of the New Deal order and the onset of a new era of Republican ascendancy.
1. Republican candidate Richard Nixon played on all the following concerns in his 1968 presidential campaign except
- growing dissatisfaction with the war in Vietnam
- the growing welfare state
- widespread support of the Tet Offensive
- protests by the counterculture
2. The Tet Offensive in January 1968 marked a turning point because it
- represented a military victory for the North Vietnamese
- led to the collapse of the South Vietnamese military
- illustrated the limitations of U.S. military efforts in Vietnam
- strengthened support for containment in the United States
3. The third-party candidate who complicated the 1968 election was
4. President Lyndon B. Johnson responded to the events of 1968 by
- reaffirming his support of South Vietnamese President Thieu
- withdrawing U.S. troops from South Vietnam
- ceasing bombing raids on North Vietnam and calling for peace negotiations
- endorsing the campaign of Richard Nixon
5. South Vietnam did not commit to a decision at the 1968 peace talks, because
- it was awaiting the results of the U.S. election
- it refused to take a seat alongside the North Vietnamese
- the United States had dramatically increased bombing of Laos and Cambodia
- President Johnson had withdrawn U.S. troops from Vietnam
Free Response Questions
AP Practice Questions
“I don’t accept the idea that this is just a military action, that this is just a military effort, and every time we have had difficulties in South Vietnam and Southeast Asia we have had only one response, we have had only one way to deal with it – month after month – year after year we have dealt with it in only one way and that’s to send more military men and increase our military power and I don’t think that’s what the kind of a struggle that it is in Southeast Asia. . . .
. . . We can continue to escalate, we can continue to send more men there, until we have millions and millions of more men and we can continue to bomb North Vietnam, and in my judgment we will be no nearer success, we will be no nearer victory than we are now in February of 1968.”
Robert F. Kennedy, Remarks at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968
Refer to the excerpt provided.
1. The provided excerpt most directly contributed to
- an end to the New Deal welfare state
- a fracturing of the Democratic Party
- passage of Great Society legislation
- successful peace negotiations with North Vietnam
2. The excerpt most directly reflected a growing belief that
- law and order were important priorities for Americans
- postwar decolonization did not pose a threat to American interests
- military actions undertaken in Southeast Asia were not effective
- the counterculture represented the views of 1950s
Johnson, Lyndon B. “A New Step Toward Peace.” March 31, 1968. The Department of State Bulletin, 58, no. 1503 (1968): 481–86.
Clifford, Clark. Counsel to the President: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 1991.
Gilbert, Marc J., and William Head, eds., The Tet Offensive. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.
Gould, Lewis L. 1968: The Election that Changed America. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993.
Herring, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975. Fourth revised ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2002.
LaFeber, Walter. The Deadly Bet: LBJ, Vietnam, and the 1968 Election. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.
Schmitz, David. The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinion. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.
Spector, Ronald H. After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1993.
Young, Marilyn B. The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990. New York: HarperCollins, 1991
Legends of America
Andrew Johnson by Bingham & Dodd, 1866
Andrew Johnson was the 17th U.S. President, following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era in the four years following the Civil War. His position favoring the white South came under heavy political attack and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with Radical Republicans, ultimately resulting in him becoming the first President to be impeached, though he was found not guilty.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina to Jacob and Mary McDonough Johnson, his father died when he was three years old, leaving the family in poverty. His mother then took in work spinning and weaving to support the family, and later remarried. He received no formal education and when he was a young teenager, his mother bound him as an apprentice tailor in Laurens, South Carolina. Somehow, the boy taught himself how to read and write. At about the age of 16, he left the apprenticeship and ran away with his brother to Greeneville, Tennessee, where he found work as a tailor. Later, he opened his own tailor shop and married Eliza McCardle in 1827 at the age of 19 and the two would eventually have five children. His wife, Eliza taught him arithmetic up to basic algebra and tutored him to improve his literacy and writing skills.
While in Greenville, he began to participate in debates at the local academy and later organized a worker’s party that elected him as an alderman in 1829. He served in this position until he was elected Greenville Mayor in 1833. Just two years later, he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, but after serving just one term, he was defeated for re-election.
Tennessee Mountaineers by the Keystone View Company.
He then became a spokesman for the farmers and mountaineers against the wealthier, but fewer, planter elite families that had held political control in Tennessee. In 1839, he was once again elected to the Tennessee House and was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 1841. In 1843, he was elected as a U.S. Representative, advocating “a free farm for the poor” bill, in which farms would be given to landless farmers. He would serve as a U.S. representative for five terms until 1853 when he was elected Governor of Tennessee.
During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Johnson used the state as a laboratory for Reconstruction. In 1864, Johnson was given the second place on the Republican ticket, partly to reward him for his fidelity to the Union cause in the seceding state of Tennessee, and partly to save the Republican Party from the reproach of being called “sectional” in again choosing both its candidates from Northern states, as it had done in 1856 and 1860.
With the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April of 1865, the Presidency fell upon the old-fashioned southern Democrat, who, although he had supported abolition, was not an advocate of black rights. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them.
Reconstruction of the South
Long before the close of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had laid out a plan for Reconstruction based on the theory that not the states themselves, but combinations of individuals in the states, too powerful to be dealt with by the ordinary process of the courts, had resisted the authority of the United States. He had therefore welcomed and nursed every manifestation of loyalty in the Southern states. He had recognized the representatives of the small Unionist population of Virginia, assembled at Alexandria within the Federal lines, as the true government of the state. He had immediately established a military government in Tennessee on the success of the Union arms there in the spring of 1862. He had declared, by a proclamation in December 1863, that as soon as 10% of the voters in any of the seceded states should form a loyal government and accept the legislation of Congress on the subject of slavery, he would recognize that government as legal. And, such governments had actually been set up in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. However, Lincoln had not come to an agreement with Congress as to the final method of restoring the Southern states to their place in the Union. That question waited till the close of the war, and the awful pity is that when it came Abraham Lincoln was no longer alive.
During the summer and autumn of 1865, when Congress was not in session, President Andrew Johnson proceeded to apply Lincoln’s plan to the states of the South, just as if it had been definitely settled that Congress was to have no part in their reconstruction. He appointed military governors in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. He ordered conventions to be held in those states, which repealed the ordinances of secession and framed new constitutions. State officers were elected and Legislatures were chosen, which repudiated the debts incurred during the war (except in South Carolina) and ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery (except in Mississippi). When Congress met in December 1865, senators and representatives from the Southern states, which, but a few months before had been in rebellion against the authority of the United States, were waiting at the doors of the Capitol for admission to their seats.
President Andrew Johnson pardoning Rebels at the White House in 1865 by Stanley Fox
By the time Congress met in December 1865, most southern states were reconstructed and slavery was being abolished however, “black codes” to regulate the freedmen were beginning to appear. Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Johnson’s program. They gained the support of northerners who were dismayed to see Southerners keeping many prewar leaders and imposing many prewar restrictions upon the blacks.
The Radicals’ first step was to refuse to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy. Next, they passed measures dealing with the former slaves but, Johnson vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto — the first time that Congress had overridden a President on an important bill. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established African-Americans as American citizens and forbade discrimination against them. A few months later Congress submitted to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, which specified that no state should “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
All the former Confederate States except Tennessee refused to ratify the amendment further and there were two bloody race riots in the South. Speaking in the Middle West, Johnson faced hostile audiences. The Radical Republicans won an overwhelming victory in Congressional elections that fall.
In March 1867, the Radicals affected their own plan of Reconstruction, again placing southern states under military rule. They passed laws placing restrictions upon the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him on February 24, 1868. This made Johnson the first sitting U.S. President to be impeached, however, he was tried by the Senate starting on March 5, 1868, and acquitted on May 16. The final vote was 35 “guilty” and 19 “not guilty”, one vote shy of the two-thirds majority needed.
Johnson did not run for re-election as president in 1868, rather, he ran as a senate candidate from Tennessee. His bid was unsuccessful, as well as his bid for the House of Representatives in 1872. However, in 1874, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served until his death of a stroke on July 31, 1875. He is buried at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October 2019.
Andrew Johnson’s death by Currier & Ives, 1875.
The Era of Reconstruction – How Johnson’s sympathetic policies to the South caused greater harm and delayed civil rights and the healing of the nation.
Ron Johnson Says He May Not Run for Re-Election in Wisconsin
The Republican map looks favorable in 2022. And in normal years, the party that doesn’t hold the White House typically does well in the mid-terms election. So the GOP has high hopes for their chances to retake power in two years.
But a number of Republicans won’t be along for the ride. On Monday, Ohio’s Rob Portman announced that he will not be running in 2022. He joins Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey and North Carolina’s Richard Burr.
Democrats are licking their chops at these opportunities. Ohio has gone strong for Trump recently, but Democrat Sherrod Brown is one of the state’s senators. Pennsylvania went for Biden in 2020 and while North Carolina went for Trump in 2020, the state elected Democratic governor Roy Cooper in 2016.
Today, another Republican senator in a purple state said that he might join Toomey, Burr and Portman. Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson didn’t commit to running for office in 2022.
Politico’s Andrew Desiderio tweeted on Monday night, “ Ron Johnson still undecided on whether to seek re-election in 2022, he tells me.”
Ron Johnson still undecided on whether to seek re-election in 2022, he tells me
&mdash Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) January 25, 2021
Johnson has been somewhat of a controversial lawmaker throughout the Trump years. He was voted into office in 2010 with the backing of the Tea Party.
He has been a huge supporter of the president and pushed for investigations into Burisma and Hunter Biden.
The Biden campaign responded to Johnson’s action, saying at the time “ Senator Johnson should be working overtime to save American lives and jobs — but instead, he’s wasting taxpayer dollars on a blatantly dishonest attempt to help Donald Trump get reelected.”
Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction
"...there is no such thing as reconstruction. These States have not gone out of the Union, therefore reconstruction is unnecessary. I do not mean to treat them as inchoate States, but merely as existing under a temporary suspension of their government, provided always they elect loyal men. The doctrine of coercion to preserve a State in the Union has been vindicated by the people. It is the province of the Executive to see that the will of the people is carried out in the rehabilitation of the rebellious States, once more under the authority as well as the protection of the Union." Andrew Johnson
A political cartoon referencing Reconstruction - Columbia says: Now, Andy, I wish you and your boys would hurry up that job, because I want to use that kettle right away. You are all talking too much about it.
Reconstruction or Restoration?
Following the Union victory in the Civil War, the nation faced the uncertainty of what would happen next. Two major questions arose. Were the Confederate states still part of the Union, or, by seceding, did they need to reapply for statehood with new standards for admission?
Andrew Johnson's view, as stated above, was that the war had been fought to preserve the Union. He formulated a lenient plan, based on Lincoln's earlier 10% plan, to allow the Southern states to begin holding elections and sending representatives back to Washington.
His amnesty proclamations, however, emboldened former Confederate leaders to regain their former seats of power in local and national governments, fueling tensions with freedmen in the South and Republican lawmakers in the North.
Healy image of Lincoln
Altogether, several variations of Reconstruction arose:
The Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, or Lincoln's Ten Percent Plan
As Union troops took control of areas of the South, Lincoln implemented this war-time measure to re-establish state governments. It was put forth in hopes that it would give incentive to shorten the war and strengthen his emancipation goals, since it promised to protect private property, not including slaves.
At its core, the plan stated that when 10% of the 1860 voters from a state had taken an oath of allegiance to the U.S. and pledged to abide by emancipation, voters could then elect delegates to draft new state constitutions and establish state governments. Most Southerners, excepting high-ranking Confederate army officers and government officials, would be granted a full pardon.
This plan would serve as a platform for whatever post-war reconstruction would be developed.
The Wade-Davis Agreement, or Congress's Response to the Ten Percent Plan
Congress felt that Lincoln's measures would allow the South to maintain life as it had before the war. Their measure required a majority in former Confederate states to take an Ironclad Oath, which essentially said that they had never in the past supported the Confederacy. The bill passed both houses of Congress on July 2, 1864, but Lincoln pocket vetoed it, and it never took effect.
In the brief period before Lincoln's death, political cartoons surmised how the "rail-splitter" president and "tailor" vice-president might put the country back together again.
Johnson's May 29, 1865 Amnesty Proclamation
Presidential "Restoration," or Andrew Johnson's Plan for Reconstruction
Following Abraham Lincoln's death, President Andrew Johnson based his reconstruction plan on Lincoln's earlier measure. Johnson's plan also called for loyalty from ten percent of the men who had voted in the 1860 election. In addition, the plan called for granting amnesty and returning people's property if they pledged to be loyal to the United States.
The Confederate states would be required to uphold the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery swear loyalty to the Union and pay off their war debt. Then they could re-write their state constitutions, hold elections, and begin sending representatives to Washington.
Under the plan, Confederate leaders would have to apply directly to President Johnson in order to request pardon. Johnson issued over 13,000 pardons during his administration, and he passed several amnesty proclamations. The last one, issued Christmas Day 1868, granted sweeping pardons to former Confederates, including former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspapers lampooned the standoff between the President and Congress:
A.J. (Driver of Engine "President") - "Look here! One of us has got to back!"
Thaddeus (Driver of Engine "Congress") - "Well it ain't me that's going to do it! You bet!"
Congressional Reconstruction, or the Military Reconstruction Acts
Passed on March 2nd, 1867, the first Military Reconstruction Act divided the ex-Confederate states into five military districts and placed them under martial law with Union Generals governing. The act also directed that former Southern states seeking to reenter the Union must ratify the 14th Amendment to the Constitution to be considered for readmission. The 14th Amendment granted individuals born in the United States their citizenship, including nearly 4 million freedmen.
The amendment specifically disenfranchised ex-Confederates, barring them from the ballot box. The Constitution states, "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason." At the time, their actions were viewed as treasonous. The Confederate States of America's leadership lost their right to vote because they lost their citizenship by committing treason.
The Military Reconstruction Act also protected the voting rights and physical safety of African Americans exercising their rights as citizens of the United States.
Andrew Johnson and Congress were unable to agree on a plan for restoring the ravaged country following the Civil War. There was a marked difference between Congressional Reconstruction - outlined in the first, second, and third Military Reconstruction Acts - and Andrew Johnson's plan for Presidential Restoration (North Carolina's plan shown here).
In the midst of it all was the human aspect.
The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established by the War Department on March 3rd, 1865. The Bureau supervised relief and educational activities for refugees and freedmen, including issuance of food, clothing, and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory.
Backlash occurred in the South in the form of the Black Codes. Passed in 1865 and 1866 in Southern states after the Civil War, these Codes severely restricted the new-found freedoms of the formerly enslaved people, and it forced them to work for low or no wages.
Crippling poverty, vast wealth, rampant rumors, fear of insurrection on all levels, assassination, trials - this was the country that all three branches of the Federal government inherited after the war.
The Congressional Plan of Reconstruction was ultimately adopted, and it did not officially end until 1877, when Union troops were pulled out of the South. This withdrawal caused a reversal of many of the tenuous advances made in equality, and many of the issues surrounding Reconstruction are still a part of society today.
2. The GOP is fully, totally aligned with Trump
No Republicans in the House and only one in the Senate (Romney) voted for Trump&rsquos impeachment or removal. Influential voices in the party, such as GOP governors and Fox News anchors, stood by him throughout the process. Fewer than 10 percent of Republican voters support the president&rsquos removal. Other than Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Romney, there were few prominent GOP voices who stated unequivocally that it was inappropriate for the president and his team to give any suggestion to Ukraine that U.S. aid would be tied to an investigation of the Bidens.
For some Republicans, this loyalty to Trump contradicts one of the core goals of most politicians: winning reelection. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, for example, is up for reelection in November in a Democratic-leaning state where Trump is not particularly popular.
But Gardner and other senators seeking to retain seats Democrats are targeting this November, such as Susan Collins of Maine and Martha McSally of Arizona, may have played the politics of impeachment smartly. In a party where loyalty to Trump is highly valued, creating any real distance between you and the president may cost you Republican votes that you absolutely must have to win. And there&rsquos no real guarantee that you&rsquod pick up independent or Democratic votes in the bargain. In fact, given current levels of negative partisanship &mdash where supporters of one party hate the other party more than they like their own &mdash picking up support from anti-Trump voters seems highly unlikely.
Could Trump Lose the Republican Nomination? Here's the History of Primary Challenges to Incumbent Presidents
F rom the very beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has never really left “campaign mode” &mdash but as the next election gets closer, that approach has turned into a more concrete play for victory in 2020. But Trump is not alone. He has challengers in the 2020 Republican primary, most notably, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, former South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh.
This campaign is the first time an incumbent president has faced a challenger with name recognition within his own party since 1992, when Republican president George H.W. Bush faced a challenge from more conservative Pat Buchanan &mdash but that wasn’t the only time a sitting President has had to fight for his spot on the ballot.
Before primary elections became the dominant way to pick a nominee, party leaders were more able to either shut down challengers or smoothly pass the nomination to someone else. Notably, four incumbents who were denied the nomination in the 19th century &mdash John Tyler, Andrew Johnson and Chester A. Arthur &mdash had been Vice Presidents who rose to the Presidency following the deaths of their predecessors, perhaps suggesting they’d never won their parties’ full support in the first place.
Both Tyler and Fillmore, who were Whig Party presidents, were denied the nomination because the political battles surrounding slavery: Tyler in 1844, over the annexation of Texas, which he supported but which would upset the balance of free and slave states Fillmore in 1852 over his support of the Fugitive Slave Act. (Democratic President Franklin Pierce, who ended up winning the 1852 election, also lost his party’s nomination after one term, as many Northern Democrats felt his support for the Kansas-Nebraska Act was too conciliatory to pro-slavery Southerners.) Johnson was the first president to be impeached, in February 1868, so he didn’t get either party’s nomination. And Arthur, who succeeded President James Garfield, was denied the 1884 Republican nomination, though he didn’t actively seek it because he was suffering from kidney disease.
Some of the first primaries were held in 1912. Barbara A. Perry, the Director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, who spoke to TIME as part of a presidential-history partnership between TIME History and the Miller Center, points out that those 1912 primaries were products of the progressive-era populist movement, as former President Teddy Roosevelt unsuccessfully tried to unseat incumbent President William Taft by forming the Progressive Party, also known as the Bull Moose Party.
Even after that period, not all primaries can be evaluated the same way. In fact, the system in use today is only about 50 years old. Candidates didn’t usually have to compete in all of the primaries until party reforms in the early 1970s made primaries (rather than party leaders) key to determining who gets the nomination.
“New rules make it easier for anyone to run,” says Hans Noel, professor of Government at Georgetown University and co-author of The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform, “but also created more need for informal pressure for making sure things don&rsquot go awry.”