August 8, 1863 — On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in rebellious states. However, it wasn’t until today that then military governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson freed his personal slaves.
Johnson (born December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) had successfully lobbied to have Tennessee excluded from the original proclamation. A pro-slavery advocate throughout the Civil War who fought exclusively for working white men, he disregarded African American rights and believed slavery was essential to preserving the Union.
Johnson ran with Lincoln on the National Union ticket, and was vice president at the time of Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. He became the 17th President, serving until 1869, and favored quick restoration of the seceded states to the Union.
Historians note that his plans did not give protection to the former slaves, causing Johnson to bump up against the Republican-dominated Congress. This conflict eventually culminated in his impeachment by the House of Representatives, making him the first American president to be impeached. He was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.
Words of Wisdom
"Institutions must be subordinate, and the Government must be supreme."