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With the assassination of Lincoln the presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southerner named Andrew Johnson Although an honest and honorable man Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate Presidents Over time there has been a controversial debate as to whether Johnson deserved to be impeached or if it was an unconstitutional attempt by Congress to infringe upon the presidents authority The impeachment of Andrew Johnson was politically motivated The spirit of the Jacksonian democracy inspired Andrew Johnson From this influence he helped found the Democratic Party in his region and became elected to the town council in 1829 After serving in his town council for two years he was elected mayor in 1831 Johnson was a strict constructionist and an advocate of states rights who distrusted the power of government at all levels Following his term as Mayor Johnson won elections to the Tennessee State legislature in 1835 1839 and 1841 After serving these terms he was elected to Congress in 1843 As a member of the US House Johnson opposed government involvement in the nations economy through tariffs and internal improvements In 1852 Johnson lost his seat in the US House because of gerrymandering by the Whig- dominated state legislature Jackson Following his loss he came back in 1853 to win a narrow victory for governor and served two terms In 1857 Johnson was then elected to represent Tennessee in the US Senate While serving in the Senate Johnson became an advocate of the Homestead Bill which was opposed by most Southern Democrats and their slave owning plantation constituents Kennedy This issue strained the already tense relations between Johnson and the wealthy planters in western Tennessee Eventually the party split into regional factions Johnson made the decision to back the Southern Democratic nominee John Breckinridge By this time the rupture between Johnson and most Southern Democrats was too deep to heal The break became final when Johnson allied himself
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