Why is Andrew Johnson important in American history?  

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knobles78 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Notorious for being the first American president to experience impeachment and his leniency to post- Civil war confederate states, North Carolina native Andrew Johnson's presidency contributed to American expansion.  In 1867, Johnson's secretary of state, William Seward, negotiated a 7.2 million dollar deal with Russia.  The end result of this deal was the acquisition of the Alaskan Territory, adding 586,412 square miles of new land. Referred to by many as, "Seward's Folly," Johnson was chastised and mocked for this deal.  However, the deal, in terms of return from natural resources, proved to be quite lucrative to the American economy.  On January 3, 1959, oil rich Alaska became the fourth ninth state to join the union.

Though Johnson's presidency was shrouded with negativity, the acquisition and later statehood of Alaska proved to be a positive contribution to the expansion of the nation. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Andrew Johnson is important in American history for two major reasons.

First, he was the first president to be impeached.  He escaped conviction and was therefore not removed from office, but he was impeached.

Second, he was the president whose actions led to the creation of "Radical Reconstruction."  Johnson became president after President Lincoln was killed.  Johnson wanted to take a relatively lenient attitude towards the South in terms of what Southern states would have to do in order to be let back into the Union.  His leniency enraged the Radical Republicans in Congress.  Because of his leniency, they impeached him and also imposed Radical Reconstruction on the South.

Thus, President Andrew Johnson is important mainly in negative ways.  He is most famous for being impeached and for being too lenient (in the eyes of many) on the former Confederate states.