Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Ralph W. Haskins

Committee Members

LeRoy P. Graf, John Muldowny, Jonathan G. Utley, Nathalia Wright


This is a study of Andrew Johnson of Tennessee and his efforts to restore his adopted state to the Union amidst the agony of civil war and the cataclysm of social revolution. Frustrated in his efforts to prevent the upheaval of secession, the southern Democrat supported the war policies of Abraham Lincoln, first in the Senate and late as military governor of Tennessee. The military governments, created by the Republican executive, partially to maintain the presidential prerogative in reconstruction and partially as an expedient means of administering captured territory, proved to be a source of infinite conflict (and, except for Tennessee, little practical value in all other states) where their use was attempted. Whatever success Johnson enjoyed as war-time governor of Tennessee may be traced directly to his own obstinate determination to carry out his assignment, his not inconsiderable political skills, the fortunes of war, and the generous support of the Illinois rail splitter.

This dissertation focuses upon Andrew Johnson's tenure in the Tennessee provisional government, his problems with unreconstructed rebel leaders, contrite Confederate soldiers, and uncooperative Federal commanders (whom he often bested), and finally, his successful collaboration with Abraham Lincoln. It concludes with an analysis of the other Lincoln military governments, notable North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas, and compares Johnson's generally more successful administration with those efforts of his less skillful contemporaries.

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