In the spring of 1865, after the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, two men bestrode the national government as giants: Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant.
How these two men viewed what a post-war America should look like would determine
policy and politics for generations to come, impacting the lives of millions of people, North
and South, black and white.
While both Johnson and Grant initially shared similar views regarding the necessity of
bringing the South back into the Union fold as expeditiously as possible, their differences,
particularly regarding the fate of millions of recently-freed African Americans, would soon
reveal an unbridgeable chasm.
Add to the mix that Johnson, having served at every level of government in a career
spanning four decades, very much liked being President and wanted to be elected in his own
right in 1868, at the same time that a massive move was underway to make Grant the next
president during that same election, and conflict and resentment between the two men
In fact, competition between Johnson and Grant would soon evolved into a battle of personal
destruction, one lasting well beyond their White House years and representing one of the
most all-consuming and obsessive struggles between two presidents in U.S. history.