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When Andrew Johnson became president following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, he favored a policy of leniency toward former secessionists at the expense of freed slaves, whose newly won liberties were being infringed upon. The North’s popular cartoonist, Thomas Nast, satirizes Johnson in this illustration for the September 1, 1866, issue of Harper’s Weekly by portraying him as the evil schemer Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. Johnson professed to be a “best friend” to African Americans in the South, while vetoing such empowering legislation as the Freedman’s Bureau Bill, the Civil Rights Bill, and three military Reconstruction acts, all designed to protect and advance their civil rights.

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