Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868

Course No. 90019
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4.8 out of 5
16 Reviews
87% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 90019
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Hear the history behind the headlines.
  • numbers Get an in-depth and evenhanded view of an often-overlooked period in American history.
  • numbers Discover the factual history of this case unfolds like a fictional story.

Course Overview

The Great Courses is proud to present Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868 This first-time-ever original narrative documentary is a unique and entertaining retelling of the turbulent yet fascinating events leading up to and through the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. You’ll hear “first-hand” from the characters themselves—including Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, and others who were involved—as you get an in-depth and evenhanded view of an often-overlooked period in American history. And these characters are probably unlike anyone you have encountered. With back-stabbings, acts of violence, twists and turns, and a cult of personalities, the factual history of this case unfolds like a fictional story.

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1 lectures
 |  Average 78 minutes each
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    Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868
    Experience a dramatic, often-overlooked period of American history with this unique narrative documentary that delves into the story of the first impeachment. x

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Going to the Devil: The Impeachment of 1868 is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 16.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An important history lesson Bravo! to the team at the Great Courses that produced this great video at a price all of those who are interested in understanding the historical events of their country can afford to buy and benefit from it. This Great Courses video captures all the essential elements of narrating an important event in the history of a country, in this case the United States of America. It is accurate, precise, concise, relevant and timely. In presenting the events surrounding the impeachment of 1868 in their historic context, this video illustrates the best traditions and standards established by long line of well respected historians, from Herodotus, Thucydides to Edward Gibbon. It is a shining example of teaching of history at its best. The producers of this video have made the best use of modern digital tools to tell a riveting story about a nation in peril, political turmoil and in danger of perishing from the horrors unleashed by very human traits of hubris, uncotrolled ego, greed, hate, rage, deep rooted prejudices and fears. I hope the Great Courses, through targeted efforts, will try to get this video to the younger generation of Americans who are most in need of understanding the lessons of this historic event. After all, what is the point of learning history? Studying history helps citizens of a country avoid the mistakes of the past while confronting similar problems in the present and in the future. It is worth remembering the famous reply Mr. Benjamin Franklin gave to a question from a fellow American Mrs. Elizabeth Willing Powel: a Republic, if you can keep it. Keeping "it" a Republic means American citizens - the present and the future - having a good, accurate and unbiased understanding historic events like the impeachment of 1868 based on historic facts and willing to act on the basis of the vital lessons their nation's history has taught them.
Date published: 2020-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Apppropriate information for current period Most of us know of the first impeachment of a President, that against President Andrew Johnson, but I am sure most people are like me and really had no idea of what was at the basis of the proceedings. This history lesson makes it clear that Johnson's sympathy was with the slave owners and by his decisions he was trying to reverse the outcome of the Civil War and thereby to nullify everything that Lincoln and so many soldiers had fought and died for.
Date published: 2020-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very timely. I gave it to my sister for her birthday. She loved it and said she was on the edge of her seat the whole time.
Date published: 2020-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Impeachment of 1868 I enjoyed this course. It was well done and it was fascinating. It was especially interesting in light of all of the craziness with the current impeachment process.
Date published: 2020-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I thought it would be longer I was disappointed to find the course so short I was under the impression it would have been longer. Next time I’ll read the fine print. I will say what was presented was good it was just to short.
Date published: 2020-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course on a Similar Troubled Time Many say our troubled political situation is unique. Yet here is a case similar to our current situation in many ways. Lincoln’s successor tried to negate the freedoms gained for slaves from the Civil War. He abused his power of office. He attempted to impose his ideas upon an unwilling nation. While impeached by the House, by only a 1-vote Senate margin did he stay in the the Presidency. Great, informative perspective of American history.
Date published: 2020-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Trial of the Century The film's title "Going to the Devil" derives from a quote from Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, who believed that the nation was heading to hell with President Andrew Johnson in office. The narrative script for this superb, 78-minute documentary worked closely to the historical context of the 1868 impeachment proceedings, offering viewers detailed biographical overviews and the essential background leading up to the "accidental” presidency of Johnson following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The film provided lively capsules of Representative Stevens, Senator Charles Sumner, Senator Benjamin “Bluff” Wade, and the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who was colorfully described in the film as “a short-tempered man with tiny glasses framed by a biblical beard.” The film carefully avoids preaching any contemporary political agenda or even seeking an overt comparison of the 1868 impeachment process with the current one in 2019-20. Viewers may draw their own conclusions, based on the evidence. The script draws upon a wide array of primary sources for incisive quotations, such as the voice of a relatively unknown writer named Mark Twain, who, from his seat in the reporters’ gallery in the House, describes a strikingly thin figure as “a corpse that was ready for the shroud.” Of course, Twain was referring to Thaddeus Stevens, who, in failing health, was desperately fighting for the impeachment of Johnson while striving to pass into law the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship and “equal protection of the laws” to persons born in the United States, including former slaves. The film dramatically reveals how, more than merely seeking the removal from office of a president they despised, Congress was vigorously enacting legislation to counter the President's attempt to thwart emancipation that was the legacy of Lincoln's final years in office. The program makes it clear that Andrew Johnson had abhorrent ideas. It also demonstrates that the United States Constitution stipulates that ideas are not impeachable offenses when "high crimes and misdemeanors" are the bedrock criteria spelled out by the Founding Fathers. Voters exercise their rights to remove politicians for their ideas. But Congress must work with what the Constitution defines as impeachable offenses in Article I, Section 2, Clause 5. The flimsy attempt by Congress to entrap Johnson in the committing of a crime was the ad hoc Tenure of Office Act, which was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 1926. Over time, the Tenure of Office Act was forgotten, but the transformative act of the so-called radicals in Congress was in formulating the 14th and 15th Amendments as two of the high water marks in the history of human rights. The filmmakers could have taken more time in showing how both the House and the Senate were grappling with unprecedented parliamentary issues in the aftermath of the nation’s bloodiest internal conflict. The impeachment itself was condensed into the final quarter of the film. The three historians who appear onscreen are worthy of mention for their workmanlike comments and impartiality. Two of the experts have published full-scale studies of the Johnson impeachment. But the strength of the documentary was in the narration and the film’s production values. From the perspective of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson was a shrewd choice as a vice-presidential running mate on the 1864 ticket at a time when the Civil War was still raging and Lincoln’s reelection was in doubt. But Johnson’s inability to carry out Lincoln’s vision of emancipation led to his impeachment that that fell one vote short in the Senate’s finally tally. Arguably, this was the foremost trial of the nineteenth century in American history. Johnson ended his life with a remarkable comeback, winning election as Senator from his home state of Tennessee in 1875. Ironically, the heroic struggle to pass the historic 14th Amendment seemed lost on Thaddeus Stevens, who, as he approached death in 1868, believed that his life was a failure. With the excellent use of still photography, political cartoons of the age, an effective yet understated musical score, and the compelling narration, "Going to the Devil" concisely presents to students of history "the battle of the fate of postwar America."
Date published: 2020-01-04
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