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The Day Peace, Order and Tranquility Reigned

One-hundred-and-forty-two years ago, President Andrew Johnson let fly perhaps the most boldly titled statement ever to grace the American presidency: the "Proclamation — Declaring that Peace, Order, Tranquility, and Civil Authority Now Exists in and Throughout the Whole of the United States of America."

It was a day worthy of commemoration — in naming the insurrection in Texas (the last embers of the Civil War) to be at an end, it was the first time since the secession of the southern states preceding the war that America was officially at peace. Indeed, the proclamation itself needed 19 odd paragraphs beginning "Whereas..." just to cover the span of unrest from 1861 to 1866, finally working up to its assurance of the entire U.S. being completely conflict-free.

If only it were that easy.

Unfortunately for Johnson, the conflict was just beginning — his southern roots, leniency towards the Confederates, and veto of the Civil Rights bill clashed with the majority of Republican congressmen. In 1967 he became the first president to be impeached, and was acquitted in the Senate by only a single vote.

Needless to say, Johnson's declaration didn't reflect the post-war difficulties and tension of the U.S. Still, there's something to be said for a time when whether or not America was in conflict was thought to be so black and white that proclamations could be made to mark the boundaries.