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17th President of the US – Andrew Johnson

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Andrew Johnson assumed the role of the American President after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. A strong supporter of Democrat Party, he took hold of the…

Andrew Johnson assumed the role of the American President after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 15, 1865. A strong supporter of Democrat Party, he took hold of the office and continued in it till 1869.

The 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson was also the 16th Vice President of the country. He was also the first American President to be impeached.

On 29th December 1808, Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh in North Carolina, US. Son of Jacob Johnson and Mary Mc Donough, Andrew Johnson hailed from a very poor family. Unfortunately he lost his father just at the age of three. He was trained as a tailor so that he could earn a living for himself and his family. Andrew Johnson had no formal schooling and learning. He was married to Eliza McCardle when he was19. It was under her guidance and help that he started his lessons of reading and writing.

In spite of his lack of formal learning and schooling, Johnson attained important positions in the government was a revered figure in his society. society. From 1828-1830, he was the alderman in Greenville, while from 1830-1833; he became the Mayor of the place. He acted as the Governor of Tennessee two times, once from 1853-1857 and next from 1862-1865. He was the 17th and the 19th Governor of Tennessee.

Andrew Johnson was initially a US Senator from the region of Greenville. A champion of the Reconstruction, and the engineer behind the ‘Black Codes’ in many states of the South, he was the only Southerner to continue in the Senate even during the time of the Secession. His Southern compatriots took this as outright treason and treachery, but Johnson was a patriot at heart.


Full Name: Andrew Johnson
Date of Birth: December 29, 1808, Raleigh, North Carolina
Died on: July 31, 1875, Carter’s Station, Tennessee
Burial site: Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee
Parents: Jacob and Mary McDonough Johnson
Spouse: Eliza McCardle (1810-1876; m. 1827)
Children: Martha (1828-1901); Charles (1830-1863); Mary (1832-1883); Robert (1834-1869); Andrew Jr. (1852-1879)
Religion: No formal affiliation
Education: No formal education
Profession(s): Tailor
Government ranks: Alderman and mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee; Tennessee state representative, senator, and governor; U.S. Representative and senator from Tennessee; vice president under Abraham Lincoln
Political party: Democratic; National Union as vice president and president
President Term: April 15, 1865-March 4, 1869
Age when assumed office: 56

Snapshot of Andrew Johnson’s life

1808 Born in North Carolina
1827 Arrives in Greeneville, Tennessee, and sets up tailor shop
1828-35 Involved in Greeneville Politics as alderman and mayor
1835-42 Serves in the Tennessee State Legislature as congressman and senator
1843-53 Serves in the U.S. House of Representatives
1853-56 Serves as governor of Tennessee
1857-62 Serves as U.S. Senator
1862 Serves as military governor of Tennessee
1864 Elected as Abraham Lincoln’s vice president
1865-69 Serves as seventeenth U.S. President following Lincoln’s assassination
1868 Survives trial of impeachment by one vote
1875 Serves as U.S. Senator for nearly four months before dying in Tennessee

Presidential Term and its details

Dates: April 15, 1865-March 4, 1869
Vice President: None

In the year 1864, the National Union Party selected Johnson for the category of the Vice President during the Presidential Elections in the United States. He became the Vice-President just for a short period of time. After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, he took over as the President of the nation.

Soon after assuming responsibilities, American President Andrew Johnson started on a program of Reconstruction, of bringing back the Southern states that moved away during the secession. the states that formed the Southern Confederacy during the time of the secession were gradually assimilated into the folds of the United States. However, a clause was laid, by virtue of which they were disallowed to trade in slaves and abide by the ‘black codes’ laid down by the government.

Most Northerners, particularly the group that formed the Radical Republicans, resented this move by President Johnson. they were vehemently opposed to the idea of placing erstwhile Confederacy leaders in various administrative capacities. they also suspected that slavery in its older form went on uninhibited in many sections of the South, and feared that the bill would only encourage that. In response to their opposition, a bill was immediately brought into the legislature to stop erstwhile Confederate leaders to be a part of Congress. they also wanted to put stringent slavery laws to abolish the practice in the Southern states in any form. However, Johnson vetoed it in his capacity of the President, further exposing himself to the vindication from the members of the Radical Republicans.

During this time, the relationship between the President and the Radical Wing of his Party members reached the nadir. Conspiracies of impeachment were already being worked out. Inexperienced in the office of Presidency, he became a soft victim for the Radical Republicans, who were against his sympathetic steps towards the old Confederate states. Himself a Southerner, Johnson was often accused of partisanism. His term in the Presidency was characterized with bitter political battles raged against the Radical Republicans, which finally resulted in his impeachment.

the impeachment of Andrew Johnson took place in two attempts. the first attempt came in the year 1867. the House of Judiciary drafted an impeachment bill, enlisting the accusations against the President. It gave rise to vigorous debates in the House of Representatives. However, the bill failed, losing out 108-57.

This resulted in the second attempt towards the impeachment of President Johnson. the removal of Edwin Stenton from the office of the Secretary of Wars, and Ulysses S. Grant’s refusal to take the office resulted in a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. A Bill of Impeachment was promptly drafted and presented to the Senate. After long and protracted debates, the President was impeached. the impeachment of Andrew Johnson continues to be one of the more embarrassing moments in the US Presidential history, where personal vindication took an upper hand over national interests and moral integrity.

Considered to be one of the most unfortunate Presidents of the US, Andrew Johnson died of a stroke. He breathed his last on 31st July 1875 in close proximity to Elizabethton, Tennessee.

President Andrew Johnson had a considerable impact on the society and some of his quotes are remembered till date. these quotes include the following:

  • “Who, then, will govern? the answer must be, Man – for we have no angels in the shape of men, as yet, who are willing to take charge of our political affairs”.
  • “the goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people”.
  • Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigorously, more vigorously, and more severely, than by one”.
  • there are no good laws but such as repeal other laws”.

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