Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29th, 1808. At the young age of three years old, Andrew's father. Jacob Johnson passed away while drowning in an attempt to save the life of Editor Henderson from the Raleigh Gazette in 1812. Andrew's mother, Mary Johnson, worked hard as a seamstress and washerwoman in order to support Andrew and his three brothers, and her; but she was unable to afford to send them to school. From the age of 14 until 16 he worked as an apprentice to a tailor but talked to his mother and stepfather about moving and starting a new life. He then opened a tailor shop in Greenville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle on May 17, 1827 and participated in debates at the local academy.
Eliza and Andrew had five children, including one son who was later killed serving as a Union soldier in the Civil War. Andrew impressed the townspeople in several ways and at the age of nineteen he was elected into the village council.
In 1862, President Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee and with this position he used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864, the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President.
Johnson was simple and direct in manner and sometimes seemed cold since he spoke so bluntly. He was a gifted orator and possessed a strong, clear voice. Andrew enjoyed playing checkers, puttering in his vegetable garden, going to the circus and minstrel shows.
Johnson was the first president to be impeached and was acquitted in the Senate by only a single vote. He was the only President without any schooling and didn't learn to read until his wife taught him at the age of seventeen. "There are some who lack confidence in the integrity and capacity of the people to govern themselves. To all who entertain such fears I will most respectfully say that I entertain none If man is not capable, and it not to be trusted with the government of himself, is he to be trusted with the government of others 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." Andrew Johnson in 1853 Election into Office
In the 1840's and 50's, as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, he advocated a homestead bill to provide a free farm for the poor man. Congress passes the Tenure of the Office Act, which stripped the President of the power to remove federal officials without the Senate's approval, and in 1867, established a military Reconstruction program to enforce political and social rights for southern blacks. Vice President
Johnson took the oath of office for Vice President in March of 1865. Soon after, Lincoln was assassinated at the Ford theatre only a month after Johnson became Vice President. Johnson became president on April 15th, 1865. Lincoln didn't speak a negative word about Johnson even when he arrived to the inauguration drunk while embarrassing himself, his family and friends, and most of all Lincoln. When people suggested to Lincoln about resigning Johnson as Vice President, Lincoln good-humoredly silenced them with the remark, "I've known Andy a great many years and he ain't no drunkard." Cabinet Members
Secretary of State: William H. Seward
Secretary of War: Edwin Stanton, Ulysses Grant and John Schofield Postmaster General: William Dennison and Alexander Randall
Secretary of the Interior: John Usher, James Harlan and Orville Browning Secretary of the Treasury: High McCulloch
Attorney General: James Speed, Henry Stanbery and William Evarts Secretary of the Navy: Gideon Welles
Role and Presidential Power
After President Lincoln's death, President Johnson continued to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session. He pardoned all who would take an...