Andrew Johnson was a man of many uniques with being the only president of the United States to be impeached, never attended school, grew up in poverty, and accomplished his way back into the Senate six years after leaving the White House, as stated in Trefousse’s book (p.13). Schroeder- Lein and Zuczek talk about, with even having his many accomplishments and numbered failures, Andrew Johnson is to be known to this day as one of the most unpopular and unsuccessful presidents of his time. Even having his failures, Johnson still had a successful political career ranging five crucial decades (p. xv). Andrew Johnson gives truth to the belief that in America, anyone can grow up to become president or governor.
Born December 29,1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andrew Johnson was the third child of Jacob and Mary Johnson. According to the first chapter of “Andrew Johnson: A Biography”, Andrew was born in the back of an inn, that his parents worked, during the wedding of Hannah and John Stewart (p 18). It also states in the same chapter that Hannah is said to be known as the one who gave him the name Andrew in honor of President Andrew Jackson, but none of this has ever been proven by biographers (p.18). At the young age of three, Andrew Johnson’s father passed away, “leaving his family in poverty” and causing Johnson’s mother to pick up work as a spinner and weaver (“Andrew Johnson” 1).
After Andrew's father died, his mother and her new husband apprenticed fourteen-year-old Andrew and his older brother William to a local tailor. After working a number of years in this trade, the boys ran away for several years, dodging rewards for their capture placed by their former employer. Andrew later returned to his mother, and the entire family moved west to Greeneville, Tennessee, where young Andrew set up a job in a shop as a tailor and met his wife, “Eliza McCardle, the daughter of a shoe maker” (“Andrew Johnson” 1). Eliza educated Andrew and helped him make wise investments in town real estate and farmlands.
Since Andrew Johnson never had the chance of truly being educated and “ his homespun quality were distinct assets in building a political base of poor people seeking a fuller voice in government” (“Andrew Johnson” 1). By 1834, the young tailor had served as town alderman and mayor of Greeneville and was fast making a name for himself as an aspiring politician. During the time when Andrew Johnson was trying to make a name for himself in the political world he opened his own tailoring shop, which “became a gathering place for those eager to voice their opinions or hear Johnson’s” (Schroeder-Lein, Zuczek p. xvi). Johnson considered himself a “Jacksonian Democrat”, as stated by Means, and he gained the support of local mechanics, artisans, and rural folk with his common-man tell-it-like-it-is style (p. 9). He quickly moved up to serve in his state's legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives, and as governor of Tennessee.
Andrew Johnson found a home in the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson and over time became a spokesman for mountaineers and small farmers against the interests of the landed classes during his eight years in the state legislature, as mention in the web biography “Andrew Johnson” (1). During the as serving as state legislature, Johnson was sent to Washington D.C. for ten years to be a U.S. representative in 1843 (“Andrew Johnson” 1). When the Civil War broke out, Johnson was a first-term U.S. senator aligned with the states' rights and proslavery wing of the Democratic Party. However closely he identified with his fellow Southerners' views on slavery, Johnson disagreed strongly with their calls to break up the Union over the issue. When Tennessee left the Union after the election of Abraham Lincoln, Johnson broke with his home state, becoming the only Southern senator to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate. According to the White House’s web page, in the South, Johnson was...
Cited: "Andrew Johnson." Biography.com. A+E Television Networks, LLC. 1996-20011. Web.
4 October 2011.
“Andrew Johnson.” Whitehouse.gov. White House. Web. 4 October 2011.
Means, Howard. The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2006. Print.
Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R., and Richard Zuczel. Andrew Johnson: A Biographical Campanion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001. Print.
Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 1989. Print.
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