Biography of Andrew Johnson
Famous American Biographies





ANDREW JOHNSON, the seventeenth president of the United States, served from 1865 to 1869. He was born December 8, 1808, at Raleigh, North Carolina, and was left an orphan at the age of four years. He never attended school, and was apprenticed to a tailor. While serving his apprenticeship he suddenly acquired a passion for knowledge, and learned to read. From that time on he spent all his spare time in reading, and after working for two years as a journeyman tailor at Lauren's Court House, South Carolina, he removed to Greenville, Tennessee, where he worked at his trade and was married. Under his wife's instruction he made rapid progress in his studies and manifested such an interest in local politics as to be elected as "workingmen's candidate" alderrnan in 1828, and in 1830 to the mayoralty, and was twice reelected to each office. Mr. Johnson utilized this time in cultivating his talents as a public speaker, by taking part in a debating society. He was elected in 1835 to the lower house of the legislature, was reelected in 1839 as a Democrat, and in 1841 was elected state senator. Mr. Johnson was elected representative in congress in 1843 and was reelected four times in succession until 1853, when he was the successful candidate for the gubernatorial chair of Tennessee. He was re elected in 1855 and in 1857 he entered the United States senate. In 1860 he was supported by the Tennessee delegation to the Democratic convention for the presidential nomination, and lent his influence to the Breckinridge wing of the party. At the election of Lincoln, which brought about the first attempt at secession in December, 1860, Mr. Johnson took a firm attitude in the senate for the Union. He was the leader of the loyalists in East Tennessee. By the course that Mr. Johnson pursued in this crisis he was brought prominently before the northern people, and when, in March, 1862, he was appointed military governor of Tennessee with the rank of brigadier general, he increased his popularity by the vigorous manner in which he labored to restore order. In the campaign of 1864 he was elected vice president on the ticket with President Lincoln, and upon the assassination of the latter he succeeded to the presidency, April 15, 1865. He retained the cabinet of President Lincoln, and at first exhibited considerable severity towards the former Confederates, but he soon inaugurated a policy of reconstruction, proclaimed a general amnesty to the late Confederates, and established provisional governments in the southern states. These states claimed representation in congress in the following December, and then arose the momentous question as to what should be the policy of the victorious Union against their late enemies. The Republican majority in congress had an apprehension that the President would undo the results of the war, and consequently passed two bills over the executive veto, and the two highest branches of the government were in open antagonism. The cabinet was reconstructed in July, and Messrs. Randall, Stanbury and Browning superseded Messrs. Denison, Speed and Harlan. In August, 1867, President Johnson removed the secretary of war and replaced him with General Grant, but when congress met in December it refused to ratify the removal of Stanton, who resumed the functions of his office. In 1868 the president again attempted to remove Stanton, who refused to vacate his post and was sustained by the senate. President Johnson was accused by congress of high crimes and misdemeanors, but the trial resulted in his acquittal. Later he was United States senator from Tennessee, and died July 31, 1875.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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