Andrew Johnson Biography

(17th President of the United States)

Birthday: December 29, 1808 (Capricorn)

Born In: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the United States of America. Johnson was serving as the vice-president when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and succeeded him as the president. Born into an extremely poor family, Andrew Johnson never had the privilege of attending school and had to live life the hard way. Nevertheless, he was smart enough to build his future solely on his understanding of politics and sheer hard work. Later, his wife Eliza McCardle helped him learn to write and tutored him on many subjects. Born and raised in the working class, he always advocated their rights and sought privileges for the working class. Throughout his tenure in politics, he worked for the betterment of the plebeians. However, his intolerance towards African-Americans attracted the criticism of most of the radical politicians who fought to end slavery. As a conservative, he supported slavery and sought ways to protect it. His tenure as the president was tumultuous as it was marred by controversies and animosity of fellow politicians. However, he is still considered one of the greatest American politicians. Andrew Johnson was an honest politician, driven by patriotism.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: Sir Veto, The Tennessee Tailor, The Grim Presence

Died At Age: 66


Spouse/Ex-: Eliza McCardle Johnson

father: Jacob Johnson

mother: Mary McDonough Johnson

siblings: Elizabeth Johnson, William Johnson

children: Andrew Johnson Jr., Charles Johnson, Martha Johnson Patterson, Mary Johnson, Robert Johnson

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Andrew Johnson Presidents

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males

political ideology: Democratic

Died on: July 31, 1875

place of death: Elizabethton, Tennessee, United States

Ancestry: British American, Irish American

U.S. State: North Carolina

Cause of Death: Stroke

City: Raleigh, North Carolina

Childhood & Early Life

Andrew Johnson was born on December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, into the poor household of Jacob Johnson, a constable, and Mary McDonough, a laundrywoman. His father died when he was three, leaving the family under the care of Mary, who supported her children by doing laundry.

Later, she married Turner Doughtry, who helped Mary take care of her children. William, the eldest of her children, was sent to work as an apprentice under a tailor. When Andrew turned 10, he joined his brother.

However, the duo was unhappy with work and ran away; disregarding the fact that they were legally bound to the firm. Andrew worked in North Carolina for some time, before going to South Carolina. He then returned to his hometown Raleigh, hoping to get back his old job.

The old firm did not take him back. Hence, he went to Tennessee where he worked as a tailor before his mother called him back to Raleigh. Later, the family shifted to Greeneville, Tennessee, and he established a tailoring business.

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Johnson turned his attention to politics, advocating the cause of the working class people. In 1829, during the municipal elections of Greenville, he was elected as a representative.

In 1831, when the Tennessee government passed a new legislation to disenfranchise the African-Americans, he supported the move, thereby earning the government’s favor.

Eventually, he was elected as the mayor of Greeneville on January 4, 1834. He supported the constitution, which did not allow the disfranchising of the African-Americans. He also wanted to re-evaluate the real estate tax rates and improve the infrastructure in Tennessee.

In 1835, he successfully set his foot in the Tennessee state legislature, where he supported the Democratic principles of President Andrew Jackson.

He was elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat from Tennessee. In the House of Representatives, he became part of a new Democratic majority. In due course, he was elected as the governor of Tennessee in 1853.

In 1857, after he was elected as a senator, he advocated the ‘Homestead Act,’ according to which the poor were eligible to grants in the form of land from the government.

In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln won the national elections, Tennessee withdrew from the ‘National Union Party’ (Republican Party). Johnson also detached himself from Tennessee, thus becoming the only remaining senator from the seceded state.

In March 1862, Lincoln appointed him the military governor of Tennessee, which was going through a great deal of turmoil, owing to the ‘Civil War.’ In Tennessee, the war was led by Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. Forrest’s army raided the cities and towns in and around the state, making it difficult for Johnson to administer.

President Lincoln, who was impressed with Johnson after seeing his administrative abilities in Tennessee, made him the vice-presidential candidate during his bid for re-election in 1864, which he eventually won.

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When Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, Johnson was sworn in as the new president on April 15.

On 1st May, 1865, he gave orders to form a nine-man military commission, which would try the assassins of Lincoln. Eventually, the conspirators were charged and executed.

In 1866, Johnson, who had always been intolerant towards African-Americans, vetoed the proposals of the ‘Freedmen's Bureau,’ which tried to improve the living standards of the African-Americans.

The same year, he also vetoed the ‘Civil Rights Bill’ intended to protect the free African-Americans. However, his veto was overruled by the senate.

His increasingly visible hostility towards the African-Americans drew a lot of criticism from the radicals. Some even claimed that he was involved in the conspiracy of assassinating Lincoln.

On 2nd March, 1867, the first ‘Reconstruction Acts’ was passed, allowing the free male slaves to vote. As usual, he vetoed, but the bill was passed.

By this time, the Radical Republicans were already angered by the president’s conservative white-centric views and in November 1867, the Judiciary Committee voted for his trial.

His trial began on 30th March 1868, making him the first United States president to be impeached.

He retired in March 1869. Later in the same year, he made an unsuccessful run for the senate.

He stood for re-election for a seat in the senate on January 20, 1875. He was elected and sworn in on March 5.

Major Works

As a senator, he introduced the ‘Homestead Bill,’ which offered the applicant the possession of land at very low or no cost.

After being elected as the vice-president, he tried to restore the civilian administration in Tennessee where the federal system had broken down after Lincoln’s election as president.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1827, when he was 18, he married the 16-year-old Eliza McCardle. They had five children, one of whom named Robert Johnson committed suicide in his youth. Andrew Johnson died at the age of 66 after suffering a lethal stroke.

He was buried in Greeneville, Tennessee. In 1906, the place was renamed ‘Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.’ His house and tailor shop are maintained by the ‘National Park Service’ as ‘Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.’


This former president of the United States was the nation’s first president to be impeached.

See the events in life of Andrew Johnson in Chronological Order

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