Portrait of Andrew Johnson

Prompted by President Andrew Johnson’s flagrant challenge to Congressional authority, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him on February 24, 1868. [Wikimedia Commons]

Andrew Johnson - Facts

December 29, 1808 - July 31, 1875

Key facts about Andrew Johnson who became the seventeenth President of the United States in 1865 after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

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Full Name:

  • Andrew Johnson

Birth Date:

  • December 29, 1808

Birth Location:

  • Raleigh, North Carolina

Parents:

  • Jacob and Mary “Polly” (McDonough) Johnson

Education:

  • Never attended school

Occupation(s):

  • Politician
  • Tailor

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congressman
  • Governor of Tennessee
  • U.S. Senator
  • U.S. Vice-president
  • 17th U.S. President

Spouse:

  • Eliza McCardle (1827)

Place of Death:

  • Elizabethton, Tennessee

Date of Death:

  • July 31, 1875

Place of Burial:

  • Family estate outside of Greeneville, Tennessee

Significance:

  • Andrew Johnson was the younger of two sons born to Jacob and Mary “Polly” (McDonough) Johnson.
  • Andrew Johnson’s father died in 1812, leaving the family destitute.
  • Andrew Johnson never attended school.
  • In 1818, Andrew Johnson’s mother apprenticed both of her sons to a local tailor.
  • Johnson settled in Greeneville, Tennessee in 1826 and eventually opened his own tailoring business.
  • On May 17, 1827, Andrew Johnson married sixteen-year-old Eliza McCardle.
  • Andrew Johnson’s wife, who was better educated, taught Johnson arithmetic and improved his reading and writing skills.
  • In 1829, Greeneville residents elected Andrew Johnson as a town alderman.
  • In 1834, Greeneville residents elected Andrew Johnson as their mayor at age twenty-six.
  • In 1835, Andrew Johnson became a member of the Tennessee state legislature.
  • In 1840, Tennessee voters elected Andrew Johnson to the state senate where he served from 1841 to 1843.
  • In 1842, the voters of Tennessee’s First Congressional District elected Andrew Johnson to the United States House of Representatives.
  • In 1842, Andrew Johnson bought his first slave, a fourteen-year-old girl named Dolly. He eventually owned as many as eight slaves.
  • Elected to the House of Representatives five times, Andrew Johnson served in the Twenty-eighth through Thirty-second Congresses from March 4, 1843 to March 3, 1853.
  • Andrew Johnson served four years as Governor of Tennessee from 1853 to 1857.
  • The Tennessee legislature elected Andrew Johnson to the U.S. Senate in 1857.
  • During his tenure in the Senate, Andrew Johnson was a Southern moderate. He defended slavery and reviled abolitionists, but he opposed secessionists and staunchly defended the sanctity of the Union.
  • When Tennessee seceded from the Union on June 8, 1861, Andrew Johnson became the only Southern senator to retain his seat in Congress.
  • During the Civil War, Southerners denounced Andrew Johnson as a traitor, confiscated his home in Tennessee, and drove his family from the state.
  • When Federal troops gained control of Tennessee in 1862, Andrew Johnson resigned his seat in the Senate to accept President Lincoln’s appointment as Military Governor of Tennessee.
  • Andrew Johnson was inaugurated as Vice-president of the United States on March 4, 1865.
  • Andrew Johnson served only forty-two days as vice-president before becoming the seventeenth President of the United States on April 15, 1865, because of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
  • After assuming the presidency, Andrew Johnson tried to implement lenient Reconstruction policies.
  • Congress passed much of its Reconstruction legislation (including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Second Freedmen’s Bureau Act, and Military Reconstruction Acts of 1867) over President Johnson’s vetoes, setting up a showdown between the two branches of government.
  • As the 1866 off-year elections approached, President Johnson went on a speaking tour through the Midwest known as the “Swing Around the Circle.”
  • The confrontation between Congress and President Johnson reached a crisis in February 1868 when Johnson attempted to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from his cabinet, in violation of the Tenure of Office Act (which Congress passed in 1867 over Johnson’s veto).
  • Prompted by President Johnson’s flagrant challenge to Congressional authority, the House of Representatives voted to impeach him on February 24, 1868.
  • On three separate votes in May 1868, the Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of impeachment charges made by the House of Representatives. Although a plurality of senators (35–19) found Johnson guilty, the total was one vote short of the constitutionally required two-thirds majority to remove the president from office.
  • Following his acquittal, Andrew Johnson served the last ten months of his presidency, still at loggerheads with Congress.
  • At the 1868 Democratic National Convention, party delegates nominated Horatio Seymour as their presidential candidate over the incumbent, but unpopular, Andrew Johnson.
  • On March 4, 1869, Andrew Johnson completed his term as president and returned to Greeneville, Tennessee.
  • In January 1875, the Tennessee legislature elected Andrew Johnson to a seat in the U.S. Senate, making him the only former president to later sit as a senator.
  • Andrew Johnson served in the Senate from March 4, 1875, until his death a few months later.
  • Andrew Johnson suffered a stroke on July 28, 1875, while visiting his daughter, Mary, near Elizabethton, Tennessee. He died three days later on July 31, 1875.
  • At his request, Andrew Johnson was wrapped in an American flag and buried with a copy of the Constitution.
  • Andrew Johnson was buried on his family estate outside of Greeneville, Tennessee.
  • Johnson’s daughter, Margaret, willed Andrew Johnson’s burial site to the U.S. government. In 1906, Congress designated the site as the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Andrew Johnson - Facts
  • Coverage December 29, 1808 - July 31, 1875
  • Author
  • Keywords Andrew Johnson
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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