Andrew Johnson was born on 29th December, 1808 at Raleigh, N.C,
USA. He was the youngest of the five children of his parents and was brought up
in abject poverty. His father was a porter. When Andrew was three years old his
father, Jacob Johnson died. After the death of his father his mother Mary
McDonough Johnson remarried.
The family didn’t have enough money to send Andrew to school.
Johnson was sent as an apprentice to a tailor at the age of 14 to learn the
trade. The family moved to eastern Tennessee in 1826 and after settling there
Andrew opened a tailoring shop. Soon after this Andrew married Eliza McCardle in
the year 1827.
Andrew’s wife was very intelligent and had some basic education. Johnson
learned writing, reading and mathematics from her. John applied himself to the
profession of tailoring and soon became famous in his trade and started earning
enough money to support his family.
People from different sections of the society who were interested in public
affairs started gathering at Andrew’s shop. Soon Johnson gained in
popularity and became the leader of this group.Johnson’s political career
started in 1829 when he became alderman which appealed to the working class of
Greeneville. He was elected as Mayor of Greeneville and from 1835-1837 and
1839-1841 he served in the House of Representatives of Tennessee. Ultimately he
got elected and served as governor of Tennessee from 1853 to 1857. Johnson was
elected US senator in 1857. Though he was voted along with other legislators of
the south, he was the only southerner who remained in the senate after secession
Andrew Johnson was a staunch supporter of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln appointed him
the military governor of Tennessee with a rank of Brigadier General of
Volunteers in 1862. In place of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, Andrew Johnson
was favored as a southerner and was nominated as the running mate of Abraham
Lincoln after Lincoln was re-nominated president of USA in 1864.
Johnson could stay as vice president only for six weeks as Lincoln was
assassinated on April 14th 1865. John escaped a plot to murder him on the same
night when Lincoln was killed as the accomplices failed to execute the plan. On
15th April, 1856, a few hours after the death of President Abraham Lincoln,
Johnson took the oath as President of America.
Upon becoming president, Johnson reinstated the civil government in the
ex-confederate states. However he was condemned heavily by the radical
republicans as he refused to grant equal civil rights to black and as he didn’t
enforce the disqualification of the offices of the confederates. Johnson’s
Secretary of State, William Henry Seward guided him in matters of foreign
affairs. Seward was a very able diplomat and acquisition of Alaska for $
7,200.000 was an example of his farsightedness. In 1863, France had violated the
Doctrine of Monroe policy of the USA and put European prince as the emperor of
Mexico. The Monroe Doctrine had forbidden intervention by Europe in the Western
hemisphere. However France had to withdraw its troops from Mexico by 1867 due to
firm handling of the war by Seward.
Johnson’s political power was on the wane after Congress passed the Civil
Rights Act in April, 1866. On May 2nd 1867, the First Reconstruction Act
and the Tenure of Office Act was passed by the radicals over veto of Johnson.
Johnson tried to oust from his office, Edwin M.Stanton, whom he suspected to be
conspiring with Congress leaders against him.
On February 24, 1868, the house brought charges of impeachment against President
Johnson. The charges were mainly political issues. However the most important of
the issue was that Johnson had violated the Tenure of Office Act in the Stanton
affair. He was also charged to be conspiring against President Lincoln. However
the court narrowly failed to convict Andrew mainly due to Lincoln who was a good
friend of Johnson.In May 1868, while his impeachment was still under progress,
Grant was nominated as a Presidential candidate by the Republicans and Johnson
didn’t get Democratic nomination and Governor Horatio Seymour of New York
was chosen as the candidate by the convention.
Johnson left his office embittered and disgraced. He maintained an interest in
politics. He was re-elected to the senate in 1875. Johnson suffered a
fatal paralytic stroke while visiting his daughter. On 31st July, 1875, Johnson
died near Carter Station, Tenn., and was buried in Greeneville