Andrew Johnson

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Andrew Johnson
Monochrome photograph of the upper body of Andrew Johnson
17th President of the United States
In office
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
Vice PresidentNone[a]
Preceded byAbraham Lincoln
Succeeded byUlysses S. Grant
16th Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865
PresidentAbraham Lincoln
Preceded byHannibal Hamlin
Succeeded bySchuyler Colfax
United States Senator
from Tennessee
In office
March 4, 1875 – July 31, 1875
Preceded byWilliam Gannaway Brownlow
Succeeded byDavid M. Key
In office
October 8, 1857 – March 4, 1862
Preceded byJames C. Jones
Succeeded byDavid T. Patterson
Military Governor of Tennessee
In office
March 12, 1862 – March 4, 1865
Appointed byAbraham Lincoln
Preceded byIsham G. Harris
(Governor of Tennessee)
Succeeded byWilliam Gannaway Brownlow
(Governor of Tennessee)
15th Governor of Tennessee
In office
October 17, 1853 – November 3, 1857
Preceded byWilliam B. Campbell
Succeeded byIsham G. Harris
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1853
Preceded byThomas Dickens Arnold
Succeeded byBrookins Campbell
Mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee
In office
1834–1835
Personal details
Born(1808-12-29)December 29, 1808
Raleigh, North Carolina
DiedJuly 31, 1875(1875-07-31) (aged 66)
Elizabethton, Tennessee
Resting placeAndrew Johnson National Cemetery
Greeneville, Tennessee
Political partyDemocratic
Other political
affiliations
National Union (1864–1868)
Spouse(s)
Eliza McCardle (m. 1827)
Children5
Parents
ProfessionTailor
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance United States[1]
Branch/serviceSeal of the United States Board of War and Ordnance.png United States Army
Years of service1862–1865
RankUnion Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 16th Vice-President and 17th President of the United States. He was the first president to be impeached, but he was not removed from office. The impeachment happened because he fired the Secretary of War after Congress had made it illegal. This was also considered strange, as it is usually up to the president to appoint and fire his secretaries. However, Congress disliked him because he was a Democrat and did not want to help former slaves.

Early life[change | change source]

Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1808, in a house with one room. His family was very poor and he never went to school. He was apprenticed as a tailor and held by a tailor named Selby as an indentured servant, a sort of slave. The contract stated Johnson should work for Selby until he was 21, but Johnson did not like the work and ran away with his brother. The tailor put out wanted posters but Johnson never returned.[2] In the end he started a business of his own in Greeneville in Tennessee, where he met and married Eliza McCardle. She was very ill because of tuberculosis, a sickness of the lung, but Johnson loved her very much. She taught him to read properly and helped him study, which helped him enter politics. He became mayor of Greeneville in 1834, aged 25. In 1843, he was elected to the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. In 1853, he became Governor of Tennessee, the most powerful position in the state. After serving two terms, he was instead elected Senator (in this time, the Tennessee General Assembly elected both these positions, not the people) and returned to Washington D.C. Johnson was very wealthy then and owned several slaves himself. It was a time when the country was at a breaking point because of slavery and other conditions.


Political career[change | change source]

When Tennessee and ten other Southern slave states declared they were no longer part of the United States, he was the only member from among them to not quit his seat. Instead, he went to the U.S. and helped the North in the war, a so-called "Union Democrat". Despite being a Democrat, he was elected as Abraham Lincoln's Vice President on a "National Union" ticket in 1864, which thought the war should be ended and the south welcomed back into the union. Lincoln chose Johnson because he had been loyal but also thought it would be good to have a Democrat on the election ticket to show it was not a matter of party politics. Johnson freed his slaves in 1863, shortly before the law made it illegal. In 1865, Congress banned slavery in the entire U.S. just before the war ended.

He became president in 1865 after Abraham Lincoln was killed. Congress was then run by Republicans, and after Lincoln's assassination, they wanted stricter terms than Johnson did for the Reconstruction of the Southern states that had rebelled. Congress was also more friendlier to African Americans who had recently been slaves, and many Republicans wanted them to vote and be given land. Johnson, who was a Democrat, thought it would hurt white people in the South and was strongly opposed to these policies. As a result, he vetoed 29 bills passed by Congress, and is the president to have the most vetoes overridden. This can happen if Congress passes the law a second time with a 2/3-majority, meaning twice as many people supports the law as opposes it. If this happens the veto fails and the law passes anyway. It is very unusual but happened 15 times to Johnson, which is a record.

He was also the first President to be impeached in 1868, but was later acquitted in the Senate. When a president is removed by Congress, the House of Representatives must vote to impeach him, and then the Senate to convict, by a 2/3-majority. Although the Republicans had that many senators, the conviction failed by one vote. Several Republicans thought it was not their job to replace the president, and that the charges against Johnson were made up. So Johnson could keep his job for the last year.[3] There would be another 130 years before another president was impeached, Bill Clinton in 1998. Johnson was the only U.S. president never to have gone to school, and was taught to read by himself and by his wife, Eliza McCardle Johnson. He also taught himself law and politics by reading himself. The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million (the price was 2 cents per acre) while he was president, but it was Secretary of State William Seward who arranged the buy. It is now considered a very wise move and the natural resources in Alaska today are worth many billions.

After his term ran out, Johnson left Washington. In 1875, he returned after being again elected senator for Tennessee. He died the same year. He remains the only president of the U.S. to have served as a senator after being president. One former president, John Quincy Adams, has served in the House of Representatives after his presidency, however.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Johnson was Vice President under President Abraham Lincoln and became President on Lincoln's death on April 15, 1865. Prior to the adoption of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment in 1967, a vacancy in the office of Vice President was not filled until the next ensuing election and inauguration.

References[change | change source]

  1. Hodge, Carl C.; Nolan, Cathal J., eds. (2007). US Presidents and Foreign Policy. ABC-CLIO. p. 137. ISBN 9781851097906. Archived from the original on June 17, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  2. "biography.com".
  3. "Andrew Johnson". White House.gov. Retrieved November 4, 2013.

Other websites[change | change source]