17th President of the United States
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
Vice President(s) none Preceded by Abraham Lincoln Succeeded by Ulysses S. Grant
16th Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln Preceded by Hannibal Hamlin Succeeded by Schuyler Colfax
Born December 29, 1808
Raleigh, North Carolina
Died July 31, 1875 (aged 66)
Political party Democratic until 1864 and after 1869; elected Vice President in 1864 on a National Union ticket; no party affiliation 1865–1869 Spouse Eliza McCardle Johnson Religion Christian (no denomination) Signature
Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the seventeenth President of the United States (1865–1869), succeeding to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Tennessee at the time of the secession of the southern states. He was the only Southern Senator not to quit his post upon secession, and became the most prominent War Democrat from the South. In 1862 Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of Tennessee, where he proved energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion. Johnson was nominated for the Vice President slot in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He was elected along with Abraham Lincoln in November 1864, and he became president upon Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865. As president he took charge of Presidential Reconstruction — the first phase of Reconstruction — which lasted until the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the 1866 elections. His conciliatory policies towards the South, his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederates back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with the Radical Republicans. The Radicals in the House of Representatives impeached him in 1868, and he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early political career
- 3 Political ascendancy
- 4 Presidency 1865–1869
- 5 Administration and Cabinet
- 6 Post-Presidency
- 7 Historians' changing view of Andrew Johnson
- 8 Trivia
- 9 See also
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 Notes
- 12 External links
Johnson was born on December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Jacob Johnson and Mary McDonough. Andrew Johnson grew up in poverty. When Johnson was three, his father died. At the age of 10 he was apprenticed to a tailor, but at age 16 he and his brother ran away to Greeneville, Tennessee, where he found work as a tailor.  He never attended any type of school; he credited his wife, Eliza McCardle Johnson with teaching him to read and write.
Early political career
Johnson served as an alderman in Greeneville from 1828 to 1830 and mayor of Greeneville from 1830 to 1833. As a Whig he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Johnson was elected governor of Tennessee, serving from 1853 to 1857, and was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from October 8, 1857 to March 4, 1862. He was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Thirty-sixth Congress). Before Tennessee voted on secession, Johnson toured the state speaking in opposition to the unconstitutional act. Johnson was an aggressive stump speaker and often responded to hecklers, even if those hecklers were in the senate. At the time of secession of the Confederacy, Johnson was the only Senator from the seceded states to continue participation in Congress. Johnson was then appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as military governor of Tennessee in 1862. He vigorously suppressed the Confederates and spoke out for black suffrage, arguing, "The better class of them will go to work and sustain themselves, and that class ought to be allowed to vote, on the ground that a loyal negro is more worthy than a disloyal white man." 
As a leading War Democrat and pro-Union southerner, Johnson was an ideal candidate for the Republicans in 1864 as they enlarged their base to include War Democrats and changed the party name to the National Union Party. He was elected Vice President of the United States and was inaugurated March 4, 1865. At the ceremony, Johnson, who had been drinking (he explained later) to offset the pain of typhoid fever, gave a rambling speech and appeared intoxicated to many. In early 1865, Johnson talked harshly of hanging traitors like Jefferson Davis, which endeared him to the Radicals. 
On the night of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC by John Wilkes Booth. Booth's original plan included targeting Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward, in an attempt to topple the United States government. Johnson was unguarded and alone in his room at the Kirkwood Hotel in Washington, but his would-be assassin, George Atzerodt never acted. 
Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States on April 15, 1865, upon the death of Lincoln that morning. He was the first Vice President to succeed to the U.S. Presidency upon the assassination of a President and the third to succeed upon the death of a President.
Johnson had an ambiguous party status. The National Union Party reverted to being called the Republican party during 1868, but he did not identify with either party while President — though he did try for the Democratic nomination in 1868. Asked in 1868 why he did not become a Democrat, he said "It is not true I am asked why do I join the Democratic party. Why don't they join me?"
Johnson forced the French out of Mexico by sending a combat army to the border and issuing an ultimatum. The French withdrew in 1867, and their puppet government quickly collapsed. Secretary of State Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia on April 9, 1867 for $7.2 Million. Critics sneered at "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox" and "Icebergia." Seward also negotiated to purchase the Danish West Indies, but the Senate refused to approve the purchase in 1867 (it eventually took place in 1917). The Senate likewise rejected Seward's arrangement with Britain to arbitrate the Alabama Claims.
The U.S. experienced tense relations with Britain and its colonial government in Canada in the aftermath of the war. Lingering resentment over a perception of British sympathy towards the Confederacy resulted in Johnson initially turning a blind eye towards a series of armed incursions by Irish-American civil war veterans into British territory in Canada, named the Fenian Raids. Eventually Johnson ordered the Fenians disarmed and barred from crossing the border, but his initially hesitant reaction to the crisis helped motivate the movement toward Canadian Confederation.
At first Johnson talked harshly, telling an Indiana delegation in late April, 1865, "Treason must be made odious... traitors must be punished and impoverished... their social power must be destroyed." But then he struck another note: "I say, as to the leaders, punishment. I also say leniency, reconciliation and amnesty to the thousands whom they have misled and deceived." . His class-based resentment of the rich appeared in a May, 1865 statement to W.H. Holden, the man he appointed governor of North Carolina, "I intend to confiscate the lands of these rich men whom I have excluded from pardon by my proclamation, and divide the proceeds thereof among the families of the wool hat boys, the Confederate soldiers, whom these men forced into battle to protect their property in slaves."Johnson in practice was not at all harsh toward the Confederate leaders. He allowed the Southern states to hold elections in 1865 in which prominent ex-Confederates were elected to the U.S. Congress; however, Congress did not seat them. Congress and Johnson argued in an increasingly public way about Reconstruction and the manner in which the Southern secessionist states would be readmitted to the Union. Johnson favored a very quick restoration of all rights and privileges of other states — and in many ways followed the similar plan of leniency that Lincoln advocated before his death.
Break with the Republicans: 1866
Johnson-appointed governments all passed Black Codes that gave the Freedmen second class status. In response to the Black Codes and worrisome signs of Southern recalcitrance, the Radical Republicans blocked the re-admission of the ex-rebellious states to the Congress in fall 1865. Congress also renewed the Freedman's Bureau, but Johnson vetoed it. Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, leader of the moderate Republicans, took affront at the Black Codes. Trumbull proposed the first Civil Rights bill.
Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the Civil Rights bill, Johnson broke decisively with them by vetoing it on March 27. His veto message objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the Freedmen at a time when eleven out of thirty-six States were unrepresented and attempted to fix by Federal law "a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union." Johnson said it was an invasion by Federal authority of the rights of the States; it had no warrant in the Constitution and was contrary to all precedents. It was a "stride toward centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the national government." 
The Democratic party, proclaiming itself the party of white men, north and south, supported Johnson.  However the Republicans in Congress overrode his veto (the Senate by the vote of 33:15, the House by 182:41) and the Civil Rights bill became law.
The last moderate proposal was the Fourteenth Amendment, also authored by moderate Trumbull. It was designed to put the key provisions of the Civil Rights Act into the Constitution, but it went much further. It extended citizenship to everyone born in the United States (except Indians on reservations), penalized states that did not give the vote to Freedmen, and most importantly, created new federal civil rights that could be protected by federal courts. It guaranteed the Federal war debt (and promised the Confederate debt would never be paid). Johnson used his influence to block the amendment in the states, as three-fourths of the states were required for ratification. (The Amendment was later ratified.) The moderate effort to compromise with Johnson had failed and an all-out political war broke out between the Republicans (both Radical and moderate) on one side, and on the other Johnson and his allies in the Democratic party in the North, and the conservative groupings in the South. The decisive battle was the election of 1866. Johnson campaigned vigorously but was widely ridiculed. The Republicans won by a landslide (the Southern states were not allowed to vote), and took full control of Reconstruction. Johnson was almost powerless.
Historian James Ford Rhodes has explained Johnson's inability to engage in serious negotiations:
As Senator Charles Sumner shrewdly said, "the President himself is his own worst counselor, as he is his own worst defender." Johnson acted in accordance with his nature. He had intellectual force but it worked in a groove. Obstinate rather than firm it undoubtedly seemed to him that following counsel and making concessions were a display of weakness. At all events from his December message to the veto of the Civil Rights Bill he yielded not a jot to Congress. The moderate senators and representatives (who constituted a majority of the Union party) asked him for only a slight compromise; their action was really an entreaty that he would unite with them to preserve Congress and the country from the policy of the radicals. The two projects which Johnson had most at heart were the speedy admission of the Southern senators and representatives to Congress and the relegation of the question of Negro suffrage to the States themselves. Himself shrinking from the imposition on these communities of the franchise for the colored people, his unyielding position in regard to matters involving no vital principle did much to bring it about. His quarrel with Congress prevented the readmission into the Union on generous terms of the members of the late Confederacy; and for the quarrel and its unhappy results Johnson's lack of imagination and his inordinate sensitiveness to political gadflies were largely responsible: it was not a contest in which fundamentals were involved. He sacrificed two important objects to petty considerations. His pride of opinion, his desire to beat, blinded him to the real welfare of the South and of the whole country.
There were two attempts to remove President Andrew Johnson from office. The first occurred in the fall of 1867. On November 21st of that year, the House Judiciary committee produced a bill of impeachment that was basically a vast collection of complaints against him. After a furious debate, there was a formal vote in the House of Representatives on December 5th, which failed 108-57. 
- Main article: Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
Johnson notified Congress that he had removed Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War and was replacing him in the interim with Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas. Johnson had wanted to replace Stanton with former General Ulysses S. Grant, who refused to accept the position. This violated the Tenure of Office Act, a law enacted by Congress in March, 1867 over Johnson's veto, specifically designed to protect Stanton. Johnson had vetoed the act, claiming it was unconstitutional. The act said, "...every person holding any civil office, to which he has been appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate ... shall be entitled to hold such office until a successor shall have been in like manner appointed and duly qualified," thus removing the President's previous unlimited power to remove any of his Cabinet members at will. Years later in the case Myers v. United States in 1926, the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were indeed unconstitutional.
The Senate and House entered into debate. Thomas attempted to move into the war office, for which Stanton had Thomas arrested. Three days after Stanton's removal, the House impeached Johnson for intentionally violating the Tenure of Office Act.
On March 5, 1868, a court of impeachment was constituted in the Senate to hear charges against the President. William M. Evarts served as his counsel. Eleven articles were set out in the resolution, and the trial before the Senate lasted almost three months. Johnson's defense was based on a clause in the Tenure of Office Act stating that the then-current secretaries would hold their posts throughout the term of the President who appointed them. Since Lincoln had appointed Stanton, it was claimed, the applicability of the act had already run its course.
There were three votes in the Senate: one on May 16 for the 11th article of impeachment, which included many of the charges contained in the other articles, and two on May 26 for the second and third articles, after which the trial adjourned. On all three occasions, thirty-five Senators voted "Guilty" and nineteen "Not Guilty". As the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority for conviction in impeachment trials, Johnson was acquitted. A single changed vote would have sufficed to return a "Guilty" verdict. Seven Republican Senators went against their party, voting "Not Guilty" on grounds of insufficient evidence, including Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote.
Before 1960 most historians held the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was a violation of American values regarding division of powers and fair play. Had Johnson been successfully removed from office, he would have been replaced with Radical Republican Benjamin Wade, making the presidency and Congress somewhat uniform in ideology, although in many ways Wade was more "radical" than the Republicans in Congress. This would have established a precedent that a President could be removed not for "high crimes and misdemeanors," but for purely political differences.
Christmas Day amnesty for Confederates
One of Johnson's last significant acts was granting unconditional amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day, December 25, 1868. This was after the election of U.S. Grant to succeed him, but before Grant took office in March, 1869. Earlier amnesties requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people were issued both by Lincoln and by Johnson.
Administration and Cabinet
OFFICE NAME TERM President Andrew Johnson 1865–1869 Vice President None Secretary of State William H. Seward 1865–1869 Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch 1865–1869 Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton 1865–1868 John M. Schofield 1868–1869 Attorney General James Speed 1865–1866 Henry Stanberry 1866–1868 William M. Evarts 1868–1869 Postmaster General William Dennison 1865–1866 Alexander W. Randall 1866–1869 Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles 1865–1869 Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher 1865 James Harlan 1865–1866 Orville H. Browning 1866–1869
States admitted to the Union
- Nebraska - March 1, 1867
Johnson was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate from Tennessee in 1868 and to the House of Representatives in 1872. However, in 1874 the Tennessee legislature did elect him to the U.S. Senate. Johnson served from March 4, 1875, until his death from a stroke near Elizabethton, Tennessee, on July 31 that same year. In his first speech since returning to the Senate, which was also his last, Johnson denounced the corruptions of the Grant Administration and his passions aroused a standing ovation from many of his fellow senators who had once voted to remove him from the presidency. He is the only President to serve in the Senate after his presidency.
Interment was in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee, where he was buried with a copy of the Constitution. Andrew Johnson National Cemetery is now part of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.
Historians' changing view of Andrew Johnson
Historians have gone through cycles on Johnson. The Dunning School of the early 20th century saw him as a heroic bulwark against the corruption of the Radical Republicans who tried to remove the entire leadership class of the white South. Johnson seemed to be the legitimate heir of the sainted Abraham Lincoln. By the 1930s a series of favorable biographies enhanced his prestige. Johnson's Republican critics of the 1860s appeared as disreputable to liberal historians as did the Republican critics of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Furthermore, a Beardian School (named after Charles Beard and typified by Howard K. Beale) argued that the GOP in the 1860s was a tool of corrupt business interests, and that Johnson stood for the people. By 1960 however, historians such as Erik McKitrick demonstrated that Johnson was a poor politician who could not build coalitions and was doomed to failure. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s brought a new perspective, akin to that of the abolitionists of the 1860s. This neo-abolitionist school gave muted praise for GOP efforts to help the blacks, and excoriated Johnson for siding explicitly with the white South. Thus in 1948, says historian Eric Foner, historians regarded Reconstruction, "as a time of corruption and misgovernment caused by granting black men the right to vote." They rated Johnson "near great." Today, Foner argues, scholars consider Reconstruction "a flawed but noble attempt to build an interracial democracy from the ashes of slavery — and Johnson a flat failure." 
Johnson's most important foreign policy action was the purchase of Alaska from Russia (the future Soviet Union), which would prove vital to national security later during the Cold War. The idea and implementation is credited to Seward as Secretary of State, but Johnson approved the plan. It should be remembered that gold was not discovered in Alaska until 1880, thirteen years after the purchase and five years after Johnson's death.
- In his lifetime Andrew Johnson, the son of a tailor, occupied every major non-judicial elected office in the American political system — city councilman, mayor, state representative, state senator, governor, representative, senator, vice-president, and president. He is the only person to have held all of those positions.
- Johnson married at a younger age (19) than any other President before or since.
- Johnson was also the only President who was illiterate at the time of his marriage. His wife taught him how to read and write. As far as his approach to these skills, Johnson is credited with saying "It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word." He is the only unschooled president.
- Speaking to a crowd of African Americans in Nashville during the 1864 campaign, he referred to himself as "the Moses" of the black people.
- Johnson was the subject of a sympathetic, but inaccurate, 1942 film titled Tennessee Johnson , starring Van Heflin as Johnson and Lionel Barrymore as his nemesis, Thaddeus Stevens. Among other historical errors, the film's climax depicts Johnson passionately delivering an oration in his own defense on the U.S. Senate floor near the end of his impeachment trial. In fact, Johnson never appeared in person at his trial and was represented by legal counsel only.
- U.S. presidential election, 1864
- History of the United States (1865-1918)
- Howard K. Beale, The Critical Year. A Study of Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1930). ISBN 0-8044-1085-2
- Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1999). ISBN 0-393-31982-2 online edition
- Albert E. Castel, The Presidency of Andrew Johnson (1979). ISBN 0-7006-0190-2
- D. M. DeWitt, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1903).
- W. A. Dunning, Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction (New York, 1898) online edition
- W. A. Dunning, Reconstruction, Political and Economic (New York, 1907) online edition
- Foster, G. Allen, Impeached: The President who almost lost his job (New York, 1964).
- Eric L. McKitrick, Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction (1961). ISBN 0-19-505707-4
- Martin E. Mantell; Johnson, Grant, and the Politics of Reconstruction (1973) online edition
- Howard Means, The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation (New York, 2006)
- Milton; George Fort. The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals (1930) online edition
- Patton; James Welch. Unionism and Reconstruction in Tennessee, 1860–1869 (1934) online edition
- Rhodes; James Ford History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 6. 1920. Pulitzer prize. online edition
- Schouler, James. History of the United States of America: Under the Constitution vol. 7. 1865–1877. The Reconstruction Period (1917) online edition
- Lloyd P. Stryker, Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage (1929). ISBN 0-403-01231-7 online edition
- Trefousse, Hans L. Andrew Johnson: A Biography (1989). ISBN 0-393-31742-0 online edition
- Winston; Robert W. Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot (1928) online edition
- Ralph W. Haskins, LeRoy P. Graf, and Paul H. Bergeron et al, eds. The Papers of Andrew Johnson 16 volumes; University of Tennessee Press, (1967–2000). ISBN 1-57233-091-0.) Includes all letters and speeches by Johnson, and many letters written to him. Complete to 1875.
- Newspaper clippings, 1865–1869
- Series of Harper's Weekly articles covering the impeachment controversy and trial
- Johnson's obituary, from the New York Times
- ^ Karin L Zipf. Labor Of Innocents: Forced Apprenticeship in North Carolina, 1715–1919 (2005) pp 8–9
- ^ Patton p 126
- ^ Trefousse p. 198
- ^ Atzerodt was hung along with fellow conspirators. Swanson, J: "Manhunt.", p. 154. HarperCollins, 2006
- ^ Milton 183
- ^ "Memoirs of W.W. Holden: Electronic Edition".
- ^ Rhodes, History 6:68
- ^ Trefousse 1999
- ^ Andrew Johnson Cleveland Speech (September 3, 1866)
- ^ Rhodes, History 6:74
- ^ Trefousse, 1989 pages 302–3
- ^ "The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868".
- ^ Highly favorable were Winston (1928), Stryker (1929), Milton (1930), and Claude Bowers, The Tragic Era (1929).
- ^ Washington Post Dec. 1, 2006
- ^ http://www.whatquote.com/quotes/Andrew-Johnson/7285-It-s-a-damn-poor-min.htm
- ^ "Moses and John Tyler".
External linksWikisource has original works written by or about:Andrew JohnsonWikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:Andrew JohnsonWikimedia Commons has media related to:Andrew Johnson
- Extensive essay on Andrew Johnson and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet and First Lady from the Miller Center of Public Affairs
- Works by Andrew Johnson at Project Gutenberg
- Obituary, NY Times, August 1, 1875, Andrew Johnson Dead
- Articles of Impeachment
- White House Biography
- Presidential Biography by Appleton's and Stanley L. Klos
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Vice Presidential biography. From the Senate Historical Office.
- Mr. Lincoln's White House: Andrew Johnson
- Andrew Johnson Cleveland Speech (September 3, 1866)
- Congressional Globe transcript of Johnsons inaugural address
Thomas D. Arnold
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 1st congressional district
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1853
William B. Campbell
Governor of Tennessee
1853 – 1857
Isham G. Harris
James C. Jones
United States Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
October 8, 1857 – March 4, 1862
Served alongside: John Bell and Alfred O. P. Nicholson
David T. Patterson(a)
Isham G. Harris
Military Governor of Tennessee
1862 – 1865
Edward H. East
Republican Party(b) vice presidential candidate
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865
President of the United States
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
Ulysses S. Grant
William G. Brownlow
United States Senator (Class 1) from Tennessee
March 4, 1875 – July 31, 1875
Served alongside: Henry Cooper
David M. Key
Oldest U.S. President still living
March 8, 1874 – July 31, 1875
Ulysses S. Grant
(a) Because of Tennessee's secession, the Senate seat was vacant for four years before Patterson succeeded Johnson. (b) Lincoln and Johnson ran on the National Union ticket in 1864.
* Notice to all users: You can export our search engine to your blog, website, facebook or my space.