Andrew Johnson is one of the most unique Presidents in the history of the United States. Despite only serving for four years, Johnson made history by becoming the first President to be impeached. His legacy was so much more than that though, let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Andrew Johnson.
10 Andrew Johnson Facts
1: Andrew Johnson was born in December 1808
Andrew Johnson was born in North Carolina on December 29, 1808. He was born to Jacob Johnson and Mary McDonough. His parents were both very working-class people. His mother was a laundress and his father worked as a stable-man.
Johnson had two siblings, a younger brother and an older sister. His sister, Elizabeth, sadly died during childhood. Andrew Johnson’s father died of a heart attack when his son was just three years old, and his mother would later remarry to another name called Turner Doughtry.
2: Andrew Johnson never went to school
Despite going on to become the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson never actually attended school. Johnson grew up in very humble circumstances, and instead of going to school, he would spend his younger years working as a tailoring apprentice. Johnson would do this from the age of 10. Johnson taught himself the basics of reading and writing but received no formal education until he was 19 years old when he met Eliza McCardle, who taught him the basics of reading and math, skills that would both go on to help him rise to prominence politically.
3: Andrew Johnson was the first President to be impeached
On February 24th, 1868, Andrew Johnson officially became the first President of the United States to have the act of impeachment leveled against him, an interesting fact about Andrew Johnson. There were 11 charges leveled against Johnson but the most prominent of these was the violation of the Tenure of Office Act. This act prohibits Presidents from removing officials from their position without the approval of the Senate. The case in point was when Johnson removed Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War and replaced him with Lorenzo Thomas.
The act to impeach Johnson was successful and he officially became the first President to be impeached on March 2, 1868. On May 16, the Senate failed to convict Johnson and he was therefore not removed from office.
4: Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States
Following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Andrew Johnson, who was Lincoln’s Vice-President, automatically became the 17th President of the United States.
Johnson’s time in office was one filled with controversy and he only served until the end of that term. He left office in 1869 having not even been selected as the candidate for his party in the 1868 election. Ulysses Grant was the President who succeeded him, the Republican defeated Horatio Seymour, who had been selected to run for the Democrats ahead of Johnson.
5: Andrew Johnson was nearly killed with President Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth at the Washington Theatre on April 14, 1865. The original plan put together by Booth, however, would have also seen the then Vice-President, Andrew Johnson and the Secretary of State murdered that day as well.
The Secretary of State, William Seward, was stabbed and nearly killed by one of Booth’s allies while a third man was supposed to kill Johnson, who was staying at a hotel. The third man, George Atzerodt, opted out of killing Johnson and went for a walk around a nearby park instead. George Atzerodt would later admit his role in the whole crime and would be sentenced to death by hanging, with Johnson himself signing the warrant, a crazy fact about Andrew Johnson.
6: Andrew Johnson was never elected President
Andrew Johnson is one of only five Presidents in history to have never been elected into office. Andrew Johnson was the 16th Vice-President of the United States and took over in the Oval Office following the Assassination of the then President, Abraham Lincoln.
Johnson never ran for re-election in the 1868 election due to being incredibly unpopular following his impeachment trial. The other four Presidents to share this record with Andrew Johnson are Gerald Ford, John Tyler, Chester Arthur, and Millard Fillmore.
7: Andrew Johnson is the only former President to serve in the Senate
After finishing up as President, Andrew Johnson returned back to Greenville. He found life there to be very tiresome and decided to get back involved in politics once again. He ran for the position of Senator of Tenessee in 1872 but was unsuccessful. He persisted, however, and was voted into the senate in 1875, becoming the only former President to enter the Senate in the process, an interesting fact about Andrew Johnson. His time in the Senate was short due to his death less than a year later but it was still hailed as an excellent political comeback at the time.
8: Andrew Johnson died in July 1875
Andrew Johnson died on July 30, 1875. He had been on his way to Ohio when he stopped at his daughter’s farmhouse in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He suffered a stroke on the evening of July 28 but initially refused to seek any medical assistance. His condition worsened so he agreed to see two doctors but he suffered another stroke on July 30, this one would prove to be fatal.
Andrew Johnson was buried on August 3rd in Greenville and while he was a divisive figure during his time in office, he received a lot of tributes from both the north and south of the country.
9: Andrew Johnson married once and had five children
Andrew Johnson married once to Eliza McArdle Johnson. The couple had five children together, their eldest, Martha, was born in 1928. Johnson would then have three more children, two sons and one daughter, in a relatively short space of time, before having his final son, Andrew Jr, nearly twenty years later. Johnson’s three sons were all dealt poor hands in life, the eldest, Charles, died young after an accident involving a horse, Robert was an alcoholic who died young and his youngest son, Andrew Jr also died very young.
10: Andrew Johnson in the Civil War
Andrew Johnson was in a difficult position in the Civil War. The American Civil War began in 1841, just one month after the election of Abraham Lincoln. A lot of the Southern States seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. Johnson’s home state of Tennesse did just that and Johnson decided to stay loyal to the Union and to Abraham Lincoln. He was the only Southern Senator to stay loyal to the Union during this period.
Like every President of the United States, Andrew Johnson has earned his place in the history of America. He may be seen as a controversial figure by some but his legacy is undeniable.
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