Andrew Johnson ascended to the U.S. presidency after the assassination of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. He was the seventeenth president and the first to undergo an IMPEACHMENT trial.
Johnson was born December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Little is known of his early life. His ancestry is usually traced only to the family of his father, Jacob Johnson, who raised his family in Raleigh and served as the city's constable and sexton, was a porter to the state bank, and was a respected captain in the militia of North Carolina. He was viewed as a hero after saving two men from drowning in a pond outside Raleigh. He died of health
complications only a year later, leaving the Johnson family in poverty.
From the age of ten to the age of 17, Johnson worked as an apprentice to a Raleigh tailor, J. J. Selby. Shortly after, he settled in Greeneville, Tennessee, where he opened his own tailor shop. Before he reached the age of 19, he had met Eliza McCardle, a respected teacher in Greeneville, whom he married on May 17, 1827.
Johnson's wife encouraged his aspirations to become politically active, and Johnson turned his tailor shop into a center for men throughout Greeneville to debate and practice their oratory. In 1828 Johnson was overwhelmingly elected city alderman. Two years later his supporters elected him mayor. From 1835 to 1843, he served in the Tennessee legislature. For the next ten years, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He returned to Tennessee in 1853 and was elected governor of the state. When his term expired in 1857, he became a member of the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1862. He was the only southern senator who refused to resign during the Civil War.
Johnson attracted the attention of President Lincoln. In 1862 Lincoln appointed the Tennessee congressman to serve as military governor of the state. After Johnson effectively managed the state throughout the Civil War, Lincoln selected him to run for vice president in the 1864 election. The pro-Union ticket of Lincoln and Johnson was victorious.
Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, and Johnson assumed the duties of president on April 15. He had been left with the daunting task of assimilating the former confederacy of southern states into the United States. Johnson sought to overlook the secession of the South. He granted many pardons and allowed southern politicians to restore oppressive practices...