The day was April 15, 1865. The American Civil War had just ended a week ago when the Confederacy surrendered to the Union. Just six weeks before, Abraham Lincoln was reelected for his second term as president, and helped lead the North to victory. However, on April 15, President Lincoln was tragically assassinated in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. A new President would have to step up and lead the country. If the assassin’s plan had been completed, Vice President Andrew Johnson would have also been killed. Fortunately, the plan did not go through, and Andrew Johnson would soon be elected President to help the United States out of it’s worst time.
Andrew Johnson was born on December 29, 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina. His parents, Jacob and Mary Johnson, were both illiterate. His father made a living as a hotel porter and a bank janitor in Raleigh. When Andrew was only three, his father died while trying to save two of his wealthy employers from drowning. “His mom worked as a spinner and weaver to try to feed Andrew and his brother William. She then married Turner Daugherty, though he did not make much money either.”(Trefousse)
At fourteen, his parents apprenticed Andrew and William to a local tailor shop. The two boys worked at the shop for several years, until they decided to run away together. After being on the run for two years, Andrew decided to return home to Raleigh in 1826 and reunite with his family. Andrew and his family then moved west to Greeneville, Tennessee, where seventeen-year-old Andrew set up his own tailor shop.
Andrew had tried to teach himself to read before from a book he got as a gift, but he never learned the basics of English, until he met his wife, Eliza McCardle. Andrew first met Eliza when he moved to Greeneville. “Eliza told her friend that it was love at first sight on seeing Andrew, and she knew it was meant to be.”(Trefousse) Andrew married Eliza shortly after they met. Andrew had never attended school before. “Once married, however, his wife, Eliza McCardle, became his tutor, providing him with a good common education.”(President Andrew Johnson)
After having a good education, Johnson became interested in politics. He ran for town alderman and then mayor of Greeneville, and by 1834 he had served several terms as both mayor and town alderman. He liked to call himself a Jacksonian Democrat. He loved politics, especially giving speeches, because he found that his tell-it-like-it-is style pleased the people of Greeneville. Johnson soon began to quickly climb the political ladder and he got elected to the state legislature’s lower house in 1834 and 1835, and then the state senate in 1841. In 1843 Johnson was elected to the U.S. house of representatives as a Democrat. However, after the census of 1850, districts were redrawn, and Johnson lost his seat. Then Johnson served as the Governor of Tennessee from 1853 to 1857.
During the 1860’s, a Civil War was ready to break out in the United...