Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, near Greeneville, Tennessee

Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 29, 1808, to Jacob Johnson and Mary McDonough Johnson.  His father died when he was but three years old and his mother was forced to take in weaving and spinning to make ends meet for the family.  When Andrew was old enough, his mother bound him to apprentice as a tailor.  He taught himself to read and write.  From those humble beginnings, Johnson was elected to the United States House of Representatives, to the Governorship of Tennessee, to the Vice-Presidency of the United States, ascended to be President upon Lincoln’s death, and then was elected to the United States Senate after his presidency. 

His presidency was tumultuous and Johnson became the first president to be impeached largely on partisan grounds.  He was one vote shy of conviction in the Seante and served out his term.  Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1874.  On a trip to Ohio, Johnson made a stop in Elizabethton, Tennessee, to visit his daughter, Mary Stover.  On the first night of his visit, he had a stroke.  A few days later, on July 31, 1875, Johnson died.  His body was wrapped in ice and shipped to Greeneville for the funeral which was held on Tuesday, August 3, 1875.  As per his wishes, he was wrapped in a flag and his head was laid on a copy of the United States Constitution.

That same symbolism can be seen in his soaring 75-foot white marble monument built by Van Dunden Young and Company of Philadelphia, dedicated on June 5, 1878.  An American eagle pearches on top of a flag draped column.  At the base of the column is a scroll representing the United States Constitution.  Below that is a hand on an open Bible, as if Johnson were taking the oath of office.  On each side of the column is an urn with a flame.  His short epitaph reads, “His faith in the people never waivered.”

The American eagle on top the Andrew Johnson monument

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