Advocate of the Common Man
Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the United States. He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808. He was born into poverty and ran away to Tennessee at an early age. After starting his own tailor shop, he married Eliza McCardle. He soon entered politics and became known as an adept speaker. He frequently spoke against the Southern aristocracy and was an advocate for the common man and poor farmer.
Southerner Against the South
Johnson was elected to the House of Representatives in 1835, and later, to the Senate in 1841. In 1853, Johnson became governor of Tennessee. He then served as a Democrat in the United States Senate until 1862. During secession and the Civil War, Johnson was the only senator from a seceded state that continued to participate in Congress. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee after the state fell into Union hands, and he became Lincoln’s vice president in 1864. After President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Johnson was sworn in as America’s 17th president.
Clashes with Congress; Impeachment
During his term in office, Johnson presided over Reconstruction, the period after the Civil War in which the Southern states were reintegrated into the Union. Johnson and Congress argued over the specifics of Reconstruction. Johnson favored a quick restoration of rights and privileges, whereas Congress favored a more gradual approach. Tensions grew when Johnson replaced Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Republicans claimed Johnson violated the newly passed Tenure of Office Act. The House of Representatives passed a resolution to impeach Johnson. Although he was acquitted (19 votes to 18), he was the first president to be impeached.