Andrew Johnson – 17

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States of America. He played an important role at the end of the American Civil War. He became the President after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and overlooked much of the Reconstruction era during which the North helped the South recover from the affects of the war.

Early Life

Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808. He came from a poor family and could not get any formal education. Instead, he became apprentice to a tailor at a young age so that he could learn a trade and make his own living. After he and his family moved to Tennessee, he later started his own tailoring business which was quite successful.

Career in Politics

In Tennessee, Andrew Johnson married and also became interested in politics. His political career started as a town alderman and by 1834, he had ascended to the position of the mayor. He was eventually elected as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1835.

In 1843, he was elected as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He later also served as the Governor of Tennessee and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1857.

During the American Civil War

The American Civil War started in 1861. In this war, 11 southern states separated from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. All the senators from these states left the U.S. Senate and returned to their states. Andrew Johnson was the only southern senator who showed support for the Union and remained a part of the U.S. Senate.

In 1862, the Union forces were able to regain much of Tennessee and President Abraham Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson as the military governor of the state. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln ran for the Presidency a second time and he chose Andrew Johnson as his Vice President. Nearly a month later, Lincoln was assassinated and Andrew Johnson became the next President.

Life as President

Andrew Johnson became president at a time when the Civil War was over and there was a need for unity between the North and the South. He tried to adopt such policies which were friendly towards the South. But the assassination of Abraham Lincoln had angered the North and many people in the North wanted to punish the South.

As a result, President Andrew Johnson was often at odds with the members of the U.S. Congress. He spearheaded the efforts of the North during the Reconstruction era and helped the South get back on its feet.

But over the course of his Presidency, his differences with the Congress grew more and more severe. He was ultimately impeached by the U.S. Congress, or in other words fired, but the U.S. Senate showed support for him and he remained the President until the end of his term in 1869.

Later Life

After serving as the President, Andrew Johnson returned to his home state of Tennessee. Here, he was once again elected as a member of the U.S. Senate in 1875. However, he served on this position only a brief time and died in March, 1869.

The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation Hardcover – November 1, 2006

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