Andrew Johnson – Greenville, Tennessee
Andrew Johnson was America’s seventh POTUS, becoming president after Lincoln’s death in April 1865. Johnson, a Union Democrat from Tennessee joined Lincoln in 1864 as part of the “Unity” ticket, not the Republican. He became President just as Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia while other Confederate Generals were still fighting in the field.
Andrew Johnson had been a former Senator and Governor of Tennessee. At the time of the Civil War, Johnson opposed secession along with other leaders in eastern Tennessee. Pro-secessionist forces occupied Greeneville (Johnson’s home) which then traded hands throughout the war. Rather than considered “occupied,” the National Park Ranger at the Johnson home explained, armies passed through Greeneville sometimes on a daily basis. Johnson’s home, seen in the photo was used as sleeping quarters for both sides. The NPS Ranger indicated that when the government obtained the property and began to restore the home, graffiti could still be seen on the walls; graffiti written by both Confederate and Union soldiers. Since both sides considered Johnson a traitor to the cause, much of the graffiti was graphic.
Johnson served out Lincoln’s second term but became the first president in American history to be impeached. During the initial Reconstruction period, the president and Congressional Republicans had different ideas about how to reinstate southern states and handle Confederate politicians and army officers. As part of that disagreement, the Republican Congress passed a law forbidding the president from dismissing a cabinet member that had been confirmed by the Senate (Tenure of Office Act). At that point, it was just a matter of time before Johnson would dismiss his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. Articles of Impeachment then followed.
A trial in the Senate ensued and Johnson escaped removal from office by one vote. Johnson returned to Greeneville with his family where he lived until he died in 1875.
*Of note: Greeneville is approximately 4 hours east of Nashville and within a few miles of the North Carolina border.