Andrew Johnson, 17th President, was born to a poor family in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808. At 14, he was hired as an apprentice to a tailor. Later, he opened a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee. He married Eliza McCardle and took part in debates at the local academy.
Johnson favored the common man rather than the rich members of the plantation system. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and later the Senate, he supported a homestead bill to provide free farm land for poor men.
Although he was a Democrat, he strongly supported keeping the Union together. The Republican Party nominated Johnson to run for vice president in President Abraham Lincoln’s bid for a second term.
After Lincoln's assassination, Johnson became President (1865 to 1869). While he was President, the United States acquired the Alaska territory and Midway Islands in the Pacific. He was cautious in reconstructing the southern states after the Civil War.
But Radical Republicans in Congress had their own plans. They once again placed southern states under military rule as during the war. They also passed laws that restricted the President’s powers.
Johnson was accused of violating one of the new laws Congress had passed (over Johnson’s veto), the Tenure of Office Act. In response, the House of Representatives voted 11 articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate on three of the articles and was acquitted, but by only one vote in each case.
After he left the presidency, Johnson went back to Tennessee, but he stayed active in politics. In 1874, Tennessee returned him to the Senate, making him the only former President to serve in the Senate after his presidency. He died a few months later, in 1875.
Back to Presidential $1 Coin Program