Andrew Johnson
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Greeneville, Tennessee July 18, 2006 29th Visited

Andrew Johnson, the first U.S.
president to be impeached, is
interred in a national cemetery
that bears his name in his
hometown of Greeneville,
Tennessee. My father and I first
visited Johnson during a nighttime
excursion on July 18, 2006, and
returned in the daylight hours to
photograph his burial plot.

Johnson, a Freemason, was laid to rest by
fellow members of his fraternal order on
August 3, 1875, three days after his death.
The hill he was buried on was a parcel of
his land that he used to visit in search of
peace and relaxation. The War Department
assumed responsibility for the property in
1906, and then control was transferred to
the National Park Service in 1942.

A marble eagle, the emblem of
the United States, is perched atop
Andrew and Eliza Johnson's obelisk,
which is twenty-seven feet tall. Per
his wishes, the former president
was buried with his head resting on
a copy of the U.S. Constitution and
his body wrapped in an American

Today, the Andrew Johnson National
Cemetery is a facet of the Andrew Johnson
National Historic Site. The other properties
that comprise the AJNHS are the Andrew
Johnson Visitor Complex and the home
he owned from 1851 until his death in 1875.

* Fast Facts * *

- First Lady: Eliza McCardle Johnson

  - Spouse: Eliza McCardle Johnson (m. 1827-1875)

- Political Party: Democratic Party

- Term: 1865-1869

- Vice President: None

- Born: December 29, 1808

- Died: July 31, 1875

- Age: 66

- Cause of Death: Stroke

- Cemetery: Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee
- GPS Coordinates: 36°09'20.2"N 82°50'15.9"W

* Background on Andrew Johnson * *

* Andrew Johnson was born into an impoverished family in Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 29, 1808. His father, Jacob, died when Andrew was three years old, and his mother, Mary, remarried soon after in order to support her children. When they were old enough, Andrew and his brother, William, were apprenticed to a tailor. The pair ran away in 1824 and relocated with their mother and stepfather two years later to Greeneville, Tennessee. In 1827, at age eighteen, Andrew wed sixteen-year-old Eliza McCardle. Eliza was educated at Rhea Academy and helped her husband, who had taught himself to read, learn writing and arithmetic. She also read aloud to him from books and government documents as he sewed clothing. Andrew's tailor shop became a gathering place for students and clerks to discuss politics; these conversations, and his experiences in the local debating society, helped mold his earliest political opinions. In 1829, he successfully ran for town alderman, and later he served as mayor, state legislator, U.S. Congressman, governor, and U.S. Senator. Although he was a southern Democrat, Johnson opposed secession, a measure eleven states took between December 1860 and June 1861. Johnson was the lone southern U.S. senator to remain aligned with the Union. In 1864, to broaden appeal among the electorate and promote unity, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin was dropped as President Abraham Lincoln's running mate in favor of Johnson. The National Union ticket defeated the Democratic Party's nominees by nearly two hundred electoral votes.

* As the Civil War neared its conclusion in spring 1865, the U.S. was faced with serious questions about the status of black Americans. Were they citizens, and, if so, did they have the same rights as white Americans? Could they vote, or serve in government? There was also uncertainty about how the seceded states would reintegrate with the Union and what the fate of the Confederacy’s leaders would be. Andrew Johnson, who ascended from the vice presidency after President Lincoln’s death on April 15th, was responsible for the direction of Reconstruction until Congress reconvened in December. Throughout the Civil War, Johnson had spoken in favor of strong retribution toward the South, yet as president he altered his tone dramatically. Johnson chose to grant amnesty to most rebels on the conditions that they take an oath to the Union and accept slavery’s end. Johnson regarded working class white southerners – the class from which he arose – as the true victims of the planter aristocracy, not African Americans. Elites who owned land valued at $20,000 or more prior to the war were required to beseech the president in person. As Johnson leniently forged a path forward for Southern whites, he simultaneously hindered the advancement of former enslaved people. In September, Johnson ordered the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau – a War Department agency established to secure equity between black and white residents – to restore 850,000 acres of land earmarked for freedmen to the white southerners they had been confiscated from during the war. Additionally, the president set up new state governments in the South, and many offices were won by pardoned Confederate officials. These governments passed sets of laws called the Black Codes which were intended to oppress African Americans by minimizing social and economic change despite slavery’s abolition. Also, with Union forces withdrawing from the South, whites were uninhibited from waging violence against the black population. This did not concern President Johnson, a former slaveholder, who later proclaimed that African Americans left to their own devices "have shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism.”

* When Congress came into session on December 4, 1865, the Republican-led legislature attempted to rectify what it thought were egregious errors by President Johnson. Congress refused to acknowledge the delegates from southern states, whom the reform-oriented Radical Republicans believed were forgiven too easily. New requirements for state readmission were established, including the creation of new state constitutions and suffrage for black males. In April, Congress passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866, which was intended to supplement the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. Johnson vetoed the bill, which he maintained violated the rights of states to choose their own electorate, but there were enough votes to override the president. The Executive and Legislative Branches remained in conflict, and Congress overrode fifteen of Johnson's vetoes, a presidential record. Concerned that Johnson was inappropriately wielding his executive powers, in 1867 Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which prohibited the president from firing officials such as cabinet members without the Senate’s approval. In defiance, Johnson removed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee whose views on Reconstruction opposed his own. This, the Radical Republicans believed, was their opportunity to rid themselves of Johnson and his limited Reconstruction ideas. On February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president on eleven counts of high crimes and misdemeanors. Johnson's fate then rested in the hands of the Senate, where support from two-thirds of the chamber was needed to remove him from office. If Johnson were discharged, the president pro tempore of the Senate, Benjamin F. Wade, would be elevated to fill the vacancy, a prospect which displeased moderates who disdained Wade's bold views on Reconstruction and tariffs. The trial lasted three months. In May, the final tally was 35-19, one senator shy of the threshold to expel Johnson. Stanton stepped aside as war secretary, and Johnson served out the rest of his inherited term, which expired on March 4, 1869.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

CBS Sunday Morning. "Andrew Johnson: The impeached president". YouTube video, 06:21. Posted [February 2018].

Foner, Eric. "Andrew Johnson." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 202-12. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

"Overview of Andrew Johnson's life." National Park Service. Updated April 14, 2015.

The Presidents. "Andrew Johnson to Arthur (1865-1885)." History Channel, 2005.

Reconstruction: America After the Civil War. Part 1. Directed by Rob Rapley and Cyndee Readdean. New York: McGee Media, 2019.

"A Short History of the National Cemetery." National Park Service. Updated May 30, 2019.

The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. "Executive Retreat 1865-1901." History Channel, 2013.

"US Presidents Freemasons." Grand Lodge of Virginia. Accessed July 4, 2019.

Williams, Frank B., Jr. Tennessee's Presidents. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1981. Reprinted. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004.

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