Living with the First Impeached President

Statue of Andrew Johnson across the street from his tailor shop.

Statue of Andrew Johnson across the street from his tailor shop.

I grew up in Greene County Tennessee. The main town is Greeneville and their claim to history is being the home of Andrew Johnson the 17th President of the United States and the only impeached President until Bill Clinton. Both were aquitted at their trial, to be impeached is to be brought to trial while sitting in the office of President. Andrew went to fight for the President’s right to appoint and dismiss his cabinet at will (that’s it in a nut shell okay? much more political stuff going on) – Bill went because he’s a womanizer. Really which would you want to be known for going to trial about? LOL!

My family’s path crosses with Andrew’s several times on several branches. The biggest one was when he was governor of Tennessee he helped my 4th great grandmother Sarah Busick Bright secure her widow pension due her from her husband’s service in the Revolutionary War. That’s what brought Sarah and James Bright to Tennessee from Maryland – his Revolutionary War Land Grant for service.

Also I’ve got Andrew’s signature on several files as Vice President granting leave to Union Soldiers from Tennessee to attend funerals of family members. Don’t raise an eyebrow at that. Yes Tennessee did secede but East Tennessee where my roots are and Andrew was from – was staunchly Union. I’ve got less than 10 documented Confederates to over 100 documented Union service members in my family tree. Andrew looked after the loyalist there from the time he was military governor through his Vice Presidency and his Presidency.

Andrew settled in Greeneville when he was about 18 and opened a very successful tailor shop. He married a local girl who taught him the basic 3 Rs Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. She supported his political bid. One interesting note was they were married by Abraham Lincoln’s second cousin. Thus the Lincoln connection went back to when Andrew was young knowing Lincoln’s cousin and father. Eliza read to Andrew as he’d sew and gave him her love of reading. His famous oratory skills were credited to his reading and hearing her read the great orators over and over.

In Greeneville the original tailor shop still stands inside a National Park building built around it to preserve it. His house across the street was always closed when I lived there but has since been restored and opened to the public. In 1851 which would have been while he was a Representative to the US Congress he built a large home that is now a National Park and is open for touring. A duplicate of it was built just up the hill from the original and is visible from the Nathaniel Greene Museum but is currently a private residence. I am curious how the layout inside was modernized.

Also a replica of Andrew’s birthplace in North Carolina was built just across from his first Greeneville house and kitty-cornered from his tailor shop. BUT DON’T be confused he wasn’t born in Greeneville he moved there. However when he returned after his tumultuous presidency the 1851 house held bitter memories of his son that had committed suicide. So he bought a farm out of town to make a home.

He’s the only President who went back to Congress in an elected position. After several failed bids he narrowly won the seat and returned as the Senator from Tennessee in January 1875. He was returning to Washington when he stopped by his daughter’s house in Elizabethton Tennessee to see her and spend the night. It was there he suffered a stroke and died.

Needless to say growing up near all these places we made many field trips here to see the President’s house and tailor shop.  Other things like the museum at Tusculum College, the Nathanael Greene Museum,  the Early Home of Johnson, the replica birthplace, and the statue all came long after I was gone.

So enjoy this photo post of the current Greeneville sights of Andrew Johnson. Oh and yes it is GreenEville being named for Nathaniel GreenE.

The street view of the Johnson's early home in Greeneville

The street view of the Johnson’s early home in Greeneville

View of the early home from the yard of the house.

View of the early home from the yard of the house.

Interior of the early home.

Interior of the early home.

Replica of the North Carolina birthplace of Andrew Johnson.

Replica of the North Carolina birthplace of Andrew Johnson.

The exterior of the building built around the Johnson Tailor shop.  The addition to the building service as the visitor center for the National Park locations in Greeneville.

The exterior of the building built around the Johnson Tailor shop. The addition to the building service as the visitor center for the National Park locations in Greeneville.

The home he built in 1851 and returned to after his Presidency.  Despite not being very popular (the South didn't like he remained loyal the North thought his restruction policies were too gentle on rebellious states) He did receive a welcome home parade and banners.  The home proved too sad for he and his wife due to memories of their son Robert (who committed suicide) growing up there.

The home he built in 1851 and returned to after his Presidency. Despite not being very popular (the South didn’t like he remained loyal the North thought his restruction policies were too gentle on rebellious states) He did receive a welcome home parade and banners. The home proved too sad for he and his wife due to memories of their son Robert (who committed suicide) growing up there.

Nathanael (yes that's how he spelled it) Greene Museum in Greeneville has a fine collection of things including material from Johnson's time as a political figure in Greeneville.  Also if you stand in their parking lot and look up the hill to the residential area you'll spot the private home that is a replica of Andrew's 1851 home.

Nathanael (yes that’s how he spelled it) Greene Museum in Greeneville has a fine collection of things including material from Johnson’s time as a political figure in Greeneville. Also if you stand in their parking lot and look up the hill to the residential area you’ll spot the private home that is a replica of Andrew’s 1851 home.

Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Living with the First Impeached President

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s