Andrew Johnson


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Andrew Johnson was America's seventeenth president from 1865 to 1869. A onetime tailor whose wife had taught him to read, Andrew Johnson had a gift for public speaking, which helped launch his political career. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln, in a gesture of unity, chose Johnson—a Southern Democrat from Tennessee but a staunch defender of the Union—as his running mate to help hold the border states. When Johnson succeeded to the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, it became evident that his view of Reconstruction, which would return power to the white Southern planters and allow the former Confederate states to deprive freed slaves of their rights, clashed not only with Lincoln’s views but with the Republican majority in Congress. The resulting schism led to his impeachment, from which he survived conviction by only one vote. The signed but undated painting by Washington B. Cooper, a noted Tennessee portraitist, was probably completed during Johnson’s presidency.

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