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U.S. Presidents from Tennessee (Special Collections): Andrew Johnson

This guide highlights research materials and primary sources in Special Collections related to the U.S. Presidents from Tennessee: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) became the seventeenth U.S. President following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and served in the office from 1865 to 1869. Born in North Carolina, Johnson left home at an early age, traveling throughout the South some, but eventually settling in Greeneville, Tennessee where he opened a tailoring shop. Getting into local politics, Johnson went on to serve as Tennessee's governor and represent Tennessee in both houses of the legislature. After the onset of the Civil War, President Lincoln made Johnson (the only Southern senator to remain loyal to the Union) military governor of the seceded Tennessee.

Despite being from opposing political parties, Lincoln was impressed by Johnson's administration of Tennessee and, wanting to send of message of "unity," had Johnson as his running mate for the 1864 presidential election, which they easily won. Following Lincoln's death in 1865, Johnson took over the presidency. His tenure in the office saw the end of the Civil War and the beginnings of Reconstruction. Conflicts with the Republican-heavy Congress quickly arose as Johnson took a moderate approach to the South's restoration into the Union and vetoed both the Freedman's Bureau bill and Civil Rights bill. He was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by one vote in the Senate.

Manuscript Resources

Full length black and white photograph of Andrew Johnson.
Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson Papers, 1835, 1866-1867 (MS.3006)
The first document in this collection is a reproduction of an 1835 contract of indentured servitude establishing that Alexander Morehead will work in Johnson's Greeneville, Tennessee tailor shop while Johnson is in Nashville. The second document is an 1866 letter from the Secretary of the Navy requesting money to defray travel expenses that Johnson has incurred. The final document is an 1867 letter from Johnson's office to the Secretary of State transmitting a proposed itinerary for the President.

Andrew Johnson Letter, 1865 June 20 (MS.0930)
Andrew Johnson wrote this letter to E. M. Stanton while the latter was serving as Secretary of War in order to commend his friend Edward Hazzard East to him.

Andrew Johnson Proclamation, 1865 August 29 (MS.3549)
This proclamation removed the exemptions from the June proclamations that had restored "intercourse and trade with those States recently declared in insurrection" and became effective September 1, 1865. It is not signed by the president, or by William H. Seward, the Secretary of State.

Andrew Johnson Impeachment, 1868 May 26 (MS.3420)
This lithograph records the senate's vote for impeachment, held on May 16 and May 26, 1868. It is signed by Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice, and John W. Forney, Secretary. Below their names are listed 35 signatures of those voting guilty and 19 signatures of those voting not guilty.

Stereoview of Andrew Johnson's Office, 1875 August 3 (MS.2495)
This collection contains a single stereoview photograph of Andrew Johnson's Greeneville, Tennessee office taken on August 3, 1875, three days after Johnson's death.

Rare Books and Facsimiles

  • Special Message of Andrew Johnson, Governor of the State of Tennessee, with Accompanying Documents. circa 1856 (HE2771 .T2 .T23)
  • Message of the President of the United States to the Two Houses of Congress at the Commencement of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress. 1865 (E666 .U55 1865) [This speech was delivered by President Andrew Johnson to Congress after the death of Abraham Lincoln]
  • Speeches of Andrew Johnson, President of the United States. 1866 (E415.6 .J67)
  • History of the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. 1896 (E666 .R82)
  • Life of Andrew Johnson, Seventeenth President of the United States. 1901 (E667 .J75)

Special Collections Contact Information

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Special Collections
1015 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-4480

We are open Monday-Friday: 9AM-5PM. Go to Visiting Special Collections for more information on how to request materials.