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Andrew Johnson was born in a log house in Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 29, 1808. At age 10 he was apprenticed to a tailor.In 1826 Johnson’s family moved into eastern Tennessee. Johnson’s shop became profitable and was the center of political discussion among the working elements of the community.Johnson began as a Jacksonian Democrat at the lowest rungs of public service, then climbed steadily. He returned to Tennessee in 1853 and was elected governor, and worked to establish the first tax-funded public schools in the state.In 1857, Johnson took a seat in the U.S. Like most of his fellow party members, he fought against the protective Tariff and laws designed to regulate slavery. When the secession crisis erupted, Johnson remained loyal to the Union; he would eventually become the only Southern Senator remaining in that body.To reward his loyalty, Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson to be the military governor of Tennessee. His ties to the president would later enable him to secure an exemption for his state from the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation.In 1864, Johnson was selected as Lincoln’s running mate in the Election of 1864, bringing a large measure of diversity to the ticket. In any event, Lincoln voiced his full support.In April 1865, Johnson was sworn in a few hours after Lincoln’s death. As time passed, however, he developed a much more conservative view and opposed many of the plans of the Radical Republicans. He offended congressional Republicans by vetoing an extension of the Freedmen Bureau and by offering amnesty to many former Confederate officials.In the 1866 off-year elections the Republicans gained enough strength to override presidential vetoes. Johnson continued to fight, arguing that Reconstruction was a presidential function; Congress thought the responsibility was theirs.In the fall of 1867 an impeachment move was launched against Johnson, based largely on his violation of the Tenure of Office Act. He was impeached by the House of Representatives, but escaped conviction (and removal) in the Senate by a single vote.Johnson's hope to receive the Democratic nomination in the Election of 1868 was snuffed. He lost bids for the Senate and House in 1869 and 1872, but was elected to the Senate by the state legislature in 1875 and served for several months before his death on July 31, 1875.Johnson’s presidency was largely a failure. However, through the offices of his secretary of state, William H. Seward, positive steps were taken in foreign affairs. Alaska, known as “Seward’s Folly,” was purchased from Russia in 1867 and efforts were made to enforce the Monroe Doctrine by opposing the French presence in Mexico.Johnson also provided a valuable service by contesting the efforts of Congress to erode the powers of the presidency.
Why Was Andrew Johnson Impeached?
The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson was the result of political conflict and the rupture of ideologies in the aftermath of the American Civil War. It arose from uncompromised beliefs and a contest for power in a nation struggling with reunification.
President Andrew Johnson, impeached for violation of the Tenure of Office Act
"Sir, the bloody and untilled fields of the ten unreconstructed States, the unsheeted ghosts of the two thousand murdered negroes in Texas, cry. for the punishment of Andrew Johnson." Rep. William D. Kelley, calling for impeachment of Andrew Johnson
Before Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he had formulated a plan of reconstruction that would be lenient toward the defeated South as it rejoined the Union. He planned to grant a general amnesty to those who pledged an oath of loyalty to the United States and agreed to obey all federal laws pertaining to slavery (though high-ranking Confederate officials and military leaders were to be excluded from the general amnesty).
Lincoln's plan also stated that when a tenth of the voters who had taken part in the 1860 election had agreed to the oath within a particular state, then that state could formulate a new government and start sending representatives to Congress.
Andrew Johnson was intent on carrying out this plan when he assumed the presidency. This policy, however, did not sit well with the so-called Radical Republicans in Congress, who wanted to set up military governments and implement more stringent terms for readmission for the seceded states. As neither side was willing to compromise, a clash of wills ensued.
The political backing to begin impeachment proceedings against the president came when Johnson breached the Tenure of Office Act by removing Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, from the cabinet. The Tenure of Office Act, passed over Johnson's veto in 1867, stated that a president could not dismiss appointed officials without the consent of Congress.
Both Lincoln and Johnson had experienced problems with Stanton, an ally of the Radicals in Congress. Stanton's removal, therefore, was not only a political decision made to relieve the discord between the president and his cabinet, but a test of the Tenure of Office Act as well. Johnson believed the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional and wanted it to be legally tried in the courts. It was the president, himself, however, who was brought to trial.
President Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives on February 24, 1868 and the Senate tried the case in a trial that lasted from March to May 1868. In the end, the Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson by a margin of 35 guilty to 19 not guilty - one vote short of the two-thirds needed to convict.
In a 1926 case, the Supreme Court declared that the Tenure of Office Act had been invalid.
History & Culture
Who Was Andrew Johnson?
Andrew Johnson was the first President of the United States who had neither been a military hero nor studied law. In the aftermath of the hardships and antagonism endured during the Civil War, the country’s political, social and economic landscape changed, ushering in a new era where the face of the presidency was evolving as well.
Known in his time both as the "courageous commoner" and an "accidental president," this former tailor's apprentice followed the ideals inherent in the American dream to rise from his poverty-stricken circumstances to our Nation’s highest office. On his journey to the Executive Mansion, this self-taught man held nearly every political office available - without attending a single day of school.
Andrew Johnson's life is marked by passionate debate and controversy. Decisions he made during his presidency, based on his interpretation of the Constitution and his belief in the limits of the federal government, were often in direct opposition to Congressional measures legislated to enable the freedmen.
Many of the decisions and policies argued during his Presidency still impact the country today. Topics such as civil rights, citizenship, and enfranchisement were taking their first breaths along with the "new birth of freedom" emerging with the emancipation of over four millions slaves.
On this page you will find a brief overview of Johnson's life, as well as a time-line and several topics that are trademarks of his legacy. Discover more about your 17th President as you explore these links, several transcribed from Johnson's own words.
President Andrew Johnson
View a timeline of Andrew Johnson's life and political career.
ANDREW JOHNSON AND SLAVERY
ANDREW JOHNSON'S LAST WORDS ON MARY SURRATT
"'The execution of Mrs. Surrat [sic] was a crime of passion without justice or reason. " Andrew Johnson, 1875
Andrew Johnson stated "there is no such thing as reconstruction."
Andrew Johnson and Congress were unable to agree on a plan for restoring the ravaged country following the Civil War. There was a marked difference between Congressional Reconstruction and Andrew Johnson's plan for Presidential Restoration. Learn more about the different manifestations of Reconstruction and what Andrew Johnson meant by this statement.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
The structure of American society changed radically with the Civil War. Four million slaves were now free people. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution attempted to deal with this enormous change in the country.
THE VETO PRESIDENT
Andrew Johnson vetoed more bills introduced by Congress than any other President before him.
Below you will find a partial list of Bills vetoed by Andrew Johnson. At first glance it is not easy to understand why Johnson vetoed much of what appeared to be such beneficial legislation. To understand Johnson's reasoning, click on the highlighted bills to discover the explanations Johnson supplied when he returned his vetoes to Congress.
A ticket to Andrew Johnson's trial - the tickets were color coded according to date. This one is dated the day after the final Senate vote.
Andrew Johnson was the first American president to be impeached. Learn more about impeachment here.
A carved basket from Queen Emma's visit to the White House
During Andrew Johnson's administration, the United States purchased Alaska, annexed Midway Island, and communicated with Europe by telegraph following the completion of a successful Transatlantic Cable. The British Novelist Charles Dickens and Queen Emma of the Sandwich Islands both paid visits to the White House. Andrew Johnson was also the first President to hold the Easter Egg Roll at the White House, and when he turned 60, he invited 300 children to the White House for his birthday party.
Who Came Up With the Idea?
Here’s how this radical proposal — which must have completely blown the minds of the rebel Confederates — actually came about. The abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens and other Radical Republicans had been actively advocating land redistribution “to break the back of Southern slaveholders’ power,” as Myers observed. But Sherman’s plan only took shape after the meeting that he and Stanton held with those black ministers, at 8:00 p.m., Jan. 12, on the second floor of Charles Green’s mansion on Savannah’s Macon Street. In its broadest strokes, acres and a mule” was their idea.
Stanton, aware of the great historical significance of the meeting, presented Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous brother) a verbatim transcript of the discussion, which Beecher read to his congregation at New York’s Plymouth Church and which the New York Daily Tribune printed in full in its Feb. 13, 1865, edition. Stanton told Beecher that “for the first time in the history of this nation, the representatives of the government had gone to these poor debased people to ask them what they wanted for themselves.” Stanton had suggested to Sherman that they gather “the leaders of the local Negro community” and ask them something no one else had apparently thought to ask: “What do you want for your own people” following the war? And what they wanted astonishes us even today.
Who were these 20 thoughtful leaders who exhibited such foresight? They were all ministers, mostly Baptist and Methodist. Most curious of all to me is that 11 of the 20 had been born free in slave states, of which 10 had lived as free men in the Confederacy during the course of the Civil War. (The other one, a man named James Lynch, was born free in Maryland, a slave state, and had only moved to the South two years before.) The other nine ministers had been slaves in the South who became “contraband,” and hence free, only because of the Emancipation Proclamation, when Union forces liberated them.
Their chosen leader and spokesman was a Baptist minister named Garrison Frazier, aged 67, who had been born in Granville, N.C., and was a slave until 1857, “when he purchased freedom for himself and wife for $1000 in gold and silver,” as the New York Daily Tribune reported. Rev. Frazier had been “in the ministry for thirty-five years,” and it was he who bore the responsibility of answering the 12 questions that Sherman and Stanton put to the group. The stakes for the future of the Negro people were high.
And Frazier and his brothers did not disappoint. What did they tell Sherman and Stanton that the Negro most wanted? Land! “The way we can best take care of ourselves,” Rev. Frazier began his answer to the crucial third question, “is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor … and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare … We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.” And when asked next where the freed slaves “would rather live — whether scattered among the whites or in colonies by themselves,” without missing a beat, Brother Frazier (as the transcript calls him) replied that “I would prefer to live by ourselves, for there is a prejudice against us in the South that will take years to get over … ” When polled individually around the table, all but one — James Lynch, 26, the man who had moved south from Baltimore — said that they agreed with Frazier. Four days later, Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, after President Lincoln approved it.
Became a Mayor at the Age of Twenty-Two
Johnson opened his tailor shop when he was just 19, and by the age of 22, he was elected the mayor of Greeneville, Tennessee. He served as mayor for four years. He was then elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1835. He later became a Tennessee State Senator before being elected to the Congress in 1843.
The Formerly Enslaved Households of President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson’s close association with Abraham Lincoln, as both his vice president and his successor, often disguises Johnson’s own slave ownership. He is a complicated example of a southerner who simultaneously supported the Union and gradual emancipation while perpetuating slavery through the bondage of others—perhaps even fathering children with his enslaved servant. Some of these enslaved individuals were later freed and brought to work at the White House during the Johnson administration. While Andrew Johnson was loyal to the North and pompously referred to himself as the “Moses of the colored men,” his legacy, largely measured by his mishandling of Reconstruction politics after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, remains marred by racial prejudice. 1 Click here to learn more about the household of President Abraham Lincoln.
Unlike many other slave owning presidents, Andrew Johnson was not born into the practice, although as a Tennessee native, he would have been surrounded by others who exploited enslaved labor. Instead, Andrew Johnson was born into poverty and his mother, Mary “Polly” McDonough, was widowed when he was only three years old. He and his brother, William, became tailor apprentices, and Johnson worked as a tailor before running for local and state government positions in the 1830s and 1840s.
Andrew Johnson’s successful election to the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee Senate in 1835 and 1841, respectively, provided increased income and status that led him to purchase an enslaved teenage girl named Dolly and her younger half-brother Sam. These purchases were his first venture into slave ownership and a deliberate demonstration of his increased wealth and prominence in fact, historian David Warren Bowen suggests that “the servants were procured for what might be best described as cosmetic purposes, as they were clearly not an essential part of the family’s economic support.” 2
Andrew Johnson's tailor shop, later home to Sam and his wife, Margaret
According to the bill of sale, Andrew Johnson purchased nineteen-year-old Dolly for five hundred dollars. 3 He also purchased Sam, about thirteen years old, for $541. 4 Dolly later gave birth to three children—Liz, Florence, and William—who inherited their mother’s enslaved status and also became the property of the Johnson family the father of Dolly’s children is unknown. Though the exact number of enslaved individuals owned by the Johnsons is unclear, there were four listed enslaved individuals in the 1850 slave schedules and five in the 1860 slave schedules. 5 These individuals were Sam, Dolly, Liz, Florence, and William—though there may have been more. 6 Further complicating these numbers was Johnson’s purchase of a thirteen-year-old boy named Henry for $1,015 in May 1857, although he was not listed in the 1860 slave schedule. 7
In any case, the enslaved individuals owned by the Johnsons worked in a domestic capacity rather than on a plantation. William’s own recollections demonstrate his duties at the Johnson homestead at the young age of “five or six”:
At four in the morning I had to be up. I went up and made the fire in ‘mawster’s’ room, shined his boots, and then made a fire in the kitchen stove. I stood by his side at the table and saw that all his wants were fulfilled. Then I washed all the dishes. After that I made up his room…by the time all this was done there was plenty else to do, such as working for ‘company,’ plenty of which he had, and helping everybody else around the place. 8
Records also show that on occasion, the Johnsons hired Sam out to chop wood for neighbors, sometimes allowing him to keep the wages, though at other times they collected his pay. Evidence suggests Sam resisted the forced labor, and Charles, Andrew Johnson’s son, complained that Sam was too headstrong and should be sold away. Allegedly, Sam once told Eliza Johnson that he would “be damned” to work without pay. 9 Martha Stover, daughter of Andrew Johnson, later commented that “Old Sam boasts that he was my father’s servant but the fact is, my father was Sam’s servant.” 10
Bill of sale for Sam, purchased by Andrew Johnson in 1842
Courtesy of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, National Park Service
The Johnson family, like many other southern slave owners, claimed that they treated their enslaved property with benevolence—something historically misconstrued as compassion. This tactic, of course, was designed by slave owners to keep the enslaved population subservient. “Fair” treatment sought to improve work ethic while minimizing resistance and risk of escape. For example, there is overt evidence of Johnson’s paternalistic attitude toward the young children of Dolly in 1854, he wrote to his son Robert and told him that in addition to the gifts he had sent for his young son Andrew, he had also sent “a little chair for Liz and Florence.” 11
There may also be another reason for Andrew Johnson’s paternalism. Some historians have speculated that Johnson’s “fatherly” treatment of Dolly’s children, coupled with slave schedule data indicating that her children were “mulatto,” though she was listed as “black,” point to the possibility that Andrew Johnson himself may have been the father of Liz and Florence. 12
Additional information may illuminate William’s biological father, as well: Johnson’s son, Robert, was close in age to William’s mother, Dolly. Furthermore, after William’s death in 1943, Robert Johnson was listed on the death certificate as his father. 13 William’s second cousin and granddaughter of Sam, Adrian McGhee Boyd, filled out his death certificate thus, this information about Robert’s paternity was shared family knowledge across almost a century. 14
Andrew Johnson Stover, son of President Andrew Johnson, is pictured here with Dolly
Courtesy of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, National Park Service
It was not unusual for slave owners to enter into sexual relationships with their enslaved servants, the bulk of which were non-consensual. While there is no DNA evidence of these relationships in the Johnson household, Johnson’s fatherly treatment of Dolly’s children, their recorded racial complexion, and William’s death certificate all illuminate the complex and often predatory nature of male slave ownership.
Johnson was proud of his status as slave owner, often mentioning it in political speeches. In 1858, he bragged that “I have not got many slaves I have got a few but I made them by the industry of these hands…What I own cost me more labor and toil than some who own thousands, and got them because they were the sons of moneyed people.” 15
Still, Johnson was a proud Unionist—a controversial position in Tennessee as the American Civil War loomed. When the state voted on secession in 1861, Eastern Tennessee, home to the Johnson family, overwhelmingly voted to stay in the Union however, Western and Middle Tennessee voted to leave, thus leading to the state’s secession. 16 Tennessee joined the Confederate States of America during Johnson’s tenure in the United States Senate, but he chose to remain a sitting senator for the Union. During this period, he was separated from his family and their enslaved domestic servants, who remained in hostile Confederate territory. 17 In 1862, following the recapture of the state by federal troops, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson to the role of Military Governor of Tennessee as a reward for his loyalty to the Union.
William's death certificate lists Robert Johnson, son of Andrew Johnson, as his father.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
During his time as military governor, Johnson began to support emancipation—not due to his own ideas about racial equity, but for military expediency. His primary concerns were ending the war and crippling the Confederacy. Johnson’s ambivalent position on slavery is most clearly demonstrated by his successful attempt to convince Lincoln to exempt Tennessee from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. 18 However, as the war continued, Johnson expanded his support for emancipation, perhaps for two reasons: first, to remain in favor with northern politicians (particularly President Lincoln) and second, he probably realized that as the Civil War continued, the preservation of slavery in the South became increasingly unlikely. As a result, Johnson appeared before a gathering at the Tennessee State Capitol in 1863 and stated:
The system of negro Slavery [has] proved baleful to the nation by arraying itself against the institutions and interests of the people, and the time [has] clearly come when means should be devised for its total eradication from Tennessee. Slavery [is] a cancer on our society… 19
The Nashville Union also reported that Johnson “was for immediate emancipation, if he could get it.” 20 This sudden change of heart came just one month after an important event transpired in the Johnson household. According to Tennessee folklore, Andrew Johnson freed Dolly, Sam, Liz, Florence, and William on August 8, 1863. Today, the state of Tennessee celebrates emancipation each year on August 8, a tradition that began eight years after Johnson freed his enslaved individuals. 21 According to the Knoxville Daily Chronicle, Sam was the “1st Officer of the Day” in the emancipation parade on August 8, 1871 and helped to plan the festivities former President Johnson also joined the parade and spoke at the celebration. 22
After he emancipated his enslaved individuals, it appears that Johnson hired a few of them as wage-earning servants during his time as Military Governor and Brigadier General. In 1864 and 1865, he claimed pay toward wages, rations, and clothing for three servants: Henry, Florence, and Elizabeth (Liz). 23
The Johnson home in Greeneville, Tennessee
On October 24, 1864, Johnson finally extended freedom to everyone enslaved in the state of Tennessee, boldly asserting: “I, Andrew Johnson, do hereby proclaim freedom to every man in Tennessee. I will indeed be your Moses, and lead you through the Red Sea of war and bondage, to a fairer future of liberty and peace.” 24
Andrew Johnson’s loyalty to the Union paid off. That year, President Lincoln selected him as his running mate for reelection, hoping that Johnson’s alignment with the Democrats might help to balance the ticket and court southern voters in an uncertain election. They were successful, but six months later Johnson was thrust into the presidency following Lincoln’s assassination and death on April 15, 1865. Ill-equipped to handle post-war negotiations and the rebuilding of the American nation, Johnson’s actions illuminated his prejudiced and often outright racist ideas. Johnson vetoed numerous bills that attempted to promote civil rights and equality for African Americans and generally ignored the implementation of “Black Codes” and other racist policies in the American South that infringed upon the rights of newly-freed individuals. 25
Sam Johnson, former enslaved servant of Andrew Johnson, went on to work for the Freedmen's Bureau, an organization that assisted newly-free African Americans after emancipation.
Courtesy of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, National Park Service
Johnson’s actions also reinforced beliefs in white supremacy, stating in an 1865 letter to Benjamin French, Commissioner of Public Buildings, that “Everyone would and must admit that the white race was superior to the black.” 26 Generally, historians consider Johnson’s maladministration of Reconstruction to have significantly worsened race relations in post-war America, rather than easing them.
To combat these racist policies, Frederick Douglass, a prominent abolitionist and formerly-enslaved man, and other African-American leaders met with the president in 1866 at the White House to discuss racial equality. Douglass, a vocal critic of Johnson, hoped to convince him to extend full voting rights to African-American men across the country but was unsuccessful. In fact, Johnson made insensitive statements regarding slavery as a practice, telling the group: “I might say, however, that practically, so far as my connection with slaves has gone, I have been their slave instead of their being mine. Some have even followed me here, while others are occupying and enjoying my property with my consent.” 27
Indeed, Johnson brought some of his formerly-enslaved servants to the Executive Mansion as paid employees and sheltered others in his Greeneville home. William became the president’s valet, and Florence worked in the White House as a maid. 28 Johnson also sent Florence to culinary school during his presidency to improve her domestic skills. 29 After the presidency, Florence was hired as the Johnson family’s household cook, where she utilized this education. 30 In 1869, the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune reported that Dolly, Sam, and his wife Margaret lived at the Johnson homestead, where Johnson did not charge rent. 31 Sam and Margaret lived in Johnson’s old tailor shop, while Dolly had moved into the former residence of Eliza Johnson’s mother, “a small one-story, wood colored old house” a few feet away. 32
This 1866 political cartoon depicts Johnson's veto of the Freedmen's Bureau Bill. It was originally published in Harper's Weekly Magazine.
House Divided Project at Dickinson College
Unlike many of the other enslaved individuals that labored in the White House, we know the fate of many of the men and women enslaved by Johnson. After emancipation, Dolly, Sam, William, Florence, and Liz used the Johnson family name, which was a common practice. Interestingly, Samuel Johnson became a commissioner for the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen’s Bureau), an organization created by President Lincoln to aid newly-free individuals. The Bureau’s expansion was vetoed by President Johnson. Still, the determined Sam seems to have maintained a pleasant relationship with the president. In 1867, he wrote to his former owner and requested to purchase land for a school for the “colored children of Greeneville,” which he was granted. 33 Sam later wrote to Johnson: “I…have not changed any in Politics still being for you as much as ever. I would like to see you all very much.” 34
After Andrew Johnson’s presidency ended, he returned to Greeneville, and was reelected to the U.S. Senate in 1875. However, his term ended prematurely when Johnson died of a stroke while visiting his daughter in Tennessee later that year. Interestingly, in the last letter ever written by the former president, he mentions two formerly-enslaved individuals—William and Liz. To his daughter, Mary, he describes his upcoming trip to visit, stating “William is very anxious to come and perhaps I may bring him as he is… desirous to see Liz and the children.” 35 Johnson did, in fact, bring William, who remained at Johnson’s side until the moment he died. 36
William Johnson, former enslaved servant of Andrew Johnson, is pictured with the Capitol Building following his visit to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is holding the cane gifted to him by F.D.R.
William also attended school after emancipation, where he learned to read and write. 37 After the deaths of Andrew and Eliza Johnson, William lived with his sister, Liz Forbey, and her family and worked as a domestic servant and cook. In 1937, after being interviewed by journalist Ernie Pyle, William Johnson gained national recognition as the last surviving individual to be formerly enslaved by an American president. 38 As a result, he was invited to the White House to meet President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Roosevelt gifted Johnson a silver-headed, engraved cane, and he embarked on a tour of Washington, D.C. 39 During their meeting, Johnson described his time serving the president both in and out of bondage, learning to cook with Eliza Johnson, and living as a free man in Greeneville. 40
Andrew Johnson’s self-imposed proximity to his formerly-enslaved servants, by bringing them to the White House, sharing his home in Greeneville, and referencing them in personal correspondence, further emphasizes his perception of them as family, perhaps initiated by a blood connection to those that he held in bondage. Though Johnson’s actual relation to his enslaved servants can only be corroborated by DNA evidence, he certainly had a unique relationship with Dolly, Florence, Liz, William, and Sam. Still, Johnson’s actions worsened the lives of many African Americans in Reconstruction America by attempting to stop government programs and legislation designed to help them. His antipathy toward African-American civil and political rights revived the racial hierarchies that had allowed slavery to exist in America in the first place. In fact, William stressed in the last years of his life that no matter how fair the treatment, “[A]ny man would rather be free than be a slave.” 41
Thank you to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site for providing documents used in this article, including the personal scrapbook of William Johnson.
Andrew Thomas Johnson
About Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the USA
17th President of the United States of America
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Vice-President Andrew Johnson assumed the Presidency. Johnson was the first president to be impeached, but was acquitted of the charges.
Andrew Johnson our 17th President of The United States of America
With the Assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states' rights views. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate of Presidents. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, Johnson grew up in poverty. He was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. He opened a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle, and participated in debates at the local academy.
Entering politics, he became an adept stump speaker, championing the common man and vilifying the plantation aristocracy. As a Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1840's and '50's, he advocated a homestead bill to provide a free farm for the poor man.
American Civil War General Officers
State Served: Regular Army
Highest Rank: Brigadier General
Birth Place: Raleigh, North Carolina
Promotions: Promoted to Full Brig-Gen
Johnson, Andrew, brigadier-general, was born in Raleigh, N. C., Dec. 29, 1808. Moving to Tennessee when a young man, he became prominent in politics, was for several terms a member of the state legislature, and represented his district in Congress from 1843-1853. He was then elected governor of Tennessee, was re-elected in 1855 and in 1857 was elected to the United States senate. In the senate he strongly opposed secession and said that he was in favor of having secessionists arrested and tried for treason. Johnson held his seat in the United States senate until 1862, when he was appointed by President Lincoln military governor of Tennessee, ranking as brigadier-general of volunteers. His service in the war was in this capacity and it was chiefly due to his courage that Nashville was held against a Confederate force. He urged the holding of Union meetings throughout the state, raised twenty-five regiments for service in the state, and levied a tax on the wealthy southern sympathizers to be used in behalf of the families of the poorer Confederate soldiers. He exercised during his term of office absolute and autocratic powers, but with moderation and discretion, and his course strengthened the Union cause in Tennessee. Upon the renomination of Mr. Lincoln for the presidency Mr. Johnson was nominated for vice-president, and when President Lincoln was assassinated Johnson was immediately sworn in as president,
April 15, 1865. Johnson's course as president does not concern this volume. After the expiration of his term of office he returned to Tennessee, and in 1875 was elected U. S. senator. He died at Carter's station, Carter county, Tenn.,
Source: The Union Army, vol. 8
American Civil War Soldiers
Enlistment Date: 4 Mar 1862
State Served: U.S. Volunteers
Death Place: Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee
Service Record: Enlisted as a Brigadier General on 4 March 1862 at the age of 53.
Commission in General Staff Regiment U.S. Volunteers on 4 Mar 1862.
Resigned General Staff Regiment U.S. Volunteers on 3 Mar 1865.
Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States (1865). Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era of the United States in the four years after the American Civil War. His tenure was highly controversial as his positions favoring the white South came under heavy political attack from Republicans.
At the time of the secession of the Southern states, Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Greeneville in East Tennessee. As a Unionist, he was the only Southern senator not to quit his post upon secession. He became the most prominent War Democrat from the South and supported Lincoln's military policies during the American Civil War of 1861. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of occupied Tennessee, where he proved to be energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion and beginning transition to Reconstruction.
Johnson was nominated for the Vice President position in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He and Lincoln were elected in November 1864 and inaugurated on March 4, 1865. Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865.
As president, he took charge of Presidential Reconstruction — the first phase of Reconstruction — which lasted until the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the 1866 elections. His conciliatory policies towards the South, his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederate states back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with Radical Republicans. The Radicals in the House of Representatives impeached him in 1868, charging him with violating the Tenure of Office Act, but he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate.
Johnson's party status was ambiguous during his presidency. As president, he did not identify with the two main parties — though he did try for the Democratic nomination in 1868 — and so while President he attempted to build a party of loyalists under the National Union label. Asked in 1868 why he did not become a Democrat, he said, "It is true I am asked why don't I join the Democratic Party. Why don't they join me . if I have administered the office of president so well?" His failure to make the National Union brand an actual party made Johnson effectively an independent during his presidency, though he was supported by Democrats and later rejoined the party as a Democratic Senator from Tennessee from 1875 until his death of a stroke at 66. For these reasons he is usually counted as a Democrat when identifying presidents by their political parties. Johnson was the first U.S. President to be impeached. He is commonly ranked by historians as being among the worst U.S. presidents.
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Jacob Johnson (1778) and Mary McDonough (1783). Jacob died when Andrew was around three years old, leaving his family in poverty. Johnson's mother then took in work spinning and weaving to support her family, and she later remarried. She bound Andrew as an apprentice tailor when he was 10 or 14 years old. In the 1820s, he worked as a tailor in Laurens, South Carolina. Johnson had no formal education and taught himself how to read and write.
At age 16 or 17, Johnson left his apprenticeship and ran away with his brother to Greeneville, Tennessee, where he found work as a tailor. At the age of 19, Johnson married 17 year-old Eliza McCardle in 1827. Between 1828 and 1852, the couple had five children: Martha (1828), Charles (1830), Mary (1832), Robert (1834), and Andrew Jr. (1852). Eliza taught Johnson arithmetic up to basic algebra and tutored him to improve his literacy and writing skills.
Johnson participated in debates at the local academy at Greeneville, Tennessee and later organized a worker's party that elected him as alderman in 1829. He served in this position until he was elected mayor in 1833. In 1835, he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives where, after serving a single term, he was defeated for re-election.
Johnson was attracted to the states rights Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson. He became a spokesman for the more numerous yeomen farmers and mountaineers against the wealthier, but fewer, planter elite families that had held political control both in the state and nationally. In 1839, Johnson was elected to a second, non-consecutive term in the Tennessee House, and was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 1841, where he served one two-year term. In 1843, he became the first Democrat to win election as the U.S. representative from Tennessee's 1st congressional district. Among his activities for the common man's interests as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Johnson advocated "a free farm for the poor" bill, in which farms would be given to landless farmers. Johnson was a U.S. representative for five terms until 1853, when he was elected Governor of Tennessee.
Johnson was elected governor of Tennessee, serving from 1853 to 1857. He was then elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate, serving from October 8, 1857 – March 4, 1862. He was chairman of the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expense (Thirty-sixth Congress). As a U.S. senator, he continued to push for the Homestead Act. It finally passed in 1862, after the Civil War had begun and Southerners had resigned from Congress.
As the slavery question became more critical, Johnson continued to take a middle course. He opposed the antislavery Republican Party because he believed the Constitution guaranteed the right to own slaves. He supported President Buchanan's administration. He also approved the Lecompton Constitution proposed by proslavery settlers in Kansas. At the same time, he made it clear that his devotion to the Union exceeded his devotion to right to own slaves.
Johnson's stand in favor of both the Union and the right to own slaves might have made him a logical compromise candidate for president. However, he was not nominated in 1856 because of a split within the Tennessee delegation. In 1860, the Tennessee delegation nominated Johnson for president at the Democratic National Convention, but when the convention and the party broke up, he withdrew from the race. In the election, Johnson supported Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, the candidate of most Southern Democrats.
Before Tennessee voted on secession, Johnson, who lived in Unionist East Tennessee, toured the state speaking in opposition to the act, which he said was unconstitutional. Johnson was an aggressive stump speaker and often responded to hecklers, even those in the Senate. At the time of the secession of Tennessee, Johnson was the only Senator from the seceded states to continue participation in Congress. His explanation for this decision was "Damn the negroes, I am fighting those traitorous aristocrats, their masters."
Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of occupied Tennessee in March 1862 with the rank of brigadier general. During his three years in this office, he "moved resolutely to eradicate all pro-Confederate influences in the state." This "unwavering commitment to the Union" was a significant factor in his choice as vice president by Lincoln. Johnson vigorously suppressed the Confederates, telling his subordinates: "Whenever you hear a man prating about the Constitution, spot him as a traitor." He later spoke out for black suffrage, arguing, "The better class of them will go to work and sustain themselves, and that class ought to be allowed to vote, on the ground that a loyal negro is more worthy than a disloyal white man." According to tradition and local lore, on August 8, 1863, Johnson freed his personal slaves.
As a leading War Democrat and pro-Union southerner, Johnson was an ideal candidate for the Republicans in 1864 as they enlarged their base to include War Democrats. They changed the party name to the National Union Party to reflect this expansion. During the election, Johnson replaced Hannibal Hamlin as Lincoln's running mate. He was elected vice president of the United States and was inaugurated March 4, 1865. At the ceremony, Johnson, who had been drinking to offset the pain of typhoid fever (as he explained later), gave a rambling speech and appeared intoxicated to many. According to Senator Zachariah Chandler, he "disgraced himself and the Senate by making a drunken foolish speech." In early 1865, Johnson talked harshly of hanging traitors like Jefferson Davis, which endeared him to radicals.
On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, while the president was attending a play at Ford's Theater. Booth's plan was to destroy the administration by ordering conspirators to assassinate Johnson, lieutenant general of the Union army Ulysses S. Grant, and Secretary of State William H. Seward that night. Grant survived when he failed to attend the theater with Lincoln as planned, Seward narrowly survived his wounds, while Johnson escaped attack as his would-be assassin, George Atzerodt, failed to go through with the plan.
On April 15, 1865, the morning after Lincoln's assassination, Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States by the newly appointed Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. Johnson was the first vice president to succeed to the presidency upon the assassination of a president and the third vice president to become a president upon the death of a sitting president.
Northern anger over the assassination of Lincoln and the immense human cost of the war led to demands for harsh policies. Vice President Andrew Johnson had taken a hard line and spoke of hanging rebel Confederates. In late April, 1865, he was noted telling an Indiana delegation that, "Treason must be made odious . traitors must be punished and impoverished . their social power must be destroyed." However, when he succeeded Lincoln as president, Johnson took a much softer line, commenting, "I say, as to the leaders, punishment. I also say leniency, reconciliation and amnesty to the thousands whom they have misled and deceived," and ended up pardoning many Confederate leaders.
His class-based resentment of the rich appeared in a May 1865 statement to W.H. Holden, the man he appointed governor of North Carolina: "I intend to confiscate the lands of these rich men whom I have excluded from pardon by my proclamation, and divide the proceeds thereof among the families of the wool hat boys, the Confederate soldiers, whom these men forced into battle to protect their property in slaves." In practice, Johnson was seemingly not harsh toward the Confederate leaders. He allowed the Southern states to hold elections in 1865. Subsequently, prominent former Confederate leaders were elected to the U.S. Congress, which however refused to seat them. Congress and Johnson argued in an increasingly public way about Reconstruction and the manner in which the Southern secessionist states would be readmitted to the Union. Johnson favored a very quick restoration, similar to the plan of leniency that Lincoln advocated before his death.
Break with the Republicans: 1866
Johnson-appointed governments all passed Black Codes that gave the freedmen second class status. In response to the Black Codes and worrisome signs of Southern recalcitrance, the Republicans blocked the readmission of the secessionist states to the Congress in fall 1865. Congress also renewed the Freedman's Bureau, but Johnson vetoed it. Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, leader of the moderate Republicans, took affront at the Black Codes. Trumbull proposed the first Civil Rights bill.
Although strongly urged by moderates in Congress to sign the Civil Rights bill, Johnson broke decisively with them by vetoing it on March 27. His veto message objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when eleven out of thirty-six states were unrepresented and attempted to fix, by federal law, "a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union." Johnson said it was an invasion by federal authority of the rights of the states it had no warrant in the Constitution and was contrary to all precedents. It was a "stride toward centralization and the concentration of all legislative power in the national government." Johnson, in a letter to Gov. Thomas C. Fletcher of Missouri, wrote, "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men."
The Democratic Party, proclaiming itself the party of white men, North and South, aligned with Johnson. However, the Republicans in Congress overrode his veto (the Senate by the vote of 33:15, the House by 182:41) and the Civil Rights measure became law.
The last moderate proposal was the Fourteenth Amendment, also written by Trumbull. It was designed to put the key provisions of the Civil Rights Act into the Constitution, but it went further. It extended citizenship to every person born in the United States (except Indians on reservations), penalized states that did not give the vote to freedmen, and most importantly, created new federal civil rights that could be protected by federal courts. It guaranteed the federal war debt and voided all Confederate war debts. Johnson unsuccessfully sought to block ratification of the amendment.
The moderates' effort to compromise with Johnson had failed and an all-out political war broke out between the Republicans (both radical and moderate) on one side, and on the other Johnson and his allies in the Democratic party in the North, and the conservative groupings in the South. The decisive battle was the election of 1866, in which the Southern states were not allowed to vote. Johnson campaigned vigorously, undertaking a public speaking tour of the north that was known as the "Swing Around the Circle" the tour proved politically disastrous, with Johnson widely ridiculed and occasionally engaging in hostile arguments with his audiences. The Republicans won by a landslide and took full control of Reconstruction.
Historian James Ford Rhodes explained Johnson's inability to engage in serious negotiations:
As Senator Charles Sumner shrewdly said, "the President himself is his own worst counselor, as he is his own worst defender." Johnson acted according to his nature. He had intellectual force, but it worked in a groove. Obstinate, rather than firm, it undoubtedly seemed to him that following counsel and making concessions were a display of weakness. At all events from his December message to the veto of the Civil Rights bill, he did not yield to Congress. The moderate senators and representatives, who constituted a majority of the Union party, asked him for only a slight compromise. Their action was really an entreaty that he would unite with them to preserve Congress and the country from the policy of the radicals. The two projects which Johnson had most at heart were the speedy admission of the Southern senators and representatives to Congress and the relegation of the question of 'negro suffrage' to the States themselves. Johnson, shrinking from the imposition on these communities of the franchise for the colored people, took an unyielding position regarding matters involving no vital principle and did much to bring it about. His quarrel with Congress prevented the readmission into the Union on generous terms of the members of the late Confederacy. For the quarrel and its unhappy results, Johnson's lack of imagination and his inordinate sensitiveness to political gadflies were largely responsible. Johnson sacrificed two important objects to petty considerations. His pride of opinion and his desire to win, blinded him to the real welfare of the South and of the whole country.
There were two attempts to remove President Andrew Johnson from office. The first occurred in the fall of 1867. On November 21, 1867, the House Judiciary committee produced a bill of impeachment that consisted of a vast collection of complaints against him. After a furious debate, a formal vote was held in the House of Representatives on December 5, 1867, which failed 57.
Johnson notified Congress that he had removed Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War and was replacing him in the interim with Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas. Johnson had wanted to replace Stanton with former general Ulysses S. Grant, who refused to accept the position. This violated the Tenure of Office Act, a law enacted by Congress in March 1867 over Johnson's veto, specifically designed to protect Stanton. Johnson had vetoed the act, claiming it was unconstitutional. The act said, ". every person holding any civil office, to which he has been appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate . shall be entitled to hold such office until a successor shall have been in like manner appointed and duly qualified," thus removing the president's previous unlimited power to remove any of his cabinet members at will. Years later in the case Myers v. United States in 1926, the Supreme Court ruled that such laws were indeed unconstitutional.
The Senate and House entered into debate over the act. Thomas attempted to move into the war office, for which Stanton had Thomas arrested. Three days after Stanton's removal, the House impeached Johnson for intentionally violating the Tenure of Office Act.
On March 5, 1868, a court of impeachment was constituted in the Senate to hear charges against the president. William M. Evarts served as his counsel. Eleven articles were set out in the resolution, and the trial before the Senate lasted almost three months. Johnson's defense was based on a clause in the Tenure of Office Act stating that the then-current secretaries would hold their posts throughout the term of the president who appointed them. Since Lincoln had appointed Stanton, it was claimed, the applicability of the act had already run its course.
A Harper's Weekly cartoon gives a humorous breakdown of "the situation". Secretary of War Edwin Stanton aims a cannon labeled "Congress" on the side at President Johnson and Lorenzo Thomas to show how Stanton was using congress to defeat the president and his unsuccessful replacement. He also holds a rammer marked "Tenure of Office Bill" and cannon balls on the floor are marked "Justice". Ulysses S. Grant and an unidentified man stand to Stanton's left.
There were three votes in the Senate. One came on May 16 for the 11th article of impeachment, which included many of the charges contained in the other articles, and two on May 26 for the second and third articles, after which the trial adjourned. On all three occasions, 35 senators voted "guilty" and 19 "not guilty", thus falling short of the two-thirds majority required for conviction in impeachment trials by a single vote. A decisive role was played by seven Republican senators - William Pitt Fessenden, Joseph S. Fowler, James W. Grimes, John B. Henderson, Lyman Trumbull, Peter G. Van Winkle and Edmund G. Ross of Kansas, who provided the decisive vote disturbed by how the proceedings had been manipulated to give a one-sided presentation of the evidence, they voted against conviction, in defiance of their party and public opinion. President John F. Kennedy discusses this in further detail in his book, Profiles In Courage.
Christmas Day amnesty for Confederates
One of Johnson's last significant acts was granting unconditional amnesty to all Confederates on Christmas Day, December 25, 1868, after the election of Ulysses S. Grant to succeed him, but before Grant took office in March 1869. Earlier amnesties, requiring signed oaths and excluding certain classes of people, had been issued by Lincoln and by Johnson.
Administration and Cabinet
President Andrew Johnson 1865
Vice President None 1865
Secretary of State William H. Seward 1865
Secretary of Treasury Hugh McCulloch 1865
Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton 1865, replaced ad interim by Ulysses Grant before being reinstated by Congress in Jan 1868
John M. Schofield 1868
Attorney General James Speed 1865
William M. Evarts 1868
Postmaster General William Dennison 1865
Alexander W. Randall 1866
Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles 1865
Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher 1865
Orville H. Browning 1866
Johnson appointed only nine Article III federal judges during his presidency, all to United States district courts. Andrew Johnson is one of only four presidents who did not appoint a judge to serve on the Supreme Court. In April, 1866 he nominated Henry Stanbery to fill the vacancy left with the death of John Catron, but the Republican Congress eliminated the seat. Johnson also appointed one judge to the United States Court of Claims, Samuel Milligan, who served from 1868 to 1874.
States admitted to the Union: Nebraska – March 1, 1867
Johnson forced the French out of Mexico by sending an army to the border and issuing an ultimatum. The French withdrew in 1867, and the government they supported quickly collapsed. Secretary of State Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia on April 9, 1867 for $7.2 million. This is equivalent to $112 million in present day terms. Critics sneered at "Seward's Folly" and "Seward's Icebox" and "Icebergia." Seward also negotiated to purchase the Danish West Indies, but the Senate refused to approve the purchase in 1867 (it eventually happened in 1917). The Senate likewise rejected Seward's arrangement with Britain to arbitrate the Alabama Claims.
The U.S. experienced tense relations with Britain and its colonial government in Canada in the aftermath of the war. Lingering resentment over the perception of British sympathy toward the Confederacy resulted in Johnson initially turning a blind eye towards a series of armed incursions by Fenians (Irish-American civil war veterans) into Canada. These small-scale Fenian Raids were easily repulsed by the British. Eventually, Johnson ordered the Fenians disarmed and barred from crossing the border, but the Canadians feared an American takeover and moved toward Canadian Confederation.
Johnson's purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867 was his most important foreign policy action. The idea and implementation is credited to Seward as Secretary of State, but Johnson approved the plan.
Johnson was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the United States Senate from Tennessee in 1868 and to the House of Representatives in 1872. However, in 1874 the Tennessee legislature did elect him to the U.S. Senate. Johnson served from March 4, 1875, until his death from a stroke near Elizabethton, Tennessee, on July 31 that year. In his first speech since returning to the Senate, which was also his last, Johnson spoke about political turmoil in Louisiana. His passion aroused a standing ovation from many of his fellow senators who had once voted to remove him from the presidency. He is the only former president to serve in the Senate.
Johnson was buried in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee, with his body wrapped in an American flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution placed under his head, according to his wishes. The cemetery is now part of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.
Historians' changing views on Andrew Johnson
Views on Johnson changed over time, depending on historians' perception of Reconstruction. The widespread denunciation of Reconstruction following the compromise of 1877 resulted in Johnson being portrayed in a favorable light. By the 1930s a series of favorable biographies enhanced his prestige. Furthermore, a Beardian School (named after Charles Beard and typified by Howard K. Beale) argued that the Republican Party in the 1860s was a tool of corrupt business interests, and that Johnson stood for the people. They rated Johnson "near great", but have since reevaluated and now consider Johnson "a flat failure".
A Short History of the National Cemetery
Please be advised that the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery has reached capacity for new burials and transistioned to inactive status. Burials of veterans, spouses, and/or dependants with previously assigned locations through a predeceased spouse or dependent already interred in the cemetery will continue indefinitely. The nearest National Cemetery is Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City, approximately 30 miles away.
Circa 1908 view of Andrew Johnson National Cemetery
Welcome to Monument Hill.
The land that comprises the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery was bought by Andrew Johnson in 1852. According to family tradition, Johnson enjoyed coming to this spot for peace and meditation. It afforded superb and unpopulated views of the mountains in the distance. Because of its height, it was used during the Civil War for signaling, and it became known as "Signal Hill."
It was Andrew Johnson's request that he be buried here, and he was, on the 3rd of August, 1875. At the crest of the hill, the Masons carried out the rites of burial.
The family erected the tall obelisk over Andrew and Eliza Johnson's grave in 1878. There was a dedication ceremony, and afterwards, this became known as "Monument Hill."
Headstones of Charles and Robert Johnson
During the monument dedication ceremony, recognition was given to two of Johnson's sons, Charles and Robert. They had preceded their father in death, and had been buried elsewhere. Charles, a surgeon during the Civil War, had fallen from a horse and died in 1863 at the age of 33. Robert, his father's private secretary, had died shortly after the family's return from Washington in 1869 at the age of 35. Charles had been buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Robert probably in the Old Harmony Cemetery here in Greeneville. They were reinterred before this occasion, and two neat, matching stones mark their resting place today.
Gravesite of Andrew Johnson, Jr.
Andrew Johnson Jr. was the youngest of the Johnson sons. He was commonly referred to as "Frank."
Andrew Jr. was the only Johnson son to marry. He married Bessie Rumbough of Hot Springs, NC and found occupation first as a newspaper editor and later as manager of a cotton mill. He only outlived his parents by four years.
Even though Andrew Jr. was the only Johnson son to marry, he and his wife had no children. His marker reads "To the memory of my husband."
The two Johnson daughters, Martha and Mary, are buried in the family plot as well.
Martha had served as White House hostess for her mother, Eliza Johnson, and Martha's husband, David Trotter Patterson, had been one of Tennessee's Senator at the time of Johnson's impeachment. Patterson cast one of the "not guilty" votes during the trial.
Martha lost both David and their daughter Belle within months of each other in 1891. Martha, however, lived longer than any of the other Johnson children. She witnessed the turn of a century, and died in 1901.
Mary Johnson Stover was laid to rest here in 1883. She and her first husband, Daniel Stover, had three children, Sarah, Lillie, and Andrew Johnson Stover. They lived in Carter County, TN. Daniel died during the Civil War, and the widowed Mary moved to the White House with her parents. She preceded the family's return to Greeneville to rennovate and restore the family home.
Mary married William Brown a short time later they divorced after the deaths of her parents. Both of her husbands are buried elsewhere, but her children and descendants are in the Johnson family plot.
Mary's two daughters followed her in death only three and nine years later.
If you look at the headstone of Mary's daughters, Lillie and Sarah, you will notice that it is somewhat different in style than the others
both of these girls converted to Catholicism, and there is Catholic influence on their marker.
Their brother, Andrew Johnson Stover, is buried beside them. Andrew Johnson Stover suffered a head injury when young, and he became a hermit in later life.
Two markers in front of these headstones belong to Andrew Johnson Bachman and Ethel I. Bachman, a great-grandson and great-granddaughter-in-law.
These three headstones belong to Andrew Johnson Patterson, his wife Martha Barkley Patterson, and their daughter Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett. Andrew Johnson Patterson was the grandson of Andrew Johnson through Martha. These three were pivotal in the preservation of all that would become the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett had tea with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. There she championed her cause. Later, after the fulfillment of her dream, she delighted many visitors as she led them on a very personal tour of the president's home. She worked with the park until 1976
she had lived at the Homestead until 1956. When she died in 1992, she laid in state in the Homestead parlor, and she became the last family member to be buried in this family plot.
Click for an outline of the family burial ground to see where these and additional family members were laid to rest.
The Cemetery Today
The cemetery was owned by the family until 1906. From 1906 until 1942, the cemetery was under the jurisdiction of the War Department. The first veteran burial took place in 1909 by 1939 there were 100 graves.
When the NPS took over in 1942, their original policy was to allow no more burials. The DAR and American Legion, however, began lobbying for the reactivation of the Cemetery, and in 1946 they found success. Along with Andersonville National Historic Site, the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery remained one of only two active national cemeteries within the National Park Service until 2019.
It remains a distinction that both are some of the few cemeteries administered by the NPS to have soldiers other than those who fought in the Civil War. Here you will find veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WW1, WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan. In 2019, the year of transition, over 2000 headstones mark this hallowed ground.
"I want no more honorable winding-sheet than that of the brave old flag, and no more glorious grave than to be interred in the tomb of the Union." Andrew Johnson, February 1861
Andrew Johnson - History
Andrew Johnson was raised in Raleigh North Carolina. He was born on December 29, 1808. He lived with his mother Mary Johnson, his father Jacob Johnson, and his older brother William Johnson in a small house made of wood within the land of Casso’s inn where his parents worked. His mother was a weaver and his father was a hostler but worked as a janitor as well in the State capitol. Andrew was youngest of the two sons. Tragically, his father died when he was 3 years old. His father managed to rescue his friends but his health deteriorated after the incident and on that same year his father died. His mother was left to take care of him and his brother William. Later on she remarried.
Andrew Johnson as a Tailor
When he was 14 years old he and his brother became the apprentice of a tailor named John J. Selby. Andrew did not attend school, but during his work as the tailor’s apprentice, their regular customers would give him books and would sometimes read oratory books to him while he works. He then taught himself to study how to read.
During his younger days along with his friends, they tossed rocks at the tradesman house, when the owner warned them that he will contact the police, Andrew got scared and went away and came to North Carolina in Carthage. Luckily, he found work there because of his skills in tailoring. Then, later he went to South Carolina in Laurens.
After one year of working in Laurens, he went back home and hoped to regain his old apprenticeship job. But John Selby did not own the shop for tailoring anymore, living without work he and his brother William led their mother and step father in 1826 to move in Tennessee, when he was just 18 years old that time. He and his family lived in Tennessee at Greeneville, and he managed to establish his own tailor shop by putting a sign on their house door.
He then met McCardle, Eliza daughter of a local shoemaker. They got married on the 17th of May 1827, Andrew was 19 years old and Eliza 16 years old. Between 1828 and 1852, they had five children: Martha (1828), Charles (1830), Mary (1832), Robert (1834), and Andrew Jr. (1852). His wife’s tutoring advanced Johnson’s writing and reading skills, and educated him in arithmetic, as far as basic algebra. His Tailor shop improved in business and later became an assembly for political discussion.
Andrew Johnson’s Early Political Career
His business became his training ground in enhancing his skills in debate. Later, he then joined a club for debates at a small university four miles away from their home and once every week he would walk to attend debates. His political career started, when he was voted Alderman or part of the city council of Tennessee in Greeneville 1828 he was 20 years old that time.
His political profession advanced rapidly. After 2 years of becoming Alderman, he became the town’s mayor. In 1835, when he was 27 years old he was voted to the House of Representative in Tennessee, but he served for only one term. In 1837, then 29 years old he was defeated for re-election, but eventually won the following term in 1839. He admired the State rights and the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson.
He became the voice of many farmers and mountaineers against privileged planter families that has influenced and gripped political power in the country. He was an avid supporter for the rights of free employees or laborers.
In 1841 he was voted for the Tennessee Senate seat, he was 33 years old. There he wanted to abolish a law giving bigger representation to slave possessor but his proposal was beaten. He also failed to make a new state from the Appalachian district of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, be named Frankland. He promoted common man’s rights which included a free farm for the poor bill, giving land to ordinary farmers.
He supported James K. Polk, president that time and also a North Carolina native. He handled the Oregon and Texas settlement and the Mexican conflict. He was a major follower of the Constitution over states, which opposed many southerner legislatures. He served a two year term in the senate. In 1843, he was then 35 years old he became the first Democrat to win election as the US representative from Tennessee’s first Congressional District. 1843 was the end of his Senatorial term. Andrew Johnson became a US Representative for five times until 1853. In that same year, he was voted as the Governor of Tennessee and was re elected in 1855, he was 47 years old. During his governor term, he gave state profits to Tennessee public schools and state libraries.
During the Civil War
During the Civil War in 1857, he was elected again as a US Senate a Southern Senator who supported the law for fugitive slave and protected slavery. During that time he was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s opponent in the 1860 presidential election. He was strict against secessionists and abolitionists and said they are perilous to the survival of the Union and the Constitution. When Tennessee seceded in 1861, he was a US senator from Greeneville in East Tennessee and was a Unionist and the only senator from the south who did not resign. He became prominent War Democrat from the south and supported Lincoln’s military policies during the American Civil war of 1861-1865.
In 1862, he was 54 years old, President Lincoln chose him as militia governor or administrator of Tennessee. As governor he was effective in battling rebellion and beginning the transition to Reconstruction. Ruling with a solid grip, he silenced all anti-union outcries. He was militia governor until 1864 in Tennessee. He remained with his strong support for the Constitution and the Union.
President Lincoln recommended the Republican Party to drop his preceding vice president Hamlin from Maine, who was an eager abolitionist, in favor of Andrew, who was a Southern Democrat. In 1864, when he was 56 years old Andrew became the official vice president of Lincoln and on March 1865, Andrew was elected as vice president of the U.S.
During those times, there were conspiracies to kill the important officials in the government and because of that plan sadly, President Lincoln was assassinated, a month after the oath taking. Although Andrew was also one of the targets, his supposed killer backed out. And on 15 of April 1865, he became the President of the United States. As president, he dealt with radical Republicans. He wanted to carry on reconstructing the former Confederate States in 1865 congress was not yet in session that time. He gave pardon to all that would pledge allegiance, but required wealthy men and leaders to obtain special Presidential pardons. During his reign he added Nebraska to the US States and the purchased territory that would become Alaska.
In December 1865, by the time the Congress reconvened, most states in the South were already reconstructed. Slavery was being abolished and “Black Codes” were regulated. Republicans moved in Congress to change Andrew’s programs. They eventually gained support from northerners who got disappointed upon seeing many Southern leaders. Their steps were, to refuse any senatorial or representative seat from anyone who supported the old Confederacy. Next they passed actions dealing with the former slaves. Andrew vetoed the legislation, but those who opposed him gained enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto, that was the first time that Congress overridden a president on an important bill.
In 1866, the Civil Rights bill was written so that Negroes would become American citizens, but Johnson vetoed it. He also administered the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery and the 14th Amendment that provided equal protection by law of all citizens who were under the Constitution. Numerous government officials opposed him and there were plenty of legislative measures that were passed that he refused to vote on. There were conflicts as well within his administration, when he confessed to lay off Edwin Stanton Lincoln’s secretary, who later became one of his fierce detractors. In 1868, he was 60 years old he was accused of violating The Office of Tenure act, which states that presidents cannot lay off some publicly designated officials without the Senate’s consent. Three accusations were presented in opposition to him but all failed to reach the required majority vote for impeachment. In spring of 1868 he was acquitted of all the charges. When he completed the remainder of Lincoln’s reign, he did not get his party’s nomination for the 1869 election.
With the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson became the 17th President of the United States (1865-1869), an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states’ rights views.
With the Assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Jacksonian Democrat of pronounced states’ rights views. Although an honest and honorable man, Andrew Johnson was one of the most unfortunate of Presidents. Arrayed against him were the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. Johnson was no match for them.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1808, Johnson grew up in poverty. He was apprenticed to a tailor as a boy, but ran away. He opened a tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee, married Eliza McCardle, and participated in debates at the local academy.
Entering politics, he became an adept stump speaker, championing the common man and vilifying the plantation aristocracy. As a Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1840’s and ’50’s, he advocated a homestead bill to provide a free farm for the poor man.
During the secession crisis, Johnson remained in the Senate even when Tennessee seceded, which made him a hero in the North and a traitor in the eyes of most Southerners. In 1862 President Lincoln appointed him Military Governor of Tennessee, and Johnson used the state as a laboratory for reconstruction. In 1864 the Republicans, contending that their National Union Party was for all loyal men, nominated Johnson, a Southerner and a Democrat, for Vice President.
After Lincoln’s death, President Johnson proceeded to reconstruct the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. He pardoned all who would take an oath of allegiance, but required leaders and men of wealth to obtain special Presidential pardons.
By the time Congress met in December 1865, most southern states were reconstructed, slavery was being abolished, but “black codes” to regulate the freedmen were beginning to appear.
Radical Republicans in Congress moved vigorously to change Johnson’s program. They gained the support of northerners who were dismayed to see Southerners keeping many prewar leaders and imposing many prewar restrictions upon Negroes.
The Radicals’ first step was to refuse to seat any Senator or Representative from the old Confederacy. Next they passed measures dealing with the former slaves. Johnson vetoed the legislation. The Radicals mustered enough votes in Congress to pass legislation over his veto–the first time that Congress had overridden a President on an important bill. They passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established Negroes as American citizens and forbade discrimination against them.
A few months later Congress submitted to the states the Fourteenth Amendment, which specified that no state should “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
All the former Confederate States except Tennessee refused to ratify the amendment further, there were two bloody race riots in the South. Speaking in the Middle West, Johnson faced hostile audiences. The Radical Republicans won an overwhelming victory in Congressional elections that fall.
In March 1867, the Radicals effected their own plan of Reconstruction, again placing southern states under military rule. They passed laws placing restrictions upon the President. When Johnson allegedly violated one of these, the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, the House voted eleven articles of impeachment against him. He was tried by the Senate in the spring of 1868 and acquitted by one vote.
In 1875, Tennessee returned Johnson to the Senate. He died a few months later.
The untold story of wrestler Andrew Johnson’s dreadlocks
Andrew Johnson is pictured during his 120-pound bout at the Williamstown Duals on Jan. 5 in New Jersey, Johnson’s first time back on the wrestling mat since he was forced to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his match on Dec. 19, 2018. Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media/Barcroft Media
W hen Andrew Johnson walked into The Line Up barbershop last April, all eyes focused on him. Since that awful day in December when a referee had forced the 16-year-old Buena Regional High School wrestler to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match, he felt as if the world was constantly watching him, especially in his small New Jersey town. Watching and whispering about things beyond his control.
Yo, that&rsquos that kid who got his locs chopped by the white ref.
Andrew, who goes by Drew, sat down in Chris Perez&rsquos chair. Perez has tended Drew&rsquos hair since middle school. After a video of Drew&rsquos shearing attracted a massive social media audience last December, he had reshaped Drew&rsquos hair into shorter dreadlocks that radiated from his head.
But now Drew had a new problem. The night before, he had grabbed a pair of scissors from the kitchen and hacked at what remained of his dreads, then asked his little sister to finish the job. Drew loved his hair but was tired of it causing so much trouble. Tired of being treated differently and made into something he was not. Tired of looking in the mirror and seeing the referee, Alan Maloney, looking back.
Since the incident last December, support for Andrew Johnson, seen here during a bout on Jan. 5, has poured in from celebrities, pro athletes and the governor of New Jersey. But others, including some of his schoolmates and other residents of his mostly white town, defended referee Alan Maloney as simply enforcing the rules.
Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media/Barcroft Media
Maloney already had a racist incident in his past before telling Drew that his hair was &ldquounnatural&rdquo and giving him 90 seconds to cut it. What resulted was far more than a humiliating haircut for one high school student. It became a shared and painful experience for many who see how issues of identity, subjugation, power and freedom are intertwined in African American hair.
On Sept. 18, the state attorney general&rsquos office announced that Maloney would be suspended from officiating for two years, and that all referees, coaches and athletic administrators in all high school sports across the state must undergo implicit bias training. Wrestling officials also will be trained about hair discrimination.
After Drew&rsquos dreadlocks were cut, support for Drew poured in from celebrities, pro athletes and the governor of New Jersey. But others, including some of Drew&rsquos schoolmates and other residents of his mostly white town, defended Maloney as simply enforcing the rules. Another local contingent believed that even if Maloney was wrong, Drew should have just shaken it off and moved on.
The shy, quiet teen was trapped in a suffocating bubble. Maybe those kitchen scissors were meant to let in some air.
The barber surveyed the damage and looked at Drew&rsquos father, Charles Johnson III, who goes by his middle name of Sharidon. Sharidon and his three sons get their hair cut once a week. Their hairstyles vary, but they always stay crisply edged and trimmed. The Johnsons are not a family who walks around looking jacked up.
The barbers and most of their clientele are Puerto Rican here at The Line Up, which is located in one of the strip malls dotting the South Jersey farmlands between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Drew, too, is more Puerto Rican than anything else, despite being widely portrayed as strictly African American when his haircut entered the viral pantheon of American racial injustice.
During several trips to Buena Vista Township, and while attending several of the wrestling team&rsquos home and away matches, I had in-depth conversations with Drew, his parents and siblings, close friends of the Johnson family and their attorney. I talked to Drew&rsquos schoolmates, coaches, other members of the Buena community, and wrestlers and coaches from around South Jersey. The Johnsons declined to be interviewed on the record. Some of the descriptions of Drew&rsquos emotions come from his attorney others from people in Buena who interacted with him. Maloney declined an interview request, and his attorney didn&rsquot respond to phone messages.
What I saw in Buena was a close-knit, mixed-race family crushed by our country&rsquos tectonic conflict over racial justice and demographic change. This took place in a small town with a rich wrestling tradition where people say sports brings them together, even as they are further apart than most want to believe.
Watching the video of the match, I saw Maloney give Drew 90 seconds to shatter either a pillar of his identity or his bond with his teammates and his home. Sitting in the barber chair beneath Perez&rsquos buzzing clippers 3½ months later, Drew was still trying to reassemble the pieces of who he used to be.
Hair is Africa&rsquos most enduring marker in America, the phenotype most likely to persist through generations of interracial children. Hair is what black folks look at when trying to determine who is one of us. Many mixed-race people are not permitted to fully determine their own identity because of how the world insists on defining them. That&rsquos when hair can represent a manifesto of self.
Sharidon Johnson is the son of a black father and a Puerto Rican mother. He looks black, grew up with his black grandparents and has always identified himself as black. His hair is cut close but dark on top, with a fade melting into his thick, impeccably groomed beard.
Sharidon&rsquos wife, Rosa, has a Puerto Rican father and an Irish mother. Rosa has straight, shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. She values her Puerto Rican heritage and maiden name of Santiago, but much of the world sees her as a white lady with black kids.
The four Johnson children are Drew, who is now 17, 13-year-old Cami, 15-year-old Nate and 19-year-old Matt. Each of their complexions is a different shade of brown. Their hair, too, varies in texture and degree of curl. Drew has the lightest skin, and freckles. He cultivated his dreadlocks in early 2018 by rubbing his hair nightly with a towel. Cami is the darkest, with caramel-colored skin and hair that, when I saw her, fell past her shoulders in cascading coils. Cami is the only sibling who sort of considers herself black. Her brothers never defined themselves that way. If pressed, the Johnson boys will break themselves down mathematically: 50% Puerto Rican, 25% black and 25% white.
Last December, Drew&rsquos calculated identity went up in smoke. That&rsquos when the world decided he was black.
Long, straight roads slice through the farms and woods of Buena Vista Township, 45 minutes southeast of Philly. Tractors creep through fields of tomatoes, peppers and corn. Farmers from Italy arrived in the mid-1850s because the sandy soil was good for grapes. The area remains heavily working-class Italian: Buena is pronounced &ldquoBYOO-nuh&rdquo because of how it was said by those from the old country. The census says 75% of the township&rsquos 7,299 residents are white, 13% are Hispanic and 7.5% are black.
On Dec. 19, furrowed empty earth ran right up to the parking lot of Buena Regional High School, where the Johnson family gathered to watch Drew wrestle. It was not a special occasion. Where you see one Johnson, you often see them all.
The meet took place in the Charles Johnson Memorial Gymnasium, which is named after Sharidon&rsquos grandfather, who was a beloved custodian at the school. The opponent was rival Oakcrest High. Buena had beaten Oakcrest eight years in a row, but this meet was expected to be close. They were the top two teams in the Cape Atlantic League&rsquos National Division, so the division title was likely on the line. Every match would be crucial.
Wrestling has been part of the fabric of Buena since the early 1970s, when Mickey Caprese, who owned a greeting card store across from Buena&rsquos junior high school, got a bunch of neighborhood kids together and started a youth program. Buena and wrestling are a good match. They&rsquore both tough but not loud, small but proud. There&rsquos no room for pretty boys. Scarred hands or cauliflowered ears are a mark of pride.
New Jersey&rsquos rules prohibit a wrestler&rsquos hair from falling past his earlobes, shirt collar or eyebrows. But that was not Alan Maloney&rsquos issue with Drew. He cited a rule saying hair must be in its natural state.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON/PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/NEWSCOM
&ldquoWe&rsquore just a small community with values and work ethic,&rdquo said Doug Castellari, one of Caprese&rsquos first recruits. He became an All-American at Temple University in 1984, coached the Buena team for almost three decades and is one of five Buena alumni in the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame.
&ldquoWrestling&rsquos not a sport you can just go out there and play,&rdquo said Castellari, who is still fit from daily workouts and tanned from running his family&rsquos farm. &ldquoYou have to put a lot into it just to win one match. You have to get a kid to buy in. You have to dedicate yourself and put in the time.&rdquo
Castellari&rsquos son Eric wrestled for his dad and now volunteers with the Buena wrestling team. &ldquoBuena is not a participation trophy kind of place,&rdquo Eric said. &ldquoOther sports, there&rsquos somebody next to you. This is one-on-one. If you mentally break, if you give up, you will be abused. Nobody can save you. There&rsquos no safety over the top.
&ldquoNobody realizes how hard those six minutes are.&rdquo
Five minutes and 30 seconds into the December match, blood dripped down Drew&rsquos bottom lip. Cramps wracked both calves. He was losing 2-1 and trapped on his stomach underneath his opponent. The shock of having his dreadlocks cut before the match had given way to the desperation of trying to survive.
Drew is not the most talented wrestler in his family. That would be his younger brother, Nate, who started varsity as a freshman at 113 pounds. Drew didn&rsquot join the varsity until his sophomore year, when his record was 13-12 with six pins. In some of the losses, he hit a mental wall and couldn&rsquot climb over, one of his coaches told me. Drew let himself think he could not win.
Drew had big goals last season, his junior year, in the 120-pound division. It was cool having his brother on the team. Nate wouldn&rsquot have to learn by getting abused on the wrong side of the wall.
Referees are supposed to handle hair and other issues at the pre-meet weigh-ins, but on that day Maloney was late. He conducted the &ldquoskin check&rdquo about 6:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the 7 p.m. start, according to a statement submitted to the school district by Buena&rsquos head wrestling coach, George Maxwell. Maloney told Drew he needed to shave. After Drew returned from the locker room with no stubble, Maloney said he had &ldquoconcerns&rdquo about Drew&rsquos and Nate&rsquos hair, according to the statement and the Johnson family&rsquos attorney, Dominic A. Speziali.
Drew returned to the locker room to get a cap. Maloney left because the meet was about to begin. Drew&rsquos match came second. When Drew was on the mat about to shake hands with his opponent, Maloney stopped him and said his cap was illegal because it didn&rsquot attach to his headgear. Drew and his team did not have an attachable cap because they didn&rsquot think it was needed. Drew had wrestled earlier that season without one.
New Jersey&rsquos rules prohibit a wrestler&rsquos hair from falling past his earlobes, shirt collar or eyebrows. But that was not Maloney&rsquos issue with Drew. He cited a rule saying hair must be in its natural state.
&ldquoIt&rsquos unnatural,&rdquo Maloney told Drew and his coaches, according to a letter sent by Speziali to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, which is investigating what happened.
Andrew Johnson (left) wrestles for Buena Regional High School against Cherokee High School&rsquos Andrew Aromando (right) during a match in New Jersey on Jan. 11. Aromando won the match 4-2.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON/PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER/NEWSCOM
Rosa and Sharidon sat in the bleachers, unable to hear what was going on.
Maxwell and his assistants argued Drew&rsquos case. After less than two minutes of discussion, Maloney turned his back on them and twirled his finger to start the 90-second injury clock. When it ran out, Drew would forfeit.
It didn&rsquot take Drew long to decide. Wrestlers make immense sacrifices &mdash running in rubber suits to cut weight, starving themselves, vomit-inducing practices. The whole team had suffered to beat Oakcrest. If Drew didn&rsquot wrestle, and win, they could lose the meet and the division title. He did what any Buena wrestler would have done. &ldquoI&rsquom going to cry, but cut it,&rdquo he told his coach.
As a trainer began to hack off fistfuls of locs with a pair of tape scissors, a wave of anguished noise rolled down from the packed bleachers. Shouts of &ldquoNoooo!&rdquo can be heard on the video.
Rosa did not run down to the mat. Neither did Sharidon. Later, they would be flamed on social media for not stepping in. But the situation was out of their hands. Would it have been less humiliating for Drew if his parents made him forfeit the match? How much hair would Drew have had left by that point? What could Rosa and Sheridan have done as the clock ticked down to zero?
When about half of Drew&rsquos dreadlocks were gone, Maloney deemed him acceptable. Drew walked onto the mat with tears in his eyes, his face a mask of hurt and anger, breathing so hard his cheeks puffed out from his face.
Oakcrest&rsquos David Flippen bloodied Drew&rsquos lip in the first period. Watching the video, there are moments where Flippen&rsquos hair flops past his eyebrows, which is supposed to be illegal. Drew&rsquos legs convulsed with cramps. With less than a minute to go in the match, Flippen was on top of Drew, leading 2-1. Drew escaped, earning one point to tie the match. He was poised on top of the wall. Sudden-death overtime: The first wrestler to score again would win.
Less than a minute into the overtime, Drew emerged from a tangle of limbs and took Flippen down. Maloney blew his whistle. Drew staggered upright, let Maloney briefly raise his right arm, then yanked it away and stumbled off the mat.
Buena won the meet and at the end of the season won the division with a 6-0 record. Oakcrest finished 5-1.
Forty-five minutes after the match, Drew sat in a hallway, tears streaming down his face. Rosa massaged his trembling legs. He had broken down the wall. But another was rising in its place.
In the days after the video detonated on social media, reporters circled the high school. TV trucks parked outside the Johnsons&rsquo house, right up to Christmas Eve. Sharidon, a cable TV equipment installer, and Rosa, an elementary school teacher in the Buena district, were deluged with comments, ranging from well-intentioned to overbearing to hurtful.
Man, Drew is a trouper. Glad he&rsquos done with all that stuff. &hellip What&rsquos the big deal? &hellip It&rsquos just hair, it&rsquoll grow back. &hellip
Drew sat in his classes in a daze. He walked the halls with his headphones clamped tight. With his new celebrity supporters and fame, he felt yanked from euphoria to anger to depression. One day he left the wrestling room and walked past a basketball game. He felt every eye in the gym on him as he left the building.
Buena&rsquos next match did not happen because the referee planned to require Drew to wear a cap on hair that had already been cut, and Buena officials could not get clarification of the rules in time for it to proceed. The match after that, the referee called the school and said Drew&rsquos hair was still illegal. That match did not happen either. Now the whole team was being penalized. Nobody wants to suffer through making weight for nothing. Drew struggled with whether the canceled matches were his fault, and whether he should quit the team.
He decided against it. He was a varsity starter. The team needed him. Who knows what foolishness Nate would get into in practice without Drew. And if you mess around in practice, the matches will be hell.
Buena&rsquos Andrew Johnson (left) has his 195-pound teammate Sammy Drogo (right) in his ear as they prepare to wrestle against Clayton at the Williamstown Duals in New Jersey on Jan. 5.
ANDREW MILLS/NJ ADVANCE MEDIA/BARCROFT MEDIA
Most of all, Drew just wanted to wrestle.
He got pinned in the two matches after his hair was cut, then recovered to win eight in a row at the end of January. He did well enough at the district meet to qualify for regionals but lost in the first round and ended his season with a 19-10 record and eight pins. Nate finished 21-7 with 15 pins.
The Johnson family has made no public comment since a statement six days after the December match.
&ldquoWrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity,&rdquo Rosa and Sharidon said in the statement. &ldquoAs we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew&rsquos character and the support he&rsquos received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced.&rdquo
There is a long history of white people trying to legislate and regulate the gravity-defying, shape-shifting glory of black hair. White people may think their rules are neutral, but they come from a mindset that, consciously or not, defines white hair as normal and black hair as deviant. Black hair must be controlled, conform or cut down. Its mere existence is often seen as illegal, from a North Carolina pool banning swimmers with locs to a Texas junior high school coloring in a boy&rsquos part with a Sharpie.
Maloney has a horseshoe of dark hair around the sides of a bald scalp. He is 63 years old, about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with a paunch and an outsize reputation built on four decades of refereeing in South Jersey. He has held several offices in the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association, or NJWOA.
Maloney is an extremely knowledgeable official but also abrasive, frequently late to matches and a showboat, according to three wrestling coaches I spoke with and other coaches interviewed by NJ Advance Media. What the coaches didn&rsquot need to tell me, because it received statewide media coverage, is that Maloney once called a black referee the N-word. Maloney was briefly suspended, but his punishment was overturned by the NJWOA.
All this history set the context for Maloney calling Drew&rsquos hair &ldquounnatural.&rdquo
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) follows the wrestling regulations of the National Federation of State High School Associations. The rulebook says that &ldquothe hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.&rdquo In a photo of Drew&rsquos hair just before the match, he did not violate any of those restrictions.
The rulebook says that &ldquothe hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.&rdquo This is a photo of Drew Johnson&rsquos hair just before the match.
SNJ Today via Johnson attorney&rsquos Jan. 9 letter to the state Division on Civil Rights
Amid the postmatch outrage, the NJSIAA and NJWOA agreed not to assign Maloney to any more matches until an investigation was completed. Three weeks later, Roy Dragon, who holds offices with both organizations, sent an email to NJWOA chapters to clarify the hair rules.
Dragon&rsquos email tried to outlaw the hair that Drew still had left. The email, which was obtained by NJ Advance Media, showed examples of what it called illegal hair that required a cap, including this photo.
But the hair in the photograph was actually legal, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Asked by local media about that contradiction, NJSIAA executive director Larry White sent out another email, which included this guidance from the national rules federation:
&ldquoThere is a wide spectrum of modern hair styles that might give the appearance that they are in violation of the hair rule, but in actuality they are just creative expressions of today&rsquos youth,&rdquo the guidance said. It defined hair in its natural state as &ldquohow your hair appears when you wake up in the morning.&rdquo
But that still leaves room for judgment about what is &ldquonatural.&rdquo Can you wrestle with hair dyed orange? With gelled hair? Why did it take a state Division of Civil Rights investigation for the people who run South Jersey wrestling to recognize that their rules assumed everything white is normal and anything else needs to conform or get cut down?
&ldquoAs a result of the investigation, those rules have changed,&rdquo NJSIAA executive director Larry White said in a statement. &ldquoWe are confident that those changes, together with the training programs NJSIAA will be developing in collaboration with [the Division on Civil Rights], will ensure that a situation like this does not happen in the future.&rdquo
It&rsquos false to say that mixed-race people are caught between two worlds, but it&rsquos a fact that the reaction to Drew&rsquos haircut placed the Johnsons in a bind.
The support Drew received, locally and beyond, helped him and his family get through the experience. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, &ldquoI don&rsquot just wear locs. They are a part of me &hellip So to watch this young man&rsquos ordeal, wrecked me. The criminalization of what grows from him. The theft of what was his.&rdquo New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he was &ldquodeeply disturbed.&rdquo
But many supporters focused their outrage on Drew&rsquos coaches, teammates, trainer, school and neighbors. &ldquoWhy didn&rsquot people as a group walk out of that room? It speaks to the culture that this is acceptable,&rdquo Rachel Green, a member of the civil rights group Action Together New Jersey, said at a public meeting called by the school district. Action Together called for racial bias training for the entire Buena district.
In a passionate Twitter video, four-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs, who grew up 15 minutes from Buena and attended the same high school as Maloney, told Drew: &ldquoThe fact that the parents and the coaches in that gymnasium allowed for you to be put in that position and didn&rsquot protect you is absolutely shameful.
&ldquoThe bottom line is this young man, especially a young black man in a traditionally and predominantly Caucasian sport, out there defenseless, you guys gotta help this young man. You gotta protect him,&rdquo Burroughs said. He criticized Maloney &mdash &ldquoYou gotta pay the consequences of your actions&rdquo &mdash and later FaceTimed with Drew to offer more support.
Drew&rsquos coaches did argue on his behalf. The trainer reluctantly did what Drew asked her to do. Drew wasn&rsquot thinking about systemic racism when Maloney started that 90-second clock. He was thinking about a division title.
Buena can be uncomfortable for people of color. It&rsquos one of 53 New Jersey towns that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 after choosing Barack Obama in 2012. There is prejudice against Mexicans who come for agricultural work. Since Trump was elected president, a few Confederate flags have been spotted flying from pickup trucks at Buena high school football games.
&ldquoBuena is no different than most of the communities around here,&rdquo said the Rev. David Mallory, the black pastor of First Baptist Church in adjacent Richland. &ldquoThere are still racial tensions in a lot of areas, but I also see more interracial activity that is favorable.&rdquo
Since Drew&rsquos hair was cut, much of Buena has assumed a defensive crouch. Many residents don&rsquot want to acknowledge the role of race in what happened to Drew.
&ldquoAmbivalence toward racism is a form of racism in itself,&rdquo Speziali told me.
Rosa and Sharidon grew up in Buena and enjoy living there, have meaningful friendships among people of all races and never told me anything negative about their home. But it was clear to me that Buena could become an inhospitable place if they spoke publicly about the toll Drew&rsquos humiliation took on their family.
The uproar over Drew&rsquos hair &ldquoupset me because it became a racial issue. Buena is a melting pot,&rdquo said one resident who is close to the Johnson family. The woman, who is white, did not want to be named in order to avoid upsetting the Johnsons. &ldquoMy boys were brought up not to judge people based on color. We have all types of kids staying over at our house. We&rsquore just a little town, as far from racist as possible.&rdquo
&ldquoThere&rsquos a few racists, like anywhere else,&rdquo she continued. &ldquoBut we&rsquore family.&rdquo
A three-minute drive from The Line Up, inside the Sports Cuts barbershop, owner Frank Baldissero rings up haircuts on a 1950s-era R.C. Allen cash register. A 1932 photograph of Rockefeller Center skyscraper workers eating lunch in midair hangs on the wall. A grease board has customer appointments written into 15-minute time slots. &ldquoThat&rsquos my computer,&rdquo said Baldissero, who has been here 31 years.
The Johnson family, pictured from left to right: Matt, Rosa, Drew, Nate, Cami and Sharidon.
At Sports Cuts, Maloney is the hero and the Johnsons are villains. &ldquoThe kid got away with it for some number of matches and finally got a ref who followed the rules,&rdquo said Baldissero, whose head matches his name. &ldquoThey didn&rsquot enforce the rules until that point in time, and that&rsquos it.&rdquo
&ldquoThe media left out that no adults or coaches made him follow the rules,&rdquo chimed in Katrina D&rsquoAllessandro. Her son Will was getting his hair cut for the prom, a fade with bangs hanging down over the front.
&ldquoIt was upsetting to a lot of people at school,&rdquo Will said. &ldquoBuena isn&rsquot a racist school. We&rsquore all diverse, we have different views. We&rsquore all human. It&rsquos just a matter of rules, I guess. The rules are that hair has to be a certain length. You can&rsquot really have dreads.&rdquo
&ldquoThe parents and the kid, they should step up and say this isn&rsquot about race, it&rsquos about rules. The kid didn&rsquot follow the rules,&rdquo said Baldissero.
&ldquoThe media is way out of whack,&rdquo the barber continued. &ldquoThey turned it into a racial thing. It got to be a racial thing based on what the ref did years ago. People change. I&rsquom sure he&rsquos not the same person he was back then.&rdquo
What Maloney did &ldquoyears ago&rdquo happened in 2016, during an informal gathering of referees after they worked a Jersey Shore tournament. During a disagreement about homemade wine, Maloney poked a black referee named Preston Hamilton in the chest and called him the N-word. Hamilton, a former wrestler, responded by body-slamming Maloney.
The NJWOA was asked to discipline Maloney, who was NJWOA membership chairman and training supervisor at the time. He apologized to Hamilton and volunteered to take alcohol awareness and sensitivity courses. The NJWOA ethics committee decided that Maloney should be suspended from refereeing for one year. The committee also suspended Hamilton for &ldquoassault.&rdquo
Both men appealed. Ethics appeals are handled by NJWOA officers, several of whom had been friends with Maloney for decades. They voted to rescind both suspensions, outraging a swath of the South Jersey wrestling community. Numerous schools told the NJWOA not to assign Maloney to their meets.
Maloney wasn&rsquot interested in public contrition. &ldquoI really don&rsquot think this should go any further than it&rsquos gone anyhow. &hellip It was two men, a group of guys, having fun and it was just a slip-up. If you can&rsquot see past that, then I don&rsquot know what to say. I made a mistake and I apologized for it,&rdquo he told the Courier-Post newspaper.
It was not his first mistake. In 2012, Maloney told a 6-year-old wrestler that he couldn&rsquot compete with dreadlocks because &ldquohair doesn&rsquot naturally look like that,&rdquo according to a statement by a parent who came forward to state civil rights investigators after Drew&rsquos haircut. Finally, &ldquoa younger referee, who was a person of color, told him that my son&rsquos hair was natural and he was able to wrestle with it,&rdquo according to the statement, which was obtained by NJ Advance Media. Maloney also was accused of kicking an 11-year-old mixed-race wrestler after he wandered onto the mat during a match.
Maloney owns an auto repair garage in West Berlin, about 30 minutes north of Buena. I stopped by one afternoon in May and walked around the gray building with three car bays. A police car was up on one lift. I asked a mechanic if Maloney was around, and he went to get him.
I waited in the garage&rsquos tiny office. Several NJWOA awards hung on the wall. &ldquoPresented in recognition for your outstanding achievements, leadership and contributions to New Jersey Scholastic Wrestling,&rdquo read one faded plaque. Nearby was a framed newspaper article from Maloney&rsquos 1989 induction into the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame. The pinnacle of his competitive career was finishing fourth in the state in 1974. He started reffing two years later.
A short white man with a cigar jammed into his mouth entered the office. He was not Maloney. &ldquoWho&rsquos calling?&rdquo the man asked. I told him.
&ldquoYou have to leave,&rdquo the man said, and pointed at the door.
Maloney has filed a legal notice preserving his right to sue the Buena school district and 11 other possible defendants, not including the Johnson family. He is claiming defamation of character and emotional distress.
Chris Perez spun Drew around in his barber chair and went to work on what was left of Drew&rsquos dreadlocks. Hair fell to the floor, just like on the mat four months earlier. Only this time, Drew was reclaiming his identity as a mixed-race, bighearted athlete in a small town that doesn&rsquot fully understand what it means to be Drew Johnson.
Drew had played baseball as a sophomore but decided not to go out for the team this past spring. He did go to the prom. He got an after-school job busing tables. Last summer, he worked on a farm during tomato harvest and received an all-expenses-paid scholarship to attend Burroughs&rsquo wrestling camp in Nebraska. Nate went to the camp too. Drew is looking forward to wrestling his senior year with Nate. Their bond is closer than ever.
Thanks to the publicity over Drew&rsquos hair, other dreadlocks will thrive. California just banned employers and schools from discriminating against people based on their hair. A similar bill is pending in New Jersey, in addition to the implicit bias and hair discrimination training now required in state scholastic sports as a result of Drew&rsquos haircut.
Maloney saw Drew as another black boy who should have followed the rules. Now rules are changing because of Drew.
Perez snapped off his clippers. Drew looked at himself in the mirror. The sides of his hair were faded close to his scalp. A low carpet of hair lay on top. From the crown grew one last dreadlock, uncut, in its natural state, with inseparable strands of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States of America.