"No public man in the United States has been so imperfectly understood as Andrew Johnson. None has been so difficult to understand." Hugh McCulloch, Johnson's Secretary of the Treasury
Andrew Johnson was the first President of the United States who had neither been a military hero nor studied law. Known in his time as the "courageous commoner," this former tailor's apprentice followed the ideals inherent in the American dream to rise from poverty-stricken circumstances.
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 extraordinary life is marked by passionate debate and controversy. He lived during a time of triumph and turmoil. Many of the decisions and policies made during his Presidency still impact the country today. On this page you can find a brief overview of Johnson's life, as well as a time-line and several of the 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.
A short overview of Johnson's life.
ANDREW JOHNSON AND SLAVERY
ANDREW JOHNSON'S LAST WORDS ON MARY SURRATT
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
THE VETO PRESIDENT
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.Freedmen's Bureau Bill
Civil Rights Bill
Colorado Statehood Bill
District of Columbia Franchise Law
Nebraska Statehood Bill
Tenure of Office Act
First Military Reconstruction Act
Second Military Reconstruction Act
Third Military Reconstruction Act
Judiciary Act Amendment
Arkansas Statehood Bill
Admission of Six Southern States
Restrictions of Electoral Votes
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.
Last updated: February 5, 2020