Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

A Visit to Andrew Johnson Historical Sites in Greeneville is a Gold Mine of History

My wife Mary and I drove to Morristown Wednesday to visit my high school classmate and friend Conrad Ward. It had been awhile since I had been to Morristown and I had forgotten the beauty of that city with a population of around 30,000. We spent the night there and as guests of Conrad enjoyed a delicious breakfast at David Crockett Restaurant. After that we headed back to Mountain City. Morristown is where David Crockett grew up and east of downtown is the Crockett Tavern Museum, a replica of the 1790’s building where Crockett lived as a boy.
On the way back to Mountain City a stop in Greeneville was in order. My wife’s late uncle Clarence Cress was a prominent businessman in Greeneville and we wanted to see once again the house he lived in on Tusculum Boulevard. Cress invented and patented a barrel that could be shipped flat, but at its destination be made into a container by inserting only four pins. That process instead of shipping empty barrels saved much valuable shipping space. Before his venture into barrel manufacturing, he had a lumberyard but fire destroyed that business. Cress was born and raised in Johnson County.
While in Greeneville who could pass up the opportunity to see President Andrew Johnson’s residence and tailor shop. We had been there a number of times, but I never leave there without new insight into the life and times of whom I consider one of our greatest presidents. Greeneville is only about 1 ½ hours away but I wonder how many Johnson County residents have taken the opportunity to visit the Andrew Johnson sites and learn more about our 17th president.
Andrew Johnson was vice-president under Abraham Lincoln and after Lincoln was assassinated, became our 17th president April 15, 1865. Of very humble origins, Johnson was born December 29, 1808 in Raleigh, North Carolina. His family was very poor and at the age of 14 he was apprenticed to the village tailor. He learned how to make coats and suits. After a short time he ran away and went into business for himself. Eventually his family came to Greeneville where he set up business as a tailor. With much ambition and success he became prosperous and dabbled in local politics. Among the many offices he held before becoming president were mayor of Greeneville, governor of Tennessee, United States Senator and military governor of Tennessee during the Civil War. As military governor and on many other occasions, Johnson exhibited his bravery and conviction. He tried to persuade the people of Tennessee not to take their state out of the Union but failed in that effort. Due to his loyalty to the Union, he was in constant peril.
Ironically he was elected in 1874 to the United States Senate. He was the only president to serve in the Senate after his presidency. He died July 31, 1875 at Carter’s Station, Tennessee. He was very loyal to the Union during the Civil War and was the only senator from seceding states to remain in Congress. He stated, “When I die, I desire no better winding sheet than the Stars and Stripes and no softer pillow than the Constitution of my country.”
During his administration some very important events occurred. In 1865 the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. In 1867 Nebraska was admitted into the Union as the 37th state. Also in 1867 Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million. The 14th Amendment that established equal rights was ratified in 1868. The life and presidency of Andrew Johnson is interesting. The fact that he was from East Tennessee and lived and worked so close to Johnson County should be of interest to anyone who studies presidential history. I recommend that you visit the Andrew Johnson historical sites in Greeneville sometime this summer.