THE GRAVE OF PRESIDENT ANDREW JOHNSON IN ANDREW JOHNSON NATIONAL CEMETERY IN GREENEVILLE, TN.
With the Assassination of Lincoln, the Presidency fell upon an old-fashioned southern Democrat who had strong views regarding states’ rights. He was an honest and honorable man championing the common man and vilifying the plantation aristocracy, and he did not believe in slavery. He was a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the 1840’s and ’50’s. 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. As successor to Lincoln, Johnson was no match for the Radical Republicans in Congress, brilliantly led and ruthless in their tactics. They moved vigorously to change Johnson’s post war plans and passed their own plans over Johnson’s vetoes. The Republican-controlled House voted to impeach the president and a Senate trial resulted in his acquittal by one vote He remained in office until the end of his term.
Quote: “When I die, I want no more winding sheet than that of the brave old flag…and no softer pillow than the Constitution of my country.” ~President Andrew Johnson. Johnson was buried wrapped in a United States Flag with a copy of the Constitution beneath his head.
The National Cemetery sits upon a hilltop overlooking the blue ridges of the Appalachians. Through family efforts, the Johnson’s family burial site became a national cemetery in 1906. Efforts by descendants of Johnson’s also resulted in the establishment of the Andrew Johnson National Monument in Greeneville. I found learning about President Johnson, the man, fascinating. I came away from my visit to the National Monument with respect and admiration for him. Greeneville is worth a trip both for it’s own history (Post Revolutionary, Civil War, post Civil War) and for it’s connection with our 17th President. It was a day well spent.