Andrew Johnson was the seventeenth President of the United States. He is one of the least known presidents except for the fact the Congress tried to Impeach him and really to understand the man you need to see where he was coming from. You can visit the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee to learn more about Andrew Johnson.
He was a Southerner who remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War and somehow that did not make him popular with anyone except Abraham Lincoln.
Andrew Johnson’s history in Greenville TN goes back to his childhood. He was born in Raleigh North Carolina in 1808 and apprenticed to a tailor there while still very young. He and his brother ran away from their apprenticeship and ended up in Greenville when Andrew was 17.
He set himself up as a tailor and the next year he married a local girl Eliza McCardle whose father was a bootmaker. They had five children together.
In time Andrews tailor shop became the place to discuss politics in Greenville and thus began his political career. He was a state representative, a state senator, governor of TN and senator from Tennessee.
He was, in fact, the only senator from a Southern State who retained his seat in the Senate after the south seceded from the Union.
In 1862 Abraham Lincoln named him as the Military Governor of Tennessee. In 1864 he was chosen to be the running mate of Lincoln even though he was a Democrat and Lincoln was a Republican.
When Lincoln was assassinated Johnson was thrust in the position of President, a position not to be envied even under the best of circumstances, these were the worst of times.
No president before or after has gone into the office with better intentions and ended with such a sense of defeat.
His story is one that deserves to be told and the US Park Department has done a very good job at this location of doing just that.
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
- Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
- Top things to do at Andrew Johnson NHS
- Things to know when planning a visit to Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
- National Park Sites near Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
There are three distinctive and separate buildings that make up this historic site.
There is parking at the homestead and at the Visitor Center. The first Johnson home is located across the street from the National Park Service Visitor Center closest to the parking lot. It is a small house with small rooms, the type of home typical to a successful tailor in the 1830’s & 40’s.
You then cross the street and enter the Visitor Center. There is a thirteen and a half minute video that tells the story of Andrew Johnson, this is a very good video and well worth sitting down and watching. When you exit the movie you are handed a ballot and asked to vote whether you think he should have been found guilty or innocent at his impeachment trial.
Also inside the Visitor Center is the original tailor shop where so many lively political debates took place. You will also see a wedding suit that was made by Andrew Johnson when he was a tailor. This has to be one of the most unique items ever in a Presidential historic site.
While you are at the Visitor Center you need to sign up for a tour of the Homestead which takes place on the half hour.
While the other locations are about professional life the Johnson Homestead is about personal life. It is located several blocks from the Visitor Center. There is a real sadness that pervades this part of the experience.
Eliza Johnson suffered from tuberculosis and was unable to function as First Lady. All three of the Johnson sons died from the results of alcoholism under tragic circumstances. During the War, the house was repeatedly vandalized and the tour will show you just a small section of the wall with the graffiti still visible.
There is one last site to visit, the Johnson Family Cemetery. High above the hill overlooking Greenville are the graves of the 17th President of the United States and his family. He was buried with a copy of the Constitution which he so revered under his head and wrapped in an American flag.
For anyone with an interest in the presidents of the United States and history, in general, this is a must-see city.
Top things to do at Andrew Johnson NHS
Visit the Visitor Center
The visitor center includes the early home of President Johnson, his Tailor Shop, and interpretive exhibits. There is a 13-minute film available anytime. You can make reservations for the guided tour of the homestead at the visitor center.
Andrew Johnson’s Tailor Shop
Located in the Visitor Center is Andrew Johnson’s Tailor Shop that he bought in 1831. You can see into the shop and also learn about his life as a tailor and how this led him into politics.
Andrew Johnson Cemetary
At the top of Signal Hill, you can see Andrew Johnson’s gravesite along with his wife and descendants. The Andrew Johnson Cemetary is one of two National Cemeteries run by the National Park Service that is considered active. Though the park service has said that the cemetery may become inactive in 2019 due to running out of space.
Become a Junior Ranger
You can pick up the Junior Ranger packet at the visitor center. They have a great junior ranger kit when you get the booklet. To earn a Junior Ranger badge you need to complete 5 activities within the booklet. The majority of them can be completed at the visitor center.
Andrew Johnson Homestead
One of the cool things you can do at this historic site is taking a guided tour of Andrew Johnson Homestead. This is the house that the family lived in from 1851. There are nine rooms which include the original furniture open during the tour.
Tours through the President’s Homestead are available at 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.
Tour sizes are limited to 12.
Andrew Johnson Statue
Located across the street from the visitor center is a statue of Andrew Johnson.
Greeneville is the 2nd oldest town in Tennessee. While you are visiting this National Park Site you can also check out the state’s oldest jail, a replica of the Capitol of the Lost State of Franklin, The Dickson-Williams Mansion, and the Greeneville Greene County History Museum.
Things to know when planning a visit to Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Address: 101 North College Street, Greeneville, Tennessee 37743
Park Hours: 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Tours of the President’s Homestead are held daily at 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30.
The National Cemetery will remain open on these days from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m
Entrance Fee: $0.00
Park Phone Number: 423-638-3551
National Park Sites near Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
Cowpens National Battlefield
Manhattan Project National Historical Park – Oak Ridge, TN