spacer Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)
Seventeenth President (1865-1869)

A onetime tailor whose wife had taught him to read, Andrew Johnson thought he had reached his political summit with his election to the Senate in 1856. But his ardent opposition to his native Tennessee's membership in the Confederacy during the Civil War made him a valuable public-relations asset for the Union cause and led to his becoming Lincoln's Vice President. So it was that Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon Lincoln's assassination in April 1865.

With the war over, Johnson shared Lincoln's determination to readmit the South to the Union with a minimum of punitive demands on the defeated region. That, however, put him at odds with a Congress out to punish the South's white leadership and ensure the rights of the region's newly freed blacks. In the ensuing struggle, the tactless and combative Johnson thoroughly alienated Congress, and an attempt to impeach him was soon afoot. Although he survived impeachment by one vote, he was without any real influence for the remainder of his presidency.

Washington B. Cooper was long a leading portraitist of Tennessee, and Johnson sat for him on several occasions. Although this Cooper likeness is undated, Johnson's apparent age in the picture suggests that it was painted during his presidency.



Washington Bogart Cooper (1802-1889)
oil on canvas, after 1866
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
NPG.86.213

Enlarged image