- Christopher Bates
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. His parents, Mary and Jacob, were barely literate and scratched out a living by working for a local inn. With Jacob Johnson's death in 1812, the family's financial situation became dire, and Mary struggled to support Andrew and his brother, William, before finally binding young Andrew in the apprenticeship of a tailor at the age of thirteen.
Johnson spent several years learning his trade before leaving Raleigh for Greeneville, Tennessee. There he established his own tailoring shop and also met Eliza McCardle, whom he married in 1827 Eliza took responsibility for her husband s education teaching him arithmetic and reading to him The future president eager to put his newfound knowledge to use and hone his natural rhetorical skills made his shop into an informal gathering place for political discussion Enthralled and energized by these exchanges Johnson sought ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.