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The New President of the United States

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1313, p. 437-438.

May 6, 1865

THE NEW PRESIDENT OF
The United States.

Mr. Andrew Johnson, who was lately elected Vice-President of the United States, and who has succeeded to the presidency upon the death of Mr. Lincoln, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dec. 29, 1808. When he was four years of age he lost his father, who died from the effect of exertions to save a friend from drowning. At the age of ten he was apprenticed to a tailor in his native city, with whom he served seven years. His mother was unable to afford him any educational advantages, and he never attended school a day in his life. While learning his trade, however, he resolved to make an effort to educate himself. His anxiety to be able to read was particularly excited by an incident which is worthy of mention. A gentleman of Raleigh was in the habit of going into the tailor's shop and reading while the apprentice and journeymen were at work. He was an excellent reader, and his favourite book was a volume of speeches, principally of British statesmen. Johnson became interested, and his first ambition was to equal him as a reader and become familiar with those speeches. He took up the alphabet without an instructor; but, by applying to the journeymen with whom he worked, he obtained a little assistance. Having acquired a knowledge of the letters, he applied for a loan of the book which he had so often heard read. The owner made him a present of it and gave him some instruction on the use of letters in the formation of words. Thus, his first exercises in spelling were in that book. By perseverance he soon learned to read; and the hours which he devoted to his education were at night, after he had finished his daily labour upon the shopboard. He now applied himself to books from two to three hours every night, after working from ten to twelve hours at his trade. Having completed his apprenticeship in the autumn of 1824, he went to Laurens Courthouse, South Carolina, where he worked as a journeyman for nearly two years. While there he became engaged to be married, but the match was broken off by the violent opposition of the girl's mother and friends, the ground of objection being Mr. Johnson's youth and the want of pecuniary means. In May, 1826, he returned to Raleigh, where he procured journey-work, and remained until September. He then set out to seek his fortune in the West, carrying with him his mother, who was dependent upon him for support. He stopped at Greenville, Tennessee, and commenced work as a journeyman. He remained there about twelve months, married, and soon afterwards went still further westward, but, failing to find a suitable place to settle, he returned to Greenville and commenced business. Up to this time his education was limited to reading, as he had never had an opportunity of learning to write or cipher; but under the instruction of his wife he learned these and other accomplishments. The only time, however, he could devote to them was in the dead of the night. The first office which he ever held was that of alderman of the village, to which he was elected in 1828. He was re-elected to the same position in 1829, and again in 1830. In that year he was chosen mayor, which position he held three years. In 1835 he was elected to the Legislature. In the Session of that year he took decided ground against a scheme of internal improvements, which he contended would not only prove a failure, but entail upon the State a burdensome debt. The measure was popular, however, and at the next election (1837) he was defeated. He became a candidate again in 1839. By this time many of the evils he had predicted were fully demonstrated, and he was elected by a large majority. In 1840 he served as presidential elector for the State at large on the Democratic ticket. He canvassed a large portion of the State, meeting upon this tour several of the leading Whig orators. In 1841 he was elected to the State Senate. In 1843 he was elected to Congress, where, by successive elections, he served until 1853. During this of period of service he was conspicuous and active in advocating the bill for refunding the fine imposed upon General Jackson at New Orleans in 1815, the annexation of Texas, the tariff of 1846, the war measures of Mr. Polk's Administration, and a homestead bill. In 1853 he was elected Governor of Tennessee after an exciting canvas. He was re-elected in 1855, after another active contest. At the expiration of his second period as Governor, in 1857, he was elected United States Se-


Page 438

nator for a full term, ending March 3, 1863. At the last Presidential election he was m[a]de Vice-President, and took the oaths of that office on the 4th o[f] March. We engrave his Portrait, from a photograph supplied by Mr. A. M. Bailey's American agency, Northumberland-court, Charing-cross.

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