Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


March 19, 2013

RANDOM THOUGHTS: The knight of the scissors

CROSSVILLE — Andrew Johnson was Tennessee’s third and last president. He was sworn in as Abraham Lincoln’s vice president on March 4, 1865. Because of the fatal shot at Ford’s Theater he became president on April 15 of that year.

Johnson was born in NC but when he was very young the family started anew in Greeneville, TN and it was always his beloved home. It was there he met and married Eliza McCardle. She was only 17 but had formal education and she taught 19-year-old Andrew to read and write.

As a tailor’s apprentice he eventually set up his own tailor shop and worked there until age 35 when he became interested in politics. Because of this early work one New York writer called him “knight of the scissors.”

Johnson served locally, then as state representative, and finally state senator. At the beginning of the Civil War he was an unpopular Tennessee senator because of his speech to the Senate. He said, “My blood, my existence I would give to save the Union.”

Many years later following the war a speaker of the House said of Johnson’s words, “The people of the North have never realized, and probably never will realize, the courage that was required for a man to stand up for the Union in Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia or Maryland.” He went on to clarify. “In the ‘border states’ it was not only neighborhood against neighborhood but family against family, father against son, husband against wife, slave against master. That Johnson or any other man had the moral or physical courage to stand up against an overwhelming sentiment in his own state in that critical era is one of the marvels of history.”

For eight years Johnson did not live in his beloved Greeneville because as he said “he was a fugitive from tyranny.” His close family supported him. His oldest son, a Union surgeon, was killed in battle. The second son served as a Union colonel and the youngest son developed tuberculosis because of malnutrition. His two daughters were married to Union supporters and suffered. Worst of all his Eliza became a lifelong invalid because she too developed tuberculosis.

Johnson and his son Robert did not move to the White House until May 25. In August of 1865 two carriages brought the rest of the family. One daughter Mary was widowed and had three children. The other daughter Martha was married to a senator and they had two children. That made twelve extras under one roof and yet those families lived together for four years without friction or disputes. Both Mary and Martha served as official hostesses for the president.

Eliza was very tired from the journey and they settled her first. She chose a corner room which looked out on elms, the mall and the Potomac. She seldom appeared at White House parties but was very aware of all the controversy surrounding her husband. During his impeachment trial she would allow no change in regular activities or cancellation of receptions. Only one vote saved Johnson from impeachment.

Of their love an aide said, “They seemed as two souls and minds merged as one. Their marriage was the nearest to ideal I’ve ever seen or known and yet they were as unlike temperamentally as was possible for two human beings to be.”

Eliza was described as having sweet, gentle ways with an abundance of patience, common sense and a never failing sympathy for the less fortunate. Those who knew her well related that when Andrew’s temper flared Eliza had only to say “Andrew, Andrew” and he was calmed.

Johnson served his four years and in 1875 he returned to Washington as a senator. That summer he died and as he asked he was wrapped in a new 37 star flag and his head rested on the 1835 constitution he had used. Eliza died the next summer and rests beside him.

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014