Throughout the course of American history, most Presidents have spent a majority of their life showing deep appreciation for the country and a deference to the founders. One took the occasion of his passing to rise above the others.
Andrew Johnson is typically remembered for a series of unflattering firsts. He was the first President to have never attended a school. Related to that, he was the first President to be illiterate as an adult (his wife subsequently taught him to read.) As a former tailor, he was the first President to make his own clothes (as well as his wife’s.) He was the first President impeached. He was the first President who, after retiring, campaigned for and was re-elected to a Senate seat.
He had his share of terrible decisions, too. He opposed a post-war civil rights act and was a vocal opponent of the 14th Amendment which granted former slaves full citizenship. He bypassed Congress, triggering the aforementioned impeachment. Unsurprisingly, he lost his re-election bid in a landslide… not during the general election, but during the Democratic Primary.
He was also egocentric and miserly.
Amidst all the negativity, one would be excused for believing Johnson to have been embittered toward the country. His final wish belied that possibility: “When I die, I desire no better winding sheet than the Stars and Stripes, and no softer pillow than the Constitution.”
Beyond the flag-draped coffin which has been the sendoff for many former Commanders-in-Chief, Johnson was buried with his body wrapped in the American flag, and with a folded copy of the Constitution under his head.
Question of the night: What was your favorite class in school?