Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on December 29, 1808. His father's death left the family in poverty. From age ten to seventeen, young Johnson was apprenticed to a tailor. He plied that trade for a number of years during which time he moved with his mother to Greenville, Tennessee. Johnson never attended school but after his marriage to Eliza McCardle acquired a good common education under her tutelage.
A gifted political orator, Johnson ascended the political ladder quickly. In 1829, he won his first office as an alderman. In rapid succession he became mayor of Greenville, a member of the Tennessee state legislature, U.S. Congressman, governor of Tennessee, and U.S. Senator. In Congress, Johnson was a strong advocate of the annexation of Texas, the Mexican-American War, and the Homestead Bill. He was the only Southerner in Congress who firmly supported the Union throughout both the succession crisis and the Civil War. After federal forces captured portions of Tennessee, Lincoln appointed him military governor of the state, an office he assumed in the face of lynch mobs and bullets.