Few presidents have been as poorly understood and regarded as Andrew Johnson (1808–75). Born in poverty in North Carolina, Johnson moved to eastern Tennessee with his family as a boy. He was apprenticed to a tailor in South Carolina and learned that craft in his teens but never received any formal education. Until his marriage, he was completely self-taught but his wife encouraged him to read more widely and taught him mathematics and some computational skills. As a result of his hardscrabble childhood and continuing struggle, Johnson came to ...

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