First U.S. president ever impeached, Andrew Johnson, hails from Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Born poor in 1808 to poor parents who worked in a Raleigh tavern and couldn’t read, Andrew Johnson would go on to become one of the most controversial presidents in American history.

The two room two story house he was raised in once stood near a marker that stands across the street from the North Carolina State Capitol.  The house still stands and has since been restored and moved to the nearby Mordecai Historic Park.  

Doug Brown carefully handles the Andrew Johnson Collection housed at the North Carolina State Archives including correspondence during his time as governor of Tennessee.

“It’s a private collection so at one time I believe this is something that was in a private persons hands and was donated to the state archives. They seem to be going back to pre-Civil War,” Brown explained.

Johnson would go on to serve as Abraham Lincoln’s vice president and became president when Lincoln was assassinated.  

Back in North Carolina, Governor Zebulon Vance was arrested and moved to a prison in Washington D.C. for his role in the Civil War.  The archives store the pardon that President Johnson eventually gave to Governor Vance.

As archivist, Brown showed the pardon to CBS 17. It states in part, “By taking part in the late rebellion against the government of the United States has made himself liable to heavy pains and penalties.”

Johnson would soon be impeached by the US House. The state archives has a negative of a ticket to watch the senate go on to acquit him.

“Sometimes you just have to take a step back and go, ‘Wow!'” said Brown. 

After finishing his term as President, Johnson went on to win a seat in the US Senate.  He died 5 months later never returning to Raleigh or the little house where it all began.

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