Tags: Presidential History | first ladies | andrew johnson

Eliza Johnson: The Causes That Defined President Andrew Johnson's First Lady

By    |   Tuesday, 09 Jun 2015 11:19 AM

Eliza Johnson, wife of 17th U.S. president Andrew Johnson, helped herself and her husband rise from an impoverished background to the White House.

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Although much of her life and contributions are debated due to her preferred limited public role, Eliza still managed to allow the causes for which she cared most define her legacy.

According to a biographical sketch of the Eliza on first ladies.org, below are the causes for which she was most passionate:

Support of Her Husband and Family
Eliza supported Andrew from the start of their young marriage. She reportedly helped him further his studies and learn to better write and speak.

“She was the stepping stone to all the honors and fame my father attained,” Martha Patterson, daughter of Andrew and Eliza, wrote in 1881.

Additionally, Eliza maintained their house, children, and finances while Andrew climbed the political ladder.

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Eliza is also believed to have had little to no role in her husband’s presidential campaign because she was entirely invested in the care of their children at the time.

Orphans
In one of her few highly publicized endeavors, Eliza supported the establishment of a Baltimore orphanage for children who had lost their parents during the American Civil War.

Eliza auctioned off several of her own items in order to advertise and fundraise for the institution and also allowed her name to be used in endorsements.

Union Support
During the Civil War, both Eliza and Andrew faced adversity being unionists in the southern state of Tennessee.

Andrew was the only Southern senator to remain loyal to the union, even after his own state fell under Confederate control.

Resultantly, Confederate forces often targeted Eliza and her family. When the Confederate army forced her and other unionists to vacate their homes in Tennessee in 1862, despite her poor health, Eliza snuck food to nearby caves where union soldiers sought refuge.

Even when she was detained by the Confederacy later in 1862, her dedication to the union did not falter.

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Eliza Johnson, wife of 17th U.S. president Andrew Johnson, helped herself and her husband rise from an impoverished background to the White House.
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2015-19-09
Tuesday, 09 Jun 2015 11:19 AM
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