Greeneville in Greene County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
The Heart of the Household
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
“At four in the morning I had to be up. I went up and made the fire in [Johnson’s] room, shined his boots, and then made a fire in the kitchen stove. I stood by his side at the table . . . then I washed the dishes.” William Johnson, slave to Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson purchased his first slave, Dolly, in 1842 while living in the house in front of you. Fourteen-year-old Dolly was scheduled to be sold at auction when, according to her son William Johnson, she approached Andrew Johnson and asked him to buy her. The bill of sale (right) is for Dolly’s 12 year-old brother Sam whom Andrew Johnson also bought. Dolly, her brother Sam, and Johnson’s other slaves worked in and around this house doing the family’s cooking, cleaning, and other domestic chores.
“I, Andrew Johnson, do hereby proclaim freedom, full, broad and unconditional to every man in Tennessee!” Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of Tennessee, 1864
Johnson believed in gradual freedom for slaves. According to local tradition, Johnson freed his slaves, including Dolly and her family, on
“Slavery is the cancer upon the body politic, which must be rooted out before perfect health can be restored.” Andrew Johnson, August 8, 1864
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: African Americans. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1842.
Location. 36° 9.766′ N, 82° 49.753′ W. Marker is in Greeneville, Tennessee, in Greene County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of E Depot Street and N College Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Greeneville TN 37745, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. An Early Home (a few steps from this marker); "I Have Wrestled With Poverty" (a few steps from this marker); Andrew Johnson (within shouting distance of this marker); Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett / Andrew Johnson (within shouting distance of this marker); Benjamin Lundy (about 300 feet away, Greeneville, Tennessee (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Andrew Johnson (about 400 feet away); Olde Greene County Gaol (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greeneville.
More about this marker. The background of the marker contains a picture of the 1842 Bill of sale for Sam. Next to this are photographs of Sam Johnson, Doll’s half-brother, at about age 60; Dolly Johnson holding Andrew Johnson’s grandson; and William Johnson, Dolly’s son.
Also see . . . Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. National Park Service website. (Submitted on August 14, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 14, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 521 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 14, 2012, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.