On March 4, 1869, a tailor from Greeneville, Tennessee, who began his political life as an alderman and then mayor of Greeneville, who served in both houses of the State Legislature and both Houses of Congress, who served as the Governor of Tennessee and later the wartime Governor of Tennessee, who was elected to the vice-presidency of the United States, and, by the bullet of an assassin, made President of the United States, gave his Farewell Address. A few days later, he slunk out of Washington, D.C., and began his long journey home. Henry H. Ingersoll wrote to Johnson on March 8, 1869, advising him of the fact that, upon his return to Greeneville, "it is our design to make the occasion of your return a welcome by the people ... as free as possible from all partisan allusions." Though Andrew Johnson was, in fact, given a "cordial welcome" and was received with "immense cheerings of the people," no one knew exactly what the former president was going to do now that he was again a "private citizen unincumbered [sic] by office." Johnson himself remained "quietly under his own vine and fig tree," saying alternatively that "he was now at home again, his public career had ended," but also averring that "he will labor to relieve his fellow citizens of the bonds now upon them." By choosing the latter route, Johnson opted to remain active in politics, running for a seat in the United States Senate in 1869, running to become Congressman-at-large for Tennessee in 1872, and running for a seat in the United States Senate in 1874-1875. The question with which historians and political observers have grappled with for years concerns the motivations of Andrew Johnson. Why did he choose to return to political life? Was vindication, as many authors have proposed, the only motive for Johnson's re-entry into political life? Andrew Johnson, in life and in death, remains an exceedingly complicated figure, whose motivations for running for political office are far more complex and numerous than the simple desire for justification.
""Moses in Retirement": Andrew Johnson, 1869-1876,"
The Gettysburg Historical Journal: Vol. 7
, Article 8.
Available at: https://cupola.gettysburg.edu/ghj/vol7/iss1/8