Seventeenth president, 1865�69
Born poor, Johnson�s talent for business gave him wealth. His gift for public speaking launched him on a successful political career leading to a Senate seat, from which he hoped to propel himself to the presidency. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln, in a gesture of unity, chose Johnson—a southern Democrat from Tennessee but a staunch defender of the Union—as his running mate. When Johnson succeeded to the presidency after Lincoln�s assassination in April 1865, it became clear that his view of Reconstruction clashed not only with Lincoln�s but also with that of the Republican majority in Congress: Johnson would allow southern states returning to the Union to deprive freed slaves of their rights. The resulting clash led to his impeachment, from which he survived conviction by only one vote.
Washington Cooper was a leading Tennessee portraitist, and Johnson sat for him on several occasions. Although this likeness is undated, Johnson�s apparent age suggests it was painted during his presidency.