NAME: Andrew Johnson. According to one theory, he was named after Andrew Jackson; according to another, he was given the name of a maternal uncle.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Stocky, though well proportioned, Johnson stood 5 feet 10 inches tall and had a swarthy complexion, broad forehead, thick dark hair that was graying when he became president, piercing deeply set black eyes guarded by protruding bushy eyebrows, a square jaw with a cleft chin, and a large nose. His health generally was sound, though as president he suffered from kidney stones. He began wearing reading glasses in his fifties. He dressed neatly, usually in black.
PERSONALITY: Johnson was simple and direct in manner. He spoke bluntly and to some appeared cold. He was generally reserved and sober but went out of his way to remain on friendly terms with old acquaintances and often loaned money to people down on their luck. “I found him kind and helpful,” recalled one Tennessee neighbor, “especially to poor young men and he was entirely without condescension.” Because of his own common roots, he throughout his life identified with the underdog. He shunned Washington society, preferring the company of old friends. Yet he was ever polite and carried himself with great dignity. Possessed of a strong, clear voice, Johnson was a gifted orator.
PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.
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