Greene County

Tennessee's presidents remembered

Andrew Johnson National Park

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - Monday, February 18 is Presidents Day, a day set aside to celebrate and honor not just one president, but all of our presidents.

Greeneville's Andrew Johnson National Historic Site took time to honor and talk about Tennessee's three presidents.

Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Greeneville's Andrew Johnson had more in common than just being from Tennessee. They all dealt with issues that ultimately brought the country to Civil War.

Presidents Day drew quite a few visitors to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Whether viewing all of the artifacts or learning about the life and times of the seventeenth president, on this Presidents Day visitors got an extra treat by learning about Tennessee's other presidents: the eve-fiery Andrew Jackson, one-term president James K. Polk and of course hometown president Andrew Johnson.

"Having made the decision, first on Tennessee's three presidents, it struck me that the things that they were best known for were policies and issues that would directly contribute to the coming of the Civil War," park guide Daniel Luther said.

For Andrew Jackson, it was lifting property ownership as a qualification for voting, his strong belief in a strong federal government and an issue of tariffs that had the north ready to leave the union.

James K. Polk came along and helped resolve the tariff issue but he was a proponent of the Mexican War, which would move slavery westward.

Andrew Johnson, who came to the presidency following Lincoln's assassination, was left to get the country on track following the Civil War.

But many of the same issue go back to the founding of the country. "If you look at the evolution the changes in the political parties you see going all the way back to the beginning that there was always this disagreement between men who were considered the Founders," Luther said.

But despite disagreements and differences, Luther's talk stressed one thing about those who would take the time for service as president. "I really do believe that regardless of what I might think of their policies and positions, they're all worthy of respect and should be treated with such," Luther says.

That could be why it's called 'Presidents Day' rather than 'President Day.'

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