Skip to main content

Collection Andrew Johnson Papers

About this Collection

The papers of vice president, senator, and representative Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), who became the seventeenth president of the Unites States in 1865 after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, consist of 40,000 items (63,710 images), most of which were digitized from 55 reels of previously produced microfilm. Spanning the years 1783-1947, with the bulk dating 1865-1869, the collection contains correspondence, memoranda, diaries, messages and speeches, courts-martial and amnesty records, financial records, lists, newspaper clippings, printed matter, scrapbooks, photographs, and other papers relating chiefly to Johnson’s presidency. Subjects include the Civil War, National Union Party, Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and assassination, Reconstruction, and Johnson’s presidential administration and impeachment. The collection also documents Johnson’s service as military governor of Tennessee (1862-1865) and his business affairs, including his tailor shop in Greeneville, Tennessee. Shorthand diaries kept by Johnson’s secretary, William G. Moore, are included in the collection and accompanied by typed transcriptions.

Notable correspondents include George Bancroft, Edward Bates, Henry Ward Beecher, James B. Bingham, Jeremiah S. Black, Francis Preston Blair, Montgomery Blair, Simon Cameron, Lewis D. Campbell, Salmon P. Chase, John A. Dix, Thomas Ewing, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, H. W. Halleck, Winfield Scott Hancock, J. C. G. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, John A. McClernand, Hugh McCulloch, George Gordon Meade, Montgomery C. Meigs, William G. Moore, G. W. Morgan, J. S. Negley, John M. Palmer, John Pope, William S. Rosecrans, John McAllister Schofield, Carl Schurz, William Henry Seward, Philip Henry Sheridan, William T. Sherman, Edwin McMasters Stanton, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, George H. Thomas, and Gideon Welles.

The Index to the Andrew Johnson Papers (PDF and HTML), created by the Manuscript Division in 1963 after the bulk of the collection was microfilmed, provides a full list of the correspondents and notes the series number and dates of the items indexed. This information is helpful in finding individual letters or documents in the online version. Additional letters received by the Library after 1963 are not listed in this index.

A current finding aid (PDF and HTML) to the Andrew Johnson Papers is available online with links to the digital content on this site.

Brief History of the Andrew Johnson Papers

When the Civil War came to Greeneville, Tennessee, Andrew Johnson, the only pro-Union southern U.S. senator was elsewhere in the state stumping for Union men. In a state torn by conflicting loyalties and violence, Johnson was a target of Confederate sympathizers. Escaping more than one ambush, he eventually arrived in Washington, D.C., having left his invalid wife, one small son, and his treasured personal papers in Greeneville. Before the war, he and his wife had carefully gathered and organized his books and papers in one room of his office. Yet when the war was over little record of his early career had survived.

At various times during the Civil War troops of both armies used Johnson’s home and office as a hospital, barracks, officers’ residence, and shelter for camp followers. On February 14, 1864, Johnson’s son Robert wrote his father from Nashville that it was “rumored at Knoxville that the rebels had taken possession of all our Books, papers &c. at Greeneville. Mr. Joe Allen brought the information here. I hope it may prove incorrect . . . .”  Such fears were well grounded, and most of Johnson’s papers were dispersed or destroyed by the end of the war.

The Johnson house remained neglected and in a state of disrepair during Johnson’s terms as vice president and president of the United States. As the end of his presidential term approached on March 4, 1869, Johnson and his family made plans to return to Greeneville. His secretary, Col. William Moore, listed boxes packed for shipping containing “private letters,” “miscellaneous papers,” “scrapbooks,” and other records. The Johnson entourage arrived in Greeneville on March 30, and the papers for the period of Johnson’s presidency were carefully put away.

After several years of active participation in Tennessee politics and a brief term in the U.S. Senate in 1875, Johnson died in July of that year. Ultimately, his papers came into the possession of Martha Johnson Patterson, his elder daughter. Upon Martha Patterson’s death in 1901, the papers passed into the possession of her son, Andrew Johnson Patterson, who sold the collection to the Library of Congress in 1904. Subsequent gifts and purchases through 1985 expanded the collection to its present size.

A fuller history of the provenance of the collection was prepared for the Index to the Andrew Johnson Papers, pp. v-viii (PDF and HTML) and was subsequently reproduced in the finding aid (PDF and HTML). A version appears on this website as the essay Provenance of the Andrew Johnson Papers.

Description of Series

The Andrew Johnson Papers are arranged in twenty-two series. A finding aid (PDF and HTML) to the collection is available online with links to the digital content on this site.

  • Series 1: General Correspondence, 1841-1891 (Reels 1-39)
    Contains President Johnson’s personal non-official correspondence consisting primarily of letters received. The material is arranged chronologically and in alphabetical order within the day.
  • Series 2: Additional Correspondence, 1814-1900 (Reels 39-42)
    Consists of correspondence similar to that in series 1. The material is arranged roughly in chronological order by day and in alphabetical order within the day. Contemporary indexes for volumes 5-10 can be found at the end of the series.
  • Series 3: Letterbooks, 1864-1869 (Reels 42-43)
    • Subseries 3A, 1865-1869 (Reels 42-43)
      Features six volumes of letterpress copies of letters and telegrams signed by Johnson or his secretaries. Four volumes contain correspondence in a chronological sequence for the period May 29, 1865, to February 17, 1869. Volume V includes additional correspondence for the period September 20, 1865, to October 3, 1867, while Volume VI covers the period January 16, 1865, to February 17, 1869. Some of the letters are partially or wholly illegible. Fair copies of most of these letters may be found in Subseries B. Arrangement of the material is chronological within each volume.
    • Subseries 3B, 1864-1869 (Reel 43)
      Comprises three volumes of fair copies of letters and telegrams, chiefly copies from the letterpress volumes in Subseries A. Some fair copies are not represented in the letterpress volumes, and arrangement does not consistently follow that of the letterpress volumes. Copies of most of the items in letterpress Volumes I and V are in fair copy Volume I, and letterpress Volumes III and IV are in fair copy Volume II, but fair copy volumes may include letters from three different letterpress volumes. Fair copy Volume III, pages 38-263, includes copies of communications between General George Gordon Meade and officers in his command, May 3-June 25, 1864. Volumes I and II include indexes and there is a separate bound volume index to Volume I.
  • Series 4: Indexes to Letters Received and Record Book, 1862-1869 (Reels 44-45)
    • Subseries 4A, 1865-1869 (Reel 44)
      Composed of indexes of letters received by Andrew Johnson. Entries include the name of writer, content, date received, agency to which the letter was referred, and date of referral, and are entered alphabetically in each volume by the first letter of the writer’s surname. The volumes are arranged in rough chronological order by the earliest date in each volume. Volumes 1 and 2 overlap in dates.
    • Subseries 4B, 1862 (Reel 45)
      Contains an index to a missing “record book” of letters sent by Johnson while military governor of Tennessee. File drafts of some of these letters are found in Series 1.
    • Subseries 4C, 1862-1863 (Reel 45)
      Comprised of a “Record Book” or day book containing chiefly digest of letters and activities of Johnson while he served as military governor of Tennessee, entered in chronological order. A few transcripts of letters are entered in this volume.
  • Series 5: Messages, 1851-1869 (Reels 45-47)
    • Subseries 5A, 1865-1869 (Reel 45-46)
      Includes notes, drafts, and revisions of annual messages by Andrew Johnson and his cabinet members. The material is arranged chronologically.
    • Subseries 5B, 1865-1869 (Reels 46-47)
      Consists of transcripts of communications from Johnson to Congress. The material is arranged chronologically.
    • Subseries 5C, 1862-1869 (Reel 47)
      Features memoranda noting messages sent to Congress by Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, together with memoranda noting the actions of the U.S. Senate on certain treaties. The entries are in chronological order.
    • Subseries 5D, 1865 (Reel 47)
      Consists of an address Johnson delivered on September 13, 1865, “At the interview accorded to the Representatives of nine Southern States.”
    • Subseries 5E, 1851-1869 (Reel 47)
      Includes additional manuscript drafts, and printed copies of messages, speeches, and other public pronouncements by Johnson, which are arranged chronologically.
  • Series 6: Applications and Appointments, 1865-1869 (Reels 48-49)
    • Subseries 6A, 1865-1869 (Reel 48)
      Comprises five volumes containing a list of applicants for appointment, arranged chronologically. In each volume, names are entered in alphabetical groups by first letter of the applicant’s surname, and, within the alphabetical groups, in the chronological order of receipt. These volumes are designated B, C, D, E, and F. The volume designated A, which presumably could cover the period from April to October 1865, is not among the Johnson Papers in the Library of Congress.
    • Subseries 6B, 1865-1869 (Reels 48-49)
      Composed of five volumes listing appointments as follows:
      • One volume contains a list of persons appointed, with the date and office to which the person was appointed, 1865-1866. Names are arranged alphabetically by first letter of the appointee’s surname and chronologically therein by date of appointment.
      • One volume contains the same information as the first volume, as well as additional data such as the state of residence, action of the U.S. Senate, and date of commission, 1865-1869. The names are arranged alphabetically under the first letter of the appointee’s surname and chronologically therein by date of nomination.
      • Two volumes containing separate lists of persons appointed to office, 1866-1869, as well as the date and office to which appointed, and other data. Names are arranged under name of state of residence, and chronologically therein by date of nomination or date of appointment. Additional data supplied includes the office, date, and action of the Senate. Names are arranged alphabetically under the first letter of the appointee’s surname and chronologically therein by date sent to Senate.
      • One volume lists appointments made during the recess of the U.S. Senate, 1865-1866. The names are arranged alphabetically under the first letter of the appointee’s surname and chronologically therein by date sent to Senate.
  • Series 7: Executive Documents, 1865-1869 (Reel 49)
    • Subseries 7A, 1865-1868 (Reel 49)
      Contains two volumes, the first of which consists of drafts, broadsides, printed copies with corrections and annotations, and copies of Johnson’s proclamations in other forms, 1865-1868. The material is arranged chronologically. The second volume is indexed and consists of transcripts of many of the same proclamations in the same arrangement as in the first volume.
    • Subseries 7B, 1865-1869 (Reel 49)
      Consists of one volume containing a list of titles of acts of Congress and of resolutions. The material is arranged chronologically by the dates of approval or veto.
    • Subseries 7C, 1865-1867 (Reel 49)
      Comprises two volumes dating from 1865 to 1867. The first volume contains copies of fifty-six endorsements signed by Andrew Johnson or written at his direction. The second volume offers an index to the endorsements, indicating the nature of the document, the department to which it was referred, and the action requested or approved.
  • Series 8: Courts-martial and Amnesty Records, 1864-1869 (Reels 49-50)
    • Subseries 8A, 1865-1869 (Reel 49)
      Composed of two volumes bound as one volume and containing a record of courts-martial cases referred to Johnson with notation of the disposition made of each case. The first volume contains rough entries for July-August 1865. The second volume consists of transcripts of rough entries in the first volume, and additional entries dating between 1865 and 1869. The records are arranged alphabetically under the first letter of the offender’s surname, and chronologically therein.
    • Subseries 8B, 1864 (Reel 49)
      Contains one volume featuring the signatures of persons who took the oath of allegiance prescribed by Abraham Lincoln, the date the oath was taken, and the residence of each person. The entries are arranged chronologically.
    • Subseries 8C, 1865-1869 (Reel 50)
      Consists of three volumes of lists of persons to whom amnesty was granted with the nature of their respective offense, the amnesty date, and any conditions given. The names in each volume are alphabetically arranged under the first letter of the surname, and chronologically therein.
  • Series 9: Moore Diaries, 1866-1871 (Reels 50-51)
    • Subseries 9A, 1866-1868 (Reel 50)
      Includes “The Small Diary” of July 8, 1866-March 20, 1868, comprised of a volume of shorthand notes made by Andrew Johnson’s secretary, Col. William G. Moore, and a typed transcript made in 1931 by Lydia M. Fox.
    • Subseries 9B, 1868-1871 (Reel 50)
      Features “The Large Diary” of March 21, 1868-January 24, 1871, consisting of a volume of shorthand notes by Moore, a partial pencil transcript by Theodore F. Shuey in 1928 for entries dated March 27-30, 1868, and a complete typed transcript made by Lydia M. Fox in 1931.
    • Subseries 9C, 1866-1868 (Reel 51)
      Consists of a third diary of a free longhand transcript by Moore of extracts from his own shorthand notes of the period, July 1866-April 8, 1868. This transcript was edited by St. George L. Sioussat and published in the American Historical Review 19, no. 1 (October 1913): 98-132.
  • Series 10: Financial Records, 1829-1877 (Reels 51-52)
    Contains an account book (vol. 1), 1829-1838, and a journal (vol. 2), 1833-1860, mostly encompassing accounts of Johnson’s tailoring business in Greeneville, Tennessee, and two boxes of household bills, and personal expense and financial accounts from 1835 to 1877.
  • Series 11: Scrapbooks, circa 1861-1875 (Reels 52-53)
    Comprised of ten volumes of newspaper clippings and a separate subject index volume. The index volume appears first on the microfilm. Volume 11 contains newspaper clippings reporting and commenting on Johnson’s first message to Congress in December 1865, his 1866 veto of the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, and his election to the U.S. Senate, 1874-1875.
  • Series 12: Lists, circa 1858-1892 (Reel 54)
    Includes four small volumes and one folder, containing lists of names, probably of persons qualified for land grant purchases under Johnson’s proposed Homestead Bill, and of pro-Confederate Tennessee residents to be assessed for revenue. The first volume is in rough alphabetical order, while the other three are arranged under an alphabetical listing of Tennessee counties. A few loose lists duplicate those found in the volumes.
  • Series 13: Newspaper Clippings, circa 1868 (Reel 54)
    Features one volume, circa 1868, containing extensively annotated newspaper clippings on “The Drama of Impeachment.”
  • Series 14: Schoolbook, 1866 (Reel 54)
    Consists of one volume containing the signatures and essays of students in the North-East Girls’ Grammar School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presented to President and Mrs. Andrew Johnson.
  • Series 15: Assassinations Volume, 1866 (Reel 54)
    Contains one volume of copies of letters from Senator James Rood Doolittle (R-WI) to Lyman Copeland Draper, and from former Wisconsin governor Leonard J. Farwell to Doolittle, dated February 8 and March 12, 1866, concerning the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the attempted assassination of Andrew Johnson.
  • Series 16: Diplomatic List (Reel 54)
    Comprised of one volume containing a list of foreign diplomats in the United States.
  • Series 17: Military Documents, 1862-1865 (Reel 54)
    Includes military documents, chiefly muster rolls, morning reports, and requisitions of Tennessee military organizations commanded by Andrew Johnson’s son, Col. Robert Johnson. The material is arranged chronologically.
  • Series 18: Miscellany, 1783-1932 (Reels 54-55)
    Constitutes miscellaneous documents dating between 1783 and 1932, and including legal instruments, reports, official forms, notes, lists, poems, broadsides, and document fragments. The material is arranged chronologically.
  • Series 19: Calling Cards, Impeachment Tickets, and Photographs, circa 1854-circa 1875 (Reel 55)
    Consists of calling cards, impeachment tickets, and photographs.
  • Series 20: Printed Matter, 1854-1932 (Reel 55; not included in online presentation)
    Comprised of political pamphlets and other printed items, including printed copies of Homestead Bills, amendments and other bills and resolutions, 1854-1860. Only items with annotations are included on the microfilm. Series 20 also contains Johnson’s copy of The American Guide (Philadelphia, 1855) which he carried while campaigning in East Tennessee, although only pages with annotations or inserted clippings were filmed. Researchers should consult the collection finding aid for a more detailed list of the printed matter encompassed in Series 20.
  • Series 21: Addition, 1852-1947 (Not filmed; scanned from originals)
    Contains previously undescribed or unprocessed parts of the original collection and material received after 1962. Included are a few letters, an unpublished article by George S. Hellman containing copies of letters by Andrew Johnson, a commission signed by Andrew Johnson and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and applications to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The series is organized into two subseries.
    • Subseries A: Originals and Typescripts
    • Subseries B: Photocopies and Facsimiles
  • Series 22: Oversize, 1868 (Not filmed; scanned from originals)
    Consists of documents relating to Johnson’s impeachment and court of impeachment for trial. The material is arranged and described according to the series and container from which the items were removed.
 Back to top