His father died when Johnson was 3, and at 14 he was apprenticed to a tailor. In 1826 the family moved to E Tennessee, and Andrew soon had his own tailor shop at Greeneville. A man of no formal schooling but of great perseverance and strength of character, he was greatly aided by his wife, Eliza McCardle, whom he married in 1827; she taught him to write and improved his reading and spelling. He prospered at his trade, and the tailor shop became the favored meeting place of other artisans, laborers, and small farmers interested in discussing public affairs. The best debater in the community, Johnson became the leader of his group in opposition to the slaveholding aristocracy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.