This Presidents Day, Tennesseans can reflect on three of their own who ascended to the nation’s top post.
Though none were born in the Volunteer State, all three called Tennessee home when they became president and are all buried here.
Andrew Jackson was born in Waxhaws, an area located along the border of what is now North and South Carolina. After settling in the Nashville area, he was instrumental in Tennessee becoming a state in 1796 and also became the first man from the state to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jackson also served as a senator and was a judge on the Tennessee Supreme Court. He lost his first bid for the presidency to John Quincy Adams in 1824-although he received more of both the popular and electoral votes than any other candidate in the election. Jackson was elected to become the seventh U.S. president by landslides in both 1828 and 1832.
While in office, Jackson was known for warring against the Second Bank of the United States and forming the modern Democratic Party. He also was responsible for the forced relocation of southern Native American tribes to lands beyond the Mississippi by enacting the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Included among the final lands taken from the Cherokee was Chief John Ross’s Landing, which became Chattanooga.
After his presidency, Jackson retired to The Hermitage, his home in Nashville. The grounds serve as Jackson’s burial site.
James K. Polk
James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, N.C., and moved to Middle Tennessee as a child. He represented Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and also was a member of the General Assembly, where he served a term as speaker of the House.
Before becoming president, Polk served as Tennessee’s ninth governor. He was elected to be the nation’s 11th president in 1844-despite not winning his home state of Tennessee because of anti-Jackson Whig politics that ruled the day.
Polk is remembered for presiding over the U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War, which allowed for the annexation of Texas and much of what is now the southwestern United States.
Polk did not seek a second term to the White House and died shortly after his tenure in office. He is buried on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, as his former Nashville home, known as Polk Place, had been demolished in years past.
Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, N.C., and settled in the Appalachian town of Greeneville, Tenn. Before becoming president, Johnson represented Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and also served a term as governor of Tennessee.
During the Civil War, Johnson remained a staunch Unionist and managed to retain his seat representing Tennessee in the U.S. Senate. He was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to be military governor of Tennessee and later ran alongside Lincoln, a Republican, as a member of the National Union Ticket.
Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 launched Jackson into the presidency and began a tumultuous term that shifted the course of reconstruction and led to the first impeachment of a sitting president-of which he was acquitted by one vote. To this day, Johnson is considered one of the worst U.S. presidents.
Johnson died in Elizabethton and is buried in Greeneville. You can visit his homestead in Greeneville.
Tennessee presidential bonus fact
Seven counties in Tennessee are named after U.S. presidents. The counties are Jackson, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Polk, Van Buren and Washington.
Facts available via Tennessee Blue Book 2011-2012.