Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published October 2008


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Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville, Tennessee, commemorates the life of Andrew Johnson, the 19th-century politician who became the 17th president of the United States. From 1828 until his death in 1875, Johnson held public offices at nearly every level of government—from alderman and then mayor of Greeneville, to state representative and then state senator, to U.S. congressman, to Tennessee governor, to U.S. senator, to U.S. vice president to U.S. president. During his time in public office Johnson supported the passage of the Homestead Act; purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million (about two cents per acre); annexed Midway Island; oversaw the completion of the transatlantic cable from Europe; pardoned all Confederate soldiers that had not been convicted of war crimes; and emancipated all enslaved peoples in Tennessee--among other actions.

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site includes Johnson’s early home where he lived from 1831 to 1851, the homestead where he and his family later lived during most of his political career, Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, and a visitor center.
Each year, about 50,000 people visit Andrew Johnson National Historic Site to learn more about the life and times of the 17th president and the role he played in shaping the nation’s future.

According to a recent assessment by the Center for State of the Parks, cultural resources at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site are currently in good condition overall. Even so, park staff are concerned that they will be unable to maintain them in this condition without additional funds and staff.

Park staff are especially struggling to keep up with duties associated with maintaining Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, one of only two active cemeteries operated by the National Park Service. With only two full-time maintenance staff, placing headstones above recent interments is behind schedule, and mowing the grass surrounding the cemetery’s more than 1,800 headstones is a major endeavor.

In addition, the park currently lacks the funds needed to repair certain historic structures, such as the wall surrounding the cemetery and portions of Johnson’s early home and homestead, to keep them safe for visitors and prevent them from further deteriorating.

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