President’s Day Quiz: Which U.S. President Was A Tailor?

Sign from Andrew Johnson's Tailor Shop

Image source: TN History for Kids

Answer: Andrew Johnson, our 17th President.

At the age of 14, Andrew Johnson’s widowed mother apprenticed the young man to a tailor in order to give him a trade.

“Two years after beginning his apprenticeship, Johnson and his friends threw rocks at a tradesman’s house out of mischief. When the occupant of the house threatened to call the police, Johnson left town and abandoned his apprentice work at the tailor shop of John J. Selby. Johnson fled to Carthage, North Carolina sixty miles from Raleigh. He found a market for his tailoring skills in Carthage but moved to Laurens, South Carolina to distance himself further from the trouble in Raleigh. After a year in Laurens, Johnson returned to Raleigh and sought to complete his apprenticeship under John Selby. Selby, however, no longer owned the tailor shop and had no need of an apprentice. With no available employment in Raleigh, Johnson led his mother, brother, and stepfather to Tennessee in 1826.

Andrew settled the family in Greeneville, Tennessee, and established a tailor’s shop by nailing a sign over the door stating simply, “A. Johnson, Tailor.” — Source:

Goose iron at Andrew Johnson Historic Site

Image source: National Park Service

The store, with its original shingle, is now a National Historic Site. You can try on reproductions of 1800’s and a pick up a heavy “goose” iron, like the ones that Andrew Johnson would have used in his shop. It’s certainly not a Rowenta!

I’ve been amazed at not only our presidents’ humble beginnings, but how much sewing-related information can be found at the Presidential National Parks sites. If you didn’t catch it, go to my blog post about Mrs. Truman’s inauguration fashions and read about a few of my finds while in Kansas City.

Valentine’s Day Sewing?

Forgive me for not posting on Valentine’s Day and asking: Did you make anything special for Valentine’s Day? We’d love to see it! Upload a picture on our Members’ Projects album on Flickr. Or, send it to me and I’ll be happy to post it for you. We really want to see what you’re making!


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