Martha Johnson Patterson: First Daughter

Presidential History Blog

Martha Johnson Patterson served for nearly four years as de facto First Lady to an unpopular president.

Martha Johnson Patterson, elder daughter of Andrew and Eliza Johnson.

The Johnson Family of Greeneville

Andrew Johnson (1808-75) was seventeen years old when he pushed a cart across the North Carolina border into Greeneville, TN. It is said that the day he came to town, sixteen-year-old Eliza McCardle (1810-76) saw him and remarked to a friend, “that is the boy I am going to marry.” Whether or not Eliza actually said it is immaterial; within months they did get married. At 18 and 16 respectively, Andrew and Eliza Johnson were the youngest-married First Couple.

Andrew Johnson’s two-room cabin.

Eliza, a shoemaker’s daughter whose father had recently died, needed a provider. Andy, a dirt-poor uneducated tailor-apprentice needed someone to manage a household. They moved into a tiny two-room cabin. One room was their bedroom…

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