Health and Medical History of President

Andrew Johnson

President #17
Lived: 1808-1875 Served: 1865-1869

Timeline from 1776: ← 2013

Maladies and Conditions

big head and chest
"massive head and deep chest" 4a

typhoid fever
Had typhoid fever during the winter of 1864-1865, and was "slow to recover from the fever" 4a

not a drunkard
Johnson was ill on March 4, 1865 -- the day he was to be inaugurated Vice-President and Lincoln president. He wanted to skip the ceremony, but Lincoln persuaded him otherwise 1a. To steady his nerves, Johnson had "three stiff drinks of whisky [sic]" and became drunk 4b. He walked into the inauguration ceremonies red-faced, on the arm of outgoing Vice President Hannibal Hamlin 3a. Then, during his speech, he talked too much and rather incoherently, leading to his reputation as the "drunken tailor." Lincoln defended him: "I have known Andrew Johnson for many years. He made a slip the other day, but you need not be scared; Andy ain't a drunkard" 1a.

Nevertheless, the consequences of this episode persisted. MORE

Reliability of this information is uncertain. 2
Odds & Ends
25 reviews
19 reviews
4 reviews
Cited Resources
  1. Boller, Paul F. Jr. Presidential Anecdotes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.0195029151 Libraries 80-27092. ap. 150
  2. Dugan, James. Bedlam in the boudoir. Colliers. 22 Feb. 1947; pages 17, 69-70.
    Comment: Credibility is dubious. Just before a list of Presidents, the article states: "Twenty of the 32 Presidents ... are proved or believed on a thick web of circumstance to have been nocturnal nuisances in the White House."
  3. Helm, Katherine. The True Story of Mary, Wife of Lincoln. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1928. Libraries. ap. 244
  4. Leech, Margaret. Reveille in Washington 1860-1865. Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1962.0809435578 Libraries 80-16429. ap. 451 bp. 453
    Comment: A vivid account of Washington, DC during the Civil War. Won the Pulitzer Prize.
Other Resources
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