University Archives

Lot 115

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Andrew Johnson Tennessee Bond with Interesting Backstory 

[ANDREW JOHNSON.] Printed Document Signed, State of Tennessee Bond, apparently unissued, for $1,000, January 1, 1857, Nashville, Tennessee. 1 p., 15.75ʺ x 7.25ʺ. With oval portraits of Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Andrew Jackson, and John Adams on borders and a central graphic of a train; also signed by Secretary of State F. N. W. Burton. Expected folds; minor edge tears on right; very good.

Know all men by these presents that the State of Tennessee acknowledges to owe to ______________ or order: One Thousand Dollars, lawful money of the United States, which sum the said State promises to pay in the City of New York, on the 1st day of January 1892, with interest at the rate of six percent per annum, payable semi-annually....

On February 11, 1852, the Tennessee General Assembly passed “An Act to establish a system of internal improvements in this State,” specifically to encourage the development of railroads. The act authorized the governor to issue bonds to the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Company of up to $8,000 per mile for procuring the iron rails, spike, and equipment for laying the track after the company had prepared the roadbed. The state held a lien on the railroad’s property if it failed to make payments sufficient to pay interest to the bondholders. After the Civil War, the state sold a large number of bonds to help rehabilitate the railroad, which consolidated in 1869 with the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad.

Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) was born in North Carolina and was apprenticed to a tailor at age ten. Five years later, he ran away and eventually moved west to Tennessee, settling in Greenville, in the northeastern part of the state. In 1827, he married Eliza McCardle, and they had five children. He represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from 1843 to 1853, when he was elected governor of Tennessee. He served as governor until 1857, and the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. When the southern states seceded, he was the only Senator from a seceded state to remain in the Senate. In March 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson as military governor of Tennessee. Republicans selected Johnson as Lincoln’s running mate in 1864, and he was elected Vice President. After serving as vice president for six weeks, Johnson became President upon Lincoln’s assassination in mid-April 1865. Seeking a rapid restoration of southern states, Johnson pardoned all Confederates, except leading civil and military leaders. However, the Republican-controlled Congress wanted a more rigorous plan that included civil liberties for newly emancipated African Americans. Johnson frequently vetoed acts of Congress, and his violation of the Tenure of Office Act in firing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton led the House to bring articles of impeachment against him in February 1868. In the subsequent trial, the Senate acquitted him by just one vote in May, and he returned to Tennessee when his term ended in March 1869. He died in 1875, just a few months after having been elected to the U.S. Senate.

Frank Nash Williams Burton (1822-1862) was from Madison County, Tennessee. Know-Nothings in the legislature elected him as Tennessee secretary of state in 1855, and he resigned on May 28, 1858, amid charges of embezzling from the state, and fled the country. He apparently embezzled $40,000, which he stashed in a bank in Liverpool, England. The press criticized Johnson for failing to take a bond, in the penal sum of $20,000, with sufficient securities, from Burton for the performance of his office, as the law required. Some speculated that Burton never signed a bond or that he destroyed it. At the end of May 1858, Johnson’s successor, Governor Isham G. Harris (1818-1897) offered a $500 reward for Burton’s return. Burton died in Shanghai, China, in December 1862, and his brother petitioned the state to clear his brother’s name if the money were returned. He managed to return the money in $1,000 bonds like this one.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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September 30, 2020 10:30 AM EDT

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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000