Martha Johnson Patterson
Martha Johnson Patterson ( was the eldest child of Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States and his wife, Eliza McCardle. She served as the White House hostess during her father's administration and directed the restoration of the White House following the American Civil War.October 25, 1828— July 10, 1901)
Martha Johnson Patterson
Gelatin silver print of Martha Johnson Patterson, circa 1880
|Born||October 25, 1828|
|Died||July 10, 1901(aged 72)|
|Resting place||Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Greeneville, Tennessee|
|Spouse(s)||David T. Patterson|
She attended local schools in the Greeneville, Tennessee area. While her father was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Martha attended Miss L.S. English's Female Seminary in Georgetown (later known as the Georgetown Female Seminary) and spent time at the White House during the term of James K. Polk.
She married David T. Patterson, a United States Senator from Tennessee, on December 13, 1855. The couple had two children, Andrew Johnson Patterson (1857 - 1932) and Mary Belle Patterson Landstreet (1859 - 1891).
Martha's father, Andrew Johnson became President of the United States after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. First Lady Eliza McCardle Johnson suffered from ill health and had little interest in social functions, so her daughter Martha took over hostess responsibilities. Eliza made only two public appearances during her tenure as First Lady. Martha was a popular figure in Washington and set a friendly tone for White House social functions. She disarmed onlookers by announcing, "We are plain folks from Tennessee, called here by a national calamity. I hope not much will be expected of us."
In keeping with her image as a country girl, Martha brought two Jersey cows to the White House. The cows pastured on the lawn and Martha milked them daily, "don[ning] a calico dress and a spotless apron." Just before the execution of Mary Surratt, her daughter Anna came to the White House, hoping to persuade Johnson to spare her mothers life. Denied access to the president, she lay weeping on the stairs to his office, and was comforted by Martha, who said there was nothing she could do to stop it.
The White House had fallen into disrepair after the Civil War. Much of the furniture was dirty and broken, the walls and floors were stained with tobacco juice, and the entire house was infested with insects. Martha oversaw a $30,000 renovation of the White House. She hung new wallpaper, slipcovered for old furniture, and used muslin cloth to cover the carpets during receptions.
During her remodel, Martha discovered a series of George P. A. Healy presidential portraits that were originally commissioned by Congress in 1857. Martha framed and displayed them in the Transverse Hall where they can still be seen.
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- "Eliza Johnson, Martha Johnson | Miller Center". Miller Center. 2016-10-04. Retrieved 2018-03-15.