Tuesday Trivia: Do you know these presidents from Tennessee?

Johnson City Press • Updated Feb 12, 2018 at 6:47 PM

For Presidents Day (Feb. 19), this week’s Tuesday Trivia explores Tennessee’s presidential past.

Which U.S. presidents were from Tennessee?
Three men from Tennessee served as president of the United States, though none of them were born in the state. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, served from 1829-1837; James K. Polk, the 11th president, served from 1845-1849; and Andrew Johnson, the 17th president, served from 1865-1869.

Did Tennessee produce any other presidents?
Two men from Tennessee became presidents of other countries. Sam Houston was the first and third president of the Texas Republic before it became a U.S. state in 1845, and William Walker installed himself as the president of Nicaragua in 1856.

Did the U.S. ever pay off its national debt?
Yes. Thank Andrew Jackson for that. As a land speculator in Tennessee, a bad deal once left him with massive debt. Because of that, he thought of debt as a moral failing. Jackson took advantage of a real estate bubble in the West and sold federal land holdings to generate revenue. He also blocked every spending bill he could. In six years, the nation’s $58 million debt was gone. It returned for good after the land bubble burst, starting a six-year depression.

Which Tennessee presidents were impeached?
The House of Representatives impeached Andrew Johnson in 1868 and accused him of high crimes and misdemeanors after representatives said he violated the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress to keep Johnson from removing Secretary of War Edwin McMasters Stanton from office. The fight was ultimately over Johnson’s plan for lenient policies to readmit former Confederate states to the Union after the Civil War. After a trial in the Senate, Johnson was acquitted of the charges.

Which of the presidents most shaped the geography of the U.S.?
During his tenure in office, James K. Polk secured the Oregon, California and New Mexico territories, for the first time achieving the Manifest Destiny belief that the United States was fated to spread from coast to coast on the North American continent.

Did any of these guys belong to any Native American tribes?
Sam Houston ran away from home as a teenager and lived for three years with the Cherokee in East Tennessee. He learned fluent Cherokee and was given the name “Black Raven.” After resigning as Tennessee’s governor, he lived with and was formally adopted by a Cherokee tribe in the Arkansas Territory, where he married a Cherokee woman in a tribal ceremony.

What’s the deal with this William Walker?
He was a short, intelligent man born in Nashville, whose ambitions ran ahead of his abilities. Walker believed in the military-style filibuster, which in context meant to send an unauthorized force into a foreign country to support a revolution. Walker filibustered with mercenaries in Baja California (Mexico) and in Nicaragua. He was put on trial after the Mexicans pushed him out, but popular public support of filibustering led to his quick acquittal. He successfully took over Granada in Nicaragua and installed himself as president. After blocking Cornelius Vanderbilt’s cargo ships from accessing Lake Nicaragua, an important transport route, Vanderbilt sent men and supplies to Costa Rica to help fight Walker. With help from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, Walker was pushed from Central America, but not before commanding his men to burn and level Grenada. He was caught in Honduras and executed by firing squad in 1860.

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