Before he was President: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869 tailor
Andrew Johnson was a tailor, something he really loved. At the age of 14 Andrew went to work for Mr. James Selby in Raleigh, North Carolina. The small amount of money he was paid saved him and his mother from starving. He taught himself to read after his friends in a tailor shop taught him the letters of the alphabet. He moved West believing he would make more money, married Eliza McCardle, and started his own tailoring shop. His shop was became a favorite gathering place for townspeople to talk about what was going on and they enjoyed Johnson's strong speaking ability. It was his speaking ability that got him elected to his first government position as town's alderman. Even when he started to rise in the world of politics, Johnson still had a soft spot for a spool of thread. When he was governor of Tennessee, he made a suit for the governor of Kentucky, just for fun.


Ulysses Simpson Grant, 1869-1877 sold firewood in the streets
Ulysses Grant's first lesson in business negotiations didn't go exactly as planned by his father. Ulysses' father, Jesse, told 10 year old Ulysses to go to the neighbor's farm and buy the horse that was for sale. Partly looking for a better deal and also trying to teach his young son new business skills, Jesse's instructions were, "Offer Mr. Ralston $50 for the horse he has for sale. However, if he doesn't take $50 then offer him $55.00. If he will not take the $55.00 then you may pay him the full $60.00."

Ulysses went to the neighbor's home with $60.00 in his pocket. He certainly didn't want to disappoint his father considering the trust he had put in him so he rehearsed in his mind what his father had told him to say. When he arrived at Mr. Ralston's farm he was surprised by the first question he was asked. "How much did your father tell you to pay for my horse?", asked Mr. Ralston." Ulysses answer not only demonstrated his honesty and integrity, but also his newness at negotiations. "Father told me to offer you $50.00, and if you don't take that then I should offer you $55.00. However, if you still don't accept that price I should offer you the $60.00 he gave me." Of course, Mr. Ralston sold the horse to Ulysses for $60.00, but Ulysses learned a valuable lesson when he got home with the new horse and discussed his day with his father.


Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 1877-1881 lawyer, soldier, U.S. congressman, governor of Ohio
Hayes's first law firm, Hayes and Buckland, in Lower Sandusky, Ohio got off to a sputtering start. Business was slow and the young lawyer was bored, restless, and—though he denied it—had symptoms of tuberculosis. After visits to New England and Texas, and seeking a fresh start, he moved to Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, 1849. In time, he made a name for himself in criminal law. Using his natural charm and his elite training, he defended society's outcasts, often managing to free them or save them from the gallows. Source

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