One More Down and A Lot of Driving

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As usual, up at 8:00 and after breakfast, out the door by 9:00.  I was about half an hour from Greeneville, Tennessee and headed out the way the front desk clerk told me.  Quickest way she said, and she was right.  Two lanes, but quick.   

I got to Greeneville and headed straight for the grave of President Andrew Johnson.  It was on a hill in another National Cemetery, but sadly not as nice as Zachary Taylor's in Louisville.  It's perched high on a hill (formerly called Signal Hill) and the property was once owned by Johnson himself.  It's now run by the National Park Service.  Johnson was what Constitutional scholars called a "strict constructionist."  That is he loved the Constitution of the US and believed in a strict interpretation of the document rather than implying powers that might not be there.  There is a large marble obelisk marking his grave and that of his wife, Eliza.  Several other family members are buried there as well.  A truly beautiful spot overlooking the Tennessee countryside.  True to form Johnson was buried, wrapped in an American flag and with a copy of the Constitution as a pillow beneath his head.  

Johnson was the 17th President of the US, taking over for the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.  Johnson was an interesting character.  He too was born in a log cabin and had limited education.  He was apprenticed by his mother as a tailor.  He came to Greeneville, TN and opened up a tailor shop and became a very rich man...the richest man in town.  He was very involved in politics (Congressman, Governor of Tennessee, US Senator)  and after refusing to relinquish his seat as US Senator when Tennessee seceded from the Union, Johnson became a running mate with Lincoln as a Southerner in favor of keeping the Union.  And became President in April of 1865.

Johnson had so many problems with Congress.  He was in favor of reconciliation with the south rather than reconstruction.  Congress disagreed and the result was eventually impeachment, but Johnson was not convicted.  He moved back home in 1869 and in July of 1875 died of a stroke.  

 I visited his house in Greeneville as well.  Very nice tour.  

Strange, Greeneville is usually spelled with no "e" after the "n."  I suspected it was named for Nathanael Greene (correct spelling of both names!), the Revolutionary War General who won the South for the Colonists.  

The I was off driving again.  I will do less of it in the next three days as Virginia is on the itinerary, and many Presidents were from Virginia.    I headed toward Thomas Jefferson's home of Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.  

I stopped for a bite to eat and tried to make a reservation in Charlottesville for tonight...everything all filled up.  I settled for a HI Express 27 miles away in Waynesboro, VA.  On the way I passed Bristol Motor Speedway (for all you racing fans out there), as well as a strange place called "Hungry Mother State Park."  Now that's a strange name for a State Park.  I passed by the Stonewall Jackson House and George C. Marshall Museum near Lexington, VA.  The Blue Ridge Parkway, Cyrus McCormick Farm (you remember him, the inventor of the mechanical reaper to harvest grain), and of course the Civil War battlefield of  Shenandoah.  Virginia is full of history.  I think I've only been here once and that was chasing a hurricane up the east coast for State Farm.  I remember 50 SF employees in the Richmond HI Bar, all intently watching the Weather Channel. Very strange!   

Got to Waynesboro and asked about a local place to eat.  They sent me 8 miles back to Staunton (birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson!) to a place called the The Mill Street Grill.  Great steak and a crab cake!  

Back to my hotel to blog and sleep.  If all goes well tomorrow, I will see the graves of four US Presidents and that of the only President of the Confederate States of America.  Gonna be a fun day.  Looking forward to it!       

Take care my friends and family!!!

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