Impeaching President Andrew Johnson 1868

Impeaching President Andrew Johnson 1868

Impeaching President Andrew Johnson 1868
Impeaching President Andrew Johnson 1868 – President Andrew Johnson as painted by Washington Bogart Cooper (1802–1888).

Andrew Johnson (1808–1875)

The United States House of Representatives votes on 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, with nine of them citing Johnson’s dismissal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, which violated the Tenure of Office Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson became the first president in US history to be impeached after the House vote.

Andrew Johnson, a senator from Tennessee, was the only U.S. senator from a seceding state who stayed loyal to the Union at the commencement of the Civil War in 1861. He was appointed military governor of Tennessee by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, and he was elected vice president of the United States in 1864.

After Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Andrew Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, which included nearly total amnesty for ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “Black Codes” that preserved slavery in all but name.

The Republican-controlled Congress was a staunch opponent of Johnson’s Reconstruction program, and in March 1867, over the president’s veto, approved the Tenure of Office Act. The measure made it illegal for the president to fire individuals approved by the Senate without Senate permission, and it was intended to protect members of Johnson’s cabinet, such as Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a senior Republican radical during the Lincoln administration. President Andrew Johnson sought to test the act’s validity by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant in the fall of 1867. After the Senate voted a resolution protesting Grant’s removal, the Supreme Court refused to decide on the matter, and Grant returned the office to Stanton.

On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to get rid of Stanton for good and nominated General Lorenzo Thomas as Secretary of War, a man who was considerably less friendly to Congress than Grant. Stanton refused to submit, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had previously contemplated impeachment after Johnson’s initial removal of Stanton, began official impeachment procedures against him. Johnson was impeached on February 24, and his impeachment trial commenced in the Senate on March 13 under the supervision of US Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. On May 26, Johnson’s opponents nearly missed a two-thirds majority needed to condemn him.

SEE ALSO:

The U.S. Constitution (1787);

Presidential Subpoena Compliance (1974);

Presidential Immunity (1997).

Sources:

Impeaching President Andrew Johnson 1868

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)

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