//
you're reading...
Daily History

March 13 1868 Andrew Johnson Impeachment Trial Begins


On March 13th 1868, for the first time in US history, the impeachment trial of an American president got underway in the US Senate. President Andrew Johnson, reviled by the Republican-dominated Congress for his views on Reconstruction, stood accused of having violated the controversial Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress over his veto in 1867.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Johnson, a US senator from Tennessee, was the only senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. Johnson’s political career was built on his defense of the interests of poor white Southerners against the landed classes; of his decision to oppose secession, he said, “Damn the negroes; I am fighting those traitorous aristocrats, their masters.” For his loyalty, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee in 1862, and in 1864 Johnson was elected vice president of the United States.

Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of US-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate “black codes” that preserved the system of slavery in all but name. The Republican-dominated Congress greatly opposed Johnson’s Reconstruction program and passed the “Radical Reconstruction” by repeatedly overriding the president’s vetoes. Under the Radical Reconstruction, local Southern governments gave way to federal military rule, and African-American men in the South were granted the constitutional right to vote.

In March 1867, in order further to weaken Johnson’s authority, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over his veto. The act prohibited the president from removing federal office holders, including Cabinet members, who had been confirmed by the Senate, without the consent of the Senate. It was designed to shield members of Johnson’s Cabinet like Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who was appointed during the Lincoln administration and was a leading ally of the so-called Radical Republicans in Congress. In the fall of 1867, Johnson attempted to test the constitutionality of the act by replacing Stanton with General Ulysses S. Grant. However, the US Supreme Court refused to rule on the case, and Grant turned the office back to Stanton after the Senate passed a measure in protest of the dismissal.

On February 21, 1868, Johnson decided to rid himself of Stanton once and for all and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas, an individual far less favorable to the Congress than Grant, as secretary of war. Stanton refused to yield, barricading himself in his office, and the House of Representatives, which had already discussed impeachment after Johnson’s first dismissal of Stanton, initiated formal impeachment proceedings against the president. On February 24, the House voted 11 impeachment articles against President Johnson. Nine of the articles cited his violations of the Tenure of Office Act; one cited his opposition to the Army Appropriations Act of 1867 (designed to deprive the president of his constitutional position as commander in chief of the US Army); and one accused Johnson of bringing “into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt, and reproach the Congress of the United States” through certain controversial speeches.

On March 13, according to the rules set out in Section 3 of Article I of the US Constitution, the impeachment trial of President Johnson began in the Senate. US Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over the proceedings, which were described as theatrical. On May 16 and again on May 26, the Senate voted on the charges brought against President Johnson. Both times the vote was 35 for conviction and 19 for acquittal, with seven moderate Republicans joining 12 Democrats in voting against what was a weak case for impeachment. Because both votes fell short–by one vote–of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Johnson, he was judged not guilty and remained in office. Nevertheless, he chose not to actively seek reelection on the Democratic ticket. In November, Ulysses S. Grant, who supported the Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction policies, was elected president of the United States.

In 1875, after two failed bids, Johnson won reelection to Congress as a US senator from Tennessee. He died less than four months after taking office at the age of 66. Fifty-one years later, the US Supreme Court declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional in its ruling in Myers v. United States.

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

14 thoughts on “March 13 1868 Andrew Johnson Impeachment Trial Begins

  1. Bravo! I’ve always been a little puzzled about the details involving Johnson’s impeachment. Enjoyed the post.

    Posted by J. G. Burdette | March 13, 2012, 00:23
  2. Hi Craig, I really do enjoy reading about this date in history. Great post.

    Posted by Naomi Baltuck | March 13, 2012, 00:41
  3. Reblogged this on The Compulsive Explainer and commented:
    There is some excellent history here, that I was not aware of.

    The Civil War was America’s first great test (overlooking the War of 1812) and one it failed at miserably.

    Posted by halsmith | March 13, 2012, 00:46
  4. I read all about him, but not this, guy was an a$$hole!!! Thanks Craig!

    Posted by pennylibertygbow | March 13, 2012, 01:15
  5. Oops, sorry Craig, I was thinking of Andrew Jackson, lol, guy was a saint!

    Posted by pennylibertygbow | March 13, 2012, 01:16
  6. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Posted by Spiral Dreamer (Francis) | March 13, 2012, 01:39
  7. Hi,
    A very interesting piece of History, I didn’t know that there was an impeachment trial of President Johnson, I hadn’t heard much at all about this President, we only learned small amounts of information about some of Americas Presidents, so it was good reading and I learned something new. 🙂

    Posted by magsx2 | March 13, 2012, 05:34
  8. I love your work my friend. It is outstanding. I also think that you have a stunning blog, one of the best!

    Rene

    Posted by eagleman6788 | March 13, 2012, 23:43
  9. Edmund G. Ross prepared for infamy….

    Posted by sheafferhistorian | March 16, 2012, 14:43

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: President Trump Needs to Make His Impeachment Defense First in Court before Making it in the Senate - The Post & Email - January 18, 2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 17,663 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

The Chinese military has intensified its drone incursions into the skies above Taiwan with almost daily flights of combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) TB-001 drone was spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the island and China’s […]

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday that disengagement along a disputed border area with China will be completed by Sept. 12. Both countries began disengaging from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area in the western Himalayas on Thursday, over two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties. The disengagement comes ahead of a meeting […]

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

Two electrifying moves in recent weeks have the potential to ignite electric vehicle demand in the United States. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, expanding federal tax rebates for EV purchases. Then California approved rules to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The Inflation Reduction Act extends the Obama-era EV tax […]

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations. Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by […]

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen was once again in the headlines when President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute this week to the soldiers and civilians who “operated in solidarity and safeguarded Taiwan” 64 years ago. On Aug. 23, 1958 mainland Chinese troops attacked Kinmen in a key battle that marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan […]

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

The father of communism, Karl Marx, once famously said — “We have no compassion, and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror”. This statement summarises how terrorism and communism go hand in hand. Maoist China alone destroyed between 44.5 to 72 million lives. During […]

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

China is attempting to establish a “new normal” across the Taiwan Strait, eroding self-ruled Taiwan’s territorial control and increasing the threat of a strike with each military sortie, officials and analysts say. Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the 110-mile (180-kilometer) wide stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China — and the […]

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

A great fire destroyed Rome for six days in the summer of AD 64. Famous Roman historian of that time, Tacitus, recorded that 70 percent of the city was destroyed and half of the city’s residents were displaced. Roman ruler Nero was accused of being indifferent, ineffective, and careless. The end result of this neglect […]

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

Once China achieves its professed goal of establishing control over Taiwan, a process of “re-education” of the island’s population would follow, according to China’s Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. The ambassador was speaking on French television channel BFM TV on Wednesday night, when he said a majority of the Taiwanese population actually wanted to be […]

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s present state confirms the famous statement: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Sri Lankans have been repeating the mistakes of choosing the politicians Rajapaksas again and again. It is confirmed that there were unaccounted payments that the Chinese were liberal with during project negotiations with the island nation. They were paid […]

%d bloggers like this: