Andrew Johnson Impeachment

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

The Andrew Johnson Impeachment came about in the aftermath of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and during a very contentious political period in American History. Johnson's detractors were furious that he violated the Tenure of Office Act, by dismissing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from his cabinet without Congressional approval. Johnson believed the act was unconstitutional and welcomed the opportunity for its constitutionality to be litigated in open court, a bill he himself vetoed, but was overturned by Congress.

In the end the United States Supreme Court sided with President Johnson and deemed the Tenure Act unconstitutional but not before he would face his own day in court.

President Johnson was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on February 24, 1868. The vote in the House in favor of impeachment of President Johnson was a pure Democratic Party vote of 128 to 47, making Johnson the first of only two U.S. Presidents to be impeached in American History.

Eleven Articles of impeachment were drawn against the President of mostly political, not criminal charges. However, Article IX dealt with the Tenure of Office Act and as written would be a criminal offense to violate and an impeachable offense.

Section 9: Every person who shall violate any of the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor...

The Act stated any cabinet post appointed and approved of by the Senate could not be removed from office without the Senates advice and consent. Johnson clearly did violate the law when he replaced Secretary of War Stanton, but an invalid law after it was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over the Andrew Johnson impeachment trial as required by the U.S. Constitution and to be conducted in the U.S. Senate.

"The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present." ~ U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3

After more than three months the final vote to determine the Presidents fate, was cast on May 16th.  35 to 19, was the tally, one Senate vote shy of the two-thirds needed for conviction and Johnson was acquitted of all criminal charges, escaping removal from office. He owed his victory to 18 supporters and Senator Edmund Ross from Kansas who was on the fence. Johnson concluded the remainder of his term just as President Bill Clinton after his impeachment, no President in American History has ever been removed from office.


1867 March 2, Andrew Johnson vetoes the Tenure of Office Act
1868 February 21, Johnson orders the removal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from his cabinet without getting the approval of Congress
February 24, Andrew Johnson is impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for "high crimes and misdemeanors" by a Democratic Party vote of 128 to 47
February 29, The House Committee draw up ten articles of impeachment against President Johnson, the majority related to Democratic Party opinion that Johnson violated the Tenure of Office Act when he removed Secretary of War Stanton from his cabinet
March 4, The House hand over the approved articles of impeachment against Johnson to the United States Senate for trial
March 5, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase of the U.S. Supreme Court takes the oath and will preside over the Senate criminal trial to remove President Johnson from office
March 13, The U.S. Senate trial to convict President Johnson on the Articles of Impeachment begins
May 16, Johnson is acquitted by the U.S. Senate and is not removed from office. Johnson escaped conviction by only one Senate vote

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Andrew Johnson

"Slavery is a cancer on the body politic, which must be rooted out before perfect health can be restored"

~Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

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