Andrew Johnson Impeachment

Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th president of the United States, serving from 1865 to 1869. He assumed the presidency as he was vice president at the time of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson was a Democrat who ran with Lincoln on the National Union ticket, coming to office as the Civil War concluded. He favored quick restoration of the seceded states to the Union without protection for the former slaves. This led to conflict with the Republican-dominated Congress, culminating in his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1868. He was acquitted in the Senate by one vote.

Andrew Johnson (impeached Feb. 1868, acquitted May 1868)

The impeachment resolution against Andrew Johnson, adopted on February 24, 1868.

President Andrew Johnson held open disagreements with Congress, who tried to remove him several times. The Tenure of Office Act was enacted over Johnson's veto to curb his power and he openly violated it in early 1868.

The House of Representatives adopted 11 articles of impeachment against Johnson. The articles charged Johnson with:

  1. Dismissing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from office after the Senate had voted not to concur with his dismissal and had ordered him reinstated.
  2. Appointing Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas as secretary of war ad interim despite the lack of vacancy in the office, since the dismissal of Stanton had been invalid.
  3. Appointing Thomas without the required advice and consent of the Senate.
  4. Conspiring, with Thomas and "other persons to the House of Representatives unknown," to unlawfully prevent Stanton from continuing in office.
  5. Conspiring to unlawfully curtail faithful execution of the Tenure of Office Act.
  6. Conspiring to "seize, take, and possess the property of the United States in the Department of War."
  7. Conspiring to "seize, take, and possess the property of the United States in the Department of War" with specific intent to violate the Tenure of Office Act.
  8. Issuing to Thomas the authority of the office of secretary of war with unlawful intent to "control the disbursements of the moneys appropriated for the military service and for the Department of War."
  9. Issuing to Major General William H. Emory orders with unlawful intent to violate federal law requiring all military orders to be issued through the General of the Army.
  10. Making three speeches with intent to "attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States."
  11. Unlawfully, and unconstitutionally, challenged the authority of the 39th Congress to legislate, because Southern states had not been readmitted to the Union.

Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presided over Johnson's Senate trial. Conviction failed by one vote in May 1868. The impeachment trial remained a unique event for 130 years.