US House of Representatives Vote On President Andrew Johnson Impeachment

February 24, 2022

February 24, 1868. The Civil War had been over for a few years, and the Reconstruction wasn’t going well. Lincoln had been assassinated and replaced with Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat with a strong sympathy for the Confederate rebels.

The Northern Republicans who dominated Congress after the Civil War wanted to give former slaves immediate citizenship, the right to vote, and financial assistance, believing that this was the only way to get the country back on track again. However, Johnson opposed them at every turn. He pardoned rebel soldiers, pursued a very lenient policy with the former Confederate states, and regularly vetoed crucial Reconstruction legislation. Congress was angry and felt that Johnson was single-handedly trying to derail Reconstruction. They were therefore looking for any way they could to remove him as an obstacle.

They found that way in Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War. Johnson had been intimating that he wanted to remove Stanton from his post. Congress passed a law, the Tenure of Office Act, designed specifically to stop Johnson from firing him. Johnson did anyway. On February 24, 1868, the House responded by impeaching him. This was the first time in history that any president had been impeached.

After that, the Senate held a trial to decide whether to remove him from office. The prevailing wisdom was that it would, as Johnson’s violation of the law was flagrant. However, it fell one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to remove him from office, so he remained free to serve out the remainder of his term. He did not run for the presidency again after his term ended.

6 Comments

  1. Mel Lipscomb

    4

    Reply
  2. Gwendolyn Harper

    What about Andrew Jackson, Clinton and Trump

    Reply
  3. Maxine Cornelius

    These facts in history hadn’t been revealed to me until now. Moreover, the youth of today should have knowledge of our past history. Who is responsible for the curriculum of today? Why are history facts no longer being taught in our schools? Ignorance is a virtue this has been said. Why should this statement be given relevance.

    Reply
  4. Kathy

    Robert has neglected to note the indispensable role played by Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevens in the unfolding of these acts.

    Reply
  5. Dennis A Russo

    I am 78 years old, and I can tell you that is not the history that was taught in New Jersey Public Schools when I was growing up. We were taught that Johnson was impeached by a kangaroo court, and it was a victory for the country when he was not convicted. It was not until years later that I read the true account of what really was the impeachment story. Your article confirmed that. Thank You!!!!

    Reply

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