On this day, November 25, 1867, the House Committee of the Judiciary considered articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson.
This event was part of a power struggle in the 40th Congress (1867 to 1869) between radical Republicans in the House and President Johnson. The radicals believed the President was too lenient against the Southern states during Reconstruction after the Civil War.
Since the President was blocking their legislation, they sought to have him removed from office. These efforts began that January when Congressman James M. Ashley of Ohio introduced a resolution to ask the Committee of the Judiciary to look into President Johnson’s conduct in office. The House adopted the resolution.
The Committee looked into it and voted against impeachment in June after holding hearings.
This matter didn’t end there. By November 1867, Republican sentiment shifted in favor of impeachment after President Johnson made what Republicans considered provocative actions. On the 25th, the Committee voted 5 to 4 in favor of impeachment and submitted three reports to the full House, one in favor of impeachment and two against.
The battle continued into December when, after extensive debate, the House voted against impeachment by 108 to 57.
In January and February 1868, the House took up impeachment again. On February 24, after House members determined that President Johnson had violated the Tenure of Office Act, the House voted 126 to 47 to impeach the President under the constitutional charge of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”