26 May 1868

The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson ends with his acquittal by one vote.

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson was a significant event in United States history that took place in 1868. Andrew Johnson, who became the 17th President of the United States after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, faced impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson were primarily driven by political disagreements and tensions between Johnson, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled Congress. The main points of contention revolved around Johnson’s resistance to the Reconstruction policies aimed at rebuilding the Southern states after the American Civil War and protecting the rights of freed slaves.

Johnson clashed with the Radical Republicans in Congress, who believed he was obstructing the Reconstruction process and undermining the civil rights of African Americans. The Republicans were particularly dissatisfied with Johnson’s vetoes of several Reconstruction bills and his removal of Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War, from his position in violation of the Tenure of Office Act.

On February 24, 1868, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Andrew Johnson on eleven articles of impeachment. The articles accused him of violating the Tenure of Office Act and engaging in “high crimes and misdemeanors” related to his conduct regarding Reconstruction.

The impeachment trial then moved to the Senate, where Johnson faced removal from office. The trial lasted from March 30 to May 26, 1868. The Senate ultimately fell one vote short of the necessary two-thirds majority to convict Johnson. The vote to convict him on three of the articles was 35-19, while the vote on the remaining articles ranged from 35-16 to 35-19.

Johnson narrowly avoided removal from office, but his presidency was severely weakened by the impeachment trial. Subsequently, the Radical Republicans passed laws that curtailed his powers and limited his ability to influence Reconstruction policies.

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson played a significant role in shaping the balance of power between the presidency and Congress and highlighted the challenges faced by the nation during the Reconstruction era.