The Impeachment Of Andrew Johnson Essay Research

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The Impeachment Of Andrew Johnson Essay, Research Paper The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States, was the first president to be impeached. The issues that led up to this monumental event in 1868 were for the most part, based on the issue of Reconstruction. Reconstruction aimed to create equality for Blacks in voting, politics, and with use of public facilities. After all, the civil war had just concluded with the northern states victorious. Tension over the issue arose because Johnson s Democratic ideas conflicted with the desires of his Radical-dominated Congress. Opting for strict Reconstruction legislation, Congress passed laws designed specifically to restrain Johnson s power. When Johnson disregarded the new laws,

Republicans saw their opportunity to completely strip the President of his power. Andrew Johnson was impeached on February 24,1868, only to be acquitted on May 16 of that same year. His offenses were not great enough for him to be stripped of the presidency; the charges were simply the result of an escalating conflict between Democrats and Republicans of the 1860 s, in which Johnson steadfastly opposed Radicals in Congress. Johnson was the only Democratic Southerner in Congress to vote against secession. This was the reason that the Republican Party nominated him as Vice-President, to increase President Lincoln s chances for re-election in the 1864 elections. Johnson took the oath of office in March of 1865. Not long afterwards, President Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson

became President on April 15, 1865. Lincoln had already begun to implement a Reconstruction policy, and with his death, Johnson told the Cabinet officers that he would continue to support the movement. However, his Pro-Southern sympathies quickly became apparent. Radical Republicans expected Johnson to treat the southern states as traitors, by taking their land and granting it, as well as the right to vote, to the newly freed slaves. However, Johnson, who had owned slaves and defended the rights of the states to allow slavery before the Civil War, did not like the idea of federal domination of the states that had seceded. Radicals believed that the South was still trying to preserve slavery. The Republicans saw that in the South, repressive labor laws and Black Codes, which

inhibited the freed slaves, were being passed. The Black Codes denied freed slaves of many rights of citizenship, including suffrage. Black men were forbidden to carry arms, testify against a white person, serve on juries, or hold large gatherings. Curfews were even put into action. Thus, even after the Civil War, black people were still regarded as inferior by and in the South. Johnson was at a tremendous disadvantage, because he had not selected his Cabinet, he was a Southerner, and he was not even a member of the party in power. There was a series of vetoes and overrides between the President and the Congress. In an issue of Harper s Weekly, + Americans read, Since December, he (the President) has strenuously insisted that the late rebel States, by conforming to certain terms

which he had named, without consultation with Congress, were fully restored to their equal relations in the Union with the loyal States. He has publicly denounced Senators and Representatives as traitors and disunionists because they did not agree with him. He has vetoed the most important bills passed by Congress, assigning among his reasons in every instance that legislation during the exclusion from representation of the States in question was of doubtful constitutionality. + As a threat to Johnson s stubbornness, an impeachment resolution was introduced to be investigated, in December of 1866. Johnson stood strong, saying, proclaiming, Let them impeach and be damned. + Radicals wished to impeach Johnson for high crimes and misdemeanors, and whether such acts were designed or