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Reconstruction:
The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors in office."

Resolution of impeachment adopted by the House of Representatives, February 22, 1868

After the end of the Civil War, the challenge of how to rebuild the former Confederate states continued to divide the country. This contest between Presidential and congressional Reconstruction was decided against the President when the Radical Republicans won enough seats in Congress to override any Presidential veto. President Andrew Johnson’s continued resistance frustrated Radical Republicans, and they began imposing statutory limits on the President’s authority over the military and his power to remove executive officers. When Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, an ally of the Radical Republicans, Stanton barricaded himself in his office, and an outraged House voted for impeachment. Eleven articles, or charges, were adopted and presented to the Senate, beginning the first Presidential impeachment trial. Presided over by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, the trial lasted from March 30 to May 26, 1868. Seven Republican senators resisted the urging of their party and voted "Not Guilty" three times, avoiding Johnson’s removal by one vote. After the third ballot, the trial ended and Stanton gave up his post. President Johnson served out his term in a more subdued fashion.

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