February 24, 1868

President Andrew Johnson was impeached. Johnson had vetoed twenty Reconstruction bills and urged southern legislatures to reject the Fourteenth Amendment. He ordered African American families evicted from land on which they had been settled by the U.S. Army. His opponents insisted that he had abused his powers and flouted the will of Congress. The House voted 126-47 to impeach Johnson on eleven separate articles. Johnson’s attorneys argued that the Tenure of Office Act applied to officials appointed by the president, and since Secretary of War Stanton was appointed by Lincoln, not Johnson, he was not covered by the act. The final vote was 35 to 19, one short of the two-thirds needed for conviction and removal from office. Seven Republicans voted to acquit. The Senate voted on two more articles of impeachment. Each was just one vote shy of conviction. The chamber never voted on the remaining eight impeachment articles. Johnson was not removed from office but he had been defamed.

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