Impeachment of Andrew Johnson


Impeachment is a process that is used to charge and remove government officials from office under the issues of corruption or any other form of misconduct while at work. This is reflected in Article 1, Section 2 and 3 of the US Constitution. This process was initiated by Congress and made a constitutional right. Impeachment in the US is noted to affect all the individuals including presidents as long as they meet the basics of impeachment as noted earlier. However, individuals are impeached after going through the following process. Firstly, there should be an accusation regarding the alleged crime. Secondly, a trial by the House of Representatives is required; whereby votes by the Congress and Senate are weighed. These were the steps that were carried out during the impeachment of Andrew Johnson as noted below.


Background of the Impeachment Process

Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the US. He had been elected after the death of Abraham Lincoln. His impeachment was among the most dramatic events in the history of the US. These were the headlines in newspapers during that time and indicated that Andrew Johnson was to be impeached following the consummation of a prolonged political war amid Johnson and the radical republican that sought for authority in the amendment of policies. It was after the civil war that he took the seat after President Lincoln. However, Johnson had supported the southern residents who had slaves for a long time. The fact that Johnson and Lincoln came from different regions increased their political diversity. In addition, Johnson was a fierce and unrelenting southern who did every activity to ensure that slavery came to an end. Consequently, after the Civil war, the freed slaves were to be protected by the reconstruction of his policies. Radical republicans had always supported the opinion of Johnson even though they had little money to establish their side. The policies of Lincoln were opposed by the radicals but they were defeated because Lincoln had been in presidency and therefore he had a lot of money to preach his policies to numerous individuals (Benedict, 370).

Before Johnson became a President, he had already rejected the radicals. He immediately began his political agendas. First, it is noted that he presented declarations of general amnesty to the confederates. He dissolved his earlier plans of giving ranks to government officials and military officials. He also banned the rule that extended civil rights and monetary support to the former slaves. Congress debated a number of the vetoes and therefore set a stage for an argument amid the President and the Congress. In this, Johnson did not show any concern to the slaves he had always worked with. This became the main cause for his impeachment which was set to occur on the 24th of February, 1868 (Benedict, 370).

The Tenure of Office Act

Johnson's acts after gaining presidency led to the formation of the Tenure of Office Act. This rule was formulated by the Congress in order to inspect whether Johnson was wrong in his activities. Various studies have indicated that Johnson had removed Lincoln's secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, and appointed Lorenzo Thomas. However, the Tenure of Office Act aimed at protecting Stanton. According to the US Constitution, it was wrong to remove someone from his or her seat without substantial grounds. The Senate and the Supreme Court summoned the trial of Johnson after which a date was set for the impeachment as noted earlier. The votes of the House of Representatives were less than the required 2/3rds tally. The impeachment was therefore inevitable as it also marked a historical reputation which was based on Johnson's defiance to the laws of the country. In short, Johnson had breached the tenure of office act by removing Stanton from the office and appointing somebody else under fake grounds. In addition, the President was not allowed to elect anyone without informing the Congress. In this, Johnson violated the law and was supposed to face its consequences. Consequently, the Congress highlighted his mistakes and misdemeanors in reference to the article two of the US Constitution as well as the Tenure of Office Act (Benedict, 370)

The Impeachment Process

The impeachment of Johnson took place on the 24th of February, 1868. The House of Representatives highlighted his high crimes and misdemeanors. He had violated the laws of the country through a number of ways that were reflected on the articles of impeachment presented by the Congress. First, the Tenure of Office Act, which had been formulated a year after the incidence had been violated as depicted in the article two of the impeachment trial. The House of Representatives had also casted 126 to 47 votes in favor of the impeachment. Therefore, the impeachment had been passed after which the articles of impeachment were presented. It is noted that Johnson had also been charged with the violation of the country laws after removing Stanton from the office as it is in the article 1 of the impeachment trial. Article 3 highlighted that Johnson had violated the US law by disobeying the Congress. This is reflected in the manner in which he appointed Lorenzo without informing the Congress as stated in the Constitution (The Learning Network, 2ndMarch, 1867; 1).

The fourth article of the impeachment trial indicated that Johnson had violated the laws of the country through intimidation of the public and other government officials when he removed Stanton from office. Majority of the individuals belonging to the House of Representatives were not informed on the actual dealings during the appointment of Lorenzo. Instead, the issue was not supposed to be discussed for fear of further issues. Therefore, it was a secret and the person who spoke it out would face the harshness of the President. This was a high crime in office and Johnson was alleged to face the law for breaching such constitutional clauses. Article 5 of the impeachment trial indicated the President's misdemeanor in office for failure to recognize the honor of Stanton. Instead, he removed him from the office and replaced him with Lorenzo. The New York Times newspaper highlighted that the President Johnson had violated the laws of the country by seizing and taking the property of the Department of War, in which Lorenzo had gained. In this, he charged Stanton with the deviance of defining and punishing certain conspiracies. This is reflected in article six of the impeachment trials.

In addition, Johnson also violated a number of crimes that are reflected in the impeachment trials following the removal of Stanton from the office and the appointment of Lorenzo to the Department of War. It is noted that the President ignored the Congress proceedings and never informed them concerning the vacancy in the Department of War. In this, he was entitled to a punishment which would only be justified through impeachment. Consequently, his trial continued for eleven consequent weeks. During this period, the President's enemies had time to review the work of Stanton and affirm that he was the best man for the seat. This was after Johnson had made attempts to grab property from the same department as noted earlier in this context. Therefore, it was depicted that the President had removed Stanton from office in order to grab the government's property, a condition that indicated misdemeanor in office (The Learning Network, 2ndMarch, 1867; 1).

As noted from the above context, the American society was not pleased with the way Johnson performed his activities. He was therefore perceived as a leader who sought to punish the people and fulfill his desires. This is reflected in the way in which he changed his mind concerning the radical's opinions. He also did not care about the freed slaves who lacked several basics, and who had selected him as President with the hope of prospering when he gained the seat. His immediate acts after gaining presidency convinced the public that he was a man who never obeyed the laws of the country. This is reflected in the manner in which he disobeyed Stanton's office and threw him out of power (The Learning Network, 2ndMarch, 1867; 1).

However, his impeachment was expected by a huge number of the Americans following his misconducts in office.

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As depicted in the New York Times newspaper, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson was inevitable, following the events that took place shortly after his declaration as the 17th US President. Johnson committed violations that were not expected by anyone in the US. For instance, he removed Stanton from the office without informing the Congress on the vacancy in the Department of War. He also appointed Lorenzo and attempted to gain some of the property from the same Department. This indicates that he was after fulfilling his own desires and never cared for the people who had chosen him as a President. On the other hand, the event was deemed to have a greater impact on the history of the US. This is because Johnson was a President and that such misconducts were not expected to come from honored people in the government. Secondly, he was the first President to be impeached in the US. This marked the event in the history of the US which was also influenced by political ambitions since the Congress set a trap for Johnson when the Tenure of Office Act was created.