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Impeachment Ballot recording votes of senators in the trial of Andrew Johnson, May 1868

In May 1868 the Senate voted on three articles of impeachment, beginning with Article XI, which summarized charges against President Andrew Johnson. Each vote tally was 35–19, one vote short of the two thirds required for conviction. After his Senate trial, Johnson completed his presidential term. In subsequent cases, controversy remained about whether impeachment required a violation of the law.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Impeachment Ballot recording votes of senators in the trial of Andrew Johnson, May 1868

Congress Impeaches and Tries a President

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Congress battled with President Andrew Johnson over the terms of Reconstruction. Johnson favored more lenient policies for former Confederate states. Congress overrode Johnson’s vetoes of several Reconstruction-era laws, including the Tenure of Office Act, which restricted the president from appointing or dismissing cabinet secretaries without the consent of the Senate. Johnson’s subsequent firing of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton led to his impeachment and trial in 1868.

In 1868, for the first time, the House of Representatives impeached a president. In the Senate trial, however, President Andrew Johnson was not convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors.