President Andrew Johnson’s Answer to Articles of Impeachment, March 23, 1868
President Andrew Johnson did not attend his Senate trial, but his lawyers addressed all 11 articles of impeachment. They argued that Johnson had a right to replace a cabinet secretary appointed by his predecessor, questioned the constitutionality of the Tenure of Office Act, and declared that the president’s distinct interpretation of his constitutional rights did not constitute a high crime or misdemeanor.
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
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.