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Resolution of Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, February 21, 1868

Radical Republicans in Congress objected to many of President Andrew Johnson’s actions and supported impeachment. Moderate Republicans, however, believed a violation of federal law was necessary to impeach. The firing of Edwin M. Stanton violated the law, and three days after this resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives, the House voted 126–47 to impeach President Johnson.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Resolution of Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, February 21, 1868 Resolution of Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, February 21, 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.