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“The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson,” wood engraving by Theodore R. Davis, Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1868

U.S. Senate Collection

“The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson,” wood engraving by Theodore R. Davis, Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 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.