According to the U.S. House of Representatives website, three United States Presidents have been impeached. (One additional president resigned shortly before he would have been impeached.) Impeachment starts with the House doing an investigation, and based on the evidence, comes up with one or more articles of impeachment.
Each individual article must be voted on separately. If any articles of impeachment receive a majority of votes, then the President has officially been impeached. Of course, it is possible for the House to give a majority of votes to more than one article.
All articles of impeachment that got a majority of votes will be presented to the U.S. Senate, who will conduct a trial. There are two potential outcomes of the trial. The President will either be acquitted, or will be found guilty. If found guilty, the President will either be removed from office, or will be allowed to remain. One president resigned prior to his Senate trial.
The Civil War began on April 12, 1861. Confederate forces attacked the Union-controlled Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
President Abraham Lincoln sought re-election in 1864. Lincoln was running as part of the National Union Party, which was a temporary name for the Republican Party. The temporary party name was used in the hopes of attracting people who would not vote for the Republican Party. This included War Democrats, Unionists, Unionist Party members, and people who lived in border states.
The Unionists and Unionist Party Members that the National Union Party was trying to attract were not people who hoped to improve the lives of workers. Instead, they were people who were loyal to the Union (and not part of the Confederacy).
Lincoln’s first Vice President was, Hannibal Hamlin. Lincoln chose Andrew Johnson as his Vice President for the 1864 election, in part because Johnson was a Southern Unionist and War Democrat. Lincoln and Johnson won, and were sworn in on March 4, 1865.
The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox, Virginia, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to General Ulysses S. Grant. Less than a week later, President Lincoln was assassinated while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Lincoln died the next morning, and Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States that same day.
Edwin M. Stanton was Lincoln’s Secretary of War, and he continued to hold that position after Andrew Johnson became President. The two men had disagreements about policies.
The Thirteenth Amendment , which banned slavery, was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865. Stanton expressed the opinion that Johnson was too lenient in treatment of former Confederate states. He criticized Johnson for failing to provide more federal intervention in the affairs of Southern states that continued to deny Black people their civil rights after the Thirteenth Amendment had passed.
Stanton also wanted Johnson to carry out Congressional plans for Reconstruction.
Congress agreed with Stanton’s assessment, and passed the Tenure of Office Act on March 2, 1867. The purpose of the Act was to prevent a U.S. President from removing officials that had already been approved by Congress. Johnson vetoed the Tenure of Office Act, and Congress overturned the veto.
President Johnson tried to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton anyway, but was overruled by Congress. In 1868, President Johnson tried to fire Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton again, but failed because Stanton barricaded himself in his office. One would presume a Secretary of War would know a thing or two about the usefulness of barricades.
The House impeached President Andrew Johnson on February 24, 1868. The House charged him with eleven articles of impeachment, including violating the Tenure of Office Act by attempting to remove Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from office.
The Senate Trial began on February 25, 1868, and ended on May 26, 1868. President Johnson was acquitted of the charges by one vote. He remained in office as President of the United States until the end of what was left of what would have been President Lincoln’s second term. Andrew Johnson did not seek re-election.
If you enjoyed this blog post please consider supporting me on PayPal.me. Thank you!