Andrew Johnson was rightly charged
Andrew Johnson had become President of the United States as Vice-President under Abraham Lincoln after his assassination (see notes 174 and 182). In March 1867 the Republicans, with a two-thirds majority in Congress, had ended his "restoration", imposed their own "reconstruction" on the South and forced Andrew Johnson to carry out this program (cf. note 190). At the same time, the legislature shifted the balance of power in its favor through legislation: it convened itself for special sessions before December (the beginning of the new session under the new president) in order not to let the president rule uncontrollably in Washington throughout the year ( January 22, 1867). In March 1867, Congress passed new laws: military orders from the President and the Minister of War now had to be issued by the General of the Army, who could only be dismissed or transferred with the consent of the Senate. Civilian incumbents whose appointment required the approval of the Senate could only be dismissed if a successor was proposed by the President and accepted by the Senate; otherwise the predecessor had to remain in office (Tenure of Office Act).
As early as January 7, 1867, the House of Representatives commissioned a committee to investigate the president's conduct of office. With 5: 4 votes he decided on June 3, 1867 not to put him under official charge. The accusations, which were also collected with the help of a detective agency (illegal return of property to "rebels", mercy against traitors, abuse of the right of veto, involvement in the murder of Abraham Lincoln) did not convince the narrow majority sufficiently. According to the President's annual report to Congress (December 2, 1867), the committee unsuccessfully proposed charges of "presumption" by 5: 4 votes: the House of Representatives rejected them on December 7, 1867 by 57: 108 votes.
On February 24, 1868, the radical Republicans were successful. With a vote of 126:47, the House of Representatives resolved to impeach Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, "on serious crimes and misconduct" (Art. II.4 of the Constitution) with the aim of removing him from office.
Andrew Johnson has "thrown the gauntlet," said moderate Republicans. The President had dismissed his "radical" Defense Minister Edwin M. Stanton on February 21, 1868 and had neither received approval from the Senate for this nor for his proposed successor, General Thomas. Stanton barricaded himself in office, and General Thomas is said to have been able to ease his retreat with the help of a bottle of whiskey.
The trial began on March 5, 1868. The Senate had the verdict to speak, a Chief Justice to preside over the proceedings, and 7 members of the House of Representatives were the prosecutors: Andrew Johnson acted illegally in the Stanton / Thomas case, calling Congress a rump parliament , thus questioning the legality of his decisions, despising and ridiculing him in the context of unworthy presidential administration and disregarding the consistency and courtesy that should exist between the executive and legislative branches. Unfit for the office of president wanted the indictment confirmed by the Senate.
The prosecutors wanted a political decision, not a criminal one. The Senate and Chief Justice worked as an ordinary court. The defense pointed this out. Using the indictment against the president as a political instrument unconstitutionally shifts the weight to the legislature. It is by no means a "crime" not to obey the "Term of Office Act" in order to have it reviewed by the Supreme Court.
On May 16 and 26, 1868, the Senate voted 35:19 for the condemnation, i.e. one vote was missing from the required two-thirds majority. 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans had voted against. The latter knew that this was the end of their political career for the time being.
In the conflict over "restoration" and "reconstruction" provocations by the president and passions in Congress had collided. Andrew Johnson died on July 31, 1875. In March 1875 he once again condemned reconstruction in the Senate and exclaimed: "God save the constitution!" A copy was given to him in the grave. In 1926 he was found right; the Supreme Court ruled the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional. (Evidence: note 193)
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