The Impeachment Of Andrew Johnson: Why His Impeachment Was Not That Different

By | February 21, 2020

Andrew Johnson came into power after Lincoln's assassination

No matter what side of the political aisle you fall on, an impeachment is never good news. In the four instances where impeachment has been levied against a president, however, Republicans and Democrats draw close to one another and little is accomplished. No president has ever been removed from office with a trial in the Senate, although Nixon cheated by resigning before they could. This goes back to the first impeachment trial, which began on February 24, 1868. At the time, President Andrew Johnson had taken over for Lincoln, and he wasn't doing a very good job thanks to infighting in his cabinet and some blustery public statements. Johnson's impeachment was convoluted, complicated, and it didn't do much. In some ways, it's comforting to know that little has changed in the world of politics since the Reconstruction era. 

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Source: History Net

Abraham Lincoln should have been the president to bring America together after the Civil War, but that's not what happened. Following Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth, it fell to Andrew Johnson to make peace with the South. Some members of Congress wanted to try high-ranking members of the Confederate Army for treason, but Johnson offered an olive branch to the men in an effort to keep the republic standing and create a more centrist government. At the same time, he also vetoed multiple Civil Rights acts as well as legislation extending the Freedmen's Bureau, a government agency that was set up to to direct "provisions, clothing, and fuel for the immediate and temporary shelter and supply of destitute and suffering refugees and freedmen and their wives and children." It wasn't a good look.

Johnson campaigned for turnover in Congress

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Source: ThoughtCo

Rather than work with the congressmen who didn't agree with his positions, Johnson went on the midterm campaign trail to stump for congress members who were more amenable to his political beliefs. It's not far off from what politicians do today, but by all accounts, Johnson was unhinged on the "Swing Around The Circle" campaign trail. He was undisciplined, and he argued with hecklers, often losing. The 1866 elections didn't go the way Johnson hoped, and the deck was stacked against him in Congress.