The Impeachment of Johnson


US History Reconstruction Era and the Western Frontier The Impeachment of Johnson
Students learn about the reasons for the impeachment and trial of President Andrew Johnson. Next they take a stand on whether he should have been removed from office. Then, they explore other federal officials who have been impeached by the House of Representatives.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about the reasons for the impeachment and trial of President Andrew Johnson. Next they take a stand on whether he should have been removed from office. Then, they explore other federal officials who have been impeached by the House of Representatives.

Objective:

  • Identify why President Johnson was impeached.


In 1866, a duel of sorts was playing out between the Republican Congress and President Andrew Johnson. Congress had introduced a number of bills including the Freedmen’s Bureau Bill, Civil Rights Bill, The Reconstruction Act of 1867, and the Tenure of Office Act. In each case, Johnson issued a presidential veto. Then, Congress overrode his veto and passed the bills. This back-and-forth caused a strong rift between the two federal branches.

Objective:

  • Identify why President Johnson was impeached.




President Johnson Disbanding the Freedmen’s Bureau


At the time, the Republican Congress was stronger than ever and frustrated by President Johnson’s lack of cooperation. So, in the spring of 1868, the House of Representatives decided to impeach President Andrew Johnson.


Think about the word impeach. Write a definition in your own words. If necessary, look it up in a dictionary.



Discuss with students some of their responses. Students may be under the impression that impeach means to remove from office. Explain that impeach means to “accuse and charge (the holder of public office) with misconduct.”

Explain that the Constitution of the United States grants the House of Representatives the right to impeach the President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States for the crimes of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors. The Senate has the power to try officials that have been impeached by the House. Conviction in the Senate requires a two-thirds vote.


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