Virtual Session Two: The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson

impaj.gif (18204 bytes) The Senate as a court of impeachment for the trial of Andrew Johnson ArticlesOfImpeachment.gif (27145 bytes)

Until 1998, the only President in American history to have been impeached was Andrew Johnson. This virtual section will examine the issues at stake in that impeachment, the arguments presented for and against removing the President, and the reasons and ramifications of his ultimate acquittal
     To begin, take a look at two overviews of the impeachment proceedings: the first, a four-part overview, with links, each of which should be read) from Harper's; the second, a brief summary of events leading up to the decision to impeach.
Then, examine the evidence and some of the cross-examination presented by the House managers at the Senate trial.
     Finally, go over two speeches for and against removing Johnson from office--the first by Maryland senator Reverdy Johnson, a supporter of the President [the speech begins at the extreme bottom of the page] the second an argument by Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner, one of the President's most passionate opponents.


1.) What was the key issue separating Andrew Johnson from those desiring his impeachment? Was the dispute a proper subject for the impeachment clause?
2.) Do you think the Radicals were right in attempting to remove Andrew Johnson from the presidency? Why or why not?
3.) In the end, what was the chief historical legacy of the impeachment crisis. Was it, in fact, "a victory for the presidency but not for President Johnson?" A setback for the cause of civil rights? A case of the House managers failing to prove their case? An example of some Republicans placing politics over principle?

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