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Jump Back in Time Reconstruction (1866-1877)
Sketch of 'The Senate as a court of impeachment for the trial of Andrew Johnson.'
The Senate as a court of impeachment for the trial of Andrew Johnson in 1868

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Vote to Impeach Andrew Johnson
May 16, 1868

That same day, Congress passed a law that limited the power of the president. The Tenure of Office Act prohibited the president from removing any government official, including his own cabinet members, without the Senate's approval. Johnson maintained the law was unconstitutional and thus invalid. He fired Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a political enemy, in open defiance of the law.

The House of Representatives then decided to impeach the president, charging him with "high crimes and misdemeanors" as required by the Constitution. Johnson was charged with breaking the law, among other things. During his trial before the Senate (where impeachment hearings are held, according to the Constitution), the charges were shown to be so weak that seven Republicans refused to convict the Democratic president. The votes thus fell one short of the two-thirds necessary for conviction.

Johnson did not attend his trial. When he heard the results, the president broke into tears.

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