The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson

By Michael Les Benedict | Go to book overview
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2

Presidential Obstruction
and the
Law of Impeachment

AS AMERICANS FOR THE first time seriously discussed the possibility of impeaching a president, they arrived at two opposing concepts of the law of impeachment. These differing opinions were expounded and developed primarily through three discussions: first, an indirect exchange in the American Law Register in March and September 1867 between Professor Theodore W. Dwight of Columbia College Law School and Representative (formerly Judge) William Lawrence of Ohio, a member of the House Judiciary Committee; second, in the majority and minority reports on impeachment delivered by the House Judiciary Committee in November; and third, in the speeches George S. Boutwell and James F. Wilson delivered on the floor of the House on December 5 and 6 in defense of the majority and minority reports, respectively. 1.

____________________
1.
Dwight, "Trial by Impeachment," American Law Register, XV, o.s. (March 1867), 257-83; Lawrence, "The Law of Impeachment," ibid. (September 1867), 641-80; House Report No. 7, 40th Congress, 1st Session, 1-59 (majority), 59-105 (Republican minority), 105-11 (Democratic minority); Congressional Globe, 40th Congress, 2nd Session, appendix, 54-62 (December 5, 6, 1867; Boutwell), 62-65 (December 6, 1867; Wilson). Charles Mayo Ellis wrote a less influential article, endorsing what would become the radical position. Ellis, "The Causes for Which a President Can Be Impeached," Atlantic Monthly, XIX (January 1867), 88-92.

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