The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson

By Michael Les Benedict | Go to book overview

3

The Politics
of Impeachment

DESPITE President Johnson's growing belligerence and the resulting increase in the appeal of impeachment to angry, frustrated Republicans, opposition to the measure remained strong among party leaders. Several factors cooled the ardor of nonradicals for the President's removal during the summer and fall of 1867, despite the unmistakable damage he was going to their floundering Reconstruction program. Most important of these was the ever more bitter struggle that was developing between radical and nonradical Republicans for control of the party. The impeachment issue, more than any other, perhaps, began to appear to be the issue that would determine the future direction of the Republican party. And it is in this context that the battle over impeachment must be understood.

Ironically, the real issue that divided the radical and nonradical factions of the Republican party was not the nature of its obligation to southern loyalists or the desirability of a "thorough" Reconstruction. All Republicans hoped to institute racial equality before the law and to place loyal southerners, if possible, in power in the South. The divisive question was how far to go in securing those goals. Nonradical Republicans were convinced that the American people would not sustain a truly radical Republican party. They recoiled from radical proposals they were sure would alienate conservative Republican voters. Continually, the nonradicals urged moderation for the sake of political expediency. A radical Republican party, committed

-61-

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The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Andrew Johnson, the Republicans, and Reconstruction 1
  • 2 - Presidential Obstruction and the Law of Impeachment 26
  • 3 - The Politics of Impeachment 61
  • 4 - Johnson Forces the Issue 89
  • 5 - Trial 126
  • 6 - Verdict 168
  • Epilogue 181
  • Appendix 185
  • A Bibliographical Review 192
  • Index 203
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