The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson

By Michael Les Benedict | Go to book overview

5

Trial

MOST HISTORIANS have interpreted the attempt to remove President Johnson as blatantly political, insupportable in law, a blunder from which the nation was saved by seven noble Republican senators who would not succumb to the political pressure around them. This is true even of those historians who have begun to recognize the circumstances in which impeachment took place and have debunked the idea that the President was an innocent victim unable any longer to disrupt the "radical" program. But such a view is naive in the extreme. 1.

Extralegal considerations did play a large part in the impeachment proceedings. But these considerations weighed not only upon the Republicans who voted for conviction. It goes almost without saying that the Democrats and the few "Johnsonized" Republicans who had been cooperating with them would under no circumstances have voted to remove the President and turn the office over to the Republicans. In fact, they were more consistently antipathetic to the entire proceeding than even the most hostile of the Republicans (see Chart 6). If one argues that Johnson's conviction would have resulted from votes motivated by political considerations, one must concede that the same considerations secured his acquittal.

____________________
1.
See the Bibliographical Review for a brief historiography of impeachment.

-126-

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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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