Johnson, Grant, and the Politics of Reconstruction

By Martin E. Mantell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
RECONSTRUCTION AND IMPEACHMENT: THE SETTLEMENT

The House quickly completed its action in preparation for the trial of the President, adopting nine articles of impeachment on March 2, 1868. The first eight of them dealt solely with charges directly related to the removal of Stanton and the appointment of Thomas, while the ninth accused Johnson of attempting to induce General William H. Emory, the commander in the District of Columbia, to violate the Command of the Army Act by accepting orders directly from the President. Seven Republican members, headed by Thaddeus Stevens, were then elected as managers to present the House's case before the Senate. On March 3rd, the managers suggested two additional articles, which the House adopted that day. The new tenth article, which had been drafted by Benjamin Butler, charged that in speeches made in the summer of 1866 Johnson had attempted to "bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach the Congress of the United States," in order to destroy its rightful power. The eleventh article, which would prove to be the most important, was basically a summation of all the others and accused the President of both disregard for the powers of Congress and the specific violation of the Tenure of Office Act. 1

On the 4th of March, accompanied by the full House, the managers went to the Senate chamber to formally present the articles of impeachment. The next day Chief Justice Chase assumed his position as presiding officer of the Senate during the trial, and the President was summoned to answer the charges against him on March 13th. At that time he did not appear in person, nor was he ever to do so, but his lawyers responded for him and requested forty days in which to prepare an answer to the indictment. This the majority of the Senate considered excessive, but over radical objections ten days were granted. On March 23d the President's

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