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.____________________