TO THE AVERAGE AMERICAN with a fair knowledge of history, the word "impeachment" has until recently brought to mind only the unsuccessful attempt to remove Andrew Johnson from the Presidency shortly after the Civil War. The impeachers lacked one vote of the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate. Their near-success, plus the fact that Johnson was a self-educated merchant-tailor, has led to general disparagement of him as President. This low estimate has been tempered only by the verdict of school historians that, in clumsy fashion, Johnson was trying to pursue the Lincoln policy of postwar reconciliation between North and South.
For more than half a century of postcollege study that was largely devoted to constitutional history, the author of this book held the popular view of the Johnson impeachment: that although it was well for the country that the attempt failed, it reflected Johnson's incompetence as President. This deeply embedded concept vanished in a flash in