Featured in Issues & Controversies in American History:
JOHNSON IMPEACHMENT: Punishment for Violating the Constitution, or Politically Motivated?
When President Andrew Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended, the House of Representatives impeached him for violating the Tenure of Office Act, a law that prohibited the president from removing government officials without the consent of Congress. Critics of the impeachment argued that the law was unconstitutional and that the real reason for the impeachment was that lawmakers opposed Johnson’s lenient attitude toward the South during Reconstruction. Supporters of the impeachment argued that the law was valid and that Johnson had blocked vital Reconstruction policy, including civil rights legislation for African Americans.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Was President Andrew Johnson’s firing of Edwin Stanton an impeachable offense? Or was Johnson a victim of political opponents seeking to remove him from office by any means they could find? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment this month.
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