May 26 - 1868 - The Senate Fails to Remove Andrew Johnson From Office
Presidential impeachment is a difficult process under the United States Constitution, as two-thirds of the U.S. Senate has to vote to convict the President on impeachment charges in order to remove him from office. This means that the Congress has to be fed up with the President to even consider it. In 1868, the Congress was that fed up with Andrew Johnson. The Radical Republicans that dominated Congress wanted to see Confederate punished and the South totally reconstructed, while Johnson, a former War Democrat from Tennessee who inherited the Presidency after Abraham Lincoln's assassination, wanted to more easily bring the South back into the Union. The real issue was the Tenure of Office Act, a law saying the Senate had to approve of the removal of a cabinet officer. When Johnson removed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, impeachment proceedings were inevitable. The House easily passed the Articles of Impeachment, but the Senate fell just one vote short of the two-thirds majority needed to actually remove Johnson from office.