At a Glance


Learn about Andrew Johnson's impeachment through contemporary accounts and resources.

Douglas Linder, Professor, University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Law

Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson

In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act (1867), which prohibited a president from unilaterally removing any officials for whom Senate approval was required for appointment. Part of Professor Douglas Linder's Famous American Trials website, this exhibit examines Johnson's impeachment trial and his narrow escape from conviction and removal from office. Linder provides a 1500-word account of the trial and includes a chronology of events in Johnson's presidency, from his election as Abraham Lincoln's vice president in 1864 to his death in 1875. The site includes background information on the process of impeachment, such as the relevant articles of the United States Constitution and James Madison's notes on the framers' Constitutional Convention debates over the impeachment process.

The site also includes full-text verions of the Articles of Impeachment against Johnson, the Senate's rules of procedure for the impeachment trial, and the Senate trial record, including all arguments, documentary evidence, testimony, and the final vote. There are also excerpts from the Congressional Globe of the opinions of six senators, both for and against impeachment, and a map that shows the regional splits in the votes for and against impeachment. The site also provides links to the Harper's Weekly account of the trial, including biographies of 28 key figures in the trial, 90 editorials, 47 news articles and briefs, 47 illustrations, 27 political cartoons, and one illustrated satire. A brief bibliography includes six scholarly books, one video, and two internet sites with information on the Johnson impeachment trial. The Harper's Weekly section also provides a link to a "Teaching Impeachment" exercise in which students can simulate an impeachment trial. This rather complicated role play exercise requires considerable research and strong analytical skills, but would be accessible for very advanced high school and survey classes. This is an ideal site for researching constitutional history, Reconstruction, and the presidency.