Andrew Johnson Impeached, 1868

Johnson’s impeachment trial

On February 24, 1868, Andrew Johnson became the first president to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. Johnson, the 17th  president, was born in Raleigh in 1808.

Andrew JohsonAfter apprenticing with a tailor in Raleigh, Johnson moved to Tennessee in 1826, and prospered as a tailor and, later, as a politician. Styling himself an advocate for the common man, Johnson was elected to the Tennessee legislature and served there for several years. He represented the First District of Tennessee in Congress for five consecutive terms and then served two terms as governor of Tennessee. He went on to be elected U.S. senator.

Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of Tennessee in 1862, and then named the Southerner his running mate in his successful 1864 re-election. Lincoln’s assassination elevated Johnson to the Presidency.

Johnson’s greatest challenge as president was leading the nation through Reconstruction. After the Civil War’s conclusion, he issued general amnesty to Southerners with a few exceptions. Radical Republicans, unhappy with Johnson’s national progress, sought to undermine his power and eventually had Johnson impeached. The primary charge was related to his removing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton from office.

The trial concluded in May 1868 with Johnson’s acquittal.

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