The Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson Essay
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President Johnson was the seventeenth president in American history and one of the only two US presidents who were impeached, the second one was William J. Clinton who was the forty second President of the United States of America. Andrew Johnson was born on December 29, 1808 Raleigh, North Carolina. He had spent his childhood in poverty. His parents were illiterate. His father who was a porter saved a life of his two or three friends from drowning in 1812.
But that took his own life later as he lost his health in that and within a time period of one year he passed away when Johnson was only three years old due to which he never got to attend school.
His mother used to work as a spinner and weaver in order to raise her two sons. At the age of fourteen he became a tailor’s apprentice. There Johnson leaned how to read from one of his masters’ customers who was a king and generous gentleman.
After long hours of work, he would devote 2 to 3 hours to study (Harper’s Weekly, 1864).
Johnson was seventeen at the time his apprenticeship expired, upon which he moved away to Laurens Court House, South Carolina and started working as a trader. He came back to Raleigh two years later and moved westwards towards Tennessee. There he opened his own tailor shop in Greeneville and got married to Eliza McCardle (Harper’s Weekly, 1865). His was to be a re-defining moment in Johnson’s life as he had never attended any school, i. e. he had no formal schooling. He knew how to read, but acquired good common education from his wife after they had gotten married.
His wife taught him writing and arithmetic (Harper’s Weekly, 1865). She turned out to be a strong support to Johnson as she was more educated and well versed. She helped her husband in learning reading and writing and arithmetic which helped him in the long run of his political era. Johnson had debating skills. However in order to enhance his skill he joined a local debate club where he trained as a public speaker. He had the experience from his debate club and shop where he would gather people and discuss politics. With the encouragement and support of his wife he decided to enter politics at that time.
Early Presidency He became one of the most controversial presidents of United States. His ability and talent made him the leader of artisans in Greenville. In 1820’s and 1830’s he and his advisors were determined to change the town’s political leaders. He was selected as the mayor in 1831. He got an early rise. He decided not to resign from the post of US senator from Tennessee when the state got into a Civil war (Harper’s Weekly, 1866). This was the time when he was noticed by President Lincoln.
In 1843 he became a member of the U. S. House of representatives where he served for the next ten years till 1853 after winning the next four of the elections (Harper’s Weekly, 1866). He was a member of the lower chamber of the US congress. He worked for the poor farmers. He even tried to pass on the homestead law through a bill which was never passed on by the upper chamber of the U. S. senate (Harper’s Weekly, 1866). He was re-elected as a governor of Tennessee. He wanted to provide better education to children and he worked for it too by allocating a portion of tax for the betterment of the schools.
Other laws included training of teachers and quality of jobs for women along with the establishment of library during his time period. As said earlier he worked for the betterment of the farmers. It was in his time that an agricultural fair was held was held in Tennessee. Soon he became popular among the common masses. Even the senate recognized the work he did and elected him in the US Senate. The final act of the civil war took place during his service in the Senate . He himself was a southerner.
He was in favor of the fugitive slave law but he defended the slavery. He was also a supporter of Lincoln’s chief opponent Stephen Douglas in 1860’s presidential elections (Harper’s Weekly, 1866). Abraham Lincoln won the November elections and in the following April Civil war started. In 1862 president Lincoln nominated Andrew as the military governor of Tennessee. He remained at this post till 1864. The union was there in order to get the support of the War democrats and moreover acknowledge the Southerners who remained loyal to the union.
It was at this time that Johnson was appointed as the running mate of Lincoln in place of the vice President as president of the United States of America. Lincoln won the elections after winning over General George Mc Clellan in the elections in 1864 (Harper’s Weekly, 1865). Only six weeks after that Lincolns assassination took place in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth. Booth as part of his conspiracy had the key members of the government as part of his assassination plan which included Johnson too, however, it never took place and Johnson took over Lincoln’s seat as the president (Harper’s Weekly, 1865).
His First Vetoes On April 1865 Andrew Johnson was sworn in as the President of the United States of America. After Lincoln’s death Johnson he started on his reconstruction role. He had to deal with congress and the members of his own cabinet during his early years of administration. Though Johnson was working for the betterment there were members in the governments that criticized his actions, they passed many legislature measures though the president had the power of veto. He had to face challenges in his own administration too. There were mainly two kinds of post war theory.
Under the first theory the government had to provide an opportunity for the free government to emerge and the federal government had to replace the leaders too. However the rehabilitation of the state was its own duty. According to the second theory the civil war was a fight between governments and the federal government is expected to rule the southern territory which was a conquered land with no internal borders. Andrew Johnson was in favor of the first theory as compared to the republicans who were ready to remove him from the office were in favor of the second theory.
The most fundamental of the republicans such as Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner believed in the equality of the slaves and that black men should get all kinds of rights to work, have their own lands. Johnson tried to dismiss Edwin Stanton in the year 1868 and brought a new Secretary of War Major General Lorenzo Thomas. here were many reasons as to why Johnson did not want Stanton to be in the office for the following reasons • Stanton was taking control of all the departments after the Lincolns assassination other than the war department. • He was more interested in the State department He spied on Johnson at his cabinet members through a secret spy Stanton said that Johnson was acting against the act that was passed in the previous year that is the tenure of office act. This act said that the president does not have the power to dismiss certain elected members of the government without the consent of the senate therefore Johnson cannot dismiss Stanton. The Impeachment Impeachment is the last thing that would ever happen to a president as it is the removal of the president from his office; this could be done by either of the two ways.
The first one is the formal impeachment by the members of the House of Representatives and the second one being the conviction by the Senate (Linder, The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson). It is a separate political trial that takes place by a separate political institution such as the Senate in case of Andrew Johnson. For the impeachment to take place it requires a majority of at least two third majorities in the senate. When the president is is forced out of his job the vice president is the one who takes his place after that.
When you the senate came together in May in order to remove the president from the office. Although the trial was mainly based on the tenure of Office act there was other reasons to it too that altogether got him to the impeachment. These included his policies about reconstruction and his vetoes of the civil rights act and the Freedman’s Bureau act in 1866 he surprised everyone when these bills were passed by Senator Lyman Trumbull (Linder, The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson). Andrew Johnson vetoed both the bills.
After that the Congress was unable to take precedence over the Freedman’s Bureau veto but they were able to take precedence over the Civil rights act at the Senate with a vote of 33 to 15 (Linder, The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson). It turned out to be a political trial in the end. It was difficult times for Johnson as he had to reunite a country that had gone through a four years of civil war. The thirteen and fourteen amendment (that is what they are popularly known as today) was added to the constitution during his time.
The first one was on the elimination of slavery and the second one on the equal protection of all the citizens. The fourteen amendment when was passed Johnson opposed it and campaigned for the defeat of the amendment. At this time the impeachment discussions intensified as it created discontent among the masses. Johnson did complete the term of office of Lincoln but even then he failed to get the nomination of his party in 1869 (Linder, The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson).