Andrew Johnson's Presidency

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Did the Radical Republicans in Congress repeatedly try to impeach President Andrew Johnson?

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The Radical Republicans did try to impeach President Johnson. The Radical Republicans believed that President Johnson was blocking attempts to help former slaves as they adjusted to being freed. They were upset that President Johnson had vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that gave full citizenship to African Americans. They also were unhappy that he vetoed the law that gave the Freedmen’s Bureau more power to set up courts to deal with individuals who violated the rights of African Americans. While Congress overrode both vetoes, the Radical Republicans now believed that President Johnson couldn’t be trusted. They also believed his proposed reconstruction plan was too lenient with the South.

The Radical Republicans were concerned that President Johnson might use his military powers to control the military governments that had been established in the South as a result of the Reconstruction Act of 1867. They were also upset that President Johnson had campaigned against Republicans in the election of 1866 and had urged the states not to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. They wanted to limit the president’s powers, so they passed the Tenure of Office Act, which prevented him from removing some government officials without consulting the Senate. President Johnson objected to the law, and he removed his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, without Senate approval. As a result, he was impeached and put on trial. Congress failed to remove President Johnson from office when it fell one vote short of the required two-thirds vote that was needed to remove him.

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