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President Andrew Johnson was the first President of the United States to be impeached.
President Johnson and the Radical Republicans had been clashing over Reconstruction. Johnson had his own plan, and it differed significantly from the plan of the Radical Republicans. The Radical Republicans were angry with President Johnson because he had vetoed two bills the Radical Republicans had passed. Additionally, Johnson campaigned against some Republican candidates in 1866, and he urged states to reject the 14th amendment. Thus, Congress sought to restrict what President Johnson could do. They passed a law called the Tenure of Office Act. This law required the president to consult Congress before removing a cabinet member. President Johnson thought this was unreasonable. This had never been imposed on another president. Thus, President Johnson removed Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, whom he disliked a great deal. As a result, Congress impeached President Johnson. He was not removed from office as the Senate fell one vote short of removing him. In order to remove a president, two-thirds of the Senate must vote to remove him. In Johnson’s case that meant 36 votes were needed for him to be removed. The vote was 35-19. Thus, Johnson remained in office. When people say one vote doesn’t matter, this situation is proof that this statement is false. Thus, President Johnson was impeached but not removed from office.
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