Notes for Monday – May 16, 2016

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On this day in 1868, the U.S. Senate votes against impeaching President Andrew Johnson and acquits him of committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In February 1868, the House of Representatives charged Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for vague “high crimes and misdemeanors”. (For comparison, in 1998, President Bill Clinton was charged with two articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice during an investigation into his inappropriate sexual behavior in the White House Oval Office. In 1974, Nixon faced three charges for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.) The main issue in Johnson’s trial was his staunch resistance to implementing Congress’ Civil War Reconstruction policies. The War Department was the federal agency responsible for carrying out Reconstruction programs in the war-ravaged southern states, and when Johnson fired the agency’s head, Edwin Stanton, Congress retaliated with calls for his impeachment.

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