The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
»Key Political Issues Affecting the Impeachment

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The Tenure of Office Act

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by John Adler, Publisher

The action of President Johnson that led directly to his impeachment was his deliberate violation of the Tenure of Office Act. By discharging Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton on February 21, 1868, Johnson intentionally defied Congress.

The Constitutionality of the Act was a major point of contention during the trial. Harper’s Weekly discussed the "obscurity of the law" in an April 17, 1869 editorial, "An Unsettling Settlement", which was printed a month after Johnson’s term ended.

The Tenure of Office Act was repealed in 1887. In 1926, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional even though it had been repealed almost 40 years before. The ruling came in the Myers v. U.S. case that dealt with the ability of Congress to limit the removal powers of the President with regard to postmasters.

Other Articles in this Section:
Reconstruction: Radicalism versus Conservatism
Future Control of Congress
Personal Considerations Affecting the Vote to Impeach


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