The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
ĽOvert Obstruction of Congress

back to the Andrew Johnson Home Page


 
July 1867 - January 1868

go to the first article in this section

by John Adler, Publisher

On March 2, 1867, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over President Johnson’s veto. It prohibited the Chief Executive from removing appointed government officials, including Cabinet officers, without Senate approval. The law was specifically aimed at protecting the tenure of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton who supported Congressional Reconstruction. Harper’s Weekly only noted the Tenure of Office Act in its "Domestic Intelligence" column of news briefs. 

On July 20, Congress adjourned without taking any action on impeachment, despite lengthy discussions on the topic.

In June, Johnson’s Attorney General, Henry Stanbery, released his analysis of Congress’ Reconstruction Acts. It was a narrow interpretation aimed at limiting the effectiveness of the commanding generals in charge of implementing Congressional Reconstruction policy in the South. Johnson also replaced two of the key generals, Philip Sheridan in the Louisiana-Texas district and Daniel Sickles in the Carolinas.

In July, Congress reconvened to pass the Third Reconstruction Act in response to Stanbery’s ruling. The law explicitly made the provisional civil governments subordinate to military rule, and enhanced the authority of the military commanders.

On August 12, 1867, Johnson suspended Stanton as Secretary of War and appointed General Grant acting Secretary. Since Congress was in recess, this controversial move by the President was legal under the terms of the Tenure of Office Act. In January, 1868, after Congress reconvened, they refused to consent to Stanton’s removal, so Grant voluntarily surrendered the office back to Stanton.

That set the stage for Johnson’s final act of defying Congress which led to impeachment proceedings after sixteen months of discussion about all aspects of it. The President finally committed an overt act by removing Secretary of War Stanton in violation of the Tenure of Office Act.

Many of the considerations concerning impeachment were carefully reviewed and evaluated in the Harper’s Weekly editorials during the July 1867 – February 1868 period. These editorials, along with others that appeared earlier and later in Johnson’s term have been included in a special Index to Impeachment Arguments – Pro and Con. They should be of interest as a basis of comparison with the current political environment.



Articles Related to Overt Obstruction of Congress:
Congress
February 2, 1867, page 67
February 16, 1867, page 99
March 16, 1867, page 163


How Long?
June 29, 1867, page 402


Reconstruction and Obstruction
July 6, 1867, page 418


The Summer Session
July 6, 1867, page 418


The Fortieth Congress
July 17, 1867, page 467


Thanks to the District Commanders
July 27, 1867, page 467


Impeachment Postponed
July 27, 1867, page 467


A Desperate Man
August 13, 1867, page 546


The Secretary of War
August 24, 1867, page 530


Samson Agonistes at Washington (cartoon)
August 24, 1867, page 544


The Stanton Imbroglio (illustrated satire)
August 24, 1867, page 542


Secretary Grant
August 31, 1867, page 546


Southern Reconstruction
August 31, 1867, page 547


The Political Situation
September 7, 1867, page 562


General Thomas
September 7, 1867, page 563


Southern Reconstruction
September 7, 1867, page 563


The General and the President
September 14, 1867, page 578


General Sickles Also
September 14, 1867, page 579


Southern Reconstruction
September 21, 1867, page 595


The President’s Intentions
September 28, 1867, page 610


Impeachment
October 5, 1867, page 626


The Main Question
October 5, 1867, pages 626-627


Suspension during Impeachment
October 19, 1867, page 658


"Disregarding" The Law
November 2, 1867, page 691


Impeachment
December 14, 1867, page 786


General Grant’s Testimony
December 14, 1867, page 786


The President’s Message
December 14, 1867, page 787


General Grant’s Letter
January 1, 1868, page 2


Secretary Stanton’s Restoration
January 25, 1868, page 51


Reconstruction Measures
January 25, 1868, page 51


The President, Mr. Stanton and General Grant
February 1, 1868, page 66


Romeo (Seward) to Mercutio (Johnson) (cartoon)
February 1, 1868, page 76


The War Office
February 1, 1868, page 77


Secretary’s Room in the War Department (illus)
February 1, 1868, page 77


The New Reconstruction Bill
February 8, 1868, page 83

 

Website design © 1998-2005 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2005 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com