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

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Personal Considerations Affecting the Vote to Impeach

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by John Adler, Publisher

Harper’s Weekly
discussed Republican party loyalty at length as the Impeachment trial was coming to a close, and afterwards when several key Senators had voted for acquittal. George William Curtis agreed that every man had both the right and the obligation to vote his conscience. He counter-attacked Horace Greeley whose influential New York Tribune took a strongly opposite point of view that said Republicans who voted for acquittal should be considered traitors to the party.

What Harper’s Weekly did not discuss in depth was the antipathy that several of the Senators had for Benjamin Wade, who was elected President pro tempore of the Senate on March 4, 1868. In the event of Andrew Johnson’s suspension, resignation or removal from office, Wade would have become President until the next national election in November.

Hans L. Trefousse, on pages 176-7 of his 1975 book Impeachment of a President (U. of Tennessee Press), points out that Senators William P. Fessenden (ME), Lyman Trumbull (IL), and James W. Grimes (IA) all held personal grudges against Wade because of prior clashes with him on political and economic questions. While they justified their dissents on Constitutional grounds ("The Dissenting Senators," June 6, 1868), their dislike of Wade probably played an important role in their respective decisions.

Other Articles in this Section:
Reconstruction: Radicalism versus Conservatism
Future Control of Congress
The Tenure of Office Act


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