OF THE SENATE SITTING FOR THE TRIAL OF THE IMPEACHMENT OF ANDREW JOHNSON, PRESIDENT OF THE
Background : Johnson Impeached
The House of Representatives impeached Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth
President of United States at five oclock p.m. on February 24, 1868 by a vote of 126
yeas to 47 nays. On February 25, Thaddeus Stevens and John A. Bingham appeared in the
Senate chamber. Mr. Stevens spoke, "In obedience to the order of the House of
Representatives and of all the people of the United States. We do impeach Andrew Johnson,
President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors in office; and we further
inform the Senate that the House of Representatives will in due time exhibit articles
against him, and make good the same, and in their name we demand that the Senate take
order for the appearance of said Andrew Johnson to answer said impeachment."
Challenge: Retrial by You
The Senate will reassemble as a court on March 23, 1868. You, dear students,
will play the key roles in this great historical event. In our class the "trial"
of Andrew Johnson will begin on ____________________. Pretrial papers of no more than
three pages will be due a few days earlier on ____________________. These papers should
focus on two issues: 1) the major factors underlying the dispute between President Andrew
Johnson and Congress before the summer of 1867--"Setting the Scene" and 2) the
substance of your anticipated testimony if you are a witness or your opening statement
before the Senate if you are an attorney.
On _____________________ the six attorneys and President Johnson will
interview the prospective witnesses in class and determine which witnesses they plan to
call on their behalf and the order of the witnesses. (The teacher, who will also double as
Chief Justice Salmon P.Chase who presided over the trial, will ensure that all witnesses
The next day, on _____________________the trial will begin. The charges against
President Johnson are as follows:
A) Dismissing Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War in violation of
the Tenure of Office Act
B) Attempting to bring into disgrace, ridicule and contempt the
Congress of the United States by grossly intemperate language
All students except those playing the attorneys, President Johnson or the newspaper
editors will double as Senators; they will shed their previous persona and vote on each
charge separately and at the end of the trial write a paper defending their vote by citing
evidence introduced in the course of the trial. That paper will be due ten days after the
impeachment proceedings close.
In the real trial of President Andrew Johnson the Senate fell one vote short, 35-19,
of the two-thirds required for dismissal from office. Our class will use the same
Constitutional requirement of a two-thirds vote. The outcome, however, may be different.
The team presenting the most persuasive argument wins
the trial. The winners in this game will depend on YOUR final vote!
After the Voting is over
After the simulation of the trial of President Johnson is completed,
some of you may wish to read the ruminations of Harpers Weekly about the
trial and those who voted for acquittal. The entries, which follow, should be of
particular interest to you. VI-56, May 30, 1868 page 350 The Impeachment; VI-62, May 30,
1868 page 338 The Oath and the Evidence; VI-64, May 30, 1868 page 339 Party Good Sense;
VI-66, Jun 20, 1868 page 386 Criticism of Public Men; VII-5, undated. A cartoon showing
President Johnson at the end of his completed term heading into oblivion.