Tuesday, February 24, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 147 years ago today, February 24, 1868, the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of eleven articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.

Representative John Covode* of Pennsylvania presented the resolution for impeachment which passed, strictly along party lines, by a vote of 126 to 47.

According to Time-Life, however, the resolution called for appointment of a committee to 'report articles of impeachment,' which...

"ignored the constitutional impeachment procedure..." that requires a preliminary investigation to be followed by, "the drawing up of formal charges (if warranted)."

Nine of the eleven charges related to the President's violation of the Tenure of Office Act by the removal of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton who, like many Republican members of Congress, opposed Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policies which they considered to be too lenient.

Andrew Johnson, the first President of the United States to be impeached or charged with "high crimes and misdemeanors," had first suspended the War Secretary in August 1867 at a time when the Congress was recessed.    General Ulysses S. Grant was the temporary replacement.

The Senate restored Stanton after the Christmas break but the President then removed Stanton "outright," replacing him with General Lorenzo Thomas.

The Senate impeachment trial, held from March 13 to March 26, 1868, ended with Johnson's acquittal.  He completed his term which began on the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

Honorable John Covode
Member of Congress (R-PA)
Photo by Matthew Brady &
Levin Corbin Handy
Library of Congress Image

*John Covode (1808-1871) was born in West Fairfield, PA.  He was the first president of Westmoreland Coal Company and served in the US Congress from 1855 to 1863 and 1867 to 1869.  He strongly supported the Freedman's Bureau, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and Congressional Reconstruction.


"The Nation Reunited:  War's Aftermath, The Civil War Series, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia, 1987. 

Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson
by Theodore R. Davis
Harper's Weekly, April 11 1868
Library of Congress Image