Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Were the Impeachment Charges Against Andrew Johnson Valid?

Section 2, Article 2, of the U.S. Constitution states: "The President...shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." According to this section, the impeachment charges against Andrew Johnson were not valid. He did not commit any actual crime to warrant an impeachment. While Johnson did try to "obstruct Reconstruction legislation," he has the duty to do so (Davidson 479). According to Section 1, Article 2, of the U.S. Constitution, the executive is required to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." If Johnson felt that the Congress was acting in contrast to his view of the Constitution, then Johnson not only has a right, but he has a legal duty to fight back.

The clash between Johnson and the Radical Republicans was inevitable. Similar to other periods of time when the executive and legislative branch differed in party, a clash was bound to occur. The fact that the Radicals wanted to take southern property away from their owners and to give it away to blacks shows how radical the Radicals truly were (Davidson 478). It was a time that matched any other in America; when politics and propaganda reigned supreme.

To end, one piece of the Radical propaganda: "Governor Oliver Morton of Indiana proclaimed that 'every bounty jumper, every deserter, every sneak who ran away from the draft' was a Democrat; everyone 'who murdered Union prisoners" (Davidson 477).

Davidson, James, Brian Delay, Christine Heyrman, Mark Lytle, and Michael Stoff, Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic Volume II: Since 1865. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

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