National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1866-1885: We rebuild the Union and amend the Constitution

May 16, 1868
For the first time ever, a President stands trial

Andrew Johnson

Johnson has used his presidential powers to undercut congressional legislation one too many times. Now he’s removed Lincoln’s Secretary of War, in defiance of a law that the House says protects the Secretary.

The House charges he tried to “thwart the constitutional action of Congress and bring it to naught.” The President is on trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

His lawyers paint him as a patriot who loves the Constitution. On the floor, tempers rise.

One senator calls Johnson a tyrant. Another says it would be an abuse of power to depose a president “on grounds so slight.”

After two months of bitter debate, the House has failed to make its case before the Senate.

Johnson escapes conviction...by one vote.

Read about it in the New York times

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