Andrew Johnson: 17th President: High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Updated on December 2, 2019
angela_michelle profile image

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official Portrait


Andrew Johnson unexpectedly became the 17th President when Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed. He had served as Lincoln's Vice-President during his second term. After Abe's death, Johnson served the remainder of that term.

He was born of modest means on December 29, 1808, in Raleigh, North Carolina. He had never attended a school because his parents were too poor to send him. Most of his education in reading and writing was acquired while he served as an apprentice to a tailor. Later, he worked as a tailor himself in Greeneville, Tennessee. He enjoyed debating and often participated in debates at the local school. His first political position was as the mayor of Greeneville. Later, he became a Congressman and was subsequently elected governor of Tennessee.

Should President Johnson been impeached

See results

Johnson's Political Career

At the age of 49, he became a United States Senator, where he advocated for the poor man. He pushed for a homestead bill that would provide a free farm for those living in poverty. He became known for his exceptional ability at speaking and his willingness to speak against the plantation aristocracy. Despite being a Southern Democrat, he did not support the South's desire to secede from the Union. Many of his southern colleagues felt he was a traitor, while northerners commended him. When the Civil War broke out, every single Southern Senator quit, except Johnson, which meant that even when his home state of Tennessee seceded, he remained in his seat.

In 1862, Lincoln took notice of this loyalty and appointed him as the Military Governor of Tennessee, where he continued to impress the President by beginning efforts of reconstruction.

When it was time for Lincoln to run for his second term, he decided to go against party lines. The National Union Party claimed they were for any man who was loyal to the union. Therefore, even though Lincoln was a Republican, he decided to take Andrew, a Southern Democrat, on as his Vice-President. Just a little over a year later, the Civil War ended, Lincoln was assassinated, and he became President.

Impeachment Trial


Black Codes and Civil Rights Act of 1866

As President, he began reconstructing the former Confederate States while Congress was not in session in 1865. Many Northerners felt that the ex-Confederates should be punished. Still, Johnson supported Lincoln's views that as a nation, they needed to be pardoned as long as they were willing to take an oath of allegiance, although he did give special Presidential pardons to all leaders and men of wealth.

Once Congress met again in December of 1865, most of the southern states were reconstructed. Although things did not become perfect, the abolishment of slavery finally occurred. "Black codes" were created. These were codes that governed black Americans, such as separate drinking fountains, schools, bathrooms, etc. Although black men were free, they were kept separate from the white population, which made Radical Republicans in Congress angry, and they tried to change Johnson's programs. They had the support of many of the Northerners, who were in disbelief that the Southern prewar leaders were still in power and black people still had many restrictions

Radicals refused to seat any Senator or Representative that came from the Confederacy. They attempted to pass protections for former slaves, but Johnson vetoed the legislation. They were able to get enough votes to override the veto, which was the first time Congress had ever overridden a President's veto on a significant bill. They were able to successfully pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which stated that a black person was a United States citizen, which also forbids discrimination against them.

Soon after, Congress submitted the Fourteenth Amendment, which stated that no state should "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Unfortunately, all of the former Confederate States, except for Tennessee, refused to pass the amendment. Despite advancements in racial prejudices, the South remained hostile towards black Americans, resulting in many trials, including bloody race riots.

Not only were Confederate and Union troubles still a problem, but Johnson also faced a lot of hostility. Radical Republicans won the majority in Congress during this time. They decided that they wanted to affect their plan of Reconstruction, which resulted in southern states to be placed under military rule as well as placing restrictions upon the President.

Attempts to Impeach

Not only were Confederate and Union troubles still a problem, but Johnson also faced a lot of hostility. Radical Republicans won the majority in Congress during this time. They decided that they wanted to affect their plan of Reconstruction, which resulted in southern states to be placed under military rule as well as placing restrictions upon the President.

Tensions between Johnson and Congress continued to escalate. Congress often passed bills over Johnson's veto. Although the most significant disagreement was when Johnson acted without Congress's permission when he decided to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, this went against a new restriction placed on Johnson, which was the Tenure of Office Act. Congress became very angry and accused him of "high crimes and misdemeanors," then preceded to attempt to impeach him.

The trial went on for two months during the spring of 1868. Although the House of Representatives voted for impeachment, the Senate was a single vote shy of the two-thirds majority that it needed to remove Johnson from office; therefore, he was able to finish his term.

He did seek to run for a second term, but his party chose a different candidate. Four years later, he became a U.S. Senator from Texas. Despite the trial and rejection seven years previously, he received loud applause when he took his Senate seat. Unfortunately, he did not serve much longer, as he passed away a few months later in 1875.

Fun Facts

  • Johnson worked as a tailor before becoming president.
  • He never attended a school, because his parents were too poor to send him.
  • While president, Congress acted to impeach him because of accusations of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
  • The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was ratified during his term.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts

December 29, 1808 - North Carolina
President Number
Military Service
United States Army and Union Army - Brigadier General
Wars Served
American Civil War
Age at Beginning of Presidency
57 years old
Term of Office
April 15, 1865 - March 3, 1869
How Long President
4 years
Age and Year of Death
July 31, 1875 (aged 66)
Cause of Death

The United States Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Andrew Johnson. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • U.S. Presidential Fun Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Angela Michelle Schultz


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)