We all remember President Clinton's ordeal with Congress and the attempt to remove him from office. But, he's not the the only president who went through it. In fact Andrew Johnson went through it twice – both unsuccdessful

He was the vice president under Abraham Lincoln. Johnson is remembered for the fact that when he took the oath of office on March 4, 1865 he had been drinking – a lot. Glassy eye and smelling of whiskey, he gave a rambling speech and looked very intoxicated. After talking on for awhile, he kissed the Bible and staggered away. One Senator said “he disgraced himself and the Senate by making a drunken foolish speech.” Johnson later claimed he had been drinking to offset the pain of typhoid fever.

On April 14, 1865  Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer while Lincoln was watching a play at Ford’s Theater. As vice president, Johnson became the president. He was controversial and there were two attempts to remove him from office. The first was in 1867  when the House Judiciary committee produced a bill of impeachment listing numerous complaints against him. A two thirds vote was required and the formal vote of 57 – 108  was not enough to remove him from office.

In 1868 Johnson notified Congress he had removed Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War after Congress had passed a bill specifically protecting Stanton from being fired. But, Johnson had gone ahead and just vetoed the bill and said it was unconstitutional. Congress was enraged. As a result a second vote of impeachment against him took place. There were three votes in the Senate on the charges. On all three occasions 35 Senators voted “guilty” and 19 voted “not guilty.” The required two thirds votes were not obtained and Johnson remained in office. 

On the other  hand, it was during Johnson’s administration the Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867. While the idea and work for this purchase is credited to Seward as Secretary of State, it required Johnson’s approval. Some 586,000 square miles of territory – twice the area of Texas – was purchased for $7,200,000. At the time the purchase was mocked as “Seward’s Icebox” and “Johnson’s polar bear garden.”

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