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The First Impeachment of a President

Impeachment is a vote by the US House of Representatives on evidence a that a public official has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." It is not a judgement of guilt of a crime in the normal sense of the word. For example, if a public official is playing golf and appearing to neglect his duties, he could be impeached. (FYI, golf is not a crime in the USA... yet.) After a trial before the US Senate a two-thirds vote could remove an official from office. OK, so what has President Andrew Johnson done now? He is a Tennessee Democrat who sided with the Union, but is now fighting the Radical Republicans. The Radicals did not like Lincoln's conciliatory policies of "malice toward none." The Radicals have built up a lot of malice toward the Confederates. They also want complete political and civil equality for the Freedmen (as ex-slaves are now called). To be fair, President Johnson has been opposing the Radicals based on the constitutional law of the time. The apparent issue at hand is whether the President has the power to dismiss a cabinet member without the advice-and-consent of Congress. In anticipation of this fight, Congress has passed a veto-proof law specifically prohibiting the President from doing any such thing. The President gives Congress the middle finger and replaces his Secretary of War who is a Radical Republican. President Johnson is impeached. With no VP currently in office, the President of the Senate will replace Johnson if he is removed, but the vote is 1 short. The Senate goes into recess for 10 days to further coerce... uh... I mean, CAREFULLY RECONSIDER THE EVIDENCE, but when they return, no joy. President Johnson keeps his office. FYI, President Nixon was chased from office on the threat of impeachment, and President Bill Clinton was impeached but walked after the Senate vote fell short. The removal of a President from office is a difficult process and should be. Judges... not so much. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. The Radical Republicans look pretty good from a modern perspective, but that take-no-prisoners attitude can be a mixed bag. The US Constitution was framed in such a way that it gave large landowners with large slave populations a lot of political power over the small-plot Southern voter. Thus the average Southerner had no say over going to war. The plantation owners were mostly to blame, so the Union focused on strangling the large landowner's economic ties. They called it the Anaconda Plan. The Union's policy was to avoid punishing the little guy unless he resisted. As the Confederacy lost ground, Lincoln reached out to wavering states like Louisiana. Taking a running mate like Southern Democrat Andrew Johnson was a signal that an easy transition back to the Union was possible for the South. The Radical Republicans were signalling: winner-take-all, no-quarter, die-die-die. If Lincoln had lived, the Radical Republicans would have lost a lot more battles, but I also think that the civil rights of the Freedmen would have been preserved. Was Andrew Johnson some sort of racist? The articles I read imply that he was. After all... he was from the evil South, but the evil North was no better in terms of racism. Just different. The North didn't want black people enslaved. The Northerners wanted them gone... just as Lincoln did. Look. I don't like tarnishing Abraham Lincoln's reputation. I like him, generally speaking. He was good to Jews and I'm Jewish. Sue me, but he would have sold his own mother to keep the Union together. Don't doubt that. [6]

Grant Disavows General Order 11

Back during the War Between the States, General U.S. Grant issued his infamous General Order Number 11 which expelled Jews from his jurisdictions. It was one of many such orders issued by the Union military during the war. The reasons given are many but it boils down to the fact that Jewish peddlers did not understand the niceties of American commerce during wartime... or maybe they understood them all too well, and it became an embarrassment to the Union. Certainly General Grant found it embarrassing when he realized that HIS OWN FATHER had been drawn into a get-rich-quick scheme with a Jewish business partner who was looking for a special permit from General Grant to buy cotton from Southern vendors and was using Grant's father as leverage. Buying cotton from the South was considered illegal even though it was going on in Texas through Mexican agents. Grant had a love-hate relationship with his father and in many ways General Grant's current success in running for President of the United States can be attributed directly to his father. Whenever Grant must decide what to do, he asks himself what his father would do, and then do exactly the opposite. After the General had issued Order Number 11, complaints reached President Lincoln, who countermanded the order immediately. Now Grant is running for President, so he must address his past mistakes. He disavows Order 11. He says he is free of prejudice and wants each individual to be judged on his own merits. He thereafter treats it as a closed issue and never mentions it again. [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
General Grant had every right to arrest smugglers and to kick out annoying peddlers from his camp. My sense of the situation was that an inordinate number of the smugglers were Jewish. That doesn't mean all Jews were smugglers and that was the problem with General Order 11. It was too broad to make any sense. There was actually a joke going around at the time about a Union soldier looking for Jews but all he could find were guys named "Tailor". Historically speaking, Jews had been granted certain privileges to work pawn shops. While it was illegal in Europe to sell stolen goods to pawn shops, it was not illegal to RECEIVE stolen goods... at least until the early 1800s. It is considered wrong in the modern day, but in the early 1800s a lot of wrong things had to happen to make the world work. During the War Between the States, selling cotton to the North was wrong. Buying cotton from the South was wrong. Yet the majority of the cotton bought by the North came from the South. Frankly, it had to happen. I want to say a lot more on this subject but I'm going to stop there except to say that a lot of things we call illegal are happening today. They happen because a heck of a lot of people want them to happen. You can do it out in the open, or you can pat yourselves on the back and call it "illegal" while letting it go on. It seems more honest to tell people why something is wrong and then letting them decide for themselves. [10]

The Last Public Hanging and the First Private One

Michael Barrett is the last man to be hanged as a public spectacle. His crime was his part in Clerkenwell Explosion in which the Irish Republican Brotherhood used gunpowder to collapse a wall of Clerkenwell Prison. The idea was to free one of their fellows. In fact 12 people were killed and none of the prisoners escaped. Shortly after Mr. Barrett's hanging, the UK Parliament prohibits public hangings. Executions will now take place behind the walls of the prison and the body buried on the grounds of the prison. The first to be privately hanged is 18-year-old Thomas Wells for the murder of Edward Walshe, the stationmaster at Dover Priory railway station. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The debate over public executions comes up on occasion. The last time I recall a big debate was when Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in 1977. He had been convicted of murdering a gas station attendant and motel manager in Utah. As it turned out, the US Supreme Court had just allowed capital punishment after keeping it on hold for a number of years. Gilmore demanded to be put to death by firing squad. It became a zoo as vendors began selling tee-shirts with a target printed on them. The talk about the execution approached the ridiculous when Saturday Night Live performed a skit and song called "Let's Kill Gary Gilmore For Christmas". In history, capital punishment was usually a public event: bloody, drawn out for days and with lots of screaming. It didn't deter many people. If one is arguing for public executions as a deterrent, I'm not seeing it. If one is arguing that capital punishment is a proper and just punishment, then there is no need for a public execution. You can carry the sentence out in private. Most people who would be deterred by executions, would be deterred simply knowing that they occur. They don't have to see them in public. [14]

In Other News

  • Decoration Day is established. The Northern States commemorate the fallen troops by decorating their graves. The South is already doing this. The holidays will eventually merge into the national Memorial Day. [15]
  • Emperor Meiji establishes Japan's first Constitution and a path toward modernization. Also, the city of Edo is renamed Tokyo meaning "Eastern Capital." [16] [17] [18] [19]
  • A technical bonanza: the first traffic light, Color photo prints on paper, and the Electrical voting machine is patented. The traffic light blows up a month later. The voting machine is patented by Thomas Edison. Maybe he can fix the light. [20] [21] [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1868, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Impeachment of Andrew Johnson - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 9 September 2016. “Johnson was impeached on February 24, 1868, in the U.S. House of Representatives on eleven articles of impeachment detailing his 'high crimes and misdemeanors,'[1] in accordance with Article Two of the United States Constitution. The House's primary charge against Johnson was with violation of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress the previous year. Specifically, he had removed Edwin McMasters Stanton, the Secretary of War (whom the Tenure of Office Act was largely designed to protect), from office and attempted to replace him with Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas. Contrary to popular belief, Johnson was not impeached for temporarily replacing Stanton with General Ulysses Grant earlier while Congress was not in session.”
  2. Deliberate - definition of deliberate (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “[Latin dēlīberātus, past participle of dēlīberāre, to consider, weigh : dē-, de- + lībrāre, to balance (from lībra, a balance, scales).]”
  3. Articles of Impeachment presented against Presdient Andrew Johnson. law2.umkc.edu (February 24, 1868). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “On Monday, February the 24th, 1868, the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States resolved to impeach Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which the Senate was apprised and arrangements were made for the trial. On Monday the 2d of March, articles of impeachment were agreed upon by the House of Representatives, and on the 4th they were presented to the Senate by the managers on the part of the House, who were accompanied by the House, the grand inquest of the nation, as a Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union. Mr. BINGHAM, chairman of the managers, read the articles as follows: Articles exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States, in the name of themselves and all the people of the United States, against Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, in maintenance and support of their impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.”
  4. THE TENURE OF OFFICE ACT OF 1867. law2.umkc.edu (1867). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “The Tenure of Office Act, passed over the veto of President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867, provided that all federal officials whose appointment required Senate confirmation could not be removed without the consent of the Senate. When the Senate was not in session, the Act allowed the President to suspend an official, but if the Senate upon its reconvening refused to concur in the removal, the officila must be reinstated in his position. It was not entirely clear whether the Act applied to cabinet officials appointed by a previous president, such as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, a Lincoln appointee.”
  5. Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy. Google Books (May 12, 2009). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “In 1868 Congress impeached President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, the man who had succeeded the murdered Lincoln, bringing the nation to the brink of a second civil war. Enraged to see the freed slaves abandoned to brutal violence at the hands of their former owners, distraught that former rebels threatened to regain control of Southern state governments, and disgusted by Johnson's brawling political style, congressional Republicans seized on a legal technicality as the basis for impeachment -- whether Johnson had the legal right to fire his own secretary of war, Edwin Stanton.”
  6. President Andrew Johnson impeached - Feb 24, 1868. history.com (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Andrew Johnson, a senator from Tennessee, was the only U.S. senator from a seceding state who remained loyal to the Union. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him military governor of Tennessee, and in 1864 he was elected vice president of the United States. Sworn in as president after Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, President Johnson enacted a lenient Reconstruction policy for the defeated South, including almost total amnesty to ex-Confederates, a program of rapid restoration of U.S.-state status for the seceded states, and the approval of new, local Southern governments, which were able to legislate 'Black Codes' that preserved the system of slavery in all but its name.”
  7. Jonathan D. Sarna. When General Grant expelled the Jews. Schocken Books. Retrieved on November 14, 2015. “November 27–30, 1868 - Newspapers publish and celebrate Grant's letter declaring that he did not sustain General Orders No. 11, was free of prejudice, and wanted 'each individual to be judged by his own merit.'” 
  8. Lincoln and the Jews: A History. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 9781250059536. 
  9. Markens, Isaac. Abraham Lincoln and the Jews. Printed for the author. “
    In reply to your letter of Nov. 23d I write to say that when my father was writing his memoirs I asked if he would refer to the order No. 11--about which you enquire in your letter, and he replied that that was a matter long past and best not referred to; therefore, I shall, following his example, have nothing to say about that order.
    Yours very sincerely,
    Frederick D. Grant.”
  10. Alex Shrugged notes: One of Lincoln's main advisors was Jewish and had been a good friend of Lincoln's for years. Regarding being called Mexican-American rather than Hispanic, I grew up being called Mexican-American. I'm comfortable with it. If you want to call me Hispanic, I'm OK with it. It's probably a better term because it is more general.
  11. Michael Barrett (Fenian) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “Barrett was the last man to be publicly hanged in England, for his part in the Clerkenwell explosion in December 1867. The bombing killed 12 bystanders and severely injured many more. Barrett was arrested with several others in a wide ranging sweep of sympathisers with the Irish cause and was the only one found guilty.”
  12. Capital Punishment Amendment Act 1868 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “The first execution under the new law was carried out by William Calcraft on 13 August 1868 at Maidstone Gaol; 18-year-old Thomas Wells was hanged for the murder of Edward Walshe,[5] the stationmaster at Dover Priory railway station.”
  13. Clerkenwell explosion - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “Burke's Republican colleagues attempted to free him on Thursday 12 December, without success. They tried to blow a hole in the prison wall while the prisoners were exercising in the prison yard, but their bomb failed to explode. They made a second attempt at about 3:45pm the following day, Friday 13 December, using a barrel of gunpowder concealed on a costermongers barrow. The explosion demolished a 60 feet (18 m) section of the wall, but no one escaped: the prison authorities had been forewarned and the prisoners were exercised earlier in the day so they were locked in their cells when the bomb exploded. The blast also damaged several nearby tenement houses on Corporation Lane (now Corporation Row) on the opposite side of the road, killing 12 people and causing many injuries, with estimates ranging from around 30 to over 120.”
  14. SNL Transcripts: Candice Bergen: 12/11/76: Let's Kill Gary Gilmore For Christmas. snltranscripts.jt.org (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “So let's kill Gary Gilmore for Christmas Let's hang him from atop the Christmas tree Let's give to him the only gift that money can't buy Put poison in his egg nog, let him drink it, watch him die”
  15. Memorial Day - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “Copying a practice that began in the Southern states, on May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans' organization for Union Civil War veterans, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for 'Decoration Day' to be observed annually and nationwide.”
  16. 16.0 16.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 430-431. 
  17. Tokyo - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “Tokyo was originally known as Edo, which means 'estuary'. Its name was changed to Tokyo (tō 'east', and kyō 'capital') when it became the imperial capital with the arrival of Emperor Meiji in 1868...”
  18. Meiji Restoration - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “The Emperor of Japan announces to the sovereigns of all foreign countries and to their subjects that permission has been granted to the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to return the governing power in accordance with his own request. We shall henceforward exercise supreme authority in all the internal and external affairs of the country. Consequently the title of Emperor must be substituted for that of Taikun, in which the treaties have been made. Officers are being appointed by us to the conduct of foreign affairs. It is desirable that the representatives of the treaty powers recognize this announcement. — Mutsuhito, January 3, 1868”
  19. Charter Oath - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “By this oath, we set up as our aim the establishment of the national weal on a broad basis and the framing of a constitution and laws. --Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion. --All classes, high and low, shall be united in vigorously carrying out the administration of affairs of state. --The common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall all be allowed to pursue their own calling so that there may be no discontent. --Evil customs of the past shall be broken off and everything based upon the just laws of Nature. --Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to strengthen the foundation of imperial rule.”
  20. Color photography - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “The production of photographic three-color prints on paper was pioneered by Louis Ducos du Hauron, whose comprehensive 1868 French patent also included the basic concepts of most of the color photographic processes which were subsequently developed. For making the three color-filtered negatives required, he was able to develop materials and methods which were not as completely blind to red and green light as those used by Thomas Sutton in 1861, but they were still very insensitive to those colors.”
  21. Traffic light - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 12 September 2016. “The world's first, manually operated gas-lit traffic signal was short lived. Installed in London in December 1868, it exploded less than a month later, injuring or killing its policeman operator.”

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