With this small piece of paper, Representative John Covode
of Pennsylvania moved to impeach President Andrew Johnson
on February 21, 1868. Frustrated with the President’s opposition to black suffrage, leniency toward former Confederate states, and unrelenting obstruction of congressional Reconstruction, Radical Republicans in Congress attempted to remove Johnson from office. When the President dismissed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on February 21, in violation of the Tenure of Office Act that prohibited him from doing so without Senate approval, he provided Radical Republicans with an actionable offense for impeachment. Three days after Covode introduced this resolution, the House voted 126 to 47 to impeach the President, the first such action against a sitting President. Johnson’s Senate trial consumed two months, and he eventually avoided removal from office by one vote.