The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

U.S. President Andrew Johnson Should've Been Impeached in the Senate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/28/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 15,261 times Debate No: 18984
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




The first round is for acceptance only!

Only I will have the burden of proof.



I accept this debate and shall be arguing why Johnson should not have been impeached by the Senate

Debate Round No. 1


U.S. President Andrew Johnson Should've Been Impeached in the Senate

I. He was uneducated. Johnson's only formal education was an apprenticeship to a tailor; he didn't learn how to read until his wife taught him at 17 years of age. He was not fit to run the country because of this. A President needs to know what they are doing, and be able to make intellegent decisions, and Johnson obviously didn't.

II. His actions were counterproductive. Right after the civil war, he constantly vetoed reconstruction acts and civil rights acts.
He essentially wanted to return America to exactly what it was right before the war. The freeman’s bureau, reconstruction act, and civil rights bill were all vetoed by him. He also belived America should've been run by white men; showing that he is someone who shouldn't have been president following a war on slavery.

III. He violated the tenure of office act. Andrew Johnson wanted total control; he fired everyone who was against him. This violated the Tenure of Office Act, which was passed so that Presidents could not gain too much power. It restricted the firing of executive officers appointed by past presidents without consent from the senate; however, Andrew Johnson kept firing officers anyways.


1) Johnson didnt chose to be an apprentice tailor, he was forced into being one by his mother so that he could help bring in revenue to his poverty stricken family.

He taught himself how to read and write at 17, by the way he didnt marry until he was 18.

Andrew Johnson's career in politics,
Mayor of his home town from 1830-1833
Tenessee house of representatives from 1835-1837 and again from 1839-1841
Elected as a Tennessee governor in 1841
US House of representatives for 10 years from 1843-1853
Tennessee Senator in 1857
Vice President to Lincoln from 1862 to 1865

Serving as a Governor, Congressman, Mayor, and as a Senator, Andrew Johnson was one of the most qualified people to be president in his day, and for the record one cannot be impeached for being (allegedly) inexperienced.

2) Andrew Johnson was indeed a racist, but that is not why he was impeached, nor is it a justifiable reason on why a president should be impeached.

3) Andrew Johnson was not power hungry like you suggest, he was impeached because he fired one secretary and one secretary only, his secretary of war Edwin Staton, and replace him with Ulysses S Grant, a Civil War Hero who would actually serve as president after Johnson.

As of today, the secretary of War is a position that no longer exists

In 1867 Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act that meant the Senate must give consent for the President to fire an advisor. Such an act today would violate the idea of the seperation of powers which would make the law unconstitutional.

Lastly the law that Johnson had allegedly violated, the Tenure of Office Act, was REPEALED in 1887, and then the Supreme Court declared such a law was unconsitutional in 1926

So to summarize,
1) President Johnson was impeached because he fired a man from a position that no longer exists
2) He was impeached over violating a law that today no longer exists
3) He was impeached over a law that was later formally declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court

President Andrew Johnson did not deserve to be impeached.....
Debate Round No. 2


I'd just like to say, first off, I'm sorry that I haven't been very quick, I've been really busy the past week or so.

1. I acknowledge that he didn't choose to be an apprentice tailor; however, he still didn't have an education other than teaching himself how to read and write.

2. My oppponent has agreed that Andrew Johnson is a racist, but said that racism isn't a justifiable reason why a president should be impeached. Even though racism isn't a quality you want in a person president after the civil war, my point was that being counterproductive after the civil war is a reason why he should've been impeached, not that he was racist.

3. The law was NOT ruled unconstitutional in MYERS v. UNITED STATES, 272 U.S. 52 (1926). Myers V. United States was about firing a postmaster- keeping in mind that a postmaster is a position that no longer existed. The case ruled that it is unconstitutional to prevent a President from firing people that he appointed, not that it is unconstitutional to prevent the President from firing officals appointed by others. The supreme court has never ruled that it was unconstitutional for congress to have checks and balances on the President's ability to fire officers appointed by other presidents. Also, the law still existed and he KNEW he was violating it. Slavery doesn't exist today, but there were presidents before Johnson that had slaves. But because slavery was allowed THEN, they could not be impeached. Today if a president kept slaves, they would definitely be impeached. According to the United States Government, the position of Secretary Of War DOES exist today, albeit under a different form; the department of the army is essentially the same as the department of war. Also, the department of war lasted until 1947, and was only replaced when the departments split apart into Air Force and Army. The Tenure of Office Act was a way for congress to keep checks and balances on a power-hungry, controlling, president. Also, in the trial where Johnson was aquitted by one vote, many of the senators were probably bribed by a $150,000 fund that Johnson's administartion had raised. Also, the only reason that Edwin Stanton was fired was that he stood in Andrew Johnson's way of returning the south to what it was pre-civil war.

So, to summarize, Johnson had no formal education and his only actual education was self-taught. His actions were counterproductive to all the progress made during the civil war, and he violated the tenure of office act.
1) The position that Andrew Johnson fired a man from DOES exist, it just split into 2 branches because of the rise of aircraft.
2) It doesn't matter that it doesn't exist today; Andrew Johnson KNEW that what he was doing was illegal, yet he did so anyways.
3) The law was not declared unconstitutional; the US Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for the President to be stopped from firing officers that he himself appointed. The Tenure of Office Act was a major part of this trial yet the Supreme Court never said that it was unconstitutional for Congress to put checks and balances on the President by preventing him from firing officers appointed by others.;;


(Dont worry about it, I've been busy as hell too :P )

1) The ability to read and write is a skill that both lead to two results, either you are literate or you are not. Johnson took the hard way but nonetheless he did learn to read and write. You also have not offered a counter argument to the amount of political experience Johnson had prior to the presidency which easily justifies how he was qualified to be the president.

2) Johnson may have vetoed key legislation following the Civil War but all his veto's were overridden by the republican controlled congress. He was not counter-productive and a tyrant he was simply a legislative roadblock that Congress could easily hurdle over and continue with reconstruction of the south and the nation.

3) I understand the Pro's arguments and I apologize for my errors regarding the case, so let me offer this as a counter-argument. The Tenure of Office act did violate the idea of separation of powers so it could still be argued that such a law would be theoretically unconstitutional or could be questioned for its legality. Also the accusation for Johnson being power hungry are unfounded because you ignored the fact that Johnson wanted to replace one person, and only one person, with a Civil War Hero who would later become the president of the US.

But as for your accusations of the bribery and Johnson wanting to re-install slavery in the South, the one source you provided to reinforce this argument was a biased website that actually suggests that Johnson should NOT have been impeached for violating the Tenure of Office Act. The desire to re-install slavery is also an unsupported argument with no support.

Andrew Johnson could be argued to have been a bit of an a**, but he did not deserve to be impeached over a law that COULD be argued as unlawful for replacing ONE adviser without congressional consent and replacing that ONE adviser with someone who was far more qualified for the position.
Debate Round No. 3


I will go down the rebuttal, and then summarize points in this debate.

1) The ability to read and write is a good skill, but because he didn't have a formal eduaction he didn't have as much of an education in science, and history- two key skills that a President should have to forsee America's technological potential and to see what happened in the past. Also, my opponent has listed past experience but not what he did with his experience; he could've just sat in office all day and done nothing.

2) NOT all of his vetoes were overriden by congress. The Freedman's Beauru act was vetoed by him and not overriden by congress, which would've gaurenteed more rights to former slaves. If we look at the bills he vetoed, such as the civil rights bill, we can see that he essentially didn't approve. We can clearly tell he wanted to return America to what it was like before the civil war- Andrew Johnson said ""If you liberate the negro, what will be the next step? . . . It would place every splay-footed, bandy-shanked, humpbacked negro in the country upon an equality with the poor white man." "You can't get rid of the negro except by holding him in slavery." [Source: the documentary The American President] This is proof that he wanted to reinstitute slavery. He was a racist, as my opponent has agreed, wanted to reinstitute slavery, and was being counterproductive to the civil war.

3) It didn't violate the seperation of power; the seperation of powers in America is Congress making laws, the President signs the laws into effect, and the Supreme Court interprets the laws. The president is still signing laws into effect, and congress is still making the laws. The Tenure of Office Act didn't cause Congress to take over the job of the President; it was a law designed so that, in the case that a President would attempt to become a tyrant in a power-hungry fury (As Andrew Johnson might've done without the law), the President's tyrant attempt would fail. Andrew Johnson was arguably a power-hungry president (A supremist and going against what the people wanted and only what he himself wanted) who could've potentially became a tyrant had the Tenure of Office act not been in effect. Also note that Edwin Stanton, whom Andrew Johnson fired, had worked with the supreme court in 1842 and was a supreme court justice at the end of his life. Andrew Johnson fired Edwin Stanton knowing that the Tenure of Office Act existed. Also, Stanton happened to be anti-slavery; a potential reason why he was fired without Congress's consent. Stanton did not think that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional, and his opinion was qualified, as he was an experienced lawyer. He was one of the first to use an insanity defense, and he was appointed to the Supreme Court before he died. I will also offer another source on my accusation of bribery. In his book Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy which made several bestseller lists, David O. Stewart also accused Andrew Johnson of bribery. On his website, David Stewart states about his book- "Andrew Johnson – racist, stubborn, and deaf to the views of others – was not equal to those excruciating challenges. The Radical Republicans, led by the fiercely brilliant Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, fought for two years to force the president to defend the rights of the freedmen. Stevens’ iron will and sheer cussedness produced the final confrontation in the impeachment trial, from which no one emerged a winner. The book explores long-ignored evidence of bribery and corrupt influences in the final Senate vote. It received gratifying reviews and made several bestseller lists." This is a reliable source coming from a reliable author. Readers consider it to be beliveable as well, as it holds a 4.5/5 star rating on

My opponent also has stated that Stanton's replacement was a much better choice- however, as I have shown some of his law experience (more can be found in my evidence of him stated below) he was very qualified and in a time when matters would be legal (as America wasn't at war), Stanton was a better choice. My opponent stated that the law "COULD be argued as unlawful". However, he hasn't shown any evidence or case law as to why it is unlawful in the last round. I have shown case law. Andrew Johnson KNEW that what he was doing was illegal, but he did it anyways.

In conclusion, the main points of this debate-
1) Andrew Johnson KNOWINGLY violated a law that, as I have shown with case law, is not unconstitutional
2) Andrew Johnson was power hungry and was counterproductive to the civil war, knowingly going against what the nation wanted and doing what he wanted himself. He wanted to reinstitute slavery- we can obviously see that through him saying "I believe slaves should be in subordination and I will live and die so believing.".;;;;;;

Thank you, con, for debating, it has been a great debate!


(I enjoyed this debate too :D)
Ill just make this real short

1) I argued that Andrew Johnson had much experience in politics before he became president, The Pro states that since Johnson got bad grades that that automatically makes him unqualified to have been in president in the first place. However, Einstein got nad grades in mathematics does that mean he should never have been allowed to use equations and numbers while a scientist?

2) The Freedmen's Bureau was never abolished by Andrew Johnson, in fact it existed his entire presidency, the bureau was actually shut down by Ulysses S Grant. The only part of the bill he vetoed was a bill to give it more power, and that veto WAS OVERTURNED in 1866.

Andrew Johnson's actions against the movement were minor and were ultimately surpassed because of efforts from the Republican dominated Congress. I agreed he was racist and so would most voters but to claim he wanted to RE-INSTITUTE slavery is very debatable.

3) I understand the separation of powers point you make but you still claim that Andrew Johnson was a power-hungry tyrant but I still fail to see how wanting to replace only 1 adviser makes him power-hungry or a tyrant, let alone both...

Also there could be many many reasons why he wanted to relieve Stanton of his duty, to imply that it was ONLY because he was anti-slavery is very biased of Johnson's actions.

In conclusion, Andrew Johnson should not have been impeached because
1) He did have plenty of experience in politics prior to being president so he was qualified to be president
2) He did no real damage to the efforts of the Reconstruction of the South, the liberation of slaves, or to the rights they inherited after the end of the Civil War
3) The law that he did violate (just once) he did so because he felt it was an infringement on his executive powers and was unconstitutional, which is perfectly reasonable. At the same time he wanted to appoint a general be secretary of war over a lawyer........ The Law he did violate was later repealed by Congress though because they came to an agreement that it was unlawful, not unconstitutional. Since the law was repealed Congress agreed that it was unlawful which means that Johnson was impeached over an unlawful (not unconstitutional) law

I had a blast with this debate :D
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Vamike 3 years ago
I read the comment section and felt compelled to write the following. First, "fully impeached", is not a recognized legal term. It means nothing in this context. The impeachment process for removing a president is clearly expressed in the Constitution:

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested
in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Sen-
ate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and
other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
--- Impeachment is another term for indictment.
--- An indictment (/=8;nG2;da=8;tmənt/ in-dyt-mənt), in the common law system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime.

Section 3. The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeach-
ments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or
Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried
the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be con-
victed without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend fur-
ther than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold
and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United
States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and
subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, accord-
ing to Law.

Above is a comprehensive outline for impeachment, in the House of Representatives, and the subsequent trial that would take place in the Senate. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would preside over the Senate trial.

Andrew Johnson is considered by many historians as one of the worst presidents to hold the office.
Posted by GWindeknecht1 6 years ago
He actually was fully impeached. I was acquitted. The act of charging him of the crime is the impeachment, to find him guilty is the actual removal from office. You didn't make that distinction. Your question doesn't make sense, as the Senate cannot impeach a President, only the House of Representatives can do so.
Posted by Bugaham 6 years ago
He was NOT impeached fully, just impeached in the house of representatives.
Posted by Cobo 6 years ago
He was impeached.....
I would take this for da lolz, but no.
Posted by Bugaham 6 years ago
Well, you can challenge me if you like. It won't be an easy win, I can assure you.
Posted by Deathbeforedishonour 6 years ago
He never broke the law lol why should he be impeached?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: pro had some wrong facts, but most of his reascourses where credible.
Vote Placed by Lordknukle 6 years ago
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