Social Studies 5: Impeachment

No, this isn't a terrible new mint-peach bubble gum flavor...though it does tend to leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

5th GradeSocial Studies
Elementary and Middle School5th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

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But there's one thing that every president would prefer be as boring as possible – and

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that's the end of their presidency.

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There are two exciting ways to end the Presidency and neither one is very fun. [Boy jumps off see-saw and girl falls to the floor]

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The first is impeachment, which is when the House of Representatives votes to force the

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President out of office.

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And the second is by assassination, which, well, need we say more? [Gravestone of President of the USA]

00:48

Believe it or not, both of those things nearly happened back-to-back in the 1860s.

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First came the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, but we're not talking about that

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today.

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Today’s focus is the attempted impeachment of President Andrew Johnson three years later,

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in 1868. It all started with Thaddeus Stevens, the

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leading Radical Republican in the House of Representatives that led the floor's fight [Thaddeus speaking in House of Representatives]

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against the President.

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So what'd Johnson do to make old Thaddeus so mad? Did he pick him last for his kickball

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team, or something?

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Well, not quite. The Republicans felt that Johnson had violated something called the

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Tenure of Office Act when he fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. [Edward Stanton and Johnson approaches]

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The Tenure of Office Act basically said that the President wasn't allowed to remove certain

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people from office without approval from the Senate.

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But here's the thing. They just said that was the reason they wanted to impeach him.

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In reality, they really wanted to get rid of him because he kept getting in the way

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of enforcing the Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress to help freed slaves. [Slave approaches door and door slams]

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The Reconstruction Acts basically tried to divide and reshape the South in order to secure

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equal rights for African Americans, and apparently Johnson wasn't too happy about this. But guess [Johnson and Congress in a boxing fight]

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what? Congress wasn't too happy with him either. So they drafted up an impeachment document

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which included the violation charge, along with a statement that Johnson had brought

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“disgrace, hatred, ridicule, contempt, and reproach to the Congress of the United States.” [Congress man hands Johnson impeachment document]

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Them's fightin’ words right there

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Hearings went on for two weeks and then the trial in the Senate went on for eleven – during

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which Johnson desperately tried to make peace with some of the more moderate Republicans.

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Ultimately, the impeachment decision came up one vote short, allowing Johnson to remain [Man holding up guilty and note guilty vodes]

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President.

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How crazy is that?

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Just goes to show that one person really can make a difference. [Judge bangs the gavel]

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Especially if that one person is Beyoncé.

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…Or, you know, a U.S. Congressman.