Social Studies 5: Impeachment
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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 Grade||Social Studies|
|Elementary and Middle School||5th Grade|
But there's one thing that every president would prefer be as boring as possible – and
that's the end of their presidency.
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]
The first is impeachment, which is when the House of Representatives votes to force the
President out of office.
And the second is by assassination, which, well, need we say more? [Gravestone of President of the USA]
Believe it or not, both of those things nearly happened back-to-back in the 1860s.
First came the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, but we're not talking about that
Today’s focus is the attempted impeachment of President Andrew Johnson three years later,
in 1868. It all started with Thaddeus Stevens, the
leading Radical Republican in the House of Representatives that led the floor's fight [Thaddeus speaking in House of Representatives]
against the President.
So what'd Johnson do to make old Thaddeus so mad? Did he pick him last for his kickball
team, or something?
Well, not quite. The Republicans felt that Johnson had violated something called the
Tenure of Office Act when he fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. [Edward Stanton and Johnson approaches]
The Tenure of Office Act basically said that the President wasn't allowed to remove certain
people from office without approval from the Senate.
But here's the thing. They just said that was the reason they wanted to impeach him.
In reality, they really wanted to get rid of him because he kept getting in the way
of enforcing the Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress to help freed slaves. [Slave approaches door and door slams]
The Reconstruction Acts basically tried to divide and reshape the South in order to secure
equal rights for African Americans, and apparently Johnson wasn't too happy about this. But guess [Johnson and Congress in a boxing fight]
what? Congress wasn't too happy with him either. So they drafted up an impeachment document
which included the violation charge, along with a statement that Johnson had brought
“disgrace, hatred, ridicule, contempt, and reproach to the Congress of the United States.” [Congress man hands Johnson impeachment document]
Them's fightin’ words right there
Hearings went on for two weeks and then the trial in the Senate went on for eleven – during
which Johnson desperately tried to make peace with some of the more moderate Republicans.
Ultimately, the impeachment decision came up one vote short, allowing Johnson to remain [Man holding up guilty and note guilty vodes]
How crazy is that?
Just goes to show that one person really can make a difference. [Judge bangs the gavel]
Especially if that one person is Beyoncé.
…Or, you know, a U.S. Congressman.