In 1867, the House of Representatives ended a furious debate by narrowly voting to impeach Abraham Lincoln after the House Judiciary committee had produced a damning bill consisting of a vast collection of complaints against him.
Lincoln ImpeachedIn order to "bind the wounds" of the Civil War, the sixteenth President's vision for Reconstruction had been a quick and lenient re-uniting of the nation, centered on forgiving most Confederates and quickly bringing their states back to full participation in the Union.
By April of 1865, it had become clear that his plans were no more imaginative than passing control to the former Whigs who had been reluctant secessionists. And in fact the control of the entire Federal Government itself had very nearly passed to Andrew Johnson, an Independent South politician on Good Friday. However, the assassin John Wilkes Booth had misfired at the Ford Theatre, killing Mary Lincoln instead.
The emerging prospect of a confrontation with Congress had become a near certainty when Lincoln refused to sign the Wade-Davis Bill. In so doing, he had rejected a series of far more stringent conditions for the creation of State Governments which had been laid down by Congress.
The underlying issue was that Lincoln did not have a overarching plan, rather than an inclination to use his political genius to move matters forward along a roadmap of his own choosing. His undeclared intention of working with the States on an individual basis was plainly evident in his encouragement of the election of Michael Hahn as a pro-Union Governor to head a loyal government in Louisiana. And by 1867, the US Congress had decided that matters were completely out of control and the legislature must re-establish its authority on Reconstruction by terminating the recalcitrant Lincoln's scheming Presidency.