Definition of Tenure of Office Act
Definition: The Tenure of Office Act was passed by Congress on March 2, 1867. President Andrew Johnson attempted to veto the law, but failed. The reason that Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act was to limit the President’s powers and prevent President Andrew Johnson dismissing radical Republicans from office. The President subsequently ignored the Tenure of Office Act and suspended Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War and a prominent cabinet member. This action led to the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.
Events leading to the Tenure of Office Act
The events leading up to the Tenure of Office Act were due to the conflict between President Andrew Johnson and the radical Republicans in Congress over the Reconstruction of the South. In April 1865, Vice President Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat, assumed the Presidency following the assassination of President Lincoln. Johnson adopts the Reconstruction plans of Lincoln but on December 1, 1865 President Johnson abruptly declared the end to Reconstruction. Congress was outraged, and Radical Republicans refuse to recognize the new governments in southern states who were attempting to restore self-rule. The Southern states had passed the notorious Black Codes during 1865 -1866 and were reluctant to ratify the 13th Amendment. President Johnson further infuriated Congress by vetoing an extension to the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Republicans responded by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 overriding the President’s veto. The Congressional elections of November, 1866, were greatly in favor of the radical Republicans and in support of their policy for reconstruction. Congress passed the first of the Reconstruction Acts which gave them military control of the South.
When was the Tenure of Office Act passed?
Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act on March 2, 1867.
Why did Congress pass the Tenure of Office Act?
Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act to limit the President’s powers and prevent President Andrew Johnson dismissing radical Republicans from office. They hoped that the Tenure of Office Act would to assure the continuance in office of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and therefore prevent any interference with the military occupation of the South in the Congressional Reconstruction plan. Edwin Stanton was a valuable member of the existing cabinet and a firm supporter of the Radical Republican’s Reconstruction policies and was openly opposed to President Johnson.
What were the provisions of the Tenure of Office Act?
The provisions of the Tenure of Office Act were that:
● It forbade the President to remove any federal officeholder appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate without the further approval of the Senate
● It also provided that members of the President’s cabinet should hold office for the full term of the President who appointed them and one month thereafter, subject to removal by the Senate
Tenure of Office Act for kids: The Reaction of President Johnson
President Johnson tried and failed to veto the Tenure of Office Act. Ever since the formation of the United States government the Presidents had removed officers when they saw fit. The Tenure of Office Act required the consent of the Senate to removals as well as to appointments. Johnson believed that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional.
Tenure of Office Act for kids: Edwin Stanton
In December 1867 President Johnson ignored the Tenure of Office Act and suspended Edwin Stanton from office. Stanton refused to budge and barricaded himself in his office claiming that the Tenure of Office Act protected him. The House of Representatives invoked the new Tenure of Office Act to initiate Impeachment proceedings against President Johnson. In the history of the United States there have only been two Impeached Presidents – both were acquitted.
Tenure of Office Act for kids: The Aftermath
The Tenure of Office Act was partly repealed partly in 1869 and entirely cancelled in 1887. In 1926 the Tenure of Office Act was declared by the U.S. Supreme Court to have been unconstitutional
Tenure of Office Act – President Andrew Johnson Video
The article on the Tenure of Office Act provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office. The following Andrew Johnson video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 17th American President whose presidency spanned from April 15, 1865 to March 4, 1869.
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“The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
— U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, a Radical Republican, gave the last speech during House debate on articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1868. Johnson became the first president impeached by the House, but he was later acquitted by the Senate by one vote.
The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach an official, and it makes the Senate the sole court for impeachment trials. The power of impeachment is limited to removal from office but also provides for a removed officer to be disqualified from holding future office. Fines and potential jail time for crimes committed while in office are left to civil courts.
Impeachment comes from British constitutional history. The process evolved from the 14th century as a way for parliament to hold the king’s ministers accountable for their public actions. Impeachment, as Alexander Hamilton of New York explained in Federalist 65, varies from civil or criminal courts in that it strictly involves the “misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Individual state constitutions had provided for impeachment for “maladministration” or “corruption” before the U.S. Constitution was written. And the founders, fearing the potential for abuse of executive power, considered impeachment so important that they made it part of the Constitution even before they defined the contours of the presidency.
During the Federal Constitutional Convention, the framers addressed whether even to include impeachment trials in the Constitution, the venue and process for such trials, what crimes should warrant impeachment, and the likelihood of conviction. Rufus King of Massachusetts argued that having the legislative branch pass judgment on the executive would undermine the separation of powers; better to let elections punish a President. “The Executive was to hold his place for a limited term like the members of the Legislature,” King said, so “he would periodically be tried for his behaviour by his electors.” Massachusetts’s Elbridge Gerry, however, said impeachment was a way to keep the executive in check: “A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.”
Another issue arose regarding whether Congress might lack the resolve to try and convict a sitting President. Presidents, some delegates observed, controlled executive appointments which ambitious Members of Congress might find desirable. Delegates to the Convention also remained undecided on the venue for impeachment trials. The Virginia Plan, which set the agenda for the Convention, initially contemplated using the judicial branch. Again, though, the founders chose to follow the British example, where the House of Commons brought charges against officers and the House of Lords considered them at trial. Ultimately, the founders decided that during presidential impeachment trials, the House would manage the prosecution, while the Chief Justice would preside over the Senate during the trial.
The founders also addressed what crimes constituted grounds for impeachment. Treason and bribery were obvious choices, but George Mason of Virginia thought those crimes did not include a large number of punishable offenses against the state. James Madison of Virginia objected to using the term “maladministration” because it was too vague. Mason then substituted “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in addition to treason and bribery. The term “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was a technical term—again borrowed from British legal practice—that denoted crimes by public officials against the government. Mason’s revision was accepted without further debate. But subsequent experience demonstrated the revised phrase failed to clarify what constituted impeachable offenses.
The House’s Role
The House brings impeachment charges against federal officials as part of its oversight and investigatory responsibilities. Individual Members of the House can introduce impeachment resolutions like ordinary bills, or the House could initiate proceedings by passing a resolution authorizing an inquiry. The Committee on the Judiciary ordinarily has jurisdiction over impeachments, but special committees investigated charges before the Judiciary Committee was created in 1813. The committee then chooses whether to pursue articles of impeachment against the accused official and report them to the full House. If the articles are adopted (by simple majority vote), the House appoints Members by resolution to manage the ensuing Senate trial on its behalf. These managers act as prosecutors in the Senate and are usually members of the Judiciary Committee. The number of managers has varied across impeachment trials but has traditionally been an odd number. The partisan composition of managers has also varied depending on the nature of the impeachment, but the managers, by definition, always support the House’s impeachment action.
The Use of Impeachment
The House has initiated impeachment proceedings more than 60 times but less than a third have led to full impeachments. Just eight—all federal judges—have been convicted and removed from office by the Senate. Outside of the 15 federal judges impeached by the House, two Presidents (Andrew Johnson in 1868 and William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton in 1998), a cabinet secretary (William Belknap in 1876), and a U.S. Senator (William Blount of North Carolina in 1797) have also been impeached.
Blount’s impeachment trial—the first ever conducted—established the principle that Members of Congress and Senators were not “Civil Officers” under the Constitution, and accordingly, they could only be removed from office by a two-thirds vote for expulsion by their respective chambers. Blount, who had been accused of instigating an insurrection of American Indians to further British interests in Florida, was not convicted, but the Senate did expel him. Other impeachments have featured judges taking the bench when drunk or profiting from their position. The trial of President Johnson, however, focused on whether the President could remove cabinet officers without obtaining Congress’s approval. Johnson’s acquittal firmly set the precedent—debated from the beginning of the nation—that the President may remove appointees even if they required Senate confirmation to hold office.
For Further Reading
Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937).
Kyvig, David E. The Age of Impeachment: American Constitutional Culture Since 1960. (Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2008).
Les Benedict, Michael. The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999).
Madison, James, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay. The Federalist Papers. (New York: Penguin Books, 1987).
Melton, Buckner F., Jr. The First Impeachment: The Constitution’s Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount. (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1998).
Rehnquist, William H. Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson. (New York: Harper Perennial, 1999).
“Report by the Staff of the Impeachment Inquiry on the Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment,” Committee Print, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, 93rd Cong., 2nd sess., February 1974.
Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).
Sullivan, John. “Chapter 27—Impeachment,” in House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents, and Procedures of the House. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2011).
Thomas, David Y. “The Law of Impeachment in the United States,” The American Political Science Review 2 (May 1908): 378–395.
10/16 marked Planned Parenthood’s 103rd anniversary, and we hope you’ll celebrate with us
The best people I know are driven by compassion. They are big-hearted, kind, and spend their days caring for others without judgment. They do hard, important work because they believe that it matters.
And they are criticized for it, endlessly. They face relentless attacks from powerful people who want nothing more than to stop them from doing their jobs. Yet they still show up, every day, for the patients who are counting on them.
The staff at Planned Parenthood health centers — nurses, doctors, greeters, and more — are truly amazing people, and I think they deserve to hear that.
In our 103-year history, one thing has never changed: The dedication of staff who work every day to serve patients. And that commitment matters so much to the people who rely on Planned Parenthood. They know that no matter what happens or where they are in their lives, there is a place they can turn, filled with people who will put their needs first.
No politics, no judgment, no stigma. Just a patient who needs care, and an incredible group of people who will make sure they get it.
If you or someone you love has ever gotten that kind of care and compassion, please join me in thanking Planned Parenthood health center staff and volunteers for their tireless commitment to their patients, no matter what.
International humanitarian law is very clear that occupation must only be temporary; the Israeli settlements are in direct violation of this principle. For instance, the settlements are in breach of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupier from transferring its own civilians into the territory it occupies. Additionally, according to Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, the occupying power’s role is to safeguard occupied properties and maintain the status quo.
As the international development organization Diakonia explains, the construction of settlements violates this article because of the major changes it inflicts upon the occupied territory. And, according to Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, the occupying power must uphold order and safety while respecting the laws of the occupied country. Yet as Diakonia also explains, the settlements actually undermine public order and violate existing laws.
See also the following pages from the B’tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) website: