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05-16   Print  E-mail
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Clearly at cross purposes, Congress approved the Fourteenth Amendment, while Johnson recommended that the states refuse to ratify it. Congress responded with their own militant reconstruction program and passed the Army Appropriations Act to thwart the president's power as commander-in-chief, insisting his orders all be communicated through an intermediary. Congress also repassed the Freedman's Bureau Act and overrode Johnson's veto.

Passage of the Tenure of Civil Office Act only heightened the antagonism between Johnson and the Congress. The Act forbid him to remove office holders, including Cabinet members, without the Senate's approval. The Act, formulated in language akin to that used in the Constitution to describe grounds for impeachment, made the removal of office holders without Senate approval a "misdemeanor in office."

Johnson's Cabinet advised him the Act was likely invalid, and he defied Congress by discharging Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton on February 21, 1868. He appointed Ulysses Grant who served just five months then stepped down and joined the Republicans. Next, Johnson appointed Lorenzo Thomas, but this time Stanton, who had actually been working with radicals in Congress, barricaded himself inside his office.


 

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