Auctions | February 11, 2020

Original Copy of Impeachment of Andrew Johnson to be Offered at Bonhams

Courtesy of Bonhams

Original engrossed copy of the first impeachment resolution vote of President Andrew Johnson in the House of Representatives, signed by all 57 "Yea" votes. Estimate: $120,000-180,000

New York – On March 6, Bonhams will offer an extremely rare official engrossed copy of the first impeachment resolution vote in the House of Representatives for Andrew Johnson. It is signed by all 57 “Yea” votes, as well as signed and stamped with the official House seal by Clerk Edward McPherson, assembled by Clerk Isaac Strohm on December 7, 1867. It has an estimate of $120,000-180,000.
This extraordinary document was compiled by the clerk Isaac Strohm, with the certified copy of the extracts from the House resolution for impeachment, signed and stamped by House clerk Edward McPherson. Following are 57 autographed leaves of the "Yea" votes for the December 1867 impeachment, including Benjamin Butler, who would serve as an impeachment manager, as well as a slip signed by President Pro Tempore of the Senate Benjamin F. Wade, who would have succeeded Johnson as President had the Senate trial resulted in removal.
Darren Sutherland, Senior Specialist of Books and Manuscripts, comments: “This is a very timely reminder of an important moment in American history, with clear echoes of the present day. This official House manuscript is a vital and extremely rare document speaking directly to our past and the careful design of our governmental across more than 200 years.”
Following a January 1867 resolution accusing him of corruption and an authorized inquiry, on December 7th the House held the first full impeachment vote in American history, voting “yeas 57/ nays 108.” The first successful impeachment in the House would wait until February 24th, 1868, following Johnson’s second attempt to remove Edwin Stanton as Secretary of War, a blatant attack on the Senate's recently passed Tenure of Office Act.
After Lincoln's assassination and the end of hostilities, Johnson was tasked with overseeing Reconstruction, including incorporating the rebels in the South back into the Union. Johnson's political fortunes had been based largely on his firm support of the Union - as the only Southern senator who did not resign his seat during secession. But his stance on Reconstruction, offering a quick restoration of seceded states, without offering much protection to former slaves, did not garner wide support, particularly with Northern Republicans. The country was split as never before, and Johnson found himself at odds with his own House and Senate.

Though Johnson’s Reconstruction plan echoed Lincoln’s, he was unable to communicate and negotiate with the legislative branch (as Lincoln might have) in order to reconcile the two views, leading inexorably to the impeachment showdown beginning in 1867.