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James M. Ashley, Motion to Impeach the President of the United States, floor of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., January 7, 1867.

James M. Ashley, Brady image, detail

On January 7, 1867, the U.S. House of Representatives took up one of three resolutions, that of James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio, concerning the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.  The two others, from Benjamin F. Loan and John Russell Kelso of Missouri, were laid aside.  Here, Ashley addresses the House with his conviction that there is sufficient evidence to require the Judiciary Committee to take up an investigation into the necessity of impeaching the president for "high crimes and misdemeanors," including the corruption of executive power in appointments, pardons, and the veto.  The body voted 107 to 39, with 45 abstentions to send the matter to the Judiciary Committee.  The Thirty-Ninth Congress was soon to expire and the work of the committee was continued into the next Congress.  After eleven months, the examination of eighty-nine witnesses, and the publication of twelve hundred pages of testimony, the Committee reported for impeachment. The Congress, however, citing the lack of specific crimes outlined in the report, on December 7, 1867, voted 57 to 108 to take no action at the moment.  The impeachment would proceed the following year when these specifics became a reality in the mind of many members, largely over the Tenure of Office Act.  (By John Osborne)