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Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 12, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fresh from his masterful The Summer of 1787, Stewart takes on one of the seamiest events in American history: the vengeful impeachment of Lincoln's successor as president; the Senate failed to convict Andrew Johnson by a single vote. At issue was the continuation of Lincoln's plans to reintegrate the South into the union after the Civil War. But also at stake, as always, was party politics. Stewart takes readers through a tangled web of motives and maneuverings in lively, unadorned prose. He's skilled at characterizing his large cast of characters and, as a lawyer, has a practiced nose for skullduggery, of which there was much. Corruption deeply marred the entire impeachment effort. Justifiably, Stewart holds his nose about most of the people involved and admires few of them. As he sums it up, in 1868 none of the country's leaders was great, a few were good, all were angry, and far too many were despicable. Stewart offers little analysis and advances no new ideas about what he relates, but he tells the story as well as it's ever been told. B&w photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

One of our more controversial political figures, Andrew Johnson came closer than any other U.S. President to being removed from office through impeachment. This study by Stewart (Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution), a Washington lawyer who has argued against impeachment in Senate proceedings, examines Johnson's rocky relationship with the post-Civil War radical Republicans. He breaks with those historians who have suggested that Johnson followed what would have been Lincoln's path to reconstruct the South, as he discusses the complex impeachment proceedings against Johnson and the effectiveness of the impeachment process in calming political tensions, if not in removing Presidents from office. Readers who wish to broaden their understanding of Lincoln in this anniversary year will do well to select this well-researched work even if their collection already includes such examinations as Howard Mean's narrower The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Changed the Nation.—Theresa McDevitt, Indiana Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416547495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416547495
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David O. Stewart turned to writing after more than a quarter century of law practice in Washington, D.C. as a trial and appellate lawyer. His first book, about the writing of the Constitution (The Summer of 1787), grew out of Supreme Court case he was working on. It was a Washington Post Bestseller and won the Washington Writing Prize for Best Book of 2007. His second book (Impeached), had its roots in a judicial impeachment trial he defended before the United States Senate in 1989. His next book -- American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America -- explored Burr's astounding Western expedition of 1805-07 and his treason trial before Chief Justice John Marshall. All three books have received starred prepublication reviews from Kirkus or Publishers Weekly. He has received the 2013 History Award of the Society of the Cincinnati. "Madison's Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America" debuted in February 2015.

In August 2013, Stewart began a new chapter in his writing life with the release of "The Lincoln Deception," an historical novel exploring the John Wilkes Booth conspiracy. A sequel featuring the same protagonists will appear in late September 2015. "The Wilson Deception" is set at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. A short story of his was previously nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He also is working a non-fiction study of James Madison and the remarkably influential partnerships through which he shaped American history.

Stewart lives with his wife in Maryland. Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Burke on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What would you say if someone were to ask you to come up with one fact about President Andrew Johnson? Many would respond by saying that he was the 17th President of the United States or that Johnson succeeded to the Presidency following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Some might add that Johnson only served one term. I'm sure many of us would recall that President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by one vote by the U.S. Senate. Many of us might also state our belief that the reason Johnson was impeached was that he disagreed with the harsh and vengeful policies of the Radical Republicans and because, following in Lincoln's footsteps, he adopted a compassionate and conciliatory attitude toward the South. The reality, as David O. Stewart amply demonstrates in this book, is quite different. Johnson was a staunch states' rights advocate and didn't see a problem with the former Confederate states doing whatever they wanted now that the Civil War was over. Ex-Confederates were elected to government office and Southern governments imposed Black Codes to deny former slaves their rights. President Johnson also opposed passage of the 14th Amendment.
Some of us may remember having read President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's Profiles in Courage and will recall his account of the courage of Kansas Senator Edmund G. Ross and I quote, "the man who saved a President and who, as a result, may have preserved for ourselves and posterity constitutional government in the United States." Again, David Stewart shows us in this book that the reality is quite different.
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Format: Hardcover
Only 35 years ago the certainty of impeachment and conviction drove an American President to resign in mid-term. Only 11 years ago another President was acquitted after trial by the U.S. Senate. Last year "Impeach Obama" bumper stickers were available even before the current President took his oath. Thus the time is ripe for a fresh look at the attempted impeachment of Andrew Johnson back in 1868. This was the case that set the tone on this momentous issue and laid down ground rules that have been followed ever since.

The conventional account --- the one we all learned in high school --- held that Johnson was attacked on a flimsy pretext by the Radical Republicans merely because he tried to carry out the assassinated Lincoln's policy of reconciliation and leniency toward the defeated Confederate States. The anti-Johnson faction allegedly wanted the South to be treated like a conquered enemy country, its leaders disciplined and the freed blacks given their rights forthwith. The Radicals were painted as partisan zealots, Johnson as a weak and flawed man but nonetheless the victim of a savage political vendetta.

David O. Stewart, a lawyer and respected historian, begs to differ. His hero --- are you ready for this? --- is dour and implacable Thaddeus Stevens, the "soul" of the impeachment movement. He sees Johnson's defenders as a cabal of self-seeking officeholders and sleazy bagmen. His evidence, though largely circumstantial, is voluminous and marshaled with lawyerly expertise. Bribery and backroom dealmaking were rampant on both sides, Stewart says, but he devotes much more space to the activities of Johnson loyalists than to those of his opponents.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James McGrath Morris on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Stewart's incredible research and storytelling skills combine in this book to turn the impeachment of Andrew Johnson into an important and riveting tale. "David O. Stewart's 'Impeached' is the fullest recounting we have of the high politics of that immediate post-Civil War period," says the Washington Post. "Stewart's graceful style and storytelling ability make for a good read."
Equally important, Stewart reminds of us of the historical importance of this moment in the 19th century, how it tested our Constitution, and he makes a compelling case that corruption played an important role in determining the outcome.
This book will finally put to rest the romantic and inaccurate account contained in John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage."
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
David Stewart is an excellent writer, who displays his talent in this book. He has the ability to present what is often nothing more than speeches and meetings in a fresh and readable manner. A lawyer, who has handled impeachment cases, he uses this experience and training to good effect. He makes both the issues and legalize understandable and interesting. This is no small feat, as impeachments can be very political while requiring a legal foundation. The author manages to establish the legal and political reasons behind this impeachment as we move through all the maneuvering by both sides.
The author's sympathies are with Congressional Reconstruction and he clearly favors impeaching President Johnson. For the majority of the book he tries to avoid a "soapbox" approach. This falls apart in the last fifty pages as an agenda emerges. At this point, it makes little difference in the narration but I found the switch unsettling.
In many ways, this is bad guys vs. worse guys, with the reader deciding who is who. Neither the Radicals in congress nor the President tried to avoid a confrontation. The positions of the two sides were not compatible and comprise was all but impossible. The book has a good history of the confrontations between the President, Congress, the defeated South and the victorious North. All of this is plays out in the shadow of U.S. Grant, who everyone is expects to be President in 1868.
Why don't I like this book?
First, the author's sources are questionable. For much of the chapters on bribing senators, he uses the Butler hearings as a source. All of the bribery information is presented as established fact.
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