If Lincoln Lived, Would He Have Been Impeached?


Turning the “great man theory” of history on its head, Stephen Carter in
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
(2012) imagines what if one of America’s greatest presidents faced the same seemingly irreconcilable political differences that his successor, Andrew Johnson, faced. Johnson was indeed impeached but survived removal in the US Senate in 1868 by one vote. The conventional historical wisdom was that Johnson brought the widespread hatred on himself because he was a poor politician who made enemies out of potential friends and was an inveterate racist.

But maybe impeachment wasn’t entirely Johnson’s fault and he was at least somewhat a victim of circumstance?

In Carter’s retelling, Radical Republican zealots in Congress lose their patience with Lincoln’s moderate Reconstruction policies and especially resent Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The result is a legal thriller.

Drill Deeper:

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