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This was the first impeachment of a President since creation of the office in 1789.

Contrary to popular belief, Johnson was not impeached for temporarily replacing Stanton with General Ulysses Grant earlier while Congress was not in session.Johnson and Grant would later disagree on an understanding between the two of them.If the Senate later failed to concur with Johnson's removal of Stanton, the President claimed that Grant agreed to either remain in office or pre-notify Johnson that he would resign so that Johnson could replace him.Although the Radical Republicans had vehemently opposed Lincoln's Reconstruction policies, the 16th President was immensely popular in the North and thus able to deprive the Radicals of the political capital they would need to successfully oppose his agenda.

Radical Republicans were convinced that President Johnson would enact their hardline Reconstruction policies of protection for newly freed slaves and punishment for former slave owners, government, and military officials.

A ten-day recess was called before attempting to convict him on additional articles, but that effort failed on May 26.