Tenure of Office Act 14 Stat. 430 (1867)

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TENURE OF OFFICE ACT 14 Stat. 430 (1867)

After a complete political rupture between President andrew johnson and congressional Republicans over reconstruction policy, Congress enacted the Tenure of Office Act in March 1867, providing that all officials of the executive branch, except cabinet officers whose appointment had required Senate confirmation, would hold office until their successors had likewise been confirmed. Cabinet officers were to hold office only during the term of the president appointing them plus one month. The act also provided for interim appointments while the senate was not in session.

In February 1868, President Johnson removed Secretary of War edwin m. stanton, who was hostile to his Reconstruction policies, and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas in his place. The House promptly voted to impeach Johnson. Though Republicans sought to remove him from office because of his stubborn obstruction of their Reconstruction program, debates in his Senate trial turned on the constitutionality of the statute. The President's counsel maintained that it was unconstitutional as an interference with the president's removal power, a prerogative distinct from the appointive power. The Senate could not muster the two-thirds vote necessary for conviction. Congress repealed the act in 1887.

William M. Wiecek

(see also: Appointing and Removal Power, Presidential.)


Benedict, Michael Les 1973 The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson. New York: Norton.