Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 7: What is Freedom?
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7

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Thaddeus Stevens
Segment 4
The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson Impeaching a President

Those Republicans who had pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress against President Johnson's wishes were led by an intense, determined lawyer from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, who didn't waste words; he just got things done. His name was Thaddeus Stevens See It Now - Thaddeus Stevens, and he had been born poor in Vermont with a clubfoot and an alcoholic father. What he had going for him was a brilliant mind and a fierce honesty. He never seemed to care what others thought. He just did what he believed to be right. He couldn't be bribed or tempted—though some tried to do both. During the Civil War Stevens worked in Congress to write laws that would provide for a fair government for all people. His Yankee mind told him that "all men are created equal" meant all men—not just all white men. He said: Hear It Now - Thaddeus Stevens "No government can be free that does not allow all its citizens to participate in the formation and execution of her laws. Every other government is a despotism."

Stevens believed that the southern states should not be admitted back into the Union until blacks were given the vote, land, and guarantees of equality under the law Check The Source - A Speech by Thaddeus Stevens. Andrew Johnson, on the other hand, believed it was not the responsibility of the nation to help the newly freed men and women get fair and equal treatment before the law. He thought that was the states' job. Stevens knew that the states had not done that and would not. President Johnson called Stevens a traitor and said he should be hanged. Stevens detested the President and said he should be impeached.

Impeachment is a process, set up in the Constitution, that can lead to a trial and the removal from office of public officials who are guilty of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The Radical Republicans wanted Andrew Johnson out of office. They thought he was unfit to be president. They began impeachment hearings Check The Source - The Articles of Impeachment Against President Andrew Johnson.

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Did You Know?
Thousands of tickets were printed for admission to the Senate galleries; people did everything possible to get them in order to watch the President's trial.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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