The Civil Rights Act of 1866 is a federal law in the United States declaring that everyone born in the U.S. and not subject to any foreign power is a citizen, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude. As citizens they could make and enforce contracts, sue and be sued, give evidence in court, and inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property. Persons who denied these rights to former slaves were guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction faced a fine not exceeding $1,000, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both. The activities of organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan undermined the workings of this act and it failed to guarantee the civil rights of African Americans. This statute does not cover visitors, diplomats, and Native Americans in the United States on reservations. It was aimed at the Freedmen (freed slaves) and was a major policy during Reconstruction. It was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson then passed over his veto by Radical Republicans in Congress. The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, was one of the most dramatic events in the political life of the United States during Reconstruction, and the first impeachment in history of a sitting United States president.The Impeachment was the consummation of a lengthy political battle, between the moderate Johnson and the "Radical Republican" movement that dominated Congress, for control of Reconstruction policies after the American Civil War. Johnson was impeached on February 24, 1868 in the U.S. House of Representatives on eleven articles of impeachment detailing his "high crimes and misdemeanors"in accordance with Article Two of the United States Constitution. The House's primary charge against Johnson was with violation of the Tenure of Office Act, passed by Congress the previous year. Specifically, he had removed Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War (whom the Tenure of Office Act was largely designed to protect), from office and replaced him with Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas.
The House agreed to the articles of impeachment on March 2, 1868. The trial began three days later in the Senate, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase presiding. Trial concluded on May 16 with Johnson's acquittal, the final count falling one vote shy of the required tally for conviction.