The forced resignation of Stanton, secretary of war under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, served as the focal point of Johnson’s impeachment trial. In December, 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Stanton as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. He was confirmed easily by the Senate but died before he could take the oath of office.
Before the Civil War (1861-1865), Stanton developed a successful legal career in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. He served briefly as attorney general (December, 1860-March, 1861) under President James Buchanan. During the Civil War, his firm antislavery position and his administrative effectiveness led to his appointment as secretary of war in President Abraham Lincoln’s war cabinet (January, 1862). After Lincoln’s assassination, Stanton remained as secretary of war until May, 1868, when he resigned at the request of President Andrew Johnson. Using the Tenure of Offices Act, Stanton argued that Johnson had no right to force his resignation and became an activist in the unsuccessful effort to impeach Johnson.
Impeachment of presidents