Today in history: May 16

West Wing Reports
The Week

In 1868, the Senate fell one vote short of convicting President Andrew Johnson — who had already been impeached by the House

May 16

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On this day. 1797: President John Adams told Congress of the "XYZ Affair" — a dispute with France that nearly led to war with Napoleon. The letters X, Y, and Z derive from the names of French diplomats in documents released by the Adams administration. The "affair" began when a U.S. diplomatic delegation went to France in July 1797 to negotiate issues that were threatening to cause war. The diplomats, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry, were approached by agents of the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand demanding bribes and a loan before formal negotiations could begin. This was a common practice in those days, but the Americans were offended, and Pinckney and Marshall went home. But Gerry, seeking to avoid war, remained, and with Talleyrand, laid the groundwork for an eventual end to diplomatic and military hostilities.

On this day. 1868: The Senate fell one vote short of convicting President Andrew Johnson after he was earlier impeached by the House. Two later Senate votes also fell short. The House had previously voted to impeach on 11 counts of trying to fire War Secretary Stanton and for violating post-war Reconstruction Acts.

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Quote of the day

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"Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.'" -George W. Bush


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