Although it was the usual practice prior to the effectiveness of the
20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the 2nd session of the
73th Congress beginning in January 1934 for a.) "extra"
sessions to be called by the President apart from the regular
"long" and "short" sessions of Congress and b.) any
sessions of either or both houses of Congress to be continuous from
convening to adjournment "sine die" (without day [that is, a
day for the session to next reconvene]), the 40th Congress was a
special case in which the calling to order during its first two
sessions was taking place against the background of the struggle
between Congress, dominated by the so-called "Radical
Republicans", and President Andrew Johnson over control of
post-Civil War Reconstruction in the South- a struggle which ultimately
culminated in the impeachment, but failure to remove from office, of
Johnson in the Spring of 1868.
Thus, per an act of Congress which became law on 22 January 1867, a Congress would henceforth convene in "extra" session immediately upon the adjournment sine die of the preceding Congress; the purpose was to prevent the President (in this case, Andrew Johnson specifically) from dictating when Congress would meet outside of its annual regular "long" and "short" sessions by keeping the power to convene, recess, reconvene and adjourn solely in the hands of Congress itself. Congress, of course, asserted that it was merely exercising its constitutional power- under Article I, Section 4, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution- to "appoint a different day" from the mandated meeting date of the first Monday in December in each calendar year. Therefore, this 1st "extra" session of the 40th Congress was mandatory upon Congress under the act of 22 January 1867.
In a further attempt to thwart the President, Congress took it upon itself to adjourn and reconvene its legislative sessions subject solely to concurrent resolutions adopted by both houses of Congress (part of a larger, ultimately failed, attempt to establish what historian T. Woodrow Wilson [himself later
President of the United States]- in his doctoral thesis- called
"Congressional Government", the closest the United States of America
ever came to constitutionally establishing a parliamentary democracy in
place of the presidential republic at the Federal level); therefore, in both the
1st "Extra" and 2nd "long" sessions of the 40th Congress, Congress recessed and reconvened from time to time without the President having
leave to call both houses of Congress together back into session under his own constitutional authority- under Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution- to "on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them". However, after Congress had first adjourned- in modern parlance, recessed- the 1st "extra" session 30 March 1867 to not reconvene until 3 July 1867, President Johnson nevertheless proceeded to call the Senate into Special Session in April of that year in an attempt to assert his own constitutional prerogatives.
With the 3rd "short" session at the end of the 40th Congress,
Congress reverted to what hitherto had been the usual practice of
meeting in so-called "continuous session" in each calendar year
beginning no later than the first Monday in December, as required by
the original U.S. Constitution in Article I, Section 4, clause 2 (as noted above) with the additional proviso that an "extra" session was required to convene on the 4 March immediately following the election of a given Congress for as long as the act of 22 January 1867 remained in effect. For purposes of this chart, it has been decided to treat the 1st "Extra" and 2nd "long" sessions as if they, too, were held in continuous session; this will explain the apparent nesting of the Special SENATE session of April 1867 inside the convening and adjournment dates of the
1st "Extra" session of the 40th Congress.
For those using the chart who may, nonetheless, need to know
the exact dates this 1st "extra" session of the 40th Congress was in session during under so-called "Congressional Government"- a listing follows:
- 4 March 1867 to 30 March 1867
- 3 July 1867 to 20 July 1867
- 21 November 1867 to 1 December 1867