Footnotes for the Sessions of the
40th Congress, 1867-1869

session type convened adjourned President pro Tempore
of the Senate
Speaker of the House
of Representatives
1stExtra4 March 18671 December 1867Wade, Benjamin F.
(Rep.- Ohio)
Colfax

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
SpecialSENATE1 April 186720 April 1867Wade- - - -

This Special Session of the SENATE was called by President Andrew Johnson via executive Proclamation issued on 30 March 1867. As noted above, its primary purpose was to allow the President to assert 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" in the face of the attempt of the "Radical Republicans" dominating Congress to assert their claim of so-called "Congressional Government" in part through their convening, recessing, reconvening and adjourning both houses of Congress via concurrent resolution rather than meeting- as had hitherto been the practice of Congress- in so-called "continuous session".

2ndlong2 December 186710 November 1868WadeColfax

For those using the chart who may need to know the exact dates this 2nd "long" session of the 40th Congress was in session during under so-called "Congressional Government"- a listing follows:

  • 2 December 1867 to 27 July 1868
  • 21 September 1868 (recessed same day)
  • 16 October 1868 (recessed same day)
  • 10 November 1868 (adjourned sine die same day)
3rdshort7 December 18683 March 1869WadeColfax

As noted above, 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, though 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 were to remain in effect.

Senate President pro Tempore Benjamin F. Wade served as acting President of the Senate during the entirety of the 40th Congress due to a vacancy in the Vice Presidency of the United States (Vice President Andrew Johnson having succeeded to the Presidency during the preceding Congress).

 

   

"Regular" Sessions of Congress
"Regular" Sessions prior to the adoption of the 20th Amendment (1933)
"Regular" Sessions after the adoption of the 20th Amendment (1933)
"Extra" Sessions
"Special SENATE" Sessions

Related information:
Political Party Floor Leaders in the Congress of the United States
A Brief History of Congressional Leadership