Today in History, March 22: 1871:
North Carolina Governor William Holden (no, not THAT William Holden) is removed from office by impeachment…the first US Governor to receive this punishment.
His crime? Holden was a Republican and an abolitionist…during his tenure as Governor he hired two dozen detectives to hunt down the leaders of the NC KKK, got a bill passed that called out the militia against the KKK, and suspended habeas corpus to enhance his ability to prosecute the leaders of the Klan.
In 1870 the state’s Democrats won the legislature and quickly moved to impeach Holden for his hard-handed tactics against the KKK.
Holden had enacted these actions to counter the assassination of a Republican Senator and the hanging of an African-American police officer, amongst other crimes. In 2011, the entirety of the North Carolina Senate voted to pardon Holden.