Congress rarely acts against the president with a formal reprimand. ANDREW JACKSON was the first president to be thus reprimanded, by the Senate in 1834, after he removed the secretary of the treasury (a responsibility that Congress believed rested with the legislature). Jackson was a Democrat, but the Senate was controlled by the rival WHIG PARTY. Three years later, when the Democrats took control of the Senate, Jackson's censure was expunged from the records.
President JOHN TYLER was reprimanded in 1842 by the House of Representatives, which accused him of abusing his powers. Apparently Tyler had promised representatives on several occasions that he would support certain bills, only to VETO them when they arrived at his desk. In 1848, President JAMES K. POLK was reprimanded by the House for starting the Mexican War without first obtaining Congressional approval. In 1864, President ABRAHAM LINCOLN and his secretary of war, EDWIN STANTON, were condemned by the Senate for allowing an elected member of the House to hold commissions in the Army. The Senate voted for the reprimand 24 to 12, but it was referred to a special committee and no further action was taken.
In 1998, during the IMPEACHMENT trial of President BILL CLINTON, several members of Congress attempted to have him censured instead, believing that while his behavior warranted rebuke it did not merit a full impeachment. The move for censure failed, and Clinton was impeached.