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Winter Davis, whose envenomed hatred of all Southern people had dethroned reason and carried their red and black Republicanism to the height of madness and excess.
Long before a commission of lunacy could be issued against these conspirators, Johnson had publicly declared "that no State had been or could be out of the Union," and that" as a State could not be guilty of treason.'
But, as a sop to Cerberus, in his first message to Congress, he had affirmed, as to individuals, “It is manifest that treason, most flagrant in character, has been committed,” and “that treason should be punished and the offense made infamous.”
But soon afterwards he urged "general amnesty and mutual conciliation,” for which to some extent he had paved the way by a previous proclamation, indicating a change of heart as sudden and remarkable as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the way to Damascus.
It is now conceded that the plan of Reconstruction by the Executive Department which Johnson attempted to enforce was first conceived and adopted by Lincoln. His successor was honestly striving to follow Lincoln in his wise and humane endeavor to restore peace and union. On the other hand, it is no longer denied that the Congressional plan was formulated under the baneful influence of Stevens, Sumner, Wade, Davis and other revolutionists, with motives as revengeful, and cruelty as savage and bloodthirsty, as ever actuated Robespierre, Danton or Marat.
The administration of the Freedman's Bureau under Stanton, as Secretary of War, was largely the cause of his quarrel with the President, and of his indecent hostility to Mr. Johnson.
Three other members of the Cabinet, Speed, Dennison and Harlan, showed their disaffection and very properly resigned. It remained for Edwin M. Stanton to outrage all sense of propriety and insist upon retaining the portfolio of war as an adviser of the President against his will.
It will be remembered that the first attempt to impeach the President occurred in 1866, immediately upon his veto of the bill to establish negro suffrage in the District of Columbia. This veto was a strong paper, and, notwithstanding the passage of the bill over the President's objections, it had the effect of preventing his impeachment at that early date.
Indeed, it is clear to every impartial mind that in nearly every one of his veto messages the President had the better of the argument with Congress. His messages returning to them the Freedman's Bureau Bill, the Civil Rights Bill and the Original and Supplemental Reconstruction Bills, all evince a vigor of expression and a power and correctness of reasoning as well as honest and true interpretation of the Constitution, which, but for the blind rage of his opponents would have been unanswerable.
Instead of this, Congress took up as its own the rebellion of Secretary Stanton against his chief, passed an act depriving the President of his control of the army, and followed it up by another act which tied his hands behind him in the fight with his Cabinet. This was the Tenure-of-Office Act, passed March 2, 1867, the terms of which will be discussed below. The vetoes of these two bills are described by Professor Burgess, of Columbia University, in his recent work on "Reconstruction and the Constitution” thus: “To the publicist and historian of this day they are masterpieces of political logic, constitutional interpretation and official style.”'.
In August, 1867, the situation had become so unbearable that President Johnson suspended Secretary Stanton from office and appointed General Grant Secretary of War ad interim.
The Fortieth Congress re-assembled in December of that year, and had to listen to the chastisement administered to them by the President in his message of December 3, 1867. The Military Appropriation Bill had been passed, usurping the President's authority,
He had allowed it to become a law simply because without it the army could not be supported— not because he acquiesced in the usurpation. The Reconstruction Bill, as finally adopted, with all its glaring iniquities, had been passed over his veto, and the author above quoted, thus describes it:
“There is no question now that Congress did a monstrous thing and committed a great political error, if not a sin, in the creation of the new electorate. It was a great wrong to civilization to put the white race of the South under the domination of the negro race. The claim that there is nothing in the color of the skin, from the point of view of political ethics, is a great sophism. To put such a race of men in possession of a 'State government in a system of Federal government * is simply to establish barbarism in power over civilization;
nor is the welfare of the whole land, or any part of it, to be promoted by the subjection of the white race to the black race in politics and government.'
These are the doctrines, long neglected, but now instilled into the pupils of the great New York Law School by Professor Burgess; but that learned teacher has so mingled error with truth in another sentence as to break the force of his otherwise fair statement. Having condemned the establishment of “barbarism in power over civilization,” he says:
“The supposed disloyalty, or even the actual disloyalty, of the white population will not justify this. It will justify the indefinite withholding of the State form of local government. It will justify the throwing a 'State of the Union back under the form of a Territory of the Union.”
Upon what authority he bases these dicta he fails to state, and it is too late to reverse the Supreme Court's judgment in Texas vs. - White.
The origin of the Impeachment Trial, as we have now viewed it, was the antagonism between Congress and the President upon the question of reconstruction, and this was intensified by the quarrel between Secretary Stanton and Mr. Johnson, leading up to the catastrophe and the actual trial before the Senate.
In any view we may take of it, it is not to be denied that Johnson's attitude was the heroic stand of one man against a multitude a single individual standing alone on the rock of the Constitution defending the helpless and oppressed communities of the South which he viewed as “States," against the combined attacks of millions of fanatics led by madmen as conspirators to destroy the last vestige of civilization in their "conquered territories.”
THE TRIAL AND ITS INCIDENTS.
The Senate having refused to consent to the suspension of Secretary Stanton, General Grant quickly abandoned the War Office, and instead of resigning it into the hands of the President, from whom he had accepted it, left it to be picked up by Stanton, who promptly resumed it and proceeded to fortify himself.
On the 21st of February, 1868, Johnson addressed an order to Stanton, dismissing him from the War Office, and appointed General Lorenzo Thomas Secretary ad interim. Stanton refused to surrender, and caused the arrest of General Thomas under the Tenure-of-Office Act. This was exactly what the President desired, and Stanton had fallen into the trap—a decision of the whole controversy by the courts. But the astuteness of Stanton's counsel, assured that impeachment would follow, prevented this by the withdrawal of the complaint and the release of General Thomas. The President's removal of Stanton enraged Congress to that degree that it was short work to pass the resolution of impeachment in the House of Representatives by a vote of 126 to 47—a strict party vote.
The managers on the part of the House to conduct the prosecution were promptly chosen-Messrs. Bingham, Boutwell, Wilson, Butler, Williams, Logan and Stevens. Of all this illustrious septemvirate, only one remains to grieve over their lost cause.
The articles of impeachment, dated March 2, 1868, stripped of all unnecessary verbiage, and reduced by analysis to their last absurdity, seem lamentably weak and inconsequential. They are:
"1. That he violated the Tenure-of-Office Act in issuing an order deposing Stanton from the office of Secretary of War and appointing Thomas Secretary ad interim.”
“2. That he violated the Anti-Conspiracy Act of July 31, 1861, in conspiring with Thomas to expel Stanton by force from the War Office, and to seize upon the property and papers of the United States in the War Office, and to unlawfully disburse the money appropriated for the military service and the Department of War.”
“3. That he violated the act of March 2, 1867, which, among other things, directed that the military orders of the President and Secretary of War should be issued through the General of the Army, by attempting to induce General Emory, the commander of the troops around Washington, to disregard the law and take his orders immediately from the President."
“And 4th. That he committed high misdemeanors in his speeches denouncing the Thirty-ninth Congress and declaring it to be a Congress of only a part of the States."
The President entered his appearance by his counsel-Henry Stanbery, Benjamin R. Curtis, Jeremiah S. Black, William M. Evarts and Thomas A. R. Nelson. Their motion, made March 13th, asked for forty days to prepare the President's
This was denied, and it was ordered that the answer be filed on the 23d of March, which was accordingly done. Between those dates it appears that Judge Black retired from the President's case, for no assignable reason, and not until the close of the case was it discovered that the reason was far more creditable to the President than to the counsel who for sook him at this critical moment. Hon. William E. Groesbeck took his place.
The answer, filed on the 23d, is a fine presentation of the case, and though highly argumentative, makes emphatic denial of any and every violation of the Constitution and the laws. It sets up every proper defense to the charge of violating the