Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

History of the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, President of the United States by Edumud G. Ross

Part 2 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

between Mr. Johnson and those who on Mr. Lincoln's death had
assumed the leadership in the work of reconstruction and other
matters of administration, came to take the opposite ground, from
the first occupied by Sumner and other extremists in
Congress--that the States lately in rebellion had destroyed
themselves by their own act of war, and had thereby forfeited all
the rights of Statehood and were but conquered provinces, subject
solely to the will of the conqueror.

From that point their ways parted and widened from month to
month, till bitter hostility, political and personal, came to
mark even their official intercourse.

Mr. Johnson was practically unknown to the great mass of the
people of the North till he succeeded to the Presidency. He was
in no sense regarded as or assumed to be the leader of the
dominant party; while those who on Mr. Lincoln's death became
leaders of the dominant party in opposition to Mr. Johnson's
administration and policies, were widely known and of long public
experience, and had correspondingly the confidence of their

So, in the strife that ensued, as it became embittered with the
lapse of time, Mr. Johnson was at great disadvantage, and made
little or no headway, but rather lost ground as the controversy
progressed. His moderate, conservative views, radically
expressed, in regard to what should be the methods of
reconstruction and the restoration of the Union, found little
favor with the mass of the veterans of the Union armies who had
but lately returned from the victorious fields of the South,
their blood not yet cooled after the fury and heat of the strife
while to many, who had witnessed the horrors of war at a safe
distance, with the cessation of hostilities in the field, to
which they had been only anxious spectators, became suddenly
enthused over issues that others had fought out in battle, and
vigorously vicious towards Mr. Johnson for presuming to treat the
conquered people of the South as American citizens and entitled
to the rights of such, after having laid down their arms and
peacefully returned to their homes and their respective callings.

This temper, permeating, as it did, the dominant party of
practically every Northern State, was not unstintingly reflected
upon the National Capitol in the return to Congress of a large
majority in both Houses, of men who sympathized with and
reflected back again upon their constituents the most extreme
views as to what should be the policy of the Government towards
the South.

These views characterized the legislation of the time. Partisan
rancor was unbridled, and found expression not only in coercive
legislation of various grades of severity, but in placing the
Southern States generally under almost absolute military control,
and in the practical abrogation of the common rights of American
citizenship in most of them.

Quite every act of this sort of legislation was passed over the
official protest of the President, and each of these protests
seemed but to add emphasis to each succeeding act of Congress in
that line, till it seemed that there could be no end to the
strife, so long as Mr. Johnson remained in the Presidential

The ostensible basis of the disagreement which in a few months
after the accession of Mr. Johnson to the Presidency began to
develop between himself and the Republican leaders in Congress,
was the plan of reconstruction put in operation by him during the
recess of Congress that year, 1865, and outlined in his North
Carolina Proclamation. It availed not, that that plan had been
adopted originally by Mr. Lincoln a few days before his
death--that it had been concurred in by his entire Cabinet and
would undoubtedly have been carried out successfully by him had
he lived that plan was made the ground of criticism of Mr.
Johnson by the extreme party element in control of Congress,
which persistently accused him of having abandoned the plan
initiated by Mr. Lincoln, and of setting up another of his own,
for purely personal and ambitious purposes, and to the detriment
of the peace of the country.

Mr. Johnson may have been opinionated and headstrong, a
characteristic of a great many people of strong convictions of
duty and purpose; while the overwhelming numerical strength of
the dominant party in and out of Congress made it seemingly
indifferent, reckless and inconsiderate of the convictions, as of
the rights and prerogatives of the Chief Executive treating him
more as a clerk whose sole duty it was to register without
suggestion the decrees of Congress.

That Mr. Lincoln, had he lived, would have pursued much the same
policy of reconstruction, is clearly indicated by the established
fact that he had determined to adopt precisely the initial
measures thereto which Mr. Johnson did inaugurate and attempt to
carry out. But Mr. Lincoln's superior ability in statecraft, his
rare tact and knowledge of men, and his capacity for moulding and
directing public opinion, seeming to follow where he actually
led, would doubtless have secured a more favorable result. And
more than all else, it can scarcely be doubted, that the
unbounded confidence of the people in his patriotism and capacity
to direct public affairs, would have enabled him to dictate terms
of reconstruction strictly on the lines he had marked out, and
would have commanded the general support of the country,
regardless of partisan divisions, notwithstanding the well known
fact that at the time of his death there were unmistakable
indications of alienation from him of the extreme element of his
party because of his conservative views as to the proper methods
of reconstruction.

Meantime, in the effort to hamper the President, as far as it was
possible for Congress to do, the Tenure-of-Office Act was passed,
early in 1867. The ostensible purpose of that Act was to restrict
the authority of the President in the selection of his Cabinet
advisers, and his power over appointments generally. Its specific
purpose, at least so far as the House of Representatives was
concerned, and measurably so in the Senate, was to prevent his
removal of the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, with the manifest
if not avowed intent, as the sequel shows, to make that Secretary
not only independent of his chief, but also to make him the
immediate instrument of Congress in whatever disposition of the
Army, or of military affairs generally relating to the government
of the Southern States, the majority of Congress might dictate.
In a word, the Congress, in that Act, virtually assumed, or
attempted to assume, that control of the Army which the
Constitution vests on the President.

The first effort to impeach the President, in 1867, was based
upon a general accusation of high crimes and misdemeanors without
literal specification. The second, in 1868, was based upon his
alleged violation of the Tenure-of-Office Act, in the removal of
Mr. Stanton.

While it is undoubted, as already shown, that Mr. Lincoln and Mr.
Johnson were in accord as to the methods to be adopted for the
restoration of the revolted States, it was Mr. Johnson's
misfortune that he had not Mr. Lincoln's capacity for so great
and so peculiar a task; though a gentleman of proven patriotism,
ability, of a kindly, genial nature, and with record of valuable
public service. Hampered by his lack of political finesse and
intricate knowledge of state-craft, and in view of the conditions
of that time, and the people with whom he had to deal, it was
obvious from the outset that the result of the controversy could
hardly be otherwise than disastrous to him. Mr. Lincoln would
undoubtedly have been met by the same character of opposition,
and from the same source. But there would have been the
appearance at least of mutual concession, and while the
APPEARANCE of concession would have been on Mr. Lincoln's side,
the actual concession, so far as essentials were involved, would
have been on the other.

Mr. Johnson was a Democrat of pronounced type and profound
convictions, and in no sense did he depart from his faith. He
belonged to the school of Jackson and Jefferson. He had not the
electric intuitions and impetuous will of the former, nor the
culture and genius of the latter. He adhered more religiously to
the letter of the Constitution than either. To him it was the one
law of supreme obligation, that never ceased its guarantees. As
fittingly expressed by one of his Counsel, Mr. Groesbeck, in the
trial: "He was not learned and scholarly--not a man of many ideas
or of much speculation--but the Constitution had been the study
of his life, and by a law of the mind he was only the truer to
that which he did know."

As had Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Johnson keenly appreciated the importance
of the people of the South returning at once to the Union, free
and independent American citizens, clothed with all the rights,
privileges and obligations common to such. In his Cabinet
Councils, and to a degree supreme in that board sat William H.
Seward, as he had throughout Mr. Lincoln's administration, than
whom the Republic has produced no wiser, more sagacious, or
patriotic statesman. He gave the subject his intense devotion in
the maturity of his great powers.

There too, sat Secretary Welles, another of Mr. Lincoln's
advisers, and a devoted friend of the Constitution and the
sanctity of the Union. Each of these men, thoroughly patriotic,
and efficient, and untiring in the administration of their
respective Departments, had commenced with the deluge of blood,
and they now hoped to crown their official careers by a
triumphant peace that would Honor their lives and glorify the
Nation. These men had a salutary influence over Mr. Johnson, and
greatly modified the asperities of his disposition.

Mr. Johnson believed, as did Mr. Lincoln, that the revolted
States were still States of the Union--that all the pretended
acts of secession were null and void, and that the loyal people
therein had the right to reconstruct their State Governments on
the basis proposed to them first by Mr. Lincoln, and after him by
Mr. Johnson, and thus the right to representation in the General

It was upon this question that parties divided during the
reconstruction period. Mr. Lincoln, foreseeing danger in such a
division, was anxious to bring those States into such relation
that the people generally would consider them as virtually in the
Union, without reference to the abstract question. It was with
this view, undoubtedly, that he advocated the admission of
Members and Senators whenever one-tenth of the voting population
of 1860 should organize State Governments and ask for
readmission. He would not only not countenance, but repelled the
doctrine of "State Suicide," as it was called, and which came to
characterize the methods of reconstruction subsequently adopted.

It is true, that on many occasions Mr. Johnson charged that the
Congress was only a Congress of part of the States, and that its
acts were therefore without validity. Yet he continued to execute
those laws, and what to him was a very unpleasant duty, the law
which set aside the State Governments organized under his own
direction, so that notwithstanding his violent denunciations of
the acts of Congress, and his personal opinions, he did not
presume to act upon them. Angry and undignified language was
uttered on both sides. Many of his speeches were violent and in
bad taste and temper. So were a great many speeches uttered by
senators and members of the House, and those bodies too often
acted upon them.

It is therefore but repeating recorded history to say that Mr.
Johnson was earnestly seeking to carry out Mr. Lincoln's plan of
reconstruction, which was upon consultation with his entire
Cabinet, more especially with Mr. Stanton, adopted by him as the
basis for the restoration of the revolted States.

Yet, with these facts of record, that action was afterwards
assailed by the Republican leaders in and out of Congress, who
assumed to have become Mr. Lincoln's executors in the work of
reconstruction, as not only an abandonment of the plan instituted
by him, but a surrender of the issues fought out and the results
accomplished by the war just closed notwithstanding very many of
these critics of Mr. Johnson had but a few months before
criticised Mr. Lincoln with quite equal severity for his
suggestion of this same method of restoration.

Nor will it suffice to say that, though professing submission and
loyalty, the people of the South were still hostile to the Union,
and that there was no safety there for Union men. It is true that
there came to be violence and disorder there upon the rejection
by Congress of Mr. Johnson's plan of restoration.

These were the inevitable results of the conditions. There would
also have been disorder and violence in the North and to a far
greater degree, had the results of the war been reversed--an
arbitrary and tyrannical system of restoration insisted upon--the
established order of things destroyed homes broken up the people
impoverished, and hordes of unscrupulous adventurers swarmed up
from the South and overrun the country in pursuit of schemes of
political chicanery and personal ambition, peculation and
plunder, as was the South after the close of the war.

But when the fight was on, an overwhelmingly partisan House, as a
last resort, in the hope of at once ending, by removal, all
opposition on the part of the President to the views and aims of
the dominant party in Congress, resorted to the first project of
impeachment set out in the succeeding chapter.



The initiation of formal proceedings for the impeachment and
removal of President Johnson occurred in the House of
Representatives on January 7th, 1867, in the introduction of
three separate resolutions for his impeachment, by Messrs. Loan
and Kelso, of Missouri, and Mr. Ashley of Ohio. As Mr. Ashley's
Resolution was the only one acted on by the House, only the
proceedings had thereon are here given, as follows:

Mr. Speaker:--I rise to perform a painful but, nevertheless, to
me, an imperative duty; a duty which I think ought not longer to
be postponed, and which cannot, without criminality on our part,
be neglected. I had hoped, sir, that this duty would have
devolved upon an older and more experienced member of this House
than myself. Prior to our adjournment I asked a number of
gentlemen to offer the resolution which I introduced, but upon
which I failed to obtain a suspension of the rules.

Confident, sir, that the loyal people of this country demand the
adoption of some such proposition as I am about to submit, I am
determined that no effort on my part shall be wanting to see that
their expectations are not disappointed. * * * On my
responsibility as a Representative, and in the presence of this
House, and before the American people, I charge Andrew Johnson,
Vice President and acting President of the United States, with
the commission of acts which in contemplation of the
Constitution, are high crimes and misdemeanors, for which, in my
judgment, he ought to be impeached. I therefore submit the

I do impeach Andrew Johnson, Vice President and acting President
of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors:

I charge him with a usurpation of power and violation of law:

In that he has corruptly used the appointing power;

In that he has corruptly used the pardoning power;

In that he has corruptly used the veto power;

In that he has corruptly disposed of public property of the
United States;

In that he has corruptly interfered in elections, and committed
acts which, in contemplation of the Constitution, are high crimes
and misdemeanors: Therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That the Committee on the Judiciary be, and they
are hereby, authorized to inquire into the official conduct of
Andrew Johnson, Vice President of the United States, discharging
the powers and duties of the office of President of the United
States, and to report to this House, whether, in their opinion,
the said Andrew Johnson, while in said office, has been guilty of
acts which are designed or calculated to overthrow, subvert, or
corrupt the Government of the United States, or any department or
office thereof; and whether the said Andrew Johnson has been
guilty of any act, or has conspired with others to do acts,
which, in contemplation of the Constitution, are high crimes and
misdemeanors, requiring the interposition of the constitutional
power of this House; and that said committee have power to send
for persons and papers, and to administer the customary oath to

The question was taken on agreeing to the Resolution; and it was
decided in the affirmative--yeas 107, nays 39, not voting 45.

On the 2nd of March, 1867, the subject of impeachment again came
up in the House, and the following proceedings were had:

Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, (Rep.)--I am directed by the Committee on
the Judiciary to present a report relative to the official
conduct of the President of the United States.

Mr. Eldridge, (Dem.)--Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a question of
order: I see by the clock that it is almost three o'clock in the
morning; and I believe this is the Sabbath day. I think we should
not do any more business tonight, except it be business of
necessity or charity.

The Speaker.--This, in parliamentary view, is Saturday. The clerk
will read the report submitted by the gentleman from Iowa.

The clerk read as follows:

The Committee on the Judiciary, charged by the House with
examination of certain allegations, of high crimes and
misdemeanors against the President of the United States, submit
the following report:

On the 7th day of January, 1867, the House, on the motion of the
Hon. James M. Ashley, a Representative from the State of Ohio,
adopted the following preamble and resolutions, to-wit:

The duty imposed upon this committee by this action of the House,
was of the highest and gravest character. No committee during the
entire history of the Government, has ever been charged with a
more important trust. The responsibility which it imposed was of
oppressive weight, and of a most unpleasant nature. Gladly would
the committee have escaped from the arduous labor imposed upon it
by the Resolution of the House; but once imposed, prompt,
deliberate, and faithful action, with a view to correct results,
became its duty, and to this end it has directed its efforts.

Soon after the adoption of the Resolution by the House, Hon.
James M. Ashley communicated to the committee, in support of his
charges against the President of the United States, such facts as
were in his possession, and the investigation was proceeded with,
and has been continued almost without, a day's interruption. A
large number of witnesses have been examined, many documents
collected, and everything done which could be done to reach a
conclusion of the case. But the investigation covers a broad
field, embraces many novel, interesting, and important questions,
and involves a multitude of facts, while most of the witnesses
are distant from the Capital, owing to which the committee, in
view of the magnitude of the interests involved in its action,
have not been able to conclude its labors, and is not therefore
prepared to submit a definite and final report. If the
investigation had even approached completeness, the committee
would not feel authorized to present the result of the House at
this late period of the session, unless the charges had been so
entirely negative as to admit of no discussion, which, in the
opinion of the committee, is not the case.

Certainly no affirmative report could be properly considered in
the expiring hours of this Congress.

The committee not having fully investigated all the charges
prepared against the President of the United States, it is deemed
inexpedient to submit any conclusion beyond the statement that
sufficient testimony has been brought to its notice to justify
and demand a further prosecution of the investigation.

The testimony which the committee has taken will pass into the
custody of the Clerk of the House, and can go into the hands of
such committee as may be charged with the duty of bringing this
investigation to a close, so that the labor expended upon it may
not have been in vain.

The committee regrets its inability definitely to dispose of the
important subject committed to its charge, and presents this
report for its own justification, and for the additional purpose
of notifying the succeeding Congress of the incompleteness of its
labors, and that they should be completed.

James F. Wilson, Chairman.
Francis Thomas,
D. Morris,
F. E. Woodbridge,
George S. Boutwell,
Thomas Williams,
Burton C. Cook,
William Lawrence,

Mr. Ancona, the only Democrat on the committee, presented a
minority report, as follows:

The subscriber, one of the Judiciary Committee, to which was
referred by the House the inquiry into the official conduct of
His Excellency, the President of the United States, with a view
to his impeachment upon certain charges made by Hon. James M.
Ashley, begs leave to submit the following report:

The Committee refuses to allow a Report to be made giving to the
House at this time upon grounds which are no doubt satisfactory
to themselves; therefore, I cannot report the evidence upon which
my conclusion is based, which I would gladly do did the Committee
deem it expedient. The examination of witnesses and the records
was commenced, as appears by the majority report, about the time
of the reference, to-wit: on the 7th day of January, 1867, and
continued daily. A large number of witnesses has been examined,
and everything done that could be, to bring the case to a close,
as appears by the majority report: and the majority have come to
the conclusion "that sufficient testimony had been brought to its
notice to justify and demand a further prosecution of the
investigation." I have carefully examined all the evidence in the
case, and do report that there is not one particle of evidence to
sustain any of the charges which the House charged the Committee
to investigate, and that the case is wholly without a particle of
evidence upon which impeachment could be founded, and that with
all the effort that has been made, and the mass of evidence that
has been taken; the case is entirely void of proof. I furthermore
report that the most of the testimony that has been taken is of a
secondary character, and such as would not be admitted in a court
of justice.

In view of this conclusion I can see no good in a continuation of
the investigation. I am convinced that all the proof that can be
produced has been before the Committee, as no pains have been
spared to give the case a full investigation. Why, then, keep the
country in a feverish state of excitement upon this question any
longer, as it is sure to end, in my opinion, in a complete
vindication of the President, if justice be done him by the
committee, of which I have no doubt,

A. J. Rogers.

The two reports were ordered printed and laid on the table.

This session of the House, and with it the Thirty-Ninth Congress,
ended a few hours later, the legislative day continuing till
twelve o'clock, noon, on Sunday, March 3rd. The House adjourned
sine die at that hour, when all unfinished business lapsed.


The first session of the Fortieth Congress began on Monday, March
4th, 1867, and on the 7th, in the House of Representatives, Mr.
Ashley (Rep.) offered the following Preamble and Resolutions:

Whereas the House of Representatives of the Thirty-Ninth Congress
adopted, on the 7th of January, 1867, a Resolution authorizing an
inquiry into certain charges preferred against the President of
the United States; and whereas the Judiciary Committee, to whom
said Resolution and charges were referred, with authority to
investigate the same, were unable for want of time, to complete
said investigation before the expiration of the Thirty-Ninth
Congress; and whereas in the report submitted by said Judiciary
Committee on the 2nd of March they declare that the evidence
taken is of such a character as to justify and demand a
continuation of the investigation by this Congress; therefore:

Be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, That the
Judiciary Committee, when appointed, be, and they are hereby,
instructed to continue the investigation authorized in said
Resolution of Jan. 7th, 1867, and that they have power to send
for persons and papers, and to administer the customary oath to
witnesses; and that the committee have authority to sit during
the sessions of the House and during any recess which Congress or
this House may take.

Resolved, That the Speaker be requested to appoint the Committee
on the Judiciary forthwith, and that the Committee so appointed
be directed to take charge of the testimony taken by the
Committee of the last Congress; and that said Committee have
power to appoint a clerk at a compensation not to exceed six
dollars per day, and employ the necessary stenographers.

At the close of the debate on Mr. Ashley's Resolution, it was
adopted without a division, its form being changed to the

Resolved, That the Committee on Judiciary be requested to report
on the charges against the President as aforesaid, on the first
day of the meeting of the House after the recess hereafter to be

Congress adjourned a few days later. It re-assembled on the 3rd
of July, and on the 11th the following resolutions was offered by
Mr. Stevens, (Rep.) of Pennsylvania:

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was
referred the Resolution and Documents relative to the Impeachment
of the President, be directed to report the evidence at this
session, with leave to make further report if they shall deem

That the impeachment enterprise was waning, and that its forces
had received little encouragement during the recess of the
Congress that had just closed, was evidenced by the fact that
there could not be mustered ayes enough to put the resolution to
a vote, and Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, moved the following substitute:

Resolved, That the Committee on Judiciary be, and they are
hereby, authorized and directed to have the usual number of
copies of the evidence taken by said committee relative to the
Impeachment of the President, printed and laid on the desks of
Members of the House on the first day of the next Congress,
whether adjourned or regular.

The Resolution was adopted by a vote of 85 to 48, whereupon Mr.
Stevens dejectedly remarked that, "after the vote which had been
taken on this resolution, indicating the views of a majority of
the House in regard to it, I am willing to abandon it. I
therefore move that the Resolution as amended be laid on the
table," which motion was agreed to.

On the 15th of July, 1867, Mr. Farnsworth, (Rep.) of Illinois,
offered the following resolution and demanded the previous
question thereon:

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from
the further consideration of the question of the Impeachment of
the President of the United States, and that the testimony
already taken by said committee be printed for the use of the

The resolution was not seconded, and went over under the rules.

On the 25th of Nov. 1867, Mr. Boutwell (Rep.), on behalf of the
Judiciary Committee, submitted the report of the majority of that
committee, of the testimony taken in behalf of the proposed
impeachment of the President. The report recommended his

Mr. Wilson, submitted the report of the minority of the Committee
(himself and Mr. Woodbridge), and moved the adoption of the
following resolution:

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from
the further consideration of the proposed impeachment of the
President of the United States, and that the subject be laid upon
the table.

Mr. Marshall, on behalf of himself and Mr. Eldridge, the two
Democratic members of the committee, stated that though they had
not signed the minority report submitted by Mr. Wilson, they
joined in support of the resolution submitted by him, and asked
leave to introduce and have printed separate views.

This, the first session of the Fortieth Congress, then adjourned,
Dec. 2nd, 1867.

The second session of the Fortieth Congress was begun on the same
day, and on the 5th, the impeachment question came up in its
order in the House, on the resolution reported from the Judiciary

That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached
of high crimes and misdemeanors.

After a brief discussion of the order of business, the House
adjourned for that day.

The debate was closed on the 6th, by Messrs. Boutwell and Wilson,
the members of the Committee on the Judiciary having Charge of
the impeachment measure. The closing passages of Mr. Boutwell's
speech were as follows:

What is our position to-day? Can this House and the Senate, with
the knowledge they have of the Presidents purposes and of the
character of the men who surround him, give him the necessary
power? (to remove alleged dishonest officials.) Do they not feel
that if he be alloyed such power these places will be given to
worse men? Hence, I say that with Mr. Johnson in office from this
time until the 4th of March, 1869, there is no remedy for these
grievances. These are considerations why we should not hesitate
to do that which justice authorizes us to do if we believe that
the President has been guilty of impeachable offenses.

Mr. Speaker, all rests here. To this House is given by the
Constitution the sole power of impeachment; and this power of
impeachment furnishes the only means by which we can secure the
execution of the laws, and those of our fellow citizens who
desire the administration of the law ought to sustain this House
while it executes that great law which is in its hands and which
is nowhere else, while it performs a high and solemn duty resting
on it by which that man who has been the chief violator of law
shall be removed, and without which there can be no execution of
the law any where. Therefore the whole responsibility, whatever
it may be, for the non-execution of the laws of the country, is,
(in the presence of these great facts) upon this House. * * * I
think that we can not do otherwise than believe, that he has
disregarded that great injunction of the Constitution to take
care that the laws be faithfully executed, that there is but one
remedy. The remedy is with this House, and it is nowhere else. If
we neglect or refuse to use our powers when the case arises
demanding decisive action, the Government ceases to be a
Government of law and becomes a Government of men.

Mr. Wilson, Chairman of the Committee, closed the debate in the
following remarks:

The gentleman from Massachusetts has remarked that the President
may interfere with the next Presidential election in the Southern
States; that he may station soldiers at the voting places and
overawe the loyal people of those States, especially the colored
vote: and we must, I suppose, guard against the possibility of
this by his impeachment and removal from office. This position,
if I state it correctly, is startling. Are we to impeach the
President for what he may do in the future? Do our fears
constitute in the President high crimes and misdemeanors? Are we
to wander beyond the record of this case and found our judgment
on the possibilities of the future? This would lead us beyond the
conscience of this House.

Sir, we must be guided by some rule in this grave
proceeding--something more certain than an impossibility to
arraign the President for a specific crime--and when the
gentleman from Massachusetts, in commenting on one of the alleged
offenses of the President, that we could not arraign him for the
specific crime, he disclosed the weakness of the case we are now
considering. If we cannot arraign the President for a specific
crime, for what are we to proceed against him? For a bundle of
generalities such as we have in the volume of testimony reported
by the committee to the House in this case? If we cannot state
upon paper a specific crime, how are we to carry this case to the
Senate for trial?

At the close of his speech, Mr. Wilson moved to lay the subject
of impeachment on the table, and the yeas and nays were ordered.

Several motions were then made--to adjourn, to adjourn to a day
certain, etc.--which with roll calls practically consumed the
day, and the motion of Mr. Wilson went over.

The next day, Dec. 7th, the question again came up in its order,
and after several unsuccessful attempts to procure a vote on Mr.
Wilson's motion to lay the Impeachment Resolution on the table,
Mr. Wilson, by agreement, withdrew his motion, and called for the
yeas and nays on the adoption of the resolution:

That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached
for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The yeas and nays were ordered, and the vote was yeas 57, nays

So the resolution to impeach the President was rejected by the
very emphatic vote of 67 to 108--nearly two to one--and by a
House two-thirds Republican.

So ended the first effort to impeach the President--the first
formal action to that end having been taken on January 7, 1867,
and the final vote at the close, and its abandonment, December 7,

For eleven months the overwhelming Republican majority of the
House had been vigorously active in its search for evidence of
criminality on the part of the President that would warrant the
basing of an impeachment. No effort was left untried--no resource
that promised a possible hope of successful exploitation was
neglected. Republican partisans were set to the work of
sleuth-hounds in the search for testimony in maintenance of the
charges preferred, and an ever ready partisan press teemed from
the beginning to the end of that time with animadversions upon
Mr. Johnson's administration and denunciation of his alleged
desertion of Mr. Lincoln's plan of restoration, of treachery to
the party that had elected him, and a demand for his impeachment.

To be lukewarm in that controversy, or even to fail to join in
the popular denunciation of Mr. Johnson was to put one's self at
once under suspicion with the great mass of the dominant party,
and without the pale of its consideration.

For eleven months the country was kept in the throes of partisan
turmoil--and for what? Simply to depose a President who had
disappointed the partisan and personal expectations and schemes
of a rule or ruin faction which was able, under the peculiar
conditions of the time, to subordinate to its purposes a large
proportion of the dominant party of that day.

The following are the material portions of the testimony taken by
the House Committee on the Judiciary under authority of the
resolutions passed by the House of Representatives on March 7,
1867, for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson.

Eighty-nine witnesses were summoned before the committee. All of
them were rigidly examined, and several of them were called and
examined the second and third times. Their testimony fills more
than twelve hundred octavo pages of print.

The first witness was Gen. L. C. Baker, of the War Department.
His testimony related principally to a certain letter alleged to
have been written by Mr. Johnson, in 1864.

The first question propounded to him by Mr. Ashley, was as

I wish you to state to the committee the contents, as nearly as
you can, of a letter which you have in your possession, written
by Andrew Johnson, some time in the early part of 1864, to a
Southern man, giving information as to the troops about the
Capitol and elsewhere, and advice to Jefferson Davis. State where
that letter is, and give the contents as nearly as you can, the
history of it.

Mr. Baker answered that he knew there was a letter of that kind,
purporting to have been written by Andrew Johnson, when he was
acting Governor of Tennessee. That the letter was dated at
Nashville and directed to Jefferson Davis, and related to some
declared policy that had been adopted by the Confederacy--that
the letter was being used to secure an appointment--that
reference was made to troops, but nothing about localities where
stationed, or numbers, and nothing about shipment of armor, and
that the letter was stolen from Andrew Johnson's table and never

The question was then asked of the witness by Mr. Ashley:

State whether the whole import of the letter written by Mr.
Johnson, was not to turn the whole power which he possessed in
Tennessee, in a certain contingency, over to the rebel cause?

Answer--No. I did not have that opinion of the letter exactly.
From what I recollect of it, the thing was that he was making a
proposition making suggestions as to what their policy should be.

Ques.--And if they accepted it?

Ans.--If they accepted it, my impression was that he was going
with them.

Ques.--With the rebels?

Ans.--Yes sir.

Question by the Chairman.--If there are any other letters that
you have seen of Mr. Johnson's written by him to any person
connected with the Confederate Government, or proposing to change
the Administration of the Government in their favor after he
became President, or anything of a public nature affecting the
interests of the United States, please state it and state all you
know about such letters.

Ans.--I do not know of any letters of that character--or of any
other letters.

This constituted the substance of Gen. Baker's testimony. His
examination was very lengthy, embracing more of this character of
testimony, and about pardon brokerage, and other alleged corrupt
practices--all evidencing a determination and expectation to fix
upon Mr. Johnson a disposition to disloyalty and corruption, both
before and after his succession to the Presidency, but no such
testimony was obtained.

A considerable portion of the investigation was devoted to Mr.
Johnson's business and personal affairs, such as could have no
possible connection with or indicate implication in corrupt or
disloyal practices of any sort.

A strenuous effort appears to have been made by the Committee
throughout a long and searching examination of witnesses, and
constitutes a conspicuous feature of that investigation, to
establish the charges of corruption and disloyalty in the sale of
public property, railways, etc., that had been constructed and
equipped, or seized and operated, by the Government in connection
with its military operations in the South. Such an accusation had
been made with great pertinacity by Mr. Johnson's opponents, and
was also then believed by a great many people to be true.

Among the parties examined by the committee, were Mr. James and
Mr. Burns, of Nashville, Tenn., and Senator Fowler, of that
State, and also the Secretary of war, Mr. Stanton. No facts
whatever were elicited showing a privity to corruption in these
matters on the part of Mr. Johnson.

The information obtained from Mr. Stanton, however, put an
effectual estoppel to further investigation of the charge of
corrupt or disloyal disposal of public property by the President.
The following are extracts from Mr. Stanton's testimony, as given
on February 11, 1867:

Shortly after the surrender of the rebel armies, the attention of
the War Department was directed to the proper disposition to be
made of the railroads and railroad stock throughout the rebel
States which came into our possession, either by capture or
construction. It was the subject of a good deal of consultation
and conference between the Secretary of War and the Quartermaster
General. It was the opinion of the Secretary of War that it was
wholly impracticable for the General Government to operate these
roads under any system, and that it would be greatly to the
advantage of the country to make such disposition as would allow
them, its speedily as possible, to become what they were designed
for channels of commerce and trade between the States, and that
any terms on which that could be done would be advantageous. This
was especially the case in regard to the Western and Southwestern
roads, where it was said there were large amounts of cotton that
would be available to remove North, in exchange for supplies to
go South, of which it was said they were greatly in want.

Ques.--In case of the construction of a railroad by the
Government, the Government furnishing the material and the labor,
what has been the custom of the Department in surrendering such
roads to the companies claiming them?

Ans.--In all instances, I think such roads have been surrendered
in the same manner as if they had been constructed by the
companies. That subject was talked of a good deal in conference
between myself and the Quartermaster General. My own views, that
the great object on the part of the Government, was to get these
roads operated; and that to go into an inquiry as to the cost of
construction, would be impracticable, either as to the cost of
construction or as to any certain rule of compensation, because
many of them were constructed under the pressure of war, and for
temporary Purposes. The object of arriving at the cash value or
equivalent for the roads was not only impracticable, but really
of very little practical interest in comparison with the great
end of having the channels of commerce in the rebel states opened
and carried on, with a view of getting out their produce,
furnishing supplies, and getting commerce in its regular
channels. In my own view, that appeared to be the most, certain
and most speedy system of reconstruction we could adopt, and that
it would tend more to establish harmony than any other thing that
could be done by the Government. In view of all this, and after
the most deliberate consideration we could give it, it was the
opinion of the Quartermaster General and myself--certainly my
own--that it would be impracticable to make any distinction: and
so far as I know, no distinction was made in any part of the
country in reference to roads built by the Government and roads
that had been constructed by Companies before the war commenced.

Mr. Stanton was asked this question:

Suppose the Government, at his own expense, had constructed
seventy miles of railroad in one of the rebel States, and that,
at the close of the war, a company should apply to the Executive
Department of the Government for a transfer of the road so
constructed to it; by what authority or provision of law would
Executive Department be authorized to transfer the road so
constructed to the company making the application?

Mr. Stanton answered:

I do not know of any act of Congress that directly, in terms,
would authorize any such transfer; but regarding the construction
of the road, in time of war, simply as a means, or instrument, of
carrying on war, when the war was over I would consider it
strictly proven and within the scope of the power of the General
Commanding, or especially of the President of the United States,
as the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, to render that instrument
as available for peace purposes as possible. And inasmuch as the
road would be entirely useless unless it was operated, and it
would be for the benefit and interest of the public, to have it
operated as speedily as possible, I think it would be in the
interest of a wise discretion, and exercising proper authority,
to turn over that road to any company or individual who would
operate it; for, in that way, he would be applying the war
material to the only available use to which it could be applied.
* * * I would regard the rolling stock as coming, to a certain
extent, within the same principle. * * * No transfer of title was
at any time made, so far as I know, or could be made, but only
possession turned over. When the military use was no longer
required, the railroads were turned over to their original
owners, or their representatives, with permission to use them.
These railroads, their plant and track fixtures, real property,
of which the military authorities had only the possessory right
and use, but the rolling stock and equipments, and iron not laid
down, were personal property, which, by capture, or purchase, or
construction, belonged to the United States. Sale could be made,
and was made, of the personal property at values estimated by the
proper officers. That which constituted real estate, to-wit, the
railroad track, fixtures, etc., the military authorities might
abandon altogether, or relinquish control and turn over
possession to those who would make a beneficial use of it by
working the road. Being in the nature of real estate, no title of
the Government or of other persons could be divested and conveyed
by military authority, but only the control relinquished and the
use permitted during the existence of military authority in the
department where the roads were situated.

The trend of a large portion of the testimony of witnesses called
by this committee to testify as to the charges preferred against
Mr. Johnson and relating to other allegations of the indictment,
quite clearly indicated that the charges were based solely upon
common street rumor, invented and given currency in partisan
antagonism and for partisan purposes, and that the witnesses were
called in the hope and expectation, on the part of the majority
of the House, of developing proof of disloyalty and corruption on
the part of the President, and, if not criminal connivance, at
least, criminal knowledge of a conspiracy for the assassination
of Mr. Lincoln.

But these expectations and hopes, in all respects, were so
utterly disappointed, that there was pathos, at least, as the
investigation was protracted from month to month, with no
indication of the hoped for development, in the despondent
inquiry of Mr. Thaddeus Stevens to one of his colleagues of the
Impeachment Committee, as the inquest approached a close without
results--"Well, HAVE YOU GOT ANYTHING, ANYHOW?" It was more an
ejaculation of anger and disgust at failure, than a query of one
seeking hoped for information.



Mr. Johnson's alleged violation of the act of Congress known as
the Tenure-of-Office Act, constituted the ostensible basis of his
impeachment in 1868. As stated, it had been passed for the
purpose of restricting the power of the President over Executive
appointments. That Act, therefore, becomes a very important and
conspicuous incident in the impeachment affair, as its alleged
violation constituted the only material accusation, set out in
various forms, in the entire list of charges.

The proceedings had on the passage of that bill are inserted at
some length here, as a technical knowledge of its history,
character and purpose, is essential to a correct apprehension of
the controversy that had arisen between the President and

The Tenure-of-Office bill was introduced in the Senate by Mr.
Williams, of Oregon, Dec. 3rd, 1866, and on the 5th was referred
to the Committee on Retrenchment. On the 10th Mr. Edmunds, in the
name of the committee, reported it back to the Senate with the
following remarks:

The joint select Committee on Retrenchment, to whom was referred
the bill to regulate the tenure of offices, have had the same
under consideration, and have instructed me to report the bill
back, with a recommendation of certain amendments, which being
adopted, the committee are of the opinion that the bill ought to
pass. I beg leave to say in connection with this report that we
have reported this bill and these amendments regulating removals
from office and appointments to office so far as concerns
officers whose nominations require the confirmation of the
Senate, and have adopted what appears to us to be a feasible
scheme in that respect, in no spirit of hostility to any party or
administration whatever, but in what we conceive to be the true
Republican interest of the country, under all administrations,
under the domination of all parties in the growth which is before
us in the future; and in that spirit I shall ask the attention of
the Senate to the bill when it comes to be considered. I move
that the amendment be printed, and that the bill be made the
special order for Thursday next, at one o'clock.

On the 10th of January, 1867, on motion of Mr. Edmunds, the bill
was taken up for consideration. As the first section of the bill
was the only portion over which there was any serious
controversy, or pertinent to this recital, only that section is
produced here. It is as follows:

That every person (excepting the Secretaries of State, of the
Treasury, of War, of the Navy, and of the Interior, the
Postmaster General, and the Attorney General), holding any civil
office to which he has been appointed by and with the advice and
consent of the Senate, and every person who shall hereafter be
appointed to any such office, and shall become duly qualified to
act therein, is, and shall be, entitled to hold such office until
a successor shall have been in like manner appointed and duly
qualified, except as herein otherwise provided.

Mr. Howe objected to the exception of the Cabinet officers from
the operation of the bill, and Mr. Edmunds responded that:

It did seem to the Committee, after a great deal of consultation
and reflection, that it was right and just that the Chief
Executive of the Nation, in selecting these named Secretaries,
who, by law, and by the practice of the country, and officers
analogous to whom by the practice of all other countries, are the
confidential advisers of the Executive respecting the
administration of all his Departments, should be persons who were
personally agreeable to him, in whom he could place entire
confidence and reliance, and that whenever it should seem to him
that the state of relations, between him and any of them had
become such as to render this relation of confidence and trust
and personal esteem inharmonious, HE SHOULD IN SUCH CASE BE
much discretion, so much confidence, so much respect ought to be
properly attributed to the Chief Magistrate of the Nation. It may
happen that at some particular time--some people may suppose that
it has happened now--the Chief Magistrate for the time being
ought not to be invested with such powers; but the Committee have
recommended the adoption of this rule respecting the
tenure-of-office as a permanent and systematic, and as they
believe, an appropriate regulation of the Government for all
administrations and for all time; and it did appear to them
(whether the reason may command itself to the Senate or not),
that it was just to the Executive, and on the whole best for the
interest of the Nation, that he should be allowed during a recess
of the Senate to change his confidential advisers if it should
appear to him to be fit, subject to that general responsibility
which every officer must be held to the public and to the Senate
when they meet again.

Mr. Williams said:

I prepared the original bill in this case, which contains in
different words the exception contained in the amendment reported
by the Committee. I do not regard the exception as of any real
practical consequence, because I suppose if the President and any
head of a Department should disagree so as to make their
relations unpleasant, and the President should signify a desire
that the head of a Department retire from the Cabinet, THAT WOULD

Mr. Fessenden said:

The Constitution imposes upon the President of the United States
the duty of executing the laws; it does not impose that duty upon
the Secretaries. They are creatures of the law and not of the
Constitution directly. Some, and perhaps the greater part, of
their functions are as advisers of the President and to aid him
in executing the laws in their several Departments. There are
some duties that are specifically conferred upon them by
Congress. Their relation to the President, as has been well said
by gentlemen, is that mostly of confidential advisers. With the
exception of the particular duties imposed upon them by law, and
on the Secretary of the Treasury more than on the others, they do
nothing of their own motion, but act by order of the President in
discharging the particular duties of their office. * * * That
being the peculiar condition of affairs it has always been
considered since the foundation of the Government, as a matter of
course, as a general rule--there may have been one or two
exceptions, and I think there have been, but I am not very
positive on that point--that the President might select such
persons as he pleased to be members of his Cabinet. Of course the
confirmation of the Senate is necessary; but the general idea of
the Senate has been, whether they liked the men or not, to
confirm them without any difficulty, because in executing the
great and varied interests of this great country it is
exceedingly important that there should be the utmost harmony
between those who are charged with that execution.

The bill passed as reported and went to the House. That body
amended it by making Cabinet officers non-removable by the
President without the consent of the Senate, and sent the bill
back to the Senate, when Mr. Sherman said:

It (the Tenure-of-Office bill) ought to have been passed, and
probably would have been passed, long ago, if a different
condition of affairs had existed before. But when you propose to
extend that principle to Cabinet officers, a very different state
of affairs arises, and different circumstances apply to this
subject. Now I say, that if a Cabinet officer should attempt to
hold his office for a moment beyond the time when he retained the
entire confidence of the President, I would not vote to retain
personally and politically. It would be unwise to require him to
administer the Government without agents of his own choosing. It
seems to me, therefore, that it would be unwise for the Senate to
engraft in this bill a provision that would enable a Cabinet
officer to hold on to his office in violation of the will of his
Chief. * * * Suppose the personal relations between a Cabinet
officer and the President became so unpleasant that they could
have no personal intercourse. The Senator from Wisconsin (Mr.
Howe), says in such a case the Cabinet officer would resign.
Suppose he should hold on to his power and position--what then?
There is no power to remove him, and the President can have no
intercourse with him. Would you compel such a state of affairs?
It seems to me that it would be unwise to do so. That the Senate
had no such purpose is shown by its vote twice to make this
exception. That this provision does not apply to the present
case, is shown by the fact that its language is so framed as NOT
TO APPLY TO THE PRESENT PRESIDENT. * * * It would not prevent the
present President from removing the present Secretary of War, the
Secretary of the Navy, or the Secretary of State.

A considerable number of Senators participated in the debate,
which was able and exhaustive to an exceptional degree, on both
sides, and occupied several days in the various stages of the

Mr. Edmunds closed the debate in the Senate with the following

I do not rise to prolong the debate, but only to express the hope
that the debate on this question may terminate--that we may come
to a vote. * * * While I should be glad to occupy some time in
reply to some things that have fallen in the course of this
debate, I feel it to be due to the business of the Senate to
abstain. I hope the Senate will disagree to this amendment, (made
by the House) and adhere to the bill as it stands.

The vote was then taken, and resulted in 17 for agreeing to the
House amendment, and 28 against it.

The action of the Senate was reported to the House and Conference
Committees were appointed by the two houses.

On the 18th of February, the following substitute for the first
section of the bill was reported by the Committee of Conference
and adopted by both Houses, and the bill went to the President:

Provided, That the Secretaries of State, of the Treasury, of War,
of the Navy, and of the Interior, the Postmaster General and the
Attorney General, shall hold their offices respectively FOR AND
APPOINTED, and for one month thereafter, subject to removal by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

On Monday, March 2nd, 1867, the President returned the bill to
the Senate, in which house it had originated, with his objections
thereto, as follows:

To the Senate of the United States:

I have carefully examined the bill to regulate the tenure of
certain civil offices. The material portion of the bill is
contained in the first section, and is of the effect following,

"That every person holding any civil office to which he has been
appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and
every person who shall hereafter be appointed to any such office,
and shall become duly qualified to act therein, is and shall be
entitled to hold such office until a successor shall have been
appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the
Senate, and duly qualified; and that the Secretaries of State, of
the Treasury, of War, of the Navy, and of the Interior, the
Postmaster General, and the Attorney General, shall hold their
offices respectively for and during the term of the President by
whom they may have been appointed, and for one month thereafter,
subject to removal by and with the advice and consent of the

These revisions are qualified by a reservation in the fourth
section, "that nothing contained in the bill shall be construed
to extend the term of any office the duration of which is limited
by law." In effect the bill provides that the President shall not
remove from their places any of the civil officers whose terms of
service are not limited by law without the advice and consent of
the Senate of the United States. The bill, in this respect,
conflicts, in my judgment, with the Constitution of the United
States. The question, as Congress is well aware, is by no means a
new one. That the power of removal is constitutionally vested in
the President of the United States is a principle which has been
not more distinctly declared by judicial authority and judicial
commentators than it has been uniformly practiced upon by the
legislative and executive departments of the Government. The
question arose in the House of Representatives so early as the
16th day of June, 1789, on the bill for establishing an executive
department, denominated "The Department of Foreign Affairs." The
first clause of the bill, after recapitulating the functions of
that officer and defining his duties, had these words: "To be
removable from office by the President of the United States." It
was moved to strike out these words, and the motion was sustained
with great ability and vigor. It was insisted that the President
could not constitutionally exercise the power of removal
exclusive of the Senate; that the Federalist so interpreted the
Constitution when arguing for its adoption by the several States;
that the Constitution had nowhere given the President power of
removal, either expressly or by strong implication; but on the
contrary, had distinctly provided for removals from office by
impeachment only. A construction which denied the power of
removal by the President was further maintained by arguments
drawn from the danger of the abuse of the power; from the
supposed tendency of an exposure of public officers to capricious
removal; to impair the efficiency of the civil service; from the
alleged injustice and hardship of displacing incumbents,
dependent upon their official stations, without sufficient
consideration; from a supposed want of responsibility on the part
the President, and from an imagined defect of guarantees against
a vicious President, who might incline to abuse the power.

On the other hand, an exclusive power of removal by the President
was defended as a true exposition of the text of the
Constitution. It was maintained that there are certain causes for
which persons ought to be removed from office without being
guilty of treason, bribery, or malfeasance, and that the nature
of things demands that it should be so. "Suppose," it was said,
"a man becomes insane by the visitation of God, and is likely to
ruin our affairs; are the hands of Government to be confined
front warding off the evil? Suppose a person in office not
possessing the talents he was judged to have at the time of the
appointment, is the error not to be corrected; suppose he acquire
vicious habits and incurable indolence, or totally neglect the
duties of his office, which shall work mischief to the public
welfare, is there no way to arrest the threatened danger? Suppose
he become odious and unpopular by reason of the measures he
pursues, and this he may do without committing any positive
offense against the law, must he preserve his office in despite
of the popular will? Suppose him grasping for his own
aggrandizement and the elevation of his connections by every
means short of the treason defined by the Constitution, hurrying
your affairs to the precipice of destruction, endangering your
domestic tranquility, plundering you of the means of defense,
alienating the affections of your allies, and promoting the
spirit of discord, must the tardy, tedious, desultory road, by
way of impeachment, be traveled to overtake the man who, barely
confining himself within the letter of the law, is employed in
drawing off the vital principle of the Government?" The nature of
things, the great objects of society, the express objects of the
Constitution itself require that this thing should be otherwise.
To unite the Senate with the President "in the exercise of the
power" it was said, would involve us in the most serious
difficulty. "Suppose a discovery of any of these events should
take place when the Senate is not in session, how is the remedy
to be applied? The evil could be avoided in no other way than by
the Senate sitting always." In regard to the danger of the power
being abused if exercised by one man, it was said "that the
danger is as great with respect to the Senate, who are assembled
from various parts of the continent, with different impressions
and opinions;" that such a body is more likely to misuse the
power of removal than the man whom the united voice of America
calls to the presidential chair. As the nature of Government
requires the power of removal, it was maintained "that it should
be exercised in this way by the hand capable of exerting itself
with effect, and the power must be conferred on the President by
the Constitution as the executive officer of the Government." Mr.
Madison, whose adverse opinion in the Federalist had been relied
upon by those who denied the exclusive power, now participated in
the debate. He declared that he had reviewed his former opinions,
and he summed up the whole case as follows:

"The Constitution affirms that the executive power is vested in
the President. Are there exceptions to this proposition? Yes,
there are. The Constitution says that in appointing to office the
Senate shall be associated with the President, unless, in the
case of inferior officers, when the law shall otherwise direct.
Have we (that is, Congress) a right to extend this exception? I
believe not. If the Constitution has invested all executive power
in the President, I return to assert that the Legislature has no
right to diminish or modify his executive authority. The question
now resolves itself into this: is the power of displacing an
executive power? I conceive that if any power whatever is in the
Executive, it is in the power of appointing, overseeing, and
controlling those who execute the laws. If the Constitution had
not qualified the power of the President in appointing to office
by associating the Senate with him in that business, would it not
be clear that he would have the right by virtue of his executive
power to make such appointment? Should we be authorized, in
defiance of that clause in the Constitution--the executive power
shall be vested in the President--to unite the Senate with the
President in the appointment to office? I conceive not. It is
admitted that we should not be authorized to do this, I think it
may be disputed whether we have a right to associate there in
removing persons from office, the one power being as much of an
executive nature as the other; and the first is authorized by
being excepted out of the general rule established by the
Constitution in these words: 'The executive power shall be vested
in the President.'"

The question thus ably and exhaustively argued was decided by the
House of Representatives, by a vote of 34 to 20, in favor of the
principle that the executive power of removal is vested by the
Constitution in the Executive, and in the Senate by the casting
vote of the Vice President. The question has often been raised in
subsequent times of high excitement, and the practice of the
Government has nevertheless conformed in all cases to the
decision thus early made. * * * Chancellor Kent's remarks on the
subject are as follows:

"On the first organization of the Government it was made a
question whether the power of removal in case of officers
appointed to hold at pleasure resided nowhere but in the body
which appointed, and, of course, whether the consent of the
Senate was not requisite to remove. This was the construction
given to the Constitution while it was pending for ratification
before the State conventions by the author of the Federalist. But
the construction which was given to the Constitution by Congress,
after great consideration and discussion, was different. The
words of the act (establishing the Treasury Department) are: 'And
whenever the same shall be removed from office by the President
of the United States, or in any other case of vacancy in the
office, the assistant shall act.' This amounted to a legislative
construction of the Constitution, and it has ever since been
acquiesced in and acted upon as decisive authority in the case.
It applies equally to every other officer of the Government
appointed by the President, whose term of duration is not
specially declared. It is supported by the weighty reason that
the subordinate officers in the executive department ought to
hold at the pleasure of the head of the Department, because he is
invested generally with the executive authority, and the
participation in that authority by the Senate was an exception to
a general principle and ought to be taken strictly. The President
is the great responsible officer for the faithful execution of
the law, and the power of removal was incidental to that duty,
and might often be requisite to fulfill it."

Thus has the important question presented by this bill been
settled, in the language of the late Daniel Webster (who, while
dissenting from it, admitted that it was settled), by
construction, settled by precedent, settled by the practice of
the Government, and settled by statute.

The events of the last war furnished a practical confirmation of
the wisdom of the Constitution as it has hitherto been maintained
in many of its parts, including that which is now the subject of
consideration. When the war broke out rebel enemies, traitors,
abettors, and sympathizers were found in every department of the
Government, as well in the civil service as in the land and naval
military service. They were found in Congress and among the
keepers of the Capitol, in foreign missions, in each and all of
the Executive Departments, in the judicial service, in the Post
Office, and among the agents for conducting Indian affairs; and
upon probable suspicion they were promptly displaced by my
predecessor, so far as they held their offices under executive
authority, and their duties were confided to new and loyal
successors. No complaints against that power or doubts of its
wisdom, were entertained in any quarter.

Having at an early period accepted the Constitution in regard to
the executive office in the sense in which it was interpreted
with the concurrence of its founders, I have found no sufficient
grounds in the arguments now opposed to that construction or in
any assumed necessity of the times for changing those opinions.
For these reasons I return the bill to the Senate, in which House
it originated, for the further consideration of Congress, which
the Constitution prescribes. Insomuch as the several parts of the
bill which I have not considered are matters chiefly of detail,
and are based altogether upon the theory of the Constitution from
which I am obliged to dissent, I have not thought it necessary to
examine them with a view to make them an occasion of distinct and
special objections. Experience, I think, has shown that it is the
easiest, as it is also the most attractive, of studies to frame
constitutions for the self-government of free States and nations.

But I think experience has equally shown that it is the most
difficult of all political labors to preserve and maintain such
free constitutions of self government when once happily
established. I know no other way in which they can be preserved
and maintained except by a constant adherence to them through the
various vicissitudes of national existence, with such adaptations
as may become necessary, always to be effected, however, through
the agencies and in the forms prescribed in the original
constitutions themselves. Whenever administration fails or seems
to fail in securing any of the great ends for which Republican
Government is established, the proper course seems to be to renew
the original spirit and forms of the Constitution itself.

Andrew Johnson

The bill was promptly passed in both Houses over the President's
veto and became a law.

As pertinent and incident to the history of this controversy, is
the communication of the President notifying the Senate of the
suspension of Mr. Stanton, Aug. 12, 1867. The President said:

The Tenure-of-Office Act did not pass without notice. Like other
acts, it was sent to the President for approval. As is my custom
I submitted it to the consideration of my Cabinet for their
advice whether I should approve it or not. I was a grave question
of constitutional law, in which I would of course rely mostly
upon the opinion of the Attorney General, and of Mr. Stanton, who
had once been Attorney General. EVERY MEMBER OF MY CABINET
without doubt or reservation; but MR. STANTON'S CONDEMNATION OF
Constitutional provisions, the debates in Congress, especially to
the speech of Mr. Buchanan when a Senator, to the decisions of
the Supreme Court, and to the usage from the beginning of the
Government through every successive administration, all
concurring to establish the right of removal as vested in the
President. To all these he added the weight of his own deliberate
judgment, and advised me that it was my duty to defend the power
of the President from usurpation and veto the law.

During the recess of Congress in the Summer of 1867, the
President suspended Mr. Stanton from the War Office and appointed
Gen. Grant Secretary of War ad interim. Gen. Grant was then
understood as supporting the President in his controversy with
Mr. Stanton, and promptly accepted the appointment, holding it
until the following December, when the change was duly reported
to the Senate. The Senate refused to sanction Mr. Stanton's
suspension, and he consequently resumed his position of Secretary
of War and retained it until the close of the Impeachment
trial--the Senate then, in effect, by rejecting the Impeachment,
declaring that the President had the right to remove him.

Very naturally, after Mr. Stanton's restoration to the War Office
by the refusal of the Senate to sanction his suspension, the
relations between himself and the President were embittered and
many efforts were made by mutual friends to induce Mr. Stanton to
resign. Conspicuous among these were Gen. Grant, the General of
the Army, and Gen. Sherman, the next in rank, as shown in the
following note from Gen. Sherman to the President; but a few
weeks before the crisis came. It explains itself, as showing the
relations then subsisting between the parties mentioned:

332 K St., Washington, Jan, 18th.

I regretted, this morning, to say that I had agreed to go down to
Annapolis, to spend Monday with Admiral Porter. Gen. Grant has to
leave for Richmond on Monday morning at 6 o'clock. At a
conversation with the General, after an interview wherein I
offered to go with him on Monday morning to Mr. Stanton and say
it was our joint opinion that he should resign, it was found
impossible by reason of his going to Richmond and my going to
Annapolis. The General proposed this course. He will tell you
to-morrow and offer to go to Mr. Stanton to say that for the good
of the service of the country he ought to resign--this on Sunday.
On Monday, I will call on you, and if you think it necessary, I
will do the same--call on Mr. Stanton and tell him he should
resign. If he will not, then it will be time to consider ulterior
measures. In the meantime, it also happens that no necessity
exists for precipitating measures.

Yours truly, W. T. Sherman.

On Saturday, February 23, 1868, the day following the removal of
Mr. Stanton, Mr. Johnson sent to the Senate the name of Mr.
Thomas Ewing, senior, of Ohio, as his successor. The Senate had
adjourned for the day when the President's Secretary reached the
Capitol, between 12 and 1 o'clock, but the nomination was
formally communicated on the following Monday. Of this
nomination, Mr. Blaine has written, that "no name could have
given better assurance of good intentions and upright conduct
than that of Mr. Ewing. He was a man of lofty character, of great
eminence in his profession of the law, and with wide and varied
experience in public life. He had held high rank as a Senator in
the Augustan period of the Senate's learning and eloquence, and
he had been one of the ablest members of the distinguished
Cabinets organized by the only two Presidents elected by the Whig
Party. He had reached the ripe age of seventy-eight years, but
still in complete possession of all his splendid faculties. He
had voted for Mr. Lincoln at both elections, had been a warm
supporter of the contest for the Union, and was represented by
his own blood on many of the great battlefields of the war."

No notice was taken by the Senate of this nomination.

Here was offered an opportunity for the settlement of the dispute
over the War Office on fair and honorable terms to all parties
concerned. But that was not what the impeachers wanted. They
wanted to get Mr. Johnson out. They thought they had a pretext
that they could sustain by making it a party question, and did
not want a settlement on any other terms--so no attention was
given to Mr. Ewing's nomination. It was ignored and the
impeachment movement went on.


Mr. Johnson's veto of the Tenure-of-Office Bill, and the passage
of that bill over his veto, of course intensified the antagonism
between himself and Congress. He not unnaturally regarded that
Act as an infringement of the Executive function which it was his
duty to his office and to himself to resent. The culmination came
upon his official notification to the Senate on February 21st,
1868, of his removal of Mr. Stanton from the office of Secretary
of War, and his appointment of Gen. Lorenzo Thomas as Secretary
ad interim, nothwithstanding the assumed interdiction of the
Tenure-of-Office Act.

Immediately on receipt of this notification, the Senate went into
executive session, and the following proceeding was had:

IN EXECUTIVE SESSION Senate of the United States
February 21st, 1868

Whereas, The Senate have read and considered the communication of
the President, stating that he had removed Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War, and had designated the Adjutant General of the
Army to act as Secretary of War ad interim. interim.. Therefore,

Resolved, by the Senate of the United States, That under the
Constitution and laws of the United States, the President has no
power to remove the Secretary of War and designate any other
officer to perform the duties of that office ad interim.

The journal of the Senate shows that this Resolution was adopted
by the following vote:

Yeas--Messrs. Cameron, Cattell, Cole, Conkling, Cragin, Drake,
Ferry, Harlan, Morrill of Maine, Morrill of Vermont, Morton,
Patterson of New Hampshire, Pomeroy, Ramsay, Ross, Sprague,
Stewart. Sumner. Thayer, Tipton, Trumbull. Van Winkle, Wade,
Willey Williams. Wilson. Yates--23.

Nays--Messrs. Buckalew, Davis, Doolittle, Edmunds, Hendricks,
Patterson of Tennessee--6.

Absent or not voting--20. Note. (Note--It is due to myself to
say here, that the entry of my name in the above vote, was
incorrect. My distinct recollection is, that though present, I
declined to vote, and from the consideration mentioned. I was
totally unaware of my name being recorded as voting on the
proposition until long after I left the Senate, when of course
there was no opportunity to secure a correction of the journal.)

This was an extraordinary proceeding. A proposition to impeach
the President had till recently been pending in the House for
nearly a year, and the ingenuity of the majority had been taxed
to the utmost to find some basis for an indictment upon which a
successful impeachment might be possible. There is ground for the
suggestion that much was hoped for in that direction from the
Tenure-of-Office Bill, at least so far as the House was
concerned. That hoped for opportunity had now come--nor is it an
unreasonable surmise, that this very extraordinary action of the
Senate was forced by outside as well as inside influences for the
purpose of testing the Senate, and committing it in advance and
in anticipation of the preferment of another impeachment by the

As to the question of the guilt or innocence of the President of
the commission of an impeachable offense, this vote of the Senate
was in the nature of a vote of "guilty." It was therefore to a
degree an impeachment and conviction combined by the Senate,
prior to the bringing of an accusation by the House of
Representatives, the constitutional body for the preferment of an
impeachment of the President--and was an improper, and not far
removed from an indecent proceeding on the part of the Senate. In
effect, the President was thereby condemned by the Senate without
trial, and his later arraignment was simply to receive
sentence-it being solely upon the removal of Mr. Stanton that the
impeachment was brought by the House.

It is noticeable, and possibly indicative, that the names of
twenty out of fifty-four members of the Senate do not appear in
this list--a very unusual occurrence in divisions of that body;
especially in the exciting conditions that then prevailed. The
absentees, or at least abstentions from voting, were fifteen
Republicans and five Democrats, more than one-third of the body.
That very unusual absence or abstention from voting may well be
attributed to the very proper hesitancy of Senators to commit
themselves in advance, either way, on a proposition that was
reasonably certain to lead to an impeachment of the President,
then virtually pending and imminent in the House, and upon which
the Senate was equally certain to be called upon to act.

The action of the President was also communicated to the House of
Representatives by Mr. Stanton, at the same hour of the same day,
February 21st, 1868, in the following communication, enclosing a
copy of the President's notification of his dismissal.

War Department,
Washington City, Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir:--Gen. Thomas has just delivered to me a copy of the enclosed
order, which you will please communicate to the House of

(Signed) E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
Hon. Schuyler Colfax, Speaker House of Representatives.

This gave new life to the impeachment cause, which had a few
weeks before been defeated in the House and since then had, for
lack of material, been laming, to the discouragement of many of
its advocates: and the gleeful ejaculations, on the floor of the
House, in the lobbies, and on the streets, on receipt of this
news, and more especially after the action of the Senate became
known, which was not long in reaching the public, with a common
greeting slid clasping of hands: "Well, we've got him now!"

The communication of Mr. Stanton to the House of Representatives
was immediately, after reading, referred to the Committee on

In the evening of the same day, Mr. Covode, of Pennsylvania,
offered a resolution to impeach the President, which was also
referred to the same Committee.

On the next day, Feb. 22d, 1868, Mr. Stevens, Chairman of that
Committee, made the following report:

The Committee on Reconstruction, to whom was referred, on the
27th day of January last, the following resolution:

"Resolved, That the Committee on Reconstruction be authorized to
inquire what combinations have been made or attempted to be made
to obstruct the due execution of the laws; and to that end the
committee have power to send for persons and papers and to
examine witnesses oil oath, and report to this House what action.
if any, they may deem necessary; and that said committee bade
leave to report at any time."

And to whom was also referred, on the 21st day of February,
instant, a communication from Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of
War, dated on said 21st day of February, together with a copy of
a letter from Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, to
the said Edwin M. Stanton, as follows:

Executive Mansion, Washington. D. C., Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir:-By virtue of the power and authority vested in me, as
President, by the Constitution and laws of the United States, you
are hereby removed from office as Secretary for the Department of
War, and your functions as such will terminate upon the receipt
of this communication.

You will transfer to Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas,
Adjutant General of the Army, who has this day been authorized
and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, all records,
books, papers, and other public property now in your custody and

Respectfully yours. Andrew Johnson.
Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Washington, D. C.

And to whom was also referred by the House of Representatives the
following resolution, namely:

"Resolved, That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States,
be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors."

Have considered the several subjects referred to them, and submit
the following report:

That in addition to the papers referred to the committee, the
committee find that the President, on the 21st day of February,
1868, signed and issued a commission or letter of authority to
one Lorenzo Thomas, directing and authorizing said Thomas to act
as Secretary of War ad interim, and to take possession of the
books, records, and papers, and other public property in the War
Department, of which the following is a copy:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir:--Hon. Edwin M. Stanton having been this day removed from
office as Secretary for the Department of War, you are hereby
authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim,
and will immediately enter upon the discharge of the duties
pertaining to that office. Mr. Stanton has been instructed to
transfer to you all the records, books, papers, and other public
property now in his custody and charge.

Respectfully yours, Andrew Johnson.

To Brevet Major General Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant General of the
United States Army. Washington, District of Columbia.

Official copy respectfully furnished to Hon. Edwin M. Stanton.

L. Thomas. Secretary of War ad interim.

Upon the evidence collected by the committee, which is herewith
presented, and in virtue of the powers with which they have been
invested by the House, they are of the opinion that Andrew
Johnson, President of the United States, be impeached of high
crimes and misdemeanors. They therefore recommend to the House
the adoption of the accompanying resolution.
Thaddeus Stevens, George S.Boutwell, John A. Bingham, C. T.
Hulburd, John F. Farnsworth, F. C. Beaman, H. E. Paine.

Resolution providing for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson,
President of the United States.

Resolved, That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be
impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors in office.

The following is a brief synopsisof the debate which ensued: Mr.
Stevens, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention in
the first instance to discuss this question; and if there be no
desire on the other side to discuss it we are willing that the
question should be taken upon the knowledge which the House
already has. Indeed, the fact of removing a man from office while
the Senate was in session without the consent of the Senate, if
there were nothing else, is of itself, and always has been
considered, a high crime and misdemeanor, and was never before p
racticed. But I will not discuss this question unless gentlemen
on the other side desire to discuss it. It they do, I shall for
the present give way to them and say what I have to say in

Mr. Brooke, (Dem. of N. Y.) Mr. Speaker, I had hoped to have an
opportunity, at least, to submit a minority report before we
entered upon this august proceeding of impeaching the chief
executive officer of this Government. Bat after a session of the
Committee on Reconstruction, hardly an hour in length, violating
an express rule of this House by sitting during the session-for
Rule 72 provides that no committee shall sit during the session
of the House without special leave-we have been summoned upon a
very partial submission of facts, without any comprehension, in
reality, of the charges which are made against the President of
they United States, upon a new indictment, in a new form once
more, and in a more alarming manner than ever, in this but a
partial Congress, representing but a section of a portion of the
people-in my judgment not representing the people of the United
States at allto act as a grand jury, with a large portion of that
grand jury excluded from the juryroom here; and suddenly,
impromptu perhaps, a vote is to be forced this very day-to
impeach the President of the United States!

I am utterly inadequate to discharge the duty which has devolved
upon me on this august day, the anniversary of the birthday of
the Father of his country. I am utterly unable upon this occasion
either to do my duty to the people or to express myself with that
deep solemnity which I feel in rising to resist this untoward,
this unholy, this unconstitutional proceeding. Indeed, I know not
why the ghost of impeachment hag appeared here in a new form. We
have attempted to lay it hitherto, and we have successfully laid
it. upon the floor of this House. But a minority of the party on
the other side, forcing its influence and its power upon a
majority of a committee of this House, has at last succeeded in
compelling its party to approach the House itself in a united,
and therefore in a more solemn form, and to demand the
impeachment of the President of the United States.

Sir, we have long been in the midst of a revolution. Long, long
has our country been agitated by the throes of that revolution.
But we are now approaching the last and the final stage of that
revolution in which, like many revolutions that have preceded it.
a legislative power not representing the people attempts to
depose the executive power, and thus to overthrow that
constitutional branch of the Government.

There is nothing new in all this. There is nothing new in what we
are doing, for men of the present but repeat the history of the
past. We are traversing over and over again the days of Cromwell
and Charles I and Charles II, and we are traversing over and over
again the scenes of the French revolution, baptized in blood in
our introductory part, but I trust in God never again to be
baptized by any revolutionary proceeding on the part of this

I have not and never have been a defender of all the opinions of
General Jackson, but those on the other side who pretend to hold
him as authority and those on this side who have ever held him as
authority will find that in uttering the opinions which I have I
but reutter the opinions which he advanced in his veto of July
10, 1832, when he said:

"The Congress, the Executive, and the court must each for itself
be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public
officer who takes the oath to support the Constitution swears
that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is
understood by others."

The President of the United States has given his opinion upon the
official tenure-of-office act and upon the Constitution of the
United States by the appointment of Adjutant General Thomas as
Secretary of War ad interim. and because of the exercise of that
Constitutional right we are called upon here at once to pronounce
him guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors and to demand his
deposition and degradation therefor. * * * * *

Mr. Spalding, (Rep. of Ohio). Mr. Speaker, I feel myself to be
in no proper frame of mind or heart to attempt rhetorical display
on this occasion. I can appreciate the sentiments of the
gentleman from New York [Mr. Brooks] when he says the question
before us is filled with solemnity; but when he attempts by
gasconade to deter members on this side of the House from the
conscientious discharge of their duty I say to my friend that he
has :.mistaken his calling." Sir, no more important duty could be
devolved upon this House of Representatives than that of
considering the question whether articles of impeachment shall be
preferred against the Chief Magistrate of the United States; and
for long months, ay, for more than a year, sir. I have resisted,
with all my efforts and all my personal influence, the approach
of that crisis which is now upon us and before us. The President
has clone many, very many, censurable acts: but I could not, on
my conscience. say that he should be holden to answer upon a
charge of "high crimes and misdemeanors" until something could be
made tangible whereby ha had brought himself in open conflict
with the Constitution and laws of the Union.

It has seemed to me, sir, for weeks, that this high officer of
our government was inviting the very ordeal which, I am sorry to
say, is now upon us, and the dread consequences of which will
speedily be upon him. He has thrown himself violently in contact
with an Act of Congress passed on the 2d day of March last by
the votes of the constitutional two-thirds of the Senate and
two-thirds of the House of Representatives over his veto
assigning his reasons for withholding his assent. Now, it matters
not how many acts can be found upon the statute books in years
gone by that would sanction the removal of a cabinet officer by
the President; the gentleman from New York numbers three. He may
reckon up thirty or three hundred and still if, within the last
six or nine months, Congress has, in a constitutional manner,
made an enactment that prohibits such removal, and the executive
wantonly disregards such enactment and attempts to remove the
officer, he incurs the penalty as clearly and as certainly as if
there never had been any legislation to the contrary. That
subsequent enactment, if it be constitutional, repeals, by its
own force, all other prior enactments with which it may conflict;
and in nothing is that enactment more significant than in this,
that the President shall not remove any civil officer, who has
been appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,
without the concurrence of that body, when it is itself in

Mr. Bingham, (Rep.) of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, all right-minded men
must concede that the question under consideration is one of
supreme moment to till the people of the Republic. I protest for
myself, sir, that I am utterly incapable of approaching the
discussion of this question in the spirit of a partisan. I repel,
sir, the intimation of the gentleman from New York, Mr. Brooks,
that I am careless of the obligation of my oath or unconcerned
about the supremacy of the Constitution and the laws. I look upon
the Constitution of the country as the very breath of the
nation's life. I invoke this day upon the consideration of this
great question the matchless name of Washington, as did the
gentleman, and ask him, in the consideration of the matter now
before us, to ponder upon those deathless words of the Father of
our Country, wherein he declares that "the Constitution which at
any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of
the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all"--upon all sir,
from the President to the humblest citizen--standing within the
jurisdiction of the Republic. Washington but echoed the words
that himself and his associates had imbedded in the text of the
Constitution, that "this Constitution and the laws passed in
pursuance thereof shall be the supreme law of the land." It shall
be supreme over every officer; it shall be supreme over every
State; it shall be supreme over every territory; it shall be
supreme upon every deck covered by your flag in every zone all
round the globe. Every man within its jurisdiction, official and
unofficial, must bow to the supremacy of the Constitution.

The gentleman says that the issue involved is an issue about an
office. I beg the gentleman's pardon. The issue involved is
whether the supremacy of the Constitution shall be maintained by
the people's Representatives. The President of the United States
has assumed, sir, to set himself above the Constitution and the
laws. He has assumed to defy the law, he has assumed to challenge
the people's Representatives to sit in judgment upon his
malfeasance in office. Every man who has considered it worth
while to observe my conduct touching this question that has so
long agitated this House and agitated this country may have
discovered that I have kept myself back and have endeavored to
keep others back from making any unnecessary issue between the
President and Representatives of the people touching the manner
in which he discharged the duties of his great office. I had no
desire, sir, to have resort unnecessarily to this highest power
reposed by the people in their Representatives and their Senators
for the vindication of their own violated Constitution and
violated laws. Notwithstanding there was much in the conduct of
the President to endanger the peace and repose of the country,
yet, so long as there was any doubt upon the question of his
liability to impeachment within the text and spirit of the
Constitution, I was unwilling to utter one syllable to favor such
a proposition or to record a vote to advance it. * * *

Mr. Beck, (Dem. of Ky.) The single question upon which the
decision of this House is now to be made is that the President
has attempted to test the constitutionality of a law which he
believes to be unconstitutional. All the testimony heretofore
presented upon which to base an impeachment of the President was
decided by even a majority of the Republican members of this
House to be insufficient to justify impeachment. All questions
growing out of the combinations and conspiracies lately charged
upon the President were ruled by the Reconstruction Committee to
be insufficient, and were not brought before this House. And
the sole question now before us is, is there anything in this
last act of the President removing Mr. Stanton and appointing
Adjutant General Thomas Secretary of War ad interim to justify
his impeachment by this House?

I maintain that the President of the United States is in duty
bound to test the legality of every law which he thinks
interferes with his rights and powers as the Chief Magistrate of
this nation. Whenever he has powers conferred upon him by the
Constitution of the United States, and an act of Congress
undertakes to deprive him of those powers, or any of them. he
would be false to his trust as the Chief Executive of this
nation, false to the interests of the people whom he represents,
if he did not by every means in his power seek to test the
constitutionality of that law, and to take whatever steps were
necessary and proper to have it tested by the highest tribunal in
the land, and to ascertain whether he has a right under the
Constitution to do what he claims the right to do, or whether
Congress has the right to deprive him of the powers which he
claims have been vested in him by the Constitution of the United
States, and that is all that he proposes to do in this case. * *

Mr. Logan, (Rep. of Ills.) Now, Mr. Speaker, let us examine this
question for a moment. It seems to me very plain and easy of
solution. It is not necessary, in order to decide whether this
action of the President of the United States comes within the
purview and meaning of this statute, for us to talk about
revolutions or what this man or that man has said or decided.
What has been the act of the President is the question. The law
is plain. If the President shall appoint or shall give a letter
of authority or issue a commission to any person, without the
consent of the Senate, he is guilty of--what? The law says of a
high misdemeanor. And, under and by virtue of the Constitution,
the President can be impeached--for what? For high crimes or
misdemeanors. This law declares the issuing a commission to, or
giving a letter of authority to, or appointing to or removing
from office, any person. without the advice and consent of the
Senate of the United States, shall be a high misdemeanor, which
is within the meaning and within the pale of the Constitution of
the United States.

Now, what is the evidence presented to this body by one of its
committees? It is of this character: The Secretary of War, Edwin
M. Stanton, has been declared by a solemn vote of the Senate to
be the Secretary of War, by virtue of--what? By virtue of an
appointment to that office; by reason of the fact that Andrew
Johnson did not relieve him from office when he had the right to
present the name of somebody else--soon after his taking the
presidential chair--not the right to turn him out, but the right
to nominate some one else to the senate and ask them to confirm
him to that office. That the President failed to do. Then, acting
under the provisions of this statute, the President suspended Mr.
Stanton as Secretary of War, but the Senate passed upon that act,
and decided that the reasons given by the President for
suspending Mr. Stanton were not satisfactory; and accordingly, by
virtue of this law, Mr. Stanton was confirmed and reinstated in
his position as Secretary of War.

Now, all this having been done, it cannot certainly be claimed
that the President, in his recent course in regard to Mr.
Stanton, has acted without any intention of violating the law.
Nor can it be claimed that the President is ignorant of the law.
* * *

Mr. Holman (Dem., Ind.) We have listened to much excited
eloquence upon this question. It is too manifest that Congress,
moving on with that impetus which is ever the result of excessive
political power. seeks to usurp those powers which are by the
Constitution vested in the other Departments of the Government. I
do not propose to discuss this subject or answer the speech of
the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Logan] with any words of my own.
I have before me a paper which is full of mature wisdom and
patriotic counsel, a speech that comes from the solemn past, yet
speaks to every heart that beats for the Union of these States,
and the prosperity of the American people; a voice that is
answered back from every battlefield of the Revolution, and from
the grave of every soldier who has fallen in defense of American
liberty. I ask that this speech may be read to the House, as
appropriate to this day, the 22nd of February, a day once so
venerated. I ask that this immortal address to the American
people, a speech that needs no revision: a speech in which there
can be no interruptions made in this moment of passion, be read
to the American Congress, for I can well afford to be silent
while that great voice speaks to the Representatives of the
people of this Republic.

The Clerk commenced the reading of Washington's Farewell Address.

Mr. Peters: I rise to a question of order. I insist that that
address is not germane to the question before the House.

Mr. Holman: I insist that it is exceedingly germane.

Mr. Lawrence, of Ohio: Allow me to suggest that it is germane,
for the reason that it relates to retirement from office.

Mr. Peters: That is too remote.

The Speaker pro tempore, (Mr. Blaine, in the chair.) The Chair
sustains the point of order.

Mr. Holman: I hope no gentleman will object to the completion of
the reading: it will only occupy the time I am entitled to.

Mr. Peters: It is doubtless very instructive, and so would a
chapter of the Bible be. but it has nothing to do with the
question before the House, and I insist upon the point of order.

The Speaker pro tempore. Up to this point the discussion has
been pertinent and germane to the question--very closely so--and
the Chair is compelled to rule, the question of order being
raised, that this is not germane or in order. The gentleman from
Indiana will proceed in order.

Mr. Holman: I suppose, Mr. Speaker, the Constitution of the
United States would scarcely be in order. I will not ask to have
it read.

The debate continued in the vein illustrated in the foregoing
extracts, from the morning of February 22, notwithstanding it was
a National Holiday, such was the haste of the impeachers, to the
evening of the 24th, almost without interruption. It was at times
illustrated by marked ability, and on the Republican side by
intense bitterness and partisan malignity. A large number of the
members of the House participated in the debate.

Mr. Thaddeus Stevens then closed the debate in the following
arraignment of the President:

Now in defiance of this law. (the Office-Tenure Act) Andrew
Johnson, on the 21st day of February, 1868, issued his commission
or letter of authority to one Lorenzo Thomas, appointing him
Secretary of War ad interim, and commanded him to take possession
of the Department of War and to eject the incumbent. E M.
Stanton, then in lawful possession of said office. Here, if this
act stood alone, would be an undeniable official misdemeanor--

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest