of the United States felt it.
There are two or three facts to which I desire to call the
attention of the Senate and the country in connection with these
recommendations. They are, first, that they were all gotten up
after this impeachment proceeding was commenced against the
President of the United States.
Another strong and powerful fact to be noticed in vindication of
the President of the United States, in reference to this case
which has been so strongly preferred against him, is that these
recommendations were signed by four of the honorable, gentlemen
to whom the House of Representatives have intrusted the duty of
managing this great impeachment against him.
Of course exception was taken to this statement, and to the
revisal inferences therefrom, and the authenticity of the
signatures mentioned at first denied, and then an effort made to
explain them away, but it is unsuccessful.
The incident left a fixed impression, at least in the minds of
many of the Senators, that an effort had been made to coerce the
President, in fear of successful impeachment, into the
perpetration of a cowardly and disgraceful international act, not
only by his then Chief of Counsel, but also by a number of his
active prosecutors on the part of the House.
It would be difficult to fittingly characterize this scandalous
effort to pervert a great State trial into an instrumentality for
the successful exploitation of a commercial venture which was by
no means free from the elements of international robbery.
Yet to Mr. Johnson's lasting credit, he proved that he possessed
the honesty and courage to dare his enemies to do their worst - he
would not smirch his own name and disgrace his country and his
great office, by using its power for the-promotion of an
enterprise not far removed from a scheme of personal plunder, let
it cost him what it might. It was a heroic act, and bravely,
unselfishly, modestly performed.
CHAPTER IX. EXAMINATION OF WITNESSES AND THEIR TESTIMONY.
The initial proceedings to the taking of testimony, while to a
degree foreshadowing a partisan division in the trial, also
demonstrated the presence of a Republican minority which could
not at all times, be depended upon to register the decrees of the
more radical portion of the body. The first development of this
fact came in the defeat of a proposition to amend the rules in
the interest of the prosecution, and again on the examination of
Mr. Burleigh, a delegate from Dakota Territory in the House of
Representatives and a witness brought by the prosecution on March
31st. Mr. Butler, examining the witness, asked the question:
Had you on the evening before seen General Thomas? * * * Had you
a communication with him?
Answer. Yes sir.
Mr. Stanbery objected, and the Chief Justice ruled that the
testimony was competent and would be heard "unless the Senate
To this ruling Mr. Drake objected and appealed from the decision
of the Chair to the Senate. It appeared to be not to the ruling
per se, that Mr. Drake objected, but to the right of the Chair to
rule at all upon the admissibility of testimony. Mr. Drake
representing the extremists of the dominant side of the Chamber.
There seemed to be apprehension of the effect upon the Senate of
the absolute judicial fairness of the rulings of the Chief
Justice, and the great weight they would naturally have, coming
from so just and eminent a jurist. After discussion, Mr. Wilson
moved that the Senate retire for consultation.
The vote on this motion was a tie, being twenty-five for and
twenty-five against retiring, whereupon the Chief Justice
announced the fact of a tie and voted "yea;" and the Senate
retired to its consultation room, where, after discussion and
repeated suggestions of amendment to the rules, the following
resolution was offered by Mr. Henderson:
Resolved, That rule 7 be amended by substituting therefor the
The presiding officer of the Senate shall direct all necessary
preparations in the Senate Chamber, and the presiding officer in
the trial shall direct all the forms of proceeding while the
Senate are sitting for the purpose of trying an impeachment, and
all forms during the trial not otherwise provided for. And the
presiding officer on the trial may rule all questions of of
evidence and incidental questions, which ruling shall stand as
the judgment of the Senate, unless some member of the Senate
shall ask that a formal vote be taken thereon, in which case it
shall be submitted to the Senate for decision; or he may, at his
option, in the first instance, submit any such question to a vote
of the members of the Senate.
Mr. Morrill, of Maine, moved to amend the proposed rule by
striking out the words "which ruling shall stand as the judgment
of the Senate," which was rejected without a division.
Mr. Sumner then moved to substitute the following:
That the chief justice of the United States, presiding in the
Senate on the trial of the President of the United States, is not
a member of the Senate, and has no authority under the
Constitution to vote on any question during the trial, and he
can pronounce decision only as the organ of the Senate, with its
It is not insisted here that there was any sinister purpose in
this proposition, yet the possibilities, in case of its adoption,
were very grave. Like the wasp, the sting was in the tail - "he
(the chief justice;) can pronounce decision only as the organ of
the Senate, WITH ITS ASSENT! Had that rule been adopted, suppose
the Senate, with, its vote of forty-two Republicans and twelve
Democrats, upon failure of conviction by a two-thirds vote had
refused or refrained on a party vote from giving "its assent" to
a judgment of acquittal?
The vote upon this proposed amendment was as follows:
For its adoption - Messrs. Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, Conkling,
Conness, Corbett, Cragin, Drake, Howard, Morgan, Morrill of
Maine, Morton, Nye, Pomeroy, Ramsay, Stewart, Sumner, Thayer,
Tipton, Trumbull, Williams, Wilson - 22 - all Republicans.
Against its adoption - Messrs. Bayard, Buckalew, Cole, Davis,
Dixon, Doolittle, Edmunds, Ferry, Fessenden, Fowler,
Frelinghuysen, Henderson, Hendricks, Howe, Johnson, McCreery,
Morrill of Vermont, Norton, Patterson of New Hampshire, Patterson
of Tennessee, Ross, Sherman, Sprague, Van Winkle, Vickers,
Willey - 26 - 15 Republicans and 11 Democrats.
So the resolution was rejected - every aye vote a Republican, and
all but one, Mr. Trumbull, afterwards voting to impeach the
President at tHe close of the trial - eleven Democrats and
fifteen Republicans voting nay.
Mr. Drake then offered the following:
It is the judgment of the Senate that under the Constitution the
Chief Justice presiding over the Senate in the pending trial has
no privilege of ruling questions of law arising thereon, but that
all such questions shall be submitted to a decision by the Senate
It would be difficult to formulate a proposition better
calculated to taint the proceedings with a partisan bias than
this one by Mr. Drake. The impeachment movement was in a very
large sense, if not entirely, a partisan enterprise. It had its
origin in partisan differences, and was based mainly on
differences as to public policies at issue between the two great
parties of the country - and while it was expected that every
political. friend of the President would vote against the
impeachment, it was DEMANDED, and made a test of party fealty,
that every Republican Senator should vote for his conviction.
Therefore, and perhaps it was not illogical from these premises,
party leaders of Mr. Drake's inclination should not relish the
influence the legal, unbiased and non-partisan rulings of the
Chief Justice might have upon his more conservatively inclined
fellow partisans of the body.
Mr. Drake called for the yeas and nays, which were ordered, and
the vote was yeas 20, nays 30. The personality of this vote was
very much the same as on the previous proposition.
The rule proposed by Mr. Henderson was then adopted. The
conference closed shortly after, and the session of the Senate
The next day, April 1st, Mr. Sumner renewed in the Senate his
proposition submitted at the Conference the day before but not
acted upon, to change the rules of the Senate in the following
It appearing from the reading of the Journal yesterday that on a
question where the Senate were equally divided, the Chief
Justice, presiding on the trial of the President, gave a casting
vote; it is hereby ordered that, in the judgment of the Senate,
such vote was without authority under the Constitution of the
The proposition was put to vote with the following result:
Yeas - Messrs. Cameron, Chandler, Cole, Conkling, Conness, Cragin,
Drake, Howard, Howe, Morgan, Morrill of Maine, Morton, Norton,
Ramsay, Stewart, Sumner, Thayer, Tipton, Trumbull, Williams,
Wilson - 21 - 10 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
Nays - Messrs. Anthony, Bayard, Buckalew, Corbett, Davis, Dixon,
Doolittle, Edmunds, Ferry, Fessenden, Fowler, Frelinghuysen,
Grimes, Henderson, Hendricks, Johnson, McCreery, Morrill of
Vermont, Patterson of Tennessee, Ross, Sherman, Sprague, Van
Winkle, Vickers, Willey - 26 - 16 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
So the proposed order was rejected. The trial then proceeded. The
answers to a very large proportion of the interrogatories
propounded to the witnesses, on both sides, were unimportant,
having very little bearing, either way, upon the case.
Twenty-eight of those interrogatories, however, were more or less
important, and were challenged, seven by the defense, and
twenty-one by the prosecution. For convenience of reference,
these interrogatories are numbered from one to twenty-eight,
inclusive, with the answers thereto, when permitted to be
answered, as follows:
Question submitted by Mr. Butler, of the prosecution, April 1st,
1868, to Mr. Walter A. Burleigh, witness on the stand, called for
You said yesterday, in answer to my question, that you had a
conversation with General Lorenzo Thomason the evening of the
21st of February last. State if he said anything as to the means
by which he intended to obtain or was directed by the President
to obtain possession of the War Department. If so, state all he
said, as nearly as you can?
Mr. Stanbery objected.
Mr. Drake called for the yeas and nays, which were ordered, and
the vote was as follows:
Yeas - Anthony, Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, Cole, Conkling,
Conness, Corbett, Cragin, Drake, Edmunds, Ferry, Fessenden,
Fowler, Frelinghuysen, Grimes, Henderson, Howard, Howe, Morgan,
Morrill of Maine, Morrill of Vermont, Morton, Nye, Patterson of
New Hampshire, Pomeroy, Ramsay, Ross, Sherman, Sprague, Stewart,
Sumner, Thayer, Tipton, Trumbull, Van Winkle, Willey, Williams,
Wilson - 39 - all Republicans.
Nays-Bayard, Buckalew, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Hendricks,
Johnson, McCreery, Norton, Patterson of Tennessee, Vickers -
11 - all Democrats.
So, the Senate decided that the question should be answered.
General Butler repeated the interrogatory, and Mr. Burleigh's
answer was as follows:
On the evening of February 21st last, I learned that General
Thomas had been appointed Secretary of War ad interim, I think
while at the Metropolitan Hotel. I invited Mr. Leonard Smith, of
Leavenworth, Kas., to go with me up to his house and see him. We
took a carriage and went up. I found the General there ready to
go out with his daughters to spend the evening at some place of
amusement. I told him I would not detain him if he was going out;
but he insisted on my sitting down and I sat down for a few
moments. I told him I had learned he had been appointed Secretary
of War. He said he had; that he had been appointed that day, I
think; that after receiving his appointment from the President he
went to the War Office to show his authority, or his appoiniment,
to Secretary Stanton, and also his order to take possession of
the office; that the Secretary remarked to him that he supposed
he would give him time to remove his personal effects, or his
private papers, or something to that effect; and the answer was
"certainly." He said that in a short time the Secretary asked him
if he would give him a copy of his order, and he replied
"certainly," and gave it to him. He said that it was no more
than right to give him time to take out his personal effects. I
asked him when he was going to assume the duties of the office.
He remarked that he should take possession the next morning at
ten o'clock, which would be the 22nd; and I think in that
connection he stated that he had issued some order in regard to
the observance of the day; but of that I am not sure. I remarked
to him that I should be up at that end of the avenue the next
day, and he asked me to come in and see him. I asked him where I
could find him. and he said in the Secretary's room up stairs. I
told him I would be there. Said he, "be there punctually at 10
o'clock." Said I, "you are going to take possession to-morrow?"
"Yes." Said he, "suppose Stanton objects to it - resists?" "Well,"
said he,"I expect to meet force by force. Or use force."
Mr. Conkling: "Repeat that."
The witness. I asked him what he would do if Stanton objected, or
resisted. He said he would use force, or resort to force. Said I,
"Suppose he bars the doors?" His reply was. "I will break them
down." I think that was about all the conversation that we had
there in that connection.
The next disputed interrogatory put by General Butler to the
Shortly after this conversation about which you have testified,
and after the President restored Major General Thomas to the
office of Adjutant General, if you know the fact that he was so
restored, were you present in the War Department, and did you
hear Thomas make any statements to the officers and clerks, or
either of them, belonging to the War Office, as to the rules and
orders of Mr. Stanton or of the War Office which he, Thomas,
would make, revoke, relax, or rescind, in favor of such officers
or employes when he had control of the affairs therein? If so,
state as near as you can when it was such conversation occurred,
and state all he said, as near as you can.
Mr. Howard demanded the yeas and nays and they were ordered and
were as follows:
Yeas - Anthony Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, Cole, Conkling,
Conness, Corbett, Cragin, Drake, Henderson Howard, Howe, Morgan,
Morrill of Vermont, Morton, Nye, Patterson of New Hampshire,
Pomeroy, Ramsey, Ross, Sprague, Stewart, Sumner, Thayer, Tipton,
Trumbull, Wilson - 28 - all Republicans.
Nays - Bayard, Buckalew, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Edmunds, Ferry,
Fessenden, Fowler, Frelinghuysen, Grimes, Hendricks, Johnson,
McCreery, Morrill of Maine, Norton, Patterson of Tennessee,
Sherman, Van Winkle, Vickers, Willey, Wilson - 22 - 11 Republicans,
So the Senate decided that the question should be answered.
Mr. Butler: With the leave of the President, I will put this
question by portions.
Did you hear Thomas make any statement to the officers or clerks,
or either of them, belonging to the War Office, as to the rules
and orders of Mr. Stanton, or of the office, which he, Thomas,
would revoke, relax, or rescind, in favor of such officers and
employes when he had control therein?
Answer: The General remarked to me that he had made an
arrangement to have all the heads, or officers in charge of the
different departments of the office come in with their clerks
that morning, as he wanted to address them. He stated that the
rules which had been adopted for the government of the clerks by
his predecessor were of a very arbitrary character, and he
proposed to relax them. I suggested to him that perhaps I had
better go. He said, "no, not at all - remain," and I sat down and
he had some three or four officers - four or five, perhaps - come
in, and each one brought in a roomful of clerks, and he made an
address to each company as they came in, stating to them that he
did not propose to hold them strictly to the letter of the
instructions; but when they wanted to go out they could go out,
and when they wanted to come in they could come in; that he
regarded them all as gentlemen. and supposed they- would do their
duty, and he should require them to do their duty; but so far as
their little indulgences were concerned - I suppose such as going
out across the street or something of that kind - he did not
intend to interfere with them; all he expected was that they
would do their duty. I waited until he concluded, and we took a
walk, and I came away.
Mr. Samuel Wilkinson testified in response to an interrogatory by
I asked him (Thomas) to tell me what had occurred that morning
between him and the Secretary of War in his endeavor to take
possession of the War Department. He hesitated to do so till I
told him that the town was filled with rumors of the change that
had been made, of the removal of Mr. Stanton and the appointment
of himself. He then said that since the affair had become public
he felt relieved to speak to me with freedom about it. He drew
from his pocket a copy, or rather the original, of the order of
the President of the United States, directing him to take
possession of the War Department immediately. He told me that he
had taken as a witness of his action General Williams, and had
gone up into the War Department and had shown to Edwin M. Stanton
the order of the President, and had demanded by virtue of that
order the possession of the War Department and its books and
papers. He told me that Edwin M. Stanton, after reading the
order, had asked him if he would allow him sufficient time for
him to get together his books, papers, and other personal
property and take away with him; that he told him that he would
allow to him all necessary time to do so, and had then withdrawn
from Mr. Stanton's room. He further told me, that day being
Friday, that the next day would be what he called a dies non,
being the holiday of the anniversary of Washington's birthday,
when he had directed that the War Department should be closed,
that the day thereafter would be Sunday, and that on Monday
morning he should demand possession of the War Department and of
its property, and if that demand was refused or resisted he
should apply to the General-in-Chief of the Army for a force
sufficient to enable him to take possession of the War
Department; and he added that he dd not see how the General of
the Army could refuse to obey his demand for that force. He then
added that under the order that the President had given to him he
had no election to pursue any other course than the one that he
indicated; that he was a subordinate officer directed by an order
from a superior officer, and that he must pursue that course.
Hon. T. W. Ferry, called by the Prosecution, testified from
memoranda taken down at the time of the demand of General Thomas
for possession of the War Office (Mr. Ferry being present), as
Washington, Feb. 22, 1867.
In the presence of Secretary Stanton, Judge Kelley, Morehead,
Dodge, Van Wyck, Van Horn, Delano, and Freeman Clarke, at 25
minutes past 12 m., General Thomas, Adjutant-General, came into
the Secretary of War Office, saying"Good morning," the Secretary
replying "Good morning, sir." Thomas looked around and said, "I
do not wish to disturb you gentlemen, and will wait." Stanton
said, "Nothing private here; what do you want?" Thomas demanded
of Secretary Stanton the surrender of the Secretary of War
Office. Stanton denied it to hint, and ordered him back to his
own office as Adjutant-General. Thomas refused to go. "I claim
the office of Secretary of War, and demand it by order of the
Stanton: "I deny your authority to act, and order you back to
your own office."
Thomas: "I will stand here. I want no unpleasantness in the
presence of these gentlemen."
Stanton: "You can stand there if you please, but you can not act
as Secretary of War. I am Secretary of War. I order you out of
this office and to your own." Thomas: "I refuse to go, and will
Stanton: "How are you to get possession? Do you intend to use
Thomas: "I do not care to use force, but my mind is made up as to
what I shall do. I want no unpleasantness, though. I shall stay
here and act as Secretary of War."
Stanton: "You shall not, and I order you, as your superior, back
to your own office."
Thomas: "I will not obey you. but will stand here and remain
Stanton: "You call stand there if you please. I order you out of
this office to your own. I am Secretary of War, and your
Thomas then went into opposite room across hall (General
Schriver's) and commenced ordering General Schriver and General
Townsend. Stanton entered, followed by Moorhead and Ferry, and
ordered those generals not to obey or pay any attention to
General Thomas' orders; that he denied his assumed authority as
Secretary of War ad interim, and forbade their obedience of his
directions. "I am Secretary of War, and I now order you, General
Thomas out of this place to your own quarters."
Thomas: "I will not go, I shall discharge the functions of
Secretary of War."
Stanton: "You will not."
Thomas: "I shall require the mails of the War Department to be
delivered to me and shall transact the business of the office."
Stanton: "You shall not have them, and I order you to your room."
On Tuesday, April 2nd, the prosecution pmt in evidence a letter
front the President to Gen. Grant, dated Feb. 10, 1868, in answer
to a prior letter front the General. The President's letter, as
introduced in evidence, purported to contain certain enclosures
relating to the subject matter of the President's letter. The
following is that portion of the President's letter which speaks
of the enclosures accompanying and included therein:
GENERAL: The extraordinary character of your letter of the 3rd
instant would seem to preclude any reply on my part; but the
manner in which publicity has been given to the correspondence of
which that letter forms a part, and the grave questions which are
involved, induce me to take this mode of giving, as a proper
sequel to the communications which have passed between its, the
statements of the five members of the cabinet who were present on
the occasion of our conversation on the 14th ultimo. Copies of
the letters which they have addressed to me upon the subject are
accordingly herewith enclosed.
Counsel for the President objected that the letter introduced by
the prosecution was not evidence in the case unless the managers
should also produce the enclosures therein referred to and made a
part of the same. The following was the vote on sustaining the
Yeas - Bayard, Conkling, Davis, Dixon, Doolittle, Fowler, Grimes,
Henderson, Hendricks, Johnson, McCreery, Morrill of Vermont
Norton, Patterson of Tennessee, Ross, Sprague, Trumbull, Van
Winkle, Vickers and Willey - 20 - 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
Nays - Anthony, Buckalew, Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, Cole,
Conness, Corbett, Cragin, Drake, Edmunds, Ferry, Fessenden,
Frelinghuysen, Howard, Howe, Morgan, Morrill of Maine, Nye,
Patterson of New Hampshire, Pomeroy, Ramsay, Sherman, Stewart,
Sumner, Thayer, Tipton, Williams, and Wilson - 29 - 28 Republicans
and 1 Democrat.
So the evidence offered by the prosecution was admitted as
offered, without the enclosures referred to, the objection by the
defense not being sustained. (For these rejected enclosures see
The prosecution offered to prove (Mr. Geo. A. Wallace, of the
Treasury Department, on the stand):
That after the President had determined on the removal of Mr.
Stanton, Secretary of War, in spite of the action of the Senate,
there being no vacancy in the office of Assistant Secretary of
the Treasury, the President unlawfully appointed his friend and
theretofore private secretary, Edmund Cooper, to that position,
as one of the means by which he intended to defeat the tenure of
civil office act and other laws of Congress.
After debate and Mr. Wallace's answer in explanation of the
usages of the department in the disbursement of moneys, during
which it was shown that no moneys could be drawn out of the
treasury on the order of the assistant secretary except when
authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury to draw warrants
therefor, a vote was taken, and resulted as follows:
Yeas - Anthony, Cameron, Cattell, Chandler, Cole, Conkling,
Corbett, Cragin, Drake, Howard, Howe, Morgan, Morrill of