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
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 -
not only a misdemeanor per se, but declared to be so by the act
itself, and the party made indictable and punishable in a
criminal proceeding. If Andrew Johnson escapes with bare removal
from office, if he be not FINED AND INCARCERATED IN THE
PENITENTIARY AFTERWARD UNDER CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS, he may thank
the weakness or the clemency of Congress and not his own
We shall propose to prove on the trial that Andrew Johnson was
guilty of misprision of bribery by offering to General Grant, if
he would unite with him in his lawless violence, to assume in his
stead the penalties and to endure the imprisonment denounced by
the law Bribery is one of the offenses specifically enumerated
for which the President may be impeached and removed from office.
By the Constitution, article two, section two, the President has
power to nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the
Senate, to appoint all officers of the United States whose
appointments are not therein otherwise provided for and which
shall be established by law, and to fill up all vacancies that
may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting
commissions which shall expire at the end of their nest session.
Nowhere, either in the Constitution or by statute, has the
President power to create a vacancy during the session of the
Senate and fill it without the advice and consent of the Senate,
and yet, on the 21st day of February, 1868, while the Senate was
in session, he notified the head of the War Department that he
was removed from office and his successor ad interim appointed.
Here is a plain, recorded violation of the Constitution and laws,
which, if it stood alone, would make every honest and intelligent
man give his vote for impeachment. The President had persevered
in his lawless course through along series of unjustifiable acts.
When the so called Confederate States of America were conquered
and had laid down their arms and surrendered their territory to
the victorious Union the government and final disposition of the
conquered country BELONGED TO CONGRESS ALONE, according to every
principle of the law of nations.
Neither the Executive nor the judiciary had any right to
interfere with it except so far as was necessary to control it by
military rule until the SOVEREIGN POWER OF THE NATION had
provided for its civil administration. No power but Congress had
any right to say WHETHER EVER OR WHEN they should be admitted to
the Union as States and entitled to the privileges of the
Constitution of the United States. And yet Andrew Johnson, with
unblushing hardihood, undertook to rule them by his own power
alone; to lead them into full communion with the Union: direct
them what governments to erect and what constitutions to adopt,
and to send Representatives and Senators to Congress according to
his instructions. When admonished by express act of Congress,
more than once repeated, he disregarded the warning and continued
his lawless usurpation. He is since known to have obstructed the
re-establishment of those governments by the authority of
Congress, and has advised the inhabitants to resist the
legislation of Congress. In my judgment his conduct with regard
to that transaction was a high-handed usurpation of power which
ought long ago to have brought him to impeachment and trial and
to have removed him from his position of great mischief.
I trust that when we come to vote upon this question we shall
remember that although it is the duty of the President to see
that the laws be executed, THE SOVEREIGN POWER OF THE NATION
RESTS IN CONGRESS, who have been placed around the executive as
muniments to defend his rights, and as watchmen to enforce his
obedience to the law and the Constitution. His oath to obey the
Constitution and our duty to compel him to do it are a tremendous
obligation, heavier than was ever assumed by mortal rulers. We
are to protect or to destroy the liberty and happiness of a
mighty people. and to take care that they progress in
civilization and defend themselves against every kind of tyranny.
As we deal with the first great political malefactor so will be
the result of our efforts to perpetuate the happiness and good
government of the human race. The God of our fathers, who
inspired them with the thought of universal freedom, will hold us
responsible for the noble institutions which they projected and
expected us to carry out.
The Clerk then read the Resolution and the House proceeded to
vote, as follows:
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.
Yeas - Messrs. Allison, Ames, Anderson, Arnell, Delos R. Ashley,
James M. Ashley, Bailey, Baker, Baldwin, Banks, Beaman, Beatty,
Benton, Bingham, Blaine, Blair, Boutwell, Bromwell, Broomall.
Buckland, Butler, Cake, Churchill, Reader W. Clarke, Sidney
Clarke, Cobb, Coburn, Cook, Cornell, Covode, Cullom, Dawes,
Dodge, Driggs, Eckley, Eggleston, Eliot, Farnsworth, Ferries.
Ferry, Fields, Gravely, Griswold, Halsy, Harding, Higby, Hill,
Hooper, Hopkins, Asahel W. Hubbard, Chester D. Hubbard, Hulburd,
Hunter, Ingersoll, Jenckes, Judd, Julian, Kelley, Kelsey,
Ketcham, Kitchen Laflin, George V. Lawrence, William Lawrence,
Lincoln, Loan, Logan, Loughridge, Lynch, Mallory, Marvin,
McCarthy, McClurg, Mercur, Miller, Moore, Moorhead, Morrell,
Mullins, Myers, Newcomb, Nunn, O'Neill, Orth, Paine, Perham,
Peters, Pike, Pile, Plants, Poland, Polsley, Price, Raum,
Robertson, Sawyer, Schenck, Scofield, Selye, Shanks, Smith,
Spalding, Starkweather, Aaron F. Stevens, Thaddeus Stevens,
Stokes, Taffe, Taylor, Trowbridge, Twitchell, Upson, Van Aernam.
Burt Van Horn, Van Wyck, Ward, Cadwalader C. Washburn, Elihu B.
Washburn, Williams, Washburn, Welker, Thomas Williams, James F.
Wilson, John T. Wilson, Stephen F. Wilson, Windom, Woodbridge and
the Speaker - 126.
Nays - Messrs. Adams, Archer, Axtell, Barnes, Barnum, Beck, Boyer,
Brooks, Burr, Cary, Chanler, Eldridge, Fox, Getz, Glossbrenner,
Galladay, Grover, Haight, Holman, Hotchkiss, Richard D. Hubbard,
Morrissey, Mungen, Niblack, Nicholson, Phelps, Pruyn, Randall,
Ross, Sitgreaves, Stewart, Stone, Taber, Lawrence S. Trimble, Van
Auken, Van Trump, Wood and Woodward - 47.
On motion of Mr. Stevens the following resolutions were adopted:
Resolved, That a committee of two be appointed to go to the
Senate and, at the bar thereof, in the name of the House of
Representatives and of all the people of the United States, to
impeach Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, of high
crimes and misdemeanors in office, and acquaint the Senate that
the House of Representatives will, in due time, exhibit
particular articles of impeachment against him and make good the
same; and that the committee do demand that the Senate take order
for the appearance of said Andrew Johnson to answer to said
Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed to prepare and
report articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson, President
of the United States, with power to send for persons, papers and
records, and to take testimony under oath.
The Speaker announced the following committee under these
Committee to Communicate to the Senate to the Senate the action
of the House ordering AN IMPEACHMENT of the of the President
of the United States. - -Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania, and
John A. Bingham, of Ohio.
Committee to declare articles of Articles of Impeachment against
the President of the United States. - George S. Boutwell of
Massachusetts; Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania; John A.
Bingham, of Ohio; James F. Wilson, of Iowa; John A. Logan, of
Illinois; George W. Julian, of Indiana, and Hamilton Ward, of New
CHAPTER VII. IMPEACHMENT REPORTED TO THE SENATE.
THE PRESIDENT'S ANSWER.
On February 25th, 1868, Messrs. Stevens and Bingham, a committee
of the House, appeared at the bar of the Senate, and Mr. Stevens
Mr. President, in obedience to the order of the House of
Representatives, we appear before you, and in the name of the
House of Representatives and of all the people of the United
States, we do impeach Andrew Johnson, President of the United
States, of high crimes and misdemeanors in office; and we further
inform the Senate that the House of Representatives will in due
time exhibit particular articles of impeachment against hint and
make good the same; and in their name we demand that the Senate
take order for the appearance of said Andrew Johnson to answer
The committee retired, and after debate the following resolution
was adopted by the Senate:
Resolved, That the Message of the House of Representatives
relating to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. President of the
United States, be referred to a select committee of seven, to
consider and report thereon.
On the 26th, Mr. Howard, from the select committee appointed to
consider and report upon the Message of the House of
Representatives in relation to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson,
President of the United States, reported the following
Whereas, the House of Representatives. on the 25th day of the
present month, by two of their members, Messrs. Thaddeus Stevens
and John A. Bingham, at the bar of the Senate, impeached Andrew
Johnson, President of the United States. of high crimes and
misdemeanors in office, and informed the Senate that the House of
Representatives will in due time exhibit particular articles of
impeachment against him and make good the same; and likewise
demanded that the Senate take order for the appearance of said
Andrew Johnson, to answer to the said impeachment: Therefore,
Resolved, That the Senate will take proper order thereon, of
which due notice shall be given to the House of Representatives.
On the 28th, Mr. Howard, of the Select Committee appointed to
prepare rules for the government of trials of impeachment,
reported a series of rules, which were adopted by the Senate on
March 2nd, after a three days debate.
On the same day, the following gentlemen were elected by the
House of Representatives as Managers to conduct the prosecution
of the impeachment of the President before the Senate
Hons. Jno. A. Bingham, of Ohio; George S. Boutwell, of
Massachusetts; James F. Wilson, of Iowa; Benj. F. Butler, of
Massachusetts; John A. Logan, of Illinois; Thomas Wilson, of
Pennsylvania, and Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania.
On March 3rd it was ordered by the Senate:
That the Secretary of the Senate inform the House of
Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the managers
appointed by the House of Representatives to carry to the Senate
articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson, President of the
In the Senate, on the 4th, the following formal proceedings were
The managers of the impeachment on the part of the House of
Representatives appeared at the bar, and their presence was
announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
The President pro tempore: The managers of the impeachment will
advance within the bar and take the seats provided for them.