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of the country Horace Greeley, of the New York Tribune; John W.
Forney, of the Philadelphia Press; C. C. Fulton, of the Baltimore
American; Carl Schurz, then of the Detroit Post, and Frederick Has-
saurek, of Cincinnati, being the most prominent. In the Northern
Convention were nearly all the conspicuous Senators and Repre-
sentatives in Congress, and Governors of the States, besides many
eminent citizens who never took an active part in politics except on
the highest plane of patriotic duty. John Ja-
cob Astor came from New York, and E. W.
Fox headed a delegation of business men from
St. Louis. It was not a convention of Radicals,
but a thorough embodiment of the spirit of
resistance to President Johnson's Restoration
policy. Governor Curtin, of Pennsylvania,
presided, and the Convention culminated in a
mass meeting more imposing than any that
had ever been held in an American city.

It was the voice of the Southern loyalists
that it was most necessary should be heard in
the loyal North in repudiation of the Johnson JAMES SPEED.

Convention, and in indicating the true Repub-
lican sentiment in the South. " Why was that convention here? "
Mr. Speed asked, on taking the chair. " It was here in part be-
cause the great cry came up from the white man of the South :
My Constitutional and my natural rights are denied me; and
then the cry came up from the black man of the South: My
Constitutional and my natural rights are denied me. These com-
plaints are utterly antagonistic, the one to the other; and this
convention is called to say which is right. Upon that ques-
tion, if upon none other, as Southern men, you may speak out
your mind. Speak the truth as you feel it; speak the truth as
you know it; speak the truth as you love permanent peace, as you
may hope to establish the institutions of this Government so that our
children and our children's children shall enjoy a peace that we have
not known. . . . The convention to which I have referred, as I
read its history, came here to simply record its abject submission to


the commands of one man. That convention did his commands. The
loyal Congress of the United States had refused to do his commands;
and whenever you have a Congress that does not absolutely and
firmly refuse, as the present Congress had done, to merely act as the
recording secretary of the tyrant at the White House, American
liberty is gone forever."

The address adopted by the Southern Convention was a bitter and
powerful arraignment of the President and the Administration. Its
points were made the basis of the appeals to the Northern voters in
the ensuing campaign with telling effect, and the canvass itself was
one of excitement and enthusiasm never before witnessed except in
Presidential years. To this excitement and enthusiasm another fea-
ture was added that was singularly damaging to the President's
character and the prestige of his administration. This was his un-
fortunate tour of the Middle and Western States from Washington,
by way of Philadelphia, New York, and Albany, to Chicago. Other
Presidents, beginning with General Washington, had made tours of
the country, but none of them indulged in political harangues to the
people. The President left the capital on the 28th of August, accom-
panied by Secretaries Welles and Randall, Admiral Farragut and
General Grant. Secretary Sew r ard joined the party in New York.
Everywhere great crowds met these eminent gentlemen to demand
a speech and bandy words with the President of the United States.
The tour was a succession of humiliating spectacles, but the most
disgraceful scene occurred at Cleveland. Mr. Johnson was chaffed
unmercifully by the crowd, and he replied to the taunts and jeers with
coarse wit and undignified repartee. In a stump speaker this w r ould
have been well enough, and even effective; in the President it was not
only undignified, but hurtful to his cause. This was the journey that
was called " swinging around the circle."

One reason that made Cleveland more pronounced in its ribald
treatment of President Johnson than the other cities in which he met
the crowds on equal terms was its selection as the meeting place for a
Soldiers' Convention in behalf of the Administration. This Conven-
tion, over which the venerable General Wool was called to preside,
met on the 17th of September. Wool was very old, and had not played
an important part in the war because of his age. The soldier of 1812
was completely out of his reckoning in 1866. He denounced the
Abolitionists in the manner of the officers of the army before the war,
so many of whom fought against the Union, while few of those who
were true to the flag voted as they fought. The most conspicuous
officers of the regular army who were active in the Convention were
Generals Granger and Custer. The other soldiers who had been



Democrats before and during the war were John A. McClernand, of
Illinois; J. W. Denver, of California; Willis A. Gorman, of Minnesota;
James B. Steedman, of Ohio, and a few others. The most noteworthy
speech in the Convention was made by General Thomas Ewing.
Ewing's defection would have been important if it had not been spo-
radic, but as he was the only soldier in the Convention who had been a
genuine Kepublican, it went for nothing. Even had the Convention
shown something of the character it arrogated to itself the effect
would have been neutralized by an incident that marked the proceed-
ings. A Confederate Convention, in session at Memphis, sent a tele-
gram of sympathy, and was answered with thanks for the " mag-
nanimity and kindness " of the
message. Nothing was so cer-
tain to anger the Union soldiers
not so much against the Presi-
dent as against his plan of Re-
construction, and the response
came in a great Soldiers' and
Seamen's Convention at Pitts-
burg, on the 26th of September.
The Pittsburg Convention
was an echo from a hundred
battlefields. It was a reunion of
the line and staff, the rank and
file of all the Union armies.
Every loyal State except far-
away Oregon was represented.
Chamberlain came from Maine
and Macauley from Indiana,
Palmer and Farnsworth from
Illinois, and Schenck and Cox
from Ohio; Cochrane, Barnum, and



Barlow from New York,

and Geary, Hartranft, Negley, and Collis from Pennsylvania.
A private soldier, L. Edwin Dudley, was made temporary chair-
man, and when the intrepid General John A. Logan was un-
able to come to preside as permanent president the Conven-
tion turned instinctively to the gallant General Jacob D. Cox.
It was a convention that could have been turned into an army
of 25,000 veterans in an hour. The President was told that " his
attempt to fasten his scheme of Reconstruction upon the country
is as dangerous as it is unwise; that his acts in sustaining it have
retarded the restoration of peace and unity; that they have converted
conquered rebels into impudent claimants to rights which they have


forfeited and to places which they have desecrated. If the President's
scheme be consummated it would render the sacrifice of the Nation
useless, the loss of our buried comrades vain, and the war in which
we have so gloriously triumphed a failure, as it was declared to be by
President Johnson's present associates in the Democratic National
Convention of 1864."

The President on his tour saw an aroused nation, but this state of
feeling on the part of the people only excited him to greater anger.
The result of the elections increased his fury. He not only exercised
the veto power constantly, recklessly, ruthlessly, but despite the fact
that, with a majority in Congress that w r ould last as long as the Ad-
ministration, and great enough to pass all vetoed measures in spite of
the President's objections, the increasing tension could only have con-
sequences that must prove disastrous. Kumors of impeachment be-
came rife, and it was not long after Congress assembled on the 7th of
January, 1867, when it became apparent that these rumors were not
without foundation. Three attempts looking to that end were made on
that first day after the holiday recess. None of them was successful
until late in the day, but Air. Ashley, of Ohio, rising to a question of
privilege, at last managed to project the matter into the House. " I
charge him," said that earnest and impetuous statesman, "with an
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 lie has corruptly used the veto power;
in that he has corruptly disposed of the public property of the United
States; in that he has corruptly interfered in elections, and com-
mitted acts which in contemplation of the Constitution are high
crimes and misdemeanors."

Ashley's charges were gross exaggerations, and in any other state
of feeling or against any other President they would have been re-
ceived with scant courtesy. Under the conditions that prevailed
they were referred to the Judiciary Committee, which reported a
mass of testimony, most of it unimportant, and left the question to the
40th Congress. Moderate Kepublicans were hopeful this would be the
end of the proceeding, but Ashley again pressed the matter, express-
ing the hope that " this Congress will not hesitate to do its duty be-
cause the timid in our ranks hesitate." It is doubtful if any further
action would have been taken if the Democrats had remained silent,
but the two talking members from New York, James Brooks and Fer-
nando Wood, made characteristic speeches, and the question became
a party issue. The Judiciary Committee wa.s charged to continue
the investigation, and the work of taking irrelevant and inconclusive
testimony went on during the summer and autumn. In the mean



time startling stories of the President's intentions were circulated
by the unscrupulous and believed by the credulous. There were
stories that Johnson was meditating the role of a Cromwell; that he
had a project of bringing in the Southern Senators and Representa-
tives, and, with the Democrats, forming a Congress regardless of the
Republican majority; that he had imparted his purposes to General
Grant, and asked Grant to support him with the army. Such stories
were unworthy of credence, but they found believers because John-
son had said and done so many foolish things that he was thought
capable of any folly. People did not stop to reflect that Grant would
not have listened to such propositions for a moment that if they had
been made he would indignantly have repelled and exposed them.
Although Grant's testimony
showed that the most serious of
the charges was without founda-
tion, a majority of the committee
reported a resolution that " An-
drew Johnson, President of the
United States, be impeached of
high crimes and misdemeanors."
This report was not unanimous on
the part of the majority of the
whole committee, two Republic-
ans, Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, and Mr.
Woodbridge, of Vermont, submit-
ting a minority report. Impeach-
ment under such circumstances
could not succeed, and the resolu-
tion was beaten by 108 noes to only
50 ayes. Among the leading Re-
publicans who voted in the nega-
tive were Allison, Banks, Bingham, Blaine, Dawes, Garfleld, Halsey,
Hooper, Moorhead, Peters, Poland, Robertson, the three Washburns,
and E. B. Washburne. If it had not been for the conflict between the
President and Secretary Stanton this would have been the end of the

President Johnson had been seeking to get Stanton out of the War
Department for a long time. At last Stanton's resignation was asked,
August 5, 1867. The Secretary of War refused to resign, and was sus-
pended under the Tenure of Office Act on the 12th, General Grant
being designated to administer the Department until the Senate acted
on the suspension. The communication to the Senate was made on
the 12th of December, but that body did not act until January 13,




1868, when it refused to consent to the suspension. Grant at once
left the Department, and Stanton returned to the office from which
he had been ousted. The President would have been more than
human if he had failed to remove a member of the Cabinet so dis-
tasteful to the Executive, whatever the legal aspects of the case might
be, and Stanton was removed on the 21st of February. It was then
that Senator Sumner sent his laconic message to Stanton " Stick."
The Senate resolved that the President had no power to remove the
Secretary of War, and the same day impeachment was again moved
in the House. The resolution, which was offered by Mr. Covode, of
Pennsylvania, was referred to the Committee on Reconstruction,
from which it was reported with a recommendation that it pass, the

next day, the 22d. There was a brief
debate, the Republicans who had
voted against the previous resolution
now taking the lead in favor of im-
peachment. Among these were Bing-
ham and Spalding, of Ohio; Wash-
burne and Ingersoll, of Illinois, and
Wilson, of Iowa. The resolution was
passed on the 24th by 126 ayes to 47
noes; absent or not voting, 17. None
of the Republicans voted against im-
peachment, while only one Democrat
was recorded as absent or not voting.
Committees were appointed to in-
form the Senate of the action of the
House and to prepare articles of
impeachment, and seven managers
w r ere chosen to conduct the case be-
fore the Court of Impeachment. These

were John A. Bingham, George S. Boutwell, James F. Wilson, Ben-
jamin F. Butler, Thomas Williams, John A. Logan, and Thaddeus
Stevens. They are here given in the order of the vote they re-
ceived. Mr. Stevens came last because his health was greatly im-
paired, and there was a fear that he was physically unequal to the
work imposed upon the managers. They were all lawyers eminent
in the States from which they came. After Stevens, Butler was the
most distinguished at the Bar, but the aggregate ability and learning
of this array of counsel were very great. As lawyers they all thor-
oughly believed in the justice of their cause and the necessity of the
course they were pursuing. Mr. Boutwell was, perhaps, the coolest
in temperament of the seven, but even he was intense in his convic-




tiou that the President's removal was necessary to the public welfare.
The charges were formally presented on the 5th day of March before
the Senate, sitting as a Court of Impeachment, with Chief Justice
Chase presiding. The managers were attended by the House as the
Grand Inquest of the Nation. The articles of impeachment were read
by Mr. Bingham, after which the Senate adjourned until the 13th,
when the counsel for the President appeared before the Court.

The President's counsel, headed by Attorney-General Henry Stan-
bery, comprised Benjamin II. Curtis, William M. Evarts, William S.
Groesbeck, and T. A. Nelson. Mr. Stanbery was eminent at the Ohio
Bar, and throughout the West he enjoyed a high reputation as a law-
yer of the first rank. He resigned
his place in the Cabinet to defend
his chief. Judge Curtis had been
for six years a Justice of the Su-
preme Court, obtaining his appoint-
ment through the influence of Mr.
Webster, but he resigned in 1857
to return to the practice of his pro-
fession. He was a man of great
learning and ability, and his char-
acter was as highly esteemed as
his talents were admired. Mr.
Evarts was the leader of the Bar of
the city and State of New York.
He was conspicuous as an advocate
as well as for his great legal learn-
ing. It was the President's wish
to secure the services of Judge
Black, but he withdrew at the last
moment, and Mr. Groesbeck took

his place. Groesbeck's selection was made at the suggestion of Mr.
Stanbery. He had a high reputation at the Cincinnati bar, but was
not yet known as a great lawyer outside of Ohio. Mr. Nelson was the
President's personal choice. The counsel for the President asked
forty days for the preparation of his answer, but only ten days were
allowed," and it was made on the 23d of March. All the preliminary
proceedings being completed, the formal trial began on the 30th,
General Butler making the opening argument. It was very volumi-
nous, but exhaustive as it was in presenting the legal aspects of im-
peachment, it was especially strong in its presentation of the point
upon which the House of Representatives depended for conviction
the intentional violation of the Tenure of Office Act and of the Con-



stitution of the United States in the removal of Mr. Stanton from the
office of Secretary of War. The introduction of the testimony fol-
lowed, and was completed on the 5th of April, after which the Senate
adjourned for five days.

The case for the President was opened by Judge Curtis, his speech
requiring two days for its delivery. His argument was a masterly
presentation of the law from the highest judicial standpoint, and
some of its points were unanswerable. Witnesses were then called,
but part of the testimony was excluded by the Senate after it was
pronounced admissible by the Chief Justice. Offers were made to
prove that Mr. Stanton, as a member of the Cabinet, had advised the
President that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional, and
also that members of the Cabinet appointed by Lincoln were not
included in its provisions. Even if these exclusions were good law
they were bad politics. After the testimony was concluded the clos-
ing arguments of counsel occupied the attention of the country as well
as of the High Court of Impeachment. The speeches in their order
were made by General Logan and Mr. Boutwell for Congress, and Mr.
Nelson and Mr. Groesbeck for the President; then by Mr. Stevens and
Mr. Williams for Congress, Mr. Evarts and Mr. Stanbery for the
President, and finally by Mr. Bingham for Congress. Neither Mr.
Stevens nor Mr. Stanbery was able to deliver his address. Mr.
Stevens's argument was read by General Butler, and Mr. Stanbery 's
by one of the officers of the Attorney-General's Department. Twenty-
nine Senators filed opinions in the case, five of whom were Democrats
Hendricks, of Indiana; Johnson and Vickers, of Maryland; Davis,
of Kentucky, and Buckalew, of Pennsylvania. The vote on the ar-
ticles voted upon was 35 " guilty " and 19 " not guilty." The change
of a single vote from " not guilty " to " guilty " would have been suffi-
cient to corivict. Besides the recognized Administration Republicans
Dixon, of Connecticut; Doolittle, of Wisconsin; Norton, of Minne-
sota, and Patterson, of Tennessee Mr. Ross, of Kansas, w r ho had
succeeded General Lane, voted for acquittal. The great trial was
over, Mr. Johnson escaping only by the aid of a Republican vote that
caused surprise and some painful surmises when Mr. Ross voted " not

Secretary Stanton promptly resigned after the failure of impeach-
ment, and was succeeded by General John M. Schofield, whose nomi-
nation was confirmed by the Senate.

The later judgment of the American people is that the attempt to
impeach President Johnson was a mistake, but the character of his
Administration and his Reconstruction policy finds no more favor
now than when Congress and the country were in a condition of


resentment, that was sometimes unjust because it was earnest for
a restoration that would preserve the fruits of the great triumph that
had been obtained only through four years of war. Any other Presi-
dent than Andrew Johnson would probably have piloted his Adminis-
tration through the Period of Reconstruction not only without a con-
flict with Congress, but to his own enduring fame.



SECTION 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and
subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States
and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce
any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens
of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

SEC. 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several
States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole num-
ber of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when
the right to vote at any election for the choice of Electors for Presi-
dent and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in
Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a State, or the mem-
bers of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabi-
tants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the
United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in
rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall
be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens
shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of
age in such State.

SEC. 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Con-
gress, or Elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office,
civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, w T ho,
having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or an
officer of the United States, or as a member of any State Legislature,
or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Con-
stitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection
or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies
thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House,
remove such disability.

SEC. 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States,
authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions
and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion,
shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any
State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of
insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for
the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations,
or claims shall be held illegal and void.


SEC. 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article.


WHEREAS, No legal State Government, or adequate protection for
life or property now exist in the rebel States of Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana,
Florida, Texas, and Arkansas; and whereas, it is necessary that peace
and good order should be enforced in said States until loyal and
republican State governments can be legally established; Therefore

Be it enacted, etc., That said rebel States shall be divided into
military districts and made subject to the military authority of the
United States, as hereinafter prescribed, and for that purpose Vir-
ginia shall constitute the first district; North Carolina and South
Carolina the second district; Georgia, Alabama, and Florida the third
district; Mississippi and Arkansas the fourth district, and Louisiana
and Texas the fifth district.

SEC. 2. That it shall be the duty of the President to assign to the
command of each of said districts an officer of the army, not below
the rank of brigadier-general, and to detail a sufficient military force
to enable such officer to perform his duties and enforce his authority
within the district to which he is assigned.

SEC. 3. That it shall be the duty of each officer assigned as afore-
said to protect all persons in their rights of person and property, to
suppress insurrection, disorder, and violence, and to punish, or cause
to be punished, all disturbers of the public peace and criminals, and
to this end he may allow local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction of
and to try offenders, or, when in his judgment it may be necessary for
the trial of offenders, he shall have power to organize military com-
missions or tribunals for that purpose; and all interference under
color of State authority with the exercise of military authority un-
der this act shall be null and void.

SEC. 4. That all persons put under military arrest by virtue of
this act shall be tried without unnecessary delay, and no cruel or un-

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 61)