The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals

By George Fort Milton | Go to book overview
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XXI. THE IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT

EARLY on the morning of January 15 Generals Grant and Sherman called upon the President. Disturbed at an account which the National Intelligencer had that morning given of the events in the Cabinet the day before, Grant wished to protest the publication. Johnson received them "promptly and kindly." "Whoever gave the facts for the article of the Intelligencer this morning," Grant began, "has made some serious mistakes." Johnson interposed: " GeneralGrant, let me interrupt you just there. I have not seen the Intelligencer of this morning, and have no knowledge of the contents of any article therein." Grant continued that the idea was that he had not kept faith. He then recalled again their conversation of the last summer and said: "I remember . . . I did say that, like the case of the Baltimore police commissioners, I did suppose Mr. Stanton could not regain his office except by a process through the courts." Johnson said he remembered this conference and Grant resumed: "I said, if I changed my opinion, I would give you notice, and put things as they were before my appointment as Secretary of War ad interim."1

Sherman thought the explanations "full and partially satisfactory." A general friendly conversation then ensued, in the course of which Grant offered to call on Stanton and tell him that "the good of the service required his resignation."2 As he was taking his leave General Grant turned at the door to say, "Mr. President, you should make some order that we of the Army are not bound to obey the orders of Mr. Stanton as Secretary of War," and Johnson intimated that he would.

As soon as the two generals had left, the President had Colonel Moore read him the article in the Intelligencer, and he pronounced it substantially true. When Welles called, he ratified that judgment, adding his regret that someone had not been present at the Cabinet meeting on Saturday to record the exact words and more especially, "to paint Grant's confusion of face and manner." The General, Welles added, had "acknowledged everything the President said in regard to the

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