Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

LIX
STANTON REINSTATED. GRANT BREAKS HIS PROMISE

STANTON returned to Washington on Christmas eve.1 But it was no spirit associated with the holiday that had brought him back. He had returned, intending to remain. Not if he could help it would the Senate fail to reinstate him in the War Department. He was now eagerly awaiting his hoped-for triumph over the President of the United States. What mattered it that ten months earlier he had said to Andrew Johnson that any man who would retain his seat in the Cabinet "when his advice was not wanted was unfit for the place," and that under such circumstances he would not "remain a moment?"2

While the Radicals of the Senate in executive session were planning how to reintrude their friend into the private councils of the President, there floated up from the South to Washington the stories of distress and the complaints of suffering resulting from the vicious laws that had bound the white man hand and foot. Johnson listened, but he was powerless now to help them.3

As 1867 faded out, the purpose of the Radicals to restore their favorite to power became unmistakable. Were this accomplished there would then be for the President but one of two weapons left: an appeal to the courts or an appeal to arms. He was preparing for the former. On January 7th he told his private secretary Colonel Moore to write out an order for Stanton's removal and a brief message to the Senate, advising them of the fact. He wanted these papers, he said, "ready for signature at any moment."4 But to insure the making of a test case whereby the constitutionality of the Tenure-of-Office Act could be determined Grant's coöperation was indispensable. His refusal to permit Stanton to resume his old office would be necessary. The legality of this refusal, and hence the constitutionality of the law, could

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