Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

LX
GRANT ESSAYS THE PEN

GRANT had not been back two days when his determination to make war on Andrew Johnson was revealed. On January 24th he wrote him a peremptory note requesting to "have in writing the order which the President gave me verbally on Sunday the 19th instant to disregard the orders of the Hon. E. M. Stanton, as Secretary of War, until I knew from the President himself that they were his orders."1 Was Grant working with his friends to help prepare a further trap for Johnson? Was he seeking now to make written evidence on which the conspirators would claim that the President was a law breaker?

Johnson would have had a perfect right to make the order to which Grant referred, but there is no evidence that he had done so, except the word of Grant. To his private secretary, Colonel Moore, Johnson remarked when Grant's letter came, that he did not think he would make the requested order, and "that the General had been very restive under Mr. Stanton, had evidently been very glad to get rid of him, had now put him back in the War Department," and therefore, thought that he would "let them fight it out."2

But the more Johnson reflected upon Grant's letter, the plainer must he have seen that the General and Stanton would not "fight it out." Seventeen days before, as will be recalled, the President had prepared an order for the removal of Stanton,3 and it was now apparent that to test the constitutionality of the Tenure-of- Office Act this order must be used. But this could not be done unless some one were procured to administer the War Department until the legality of the removal could be judicially determined. On the day Grant's letter came, therefore, Johnson sent for General Sherman and offered to appoint him Secretary of War ad

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