On Thursday March 5, at one o'clock, the Chief Justice entered the Senate Chamber, every Senator rising to his feet. Mr. Justice Nelson accompanied his chief and Pomeroy, Wilson, and Buckalew acted as a senatorial escort. On taking the chair the Chief Justice said, "Senators, in obedience to your notice I am present for the purpose of forming a Court of Impeachment and am now ready to take the oath." A deep and abiding interest followed this statement. Did the Chief Justice propose to change the Senate into a court, to overrule the radical contention that the Senate was a mere political tribunal with none of the attributes of a court? Undoubtedly he did, for after taking the oath he turned and said, "Senators, the oath will be administered to the Senators as they will be called by the secretary in succession." Yielding obedience to a force greater than politics or partisanship, the Senators came forward, one after another, and the Senate was transformed into a high court of impeachment.
A brilliant spectacle was presented: the Chief Justice, imposing in appearance, of great natural dignity and easily conscious of the awe and veneration his presence inspired; the prisoner at the bar, the chief executive of forty millions of people; the jury, fifty-four Senators representing twenty-seven sovereign states; and the accusers, one hundred and ninety members of the House. In the audience were diplomats, ministers of foreign courts, splendidly gowned women, and people of all ranks, filling every inch of space. As the roll was called and the name of Senator B. F. Wade--President of the Senate and next in succession to the presidency--was reached, objection was made. If Senator Wade were allowed to take his seat as a member of the court, it was urged, he would be trying his own case. The Constitution was quoted to the effect that when
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Publication information: Book title: Andrew Johnson:Plebeian and Patriot. Contributors: Robert W. Winston - Author. Publisher: Henry Holt. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1928. Page number: 428.