A TRUE picture of the trial requires the depiction of a shabby episode in which Ben Butler held the center of the stage. In the midst of the introduction of defense testimony, Stanbery, the President's counsel-in-chief, had been taken ill. His services had been of inestimable value in the trial; by virtue of his labors as Attorney-General, he was intimately acquainted with the details of the President's defense; he knew the pertinent documents, he had examined the witnesses, he had directed the cross-examination. When illness forced his absence, the remaining counsel were embarrassed. Although Evarts took up the burden, he was anxious for Stanbery's return to complete all details of defense. But the Ohio advocate's recuperation was very slow. "We have reached a point," Evarts therefore told the Court on April 16, "at which it will be convenient to us that we should not be required to produce more evidence today."
This request produced a violent outburst from Ben Butler. "The case must go through," he shouted. "The whole legislation of this country is stopping. . . . Larger, higher, greater interests are at stake than any such questions of ceremony. . . . The interests of the people are greater than the interests of any one individual."
Butler proceeded to wave the Bloody Shirt. "Gentlemen of the Senate," he shouted, "this is the closing up of a war wherein 300,000 men laid down their lives to save the country. In one day we sacrificed them by tens and twenties of thousands on the field of battle, and shall the country wait now in its march to safety because of the sickness of one man?" He declared that he held in his hand "testimony of what is going on this day and this hour in the South." When Curtis and Evarts objected to the relevancy of its introduction, he replied grossly that "the relevancy of it is this, that while we are waiting for the Attorney-General to get well, and you are asked to delay this trial for that reason, numbers of our fellow citizens are being murdered day by day. There is not a man here who does not know that the moment justice is done on this great criminal, these murders will cease. . . . We are asked