Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

XXXIV
THE RADICALS LAY PLANS TO MAKE WADE PRESIDENT BY IMPEACHING JOHNSON

BEFORE Congress adjourned on July 28th,1 the Radicals put forth two further efforts to strengthen their position: a second Freedman's Bureau Act and a bill to erect the territory of Nebraska into a state.

This Freedman's Bureau bill, like its predecessor, was a vicious measure. All of the objections marshaled by Johnson in his veto of the first were applicable to the second. Large numbers of commissioners and other bureaucrats, confiscation of Southern lands, judicial powers in the hands of irresponsible bureau agents; these and other enormities, all were there. Equally noticeable again was the large grant of Power to the Secretary of War.2

Quick and straight Andrew Johnson's veto came. He once again laid bare the Radicals' proposal. How ill-founded was the contention of Sumner and his friends that the "Southern outrages" were a justification for martial law, the President exposed anew. "I believe," he said, "that public sentiment will sustain me in the assertion that such deeds of wrong are not confined to any particular state or section, but are manifested over the entire country, demonstrating that the cause that produced them does not depend upon any particular locality, but is the result of the agitation and derangement incident to a long and bloody civil war. While the prevalence of such disorders must be greatly deplored, their occasional and temporary occurrence would seem to furnish no necessity for the extension of the Bureau beyond the period fixed in the original act."3

The veto reached the House of Representatives on the 16th of July. It took the harsh goads of party discipline to hold all

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