Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage

By Lloyd Paul Stryker | Go to book overview

LXIX
THE TRIAL PROCEEDS

ON Monday, March 23rd, the trial proceeded. Long before one o'clock, the scheduled hour, the New YorkTribune was in the hands of the Senators. "The object of impeachment," Horace Greeley wrote that morning, "is not so much the punishment of an individual as the welfare of the country . . . . As a matter of political necessity and statesmanship--for this after all is the highest reason which should influence Congress--the laws relative to Reconstruction and all collateral subjects have got to be fully, faithfully and fearlessly executed, and this cannot be done so long as Congress allows Andrew Johnson to remain in power."1

Long before the appointed hour, the Senate galleries were filled. The daughters of Chief Justice Chase again were there, there also were the wives of Benjamin F. Butler, Jeremiah Black and Benjamin F. Wade. Senator Chandler's daughter and his wife sat among the other interested spectators, as did also the wives and daughters of the diplomats.2 At one o'clock the court came to order with the usual ceremonies. From the counsel table of the President, Black, of course, was absent and in his place sat William S. Groesbeck of Ohio, an able lawyer, a former Representative in Congress and a supporter of the Johnson Policies at the Philadelphia Convention.3 Evarts was also present--for the first time.4

The President's answer was read.5 It recited the entire history of Stanton's suspension and removal. It denied any violation of the Constitution or the laws, or the commission of any high crime or misdemeanor. It cited the Act of 1795 as the authority for Grant's appointment. Upon reinstatement the President was "compelled to take such steps as might . . ., be lawful and necessary to raise for a judicial decision the questions affecting

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