SIXTY YEARS AFTER
In October 1926 the legal world was given a surprise. The Supreme Court struck down the old act of March 1867--the Tenure of Office Act--under which Andrew Johnson had been impeached and tried. "This act is invalid as an attempt to interfere with the constitutional rights of the President," the court said. The court also intimates that the act was monstrous and vicious. How could a President perform the duties of his office with an adverse cabinet? As we have seen, the court had previously held that President Johnson was within his rights when he vetoed the Civil Rights Act, when he vetoed the Freedmen's Bureau Act and the Reconstruction Acts.1 And now, after more than sixty years, the court holds that the President was also right in his veto of the Tenure of Office Act and of the Command of the Army Act.2
In short, it is to-day held by the courts, and generally agreed by historians, that nearly every particle of reconstruction legislation after peace was restored was null and void and that Andrew Johnson was correct in his veto messages. It follows that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, so far as the southern states are concerned, were adopted under compulsion and by means of illegal statutes disfranchising whites and enfranchising blacks. In other words, the courts lay down two principles, apparently contradictory, but really not so at all. During actual warfare, and in 1865 till order was restored, the Southern States had no civil government and martial law was necessary and proper. In 1867, however, after the war had ended and civil governments were functioning, Congress could____________________
Wall., Vol. VII, p. 597; United States Rep., Vol. CVI, p. 629; United States Rep., Vol. CIX, p. 1; Lothrop, Seward, p. 420.