The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
»Initial Impeachment Discussions

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Harper's Weekly,
September 29, 1866, page 610

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The President has returned from the stump. The Congressional and State nominations are generally made. The platforms are built, and the great political campaign of 1866 has fairly opened. The issue is plainly presented, and most unfortunately it is an issue between the President and the Congress, which were both elected by the Union party. But it is a difference which we must accept, for we can neither arbitrate nor avoid it.

At the ensuing elections we must choose between two parties. One, under the plea of the equality of States, asserts that a State or a combination of States may renounce its common powers in the Union, may withdraw from Congress, wage war upon the Union, and then at its own pleasure, and in absolute disregard of the fundamental changes wrought in the Constitution by the war, may of "continuing right," resume all its national relations without any other than a technical inquiry upon the part of faithful States and citizens. This is the platform of the Johnson Philadelphia Convention. It is a principle which totally invalidates every step toward restoration which has been already taken, and forbids any security for the future. Upon such a theory the Emancipation Amendment may be repudiated, the Confederate debt resumed, and the Acts of Secession remain upon State statute-books as merely inoperative laws. The party of this policy is a coalition composed chiefly of the Democratic party, upon which, in September, 1864, at Auburn, Mr. Seward charged the calamity of attempted disunion of those whose conspiracy against the Union was defeated after a terrible war; and of a large body of office-holders under the Administration.

To this coalition stands opposed the Union party. It has vindicated popular government without vengeance. It has abolished slavery; and it demands that the change wrought in the Constitution by emancipation prejudicial to the equality of the loyal States in Congress shall be acknowledged by the late insurgent States before they resume their full national relations. This party is composed of the vast body of those at the North who sincerely supported the war, and of all those at the South, of every color, voters or not voters, who stood true to the Union with Andrew Johnson through fire and flood, whose hearts have not changed, and whom the late rebels at the South and the new friends of the President at the North now denounce as cowards, sneaks, and traitors.

If this party, with its record, its principles, and the character of its adherents, seems to any honest man inimical to the authority of law and the maintenance of order, he will, in seeking order and law, vote to intrust the Government to those who took up arms to avenge a constitutional defeat at the polls and to those who sympathized with them. But if he believes that the speedy, prosperous, and permanent restoration of the Union will be delayed if the lately insurgent States, in their present inflamed condition, are restored with increased power, he will vote to confide the Government of the State and the country to those who will patiently and firmly require the adoption of the Constitutional amendment.

The defeated States accepted the President’s terms because of the moral weight of the united opinion of the loyal States that supported them. They will accept the honorable and legitimate completion of those terms if we remain united. The whole country has seen with how instant and sincere and universal a welcome Tennessee was restored. But they seem to us strangely to misunderstand the character or purpose of the American people who fought the war to its end, who suppose that, profound and earnest as is their desire of restoration of the Union, they will buy it at the cost of plain injustice to patriotic States and utter betrayal of faithful citizens. They stood fast under the tremendous pressure of ’64; they are not less clear-sighted and stout-hearted in the angry storm of ’66.

Articles Related to the Initial Impeachment Discussions:
The President Judged by Himself

August 25, 1866, page 530

Reconstruction and How it Works (cartoon)
September 1, 1866, pages 552-553

Which Is The More Illegal (cartoon)
September 8, 1866, page 569

The New Orleans Report
October 20, 1866, page 658

The New Orleans Massacre
IMarch 30, 1867, page 202

Text from Illustration of Andy’s Trip

October 27, 1866, pages 680-681

The Great Campaign of ’66
September 29, 1866, page 610

What Next?
October 27, 1866, page 674

King Andy (cartoon)
November 3, 1866 page 696

Shall the President be Impeached?
November 3, 1866, page 690

The Popular Will
November 24, 1866, page 738

Andy Makes a Call on Uncle Sam, Who Rises to the Occasion (cartoon)
December 1, 1866, page 768

Impeachment and General Butler
December 15, 1866, page 786

December 22, 1866, page 803

What Next?
December 29, 1866, page 818


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