The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
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Harper's Weekly, May 30, 1868, page 338

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The vote upon the eleventh article shows that the President will be acquitted. The adjournment until after the Chicago Convention was doubtless for the purpose of obtaining a solemn demand of conviction from the authorized representatives of the party through out the country assembled in Chicago. If this were the purpose, it seems to us most unwise.

Suppose it to be successful. Suppose the Chicago Convention to insinuate, with the Tribune, that the Republican Senators who vote according to their convictions are infamous scoundrels who have been bought with money; or with the Philadelphia "boys in blue," to resolve that "James W. Grimes, William P. Fessenden, and Lyman Trumbull, purporting to represent the loyal people of the United States, as well as Iowa, Maine, and Illinois, prompted by malice, jealousy, disappointment, and perhaps baser motives which we blush to name, have conspired together to place the Government, which we have saved from her armed foes, absolutely in control of its rebel enemies: that such a crime is far more heinous than the surrender of an outpost to the enemy, and no punishment would express our utter detestation of the three recreants who are today branded with an infamous notoriety: and that it is far better to have died, as Senator Howard was willing to do, rich in the esteem of his countrymen than to live a degraded outcast and friendless like James W. Grimes, William P. Fessenden, and Lyman Trumbull." Suppose this kind of resolution adopted by the Chicago Convention and sent to each Republican Senator. Suppose that thereupon Senators Grimes, Trumbull, Fessenden, Ross, Henderson, Van Winkle, and Fowler vote for conviction upon every article, and the President consequently to be removed. Would the decision have any moral force? Would the Republican Party have strengthened itself? Would the Senators mentioned be more worthy of respect, or would they be more respected than they are now? Would not such a decision justly excite the derision of the world and the contempt of history?

Or suppose that, refusing to perjure themselves directly, these Senators resign and withdraw, thus securing the conviction of the President, what is that but a shrinking from duty which is really indirect perjury? They have sworn to do a certain duty conscientiously, and they recoil from it because of intimidation, and recoil in a manner which, by their action, procures a result that they believe to be contrary to law and subversive of justice. Can they escape their own condemnation or hope to elude that of those who look to them to stand fast at all costs for the moral freedom of the Senate, and for judicial integrity?

We observe that Ex-Governor Israel Washburne, of Maine at a meeting in Portland, in speaking of Mr. Fessenden, asked—with perfect courtesy, however—whether it might not be possible that one man was wrong and seveny-five thousand men right? Surely Mr. Washburne upon reflection will see that he has not fairly stated the situation. Is Mr. Fessenden the mouthpiece of seventy-five thousand men of Maine, or is he a sworn judge in a particular case? Is he merely in this matter a representative of the men of Maine who are hostile to the President, or is he a representative of the State under oath to do justice according to the evidence? Does not Mr. Washburne see that when we resolved to resort to impeachment we renounced the removal of the President as a political or party measure, and aimed to accomplish it by judicial methods? We engaged ourselves in honor to abide by those methods; and if, fearing their failure, we attempt to coerce the court, we degrade our cause and rob our success of all its meaning.

The Chicago Convention will have adjourned when this paper is issued. The pressure upon it will be enormous to put the party in a false position. But we believe that there will be good men enough among its members to reflect that some victories cost too dear. A verdict extorted by a pistol held at the head of the judge is not very valuable. Should this truth be forgotten in the heat of the crisis, should the counsel of passionate rather than of sensible men prevail, and the Convention pass a resolution of censure upon the Republican Senators who are unable to believe that Mr. Stanton stands within the Tenure-of-Office Act, we shall regard it as the expression of a momentary frenzy which the delegates themselves will some day profoundly regret, and which will not be justified by the feeling of the most truly intelligent and earnest Republicans.

But the duty of the Senators, with whom we indeed differ, will be only the plainer. They must follow their sincere convictions, conscious that in so doing they maintain the only permanent principle of a free government; and their task will be the more difficult because they will maintain it against the cry of the party which is its natural protector.

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