When Andrew Johnson took upon himself the duties of his high office,
he swore to obey the Constitution and take care that the laws be
faithfully executed. . . . On the 2nd of March, 1867, he returned
to the Senate the tenure-of-office billwhere it originated and
had passed by a majority of more than two-thirdswith reasons
elaborately given why it should not pass finally. Among these
was the allegation of its unconstitutionality. . . . In the
House of Representatives it [also] passed by more than a two
thirds majority; and [the Speaker] declared in the language
of the Constitution, "that two-thirds of each house having
voted for it, notwithstanding the objections of the President,
it has become a law."
I am supposing that Andrew Johnson was at this moment
waiting to take the oath of office as the President of the
United States, . . . Having been sworn on the Holy Evangels
to obey the Constitution, . . . he turns to the person
administering the oath and says, "Stop; I have a further oath.
I do solemnly swear that I will not allow the act entitled
'An act regulating the tenure of certain civil offices,'
just passed by Congress over the presidential veto, to be
executed; but I will prevent its execution by virtue of
my own constitutional power."
How shocked Congress would have been. . . .
[The] people . . . demand judgment upon his misconduct.
He will be condemned.
We see . . . according to the case made in these eight articles,
the President did not succeed in getting Mr. Stanton out of
office or of putting General Thomas in, either in law or in fact.
We see, according to these articles, that the President did not
succeed, either by force or otherwise, in preventing Mr. Stanton
from holding his office or in getting possession of the public
property in that Department. There has been, according to the
very case made in these articles, no public mischief. . . .
[Yet] the acts charged are high crimes and misdemeanors in
these eight articles. . . .
When . . . this tenure-of-office act came to be considered
by the President in reference to his purpose to remove Mr. Stanton
from office, he had a right and it was his duty to decide for
himself whether the proposed removal of Mr. Stanton was or was
not forbidden by the act. . . . The President had . . .in
reference to those laws, an executive discretion. . . .
From the moment I was honored with a seat in the Cabinet
of Mr. Johnson, not a step was taken that did not come under
my observation, not a word was said that escaped my attention. . . .
But never, in word, in deed, in thought, in action, did I discover
in that man anything but loyalty to the Constitution and the laws. . . .
he looked only to the Constitution of his country and to the people. . . .
We shall live to see him redeemed and to hear the majestic voice
of the people, "Well done, faithful servant, you shall have your reward!"