The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
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Editorial
Harper's Weekly, September 7, 1867, page 562

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THE POLITICAL SITUATION
The removal of General Sheridan has deeply moved the country. The peculiarly brilliant service of General Sheridan in the war; his equally faithful service as military Governor of Louisiana and Texas; his frank and fearless spirit in every position, and a certain generosity and gallantry of nature, have endeared him to the popular heart. The name of no hero of the war, not excepting that of Grant himself, so inflames universal enthusiasm as that of Sheridan. Painting and poetry have combined to celebrate his ride up the Shenandoah - a ride which turned the tide of a most important battle, at a most critical moment of the war. Young, modest, ardent; a trained soldier, and irresistible leader, the idol of his men, the cherished friend of his Commander, Sheridan came from the war beloved by the whole people.

When he was appointed to the command of the district of which New Orleans is the headquarters it was not known what his executive power in that kind might be, and it was supposed that, like most soldiers, he had, in the common phrase, no politics. But like every man who went into the rebel section without politics he very soon acquired them. During the summer of 1866, when by the complicity of inaction the President of the United States sanctioned the effort of the rebels to massacre Union men, General Sheridan was the man who told the whole truth to the country, and Andrew Johnson has never forgiven him. From that time General Sheridan has wholly approved the Radical policy, and the President has inflexibly resolved upon his removal.

But General Grant was known to sympathize with General Sheridan, and their published correspondence shows how faithfully the General supported his subordinate. It is therefore plain that General Grant was as disagreeable to the President as General Sheridan. The President knew that there was no man more steadily hostile to his policy; no man more suspicious of his purposes, no man more desirous that he should be closely watched and checked by Congress than General Grant. Moreover, it was becoming very evident that this man, so hostile to the Presidential policy, and of so vast a popularity, was very likely to be the next President, upon the nomination of the party which elected Mr. Johnson, and which he had betrayed. The President thus found himself face to face with Congress, with the vast loyal political organization in every part of the country, and with the great soldiers of the war, excepting General Sherman. In this position he has also and naturally found himself practically paralyzed. He has been conscious of the disastrous failure of his administration, and that he was drifting amidst universal distrust into the great and final contempt of history. For he has no friends. The Democrats use him only to perplex their political foes. The late rebels, like Forsyth of Mobile, and others, reproach him with indecision and timidity. The New York Herald, which to-day tries to prop the Presidential purpose to withstand the popular will, yesterday cried lustily for his impeachment for resisting it. Those who appear to support him are more to be feared by him than those who unswervingly and frankly denounce and resist him.

Under these circumstances the President has naturally sought to take some course by which with one blow he could reach any enemies. And he has found it in the suspension of Mr. Stanton, and the direction of General Grant to assume ad interim the duties of the Secretary of War, and to transmit the order of removal to General Sheridan. This at once excites a tendency toward distrust of General Grant upon the part of the Republican party; it tends to poison the personal relations of Grant and Sheridan; it raises Sheridan as a candidate for the Presidency; and it kindles the hope of that ludicrous political Micawber, the Democratic party, that something may "turn up." The President’s double object is to ruin Grant politically and to defy the Republican Party.

But we suppose that nobody in the country, Democrat or Republican, doubts that General Grant is as hostile as ever to the policy of the President, and that he warmly opposed the removal of General Sheridan. The only question is why he went into the Cabinet, and why he is willing to appear to acquiesce in the policy of the President. But it is not necessary to look far for the reason. General Grant may have considered himself ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, or he may have wished to prevent the entrance of some one into the Cabinet less hostile than he to the President’s system. It is folly to say that every member of the Cabinet must be presumed to sympathize with the President. Was Mr. Stanton presumed to be in such sympathy?

It is , therefore, it seems to us, unfair in the Tribune to insinuate that General Grant has any sympathy whatever with the President. It does not say so, indeed, openly; but such is the impression it produces. As we have before suggested, this is not the way to defeat General Grant as a Presidential candidate. That must be done, if at all, by showing that the Republican party does not know what he thinks or where he stands. It is evident that in the present situation of the country, which no one probably understands better than General Grant, no man can expect to receive the nomination of the dominant party who is not willing to say that he wholly and heartily agrees with its policy, and feels the necessity of its ascendancy. General Grant has not yet publicly expressed himself upon this point, although all his actions show his general sympathy with that party. It is, therefore, premature both to insist that he must be the candidate and that under no circumstances can he or ought he to be the candidate.

If General Grant would like to have the nomination of both parties, or if he would prefer to be nominated without expressing himself more plainly, then we should say that he certainly could not be and should not be the Republican candidate; and we greatly misconceive General Grant himself if he expects the Republican nomination upon such terms. He knows, of course, that the party which is as sure as any thing political can be to select its candidate will not nominate in the dark or for luck. He also knows, probably, that under the circumstances he could not be nominated by the Democrats. Would he then be likely to succeed upon a "people’s nomination?" We think certainly not, because we do not believe that he would as a third candidate seriously reduce the Republican vote. Meanwhile we repeat that the important consideration in the Presidential campaign is the continued dominance of the Republican party.

Articles Related to Overt Obstruction of Congress:
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February 2, 1867, page 67
February 16, 1867, page 99
March 16, 1867, page 163


How Long?
June 29, 1867, page 402


Reconstruction and Obstruction
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The Summer Session
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The Fortieth Congress
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Thanks to the District Commanders
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Impeachment Postponed
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A Desperate Man
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The Secretary of War
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Samson Agonistes at Washington (cartoon)
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The Stanton Imbroglio (illustrated satire)
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Secretary Grant
August 31, 1867, page 546


Southern Reconstruction
August 31, 1867, page 547


The Political Situation
September 7, 1867, page 562


General Thomas
September 7, 1867, page 563


Southern Reconstruction
September 7, 1867, page 563


The General and the President
September 14, 1867, page 578


General Sickles Also
September 14, 1867, page 579


Southern Reconstruction
September 21, 1867, page 595


The President’s Intentions
September 28, 1867, page 610


Impeachment
October 5, 1867, page 626


The Main Question
October 5, 1867, pages 626-627


Suspension during Impeachment
October 19, 1867, page 658


"Disregarding" The Law
November 2, 1867, page 691


Impeachment
December 14, 1867, page 786


General Grant’s Testimony
December 14, 1867, page 786


The President’s Message
December 14, 1867, page 787


General Grant’s Letter
January 1, 1868, page 2


Secretary Stanton’s Restoration
January 25, 1868, page 51


Reconstruction Measures
January 25, 1868, page 51


The President, Mr. Stanton and General Grant
February 1, 1868, page 66


Romeo (Seward) to Mercutio (Johnson) (cartoon)
February 1, 1868, page 76


The War Office
February 1, 1868, page 77


Secretary’s Room in the War Department (illus)
February 1, 1868, page 77


The New Reconstruction Bill
February 8, 1868, page 83

 

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