The Impeachment Trial

May 15, 1868


It is almost certain that President Johnson will get impeached, but the Conservatives have not given up hope.


The Impeachment Trial. We see no good reason to doubt that the President will be convicted. Time enough has expired since the testimony and the speeches of counsel were concluded to give every senator an opportunity to define his position either in the court or prirately. Yet no man can name more than five Radical senators who would certainly, if they vote, answer "Not guilty" on all the articles. Of these five, one-Mr. Henderson, of Missouri-has already promised not to vote at all. This shirking of duty is not creditable to the Missouri senator; and it has even been denied that he has come under such an obligation. But the letter of the Radical members of the House of Representatives from Missouri requesting him to withhold his vote has been given to the public, along with the statement that he promised either to do so or to resign his seat in the Senate. The defection of one of the President's friends is equivalent to two votes for Conviction. There are fifty-four senators in all. Of these only eleven are Democrats, or Johnson men-namely: Dixon, Buckalew, Doolittlk, Johnson, Vickers, Saulsburt, Batard, Davis, McCreert, Patterson, and Hendricks. Add to these, Grimes, Trumbull, Fessenden, Van Winkle, and Fowler, and we have sixteen votes for acquittal. That leaves thirty-eight votes not accounted for. Now deduct those of Howard, Henderson, and Wade, and there are still thirty-five votes for conviotion. But we may allow the President another votethat of Anthony, or Willey, or Sprague, neither of which he will be likely to getand still there will be thirty-four votes for conviction against seventeen for acquittal-two-thirds. And this is not the worst; for Wade will not withhold his vote if it should be necessary to conviction. It is safest in dealing with the Radicals to assume that while there may be here and there an honest man amongst them, nine-tenths of them are either totally reckless and unprincipled, or else so thoroughly blinded by sectional feelings and narrowminded jealousies as to be unable to perceive any truth which is not presented to them in a partisan light. As are our Virginia Radicals, so are the Radicals of the North. Who would expect an honest verdict from the Convention which was recently making a Constitution for us ? Who would expect Underwood to be governed in his decisions by the law and tie evidence if his own interests were involved ? Who would expect Hunnicutt to tell the whole truth ? Who would expect Dr. Bayne to be able to make up an impartial "verdict as between Mr. Johnson and the Senate ? Yet we find people who would not think of expecting justice for any Conservative at the hands of these men, indulging the hope that their friends and allies in the United States Senate will at every risk do justice to Mr. Johnson, No one would rejoice more than we should if Mr. Johnson were to come out of this trial victorious over his enemies and the enemies of the Constitution ; but that he will do so, we shall never be able to believe until "hope ends in fruition."
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Joshua Hurlburt




“The Impeachment Trial,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,