The Impeachment-The Senate-The Radical Scheme-The Probable Result.
March 4, 1868
During the impeachment trial, senators will be sworn in as judges. This notion is ridiculous and these senators will more than likely make decisions that violate the Constitution.
The Impeachment-The Senate-The Radical Scheme-The Probable Result. Washington, March 2, 1868. The party lash is being freely used by the impeachers to secure a safe passage of their measure through the " High Court of Impeachment," alias the Radical Senate of the United States. The leading spirits in this assault upon the executive department of the Government laugh at the suggestions that senators when sworn as judges will not be senators still, so far as their votes in sustaining impeachment may be concerned. They talk of the impossibility of a leopard changing his spots, or an Ethiopian his skin, and say it is equally unreasonable to expect that a Radical senator will change his views as to the moral obligations of an oath simply because he votes as a member of a court instead of a member of the Senate. There is too much truth in this declaration, and many conservative men are relying too confidently on the fact that senators are to be " sworn " to try the issue according to the law and the facts. Have they not been under the constant obligation of an oath to obey, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; and yet, have they ever hesitated to act outside of and in direct violation of that Constitution if party interests required it? Nevertheless, it is generally believed in well-informed circles here that there are eight leading Republican senators who will prove too much the Roman to be thus used for base party purposes. These eight senators are Fessenden, Anthony, Willey, Van Winkle, Trumbull, Frelinghuysen, Grimes, And Pomeroy-which, together with the eleven Democrats, constitute a sufficient vote to defeat the impeachment of the President. Should these stand firm as a barrier against the successful progress of the impeachment movement, there may be several others who will prefer making a similar record for the future historian. Hence we have a prevailing impression among the conservative men that the whole project of the impeachment of the President will end pretty much as did the prosecution against General Lorenzo Thomas. The impeachment prosecution will be on a larger theatre only what Thomas's was on a smaller one, and Thad. Stevens, with his associate prosecutors, may be dismissed from the High Court of Impeachment with as little ceremony as General Thomas was put out of court by Judge Cartter. The testimony of General Thomas is being relied on by the Radical managers to sustain the charges of conspiracy to seize by force the War Department; but when this testimony comes to be published as given before the Impeachment Committee the honest masses of the people will surely be disgusted with the whole thing. In the meantime the party leaders have been profuse in the abuse of the man they found they could not exactly use to suit their purposes. But do the Radical leaders care, or expect, to prove the President guilty of the charges contained in the articles of impeachment? This question was frankly answered by General N. P. Banks, one of the impeachers, who assured your correspondent that, so far as the particular charges were concerned, the President could not be found guilty; adding, at the same time, that the Senate, appreciating the importance of removing Mr. Johnson for the general good of the country, would convict him to prevent his doing any harm, and that in doing this, senators were not responsible to anyone for the votes they gave. Such is the Radical expectation in Congress. It is anticipated by Stevens, Bingham, and others, that they have only to offer the pretext, and their friends in the Senate will take care of the rest. No reliance is placed by them in the puerile verbosity put forth in the shape of "articles of impeachment." They are merely the flimsy pretext under which it is anticipated the Senate will seek protection, and the sentiments expressed by General Banks are those generally entertained by the Radical revolutionists. The result of all this is a difference of opinion here as to the probabilities of convicting President Johnson--a difference which extends through all circles of society. Those who believe the Senate can be prostituted to base purposes, and that senators, sitting as a court of impeachment, can find Mr. Johnson guilty, in order to deprive him of the power to do harm, take the affirmative of the proposition; but those who yet believe there is virtue in the Senate scout the very idea that two thirds of the senators can be basely used for party schemes and revolutionary purposes. Several senators opposed to impeachment do not hesitate to express a very decided conviction that the President will pass the ordeal unscathed. It is also understood, even among the Radicals themselves, that Mr. Johnson's acquittal buries the Radical party too deep for resurrection. E.
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“The Impeachment-The Senate-The Radical Scheme-The Probable Result.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed November 28, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/894.