Our Tweet of the Day

Impeachment Skullduggery (1868 Version)

The following article appeared in the May 26, 1868 issue of the Alexandria Gazette.

The Investigation

Gen. Butler‘s report of the investigation by the Managers of Impeachment into the influences used upon Senators during the impeachment trial, was presented to the House yesterday. The report was made “for the purpose” of showing the House the necessity of adopting stringent measures to force Woolley, to answer the questions put to him by the committee.” The report takes as its basis the testimony of Thurlow Weed. Mr.Weed states that the first proposition was made to him by a man named Adams, who was introduced to him by Mr. Smythe, the Collector of Customs at New York. Mr. Weed did not like the looks of Adams, and so advised Smythe. About a week subsequent to this, Mr. Wood testifies, a meeting was held at his own room in the Astor House, New York, at which there were present besides Mr. Weed, Mr. Woolley, and “a Kentucky gentleman, with Kentucky habits,” Mr. Smythe, the New York Collector, and Sheridan Shook, an Internal Revenue Collector of New York. At this meeting a project of buying the votes of Senators was discussed, and it was proposed to raise $30,000 for the purpose of purchasing votes for the acquittal of the President, of three Senators. The names of these Senators, whom it was thought might be bought at so low a price, was given by Mr. Weed, but for the present withheld by the committee. [The names of two of” them are said to be Messrs. Pomeroy and Nye.] Mr. Weed does not tell what he thought of this proposal.

Woolley, it is said, was familiar with the President’s counsel, and was in constant.consultation with Cooper, the President’s former Private Secretary, and at present at the Treasury Department; with W. W. Worden, known as ”Data,” of the Baltimore Sun, and during the past month has been constantly in Washington. It is in relation to the disposal of twenty thousand dollars, placed in his’ hands, that Woolley has refused to testify., and for which the committee ask that he shall be arrested and brought before the House for contempt. After his last .examination Woolley sent a certificate of a physician, stating that he was sick and confined to his bed. The same night he took the train to New York, from whence he sent’a telegram to the committee. His friends now say that he is in Washington again.

The telegraphic dispatches form a considerable part of the evidence. The dispatches passed principally between Woolley and his confreres in New York, and relate to the placing of the money at his disposal, to the prospects of acquittal, and are sometimes demands upon Weed or Shook, or an “Albany party” whom Mr. Weed states is one Hastings, employed on Weed’s paper in New York as an editor -to come on to Washington and assist in the negotiations.

In one point only does Mr. Weed appear to have hesitated to tell all he knew. One of the dispatches sent by Woolley nearly all of whose dispatches, by the way, were signed Hooker – to Weed, reads thus; “He will do it. Send on the Albany party if he means business.”

Mr. Weed remembered the dispatch; had ao doubt it referred to the impeachment business; knew who the Albany party was, but was ignorant as to the first part of the dispatch. He professed neither to know who “he” was, nor what “he” was willing to do.

The resolution requiring that Woolley be brought before the bar of tho House for contempt was passed.

After the report, of which the above is a brief abstract, was read, Mr. Brooks energetically denounced the wholesale seizure of private telegrams. He remarked that none of the persons implicated by the report were of the Democratic party, except Woolley. Gen. Adams had never been in the Confederate army, and was, he believed, a Republican.

Mr. Butler made a lame reply, failing to give the names of the Senators inculpated, but not denying that they were Messrs. Pomeroy and Nye ; denying, however, the published account of Col. Cooper’s testimony, but not stating what it was, and complaining that the witnesses had revealed the evidence given by them before the committee.

Mr. Eldridge put several troublesome questions to Butler, which disconcerted him in no light degree; and when the latter was explaining that the committee propose to publish only a part of the private telegrams they had read and inspected, Mr. Brooks asked him if he had copies of the telegrams of Mr. Geo. Wilkes, and the Rev. Theodore Tilton!

Mr. Butler was proceeding to gloss over the fact that this investigation by a secret inquisition was conducted by members of one party altogether, but there was one Republican in the House whose manhood revolted at this infamy. Dr. Baker denounced, as a violation of public justice, that a committee appointed to investigate a matter of great public concern should be composed entirely of the members of one party. If he had to stand alone among the Republicans, he should protest against this injustice. Dr. Baker spoke only two or three minutes, and was interrupted by Butler, who feebly attempted to reply. Mr. Baker declared that he “desired to lift this matter above party.”

Washington, May 25. – In accordance with the resolution adopted by the House this afternoon, a writ was issued by the Speaker for the arrest of C. W. Woolley, for alleged contempt in refusing to answer questions put by the mangers of impeachment. The writ was.placed in the hands of the sergeant-at-arms shortly after the adjournment of the House, and served upon Mr. Woolley tonight.

The attorneys of the respondent are now preparing an answer-to be presented to the House tomorrow, in which Mr. Woolley’s testimony before the managers is recited at length, and charges made against Manager Butler for indecent and indecorous conduct in the course of the examination of the witnesses.

The testimony of the witness, as related in his answer, varies materially from the version given of it in the report by Gen. Butler.

The More Things Change…

Representative Elijah Adams Morse, of Massachusetts, quoted in the Alexandria Gazette, May 31, 1890.

‘Let my right hand forget its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth when I make patriots and traitors equal, or when I fail to discern between the loyal soldiers who periled and laid down their lives in the defense of their country and the traitors who fought to destroy it.”

Born in South Bend, St. Joseph County, Indiana, Morse moved to Massachusetts with his parents, who settled in Boston in 1852. He attended the public schools, the Boylston School in Boston, and Onondaga Academy, New York. Enlisted in the Union Army in the Fourth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, during the Civil War. He served three months under General Butler in Virginia and one year under General Banks in Louisiana. He was promoted to corporal. Manufacturer of stove polish in Canton, Massachusetts. He served as member of the State house of representatives in 1876. He was an unsuccessful Prohibition Party candidate for lieutenant governor in 1877. He served in the state senate in 1886 and 1887. He served as member of the Governor’s council in 1888.

Morse was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1897). He served as chairman of the Committee on Alcohol Liquor Traffic (Fifty-fourth Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1896. He resumed manufacturing activities. He died in Canton, Massachusetts, June 5, 1898. He was interred in Canton Cemetery.

Wikipedia entry for Elijah Adams Morse.

Mark Twain’s Version of Andrew Johnson’s Last Speech as President

And when my term began to draw to a close, & I saw that but little time remained wherein to defeat justice, to further exasperate the people, & to complete my unique & unprecedented record, I fell to & gathered up the odds & ends, & made it perfect — swept it clean; for I pardoned Jeff Davis; I pardoned every creature that had ever lifted his hand against the hated flag of the Union I have swept the floors clean; my work is done.

The Impeachers, by Brenda Wineapple

Andrew Johnson Argues Against Reconstruction Laws Passed by Congress in A December 3, 1867 Message (continued)


It is manifestly and avowedly the object of these laws to confer upon Negroes the privilege of voting and to disfranchise such a number of white citizens as will give the former a clear majority at all elections in the Southern States. This, to the minds of some persons, is so important that a violation of the Constitution is justified as a means of bringing it about. The morality is always false which excuses a wrong because it proposes to accomplish a desirable end. We are not permitted to do evil that good may come. But in this case the end itself is evil, as well as the means. The subjugation of the States to Negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which they are now suffering. It was believed beforehand that the people would endure any amount of military oppression for any length of time rather than degrade themselves by subjection to the Negro race. Therefore they have been left without a choice. Negro suffrage was established by act of Congress, and the military officers were commanded to superintend the process of clothing the Negro race with the political privileges torn from white men.

Racists in the White House: Andrew Johnson’s December 3, 1867 Message to Congress

The blacks in the South are entitled to be well and humanely governed, and to have the protection of just laws for all their rights of person and property. If it were practicable at this time to give them a Government exclusively their own, under which they might manage their own affairs in their own way, it would become a grave question whether we ought to do so, or whether common humanity would not require us to save them from themselves. But under the circumstances this is only a speculative point. It is not proposed merely that they shall govern themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?

I’m currently reading and enjoying “The Impeachers”, a brilliant and well-researched volume by Brenda Wineapple. The similarities between Johnson’s impeachment and the current calls for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump are eerily similar. After reading Wineapple’s book, I might hesitate the next time I think Trump is the worst president in the history of the United States.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some of the other outrageous and misguided sections of Johnson’s diatribe.

Disunion Movement – Alexandria Gazette, Nov. 1, 1860

John C. Breckinridge

In the last issue of the Atlantic, Ga., American, we find some account of a Democratic meeting held in Appling county, in Georgia. It is reported to have been one of the largest and most enthusiastic political gatherings ever witnessed in that portion of the State, and hence the resolutions adopted on the occasion may be supposed to reflect the views and opinions of the Breckinridge leaders in Georgia.  The following are the resolutions which were unanimously adapted:

“Whereas. The oft-repeated and continued aggressions of the anti-slavery party of the North leave us no hope that the “irrepressible conflict” is to have an end, or that we can ever again “dwell in unity;” be it, therefore,

Resolved, That for the future we spurn all offers of compromise. and unhesitatingly and unequivocally  declare it to be the duty of every slave State, in the event of Lincoln’s election to the Presidency of these United States, without a moment’s delay — peaceably if we can,  forcibly if we must — to sever the bonds which bind them to the Union and hoist the flag of a Southern confederacy.

That with John C. Breckinridge as our leader, and Toombs, Davis, Rhett, Boyce and Yancey as his aid-de-camps. we have nothing to fear. Though we may be compelled to follow them from the arena of politics to the more exciting and, to us, more agreeable one of the soldier — they promise us equality in the Union or independence out of it.

That we recommend to our brethren in each county in every slave State to call meetings without delay, to organize companies of cavalry and infantry, to arm and equip themselves, if necessary. at their own expense, and hold themselves in readiness to march at the call of their leaders.

That in thus publicly proclaiming to our enemies the course we intend to pursue, we warn them we have been so long goaded by their aggressions, their repeated violations of the most solemn compromises, that forbearance on our part has ceased to be a virtue, and can only be considered so by the craven wretch who would refuse to smite the hand that would destroy him. and that we are in sober, solemn earnest.”

Here we have clearly and bolding set forth the recklcss and revolutionary designs of a portion of the supporters of Breckinridge. We invite attention most particularly to the following points in the above resolutions, viz: That it is the duty of the Slaves States, in the event of the bare election of Lincoln, “without a moment’s delay” to sever the cords which bind them to the Union, and hoist the flag of the Southern Confederacy; that the second resolution couples the names of Mr. Breckinridge and Senator Toombs and Davis, and Messrs. Rhett, Boyce and Yancey, with such a movement, by asserting that with them as leaders and “aides decamp,” they have nothing to fear, though they “may be compelled to follow them from the arena of politics to the more exciting, and, to us, more agreeable one of the soldier:” and that they recommend their “brethren in each county of every Slave State, without delay, to organize, arm and equip themselves,  and hold themselves in readiness to march at the call of their leader, whom they declare to be John J. Breckinridge and Toombs, Davis, Rhett, Boyce and Yancey.

Now, how many patriotic, honest, old line Democrats of the Jefferson, Madison, Jackson school endorse such traitorous doctrines, as those above enunciated, or will participate in measures so well calculated to produce civil war, by “precipitating the Cotton States into a revolution?” No, the true Democracy of the land are no more ready for such arming and equipping with a view to seceding in the event of Lincoln’s election, in accordance with the recognized forms of our Constitution, than are the Constitutional Union men: and if the masses in the South of those who will vote for Mr. Breckinridge believed that his views and his purposes were reflected or set forth by these resolutions, they would leave him by hundreds of thousands, and he would be left without a corporal’s guard in every Southern State where the people are permitted to vote.  We call upon those who intend supporting Mr. Breckinridge as the candidate best calculated to preserve a Democratic government, to read and ponder the above resolutions.

Note: This article, originally from the Richmond Whig, was reprinted in the Alexandria Gazette, November 1, 1860 — five days before the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Ohio Congressman Proposes to Prohibit Confederate Monuments – May 24, 1890

Alexandria Gazette, p.2

And so an Ohio republican Congressman thinks the exhibition of Confederate flags and the erection of Confederate monuments in the South must be prohibited, and is consulting his colleagues about the advisablllity of introducing a resolution to that effect in the U.S. House of Representatives. If he shall, it will probably be adopted, and be followed by another, prohibiting Dixey[sp.] and other southern songs from being sung, and gray cloth from being worn, throughout the limits of the South. Well, the South has stood worse things. After awhile restrictions will be put upon northern democracy. When judges are removed because their decisions are not in accord with the policy of the President, and when U.S. vessels are sent to take possession of southern towns, and their marines to search southern homes, nothing else that may be done under a republican form of government can be surprising. It is what the republicans don’t do that evokes the emotion of surprise.