which we have on the surface, has caused this. I must make
This respondent was also aware that this act was understood and intended to be an expression of the opinion of the Congress by which that act was passed, that the power to remove executive officers for cause might, by law, be taken from the President and vested in him and the Senate jointly; and although this respondent had arrived at and still retained the opinion above expressed, and verily believed, as he still believes, that the said first section of the last mentioned act was and is wholly inoperative and void by reason of its conflict with the Constitution of the United States, yet, inasmuch as the same had been enacted by the constitutional majority in each of the two houses of that Congress, this respondent considered it to be proper to examine and decide whether the particular case of the said Stanton, on which it was this respondent's duty to act, was within or without the terms of that first section of the act; or, if within it, whether the President had not the power, according to the terms of the act, to remove the said Stanton from the office of Secretary for the Department of War, and having, in his capacity of President of the United States, so examined and considered, did form the opinion that the case of the said Stanton and his tenure of office were not affected by the first section of the last-named act.
And this respondent, further answering, says, that although a case thus existed which, in his judgment as President of the United States, called for the exercise of the executive power to remove the said Stanton from the office of Secretary for the Department of War, and although this respondent was of the opinion, as is above shown, that under the Constitution of the United States the power to remove the said Stanton from the said office was vested in the President of the United States; and also this respondent was also of the opinion, as is above shown, that the case of the said Stanton was not affected by the first section of the last named act, and although each of the said opinions had been formed by this respondent upon an actual case, requiring him, in his capacity of President of the United States. to come to some judgment and determination thereon, yet this respondent, as President of the United States, desired and determined to avoid, if possible, any question of the construction and effect of the said first section of the last named act, and also the broader question of the executive power conferred on the President of the United States, by the Constitution of the United States, to remove one of the principal officers of one of the executive departments for cause seeming to him sufficient; and this respondent also desired and determined that if, from causes over which he could exert no control, it should become absolutely necessary to raise and have, in some way, determined either or both of the said last named questions, it was in accordance with the Constitution of the United States, and was required of the President thereby, that questions of so much gravity and importance, upon which the legislative and executive departments of the government had disagreed, which involved powers considered by all branches of the government, during its entire history down to the year 1867, to have been confided by the Constitution of the United States to the President, and to be necessary for the complete and proper execution of his constitutional duties, should be in some proper way submitted to that judicial department of the government instrusted by the Constitution with the power, and subjected by it to the duty, not only of determining finally the construction of and effect of all acts of Congress. but of comparing them with the Constitution of the United States and pronouncing them inoperative when found in conflict with that fundamental law which the people have enacted for the government of all their servants. And to these ends, first, that, through the action of the Senate of the United States, the absolute duty of the President to substitute some fit person in place of Mr. Stanton as one of his advisers, and as a principal subordinate officer whose official conduct he was responsible for and had lawful right to control, might, if, possible. be accomplished without the necessity of raising any one of the questions aforesaid; and, second, if this duty could not be so performed then that these questions, or such of them as might necessarily arise, should be judicially determined in manner aforesaid, and for no other end or purpose, this respondent. as President of the United States, on the 12th day of August, 1867, seven days after the reception of the letter of the said Stanton of the 5th of August, hereinbefore stated, did issue to the said Stanton the order following namely:
Executive Mansion, Washington, August 12, 1867.
Sir:--By virtue of the power and authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States, you are hereby suspended from office as Secretary of War, and will cease to exercise any and all functions pertaining to the same.
You will at once transfer to General Ulysses S. Grant, who has this day been authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, all records, books, papers, and other public property now in your custody and charge. To Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War.
To which said order the said Stanton made the following reply:
War Department, Washington City, August 12, 1867.
Sir:--Your note of this date has been received, informing me that, by virtue of the powers vested in you as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States, I am suspended from office as Secretary of War, and will cease to exercise any and all functions pertaining to the same, and also directing me at once to transfer to General Ulysses S. Grant, who has this day been authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, all records, books, papers, and other public property now in my custody and charge. Under a sense of public duty I am compelled to deny your right, under the Constitution and laws of the United States, without the advice and consent of the senate, and without legal cause, to suspend me from office as Secretary of War, or the exercise of any or all functions pertaining to the same, or without such advice and consent to compel me to transfer to any person the records, books, papers, and public property in my custody as Secretary, But inasmuch as the General commanding the Armies of the United has been appointed ad interim and has notified me that he has accepted the appointment, I have no alternative but to submit, under protest, to superior force.