forward he lost his balance and toppled, head foremost,
Whoever, therefore, votes "not guilty" on these articles votes to enchain our free institutions, and to prostrate them at the feet of any man who, being President, may choose to control them.
A few days after this, Judge Curtis, of the President's counsel, spoke on behalf of the President. The first and principal Goverment of the Articles of Impeachment against Mr. Johnson was violation of the Office-Tenure Act, which had been passed the year before for the undisguised purpose of restricting the President's power to remove his Cabinet officers, particularly, his War Minister, Mr. Stanton. It was apparent that Mr. Butler had been embarassed in his plea by the proviso of that Act, that members of the Cabinet should hold "during the term of the President by WHOM THEY MAY HAVE BEEN APPOINTED and for one month longer."
Mr. Butler had asked--By whom was Mr. Stanton appointed? By Mr. Lincoln. Whose presidential term was he holding tinder when the bullet of Booth became a proximate cause of this trial? Was not this appointment in full force at that hour. Had any act of the respondent up to the 12th day of August last vitiated or interfered with that appointment? Whose Presidential term is the respondent now serving out? His own, or Mr. Lincoln's. If his own, he is entitled to four years up to the anniversary of the murder, because each presidential term is four years by the Constitution, and the regular recurrence of those terms is fixed by the Act of May 8, 1792. If he is serving out the remainder of Mr. Lincoln's term, then his term of office expires on the 4th of March, 1869, if it does not before.
Judge Curtis struck his first blow at the weak point of General Butler's speech. He said:
There is a question involved which enters deeply into the first eight Articles of Impeachment and materially touches two of the others; and to that question I desire in the first place to invite the attention of the court, namely--whether MR. STANTON'S CASE COMES UNDER THE TENURE-OF-OFFICE ACTS? * * * I must ask your attention therefore to the construction and application of the first section of that act, as follows: "that every person holding an official position to which he has been appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and every person who shall hereafter be appointed to any such office and shall become duly qualified to act therein, is and shall be entitled to hold such office until a successor shall have been in like manner appointed and duly qualified, except as herein OTHERWISE PROVIDED." Then comes what is otherwise provided. PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the Secretaries of State, Treasury, War, Navy, and Interior Departments, the Postmaster General and Attorney General, shall hold their offices respectively for AND DURING THE TERM OF THE PRESIDENT BY WHOM THEY MAY HAVE BEEN APPOINTED."
The first inquiry which arises on this language, is as to the meaning of the words "for and during the term of the President." Mr. Stanton, as appears by the commission which has been put in the case by the Honorable Managers, was appointed in January, 1862, during the first term of President Lincoln. Are the words "during the term of the President," applicable to Mr. Stanton's case? That depends upon whether an expounder of this law, judicially, who finds set down in it as a part of the descriptive words, "DURING THE TERMS OF THE PRESIDENT," HAS ANY RIGHT TO ADD, "AND DURING ANY OTHER TERM FOR WHICH HE MAY BE AFTERWARDS ELECTED."
I respectfully submit no such judicial interpretation can be put on the words. Then, if you please, take the next step: "During the term of the President by whom he was appointed, "At the time when this order was issued for the removal of Mr. Stanton, was he holding the term of the President by whom he was appointed? The Honorable Managers say yes; because, as they, say, Mr. Johnson is merely serving out the residue of Mr. Lincoln's term. But is that so under the provisions of the Constitution of the United States? * * Although the President, like the Vice President, is elected for a term of four years, and each is elected for the same term, the President is not to hold the office absolutely during four years. The limit of four years is not an absolute limit. Death is a limit. "A conditional limitation," as the lawyers call it, is imposed on his tenure of office. And when the President dies his term of four years, for which he was elected and during which he was to hold provided he should so long live, terminates, and the office devolves upon the Vice President. For what period of time? FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TERM FOR WHICH THE VICE PRESIDENT WAS ELECTED. And there is no more propriety, under the provisions of the Constitution of the United litates, in calling the term during which Mr. Johnson holds the office of President, after it was devolved upon him, a part of Mr. Lincoln's term. then there would be propriety in saying that one sovereign who succeeded another sovereign by death, holds his predecessor's term.** They (the Cabinet officers) were to be the advisers of the President; they were to be the immediate confidential assistants of the President, for whom he was to be responsible, but in whom he was expected to repose a great amount of trust and confidence; and therefore it was that this Act has connected the tenure-of-office of these Secretaries to which it applies with the President by whom they were appointed. It says, in the description which the Act gives of the future tenure-of-office of Secretaries, that a controlling regard is to be had to the fact that the Secretary whose tenure is to be regulated was appointed by some particular President; and during the term of that President he shall continue to hold his office; but as for Secretaries who are in office, not appointed by the President, we have nothing to say; we leave them as they heretofore have been. I submit to Senators that this is the natural, and, having regard to the character of these officers, the necessary conclusion, that the tenure-of-office of a Secretary here described is a tenure during the term of service of the President by whom he was appointed; that it was not the intention of Congress to compel a President of the United States to continue in office a Secretary not appointed by himself. * **
Shortly after this, occurred one of the most amusing and interesting incidents of the trial. Mr. Boutwell, who was altogether a matter-of-fact man, though at times indulging in the heroics, ventured, in the course of his argument, upon a flight of imagination in depicting the punishment that should be meted out to Mr. Johnson for venturing to differ with Congress upon the constitutionality of an act of that body. He said: