Jack was too eager to wait, and pressed on. The hill which
If the affirmative is maintained by the respondent, then, so far as the first eight articles are concerned--unless such corrupt purposes are shown as will of themselves make the exercise of a legal power a crime--the respondent must go, and ought to go quit and free.
Therefore, by these articles and the answers thereto, the momentous question, here and now, is raised whether the PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE ITSELF (IF IT HAS THE PREROGATIVES AND POWER CLAIMED FOR IT) OUGHT, IN FACT, TO EXIST AS APART OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT OF A FREE PEOPLE, while by the last three articles the simpler and less important inquiry is to be determined, whether Andrew Johnson has so conducted himself that he ought longer to held any constitutional office whatever. The latter sinks to merited insignificance compared with the grandeur of the former.
If that is sustained, then a right and power hitherto unclaimed and unknown to the people of the country is engrafted on the Constitution most alarming in its extent, most corrupting in its influence, most dangerous in its tendencies, and most tyrannical in its exercise.
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."