The Impeachment Trial


New York Herald

March 25, 1868

The Impeachment entertainment was well attended to-day; the audience was select and fashionable, yet gay and festive in appearance. There was a smaller show of beautiful faces than yesterday; staid and matronly looking females were at a discount, and the bright ribbons, etc., were interspersed with a good deal of the somber and serious. No rush for seats occurred, though every seat was occupied. The ticket business was a tame affair, so tame in fact that Senator Sherman proposed to suspend it altogether and let the plebian crowd come in without let or hindrance. An audience of crowded faces seemed to be desired and the ticket arrangement, if persevered In, might have the effect of leaving empty benches for the Grand High Jury to look upon. Of course Sherman’s proposition was laid over, because next Monday, when the trial really commences, the interesting female relatives of Congressional members will desire to be present and the common crowd of humanity, especially of the Ethiopian shade, must be shut out. The latter can select any other day after everything worth seeing and hearing is disposed of, and the Senate will kindly allow ordinary mortals admission without the necessity of tickets.


Speculations on the Issue of the Impeachment Trial–The Radical War on Chief Justice Chase–Radical Deviations in Support of Impeachment–The Squabble for Tickets to the National Exhibition.

Washington, March 9, 1868.

The absorbing interest felt in the great impeachment trial seems to increase. All the legal works that have the slightest bearing upon the method of proceeding In cases of impeachment, and which hitherto have been regarded as too dry and dusty for the perusal of any but professors of the abstruse science of John Doe and Richard Hoc, are now eagerly sought after and perseverlngly studied. People who never could be brought to comprehend the simple process of habeas corpus now talk learnedly upon the nice points of law involved in a trial of impeachment. Bookstores display large placards informing the public that they have on hand full and accurate descriptions of the trials of Warren Hastings, Judge Peck, Judge Chase, etc. The constitution of our country was never before so assiduously studied and so diligently thumbed as it is now to acquire a thorough knowledge of its provisions, especially those parts of it which the terrible articles of impeachment charge Andrew Johnson with having violated. This popular thirst for knowledge on the supreme law of the country, whichever way the trial of President Johnson may be decided, cannot fail to have a beneficial effect upon the citizens of the United States. The nature and principles of our government will be better understood, and the judges who are about to investigate the charges against the President of the United States, and who are expected to pronounce guilty or not guilty, according to the belief that may exist in their minds, after hearing the evidence on both sides of the question, and having the laws, pro and con, argued by the best lawyers in the land, have great need to look well to it that, in pronouncing their verdict, they are Influenced by nothing but the law and the evidence. They cannot fall to see that they must be controlled by no other motives than the desire to mete out the strictest justice, for the country at large is searching out and digesting the law that governs the case, will listen to the same testimony that is given in the Senate chamber, will read the same legal documents, and will form its own opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the distinguished prisoner at the bar.

Rumor, of course, is still busy with the present views and opinions of Senators, and a dozen times a day, perhaps, it is proved by some garrulous politician, who assumes to have confidential relations with different members of the Senate, and is, therefore, well posted on the subject, that the President is certain to be deposed; and the same authority just as frequently proves conclusively that such a result is an utter impossibility.

Having listened to the arguments of the beforementioned well-informed individuals, and having made as close and careful an inquiry into the predilections of Senators as is possible under the circumstances, your correspondent Is convinced that not only is it impossible to foretell the finding of the court or the disposition of all the Senators, but that to attempt to define the position or to record the decision of each of the Senators before the case is tried is an act of injustice towards a large proportion of them. Certain of the Democratic Senators may be safely counted now as sure to vote against conviction, and a large number of the radical Senators may be as safely included among those who will vote for it; but the greater number of the members are far too deeply impressed with the solemnity of the trial they are engaged in and its vast importance in shaping the destiny of our country to act lightly in any matter connected with it, or to permit their judgment to be largely biased by party considerations. These men will certainly endeavor to sift truth from error, will judge of Andrew Johnson’s acts as charged in the articles of impeachment in a spirit of fairness, to discover whether they were committed from a firm conviction on his part that he was but discharging the duties imposed upon him by the constitution, or whether they were the efforts of an ambitious demagogue to thwart the intentions of Congress In order to further his own views and the interests of the opposite party.

The reported views of Chief Justice Chase on the impeachment trial are forming a very interesting topic here at this present time. The radicals believe they have seen enough in his conduct since the time his communication on the character of a High Court of impeachment was read in the Senate to convince them that he is in direct opposition to them; although none but extreme radicals have this clearness of vision. Others regard the acts of the Chief Justice as only those of a presiding judge who desires that his official conduct shall be such as will bear the keenest scrutiny of an unprejudiced world. It is true, however, that the radical leaders have come to regard him as another obstacle to the execution of their plans, and have already begun to devise means to force him into coincidence with their pre-arranged schemes, or to sweep him aside along with all the other obstructions to the attainment of the radical millennium. Within the past week we have had evidence on two occasions of this hostility to Mr. Chase: a resolution providing for the succession of the Chief Justice in case the present incumbent should die or be removed, and a new rule for the Impeachment Court, requiring that the Chief Justice shall not be addressed as Chief Justice, but as President of the Senate. In the first may be distinctly seen a menace held over the head of Mr. Chase, and in the second an attempt to deprive the impeachment court as much as possible of its judicial character.

Those persons in Washington who have every facility for ascertaining the truth of statements sent from here to the various newspapers throughout the country have expressed surprise at the desperate falsification of many correspondents of radical journals. The pertinacity with which they urge upon their readers what they assert to be the voice of public opinion here in favor of convicting the President, and the statements that are made, wholly devoid of truth, for the purpose of influencing the public mind, and perhaps of bolstering up the courage of such Republican Senators as are suspected of being weak in the knees, have been so obvious in their mentions as to attract attention and to excite comment. Of this character was the report put in circulation a few days ago that Judge Black, one of the counsel for the President, had openly stated it as his belief that no successful defense of the President could be made, and he was sure to be convicted. This, it is needless to say, is utterly false. Mr. Black has never expressed such an opinion.

Yesterday the squabble for tickets to the great national show recommenced. Wonderful was the rush after Senators and Representatives who were supposed to have sufficient influence to procure a ticket or two. It is confidently asserted by several persons who profess to have witnessed the transactions, that a number of the tickets for admission to the galleries have changed hands through the influence of respectable pecuniary considerations, though such operations are kept strictly secret, because the number of a sold ticket would be known and the ticket would be tabooed at the door. Everybody, as a matter of course, wants to witness the trial of the President, and but a very small number, comparatively speaking, can be accommodated. With the best arrangements that can be made satisfaction cannot be given to all, and those having the matter in charge have but a thankless task to perform. It seems, however, to be settled for a fact that no great degree of genius has thus far been displayed in arranging the printing and distribution of the tickets. Instead of the large, highly illuminated cards they have adopted, displaying in fancy letters the words, “Impeachment of the President,” a small white ticket containing only the words “Admit one to the gallery,” printed in unpretending letters, would be in much better taste. When any person leaves the court room with the intention of not returning a check might be given him or her at the door, which could be given to a friend who might wish to have an opportunity of witnessing the trial. By this arrangement a far greater number could be afforded the lively or melancholy satisfaction of beholding the modus operandi of getting rid of troublesome Presidents, who will persist in impeding the progress of the radical car of reconstruction by piling upon the track articles of the constitution.




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