« AnteriorContinuar »
referred to in the resolution of the House of general principle, and if I should change my Representatives.
mind in this particular case i would inform him I have the honor to be, sir, with great respect, of the fact. your obedient servant, EDWIN M. STANTON, Subsequently, on reading the tenure of office
Secretary of War. | b.ll closely, I found that I could not, without Hon. SCHUYLER COLFAX,
violation of the law, refuse to vacate the office Speaker of the House of Representatives. of Secretary of War the moment Mr. Stanton
was reinstated by the Senate, even though the 1.-GENERAL GRANT TO THE PRESIDENT.
President should order me to retain it, which he
never did. HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES,
Taking this view of the subject, and learning WASHINGTON, January 24, 1868..
on Saturday, the 11th instant, that the Senate SIR: I have the honor, very respectfully, to i
had taken up the subject of Mr. Stanton's susrequest to have, in writing, the order which the
pension, after some conversation with Lieutenant President gave me verbally on Sunday, the 19th |
General Sherman and some members of my staff, instant, to disregard the orders of the Hon. E. M.
in which I stated that the law left me no disStanton, as Secretary of War, until I knew, from
cretion as to my action, should Mr. Stanton be the President himself, that they were his orders.
reinstated, and that I intended to inform the I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your
President, I went to the President for the sole obedient servant,
U. S. GRANT,
purpose of making this decision known, and did
80 make it known. His Excellency A. JOHNSON,
In doing this I fulfilled the promise made in President of the United States.
our last preceding conversation on the subject.
The President, however, instead of accepting 2.-GENERAL GRANT TO THE PRESIDENT
my view of the requirements of the tenure of HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, office bill, contended that he had suspended Mr.
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 28, 1868. Stanton under the authority given by the Con. SIR: On the 24th instant, I requested you to stitution, and that the same authority did not give me in writing the instructions which you preclude him from reporting, as an act of courthad previously given me verbally, not to obey esy, bis reasons for the suspension to the Senate. any order from Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary That, having appointed me under the authority of War, unless I knew that it came from yourself. given by the Constitution, and not under any To this written request I received a message act of Congress, I could not be governed by the that has left doubt in my mind of your inten- act. I stated that the law was binding on me, tions. To prevent any possible misunderstand. constitutional or not, until set aside by the ing, therefore, I renew the request that you will proper tribunal. An hour or more was congive me written instructions, and, till they are re- sumed, each reiterating his views on this subject, ceived, will suspend action on your verbal ones. until, getting late, the President said he would
I am compelled to ask these instructions in see me again. writing, in consequence of the many and gross I did not agree to call again on Monday, nor misrepresentations affecting my personal honor, at any other definite time, nor was I sent for by circulated through the press for the last fort. the President until the following Tuesday. night, purporting to come from the President, of From the 11th to the cabinet meeting on the conversations which occurred either with the 14th instant, a doubt never entered my mind President privately in his office, or in cabinet about the President's fully understanding my meeting. "What is written admits of no misun position, namely, that if the Senate refused to derstanding.
concur in the suspension of Mr. Stanton, my In view of the misrepresentations referred to, powers as Secretary of War ad interim would it will be well to state the facts in the case. cease, and Mr. Stanton's right to resume at once
Some time after I assumed the duties of Secre- the functions of his office would under the law tary of War ad interim, the President asked me be indisputable, and I acted accordingly. With my views as to the course Mr. Stanton would Mr. Stanton I had no communication, direct nor have to pursue, in case the Senate should not indirect, on the subject of his reinstatement, durconcur in his suspension, to obtain possession of ing his suspension. his office. My reply was, in substance, that Mr. I knew it had been recommended to the PresStanton would have to appeal to the courts to ident to send in the name of Governor Cox, of reinstate him, illustrating my position by citing Ohio, for Secretary of War, and thus save all the ground I had taken in the case of the Balti- embarrassmenta proposition that I sincerely more police commissioners.
hoped he would entertain favorably ; General In that case I did not doubt the technical Sherman seeing the President at my particular right of Governor Swann to remove the old com- request to urge this, on the 13th instant. missioners and to appoint their successors. As On Tuesday, (the day Mr. Stanton re-entered the old commissioners refused to give up, how the office of the Secretary of War,) General Comever, I contended that no resource was left but stock, who had carried my official letter anto appeal to the courts.
nouncing that, with Mr. Stanton's reinstatement Finding that the President was desirous of by the Senate, I had ceased to be Secretary of keeping Mr. Stanton out of office, whether sus- War ad interim, and who saw the President tained in the suspension or not, I stated that I open and read the communication, brought back had not looked particularly into the tenure of to me from the President a message that he office bill, but that what I had stated was a wanted to see me that day at the cabinet meeting, after I had made known the fact that I was No. 5.-TBE PRESIDENT TO GENERAL GRANT. no longer Secretary of War ad interim.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, At this meeting, after opening it as though I |
January 31, 1868. were a inember of the cabinet, when reminded GENERAL: I have received your communicaof the notification already given him that I was tion of the 28th instant, renewing your request no longer Secretary of War ad interim, the of the 24th, that I should repeat in a written President gave a version of the conversations form my verbal instructions of the 19th instant, alluded to already. In this statement it was viz: That you obey no order from the honoraasserted that in both conversations I had agreed ble Edwin M. Stanton, as Secretary of War, to hold on to the office of Secretary of War unless you have information that it was issued until displaced by the courts, or resign, so as to by the President's directions. place the President where he would have been 'In submitting this request, (with which I comhad I never accepted the office. After hearing plied on the 29th instant,) you take occasion to the President through, I stated our conversa allude to recent publications in reference to the tions substantially as given in this letter. I circumstances connected with the vacation, by will add that my conversation before the cabi- yourself, of the office of Secretary of War ad net embraced other matter not pertinent here, interim, and, with the view of correcting stateand is therefore left out.
ments, which you term “gross misrepresentaI in nowise admitted the correctness of the tions," give at length your own recollection of President's statement of our conversations, the facts under which, without the sanction of though, to soften the evident contradiction my the President, from whom you had received and statement gave, I said (alluding to our first con- accepted the appointment, you yielded the Deversation on the subject) the President might partment of War to the present incumbent. have understood me the way he said, namely, l' As stated in your communication, some time that I had promised to resign if I did not resist after you had assumed the duties of Secretary the reinstatement. I made no such promise. of War ad interim, we interchanged views re
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, specting the course that should be pursued in your obedient servant,
the event of non-concurrence by the Senate in U. S. GRANT, General. the suspension from office of Mr. Stanton. I His Excellency A. Johnson,
sought that interview, calling myself at the War President of the United States.
Department. My sole object in then bringing
the subject to your attention was to ascertain No. 3.-ENDORSEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT ON definitely what would be your own action should GENERAL GRANT'S NOTE OF JANUARY 24, 1868. such an attempt be made for his restoration to
JANUARY 29, 1868, the War Department. That object was accomAs requested in this communication, General | plished, for the interview terminated with the Grant is instructed, in writing, not to obey any distinct understanding that if, upon reflection, order from the War Department, assumed to be you should prefer not to become a party to the issued by the direction of the President, unless controversy, or should conclude that it would such order is known by the General commanding be your duty to surrender the department to the armies of the United States to have been Mr. Stanton, upon action in his favor by the authorized by the Executive.
Senate, you were to return the office to me prior ANDREW JOHNSON. to a decision by the Senate, in order that, if I
desired to do so, I might designate some one No. 4.-GENERAL GRANT TO THE PRESIDENT.
to succeed you. It must have been apparent
to you that, had not this understanding been HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES,
| reached, it was iny purpose to relieve you from WASHINGTON, January 30, 1868.
the further discharge of the duties of Secretary Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the
of War ad interim, and to appoint some other return of my note of the 24th instant, with your
person in that ca; acity. endorsement thereon, that I am not to obey any
Other conversations upon this subject ensued, order from the War Department assumed to be
all of them having, on my part, the same obissued by the direction of the President, unless
ject, and leading to the same conclusion, as the such order is known by me to have been author
first. It is not necessary, however, to refer to ized by the Executive; and in reply thereto to
any of them, excepting that of Saturday, the 11th say, that I am informed by the Secretary of War
instant, mentioned in your communication. As that he has not received from the Executive any
it was then known that the Senate had proorder or instructions limiting or impairing his
ceeded to consider the case of Mr. Stanton, I authority to issue orders to the army as has
was anxious to learn your determination. After heretofore been his practice under the law and
a protracted interview, during which the prothe customs of the department. While this auhority to the War Department is not counter
visions of the tenure of office bill were freely
discussed, you said that, as had been agreed manded, it will be satisfactory evidence to me
upon in our first conference, you would either that any orders issued from the War Depart
return the office to my possession in time to ment, by direction of the President, are author
enable me to appoint a successor before final ized by the Executive.
action by the Senate upon Mr. Stanton's sus. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your
pension, or would remain as its head, awaiting obedient servant,
à decision of the question by judicial proceedHis Excellency A. JOHNSON. General.
ings. It was then understood that there would President of the United States.
I be a further conference on Monday, by which
time I supposed you would be prepared to in- , with an understanding more than once repeated, form me of your final decision. You failed, which I thought had received your full assent, however, to fulfill the engagement, and on Tues- and under which you could have returned to me day notified me, in writing, of the receipt by the office which I had conferred upon you, thus you of official notification of the action of the saving yourself from embarrassment, and leav. Sunate in the case of Mr. Stanton, and at the ing the responsibility where it properly besame time informed me that according to the longed-with the President, who is accountable act regulating the tenure of certain civil offices for the faithful execution of the laws. your functions as Secretary of War ad interim I have not yet been informed by you whether, ceased from the moment of the receipt of the as twice proposed by yourself, you have called notice. You thus, in disregard of the under- upon Mr. Stanton, and made an effort to induce standing between us, vacated the office without him voluntarily to retire from the War Departhaving given me notice of your intention to do ment. 80. It is but just, however, to say that in your You conclude your communication with a communication you claim that you did inform reference to our conversation at the meeting of me of your purpose, and thus" fulfilled the the cabinet held on Tuesday, the 14th instant. promise made in our last preceding conversa- In your account of what then occurred, you say tion on this subject." The fact that such a that after the President had given his version of promise existed is evidence of an arrangement our previous conversations, you stated them of the kind I have mentioned. You had found substantially as given in your letter; that you in our first conference “ that the President was in nowise admitted the correctness of his statedesirous of keeping Mr. Stanton out of office, ment of them, “though, to soften the evident whether sustained in the suspension or not." contradiction my statement gave, I said (alludYou knew what reasons had induced the Presi- ing to our first conversation on the subject) the dent to ask from you a promise ; you also knew President might have understood me in the way that in case your views of duty did not accord he said, namely: that I had promised to resign with his own convictions, it was his purpose to if I did not resist the reinstatement. I made no fill your place by another appointment. Even such promise." ignoring the existence of a positive understand My recollection of what then transpired is ing between us, these conclusions were plainly diametrically the reverse of your narration. In deducible from our various conversations. It is the presence of the cabinet I asked you: certain, however, that even under these circum- First. If, in a conversation which took place stances, you did not offer to return the place to shortly after your appointment as Secretary of my possession, but, according to your own state- War ad interim, you did not agree either to rement, placed yourself in a position where, could main at the head of the War Department and I have anticipated your action, I would have abide any judicial proceedings that might follow been compelled to ask of you, as I was com- non-concurrence by the Senate in Mr. Stanton's pelled to ask of your predecessor in the War suspension ; or, should you wish not to become Department, a letter of resignation, or else to involved in such a controversy, to put me in the resort to the more disagreeable expedient of su- same position with respect to the office as I perseding you by a successor.
occupied previous to your appointment, by reAs stated in your letter, the nomination of turning it to me in time to anticipate such action Governor Cox, of Ohio, for the office of Secre- by the Senate. This you admitted. tary of War was suggested to me. His appoint- Second. I then asked you if, at our conference ment, as Mr. Stanton's successor, was urged in on the preceding Saturday, I had not, to avoid your name, and it was said that his selection misunderstanding, requested you to state what would save further embarrassment. I did not you intended to do, and further, if, in reply to think that in the selection of a cabinet officer Ithat inquiry, you had not referred to our former should be trammelled by such considerations. I conversations, saying that from them I underwas prepared to take the responsibility of de- stood your position, and that your action would ciding the question in accordance with my ideas be consistent with the understanding which hsild of constitutional duty, and, having determined been reached. To these questions you also }uje upon a course which I deemed right and proper, I plied in the affirmative. was anxious to learn the steps you would take Third. I next asked if, at the conclusion of should the possession of the War Department our interview on Saturday it was not understoid be demanded by Mr. Stanton. Had your action that we were to have another conference va been in conformity to the understanding be- Monday, before final action by the Senate :3 tween us, I do not believe that the embarrass- the case of Mr. Stanton. You replied that ment would have attained its present propor- that such was the understanding, but that you tions, or that the probability of its repetition did not suppose the Senate would act so soon; would have been so great.
that on Monday you had been engaged in a I know that, with a view to an early termina conference with General Sherman, and were tion of a state of affairs 80 detrimental to the occupied with “many little matters," and asked public interests, you voluntarily offered, both on if General Sherman had not called on that day. Wednesday, the 15th instant, and on the suc- What relevancy General Sherman's visit to me ceeding Sunday, to call upon Mr. Stanton, and on Monday had with the purpose for which you urge upon him that the good of the service were then to have called, I am at a loss to perrequired his resignation. I confess that I conceive, as he certainly did not inform me whether sidered your proposal as a sort of reparation for you had determined to retain possession of the the failure, on your part, to act in accordance office, or to afford me an opportunity to appoint a successor in advance of any attempted rein-1 You know that we parted on Saturday, the statement of Mr. Stanton.
| 11th ultimo, without any promise on my part, This account of what passed between us at either express or implied, to the effect that I the cabinet meeting on the 14th instant widely would hold on to the office of Secretary of War differs from that contained in your communica- ad interim against the action of the Senate, or, tion, for it shows that instead of having "stated declining to do so myself, would surrender it to our conversations as given in the letter," which you before such action was had, or that I would has made this reply necessary, you admitted see you again at any fixed time on the subject. that my recital of them was entirely accurate. The performance of the promises alleged by Sincerely anxious, however, to be correct in my you to have been made by me would have iDstatements, I have to-day read this narration of volved a resistance to law, and an inconsistency what occurred on the 14th instant to the mem- with the whole history of my connection with bers of the cabinet who were then present. the suspension of Mr. Stanton. They, without exception, agree in its accuracy. From our conversations, and my written pro
It is only necessary to add that on Wednesday test of August 1, 1867, against the removal of Mr. morning, the 15th instant, you called on me, in Stanton, you must have known that my greatest company with Lieutenant General Sherman. objection to his removal or suspension was the After some preliminary conversation, you re- fear that some one would be appointed in his marked that an articla in the National Intelli- stead who would, by opposition to the laws re. gencer of that date did you much injustice. Ilating to the restoration of the southern States replied that I had not read the Intelligencer of to their proper relations to the government, emthat morning. You then first told me that it barrass the army in the performance of duties was your intention to urge Mr. Stanton to resign especially imposed upon it by these laws; and his office.
it was to prevent such an appointment that I After you had withdrawn, I carefully read the accepted the office of Secretary of War ad inarticle of which you had spoken, and found that terim, and not for the purpose of enabling you its statements of the understanding between us to get rid of Mr. Stanton by my withholding it were substantially correct. On the 17th, I from him in opposition to law, or not doing so caused it to be read to four of the five members myself, surrendering it to one who would, as of the cabinet who were present at our confer- the statement and assumptions in your commuence on the 14th, and they concurred in the nication plainly indicate was sought. And it general accuracy of its statements respecting was to avoid the same danger, as well as to reour conversation upon that occasion.
lieve you from this personal embarrassment in In reply to your communication, I have which Mr. Stanton's reinstatement would place deemed it proper, in order to prevent further you, that I urged the appointment of Governor misunderstanding, to make this simple recital of Cox, believing that it would be agreeable to facts. Very respectfully, yours,
you and also to Mr. Stanton-satisfied as I was
that it was the good of the country, and not the General U. S. GRANT. ANDREW JOHNSON,
office, the latter desired. Commanding U. S. Armies.
On the 15th ultimo, in presence of General Sher
man, I stated to you that I thought Mr. Stanton No. 6.-GENERAL GRANT TO THE PRESIDENT.
would resign, but did not say that I would adHEADQʼRS ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES, vise him to do so. On the 18th I did agree with
WASHINGTON, February 3, 1868. General Sherman to go and advise him to that SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the course, would on the 19th I had an interview alone receipt of your communication of the 31st ultimo, with Mr. Stanton, which led me to the conclusion in answer to mine of the 28th ultimo. After a that any advice to him of the kind would be usecareful reading and comparison of it with the less, and I so informed General Sherman. article in the National Intelligencer of the 15th Before I consented to advise Mr. Stanton to ultimo, and the article over the initials J. B. S., resign, I understood from him, in a conversation in the New York World of the 27th ultimo, on the subject immediately after his reinstatepurporting to be based upon your statement and ment, that it was his opinion that the act of that of the members of your cabinet therein Congress, entitled “ An act temporarily to supnamed, I find it to be but a reiteration, only ply vacancies in the executive departments in somewhat more in detail, of the "many and certain cases," approved February 20, 1863, was gross misrepresentations” contained in these repealed by subsequent legislation, which maarticles, and which my statement of the facts set terially influenced my action. Previous to this forth in my letter of 28th ultimo was intended time I had had no doubt that the law of 1863 to correct; and I here reassert the correctness of was still in force, and notwithstanding my my statements in that letter, anything in yours action, a fuller examination of the law leaves a in reply to it to the contrary notwithstanding question in my mind whether it is or is not re
I confess my surprise that the cabinet officers pealed. This being the case, I could not now referred to should so greatly misapprehend the advise his resignation, lest the same danger I facts in the matter of admissions alleged to have apprehended on his first removal might follow. been made by me at the cabinet meeting of the "The course you would have it understood I 14th ultimo as to suffer their names to be made agreed to pursue was in violation of law, and the basis of the charges in the newspaper article without orders from you; while the course I did referred to, or agree in the accuracy, as you pursue, and which I never doubted you ially affirm they do, of your account of what occurred understood, was in accordance with law, and at that meeting.
I not in disobedience of any orders of my superior.
And now, Mr. President, when my honor a 8 and I leave the proof without a word of com& soldier and integrity as a man have been so ment. violently assailed, pardon me for saying that I deem it proper, before concluding this comI can but regard this whole matter, from the be-munication, to notice some of the statements ginning to the end, as an attempt to involve me contained in your ietter. in the resistance of law, for which you hesitated You say that a performance of the promises to assume the responsibility in orders, and thus alleged to have been made by you to the Presito destroy my character before the country. Ident “would have involved a resistance to law, am in a measure confirmed in this conclusion by and an inconsistency with the whole history of your recent orders directing me to disobey orders my connection with the suspension of Mr. Stanfrom the Secretary of War-my superior and ton.” You then state that you had fears the your subordinate without having counter- President would, on the removal of Mr. Stanton, manded his authority to issue the orders I am appoint some one in his place who would emto disobey.
barrass the army in carrying out the reconstrucWith the assurance, Mr. President, that no- tion acts, and add:
" It was to prevent such an appointment that I accepted the office of Secretary of War ad interim, and not for the
purpose of enabling you to get rid of Mr. Stanton, by my correspondence on my part,
withholding it from him in opposition to law, or not doing I have the honor to be, very respectfully, so myself, surrendering it to one who would, as the stateyour obedient servant, U. S. GRANT, ments and assumptions in your communication plainly in
dicate was sought.” His Excellency A. JOHNSON,
First of all, you here admit that from the very President of the United States.
beginning of what you term “the whole history"
of your connection with Mr. Stanton's suspenNo. 7.-THE PRESIDENT TO GENERAL GRANT.
sion, you intended to circumvent the President.
It was to carry out that intent that you accepted EXECUTIVE MANSION,
the appointment. This was in your mind at the
February 10, 1868. GENERAL: The extraordinary character of:
time of your acceptance. It was not, then, in
obedience to the order of your superior, as has your letter of the 3d instant would seem to pre
eem to pre- heretofore been supposed, that you assumed the clude any reply on my part ; but the manner anties of the office. You knew it was the Prein which publicity has been given to the correspondence of which that letter forms a part, and
sident's purpose to prevent Mr. Stanton from re
suming the office of Secretary of War, and you the grave questions which are involved, induce
intended to defeat that purpose. You accepted me to take this mode of giving, as a proper se
the office, not in the interest of the President, quel to the communications which have passed
but of Mr. Stanton. If this purpose, so enterbetween us, the statements of the five members of the cabinet who were present on the occasion
tained by you, had been confined to yourself
if, when accepting the office, you had done so of our conversation on the 14th ultimo. Copies
oples with a mental reservation to frustrate the Presi. of the letters, which they have addressed to me
dent-it would have been a tacit deception. In upon the subject, are accordingly berewith en
the ethics of some persons such a course is allow
able. But you cannot .stand even upon that You speak of my letter of the 31st ultimo as
do questionable ground. The "history" of your a reiteration of the "many and gross misrepre
connection with this transaction, as written by sentations” contained in certain newspaper
or yourself, places you in a different predicament, articles, and reassert the correctness of the state
and shows that you not only concealed your de. ments contained in your communication of the
sign from the President, but induced him to 28th ultimo, adding-and here I give your own
suppose that you would carry out his purpose to words—"anything in yours in reply to it to the
keep Mr. Stanton out of office, by retaining it contrary notwithstanding."
yourself after an attempted restoration by the When a controversy upon matters of fact
Senate, so as to require Mr. Stanton to establish reaches the point to which this has been brought,
his right by judicial decision. further aseertion or denial between the immedi
I now give that part of this “history," as ate parties should cease, especially where, upon either side, it loses the character of the respectful
written by yourself in your letter of the 28th ult.: discussion which is required by the relations in
11 “Sometime after I assumed the duties of Secretary of
War ad interim, the President asked me my views as to the · which the parties stand to each other, and de- 1 course Mr. Stanton wonld have
courgo Mr. Stanton wonld have to pursue, in case the Senato
should not concur in his suspension, to obtain possession of if there is nothing to rely upon but the opposing
his office. My reply was, in substance, that Mr. Stanton wonld have to appeal to the courts to reinstate him, illus
trating my position by citing the ground I had taken in the those statements alone, and from whatever in case of the Baltimore police commissioners." trinsic probabilities they afford in favor of or Now, at that time, as you admit in your letter against either of the parties. I should not of the 3d instant, you held the office for the shrink from this test in this controversy, but, very object of defeating an appeal to the courts. fortunately, it is not left to this test alone. There In that letter you say that in accepting the were five cabinet officers present at the conver- office one motive was to prevent the President sation, the detail of which, in my letter of the from appointing some other person who would 28th ultimo, you allow yourself to say, contains retain possession, and thus make judicial pro"many and gross misrepresentations." These ceedings necessary. You knew the President gentlemen heard that conversation and have was unwilling to trust the office with any one read my statement. They speak for themselves, I who would not, by holding it, compel Mr. Stau.