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[8]

The President was impeached because he chose to follow the Constitution rather than obey the behest of a party that derided its injunctions and spurned its authority.

The history of this country was only saved from the foulest disgrace that ever threatened a nation by the heroic moral courage of a few great spirits, who periled all-and, for a season, appeared to have lost everything — to prevent such a calamity.

It is a pleasing and grateful duty to render honor to the purity and courage of these saviours of the country, who voted down the articles of impeachment.

Do I pass the boundaries of actual legal and historic truth in defining the reconstruction of the States in 1867-8, and the enforcement of the measures and policy of this movement down to 1877, as being a state of war maintained by acts of warfare?

There was no rebellion, insurrection, or domestic violence in any of the Southern States to require the President to send armies into them.

No requisition for such forces were made either by the Governors or the Legislatures of any of these States.

The forces of the United States that remained in the Southern States were not in any way disturbed, or molested, or threatened by the States or the people. No war was made upon the Federal armies in the South.

Notwithstanding this state of entire pacification, and that there was no disputed authority as between contending claimants for power or office in any of the States, and no quarrel with the Federal Government, the States were, by military orders, grouped into military districts and placed under the command of officers of the army of the United States.

These military commandants, having no more rightful power than they have now, took command in every department of civil and military law, and ruled without responsibility over everything and everybody.

Their armies were stationed at strategic points to sustain their authority. At their own will and pleasure they removed the officers lawfully chosen in each of these States from their offices, from the highest to the lowest grades, and in every department of the several States; and in their places installed their own appointees.

The highest exercise of autocratic power never exceeded the reach of their authority. The President could not exercise over the menials of his household a more absolute and irresponsible power than those satraps (the word is the only one that is historically a true definition of the office) exerted over governors, legislatures, judges, and magistrates, and all in authority in the States.

Resistance to such authority was met only by force. No court or judicial power, not even a court-martial was required to give its judicial sanction to the order, or to aid in its execution.

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