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[404] whites, any tolerable result was impossible unless under the administration of a man who had the independence and courage to disarm such a law of its poisonous sting. However this may be, it is certain that Virginia owes her escape from the sad fate of her sister States to the action of her district commander, who has abundant reason for the belief that the good people of that State fully appreciated the fact.

With this service to the people of Virginia, my duty in that State practically terminated. The impeachment trial of President Johnson had reached its crisis. It had become evident to those who were wise enough to discern the ‘signs of the times’ that the Senate would probably not sustain the articles of impeachment by the necessary two-thirds majority. This would leave unsettled the quarrel between the President and Congress over the War Department, and that on the eve of an exciting Presidential election, in which several of the newly reconstructed States were expected to take part. In not one of these States was the new government able to stand alone or to preserve the peace within its borders. A firm and impartial administration of the War Department in the sole interest of peace and order during the coming contest was the one indispensable want of the country. Without that, a revival of civil strife seemed inevitable. Under these circumstances, I was urged to accept the office of Secretary of War, with the assurance that in this way the contest which endangered the peace of the country could be adjusted. I gave my consent, the nomination was promptly sent to the Senate, and that body, in spite of its very large majority in opposition to the President, confirmed the appointment with almost entire unanimity. The impeachment was dismissed, and that dangerous farce, which had come within one or two votes of inflicting lasting disgrace upon the country, happily came to an end.

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