The Washington Chronicle of that date insisted that ‘the case is one well entitled to a trial before a military tribunal; the testimony before the Judiciary Committee of the House, all of it bearing directly, if not conclusively, on a certain intention to take the life of Mr. Lincoln, is a most important element in the case.’ This was reported as from the pen of Mr. John W. Forney himself, then Clerk of the Senate, and is cited by me as an expression of a general tone of the press on that occasion. Then, the House of Representatives, on the motion of Mr. Boutwell, of Massachusetts, the following day passed a resolution ‘that it was the opinion of the House that Jefferson Davis should be held in custody as a prisoner and subject to trial according to the laws of the land.’ It was adopted by a vote of 105 to 19. It is very suggestive to reflect just here that, in the intermediate time, Mr. Clement C. Clay had been discharged from imprisonment without being brought to trial on either of these charges upon which he had been arrested, and for which arrest the $100,000 reward had been paid. This failure to liberate Mr. Davis would have been very discouraging to most men; but Mr. Greeley, and those friends who were acting with him, determined to meet the issue made, promptly and sharply, and to push the Government to a trial of its prisoner, or to a withdrawal of the charge made by its Board of Military Justice. The point was soon sent home, and was felt. Mr. Greeley hastened back to New York, and The Tribune of June 12, 1866, contained, in a leader from his pen, this unmistakable demand and protest:
How and when did Davis become a prisoner of war? He was not arrested as a public enemy, but as a felon, officially charged, in the face of the civilized world, with the foulest. most execrable guilt—that of having suborned assassins to murder President Lincoln—a crime the basest and most cowardly known to mankind. It was for this that $100,000 was offered and paid for his arrest. And the proclamation of Andrew Johnson and William H. Seward offering this reward says his complicity with Wilkes Booth & Co. is established “by evidence now in the Bureau of Military Justice.” So there was no need of time to hunt it up.