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GIDEON WELLES - TYPESCRIPT UNSIGNED - HFSID 262755

GIDEON WELLES: TESTIMONY RELEVANT TO THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF PRESIDENT JOHNSON Typescript based on Welles' original written reply to the President's Counsel Typescript, unsigned, 18 typewritten pages, 8¼x11. No place, no date.

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GIDEON WELLES: TESTIMONY RELEVANT TO THE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL OF PRESIDENT JOHNSON
Typescript based on Welles' original written reply to the President's Counsel
Typescript, unsigned, 18 typewritten pages, 8¼x11. No place, no date. Typescript of an original document written by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, addressing certain questions addressed to him by the President's Counsel in preparation for the forthcoming impeachment trial. The document reads, in very small part: "...The Counsel for the President...have addressed to me certain Questions and ask me answers in detail...Question: 1. What took place in the first Cabinet consultation upon the bill regulating the tenure of civil offices? Who were present, and what was said in relation to the bill and to such members of the Cabinet as held by Mr. Lincoln's appointment? 2. The same as to the second Cabinet consultation upon that bill? 3. Who prepared or assisted in the preparation of the veto of that bill?...On Friday, the 22nd of February, the President laid before the Cabinet two bills, one for establishing military governments over the States of the South and one respecting Tenure of Office...Mr. Seward said it was a question whether some of us, who were appointed by Mr. Lincoln, were not legislated out of office. That such action was unnecessary as far as he was concerned, for his resignation was at the disposal of the President whenever he desired it. A similar decision was made by all of the members appointed by Mr. Lincoln and I think by all the Cabinet...Of the unconstitutionality of the tenure of office bill [Mr. Stanton] said he had no doubt whatsoever, and expressed his gratification that, having differed with others of us on other questions, he concurred with us on this. Declared that no man was fit for a seat at the Board, who would intrude himself upon the President as an adviser, when he and his advice were not wanted...The veto which Messrs. Seward and Stanton prepared was submitted on Friday, the 1st of March, to the Cabinet...On Monday the 5th of August, the President informed me 'that he had this morning sent a note to Mr. Stanton requesting him to resign. It is impossible to get along with the man in such a position, and I can stand it no longer...He has...been the prolific source of difficulties...to think that then man whom I trusted was plotting and intriguing against me...'. Before the session of the Cabinet commenced the President invited me into the Library and informed me that he had a note from Mr. Stanton refusing to resign. He showed me the note, and soon after the correspondence was read to the Cabinet, all of whom were present except [Attorney General] Mr. [Henry] Stanbery and Mr. Stanton...The Tenure of Office bill was scanned and commented upon. Doubts were expressed whether under its provisions the President could remove a Cabinet officer...The next day [August 6] [the President's] present idea is to suspend Mr. Stanton and order Gen. Grant to take charge ad interim...The President assured [Grant] that Mr. Stanton must leave The War Department, and he desired [Grant] to discharge his duties...[on Dec. 12] the President submitted his communication to the Senate giving his reasons for displacing or suspending Mr. Stanton, who is not yet removed...[On Dec. 26] Quite a long discussion took place on the condition, wants and suffering of the people of the South, the unhappy condition of the affairs there, and the policy pursued towards them. Temporary relief by the Freedmen's Bureau and from the and from the public treasury was proposed. I expressed dislike of the views taken, for only temporary relief was talked of for an enduring evil. The whole fabric of civil government and social society has been upturned, overthrown and prostrated by pernicious partisan legislation and the proposition to release it by feeding the lazy and destitute negroes was an absurdity...Genl. Grant once or twice interrupted me and I could see that he did not like my remarks...[on May 23]...we had a further installment from Mr. Stanbery on the reconstruction of military government...Mr. Stanton dissented..." GIDEON WELLES (1802-1878), formerly a Jacksonian Democrat, joined the newly founded Republican Party in 1854 because of his strong opposition to slavery. He served as Secretary of the Navy throughout the Presidencies of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson (1861-1869). Welles generally supported Johnson's policies, including Johnson's reluctance to impose far-reaching changes and full rights for African-Americans during the Reconstruction of the South. Welles' testimony as transcribed here would have been potent exonerating evidence at the Impeachment trial, which began in March 1868. Welles confirms that the Cabinet as a whole - including originally Secretary of War Stanton (who later sided with the advocates of impeachment) - had advised the President that the Tenure of Office Act was unconstitutional. However, the Senate never heard Welles' testimony. When the President's Counsel tried to introduce it as evidence, the Chief Justice, presiding, ruled it admissable, but the Prosecution objected. By a 29-20 vote, the Senate voted that Welles' testimony was inadmissable. The Senate vote in May fell a single vote short (35-19) of the two-thirds majority necessary to remove President Johnson from office. An interesting typescript worthy revealing in depth the attitude of Secretary Welles and worthy of further research. Paperclip impression at top of p1. Pencil notations (unknown hand), mostly marks in the margin highlighting significant paragraphs. Otherwise, fine condition.

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