WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 1868
The apparent subsidence of the Johnson - Grant controversy is mainly attributable to the late renewed effort on the part of Stevens and Boutwell to revive the impeachment project, and not to any abatement of interest in the matter of the parties contestant, or of those who have identified themselves with it. The sudden demise of the bantling in the hands of its nurses, despite their augmented efforts to keep it alive, leaves the President in a stronger position than he was before, inasmuch as the whole ground of impeachment, as stated in the report of the committee, was based upon the correspondence, and for whose participation in it the President is charged by Thaddeus Stevens as being guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors."
The subsidence of interest was therefore temporary, and, as General Grant is identified with the effort to impeach, not only by his testimony before the committee, but by the asseverations of Stevens since its failure, who flatly avows that this result is, in part, attributable to him, we may look for a continuance of the conflict without any abatement of acrimonious feeling. Nothing is more apparent at this point of observation than that the controversy has developed facts that will enter conspicuously into the coming contest. There are many incidents connected with the difficulty that have been wisely kept out of the official correspondence, and as they are to have an especial bearing upon the popular bias, they will hereafter work out and command the attention of politicians no less than those which have preceded them.
If General Sherman had been called to testify before the Impeachment Committee it may well be doubted whether he would have corroborated the testimony of General Grant. However this may be, it is susceptible of proof that Grant and Sherman were in harmony in reference to the purpose of inducing Stanton to resign; that the latter sympathized with the President as to the injustice of forcing Stanton back into the Cabinet, and in his purpose to avoid such a result, and that he wrote to the President, referring to such ulterior plans as were contemplated at the time by the President, Grant, and Sherman.
Whatever may be inferred elsewhere, nothing is more certain than that Senators and Representatives are divided in sentiment as to the availability of Grant. It is asserted positively, through a radical medium, upon radical authority, that Washburne is the author of the Grant letters. This is more or less credited among members, and the effect is necessarily disparaging. Another phase of the case, traceable to the same source, is that the spasmodic effort to place Grant in a conspicuous attitude at this time was essential to the double purpose of effecting a positive separation from the President and exerting a saving influence in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Should there be a failure in the last stated object the effect cannot be doubted.
It is obvious also to many, as they confidentially affirm, that notwithstanding the military fame and popularity of General Grant, the rank and file are sending up protestations against his course in reference to the Stanton matter, involving a question of his integrity which a soldier cannot tolerate in a chieftain. With such men as Butler and other officers who have grievances to redress, this spirit of insubordination, to whatever extent it may be prevalent among the masses, is favored and encouraged.
The reports of Congressional proceedings yesterday disclose a simultaneous "roaring" in the Senate and House lobbies. Senator Sumner and Representative Dawes each heard "a lion in the lobby roar."
Sumner's lion was senator elect Thomas, of Maryland, who is as mild and gentlemanly as a lion could be expected to be when muzzled, kept in suspense and obliged to read the daily speeches, denouncing him for having supplied the means of sustenance to his son. It would doubtless give him great pleasure to roar at his persecutors, in a constitutional and legitimate way, but the chances for his enjoyment of such a privilege are somewhat diminished.
Mr. Dawes' lion, whose ancestral name is Brown, will be effectually disposed of by the admission of his contestant, Smith, who received some twelve hundred tokens of the confidence of the enfranchised freedmen of Kentucky against the thousands cast for Brown. Our courageous statesmen are in no more danger of being devoured by lions than was their forerunner in the wild beast line; but the world at large will notice a singular contrast in the interposing power of protection.
The admission of Alabama by the passage of Senator Sherman's bill is apparently certain. The petition presented by Senator Doolittle, from citizens of Alabama, praying for any amount of military rule, in preference to the establishment of a negro government, will have not the slightest weight in obviating this result. If Alabama is thus admitted by special enactment, in contravention of all the reconstruction laws passed by Congress during the past two years, we can scarcely doubt that the radicals will resort to this summary method of placing all the ten Southern States in a condition to be useful in carrying the Presidential election. It is a bold movement, and one that would seem to require more deliberation than will be bestowed upon it. The democrats are quite complacent with the prospect, and seem to covet the advantage they anticipate it will give them in making up the record for the grand contest.
The case of Mrs. Kate Brown, the lady of color who complains of having been rudely treated by the conductor of the Alexandria train, on Sunday last, has monopolized a great deal of the time of the Senate this week. Mr. Sumner presented it for investigation on Monday; it came up again on Tuesday, and on Wednesday it was the subject of a protracted discussion. Mrs. Kate has charge of one of the retiring rooms of the Senate; her duties are light and pleasant, and her pay ample. She is rather a stylish looking female, dresses becomingly and has so little African blood as scarcely to tinge her complexion. She is married, but not practically. Hers is the old story of incompatibility and separation by mutual consent. For the rude treatment she received and the degradation of being placed in the car for colored people she claims damages equivalent to her mental and physical suffering; and Mr. Sumner proposes to apply his all-healing balm of Senatorial protection and redress. On Wednesday the discussion took a wide range, and resulted in bringing Mr. Sumner to task for delay, as the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, in extending relief and protection to citizens of the United States under arrest and conviction in Great Britain. There were strong intimations that the chairman of the committee and the Secretary of State were practising circumlocution. The result determined nothing in favor of our suffering fellow citizens abroad but the resolution of inquiry into the case of the Senate's employé was adopted, and the Alexandria Railway Company will doubtless wisely proffer liberal damages by way of settlement rather than have their organization reconstructed to correspond with the loyal ideas of the majority of the Senate. Thus Madame Brown's grievances will be promptly redressed, while American citizens under arrest in England are menaced by death and the dungeon. Should they live to return to this free and happy land they will realize the advantages of belonging to that favored race of which the Senate's employé is an attractive representative.
The gay season at Washington is at the flood tide. In addition to the numerous levees of the past week we have had the magnificent entertainment given by Senator Chandler in honor of his daughter's entrée into society, a large and attractive party given by Secretary McCulloch, and the commencement of the State dinners at the Executive Mansion.
The President's weekly levees are numerously attended by strangers and citizens, but the proportion of Congressmen and military officials is small. The appearance of Chief Justice Chase on these occasions is quite regular and is approvingly commented upon by the more liberal class of politicians. The Chief Justice and General Grant will stand upon ceremony, avoiding all interchange of social civilities. With the Lenten season all festivities will cease, and its near approach is the provocation for excessive enjoyment.