Painful as it is to disagree with so many political associates and friends whose conscientious convictions have let them to a different result, I must, nevertheless, in the discharge of the high responsibility under which I act, be governed by what my reason and judgment tell me is the truth, and the justice and the law of this case. What law does this record show the President to have violated? is it the tenure of office act? I believe in the constitutionality of that act, and stand ready to punish its violators; but neither the removal of that faithful and efficient officer, Edwin M. Stanton, which I deeply regret, nor the ad interim designation of Lorenzo Thomas, were, as has been shown, forbidden by it. Is it the reconstruction acts? Whatever the facts may be, this record does not contain a particle of evidence of their violation. Is it the conspiracy act? No facts are shown to sustain such a charge, and the same may be said of the charge of a violation of the appropriation act of March 2d 1867; and these are all the laws alleged to have been violated. It is, however, charged that Andrew Johnson has violated the Constitution. The fact may be so, but where is the evidence of it to be found in this record? Others may, but I cannot find it. To convict and depose the Chief Magistrate of a great nation, when his guilt was not made palpable by the record, and for insufficient cause, would be fraught with far greater danger to the future of the country than can arise from leaving Mr. Johnson in office for the remaining months of his term, with powers curtailed and limited as they have been by recent legislation.
Once set the example of impeaching a President for what, when the excitement of the hour shall have subsided, will be regarded as insufficient causes, as several of those now alleged against the President were decided to be by the House of Representatives only a few months since, and no future President will be safe who happens to differ with a majority of the House and two thirds of the Senate on any measure deemed by them important, particularly if of a political character. Blinded by partisan zeal, with such an example before them, they will not scruple to remove out of the way any obstacle to the accomplishment of their purposes, and what then becomes of the checks and balances of the constitution, so carefully devised and so vital to its perpetuity? They are all gone. In view of the consequences likely to flow from the day's proceedings, should they result in conviction on what my judgment tells me are insufficient charges and proofs, I tremble for the future of my country. I cannot be an instrument to produce such a result; and at the hazard of the ties even of friendship and affection and affection, till calmer times shall do justice to my motives, no alternative is left me but the inflexible discharge of duty.