| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
JOHNSON—HOW THE PRESIDENT WAS IMPEACHED
 THE Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, now became President. Like
Lincoln, he came of very poor people. He taught himself how to
read, but could not write until after his marriage, when his wife
taught him. In many ways he thought as Lincoln did, but he had none
of Lincoln's wonderful tact in dealing with men, he could not win
men's love as Lincoln had done.
"I tell you," said a Confederate soldier, speaking of Lincoln,
"he had the most magnificient face and eyes that I have ever gazed
into. If he had walked up and down the Confederate line of battle
there would have been no battle. I was his, body and soul, from
the time I felt the pressure of his fingers."
The Southerners would have found a friend in Lincoln, but now that
friend was lost to them. Had he lived much of the bitterness of
the time after the war would never have been.
President Johnson had a very hard task before him. He had "to bind
up the nation's wounds" and re-unite the North and South. But he
had neither the tact nor the strength needed for this great task.
At first it was thought he would be too hard on the South. Then it
was thought he would be too lenient, and soon he was at loggerheads
For the South, this time was a time of bitterness. The Confederate
States were divided into five districts, each
 district being ruled
over by an officer with an army of soldiers under him. From the
men who had led the rebellion, all power of voting was taken away,
while at the same time it was given to negroes.
The negroes were very ignorant. They had no knowledge of how to
use their votes. So a swarm of greedy adventurers from the North
swooped down upon the South, cajoled the negroes into voting for
them, and soon had the government of these states under their control.
These men were called Carpet-baggers. For it was said they packed
all their belongings into a carpet bag. They had no possessions,
no interests in the South. They came not to help the South, but to
make money out of it, and under their rule, the condition of the
Southern States became truly pitiful.
But at length this wretched time passed. The troops were withdrawn,
the carpet-baggers followed, and the government once more came into
the hands of better men.
Meanwhile bitterness had increased between the President and Congress.
And now in 1867 Congress brought a bill to lessen the President's
power. This was called the Tenure of Office Bill. By it, the President
was forbidden to dismiss any holder of a civil office without the
consent of the Senate. The command of the army was also taken from
him, and he was only allowed to give orders to the soldiers through
The President of course vetoed this bill. But Congress passed it
in spite of his veto. This can be done if two-thirds of the Members
of the House and the Senate vote for a bill. So the Tenure of Office
Bill became law.
Now the President has grown to dislike Stanton, the Secretary
of War. he disliked him so heartily indeed that he would no longer
speak to him, and so he determined in spite of the Tenure of Office
Bill to get rid of a man he looked upon as an enemy.
 So Stanton
was dismissed. But Stanton refused to go. And when his successor,
General Thomas, appointed by the President, walked into the War
office, he found Stanton still in possession, with his friends
"I claim the office of Secretary of War, and demand it by order of
the President," said Thomas.
"I deny your authority, and order you back to your own office,"
"I will stand here," said Thomas. "I want no unpleasantness in the
presence of these gentlemen."
"You can stand there, if you please, but you can not act as Secretary
of War. I am Secretary of War, and I order you out of this office,
and to your own," cried Stanton.
"I will not obey you, but will stand here and remain here," insisted
In spite of his insistence, however, he was at last got rid of.
But it was impossible that things should go on in this fashion.
The Senate was angry because its authority had been set at nought,
but it could do little but express its wrath. Then the House took
the matter in hand. And for the first and only time in the history
of the United States the President was impeached before the Senate,
"for high crimes and misdemeanors in office."
But Andrew Johnson did not care. The House sat in judgment on him,
but he never appeared before it. He knew the impeachment was only
a makebelieve on the part of his enemies to try and get rid of him.
So he chose lawyers to defend him, but never appeared in court
For ten days the trial lasted. The excitement throughout the country
was intense, and on the last day when the verdict was given the
court was packed from floor to ceiling, and great crowds, unable
to get inside, waited without.
In tense silence each Senator rose and gave his verdict
or "not guilty". And when the votes were counted it was found that
the President was declared not guilty. There were forty-eight Senators,
and to convict the President it was necessary that two-thirds
should declare him guilty. Thirty-five said guilty, and nineteen
not guilty. Thus he was saved by just one vote.
Stanton then quietly gave up the post to which he had clung so
persistently. Another man took his place, and the President remained
henceforth undisturbed until the end of his term.
During Johnson's Presidency another state was admitted to the
Union. This was Nebraska. It was formed out of part of the Louisiana
Purchase, the name being an Indian one meaning "shallow water."
It had been formed into a territory at the time of the famous
Kansas-Nebraska Bill, and now in March, 1867, it was admitted to
the Union as the 37th State.
This year too, the territory of Alaska was added to the United States.
Alaska belonged to Russia by right of Vitus Bering's discovery. It
was from this Vitus Bering that the Bering Strait and Bering Sea
take their names. The Russians did very little with Alaska, and
after a hundred years or more they decided that they did not want
it, for it was separated from the rest of the Empire by a stormy
sea, and in time of war would be difficult to protect. So they
offered to sell it to the United States. But nothing came of it
then, and for some years the matter dropped, for the war came and
blotted out all thoughts of Alaska.
But now peace had come, and the subject was taken up again, and at
length the matter was settled. Russia received seven million two
hundred thousand dollars, and Alaska became a territory of the
A party of American soldiers was landed at the town of Sitka. They
marched to the governor's house, and there
 were drawn up beside
the Russian troops. Then the Russian Commander ordered the Russian
flag to be hauled down, and made a short speech. Thereupon the
soldiers of both countries fired a salute. The American flag was
run up, and the ceremony was at an end.
Thus another huge territory was added to the United States. But at
first many people were displeased at the purchase. It was a useless
and barren country, they thought, where the winters were so long
and cold that it was quite unfit for a dwellingplace for white
men. But soon it was found that the whale and seal fisheries were
very valuable, and later gold was discovered. It has also been found
to be rich in other minerals, especially coal, and in timber, and
altogether has proven a useful addition to the country.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics