Charles Sumner to Francis Lieber [May 2, 1868]


 [page one-document]

    Senate Chamber


My dear Lieber,

    I take it that the

whole story in the Sun

is a quiz.1 Wade as-

sures me that he has

not spoken with a

human being about ap-

pointments & that every

story to the contrary was

an invention. He has

spoken with me on some

[page two - document]

possibilities of the future,

telling me that I was

the only person he had

spoken with on the matter.

I advised him at the

proper moment & before ta-

king any decisive step to

see Genl. Grant. The latter

is earnest for the con-

emnation of the Presdt.2

    The trial lags. Our only

remaining trouble is from

the disposition of senators

to talk after the argu-

ents are finished. My

proposition is to vote on

[page three-document]

the day after the argts.3--

    There are senators calling

themselves republicans, who are

Johnsonite in sentiments.4 At

the head of these is Fessenden,

who has opposed every

measure by which this country

has been saved. Had he

openly joined the enemy

several years ago, it would

have been better for us.

He has sown trouble in

our camp & been a con-

stant ally to the enemy.

        Ever Yours,

        Charles Sumner

Source:  Houghton Library, Harvard University.  Not to be copied, quoted, or used in any manner without written permission from the Houghton Library.

1. With his letter of April 30,1868, Lieber enclosed a clipping from the New York Sun (April 30, 1868) speculating that if Wade became president, Horace Greeley, as "head man of Mr. Wade's administration" would be named secretary of state, or "any place he is willing to accept" (Beverly Palmer, ed., Papers of Charles Sumner, 81:572).

2. According to historian William McFeeley, Grant did not speak publicly on the issue, but privately supported impeachment (Ulysses S. Grant [1981]. 275-76).

3. Lieber replied that he agreed with Sumner that "the Senators have no business to argue the case among themselves" before voting, but he feared that, given the American "craving for oratorical display," Sumnerís proposal would fail (Lieber to Sumner, May 4, 1868, Palmer, Papers of Sumner, 81:585). Sumnerís motion that the Senate proceed immediately to a vote was table on May 7 (Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2d sess., supp., 408-409).

4. Expressing some doubt that Johnson could be convicted, Lieber wrote, "A two thirds vote is a very difficult number in a novel case like this."  The New York Times of April 29, 1868, predicted that at least one or two Republican senators would vote to acquit Johnson but that Fessenden would vote for conviction on some of the charges.

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