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"The chiefs of staff corps, departments, and bureaus will report to and act under the immediate orders of the General commanding the Army."1
This act of revolution, exalting the military power above the civil, showed instant fruits in an order of the General, who, upon assuming command, proceeded to place the several bureau officers of the War Department upon his military staff,2 so that for the time there was a military dictatorship with the President at its head, not merely in spirit but in actual form. By-and-by John A. Rawlins, a civilian by education and a respecter of the Constitution, became Secretary of War, and, though bound to the President by personal ties, he said, "Check to the King." By General Order, issued from the War Department March 26, 1869, and signed by the Secretary of War, the offensive order was rescinded, and it was enjoined that "all official business which by law or regulations requires the action of the President or Secretary of War will be submitted by the chiefs of staff corps, departments, and bureaus to the Secretary of War."3 Public report said that this restoration of the civil power to its rightful supremacy was not obtained without an intimation of resignation on the part of the Secretary.
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY BY DEPUTY.
KINDRED in character was the unprecedented attempt to devolve the duties of the Navy Department upon a deputy, so that orders were to be signed "A. E. Borie, Secretary of the Navy, per D. D. Porter, Admiral," as appears in the official journal of May 11, 1869, — or, 2 Ibid., No. 12. 3 Ibid., No. 28.
1 General Orders, No. 11.
according to another instance, "David D. Porter, ViceAdmiral, for the Secretary of the Navy." The obvious object of this illegal arrangement was to enable the incumbent, who stood high on the list of gift-makers, to be Secretary without being troubled with the business of the office. Notoriously he was an invalid, unused to public business, who, according to his own confession, modestly pleaded that he could not apply himself to work more than an hour a day; but the President soothed his anxieties by promising a deputy who would do the work. And thus was this great department made a plaything; but public opinion and other counsels arrested the sport. Here I mention, that, when this incumbent left his important post, it is understood that he was allowed to nominate his successor.
PRESIDENTIAL PRETENSION AT THE INDIAN BUREAU.
AT the same time occurred the effort to absorb the Indian Bureau into the War Department, changing its character as part of the civil service. Congress had already repudiated such an attempt; but the President, not disheartened by legislative failure, sought to accomplish it by manipulation and indirection. First elevating a member of his late staff to the head of the Bureau, he then, by a military order dated May 7, 1869,2 proceeded to detail for the Indian service a long list of "officers left out of their regimental organizations by the consolidation of the infantry regiments," assuming to do this by authority of the Act of Congress of June 30, 1834, which, after declaring the number of In
1 Congressional Globe, 40th Cong. 3d Sess., p. 754, Feb. 1, 1869. 2 General Orders, No. 49.
dian agents, and how they shall be appointed, provides that "it shall be competent for the President to require any military officer of the United States to execute the duties of Indian agent."1 Obviously this provision had reference to some exceptional exigency, and can be no authority for the general substitution of military officers, instead of civilians confirmed by the Senate and bound with sureties for the faithful discharge of their duties. And yet upward of sixty Army officers were in this way foisted into the Indian service. The Act of Congress of July 15, 1870, already quoted,2 creating an incompatibility between military and civil service, was aimed partly at this abuse, and these officers ceased to be Indian agents. But this attempt is another illustration
of Presidential pretension.
MILITARY INTERFERENCE AT ELECTIONS.
THEN followed military interference in elections, and the repeated use of the military in aid of the revenue law under circumstances of doubtful legality, until at last General Halleck and General Sherman protested: the former in his report of October 24, 1870, saying, "I respectfully repeat the recommendation of my last Annual Report, that military officers should not interfere in local civil difficulties, unless called out in the manner provided by law; "3 and the latter, in his Report of November 10, 1870, "I think the soldiers ought not to be expected to make individual arrests, or to do any act of violence, except in their organized capacity as a posse
1 Statutes at Large, Vol. IV. p. 736.
2 Ante, p. 135.
3 Executive Documents, 41st Cong. 3d Sess., H. of R., No. 1, Part 2, p. 37.
comitatus duly summoned by the United States marshal, and acting in his personal presence." And so this military pretension, invading civil affairs, was arrested.
PRESIDENTIAL PRETENSION AGAIN.
MEANWHILE this same Presidential usurpation, subordinating all to himself, became palpable in another form. It was said of Gustavus Adolphus, that he drilled his Diet to vote at the word of command. Such at the outset seemed to be the Presidential policy with regard to Congress. We were to vote as he desired. He did not like the Tenure-of-Office Act, and during the first month of his administration his influence was felt in both branches of Congress to secure its repeal; all of which seemed more astonishing when it was considered that he entered upon his high trust with the ostentatious avowal that all laws would be faithfully executed, whether they met his approval or not, and that he should have no policy to enforce against the will of the people.2 That beneficent statute, which he had upheld in the impeachment of President Johnson, was a limitation on the Presidential power of appointment, and he could not brook it. Here was plain interference with his great perquisite of office, and Congress must be coerced to repeal it. The House acted promptly and passed the desired bill. In the Senate there was delay and a protracted debate, during which the official journal announced: "The President, in conversation with a prominent Senator a few days since, declared that it
1 Executive Documents, 41st Cong. 3d Sess., H. of R., No. 1, Part 2, p. 4. 2 Inaugural Address, March 4, 1869: Congressional Globe, 41st Cong. 1st Sess. p. 1.
was his intention not to send in any nominations of importance until definite action was taken by Congress upon the Tenure-of-Office Bill."1
Here I venture to add, that a member of the Cabinet pressed me to withdraw my opposition to the repeal, saying that the President felt strongly upon it. I could not understand how a Republican President could consent to weaken the limitations upon the Executive, and so I said, adding, that in my judgment he should rather reach forth his hands and ask to have them tied. Better always a government of law than of men.
PRESIDENTIAL INTERFERENCE IN LOCAL POLITICS.
IN this tyrannical spirit, and in the assumption of his central imperialism, he has interfered with political questions and party movements in distant States, reaching into Missouri, and then into New York, to dictate how the people should vote, then manipulating Louisiana through a brother-in-law appointed Collector. With him a custom-house seems less a place for the collection of revenue than an engine of political influence, through which his dictatorship may be maintained.
Authentic testimony places this tyrannical abuse beyond question. New York is the scene, and Thomas Murphy, Collector, the Presidential lieutenant. Nobody doubts the intimacy between the President and the Collector, who are bound in friendship by other ties than those of seaside neighborhood. The Collector was determined to obtain the control of the Republican State Convention, and appealed to a patriot citizen for help, who replied, that in his judgment "it would be a deli
1 Daily Morning Chronicle, March 17, 1869.