"The Consequence," Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1865, p. 2
John Osborne, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
The death of the President devolves his office upon the Vice President.
Article two of section one of the Constitution provides that:
"In the case of the removal of the President from office, or his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President; and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly until the disability be removed or a President shall be elected."
Pursuant to this section, Andrew Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States yesterday at eleven o'clock. The acts of Congress further
provide that "in case of the removal, death, resignation of inability of both the President and Vice-President, the President of the Senate pro tempore, and in case there shall be no President of the Senate, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the time being shall act as President of the United States until the disability be removed or a President shall be elected." The act also provides in case of the death of both the President and Vice-President, for a re-election by order of the Secretary of State on the first Wednesday of December next after the vacancy.
Andrew Johnson, however, is now President. It would be vain to claim for him that deep regard and unprecedented confidence which the nation, after four years of fiery test and trial had come to place in Mr. Lincoln. But we have as many grounds to trust in and support Andrew Johnson to-day as we had four years ago to trust in Abraham Lincoln, then almost unknown as an executive officer, and then entering, all untried, upon the troubled sea of civil war. As the people stood by Mr. Lincoln, so, while sadly feeling their bereavement, they will endeavor to stand by his successor. God grant that the trial of the next four years will deepen his hold upon the people as the past four years have that of Mr. Lincoln. We can wish him no greater success.
Nor do we think the country has need to feel apprehensive of the future. Andrew Johnson is intensely hated by the Southern rebels, but we are not
aware that the President of the United States, during the past or the next four years, has any need of their good will. The chief sentiment we desire to inspire in the breast of a rebel is fear. Yesterday we were, with the late President, for lenity; he had been so often right and wise; he had so won upon our confidence that we were prepared to follow and support him in a policy of conciliatory kindness; to-day we are with the people for Justice.
Henceforth, let us treat this hell-born outbreak of slaveholding fiends as a rebellion. We ask not vengeance, but the justice which Abraham Lincoln's
clemancy would have withheld. They have slain their mediators, their best friends; now let them feel the force of righteous, retributive justice. They have been barbarous before - at Fort Pillow, at Andersonville, and at Libby Prison. The have massacred our troops after surrender, starved our prisoners, broken their paroles and fought us without exchange; they have laid plots to burn and massacre in our Northern cities; they have sunk to every depth of meanness. There is no manliness, no chivalry, no honor, in them. From the fugitive Jeff. Davis, the royal Bengal tiger of this "den of uncaged beasts," down to the meanest Copperhead whelp that yelps about "tyrant Lincoln" and the "nigger war," they are all inspired by the same accursed spirit of murderous hatred for everything that conflicts with human slavery, and for everybody who thinks the Lord Christ better than Legree. Booth, who committed this murder, is but the representative of the class which made up the American Knights, Sons of Liberty, and other similar organizations. He was no more a Southerner than most of them. Born and bred in Baltimore, living among proslavery Democrats before the war and among Copperheads since, he is just enough of a rebel to be a good sample of Copperheadism - no more, no less. All he knows of politics is "to curse the nigger and curse the Lincoln Government." This is the whole rebel and Copperhead creed. Whoever has this creed is fitted, in all except courage, to do as Booth did. He hates liberty and loves despotism. So far from hating the negro, this very class like slavery, mainly because it gives them a black mistress and black servants at each elbow. The negro enslaved they love, and will die rather than give him up. The negro free they hate, and would exteminate not only him, but every white man who believes he ought to be free. So, then, it is not the negro but his freedom that they hate; not the black man but slavery that they love. This proslavery creed is a crime against human nature - an index of depravity in the heart. Whoever entertains it is an enemy of mankind, and lacks only Booth's courage to commit his crime.
What the people will demand of Andrew Johnson is, that the rebel leaders whether South or North, receive no favor at his hands. The world is wide. Let them run if they can get away. Let them be hung if they cannot escape. But let the United States be made hot for them, as speedily as possible.
Jeff. Davis will undoubtedly attempt to revive the courage of the rebels over the assasssination of Lincoln, but they are already too badly whipped to make it of any avail. Without a seaport, without artillery, cavalry, arms or clothing, if they are not vigorously pressed up by Sherman they cannot long make even a show of resistance. We look for a short, sharp and speedy campaign in North Carolina, and we humbly trust that Davis and his Cabinet may be among the trophies.