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CONGRESS IMPEACHES THE PRESIDENT.
they were called, used the ignorant“ freedmen
as tools to carry out their own selfish purposes. The result was that the negro legislators, under the direction of the “Carpet-Baggers," plundered and, for the time, well-nigh ruined the states that had the · misfortune to be subject to their rule.
After a time the white population throughout the South resolved that they would no longer endure this state of things. Partly by peaceable and partly by violent means they succeeded in getting the political power into their own hands, and the reign of the “Carpet-Bagger” and the negro came to an end.
363. Congress impeaches the President; Proclamation of Full and Unconditional Pardon; the Fifteenth Amendment.
Meanwhile the quarrel between Congress and the President was constantly growing more and more serious. The President was not only determined to have his own way, but also to remove from office those who did not agree with him. Congress now passed a law? forbidding him to dismiss even the members of his own cabinet or private council without the consent of the Senate.
The President denied the power of Congress to make such a law, and he removed Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, who had been appointed by President Lincoln. For this refusal to obey the law Congress now (February 25, 1868) proceeded to impeach the President. On his trial thirty-five senators voted “ guilty” and nineteen “not guilty"; as this was less than the two-thirds vote required to convict him, President Johnson was therefore acquitted. One more vote against him would have removed him from the presidency.
1 In 1868 the total debt of South Carolina was about $5,000,000. Under four years of“ Carpet-Bag " government, or rather misgovernment, the debt was increased to no less than $30,000,000. Much of the debt represented simply what was stolen from the people of the state.
2 The Tenure of Office Act (repealed 1887).
8 Impeach the President: to bring him to trial. The House of Representatives makes the charges and the Senate tries the case — the Chief Justice presiding. See the Constitution, pages viii. and xiii. As only part of the Southern states had been re-admitted, the number of senators was then but 54.
On the Christmas following (1868) the President issued a proclamation of full and unconditional pardon to all persons, without exception, who had taken part in the war against the Union.
Early in the year following (1869) Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment (passed 1865) made the negro free, the Fourteenth Amendment made him a citizen, the Fifteenth finished the work and made him a voter. All these great changes had taken place within the short space of four years !
364. The Atlantic Cable. But these political events were not the only ones in which the country was interested. It will be
remembered that Professor
Cyrus Field of New York
bottom of the Atlantic, between Great Britain and the United States. The company lost several millions in attempting to do this, though they succeeded in laying a cable in 1858 by which messages were sent for a few weeks. Not to be discouraged, Mr. Field formed a new company, and raised more money for the work. In the summer of 1866 the steamship Great Eastern laid a new cable between Valentia Bay, Ireland, and the port of Heart's Content, Newfoundland, thence connecting with the United States. On Friday, July 27, 1866, instantaneous communication beneath the ocean was established between the Old World and the New. This communi
The Atlantic Cable.
THE PURCHASE OF ALASKA.
cation has never since been interrupted. Every important event which occurs in Europe is now known here as soon as it is there. News which appears in the London morning papers, and which is read at the English breakfast-tables, is read also at ours on the same day throughout the length and breadth of the United States.
365. The Purchase of Alaska; Payment of the National Debt. — The next year our government purchased from Russia the territory of Alaska, embracing about 550,000 square miles. We paid a little over $7,000,000,or about what we spent in less than four days in carrying on the last year of the war. This addition to our territory raises the total area of the United States to about 3,600,000 square miles, or nearly equal to that of all the countries of Europe united.
Alaska includes the islands of the Aleutian Archipelago, which extend a very long way westward. This makes San Francisco the city nearest the centre east and west — of the United States; the distance from that city to the eastern coast of Maine being about 3500 miles, and to Attoo, the farthest of the Aleutian islands, over 3000 miles.
Secretary Seward persuaded Congress to make this purchase, in order to extend our power on the Pacific coast. Many Congressmen thought it was a waste of money, and one called Alaska “the refrigerator of the United States.” But it promises to become a very profitable "refrigerator." Its furs, forests, and fish are constantly increasing in value, some gold is found there, and the trade in seal-skins alone now amounts to over $2,000,000 a year.*
Besides buying this new territory the national government began as soon as the war was over to pay off the great war debt, amounting to nearly $3,000,000,000,- a sum so enormous that in the
1 Several additional cables have since been laid.
$7,200,000. 8 The average daily expenses of the war 1864-1865 were over $2,000,000, and for a time some estimates make them $3,500,000.
4 See Ballou's “New Eldorado” (Alaska).
5 The actual debt was $2,750,000,000. This was independent of the state debts, which were very heavy.