Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- June 23, 1866An Unauthorized and Treasonable Statement by the President (Editorial)
The President of the United States has no more to do with amending the Constitution of the United States than any common citizen. The Constitution itself specifies the only two ways in which it can be legally altered. Either Congress, by a two-thirds majority of all the members of both Houses, can propose an amendment. or the legislatures of two thirds of all the States can request Congress to call a convention for the purpose of having the convention propose an amendment. In both cases, the proposal in question is submitted to the State legislatures or to State conventions especially called for the purpose, and if three fourths of the legislatures or State conventions ratify the amendment, it is to be considered a part of the Constitutions. Not even the President's signature is necessary to give such an act validity.
In view of these constitutional provisions, it is indeed absurd and ridiculous 2for the President to inform Congress, as he did yesterday, that although his Secretary, Mr. Stewart, had sent notarized copies of the proposals to amend the Constitution to each of the Governors of the various States, still no one should infer from this fact that he, Andrew Johnson, acting President since the death of Abraham Lincoln, sanctions the amendments. It is absurd and ridiculous for this official to tell a co-ordinate branch of the Government which alone has authority to act in such matters that its procedure is unconstitutional; and it is absurd and ridiculous for Johnson constantly to repeat the old hash about the "eleven States which were not represented at one time". Congress needs neither the advice nor the instruction of President Johnson, nor does the Constitution enjoin upon him to act in such capacity. Thus his message was unauthorized.
However, it was not only unauthorized; it was also treasonable. It was an indirect attempt to incite the Rebel States of the South and their allies in the North, the Copperheads, to resistance against these amendments, to hold out a prospect 3of help and support from the executive branch of the Government, and thus to cause dissatisfaction and strife between that part of the people who side with the President and the part that sides with Congress. Viewed from this standpoint, the message of the President is a transgression of his official authority and a violation of his official duties, and Congress ought to call him to account for his misdeeds.
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