Friday, August 17, 2012


August 17, 2012


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we continue our report on Senator John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning book, "Profiles In Courage."  

JFK's book highlights the stories of eight United States Senators who risked their political careers to pursue justice.

In the introduction to the Memorial Edition, Robert Kennedy writes:

"Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired.  That is why this book so fitted his personality, his beliefs."

                     JFK Library Image

The title of Chapter VI is Edmund G. Ross.*

*Edmund G. Ross (1826-1907), born in Ashland, Ohio, became Republican senator of Kansas in 1866.

He served with distinction in the Union army during the Civil War.

Ross was the last of 7 Senate Republicans to cast a not-guilty vote in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.  Johnson was acquitted by 1 vote.

Senator Ross was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 1870.

               Senator Edmund G. Ross
                   Republican, Kansas 
               Photo by Matthew Brady 
                & Levin Corbin Handy
                   Library of Congress

JFK writes:

"In a lonely grave, forgotten & unknown, lies 'the man who saved a President,' & who as a result may well have preserved...constitutional government in the United States."

John F. Kennedy is referring to Republican Senator Edmund G. Ross of Kansas whose "not guilty" vote in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee proved decisive.

JFK tells us Ross came to the Senate in 1866 at a time when "the two branches of government were already at each other's throats."

The Radical Republicans, who had been frustrated by President Lincoln, now set their sights on his successor, the "courageous if untactful Tennessean," Andrew Johnson.

The main issue in 1868 was what plan of RECONSTRUCTION the nation should follow:  the Johnson plan or the Radical plan.

Johnson, following Lincoln's lead, would permit the states of the former Confederacy to be readmitted with relative ease.

The Radical plan, on the other hand, called for a strict reconstruction which would make the white South pay for secession.

The Radicals saw Ross as their kind of man who would support strict reconstruction & their desire to go after Johnson.

The political power struggle in 1868 between the 2 branches came to a head, JFK tells us, when Andrew Johnson asked for the immediate resignation of his Secretary of War, Edmund M. Stanton.

Johnson believed Stanton, a Lincoln appointee, to be a "tool" of the Radicals.

They had passed, early in 1867, over Johnson's veto, the TENURE OF OFFICE ACT requiring the President to get the majority consent of the Senate to remove "all new officeholders whose appointment required (Senate) confirmation."