A bewildered Thomas informed Johnson of this conversation. The President must have been flabbergasted. He ordered Thomas to return to the War Office and begin issuing orders. Thomas tried that, but discovered he could no longer get in. Stanton had locked the doors.
What saved the nation this disaster was that Washington, D.C. (above) was, has always been, and remains to this day, a small southern town filled with gossips. Stanton heard Thomas’ boast almost as soon as he had uttered it, and at 2 o’clock in the morning as the White House Party was just breaking up, Stanton was awakening a federal judge to sign an arrest warrent. At eight the next morning, as Thomas was just setting down to eat breakfast, he was arrested and charged with violating the Tenure of Office Act, which Congress had passed to prevent Johnson from firing Stanton without Congressional approval. There was no coup d’tetat because at nine a.m. General Thomas was in court.
Edwin Stanton was nominated to the Supreme Court by the next President, U. S. Grant. But the merucrial clerk died four days after being confirmed by the Senate, Christmas Eve, 1869. It was so unlike him to sneak out of town before the his chance at a really grand performance.
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