Cassidy was a brilliant young man, and an able lawyer. That the Governor should have selected him for an important judicial position was both wise and proper. It was one of his best and most creditable appointments and was generally commended as such when it was made. The fact that he had been elected to the State Senate as a Democrat, and shortly thereafter joined the Republican party was made the basis of the charge that his change of party affiliation was the result of a corrupt bargain between the Governor and himself, for which the Governor, but not the Judge, should be impeached and removed from office. There were a few other vague and unimportant charges, but this one, as weak as it was, was the strongest of the number.
When the articles of impeachment were presented to the House, it was seen that they were so weak and so groundless that the Governor believed it would be an easy matter for him to discredit them even before an antagonistic legislature. With that end in view, he employed several of the ablest lawyers in the country to represent him. They came to Jackson and commenced the preparation of the case, but it did not take them long to find out that their case was a hopeless one. They soon found out to their entire satisfaction that it was not to be a judicial trial, but a political one and that the jury was already prepared for conviction without regard to the law, the Constitution, the evidence, or the facts. Governor Ames was to be convicted, not because he was guilty of any offense, but because he was in the way of complete Democratic control of the State Government.
Personally they had nothing against Ames. It was not the man but the office they wanted, and that they were determined to have. They knew he had committed no offense, but, as matters then stood, being a Republican was an offense which justified removal from office. To punish him otherwise, for anything he had done or failed to do, did not at any time enter into their calculations. The Governorship was the prize at stake. In this matter there was no concealment of their purposes and intentions. As soon as the Governor’s legal advisers found out what the actual situation was, they saw it was useless to continue the fight. Upon their advice, therefore, the Governor tendered his resignation, which was promptly accepted. He then left the State never to return again. If the impeachment proceedings had been instituted in good faith,—upon an honest belief that the chief executive had committed offenses which merited punishment,—the resignation would not have been accepted. The fact that it was accepted,—and that, too, without hesitation or question,—was equivalent to a confession that the purpose of the proceedings was to get possession of the office. Short work was made of the Lieutenant-Governor’s case; and State Senator John M. Stone, the Democratic President pro tem. of the State Senate, was duly sworn in and installed as the acting Governor of the State. Thus terminated a long series of questionable acts, the inauguration of which had no other purpose than to secure the ascendency of one political party over another in the administration of the government of the State.