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Edmund Gibson Ross Passes Away

Today in Masonic History Edmund Gibson Ross passes away in 1907.

Edmund Gibson Ross was an American politician.

Ross was born on December 7th, 1826 in Ashland, Ohio. He attended high school in Sandusky, Ohio before getting a job in the newspaper business in Sandusky. He moved around in the newspaper business first to Wisconisn, then to Topeka Kansas.

Ross served during the American Civil War with the Eleventh Kansas Infantry. The unit eventually became mounted and Ross had horses shot out from underneath in two different skirmishes. Ross is considered a Civil War hero for his bravery in action.

In 1866, when the Senator from Kansas, James H. Lane, committed suicide, Ross was appointed to fill the vacated position. During his time in the Senate, Ross gained notariety as the deciding vote in the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. Johnson was accused of various offenses mostly centered around his violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The Act stated that the President of the United States could not remove certain office holders without approval of the Senate. The law, it is claimed, was passed to protect Edwin M. Stanton, the Secretary of War under President Abraham Lincoln. Johnson himself had vetoed the bill when it came to his desk in 1867.

During the trial, Ross decided to vote not guilty. Several theories about why Ross voted against impeachment. The theories include that Ross was looking to gain favor with Johnson, that he believed that Johnson had the right under the constitution to replace Stanton and that Ross had been bribed to vote against impeachment. Regardless of the reason that Ross voted against impeachment it was seen by many as an act of political courage, since it was sure to mean the end of his political career. This included then Senator John F. Kennedy in the book he co-authored Profiles in Courage. Ross was one of 8 Senators highlighted in Kennedy's book.

Voting against impeachment did end Ross' politcal career. He briefly returned to Kansas before heading west where he became the 13th Governor of the New Mexico Territory.

In 1896 Ross published his book History of the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Detailing his version of events.

Ross passed away on May 8th, 1907 in New Mexico.

Ross was a member of Topeka Lodge No. 17 in Topeka, Kansas.