(SOLVED) When Was Impeachment Established?

School is where most Americans first encounter the basic documents of the nation’s history 🤓 Many of us can quote from the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and from the speeches of national figures 🙌 Often, however, the quotations are only approximate and our knowledge, gained in childhood, may be incomplete or only half remembered. The books in this minibibliography can help refresh our knowledge with the full text of many core documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the contemporary commentary of the Federalist Papers, and the essays of Thomas Paine among them. This minibibliography also offers collections of significant speeches by well-known later leaders. [1]
Impeachment comes from British constitutional history. The process evolved from the 14th century as a way for parliament to hold the king’s ministers accountable for their public actions. Impeachment, as Alexander Hamilton of New York explained in Federalist 65, varies from civil or criminal courts in that it strictly involves the “misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Individual state constitutions had provided for impeachment for “maladministration” or “corruption” before the U.S. Constitution was written. And the founders, fearing the potential for abuse of executive power, considered impeachment so important that they have made it part of the Constitution even before they defined the contours of the presidency. (emended by Brayden Vallejo on December 1, 2021) [2]
Senate.gov goes on to explain how in impeachment proceedings, the House of Representatives charges an official of the federal government by approving, by simple majority vote, articles of impeachment. After the House of Representatives sends its articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Senate sits as a High Court of Impeachment to consider evidence, hear witnesses, and vote to acquit or convict the impeached official. A committee of representatives, called “managers,” act as prosecutors before the Senate. In the case of presidential impeachment trials, the chief justice of the United States presides. The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict, and the penalty for an impeached official upon conviction is removal from office. In some cases, the Senate has also disqualified such officials from holding public offices in the future. There is no appeal. Since 1789 about half of Senate impeachment trials have resulted in conviction and removal from office. (emended by Brooks Horvath on January 14, 2021) [3]
President Andrew Johnson became the first President of the United States to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was impeached in 1868 for dismissing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton without the approval of the Senate as required in the Tenure of Office Act and for attacking congressional policies on the Reconstruction in the South. Congressional opposition to Johnson’s policies on the Reconstruction of the southern states had been building, however, since early in his term, and in 1867 the Committee on Judiciary of the House of Representatives had conducted an investigation as a preliminary to impeaching Johnson. The attempt to impeach Johnson as a result of this investigation was unsuccessful. However, because the War Department was responsible for administering most of the policies on the Reconstruction that the Congress, overriding Johnson’s vetoes, had enacted into law, the removal of Secretary Stanton was viewed as an attack on these policies and was an additional motive for seeking Johnson’s ouster. The House of Representatives impeached Johnson on February 24, 1868, by a straight party line vote of 126 to 47. On February 27, the House of Representatives adopted eleven articles of impeachment that were then submitted to the Senate. (a massive thank you goes to Dalin Fong after pointing this out to us). [4]

Article References

  1. https://www.loc.gov/nls/braille-audio-reading-materials/lists-nls-produced-books-topic-genre/listings-on-narrow-topics-minibibliographies/the-history-of-impeachment/
  2. https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Impeachment/
  3. https://www.senate.gov/about/powers-procedures/impeachment.htm
  4. https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/Impeachment-Guide.html
Kelly-Anne Kidston

Written by Kelly-Anne Kidston

I am a writer of many words, from fiction to poetry to reviews. I am an avid reader and a lover of good books. I am currently writing my first novel and would love to find some beta readers who are interested in getting an early look.

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