Impeachment of a president has become a feature within the Constitution that is colored by its uses throughout history: the impeachments of Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump and the near-impeachment of Richard Nixon. While none of the impeachment proceedings resulted in conviction—and thus removal—of a president, those proceedings illustrated how Congress would deliberate over the solemn task that the Constitution assigned it. At the time the Constitution was facing ratification, it remained unclear how Congress would actually remove a president, and one author, writing under the name Luther Martin, opined in the Maryland Gazette that Congress would never remove a president—and thus far, Martin has been correct.
Following are excerpts from an anonymous article published in the New York Journal:
“To the Citizens of the State of New-York.
In my last number I endeavored to prove that the language of the article relative to the establishment of the executive of this new government was vague and inexplicit, that the great powers of the President Read more
Circulated early October 1787, published in full in the Virginia Journal (Alexandria), November 22, 1787
Following are excerpts from George Mason’s article, articulating objections to the Constitution, as submitted to the states for ratification:
“Gentlemen, At this important crisis when we are about to determine upon a government which is not to effect us for a month, for a year, or for our lives: but which, it is probable, will extend Read more
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was the culmination of the Mexican-American War and “embodied the objectives for which [President James] Polk had gone to war.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 808.
Following William Henry Harrison’s death just a month into his presidency in 1841, John Tyler rose to the presidency, in the first instance of a president dying while holding the office. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 589.
Martin Van Buren, President Andrew Jackson’s hand-picked heir, would carry out many of Jackson’s policies, such as the removal of the Native Americans westward, as he was elected in the election of 1836. President Jackson also fundamentally changed the nature of the presidency.
Following the War of 1812, President James Madison was proudly touting the status of America. It had mobilized its navy to protect trade in the Mediterranean Sea, it had reestablished commercial relations with Britain, and it had pacified the Native Americans. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 80.