current clash in Congress over whether to
"...impeach.... has extended to more than two centuries
that marked eleven previous presidential impeachment inquiries...."
Elbridge Gerry moved
for “...removable on impeachment
and conviction for malpractice or neglect of duty.”
New York’s Governor
scoffed at Gerry’s proposal
George Mason riposted,
“No point is of more importance than that of the right of
impeachment. Shall any man be above Justice…
"... would be the best way to provide...
regular punishment of the Executive..." or for honorable acquittal.
required for defending the community againsts
incapacity, negligence, or perfidy..." "He
might lose his capacity... pervert his administration into a
scheme... betray his trust to foreign powers."
Charles Pinckney drawled
impeachment would destroy his independence.
Gerry shot up.
“A good magistrate will not fear them. A bad one ought to be
kept in fear of them,”
Virginia Governor Edmund
Randolph. Guilt ought to be punished to
Morris climaxed his
with a stirring assertion: “This Magistrate is not the king! The
people are the king!”
six states voted "ay"--Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
two voted no S. Carolina/Georgia
treason with at least two witnesses needed to convict.
George Mason moved to add
maladministration quickly changed to high crimes and
misdemeanors. Eight states voted yes, two
Section 4 of Article II:
“The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the
United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for,
and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and
final approva; Patrick "Henry
stared at the old man in disbelief: “O, Sir!” he replied softly.
“We should have fine times indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it
were only sufficient to assemble the people. Did you ever read
of any revolution in any nation, brought about by the punishment
of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?” Virginia’s
convention ignored Henry’s objections but it left unanswered
Henry’s question. After 230 years, the question still awaits an
answer from Congress.