VII. Impeachment

Catechism of the Constitution Book CoverThe Federalist Papers has posted a PDF copy of an Elementary Catechism on the Constitution from 1828 written by Arthur J. Stansbury. I’m publishing it on Mondays in a series of posts. Because the date of publication was 1828, some content has been changed by later Constitutional amendments. There are no sections in the book, so I’m dividing it into any natural breaks of topics and the posts will vary in length. Any emphases within the text are Stansbury’s.

VII. Impeachment

Q. Do the Senators ever sit as Judges?

A. Yes. When any civil officer of the United States (that is, not an officer of the army,) is guilty of a violation of his public duty, he is accused, or charged, by the House of Representatives, and tried by the Senate, Such an accusation is called an Impeachment.

Q. What do you mean by his being tried by the Senate?

A. The Senators take a solemn oath that they will carefully attend to the proof that shall be brought before them, and according to that proof declare the accused person innocent or guilty, as the case may be. The House of Representatives appoint some of their own Members to lay the proof before the Senate, and afterwards the accused person lays before them the proofs in his defence ; when both have been heard, the Members of the Senate vote, that is, each one declares his opinion ; and if two thirds of all the Senators who are present declare the accused person to be guilty, he is adjudged guilty ; if not, he is declared not guilty.

Q. Cannot the Senate, in like manner, impeach^ that is, solemnly charge an officer before the House of Representatives?

A. No. None can bring an impeachment but the House of Representatives, and none can try an impeachment but the Senate.

Q. What is the consequence if the Senate declare an officer of the United States to be guilty?

A. He may be turned out of office, and prevented from ever again holding any office of honor, trust, or profit, under the United States government.

Q. May he be further punished?

A. Not by the Senate. He may afterwards be tried before a Court of Law, and punished in the same manner as any other criminal for offences against the law.

In the heading under Charters of Freedom, you will find a copy of the Constitution as well as links to other pertinent primary documents and commentary on the Constitution.

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution posts:
Elementary Catechism on the Constitution (Preface)
I. The Necessity of Government and Its Forms
II. The American Revolution
III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution
IV. State and National Laws
V. The House of Representatives
VI. The Senate
Book image from The Federalist Papers. Other reading formats of the Elementary Catechism on the Constitution can be found here.


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