Today I’m considering two passages from one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, as I draft this week’s writing prompt: Write an Unbiased Essay on Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial.
As the Founding Fathers were debating impeachment, Alexander Hamilton continually emphasized the importance of protecting the nation from a leader with demagogic tendencies, as other Founders were unsure of whether the Executive of the United States should be able to be impeached at all, let alone by whom.
“When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . despotic in his ordinary demeanour — known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.'”National Archives; Founders Online: Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration of the Government
Hamilton also argued that Congress should hold the powers of impeachment. Yet he also admitted the limitations of designating Congress with such powers, ultimately nullifying such powers due to political persuasions and factions that are ever-present within such a political body.
“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”Library of Congress; Federalist Paper No. 65
As I write my essay on Trump’s second impeachment trial this week, I continue to come back to the questions presented in yesterday’s dialogue post, and the words of Hamilton above, alongside other current members of Congress, past members of Congress, as well as other Founding Fathers, regarding the impeachment powers of Congress and the process of impeachment. And, to be honest, it seems there may not be a way to write about Trump’s second impeachment trial in an unbiased way, simply because the trial is itself a political process, a political trial with only two prominent viewpoints represented. I’m still going to attempt to do so, however.
What are your thoughts and feelings about the passages above? How will they influence your writing process as you complete this week’s writing prompt? Do you have any other helpful quotes or passages relevant to this week’s writing prompt that you’d like to share? Share with us in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Stay tuned for the draft of my essay on Trump’s second impeachment trial. It’ll be posted on the blog on Friday.
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ADDITIONAL SOURCES AND READING:
- NPR: Fractured Into Factions? What The Founders Feared About Impeachment
- Constitution Daily: What the Founders thought about impeachment and the President
- National Constitution Center; Interactive Constitution; Interpretation: Article II, Section 4
- Reuters: U.S. lawmakers’ comments on impeachment of President Donald Trump
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