Cover image for The first impeachment : the constitution's framers and the case of Senator William Blount
The first impeachment : the constitution's framers and the case of Senator William Blount
Melton, Buckner F.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Macon, Ga. : Mercer University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiii, 344 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Maps on lining papers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF4961.B58 M45 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



William Blount (1749-1800), a land speculator and national politician, served as governor of the Southwest Territory from 1790 to 1796. In I796 he became one of Tennessee's first two United States senators. In 1796 and 1797 he became involved in a frontier plot to invade Spanish-held Louisiana and Florida, with British backing, in order to facilitate economic development in the western United States and to increase his land sales there. When the federal government discovered Blount's involvement in the conspiracy in mid-1797, the House of Representatives impeached him, the first time it ever exercised this power, and the Senate simultaneously expelled him. Impeachment proceedings continued until early 1799, when the Senate dismissed the impeachment, finding that senators are not subject to the process.

This story, told here in detail for the first time, answers many questions about the process that are currently rising once again with impeachment's post-Watergate era renaissance.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Recent events have brought the term impeachment to the fore as a means by which to police-- some would say harass-- the most powerful and symbolic American leader. As the word becomes part of the nation's daily vocabulary, it is necessary to understand how the concept of impeachment came about and where it fits into the constitutional process. Written by a lawyer and constitutional historian, this book is an appropriate work with which to begin such a study. Although built around the impeachment of William Blount, senator from Tennessee in 1796, the book's real focus is the importance of that first impeachment in structuring the process. Those interested in the process per se will be interested in the prologue and chapter 1. Those who want to know about the Blount conspiracy can begin their reading with chapter 2, as indicated in a footnote. This work is not easy to read; it is loaded with information, and those seeking to learn about the process must pay close attention. The book is well researched, heavily footnoted, and has a solid annotated bibliography. Recommended for libraries with a strong US history collection. Upper-division undergraduates and above. J. J. Fox Jr.; Salem State College