in their reasoning on the subject of corruption, seem to set aside experience, and to consider the Americans as exempt from the common vices and frailties of human nature. It is unnecessary to particularize the numerous ways in which public bodies are accessible to corruption. The poison always finds a channel, and never wants an object. Scruples would be impertinent, arguments would be in vain, checks would be useless, if we were certain our rulers would be good men; but for the virtuous government is not instituted. Its object is to restrain and punish vice; and all free constitutions are formed with two views--to deter the governed from crime, and the governors from tyranny.
THE PROVISIONS FOR IMPEACHMENT
The Constitution provides that "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States" shall be impeachable; that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment"; and that the Senate "shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments."
Antifederalists were concerned that legislators and other officers would rarely be impeached and convicted by their congressional friends. (In 1799 the Senate ruled, in the William Blount case, that congressmen were not impeachable. See Morton Borden, The Federalism of James A. Bayard, New York, 1955, pp. 47-61). Generally, Antifederalists believed that the Senate would "tend to screen great delinquents from punishment."
The excerpts for North Carolina are from speeches delivered in its ratifying convention, to be found in Elliot, IV, 32-34, 36-37, 45-46.
( North Carolina)
Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR objected to the provision made for impeaching. He urged that there could be no security from it, as the persons accused were triable by the Senate, who were a part of the legislature themselves; that, while men were fallible, the senators were liable to errors, especially in a case where they were concerned themselves. . . .
Mr. [Timothy] BLOODWORTH wished to be informed, whether this sole power of impeachment, given to the House of Representatives, deprived the state of the power of impeaching any of its members. . . .
Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, the objection is very strong. If there be but one body to try, where are we? If any tyranny or oppression should arise, how are those who perpetrated such oppression to be tried and punished? By a tribunal consisting of the very men who assist in such tyranny. Can any tribunal be found, in any community, who will give judgment against their own actions? Is it the nature of man to decide against himself? I am obliged to the worthy member from New Hanover for assisting me with objections. None can impeach but the representatives; and the impeachments are to be determined by the senators, who are one of the branches of power which we dread under this Constitution. . . .
Mr. BLOODWORTH. . . . the words "sole power of impeachment" were
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Publication information: Book title: The Antifederalist Papers. Contributors: Morton Borden - Editor. Publisher: Michigan State University Press. Place of publication: East Lansing, MI. Publication year: 1965. Page number: 195.