Debate on Impeachment for the Executive

Davie William Richardson
William Richardson Davie, delegate from North Carolina
James Sharples Sr., 1798-1799

Independence National Historical Park

Debate on Impeachment for the Executive

"If he be not impeachable whilst in office, he will spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected…[impeachment] is an essential security for the good behaviour of the Executive."

-William Richardson Davie, as recorded in Madison's Notes on the Convention

As today's session opened, the Convention, after some maneuvering, approved the proposal to elect the Executive by 25 electors apportioned among the states.

Next on the agenda was impeachment. Today's debate centered on whether or not the executive should be subject to impeachment. Those who opposed making the executive subject to impeachment - Charles Pinckney, Gouverneur Morris, and Rufus King (MA) - argued that impeachment would lessen the executive's independence.They thought that he should not be given powers, the abuse of which would severely harm the public; and that a short term precluded the need for impeachment. Those who favored it - Davie (NC), Wilson (PA), Mason (VA), Franklin (PA), Madison (VA), Gerry (MA), Randolph (VA) - argued from a fear of power. As Madison put it, some provision must be made, "for defending the Community against the incapacity, negligence or perfidity of the chief Magistrate."

Saturday, July 21, 1787
Veto Power Discussed

HOME The 225th Anniversary of the Constitution Convention

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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