The First Impeachment: The Constitution's Framers and the Case of Senator William Blount
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.