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Fractured Into Factions? What The Founders Feared About Impeachment

As the Founding Fathers were drafting the U.S. Constitution, they were explicitly trying to avoid a repeat of the situation they had just fought a war to free themselves from — a ruler with unchecked power.

While they wrote a bare minimum about impeachment in the country's essential governing document, other writings from the time provide rich insights about their intentions.

In Federalist No. 69, Alexander Hamilton described impeachment essentially as a release valve from another "crisis of a national revolution." He and other Founders grappled with how best to execute such a check, and eventually they settled on the system we have today.

Even more than 230 years ago, they were eerily prescient in fearing how the impeachment process could play out: beset by partisanship and broken down by factions. Every impeachment proceeding so far — from Andrew Johnson to Bill Clinton and now President Trump — was split along those lines.

Why was impeachment so important to the Founders?

To understand the Founders' rationale for impeachment first requires an examination of their feelings about the presidency. Hamilton (yes, that one) actually wanted a more robust chief executive, but he did realize there needed to be some check on their power. That's why he would argue in The Federalist Papers for why impeachment should be included in the Constitution.

Read entire article at NPR