The impeachment of Senator Blount
For the first time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives exercises its constitutional power of impeachment and votes to charge Senator William Blount of Tennessee with “a high misdemeanor, entirely inconsistent with his public duty and trust as a Senator.”
In 1790, President George Washington appointed Blount, who had fought in the American Revolution, as governor of the “Territory South of the River Ohio,” now known as Tennessee. Although he was a successful territorial governor, personal financial problems led him to enter into a conspiracy with British officers to enlist frontiersmen and Cherokee Indians to assist the British in conquering parts of Spanish Florida and Louisiana. Before the conspiracy was uncovered, Blount presided over the Tennessee Constitutional Convention and in 1796 became the state’s first U.S. senator.
The plot was revealed in 1797, and on July 7 the House of Representatives voted to impeach Senator Blount. The next day, the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to expel him from its ranks. On December 17, 1798, the Senate exercised its “sole power to try all impeachments,” as granted by the Constitution, and initiated a Senate trial against Blount. As vice president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was president of the Senate and thus presided over the impeachment trial proceedings. After two months, Jefferson and the Senate decided to dismiss the charges against Blount, determining that the Senate had no jurisdiction over its own members beyond its constitutional right to expel members by a two-thirds majority vote. By the time of the dismissal, Blount had already been elected as a senator to the Tennessee state legislature, where he was appointed speaker. The constitutional conundrum of conducting a trial of an impeached senator has not yet been resolved.
“The impeachment of Senator Blount.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 02:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5157.
1754 – Kings College opened in New York City. It was renamed Columbia College 30 years later.
1862 – The first railroad post office was tested on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in Missouri.
1917 – Aleksandr Kerensky formed a provisional government in Russia.
1930 – Construction began on Boulder Dam, later Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River.
1937 – Japanese forces invaded China.
2005 – In London, at least 66 people were killed and at least 700 were injured when several bombs were set off in subway cars and double-decker buses.
Mary Surratt is first woman executed by U.S. federal government
Mary Surratt is executed by the U.S. government for her role as a conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
Surratt, who owned a tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton), Maryland, had to convert her row house in Washington, D.C., into a boardinghouse as a result of financial difficulties. Located a few blocks from Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was murdered, this house served as the place where a group of Confederate supporters, including John Wilkes Booth, conspired to assassinate the president. It was Surratt’s association with Booth that ultimately led to her conviction, though debate continues as to the extent of her involvement and whether it really warranted so harsh a sentence.
“Mary Surratt is first woman executed by U.S. federal government.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 03:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1059.
Himmler decides to begin medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners
On this day in 1942, Heinrich Himmler, in league with three others, including a physician, decides to begin experimenting on women in the Auschwitz concentration camps and to investigate extending this experimentation on males.
“Himmler decides to begin medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 03:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6512.
Samantha Smith leaves for visit to the USSR
Samantha Smith, an 11-year-old American girl, begins a two-week visit to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. Some American observers believed that Smith was merely being used by the Soviets for their own propaganda purposes, while others saw her visit as a positive step toward improving U.S.-Russian relations.
“Samantha Smith leaves for visit to the USSR.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 02:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2721.