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Senate Censures President

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Censures_Pre sident.htm March 28, 1834 Senate Censures President The Senate demanded that the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2006
      http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Senate_Censures_Pre
      sident.htm
      March 28, 1834
      Senate Censures President



      The Senate demanded that the president turn over a document. The
      president—in the second year of his second term—refused. In an
      unprecedented and never-repeated tactic, the Senate then censured the
      president on March 28, 1834.

      Two years earlier, President Andrew Jackson (pictured) had vetoed an
      act to re-charter the Bank of the United States. That veto became a
      major issue in his 1832 reelection campaign, as he decisively
      defeated Senator Henry Clay. After the election, Jackson moved to
      withdraw federal deposits from that bank.

      When the new Congress convened in December 1833, Clay's anti-
      administration coalition in the Senate held an eight-vote majority
      over Jackson's fellow Democrats. Clay then challenged Jackson on the
      bank issue with a Senate resolution seeking a paper the president had
      read to his cabinet. When Jackson refused, Clay introduced the
      censure resolution.

      After a ten-week debate, the Senate voted 26 to 20 to censure the
      president for assuming power not conferred by the Constitution.
      Jackson responded with a lengthy protest denying the validity of the
      Senate's action. In another unprecedented move, the Senate responded
      by refusing to print the president's message in its journal.

      For nearly three years, Missouri Democrat Thomas Hart Benton
      campaigned to expunge Jackson's censure resolution from the Senate
      Journal. By January 1837,having regained the majority, Senate
      Democrats voted to remove this stain from the record of an old and
      sick president just weeks from his retirement. With boisterous
      ceremony, the handwritten 1834 Journal was borne into the mobbed
      chamber and placed on the secretary's table. The secretary took up
      his pen, drew black lines around the censure text, and
      wrote "Expunged by the order of the Senate." The chamber erupted in
      Democratic jubilation and a messenger was dispatched to deliver the
      expunging pen to Jackson. Dressed in the deep black of a mourner,
      Henry Clay lamented: "The Senate is no longer a place for any decent
      man."

      Portrait of Andrew Jackson


      Reference Items:


      Peterson, Merrill D. The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and
      Calhoun. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.



      Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson and the Course of American
      Democracy, 1833-1845. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.
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