Tocqueville, Democracy In America, Appendix N


Democracy In America, Alexis de Tocqueville, 1831

Appendix N


There is no question on which the American Constitutions agree more fully than on that of political jurisdiction. All the Constitutions which take cognizance of this matter give to the House of Representatives the exclusive right of impeachment; excepting only the Constitution of North Carolina, which grants the same privilege to grand juries. (Article 23.) Almost all the Constitutions give to the Senate, or to the legislative body which occupies its place, the exclusive right of trying the impeachment and pronouncing judgment. The only punishments which the political tribunals can inflict are removal from office, and exclusion from public functions for the future. The Constitution of Virginia alone enables them to inflict any kind of punishment.

The crimes which are subject to political jurisdiction are, in the Federal Constitution (Article I, Section 4), in that of Indiana ( Art.3, paragraphs 23 and 24), of New York (Art. 5), of Delaware (Art. 5): high treason, bribery, and other high crimes or misdemeanors. In the Constitution of Massachusetts (Chap. I, Section 2), that of North Carolina (Art. 23), of Virginia (p. 252) . misconduct and maladministration. In the Constitution of New Hampshire (p. 105): corruption, intrigue, and maladministration. In Vermont (Chap. 2, Art. 24): maladministration. In South Carolina (Art. 5), Kentucky (Art. 5), Tennessee (Art. 4), Ohio (Art. 1, 23, 24), Louisiana (Art. 5), Mississippi (Art. 5), Alabama (Art. 6), Pennsylvania (Art. 4): crimes committed in the performance of official duties.

In the states of Illinois, Georgia, Maine, and Connecticut no particular offenses are specified.


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The original copyright for Alexis de Tocqueville’s, “Democracy In America,” Translated by Henry Reeve, 1899, is held in the Public Domain because its copyright has expired. Formatting of this digital copy of Democracy In America Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal. Non-commercial, educational use of individual chapters is encouraged with a live link back to the original copy at The Moral Liberal and a courtesy note to the editors.