Part 2: The Constitution and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers

By Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Feb 06, 2020

In Part 1 a few weeks ago, I questioned whether many in our country today have a good understanding of the constitutional basis of some aspects of our government, namely the election term of representatives and senators and also the basis of the Electoral College. One of my regular critics questioned my accuracy and suggested that I should read The Federalist Papers. It just so happened that I already owned a copy of the Papers. Upon reading the pertinent sections and again the Constitution, I would stand by my previous article.

However, references are regularly made to The Federalist Papers and I wonder how many folks really understand what these writings are all about. After the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification, some of the Founding Fathers, namely Alexander Hamilton, James Madison (generally regarded as the father of the Constitution), and John Jay wrote some 85 letters urging that this Constitution be ratified by the states. The great majority of the content was very supportive of what was incorporated into the Constitution with some comments voicing a different point of view. Most of the letters were published in New York, with some being sent off to other states. These writings are regarded by historians to be accurate representations of the thinking behind what ended up being the Constitution of the United States.

As I write this the country is awaiting a vote by the Senate as to whether President Trump should be convicted of the Articles of Impeachment. This impeachment process has been highly controversial in that it has been almost entirely political in nature. The House of Representatives voted to impeach the president on two counts and it passed 100% along party lines by the Democrat-dominated House. While we await the final vote in the Senate, it is expected that the president will be acquitted and again by the dominant Republican majority with maybe one or more Democrats joining them.

What did the writers of The Federalist Papers have to say about the impeachment process?  In “Federalist 65,” Alexander Hamilton wrote the following:

“A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated Political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

The current impeachment of President Trump certainly fulfills the prediction of Hamilton. It certainly has been “dominated by Political” and is “a demonstration of the comparative strength of the parties.

Why did the Founding Fathers divide the impeachment process between the House and the Senate? Once again, Alexander Hamilton, answers the question in “Federalist 66.” He wrote the following:

“The division of them between the two branches of the legislature, assigning to one the right of accusing, to the other the right of judging, avoids the inconvenience of making the same persons both accusers and judges; and guards against the danger of persecution, from the prevalency of a factious spirit in either of those branches. As the concurrence of two thirds of the Senate will be requisite to a condemnation, the security to innocence, from this additional circumstance, will be as complete as itself can desire.”

Hamilton obviously felt that it would be dangerous for one branch of Congress to implement impeachment or for both branches combined to do so. He felt that it must be each of the two branches of Congress acting independently of each other, one as the prosecutor and the other acting as both judge and jury.  Why did Hamilton feel this way? Because, as written above, this “guards against the danger of persecution, from the prevalency of a factious spirit in either of those branches.”

President Trump’s impeachment has definitely been a result of a “factious spirit” (Democrats) in the House of Representatives and will most likely be an acquittal by a “factious spirit” (Republicans) in the Senate.

Why then would the House Democrats bother with impeachment, knowing that it faced certain failure in the Republican Senate? There is only one answer. Anything that could damage President Trump and possibly negatively influence the 2020 election would be launched. Will it end with the impeachment fiasco? I doubt it. I await the next “bombshell.”

Another View is a Maine Press Association award-winning column written by Midcoast conservative citizens/writers Jan Dolcater, Ken Frederic, Paul Ackerman, Doc Wallace and Dale Landrith Sr.


Comments (12)
Posted by: Kevin Riley | Feb 12, 2020 17:41

And now Jan/Jane Trump is giving the justice department marching orders. AG Barr is at his beck and call. Have you ever heard of the separation of powers superscribed by the Constitution?????

There no longer is separation of powers and Trump believes he can do anything with impunity.

The nation is being murdered by this administration AND YOU CAN'T SEE IT.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Feb 12, 2020 16:14


Once again Jan/June you show your utter ignorance of the Constitution and how the impeachment process works.

As Ron has eloquently pointed out he committed the two crimes that are in the articles of impeachment. Ok, let's say for argument sake the bribery charge was tenuous. The obstruction of Congress is a rock solid. He publicly obstructed Congress on multiple occasions when he ordered the executive branch to ignore subpoenas for both testimony and documentation. The is obstruction of a congressional investigation.

There is on other thing you are utterly ignorant of. Impeachment of a President or judge DOES NOT REQUIRE A CRIME. Just about every legal expert in the country has stated as such.
Back to ignoring subpoenas, what do you think would happen to you if you ignored a subpoena. You'd be in lock up.

Lastly the Senate trial itself. There have been 15 impeachments since the dawn of the republic to include the three presidents. VERY.SINGLE.ONE had whiteness, EVERY ONE
The senate violated their oath of office in presiding over that sham, show trial cover up. It wasn't a trial y any stretch of imagination.
The fascist have won in the senate as we careen down the road toward totalitarianism.

Having a totalitarian government may be fine for you, until they come for you!

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 11, 2020 15:29

The crime, Jan, was extortion of an ally and attempted bribery, compounded by the fact that trump was using our tax dollars as foreign aid to accomplish the deed, with obstruction of justice thrown in for good measure.  Witnesses and evidence would have proven that beyond a doubt.  The fact that neither was allowed merely showed that trump had much to hide, just like his tax returns and his college grades would show that he is a liar beyond all doubt.



Here, your own news source confirms it:



"Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano blasted Senate Republicans for acquitting President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial without hearing a single witness.


The former New Jersey Superior Court judge said a trial should be a search for truth, but the Fox News contributor wrote in his new column that GOP senators instead turned the impeachment into “a steamroller of political power” by blocking witness testimony.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears,” Napolitano wrote, quoting from George Orwell’s “1984.” “It was their final, most essential command.”


"He has also criminally obstructed a Department of Justice investigation of himself but escaped prosecution because of the intercession of an Attorney General more loyal to him than to the Constitution - the Constitution!" -Andrew Napolitano, FOX News judicial analyst


Posted by: JUNE DOLCATER | Feb 11, 2020 15:10

Ron and Riley


NO CRIME WAS COMMITTED !!!!   PARTISAN POLITICS AT ITS BEST  Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.  Hey guys, take a peek in the mirror.

Jan Dolcater  Rockland

Posted by: Kevin Riley | Feb 11, 2020 11:46

"This impeachment was political in nature and nothing more"

Once again showing your ignorance of the political system in America.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 10, 2020 18:44

No, Jan.  It failed because the right wing of this country has abandoned all pretense at "principle" or of acknowledging right and wrong.  The evidence was there.  The witnesses in the house hearings were credible beyond doubt.  trump's attempt to foreign aid to extort political interference in our elections -like the Russian interference that won for him the last time- was obvious to any reasonable person not blinded by personal interest, fear of trump's "mob boss" retribution, or political corruption.  Still, the Republicans failed in their duty -deliberately so- as Mitt Romney so precisely pointed out:


"When future anthologies of great American political speeches are published by the Library of America, Romney’s remarks will be there. The language was American rhetoric at its best: not flowery and orotund, but clear and solid and stark.


"Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine …


Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me? …


With my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me."


So said the last real Republican in America.

Posted by: JUNE DOLCATER | Feb 10, 2020 17:58


This impeachment was political in nature and nothing more.  That is the reason it failed, plain and simple

Jan Dolcater. Rockland

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 10, 2020 16:29

Oh definitely, Dale, the recent impeachment proved that it takes both parties to impeach a criminal president.  But perhaps that was the Dems' purpose after all, to show which party still had the courage to uphold their constitutional oath and which party was only too happy to engage in an utter whitewash of justice, all in the name of their own power.  No witnesses, no evidence, therefore no justice, and no actual acquittal.  Once again trump's prime quote comes back to haunt an entire nation:


"Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees."  -Donald Trump, 2016


Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Feb 10, 2020 16:08


We could argue until the cows come home about who was the biggest presidential "King", Obama or Trump.  That does not change the fact that Federalist 65-66 were written well after #1 and were against any one party impeaching the President and thus making the Senate the final arbiter. If there were a rogue president in Federalist 1 then there would be a united effort to remove him, but not by just one party.

Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | Feb 09, 2020 07:47

Excellent response Ron.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 06, 2020 17:52

Hamilton is easy to misquote or cherry pick.  The truth is that he would spin in his grave at the thought of a character like trump occupying the oval office.  He knew the type all too well.


"Although Hamilton believed in a strong executive, he returned to the subject of tyranny raised in his 1778 letter in Federalist No. 1, urging his readers to be on guard against politicians of “dangerous ambition.” He also contended that “of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”



Alexander Hamilton knew the danger of a creature like trump when he wrote in Federalist 68:



"These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?"


It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’ " -Alexander Hamilton, a few years after Federalist 68, when serving in the Washington administration



And how indicative is it that the Maine Republican party will allow only one name on it's ballot for their primary and ignore all write-in candidates;  a Soviet-style election for a party that has abandoned all pretense at belief in Democracy.


Hamilton's ghost will howl at this betrayal.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 06, 2020 11:18

So, Landrith is saying its OK for the GOP president to bribe a foreign country that is our ally to investigate the president's re-election Democratic rival so the president can cheat. Sen. Mitt Romney is the singular honest man who rose above the swamp that has become the GOP.

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