The Impeachment of Andrew Jackson
United States History
We are going to be putting Andrew Jackson on trial in our history class. We will be role playing historical figures in a Senate trial to see if Andrew Jackson will continue as President or be the first US President to be removed from office. Considering this is an academic exercise, there is a bit of suspension of disbelief required to make this activity work. We will try to keep the process as accurate as possible.
You will all be Senators in the impeachment trial. At the end of the trial, each of you will announce your decision as to whether you feel A.J. is guilty or not guilty for each of the three counts with which he will be charged. You also (the graded part) will be playing a role during the trial proceedings. You will be a witness or a manager (lawyer).
Impeachment Process Information
I found a great website that explains the grounds for impeachment and the trial process in the Senate. This is how that website describes the grounds for impeachment. Keep this in mind when listening to the evidence …
“Conduct that undermines the integrity of a public office or is in disregard of constitutional duties or involves abuse of power is generally regarded as grounds for impeachment. Since impeachment is a drastic sanction, the misconduct must be substantial and serious.”
This is how the website describes the trial process in the Senate…
“The U.S. Constitution specifies that the Senate has the "sole power to try all impeachments." Beyond what the Constitution specifies regarding impeachment trials, the Senate has established certain rules of procedure for these trials. In the event of an impeachment trial, the full Senate sits as a jury--with the Chief Justice of the United States presiding over the proceeding in cases of presidential impeachment. Designated members of the House, referred to as "managers," would prosecute the case by "exhibiting" the articles of impeachment. The Senate has powers to carry out its constitutional authority to try impeachments (issuing writs, mandates, contempt citations, etc.).
The Presiding Officer makes initial rulings on motions and objections, but these judgments may be reviewed by the Senate and reversed by a simple majority. In this sense, Senators also can function as judges in the proceeding. Under current rules, witnesses are subject to examination and cross-examination by the parties (represented by the prosecuting "managers" and the impeached official's attorneys). Senators may not speak during the trial. They may submit questions for witnesses to the Presiding Officer, but must do so in writing. After hearing the evidence, the Senators meet in closed session, as a jury in a courtroom would, to discuss the verdict. They then meet in open session to vote for either conviction or acquittal on each article: "The Presiding Officer shall first state the question; thereafter each Senator, as his name is called, shall rise in his place and answer: guilty or not guilty" Rules of Procedure and Practice in the Senate When Sitting on Impeachment Trials from Rules and Manual of the Senate, revised 1986).
Conviction requires the vote of two-thirds of the members present, or 67 Senators if all 100 members (2 for each of the 50 states) are present. If convicted on any one article of impeachment, the official is immediately removed from office. If it chooses, the Senate may also vote to disqualify a convicted official from further service in any federal office. This additional step requires only a simple majority of those present.”
Here are the Indictments Against Jackson
Indictment 1: President Jackson has violated the separation of powers in his actions to destroy the Bank of the United States.
The historical witness being played during this portion of the questioning will be Nicolas Biddle
Indictment 2: President Jackson violated states rights in his reaction to South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis.
The historical witness being played during this portion of the questioning will be John C. Calhoun
Indictment 3: President Jackson violated laws, treaties, and court orders in his dealings with Native Americans.
Andrew Jackson, himself will be the fourth witness
Here’s How the Activity Works
The room will be set up with all students (Senators) sitting in a semi-circle around the room. There will be five seats in the center of the room, two seats for the witnesses and three seats for the managers.
Students will be assigned one of the following roles…
Nicholas Biddle (2)
John C. Calhoun (2)
Chief John Ross (2)
Andrew Jackson (2)
Prosecuting Manager (Biddle) 2
Defense Attorney (Biddle) 2
Prosecuting Manager (Calhoun) 2
Defense Attorney (Calhoun) 2
Prosecuting Manager (Ross) 2
Defense Attorney (Ross) 2
Prosecuting Manager (Jackson) 2
Defense Attorney (Jackson) 2
The trial will begin with the questioning of Nicholas Biddle. The prosecuting manager(s) will ask their questions of the two guys playing Biddle. The Biddle actors will alternate in their responses to those questions. If there is more than one prosecuting attorney they will alternate questions. When the prosecutor is finished or time expires the defense attorney(s) will ask their questions. Once the prosecutors and defense attorneys finish, the next group of witnesses and attorneys occupy the seats. Costumes are welcome.
Both prosecuting and defense attorneys and witnesses for a specific indictment will work together in preparation.
Your job is to use your class notes, textbook, and any other sources to prepare a list of questions that you would ask the witness.
Use this website to view the charges and read some of the source material provided to help you write good questions and to educate yourself on how to play each character. http://www.historyteacher.net/AHAP/WebQuests/WQ-ImpeachJackson/WQ-ImpJackson-Student-Process.htm
Your Deliverables to Me
Attorneys: A typed sheet of at least five questions.
Witnesses: A typed sheet of responses to three anticipated questions
You questions/responses must be logical for the person you represent