Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 | Next Page
Creation of the Executive
Rep. James Jackson's Speech
Rep. James Jackson of Georgia, Speech on the power of removal, June 17, 1789
(New York Daily Advertiser, June 20, 1789
--Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Madison's motion calling for the creation of three executive departments sparked the most extensive debate on Constitutional interpretation during the First Federal Congress. The subject was how the heads of departments should be removed. The speeches of this debate reveal much about the thinking of the members of the Congress and their varied interpretations of the Constitution. During the discussions, four distinct theories on the removal power emerged. Some members even held that the only method of removal was the one provided for in the Constitution-- impeachment, but eventually the majority agreed that the President held the power by implication from the Constitution. This speech by Jackson illustrates the lengths to which members would go to make a point in debate.

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