Historical Term: Impeachment

Impeachment: (ME, deriv. Lat., to catch) In England, special arraignment, usually before parliament or some other high tribunal, of a person charged with offenses against the state. Customarily, impeachment was made in the Commons and the trial occurred in the Lords. The first impeachment was that of Lord Latimer in 1376; others were those of Francis Bacon, the Lord High Chancellor in 1621, the Earl of Stafford in 1641, Archbishop Laud in 1645 and Warren Hastings in 1788. Lord Melville was the last person to be impeached in 1805. In the USA, impeachment is initiated by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate. The most famous impeachment was that of President Andrew Johnson for dismissing his Secretary of War in May 1868.

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

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