CENSURES (IN U. S. HISTORY). In case of violation of law by the president, the constitutional process of punishment is impeachment by the house, conviction by the senate, and removal from office. (See IMPEACHMENTS, I.) In two cases, where a legal majority for impeachment was impossible a single branch of congress has endeavored, by separate action, to inflict an extra judicial condemnation upon the president.
—I. March 28. 1834. (see BANK CONTROVERSIES, III.; DEPOSITS, REMOVAL OF), after a three months' debate, in which the resolutions had been variously modified, the senate resolved, by a vote of 26 to 20, "That the president, in the late executive proceedings in relation to the public revenue, has assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the constitution and laws, but in derogation of both." April 15, in a special message, president Jackson protested against the resolution on the ground that it accused him of perjury in violating his oath of office, and was thus an indirect and illegal method of impeachment, a condemnation against which he had no opportunity to defend himself. The senate refused to receive the protest or place it on record upon the journal. Senator T. H. Benton, of Missouri, at once gave notice that he would offer a resolution each year to expunge the resolution of censure. After an intermittent struggle of three years. Jackson's supporters carried the expunging resolution, and the resolution of censure was marked around by broad black lines with the memorandum "Expunged by order of the senate this 16th day of January, 1837." The argument against this was, that it violated the constitutional direction to the senate, to "keep a journal" of its proceedings; and in favor of it, that the original resolution was extra legislative, had no more place on the journal than the record of a horse race, and ought to be stricken out. As the former argument involves a plain direction of law, it must have more weight than the latter, which is wholly a matter of opinion.
—II. During the session of 1841-2 (see WHIG PARTY; TYLER, JOHN; TARIFF), a tariff bill was passed containing a provision for the distribution of surplus revenue among the states. To this president Tyler objected as an innovation directly designed to encourage extravagantly high tariffs beyond the needs of the country, and he therefore vetoed the bill Aug. 9, 1842. The conflict between Tyler and the whigs had become extremely embittered. The whigs, though in a majority in both houses, could not command a sufficient vote either to impeach or to pass bills over the veto. They therefore took the unusual step, in the house, of referring the veto message to a committee whose majority report censured the president for improper use of the veto. Against this report Tyler protested, but, as he had voted against the reception of Jackson's protest in the senate in 1834 the house sent him a copy of the senate resolution on that occasion.
—See (I.) 12, 13 Benton's Debates of Congress; 2 von Holst's United States, 68; 4 Webster's Works, 103-147; 1 Benton's Thirty Years' View, 423, 717-730; and authorities under DEPOSITS, REMOVALS OF; (II.) 14 Benton's Debates of Congress, 505-529; 2 von Holst's United States, 458; 2 Benton's Thirty Years' View, 413-417; and authorities under BANK CONTROVERSIES, IV.