In 1803, on this day the second President (and former lawyer) John Adams paid the ultimate price for disregarding the lack of provision for acquiring territory in the U.S. Constitution - by facing charges at an impeachment trial in the US Senate.
Louisiana Question 2 By Ed & Scott PalterThat the trial had been engineered by the leaders of the Democratic Republic Party was of course an ominious sign of growing factionalism. But fortunately for the Republic, Adams had once again extricated himself from bipartisan conflict in order to take a political expedient decision in the broader national interest.
Ever the Statesman, and the worthy successor to General Washington, Adams had fast tracked the purchase of the Louisiana Territory as soon as he learnt that Napolean was having second thoughts. He had taken such a decision over Napoleon once before, stunning the country by signing the Treaty of Alliance to end the proxy-war with France.
On the other hand his revolutionary colleagues Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were surprised and disappointed to find themselves at the head of opposition forces, rather than occupying the White House, as they had confidently expected during the 1800 electoral cycle. But they lost, and were now reduced to a power struggle by obstinately defending the uncompromisable principle that the Purchase had in fact required a constitutional amendment.
Ironically, during the 1796 electoral cycle Jefferson (pictured with Adams and Franklin) had admitted (somewhat disengeniously) that "he [Adams] had always been my senior, from the commencement of my public life" and "I am his junior in life, was his junior in Congress, his junior in the diplomatic line, his junior lately in the civil government". He was right.