A blog collecting every use of the term “corruption” among the records of the Framers. Submitted to the Supreme Court as an appendix to an amicus brief by Lawrence Lessig for the Constitutional Accountability Center.
Let us now consider the reponsibility of the President. He is elected for four years, and not excluded from reelection. Suppose he violates the laws and Constitution, or commits high crimes. By whom is he to be tried?—By his own council—by those who advise him to commit such violations and crimes? This subverts the principles of justice, as it secures him from punishment. He commands the army of the United States till he is condemned. Will not this be an inducement to foreign nations to use their arts and intrigues to corrupt his counsellors? If he and his counsellors can escape punishment with so much facility, what a delightful prospect must it be for a foreign nation, which may be desirous of gaining territorial or commercial advantages over us, to practise on them! The certainty of success would be equal to the impunity. How is he elected? By electors appointed according to the directions of the state legislatures. Does the plan of government contemplate any other mode? A combination between the electors might easily happen, which would fix on a man in every respect improper. Contemplate this in all its consequences. Is it not the object of foreign courts to have such a man possessed of this power as would be inclined to promote their interests? What an advantageous prospect for France and Great Britain to secure the favor and attachment of the President, by exerting their power and influence to continue him in the office! Foreign nations may, by their intrigues, have great influence, in each state, in the election of the President; and I have no doubt but their efforts will be tried to the utmost.