On July 22, 1842, Virginia Rep. John Minor Botts rose from his seat in the House of Representatives to introduce the first proposal in U.S. history to impeach a president. The president was fellow Whig John Tyler. Botts vowed to “head him or die.”
Whig Party leader Henry Clay of Kentucky cautioned that impeachment might be a risky way to counter the president’s bitter clashes with the Whig-controlled Congress.
“There is cause enough, God knows,” Clay said, “but it is a novel proceeding, full of important consequences, present and future, and should not be commenced but upon full consideration.”
Some of the rhetoric aimed at Tyler echoes what House Democrats are leveling at President Trump. On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son may make impeachment inevitable. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also sent a letter to Republicans and Democrats that demanded more information from the director of national intelligence about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine, but did not use the I-word.