William Worth Belknap: An American Disgrace
Edward S. Cooper

About FDU Press

New Releases

Recent Publications by Topic

Recent Book Reviews

Book Reviews by Topic

Submission Guidelines

Book Review

Well paced and fact filled, this biography describes the public and private events that forever influenced the impeachment process.

William Worth Belknap was a Civil War hero who later became the Secretary of War. As Secretary, Belknap was accused of accepting bribes. When the scandal was publicized, he quickly resigned from office. Even though his resignation did not shield him from being formally impeached, it forced Congress to evaluate the two constitutional punishments pertaining to impeachment. The first punishment, being removed from office, was not at issue since Belknap had resigned. The second punishment, the inability to hold future office, warranted a trial. Fortunately for Belknap there was disagreement over jurisdictional issues and he was found not guilty. The precedent of this verdict has been consistently followed. Since Belknap’s case, nine civil officials facing impeachment have resigned from office and avoided a trial. These officials included judges, a Collector of Customs, and President Nixon.

Despite the historical emphasis of this book, Cooper presents a well rounded, readable, chronicle of Belknap’s life. The book begins with the scandal and then backtracks to Belknap’s childhood and the events that precipitated the incident. The author recounts Belknap’s family background, military career and his relationship with women. These relationships influence the decisions that led to his ultimate demise. The glimpses into Belknap’s private life coax the reader through the book and add context to the scandal. Anyone interested in constitutional issues or the impeachment process will find this a fascinating and enjoyable read.

-- Jane Woldow, Acquisitions and Legal Research Librarian, “Vermont Law Library Newsletter” Vol. 2, Iss. 3, Feb, 2004

To see a full description of this book, search our online database

2010 Eastpark Boulevard
Cranbury, New Jersey 08512
Phone (609) 655-4770
Fax (609) 655-8366

285 Madison Avenue
Madison, New Jersey 07940
Phone (973) 443-8564
Fax (973) 443-8364


Photograph courtesy of Louise Dell-Bene Stahl © 2001

Copyright © 2005, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. Information on FDU web pages is provided as a convenience for the University community and others seeking information. It is the responsibility of the visitor to verify the information. This page originally created with FDU Pagetoaster 2. [Latest update 051216] Print page. Click to see how'd they do that?
Click if you are the owner and you wish to edit this page.