William Blount

William Blount

A signer of the U.S. Constitution, who would later call this region his home while serving as the first governor of the Southwest Territory, has become a noted historical figure in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Attorneys referenced the impeachment of William Blount during their arguments Tuesday during the first day of proceedings in the the U.S. Senate.

Blount was a delegate from North Carolina when he placed his signature on the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. He was later named by President George Washington to be the governor of the Southwest Territory.

He spent his first years in that role at Rocky Mount in Piney Flats, which was the first capital of the frontier territory that would become the state of Tennessee. With statehood, Blount, who had since moved to Knoxville, was elected by the General Assembly in 1796 as one of Tennessee’s first two U.S. senators.

During this period, Blount — a land speculator — became involved in a plan to organize an armed force of frontiersmen and Native Americans who, with the aid of the British fleet, sought to expel the Spanish from Florida and Louisiana and transfer control of the land to Great Britain.

When President John Adams learned of the plot, Blount was impeached by the House and expelled from the Senate.

Months later, the impeachment trial was stopped when a resolution that asserted the expelled Blount was still an impeachable officer was narrowly defeated in the Senate.

Blount returned to Tennessee, where he remained a popular figure. He was soon elected to the Tennessee Senate and served as its speaker until his death in 1800.

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Press Senior Reporter

Robert Houk has served as a journalist and photographer at the Press since 1987. He is a recipient of the Associated Press Managing Editors Malcom Law Award for investigative reporting.

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