The Senate Is Talking About Expulsion. The Last Member Kicked Out Was a Hoosier.
(INDIANAPOLIS) - Republican senators are threatening to expel Roy Moore if he wins a special election in Alabama next month. The last senator to be thrown out was a Hoosier.
Jesse Bright was one of Indiana's most colorful and powerful politicians before the Civil War, serving as lieutenant governor before an 18-year career in the Senate. For most of President Franklin Pierce's term, he was a heartbeat away from the presidency as president pro tem of the Senate, due to the death of Pierce's vice president.
Like most of southern Indiana, however, Bright was a Copperhead -- a pro-Confederacy northerner. With the Civil War approaching, Bright wrote a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, addressing him as president, and advising him on where the Confederacy could purchase guns at a discount.
Former State Representative Mike Murphy is the author of "The Kimberlins Go to War," which traces the Civil War history of a pro-Union family in Copperhead-heavy Scott County, next door to Bright's Jefferson County home base. He says Bright never denied the charges, declaring in a letter to a political ally, "Let it come."
It did. Bright became the last of 14 senators expelled for siding with the Confederacy, and the only one not from a southern or border state. Bright moved to Kentucky after his expulsion, became a slaveowner, and reentered politics as a state legislator.
Since Bright's expulsion, five senators have resigned before the Senate could vote. A committee recommended expelling a sixth, but by the time it issued its report, there were only five days left in his term, and the Senate concluded it didn't have enough time to consider the case. Seven senators have survived expulsion attempts, including one in 1893 who, like Moore, was accused of misconduct before becoming a senator. The Senate eventually concluded that meant it lacked jurisdiction, and didn't vote.
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