Mr. Beat counts down his least favorite U.S. Senators of all time.
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Produced by Matt Beat. All images by Matt Beat, found in the public domain, or used under fair use guidelines. Music by Electric Needle Room (Mr. Beat's band). #apush #americanhistory #senate
#10 James Simmons
Senator from Rhode Island from 1841 to 1847 and again from 1857 to 1862, Simmons got caught getting a contract for two Rhode Island rifle manufacturers in return for $20,000 in promissory notes. So basically, he was bribed to help these two companies make lots of money from the U.S. government, which needed lots of rifles as it turns out since it was fighting the Confederate forces in the Civil War. The reason why Simmons isn’t higher up on this list is because technically there wasn’t a law saying you couldn’t do this, although Congress promptly passed a law banning it after this.
#9 William Blount
Senator from Tennessee from 1796 to 1797, Blount was a Founding Father, and the only Senator on this list to actually sign the U.S. Constitution. Originally from North Carolina, Blount was instrumental in opening up lands west of the Appalachians to settlement. He bought up millions of acres out there himself, but his risky land investments caused him to get a lot of debt. Due to this debt, he conspired with Britain to take over the Spanish-controlled Louisiana to try to raise the prices of his land. Well, he didn’t get away with it. When Congress found out in 1797, he became the first Senator kicked out of the Senate and also the first federal official to get impeached. Blount was arrested, but posted bail and went to Tennessee and never came back. He never showed up to trial, and the feds eventually gave up trying to arrest him again.
#8 Joseph Burton
Aw man, this dude’s from my home state. Senator from Kansas from 1901 to 1906, uh Burton had a little conflict of interest. He was getting paid for defending a company successfully against the United States government while he was Senator. Eventually, he was found guilty of public corruption, which means he was misusing the power he had as Senator for private gain. Burton became the first member of the Senate to actually be convicted of a crime. Now, does that mean other Senators weren’t doing stuff like this before this? Of course not. But he was the first one to get caught.
#7 John Mitchell
Weird coincidence, Mitchell was Senator the same time as Burton. He represented the state of Oregon from 1901 to 1905 and was all about Big Business and against most of the political reforms of the Populists. The biggest reason why he’s on this list is because of his involvement in the Oregon land fraud scandal. Yep, this was more public corruption. Mitchell abused his power, helping a client get patents to fraudulent land claims.