In 1793, Gallatin won election to the United States Senate. When the Third Congress opened on December 2, 1793, he took the oath of office, but, on that same day, nineteen Pennsylvania Federalists filed a protest with the Senate that Gallatin did not have the minimum nine years of citizenship required to be a senator. The petition was sent to committee, which duly reported that Gallatin had not been a citizen for the required period. Gallatin rebutted the committee report, noting his unbroken residence of thirteen years in the United States, his 1785 oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia, his service in the Pennsylvania legislature, and his substantial property holdings in the United States. The report and Gallatin's rebuttal were sent to a second committee. This committee also reported that Gallatin should be removed. The matter then went before the full Senate where Gallatin was removed in a party-line vote of 14–12.
Gallatin's brief stint in the Senate was not without consequence. Gallatin had proven to be an effective opponent of Alexander Hamilton's financial policies, and the election controversy added to his fame. The dispute itself had important ramifications. At the time, the Senate held closed sessions. However, with the American Revolution only a decade ended, the senators were leery of anything which might hint that they intended to establish an aristocracy, so they opened up their chamber for the first time for the debate over whether to unseat Gallatin. Soon after, open sessions became standard procedure for the Senate.
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Famous quotes containing the word senator:
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