Skip to Main Content

Federal Impeachment

British Practice

Trial of Warren Hastings, 1788
Drawn by E. Dayes; engraved by R. Pollard; aqt. by F. Jukes. A view of the tryal of Warren Hastings Esqr. before the Court of Peers in Westminster Hall on an impeachment delivered at the Bar of the House of Lords by the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled February 13, 1788. 1789. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Impeachment—as a remedy for removing civil officers—was developed in England during the Middle Ages. American practices derive in part from the English procedures as they developed through the late 18th century. The British abandoned the use of impeachment proceedings shortly after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, but Parliament has retained the power to impeach.

The resources listed below discuss English impeachment procedure; the history of English impeachment; and the impeachment of Warren Hastings in the late 1700s. The print materials listed below link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to additional online resources are provided when available.

Warren Hastings was the Governor-General of Bengal. Edmund Burke charged him with dishonesty in the House of Commons in 1786. The House of Commons impeached Hastings, but he was acquitted by the House of Lords after a trial that occurred over a number of years.