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I have recently found out that one of America's Founders, Ben Franklin, is an ancestor. His mother was a Folger, and at the same time, a Folger related to Franklin became a Vaill. So we are distantly related.

Obnoxious Trump

Although Franklin only had two years of formal education, he was considered the most brilliant American of his era, a person who was vitally important to the establishment of this country. At age 12, Franklin joined the family candle and soap making business in Boston. In the 1720s, his brother James founded a weekly newspaper called the New England Courant, and 16-year-old Ben began secretly submitting essays and commentary under the name "Silence Dogood". He moved to Philadelphia in 1723, and over the newt 25 years became enormously wealthy as a print shop owner, land speculator, and publisher of the popular Poor Richard's Almanac".

By 1748, he had retired, and spent the remaining 42 years of his life inventing the lightning rod, bifocal glasses, and the efficient "Franklin Stove". He even designed a musical instrument used by Mozart and Beethoven. He never was an elected official, but served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. He also was a diplomat and ambassador to France and Sweden, the first U.S. Postmaster General, and the head of Pennsylvania's government for a period. Franklin, however, was not a revolutionary and was a late supporter of full separation from the British.

Some of the attendees at the Convention defined it as "any abuse of power by the President in the execution of his office", but Franklin characterized it as a High Crime and Misdemeanor if the President was "Obnoxious".

When the Constitution was being drafted at the Constitutional Convention in the late 1780s, the term "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" had been a part of the impeachment vocabulary for many centuries in England. "Treason" and "Bribery" were added as specific articles that called for impeachment, but "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" could mean almost anything. Some of the attendees at the Convention defined it as "any abuse of power by the President in the execution of his office", but Franklin characterized it as a High Crime and Misdemeanor if the President was "Obnoxious".

"Obnoxious"

The word "obnoxious" today means "highly objectionable or offensive; odious", as in "obnoxious behavior". It also has been defined in recent years to mean someone who is "annoying or objectionable due to being a showoff or attracting undue attention to oneself". This would seem to define President Trump perfectly, but is it impeachable?

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However, in Franklin's day, the word "obnoxious" meant something else: it referred to someone "liable to harm someone else", someone who was "evil", or someone who did "anything objectionable". It also referred to someone "liable to receive punishment or censure", or someone who engaged in "reprehensible conduct".

The word comes from the Latin word "obnoxiosus", meaning "harmful", and it has been in use in the English language since the year 1575 or so. The following words are today closely related to "Obnoxious":

Reprehensible;
Objectionable;
Disgusting;
Loathsome;
Abhorrent;
Rotten;
Unpleasant;
Hateful;
Nasty;
Annoying;
Awful;
Beastly;
Detestable;
Disagreeable;
Foul;
Gross;
insufferable;
Invidious;
and being "a heel".

President Trump, in the eyes of many Americans (including me), possesses all or many of these characteristics.

But referring back to Franklin's late 18th Century use of the word, it had a more official meaning, and focused on the President "doing harm to others", being generally regarded as "evil", or engaging in "reprehensible conduct", rising to the level of "receiving punishment or censure" for what he committed. That to me, perfectly defines Trump's conduct as President. If the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinion that the President cannot be tried for a crime while in office is valid, then the only remedy for his "obnoxious" conduct would be his impeachment and removal from office.

ted vaill

Ted Vaill