The Senate demanded that the president turn over a document. The president—in
the second year of his second term—refused. In an unprecedented and never-repeated tactic, the Senate then censured
the president on March 28, 1834.
Two years earlier, President Andrew Jackson had vetoed an act to re-charter the Bank of the United States.
That veto became a major issue in his 1832 reelection campaign, as he decisively defeated Senator Henry Clay. After the election,
Jackson moved to withdraw federal deposits from that bank.
When the new Congress convened in December 1833, Clay's anti-administration coalition in the Senate held an
eight-vote majority over Jackson's fellow Democrats. Clay then challenged Jackson on the bank issue with a Senate resolution
seeking a paper the president had read to his cabinet. When Jackson refused, Clay introduced the censure resolution.
After a ten-week debate, the Senate voted 26 to 20 to censure the president
for assuming power not conferred by the Constitution. Jackson responded with a lengthy protest denying the validity of the Senate's action. In another unprecedented move,
the Senate responded by refusing to print the president's message in its journal.