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David Christy Butler is Nebraska’s only governor to be impeached

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Born near Linton, Indiana on December 15, 1829, David Christy Butler was the son of George Washington Butler and Nancy Christy. The eldest of 10 children, David’s education was acquired through the commons schools of Indiana.

On April 22, 1852, Butler married Mary Pauline Smith and moved to Pawnee City in 1858 and became involved in the mercantile and livestock industries. The Butler family Bible indicates Mary died during the deliver of boy and girl twins. On January 25, 1860, David remarried, taking for his wife Lydia Story in Bloomington, Indiana. Eight children, including a second set of twins, were born to the couple.

Politics added itself to the resume of Butler’s life in 1856 when he was nominated for a seat in Indiana’s State Senate. He withdrew from the election and moved to Pawnee City, Nebraska three years later. In 1861, he was elected to the Nebraska Territorial House of Representatives and served one term. Following that, in 1864 he became a one-term member of the Nebraska Territorial Council.

In 1866, Butler was elected to the first of his three terms as governor of Nebraska as the Republican candidate in the gubernatorial election. During his tenure, railroad development increased and the state capital was established in Lincoln. An agricultural college was established, as was the state university.

In the spring of 1871, eleven articles of impeachment were brought against Governor Butler in 1871 claiming misappropriation some $16,000 of state school funds. It was alleged he used the money to purchase lots for his own benefit in the new city of Lincoln. He was tried by the State Senate and convicted on the first charge, with the remaining 10 dropped. On June 2, 1871, the Nebraska Supreme Court removed him from office.

The Nebraska Legislature revisited Butler’s impeachment in 1877 and expunged the charges from his transcript. Returning to the world of politics after a 10-year retirement, Butler was elected to the Nebraska State Senate running as an independent, and served one term. The Union Labor Ticket carried his name for governor in 1888, but Butler was defeated in that election.

Governor David Butler retired to Pawnee City and died on May 25, 1891. He was buried in Pawnee City Cemetery in Pawnee City, Nebraska.

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