David Butler (politician)

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David Butler
Hon. David Butler. Governor Nebraska - NARA - 528665.jpg
1st Governor of Nebraska
In office
February 21, 1867 – June 2, 1871
Preceded bynone
Succeeded byWilliam H. James
as Acting Governor
Personal details
BornDecember 15, 1829
near Linton, Indiana
DiedMay 25, 1891(1891-05-25) (aged 61)
Pawnee City, Nebraska
Political partyRepublican

David Christy Butler (December 15, 1829 – May 25, 1891) was a U.S. political figure. He was the first Governor of Nebraska, serving from 1867 until 1871.[1] He was the first Governor of Nebraska after statehood and the only Nebraska Governor to date to be impeached.


Butler was born near Linton, Indiana, the eldest son of 10 children. His education was limited to the common schools and he worked at farming and cattle trading.[2] He married twice. His first wife was Mary Pauline Smith Butler and his second was Lydia Story Butler. He and Lydia were married on January 25, 1860, and he had eight children.[citation needed]


Butler was nominated for a state senate seat in Indiana in 1856, but withdrew before the election. He moved three years later to Pawnee City, Nebraska, and engaged in trading cattle until his election to the Nebraska Territorial Legislature in 1861. He was elected as a state senator in 1863 and won the 1866 election to become Nebraska's first governor. During his second term (1869–1870), Butler moved the state's capital from Omaha to present-day Lincoln.

In the spring of 1871, soon after taking office for his third term, eleven articles of impeachment were brought against him. The first charged him with misuse of some $16,000 from the state school fund. Butler had allegedly made personal use of this money to purchase lots in the new city of Lincoln. He was suspended from office by the Supreme Court and subsequently tried by the State Senate. He was convicted on the first charge, although the remaining ten were dropped. The Supreme Court then removed him from office on June 2, 1871.[2]

In 1877 the Legislature reviewed its action and adopted a resolution expunging the impeachment proceedings from the record.[3] After ten years of retirement from public life, Butler was elected to the Nebraska State Senate on the Independent Ticket in 1882. Running on the Union Labor Ticket in 1888, he again sought the Governorship but was defeated.

Death and legacy[edit]

Following this defeat Butler retired to his home in Pawnee City, where he died on May 25, 1891, and is interred at Pawnee City Cemetery. Butler County in eastern Nebraska was named for him.[4] Butler is the namesake of David City, Nebraska.[5]


  1. ^ Tipton, Thomas Weston. Forty Years of Nebraska at Home and in Congress, p.104-117 (1902)
  2. ^ a b "David C. Butler". National Governors Association. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  3. ^ "David C. Butler". The Downfall Dictionary. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  4. ^ "David C. Butler". The Downfall Dictionary. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 100.

External links[edit]