January 29, 1876: W. Va. Senate Removes Treasurer Burdett From Office
On January 29, 1876, the West Virginia State Senate removed state Treasurer John Burdett from office. Burdett had been accused of pilfering funds in a scheme with his son and offering to deposit state funds in certain banks for a personal kickback on the interest.
Burdett’s impeachment was something of a shock given his background. The Taylor County native was one of West Virginia’s founders. At the outset of the Civil War, he’d served in the Richmond Convention and voted against Virginia’s secession from the Union.
He then served as a delegate to the First and Second Wheeling Conventions, which took the first steps toward West Virginia statehood, and later served in several early state legislatures.
Burdett’s impeachment marks the only time a West Virginia official has been removed from office by the legislature. On two other occasions, the House of Delegates impeached officials. The House impeached Auditor John C. Bond for embezzlement in 1926 and Treasurer A. James Manchin in 1989 after the state lost nearly $300 million in investments. Both Bond and Manchin resigned from office before facing trial in the Senate.