Study Guide

Francis Burt in Kansas-Nebraska Act

By U.S. Congress

Francis Burt

Francis Burt's career as the first official Governor of Nebraska was short-lived. Really short-lived.

He showed up in Nebraska all sickly and weak, took his oath of office on October 16, 1854, and died two days later of stomach problems.

And we can learn a couple lessons from this sad tale.

Lesson number one: probiotics should not be taken for granted.

Lesson number two: traveling cross-country in 1854 was no joke. Ol' Francis had been having tummy problems for years, and the rough four-week-long journey from South Carolina to Nebraska literally did his poor system in. He even stopped for a spell in a hospital in St. Louis, and he still couldn't recuperate enough to pull through. They put that man in a sickbed pretty much immediately upon his arrival in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Now, even though Burt's gubernatorial career is noteworthy, what he was really known for back in the day was his "aye" stance on South Carolina's Ordinance of Nullification in 1832.

Basically, South Carolina had refused to comply with a new tariff imposed by Congress, and it threatened to secede if the federal government dared try to collect those taxes. This was kind of a big deal, because even though the tariff drama died down pretty quick, the whole notion of secession made some people stroke their beards awfully thoughtfully. In 1861, those thoughtful beard-strokers from six states got together, seceded from the United States, and formed the Confederate States of America.

Anyway, before all that seceding and confederating happened, President Pierce found himself impressed with Francis Burt's political views and the efficiency in which he handled his day job as an auditor for the U.S. Treasury. After Pierce's first choice for Nebraska Governor turned him down, he offered the job to Burt, and Burt accepted.

Bet he would have reconsidered if he'd known how that job was going to go.