Q: The Missouri General Assembly is convening a special session to consider whether to impeach Governor Eric Greitens. Only 14 governors have ever faced impeachment. But who was the first governor to be impeached in America? Yes, it's someone from Kansas. Name that governor!
A: Charles Robinson, first governor of the State of Kansas
Charles Robinson was the first governor of the State of Kansas. He was also the first governor in America to face impeachment. Previously, the area had "territorial" governors, like Andrew Reeder and James Denver. But Robinson took office in February 1861, the month after Kansas became the 34th state, and just a few weeks before the Civil War broke out. Kansas needed money to raise troops to fight for the Union and to manage the newly-formed state government. Lacking funds, the Legislature approved a bond issue. And that's where Robinson ran into trouble. According to historian Virgil Dean, the Kansas House charged him with selling the bonds and pocketing some of the money. He was tried in the state Senate and acquitted of all charges. Dean says the charges against Robinson were leveled in large part by his political adversary, Jim Lane. Robinson served out his two-year term as governor and then lost most of his political clout. Lane became one of the state's first two U.S. Senators.
Intrepid radio reporter Sam Zeff inspired this Kansas Trivia question. Indeed, he wrote about the impeachment of Charles Robinson in this piece for KCUR Radio. Check it out.
Fun Factoid: Lawrence residents Charles and Sara Robinson donated their estate to the University of Kansas.
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