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 Henry Cornelius Burnett

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PostSubject: Henry Cornelius Burnett    Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:08 pm

Henry Cornelius Burnett (October 5, 1825 – September 28, 1866) was a U.S. Representative from the state of Kentucky and a Confederate States Senator. A lawyer by profession, Burnett had held only one public office—circuit court clerk—before being elected to Congress. He represented Kentucky's 1st congressional district during the lead-up to the Civil War. This district contained the entire Jackson Purchase region of the state, which was more sympathetic to the Confederate cause than any other area of Kentucky. Burnett promised the voters of his district that he would have President Abraham Lincoln arraigned for treason. Unionist newspaper editor George D. Prentice described Burnett as "a big, burly, loud-mouthed fellow who is forever raising points of order and objections, to embarrass the Republicans in the House".[1]

Besides championing the Southern cause in Congress, Burnett also worked within Kentucky to bolster the state's support of the Confederacy. He presided over a sovereignty convention in Russellville in 1861 that formed a Confederate government for the state. The delegates to this convention chose Burnett to travel to Richmond, Virginia to secure Kentucky's admission to the Confederacy. Burnett also raised a Confederate regiment at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and briefly served in the Confederate States Army. Camp Burnett, a Confederate recruiting post located two miles west of Clinton in Hickman County, Kentucky, was named for him.[2]

Burnett's actions were deemed treasonable by his colleagues in Congress, and he was expelled from the House in 1861. He is one of only five members of the House of Representatives ever to be expelled.[3] Following his expulsion, Burnett served in the Provisional Confederate Congress and the First and Second Confederate Senates. After the war, he was indicted for treason, but was never tried. He returned to the practice of law, but died of cholera in 1866 at the age of 40.



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