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Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893



  • Existence: 1818 - 1893

Biographical Note

Benjamin Franklin Butler, Massachusetts politician and Civil War Union Army general, was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire in 1818. After the early death of his father, Butler moved with his mother to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he would later practice law. He was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1853 and 1859, then lost gubernatorial elections in 1859 and 1860. Though a Democrat, Butler was a strong Unionist and commanded a force of Massachusetts troops that was among the first to reach Washington at the outbreak of the Civil War. After commanding Fort Monroe, Virginia, Butler led successful expeditions against North Carolina's Forts Hatteras and Clark and against Ship Island, off the Gulf Coast. In 1862, he commanded the Union occupation of New Orleans and was appointed the city's military governor, but the controversy surrounding his administration led to his removal at the end of the year. A year later, Butler was named commander of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina; in May 1864, his command became the Army of the James. His failures at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia and at Fort Fisher, North Carolina resulted in Butler's removal from active command later that year, and he resigned his commission on November 30, 1865. Butler returned to politics, serving as a Radical Republican in Congress from 1867 to 1875 and 1877 to 1879. After two failed campaigns, he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1882, but failed to be renominated in the next election and was an unsuccessful candidate for president the following year. Benjamin Butler died in Washington D.C. in 1893.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Benjamin Franklin Butler Notebook

Identifier: Ms-1990-060

Handwritten book-length draft manuscript providing a very critical view of the military leadership and personal character of General Ulysses S. Grant. Attributed to Benjamin Butler, though evidence suggests a different author, possibly former Union Army Brigadier General Gustave Paul Cluseret.

Dates: [1865?]

Max Weber Letter

Identifier: Ms-1989-027

Letter from Colonel Max Weber (1824-1901), of the 20th New York Infantry during the American Civil War, to Major General Benjamin F. Butler, September 5, 1861, describing the capture of Fort Hatteras, North Carolina, on August 28, by Weber's troops.

Dates: 1861