Butler, Benjamin Franklin

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Butler, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Butler was born December 14, 1795, in Kinderhook Landing, New York. He was admitted to the New York bar in 1817, and established a legal practice with martin van buren in Albany, New York. From 1821 to 1824 Butler performed the duties of district attorney for Albany County.

Butler entered politics in 1827, serving in the New York State Legislature for six years. He subsequently acted as U.S. attorney general from 1833 to 1838; during this time he also fulfilled the duties of secretary of war from 1836 to 1837.

In 1838, Butler returned to New York and served as U.S. district attorney from 1838 to 1841 and from 1845 to 1848.

Butler died November 8, 1858, in Paris, France.

Butler, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Butler achieved prominence as a politician and military officer.

Butler was born November 5, 1818, in Deer-field, New Hampshire. After graduating in 1838 from Waterbury College, now known as Colby College, Butler was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840. Elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1853 and the Massachusetts Senate in 1859, he also served a tour of military duty during the Civil War.

At the outbreak of the war, Butler entered the Massachusetts militia as a brigadier general. He participated in the capture of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1861 and led forces against New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1862. After the conquest of New Orleans, Butler became military governor of that city, but his administration was charged with severity, corruption, and graft. After six months, Butler was reassigned to the Eastern Virginia-North Carolina area and commanded the Army of the James in 1863.

Butler acted as administrator for the return of prisoners in 1864, and was assigned to New York to enforce order during the election held in that same year. After the war, Butler served in the federal government, representing Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1867 to 1875, and from 1877 to 1879. He returned to Massachusetts in 1882 to perform the duties of governor and in 1884 was an unsuccessful nominee for the U.S. presidency, representing two independent parties—the Anti-Monopoly party and the Greenback party.

"Never hold office. Hold yourself above it [because] an officer is a servant."
—Benjamin Franklin Butler (b.1818)

Butler died January 11, 1893, in Washington, D.C.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.