BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin

BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
1818–1893

Biography

BUTLER, Benjamin Franklin, (grandfather of Butler Ames and father–in–law of Adelbert Ames), a Representative from Massachusetts; born in Deerfield, N.H., November 5, 1818; moved with his mother to Lowell, Mass., in 1828; attended high school and Exeter Academy, and was graduated from Waterville College (now Colby College), Waterville, Maine, in 1838; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1840 and commenced practice in Lowell, Mass.; member of the State house of representatives in 1853; served in the State senate in 1859; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions at Charleston and Baltimore in 1860; entered the Union Army April 17, 1861, as a brigadier general; promoted to major general May 16, 1861, and assigned to the command of Fort Monroe and the Department of Eastern Virginia; resigned November 30, 1865; elected as a Republican to the Fortieth and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1867-March 3, 1875); chairman, Committee on Revision of the Laws (Forty-second Congress), Committee on the Judiciary (Forty-third Congress); one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1868 to conduct the impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, President of the United States; unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor in 1871 and 1872 and for reelection to the Forty-fourth Congress in 1874; elected to the Forty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1877-March 3, 1879); declined to be a candidate for renomination; unsuccessful candidate for Governor as an independent in 1878 and as a Democrat in 1879; elected Governor in 1882 by the combined efforts of the Greenback and Democratic Parties; unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States on the Greenback and Anti-Monopolist ticket in 1884; died while attending court in Washington, D.C., January 11, 1893; interment in Hildreth Cemetery, Lowell, Mass.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1831-1896, approximately 190,000 items. The papers of Benjamin Franklin Butler contains correspondence, letter books, order books, reports, notebooks, maps and charts, newspaper clippings, and other papers concerning his Civil War commands in Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. Subjects include the capture of Fort Clark, N.C., and Fort Hatteras, N.C., Butler's service as military governor of New Orleans, La., the Petersburg Campaign, and the Fort Fisher expedition. Includes correspondence with French and Spanish consuls in New Orleans. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Nathaniel Prentiss Banks Papers, ca. 1829-1911, approximately 50,000 items. Other correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Clara Barton Papers, ca. 1805-1958, 62.6 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the James Gillespie Blaine Family Papers, ca. 1777-1945, 20 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Blair Family Papers, ca. 1755-1968, 29.5 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Caleb Cushing Papers, ca. 1785-1906, 190 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Anna E. Dickinson Papers, ca. 1859-1951, 12.4 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the French and American Claims Commission Records, 1861-1884, 8.4 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Ulysses S. Grant Papers, 1843-1969, 100 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library and online.
Papers: In the Whiting Griswold Papers, 1843-1874, 210 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Robert Green Ingersoll Papers, ca. 1826-1940, approximately 15,000 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Reverdy Johnson Papers, 1830-1876, 185 items. Correspondence relating to Johnson's early law practice, his service as U.S. senator from Maryland, as a special inquirer in the case (1862) of Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler at New Orleans, and as U.S. minister to the Court of St. James. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Edwin McMasters Stanton Papers, ca. 1818-1921, 8.4 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Euge'ne Mejan Papers, 1862, 85 items. Subjects include Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: In the Joseph Meredith Toner Collection, Newspaper Clippings, 1816-1895, 892 items. Persons represented include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the John C. Underwood Papers, 1856-1898, 165 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.
Microfilm: In the Universiteit van Amsterdam Bibliotheek. Manuscripts Collection, 1711-1868., 10 microfilm reels. Subjects include Benjamin F. Butler. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Henry Wilson Papers, 1851-1875, 200 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Springfield, IL
Papers: 1862, 8 pages. A letter from General Butler to Hon. Daniel S. Richardson written around 1862. In the letter, General Butler writes on the "troubles exposed by the publication-of the correspondence upon the subject of recruitment by Governor Andrew."
Papers: 1886, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to O.D. Barrett written on April 25, 1886. In the letter, Benjamin Butler asks for the return of some papers left in Washington.
Papers: 1889, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to John Eliot Bowen written on August 9, 1889. In the letter, Benjamin Butler Declines to write a requested article.

American Jewish Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: In the Board of Delegates of American Israelites Records, ca. 1859-1932, 1.75 linear feet and 2 oversized folders. Other authors include Benjamin Franklin Butler. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.

Boston Public Library

Boston, MA
Papers: 1871, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to President Grant written on July 29, 1871. In the letter, Benjamin Butler invites President Grant to visit the camp meeting at Martha's Vineyard.
Papers: 1875, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to John J. Davenport written on May 2, 1875. In the letter, Benjamin Butler writes regarding medallions made of himself and Admiral Farragut made for Davenport and loaned to the artist but not returned.
Papers: 1883, 1 volume. Letters written while Benjamin Franklin Butler was Governor of Massachusetts to a wide variety of correspondents including state and federal government officials, military officers, newspaper editors, railroad officials, leaders of local political organizations. Many of his letters have to do with influence peddling, political machinations or personal business deals. Over 340 letters, of which 230 are signed by Butler, 55 by his private secretary, T.E. Major; the remainder are either copies or signed by other people. The copybook belonged to Mr. Major. Includes name index.

Brown University
John Hay Library

Providence, RI
Papers: In the John Milton Hay Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Burton" to "Chamberlain," approximately 6,000 items. Other authors include Benjamin Franklin Butler.

Colby College
Special Collections

Waterville, ME
Papers: 1867-1880, 21 items. The items include speeches and reports of Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: 1873-1893, 6 items. Legal arguments, including Benjamin F. Butler vs. Samuel Strong et al.: plaintiff's evidence -- Benjamin F. Butler, plaintiff in error v. The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers / E.M. Johnson -- William Bent, appellant vs. Guadalupe Thompson, et al., appellees: brief for appellant / B.F. Butler, O.D. Barrett -- Samuel Fielden, plaintiff in error vs. The people of the State of Illinois, defendent in error ; Michael Schwab, appellant vs. A.W. Berggren, warden of the penitentiary of the State of Illinois, at Joliet, appellee: motion to advance and set for hearing / B.F. Butler and M. Salomon -- In the matter of the Farragut prize cases: argument of counsel before arbitrators -- In the matter of the Lower California Company.

College of William and Mary
Earl Gregg Swem Library

Williamsburg, VA
Papers: In the Robert W. Hughes Papers, ca. 1818-1900, 103 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.

Cornell University
Carl A. Kroch Library

Ithaca, NY
Papers: 1855-1886, 2 items. Typed letter to Converse Clement, dated Sept. 1, 1886, setting the record straight regarding the settlement of quartermaster Captain McClure's accounts with the U.S. Treasury and complaining of the Treasury's incompetence; and note to Moore, dated July 20, 1855, conveying dispatches from Judge Thomas.

Dartmouth College Library
Rauner Special Collections Library

Hanover, NH
Papers: 1869, 2 pages. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to John A. Rawlins written on March 29, 1869. In the letter, Benjamin Butler urges immediate removal of Gen. Stoneman from the military command at Richmond.
Papers: 1878, 4 pages. A letter from W. Miller to Benjamin F. Butler written on April 14, 1878. In the letter, W. Miller discusses points in several cases he is working on.

Duke University Library
Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1864-1893, 14 items. The collection contains letters of Benjamin Franklin Butler, most to O.D. Barrett regarding financial matters. Also included are references to organized labor, the eight-hour law, and Butler's attitude toward the Negro.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: 1886-1895, 1 folder. A small collection of papers related to Benjamin F. Butler, including a brief note card signed by Andrew Johnson; an 1886 clipping regarding Butler; autographs of the living Massachusetts governors (of which Butler was one) in 1891; and an 1891 letter from Hartford Davenport to Butler.
Papers: In the Forbes Family Papers, 1732-1931, 59 boxes and 2 oversize containers. Other authors include Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: In the George H. Gordon Papers, ca. 1842-1885, 10 boxes, 1 volume, and 1 oversize container. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Lee Family Additions to Papers, 1815-1880, 1 narrow box. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: In the William Dummer Northend Papers, 1878-1918, 1 folder. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: In the John Carver Palfrey Papers, 1816-1874, approximately 100 items. Correspondents include Benjamin F. Butler.
Papers: In the John O. Sargent Papers, ca. 1831-1912, 1 narrow box, 2 boxes, and 4 volumes in cases. The collection contains correspondence related to John O. Sargent's political work from Benjamin F. Butler.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1862, 1 item. A requisition signed by Benjamin F. Butler on July 5, 1862 for 12 pairs of hand cuffs.
Papers: 1863, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to Horace Greeley written on November 30, 1863. In the letter, Benjamin Butler sends Horace Greeley a letter concerning Mayor Wood, which had been captured from Governor Wise.
Papers: 1870, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to Horace Greeley written on February 12, 1870. In the letter, Benjamin Butler complains about a mention of himself in the Tribune of the previous day.
Papers: 1880, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to O.D. Barrett written on October 23, 1880. In the letter, Benjamin Butler writes concerning the postponement of a legal case.
Papers: 1888, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to O.D. Barrett written on December 28, 1888. In the letter, Benjamin Butler makes an appointment.
Papers: 1889, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to O.D. Barrett written on July 11, 1889. In the letter, Benjamin Butler sends O.D. Barrett information on the law of contracts.
Papers: 1890, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to O.D. Barrett written on January 4, 1890. In the letter, Benjamin Butler writes about corrections in proof.

New England Historic Genealogical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: In the Mary E. Boudreau Papers, 1838-1959, 100 items. Among the miscellaneous items is an autograph bill of sale for a Worcester, MA house and property from Benjamin F. Butler to Helen M. Plympton in 1887. Includes 8 photographs.

New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1820-1857. 20 items.
Papers: 1861-1889. 24 items.

New York State Library
Manuscripts and Special Collections

Albany, NY
Papers: 1889, 1 page. A letter from Benjamin Franklin Butler to O.D. Barrett written on April 6, 1889. In the letter, Benjamin Butler regarding the strong case; "I don't think you are carrying out the contract in the strong case. Have you the answer in your possession as amended? If not, I will do nothing, and you must do nothing about this matter until that is done."

Oberlin College Library
Special Collections

Oberlin, OH
Papers: In the Elliot F. Grabill Papers, 1859-1910, 0.8 linear foot. Other authors include Benjamin F. Butler. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.

Princeton University
Department of Rare Books and Special Collections

Princeton, NJ
Papers: In the Butler Family Papers, ca. 1815-1948, 15.65 cubic feet. Correspondents include Benjamin Franklin Butler. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.

Smith College
Sophia Smith Collection

Northampton, MA
Papers: In the Ames Family Papers, 1812-2004, 60.5 linear feet. Persons represented include Benjamin F. Butler. An unpublished inventory is available in the repository.

Tulane University
Amistad Research Center

New Orleans, LA
Papers: In the Dodd Family Papers, 1848-1868, 1 oversize box. 49 items, including photocopies. Topics covered include attitudes of the populace toward General Butler and his troops. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.

United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks
Library

Carlisle, PA
Papers: 1862-1865, 1 box. The Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers include copies of twelve orders issued by Butler (May 15 - November 11, 1862) to control the disruptive elements within the civilian populace and military garrison of New Orleans.

United States Military Academy
Library

West Point, NY
Papers: In the Philip Henry Sheridan Papers, 1864-1887, 16 items. The papers includes a letter to General B.F. Butler, 16 May 1864, telling of Philip Sheridan's readiness to rejoin the Army of the Potomac.

University of California, Santa Barbara Library
Department of Special Collections

Santa Barbara, CA
Papers: ca. 1861-1889, 0.02 linear foot. The collection contains three letters (ALS) about various Civil War-related issues. The first, written in the spring of 1861, is addressed to the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, and touches on Benjamin Butler's concern for what he calls the "negro question," that is, the official status of the slaves in Confederate territory occupied by Union troops. Benjamin Butler would continue to deal with African-American issues throughout the war and his subsequent political career. The second letter comes from 1868, when Benjamin Butler's new career in Congress was being haunted by his actions during the war. Benjamin Butler writes to the Boston Journal seeking to set the record straight about lawsuits that have been brought against him by angry Southerners. The third letter, from 1889, shows that even late in life, Benjamin Butler was still plagued by questions about his actions in New Orleans, in this instance the 1862 execution of a man charged with tearing down a United States flag from a government building. The letter is addressed to either Curtis Guild, a Boston newspaperman, or his son, Curtis Guild, Jr., a politician and future governor. Also included is a handwritten transcript of an interview conducted in June 1862 between General Butler and Captain Homer B. Sprague of the 13th Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers, prepared by Captain Sprague in New Orleans. Captain Sprague had refused to surrender a fugitive slave now in his regiment's employ to slave hunters, and General Butler was called in to settle the matter. The document reveals Benjamin Butler's thinking on the subject, and the fine line he was forced to walk in dealing with slavery-related issues. After reviewing the case, Butler allowed the fugitive girl to remain with the Union Army. For further information, see History of the 13th Infantry Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers (1867) by Homer B. Sprague. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.

University of Chicago Library
Special Collections

Chicago, IL
Papers: In the Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection, 1848, 1 item. A letter from Benjamin F. Butler to George Bemis written on February 12, 1848. In the letter, Benjamin Butler writes concerning a legal case.

University of Texas at Austin
Center for American History

Austin, TX
Papers: In the New Orleans Collection, 1864-1910, 3 inches. Topics covered in the collection include documentation on the hanging of a Union soldier, W.H. Mumford, in 1864, by order of Union General Benjamin F. Butler, for tearing down a Confederate flag, ripping it into pieces and passing them out in a crowd.

Western Reserve Historical Society

Cleveland, OH
Papers: In the A.G. Riddle Papers, 1835-1902,2.6 linear feet. Other authors include Benjamin F. Butler. A register is available in the repository.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Ames, Blanche (Butler). The Butler ancestry of Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler in America. Lowell, Mass.: N.p., 1895.

Bland, T[homas] A[ugustus]. Life of Benjamin F. Butler. Boston: Lee and Shepard; New York: C. T. Dillingham, 1879.

Butler, Benjamin F. Address. The present relation of parties. Duty of the Republican Party to adjust the questions with other nations brought out by the rebellion, and to protect American fisheries against British aggression. By Benj. F. Butler, Music hall, Boston, Nov. 23, 1870. Lowell, Marden & Rowell, printers, [1870].

------. Address of Benjamin F. Butler, to the judges of the Circuit Court of the United States. Boston: Rand, Avery, & Co., 1879.

------. Argument (in brief) on the exemptions of the Cherokee Nation from internal taxation. Washington, D.C.: M'Gill & Witherow, printers, 1871.

------. Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences. Boston: A.M. Thayer, 1892.

------. Character and results of the war. New York: W. C. Bryant & Co., printers, 1863. Reprint, [Columbus, Ohio: State Journal Print., 1864?]

------. Civil rights. Washington: F. & J. Rives & G. A. Bailey, printers, 1872. Reprint, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874.

------. The currency question. [Washington?: N.p., 1867].

------. Debate in the House of Representatives between Mr Butler. [Washington: N.p., 1867].

------. The exchange question. [N. p.], 1864.

------. How to prosecute and how to end the war. [New York: N.p., 1863].

------. How we may relieve ourselves from taxation. Washington: F. & J. Rives & G. A. Bailey, printers, 1868.

------. Ku-Klux outrages in the South. Washington: M'Gill & Witherow, printers, 1871.

------. Lecture delivered at the Brooklyn academy of music. [N.p.], [1866].

------. Letter of General Benj. F. Butler, to Hon. E. R. Hoar. [Lowell?, Mass.]: N.p., 1876.

------. The negro in politics. Lowell: Marden & Rowell, printers, 1871.

------. Private and Official Correspondence During the Period of the Civil War. 5 vols. Edited by Jessie Ames Marshall. Norwood, Mass.: Plimpton Press, 1917.

------. Prospectus of Butler's book. Boston: N.p., 1891.

------. The right of America to present her claims against Britain for damages without menace. Washington: F. & J. Rives & G. A. Bailey, printers, 1872.

------. Speech of Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, upon his bill to authorize the issue of a national currency, to assure its stability and elasticity, lessen the interest on the public debt, and reduce the rate of interest. [N.p., 1869].

------. The status of the insurgent states, upon the cessation of hostilities. [Washington?: N.p., 1866].

Driscoll, William D. "Benjamin F. Butler: Lawyer and Regency Politician." Ph.D. diss., Fordham University, 1965.

------. Benjamin F. Butler: Lawyer and Regency Politician (American Legal and Constitutional History). Hamden, Conn.: Garland Science, 1987.

Egan, Clifford L. "Friction in New Orleans: General Butler versus the Spanish Consul." Louisiana History 9 (Winter 1968): 43-52.

France, A.F. "Admiral Farragut and General Butler." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 83 (February 1957): 214-5.

Gordon, L. Thomas. "Benjamin F. Butler, Prosecutor." Quarterly Journal of Speech 45 (October 1959): 288-98.

Hearn, Chester G. When the Devil Came Down to Dixie: Ben Butler in New Orleans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997.

Holzman, Robert S. "Ben Butler in the Civil War." New England Quarterly 30 (September 1957): 330-45.

------. "Benjamin F. Butler: His Public Career." Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1953.

------. Stormy Ben Butler. 1954. Reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1978.

Jackson, Joy J. "Keeping Law and Order in New Orleans Under General Butler, 1862." Louisiana History 34 (Winter 1993): 51-67.

James, Edward T. "Ben Butler Runs for President: Labor, Greenbackers, and Anti-Monopolists in the Election of 1884." Essex Institute Historical Collections 113 (April 1977): 65-88.

Johnson, Howard P. "New Orleans Under General Butler." Louisiana Historical Quarterly 24 (1941): 434-536.

Longacre, Edward G. Army of Amateurs: General Benjamin F. Butler and the Army of the James, 1863-1865. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1997.

Macartney, Clarence Edward Noble. Grant and His Generals, pp. 166-88. New York: McBride, 1953.

Mallam, William D. "Butlerism in Massachusetts." New England Quarterly 33 (June 1960): 186-206.

------. "Fight for the Old Granite Block." New England Quarterly 36 (March 1963): 42-62.

------. "Grant-Butler Relationship." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 41 (September 1954): 259-76.

Merrill, Louis T. "General Benjamin F. Butler as a Radical Leader During the Administration of President Andrew Johnson." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1937.

------. General Benjamin F. Butler in Washington. Washington: N.p., 1938.

[Moulton, Henry Jefferson]. General Benjamin F. Butler; a bibliography of books, pamphlets, United States documents, and periodical and newspaper articles. Boston: N.p., 1917.

Nash, Howard P. Stormy Petrel: The Life and Times of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, 1818-1893. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1969.

Nolan, Dick. Benjamin Franklin Butler: The Damnedest Yankee. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1991.

Parton, James. General Butler in New Orleans. Boston, New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1892.

Pierrepont, Edwards. A review by Judge Pierrepont of Gen. Butler's defense, before the House of Representatives, in relation to the New Orleans gold. New York: W. C. Bryant & Co., printers, 1865.

Pomeroy, Marcus Mills. The life and public services of Benjamin F. Butler, Major-General in the Army and leader of the Republican Party. New York: N.p., 1868.

Thomas, Gordon L. "Benjamin F. Butler, Prosecutor." Quarterly Journal of Speech 45 (October 1959): 288-98.

Thompson, Margaret S. "Ben Butler versus the Brahmins: Patronage and Politics in Early Gilded Age Massachusetts." New England Quarterly 55 (June 1982): 163-86.

Trefousse, Hans Louis. Ben Butler: The South Called Him Beast!1957. Reprint, New York: Octagon Books, 1974.

Weiss, Nathan. "General Benjamin Franklin Butler and the Negro: The Evolution of the Racial Views of a Practical Politician." Negro History Bulletin 29 (October 1965): 3-4.

Werlich, Robert. Beast Butler: The Incredible Career of Benjamin Franklin Butler. Washington: Quaker Press, 1962.

West, Richard Sedgewick. "Admiral Farragut and General Butler." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 82 (June 1956): 635-43.

------. Lincoln's Scapegoat General: A Life of Benjamin F. Butler, 1818-1893. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1965.

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