Benjamin Butler

Nov 5, 1818 - Jan 11, 1893

Benjamin Franklin Butler was a major general of the Union Army, politician, lawyer and businessman from Massachusetts. Born in New Hampshire and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Butler is best known as a political major general of the Union Army during the American Civil War, and for his leadership role in the impeachment of U.S. President Andrew Johnson. He was a colorful and often controversial figure on the national stage and in the Massachusetts political scene and ran several campaigns for Governor before his election to that office in 1882.
Butler, a successful trial lawyer, served in the Massachusetts legislature as an antiwar Democrat and as an officer in the state militia. Early in the Civil War he joined the Union Army, where he was noted for his lack of military skill, and his controversial command of New Orleans, which brought him wide dislike in the South and the "Beast" epithet. He helped create the legal idea of effectively freeing fugitive slaves by designating them as contraband of war in service of military objectives, which led to a political groundswell in the North which included general emancipation and the end of slavery as official war goals.
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