Butler, Benjamin F(ranklin)

Butler, Benjamin F(ranklin)

biographical name

(born , Nov. 5, 1818, Deerfield, N.H., U.S.—died Jan. 11, 1893, Washington, D.C.) U.S. army officer. A prominent attorney in Lowell, Mass., Butler served two terms in the state legislature (1853, 1859). In the American Civil War he commanded Fort Monroe, Va., where he refused to return fugitive slaves to the Confederacy, calling them “contraband of war,” an interpretation later upheld by the government. He oversaw the occupation of New Orleans in 1862 but was recalled because of his harsh rule. He led the Union army in Virginia, but after several defeats he was relieved of his command in 1865. In the U.S. House of Representatives (1867–75, 1877–79), he was a Radical Republican prominent in the impeachment trial of Pres. Andrew Johnson. He switched parties in 1878 to support the Greenback movement and later served as governor of Massachusetts (1882–84).

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