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Benjamin Franklin Butler


The courage, pugnacity, fertility of genius, and patriotism, which enter so largely into the composition of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BUTLER, are his by inheritance. His grandfather, Captain Zephaniah Butler, of Woodbury, Connecticut, fought under General Wolfe at Quebec, and served in the Continental army, during the entire war of the Revolution; while the general's father, John Butler, of Deerfield, New Hampshire, was a captain of dragoons in the war of 1812, and served for a while under General Jackson at New Orleans. And our hero's mother was of that doughty race of Scotch-Irish origin, to which belonged Colonel Cilley (also an ancestor of General Butler) "who, at the battle of Bennington, commanded a company that had never seen a cannon, and who, to quiet their apprehensions, sat astride of one while it was discharged."

John Butler, the ex-captain of dragoons, after the war, followed the sea—in the various capacities of supercargo, merchant or captain in the West India trade. In politics he was a full blooded Jeffersonian Democrat—one of eight representatives, only, of that party, in the town of Deerfield, whose Democracy isolated them, socially as well as politically, to a degree which is inconceivable to us of the present day, who knew New Hampshire a few years ago as the Democratic stronghold of New England. So that his son, Benjamin Franklin Butler, born at Deerfield, on the 5th of November, 1818, was also " born," as has been happily said, " into the ranks of an abhorred but positive and pugnacious minority—a little Spartan band, always battling, never subdued, never victorious." Five months after his birth, the boy lost his father, who died in March, 1819, of the yellow fever, while his vessel was lying at one of the West India Islands.

His widow, a woman of true New England energy, supported her two boys by her individual exertions; and, in 1828, removed to Lowell, then a young but thriving town of two thousand inhabitants; where, by taking boarders, she was enabled to give Benjamin better educational advantages than he had before enjoyed. From the common school he passed to the High School and from thence to the Exeter Academy, where he pre-pared for college. If his own predilections had been consulted, he would have gone to West Point—but his mother, who, like all New England mothers, desired to see her boy in the ministry, consulted with her pastor, and by his advice Benjamin was sent to Waterville College, in Maine, an institution recently founded by the Baptist denomination. So, with the little occasional help received from a kind New Hampshire uncle, and the scanty earnings which he was able to secure from three hours' work per day, at chair-making, in the manual labor department of the college, he gained the ambition of his young manhood—an education, and left the college halls fully determined to be a lawyer.

Just then there came to him a special Providence—one which we might wish would come, in like circumstances, to every youth as he leaves his Alma Mater. A good-hearted uncle, "skipper" of a fishing smack, urged him to accompany him on a trip to the coast of Labrador, saying to him, give you a bunk in the cabin, but you must do your duty before the mast, watch and watch, like a man. I'll warrant you'll come back sound enough in the fall." So the pale-faced student accepted the kindly offer and returned from a four months' voyage with a fund of perfect health, which has lasted him ever since.

With renewed vigor the youth of twenty commenced the study of law, in the office of William Smith, Esq., of Lowell; and, being admitted to the bar in 1840, entered heart and soul into the practice of his chosen profession. He eked out his slender in-come by school teaching ; he labored indefatigably eighteen hours out of the twenty-four; he joined the City Guard, a company of the since famous Sixth Regiment of Massachusetts, and perseveringly worked his way through every regular gradation up to the rank of colonel. Work he craved—work he would have—and work he succeeded in getting. " All was fish that came to his net." "His speeches," says a personal friend, " were smart, impudent, reckless, slap-dash affairs, showing the same general traits which have characterized him as a lawyer and politician ever since he began his career. He very soon became a decided character in Lowell and Middlesex county. He made politics and law play into each other's hands; and while he denounced the agents and overseers of the mills as tyrants and oppressors, his office was open for the establishment of all sorts of lawsuits on behalf of the male and female operatives."

From his twentieth year he was an eager, busy politician, whom every election-time found diligently "stumping" the neigh-boring towns; and (after 1844) regularly attending the National Democratic Conventions. His history is closely identified with that of the Democratic party in Massachusetts during twenty years, 1840-60. A "Coalitionist" in 1852, he united with the Free-Soilers to crush out the old Whig party.  In 1853 he was elected on the Coalition ticket, to the Legislature—and was the acknowledged leader of that party in the House, his wordy battles with Otis P. Lord, the Whig leader, being memorable in the history of legislative strife and debate in that State.

In the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention, which shortly followed, the Coalitionists of Lowell were ably represented by Butler, who exhibited a marked degree of ability, and of intimate acquaintance with the principles under discussion. And, though the Constitution was rejected, and Coalition died out, yet he was always loyal to his old allies, the Free-Soilers, and when in 1855, the "Know-Nothing" organization came suddenly into existence, he battled against it with all the tremendous energy of which he was capable. When the new Know Nothing governor, Gardner, recommended in his annual message the exclusion of all persons of foreign birth from the state militia ; and ordered the disbandment of certain companies wholly or largely composed of such—some of which companies belonged to Colonel Butler's regiment, he refused to transmit the order and was summarily deprived of his command by the governor. He then turned around and prosecuted the adjutant-general for removing the arms from the armory—but without satisfactory result. In 1857, however, he was chosen brigadier-general by the officers of the brigade to which his regiment belonged, and received his commission from the hands of the same governor who had broken him of his coloneley. During the following year he exhibited his usual vigor and fearlessness as counsel in the celebrated Burnham contempt case. In 1858, as the candidate of the " Liberals," Butler ran for governor but was defeated by the " Hunker" candidate. In the fall of the same year, however, the Conservatives elected him to the State Senate; and, in 1859, he was nominated, still on the Liberal ticket, for the governorship, but, although receiving the full vote of his party, was defeated by Nathaniel P. Banks. As a legislator he opposed the old banking system and advocated what is known as the New York system ; and he battled persistently and successfully for the "ten hour" bill, which gave the working men two additional hours out of the twenty-four for rest and self-improvement.

In April, 1860, General Butler was a delegate to the Democratic Convention, held at Charleston, S. C., and as a member of the committee appointed to prepare a " platform" for that party, in the coming Presidential campaign, he took a very prominent part; strongly and tenaciously insisting upon an adherence to the principles of the platform adopted at the Democratic Presidential Convention of 1856, held at Cincinnati. Both at Charleston and at Baltimore, at which city the Convention met, by adjournment, June 18th, he refused his support to any measures which looked to any further concessions to the South, on the part of the Democracy of the North. When the Convention divided, he, with other delegates who were firmly opposed to Douglas's nomination, withdrew from the meeting and nominated the "Breckinridge and Lane" ticket, and the campaign commenced. It cannot be doubted that in espousing thus Breckinridge's interest, he was misled by representations made to him by the southern leaders ; for it soon became evident that the Breckinridge men at the South, and in Congress, contemplated treason. On his return to Massachusetts, he found himself the most unpopular man in the State—hooted at in the streets of Lowell, and a meeting at which he was to speak, broken up by a mob. He "had his say out," how-ever, at another meeting, and vindicated himself—as events, and his own course have since done—from any complicity with treason. In the fall of the same year, he became the Breckinridge candidate for governor, but was defeated, receiving only six thousand votes.

In December, 1860, Mr. Lincoln having been elected, Butler visited Washington on party business, and there became aware of the full meaning and extent of the southern movement. Secession he found to be considered, by its leaders, as an accomplished fact. He reasoned earnestly but fruitlessly with them--he was offered, in return, a share in their treasonable enterprise. Spurning the offer, he waited upon the Government with advice which, as a leader of the party in power, he was entitled to give; and which, had it been accepted and acted upon, might have changed the whole aspect of subsequent events. But Mr. Buchanan was timorous and embarrassed. Then the general united with his old friend (and political opponent) in urging the Governor of Massachusetts to prepare the militia of the State for the coming struggle. Governor Andrew followed their suggestions—and what of preparation was accomplished was effected not a moment too soon. Sumter fell beneath the blows of armed treason. A call came to Boston for two full regiments. General Butler, arguing a case in the court-room, at 5 P. M., endorsed the order which called the glorious Sixth of his brigade to arms, at eleven o'clock of the next day, on Boston Common. Then he effected a loan of $50,000 from one of the Boston banks, to help off the troops ; and within twenty-four hours thereafter came an order from Washington for a full brigade, and he was appointed to the command. On the 17th started the Sixth, on the 18th two regiments by steamer and the Eighth by rail, accompanied by General Butler in person. Arrived at Philadelphia on the 19th, they heard of the attack of the mob upon the Sixth, at Baltimore. Yet, amid the many conflicting rumors, and the dread uncertainty which hung over their path, the general determined to follow out his orders and march his regiment to Washington via Baltimore. Leaving behind them the New York Seventh, who declined to share the risk of that route, the Eighth, on the 20th of April, took cars to Havre-de-Grace, and thence by a ferry-boat—impressed into the service—reached Annapolis, Maryland.  Arriving at that place they found the town in momentary expectation of attack, and the school ship, the old " Constitution," belonging to the United States Naval Academy, fast aground and weakly manned, and at the mercy of the Secessionists. So Butler put his little ferry-boat alongside, put on board a guard and a strong crew of Marblehead sailors ; and finally, with incredible exertions, the "Constitution" was towed out to a place of safety. Another morning brought a steamer bearing the New York Seventh, and ere long, despite the repeated protestations of the civic authorities and the Governor of Maryland, both regiments were landed on the grounds of the Naval Academy. Butler now needed the railroad to Washington; but the depot was locked, and the track torn up. Seizing, by force, a small and purposely damaged engine from the depot, a private soldier was soon found who could put it in order—it was speedily in running trim, and track-laying commenced.

The history of the three days' march which followed, laying track as they went all the way, forms a wonderful and romantic episode in the history of the war ; but on the 25th the New York Seventh saluted the President at the White House, and Washington, as well as the whole North, breathed for the first time in many days a long sigh of relief. Butler remained at Annapolis, where his active nature found full employment in providing for, and forwarding the troops, which now began to pour into the city by thousands. Before the week ended the Department of Annapolis," embracing the country within twenty miles of the railroad on each side, was created, and the command given to General Butler.

Meanwhile Baltimore was in the hands of the sympathizers with treason ; and as Baltimore went, so went the State. This then was the next great object of solicitude on the part of the Government. General Scott proposed to seize it by a strategic movement of four columns of three thousand men each.  General Butler, who had, on the 4th of May, seized the Relay House, nine miles from Baltimore, set forth in the night of the 13th of May with nine hundred men and some artillery, and using a simple stratagem to blind the Baltimoreans to his real design, conveyed his force by rail into the city, occupied Federal Hill in the midst of a tremendous thunder-storm, planted his guards and cannon so as to command the city, and issued a "proclamation," which was to the astonished citizens the first intimation which they had, on the following morning, of the presence of Union troops in their midst. For this he was censured by Lieutenant-General Scott, but was immediately commissioned a major-general, May 16th, 1861., by President Lincoln, and assigned to the command of the new "Department of Virginia," (embracing South-eastern Virginia, North and South Carolina) with headquarters at Fortress Monroe. He found much to be done, the fort to be improved, the department to be studied and regulated, the troops to be drilled, and sundry expeditions and reconnoissances to be made in the vicinity. He prepared, also, an army for an attack upon Richmond, but it was crippled by a sudden call of most of his troops to the defence of Washington. On the 9th and 10th of June, occurred the night expedition which resulted in the affair at Big Bethel, the first reverse which the Union arms had as yet sustained, and which, although in the light of subsequent experience, only a skirmish, was a heavy blow to the popular expectation in the loyal States. lts ill-success, however, was due rather to an unfortunate mismanagement in the several commands detailed for the service, and in the experience of the brigadier commanding he expedition, than to General Butler.

It was during the Fortress Monroe period, also, that General Butler's acute intellect solved the difficulty, which had puzzled all of our politicians and military men, as to the status of the slaves of masters in rebellion against the Federal government, by pronouncing them "contraband of war," a decision the whimsicality of which is infinitely heightened by the basis of truth upon which it is predicated. From General Butler also came (in the form of a communication to the Government, August 30th, 1861) the first distinct avowal of the right and the duty of the Federal Government to emancipate every slave within the Union lines. This opinion, urged as a military necessity, and fortified by unanswerable arguments, was not, how-ever, adopted by the Administration for more than a year after.

On the 19th of August, 1861, he was relieved from the command at Fortress Monroe, and on August 26th, sailed in command of the military part of an expedition, in conjunction with Commodore Stringham, against the forts at Hatteras Inlet. They were captured August 29th (together with a large number of arms, cannon, and prisoners), and at Butler's suggestion, the forts were retained; serving subsequently as the basis of Burn-side's splendid operations on the North Carolina coast.

The Government now entertained the project of a combined land and water attack on New Orleans, and the winter of 1861–62 was busily spent in preparation for the enterprise, the difficulties of which were felt to be as great as its advantages to the Union cause would be glorious. A fleet of frigates and gunboats was fitted out by Commodore Farragut ; a formidable mortar fleet was got ready by Commander 1). D. Porter, and the command of the co-operating land force was given to General Butler. The general was assigned to the newly created "Department of New England," in order to recruit men for the service, and his first transports sailed from Portland, Maine, in November, but the public was not informed as to the actual point of operations until the following spring. The advance of the expedition, which was commanded by General Phelps, whose aid Butler had especially desired, reached its destination, Ship Island (sixty-five miles from New Orleans, and fifty from Mobile Bay, both of which places it thus men-aced), early in March, and was followed by the bomb flotilla, and transports with a formidable armament of mortars and heavy guns. The forts, navy-yard, dry dock, storehouses, barracks, and marine hospital at Pensacola, upon which the rebels had bestowed great labor and expense, were speedily abandoned and burned by them ; and about the middle of April, the fleet and flotilla gathered together in the Mississippi river, ten miles below Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Six days' unsuccessful bombardment of these forts (18th to 23d) decided Admiral Farragut to run past them, which he successfully accomplished on the 24th, and anchored before the city of New Orleans on the 25th. The forts, however, held out until the prompt and unexpected landing of Butler's army in the rear of Fort St. Philip, and its complete investment on every side, obliged their capitulation to the Federal authority. Having thus opened the Mississippi in the rear of Farragut's victorious fleet, General Butler's army came up the river and on the 1st of May, 1862, landed and took possession of New Orleans. The history of the occupation of that intensely rebel and defiant city forms perhaps the most satisfactory chapter in the history of the war of the rebellion.'* The iron heel of military law was placed   [*Footnote:   We acknowledge with pleasure our indebtedness to Mr. Parton's Life of Genera] Butler, for this vivid picture of his career at New Orleans. Mr. Parton's book stands without a rival in its graphic portraiture of its subject.]  with relentless severity upon the stiff necks of a people whose whole social system had long been a terror to themselves and a disgrace to American civilization ; and whose violent passions seemed uncontrollable even by the menace of the armed hand. But each day that passed, now gave evidence that these wretched people had found a master whose will of iron and nerves of steel were fully equal to the task, which their contumacy imposed upon him. Full of sagacity and force, he quickly evolved order from chaos. He found the poor of New Orleans starving in the midst of plenty; he regulated trade so that they were fed, and the price of food was cheapened. The business of the city was dead, and he endeavored to revive it. The currency was deranged and he improved it. The yellow fever was at hand, and the city reeked with filth ; he administered sanitary science with such effect that but one case occurred during a season which generally desolated the city, in which, also, there were now 20,000 unacclimated northern troops. The city government was hostile and obstructive; he "straightened them out." The foreign consulates were depots of concealment for rebel treasure, and centres of foreign and rebel machinations against the United States; he quickly possessed himself of the money, for the use of the Government, and gave them to under-stand that foreign flags could not be allowed to cover domestic treason. He administered the police duty of New Orleans, in a manner hitherto unknown to "the oldest inhabitants"—he shamed into external decency, at least, the rebel women, whose hostility to the Yankee invader had overmastered the modesty of demeanor which belonged to their sex—he hung Mumford, who had pulled down the American flag from the Custom louse upon the first arrival of the fleet—he assessed the prominent and wealthy rebels for the benefit of the poor, and for the expenses of his sanitary and other improvements, basing the assessment upon their respective contributions to the rebel defence of New Orleans—he placed the railroads in running order again, he improved the levees—he took the banks " in hand" with a vigor that was revivifying and wholesome—he suppressed rampant newspapers until they learned that " liberty of the pen" did not necessarily mean license—he disarmed New Orleans, and so thoroughly sifted the whole population, that he knew the particular shade and complexion of each man's politics—he permitted registered enemies of the United States to seek more congenial homes elsewhere—he relentlessly confiscated the estates of contumacious rebels; in short, he suppressed the rampant minority which had carried the State out of the Union, and fostered the self-respect, protected the interests, maintained the rights, and elevated the scale of civilization among the people of Louisiana, both white and black, bond and free."

He was not allowed, however, to carry out the splendid work of regeneration which he had commenced. Intriguing diplomatists and enemies whose interests had been affected by his management in New Orleans, succeeded in procuring his recall ; and on the 16th of November, 1862, he was relieved of his command by General Banks. The policy of conciliation, to which his successor gave a fair trial, proved itself an immediate, complete, and undeniable failure. General Butler's return home was a series of honorable welcomes from the cities and communities of the loyal States through which he passed, and he was presented, by Congress, with one of the captured swords of the rebel General Twiggs.

During the year 1863, General Butler, being without a command, rendered good service to the Government by his public speeches in various places; and in July and November of that year was, for a short time, invested with the chief military command of New York city, which had recently been the scene of the terrible " draft riots."

When Lieutenant-General Grant, in the spring of 1861, inaugurated his great and final campaign, he assigned to General Butler the command of the Army of the James, which was composed of the corps formerly known as the Army of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina, the 18th corps from Louisiana, and the 10th corps, partly of colored troops, from (General Gillmore's) the Department of the South. To his division of the Grand Army was assigned the duty of seizing, by an adroit manoeuvre, the position of Bermuda Hundred, on the south bank of the James, midway between Richmond and Petersburg ; and the interposing of such a force between those two cities, as should isolate them from each other and result in the capture of the latter. This part of the programme was skilfully carried out by General Butler; Bermuda Hundred (on the 4th of May, 1864) was occupied and fortified; on the 7th, the railroad was cut below Petersburg. A strong but unavailing attack was made upon Fort Darling on May 13th; and the repeated attempts of the enemy (21st and 24th), to drive him from his own position, were each handsomely re-pulsed. On the 10th, an attempt was made to capture Peters-burg; General Gillmore, with about three thousand five hundred troops attacking it on the north, General Kautz's cavalry force on the south, and General Butler, with the gunboats assaulting from the north and east. The plan was partially and handsomely carried out by Butler and Kautz, the latter of whom entered the city and maintained a hand-to-hand fight for sometime; but the enterprise was finally rendered abortive by General Gillmore's declining, with the force at his command, to attack the rebel works.

During the summer General Butler's forces had been cutting a canal across the neck of a peninsula, called Farrar's Island, formed by a six-mile bend in the River James. This neck of land was only half a mile across, so that the canal, it was expected, would greatly shorten and facilitate the passage of gunboats on the river. As it, also, somewhat imperilled Fort Darling and flanked the rebel position at Howlett's, it would oblige them to erect new and more extended lines of defence; and the Confederates made a desperate attempt, on the 12th of August, to shell out the negroes who were at work on the canal, or " Dutch Gap," as it was called. In order to relieve the ditchers from the annoyance to which they were subjected by the heavy fire from rebel rams and batteries, an attack was made upon the Confederate position at Strawberry Plains, on the 14th, which resulted in a Union victory, and was followed by another success at Deep Bottom, on the 16th. Rebel prisoners were also set at work in the "Gap." While these movements were in progress, Grant seized the opportune moment to attempt to gain possession of the Weldon Railroad; which was, after repeated and desperate fighting, secured and torn up for a considerable distance, on the 21st. In all the subsequent movements of the Union forces before Richmond and Peters-burg, the Army of the James, under General Butler, contributed their full share of heroic fighting, patient waiting, and hard work. 

Early in the month of December, an expedition was planned by General Grant against Wilmington, North Carolina, which had long been one of the principal channels by which foreign supplies of arms, ammunition, clothing, etc., had reached the Confederacy. Its formidable defences, and the peculiar nature of its coast, rendered its successful closure against blockade-runners almost impossible; a fact at which both the Government and the officers of the blockading squadron felt deeply chagrined The naval portion of the expedition, which set sail on the 9th, was commanded by Admiral Porter, and the land forces, which sailed on the 12th, had been drawn from the Army of the James, and were commanded by General Butler in person.

Arriving off New Inlet on the 24th, the squadron opened a fire upon Fort Fisher, which, for rapidity, intensity and weight of metal, was hitherto unexampled in the history of warfare. On the 25th, the land forces were disembarked; a joint assault was ordered at evening, the troops attacking the land face of the fort, while the fleet was to bombard its sea front. Upon moving forward to the attack, however, General Weitzel, who accompanied the column, came to the conclusion, from a careful reconnoissance of the fort, that " it would be butchery to order an assault ;" and General Butler, having formed the same opinion from other information, re-embarked his troops, and sailed for Hampton Roads. The opinion of General Weitzel, an experienced engineer officer, to the effect that the fort had been "substantially unimpaired" by the terrific naval fire to which it had been for several days subjected, did not satisfy Admiral Porter, whose report to the Naval Department reflected. severely upon General Butler's course; and upon that general's return to the James river, he was relieved from the command of the Army of the James, and ordered to report at Lowell, Massachusetts, his residence.

The successful capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington, two weeks later, by Admiral Porter and General Terry, greatly in-creased the popular dissatisfaction with General Butler—but his course seems to have been fully justified by unimpeachable evidence which was subsequently adduced. It was, however the last active military service performed by General Butler.

In November 1866, he was elected on the Republican ticket, Representative in the XLth Congress for the fifth district of Massachusetts, receiving 9,021 votes against 2,838 votes for Northend, Democrat. During the session of 1867–8 he took a conspicuous part as one of the Managers of the impeachment and trial of President Johnson. His speech at the opening of the impeachment trial was pronounced, even by his opponents, the ablest of its kind on record.

Of General Butler, as a lawyer, it has been well said by one who knew him intimately, that " At the criminal terms of the Middlesex Court, he has done a greater amount of business than anybody else, and his reputation at present is that of the most successful criminal lawyer of the State. His devices and shifts to obtain an acquittal and release are absolutely endless and in-numerable. He is never daunted or baffled until the sentence is passed and put in execution, and the reprieve, pardon, or corn-mutation is refused. An indictment must be drawn with the greatest nicety, or it will not stand his criticism. A verdict of "guilty" is nothing to him—it is only the beginning of the case; he has fifty exceptions, a hundred motions in arrest of judgment ; and after that, the habeas corpus and personal replevin. The opposing counsel never begins to feel safe until the evidence is all in, for he knows not what new dodges Butler may spring upon him. He is more fertile in expedients than any man who practices law among us." And this same fertility of resource did the country rare good service during the late war of the rebellion. Yet he is not logical—his statements and arguments, when closely analyzed, are frequently mere sophistical deceptions, so ingeniously constructed, however, that he often believes them himself. But they are always ingenious, bewildering, set with homely illustrations, full of insinuations, and put with such vehemence and in such plain Anglo-Saxon, as often to totally overwhelm his adversary.

Anecdotes innumerable are told of his audacity, and quickness of retort. Upon one of his first cases being called into court he said, in the usual way, " Let notice be given:" " In what paper ?" asked the aged clerk of the court, a strenuous Whit. "In the Lowell Advertiser," was the reply; the Advertiser being a Jackson paper, never mentioned in a Lowell court; of whose mere existence, few there present would confess a knowledge. "The Lowell Advertiser?" said the clerk with disdainful nonchalance, "I don't know such a paper." "Pray, Mr. Clerk," said young Butler, "do not interrupt the proceedings of the Court; for if you begin to tell us what you don't know, there will be no time for any thing else." So, at a later date, and not long after the execution of Professor Webster, of Harvard College, for the murder of Dr. Parkman, when he was examining a professor of that college as a witness, and was "badgering" him in his usual not very respectful manner, the opposing counsel appealed to the court, reminding them that the witness was an educated gentleman "and a Harvard professor." Butler contemptuously replied "I am aware of it, your Honor; we hung one of them the other day."

In the impeachment trial, in 1868, the Hon. Fernando Wood, of New York, received one of those scathing replies which Butler can strike out instantaneously at "a white heat."  Mr. Wood undertook to protest to the "replication" entered before the Court of Impeachment, on the ground that he, as one of "the people of the United States" in whose name it was made, objected to it. General Butler immediately turned upon him with—" The representatives of the people usually represent them, but the gentleman (Mr. Wood) has not even the merit of originality in his objection. The form is one that has been used 500 years, lacking eight. The objection was made-to it once before, sad only once, when the people of England, smarting under the usurpation. and tyranny of Charles I., not having any provision in their Constitution as we have, by which that tyrant could be brought to justice outside of their Constitution, and in a perfectly legal manner, as I understand and believe, brought Charles to justice. When proclamation was made that they were proceeding in the name of all the people of England, one of the adherents rose and said, 'No, all the people do not consent to it, so that the gentleman has at least a precedent for what he has done; and I wish we could follow out the precedent in this House, because the Court inquired who made that objection, and tried to find the offender for the purpose of punishing him [laughter] ; but as he concealed himself he could not be found, and in afterward turned out to be a woman [laughter], the wife of General Fairfax, who ratted on that occasion from the rest of the Commons." And, then, in reply to some strictures in which Wood had indulged concerning an implied lack of courtesy on the part of the House Managers—he quietly remarked that he "hoped the House would not receive any lectures or suggestions upon propriety of language, or propriety of conduct, from the gentleman who stands as yet under its censure for a violation of all parliamentary rules ;" an allusion to an event of only a few weeks previous occurrence, which effectually " squelched " the leader of the " Mozart Democracy."

Since the election of General Grant to the Presidency, Genera] Butler has contrived to occupy a prominent position before the public most of the time. He had become reconciled to President Grant before his election (they had previously been on very bad terms in consequence of the Fort Fisher affair), and he has ranged himself among the leading supporters of the administration. His relations with other members of the Republican party and the Democrats in Congress have been at times very bitter and unpleasant.  He quarrelled with Speaker Blaine, with most of the Massachusetts members of Congress, with both the Massachusetts Senators, with Governor Hawley of Connecticut, and with prominent Republicans of New York, Ohio, and Illinois.   In 1871, he announced his purpose of running for Governor of Massachusetts and took the stump in his own behalf before the nominating convention. He canvassed steadily and vigorously, and at the meeting of the convention was very sanguine of a nomination, but the union of the friends of the other candidates on Mr. Washburn caused his defeat, and though evidently vexed and chagrined, he took his disappointment very calmly, and did what he could to help the election of the successful candidate. Of late he has sought to be the leader of the Republican party in the House, but finds too many bolters from his rather imperious rule. He is a warm defendant of President Grant and of all his measures, but is supposed not to be very well pleased with Senator Wilson's nomination, as he was dissatisfied with him for not favoring his nomination for Governor. 

General Butler is in fact a singular compound. He has many good traits; we believe he means to be patriotic, and sincerely thinks that the measures he urges are for the good of the country. He is unscrupulous, eager for power, and ready to adopt almost any means to obtain it ; but though he has been often charged with venality and corruption, and a favorite taunt of his adversaries has been "the spoons," referring to his rigid measures of confiscation in New Orleans, and the supposed wealth he obtained by plunder there, we are satisfied that he is not guilty of taking bribes or of any frauds in his civil administration (luring the war, or his congressional career since. Had he been thus corrupt, there were abundant opportunities to have proved it conclusively; but every suit where it has been attempted to prove anything of the sort has utterly broken down, not from his skill in managing it, but from absolute lack of proof.

The general is so erratic, and so careless of the means by which he accomplishes his purposes, that he will always have enemies, in the party with which he acts, and in that which he opposes. He is, in fact, an Ishmaelite, and about as dangerous to his friends as to his foe.  


Source: Source: Men of Our Day; or Biographical Sketches of Patriots, Orators, Statesmen, Generals, Reformers, Financiers and Merchants, Now on the state of Action: Including Those Who in Military, Political, Business and Social Life, are the Prominent Leaders of the Time in This Country, by L. P. Brockett, M. D., Published by Ziegler and McCurdy, Philadelphia Penna; Springfield, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo., 1872   

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